Cephalopod Coffeehouse Sept 2017: THE LIST, A Review

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month I’m featuring a post-apocalyptic YA adventure from Patricia Forde. THE LIST is a newly-republished novel, originally called THE WORDSMITH. I’ve only read this version, but I liked it bunches.

About the book:
In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.

My Review:
Letta is the teenaged apprentice wordsmith of Ark, a community of survivors on post-apocalytic Earth. The ice caps melted and the seas rose and John Noa built a fortified town where some of humanity would survive. Letta’s parents, residents of Ark, disappeared when she was a small child, bound to search for more survivors. Letta was raised by the wordsmith, Benjamin, to treasure words, though the people of Arc are only given license to use the 500 words on their List as their language.

Benjamin isn’t pleased when he’s told to cut the List to 300 words, and Letta isn’t any happier. She’s in love with language, and words are her trade. She relishes knowing more words than most of Ark’s residents, and does her duty to keep making List words for the school children and apprentices of Ark when Benjamin goes on an extended journey.

John Noa’s theory that deceitful words of untrustworthy politicians destroyed the world has warped his mind, and he wants language eradicated and man to return to that of beasts, is pretty out there. Benjamin fought against him, and lost, which Letta discovers before it’s too late. She meets Marlo, a “Desecrator” or person who creates are or music and lives in the banished forest outside of Ark. Letta helps him recover from an attack by the Ark policing agents, and his family helps her track down the fate of Benjamin, and others who’d gotten in John Noa’s way.

This is an adventure that’s filled with intrigue and peril as Letta endeavors to find truth that’s been well hidden in ignorance. Her worldview is opened by her experiences with the Desecrators, and in witnessing the callousness of John Noa’s agents. They banish the old and infirm as well as the young. Their idyllic world is a shell game, and Letta’s blinders have been removed. She does her best to save the day, but it’s not over when it’s over. Letta, Marlo and the Desecrators need to find a way to help their fellow humans find a new direction, and it’ll take another book to get us there. Really interesting look at a totalitarian regime, and a censored society, from a teen’s point of view, and the plot kept moving along nicely as Letta made truth her mission.

Looking forward to the next adventure on this journey.

Interested? You can find THE LIST on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. You can also likely find it in your local library–may be cross-listed as The Wordsmith. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

Thanks for popping in and be sure to visit my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers as they share reviews of their fave books for this month.


Cephalopod Coffeehouse January 2016–THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE–A Review

0ed81-coffeehouse
Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month I’m sharing a review for a newly-released “non-fiction novel” to use the term coined by the book’s subject, Truman Capote. Melanie Benjamin‘s THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE is a knock-down drag-out story of true love and utter betrayal that’s all the more poignant for being based in reality. These people existed. And I felt a bit grotesque peeking into the murk of their shady relationships.

The Swans of Fifth AvenueAbout the book:
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife comes an enthralling new novel about Truman Capote’s scandalous, headline-making, and heart-wrenching friendship with Babe Paley and New York’s society “swans” of the 1950s.

Centered on two dynamic, complicated, and compelling protagonists—Truman Capote and Babe Paley—this book is steeped in the glamour and perfumed and smoky atmosphere of New York’s high society. Babe Paley—known for her high-profile marriage to CBS founder William Paley and her ranking in the International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame—was one of the reigning monarchs of New York’s high society in the 1950s. Replete with gossip, scandal, betrayal, and a vibrant cast of real-life supporting characters, readers will be seduced by this startling new look at the infamous society swans.

My Review:
I’ll be truthful, I don’t usually read biographical fiction. It’s not my thing, but I have long heard the name “Truman Capote” whispered about and while I don’t believe I have read any of his work, I recognized his stature in American literature. So, I was hooked into the read for that. I love historical fiction, and the blurb indicated this book to be rife with the sort of dark plot turns only Diana Gabaldon could have wrought.

As I am wont to do, I read a bit. Let it sit. If I’m still curious I go back for more. In this case I could see the blood-spattered writing on the wall. I even took half a day looking into a quick-and-dirty history of Capote. His life seemed both tragic and charmed, and the tatters of his career and friendships were the stuff of quite a lot of public and private banter. I let it sit a week and came back. And I finished it with the ill-ease of someone who’s binge-watched a “Real Housewives” marathon. (I can only suspect this as I’ve never managed to make it past the intros to those shows before turning on something…better? Or, simply turning the tube off…)

What we know: Capote was an out homosexual in a time when such a person was normally killed or jailed. He charmed everyone, men and women alike. His wild, flamboyant ways captivated the cultured ladies of the Manhattan’s elite. His waifish looks and witty repartee got him meals and lodgings and vacations and fame. They may have even gotten him love from one of the most beautiful women of the era, Babe Paley. The book relates a special, intimate, though platonic, relationship between Capote and Babe that was well-known at the time and amongst their peers.

I was young when Capote died–of drink and drug excess, it seems, and the pages of the novel fairly sang with love between these mismatched, hopelessly lonely people. Babe’s husband, the powerful and wealthy Bill S. Paley–CBS magnate, was a known philanderer, and this took a toll on her emotionally. The exquisite Babe could never be seen out of make-up, not even by her husband, and she doted on him completely, as she was well-trained to do by her mother, to the exclusion of really raising her own children.

The story meanders in time between first-meetings with the “swans”: society dames Babe Paley, Slim Keith, Pam Churchill, Marella Agnelli, C.Z. Guest, and Gloria Guinness, and the infamous article Capote penned in 1975 for Vanity Fair, which was a gauche caricature of the beautiful society people that Capote had insinuated himself within. It marked a permanent break in his life, one that many attribute to his ultimate downward spiral into addiction and death. The article, La Cote Basque 1965 was a tell-all of sorts that throttled the society mavens. Ann Woodward, mentioned under a pseudonym, actually killed herself following reading of the article–which recounted the spectacle of her husband’s “accidental” death by her own gunshot.

Truman Capote is definitely portrayed as a bounder in this book. He was a social climber with the aim of being the best, and surrounded by the best. And yet, he is made sympathetic. He long struggled to find love–first from his neglectful mother, and then everyone, including Babe. Their relationship may have indeed been a love story for them, but Truman’s needs were too great. He had a long-time companion, Jack Dunphy, who urged him not to publish his scathing article, but Truman didn’t heed that advice. Or maybe he could not afford to. It was known for some time that he’d been losing control of his addictions, and was years overdue on a novel that he’d been advanced money against. “La Cote” was meant to be one of seven chapters in that book, and only three were ever recovered and printed as “Answered Prayers”.

Swans is a beautifully-woven multiple POV story that is without question a melancholy read, with a train wreck-type plot that is only more harrowing for its veracity. Capote’s real-life self-destruction was rather spectacular, and fairly well-documented. I left the book feeling sad for such waste, and such sadness. The rarefied world of the New York’s social elite is certainly not the stuff that ever filled my dreams, but it was a bit shattering to have all it’s unsavory bits on display. On the flipside, it was a meticulous introspection into the ills of high society in general–what power brokers in this world do we not see living to excess, in different aspects of their lives? What morality exists for those who place themselves above others by means of wealth? These were issues that seemed to trouble Capote, and his “justice” was that of the pen. It was a brutal weapon.

Interested? You can find THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Expect to find it in bookstores and libraries now. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

And, now! Take a hop over to the websites of my fellow Coffeehouse pals to see what their fave books were for January. As always, thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Cephalopod Coffehouse July 2015–LOVE SPELL–A Review

0ed81-coffeehouse
Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

Hi all! Today I’m sharing my review for LOVE SPELL by Mia Kerick. This is a contemporary YA M/M romance which is wholly clean and really compelling. Chance is a gender-fluid teen–that means he’s as likely to dress male or female. He’s confident that he’s gay, and 58% (or so) sure that he’s not transgender, but he really doesn’t want to think about it. Or talk about it. He just wants to find the right guy, and he’s pretty sure (probably 95%) that this right guy is Jasper.

Love SpellMy Review:
Chance Cesar is an out gay teen, a senior in his rural New Hampshire high school and the new Miss Harvest Moon. That’s right, he was voted to be the pageant queen, as a cruel joke, but he werks it, strutting down the aisle in an orange tux and black pumps. That’s how we meet Chance, and henceforth his fabulousness cannot be denied.

Chance has always known he’s attracted to boys/men, but he’s still not clear on his gender identity. He struggles with his daily wardrobe–dress or pants–and he wants a boyfriend. A nice boyfriend. He kinda has his heart set on a boy from the vocational school, Jasper Donahue. “Jazz,” as Chance dubs him, is a burly boy with lots of responsibilities. He works to help support his mother and sister, and when he isn’t working, he’s babysitting his sister so his mom can work. Still, Chance is smitten, and he’s not even sure if Jazz swings his direction. Jazz seems to invite Chance’s attention, but there is no clear movement into Boyfriendland. All the discussions and intimate moments could be construed as simple friendliness.

So, Chance comes up with The Plan–well it’s more like The List for The Plan–of ten things to do to capture the heart of a boy. He spends weeks getting to know Jazz, hooking him in–if he can–and having hilarious misadventures. At the heart of this is a serious connection that Chance needs to make with himself, coming to terms with his gender and how that might affect a potential partner. Chance is a reliable narrator, and his narration is funny. He’s a diva, and his brilliance is often overwhelming to his objective: getting Jazz to love him. Thing is, he is super insecure, and that softens his manic edges. It’s a lot Notting Hill, with a boy standing in front of a boy, asking him to love him. This is a completely innocent book, sexually. The romance appears to be completely one-sided but it develops into a very tender friendship as Chance learns to love, and to give love, for no other reason than to help Jazz find happiness. Also, I enjoyed how Chance saw Jazz’s life, and how his privilege of money didn’t make for near as happy a home as Jazz’s criminally broke but bursting with love family.

I think the Love Spell part of it was rather short, and not the main focus, at all. It was great to walk through Chance’s gender-fluid shoes and get a better sense of the insecurity and frustration of not really KNOWING if he was a he-girl or a she-boy or somewhere in the middle, and I’m certain it will resonate with questioning teens. This is the second LGBTQ YA novel I’ve read from Ms. Kerick and the characters are always intense and sincere with real life plights that are honestly told. It took me a little time to settle into Chance’s voice because he’s got a flamboyant speech pattern, which is part of his quirky charm.

Interested? You can find LOVE SPELL on Goodreads, Amazon, Cool Dudes Publishing, and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks for popping in! Don’t forget to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers, too!

Cephalopod Coffeehouse June 2014–THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month I chose a YA Romance–because, basically, I had THE WORST book hangover after reading it. THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E Stein carved my heart into mincemeat, no joke.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightAbout the Book:

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

My Review:

To get right down to it: Hadley’s family was unexpectedly torn apart by love. That’s right. Her dad went on a four-month sabbatical to London and he didn’t return. He’s alive, and well, and currently completely divorced from Hadley’s mother. In fact, he’s marrying the woman who stole her father away. And Hadley’s a bridesmaid. She’s never met his bride, and she hasn’t seen her dad in more than a year. In fact, Hadley wouldn’t be staring at her plane pushing back from the jetway right now if her mother hadn’t pushed her into accepting the wedding invitation.

So, Hadley’s not keen on love. She thought her parents had it–everyone seemed so happy–but love pretty much sucks if it rips your dad away to a new country and life. At least, it does in Hadley’s opinion. She gets rescheduled to the next flight, and encounters Oliver in the terminal. He’s a quiet, unassuming young English man–he’s nearly 19 and a college student returning home for a family event. They strike up a conversation that spans the flight. It’s a purge. All the misery Hadley had bottled up in the past year and half since her dad took his trip to London is spent out.

Oliver is an excellent sounding board–and distraction. Especially when he kisses her and the seeds of attraction blossomed into a budding love.

Then he’s gone–and Hadley’s still got to face her father and the wedding she wishes wasn’t occurring. It is a twisted experience, to see one’s parent so happy–knowing the misery this happiness created for one’s self and one’s loved ones. Having rid herself of her anger, Hadley is able to experience her father’s abounding joy in a way she hadn’t predicted. And, she’s able to give the one thing she never fathomed:  forgiveness.

That isn’t the end of the story however, and Hadley learns that Oliver had kept a pretty large secret to himself aboard that long flight. Can they find the common ground they had in transit or is the L-word a statistical impossibility?

Normally, I’m no huge fan of instalove, but this book–while the time frame is two days–unfolds so seamlessly it feels genuine. I was wrung out in Hadley’s point of view. What an overwhelming experience she’s had with the devastation of her parent’s marriage. Often kids know there are problems–but in this case, there hadn’t been any warning signs. Her parents were happy. Fun. Planned big vacations touring the US. Hadley and her mother were going to visit London at the end of the sabbatical. And then everything changed.

Hadley’s abandonment is a palpable presence in her life. She develops panic attacks, and spends months caretaking for her shell-shocked mother. She never has a chance to breathe, to grieve the loss of her previous life before it’s all gone. Wracked by anger, Hadley plans to cut her dad out of her new life–and had been rather successful at it–until the wedding. Understandably, Hadley wants nothing to do with the woman who caused so much heartache–who, by the by is not a step-monster. Still, after over a year’s separation seeing her dad is a knife wound to the chest. She has missed him terribly. And she comes to realize that having a relationship with him means accepting terms she couldn’t have previously considered.

See, there is no cliche here. There is pain. There is love. There is loss. There is gain. There is human life unfolding in a way that voids all plans and cancels all debts. I seriously ached for Hadley–over and over again. Her mom has moved on–met a man who adores her, yet the child in Hadley holds a serious grudge. I would have, too. Watching her let go of that pain, however, was excruciating. My heart had to stop feeling in order to not be overwhelmed. Oliver was a spectacular love interest. And the promise that these two might find love, together, was the jump start I needed to get past the strong emotions I’d suffered in the course of reading. (Disclaimer: I didn’t even hate Hadley’s dad when all was said and done–which is saying quite a lot about how well this story was told.)

Interested? You can find TSPoLaFS at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and likely in your neighborhood library. I picked up a reviewer’s copy from NetGalley.

Jennifer E. SmithAbout the author:

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Storm Makers, You Are Here, and The Comeback Season. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently works as an editor in New York City. Her writing has been translated into 28 languages.

You can find her on Goodreads and twitter.

Thanks for popping by my friends. Don’t forget to hit the rest of the blogs on the Coffeehouse. I know I find some great suggestions this way! 🙂

1. The Armchair Squid 2. mainewords
3. I Think; Therefore, I Yam 4. Words Incorporated
5. StrangePegs — Up So Down 6. The Writing Sisterhood
7. BOOK NOOK 8. Hungry Enough To Eat Six
9. StrangePegs — Lost and Found 10. Cherdo on the Flipside
11. My Creatively Random Life 12. StrangePegs — The Faerie Guardian
13. StrangePegs — The Ghost Brigades 14. Adornments looks at books
15. V’sReads

Cephalopod Coffeehouse May 2014–SEX. LOVE. REPEAT.

 

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This has been a totally wild year for me at V’s Reads. Today is my 1 year “blog-iversary” and I think I’ve done well. I went from “the million-ish” ranking as a reviewer at Amazon to #7000-something. I have gained a good batch of friends at Goodreads. I have made almost 260 posts, reviewed something close to 200 books–which I have actually read–and most of all I have proved to myself that I could do it.

See, I am a scientist–by trade. This year was meant to be an “experiment” in “can Veronica squeeze time.” I already read a ton–but blogging? That was a whole different beast. What I have learned in all the reads and posts and reviews has helped me as a writer and a critique partner in my writing group.  Anywho, thanks for following me or checking out my reviews. Hope I’ve offered up something with which you have connected.

To that end, I got my summer reads on early–in preparation for my June blog tour schedule. Still, I’ve had a chance to read some that I picked out just for the heck of it. And that’s how I stumbled across Alessandra Torre’s SEX LOVE REPEAT, a scorching, unconventional romance.

You need a spicy summer read? One to chase away the winter doldrums and put that spark back in your eye? Well, this book may just be for you! (Disclaimer: Hella lotta sex. You don’t like erotica? You don’t crack open this book. Period.)

Sex Love RepeatMy Review:

I would STRONGLY recommend this to any fan of erotica. It is not BDSM. It is vanilla. A whole bunch of vanilla…

Here’s why:

Madison has two lovers. Stewart is wealthy and wants her as a beck-and-call girl. Paul is her live-in boyfriend. They each know there is another man. They each know that Madison loves them both. They each love her.

It never becomes a ménage. This is good, because Paul and Stewart have a lot of history that is almost completely unbelievable, but thoroughly intriguing. I’m not saying more. You need to read the book if you want the juicy details. And, there are plenty of juicy details to be had.

A lot of reviews complain about the epilogue. Meh. There is room in the heart to love more than one person. If you think a character needs to be oblivious in order to be likeable, well, I’m gonna disagree. I think it would be naive to assume Madison couldn’t figure out the connection between Paul and Stewart in two years of dating both of them. And Madison is not naive. Nor is she stupid.

In fact, Madison admits that we, the reader, will likely hate her. She’s probably right. (Too damn lucky, that girl!)

Okay–usually I put a lot more detail in the review, but divulging more will ruin the tension. I loved all the beach/surfing references. The language is beautiful, and I adored Madison. Probably because I was totally channeling her. She has the best of everything. And, she’s surprisingly unaffected by the LA lifestyle. She is a candid narrator, and I respected her feelings for both Stewart and Paul. The smexytimes are graphic and copious–making this a perfect beach read, IMHO.

If you’re interested, you can pick this one up at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably your library.

Thanks for popping in! Don’t forget to check out the other blogs featuring their fave reads for May. And, as always, keep reading my friends! 🙂

1. The Armchair Squid 2. The Bird’s Nest
3. Stephanie Faris, Author 4. Trisha @ WORD STUFF
5. I Think; Therefore, I Yam 6. Subliminal Coffee
7. Katie @ Read, Write, Repeat 8. Nicki Elson’s Not-so-deep Thoughts
9. M.J. Fifield 10. StrangePegs — Old Man’s War
11. A Creatve Exercise 12. Romance Under Fire
13. mainewords 14. Kim Karras
15. StrangePegs — A Wrinkle in Time 16. Words Incorporated
17. The Writing Sisterhood 18. StrangePegs — A Wind in the Door
19. My Creatively Random Life 20. V’s Reads

Cephalopod Coffeehouse March 2014–Featuring OPEN MINDS

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month I want to share a great book I’ve loved for a bit, but revisited recently. It’s a dystopian YA, near-futuristic novel where everyone reads minds. Well, everyone except for Kira.

OPEN MINDS is a suspense-filled journey into science, prejudice, and morality from best-selling indie author Susan Kaye Quinn.

Open Minds (Mindjack Trilogy, #1)What’s goin’ on here:

In this world, all the drugs and chemicals that leeched into the water systems caused changes in neural development allowing for pubertal-onset telepathy. Years ago the first telepaths, called Readers, were ostracized, but now it’s so commonplace that big cities have been largely abandoned and houses must sit at a minimum distance so the neighbors can’t overhear what’s happening next door. At sixteen, Kira’s passed the point where she would transition into a Reader. Considered a Zero, Kira’s in the minority and destined for the menial jobs assigned to those with closed minds. Not the future she envisioned. And it troubles her would-be boyfriend Raf, as well.

But Kira soon learns that she isn’t a Zero after all. While her mind isn’t open, she has a different ability–the ability to “jack” into others’ minds and cause them to obey her commands. One can imagine the incredible potential of her power. In fact, one does, and he’s a gangster.

See, there are a fair amount of Jackers out there–hidden in plain sight–and they are being sought by two contingents: the Mafia, and the Government. While trying to save Raf from certain death, Kira blows her Jacker cover and is rounded up into an internment camp where government scientists study the “jacker problem”.  Much like the internment camps of World War II, Kira and her fellow refugees have no rights, no help, and no recourse against the potentially fatal ‘treatments’ they endure.

In order to survive, Kira must team with adversaries who would just as soon kill her. Good thing she’s a Super-Jacker, and her skills may be strong enough to free them all. But, even if she does escape where can she go? Her family will undoubtedly become targets. And, the agents running the camp will surely track her down. The resolution is a pell-mell race for Kira to save not only herself, but young Jackers in the government testing labs.

Kira is a strong MC, and her steadfast commitment to doing the right thing, even if it’s hard, gives readers a protag worthy of respect. It’s a super-fast read that tackles real societal problems with grace and confidence. I read this book in a day. Mostly because I couldn’t stop until I knew Kira was safe.

The great thing? OPEN MINDS is a FREE eBook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. OPEN MINDS is the first in a trilogy, but has a satisfactory ending that resolves completely while leaving some room for the companion books.

Thanks for popping by! Please click the links below to catch up with my fellow Coffeehousers. And, as always, keep reading my friends!

1. The Armchair Squid 2. I Think: Therefore, I Yam
3. A Creatve Exercise 4. this and that…
5. The Random Book Review 6. The Writing Sisterhood
7. Read, Write, Review 8. StrangePegs — Dead and Moaning in Las Vegas
9. Quill or Pill 10. Trisha @ WORD STUFF
11. Huntress 12. MOCK!
13. Words Incorportated 14. Hungry Enough To Eat Six
15. Ed and Reub 16. V’s Reads
17. StrangePegs — The Sparrow

Cephalopod Coffeehouse February 2014–GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

Before I get started, I’d like to remind everyone that there’s a New Adult Erotic Romance up for grabs on the blog–just comment on this post (ends Sunday March 2nd midnight CST).

This month, I’m reviewing a contemporary romance, by Inglath Cooper called GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS. Why I liked this story–this four POV tale doesn’t just follow the leading lady and her leading male–it also encompasses their teen children, who themselves have a bit of a fling…

Good Guys Love DogsHere’s what happens:

Ian McKinley has worked hard to reach the top. He’s a major player in an NYC stockbrokerage and he’s newly engaged. Sure, the relationship is more a merger than a romance, but hey, he lost his heart when his first wife died of a stroke days after delivering their only child, Luke. Ian’s perfect little world bottoms out when he’s called to pick Luke up from the police precinct on a drug possession charge. Desperate to reconnect with Luke, and keep him out of trouble, Ian takes a year of paid leave and moves them to a small Virginia town to complete Luke’s senior year of high school.

Colby Williams got pregnant her freshman year of college. Baby Lena didn’t stop the dynamo from completing her BS, and DVM, however. Colby has prided herself on the strong relationship she has with her precious girl, but things are suddenly strained –and she’s pretty sure that new boy Luke McKinley is to blame–particularly when she finds birth control pills in her 15 y/o daughter’s backpack. Bigger problem? Ian McKinley, Luke’s father, is the first man Colby’s felt even a tingle of attraction for in the time since Lena’s father walked away without a second glance. Biggest problem? Rachel, Ian’s fiance.

I really enjoyed the interplay between the points of view. There’s some good misdirection going on with the input of Luke–a boy who totally wants his absentee father’s love and approval, yet can’t talk to him at all. Not to mention he’s at a loss to understand why they now live on a farm. And Lena, who thought her father had died, is acting out NOT because she twitterpated (though she is) but because…well…how would you behave if the one person you could trust most turned out to be a big fat liar, huh?

Colby’s desperate to keep her matchmaking friends at bay–she’s not a home wrecker, for goodness sake! Meanwhile, engaged Ian is losing his city slicking mind. Buying farms and sterile calves (of the bovine kind) and rescuing dogs from the shelter. It’s enough to drive one lonely veterinarian over the edge.

Through the first month following the McKinley’s arrival, there’s a lot of drama, and a lot of personal connection, and pretty soon Ian’s not so sure about settling for a marital merger. Not when there’s a heady attraction that could so easily blossom into the kind of love he once knew. And Luke’s taking a shine to a slower paced life–when there’s a quirky girl like Lena to smooth the path.

It’s a not-too-smexy tale of hearts connecting. Both man-to-woman and parent-to-child. Colby learns to step back from mothering Lena, just enough to let her see that it’s okay if one parent didn’t want you–especially when the other so absolutely did. And Ian’s hands-on parenting gives Luke the satisfaction of having a Dad, not a wallet. I really enjoyed this one.

Interested? You can find GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS at Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s been out since 2012, so it may also be in libraries…

Now, don’t forget to enter to win that erotic romance e-book. And, stop in to check out the other Coffeehouse offerings below. Meanwhile, keep reading my friends! 🙂

Click these linky-loos for other great book recommendations!!

1. The Armchair Squid 2. Scouring Monk
3. Trisha @ WORD STUFF 4. Wishbone Soup Cures Everything
5. The Random Book Review 6. Words Incorporated
7. StrangePegs — The Casual Vacancy 8. Read, Write, Repeat
9. Mockity Mock Mock 10. I Think: Therefore, I Yam
11. Julie Flanders 12. The Writing Sisterhood
13. StrangePegs — Brave New World 14. V’s Reads

January 2014 Cephalopod Coffeehouse–NOT HIS KISS TO TAKE–A Review

Welcome one and all to the Armchair Squid’s Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

I’m happy to join in with one of the books I read this past month. As a reviewer of all things ‘women’s fiction’ I have quite a large range. Typically, YA Anything all the way through Erotica. I’ve recently noticed a shift of mainstream romance authors into M/M (male/male) romance–so of course, I’ve checked it out. After reading about 15 of these in the past two months–I must say, I’m pretty impressed. So I chose one that I continue to go back to, because it’s everything I love in a romance (slow build, true emotion), and everything I long for in erotica. (Kink-tastic!)

Not His Kiss to TakeNOT HIS KISS TO TAKE by Finn Marlowe is a contemporary M/M romance set in Spokane, WA.

Dr. Evan Harrison, a gay man and Emergency room physician, suffers debilitating migraines. Due to his inability to function without constant painkillers, he’s stepped away from medicine–and yet the headaches remain. He’s a virtual recluse, shunning bright areas, loud crowds, and general human interaction most of the time. He has a fave watering hole–a quiet dive bar a short walk from his penthouse condo. One snowy night Evan’s hanging out having a beer when an angel walks through the door. Blonde hair, blue eyes, supple young body… Clearly straight, the man captivates him anyway.

Jamie, a good-looking young man, enters the wrong bar on the wrong night. While using the toilet he’s beaten senseless by a trio of homophobes. Problem is, Jamie’s not gay. Still, he’s humiliated and barely coherent when he’s discovered by the strong man who seems to know his way around a body. Afraid that a hospital visit will drain his already meager savings, Jamie begs his guardian stranger to take him anywhere but the emergency room.

Evan complies, taking Jamie to his own home instead. He carefully tends this bright young charge, giving the best care possible. It’s a tender and kind treatment that Jamie has never received. Not from his father–who left a decade ago. Not from his mother who’s too beat down by life to really care–and certainly not from his abusive step-father.

Jamie knows that Evan is gay. And, he knows Evan’s aroused by him. But, he doesn’t seduce him. No, Jamie’s own voracious curiosity is what leads this pair down the rabbit hole together.

In the course of events, both men find what fills their souls–their companionship and eventual sexual relationship. It is a constant push-pull emotionally. Evan knows he’s doing harm by entering into a relationship with Jamie. He’s fourteen years older than his lover, and sure that his sassy angel, Jamie, will bolt back to heterosexuality at any moment. Jamie’s curiously attracted to ‘pervy’ Evan even if he can’t commit to a lifetime of their ‘messing around’–he’s not gay after all–still he’s captivated by the love and kindness Evan lavishes on him. And yet, he’s unable to give the one thing Evan covets most–a kiss.

Yes, they separate, but come together again, stronger, and on more equal terms. This is what is called a GFY story (“Gay For You”) in that one of the characters has never been with a man, but finds the relationship with one man so much more fulfilling than those before that he ‘switches teams’ for his soul mate. It’s the epitome of a romance–with more poignant hardships due to prejudice and homophobia.

If anyone is interested in NOT HIS KISS TO TAKE, the full-length novel can be downloaded FREE ( in multiple digital formats) from Smashwords here. I highly recommend it to fans of women’s romance and erotica. The sex is deliciously written, and there’s a good bit of it, so…YAY!!!

See those links below?  Hopefully you’ll click through to check out the posts of my coffeehouse brethren.  And, as always, keep reading my friends!

1. The Armchair Squid 2. What’s up, MOCK?!
3. Words Incorporated 4. Scouring Monk
5. Huntress 6. A Creative Exercise
7. Libby Heily 8. Trisha @ WORD STUFF
9. Wishbone Soup Cures Everything 10. mainewords
11. Julie Flanders 12. Hungry Enough To Eat Six
13. Yolanda Renee 14. M.J. Fifield
15. StrangePegs — Turn Coat 16. The Writing Sisterhood
17. Ed and Reub 18. StrangePegs — Vader’s Offspring
19. V’s Reads

Cephalopod Coffeehouse November 2013–The Grave Danger of Loving Darynda Jones’s Fiction

Hi there and welcome to my review for this month’s Cephalopod Coffeehouse–a book review forum hosted by the Armchair Squid. I had a surprisingly hard time choosing a book for this month’s feature.

As usual I read a killer ton–thirty books, I think. Most I reviewed for my blog, a few for NetGalley, the others for my own guilty pleasure…

I had considered His Name is Sir by Deena Ward. This is absolutely what Pride and Prejudice would have been if Jane Austen wrote BDSM romance. I adored it–and all four books in her Power to Please Collection.

I also considered Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning–the first of her uber-steamy Sinners on Tour series–which delivers EXACTLY what the tagline of the book promises: Love, Sex and Rock-n-Roll.

Fifth Grave Past the Light (Charley Davidson #5)But I think I’ll go with Darynda Jones’s FIFTH GRAVE PAST THE LIGHT. This is the newest installment of the Charley Davidson series. I reviewed First Grave on the Right last month in my Halloween Spooktacular of paranormal romance features, and the fifth book in the series is not a let down.

If anything, I’m trying to locate the lovely Ms. Jones’s net server so I can hack in for her e-galley of the next book in the series.

Why?

Because she–somehow–made a gal raised in a christian home fall in love with the son of Satan.

That’s right. I love her super-Alpha love interest Reyes Alexander Farrow. I may have some competition from Charley, but hey…

Here’s what happens. Charley is a reaper–actually the only living one in existence. Her humor is Outer Limits–I crack up reading her deadpan observations–which takes a bit of the “grimness” out of her reaper duties: being a portal through which the dead cross into the afterlife. When they pass through her, she absorbs some of their memories. Communicating with the dead is handy for Charley’s private investigator work. Especially when she helps her uncle solve crimes in his job as a Detective for the Albuquerque PD.

In this book, Charley’s longstanding attraction to Reyes Farrow is tested to the limit. See, Reyes has moved into her building–right next door. And he keeps leaving her these sexy Post-its telling her to come over. Charley would like to–but she’s nervous. First, as the son of Satan Reyes may be able to lead Lucifer’s army straight into Heaven by breaching Charley’s portal. Also, Charley suspects Reyes is behind a string of arsons that inexplicably have destroyed every dwelling Reyes ever shared with his sexually abusive step-father. Places where photographic evidence of Reyes’ molestation had been hidden in the walls…

At her core, Charley is an honest soul. She won’t hesitate to turn Reyes in if he’s a criminal. As she isn’t sure, she continues to search for evidence. In the meantime she and Reyes share some heated (read: smoking hot) encounters. Because–did I mention he makes me swoon?–he’s delicious. Intelligent, strong, virile, compassionate and head-over-heels for Charley without losing his magnetic charisma.

In the midst of her Reyes-confusion, Charley works on solving a newly-discovered serial killer case. She follows a few dead leads, and aids nearly thirty lost souls to find their eternal rest. Her discovery of the arsonist seemed more obvious (to me) but handily removes the tension betwixt herself and Reyes. It seems Charley’s life will move to the next level with Reyes into Happily Ever Land–until she’s kidnapped by a maniac.

The book ends with an arrangement I hope Charley will not refuse–even if it means the end of civilization as we know it.

These books are housed under Mystery at my library–only because they don’t have a “Smoking-Hot-Dead-Funny-Paranormal-Romance-Mystery” section in the stacks. If you’re interested, schedule some vacation time and read this series from the start. I think you’ll lose sleep. I know I have.

You can find these books at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, booksellers worldwide, or any library system worth its bricks.

If you check these out–let me know what you think in the comments.

And, as always, keep reading my friends!

Now, follow these links to check out the reviews of my fellow coffeehousers…
1. The Armchair Squid                       7. Trisha @ WORD STUFF

2. Scouring Monk                               8. Kate O’Sullivan Read, Write, Repeat 

3. mainewords                                     9. Bird’s Nest

4. Huntress                                          10. Hungry Enough to Eat Six

5. Denise C Covey                               11. The Random Book Review

6. A Creative Exercise                         12. Words Incorporated

13. Defending the Pen

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse: August 2013

I’ve joined up with The Armchair Squid‘s once-monthly book review to link with other bloggers and offer suggestions of the best books read in the course of the month. We’re linking blogs on the final Friday of each month and each bringing you  the ‘Best of our Best’ just in case it strikes your fancy.

For my selection this month I’m discussing two novellas I found to be surprisingly good, the first two episodes in the Deadly Liaisons serial by Leigh Wilder.

Maybe it’s me, but when I hear of vampire erotica that’s ‘gayer than Twilight’ I get the giggles something fierce. I just had to bite… 😉

First up:  DRAIN ME DRY

See, I’ve read erotica. And I’ve read vampire. And I read a ton of romance. I’ve even read homoerotic tales…and I never expected this to work.

But it so did.

I really loved how Wilder created compassionate, and passionate, characters here. The setting is alt-history, small-town Pennsylvania where vampires exist openly and are allowed to feed, but not kill or turn a victim into a vampire. (Spoiler: um, yeah, sometimes either or both happens…)

Jamie is a nineteen y/o human with homoerotic desires, but has never tested himself. He’s also very insecure, undersized, and regularly abused by his alcoholic father. His Taco King job sucks and he’d like to die, but he’s too timid to kill himself. Working with a vampire, Jamie concocts a plan to have a vampire drain his blood. Reluctantly, his co-worker gives Jamie the name of a place where such a plan can become a reality.

Damian is THE vampire. The eldest of all vampires in town, he’s slumming in a blood den when Jamie approaches him, struck by Damian’s beauty.

Jamie wants this beautiful ‘angel’ to suck the life from him, but Damian realizes that Jamie’s something rather special. The result is a very well-written, tender interlude. Though it is a short read (this is the first of a serial) the end is satisfying for the reader as well as the characters.

Soon as I finished DRAIN ME DRY I downloaded Episode 2, ADDICTED TO THE BITE.

In this second episode, Damian and his Jamie-boy are back.
After one night in Damian’s bed, Jamie wants more. Especially now that his abusive father has been sorted. He is not happy to learn that he can’t be Damian’s steady lover…mostly because Damian must feed more regularly than Jamie’s body can withstand.
Damian, as head vampire, is prevailed upon to find a serial drainer–a vamp who has killed two young men in as many nights by sucking every drop of blood from their bodies. Law enforcement is on his case about the murders, meanwhile the Daybreakers, humans who hate vampires, plot to destroy Damian’s club.

Jamie, out to prove that he can survive frequent bleedings, meets a strange vampire in Damian’s club and get caught in the Daybreakers strike…

This episode moves quickly. While building upon the first story, its plot stands alone as well. Definitely more here than biting and screwing, and I’m intrigued to read on.

Next month I’ll get the linky-links for my fellow Coffeehousers–so hopefully you’ll check those out Sept 27th!