Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Curse Breakers: The Curse Keepers Book II

^^^^^Click the picture to buy the book!^^^^^

We pick up pretty much where book one leaves off and it's basically non-stop action all the way through.

Ellie is mad at Collin, and you can hardly blame her after he lied and manipulated her in book one to get what he wanted. Add to that the fact that the spirits Collin wanted freed are now after Ellie, ready to kill her and take her life force, and her soul, well... the dude's not exactly her favorite person.

People have died, there's a cop who think Ellie knows more than she's saying, Okeus keeps sending her messages, she's out of a regular job, trying to help out her father's widow, and Collin keeps showing up just to do, well, whatever it is he's doing.

The village of Roanoke has reappeared after the events of book one and the little town of Manteo, NC has been inundated with archaeologists, and anthropologists, and sociologists and a bunch of other ists, all of whom need accommodations and some of whom are now staying at Ellie's family's B&B. Among the guests? A sexy British professor who happens to be an expert in the very things that Ellie needs to know to fix things. At least, as much as they can be fixed. 

The two team up, with Collin on the periphery and Ellie learns that there are many different kinds of love and that none of them work without trust. 

I actually did enjoy this book more than the first one. This isn't my usual genre to read, but I was intrigued by the premise and bolstered by the fact that I've enjoyed 99% of Swank's writing so far. As I also got this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review, which this totally is, just makes it better.

The story arcs all move along here and book three is set up for certain. Ellie finds some things she needs, and learns about other things she didn't know were out there. Collin learns that Ellie doesn't give up easily when the people she loves are at stake. David learns that there's nothing like a strong, determined red head to upset your well-ordered world.

The history and the Native American legends and pantheon here are thoroughly researched and Swank makes them sing with life. The whole thing, fictional though it is, is somehow believable. Yet, I still spent a lot of time laughing about how one would explain to a cop that a giant water snake ate... well, you'll see.

If you read The Curse Keepers, then you'll want to read the Curse Breakers. If you haven't read the first book go get it because it's definitely a good read. Frankly, if Heinz hired Swank to write their ketchup labels, I'd read them religiously. She's that good, and so is this story. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

GIVE AWAY! Win a free e-boook of The Curse Keepers!

The lovely, talented, wonderful, fabulous Denise Grover Swank, a terrific author and fun person, is giving me three (yes, my lovelies, THREE!) copies of her book The Curse Keepers, to pass along to you.

Congratulations to Laura and Rebekah, winners of e-copies of The Curse Keepers!  We only had the two entries, and the rest of you really missed out!  Don't forget that The Curse Breakers comes out tomorrow, April 29th!

The Curse Keepers - Denise Grover Swank.

Yes, I'm a huge DGS fan.  We know this.  But really, now, young adults with problems and secrets and lives ahead of them, out to save the world from an old evil? What's not to like? This book has adventure, spirits, romance, demons, breakfast, family, tragedy, history, antiques, tattoos, pawn shops, a diner, birds, a pickup truck, and sex. Really, there's not much more you'd need to tell a great story.

As Curse Keepers, Collin and Ellie are out to save the world. The romance is incidental to this, although it may (or may not) be that their supernatural work has a bearing on their emotions.

A sacred trust, handed down from generation to generation, has Ellie and Collin trying to protect the world from angry spirits and gods that will soon be let loose to wander the earth. They've been locked up a long time and aren't in a real good mood and intend to go around sucking the life force out of all living creatures before they begin to really wreak havoc. It's our heroes' jobs to prevent this.

Throw in some shady dealings on Collin's part, personal tragedy on Ellie's part, and enough dead birds to open a KFC franchise and you've got a really fun, interesting story with a little humor, a little insight into the human condition, and a little bit of romance.

Swank excels at creating realistic worlds where the people are three dimensional and the events are believable even when you know they're not real. There's not much more you can ask from a book.

The research Swank has done here is outstanding. The myths are explained for us, and the background work she has completed really makes the difference; instead of telling us a story with either a made-up mythology or with just a cursory nod to the history of it, we get the whole thing.  These facts and stories and legends really bring the curse to life and make the history seem alive.

Read The Curse Keepers. Be sure to buy The Curse Breakers next.  And send Denise Grover Swank some fan mail; she totally deserves it.

Want to win this book?  Check out my contest!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

ALERT: Hard Rock Harlots is ON SALE!!!!

Go get all three books in the Hard Rock Harlots series.   $2.97 gets you all three books, but only on Monday, April 21.

For a good time, call Letty, Shades, Jinx, Toombs, Rax, and Lola.  
Or, just get their stories.
Click on the picture:

You can find my review of this series here:  Hard Rock Harlots

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hard Rock Harlots series - Kendall Grey

Have you heard of the Hard Rock Harlots book series?  If not, you're missing out.  If you like hot rock, hot guys, and hot sex?  These books are for you.  Be aware that they contain very graphic language and sex, and some sexual activities that you may not consider acceptable, however, since you're not doing them, it's all good, right?

The series starts with Strings, the story of Letty and Shades.  Then there's Beats, the story of Toombs and Jinx and Rax.  Just out is Nocturnes, wherein Rax's story continues.  All three books are fun and entertaining, sexy and downright dirty, and very well written.  Kendall Grey has a voice and she uses it to tell some great stories.

The premise here is that  Cherry Buzz Float, Letty's band, is set to go on tour opening for a bigger band. Things happen and the two become one band, minus a few people.  The hookups begin and relationships are forged and the music plays on and on and on.  What happens is magic, the music is more than just the sum of its parts, and the band is on its way.  The members?  They're on their way, too.

Letty and Shades meet on the eve of their tour, but she doesn't know he's the new lead singer for Killer Dixon, the band Cherry Buzz Float is opening for. They have a hot, hot, HOT night together (whatever you do, don't let your grandma get hold of this book!) and the next day, they meet to begin their tour.

There's more sex, a lot of drinking, some drugs and some fighting, but mostly, there's music and sex.  There are also some thoughts in here, some truths, but I'll leave you to sort those out for yourself.  Grey is not just  here to write about horny rock stars, although she also doesn't take herself overly seriously, but still, there's some thought going on behind the Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n Roll.

As always, I don't want to give away anything, and it's hard to review a book without giving away any spoilers, but I'm trying here.  All I can tell you is that the members of Killer Buzz Float (the group that results when Killer Dixon and Cherry Buzz Float merge) are just looking for love and acceptance, like the rest of us.  And they may or may not find it with each other.  You'll have to read and find out.

Some things I really liked about this book:

  1. The girl rockers are just as horny and slutty as the boy rockers, and they make not one apology for it.  Grey has given us women who own their sexuality, aren't afraid to experiment, and who dare anyone to slut shame them for their behavior.  I love these girls and I'm happy that Grey gave us characters who don't succumb to society's double-standard mores.
  2. There's kink!  Kinky sex is fast becoming common in the bedrooms of America and, while there are things in these books some people might never find interesting, there's also some fantasy fodder here.  Good to have a dirty book with some real dirt in it!
  3. These books are just fun and Grey isn't trying to make them provide the answers to the world's problems. It's so much fun reading these, that I WANT a Killer Buzz Float T-shirt. I want to wear the shirt and listen to the CD and go to the concerts and meet these people.  And I can't.  Because they're not real. Well, the T-shirts are, but they were on sale for a limited time and I missed it, so ... wah.  I'll get over it.
  4. The band members in these books are family.  Even when they fight, they've got each other's backs.  When things are hard, they may try to pull apart, but they always come back together.  In an organic way. The best example of this is in book 3, Nocturnes, but you've got to read the first two stories before you get to that one.  Trust me, it's better that way.
If you can suspend your need for Deep Thoughts, and if you can put your grandmother's morality in that junk drawer you've got in the kitchen, you're really going to love these books.  You might need a fire extinguisher handy when you need the sex scenes, though; there's one in the first book that nearly made my Kindle combust.

Oh, and if filthy mouths, strippers, prostitutes, three-ways, bisexuality, and hard-living bad boys and girls living it up like rock stars do are not your thing?  Don't bother.  Too bad you're gonna miss out on all the good stuff, though.

The Hard Rock Harlots series is a group of FIVE ALARM BOOKS!

Strings          Beats           Nocturnes

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Born Wrong - CM Stunich

Born Wrong is the fifth entry into the Hard Rock Roots series by Ms. Stunich.  And while I loved the book, I have to say that it's everything I love about Stunich's awesome rock star romances, it was also less than I expected.  Literally.  At 166 print pages, this book is at least 120 pages shorter than the other entries in this series.  I hadn't realized this when I bought it for the sale price of $2.99 and, while as a frustrated writer myself I don't begrudge paying for books, I felt a little cheated in that this book seems more like a $1.99 novella than a complete book.  But that's not the only problem I had.

The good stuff first.  Everyone is here.  Naomi Knox, Turner motherfucking Campbell, Ronnie, Lola, Milo, Hayden, Trey... Indecency and Amatory Riot are both here in all their rock star glory.  This includes Amatory's drummer, Dax, and Trey's sister Sydney; these are our protagonists, for the most part.  There's a bit less drugging in this book, and a lot less actual rock and roll, and certainly a lot less sex than I'm used to in these books, but I chalk that up to two things:
  1. The short length - there just wasn't time
  2. The telling of Dax's backstory - a totally worthwhile distraction from steamy, sweaty rocker sex
Dax is a pretty typical drummer.  As long as he's got his sticks and his beats, he's okay.  He works his shit out on his kit.  Of course, he also thinks he's in love with Naomi Knox, who is firmly entrenched in Turner Campbell's heart (and bed) and Dax knows he's got a snowball's chance in hell at being with the girl.  But, he nurses his love, nurtures it, feeds it on dreams and fantasies, and keeps it alive, as if loving Naomi is what gives him a reason to keep on keeping on.  But is that really love?

We found out in this installment that Dax has a bit of a hero complex, and that in addition to feeling the need to save people, he tends to feel responsible for every bad thing that happens.  To anyone. Ever.  Really. The guy eats guilt for breakfast.  

Sydney is a stripper, and Trey's slightly older sister.  She's known the guys in Indecency since they were all horny teenagers dreaming of making it big.  She's got an opportunity coming up that will get her off the pole and into a more legit career, when she's summoned to Trey's bedside after he's been shot.  

Dax and Sydney meet and there's an instant pull between them.  Stunich makes you feel it.  It's amazing what that woman can do with words.  Anyway, long story short, the chemistry between Sydney and Dax pulls them in new directions and they are practically helpless against it; Dax may finally understand what Naomi means when she says "I want fire, Dax... I want flame. I want to be engulfed and burned alive."  Because Dax and Sydney are flaming hot for one another and fighting it every step of the way, which just makes the attraction burn all the brighter.

We see a bit of advance in the other romances in the series; Turner and Naomi are progressing, as are Ronnie and Lola, and the stories involved in the overarching conflict are advanced a bit.

The few sex scenes are smokin', and we get a view of Dax as a man, rather than as an "emo bitch" (as Turner calls him) when he's with Sydney.  There may not be a lot of sex, but it's as incendiary as ever.  The scene towards the end, in the strip club?  Girls, really; get out your fans and dry panties, cause you're gonna need 'em.

So, why am I not as unreservedly gushy over this book as I am over pretty much everything else?  Well, it feels rushed. It almost feels like Stunich felt pressured to put out a book to placate the HRR fans until she had time to sit down and do more.  This book was totally and completely up to Stunich's usual standards, the story is a good one, and I don't want anyone to think I didn't enjoy the hell out of it for a few hours, because I did, but I also want to make it clear that you are going to get this book, read this book, enjoy this book, and then be really, really disappointed when it's over so quickly. There are some things left open that could have been resolved in this book rather than waiting for the next one, I think.  And I wish I knew why this book is almost half as long as the others in the group.  I would also like to add this:

I was reading. I was loving the story, grooving on the whole thing, falling a little in love with Dax while maintaining my love for Turner and Ronnie as well. I was digging the story of Dax and his problems before he came to Amatory Riot and just when it gets reallllllllllllllly good, and something absolutely astounding has happened, I turn the page and....

NOTHING!  The. Fucking. End.  

What?  What the hell just happened?  Why is my book over already?  I don't get it!!!!  I go back and forth a few pages, consult the table of contents, and.... nope.  Over.  The book. Is fucking. Over.

Now, I like a good cliffhanger.  Hell, I'm a soap opera fan, I FLOVE a good cliffhanger.  And I am not against an author doing something daring and shocking to help tell his or her story.  But, um... this is NOT a cliffhanger!  This is an abrupt stop.  It's a red light in the middle of a damn drag race.  It's the equivalent of throwing on the emergency brake while you're doing 125 down the highway!

It just sort of diminished things for me a bit.  What can I say, I like gratification, right?  Disappointment is not the same as gratification.  Trust me on this.

So, if you're a fan of the HRR series, buy this book.  If you've never read HRR, well, recognize that this is the second book in that series that I've reviewed, while recommending the rest, and then start reading.  Totally worth it.  Stunich is, as I've said, so different in her writing than so many others and I think that her voice should be heard because it shouts to be and deserves to be.  Open that first story and prepare yourself for that overwhelming desire to quit your day job, get a tattoo and a leather jacket, and find your very own rock star to love and have insanely hot sex with.  But when you get to this last story, prepare yourself to be just a little bit let down.  

Bottom line, I loved, loved, loved this story right up until I kind of wanted to punch it in the nuts.  But I got over it.  Mostly. And I have the consolation of knowing that Stunich plans more books in the series and that I'll get the gratification I crave.  Because I know that Stunich, just like any romance author, is going for the HEA.  Hers may not look like Danielle Steele's or Barbara Cartland's HEAs, but we're gonna get the whole thing eventually.   

I hope.  I think.  I'm pretty sure....