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review 2017-06-19 22:48
The story was good but it was what came after that really got my attention...
Forest of Thorns and Claws - J.T. Hall

Having read the first two books in 'The Oddities' series by this author I decided that I'd like to try something different by the same author so when I saw 'Forest of Thorns and Claws' on NetGalley, it was like opportunity was knocking.

 

I liked the story well enough. It's got a solid plot about conservationist fighting to protect what is suppose to be federally protected land inhabited by rare and endangered species of both flora and fauna and unknown to the world of man it's also the home of a clan of tiger shifters. 

 

Donovan McGinnis is a veterinarian and Conservationist who along with his friend and business partner, Roark run a conservation center in Sumatra. Donovan becomes injured by a tigress when his patrol group rescues her from a poacher's snare. Donovan's life becomes even more complicated as he fights with the bureaucracy of local government to keep even more of 'Gunung Leuser National Forest' from disappearing into the pockets of big business, all while trying to understand his rapidly growing attraction to Kersen a member of the local were-tiger clan and adjust to the reality that he himself is now a were-tiger.

 

While I really enjoyed the part of the story that dealt with the battle to save the forest I think that if there had been a bit more focus given to the growth and development of the relationship between Kersen and Donovan it would have changed how much I enjoyed the story. I felt like the bond between these two men was meant to be really strong and intense and I just didn't get a sense of this from the story, so from this aspect things just didn't quite come together for me.

 

Although the book was only an ok read for me at the end of it all. What I really, really want to rave about for a minute here, if you'll just bare with me, is the fact that much of this story is based on real world events and the author has outlined it in the pages immediately following the story, something that I have to admit I read with a lot of interest. I love tigers and other wildcats. Whether it's a lion or a tiger, a cheetah or a jaguar these creatures have a beauty and grace that is incomparable. Needless to say the next thing I knew I was lost in the world of google. Learning things that quite honestly broke my heart...

 

Things like the fact that there are 5000 tigers in captivity in the United States but there are only an estimated 3,890 tigers living in the wild world wide. There are 9 different sub-species of tigers and 3 of those are extinct. Of the less than 4000 tigers, only an estimated 400 are Sumatran tigers. The Sumatran tiger is not the only tiger sub-species at risk, however, it is currently the most critically endangered.

 

What I also discovered was that while this seems so hopeless for these beautiful big cats, in 2007 the world population for the Amur Leopard numbered 30...just 30...3-0,  that's all that were known to exist and they were in Russia's 'Land of the Leopard National Park'. in 2014 that number was up to 57 plus another 8-12 were found to be living in adjacent areas of China. While this is still such a small and precarious number it gives hope that if we all take responsibility for guardianship of this world this can change for the Sumatran Tiger, the Amur Leopard and so many of the other animals of this world that man's thoughtlessness has endangered. 

 

This is just a small sample of the information that I discovered in my google research that probably never would have happened if I hadn't read this book and any book that motivates me to learn more about the world I live in is a book that I'm glad I read.

 

So in spite of the fact that this book was only a 3 star read for me. I give this author 5 stars for what motivated them to write this story and for sharing this information with the reader. It's a wonderful reminder that we all need to be conservationist in this world if we want to protect it for future generations. 

 

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A copy of "Forest of Thorns and Claws" was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-06-19 21:05
And the happy place continues...
Bonfires - Amy Lane,Nick J. Russo

While Mary Calmes is a tough act to follow with me. There are those who are up to the task and one of them is Amy Lane and I just happened to have the audiobook for 'Bonfires' to review so of course when opportunity knocks I always do my best to answer the door.

 

'Bonfires' is definitely an Amy Lane favorite for me and Nick J. Russo is one of my favorite narrators so there's no way I was passing on this one.  Let's start with my review of the book because it still works for me...

 

Can I just say "Holy Hell! Amy Lane, you nailed it with this one." 

 

Seriously this book was so freaking close to perfection for me. I've been trying to figure out if there was anything that was off, that I didn't care for, or would have liked if it had or hadn't been in the story and seriously folks...I got nothin'. So I'm just going to stop trying on that one.

 

I loved that the MCs were older not just one, but both of them were in their late 40s. It was excellent. Both of these MCs had been married and had kids. Aaron's a sheriff's deputy, who lost his wife in a motor vehicle accident ten years ago and Mr. Larkin or Larx as everyone calls him is principle at the local high school and they've been dancing around each other for a few years now, until Aaron sees Larx jogging at the side of the road...half naked, sweaty and just too damned sexy to resist Aaron convinces Larx that they need to start jogging together. 

 

These two men fit together so beautifully their relationship may have initially progressed at a quick pace but seriously if you're pushing 50 and you've been dancing around the person of your interest as long as these two have and you need to take mountains of time to figure things out all I can say is "Seriously? Dude get a clue and go for it." 

 

I just need to take a minute here and say one of the best things in this book for me is the fact that Aaron is bi...he's not straight and gay for you, he's unapologetically bisexual and he loved his wife. His memories of her are warm and loving and he doesn't regret a day of being with her. He is a breath of fresh air in the world of bisexual characters and he was monogamous when he was married and he wants that with Larx and Larx isn't afraid that he's going to suddenly want himself a woman one day! Am I tickled pink over this little fact...damned straight I am. 

 

As always Ms Lane gave us a rich and plentiful background of characters for this story to play out with. Some I loved Yoshi! for his name alone he was awesome never mind that he's genuinely a good person, Larx's best friend and the high school's VP and Nancy Pavelle another awesome, spitfire of a teacher, Eamon the sheriff who wants Aaron to run for sheriff when he retires gay, bi, straight he doesn't care he's sure that Aaron's the man for the job. Eamon's wife who may be an awesome cook but should never be allowed to make cookies or possibly bake. The kids between Aaron and Larx, they  have 6 and as happens in any house that's filled with love there's always room for more. 

 

Larx gardens, Aaron has chickens, they run, they joke and laugh, the have problems and as everyone with kids knows there's never enough time to be alone and sex is frequently a scheduled event that gets postponed when life adds too many demands to your 'to do' list, but still you hang in there, you work together and you plot and plan until you get the stars to align or there's a good movie playing at the theater an hour away. Of course this all takes a little more effort when you get dead bodies and students getting assaulted while other students are working to make like a living hell for everyone added to life's everyday demands.

 

This one had it all everyday life, love, romance, teenagers, murder, mayhem, friends from heaven, parent's from hell. I can honestly say if time had permitted I would have happily gone back to page one and started reading this all over again...It was that damned good.

 

Now about the audio book...all of this plus...Mr. Russo you are awesome. Your character voices for this story were spot on! Not just Larx and Aaron but everyone, Yoshi and all those teenagers and the other secondary characters. It all worked and just made me love this story all the more. I've probably listened to more audio books with Nick Russo than any other narrator and without fail I have enjoyed ever one of them and my 'basic things I look for list' has been met and exceeded each time. In the scheme of things there are a lot of audio books and narrators that I have yet to listen to but with I feel fairly confident saying that Nick Russo is absolutely a favorite narrator for me.

 

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An audio book of "Bonfires" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-06-15 22:33
Where do you go once you leave Collars & Cuffs behind...
Before You Break - K.C. Wells,Katrina Parker Williams

‘Before You Break’ is the first book in a new series by K. C. Wells and Parker Williams entitled ‘Secrets’. ‘Secrets’ is in fact a spin off series from the authors’ very popular ‘Collars & Cuffs’ series. While it really isn’t necessary to read that series in order to enjoy this first book and I’m proof of that as I haven’t read the original series yet.

 

I have to admit I can see where parts of this book would have been more enjoyable had I read the original series…like the scene where a group of the characters from ‘Collars & Cuffs’ visit ‘Secrets’ on it’s opening night…not really required to know the background on all of these characters since, with the exception of Eli and Jarod, none of them factor into the main plotline between Ellis and Wayne, the MCs in ‘Before You Break’.

 

I admit it’s just a quirky little thing of mine that I love it when characters from books that I’ve read previously show up in the book I’m reading at the moment, it makes me all happy and bouncy…so, had I read ‘Collars &Cuffs’ I would have had my happy bouncy moment. However, it still made me smile and want to read Collars & Cuffs as soon as possible…so not a fail.

 

‘Before You Break’ is a steamy friends to lovers story and starts off around the same time that Eli and Jarod arrive in London to begin the next step in their lives together as the owners of London’s newest BDSM club, Secrets. I really liked this couple and look forward to reading the book that covers their story, but enough about them. I want to talk about Ellis and Wayne.

 

Ellis and Wayne are members of London’s Specialist Firearms unit and best mates they have been for the past 6 years. Their friendship was immediate from their first meeting when they were partnered together. But what Ellis doesn’t realize is that Wayne’s also in love with him and Wayne’s a DOM. Ellis knows that Wayne’s gay and while Ellis is supposedly straight…sexuality isn’t what defines their relationship.

 

I felt a little skeptical as to how this was going to be even slightly believable and was pleasantly surprised when I realized that in general this story was working for me.

 

One of the main things that made this all come together for me was the fact that while Wayne may have been gay and a DOM and in love with Ellis, I also felt that Wayne’s heart was in the right place. Sure, he wanted it all with Ellis but his first priority for me felt like it was Ellis’s well being. He wanted to help him get himself back on track because as Ellis’s best friend he could see how out of control Ellis was spinning and while he didn’t feel that a D/s relationship was or should be a replacement for any kind of therapy he also knew that his friend was resistant to the idea of therapy so it felt like his hope was that he could help get Ellis grounded and put some discipline and structure back into his life. It felt like Ellis’s well being was what came first for Wayne.


I liked the changes and growth that came between these two men as Ellis learned to trust Wayne in ways that he had never really considered before and I loved seeing Wayne step up not only as he introduced Ellis tot what it meant to truly be in a D/s relationship but as Wayne’s protective instincts took over and he helped Ellis navigate the minefield that was his family.

 

Ellis’s family…as families go was more than a little messed up and it was the strength of Wayne’s love, trust and faith in Ellis that helped him to make the changes necessary to preserve his well being both mentally and physically.

 

‘Before You Break’ was a solid start for this series and I look forward to seeing what happens next for all of these men, Jarod and Eli, Ellis and Wayne as well as any new characters that are introduced and taking a jump back and getting myself caught up with ‘Collars and Cuffs’ where it all began. If you’ve read, Collars and Cuffs’ I think you’ll enjoy this next part of the journey and, if like me you haven’t, you can jump in here and go forward without reading the first series but if it’s as good as this why miss out? I know I’m not going to.

 

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An ARC of ‘Before You Break’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-06-13 16:22
Well this is a first...
The Ties That Bind - H. Davidson

I really gave this one a lot of consideration once I'd finished reading it and ultimately I came to the decision that for a number of reasons in spite of the fact that I did finish this book, I won't be rating or reviewing it. 

 

'The Ties That Bind' turned out not to be the book for me.  While I found that I was able to appreciate the story that the author wanted to tell there was just too much of it that didn't work for me.  So at the end of it all I have to admit that for the first time since I started writing book reviews I've decided that I'm going to take a pass on reviewing this one.

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review 2017-06-09 22:16
Rhys Ford does Unban Fantasy and there be...
Dim Sum Asylum - Rhys Ford

DRAGONS!!!! I lurve dragons...but I'm sure you already knew that or at least you should I mention it often enough. Granted the dragons are more background dressing than an actual part of the story...well except in the very beginning they do play a rather important role in the books opening scene. But I admit just having dragons in the story in some capacity never fails to make me happy.

 

Roku MacCormick is a senior inspector for Chinatowns Arcane Crimes Division otherwise known as Dim Sum Asylum...admit it you love the nickname. I do it makes me smile. Roku's more than a bit cynical and he works really hard to keep the world at arms length...he doesn't do attachment or relationships, not any more not since he lost his mother and his family...the man he loved and their two little girls. There's only so much pain that a heart can take add to it the fact that every time a someone dies on one of his cases whether it's a victim or an innocent bystander he feels responsible for their death as well and the fact that his family gives dysfunctional a whole new meaning...one that could get your killed and truthfully I can't say I blame him for keeping the world at arms length which is easier said than done once Roku gets a look at his new partner, Trent Leonard.

 

Trent Leonard is Roku's new partner and it's a good thing that he doesn't scare easily because partnering with Roku is like being on the world's craziest roller coaster without a seat belt or safety bars and if that's not enough Trent's got more than a little of his own batsh*t crazy baggage to deal with.  He's worked hard for the chance to join Chinatown's Arcane Crimes Division and specifically for the chance to be Roku's partner, so he'll be damned if he's going to let a little thing like the rumors and the fact that Roku's family is one of the most powerful Yakuza's in the city. He's Roku's partner and he's got his back end of story as far as Trent's concerned...well, except for the tiny fact that he also wants Roku on his back or anyway way he can get him.

 

'Dim Sum Asylum' does not take place in the San Francisco of our world. This San Francisco is filled with humans, fae, dragons and a whole plethora of otherkin or mystical creatures, there are dragons guarding the gates to the city, magic is everywhere and for those who know how to use it...it can be a dangerous weapon.

 

This one's a fast paced story filled with twist, turns and surprises. The relationship development between Roku and Trent is slow but given everything that's going on if it had been any other way I'm not sure it would have worked as well. These two not only have a personal relationship to build but a professional one to establish as well and while neither man really seems to be big on talking, both men realize that talking is exactly what needs to happen if they're going to learn to trust each other both on and off the clock. 

 

'Dim Sum Asylum' was originally a story in the anthology 'Charmed and Dangerous' so if you enjoyed the original story I can't imagine that this expanded to book version won't be as good or better. Basically I loved everything about this story I loved that it was fast paced and the last time that I enjoyed urban fantasy this much it was Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, not to say that there's a similarity between the two because there isn't other than how much I enjoyed them, I loved the characters in this story both the MCs and a number of the secondary characters, Ms Ford did an amazing job of showing me San Francisco, but not the one that is...no this was the San Francisco of Roku's world and we were shown a San Francisco that while comfortable and familiar, it was also very different from the one that exist today. 

 

I'm sure I could go on and on about this book much I loved it but then I'd probably start telling you the story and really the best way for that to happen is if you read the book...so, read the book...come on there are dragons and a there's a cat. Her names Bob...it's short for Kate...don't ask that's what Roku said and I'm not sure that his logic isn't flawed...but you'll like Bob, she's really special...ok, let's just say Bob's a little surprising and leave it at that ;)

 

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An ARC of 'Dim Sum Asylum was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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