Winter is Coming Giveaway Hop

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Welcome to the second annual Winter is Coming Giveaway Hop,  hosted by The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island.

Winter is really coming, even down here in Atlanta. It’s in the upper 60s as I type, but by the time you read this post the temperature will have dropped 20 degrees and a cold rain is supposed to be falling. My friends up in Anchorage probably think of that as a balmy day, but down here it’s time for everyone to get out all of their winter clothes that it is barely cold enough to wear.

Hopefully your winter won’t be too frostbitten this year!

No matter how cold it is, or not, there’s always time to curl up with a hot libation of your choice and a good book. I’m giving away the winner’s choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository to help provide either the book or the libation. Fill out the rafflecopter for your chance at something to help you while away the cold winter months!

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And for more fabulous prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop!

Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway Hop, hosted by yours truly, Reading Reality, and the Caffeinated Book Reviewer!

As everyone knows, Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the U.S. It’s the day when all the stores run all the crazy doorbuster sales, starting at absolutely obscene hours of the morning. Or the night before.

Black Friday got its name because the opening of the holiday season was usually the first day of the year that retail outlets began operating at a profit, in other words, in the black, and out of the red that means debt and loss and other bad things.

But with Cyber Monday now happening all holiday season (and all year round!) things are not what they used to be in the world of retail and in-person shopping. Which won’t make today any less frenetic if you go to the sales.

I’ll be with friends, and doing my shopping online. What about you?

For a chance to get a start on your holiday shopping, fill out the rafflecopter for your chance at either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository.

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And for more fabulous bookish prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour

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Welcome to my stop on this holiday Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour. While the tour features six lovely holiday book treats, my special guest today is Nana Malone, the author of Mistletoe Mantra, half of the Wrapped in Red story bundle with Sherelle Green’s White Hot Holiday.

wrapped in red by nana malone and sherelle greenMistletoe Mantra is a terrific little holiday story that puts together some tried-and-oh-so-true romance themes and wraps them up in a red Christmas bow. This is story where, as Nana says in her guest post below, nice guys do not finish last. Not only that, but this particular nice guy has been hiding a big streak of naughty from his best friend for years and year. Because while Nomi Adams has never figured out it, she has always been Lincoln Porter’s “little redheaded girl”. Just like Charlie Brown, Linc has loved Nomi from the day she walked into his life, and he has loved her from the shadows, while she and his sister (and Nomi’s best friend) grew up and got even more beautiful right before his eyes. What Nomi discovers when she returns home after years away, is that Lincoln has had his own moment of transformation, and that the shy little boy she remembers has been replaced by a very hot and incredibly thoughtful man with some big secrets of his own. Including a secret that Nomi has come home to expose.

Guest Post by Nana Malone on Good Guys and Nice Girls

Good girl, beep beep…

Talking about a good, good girl…and guy. Well, maybe that’s not exactly how the song goes. But in a book world full of superalphas, I want to talk about the nice guy for once and his nice girl.

No, this isn’t your mother’s Mary Sue, and nice guys don’t have to finish last.
Okay, I get it. Inked, with a constant 5 o’clock shadow, alpha males are sexy and hot. They say what they think. They’re a little bit dirty. They flout authority. Having one as your book boyfriend keeps you on the edge of your seat and your heart racing. Because you never know when you’ll be on a train and they’ll slip a hand under your skirt…or maybe those are just my book boyfriends. LOL.

And don’t even get me started on the bad girls. You know the ones. They hang with the boys, wear killer stilettos and don’t seem to own a pair of panties.

But let’s face it, ladies. In every romance you’ve ever read, the tatted playboy changes for the heroine. Because of her, he becomes a better person.

I personally love a nice guy. You know, the one who thinks to bring you something when he comes home from a trip. The one who will walk your dog when you’re running a fever. But these guys can be super-sexy, too.

Just because they know how to open a door doesn’t mean in the bedroom, they can’t turn it on. Yes, I’m talking about the closet bad boys. The ones who are just a little bit dirty. The ones we get to muss up.

Who: the good guy.
Why he’s good: because he’ll always be the hero.
Why women miss out on him: because we think he’s boring or too stable.
Why he’s sexy: because he knows what you need before you do, and he knows how to give it to you.
Dirty little secret: he’s good with his words…in bed as well as out…

Can we just talk about the original good guy for a moment? Mmmmm, Mr. Darcy. Sure, he had his issues, but at the core of it, you could bring him home to Mama. LOL. He was respectful, kind and nowhere near being a rogue. But when it counted…whoo, that man was sexy.

Some of my favorites in books include Brody Lawson from Love So Hot, Josh Hudson from Can’t Shake You and even in my own books—Beckett from Sultry in Stilettos, Caleb from Sassy in Stilettos and let’s not forget Lincoln from Wrapped in Red.

Now let’s talk about my good girls. Nothing wrong with being nice. Jennifer Lawrence is nice, but she’s also hilarious. The trick is, no one wants their besties to be too nice, right? Nice girls these days aren’t like the ones from years ago. They might have a designer addiction like Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic series and my own Jaya from Sexy in Stilettos and Nomi. She could just be hopeless like poor Bridget from Bridget Jones’s Diary, but even the nice girl can be hot. The trick is, she can’t be Mother Teresa.

It’s all about the flaws. No one wants that bestie who is just perfect at everything and saccharine-sweet to boot. What makes today’s nice girls oh so sexy? They’re funny. They keep sweaters in their ovens, have addictions to shoes, chocolate, lingerie and books. They drink, they swear and gasp! get a little naughty in the bedroom. No more goody-goody nice girls who aren’t any fun.

Who: the good girl.
Why she’s good: because she’s fun and loveable, and everyone wants to be her bestie.
Why men miss out on her: because they think she’s too good and no fun.
Why she’s sexy: because she’s quirky and will try anything once.
Dirty little secret: she loves to role play…

So come on, who’s your favorite book nice guy and nice girl?

All About Nana:
nana maloneUSA Today Bestselling Author, Nana Malone’s love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense she borrowed from her cousin on a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana at a precocious thirteen. She’s been in love with kick butt heroines ever since.With her overactive imagination, and channeling her inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before she started creating her own characters. Waiting for her chance at a job as a ninja assassin, Nana, meantime works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as sassy and kick butt as she thinks she is.

Nana is the author of three series. The Love Match Series includes sassy contemporary romances: Game, Set, Match and Mismatch. The In Stilettos Series includes ultra-sexy and fun multicultural romantic comedies, Sexy in Stilettos, Sultry in Stilettos and Sassy in Stilettos . The Protectors series includes dark and sexy superhero romances, Betrayed (A Reluctant Protector Prequel), Reluctant Protector and Forsaken Protector.

The books in her series have been on multiple Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble best seller lists as well as the iTunes Breakout Books list and most notably the USA Today Bestseller list.

Until that ninja job comes through, you’ll find Nana working hard on additional books for her series as well as other fun, sassy romances for characters that won’t leave her alone. And if she’s not working or hiding in the closet reading, she’s acting out scenes for her husband, daughter and puppy in sunny San Diego.

Contact Nana at: nana@nanamaloneromance.com

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

One grand prize winner will receive:
1 print copy of The Harder You Fall by Gena Showalter, White Wedding Christmas by Andrea Laurence, A Cowboy Under the Mistletoe by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Wrapped in Red by Nana Malone and Sherelle Green
1 eBook copy of A Copper Ridge Christmas by Maisey Yates and Under the Spotlight by Kate Willoughby
100,000 Harlequin MyRewards points
2 Harlequin Classics limited edition notebooks
1 Brenda Jackson Westmoreland limited edition notebook

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FOLLOW THE TOUR:

Review: Damage Control by Jess Anastasi + Giveaway

Review: Damage Control by Jess Anastasi + GiveawayDamage Control (Valiant Knox #2) by Jess Anastasi
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genres: science fiction romance
Series: Valiant Knox #2
Pages: 302
Published by Entangled: Select Otherworld on October 26th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

In space, you can't hide from temptation...
Nick-named Hardass by the new recruits, Leigh Alphin is captain of the Fighter Force of the battleship Valiant Knox. He’s honorable, straightforward, and hard as nails – except for the soft spot he has for a young woman he rescued off a transport under attack. Now that she’s one of his new recruits, it’s imperative he stop thinking about her in that way.
Especially now that the Knox has been secretly infiltrated by the enemy.
Mia Wolf’s new commanding officer is icy, no-BS, and completely gorgeous. His glances send heat searing through her. Neither of them can afford to make this mistake, yet desire takes hold, consuming them. For the first time, Leigh’s iron sense of honor falters as his heart fights for love… and against an enemy trying to destroy everything they hold dear.

My Review:

Welcome to the Valiant Knox, a floating city in space. More like a flying city. Think Battlestar Galactica, with the long-running war being not quite as devastating. At least not yet.

The Valiant Knox is an Alliance space battleship, on the side of the good guys fighting the evil CSS. The CSS believes in bombing everyone back to a religious-based stone age, even as they use stolen Alliance space ships to get that job done.

escape velocity by jess anastasiThe CSS still strikes this reader as basic fundamentalist-type loonies, but they seem to be damn effective loonies. If space opera with a very strong romantic element is your thing, start with Escape Velocity (reviewed here) to read this series from its start.

While the setting of the Valiant Knox itself is very cool, the series as a whole still strikes me as gateway science fiction romance for readers who love military romance and just aren’t sure about the whole “space” thing.

A lot of the story, and an equal amount of the tension in the romance, will feel very familiar to readers of military romance. New recruit Mia Wolfe is rescued by Captain Leigh Alphin of the Valiant Knox. Wolfe needs a rescue because the CSS has infiltrated the Alliance hierarchy, and someone knew just when the shuttle carrying new recruits to the Knox would be the most vulnerable to enemy action. Her shuttle squeaks into the Knox cargo bay, with the engines about to explode. Instead, Alphin disobeys orders and board the fire ship all by himself. He barely makes it to the bridge controls to cut off the doomed shuttle’s engine in time. In time before he succumbs to smoke inhalation, and in time before the cargo bay is vented to space to prevent the shuttle from taking the Knox with her in a ball of flame.

Mia Wolfe is one of many in the ship of recruits, but her dogged determination to keep both her unconscious friend and herself alive with one gas mask during the fire snags at Alphin’s heart. A heart most people claimed he didn’t have.

He assumes that the raw recruit will be assigned somewhere else in the war effort, probably to the planet below. Which gives him a bit of license to let the young woman know how much he admires her courage, and lets him just be human for a minute in her company, instead of always sealing himself inside his hard ass, Captain Air Fighter Forces (CAFF) persona.

(His rank feels borrowed directly from BSG, as both Lee Adama and Starbuck served as CAFF on that series at different times. Leigh is high in the chain of command, serving as the commander of all the fighter squadrons on the ship.)

Of course, Murphy’s Law states that the one woman Leigh let his guard down in front of is assigned to the fighter squadron. Now she’s not just forbidden because she’s a recruit, but because she is his recruit and he will have the responsibility of judging her fitness for the squad or washing her out and kicking her planetside to the ground forces.

They are as stupid for each other as romance readers could want. They both know that any relationship is a career-killingly bad idea for both of them, but they can’t seem to resist. To make the situation fraught with even more peril, the ship’s commander, Kai Yang from Escape Velocity, is fighting for his career as he tries to ferret out just how many CSS moles are aboard the Knox, and he asks for Leigh’s help.

Leigh gets Mia Wolfe involved in his covert intelligence operation, which provides even more opportunities for them to be dangerously alone together. But as the attacks against them and the Knox escalate, their relationship also shows them just what they have to fight for.

If they survive.

Escape Rating B+: I like this series a lot. It reminds me of a cross between BSG and Stargate SG1, but in my book those are awfully good progenitors for a military SF series.

The relationship between Mia and Leigh is a slow burn that heats up fast. And that any relationship will be extremely damaging to both their careers just adds that luscious flavor of forbidden fruit to the whole thing.

It’s easy to see why their relationship is so dangerous. At the moment, he controls her future career. And by entering into a relationship with a recruit, he leaves himself wide open to charges of favoritism by any other recruit. And then there’s the power imbalance. This just shouldn’t happen.

But they have something for each other. Leigh is tired of having nothing in his life except his job. A good job will not love you back, as the saying goes. Mia has the potential to be his equal, given time and experience. But with a deadly war escalating, time is one thing they do not have.

There is a traitor in their midst. Leigh knows it, and so does Yang, but can’t figure out who among his trusted officers might be the moles. Mia has some mad computer skills, and is capable of ferreting out the truth, if Leigh can keep them both alive.

The tension ratchets up in every direction. Not just the romantic and sexual tension, but the tension of the situation. They need to find the moles and plug the leak. They need to keep their relationship under wraps. Yang needs to fend off the bureaucrats who want to end his career, and possibly the effectiveness of the Knox along with it. And the moles are out to get them personally, as well as get the Knox and the Alliance in general. (I have a sneaking suspicion that the political movement against Yang may turn out to also be a product of CSS moles, but only future entries in the series (please let there be some!) will tell me if I’m right)

The plot doesn’t let up for a minute.

As much as I’m enjoying this story, I still want to know a lot more about the crazy CSS. Because we see everything from the side of the Knox, we aren’t able to get deeply into their motives and operation. They still seem like lunatic fringe fundamentalists. For this story to move from B+ into the A’s this reader needs to see more explanation for why these bad guys have turned so bad.

But Damage Control (and Escape Velocity), the continuing adventures of the Valiant Knox, are still a marvelously fun ride.

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

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So that new readers can get caught up with the Valiant Knox, Entangled is giving away two ebook copies of Escape Velocity to lucky commenters on this tour.

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Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

It’s that time again. What time is that? Time for the annual Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer!

I think the scariest thing I’ve seen this year is the mass proliferation of “Pumpkin Spice Everything” in every single store. While I’m grateful that the Pumpkin Spice Brigade is holding the too early Christmas Decoration Horde at bay, I think I’ve smelled enough pumpkin spice to last a lifetime. And the month is only half over.

This is my favorite recipe for pumpkin beer. Or pumpkin anything except pie.

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If the endless promotion of pumpkin spice everything isn’t scary enough, there are plenty of books to make you shiver. I’m reading Broadcast Hysteria for Halloween. It’s about a real-life scare that should still be fascinating. On Halloween in 1938, CBS Radio broadcast Orson Welles adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. And thousands of people got hysteric believing that Martians really were invading New York City.

What scary books are you reading for Halloween? Or what’s your favorite scary book? Let us know in the Rafflecopter for your chance at a $10 Gift Card or $10 Book.

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For more great scary bookish prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop:

Books to Movies Giveaway Hop

books to movies giveaway hop

Welcome to the Books to Movies Giveaway Hop, hosted by Bookhounds and I Am a Reader.

The theme here is pretty obvious, books that have been turned into movies. As popular as the release of a movie makes its originating book, there is also a meme that says “Never Judge a Book by its Movie”, which has a whole lot of truth in it.

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The movie has to leave a lot of stuff out that was in the book. Translating a 300 page book into a movie probably gets a 12 hour movie, if not longer. And they might not even be a great 12 hours.

Rumor has it (also a ton of reviews) that the movie of The Martian might be better than the book. There’s always one exception that proves the rule. But usually, the book loses something in the translation. Don’t get me started on the translation of The Hobbit, which was a fairly short book, into three much-padded movies. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have minded a bit if The Lord of the Rings had been 4, 5 or even 6 movies instead of three. There is an awful lot of there, there, and a lot of it had to be cut.

You probably have your own favorite book into movie. And you probably also have your own “they should NEVER have turned that book into a movie”. And possibly even your own worst adaptation of a book into a movie. Share what they are in the rafflecopter for your chance to win a $10 Gift Card or $10 Book, so you can get a copy of your next favorite. Before they rip half the pages out and turn it into a movie.

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Guest Post by Nina Croft on Living Forever + Giveaway

blood and metal by nina croftAs part of the celebration of her latest fantastic Blood Hunter book (see today’s review for deets) I’d like to welcome Nina Croft back to Reading Reality. In addition to the tour for Blood and Metal, Nina sent me a fantastic guest post about one of the central themes in a lot of her fiction. “Who wants to live forever?” along with that age-old romantic question, “If you could live forever, who would you want to spend it with?” As so many of her marvelous stories involve vampires and other immortals, this question comes up a lot. The answer, at least when Nina is answering the question, is always interesting.

Who wants to live forever?
by Nina Croft

Well, I do for one.

Of course, I might change my mind in a few thousand years, but until then it seems a way better option than the alternative.

I’m Nina Croft, and I write all sorts of romance often with a speculative element, and this week, BLOOD AND METAL, book 5 in my Dark Desires series releases.

The series is essentially science fiction romance with a paranormal twist and follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of the crew of the space ship, the Blood Hunter.

I hope readers find the series fun and sexy, but there is also an underlying deeper theme to all the books—that of man’s fear of death and the search for immortality, whether through science, religion or by some paranormal means.

The idea of immortality, and the price people would be willing to pay to obtain it, has always fascinated me, and I believe it’s one of the things that draws people to paranormal. It’s part of the lure of the vampire—the fact that they cannot die (well not easily anyway). It’s certainly one of the main things that draws me, as a writer, to the paranormal.

My Dark Desires series takes place in a future when man has fled to the stars and there they have discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian—a rare substance available to only a few. A new class has evolved; the Collective, super rich and immortal, they rule the universe. And just about everyone else is desperate to earn enough money to pay for the Meridian treatment. Though as the series goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that money isn’t the only price to be paid. And some members of the Collective are getting a little squeamish.

The series began with Break Out. Ricardo Sanchez, my hero, is the owner and pilot of the ship. Unlike most of the civilized universe, Rico isn’t interested in Meridian. He doesn’t need it, because he’s already immortal. Rico is a vampire and has lived a long time (he was born on Earth in the middle ages).

Move onto book 5. In Blood and Metal, Daisy, the co-pilot of the Blood Hunter, has never wanted immortality, rather it was thrust upon her when she was dying and Rico did the only thing he could to save her life…turn her into a vampire.

Fergal, our hero, on the other hand, doesn’t so much want to live forever as he doesn’t want to die (a slightly different goal but with the same results.) With that aim, he signed up for a totally experimental cybernetics programme, and is now dealing with some unexpected results.

So neither Daisy nor Fergal really wanted to live forever, but both are now immortal (if they get to survive the book), and they both have to learn to deal with that.

So what do you think? Would you like to live forever? And just how much would you be willing to pay? Let me know for a chance to win an ecopy of Break Out (book 1 in my Dark Desires series), Bittersweet Blood (book 1 in my Order series) and Operation Saving Daniel (book 1 in my Melville Sisters series).

[photo of Nina Croft]About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

To find out more about Nina, look for her at her website, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I have adored all of Nina’s series, so I’m absolutely thrilled that she is letting me give away an ebook prize pack of the first books in her three series. The winner will receive ebook copies of Break Out (reviewed here) Bittersweet Blood (reviewed here) and Operation Saving Daniel (reviewed here). I’m a fan, so I’m happy to be able to share some of my favorites with a lucky commenter.

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Review: Blood and Metal by Nina Croft + Giveaway

blood and metal by nina croftFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Blood Hunter/Dark Desires #5
Length: 268 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date Released: August 24, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

She’s his last chance for redemption…if she doesn’t kill him first.

Copilot of the Blood Hunter, Daisy is a newly-turned vampire, and she’s hungry. Really hungry and it’s interfering with her plans for revenge. Unfortunately, the only thing that can distract her from said hunger is sex…which is a problem when she can barely refrain from draining any man dry within moments. But old flame Fergal Cain might just be the sexy-assed solution to her problem.

Part human, part cyborg, and with a poison coursing through his system, Fergal’s running out of time to find the scientist who has the cure. Unfortunately for him, the misfit crew of the Blood Hunter put a serious kink in his plans. And if the poison doesn’t kill him, the hot little vamp he can’t resist might do the honors herself…

My Review:

Plant girl turned vampire meets intrepid reporter turned cyborg. Or at least that’s one variation on the romance between Daisy, copilot of the Blood Hunter and Fergal Cain, escaped prisoner. However, there are many, many layers to both of their identities, and lots of both internal and external tension in this latest installment in the marvelous Blood Hunter series.

temporal shift by nina croftThe previous book in this series, Temporal Shift (reviewed here) serves as a bit of a reboot for the series. During the events of that book, which take place on the other side of a wormhole, only six months pass for the crew of Blood Hunter. It’s during those six months that Daisy, a genetically modified young woman with a whole lot of chlorophyll in her DNA, is nearly killed and is changed into a vampire in order to save her life.

The crew of the Blood Hunter has already lost some of their nearest and dearest in the galactic power struggle that they keep finding themselves in the middle of, and Rico, who swore that he would never turn anyone again, turns Daisy to keep her with them. Especially since her near-death is all his fault.

But Daisy the vampire is also a problem. She’s hungry ALL THE TIME, and doesn’t have enough control to manage her hunger. Her crewmates are now also food, but food she doesn’t want to kill. Lucky for her, they are all immortal and can afford to feed her regularly. Rico tells her that sex will also quiet her hunger, but every single person on the Blood Hunter is part of a couple. Everyone has already found their soulmate, except for poor lonely and starving Daisy.

When they come back through the wormhole, they discover that 20 years has passed in the world they left behind, and everything has gone into the shitter. The very militant and anti-anyone-not-pure-human Church of Everlasting Life has taken control of everything, and people in general are either true believers or truly terrified.

deadly pursuit by nina croftThe head of the church, Temperance Hatcher, is responsible for the deaths of too many of the Blood Hunter’s crew. And he has two of the crew as hostages, Alex and Jon. Alex has been forced to resume her role as reluctant High Priestess in order to keep her husband Jon alive. (If you’re curious about how they got together in the first place, read Deadly Pursuit (reviewed here) for the story of Alex’ escape from the Church and their unlikely romance.)

In their first unsuccessful attempt to break Jon out of prison, the crew rediscovers Fergal Cain instead. When they first met, Fergal was an investigative journalist infiltrating a company that produced cyborgs. Twenty years later, Fergal is an escaped cyborg attempting to rescue the one man who knows the details of Fergal’s condition, and the one man who can possibly keep him alive.

The Blood Hunter crew can’t leave Fergal behind, they’ve just blown his cover as a prison guard. But Fergal is certain that he can’t stay with the Blood Hunter, he’s carrying too many deadly secrets that will either get them all killed, or get him tossed out an airlock. But when he and Daisy discover that they are everything the other one needs to cure everything that ails them, he can’t make himself turn away.

Not even when it is much, much too late.

Escape Rating B+: I’ll confess to being a bit confused by the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey bits in Temporal Shift, so it was great that the author put the crew back into normal space and into a story where time behaved normally again.

At the same time, the 20 year break served as an interesting reboot. When the crew left normal space it took the leaders of the two of the three major power groups with them. So the Collective and the rebel conclave both collapsed without their leaders and the Church very much ascendant took over everything.

Rabid theocracy is not anyone’s friend in this book. In this case, the True Believers in human purity are unable to tolerate any deviance, either in DNA or in thought. The prisons are full and the people are scared, quite reasonably, to death.

Fergal Cain has a big secret that he is carrying through most of the book. However, it is a secret that is easily guessed by the reader. And my knowing what it was did not detract from the drama, because the tension always revolved around other people’s reaction to that secret, not its existence.

Daisbreak out by nina crofty and Fergal make a perfect pair. He is a cyborg, and he normally has to hold back on his strength and capabilities. Daisy is a vampire who is afraid to let down her guard out of fear that she might kill her partner. Except that Daisy discovers that while Fergal may be terrific in bed, he isn’t food for her vampire. As a cyborg, he tastes terrible!

But that they are each able to let down their respective guards makes their intimacy, both physical and emotional, hard for them to resist. Fergal has never belonged to anyone or anything before, and his connection to Daisy, and through her to the crew of the Blood Hunter, kills his resolve to remain alone. It may be safer on his own, but he finally discovers that being connected to other people is worth it.

And Daisy finds herself in a relationship that is not just worth fighting for, but also worth living for, and someone with whom she may be able to share “forever”.

If you like your science fiction romance with a heaping helping of non-stop action adventure, start this series with Break Out (reviewed here). You’ll be glad you did.

 

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

Blood and Metal Button 300 x 225

As part of the tour, Nina is giving away 2 sets of the paperback copies of the first three books in the series, Break Out, Deadly Pursuit and Death Defying and 5 ecopies of Temporal Shift, book 4

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***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: The Rhyme of the Magpie by Marty Wingate + Giveaway

rhyme of the magpie by marty wingateFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: cozy mystery
Series: Birds of a Feather #1
Length: 261 pages
Publisher: Random House Alibi
Date Released: June 2, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

With her personal life in disarray, Julia Lanchester feels she has no option but to quit her job on her father’s hit BBC Two nature show, A Bird in the Hand. Accepting a tourist management position in Smeaton-under-Lyme, a quaint village in the English countryside, Julia throws herself into her new life, delighting sightseers (and a local member of the gentry) with tales of ancient Romans and pillaging Vikings.

But the past is front and center when her father, Rupert, tracks her down in a moment of desperation. Julia refuses to hear him out; his quick remarriage after her mother’s death was one of the reasons Julia flew the coop. But later she gets a distressed call from her new stepmum: Rupert has gone missing. Julia decides to investigate—she owes him that much, at least—and her father’s new assistant, the infuriatingly dapper Michael Sedgwick, offers to help. Little does the unlikely pair realize that awaiting them is a tightly woven nest of lies and murder.

My Review:

garden plot by marty wingateI have really enjoyed Marty Wingate’s Potting Shed series (The Garden Plot and The Red Book of Primrose House, reviewed here and here) so when I saw that she had started a new series, I was hoping for more chilling mysteries in a cozy setting with a likable main character, and I was definitely not disappointed.

The Rhyme of the Magpie is a real treat, and Julia Lanchester is a lovely, lively and intelligent heroine on the cusp of a lot of changes in her personal and professional life. The setting is charming, and the mystery is definitely chilling.

The story centers around the old, familiar bird-counting rhyme:

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.
Eight for heaven,
Nine for hell
And ten for the devil’s own sell!

I repeat the rhyme here because Julia keeps referring to it in the book, and I ended up keeping a reference copy handy.

Eurasian Magpie
Eurasian Magpie

In England, the rhyme counts magpies, and is used for making near-term predictions. In America the birds counted are often crows – they are in the same family as magpies, but are more common here where magpies are not. (Robin D. Owens’ Ghost Seer series also uses this counting rhyme, but definitely with crows)

In Julia Lanchester’s life, her family has used the rhyme on multiple occasions to anticipate her sister Bianca’s pregnancies and predict the outcome. So far, completely accurately, but baby #4 is on the way, and the magpies predict a boy. If there are more in the series, and I hope there are, we’ll discover if the magpies are maintaining their streak.

Julia is counting birds because they keep predicting sorrow, and Julia is worried.

A few months before this story begins, Julia changed her entire life. Her mother was killed in a car accident, and her father remarried less than six months later. Julia, who can’t stop grieving, can’t understand how her father could move on so fast. She hasn’t forgiven him for letting go of her mother’s memory so easily, and she can’t forgive his new wife – especially since Beryl was her mother’s best friend and almost a second mother – certainly a favorite aunt – to Julia.

In her anger at her father, Julia has given up her job as his production assistant on her father’s popular BBC nature program, A Bird in the Hand, and has become the manager of a tourist initiative in the small town of Smeaton-under-Lyme.

It is as she is finally adjusting to her new life that her old one catches up to her. First her father drops by unexpectedly and unwelcome, and Julia gives him the bum’s rush. In turn, he steals her car and disappears – not out of spite, but because he wants to travel incognito for a while and no one will expect him in Julia’s little blue Fiat.

But with Rupert Lanchester in the wind, there is no way of knowing exactly who murdered the man found at her father’s cottage – and police are extremely interested in interviewing the elusive popular naturalist, as not only did the crime occur on his property, but the dead man was known to be an enemy of his.

Julia finds herself increasingly involved with her dad’s new assistant – her replacement – in order to discover where Rupert might have gone and what it is he has been hiding from everyone. Julia and her replacement Michael Sedgwick can’t help but involve themselves in the murder investigation as they track down Rupert – along with an increasing list of all the enemies who might have wanted Rupert out of the way – whether temporarily or permanently.

As the case unwinds, Julia’s memories of her childhood unravel. And her father’s enemies turn out to be much closer than she thought.

But she’ll never look at bacon the same way again.

Escape Rating B+: If you like cozy mysteries, both of Marty Wingate’s series are absolutely tons of fun.

There’s something about Smeaton-Under-Lyme that makes me wonder if it’s not all that far from St. Mary Mead, where Miss Jane Marple held sway for so many years. I can’t explain why I feel that way, but I do.

Back to Julia Lanchester. She feels like a well-rounded character, and a well-rounded person. By the end of the story, we know who she is and what she wants. Also what she doesn’t want. And in this story, we see her make one of the key but unfortunately revelations of adulthood – that her parents, and their marriage, were not and are not perfect. The world of her childhood reminiscences becomes much smaller than she remembered, and a lot of her rose-colored glass illusions are stripped away.

It’s easy to understand her anger at her father and his new wife – Julia is navigating those seven stages of grief much, much differently than her father, or, for that matter, her sister. But Rupert is still her father, and no matter how mad at him she might be, she wants him safe and well. Even as she wants to shake him for worrying everyone.

Her involvement with Michael Sedgwick is part of her reaction to the danger. She wants to find her father. She wants to keep an eye on her replacement – because she initially doesn’t trust him. She wants to make sure that her father doesn’t come back to a disaster because Michael just hasn’t had time to learn all the ropes.

And Michael is handsome, intelligent, interested and just a little too smooth for Julia’s own good. She falls for him, and into bed with him, knowing that he is keeping a big secret from her. Because she is also keeping secrets from him, she finds it difficult to judge him on that count. But she lets her heart (or other organs lower down) overrule her head, only to discover that it was both the right and the wrong thing to do.

The secret Michael is keeping is a major one, but it has nothing to do with her father’s disappearance. And while Julia’s discovery of that secret affects her relationship with Michael, it is something that Rupert has known all along. Only Julia is hurt. And Michael, when the truth about his background comes to light.

Rupert is a towering figure, and is extremely popular. All of the various reasons why he disappeared, and all the plots that center around him, make perfect sense in light of that popularity, and just how polarizing a figure he can sometimes be. Yet all the reasons why people would wish him ill also make sense. Or at least make sense if one keeps in mind the famous quote attributed to Henry Kissinger – “Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small.”

While I did figure out Michael’s secret relatively early on, and had a good guess at who was writing the anonymous threatening letters, I did not figure out who the big villain was in this story until the very end. The clues were there, but I was looking in a different direction entirely.

Well done.

~~~~~~TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

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The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 4-26-15

Sunday Post

Yet another week where I managed to tie myself up for the week. This past week all the books were for blog tours. I enjoyed the hell out of all of them, but there wasn’t much flexibility in the schedule. This coming week is almost as constrained. The one day that isn’t tied up, well, for once I’m managing to read the book before the book in next week’s schedule. Sometimes it works out. But there are days when I would give my kingdom for a clone!

Current Giveaways:

$25 Gift Card + ebook copy of Officer Elvis by Gary Gusick
Kindle Voyage, $50 Amazon Gift Card and 2 $20 Amazon Gift Cards from Catherine Bybee
3 ebook copies of Seduced by Sunday by Catherine Bybee
$25 Gift Card + ebook copy of Medium Dead by Paula Paul
3 Scandals That Bite book bundles by Brooklyn Ann

medium dead by paula paulBlog Recap:

A- Review: Bite at First Sight by Brooklyn Ann + Giveaway
B+ Review: Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert
A- Review: Medium Dead by Paula Paul + Giveaway
A- Review: Seduced by Sunday by Catherine Bybee + Giveaway
B+ Review: Officer Elvis by Gary Gusick + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (132)

 

brass giant by brooke johnsonComing Next Week:

Chaos Broken by Rebekah Turner (blog tour review)
Diamond Head by Cecily Wong (blog tour review)
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (review)
The Brass Giant by Brooke Johnson (blog tour review)
Pirate’s Alley by Suzanne Johnson (blog tour review)