Sahara H Reviews: Trigger by Scarlett Dawn

New York Times bestselling author, Scarlett Dawn, has created a fresh and magical new adventure for romance and paranormal lovers alike. Shifters now run the world through corporations after the humans all but destroyed Earth. It’s too bad humans are still oblivious. They have no clue terrifying beasts rule their broken world.

And then along came a human. A beautiful and klutzy human.

She’s the trigger the shifters have been waiting for…
But beware of the soul-sucking darkness soon to follow.

  • Print Length: 140 pages
  • Publication Date: March 21, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • ASIN: B01MTEODW7
  • Purchase from Amazon

As part of your free friendly neighboorhood Sahara disclosure, I used to be a member of Scarlett Dawn’s Street Team. I was an active member early in the Forevermore series. Since then, however, the team has been disbanded and I’ve moved on to reading her self-published titles. I’ve been impressed with the science-fiction series she did, Moon Mark and Cold Mark. I was interested to see what her take would be on a dystopian future run by shifters. The book starts off strong and what I like about Dawn’s writing is that she doesn’t have to do too much explanation but instead works in the plot through exposition. Basically, Poppy is trying to escape marriage and in order to do so she has to join an army that is rivals with her father’s military. She ends up being the fated mate of Godric, who is a lion shifter and more goes in way of the plot on how shifters worked to save humans from total destruction.

I really enjoy Dawn’s world-building. I guess my main problem with the novel is that it’s really more novella length and the ending felt rushed. Up until the huge revelation of what Poppy was to Godric, I felt the pacing was strong. I also loved that we got to see Poppy go through the process of joining the Corporate Army. After she makes it into the military however, things go really fast. In fact the “darkness” mentioned in the title is almost glossed over and the book ends on a really positive note. It was fun and the characters’ banter was really creative, I just wish the author had invested more page length into continuing what I thought was a great idea of a story. I’m a bit disappointed to see that the next book is from a different and entirely new character’s POV but I do want to read more of Poppy and Godric so I will be picking it up. Ultimately, well-built world, strong characters, but the length is too short to fully immerse yourself in the novel.

3.5 out of 5 Stars

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Sahara H Reviews: Trickery by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington

Willa Knight: Dweller. Slave. Non-magical being.  

In Minatsol, being a dweller means that you are literally no better than dirt. In fact, dirt might actually be more useful than Willa. Her life will be one of servitude to the sols, the magic-blessed beings who could one day be chosen to become gods.

At least her outer village is far removed from the cities of the sols, and she won’t ever be forced to present herself to them… Until one small mistake changes everything, and Willa is awarded a position to serve at Blesswood, the top sol academy in the world—a position that she definitely did not earn.

Under the sudden, watchful eye of the gods, she will be tasked to serve the Abcurse brothers, five sols built of arrogance, perfection and power. They are almost gods themselves, and under their service she is either going to end up sentenced to death, or else they are going to ruin her so badly that she will wish for it.

Either way, she is in trouble.

  • Publication Date: February 28, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01NBVOYKN
  • Purchase from Amazon

So it’s been a while huh guys? I was looking for a quick fun fantasy read and I was not disappointed. Willa is a great character, I thought I would be annoyed by the caste system in the book but it’s addressed lightly and yet seriously. The Dweller-Sol relationship is what drives the initial interaction between Willa and the Abcruse brothers. There are 5 of them, each with a distinct power, kind of like a hot Power Rangers thing going on. In all seriousness, the book reads like a reverse harem story – namely one girl, a ton of guys to choose from. You’ll probably find a favorite – mine is Persuasion as of right now. This is not a deeply dramatic read, but the world-building is done well and tight. The take on mythology of the gods is unique, the gods are nicely portrayed not as infallible but creatures prone to spite and boredom. The school of gods setting, Blesswood, is also a nice take on the usual school full of magical beings. I wish we did get more information on the other students besides Willa’s best friend and her best friend’s love interest. Instead, the other students aren’t focused on – the real deal here is Willa’s relationship with the 5 brothers. This book is more young adult, there’s nothing scandalous besides some kisses. I do predict Willa will end up choosing one of the 5 brothers, so place your bets as to who that might be. The powers of the brothers are interesting: Strength, Trickery, Persuasion, Seduction  and Pain. That’s a pretty broad spectrum of powers and how the brothers balance each other out also plays a huge role in their relationship with Willa. I expect the balance to shift and powers to go out of control as the relationship between the brothers and Willa is tested. I also have a theory involving Willa and the Chaos god, Raun, maybe you’ll see that when you read it. Overall, quick read, enjoyable characters and looking forward to the next release in April.

4 Out of 5 Stars

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Kindle Jo Reviews: Brighter Than the Sun By Maya Banks

Brighter Than the Sun  

Book 11 in the KGI Series

The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business.

Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.

Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t…

As the last unattached member of the Kelly clan, Joe is more than ready to risk life and limb on any mission he’s assigned to, but when it comes to love, he’ll keep his distance. He’s content to watch his brothers become thoroughly domesticated.

Zoe’s had nothing but heartbreak in her life, and she’s determined to start over with a completely new identity, thanks to her college friend, Rusty Kelly. But it’s the gorgeous smile and tender words of Joe Kelly that begin to weaken her resolve to never risk her heart again. And Joe will have to put everything on the line to save Zoe, when secrets of her past resurface—and threaten to tear them apart…

Maya Banks has finally given us Joe’s HEA in Brighter Than the Sun and I couldn’t be happier for him! Joe has been resisting the match making of his family and his team members for a while now and when he falls, he falls hard and FAST. He’s the strong, solid type. Dedicated to his extended family and KGI’s mission, watching him find something of his very own (outside of his twin, Nathan) was very entertaining. He finally begins to see what his brothers (and some teammates) have and how much he wants that for himself.

Zoe is running. Running from her former life, running from a self she never wanted to be, and running right into the love and support of the extended Kelly family. Zoe knew Rusty in college, and when the crap hits the fan Rusty is the only person she feels she can trust. Zoe’s journey to happily ever after starts with finding out who Zoe really is as a person without being told how to dress, how to act, and what to say. That doesn’t mean she’s weak, as with all the heroines in this series she gets put through the wringer.

The main theme in Brighter Than the Sun (at least for me) is relationships. Almost the whole book takes place on the KGI compound or the surrounding area, so we see plenty of the Kelly family and the entire KGI team. The family dynamic is fabulous throughout the entire series, and seeing Ma & Pa Kelly take to Zoe and bring her into their nest right off the bat just highlights what makes this group of people so special. Zoe and Rusty’s friendship is exactly what a lasting friendship looks like. They bicker, they banter, and they have each other’s backs no matter what. The reader is treated to a nice peek into what the other members of KGI and their significant others have been doing as well as meeting new team members. Joe’s relationship with his twin Nathan and his wife Shea was also an integral part of the story. (For those that didn’t like the paranormal aspects of some of the books in this series, it is briefly touched upon here but not in the way of Shea or Grace’s books). We also get to see more of Rusty and Sean’s constant tension.

The pacing of Joe and Zoe’s relationship worked well for me in the cannon of this series. When the Kellys fall, they really fall and no amount of fighting it will change the fact. The suspense element was not as prominent in this installment (as I said, relationships are the main theme here), and I did feel it wrapped up too quickly for my tastes. It almost feels like a dangling thread for a later book? We shall see.

What kept me reading (even through messy tears) was the family. It was Joe and Zoe, it was Ma & Pa Kelly, it was the new KGI members, it was the rash of —oops, no spoilers 😉
I did cry, Maya Banks pulled zero emotional punches. For fans of this series, there are some major shake-ups. I can’t wait to see what happens next! Brighter Than the Sun brings the reader a sweet romance, a wonderful family, a batch of protective alpha men and the women they cherish, and a dose of danger.

3.5 out of 5 Stars!

Visit Maya Banks: Her Website  Twitter  Facebook

MASS MARKET PAPERBACK:

DIGITAL:

AUDIO

BERKLEY

MAR 7, 2017

ISBN-10: 0425277003

ISBN-13: 978-0425277003

ASIN: B01KGZVOBC

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Something From Nightside: an audiobook review

“Taylor is the name. John Taylor…My card says I’m a detective, but what I really am is an expert on finding things. It’s part of the Gift I was born with as a child of the Nightside – the hidden heart of London where it’s always three a.m., where inhuman creatures and otherworldly gods walk side-by-side in the endless darkness of the soul.

“Assignment: Joanna Barrett hires me to track down her teenage daughter, who decided to forgo the circus and run away to the Nightside. The kid has no idea what she’s getting herself into…You can find anything in the Nightside-if it doesn’t find you first.”

John Taylor is not a private detective per se, but he has a knack for finding lost things. That’s why he’s been hired to descend into the Nightside, an otherworldly realm in the center of London where fantasy and reality share renting space and the sun never shines.

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 5 hours and 51 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.com Release Date: November 24, 2008
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001M5G736
  • Purchase from Audible

It has been a while since I have posted a review. Between our redesign hiatus and going back to school, it has been a little rough fitting in a review. But I am back and diving into my roots of urban fantasy.

And what heralded my return to doing reviews? Audible had a sale going on where you could buy the first book in a series from the best Audible Publishing had to offer for as low as $4.95 per title. I think I paid just under $8 for one of them, but most were on the entry level. Some of my favorites, too. Which made it hard for me to find titles I didn’t already own. Yet somehow six of them made it to my cart.

Something From Nightside was one of those titles I have heard about from friends, but have had yet to pick up. They knew I would likely get into it as a fan of the Dresden Files, as there were many similarities, but there was always something else higher on my list. But for $4.95 it was impossible to resist. And I am glad I grabbed it.

So the real elephant in the room for me is the series as a starting point. This character and story might not appeal to all. It is a dark tale, and the main character can be a bitter pill to swallow. Much like some people we meet in everyday life. But while I may not want to go out and grab a beer with him, I was definitely interested in his story. Which means you have been warned, if you are the type of reader that needs a likable main character, this one may not be for you.

The full read gave me the feel of a story steeped in the fey world. It looks like ours, just a little bit off. And for me, that makes for a very solid setting. One where I can see magic working its way into every day life. If that life was narrated like a pulp detective novel.

One part broken hero, one part detective novel… all of it flavored with magic and mystery. All of which with a solid, deadpan delivery of a narrator. I give this one…

4 Stars

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Guppy Hosts Anna Zabo on the Daily Grind Blog Tour

Book Cover: Daily Grind by Anna ZaboA man discovers that love can show up when you least expect it—and in a much different form—in this piping-hot romance from the author of Due Diligence and Just Business.

Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N’At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn’t have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he’d become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin.

As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob’s visits—to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in.

But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance?

  • File Size: 1634 KB
  • Print Length: 342 pages
  • Publisher: InterMix
  • Publication Date: February 21, 2017
  • ASIN: B01CZCW3LY
  • Purchase from Amazon: Audible EditionKindle Edition

 

I’m so pleased to welcome Anna Zabo here to WLP on her Daily Grind Blog Tour. Ms. Zabo is an author I started reading within the last year or so, and she quickly became an auto-buy author for me. I love how she portrays her characters and how they deal with their conflicts. I started with Takeover, which is the first book of her series of the same name, and have loved them all. While Daily Grind is book 4 in this series, these books absolutely stand alone. The characters from Takeover appear in this book, but only peripherally, and everything you’d need to know about those characters is explained so you never feel like you’ve missed anything. Though I totally recommend reading them all. 

So without further ado, here’s Anna Zabo in her own words talking about how this book came about.

Blog Tour Banner. It's the cover from Daily Grind and includes "Blog Tour - Feb 20-Mar1"

Daily Grind is the longest book I’ve written recently—it’s about 98,000 words. It’s also the book I wrote the fastest—I drafted it in about three months. I’m not a full-time writer, as I have a day job, so all of Daily Grind was written on evenings and weekends.

How’d I manage it? I did something I’d never done with a book before—I sat down and outlined the damn thing from start to finish, including pretty much all the scenes before I started writing.

I’ve always been far more of a seat of the pants writer than an outliner. I love discovery writing, those moments when the characters come alive and shape the story, when they do things I don’t expect, and when I type something, then stop and say, “Oh! So that’s their deal!” I always figured any attempt to outline would kill this process entirely. There’s no fun in discovering the story if you know the story already!

But…at the same time, I really wanted to be able to write more than one romance a year. To do that, I needed to become more efficient at writing a novel. So I started looking into how people write multiple books in a year. The answer kept coming back to outlining and plotting and figuring out stuff before writing.

I was not the happiest camper about that.

Now, it’s not that I never ever outline at all—I’ve always had a good idea of the start of my novels and the black moment, and usually the end, but everything else was often a mystery to me until I got there.

With Daily Grind, I thought, What the heck. Let’s give full outlining a try. I’d read Take Off Your Pants by Libbe Hawker and used a modified version of her outlining technique  to figure out Brian and Rob’s story, plunked down sketches for the scenes in Scrivener, and started writing. Three months later, I typed The End.

During that process, I discovered three things.

First, I still was a discovery writer—I found out so many things about the characters during the writing process. I knew Rob had issues with his parents, but not what happened with them until I wrote it. Heck, I had no idea where the scar on his wrist came from until I wrote that.

I knew what the conflict would be between Brian and Rob, but not the actual content of the black moment as it unfolded. I didn’t know Brian’s middle name until the last scene. I had no idea Rob would get a garden…nor anything about Brian’s siblings. None of that stuff was in the outline. It unfolded in the writing.

The second discovery was that the outline could change. Brian and Rob had their own ideas about how the story was going to go, so I ended up removing several scenes and adding new ones. My default is to trust my characters and that journey they want to take will be better than the journey I want to force them on.

Lastly, I found out that it wasn’t the outline that I needed. What helped me the best was knowing the overall shape of the story. What’s the driving conflict? What’s keeping them apart? What’s pulling them together? What do they need to learn? That stuff.

The heart of Daily Grind is Brian discovering where his priorities lie. It’s also about Rob deciding how much he’s willing to put up with—that is—it’s about the two different breaking points for these men and what they’ll do when they hit them and the choices they make afterwards.

Outlining gave me a map that told me the lay of the land—the shape of the story—and a path that Brian and Rob could take. What I discovered is that I (and they) don’t have to follow the first path. I (and they) can still take detours and discover new things as the story progresses—but the journey was so much easier when I had a picture of the whole coffee-laden land Brian and Rob were travelling through.

I do hope you enjoy Brian and Rob’s journey as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Thanks for stopping by, Anna! I loved Daily Grind and look forward to reading more from you, and hopefully you have more plans for the crew at SR Anderson Consulting.

Lynda the Guppy
aka the Fish With Sticks

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Guppy Reviews: Troublemaker by Linda Howard

Book Cover: Troublemaker by Linda HowardA thrilling, fast-paced novel of romantic suspense from sensational New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Linda Howard.

For Morgan Yancy, an operative and team leader in a paramilitary group, nothing comes before his job. But when he’s ambushed and almost killed, his supervisor is determined to find out who’s after the members of his elite squad – and why. Due to worries that this unknown enemy will strike again, Morgan is sent to a remote location and told to lie low and stay vigilant. But between a tempting housemate he’s determined to protect and a deadly threat waiting in the shadows, keeping under the radar is proving to be his most dangerous mission yet.

The part-time police chief of a small West Virginian mountain town, Isabeau “Bo” Maran finally has her life figured out. She’s got friends, a dog, and a little money in the bank. Then Morgan Yancy shows up on her doorstep. Bo doesn’t need a mysterious man in her life – especially a troublemaker as enticing and secretive as Morgan.

The harder they fight the intense heat between them, the closer Morgan and Bo become, even though she knows he’s hiding from something. But discovering the truth could cost Bo more than she’s willing to give. And when Morgan’s cover is blown, it might just cost her life.

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 14 hours and 10 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Harper Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: May 10, 2016
  • Whispersync for Voice: Yes
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01COR1B36
  • Purchase from Amazon: Audible Edition, Kindle Edition

I have friends (and bloggers/reviewers) I know personally and trust who loved this book. Who swore it was Linda Howard returning to when she was awesome. I have one thing to say to all of them…

Were we reading the same book?

I listened to this book, and I was bored out of my freaking mind. When the best character in the book is the DOG, maybe Ms. Howard needed a better beta reader or editor.

Most of this book is told via the Morgan (hero) and Bo’s (heroine) thoughts. And if you can believe it, I finished this book less than 24 hours ago and I couldn’t remember their names. I just had to look them up, they were THAT forgettable.

 There’s very little dialogue between the two. It starts out with Morgan getting shot, he goes to recuperate at Bo’s, and WEEKS (months?) pass. Lots of walking the dog, watching the dog do tricks, watching the townspeople adore the dog, and Bo whining in her head about cooking. Oh, and her scowling and swearing about how much she hates her stepbrother (Morgan’s boss) though we never find out why, other than some vague reference to him being a bratty older stepbrother for 6 months when they were kids. Bo needs to get over it or get a therapist.

The mystery as to who shot Morgan was never really investigated, that we saw. Lots of talks of traps set by Morgan’s boss, and waiting, but Morgan was pretty passive through this entire book, which I didn’t totally buy.

There was more time spent focused on a subplot of a divorce between two townspeople than there was about who was trying to kill Morgan. And that question was answered after a quick conversation that takes place in the last 60 or so pages. Maybe if Morgan had spent more time spent going through his memories and less time spent admiring the dog, the book might be more suspenseful. And interesting.

The only part of this book that felt like Classic Linda Howard was the sex. Once they FINALLY got started it was plentiful and hot. Here Morgan’s a stereotypical LH hero: Has the largest dick the heroine’s ever played with, and he knows how to use it. It’s the best sex the heroine ever had, and she’s walking a little funny.

All in all, though, I was bored and I should have skipped this one. I’ve read worse, but I always expect so much more out of Linda Howard.  Now I’m off to re-listen to Mr. Perfect.

RATING: 2 Stars.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks

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Is This Thing Still On?

cSeUq3W

After what was supposed to be a short break from blogging and turned into an extended one, we are back. Please bear with us as we get back into the swing of things, be it blogging or technical.

-Pixie

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