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text 2017-10-16 21:50
Self-Pubs That Shine
The Book of Kindly Deaths - Eldritch Black
Rewinder - Brett Battles
Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper - J.L. Bryan
Paladin - Sally Slater
Haven - A.R. Ivanovich,Michelle Ivanovich
Nightfall Gardens - Allen Houston
Marking Time - April White
Slumber - Samantha Young
Timebound - Rysa Walker
Nefertiti's Heart - A.W. Exley

Most of us these days are aware of the flood of self-pubbed books and how difficult it can be to find a gem in the sea of mediocrity.  We often see reviews of the sub-par and/or reports of unethical marketing schemes or unprofessional behavior on the part of some authors.

But some of us who have stuck a toe or two into those waters have come across a few gems.  I thought it'd be good to share a few self-pubbed & small press books I really enjoyed and that I feel stand well among their trade-pubbed counterparts. 

So here are a few I've discovered that I am proud to recommend.

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review 2017-10-16 15:52
Yanni's Story - N.R. Walker

What a nice surprise.

We met Yanni earlier in the series when Spencer was sent to find him and get him back for his ex. Spencer quickly realized that something was off and it became clear that Yanni had run away from an abusive relationship.

This book follows Yanni after Spencer found him. With the help of Andrew’s parents and the Acacia Foundation, which helps homeless LGBT youth get back on their feet, Yanni starts rebuilding his life after his ex broke him. Along the way he meets Peter, another client of Spencer’s who had hoped to win his ex back with Spencer’s help. Since that didn’t work, Peter is single again and he and Yanni bond over a mutual love of silent movies.

Peter is about twice Yanni’s age – obviously a perfect fit since Yanni has a thing for older men and Peter likes them young.

 

Still, I did not see the Daddy/Son relationship coming. I loved it, though. Very refreshing as it was different from anything I have read so far involving Daddies and their boys. Those stories usually have aspects of dominance and submission – which I am perfectly fine with, btw – but Yanni and Peter don’t take their relationship in that direction. They remain equals. Peter never dominates, never tells Yanni what to do. They just have these defined roles within the relationship which gives them a satisfaction and fulfillment they both need.

 

Their way to a romantic relationship is slow. They start out just watching movies together and spend hours just talking while slowly moving towards the relationship they both know they want. It really was slow, but never boring. And it had to be slow considering Yanni’s past so I was glad things were never rushed.

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text 2017-10-13 12:02
Reading progress update: I've read 37%.
Yanni's Story - N.R. Walker

I wasn’t ready for another relationship. Not yet. I needed time to be myself before I could be part of someone else’s life. Yet, I wanted him. I wanted to be his boy. For him to protect me always, keep me safe.
Like a good daddy should.

 

Boy? Daddy? I like where this is going... ;-)

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review 2017-10-08 12:24
Challenged
Hot Pursuit (Black Knights Inc.) - Julie Ann Walker

This is book #11, in the Black Knights, Inc. series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  For reader enjoyment & understanding of the series itself, I recommend reading these in order.

 

Emily & Christian are at one another's throats on more than one occasion.  It is becoming the norm.  The chemistry between them is boiling and wanting to explode.

 

Christian knows he is hot for his co-worker.  He tries very hard to deny it to himself, as well as others.  When they have to work together to get home from across the pond, it may be more than the team can take.

 

Such a sexy and sizzling story.  I love the banter and the heat between the main MC's.  There are more favorites from the series inside this book as well.  Add in another suspenseful plot - and it is a super read.  I give this story a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This early copy was given by Netgalley and its publishers, in exchange for an honest review.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-07 20:43
Shedding some light . . . .
The Walker in Shadows - Barbara Michaels

This was at least my third or fourth read of this book.  I initially read it when the Berkley mass market paperback edition came out in 1992; that's the edition I bought new and still have.  I read it again during the summer of 2016, shortly before Halloween Bingo and our buddy read of Michaels's Ammie, Come Home.  And I've just read it again, along with Be Buried in the Rain.

 

This is my first review, however.

 

Pat Robbins has been widowed for a year.  She and her college-age son Mark -- I believe he's 19 -- live in a huge old antebellum mansion in western Maryland.  The style is American Gothic, not the Greek Revival pictured on the above cover.  So the house is spookier looking, less like Tara.

 

 

Pat is a nurse for what I'm guessing is a doctor or doctors in private practice.  Therefore she probably makes(or made, in the early 90s) decent money but not oodles.  I'm not sure exactly what her husband Jerry did for a living before he died.  Regardless how much Jerry fell in love with the house, an edifice like that requires . . . oodles . . . of money to restore, renovate, upgrade, and maintain.  Not to mention taxes and utilities.  It sits on a two-acre lot.  Did I mention taxes?

 

Mark attends the local community college in part for the cost savings and in part to stay with his mom while she's grieving the loss of her husband and his father.  Mark does not have a job.

 

After years, maybe decades, of sitting empty, the house next door to Pat's has been sold and Josef Friedrichs moves in with his teenaged daughter Kathy.  I'm not sure exactly how old Kathy is -- maybe 16? -- but she is blonde and pretty and attends a private girls' school to which Josef drives her every day.  Josef is obsessively protective of Kathy, so when she and Mark strike up a romance, Josef is bitter and nasty to both Pat and Mark, but especially to Mark.  And his nastiness to Pat is about Mark.

 

Given what's revealed about Josef's prior marriage, I didn't understand his vicious antipathy toward his daughter's new boyfriend.

 

Anyway, the house is purchased, contractors come in to repair and redecorate, and Josef and Kathy move in.

 

This house is a mirror image twin of Pat's house.  No explanation is offered as to why a single father with one daughter needs a three-story American Gothic mansion on two over-grown, untended acres, especially since said single father is decidedly anti-social.  It's not like he's going to be entertaining or anything.

 

Within a few days of their moving in, weird things start happening.  Creepy lights, attacks on both Kathy and Josef, and so on.  Pat intervenes, and thus a relationship of sorts is established between the two families.  The weird things get weirder and more dangerous, Mark and Kathy join forces to figure out what it is, and then everyone lives happily ever after.

 

Unlike the problems I had with the house in Ammie, Come Home, the twin mansions in The Walker in Shadows worked well with the story.  There were no structural issues; other than the idea of two people rattling around in a house with five or six or eight bedrooms, the house part worked okay.

 

The historical research Mark and Kathy did to "solve" the mystery also worked well and made sense, with a somewhat surprising twist.  The resolution to the supernatural aspect seemed a little too contrived and easy, but it wasn't totally out of the blue.  I would personally have preferred a little more tension in the climactic confrontation but oh well.

 

Mark and Kathy's insta-love didn't pose a problem.  They're both young and eager and their relationship is more catalyst than main plot, so good looking young man falls head over heels (almost literally) for pretty new neighbor and that's okay.

 

What didn't work for me at all was the romance between Pat and Josef.  Pat is still grieving.  Josef is still angry.  That they fall in love and start calling each other "dear" and "darling" was just syrupy to me.  I realized that Michaels seems to have this problem in a lot of her books -- the romances are often just not believable.  It's as though they're thrown in because someone told her "we're going to publish it as romantic suspense, so make sure you have some romance."

 

There were major romance problems in Ammie, Come Home as explored in our buddy read analyses, and also in House of Many Shadows as well as Wait for What Will Come and Patriot's Dream.  Michaels did better with the romances in both Be Buried in the Rain and Houses of Stone, but I'm not really sure why or how.

 

Could the romance threads in these novels have been improved?  I think so, but I wasn't her editor!  I guess my only comment at this point would be, don't count on a great romance woven through these books; just take them as they are.

 

 

 

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