Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thirty-one and a Half Regrets - by Denise Grover Swank

Every book in the Rose Gardner series is my new favorite and right now I love this book so much I want to marry it!  Trying to move on from a broken heart, trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be, figuring out what she needs from her nearest and dearest, Rose finds herself on the run from a murderer, hiding out, and realizing that she's a lot stronger and more resilient than she thought she was.

Rose is her bravest, most open, most independent self in this book. This girl has grown by leaps and bounds since the first time we met her, sitting at her desk at the DMV and feeling like life had so little to offer her. It's a joy and a pleasure to see Rose mature and grow into the confident, self-reliant, strong young woman that she is by the end of this book. Rose is every woman who ever doubted her beauty, her allure, her talents. I love Rose's internal dialogue and her logic, as well as the fact that she's just so much fun! This is the character a writer wants to create, but so few do; real, three-dimensional, and utterly captivating. 

Mason and Joe are here, too, and Rose is still reeling from her break up with Joe. Reverend Jonah is here, too, being a friend and a counselor to Rose and helping her to see a clearer path for herself. He's also instrumental in allowing Rose to see the other relationships in her life in the bright light of truth, which creates a couple of really memorable scenes for us.

The plot for this novel involves a villain we've met before coming after our girl. The whole thing develops pretty organically, and flows in a logical manner. I have to say I figured out the twist pretty early on, but that didn't spoil the book for me at all, because I'm there for more reasons than just what happens. How it happens matters, and there is nothing I enjoy more than checking in on my friends in Henryetta, GA. 

The secondary plot for this book is how Rose comes to terms with her past, her present, and her family. What she discovers about where and who she came from sets her up, I think, for the next book. There are two more Rose Gardner books set for this year, and this book sort of gave me an indication of where things might go. I hope they go there.

If you're a fan of Ms. Swank, you're going to love this book. If you're a fan of Rose Gardner, you're going to love this book. If you like mystery, romance, a little sex, or old farmhouses, you're going to enjoy this book. Whether you're Team Joe or Team Mason or Team Someone else, you'll like this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

There is really not a flaw to be found in this book. Not a single mis-step. Swank has written her heart out for us, and it's a really great piece of work. I'm trying not to give away ANY spoilers here, because I don't want to ruin even the smallest joy here, but there are some really great moments in this book. Oh, and Muffy is still the coolest dog ever.

Should you not have read the previous installments of this series, do so now, before reading 31. It would certainly stand on its own, but the joy of seeing Rose's progress in the world from start to now is just too satisfying and too much fun to miss. Start with Twenty-eight and a Half Wishes and go from there. By the time you finish 31, you'll be as in love with Rose and as addicted to Swank's writing as I am. You might also find that, like me, you're kind of interested in moving to Henryetta. 

Check out all of Denise's books on Amazon.com.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Real Ugly - C. M. Stunich

UPDATE!!  In anticipation of the imminent (hopefully only moments away!) release of Born Wrong, book 5 in the Hard Rock Roots Series, the first four books are no on sale at Amazon.com for 99 cents each.  4 books for $3.96!!!!!  That's crazy, when you consider how excellent these books are.  Go, buy, read!

I have recently read the first four books in this series, Hard Rock Roots, and I am loving it.  C. M. Stunich has a voice, and it's not like any other voice in "rock star romance" today.  She is raw, she is brutal, she is seductive and vulgar, poetic and plan.  Real Ugly (along with the other three books in the series) is an amazing read.

Turner f*cking Campbell is a drugged out, hard drinking, tattooed front man with an arrogant attitude, a rolling strut, and a natural affinity for the stage.  Naomi Knox is a beautiful, damaged woman who plays the guitar like an angel and parties like the rock star she longs to be.  She likes a good line or a good lay as much as the next girl, but she also takes her work very seriously.  Neither Turner nor Naomi is looking for anything like what they stumble upon in one another. At least, not at first...

There's a back story that I won't ruin for you, but suffice it to say that Naomi hates Turner and believes she has a good reason to.  I actually disagree with her and think they share equal responsibility for the situation, but apparently I'm the only one.  Anyway.  Both characters have had hard lives and rough patchs, and both are on their way to winning the brass ring:  A real live, hard core, sex-and-drug soaked rock 'n roll fantasy life.  They've worked hard and played hard, done some hard drugs and some hard f*cking, seduced the crowds, the promoters, and the groupies, and they're reaping the rewards of their efforts.  But what happens when TNT meets C4?  Well, it gets Real Ugly.

I love that Turner is so open to change without realizing that he is.  He's pretty honest with himself, too.  I don't think Naomi understands herself as well as Turner understands them both, but that sort of makes it more fun.

There are humorous moments, of course, and some sex scenes that are right in keeping with the rock 'n roll theme, and then there are the ultra-mega-uber hot scenes between Naomi and Turner. You could melt your Kindle on this book!  And don't worry, the next three books are just as hot.

The cliffhanger is shocking and, while the whole over-arching plot becomes a bit... stretched, further down the road, it's not a fatal flaw.  Acknowledge a move on, right?  Because it's worth it.

One thing I realized about halfway through the series is that Stunich makes the bands in these stories seem so real, and the lyrics she write for them are so good, I can practically hear the music in my head and I want to go to these shows!  Our author does a great job of making this world and these people seem believable.

Ultimately, Stunich is a really good writer with a very good understanding of who her characters are, and she allows them to grow and change in organic ways.  I am waiting anxiously and impatiently for book 5 in the series, Born Wrong. Stunich makes such a great world here, and gives life to a great set of characters, and if there are excesses?  Well, it's rock 'n roll, baby!

Born Wrong comes out on March 19, 2014.  Read the first four in the series before then because trust me when I say that you don't want to miss out!  Links to purchase on Amazon.com:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes - and 5 reasons to read it

Rose Gardner is a sheltered, inexperienced, cowed, shy young woman, living in the south and whiling her life away with a job at the DMV and little hope for a different future.  She's never had a boyfriend, never even had a kiss.  Rose doesn't really understand why her mother seems to hate her while loving her sister, Violet, but it's her reality and she lives it.

Now, she's found her mother murdered, a sexy guy moves in next door, and weird things are happening all over the place.

Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank is the first in a long series (she has three releases planned for Rose this year, starting in January) about the many adventures of Rose and her family and friends.  And various assorted cops, lawyers, pot heads, criminals, murderers, friends, and busybodies, all of whom reside in the small, slightly backward, previously quiet little burg of Henryetta, Georgia.  And every single one of these books is worth the time you'll take to read and savor Swank's gift for putting compelling words to paper and taking you into Rose's world.

Swank makes real people.  Rose is not some pure, perfect, put-upon princess, her mother isn't just a vile bitch, and life isn't just a one dimensional puddle of goo.  There are good things and bad things, just like in real life.  The conversations are real, the idioms ring true, and the general tone of the book is that these are people you know!  It's like taking a peek into the house next door, and it's fun and exciting and, as an added bonus, there's romance.  A great romance, really.  At least, the beginnings of one.  If you want to find out how things work out for Rose and her suitor, you'll have to keep reading the books.

Yes, there are flaws, but they're so small and so inconsequential that it would be a waste of my time and yours to even mention them.  I doubt they'll even cross your mind.

I am recommending this entire series for a variety of reasons:

  1. Rose is a fun character and watching her grow and change and figure things out is really enjoyable.
  2. Rose's adventures are a little silly and a lot interesting.
  3. Swank writes like your friend, telling you a story.
  4. You can get lost in this book, and in the subsequent books.  
  5. Joe is hot.  Really hot.
  6. Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes is FREE for Amazon Kindle.  
You can't pass this up, right?  Denise Grover Swank has talent, chops, whatever you want to call it.  She also has a website, www.denisegroverswank.com.    I promise you that lovers of mystery, suspense, and romance, as well as fans of good writing, excellent characterization, and terrific storytelling, are all going to enjoy this book and the series.  Trust me on this.

When you're done, and you're hooked, go check out the rest of Denise Grover Swank's books on Amazon.com.

Tell your friends!