Tag Archives: Grade B

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

Ocean Light (Psy-Changeling Trinity Book 2) by Nalini Singh
Paranormal romance released by Berkley on June 12, 2018

Ocean Light by Nalini SinghNew York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh dives beneath the surface of her Psy-Changeling world into a story of passionate devotion and selfless love…

Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there’s a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment–taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he’s at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling…

Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won’t hide the facts of Bo’s condition from him or herself. She’s suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret Bo could never imagine…

But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back–even if it means striking a devil’s bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy…

I always know I want to read Nalini Singh’s books, but when I learned Ocean Light was Bowen Knight’s book … I kicked it into high gear to get my greedy little hands on a copy. I have no shame in telling you I shed a few tears when I thought we lost Bowen (in a previous book). Then also there’s the fact that Nalini Singh’s writing is so beautiful. It’s emotional, warm, evocative, the flow and cadence … it’s like a hug from an old friend. You feel comforted and cared for and know you’re in for a good time. I’ve been reading the Psy-Changeling series from the start, I’m on board for this spin off “trinity” series, and I will read every vignette. … Especially if it has Kaleb, Hawke, or Bowen. Ideally, all three. (Can we please make this happen?!?!) Continue reading

Review: Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen

Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen (True North Book 5)
Contemporary romance released by Sarina Bowen on May 29, 2018

Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen Book CoverSometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…
May

Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it.
Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.
Alec
I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job.
It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us.
Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…

Speakeasy felt light, but is actually quite complex. It’s got bad bar jokes, family dynamics, addiction, and a bisexual main character. It wraps up the True North series, so if you’re the kind of reader that doesn’t like to start a series until it’s completed, then you can have at it now — if you’ve been following this series, then this is a bittersweet read. May is the heroine and Alec is the hero; we’ve met these characters before in earlier books, but if you don’t remember who they are, it’s easy to acquaint/re-acquaint yourself with them. To a certain extent, both May and Alec are concerned about their images, although they express it in different ways; May thinks people see her as the sibling that’s messed up the most in her family, and Alec is trying to prove that he is a good businessperson, regardless of his happy-go-lucky ways; and these efforts occasionally get in the way of them being honest about their feelings for each other. Continue reading

SAPAHM Review: Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau
Contemporary romance released by Jackie Lau Books on May 22, 2018

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau Book CoverI’m a pretty simple guy. When I’m not writing a science fiction novel, I’m watching a good movie or reading a book. Alone. I like my reclusive life. That is, until my only friend asks for a favor—pretend to be his baby sister’s boyfriend on a couples’ getaway. Her ex is going to be there and she needs me as a buffer.

I should have said no, but Naomi is bubbly, energetic, and beautiful. She also means everything to her brother. But now, our fake romance is starting to feel all too real, and I find myself stuck between the promise I made to my friend and risking my heart to the one woman who might actually get me…

I read this book very quickly, and found both Will and Naomi to be sympathetic, although after a while some of the themes became repetitive. Will is a science fiction writer with a Ph.D. in physics, who is on the extreme end of introverted, and can be a little obtuse when it comes to social interactions. Naomi is Will’s best friend’s youngest sister. She’s an event planner, and bubbly—but not in an everyone-must-be-bubbly-like-me way. This is a forced proximity kind of romance, with a mini road trip thrown in for good measure. I say mini, because in my part of the world, it might take 3 hours to get across the city, if the traffic is particularly awful. Naomi is sweet, has had a crush on Will before and still finds him attractive, but is still processing her breakup with a prior boyfriend when the book begins; Will has a history of people wanting to change his way of interacting with the world, hence the “grumpy” descriptive. And yes, a fake relationship is orchestrated. Will learns that putting himself out there a little more isn’t all bad, and both Will and Naomi learn the importance of being with someone that likes you for who you are makes you be a better person. Continue reading

Review: The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale
Contemporary literary fiction released by Random House on April 17, 2018

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale CoverWe first meet Leda in a coffee shop on an average afternoon, notable only for the fact that it’s the single occasion in her life when she will eat two scones in one day. And for the cute boy reading American Power and the New Mandarins. Leda hopes that, by engaging him, their banter will lead to romance. Their fleeting, awkward exchange stalls before flirtation blooms. But Leda’s left with one imperative thought: she decides she wants to read Noam Chomsky. So she promptly buys a book and never—ever—reads it.
As the days, years, and decades of the rest of her life unfold, we see all of the things Leda does instead, from eating leftover spaghetti in her college apartment, to fumbling through the first days home with her newborn daughter, to attempting (and nearly failing) to garden in her old age. In a collage of these small moments, we see the work—both visible and invisible—of a woman trying to carve out a life of meaning. Over the course of her experiences Leda comes to the universal revelation that the best-laid-plans are not always the path to utter fulfillment and contentment, and in reality there might be no such thing. Lively and disarmingly honest, The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky is a remarkable literary feat—bracingly funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and truly feminist in its insistence that the story it tells is an essential one.

I think that this book is exactly what the blurb says it will be—which is a wonderful thing to say about a book, because sometimes you read a blurb and you read the tiny excerpt and you get the book, and it’s not what you were led to believe it was going to be. Sometimes, that’s okay, and other times it’s incredibly frustrating. This book does indeed follow Leda—the main character—through life, starting when she’s in college all the way to her death. The epilogue is told from her daughter’s point of view, although to be more accurate, it’s in limited third person. I enjoyed the candidness of the novel; we get Leda’s occasionally illogical behaviors and her bouts with depression; we also get to talk about things that impact huge numbers of women at an individual level. Do not expect huge does of romance, or eroticism in this book—yes, people fall in love and have sex, but that isn’t the point of the book and it’s given a different kind of attention. Continue reading

Review: Tempest by Beverly Jenkins

N. R.’s review of Tempest (Old West book 1) by Beverly Jenkins
Historical romance published by Avon on January 30, 2018

Book CoverWhat kind of mail-order bride greets her intended with a bullet instead of a kiss? One like Regan Carmichael—an independent spirit equally at home in denims and dresses. Shooting Dr. Colton Lee in the shoulder is an honest error, but soon Regan wonders if her entire plan to marry a man she’s never met is a mistake. Colton, who buried his heart along with his first wife, insists he only wants someone to care for his daughter. Yet Regan is drawn to the unmistakable desire in his gaze.

Regan’s far from the docile bride Colton was expecting. Still, few women would brave the wilds of Wyoming Territory for an uncertain future with a widower and his child. The thought of having a bold, forthright woman like Regan in his life—and in his arms—begins to inspire a new dream. And despite his family’s disapproval and an unseen enemy, he’ll risk all to make this match a real union of body and soul.

I read Tempest right after it was published, while on a beachside vacation. My book still smells a bit like the ocean even over six weeks later. My intent was to get my review to Lime as soon as I returned home, but chaos ensued, as chaos is wont to do, so I’m grateful to Lime for giving me the time I needed to pull life into some semblance of order. You’re the best, and don’t forget it!

Beverly Jenkins has long been a favorite author, and my love affair with her started in 1996 when I was browsing my local library for something new and different and my librarian pointed me in the direction of Indigo. I finally got to meet Ms. Bev last summer at the RWA national conference, and clapped as hard as anyone when she accepted her RWA Lifetime Achievement award. When Lime asked me if I was interested in reviewing the final book in Ms. Bev’s Wild West trilogy, I practically jumped through the computer to grab it and read the final book in the Carmichael family trilogy. Continue reading

Review: Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen
Young Adult Mystery/Thriller released by Viking Children’s Books on March 20, 2018

Orphan Monster Spy CoverHer name is Sarah. She’s blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish in 1939 Germany. And her act of resistance is about to change the world.

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s part of the secret resistance against the Third Reich, and he needs Sarah to hide in plain sight at a school for the daughters of top Nazi brass, posing as one of them. If she can befriend the daughter of a key scientist and get invited to her house, she might be able to steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. Nothing could prepare Sarah for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined. But anyone who underestimates this innocent-seeming girl does so at their peril. She may look sweet, but she’s the Nazis’ worst nightmare.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to read the blurb for Orphan Monster Spy. Everything about this appealed to me, and when Lime sent the ARC I was practically chasing my tail! From the start, the book was full on, straight into the story at full tilt, and pretty much this carried on for the entirety.   Continue reading

Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
Contemporary romance released by Avon on February 27, 2018

A Princess in Theory CoverBetween grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

I have to say that I wanted to review A Princess in Theory based on how much I enjoyed An Extraordinary Union and the really gorgeous cover. I had no doubt that it would be a good book and I was not disappointed. The premise is simple, Ledi is the long lost betrothed to the Thesolo prince Thabiso. When he comes to the US to meet her there is simple mix up of identity, and they start to fall for each other.

A story that’s been told many times, the book reminded me of both The Princess Diaries and the film Coming to America on some levels, but overall was fresh and really funny. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Historical romance with magical elements released by Tor on August 3, 2010

Shades of Milk and Honey CoverThe fantasy novel you’ve always wished Jane Austen had written
Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right-and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

I read this book for the TBR Challenge Sugar or Spice. This book falls solidly in the Sugar category. There are no sexy times at all, not even ardent embraces or stolen kisses until the end! This is a Regency historical romance with magical elements. I’ll get more into the magic later. Except for the magic it’s solidly in the Regency romance category in all other elements of the story. This was an ok read for me made better by learning the hero and heroine are the main characters of the rest of the books in the series. More on that below. Also my first Mary Robinette Kowal read. I’ve had this book on my Goodreads to-read list for YEARS (almost 5 to be precise) so very nice to read it for this challenge and get started on the Glamourist Histories series. Continue reading

My Epic Quest for Adult High Fantasy Romances – aka what I read in the second half of 2017

Hi friends! I’ve been talking about books for quite some time, and it’s been really easy for those conversations to get lost in the mix, but especially these days. Nevertheless, here at ALBTALBS we’ve taken to posting comprehensive lists of the books we’ve read annually … and here’s mine for the ~second half of 2017. It was also heavily focused on high fantasy fiction, because frankly, this is my sentiment: the world is a garbage fire and fuck all that shit. >.>

High fantasy is in general and here “as defined by me” [only not really] – that it has nothing to do with the real world. (Some people say high fantasy requires a “noble quest” … which most of these stories do as well. … All?) ANYWAY. None of this “the hero and/or heroine start out in Chicago and travel to another world.”

Of course I did read some other sub-genres too … but the majority of what I read and what I was looking for was high fantasy ADULT romances. And let me tell you, there aren’t that many. Authors – if any if you are reading this, PLEASE CONSIDER WRITING THIS/TELLING YOUR FRIENDS. Readers are DESPERATE for these books and voracious. There are many more ~YA [older teens/considered ~adults in their world] stories … so I branched out in to that, but I’d love to see adult adult ones. (No, not [just] sex 😛 – but with mature, grown characters.) Continue reading

Review: My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden

My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden
Historical romance released by Avon on February 27, 2018

 What happens at the infamous Vega Club . . .
Sophie Campbell is determined to be mistress of her own fate. Surviving on her skill at cards, she never risks what she can’t afford to lose. Yet when the Duke of Ware proposes a scandalous wager that’s too extravagant to refuse, she can’t resist. If she wins, she’ll get five thousand pounds, enough to secure her independence forever.

Stays at the Vega Club . . .
Jack Lindeville, Duke of Ware, tells himself he’s at the Vega Club merely to save his reckless brother from losing everything, but he knows it’s a lie. He can’t keep his eyes off Sophie, and to get her he breaks his ironclad rule against gambling. If he wins, he wants her—for a week.

Until now.
A week with Jack could ruin what’s left of Sophie’s reputation. It might even cost her her heart. But when it comes to love, all bets are off . . .

I was right, everyone! There is a professional female gambler in this book. The best way to explain this is that it’s a mashup between Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast—without the ominous flowers or footwear. The characters even have real names—something that bothered me when I read the older versions of the fairy tales. Their names are Sophie—our professional gambler, and Jack—the duke. Both Sophie and Jack reach out to others throughout the book; they see each other differently than society might. Continue reading