Wednesday, October 31, 2018

It's All Treats and No Tricks - Welcome to the October Book of the Month Picks and Giveaway



Cheers, everyone, and welcome to a new and not-so-scary October edition of our Book of the Month picks. We’ve got some great recommendations for you this time around and, as always, there’s a chance to win an eCopy of TWO books from the list. Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget to enter.

Good luck!

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JulesPisces Hooks Taurus by Anyta Sunday“We are all fools in love.” – Jane Austen

Warning: Extreme gushing ahead! Ha! I’m not kidding, though, you guys. I think I had a smile on my face the entire time I was reading this book. Anyta Sunday nailed it with Pisces Hooks Taurus, the fourth book in her Signs of Love series. It is romantic, sexy, funny, so, so clever, and abundantly charming. Sunday hooked me (heh, heh) at the opening Jane Austen quote, and held me until the final sentence. It feels like it’s been a while since two characters have stolen my heart so quickly and so completely. I truly adored this story.



The Bones Beneath My Skin by TJ Klune – As with all other TJ Klune books, the characters in Bones are unforgettable. Nathaniel Cartwright is a journalist from D.C. who has recently lost his job and his family but inherited his family’s cabin in Oregon, where he was planning to clear his head for a few months. However, that was before he got to the cabin and unexpectedly found that two people, a man and a little girl, were already there. Alex Weir is a gruff, lonely ex-soldier who has tasked himself with being the protector of Artemis Darth Vader, the most unique and unbelievable girl Nate has ever met. Alex sees Nate as a threat, and treats him as such, even though Art keeps insisting that Nate isn’t going to hurt them or betray them. I was immediately taken in by Artemis and charmed by her and Alex’s relationship, even though when we first meet them they are squatting in Nate’s cabin and constantly pointing a gun at him. But, Nate finds himself unable to turn Alex and Artemis in, even though he absolutely feels compelled to do so, and before he knows what’s happened, he’s wrapped up with them as they all run for their lives.



LindseyA Springful of Winters by Dawn Sister – This is a sweet romance. Stephan (aka Mr. Spring) isn’t portrayed as a white knight coming in to save Kit. Kit is all good. He is self-reliant and just thinks and communicates a little differently than what society has deemed “normal”. Mr. Spring is someone who sees the breathtaking exquisiteness in Kit’s differences. Who wants to learn and explore the intricacies of Kit’s mind and is willing to take the time to learn who Kit is and what makes him tick.

Kit and Stephan’s slow and tender journey into a romantic relationship had me beaming, and I had a giddy feeling for them when I read the final words; a joyful feeling in my heart is still there while I sit down to write this review. But something else happened. It had me contemplating…me. Specifically, my actions and expectations towards others. I didn’t expect that. Many times, when books make me introspective, they aren’t as lighthearted and sometimes twist me up and spit me out with my thoughts in chaos. That was not the case here; there was a clear message delivered, and one that made me think, but it was a gentle nudge and a pat on the shoulder with a message to do better and be more understanding.



Adder and Willow by Sam Burns – If you haven’t read the first five books in this series, stop and do not continue. Go to the beginning, with Blackbird and the Reeds. This series is a trilogy of trilogies; in the end it will total nine books. While Adder and Willow is the sixth book in the series, it is the third book in the second trilogy, and it absolutely cannot be read as a stand-alone.

For those of you that have been keeping up with this series thus far, I personally felt this was a great installment. While I know that for some Fletcher isn’t their favorite character out of the main three whose perspectives we get, he is mine. I have been waiting for his turn to take center stage again; this story is essential in that it really begins to solidify Fletcher, Connor, and a few of the secondary characters’ roles in the upcoming battle we know is barreling in their direction. As with the prior installments, it answers several questions but also brings up more.



SammyNightfall by John Inman – John Inman combines his skill at writing romance with his equal ability to write intense thrillers in Nightfall. From the very start of this book, you want these two guys to succeed. Watching them dance around their mutual attraction and fear of losing the other, should their feelings not be reciprocated, was both lovely and frustrating. So often I wanted to shout at them to just spit it out already, admit you like each other so we can all sigh and be happy for you. There was just enough buildup, just enough sexual tension, that made the final confessions near perfect. This is a beautiful love story, but life was not done dealing these guys curveballs. As the story unfolds and it becomes apparent that hell is going to be unleashed, you are forced to switch gears and go from happily seeing these guys falling for each other to hoping to god they survive.

Nightfall dares to ask the question, what kind of person will you be when the world is not watching and the chains of civilized behavior cease to exist?



Hex and Candy by Ashlyn Kane – I’m just going to say it, I adored this clever little romance by Ashlyn Kane. Hex and Candy is clever, humorous, captivating and an absolute feel good novel. I must say that I loved both main characters equally. Cole was that typical guy who saw little special about himself and doubted he would ever find someone to love. Not only did he barely come into his powers, later than most, but they weren’t all that strong and he often feels like he is a disappointment to most of his friends and family, particularly his grandmother, whom he loves and most wants to impress.



CarrieThreepeat by K.C. Wells and Parker Williams – Wells and Parker do a slow burn on Tim’s story, and it was needed. Tim is eighteen and a dichotomy of hard and soft, a natural product of his nature and his upbringing. If the three men had miraculously jumped into bed together, or Sam and Aaron had made Tim their sub within days or even weeks of meeting him, I would have called BS on the whole book. Instead, the authors let it build. All three men have demons to fight, and the authors let them do that in each character’s own time. Wells and Parker let you know that there are three MEN here, not two and a boy, before they bring them together in any kind of sexual situation. It is clear that it is Tim’s choice to be their boy, and I appreciated the way the storyline was handled.



The Captain’s Ghostly Gamble by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead – Ah, there’s angst…a little. There’s romance in spades. The lighthearted banter between the two ghostly men draws you in, and when the two spirits finally realize what we, the reader, knew all along—that they belong together—your heart will heave a happy sigh. This story paces really well for a novella, and has a definite buildup, climax, and conclusion. It’s totally engaging, with colorful characters—there’s a ghost cat for heaven’s sake—and it’s a pleasure to read. Curzon and Harkstead have a definite knack for scene setting and that comes through clearly. I definitely recommend this story for anyone wanting a ghostly short story that is sweet, funny, endearing and romantic. I have loved this series and recommend not just this novella but all the books.



JovanDevil Take Me by Various Authors - Devil Take Me is a wonderful anthology, featuring very well-written novellas that, while all based on the premise of doing a demon/devil a favor to get what you want, illustrates the range and creativity of the authors and delivers on its promise as “one hell of a good time.”



MaryannEvery Other Weekend by TA Moore – Besides being a suspenseful and multi-layered mystery, TA Moore brought out some tender and harsh emotions in this story. Every Other Weekend exposes issues that families try to cover up for the sake of appearances, loyalty and the family name. I really liked Kelly’s character, his heart was in the right place, and even Clayton wore his heart on his sleeve when it came to Maxie. But, most of all, Clayton and Kelly come to an understanding and are willing to put it all on the line for the sake of love. I liked the secondary characters in the story as well. They brought humor, positivity and love to the telling.

This is an absolute page-turner for me, and I’m becoming a big fan of TA Moore’s work.



In the Pines by Laura Lascarso – Laura Lascarso has created a well-written, intriguing, suspenseful, dark YA murder mystery, and it’s just a tad gory too. It touches on loss, suicide, and depression, and how Charlie and his mother try to recover from their personal tragedy. I really liked the relationship Charlie has with his mother, no matter the ups and downs. He’s an amazing character, a good sleuth, and is the glue that holds this story together. Dare was also an interesting character; I almost thought he was guilty along with several of the secondary characters, who all have something to hide. I was totally entertained by this page-turner mystery, and now I’m looking forward to seeing what the author has in-store for Charlie in the next installment of this series.



LisaA Hymn in the Silence by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood – One of the singular highlights of York and Altwood’s collaboration on this series is their ability to draw every scene, whether it be terrifying or sedate or romantic, in such a way that one can’t help but be drawn into the story visually or emotionally, or both, simultaneously. Their work is clever, intricate, and detailed, though never in a way that reads as anything but fast paced and purely entertaining. And if one happens to learn something along the way, well, we are all the more enriched for the experience. Not to be outdone, however, is their gift for characterization and the seemingly effortless ability to draw their readers into the lives of the people who populate this series. James and William are flawed and each come from families that are the direct cause of the challenges they work to overcome, and I appreciate that the authors avoided the handy love-conquers-all fix to the personal issues they face. James and William still each battle their own proverbial demons but rather than weakening them, it only serves to illustrate their strength and courage and will to survive, especially in the face of William’s addiction to laudanum and the additional temptation of alcohol to further help him cope.



The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree by Selina Kray – Kray metes out clues and details in perfect portions throughout this novel to keep readers on the hook and guessing who is responsible for a gruesome and particularly horrific murder, all while displaying the desperate measures taken by some women who found themselves in the midst of unplanned, and often unwanted, pregnancies and on the doorstep of the Daughters of Eden. Some might even say at the Daughters’ mercy as it becomes clearer that the cult of personality practices to deceive. The action and suspense were, at times, so all-consuming that it was difficult not to speed read to get through it, but every single morsel doled out was something to be savored nonetheless, and it all built to a climactic moment that then led to everything I’d been waiting for when it comes to the mystery of Hieronymus Bash himself.

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And that does it for this time around. Until next month, happy reading!

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THE GIVEAWAY



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Sunday, September 30, 2018

We're Baaa-aack ~ With A Brand New List of Books We Loved in August and September!


Hi, friends, and welcome to a heaping helping of book recs for you! I had some real-life stuff going on at the end of August/early September that kept me from getting to the Book of the Month post, so we’ve doubled-up this month with some really great titles for you, as well as the chance to win Two eBooks of choice from the list, so check out what’s up for grabs, and thanks for stopping by! ~ Lisa

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JulesLess by Andrew Shawn Greer – “Winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction, along with many other accolades, Less is all the things: funny, smart, poignant, touching, heart-warming, and probably several other adjectives, depending on individual reader’s perspectives. I loved it so much, there is no doubt that Less will be included on my top books of 2018 list.”

The Wolf at the Door/The Wolf at Bay by Charlie Adhara – “I am absolutely LOVING this series, you guys. I fell in love with Cooper Dayton and Oliver Park in Charlie Adhara’s first book, The Wolf at the Door, and fell even harder in the sequel. The new book, The Wolf at Bay, picks up about four months after the first one ended. Park and Dayton are still partnered up, working for the BSI, solving cases involving werewolf crimes, and working together seamlessly, but as they also grow closer in their personal relationship, Cooper begins to struggle with how to label what’s going on between them. Or, to be honest, with figuring out what it even is that’s going on. Are they just fuck buddies? Boyfriends? Possibly more? Cooper is pretty sure he wants more. He’d love to take their partnership to a new level outside of work, but isn’t sure what Oliver wants, and he’s such a goofball he can’t even figure out a way to just talk to Park.”



SammyRobby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton – “Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride is simply outstanding, an incredible story, and I highly recommend it to you.”

In Other Words… Murder by Josh Lanyon – “The mystery elements were spot on as well, and as usual the climax to the story had me on the edge of my seat wondering how Kit was going to manage to save his hide once again. As always a Holmes & Moriarity novel is top notch, and I am thrilled that we will be receiving yet another installment in the future. Until then, I encourage you to pick up In Other Words…Murder post haste. If you haven’t yet indulged in this series, please do. It is a gem of a mystery series and heaps of fun to boot.”

The Wanderer by Rowan McAllister – “I cannot tell you how well this novel was laid out. The Wanderer may be just an introduction to another world and its unique inhabitants, but I must tell you that not once did I feel lost or confused despite all that was going on in this story. Author Rowan McAllister creates a fascinating world and gives us three characters who capture the imagination and the heart. The sarcastic repartee between Bryn, whose current form is a large black horse, and Lyuc is really delightful. McAllister uses their mental link and subsequent discussions to reveal much about both man and creature, and gives us a taste of the bond they have in each other.”



CarrieGray’s Shadow by KA Merikan – “Gaaaah, this series is so good! Ok, now that I got that out. Seriously, this series is fantastic. Gray’s Shadow is book four in the series, and it is not a standalone. There is one overarching storyline to these books, and you have to start from the beginning with Laurent and the Beast and read in order. Yes, each book is ultimately about a member of the club getting their romantic HEA, but if they don’t solve the ultimate mystery, none of them will live to care anyway. You see, there’s this demon that lives in the mirrors of the clubhouse. He has a plan he’s been hatching for quite some time, and it’s about to come to fruition unless the Kings of Hell can somehow stop him. Cue creepy music, ha!”

The Captain and the Cricketer by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead – “This is a story about second chances, righting what is wrong, standing up for what and who you believe in. And cricket. Winding through the story is the meandering thread of cricket, the emotions and feel of the game and what can happen on the pitch when you least expect it. There are layers of stories here, with a mystery to solve and an evil bully to take down. The secondary characters play their parts well and support the main storyline nicely. I will say my favorite supporting character was a horse. There was a special horse in the first book of the series also… hmmm, I’m sensing a theme. Ha!”



MaryannDigging Deeper by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham – “One thing I have to say is that the writing team of Quinn and Bermingham keeps taking the elemental powers to the next level. This plot is dark and gritty, and the abuse is beyond horrendous and is a major factor in tearing down a growing trust between Mari and Jake. Even though they take a big step in their relationship, along with a new profession for Jake, there’s still a crack in their bond. The authors make it difficult, and I want both Mari and Jake to find that peace and trust for their relationship become more solid.”

A Few Good Fish by Amy Lane – “A Few Good Fish is a great read and a page turner! It’s packed with lots of danger, explosive action, suspense and snark. A dangerous military officer coming back onto the scene with men trained as killing machines, was scary and brilliant. But, I don’t think this is over yet. There’s so much love and heartwarming and heart-wrenching moments between Jackson, Ellery, and Ellery’s mother, Lucy Satan, and there’s a great cast of characters that return, including Jade, Mike, Kaden, Ellery’s dad, and a three-legged tomcat. I really liked the pairings and the contrasts and similarities of the couples in the book: Jackson and Ellery, Ace Atchison and Sonny Daye, and the new addition of Lee Burton and Ernie Caulfield.”

One-Eyed Royals by Cordelia Kingsbridge – “Not only is One-Eyed Royals an excellent read, but it’s action-packed, explicit and violent; it’s gritty, gory and jaw dropping!! And just when you think you know both Levi and Dominic, the tables are turned. Not only do Levi and Dominic shock each other, but anyone who follows this series will be shocked too! The Seven of Spades-Levi-Dominic triangle becomes more ominous as Seven issues a horrendous ultimatum. Will Dominic or Levi be able to make the final decision?”



LindseySomebody to Die For by Kris T. Bethke – “Though I had the issue with their anchor and ghostwalker bond, everything else about Jameson and Avery hit me right in the feels. From the sweetness they shared, to Avery’s journey in moving forward without letting go of his love for Luke, and the way they communicated with each other, it just worked. They were both complex, and watching them both grow separately and together was very satisfying, and hit that need for a good hurt/comfort read. Kris T. Bethke continues to deliver with the Requiem Inc. series, and I can’t wait to read the future MCs I think are coming.”

Euphoria by Jane Lockwood – “Euphoria has so many different components that were then expertly woven together to deliver a fascinating and, in some ways, a terrifying story. First, we have a not-too-far-off future which is the catalyst for an apocalyptic event that basically wipes humans and animals from the world in the span of one-hundred years. Next, we have alien species that finds earth in 2125, along with what is left of the humans, and they become fascinated and eventually want to save humans from their destined future. In order to change the course humans are on, the reader is pulled into a story of time travel, romance, friendships, redemption, greed and some other unforeseen plot twists which kept my attention.”



LisaReasonable Doubt by Gregory Ashe – “Gregory Ashe’s talent for telling a compelling story is matched in his ability to create atmosphere in each and every scene. Wahredua, Missouri, is a character unto herself, and its population adds its own flavor to the setting—often not in a positive way. Each metaphor, rather than distracting from the narrative, adds to the tone and ambiance, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in every scene and to connect with the role players. Regardless of how significant or fleeting a character’s part in the storyline might be, drawing a mental picture of that person is made possible by descriptions that enhance their presence. One character in particular, a boy who was indoctrinated into and then misused by the cult, was especially powerful.”

A Ferry of Bones & Gold by Hailey Turner – “To put none-too-fine a point on it, A Ferry of Bones & Gold is one of the best Spec Fic books I’ve read so far this year, or any other year for that matter. If you like Urban Fantasy at all, go buy this book now. If you’ve never read Urban Fantasy but love a richly detailed and brilliantly told story filled with all manner of mythological and supernatural beings, go buy this book now. Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series used to set the UF bar for me, but the Soulbound series might become my new measuring stick—it’s just. that. fabulous.”

A Light Amongst Shadows by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood – “Call this novel what you will: Gothic Horror, Historical Romance, Murder Mystery, or Ghost Story, they all apply, but there’s one word I’d use to sum up the entirety of A Light Amongst Shadows. That word is sublime. I could also say it’s stunning, provocative, suspenseful, heart-wrenching, lyrical, enthralling…all those plus many more superlatives would be true. It is also romantic, sweetly and heartbreakingly so. The setting is absolute perfection, as every Gothic Horror novel should have its dark and drafty hallways and dismal atmosphere to inspire the proper invitation to menace and into which the spirits of the dead might appear and wreak havoc on the innocent.”

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And that does it for this time around. Until next month, happy reading!!!

THE GIVEAWAY

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Book of the Month Picks and Giveaway: The July Edition from The Novel Approach


Hi, everyone, and welcome to a late (vacation delayed) edition of our Book of the Month picks for July from The Novel Approach! We’ve got some great books on this month’s list, and, as always, there’s a chance for one lucky reader to win an eCopy of two of our favorite reads. Good luck!




SammyCinderella Boy by Kristina Meister – This story is gorgeous. While I do feel the author gave an emotional maturity to her characters that was a bit above their pay grade, so to speak, this book still resonated for me. The idea of being trapped in a gender that doesn’t really convey who you truly are is just heartbreaking, and you can feel Declan/Layla’s emotional turmoil over their situation. Don’t get confused here—Meister has not simply written a tale about a cross-dressing high school boy but a detailed and deeply emotional story about a person who feels both feminine and masculine at any given time. The inner conflict this produces for Declan is overwhelming and pushes them into the loneliest of places, feeling that no one could ever understand what they themselves continually grapple with as well.



JulesRavensong by TJ Klune – This book is very much Gordo’s book. I LOVED being in his head and having his POV. And, it was so great getting to delve into his and Mark’s story at last. Mainly, though, Ravensong is about Gordo’s anger toward the wolves. We knew he was an angry, grumpy asshole—but, in Ravensong we find out why. That anger, righteous though it may be, along with Gordo’s stubbornness, has kept him away from a huge part of his life for far too long. The majority of this book is about him making his way back. He has so much he needs to let go of, to forgive, at times he still feels impossibly far away from putting the pieces back together. But, time is running out and a dark magic that is infecting some of the omegas hits way too close to home.



CarrieThree Months to Forever by Hudson Lin – Ben Dutton is searching for something. His life is good, he has a great job that he loves, a family that has always been inclusive, and tons of friends, but somehow it has become not enough for him. When the opportunity becomes available through his job to travel to Hong Kong and help establish an initiative there, Ben jumps at the chance, hoping for some excitement or at least a break from the boredom of his life. What Ben finds is a moody, stern Chinese man named Sai, who ticks every single one of Ben’s buttons. The chemistry with Sai is there right from the get-go, even though it takes them a few meetings to get together and begin to see each other. Ben is such a likable guy; he is the perfect juxtaposition to Sai, and brings a lightness to Sai’s world that has been missing for quite a while. Ben engages you as a reader and has you rooting that some solution will be found and that these two can have their HEA.



LindseyBlyd and Pearce by Kim Fielding – With corruption everywhere, sword-fights, murders, magic, wraiths, betrayals, and several twists and turns, I found myself unable to put the story down. The ending, like many noirs, leaves as many questions as answers. It was unexpected yet somehow fit. Should it end here it is a complete story, but there is enough to continue with Blyd and Pearce on the next chapter in their adventure together.

While Blyd and Pearce hit the spot for me, it may not be for those looking for a sweet fantasy romance with a bit of crime and suspense. Blyd and Jory’s romance has sweet elements, but is on the gritty side as it develops through tragic events. It is first a crime and suspense fantasy with a sprinkling of an unlikely romance, which I found to be fascinating and right up my alley.



TazTracker Hacker by Jeff Adams – This was a fantastic read. From start to finish, the pace kept me going. The character development moves the story forward, but Mr. Adams doesn’t drag anything out. We quickly move into the action and with each passing scene, the tension rises like any good work of fiction should. Twists and turns amp the nail-biting as the climax builds and then explodes in a highly satisfying ending.

When I first picked this book to review, I was expecting to read a story about a teen in love. I kind of expected it might be a coming-of-age story dealing with a young gay man learning life lessons that would propel him toward adulthood. The romance aspect of this story was definitely a sideline, not the main plot. While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that to readers.



LisaExhale and Bleed by Joel AbernathyExhale is a self-contained novel with a solid future for Jack and Nicolae. The action, suspense and angst sets the pace at a level which made it hard to put the book down, but maybe the best compliment I can pay to Abernathy’s writing style and his ability to weave a compelling romance is that I’ve already dug into Bleed, the next book set in this world, which features Vasil, a member of the Ursache pack I fell for almost immediately, and Mason, Nicolae’s son. The secondary characters, while some, of course, are more prominent than others, each serve as more than set dressing and add more to the narrative than going through the motions of the author’s cues and directions.

In Bleed, Abernathy’s talent for telling an emotionally fraught story and methodically engaging me in the lives of his characters is absolute. Where this book elevated my enjoyment of it is in the cat-and-mouse chase between Vasil and his sworn enemy, and that we get to see glimpses into the sick and twisted mind of a madman and his unexpected accomplice. Those scenes are brutal and chilling, and the author doesn’t hold back, so fair warning that if scenes of graphic torture are off-putting to you, this book either isn’t for you or you’ll want to skip over those parts. Where I wasn’t convinced that Exhale had earned its Horror category, I believe Bleed makes up for it. The author hits all of this novel’s most chilling notes beautifully, and in doing so keeps tempo with the conflict and ultimate resolution to Mason and Vasil’s relationship. The shift in the Ursache family dynamic, the thwarted sacrifice of a brother for his sister, and the healing between a father and his son is woven into the romantic evolution of what once seemed an impossible desire.


And that does it for this time around. Until the next, happy reading!



THE GIVEAWAY

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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Book of the Month and Giveaway: the Sizzling Summer Edition



Cheers, fellow bookworms, and welcome to The Novel Approach’s June Book of the Month picks and Giveaway. We’ve got an even half dozen titles for you this month, from Young Adult to Historical Romance to BDSM, and a little more in between, so enjoy and enter for the chance to win a couple of titles from the list!

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CarrieBelieve by Garrett Leigh – I loved it. I did. This is an insta-love story, but I didn’t even realize that until I reflected on the book after I finished it. I am a big fan of this series, mainly because each of these books has been so different from the one before it. Even though the characters overlap, each of the books has been as individual as the men inside them. That takes talent and Garrett Leigh has that in spades.



KyAll That Glitters by Kate Sherwood – This second chance, slow burn romance rightfully deserves 5 big, fat stars! The writing was superb, the plot well thought out, and the characters interesting and distinguishable. The pace of the story was good and realistic, and the way the characters worked their way through past hurts was expertly handled. There were inner dialogues, and we followed quite a few thought processes in order for the MCs to work through their issues, figure out their lives—what was important and what they wanted out of their future. The self-awareness and the moments of epiphany were unexpected and very believable.



MaryannCash Plays by Cordelia Kingsbridge – With this third installment of the Seven of Spades series, Cordelia Kingsbridge expertly creates another power-packed plot. This storyline has so much going on, with family, friends, emotions, addictions, gang wars and murders; it’s fast paced and loaded with explosive action. Seven has gotten even more gruesome, and his MO for murders starts to change and throws more confusion into the mix. I have to say that when I got to chapter twenty, I had to stop and take a breather and prepare myself for not only heartache but a hair-raising ending.



JulesRunning with Lions by Julian Winters – I loved our main characters a ton, of course, but this was also very much an ensemble piece. Mason, Willie (I love Willie SO MUCH), Hunter, Grey, Coach Patrick—they all had very important roles to play and added so much to the story. The writing is very laid back and relatable yet is also beautifully poetic and mesmerizing in places. The author uses some gorgeous imagery to describe everything from sunsets and areas around the camp, to the game of soccer itself. Winters does an amazing job of placing the reader firmly in the setting. Whether it was camp life, a practice, or the big game, I found myself entrenched in every scene. And, he also has such a great handle on portraying teenage boys. The voice felt really authentic.



SammyA Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan – There were so many layers to this story, from Michael’s past, which was threatening to become his undoing, both emotionally and financially, to Wes’ crippling fears and guilt that drove him deeper and deeper into addiction. Their stories made my heart ache for them, and their love for each other was almost bittersweet. This story moved beyond the scope of historical romance and dove down into how our past both haunts and shapes us. In so many ways, the author reminded us again and again how strong her men were—how much they had truly overcome to even be cognizant members of society, no matter how much they both lived on the fringe of the same. But it was the stark moments of revelation about their pasts that really felled me and tapped my emotions. These memories were devastating to Wes and Michael as they pulled them relentlessly back into a time when they were young and helpless and had to endure horrific things at the hands of monsters. I wept for these men—for the innocence lost and the scars that remained. Yet, in the same breath, I rejoiced in the fact that they were surrounded by a few caring souls who would help them begin the long journey toward healing, and each other.



LisaOne Man’s Trash by Marie Sexton – First things first, One Man’s Trash is not for the faint of heart. There are so many stunning moments in this novel, from the symbolic representations of Warren’s and Taylor’s feelings for each other to Taylor needing to find a word other than love to describe how he feels about Warren—the fact that he grew to trust Warren encompasses some of what those feelings entail. This is a story of spoiled beauty and emotional and physical restoration, a story of healing and comfort and pain and what it means to try to live in the moment because the past is unbearable, and the future is mutable. There’s a poignant side story which allows Taylor to spread his wings and embrace friendship and what it means to have a brother, or at least a brother figure, in his life—someone other than Warren who accepts him for who he was and who he is—and it added yet another layer of tragic beauty to the narrative.

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And that does it for this time around. Until next month, happy reading!

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THE GIVEAWAY

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Book of the Month and a Giveaway: What a Great Way to Spend the Month of May



Cheers, friends, and welcome to our May Book of the Month picks and giveaway! We had such a great month of reading at The Novel Approach, and we’re happy to share some of the books we thought were the Best of the Best. As always, there’s a chance to win a couple of our picks, so check out the list and then enter for the chance to win!

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MaryannSwings & Roudabouts by Jackie Keswick - Jackie Keswick can do no wrong. Swings & Roundabouts is a superbly written novel about parenthood and the changes that affect the lives of two loving men. It also brings out the worries and fears in two wonderful boys, Daniel and Nico, and how their past still makes life difficult at times. Jack and Gareth give it their all to have a special rapport with Daniel and Nico, and it pulls at the heartstrings. The romance between Jack and Gareth is not overly explicit; the flirting, warmth, and chemistry they share is just pure and honest love. Even with the boys and a solid support unit in Roz and Aidan, Jack and Gareth still find ways to have some alone time and keep the romance alive.



TazOut of the Ashes by Hailey Turner - What I enjoyed in particular about this installment to the Metahuman Files is how Ms. Turner really focused on the relationship between the two characters and how they struggled to work through their own issues while remaining sensitive to the needs of the other. This is one of the more angsty stories in the series, because it tugs at the heart strings. We know Alexei and Sean so well that we can’t help but hurt for them as they struggle to make it through this rough patch in their relationship. Man, can this woman write!



JennA Little Side of Geek by Marguerite Labbe - I adored this book. I’m talking read it twice, and probably going to read it a third time after this review, because writing this is making me remember how good this book is. Part of the reason is how much I identified with Morris, as a crafter attending cons, and a geek. So, I was predisposed to love it, and the author backed it up with deep characters, steady pacing and a beautiful romance.

To be honest, I’ve had to rewrite this review countless times as most of the sentences I’ve started have gushed about the sweetness of the characters, the grounding of them in real life and a lifestyle I recognise and live. Morris’s insecurity stems not only from previous boyfriends who want to fix him but a society and family who didn’t understand the geek and didn’t quite accept it. The growth in him, both through the relationship, and because of it, is amazing to watch as he overcomes that insecurity and sees how it does affect the adult relationship he now has with his family.



KyInfamous by Jenny Holiday - I didn’t expect to have this much fun with this story! Sure, I expected to like it well enough, but not so much that I couldn’t stop reading this story until I reached the end. Infamous takes us through about four years in total in the characters’ lives, and though there are a lot of time leaps, it still had all the things I crave in a story like this. Learning that a story spans through many years is usually a done deal for me, and I read the book immediately. Though, I didn’t know about it in this case, so it was a nice and highly welcome surprise.



CarrieRestraint by AJ Rose - We get closure in Restraint, both for the MCs and in the storyline. Gavin and Ben come full circle, old threads are sewn up, hurts are healed and a HEA firmly established in this fourth novel. This is not a standalone book; you have to read the first three to be able to really know where our MCs are and see the evolution of their relationship. Ben and Gavin have just gotten married. They are stronger and closer because of the horrendous things Gavin was subjected to by the Breath Play Killer. Neither man can refute how close they have become because of those experiences. They have had to rely on each other, find a new deeper level of trust for each other. They have fought to be where they are, and it shows.



JulesWar Paint by Sarah Black - War Paint is my second book by Sarah Black—the first was The Legend of the Apache Kid—and it is the second one that turned out to be a lovely, thought-provoking, and unique read. Black is such a gifted storyteller. She took the eighty-eight pages in War Paint and turned them into a beautiful and memorable love story between two characters who are, perhaps, an unlikely pairing. Their hookup sort of popped up out of nowhere, and their dynamic is maybe not one you’d expect, but they totally work. The story structure itself was a little quirky as well, but also completely worked for me. I pretty much dug everything about this one.



SammyGinger Snaps by John Inman - I could tell you that you should read this book just to see if Arthur and Tom actually get married. I could remind you of the hideous, over the top outfits Arthur is wont to wear, and let your imagination fill in the blanks as to just what type of wedding ensemble he might actually choose. I could tell you that every character (read couple) from the previous four books show up in this one, and they are just as insane as they always have been, including our resident kleptos and Little Artie of the dirty diaper (read: cesspool) fame. I should definitely remind you that if you have’nt read this series, please start with the gem Serenading Stanley, and I guarantee you will be hooked from then on. But, what I really want to focus on is this author’s ability to combine pathos, hurt/comfort, and second chances at love with humor, outlandish and quirky characters, and a sweetness that is never cloying but always touching.



LindseyNo Luck by Kayleigh Sky - I found the writing to be humorous without being over-the-top on comedy, with the actual content much more serious and introspective than I had expected but without becoming too dark. Vane’s klutziness and awkward situations made the storyline lighter, along with the sweetness of the romance and the side of kink the two explore together. The struggles both men face within themselves as they process what they have been through, what they want and what they want for their futures, are somewhat somber. Vane’s past and things that happened have colored his view of himself, and possibly even colored his choices. Is acting what he really wants or is it something he chose to show he wasn’t useless? Does he miss his life in LA? Does he want to keep the diner, or is it just temporary? Working through his thoughts and finding out who he truly is and what he truly wants by letting go of dreams and the past is not an easy path and takes time for Vane. Doug’s struggle is letting go of guilt and of his plans for a future he had set. Does he really want to grieve forever and never love again? Can he be with Vane without losing his love for Meg? Can he let go of his previous plans and a future that he buried with his wife, and create something new with Vane?



SadonnaThe Contingency Plan by Addison Albright - Prince Marcelo of Sheburat and his family mourn the unexpected death of this twin sister, Marcela, two days before her marriage to Prince Efren of Zioneven is to take place to cement a peace treaty signed long ago. When the family gathers to greet the prince, Marcelo is surprised when Efren not only notices him but reminds the queen that the treaty allows him to choose any of Marcela’s siblings, not only the remaining sisters, to fulfill it. He chooses Marcelo, much to everyone’s—but particularly Marcelo’s—surprise.

This story is just a little gem! I loved Marcelo and Zefren and the way they regarded each other and came together with mutual respect. They are really interesting characters and I sure hope that the author decides to continue their stories!



LisaAll the Inside Howling by Gregory Ashe - Vie is such a steady and predictable (no negative connotations there) character; he’s tenacious and strong and brave, and yet, he is a dichotomy too. In so many ways he behaves and responds precisely the way I expect him to when he’s overwhelmed, when he’s angry, when he’s frightened, when someone ventures too far out of his verbal and/or emotional comfort zone. Vie Eliot is a champion at burying his feelings, he has secrets he holds close to the vest—secrets that he believes make him worthless, unlovable and unworthy of anything good in his life—and he often acts out, sometimes with his fists, sometimes in self-harm, because of it. But the dichotomy here is that he acts out against everyone but the one person whose abuse he is willing to suffer, and that’s where the contradiction that is this boy lies. The one person Vie has needed to stand up to, and could stand up to, is the one person who hurts Vie time and time again, and in return, it hurts readers to understand why he doesn’t fight back. It’s the lie of abuse. Until, one time, Vie is finally pushed too far. He’s such a great character, and he’s trying, trying as hard as a sixteen-year-old boy can, to grow and learn from his mistakes and to be a good boyfriend while fighting against something intangible and yet still tangibly dangerous. He just needs to live long enough to keep fighting, but there are people—things—that don’t want to see him make it that far.

All the Inside Howling is an exceptional addition to a spectacular series. It’s one of those books that makes me want to reevaluate every book I’ve ever said I loved, because they pale in my memory in comparison to the immediate and obsessive love I’m feeling right now for this series. This is more than Teen Fiction, it’s more than Murder Mystery, it’s more than Paranormal fiction. It’s the sum of all three of these things wrapped around one of the most intriguing young protagonists I’ve come across in a long time—if ever.

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And that does it for this month. Drop in again next month to check out the books we loved in June, but until then, happy reading!

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THE GIVEAWAY

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Book of the Month and a Giveaway: April Showered Us With Some Great Reads!


Cheers, everyone, and welcome to another month of great reads from your friends at The Novel Approach! As always, we're so pleased to be here, and thanks to Mary for hosting us. We've compiled what we think is a fantastic list of books that we experienced in the month of April and are chuffed to bits to share them with you. And, as always, we're giving one lucky reader the chance to win two titles from the list, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below for entry details.

And now, here they are ~ our fave reads in April!

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MaryannMasc by Marshall Thornton – Marshall Thornton delivers another great story about this sweet couple with issues that lead to heartbreak, love and a lot of humorous chaos. The author has a way of spinning humor along with serious issues into his writing. One of the more serious issues involving sexual harassment and the embarrassment and worry of not being believed when admitting it, which introduces the disturbing perception of a man being femme or masculine.
I was really intrigued by Thornton’s writing style in the Pinx Video Mysteries series, so I decided to give Femme a shot, which is the first book about Lionel and Dog, and I highly recommend it. The author made them one of my favorite couples, and I was more than delighted to see Masc come out. I hope there will be more books in the series.



KyFake Out by Eden Finley - What a wonderful story! I got so much more than what I expected when I started this book. I was expecting to read about a fake relationship that, near the end of the book, developed into a genuine one, but here I read about a fake relationship that pretty soon became a real one and the couple’s dealings with other problems in their lives. I was very glad that we got to see Damon and Maddox be really together and not just act like it. I liked how they had their issues about starting a relationship and how they worked through them together. They were good together and brought out the best in each other. Recommended!



JenniferSpace Mac by Emma Jane - What I loved about this story was that it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Mac is not the best protagonist out there. He’s self-centered and vain, but I think that’s what made me like him so much. He wasn’t perfect. And then there’s Teevar, who is much more the traditional protagonist you would see. He has a secret to hide, and he’s running from something as well, but he won’t really talk about it.

The book can be confusing, but that’s because we’re along for the ride with Mac. We don’t know anything until he does, so the exact reason for the pin isn’t made known to the readers until the very end of the book. I liked that. Most books I can figure out the ending within the first few pages, but for this one, I just held on and had a good time doing it.



CarrieHush by Lynn Kelling - Fair warning, you cannot pigeon-hole this one into an m/m slot, but it isn’t an m/m/m or m/m/m/m either. Just letting you know there are multiple ménage scenes and differing multiple partner scenes of a steamy BDSM quality that put scorch marks on the page. If you are not a BDSM enthusiast, then you might want to skip this one because it is all written within the parameters of a Dom/sub dynamic, but it is also clear how these men need that dynamic and how it makes them the men they are. Oliver and Rune struggle with the feelings between them but also with Rune’s need to shut down the group that attacked him. Because Rune is not concerned about himself to the point of self-destruction he doesn’t watch out for himself or see how his actions affect the other men in his life now, especially Oliver. After finally finding someone to truly call his own, Oliver struggles with holding tight or letting go, and it is so painful to watch. Kelling draws such believable, dimensional characters that you’re invested from page one.



SadonnaSpencer Cohen: Book One by N.R. Walker - This is the first of three books in the Spencer Cohen series, and it kicks things off with a bang. We meet Spencer and Andrew and sense the spark between the immediately; as much as Spencer tries to view this as a job, every day he spends with Andrew pulls him more towards a relationship. Spencer starts off as a bit of an enigma—we don’t really know the pain that drives him until nearly the end of part one. N.R. Walker is a masterful storyteller—an auto-buy author for me for years now—and this series is no exception. Spencer is a damaged character, but he may have found the person who can help him heal. Andrew is a sweetheart, and he’s finally beginning to see that maybe he doesn’t have to settle for a relationship that is nothing more than comfortable.



JennSet Ablaze by KC Burn - There was so much to like about this book that I fear I may spoil too much of it. The complexity and depth of the characters were fantastic, and I particularly loved how Hayden grew from somebody who was uneasy in his skin to being comfortable and willing to help others. The author managed to make a new twist on opposites-attract with the more straight-seeming Hayden falling for the flamboyant and unapologetic Jez. With his acceptance of Jez and then acceptance of himself, he (and we) discovers some of that flamboyance and that they aren’t so different after all. The story itself speaks a lot about not judging people by those they hang out with, or what seems like their actions, as we delve into Hayden’s insecurities and how he comes to terms with them. Even more than Hayden, Miguel’s character reveal really drove home how we tend to come to conclusions based on the bias of the lens we view them in.



LindseyBlow Down by JL Merrow - There are two things that truly stood out to me in Blow Down and that made this installment so enjoyable—One: There is more focus on Tom’s abilities, seeing as is it almost the center of the entire situation, mostly due to his newly minted, sort-of celebrity status. It was interesting to read how some people feared it for all the wrong reasons, while others were intrigued by it. There were also questions and some additional hints thrown out there. I’m looking forward to reading what it is in store next, and where the gift will lead, because it seems there may be more than he knows he is capable of.

Second: Tom and Phil’s relationship for me has been amazing to read over the course of the series. Their progression has been slow but believable. They don’t magically change and become different people but in each book, there is growth to them and their bond. Yes, they still argue and their insecurities are there, but their overall communication has matured. Additionally, each new book uncovers more about Phil and the reasons why he is the way he is and why he behaves the way he behaves. At first, I wasn’t sure if I even liked him, but now I am totally team Phil and Blow Down offers a little more insight to his relationship with his ex, Mark, and how that contributed to his current behavior.



JulesAlaska by Cate Ashwood - These guys have such fabulous chemistry—both when they’re beyond annoyed with each other in the beginning, and when they can no longer deny the attraction between them and things get physical. They were sexy as hell together.

The writing overall is so, so good. I’ve always enjoyed Ashwood’s books, but Alaska felt like it was a notch above. There were some high-intensity scenes at the hospital that were done incredibly well, and I loved how the whole story flowed. The characters were well-developed, and I loved all the interactions. Gage’s best friend and colleague, Logan, was so great, and Holden’s friend Frankie stole several scenes. And, as I said, the sex scenes were steamy and well-written. I wasn’t even close to being tempted to skim!



LisaMr. Big Empty by Gregory Ashe - This novel thrives on Vie Eliot’s capable narration. His storytelling is provocative and his personal revelations are frequently heart-wrenching. We get an intimate look at his thoughts and feelings, his pain, and the diversion and aversion tactics he uses to keep from having to reveal too much of himself to everyone else. This author seems to have a knack for writing characters who aren’t inherently endearing and then casually endearing them to me through whatever their issues are.

Overall, this book is a fantastic read if you appreciate a darker, grittier element to your Teen Fiction and are willing to subscribe to the belief that these boys are as suave and sophisticated as they’re portrayed. That’s not a slight against teenagers, or the author, for that matter, but more an observation that sixteen year olds are generally less smooth than Vie and his classmates are portrayed, so I sometimes forgot that I was reading a book with teenage protagonists, but that’s an insignificant niggle in my full-on enjoyment of this novel.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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