Book Reviews

I Live in the “New Loneliness”

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In her article This is the New Loneliness Jamie Varon focuses on the Millennial Generation. She categorizes them as both the most and least connected generation, due to their inherent, almost organic, use of social media.

I believe millennials have a arrested interpersonal communication skills, simply as a result of being born into a technology-dependent culture.  Communication requires “doing.” As children, millenials were not encouraged to physically be present. Most of their play needs were met by technology. So, it is unfair to paint them as disconnected.  They connect differently.  Social media, rather than face-to-face interactions, is their preferred vehicle.

Ms. Varon overlooked the original disconnected generation – Generation X. 

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We were latchkey kids. Loneliness was ingrained in our lives.  Sure we participated in every activity we wanted to, but most of us held a piece of ourselves back – a self-preservation piece.

These early experiences served us well as we entered an unpredictable, and sometimes volatile work environment, vastly different from the generations that preceded us.  The days of a life-long career with one company ended, just as we came of age.  So we became latchkey adults.

Social media paired nicely with Generation X, because it allowed us that “separation” we learned in childhood.  Technology offered the buffer against anonymity. We were still communicating, just indirectly.

I work primarily from home, so I have limited contact with others. And, even though I prefer to work alone, I genuinely miss the everyday interactions among coworkers in an office.  

Sometimes, I force…no…motivate myself to physically interact with other people.  As a natural “loner” and “homebody,” this is as unnatural and outside my comfort zone, as it gets.

Additionally, I am an extroverted introvert, suffering from clinical depression. Not only do I have to psych myself up to “participate,” I then need several days within my soul cave to regroup and recharge.

The paradox for me has been that even though social media is  “artificial” (as in manmade, rather than preexisting) I am still myself when I am online.  Some people create entirely new personas and lives. I did not and have not. Regardless of the clever nicknames I take on, given the site, my personality remains intact. Acting as someone else, is just not in my skill set.

Missing in technology-based interactions are the subtleties of speech, inflection and body language.  For someone who joyfully wields sarcasm and dark humor, this is a slippery slope.  Not only have I written/said things that were not understood as I had intended, I too have felt the string of a poorly worded online barb.

And, those words that are carelessly hurled around under the guise of anonymity? Those words injure, sometimes fatally. They bring the loneliness to a level that surpasses having a “dark/gloomy” or even “sad” day. Social media gives us the liberty to erect  invisible walls to hide safely behind.

The key is to peek over the wall, open the gate and talk to our neighbors…but it’s easier and quicker to just text them, isn’t it?

4-Enchanted Stars for A.D. Marrow’s “Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense” – Book Review

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Marrow-Love_and_Other_Cosmic_Nonsense
Image used with permission by the author.

Breaking it off with her long-time non-magical boyfriend, Evan, was for his own good. At least that’s what Maggie Owen tells herself. After all, a witch and a human can have no future together. Her vision told her so. But now it seems the universe is exacting revenge for upsetting the balance of what “should be” and her heart is telling her she was wrong. 

Evan Jackson can’t believe his bad luck. It’s been a year since Maggie broke his heart, and now his business partner has hired her as their new receptionist. Fine, they need the help. But no way will he let her get close again. He can’t take another heartbreak from the woman he still dreams about, even if it feels like there’s still a magical pull between them. 

Being in the same building with Evan is a start, but it’s going to take more than Maggie’s special talents and a wink to get the hard-hearted bad-boy to see that love is really more than just cosmic nonsense and set the universe back into balance. 

 

My Review:

Take Bewitched, mix in a little Miami Ink For a Bewitching Debut – 4 Enchanted Stars

Disclaimer: While I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for an honest review, I enjoyed the book so much I purchased it for my ebookshelf.

This lovers-reunited novella, found Maggie Owen accepting a job at the very tattoo shop co-owned by her ex-boyfriend, Evan Jackson. In a cosmically ironic turn of events, their reunion was the impetus they needed to face their strong feelings for each other and the reasons for their breakup. There were several naughty, but not overtly explicit, sex scenes, that pulled readers in, as Maggie and Evan’s personal barriers were torn down and their mutual desire heated up. They had to look past their surface attraction, to the deep feelings underneath and both learned to accept the other’s gifts, including Maggie’s magical connection.

Annabel, Maggie’s sister and Liam, Evan’s business partner and friend, rounded out the cast and there were hints of a possible love match for Liam in future books. These secondary characters were even funnier and snarkier than the lead characters. My favorite quote was delivered by Annabel as she described Evan, “Maggie, the man looks like Aphrodite and David Gandy had a love baby. He loves art and building stuff. He likes puppies. He volunteers at a soup kitchen. His favorite movie is Love Actually for heaven’s sake.” (Marrow, A. D. (2014-03-24). Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense (Entangled Covet) (Kindle Locations 246-247). Entangled Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.) Who wouldn’t fall for a tattooed good boy, like that?

My only note was that the story was too short. I know A.D. Marrow planned to continue the series but this reader would have enjoyed some flashbacks to the characters’ “meet cute,” “first date,” or “first sex scene.” The length did not detract from the story – I just wanted more! However, fans of Entangled books will be pleasantly surprised with at least one cameo from another author’s popular MMA fighter series.

I look forward to Ms. Marrow’s future books and recommend Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense (Entangled Covet) for those days when you need a short, sweet and funny happily ever after to curl up with on a cold or rainy day.

Review links: Amazon and Goodreads.

 

About the Author:

Author A.D. Marrow
Author A.D. Marrow

A.D Marrow is a  a registered Sapiophile, a proud Geek since before Geek was chic and believes that everyone deserves a happily ever after. She lives in the foothills of North Carolina with her ridiculously hot and amazingly supportive husband, three kids that rock so hard there should be a national holiday for their awesomeness, two really stupid dogs and a plethora of Post-it notes with book ideas to last her until she’s 90.

Her childhood dream is realized in the fact that YOU have cause to read her bio. She hopes that one day, it lends her enough credibility to live out her second dream, which is to write an episode of “Doctor Who.

Her personal mantra echoes that of Morticia Adams; “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”

You can find A.D. on her websiteFacebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Top Ten Things Not to Do If Your Book Gets a Negative Review

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I added my own advice as a reader who pays close attention to ALL reviews, and is a member of several Street Teams.  Do not send your Street Team to harass ANY reviewer, “dislike” or “vote down,” and/or leave “helpful comments” for the reviewer. Do not post an angry rant on your Facebook page or blog, decrying negative reviews. Say nothing. Do nothing. It all reflects back on the author and her/his good/poor judgment.

1WriteWay

Here is the 36th installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do by Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay at http://1writeway.com and John W. Howell of Fiction Favorites at http://johnwhowell.com. These lists are simu-published on our blogs each Monday. We hope you enjoy.
Rate this book!
10.  If your book gets a negative review, do not read the review, especially if the rating is one star.  At best, the reviewer will admit the review is based on having read only a couple of pages of your book and you can chide yourself for even bothering to read one word of the review.  At worst, you will read the review so many times  you can quote it by heart, begin to believe it, and eventually get one star tattooed on your back to atone for imagined errors in your career choice.

9.  If your book gets a negative review, do not respond…

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5-Stars for Hayson Manning’s “Winning the Boss’s Heart” – Book Review

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Manning-winning-bosss-heartMason Christian has twelve weeks to flip something old into something new, and then he’s getting the hell out of Footsteps Bay – a tiny New Zealand coastal town. Not even his temporary secretary and personal assistant–the feisty, luscious Billie McLeod–will deter him, but there’s no denying she makes him feel alive. More alive than he’s felt in three years…
Billie has one dream: save enough money to finish her degree. That’s why she’s agreed to work for hard ass, all-business-no-pleasure Mason Christian–a man who has every intention of destroying through modernization the town’s most cherished historical home. Before she can say ‘see ya’ she’s signed on the dotted line and is contractually bound to be Mason’s forty-second assistant. But working with male perfection every day is awesome with a capital A–as long as they can stick to a hands-off policy that gets harder every day…

My Review

42 Gives Magic Man the Last Offer He Will Ever Refuse

With her second book, Winning the Boss’s Heart, Hayson Manning took us to her beautiful home country of New Zealand.   Set in the bucolic coastal town of Footsteps Bay, Mason Christian hired Billie McLeod to work as his personal assistant on a project he hoped would be completed quickly.

Billie was a heroine who knew her own worth.   After suffering some personal setbacks, she was saving money to finish her degree, and working for Mason seemed like the fastest way to earn the most money.   She fearlessly challenged Mason and the sarcastic nicknames she created for him, were inspired.  Nothing like treating the boss with the same impersonal disdain, as he treated his employees.

Mason was a deeply broken man, sublimating his emotions in his work and keeping people at arm’s length.   As his feelings for Billie grew, he was forced to confront some painful events from his past.   Little did Mason know that fate would intervene, to give him a compelling second chance at love story.  Ms. Manning beautifully constructed and sensitively handled, Mason’s heartbreaking past.

Billie and Mason’s interactions ran the gamut of emotions from trepidation, to antagonism, to friendship, and finally, acceptance, and love.  Lovingly meddlesome townsfolk and growing spicy, sexy action rounded out this terrific story.

With Wife in Name Only, Hayson Manning became a must-read author for me.   After, Winning the Boss’s Heart, she became a must-preorder or must-1-click author for me.     I highly recommend her books for well-developed characters, richly illustrated locations and secondary characters and multilayered storytelling,

Links to my review on Amazon and Goodreads.

About the Author

Author Hayson ManningHayson Manning grew up in a small New Zealand town in a family of scientists and engineers Hayson was told firmly that her ‘day dreaming’ phase would end. Soon, she’d be entranced by the inner workings of the periodic table and be spellbound by quantum physics. But Hayson loved living in the lands she created. Oh, the creatures that stopped by. The princes and princesses, unicorns and Frank a friendly chain-smoking shark.

It soon became apparent Hayson wasn’t going to be awarded the Nobel Prize for services to the atom.

She conformed and has worked as a demon word processor, sliced ham in a delicatessen, sorted freight, pulled midnight shifts in a bank and counted baked bean cans in a stock-take. She never stopped dreaming of writing alpha dudes and sassy woman.

She’s lived in Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, London, California and is now in Sydney. All she ever wanted to do was write fun and flirty people who aren’t perfect but will fight for that one person who will love them for who they are.

Represented by Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates, that dream has come true, writing for Entangled Publishing. She loves a good glass of wine, dreams of winning the lottery, cries while watching Antiques Roadshow and cannot speak she’s sobbing so much by the end of Undercover Boss. She is also an expert at finding new and inventive ways to avoid exercise.

Find out more about Hayson on her website, follow her on Twitter and like her Facebook page.  She loves to hear from her fans.

5-Stars for Gina L. Maxwell’s “Fighting for Irish” – Book Review

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Maxwell-Fighting For IrishFormer MMA fighter Aiden “Irish” O’Brien hasn’t stepped into the ring since he accidentally took someone’s life in the heat of rage. When his friend calls in a favor that sends him south to check on family, Irish figures he’s got nothing to lose. His life is on the ropes. The least he can do is make sure the sexy redhead is safe.

Kat MacGregor has forty-eight hours to settle the twenty thousand dollar debt her deadbeat ex-boyfriend owes a crime boss. If she doesn’t, she’ll pay for it–with her life. Kat’s halfway out the door when a sexy new guy walks into the bar and insists he’s there to help.

Irish is forced to fight in the underground MMA circuit to win the money she needs. But he’s been lying to Kat. About who he is, about knowing her sister, about why he comes home bruised every night. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him, but breaking her trust will cost him the most important fight of his life: the one for her heart.

My Review:

Like Irish’s favorite cranberry juice – Fighting for Irish (A Fighting for Love Novel) (Entangled Brazen) was a bitter, sweet, tart and delicious 5 stars!

We learned about Kat MacGregor, Vanessa MacGregor’s sister, in Rules of Entanglement (A Fighting for Love Novel) (Entangled Brazen). Kat’s upbringing, tough at best and cripplingly devastating at its worst, left her with deep emotional scars and a protective covering around her heart. She was on the run from the Tennessee Mafia and unable to communicate with Vanessa. A worried Vanessa, led Kat’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, Jax, to hire his friend Aiden O’Brien “Irish”, to find, follow and if need be, protect her, in Fighting for Irish.

Irish, a retired MMA fighter, was also hiding a tortured past and despite their best efforts their mutual attraction brought them closer. Together the tore down each other’s walls, brick by brick, exposing more deep seeded pain and allowing the possibility of love to blossom. Both Kat and Irish were beautifully broken characters who deserved healing, forgiveness and the opportunity at happily ever after, as they faced their pasts.

In true Gina L. Maxwell fashion, the sex was explosive. However, the slow, deliberate, yet gentle, buildup to their lovemaking was handled with care, respect and sensitivity for two characters who believed they were unlovable. Ms. Maxwell’s pacing of their relationship, amid the suspense, was impeccable. Of the three books in the series, Fighting for Irish was the most poignantly moving.

While Fighting for Irish, may be read as a standalone novel, I highly recommend reading the first two books in the series – Seducing Cinderella (A Fighting for Love Novel) (Entangled Brazen) and Rules of Entanglement, to get a complete sense of the previous relationships and characters that brought Kat and Irish together. In addition, I am looking forward to reading Xander’s story, as he will be another tough nut to crack, and deserves his own ladylove.

About the Author:

Gina L. Maxwell is a shameless romance addict with no intentions of ever kicking the habit.

Gina L Maxwell promo photoGrowing up she dreamed of helping people escape reality with her acting abilities…until college when she realized she had none to speak of.   Another ten years passed before she discovered a different means to accomplishing the same dream: writing stories of love and passion for addicts just like her.  Her debut novel, Seducing Cinderella, landed on the USA Today and NY Times Bestseller lists in less than a month.

Now she splits her time between writing more books and acting as Boss of the world’s first organized romance mafia, the Maxwell Mob.Thanks to the support she receives from her amazing family, Gina is finally able to live her dream of bringing a little romantic fantasy to the world, one steamy novel at a time.

Find out more about Gina on her website, follow her on Twitter, and Pinterest and like her Facebook page.

5-Stars and 2 Snaps in Z-Formation for Avery Flynn’s “High-Heeled Wonder” – Book Review

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Flynn-HighHeeledWonderSylvie Bissette may be one of Harbor City’s youngest glitterati, but only her best friends know her most closely guarded secret. She’s the woman behind The High-Heeled Wonder, the newest must-read blog for fashionistas everywhere. Gossip, fashion advice, exposés. Too bad some people can’t take a little criticism. When an internet troll discovers her secret identity, Sylvie turns to security expert Tony Falcon for help. The investigator from the other side of the tracks is the olive oil to her Evian water, but it’s not just her temper he’s inciting…

Tony Falcon wouldn’t know a kitten heel from a tabby cat, but since most of the bad guys he tracks down aren’t wearing stilettos, it’s never been a problem…until he meets Sylvie. The feisty fashionista may be his best chance at catching the criminals responsible for his best friend’s murder. But solving that case means going after the people Sylvie cares about, and soon the attraction—and the danger—has him wondering if solving the case is worth hurting the woman he can’t stop fantasizing about …

When Sylvie’s stalker escalates from sending nasty e-mails to trying to run her over in broad daylight, Tony goes undercover as Sylvie’s boyfriend to infiltrate the close-knit fashion community. In a world full of overblown egos and cut-throat ambition, Tony and Sylvie must work together to find her revenge-obsessed stalker before Sylvie ends up with a literal knife in the back.

My Review:

Bogie Meets Gracie Lou Freebush and they “Make it Work”

Sylvie Bissette was the mastermind behind the popular, “High-Heeled Wonder,” a blog that exposed all of the fashion industry’s dirty little, and not so little, secrets.   Her scoops garnered her huge a fan base, the ire of both a magazine’s editor-in-chief and a self-absorbed, talentless designer and her very own cyberstalker.   This troll indicated he/she would stop at nothing to reveal Sylvie’s identity and take down her blog.

After a very public attempt on her life, she relented to having Tony Falcon, former cop turned security expert, pose as her boyfriend to discover who was threatening her.    At the same time, he was trying to track down the criminals who killed his best friend.   Tony, who never had a problem maintaining his distance from his charges, met his match in feisty Sylvie, who was determined to “help” with the investigation.    As the threats against Sylvie escalated, so did Tony’s innate need to protect her.   The more time they spent together, the more problematic their mutual attraction became.   When they finally gave in to temptation, it culminated in a fully clothed, sultry exploration that only heightened their appetite for each other.

Clues were pieced together to deduce the identity of the perpetrator, while Sylvie and Tony continued to become close.  He narrowed down the list of suspects.  Unfortunately, that list included people Sylvie cared deeply for.  Hell-bent on retribution, yet blinded by hurt, Tony uttered one of the most touching boy-loses-girl lines “You’re going to hate me later.  You will and when you do, promise you’ll give me the chance to fix it,” as he broke Sylvie’s heart – along with his own.

Like a delightful visit to Imelda Marcos’ legendary shoe closet, High-heeled Wonder (A Killer Style Novel) (Entangled Ignite) took readers on a sexy, chick lit ride worthy of early Helen Fielding or Sophie Kinsella.   Additionally, Avery Flynn added classic thriller plot twists, thrills and surprises.  Her characters were multi-layered, balanced and intelligent.  Sylvie was a fully developed, professional woman who overcame a tragic childhood and Tony was the wounded alpha, with a heart of gold, who needed her to begin to heal.  A colorful and motley crew of secondary characters – their families, friends, and coworkers, provided further action, suspense and comic relief.

Both my inner fashionista and nerd girl appreciated the references to the fashion industry, as well as, the nod to Doctor Who and the gaming world.   High-heeled Wonder (A Killer Style Novel) (Entangled Ignite) earns an old-school, Men on Film, two-snaps in Z-Formation and my recommendation as a great book to curl up with on a cold winter’s day.  I look forward to Ms. Flynn’s next book.

Disclaimer:  I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.   Then purchased the book for my private library.

About the Author:

Author Avery FlynnAvery Flynn has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip.

She fell in love with romance while reading Johanna Lindsey’s Mallory books. It wasn’t long before Avery had read through all the romance offerings at her local library. Needing a romance fix, she turned to Harlequin’s four books a month home delivery service to ease the withdrawal symptoms. That worked for a short time, but it wasn’t long before the local book stores’ staffs knew her by name.

Avery was a reader before she was a writer and hopes to always be both. She loves to write about smartass alpha heroes who are as good with a quip as they are with their *ahem* other God-given talents. Her heroines are feisty, fierce and fantastic. Brainy and brave, these ladies know how to stand on their own two feet and knock the bad guys off theirs.

Find out more about Avery on her website, follow her on Twitter and Pinterest, and like her on her Facebook page.  Also, if you figure out how to send Oreos through the Internet, she’ll be your best friend for life.

5-Stars for Robin Covington’s “Sweet Southern Betrayal” – Book Review

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Covington-Sweet Southern BetrayalPrivileged and ambitious attorney Teague Elliott is on the fast-track to getting everything he wants. All he has to do is stay on the straight and narrow and a high-profile political career is his for the taking. Until he wakes up naked with a Vegas showgirl…

Risa Clay has worked hard to put her showgirl past behind her and start fresh. But she owes ten grand to the wrong people, and to pay off her debt, she agrees to betray a stranger. . .but she ends up with a husband and guilty conscience.

Savvy and determined, she double-crosses the mob, goes on the run, and turns up on Teague’s doorstep armed with a dangerous secret, a marriage license, and the power to ruin his well-planed future. She thought using Teague again would be easy, but the passion that exploded between them in Vegas didn’t stay in Sin City and betrayal is the last thing on her mind.
Now Teague has to choose between the future he’s planned for all his life, or the one with Risa that he can’t turn away from.

My Review: 

“Messy is where the good stuff lives.” ~ Risa Clay

Sweet Southern Betrayal: A Boys Are Back in Town Novel (Entangled Indulgence), the third book of Robin Covington’s “Boys are Back in Town” series, featured attorney, Teague Elliot.  Known as a “fixer” among the elite power brokers of Washington D.C., he worked at one of the most prestigious firms and had political aspirations.  He stayed away from anything he considered “messy,” like relationships.  While attending his sister, Taylor’s wedding to his best friend, Lucky, in Las Vegas, he met redheaded bombshell, Risa Clay – his new showgirl wife.  His showgirl wife who owned a side business selling tasteful “marital aids.”  Not exactly the ideal woman for a man with dreams of living in the White House.  Everything about Risa was “messy.”  And personal.  And amazing.

They agreed to keep their marriage a secret.  Unfortunately, secrets have a way of taking on a life of their own, and soon Teague’s family, friends and colleagues found out about Risa.  As beautiful as she was on the outside, Risa was even lovelier on the inside.  She immediately tried to protect Teague from the possible repercussions of their Vegas nuptials, and knowingly placed herself directly in harm’s way.

At its core, Sweet Southern Betrayal was an “opposites attract” story, but as the layers were peeled away, we learned that both Risa and Teague were survivors.  They saw the dreams they never believed could be realized, in and with, each other.    It required that they to look past their set life plans, and into an unknown, unexpected and uncontrollable future.   How they navigated it was beautifully crafted, through self-doubt, heartbreak, betrayal, forgiveness, and the possibility of love.  In addition to some very steamy sex.

Many series have recurring characters that make cameo appearances, but Ms. Covington created a deep connection between the four friends – Teague, Lucky, Jack and Beck – that was itself another fully developed character.   The men formed a bond in childhood that sustained them through personal and professional successes and failures.   Ms. Covington took that circle of friendship and expanded it, as each man found love, and their family of friends grew.

While each book may be read as a stand-alone novel, I highly encourage readers to read A Night of Southern Comfort (The Boys are Back in Town Series) (Entangled Indulgence) and His Southern Temptation (The Boys are Back in Town Series) (Entangled Indulgence).  Ms. Covington is writing Beck’s book and it promises to be as emotional, entertaining and hot, as the rest of the series.

Disclaimer: While I received an ARC of this book for an honest review, I purchased it for my “Boys are Back in Town” Collection.

About the Author:

Author Robin Covington

Robin Covington, who NYT Best Selling authors, Robyn Carr and Carly Phillips, said was their new “auto-buy author”, writes sizzling hot contemporary and paranormal romance.

A Night of Southern Comfort, her best-selling debut novel was a 2012 finalist in the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Awards, earned 4.5 stars and was touted by RT Book Reviews as bringing a “fresh, modern feel to the genre while still sticking to the things that get our adrenaline pumping — sex and danger”. When she’s not exploring the theme of fooling around and falling in love, she’s collecting tasty man candy, indulging in a little comic book geek love, and stalking Joe Manganiello.

Robin is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Washington and Maryland Romance Writers, a faculty member at Romance University, a member of the Waterworld Mermaids, and a contributor to the Happy Ever After blog at USA Today. You can find Robin on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter (@RobinCovington).

Robin lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband, brilliant children, and ginormous puppies.