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review 2017-07-28 03:30
A touch of reality with tales of horror
Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror - Johann Thorsson,Max Booth III,Glen Krisch,Jessica McHugh,Kealan Patrick Burke,Mark Matthews,Jack Ketchum

Some of these stories were unexpected. Some were actually touching considering the subject matter. Some a little creepy. I enjoyed the imagination of the different writers, the way their stories unfolded. This is not for the faint at heart with some of the endings. There were times I wanted to finish the story but I could not sit in my car all day. If you like horror with a touch of reality, this is a good place to find it.

I received this audiobook as a gift, and this is my unsolicited review.

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review 2017-07-24 03:04
ARC Review: The Garden (Lavender Shores #2) by Rosalind Abel
The Garden - Rosalind Abel

I may have asked the author for an early copy. Possibly.

Oh, who am I kidding - I shamelessly begged as soon as I saw CrabbyPatty reading it. 

And I would beg again, if given the choice, because this book was fabulous. Gorgeous. Rapturous. Captivating. Brilliant. If my 15 status updates didn't convince you to pick up a copy of this as soon as you can, hopefully my review will.

Where book 1 was a mostly easy love story between Andrew and Joel, book 2 isn't like that at all. In this 2nd book, the author created a much more emotional and pain-filled plot, giving both of the MCs past hurts and some big issues they must overcome.

Gilbert Bryant (Andrew's cousin who sold him the cabin), a member of one of the founding families of Lavender Shores, has escaped his hometown as soon as he could. He designs one of a kind jewelry for the rich and famous, and he's perfectly happy in his cabin above Lake Tahoe, having no illusions that he'll ever be as happy as his cousin. Not that he thinks he deserves to be. Except he's having to go back for family get-togethers every so often, one of which is Andrew and Joel's engagement party.

Walden Thompson has recently moved to Lavender Shores, a place he visited once as a kid and dreamed of making his home ever since. He's a teacher and running from a past he's not proud of. It's clear early on that Walden keeps mostly to himself, and also doesn't have any aspirations of finding someone to love. 

The two meet at the gym, where Gilbert is on a treadmill behind Walden on a Stairmaster. Lusting for the well-formed ass in front of him, Gilbert thinks Walden is a tourist. Attraction is immediate, and after some steamy times in the steam room, they spend a hot night together. Their specific kinks line up pretty well, and that first bedroom scene was .... uh, well... let's call it rough and rowdy. I don't think I've ever read a scene like that in an M/M romance novel... not even in one that I knew would be kinky. 

I might have fanned myself.

Moving on.

Then Gilbert and Walden meet again at the engagement party, and Gilbert finds out Walden is a teacher. Immediate recoil by Gilbert makes things a bit awkward for Walden. I was scratching my head as to why that would be an issue for Gilbert, since no reason is given at that time.

Still licking his wounds, Walden ends up in a resort kind of place on a short vacation near Lake Tahoe, unaware that Gilbert lives in the area. While being propositioned by a Gilbert-lookalike, the real deal shows up, and the attraction still burns brightly. Also, Gilbert might be a little jealous. Possibly. Even if he tells himself that he shouldn't be, because he's no good for Walden.

And Walden fears being hurt again, and possibly falling down that rabbit hole of pain and shame once more if he lets himself get close to Gilbert. Sex is easy (and super hawt) - feelings are not welcome here. 

I really liked that the author didn't make things easy for them. There's a lot of angst here, and both men have pasts that still haunt them. No, I'm not going to tell you what those pasts are, but let it suffice that they both struggle, in their own ways. They're both still hurting, and while they don't immediately share their deepest and darkest secrets, they are both honest about being troubled, and how those troubles are impacting their views and actions. 

Of course, true love will not be thwarted, no matter how hard they both fight it. This is a romance, after all. 

What I really loved is how Gilbert and Walden help each other come to terms with their pasts. Even as Gilbert believes he doesn't deserve Walden, believes the things hateful people have told him in the past, even as he confesses his fears, his depression, his attempts at ending things when the pain got too much, all of his darkness, it is clear that Walden doesn't judge Gilbert for his past. And when Walden comes clean about his own past, he realizes that Gilbert isn't judging him either. 

The author created two complex, flawed, and yet strong characters, with histories that still shape their actions, but also allowed them to grow, to realize things, and to forge a new path - together. Their story isn't without pitfalls, and for some time, it's two steps forward, one step back, but as the plot progresses, their relationship goes from hot animalistic sexy times to real intimacy. Their fears don't disappear overnight, there's no magical healing here, but they face their fears, they move forward, they learn, they grow. 

This is hurt/comfort/healing at its finest, and I didn't want to put this book down until I had finished their story, only stopping for such pesky reasons as work and sleep. Absolutely heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. A fantastic supporting cast rounded out this novel, with many of the characters making repeat appearances in this book and its predecessor. 

While this book could easily be read as a standalone, I would personally recommend you read the first one too, because a lot of the history of the town, as well as the intermingled family history, is explained in that first one.

 

What I also want to mention are the titles. The Palisade and The Garden are both places that are important to the stories and to the characters. I thought that this was rather clever on the author's part, since both places play a huge role in the plot lines of their respective stories. I imagine that a veranda will be prominent in the third book, which is Donovan's story.

That's next. I'll be begging for a copy, for sure. 

This is one series you do not want to miss. Read it!


** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-07-10 15:46
Garden of Fiends
Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror - Johann Thorsson,Max Booth III,Glen Krisch,Jessica McHugh,Kealan Patrick Burke,Mark Matthews,Jack Ketchum

 * The reality of addiction is darker than any fiction. *

"Drinking and drugging provide the height of human experience.

It's the promise of heaven on earth,

but the hell that follows is a constant hunger, a cold emptiness."

 Before I read even one story in this 'reality horror' anthology - Mark Matthews had me crying so hard that I could barely see. He presents an addiction anthology with compassion, casting no aspersions on anyone. I wan't to meet Mark Matthews, and give him the tightest hug ever.

 

"Imagine yourself drowning and being told not to swim to the surface for air. Obsessions should be so mild."

 

 

I'll have the full review posted soon - I was going over my notes for this review, and I'm bawling again. 

 

shortlink: https://goo.gl/HGRbsX

 

Source: goo.gl/HGRbsX
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review 2017-07-06 00:41
Murder in the Secret Garden (Book Retreat Mystery, #3)
Murder in the Secret Garden - Ellery Adams

Work with me here for a minute:  imagine a Clive Cussler novel in all it's rip-roaring, unbelievable adventuring; now try to imagine opening a Dirk Pitt novel and finding a pretty decently written romance.  All the Dirk Pitt silliness is there, but really, it's a romance.

 

...

 

That's how I feel about this book.  Ellery Adams writes cozy mysteries - and this is a cozy  mystery, but she has the imagination of a fantasy writer - and the story is definitely fantastical.  Now, I know she's not the first to mix the two things; there's a whole sub-sub genre for cozy paranormals.  But this one, for some reason I can't put my finger on, feels weirder than the rest.  Like someone's trying to wear plaid and polka dots together.

 

Jane is the manager of a book retreat resort in Virginia that sounds divine: a place to go where no electronic devices are allowed, full tea is served every day and there might be more libraries than rooms.  But she's also the caretaker of a hidden library; one that holds treasures unknown to the public, like Shakespeare's missing play, or an unknown copy of Gutenberg's bible.  And the library is magically able to hold much more than it should be able to. Jane and her staff are part of some ancient secret society tasked with being the caretaker of these books and doing whatever is necessary to save and preserve them.

 

Then there's her love interest - a man she finds out is a thief called The Templar.  But is he?  As this is the 3rd book in the series, she finally finds out what's what with him and it's as out-there as her backstory.

 

But across the top of all of this is a very mundane, run-of-the-mill, murder mystery with very real, mundane suspects.  The mystery is good; although not book related, it is related to gardening and a medieval herbal group who is staying at the resort.  

 

As I write this, I think what makes the story feel weird is that there are two very distinct layers here and they're like oil and water - they don't interact with each other at all.  This fantastical secret library and it's secret societies have nothing whatsoever to do with the mystery or the people involved in it.  

 

So, it's good, but it's sorta weird.  I'll read the next one though; maybe it will homogenise the mystery and the fantasy a bit better.

 

 

 

 

 

Page count:  276

$$ 6.00

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review 2017-07-05 11:29
Embroidered Garden Flowers
Embroidered Garden Flowers: Botanical Motifs for Needle and Thread (Make Good: Crafts + Life) - Kazuko Aoki

by Kazuko Aoki

 

This is a lovely needlecraft book with advice on how to draw flowers with colored threads, in embroidery. It is loaded with full color pictures that show what can be accomplished with a few well-chosen stitches.

 

Hints are given about how to keep the shapes and colors in the artist's eye so that the image can be closely depicted in the stitches. About halfway through the book, instructions are given for how to embroider the beautiful flowers. Materials, stitches, everything you need is covered. Even the color numbers for DMC embroidery silks is included.

 

Detailed instructions are laid out for the specific flower designs in the pictures, but the reader is encouraged to use the same methods for embroidering flower designs from their own gardens or a field guide. There isn't a lot of text, but the little there is explains everything you need to know!

 

Overall an excellent tutorial on making these lovely designs.

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