Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review: The Little Library by Kim Fielding

The Little Library

Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: ?TBD?
Expected publication: approx. March 26th 2018
Kindle Edition, 290 pages 
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads  Amazon 
Summary: Elliott Thompson was once a historian with a promising academic future, but his involvement in a scandal meant a lost job, public shame, and a ruined love life. He took shelter in his rural California hometown, where he teaches online classes, hoards books, and despairs of his future.

Simon Odisho has lost a job as well—to a bullet that sidelined his career in law enforcement. While his shattered knee recovers, he rethinks his job prospects and searches for the courage to come out to his close-knit but conservative extended family.

In an attempt to manage his overflowing book collection, Elliott builds a miniature neighborhood library in his front yard. The project puts him in touch with his neighbors—for better and worse—and introduces him to handsome, charming Simon. While romance blooms quickly between them, Elliott’s not willing to live in the closet, and his best career prospects might take him far away. His books have plenty to tell him about history, but they give him no clues about a future with Simon.
Review: I appreciated how realistic this story seemed. So many romances are about two super-hot main characters, but this one is about a somewhat gangly (but still lean and hot, don't get me wrong) runner-slash-book hoarder and a short, muscular ex-cop with a knee injury and some extra pudge around his middle. Elliot and Simon are both flawed, which makes them much more real and accessible. Elliot has his horrible past relationship and his book hoarding tendencies, while Simon has his bum knee and hasn't come out to his family yet, and they both are trying to figure out what to do with their futures now that their past plans have been smashed to smithereens. Their first dates are awkward and their sex is sometimes bumbling and messy (and not in the sexy-messy way, but in a much more normal every day sort of way). It's like instead of reading some glossy highly-idealized romance with a shirtless Fabio on the cover, you're reading the story of your neighbor down the street. It's fantastic and a really refreshing point of view.

I love that Elliot builds his little neighborhood library to help with his book hoarding tendencies, and that the start to find ways to deal with his pain and his problems besides buying more books. As something of a book hoarder myself, and someone who finds comfort in buying more books even though my physical TBR bookshelf is taking over my house (to say nothing of the books I've actually read, and let's not even think about the virtual mountains of ebooks…) I really connected to Elliot. And as a passionate reader, I felt so touched and proud right along with him when people showed such an active interest in his little library and his books. As part of the bookish community, I also know this connection with other people who love books as much as I do, and how such an introverted hobby can be turned into something so wonderful to connect with other like-minded people. I also felt heartbroken with Elliot when someone vandalizes his library, and had a stupid smile on my face at the resolution of this story. I became so emotionally invested in the lives of these people who could totally be my neighbors (if, y'know, they didn't live in California and I lived half the country away in Minnesota, not to mention that they're fictional… but that's just semantics).

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Blog Tour: Full Fusion by NJ Damschroder (Guest Post)

About The Book:
Title: FULL FUSION (The Fusion Series Volume 1)
Author: NJ Damschroder
Pub. Date: June 4, 2014
Publisher: Dragonsoul YA 
Pages: 322
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads
Eighteen-year-old Roxie Sebastian lives a charmed life, and she knows it. Too bad she can't feel it. 
All her life, she's felt disconnected from the world around her. Everything changes just before graduation, when she's drawn to an eerie, brilliant light-which narrowly misses her as it blows up her friend Lincoln's car. Clearly someone's after Roxie, and finally Lincoln tells her the truth: He and Roxie are angels, beings from another dimension, and that light is her soul, separated from her human body in a traumatic birth. 
Once a skeptical Roxie rules out the other possibilities-like Lincoln created this delusion to escape his abusive father-she accepts her gut-deep knowledge of the truth. But someone has been screwing with her light, using it to commit crimes, and their actions are about to cause irreparable damage to two worlds: the one she lives in, and the one she can't remember. 
Aided by her best friend Jordan, her boyfriend Tucker, and Lincoln, Roxie tracks down the criminal and uncovers many more secrets not only of her past, but of the history of their race on Earth. And then Roxie faces a horrible dilemma-the only way she can stop them from ripping apart both worlds is to fuse with her light...which could be tainted by the evil with which it was used. 

Guest Post: How do you defeat your TBR list?

I don’t know, can you defeat something that you deliberately add to whenever you start to make
progress? LOL I actually get stressed when the number of books on my shelves drops too far. What if the power goes out and we get trapped in the house for like a week and the only thing I can do is read? I need to have a whole week’s worth of books on hand!
Okay, one way I make progress on my TBR is that I don’t read books more than once anymore. I used to, a long time ago, but there’s so much great stuff out there that I’m always about starting the next book-that-could- be-fantastic.
I also read ALL the time. While brushing my teeth. While cooking (when it won’t lead to disaster). When I’m watching TV with my husband and he has to go get a snack or take a phone call, my book is right at hand. During football season, I get a lot of reading done between plays and during commercials.
There’s a lot of great TV to watch, movies to see, social media to skim, etc., so every so often I’ll sit for a full afternoon and just read, usually with a cat on my lap. It’s my happy place!


 Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a Box Set of the FULL FUSION Series, US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About NJ:

Natalie J. Damschroder is an award-winning author of contemporary and paranormal romance, with an emphasis on romantic adventure. She has had 24 novels, 7 novellas, and 16 short stories published by several publishers, most recently with Soul Mate Publishing, Entangled Publishing, and Carina Press. She recently debuted her Fusion Series, a young adult paranormal adventure series, with Full Fusion, as NJ Damschroder. Learn more about those books here.

Natalie grew up in Massachusetts, and loves the New England Patriots more than anything. (Except her family. And writing and reading. And popcorn.) When she’s not writing, she does freelance editing and proofreading. She and her husband have two grown daughters, one of whom is also a novelist. (The other one prefers math. Smart kid. Practical.)

Tour Schedule:


Week One:
3/19/2018- Caffeine And CompositionInterview
3/19/2018- A Gingerly ReviewReview
3/20/2018- Twirling Book PrincessExcerpt
3/20/2018- The UndergroundReview

3/21/2018- Elley the Book OtterGuest Post
3/21/2018- Wonder StruckReview
3/22/2018- Am Kinda Busy Reading- Review
3/22/2018- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post
3/23/2018- BookHounds YAInterview
3/23/2018- two points of interestReview

Week Two:
3/26/2018- Always MeExcerpt
3/26/2018- RhythmicBooktrovertReview

3/27/2018-Smada's Book Smack-Review
3/27/2018- Wonder StruckExcerpt

3/28/2018- books are loveExcerpt
3/29/2018- Reading for the Stars and Moon- Review
3/29/2018- A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt
3/30/2018- Paulette's PapersExcerpt
3/30/2018- Diary of an Avid ReaderReview

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Discussion: Favorite Tropes in Romance Novels

Today, I'd like to talk a bit about tropes in romance novels. There's a super handy list put together by Mindy Klasky that lists most of the common tropes used in romance novels. Many romances combined one or more of these tropes as plot devices to bring together (or cause conflict for!) the main characters. Click the link to check out the list, and let me know in the comments what your favorite (and least favorite!) tropes are.

My top 5(ish) favorite tropes are Disguise & Mistaken identities (these are similar enough that I'm lumping them together!), Fairytale, Cyrano, and Enemies to Lovers.

Disguise & Mistaken Identities
• Disguise – one or both lovers pretends to be something s/he isn’t – an expert in the workplace, a member of a family, etc. – but s/he falls in love while in disguise and is forced to continue the ruse.
• Mistaken identity – one of our lovers is assumed to be someone s/he is not, and s/he perpetuates the misunderstanding for reasons best known to him/herself.

One subcategory of these two tropes, which is my absolute favorite romance trope, is the woman disguised as a man. It probably started with my childhood love of the Song of Lioness books by Tamora Pierce, where Alanna disguises herself as "Alan" and trains to become a knight. This trope can be found in all forms of media,  inlcuding movies (She's the Man, ), anime and manga (Ouran High School Host Club, Hana Kimi, ) and Korean dramas (You're Beautiful, To the Beautiful You, Coffee Prince, Nail Shop Paris… The list goes on!)

Some of my favorite books about women disguised as men are Surprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie, The Switch by Lynsay Sands, Duchess by Night by Eloisa James and How to Tame Your Duke by Juliana Gray.

Some other favorite disguise and mistaken identity books are How the Duke was Won by Lenora Bell and Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis.
• Fairytale – a traditional fairytale is retold in an alternate cultural or historical setting.

OK, who doesn't love a good fairy tale retelling? Cinderella retellings also often fall under my other favorite trope, Disguise/Mistaken identities - so, y'know, bonus! Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast seem to be the fairy tales you find the most romances for, but there are some for other (and often less well known) fairy tales as well

Some of my favorite fairytale romances are Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey (and basically her entire Elemental Masters series, to be honest, as well as her 500 Kingdoms series), A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James (and her whole Fairy Tale series), Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (the book is SO MUCH BETTER than the movie!!), An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn… The list goes on, so I'll stop there, haha.

• Cyrano – a lover woos another for a friend, only gradually realizing that s/he is falling in love her/himself.

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand is hands down my favorite play of all time. I was so pumped to see this trope on Mindy's list, because there are not enough books with this trope. Thing of movies like The Truth About Cats and Dogs and the quite literal modernization Roxanne for examples of this trope.

Hands down the best Cyrano romance novel is Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Enemies to lovers
• Enemies to lovers – our lovers are enemies (business rivals, part of a family feud, law enforcement and criminal, etc.) until they realize the depth of their romance.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, The Winter King by C.L. Wilson, The Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke, and When A Marquess Loves a Woman by Vivienne Lorret.

Some other tropes I love are friends to lovers, neighbors to lovers, best friend's sibling, opposites attract, small town romances, women in STEM, and anything about spinsters, wallflowers or bluestockings…

So what about you? What are your favorite tropes? And do you have a great book recommendation that fits one of my favorite categories? I'd love to hear about it if you do!!

Guest Post: Peekaboo's Corner - The Student Prince (a review)

It's that time again - time for a guest post from the lovely Ariel, aka Peekaboo. Today she's talking about one of her favorite fanfics.

*pats the overstuffed chair*
Take a seat! Don’t mind the dust. Welcome to Peekaboo’s Corner.
This whole idea of gay romance is pretty new, as far as publishing goes. Especially if you are looking for particular niches (like NOT BDSM erotica or a coming out story), the pickings are slightly more slim. For a long time, what I relied upon to get my guy lovin’ was fanfiction. And actually, not a few authors have transitioned from fanfiction to published works. (Hellooooo 50 Shades of Grey, I’m looking at you!)
Today, my lovely friends, we are going to be talking about one fanfiction in particular that is my go-to for not only the best gay fiction I’ve ever read, and one of the best romances in general, but even the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to.
That’s right. Triple threat time.
This sacred and holy text is known as The Student Prince, written (and read!) by FayJay.
To steal the description off Archive of our Own:
A Modern day Merlin AU set at the University of St Andrews, featuring teetotal kickboxers, secret wizards, magnificent bodyguards of various genders, irate fairies, imprisoned dragons, crumbling gothic architecture, arrogant princes, adorable engineering students, stolen gold, magical doorways, attempted assassination, drunken students, shaving foam fights, embarrassing mornings after, The Hammer Dance, duty, responsibility, friendship and true love...
This story was inspired by the thought of Prince William of Wales (and indeed the current Max von Hapsburg) studying at the University of St Andrews; it is also, as the title suggests, at least a little inspired by the operetta 'The Student Prince'.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “But I’ve never seen BBC’s Merlin!” To that, I reply “what the heck are you standing around here for?! Go watch it!” But also, dear one, the story of Arthur and Merlin goes back far further than 2008, so technically the whole show is fan homage to the original myth? (Nailed it.) Because this story is so timeless, and the characters so well known, you don’t even need to watch BBC’s Merlin. Just read the fanfic. Honestly, this fanfic has become more Merlin to me than the show has.
It’s novel length, the audiobook is 15 hours long, it’s a complete fantastic love story about the Prince of England and his roommate-turned-friend and their college adventures. (In which they fall in love, and actual magic happens.) Yes, there is sex. Not loads of it, but what there is is HOT. More importantly, they don’t rush the love story, but the tension is off the frickin’ charts, practically from moment one.
I adore every single one of the characters. I tried to pick a favorite, and then my brain went “oh but so-and-so did THIS in that scene”, and I get a big goofy grin on my face, and feel the need to listen to it all over again. (I recommend listening, which is how I consumed it - I’m on my 4th go through - but reading would be just fine too.)
If you are new to fanfiction, but don’t mind long reads, this is a great place to start.
If you are new to gay romances and want a good intro story, this is a good place to start.
If you are looking to fall in love with a book… *gestures dramatically, ala Will Smith*
Trust me, guys, you’re going to LOVE IT.
Here’s the link, but it’s got a downloadable option so you can stick it on your e-reader if you want.
OK, I didn't even know fan fiction came in an audiobook format!! That's seriously cool. Thanks for sharing with us, Ari. ^_~ <3

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: Building Mr. Darcy by Ashlinn Craven

Building Mr. Darcy

Author: Ashlinn Craven
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Published date: August 1st 2016
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Goodreads  Amazon  Barnes & Noble
Summary: It is a truth universally acknowledged...that Jane Austen set the bar for romantic male leads way back in 1813. What mortal man could live up to the gruff yet golden-hearted Mr. Darcy?

Now programmer Zoe Bunsen thinks she has the cure to two centuries' worth of female disillusionment: a new artificial intelligence program that looks, talks, and thinks like Darcy. No way will she let the chauvinistic atmosphere at her company nor her stuffy colleague, Max, get in the way of her wildest dream--creating the perfect man. Even if he isn't quite human...

Max Taggart, project manager extraordinaire, has crossed a continent to secure this high-profile position. His frustrating teammate Zoe may not know it, but everyone's jobs depend on not only the duo meeting the nearly impossible deadline but the new AI being a huge success. Mr. Darcy needs to sell, even if that means selling out a few literary details.

When the AI starts using its scary degree of emotional intelligence to reveal their individual secrets, Zoe and Max must rethink everything, and a surprising connection begins to develop. Will these two unlikely cohorts cling to their prejudices or toss pride aside and admit love is stronger than a fantasy?

Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors
Review: I love a good story about woman in STEM, and I'm going to go ahead and say female programmers totally count. Zoe Bunsen and Max Taggart are both programmers with very different approaches to programming. Zoe is way pumped to be put on a project for a new Mr. Darcy AI project because she's a huge Jane Austen fan. Max actually reminded me a lot of Darcy in many ways, with his very analytical approach and sensible level-headedness. Likewise, Zoe has some of Elizabeth Bennet's free-spirited character, and in some ways this is a sort of modern day Pride & Prejudice retelling that also talks about Pride & Prejudice in this crazy, Darcy-filled inception kind of way.

This was a really enjoyable read. I loved the interaction between Zoe and Max, and how they grow to learn more about each other and come to appreciate more of how the other works. I also love the party where Darcy does his oh-so-Darcy thing and advises against a certain match because one of the party's family is less than desirable. Oh Darcy, you never learn, do you? Even when you're a computer generated AI intelligence type of dealie-ma-bob. (Technical term there, dealie-ma-bob.) I'm only angry that the Kindle version of this book is NOT lendable, so I can't digitally thrust it at my friend to read.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Blog Tour: Lady in Waiting by Marie Tremayne (Review, Excerpt, Teaser, Author Q&A)


Book Review: The Little Library by Kim Fielding

The Little Library Author: Kim Fielding Publisher: ?TBD? Expected publication: approx. March 26th 2018 Kindle Edition, 290 pages...