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review 2021-08-18 06:48
Robb Starr - J.A. Howard

Mia had a crazy crush on Rob, just like everyone at her school.  Their mom's are best friends so they basically grew up together.  When tragedy strikes and he notices her, she feels like it is the time to make the most of it.


Rob, to his credit spends a lot of time with her.  She has no idea why and worries about it a lot.  Mia does not feel worthy of him - but still he comes back around again and again.  Is it even possible to wish a future into happening?


This story was quite wordy.  I felt the pace went fast and I felt lost several times while reading.  This was more of a coming of age book to me than young adult.  I give this a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!


***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2020-06-24 23:56
'The Starr Sting Scale - Candace Starr #1' by C. S. O'Cinneide
The Starr Sting Scale - C. S. Cinneide

''The Starr Sting Scale' by C. S. O'Cinneide (2020), kicks off a new slick, hard-edged but witty crime series about Candace Starr, a former professional hitwoman, trying to retire and not quite getting there.


We first meet Candace when a woman is trying to hire her to 'remove' someone difficult. Here's a sample of Candace's interior dialogue at that point.


'Difficult husbands are a speciality of mine. Rarely, in my line of work, do you run into a husband who isn't difficult in some way. The cheat, they lie and occasionally they smack their women around. It's like the metal in a wedding ring creates a strange magnetic force within a guy's body that sets off his asshole switch. Maybe wives should insist on a wooden band?'

Initially, I thought this would be a light, fast read, filled with pithy one-liners delivered by a slick anti-heroine who, through a combination of threat and incentive, finds herself working alongside the police as they investigate a murder for which Candace is a promising suspect.


I did get all that and it was fun but it wasn't really what the book was about. As the story unfolds, the real focus is on Candace's history and the events that made her who she is: a deeply scarred woman, who trusts no-one, is comfortable killing for money and thinks that friendship is a consensual delusion that wouldn't survive under pressure. The Starr Sting Scale of the title measures the amount of pain received from stings from large insects. Candace's story is one formed by periods of great pain.


Candace is a strong complex character that I can easily see a series being built around. She's physically imposing, fierce, lethal, unscrupulous, amoral, friendless, determined and very bright. She runs her mouth and can't prevent herself from antagonising everyone, especially people who try to exert power over her. Her past is traumatic. Her outlook is understandably bleak. She's a stranger to remorse and isn't looking for redemption but she'll take revenge whenever she can.


The plot is remarkably complex, not in a baroque way, but more in the sense that there is always a lot more going on than there appears to be and that almost everything is connected but the connections only become visible in the rearview mirror.


There is a lot of violence and none of it is sugar-coated. Candace is many things but likeable isn't one of them. Yet her energy and the plot's complexity kept me engaged throughout the novel.


'The Starr Sting Scale' works very well as a standalone novel but it also convinced me that I'll be buying the next book in the series when it comes out.



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review 2020-03-11 04:34
Gritty, Violent, Full of Heart. You're gonna dig this one!
The Starr Sting Scale - C. S. Cinneide

When a book is named for a scheme to rate pain from insect stings, you know it's not going to be a feel-good kind of read. C.S. O'Cinneide delivers the kind of book you'd expect from that title and readers are the beneficiaries.


Candace Starr is the daughter of a hitman who followed in her father's footsteps. She spent a few years in prison, and now released, she's trying to retire. Her days are full of drinking, sleeping with anyone handy, drinking some more and then occasionally manning the till in the convenience store below her apartment.


But her name is still out there (among people who know hired killers, anyway), and a potential client approaches her wanting her daughter's boyfriend (a low-life drug dealer/user) eliminated. But Candace is trying to retire and the target it seventeen. And that's just not something she can do.


But someone kills him and Candace is worried that she'll be a suspect (for fairly obvious reasons). So when homicide detective Chien-Shiung Malone asks her to consult for the investigation—she takes the opportunity (Malone offering information about her father's killer doesn't hurt).


Candace is smart, acerbic and tries really hard to be apathetic. Malone is smart, driven, and tough. Put the two of them together and you've got a great combination—this is definitely the beginning of a beautiful friendship (assuming they live that long)—emphasis on "beginning." I thoroughly enjoyed watching the interplay between the two and the establishment of their relationship.


We also meet a few other cops—some seem pretty cool, others are focused on bringing Candace down (whether she's guilty of whatever they're suspecting her for). Not to mention people from Candace's world—bartenders, waitresses, other hitmen, Candace's surrogate family, and biker gangs. Candace is starting to not fit into their world as much as it's clear that she doesn't belong in Malone's. In between are friends, classmates, parents of the victim and other associates. There's a lot of pain and suffering (in various forms) going on with every character we encounter.


The hunt for the killer has more than the requisite twists and turns—and by the time the true villains behind everything are exposed, I was surprised. I was kind of write with one of my theories, but even then I was wrong—and even more wrong about all the details that were revealed in the closing pages. O'Cinneide's plotting—and the reveal it all led up to—were rock solid and as intricate as you could hope for.


It's a fun ride, a clever read, and Candace's perspective on crime, family, and loyalty make this a high-spirited read. I'm struggling (and failing) to come up with a way to describe the gritty, but entertaining; dark, but not oppressive; witty, without being facetious feel to this book. Candace (and her voice) is sort of a hybrid of Huang's Cas Russell, Ford's Teagan Frost, and Rucka's Dex Parios (without the superpowers or super-genius abilities). And even as I write that, I can see the problems with the comparisons. That's as good as it gets for now. Undoubtedly, about 20 minutes after this posts, I'll hit on the way I should've said it. Hopefully, this is enough of a flavor to tempt you to take a look at this book.


Not only did I enjoy this rollicking ride, I am definitely coming back for the promised sequel. Based on how things turned out here, it is going to be a completely different kind of story, and I'm really curious to see how O'Cinneide is going to tackle it—and hopefully a few more sequels after that. There's a great kind of chemistry at work in The Starr Sting Scale and I encourage you to sample it.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Dundurn Press via NetGalley in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2020/03/10/the-starr-sting-scale-by-c-s-ocinneide-gritty-violent-full-of-heart-youre-gonna-dig-this-one
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review 2019-10-31 23:33
The Starr Sting Scale - C. S. Cinneide

I can pretty much guarantee you’ve never met a character like Candace (don’t call me Candy) Starr. In a nutshell she’s a 6’3” hard drinking, foul mouthed ex-con with a diverse resume. Before she went to prison, she was a killer-for-hire. Her father was a hitman & just like any proud papa, he brought his kid into the family business. Now she lives alone above the E-Zee Market where she mans the counter & bounces meth heads who frequent the store.


But it can be hard to shake your reputation. Candace is approached by a wealthy woman with a problem. Her teenage daughter’s boyfriend is a drug dealing slacker & she’d like him…um…extracted from their lives. Perhaps Candace would come out of retirement & help.


The thing is she could really use the money but…whack a teenager? Turns out her reluctance is a moot point. Candace opens the newspaper one day & sees the guy’s smiling face. It seems his body was found in a nearby ravine. Huh. Unfortunately, it brings an old nemesis back into her life. Saunders is the cop who put her away & he’d like nothing better than to send her back to prison. So he pops by the store, sure that she is responsible for his latest homicide.


It’s not a happy reunion. He still thinks she’s in the game, she still thinks the smell of his aftershave is “like being assaulted by a basket of rancid fruit”. But his partner is a different story. After Saunders stomps out, Detective Chien-Shiung Malone has a proposition for Candace. Help solve the case & she’ll tell Candace who murdered her father several years ago. 


That gets Candace’s attention. She’s never been able to learn who killed her dad & the need for revenge is like an open wound. She figures all she has to do is hang around with the petite & proper Malone for a few days & she’ll have the name of her final target.


Pretty straightforward, right? Well….that’s before you factor in a couple of pretentious soccer moms, a bounty hunter, a mole in the police force & a dangerous motorcycle gang with hygiene issues (seriously, if you have access to running water there is NO excuse for eye watering BO).


Needless to say there’s much more to the story & there are a couple of pivotal twists so I’ll leave it here to avoid spoilers. What you do need to know is despite the addition of Candace’s snarky humour this is a dark, gritty, hardboiled read. There’s plenty of violence & the f-bombs fly thick & fast. Those bothered by stronger language, racial epithets and/or misogyny should walk away. I confess some of it was a bit much although entirely in keeping with the characters. Just a matter of personal taste & not a reflection of the author’s skills. It is what it is.


Two things in particular really stood out for me. One is the relationship between Candace & Malone. They’re from different worlds. But a gradual understanding & acceptance develops as they spend more time together. The other element was the final few chapters. Despite one disturbing scene (couldn’t decide whether to yell “Eeeew” or “Gross!”) there is a clever reveal that made me reevaluate what I thought I knew. Well done, Ms. O’Cinneide.


Rating this is a tough call. I think I was expecting something slightly lighter due to marketing blurbs & endorsement quotes. If a story is well written/plotted, It all comes down to what you enjoy reading. So if your tastes run more toward the hardbitten take-no-prisoners approach to the genre, this should be right up your street.




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review 2019-08-29 17:32
Review: Warrior’s Bond (Yadeshi Brides #1) by Emma Alisyn
Warrior's Bond: BBW Science Fiction Alien Romance (Yadeshi Brides Book 1) - Emma Alisyn,Starr Huntress,Rock Bottom Covers
Warrior's Bond
Yadeshi Brides #1
Emma Alisyn
Science Fiction Romance
Hard Candies Publishing
August 6, 2016


Curvy single mom in trouble + elite alien warrior = a chance at the forever kind of love.


Three strikes and he's out.
Zoriah's rebellious teenage son is in trouble again - this time, on purpose. She'll do anything to prevent her family breaking up, even allow her children to train for the alien Yadeshi army.


Why raise your sword if you have no mate or family?
Elite alien warrior Benyon spends his time on Earth training humans in martial arts. He's come to love the three human children with warrior-spirits, and will do anything to prevent their unhappiness- even if it means going toe-to-toe with their mother - a woman who entices him with her fierce temper, lush beauty and strength of will to raise her children alone.


But she doesn't have to be alone ...
he won't allow it, not when he's made up his mind she should be his. All he has to do is convince her that alien warriors do it bigger, harder and badder. And when their family is threatened by a spurned would-be lover, Benyon seizes the opportunity to prove his worth. After all, there's more to him than just his big, blue... tattoo.


This is a steamy hot, science fiction romance for readers who love BBW and alpha male alien warriors. Perfect for your lunch break reads.






Warrior’s Bond is book one in the Yadeshi Brides series by Emma Alisyn. 

Zoriah, is a single mother of three working two jobs. 


Benyon, is a blue warrior alien on earth to train the kids that apply to the Yadeshi program. 


I felt this story was rushed and things didn’t flow well. We barely get any background on the Yadeshi and we don’t get any history on how they came to be on earth, nor do we zip off to an alien plant in this story. We also don’t get to dive into the characters. 


From what I understand about the world. Earth’s government isn’t nice and they are regulating their people, in that once you are in a class level you stay and don’t get a chance to improve your situation. They are also hiding all the benefits of joining the Yadeshi organization from it’s earth citizens. 


I found some things interesting, like the Yadeshi and their training program, but we don’t get to dive into it all, so I was disappointed on the lack of information and world building. The romance was a slow, sweet, and nice courtship. 


The major downside with this book for me besides the lack of flow, information, and world building is that we actually ended at 62%. The last 40% of this book is all advertisement for the other books in the Yadeshi Bridesseries. I don’t like when an author does this. It’s misleading the readers and not giving us a full story. 


Warrior’s Bond was ok, but didn’t win me over. Their was potential, but it needed more. If the blurb intrigues you, I urge you to give it a shot. Just because it did not work for me does not mean it won’t for you. 


Rated: 2.5 Stars


Was this review helpful? If so, please consider liking it on Goodreads (Angela)!


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Source: angelsguiltypleasures.com/2019/08/review-warriors-bond-yadeshi-brides-1-by-emma-alisyn
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