bookcover: 
Naked cover
Author: 
Raine Miller
Series: 
The Blackstone Affair Book 1
Publisher: 
Atria, Simon and Schuster
Romance_: 
Rating: 
5
ISBN/ASIN: 

9781476735245

Description of Sales Url: 
Amazon
Review: 

In Raine Miller's Naked, we meet Brynne Bennett American art student at the University of London and millionaire alpha male Londoner Ethan Blackstone. Not the brightest co-ed. She accepts a ride from a stranger, takes the Advil Ethan gives her and wakes up freaking about something we're not sure of. I'm not going to give away any spoilers except to say if Fifty Shades is a genre, this book is in it. Alpha male, sub female. The book lost some logic points for me since Ethan knows her American father but not that she is American. (And would you do this stuff with a friend's daughter?) Also, I really did not get the sense of London. The story felt as if it were set in the US.

As D/s stories go, this one fits the genre. The characters definitely have chemistry. The book is a quick read, and be assured it ends in a cliffhanger so as soon as you turn the page, you will want the next in the series. If you like Fifty Shades, you will like this book, especially if you're willing to take the character's location and nationalities with a grain of salt. They are engaging in the foreground, in spite of the background being off-center.

bookcover: 
Cover of Magnus and the Jewelled Box of the Universe
Author: 
S. L. Browne
Series: 
Magnus and the Jewelled Book of the Universe
Publisher: 
Troubador
Genre: 
Juvenile_: 
SpeculativeFiction: 
Rating: 
7
ISBN/ASIN: 

9781788031196

Description of Sales Url: 
Purchase from Troubador, Amazon, Kindle
Review: 

Magnus and the Jewelled Book of the Universe is the kind of children’s book that puts you back in your grade school comfy place to read and not be bothered for a while. A lovely book to give to children and to the child within you.

Imagine if you will, a quiet unassuming life at eight years and three days while eating breakfast in a house on the hill. You are Magnus Tincomarus, a young boy with a name as strange as the house he grows up in. While is eating with his mentor Marlo Magnus, his old tutor, his grandmother announces he needs to pack a little bag. He is quite surprised as he has up to that day, never really gone anywhere. Where he ends up going, by way of a tornado no less, is another Earth in another dimension that is younger and, by jolly, has dinosaurs along with humans. And thus begin his adventure to stop the evil Murdamond, a wizard who craves all things shiny and new and wants to mine and steal the treasures of this new world unto its death.

Magnus has his work cut out for him. Along the way, he meets delightful dinosaurs, makes friends, and learns the way of magic with the wonderful book. He also finds out for himself just what magics he has as well. The only thing is, can he save this world, his own home planet? Read and see.
Nancy Louise
February 23, 2018

bookcover: 
Hero of My Heart book cover
Author: 
Megan Frampton
Publisher: 
Random House Publishing Group: Loveswept
Rating: 
6
ISBN/ASIN: 

9780345542021

Description of Sales Url: 
Ebook available from Amazon
Review: 

In Megan Frampton's Hero of My Heart, we find ourselves in a rustic tavern where Mary Smith's virginity is being auctioned off by her half-brother. The hero who purchases her is a totally wasted Alasdair Thornham, Marquess of Datchworth. Yes our hero is a full time Marquess, and a part-time opium addict. The way he sees it, he can rescue and marry the Vicar's daughter (that's Mary), set her up in London, then go off and kill himself because he's got those secrets that make him anesthetize himself, and he's clinically depressed, and an opium addict to boot. Mary's been drugged, but once she's aware of what's going on, she and Alasdair come to an understanding. They come to a platonic understanding, until they start doing it like bunnies. Seriously, sex on every other page. Mary is anachronistically sexually aggressive having had a crash course taught by her recently married friend. Not that Alasdair objects. Ironically, her aggression flips the 'traditional' model of the purchased virgin. If you don't read historical romance, you might not know that this is a subgenre that always has a rapist with a heart of gold. Don't believe me? Go read Kathleen E. Woodiwiss's original bodice-ripper that started the whole explicit romance craze: Flame and the Flower. Not that Alasdair is a rapist.

This road trip to Scotland and back to London would qualify as a Griswald vacation, given all the problems that come up. There's her brother and his cousin, and his cousin's Opiate-pushing doctor, plus a highwayman, grouchy innkeepers, a disappearing coach driver, and murder and mayhem and blackmail and theft. Everyone has a public persona and a secret agenda. Even the vicar died living a lie. Did I mention sex? THere's also the sex, since opium eater Alasdair decides he's going to replace his addiction to opium with an addiction to Mary.

The book started off with a certain traditional historical romance feel, but something about it loses steam for me. Is it because of character inconsistency or is it something else? I am not certain. The book had issues. I don't think these were big issues, but they exist:holes in the plot, and underdeveloped characters, antagonists who do not present much of a conflict and are easily overcome. I was ready to be emotionally invested in the characters, but they just didn't suck me in. (Biting my tongue against the obvious joke here. Mary Smith, behave yourself.) I do believe the story was a little green, and could have used more development. But if you're a forgiving reader, and like a historical with plenty of explicit, thorough, well-choreographed sex, you will probably give this book a high rating.

bookcover: 
Wild Song cover
Author: 
Jane Eagland
Publisher: 
Stoke Books
Fiction: 
Rating: 
6
ISBN/ASIN: 

9781781121825

Description of Sales Url: 
Available from Amazon
Review: 

Anna stands on her island, the island where she has grown up, and she is surrounded by stormy seas. Beyond the sea is mainland Scotland, but she is stuck living in a crumbling castle on the island with a couple of servants, her deteriorating father who is suffering from Alzheimers (at the very least), and the father's assistant, a man Anna sees as attractive—from a child's point of view. One could argue that the antagonist in the story could be any of the characters, but—according to the place where the author ends the story—it turns out to be the sea.

Wild Song looks like a sweet romance, like a Harlequin. The sales press implies a gothic romance. The description is that of Gothic romance. See this? "Living in a creaking castle on a remote, windswept island off Scotland, Anna has never known anyone other than her father, his assistant and their two servants. She is kept away from books, pictures and other children by her father, a mathematical genius, who is slowly losing his mind. Then one wild stormy day a boy washes up on the shore, a boy who will change her whole world" Sounds like a gothic set up, right? Nope. Pay attention to the fine print that indicates that this is a book for third graders. Is this a deliberate misdirection? Is this a cover designer with a certain style that matches that type of story? Is this a press department which only serves gothic romance? Caveat emptor.

This is not a Gothic romance. Wild Song is a short story at about a third grade reading level. This fact is not hidden; it is part of the book description, but not necessarily something all book buyers will notice. We have a naive young girl living on an island and though it looks like a genre gothic, is very light on romance (in the genre sense), and it concludes just around the place that a romance might end chapter one. It is a short story appropriate for teenaged (and younger) readers. It does not have the pacing of a book. It has the pacing of a short story, and an abrupt ending consistent with a short story format. The thinking may have been to make this book more appealing to third graders by making it look like an 'older' book. The confusion is inevitable if adult readers glance at the cover and skim the blurb. Not badly done for a third grader's story, but it is what it is.

bookcover: 
Cover of Belly Fat Breakthrough
Author: 
Dr. Stephen Boutcher
Publisher: 
Gallery Books
Non-fiction_: 
Rating: 
5
ISBN/ASIN: 
9781476775500
Description of Sales Url: 
Purchase from Amazon
Review: 

Dr. Stephen Boutcher's Belly Fat Breakthrough is a statistically packed book defining various kinds of fat, how and where it is placed on the human body, how this fat reflects and influences your health, and what you can do about it. There is a mind-numbing quantity of study summaries, statistics, examples and references. The theories and reasons behind everything are painstakingly researched (or maybe I should say painfully.)

After reading this, I was exhausted by the sheer quantity of specifics in chapters 1-5. There is more science here than need be (and I like science.) I don't really want to read about a scientific study to validate every other statement. Some of the study outcomes reflect country, race, age, gender, so who knows if the results can be extrapolated to the reader. Studies do not make me trust or believe a program more, because one can set up a study to prove just about anything and the sheer quantity of defense obfuscates whatever the doctor is trying to say. It makes being able to just read this book practically a painful experience. However, there are a number of tests, questionnaires, and do-it-yourself directions to dull even a Cosmo girl's pencil.

If you can get past over-researched explanations why every little thing does what it does, you will find this: Boucher emphasizes high interval training, especially interval sprinting (great advice for someone with my knees.) He waxes on about the relationship between lifestyle changes, and healthy living to affect body composition. After five chapters of going on, chapter six a provides a six week plan. I found the book dry, not very readable and with no big surprises. Diets always come down to exercising more, and eating better, right? In those contexts, Boucher is very specific about what 'more' and 'better' mean. Note that my rating is more about readability than diet performance. I don't see myself taking Boucher on as a guru. To be completely fair, the true test of this book would be in following his plan and then referring to diet success to gauge the book's success.

bookcover: 
Author: 
Frank Hopkinson
Publisher: 
Anova Books
Non-fiction_: 
Rating: 
3
ISBN/ASIN: 

9781909396517

Description of Sales Url: 
Purchase from Amazon
Review: 

I read this compendium on sheds. You know In Forrest Gump, that Bubba monologue about shrimp? It's pretty much the same thing, except that the topic is sheds instead of shrimp. (I think I would prefer shrimp, since at least they can be eaten.) Apparently there are at least as many ways of building, using, and cuddling up to sheds as there are preparing and eating shrimp. I don't want to be unfair, but sheds are not my forté. Probably this book is a good gift for someone who is a backyard builder of sheds or a dweller of man-caves. But then I am reminded of my sister, whose back yard faced another yard in which someone had built a shed that had a nice porch and rocking chairs on it. She hated that shed, and sacrificed several feet across her back yard to grow shrubbery to hide what she thought of as a monstrosity. I expect her husband who could build or fix anything at the drop of a hat would love this book as much as she hated that shed. So given the potential for creating marital friction, give this carefully. I know the book has a audience of shed-lovers, but there are shed-haters out there too.

bookcover: 
The Dominant
Author: 
Tara Sue Me
Series: 
The Submissive Trilogy
Publisher: 
Penguin Group
Rating: 
7
ISBN/ASIN: 

9780451466235

Description of Sales Url: 
Purchase from Amazon
Review: 

Truth is, I haven't much to say about this one. Dominant is a fairly typical D/s romance.

Dominant Nathaniel West is the rich Dom, and Abigail King is on a path to becoming his sub. She's a newbie, which he doesn't like. He prefers experience, but is willing to make the sacrifice because he was gaga over Abigail before she conveniently applied to be his sub. Yes, applied. West has a matchmaker who gets these potential subs for him. I doubt the agent is listed in the yellow pages, but didn't examine that part too closely.

The story is written by Tara Sue Me, who is a woman; and the point of view character is Nathaniel West. I find myself getting off track in the book, wondering if she's got the internal mechanics of his head correct. Is this the thinking of a Dom, or an idealized Dom that the author is imagining. Since I have never fathomed what goes on in a dominant man's head in certain circumstances (beatings? whippings?), this becomes a story-breaker for me.

The story falls into the same category as Fifty Shades of Gray, which has a substantial audience. For those who want it, there is a lot of very explicit sex. There is also a whole lot of inexplicable wishy washy from the Dom, for whom the concept of developing a real relationship with his sub is an obstacle and something he can't quite understand. I take this whole overthinking of the plot with a grain of salt, because the publisher is mainstream, and probably required the Dom to be softened up to be relatable to mainstream values. This is a series, so there is more of this where this book came from, if D/s is your cuppa tea.

bookcover: 
Dark Spell cover
Author: 
Gill Arbuthnott
Publisher: 
Floris Books
Fiction: 
SpeculativeFiction: 
Rating: 
9
ISBN/ASIN: 
9780863159565
Description of Sales Url: 
Purchase from Amazon
Review: 

In spite of growing up with a high school English teacher with a passion for Poe, let me say first of all that although I am not a horror fan, I do have a few movies that I like on the basis of an affinity for a particular actor or two, (Michael J Fox in The Frighteners, the entire cast of Practical Magic.) I am not predisposed to enjoy horror fantasy, but for some reason, magical families and witchcraft stories are the exception. Blame it on the chemistry between Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York. I felt the same g-rated sweet chemistry between young protagonist Callie Hall and her good friend Josh in Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnott.

Callie Hall is a young witch. It's not so much that she's coming out of the closet, as it is that she had no clue she was in a closet. Unaware of her growing magical powers, she has a Carrie moment in response to some school bullying. She soon discovers from her grandmother and her cute little coven of old lady witches that like her grandmother, she is indeed a witch. The witch gene apparently is a recessive one, and skipped her mother, a fact which leads to some issues. Callie's long distance friendship with Joshua (from Edinburgh) has some issues, and the tunnel under the ruins of St Andrews' Castle really has some issues.

I was drawn in by many things in this book. The familial relationships, the problems between Callie and her mother, and the closeness between Callie and her grandmother. The sweet tolerance of Callie's oblivious father and not-so-oblivious grandfather. The chemistry of the family rings so true that it brings extra credence to the magic. I enjoyed this book so much that after I listened to it play aloud on my rickety old keyboard Kindle, I had to take it aside and read it in person with my own eyes to see if it was as engrossing as I thought. (It is.) The story is well engineered, and works not only on the superficial level, but on more than one level. I am not surprised that it has won awards.

I found myself enchanted by Dark Spell. I enjoyed not only the characters, but also the sense of place the author delivers of the mix of old and new in contemporary Scotland. Gill Arbuthnott conjures a stunning mix of teen angst and magic mixed with just enough danger to scoot you to the edge of your seat. Big thumbs up on this one!

My name is Elizabeth Black and I have been writing erotica and romance since 2007. My first published story was an erotic retelling of Cinderella. It was about what happened to Cinderella after her Happily Ever After wedding. Suffice to say, things were not happy in paradise. Scarlet Magazine in the U. K published the story. From there, I went on to publish several novels and novellas and numerous short stories. I also write horror and dark fiction with the pen name E. A. Black. So far, I've published only short stories. I'm working on a mystery novel right now.

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