Smolder

Smolder cover

Author: Lisa Carlisle

Series: Underground Encounters

Genre: PNR

Publisher: Indie

Pages: 139

 

Nike spends her days in a fast paced, high stress profession: she’s a firefighter. She likes to spend her nights, along with her best & fellow firefighter Maya, unwinding at an underground goth club called Vamps. This is all well and good, until one night when her fantasy crush, Michel, the hot guy from her climbing gym shows up. Little does she know that he has a deeper and darker connection to the underground world than Nike ever dreamed could exist. When her fantasy worlds and real life collide, what choice will she make? Will it be the right one?

Smolder kicks off, what is set to be, a new trilogy from Carlisle. If this novella is an indication of what is to come, it looks to be a great addition to her publications. The one thing that I have enjoyed the most in Carlisle’s writing is that she has the ability to give great depth to each of her characters, and she certainly did not waver on that in this novella. All of the characters were very well fleshed out, but there is still plenty of room for character development in future installments. The world building was wonderful (I kind of want to go unwind at Vamps this weekend, myself!), as always. If you enjoy a great PNR, and are looking for a fun new series, I would recommend this to you!

P.S. Book 2, Fire, has been released, and I have it in my hot little hands to read this weekend, so review to come! Here is the cover and the link, if you get through Smolder & want to continue on!

Fire cover

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The Secrets of My Life

Secrets of my Life cover

Author: Caitlyn Jenner

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Pages: 336

 

Most of us have known Caitlyn Jenner as Bruce Jenner for many, many years. Bruce Jenner is an Olympic hero, a one-time greatest athlete in the world. He then became the father in one of the most famous (whether you love them, or love to hate them) families in America, if not the developed world. Bruce had a secret, though. He was living a lie. He was living with Gender Dysphoria. A very real psychological illness wherein the person feels that they were born in to the wrong gender’s body. To put it simply: Bruce was born to be Caitlyn. It wasn’t that simple, though. It took him over sixty years to finally become her, the woman that he was meant to be. In this amazing memoir, Caitlyn details her livelong journey and her struggles to become her authentic self, and everything that entailed.

I’ve wanted to read this memoir since Caitlyn published it, but I wanted to wait until I was in the right place to read it. When I felt that my mindset was correct, and I finally sat down with it, I devoured this amazing book in no time. It was beautiful, heart-breaking, emotional, poignant, funny at times, and overall- brave. I think that this is the book that everyone who wants to see what Gender Dysphoria looks like needs to read. Caitlyn is honest about everything that she did, both wrong and right, and everything that she went through in becoming who she ultimately is. I am so glad that she wrote this, and I am so glad that I read it. This is not just another “Kardashian” ploy or money-making scheme. It is a beautifully written memoir, that I believe would be helpful to anyone that is interested in the subject of Gender Dysphoria. Thank you, Caitlyn.

The Dating Bender

Dating Bender cover

Author: Christina Julian

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Pages: 242

 

Samantha grew up as a good Catholic girl. Under the intense scrutiny of her parents, she did what any good girl would do, she married her best guy friend to get away! Unfortunately, that marriage took a jump off of a cliff without a parachute. Sam decided to follow the advice of her mentor, in work and in life, and she moved halfway across the country for a new career and lots of sex! Thus, her journey to discovering herself began. Following her heart, and the advice of every magazine that she can get her hands on, Sam is determined to find her happily ever after.

This was a rather enjoyable, quick summer read. Samantha Serrano reminds me of a combination of all four Sex and the City girls rolled in to one. She is snarky, hopeful, smart, sexy: everything that you hope to find in a great girlfriend. I think that most of us can say that we have turned to a women’s mag for advice at one time or another, but this girl takes it to the extreme, and the outcome is delightful. Julian does a wonderful job of putting forward a flawed and loveable main character, that is easy to see reflections of yourself in. I read this in one sitting. It was witty, laugh-out-loud funny, heart wrenching, and above all- hopeful. If you’re looking for a quick, fun, sexy summer read, this may just be the book you’re looking for!

The Lying Game

The Lying Game cover

Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Psych Thriller

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

Pages: 384

 

On a normal morning in June, Kate is walking her dog, Shadow, along the Reach when he runs in to the water to retrieve something. Soon after, Kate’s three best friends from boarding school in Salten, Isa, Fatima, and Thea receive a three-word text- “I need you”. The three don’t hesitate in returning to Kate, and to Salten. That message is never sent unless it is an emergency. They have a feeling that they know what the emergency is about. The Lying Game, a game that they played during their time at Salten, has never ended. It is a game with a myriad of rules, and it landed them all being asked to leave Salten in the fifth-year due to the scandal surrounding the disappearance of Ambrose, the art teacher- and Kate’s father. It is the lie surrounding this that the girls cannot let go of, and the one that may get them arrested…or worse. If you’re going to play The Lying Game, you must be ready to face the consequences.

I don’t know where Ruth Ware comes up with these stories, and I don’t care, as long as she keeps putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, whatever)! I can’t believe that I am saying this, but The Lying Game has just surpassed In a Dark, Dark, Wood as my favorite Ware book! It was awesome, like binge read awesome! The characters were all so well developed, that they were easily imagined. The descriptiveness of the Reach and Salten was phenomenal. I could see it very clearly, with minimal effort. Her writing, as always, was sophisticated and lovely. Much like In a Dark, Dark Wood, this one grabbed my attention from the beginning, and it did not let up until it was over. This is the experience that I look for in a great psych thriller, and I definitely got it with The Lying Game. If you’re looking for that, as well- Go. Read. Now!!

 

Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows cover

Author: Linsey Miller

Genre: Fantasy/YA Fantasy

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 352

 

Sallot Leon, better known as Sal, is a street fighter and an excellent thief. Sal, however wants more from life than robbing nobles and fighting. In the midst of a robbery one day, Sal finds a flyer for auditions for the position of Opal in the Queen’s Left Hand- her personal assassins, named after the rings on her left hand, and decides to go for it. The auditions turn out to be not only training, but a fight to the death with the other contestants. This is a fight that Sal may not be prepared for, but is determined to win and get revenge for their country that was destroyed by the nobles that are in the capitol and the heart of Elise, who they are growing closer and closer to. Will Sal survive to live out this dream?

Guys, I finished this book, and immediately said that I needed more! Seriously, check my Twitter feed! This is that wonderful rare occasion where I have trouble believing that this is a debut novel. The characters were so well rounded and fleshed out. I absolutely loved that the main character, Sal, was gender fluid. It made this character all the more interesting, and definitely an underrepresented community that we should see more of. Miller writes characters that you want to become invested in. The world building was so lovely, and easily visualized. It had enough romance in it to add to the story, but not so much as to make it the focus. This is written as a YA Fantasy, but truthfully it is just a very well written Fantasy that would appeal to anyone looking for that type of escape. I can’t wait to find that escape again in the next installment!

Beneath the Skin: The Sam Hunter Case Files

Beneath the Skin cover

Author: Jonathan Maberry

Series: Sam Hunter

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: JournalStone

Pages: 412

 

Sam Hunter is an ex-cop, who was written up for excessive force one too many times. He now makes his living as a PI. When he takes on a client, he takes them in to his family, and protects them like one of his pack. He means that literally, because Sam Hunter is a werewolf. A benandanti, to be more precise. He takes on a wide range of cases that others wouldn’t touch, but that is his job, and he is damned good at it.

Jonathan Maberry has been on my tbr list for a while, and when I saw this book of short stories, I could not pass it up. Short stories are my favorite thing, and he did not disappoint (unless you count my being disappointed in myself that I have put off picking up Maberry’s work until now!). The characters all had great depth, which is sometimes tricky in short stories. The world building was very well done, as you could picture the gritty neighborhoods, seedy bars, etc, as well as the world with these “others” in it. Maberry’s writing is phenomenal. He knows how to easily break up a desolate situation with a bit of humor (wonderfully dry humor in this case), how to give enough back story and detail in a short timeframe to really get the reader invested in the characters, how to draw the reader in to a world that they do not want to leave. Sam Hunter is, I believe, one of my favorite new characters. I desperately hope that this was just an introduction to him, and that there will be more to follow. Now, you’ll excuse me while I go download the Pine Deep books….

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo cover

Author: Amy Schumer

Genre: Memoir/Humor

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 336

 

Amy Schumer has built her career on being honest- hilariously, brutally, honest- and I, and so many others, love her for that. She says the things that many think and won’t say, and she doesn’t sugarcoat it. This book is that, and so very much more. It had everything that I was hoping for out of a book written by Schumer. It had the stories of sex, drugs, drinking, and family drama delivered with her signature humor, sarcasm, and wit. What it had that I wasn’t expecting, though, was her being honest in a very different way about the subjects that have touched and affected her life: date rape, domestic violence, gun violence, body shaming, and her father’s MS diagnosis. It was very touching, and humanizing, to see her speak out on these topics in such an authentic way. This book was well written, in that it balanced the serious topics out with humor, so it didn’t become too heavy to read. It was very interesting to learn more about Schumer and her life, up to this point. I was a fan before, and I am even more so of one now!