Review: Something Wicked by Angela Campbell

Something Wicked by Angela CampbellFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Romantic suspense
Series: Psychic Detectives #2
Length: 263 pages
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Date Released: October 31, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Psychic medium Alexandra King is sick of being pestered by her boss’s dead mother demanding help to reunite her two estranged sons. Determined to get some peace and quiet again, Alexandra follows a lead in finding the younger Collins brother to Charleston, South Carolina, where she immediately meets the hottest man she’s ever laid eyes on and finds herself a willing participant in seduction. Of course, her one-night-stand turns out to be none other than Dylan Collins — her boss’s younger brother and a homicide detective who believes psychics are a complete waste of time.

All Dylan wants is a few hours of pleasure to take his mind off of the case haunting him. A serial killer is stalking the streets of The Holy City — a killer who calls himself The Grim Reaper. When the woman he’d just spent the night with turns up and offers her services as a psychic consultant on the case, his ardor quickly cools. Last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a con artist.

It doesn’t take long for Dylan to realize Alexandra is the real deal – and the killer’s next target. Dylan’s protective instincts battle his reluctance to get too involved with a woman he isn’t sure he can trust. As they get closer to finding the killer, they also grow closer to one another, but will Alexandra’s secret agenda destroy their chance at happiness — if the killer doesn’t strike first?

My Review:

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes”, or so says one of the witches in Macbeth.

Something Wicked is also the darker second book in Angela Campbell’s Psychic Detectives series, after the first book in the series, the light-hearted romp On the Scent, reviewed at Book Lovers Inc.

I picked Something Wicked as my Halloween review because it considerably darker than the first book in the series. While the story still contains a romance, there is much more of a feeling of suspense and absolutely a heart of darkness; psychic medium Alexandra King and Charleston Police Detective Dylan Collins are on the trail of a serial killer calling himself “Grim Reaper”; all the while that Grim Reaper is stalking them.

on the scent by angela campbellThe story starts as a simple quest. At the end of On the Scent, the late, lamented Rebecca Collins pesters Alexandra King until she agrees to go to Charleston to attempt to reunite her two sons, Zachary and Dylan. Alexandra left Zachary in Atlanta, happily in love with Hannah at the end of the previous story, but unfortunately very much estranged from his younger brother Dylan.

Dylan is a cop in Charleston, and Rebecca is sure that he is in danger, and not just the everyday kind of danger a cop usually faces. In case you missed it, I called Rebecca the “late, lamented”. Rebecca is a ghost, and Alexandra does, indeed, see dead people. This is that kind of story. It is Halloween, after all.

There’s “meet cute” and then there’s “meet really cute.” Alexandra gets to Charleston, goes to a bar/restaurant recommended by her hotel, has a meal, picks up a gorgeous guy, has a night of really fantastic sex, and never gets the guy’s name.

The next morning, her visions show her that there’s a serial killer in town, and that the cop leading the case is both her one night stand and the guy she came to find. Only then does she discover that Dylan Collins hates psychics. Dylan does not want her on the case. His boss does. The police need all the help they can get, even from a psychic.

Something Wicked should have been the same kind of lighthearted romp that the first book was, but it isn’t. Not just because the serial killer is not merely a sick bastard, but he’s chasing Alexandra and Dylan while they’re chasing him. It goes further than that. Alexandra has a sympathetic relationship with ghosts, she helps them “cross over” to the other side. Something evil is messing with the ghosts of Charleston, and is making living people get sick, too. A demon gives Dylan’s partner pneumonia. Charleston has LOTS of ghosts (think Civil War) and the demon is suborning those ghosts and getting them to attack the living. It’s very creepy.

So we have a live serial killer, killing people, and a dead serial killer messing with ghosts doing even more evil. Kind of a double-creepy effect. This shouldn’t work but it very much does.

Because Alexandra talks with ghosts, she can be affected from both planes, so both the serial killer and the demon are out to get her.

It all starts because one mother wanted to make sure her sons reconciled. If Zachary and Dylan work together, maybe they can manage to save both Rebecca and Alexandra.

Escape Rating Boo+: Something Wicked is a wickedly fun read for Halloween, although it will help you enjoy the story if you read On the Scent first to get introduced to Alexandra and the other Collins brother, Zachary. The scene late in the book where Zach figures out where Alexandra is will be way more fun (and loads funnier!) if you know their history.

Dylan and Alexandra have a lot to work through. They start out not being honest with each other, at least partially because they start out not sharing much except hot sex. No introductions were made. It’s only later that Alexandra neglects to mention that she’s in Charleston because she knows Dylan’s brother.

The scene where Alexandra gives Dylan a complete dressing down for his assumptions about psychics is funny but also spot-on. He has a lot of baggage he needs to lose before they can have a real relationship. He spends most of the story dropping those bags, piece by piece.

This story had just the right amount of creepy factor for a Halloween read for me. I don’t like straight out horror, but I was looking for something with those elements to give the season that appropriately shivery sensation. Something Wicked was just right!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Q&A with Lori Foster + Giveaway

Lori FosterToday, Reading Reality is part of Lori Foster’s Getting Rowdy Blog Tour! Read my review of Getting Rowdy here and enjoy this Q&A from Lori.

Marlene: What is your favorite scene from the book and why?

Lori: I based the video book trailer for Getting Rowdy off my favorite scene: Avery showing up at Rowdy’s apartment, soaking wet from a furious rain, insistent that he follow through on sensual promises. :::sigh::: Rowdy needed her to do that, and somehow Avery knew. If you haven’t seen the book trailer, it’s here on YouTube.

honor's splendour by julie garwoodMarlene: Book you most want to read again for the first time?

Lori: Honor’s Splendour by Julie Garwood. Ooooh, I just love, love that book! Also Lion’s Lady and The Bride and… well, all of her historicals. I also love historicals by Catherine Coulter and Johanna Lindsay and Amanda Quick… good stuff!

Marlene: What projects do you have planned for the future?

Lori: I just finished Dash’s story. Dash is the brother of the hero from the first book, Run the Risk. I think readers will be surprised with Dash now that it’s his turn to reveal his soul. I know I was surprised! I kept thinking, Dash, you devil! Lol.

And now I’m ready to get started on Cannon’s book. Cannon (You met him in Getting Rowdy) will actually star in the first book of a new series set for Sept 2014. I really enjoyed him in Getting Rowdy, and he has a larger role in Dash’s book, Dash of Peril (April 2014) so I hope readers like him as much as I do!

Marlene: What are some words your family and friends would use to describe you?

Lori: Hmmm… I actually just asked them, and here’s what they said:

Compassionate, considerate, kind, animal lover, grounded and organized, and from one of my sons: Small and Feisty, but also faithful and considerate.

Awww… I have such wonderful family and friends!

Marlene: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Lori: Morning! I’m usually up by 4:30 am and by 9:00 pm I want to be in my PJs. I’m usually dragging off to bed by 10 or 10:30 pm. I’ve always been something of an insomniac, and about 6 hours in the bed is all I can take.



Lori is kindly giving away a paperback copy of Getting Rowdy to one lucky winner. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below.

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Review: Getting Rowdy by Lori Foster

getting rowdy by lori fosterFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Romantic suspense
Series: Love Undercover #3
Length: 448 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: September 24, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Charismatic bar owner Rowdy Yates isn’t the kind of man women say no to. So when he approaches waitress Avery Mullins, he fully expects to get her number. However, the elusive beauty has her reasons for keeping her distance—including a past that might come back to haunt them both.

Avery spends her nights working for tips… and trying to forget the secret Rowdy is determined to unearth. But when history threatens to repeat itself, Avery grows to rely on Rowdy’s protective presence. As the sparks between them ignite, she will be forced to choose between the security she’s finally found… and the passion she’s always wanted..

My Review:

506px-Clint_Eastwood-Rawhide_publicityI love that the main character of Getting Rowdy was named for the character Clint Eastwood played in the old TV western Rawhide, way, way back, Rowdy Yates. There is even a resemblance between the book cover picture and the character.

And it’s all too possible to think of lots of Eastwood’s western heroes riding to the rescue of Avery Mullins the way that this Rowdy Yates does, whether Avery consents to being rescued or not. Because Avery needs a little help from a friend, and Rowdy is willing to be that friend, or even “friends with benefits”, if he can get Avery to let him get that close.

This a story of two people who don’t let anyone close, although they have totally different reasons for why they keep people outside of their inner circle and exactly how they each define what “close” means.

Run the Risk by Lori FosterRowdy has his sister Pepper. We’ve already read her story in Run the Risk (reviewed here) Because of the childhood abuse that Rowdy protected Pepper from, he grew up not trusting anyone. The last several years he spent hiding in plain sight while he guarded Pepper did not make him more trusting. After all, it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you. And the mob, along with some corrupt cops, really were out to get him. But that’s finally behind them and Pepper is married to one of the good cops, Logan Riske.

So Rowdy has started to put down roots in order to stay close to Pepper. He’s bought a bar and is cleaning up the place. Not clean up as in dirt, but clean up as in getting the low-lifes out of the area. It used to be a place where the owner did drug dealing and flesh peddling. Now it’s a middle-class place where people can get a halfway decent meal and the drinks aren’t watered down. It’s a safe place and Rowdy keeps it that way.

It’s also where he picks up too many women for his bartender’s comfort. Avery Mullins is the one woman he really wants, but she keeps turning him down. Rowdy uses sex as a way of keeping his nightmares away. There’s just been too much crap in his life. He doesn’t sleep much and no-strings-attached sex is his way of finding oblivion.

Avery has demons and secrets of her own, but no-strings-attached sex with Rowdy Yates is about the last thing she’s going after as a way of getting past anything. She wants him, but she has no interest in being just another notch on his much-marked bedpost. And her job as bartender at his place is too good to jeopardize with a one-night-stand, no matter how terrific.

One-night-stands are all Rowdy ever does. His friendship is more important to Avery than sex. Then she discovers that his protection is an absolute necessity, because her past comes back to find her.

And once Rowdy discovers that Avery needs him, he realizes that he wants to protect her much, much more than he ever thought he wanted to escape. The man who never had a home may have finally found one, if he can convince himself that he’s worthy of keeping her.

Escape Rating B+: I always look forward to another Lori Foster book. Her romantic suspense series deliver marvelous stories that fulfill both parts of that equation every single time! She always tells a delicious romantic story that also includes spine-tingling suspense, and Getting Rowdy definitely was another story in that marvelous tradition!

Rowdy and Avery have been dancing around each other since they first met in Run the Risk, so it was terrific to see both what was keeping them apart and how they finally managed to get together. While we know a lot of Rowdy’s history from Pepper, it was different seeing things from Rowdy’s perspective; he protected her from a lot of the worst of it, which means he had a lot of healing to do.

Avery might have been a bit more understanding about Rowdy’s parade of female bed partners than other women would have been. While he doesn’t owe her anything until they start seeing each other, it would have been more than unnerving to have a man hit on you nearly every night and then pick someone else up when you turned him down. Only to rinse and repeat the very next evening.

Avery’s situation starts out chilling and only gets squickier. No wonder she ran. I like her character and the way she took charge of her life a lot. I was a bit surprised at just how creepy her enemies turned out to be. The evil-dude turned out to be a bit over-the-top, to the point where I was amazed that if he was that much of a creepazoid, I wondered why he hadn’t dragged her back earlier.

Bare It All by Lori FosterThe group dynamics as a whole are loads of fun. It was great to see Logan, Pepper, Reese and Alice (especially Cash!) from Run the Risk and Bare it All (reviewed here) again. Rowdy’s reluctant bonding with the rest of the guys is a hoot.

I can’t wait for book 4, Dash of Peril.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Thankless in Death by J D Robb

Thankless in Death by J.D. RobbFormat read:  print book borrowed from the library
Formats available: ebook, hardcover, large print paperback, mass market paperback, audiobook
Genre: Romantic suspense
Series: In Death, #37
Length: 417 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Date Released: September 17, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Lieutenant Eve Dallas has plenty to be grateful for this season. Hosting Roarke’s big Irish family for the holiday may be challenging, but it’s a joyful improvement on her own dark childhood.

Other couples aren’t as lucky as Eve and Roarke. The Reinholds, for example, are lying in their home stabbed and bludgeoned almost beyond recognition. Those who knew them are stunned—and heartbroken by the evidence that they were murdered by their own son. Twenty-six-year-old Jerry hadn’t made a great impression on the bosses who fired him or the girlfriend who dumped him—but they didn’t think he was capable of this.

Turns out Jerry is not only capable of brutality but taking a liking to it. With the money he’s stolen from his parents and a long list of grievances, he intends to finally make his mark on the world. Eve and her team already know the who, how, and why of this murder. What they need to pinpoint is where Jerry’s going to strike next.

My Review:

There are aspects of Thankless in Death that are, well, thankless, in spite of an absolutely awesome scene where both Eve and, surprisingly Roarke get thanked for their service to the NYPSD.

Unlike many of the entries in this series, this isn’t a whodunnit. It’s not even a “whydunnit”. This one is simply a “when in the deity’s name are they going to finally catch the bastard doing it?” The only suspense involved the length of time the sadistic killer could continue to get lucky and evade capture.

I said lucky and I meant it. This moron wasn’t planning all that much, and he wasn’t bothering to cover up his crimes. He simply caught a lot of lucky breaks, until one of his victims effectively planted a logic bomb in the fake identity he forced her to create for him at knifepoint.

There’s no mystery in this mystery. And we spend more time inside the head of a psychotic serial killer than is comfortable. He isn’t even all that bright, so his world view manages to be both blood soaked and boring at the same time.

This one is a crime about how bad things happen to good people.

The family side of this story doesn’t reveal a lot that’s new, although it is pleasant to have Roarke’s Irish family come to America for Thanksgiving. Roarke playing soccer with his cousins is priceless.

But the best part of this particular outing with Dallas & Co. isn’t either the case or the romance (not that Eve and Roarke aren’t still amazing) but something else altogether.

naked in death by J.D. RobbAll the way back in the beginning, from the very first story in Naked in Death, one of the themes was that originally all Eve Dallas ever wanted was to be “a good cop”. Her job was her life, and it was all she had. Roarke gave her a life outside her job, and made her better at it. Ironically in a way, because he started out as a street-thief, and only stopped the last of his illegal enterprises in order to be with her.

In this most recent story, the NYPSD decides to finally set aside the internal politicking that has kept the powers-that-be from completely acknowledging their contributions. In a very public ceremony. Eve is awarded the Medal of Honor, and Roarke the highest civilian honor, the Civilian Medal of Merit. I choked up when I read the scene, and I did re-reading it just now. It was as if friends were being awarded something, because after all the books and all the years, it feels as if they are.

And that’s why I keep reading.

Escape Rating B-: Definitely far from the best in the series. The experiment of having the reader know much more about the case than the detectives was interesting, but I hope it isn’t repeated, particularly since the scumbags that Dallas generally chases do not have the kind of minds that I want to wallow in for more than a nanosecond.

This particular scumbag wasn’t even intelligent or interesting. Just very scummy.

The cop shop scenes had some good chemistry. I always enjoy seeing Dallas and Feeney work together, and their father/daughter moments had extra poignancy in this one.

All of Eve’s angst and acceptance about receiving the Medal of Honor and the accolades that went with it were far and away the best part of the story. She didn’t want the award or the ceremony that went with it. It wasn’t until the event was taking place that she finally accepted that the award didn’t just have meaning for her, but that it had significance for every victim she had ever stood for–and not just their families, but her own. Not just the family that both she and Roarke had finally discovered were theirs by right, but also the one that they had created through friendship and love.

If only the rest of the book had been close to the emotional resonance of that Medal of Honor ceremony. If only.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Guest Post by Author Christina Esdon on Where in the World is Westwood? + Giveaway

Today I’d like to welcome Christina Esdon, who recently published the very lovely Work in Progress (reviewed here).

Where in the World is Westwood?
by Christina Esdon

The setting of Work in Progress, Westwood, is a fictional town. It doesn’t exist. But I sure wish it did.

Westwood is a small city alongside a river. Its “rival town” Riverside, a large, prosperous city, sits with its highrise skyline sparkling across the river. Both cities are joined by a large bridge.

I grew up in a small sized city on Lake Huron near the US/Canada border. I loved that I had my quaint little city, but that just a short car ride away (over a big bridge) I could be in a completely different country. Westwood and Riverside are in the same country, but their worlds are very different.

 This was my inspiration for the river and bridge that connects Westwood and Riverside. (Bluewater Bridge, Ontario, Canada) (Photo Credit: Christina Esdon)
This was my inspiration for the river and bridge that connects Westwood and Riverside. (Bluewater Bridge, Ontario, Canada) (Photo Credit: Christina Esdon)

As an adult I moved away from my hometown to “the big city”. It had everything: universities, some of the best hospitals around, great theatre and concerts…people my own age instead a sea of grey-haired people falling asleep at the symphony…it was fantastic. Except one thing. It wasn’t near the water. I couldn’t hear the waves of Lake Huron lap at the shore while reading in bed or soaking in the bathtub. After a tough day I couldn’t just kick off my shoes and go for a walk on the shore, my toes digging for cool sand.

I loved living in the Big City, but hated the location.

I missed the water.

Creating Westwood and Riverside was like having my cake and eating it too. The quaint smaller town of Westwood nestled along a rolling river, just a bridge (or boat) ride away from the hustle and bustle of the sparkly city of Riverside.

In real life it was not possible to have these two things at once, but I could make it up and put it in a book.

So I did.

Now I just have to find a way to move to Westwood. But for now I’ll stay in my small city, one foot on the shore, the other foot pointed in the direction of the Big City.

christina esdon author photoAbout Christina Esdon

Christina Esdon is a hopeless romantic and dreamer extraordinaire. She loves to see the world through rose-colored glasses (literally) and has the uncanny ability to find humor and joy in the small things in life. When not writing, she can be found frolicking along the shores of Lake Huron, taking notoriously long bubble baths or contemplating the next renovation to her home in Ontario, Canada. Work in Progress is Christina’s debut novel. You can visit her at her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Christina is kindly giving away one ebook copy of Work in Progress to one lucky winner. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below.

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Review: Work In Progress by Christina Esdon

Work in Progress by Christina EsdonFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: Contemporary Romance; Women’s Fiction
Series: A Westwood Novel
Length: 261 pages
Publisher: Booktrope
Date Released: May 20, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Psychologist Reese Morgan is a feisty workaholic who has devoted her life to helping seriously ill children.

But work is just one of the many walls she has put up to protect herself from the legacies of childhood trauma and heart-wrenching grief. When the family support program she has struggled to build at the local hospital is threatened, Reese must confront her past and embrace her future.

Sparks fly when she comes face to face with a handsome visionary: the contractor who is set to demolish the children’s wing.

Can Reese tear down the walls around her heart to let love in?

My Review:

There’s a cliche that goes “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” That cliche could be applied to all of the characters in Christine Esdon’s novel, Work in Progress. Also the term is equally applicable to architectural drawings and construction sites, and it serves as a metaphor for multiple places in the story as well.

In other words, there are lots of works in progress in this story. Every structure needs a bit of shoring up.

Reese and Nikki have been best friends since they were little girls, and unlike so many childhood BFFs, their near-sisterhood has continued into adulthood. They even own a house together. But there’s a tragedy in their shared childhood that seems to be keeping both of them from being all that they could be.

There used to be five of them. Five musketeers. Reese and Nikki, their brothers Chase and Drew, and Reese’s little sister Livvy. Until tragedy struck and Livvy died of cancer at the tender age of eight and the light went out of Reese’s world.

Chase has spent his adulthood running away from his grief. Ten years foot-loose and fancy-free, spanning the globe, couch-surfing from job to job and never being there for his sister Reese. Nikki has no confidence in herself, staying in a dead-end advertising job she detests where everyone dumps on her. Nikki’s brother Drew has become a nearly soulless corporate overachiever.

And Reese has let her grief and anger rule her life. She clings to the hospital where Livvy spent her last days, and volunteers as a child psychologist in order to remain near those last precious memories of Livvy. But she detests her regular job as a clinical psychologist, the only paying position she could get that allowed her to stay in Livvy’s presence. She’s never processed any of her anger and grief. Reese is living yet another cliche, a psychologist who very seriously needs a psychologist.

Her life is bound in the past. So she’s threatened when the hospital decides to disband the children’s wing, Livvy’s last hospital room, in order to combine services with the larger hospital in the next town.

Reese focuses her anger on the man who owns the construction company. And she runs headlong into all of his issues.

Josh Montgomery has planned his whole life. Getting the hospital construction contract is part of his plan for his company. Getting infatuated, or remotely interested, in the attractive, angry and extremely angst-driven woman who is so caught up in the children’s department of the hospital is not part of his life-plan.

But it happens anyway. The question is whether either of them can work enough progress to make a relationship worth the pain.

Escape Rating B: There’s Reese’s issues, there’s Josh’s issues, and then there are all the lovely, lovely side characters. Work in Progress is one of those books where the side characters are more than window dressing; they are an absolute treat.

And also the relationships among the women, Reese, Nikki and pediatric nurse Julia, cause this story to pass the Bechdel test with flying colors. These women aren’t just hanging around to talk about the romances in their lives, they talk about their careers, their families and their plans for the future in ways that don’t include men. They are well-rounded characters and not just devices to further the romance.

In some ways, Josh seems too good to be true, and in other ways, he needs some serious work of his own. He forgives Reese way more crap than is probably realistic, but, and it’s a very big but, he also does something huge that is supposedly for her, but does it without telling her, knowing full well that it’s way too large to get into without letting her know. It makes him come off as being either manipulative or paternalistic, with the weight coming down on paternalistic. He thinks he’s not telling Reese things because she won’t be able to handle the disappointment if it doesn’t work out, but again, that’s treating her like less than a responsible adult. Whatever crap she has, and it’s a lot, he’s making decisions that affect her life for her and not with her.

There’s a little too much of Josh overriding Reese’s objections and pushing too fast into a relationship that she says she doesn’t want. While we know from the omniscient perspective of the story that Josh is right, there’s a feeling that he’s taking Reese’s agency away, and it feels wrong. Her angry reaction is over the top, but not totally off-base.

They have to pull apart before they can have a chance, because Josh has pushed too hard and decided too much. Also planned too much, but then, that’s where his issues come in.

Reese’s anger pushes people away, Josh’s über planning mode pushes forward too fast. They both have progress they need to work toward. Watching them work, and watching their friends both help and sometimes hinder, is what makes this story interesting.

I hope there are future Westwood stories where we see the other characters work toward their own progress. These are all neat people, and I want to see them each get their own story.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 10-27-13

Sunday Post

Halloween is coming. This week! It’s our first Halloween in Seattle, and we don’t know what Autumn will mean here in the Pacific Northwest, although we’re guessing that it’s the start of the rainy season.

In the South, it meant the weather finally got decent again, after a summer of “OMG it’s hot!” In Alaska, by late October winter had already set in for the long haul. In the Midwest, Halloween really did mean that Fall was ending. Chicago usually has a pretty nice (and generally pretty, Fall. (Spring kind of sucks, but Fall was often long and beautiful).

Something Wicked Returns BlueBut about Halloween. There are still a few more days to enter both the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop and the Something Wicked Returns Hop. Because, of course, they are Halloween-themed hops and will ghost away on Halloween. However, the lucky winners will be able to spend their $10 Amazon or B&N gift cards any time they like. Even on non-ghostly books. But enter soon before the chance disappears until next spook time.

Speaking of ghosts, Book Lovers Inc. has sadly joined the legion of ghost book blogs. The international book congress was my book blogging “home away from home” for two years, and I’ll miss posting there and all the friends I made over at BLI. I’d like to formally welcome those who followed the links and decided to give Reading Reality a try.

And for those who miss Draconismoi’s trademark rants from BLI, let me introduce you to Cass, otherwise known as Draconismoi from BLI. She has graciously, or snarkily, agreed to bring her ranting and reviewing skills down the coast from Alaska to Seattle for the occasional rant and review. Her first post at Reading Reality was this week’s Series Shakedown. Read and enjoy!

Current Giveaways:

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop 2013Something Wicked Returns: my prize is a $10 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble; visit the other stops on the hop to see their fabulous prizes.

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop: Yet another opportunity for you to win a $10 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Check the post to see the over 300 other stops on this hop!

Hunter’s Moon by Lisa Kessler — tourwide giveaway of a $25 Amazon gift card and earrings.

Psy ChangelingBlog Recap:

Entangled Edge Release Day Blast
B+ Review: Hunter’s Moon by Lisa Kessler + Giveaway
B+ Review: Finding It by Cora Carmack
B Review: The Case of the Cosmological Killer by Stephanie Osborn
B+ Review: Rogue’s Possession by Jeffe Kennedy
Guest Post by Jeffe Kennedy on The Lure of the Fish-Out-of-Water Character
Series Shakedown: Psy/Changelings by Nalini Singh (written by Cass)
Stacking the Shelves (64)

Fall into Romance Giveaway HopComing Next Week:

Work in Progress by Christina Esdon (review + guest post + giveaway)
Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb (review)
Getting Rowdy by Lori Foster (review + Q&A + giveaway)
Something Wicked by Angela Campbell (review)
Take Me, Cowboy by Jane Porter (review)
Fall into Winter Romance Giveaway Hop

Stacking the Shelves (64)

Stacking the Shelves

Lots of new books this week, including some I’ve waiting for!

For Review:
Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie
Bad Idea by Damon Suede
Close to You (Downside Ghosts #5.5) by Stacia Kane
Country Loving (Talyton St. George #7) by Cathy Woodman
The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers (Demon Slayer #2) by Angie Fox
Down the Aisle (Dare Me #3) by Christine Bell
Hard Target (Elite Ops #1) by Kay Thomas
Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas (Perfect Fit #1.5) by Sugar Jamison
Highland Protector (MacCoinnich Time Travels #5) by Catherine Bybee
Highland Shifter (MacCoinnich Time Travels #4) by Catherine Bybee
In the Company of Thieves (The Company) by Kage Baker
Matzoh and Mistletoe by Jodie Griffin
The Obsidian Heart (Echoes of Empire #2) by Mark T. Barnes
The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes
Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa Dare
Serafina and the Virtual Man (Serafina’s #2) by Maria Treanor
Something Wicked (Psychic Detectives #2) by Angela Campbell
The Sweetest Thing (Talyton St. George #3) by Cathy Woodman
Winter’s Heat (Nemesis Unlimited #1.5) by Zoe Archer

Borrowed from the Library:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
The Kingdom of Gods (Inheritance Trilogy #3) by N.K. Jemisin

Series Shakedown: Psy/Changelings by Nalini Singh

Psy ChangelingRural Alaska towns are not known for their cell reception, or internet accessibility. This makes them most unfortunate locations to be stranded after a catastrophic car failure. Oh Subaru, why hast thou forsaken me?

Aforementioned small towns do, however, have community bookshelves. Free for pillaging!

I was left with a choice of either the futility of convincing rural Alaskans that NO THIS CAN’T WAIT UNTIL TUESDAY, or mainlining the Psy/Changeling series.

Marlene, devoted fangirl that she is, clearly supported my decision escape the crushing reality of a massive towing debt in favor of futuristic inter-special hook-ups.

Was this a wise decision?!


Slave to Sensation: Hmm, how do you circumvent any extremely valid objections people might have to Their Glorious Leader shacking up with an enemy government lackey? Make her physiologically dependent on The Mighty Changeling Cock! (-)

Visions of Heat: Stalking, breaking and entering, sexual assault, and denial of necessary medical care. Someone get this woman a fucking protection order. The Changelings were all high-and-mighty about their anti-murder stance, but they don’t seem too terribly concerned with domestic violence and rape. (-)

caressed by iceCaressed By Ice: What is this? A man who respects a woman’s boundaries, follows her lead, is totally upfront about limitations he is placing on a relationship, and supports her accomplishments? Wolflings unite! Gotta keep the women away from this monster by any means necessary. (+)

Mine to Possess: How dare you be traumatized by being sexually assaulted as a child! That vagina belonged to me! I shall now slut-shame you, verbally abuse you, emotionally batter you, threaten you, demean you, demand sex, and make sure everyone knows that any twinge of emotional discomfort I am feeling is 150% your fault. Alternate Title: The Proto-Jacob. (-)

Hostage to Pleasure: Accidentally bleeding on a child saves his life. Provides necessary leverage to bang his mom. Nailing mommy-dearest psychically cures her twin sister’s homicidal impulses. Damn. All problems truly can be solved through the mighty power of the changeling cock. (-)

Branded by Fire: These groups have been allies for 10 years in an ongoing war against a common enemy. No one has problems with people sleeping with the enemy, but shacking up with an ally is an unthinkable act of betrayal? (-)

Kiss of SnowPlay of Passion: Again with the pretend relationship barries. High-ranking women have been sleeping with their subordinates for millennia. Fuck this misogynist bullshit. Alternative Title: Woman on Top? Haha! That’s a good one. (-)

Kiss of Snow: This hookup has been building for awhile. Bonus points for not creepily stalking and/or isolating her as a teen. His series long ability to not perv over the jailbait, combined with her male relatives acknowledgement that she is an adult capable of making her own goddamn decisions (unlike every other male relative in the series) outweighs the triple crown Dues ex Machina.

How many impossible escape hatches do you need? We have a series long contrivance machine known as the changeling cock. Defrosting Cryo-lady and self-aware psychic networks are not particularly necessary.

See? The Doctor only needs one Deus ex Machina per episode. Reign yourself in!


Is there an alternative title to this series? Something along the lines of the Sexpot Contrivance Machines would be appropriate.

Obviously I didn’t read every book – but unless one of the missing installments discusses how Psy is code for Sex God, I’m gonna call bullshit on the marathon sex sessions. Virgins do not go from zero to Kama Sutra 2.46 seconds. The Psy don’t even masturbate! You expect me to believe guys who have never, upon pain of extreme torture, laid a finger on their packages are going to be able to hold back for that synchronized orgasm? No.

Then we have Contrivance Machine known as the Mighty Changeling Cock. All psychic health issues can be solved by a good deep dicking. What happens when the Psy wants a divorce? Or has an affair?

These eye-roll inducing situations aside, I cannot support the inherit misogyny in every page of the series. Women may only sleep with men pre-approved by their brothers. Only evil women get abortions. Slutty women deserve whatever suffering they’ve endured. A woman’s disinterest in sex must be forcibly eradicated. Are you seeing a pattern? It’s a pattern of infantalizing women. They exist only as extensions of men, and if their preferences or actions run contrary to the men? Well then they are “brats” or “divas” and need to be brought to heel. Though isolation, emotional manipulation, psychological abuse, and physical and/or sexual assault.

The only two books that got a positive rating were those heavily featuring Judd. Who is, as far as I can tell, the only non-sexist man in the series. The rest of them are assholes.

Escape Rating: D.

Guest Post by Jeffe Kennedy on The Lure of the Fish-Out-of-Water Character

Today I would like to welcome Jeffe Kennedy, who just published the absolutely fascinating Rogue’s Possession (reviewed here), the sequel to her equally fantastic Rogue’s Pawn (reviewed last year)

Rogue Possesion Button 300 x 225

Abducted by Indians or Transported to Live with Cave People – the Lure of the Fish-Out-of-Water Character
by Jeffe Kennedy

Marlene asked me, why does the idea of a character from our world crossing to another universe continue to fascinate (some call this portal fiction)? How much fun is it for an author to create and use such a complete fish-out-of-water character like Gwynn to show us her new world?

rogues pawn goodreadsIt’s funny – I never knew the term “portal fiction” until I saw my agent using it on Twitter. And always as a reason for rejection. “I don’t like portal fantasies,” she’d say. Finally I asked her, “Isn’t Rogue’s Pawn a portal fantasy?” She said, Yes, yes it is. We both laughed at that, because it was Rogue’s Pawn that prompted her offer me representation. She read it, loved it and wanted more. So now she says “I apparently don’t like portal fiction until it’s written.”

For me, I wanted to write a story like this ever since I read this book when I was ten, that I got a the library. It was called Saturday, the Twelfth of October and was about a girl transported in time to live with cave people. It was my first experience with the TSTL heroine. I spent the entire book unhappy with the girl’s intelligence, practicality and pretty much every dumb thing she did. I resolved then that I’d write a book like that someday, only my heroine would be much smarter. (I imagine it also helps that she’s an adult and well-educated, but I didn’t see the world that way then.)

Ever since, I’ve been fascinated by the “fish out of water” story. Diana Gabaldon handled it brilliantly, to my great joy – though I got bored with the series once Claire became so easy with both worlds. The story doesn’t have to be fantasy either. I went through a serious phase of reading “abduction by Indians” stories.

Why is this so interesting?

Rogue's Possession by Jeffe KennedyI think part of it is the notion of testing ourselves. How would I handle this kind of transportation to an alien world or culture? In many ways, it’s the ultimate test of ourselves as individuals. The protagonist is removed from everything familiar, all support systems – friends, families, pets, etc. – and is thrust into an alien and perhaps hostile culture. There are all sorts of challenges – the inherent danger of not knowing the rules, of not having help, of being discovered as an imposter, perhaps.

How fun is it?

WAY fun! I don’t pre-plot my stories (I can’t), so I ride around in Gwynn’s head and discover the world as she does. In many ways, her challenges are mine. How do we create light without fire? Better figure it out! So writing these stories allows me all the thrill of figuring out how I’d do a better job than that dumb girl in that long-ago read, without actually facing the dangers.

Isn’t that what escapism is all about?

Jeffe KennedyAbout Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her fantasy BDSM romance, Petals and Thorns, originally published under the pen name Jennifer Paris, has won several reader awards. Sapphire, the first book in Facets of Passion has placed first in multiple romance contests and the follow-up, Platinum, is climbing the charts. Her most recent works include three fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns, the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and the post-apocalyptic vampire erotica of the Blood Currency.Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, with two Maine coon cats, a border collie, plentiful free-range lizards and a Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

She is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary.

To learn about Jeffe, visit her website or blog or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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