#BlogTour: The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman

For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid tale of four old friends coming back together in the face of a tragedy that is marred by its preachy real-world politics. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman.

First, here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

Solid Story Brought Down By Emphasis On Real-World Politics. As a camp story and as a story of long ago friends coming back together after a tragedy and working through both the awesome times and the tragedies of both then and now, this story was really quite good. The way Shipman (a pen name for a dude, making this even more remarkable) is able to craft each of the characters and use the settings themselves as additional characters really shows just how strong of a storyteller she (he) is. Ultimately though the aftertaste of this book – if you even make it that far – will be flavored by your view of its politics and arguably more pointedly, how it portrays the side the author very clearly abhores. Me, I read to avoid the real world. Between the events of 20201 and my own real-world background as a political activist at various levels, I *really* don’t want politics in my books, and if it must be there, I want a balanced and non-preachy approach. Neither of which I got here, and thus the star deduction. Still, a worthy read and truly a good one, other than the preachy politics. Recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the opening of the book followed by the publisher details. ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: False Allegiance by Nick Thacker

For this blog tour, we’re looking at an explosive action/ mystery that looks into an oft-neglected global topic. For this blog tour, we’re looking at False Allegiance by Nick Thacker.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

False Promise? Let me be extremely clear: As far as “facing constant threat of death from mysterious operators” plot lines go, this one was solid. After what has become a usual opening chapter establishing Jake Parker just trying to live his life, we pretty well immediately go into “constantly running from the bad guys while trying to solve a global mystery” mode, and in this part Thacker is excellent. We even get a bit of real-world discussion on yet another oft-neglected topic, in this case … well, revealing that is a bit of a spoiler. But an interesting one, for sure.

But no, the “False Promise?” question from the title more has to do with the ending of Book 2 and my own expectations for this book based on that. I was expecting a lot more direct involvement from Parker’s dad, leading up to a direct confrontation between father and son where guns would be blazing both directions. That… doesn’t happen here. Though Parker’s dad *does* play a role in most of the tale and there *is* (eventually) a confrontation and even a resolution. It just wasn’t the all encompassing explosive type I for some reason was expecting/ hoping for.

But Thacker does in fact do an excellent job of telling yet another globe trotting Jake Parker tale and both wraps up this current version while allowing for new possibilities down the road. This reader, for one, hopes we eventually get to explore some of those. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the publisher information, including a book description and buy links. ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a tale that is an interesting examination of life and death. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Jumbled And Disjointed, Yet Somehow Works. This is one of those books that arguably *shouldn’t* work, given how truly disjointed it is with its time period and character jumps, and yet as more of a meditation/ reflective work on life and death, it really does actually work. As we work through the various streams of consciousness of Fred, Lil, Shelley, and Harvey, we see each of their lives through their own eyes as they struggle with past, present, life, and death. We see the traumas large and small, the regrets and the victories, the confusions and the joys. Admittedly, the particular writing style will be hard to follow for some, and even I found it quite jarring despite my own abilities to largely go with any flow of a book. But in the end it really does work to tell a cohesive yet complex story, and really that is all anyone can ultimately ask of a fiction tale. Thus, there is nothing of the quasi-objective nature that I try to maintain to hang any star reduction on, even as many readers may struggle with this tale. And thus, it is very much recommended.

And here’s the new paperback cover provided by the publisher, as well as a photo of the author. ๐Ÿ™‚

#BlogTour: When Sparks Fly by Kristen Zimmer

For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid young adult/ new adult tale of lesbian love in high school. For this blog tour we’re looking at When Sparks Fly by Kristen Zimmer.

First, here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Solid Lesbian High School Romance. This one has the metric shit-ton of angst one would expect from teenage girls – you’ve got the foster kid trying to fit in. You’ve got the spoiled rich kid hating herself over something the foster kid knows nothing about (but finds out about eventually) who leads one group of friends. You’ve got the spoiled rich kid’s ex-girlfriend who shared in the tragedy and the guilt… and who leads the other group of friends. You’ve got the foster kid trying to fit in with both sets. And along the way, you get all kinds of will-they/ won’t-they teasing between the three… which *also* leads to quite a bit of angst. ๐Ÿ˜€ But yes, somewhere along the way it becomes a bit like Sky High’s *awesome* final line, and you do in fact get an actual romance as it does so. Zimmer also did an excellent job of making this a shared universe with her first book, but while making it effectively a standalone book rather than a true “series” book. So if you’re into high school and/ or LGBT/lesbian romances, give this one a try. Even if you’re not, this one is a good book to experiment with. As is typical of many high school based romances, there is less sex than many/ most older adult romances and more kissing. Though there is an eventual rounding of the bases. Or several. It just primarily happens “off screen”. Not for the “clean”/ “sweet” romance crowd, though I’ve seen little evidence of that crowd looking to the LGBT romance arena anyway. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the publisher information, including the book description, a bit about the author, and some direct buy links.
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#BlogTour: Up In Smoke by Annabeth Albert

For this blog tour we’re looking at the latest book in Annabeth Albert’s year-long tale of MM romances set in the hyper-macho world of “hotshot” firefighters. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Up In Smoke by Annabeth Albert.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Another Solid Entry In Series. This is another solid entry in the series Albert has created over the last year featuring MM romances set in the hyper-macho world of western US “hotshot” firefighters and smoke jumpers – the front lines of any wildfire containment efforts. Here, we finally get smokejumper Brandt’s story, and it is at least as good from the romance angle as any of the other entries in this series. Maybe even better, since it runs a bit smoother with lower angst, minimal separation, both equally hoping for the other’s success, etc. Has an almost A Star Is Born vibe to it at times, though without the more depressing elements of that tale. But the biggest thing that will be hit or miss depending on exactly what you feel about it is the baby stuff in particular. Even as a childfree married male who generally doesn’t like babies (older kids are much cooler, though I’m always grateful that I can leave when I need to :D), I didn’t find the baby aspects *too* detracting, even for my tastes. Because the story really did focus on the interactions of the adults, with the baby providing the realistic distractions that adults having to care for a baby would actually provide. But if you’re particularly opposed to anything remotely baby related… well, you were told in the description that this one had one. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Overall a truly solid story, and very much recommended.

Below the jump, about a page long excerpt from the very first scene of the book, when Brandt and Shane first meet. Followed by the publisher information. ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: The Choice I Made by Cynthia Ellingsen

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a remarkable book about the murky real world choices so many of us face. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Choice I Made by Cynthia Ellingsen.

Here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

Choices Are Rarely Clear Cut. Ellingsen does a remarkable job here of showing the tensions between competing choices so many of us face. Spouse vs genetic family. City vs rural. What I wanted to be vs what society made me into. Finding myself vs keeping what I have. And so many more. All within a solid tale ostensibly about a childless married woman trying to help save her family’s Dirty Dancing-style wilderness resort… and stumbling across a secret that could bring it all tumbling down. Excellent work layering so many issues into a readable and average ish length (circa 300 page) story. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, all of the publisher information, including a description of the book, contact links, and buy links.
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#BlogTour: Best Laid Plans by Roan Parrish

For this blog tour, we’re looking at another Book 2 of a series that again can be read as a standalone and again features a pair of brothers. This week we’re looking at Best Laid Plans by Roan Parrish.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Solid Romance, Animals Again Nearly Steal The Show. This was a solid romance featuring one guy that never really had a chance to find himself, and another that perhaps had too much time to find himself. The connection to the prior book is fairly loose, in the way that many romance series are these days, with Charlie of our primary couple here being introduced in Book 1 (Better Than People) as the brother of one half of that book’s couple. We get a touch of his back ground in that book, mostly as it relates to the brother, but here we get even more. And yes, the brother and his boyfriend from Book 1 show up a few times, even to the point of the new guy in this book befriending the boyfriend of Book 1 – which apparently is common when dating siblings. (At least according to what I’ve observed of my wife and sisters-in-law.) But in addition to the new guy, we are also introduced to a new *cat* in Chapter 1… and this cat damn near steals every scene it is in. Even moreso than the cats and dogs (including Charlie’s own cat) of the first book. For me, this book completely worked. There were far less issues reading it than the first book, as while I identified with different elements here, it wasn’t to the point of knowing all too well what certain … sometimes “debilitating”… issues are like. But, yeah, blog tour – I also knew I had to finish this thing soon no matter what, anyway. ๐Ÿ˜€ Still, truly at least as strong as Book 1 (I could see a strong debate on which tale is “stronger”, and I could probably argue either side of it), and at least for this cat-lover, with its emphasis on cats over dogs, I’ll give this one a *slight* edge on the first one. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

After the jump, about a page or so from Chapter 2 (IIRC), courtesy of the publisher, Carina Adores. And then the book information from the publisher.
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#BlogTour: Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh

For this blog tour, we’re looking at Book 2 of a series that can very much be read as standalone (and totally works that way) yet which together with its predecessor forms one of the more courageous romance series I’ve ever come across. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh.

Here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

And Now, Part 2. In the second part of this courageous series of romance books, Leigh goes from MF romance in Book 1 (Forgiven) to MM romance here, a genre she is apparently much more well known in. And given the vitriol for MF romance in so much of the MM world, I expect this book to be received better than the first book was – and at this moment, the early Goodreads reviews are at least trending slightly in that direction.

Here, we get the full-on romance of two characters first introduced in Forgiven – the brothers of both of that book’s leads. And it is again a fairly standard gay/ bi romance. Fairly high degree of angst, lots of issues for both men to work through, sex scenes later in the tale given the inexperience of one of them, etc. If you like MM romance generally, this one will be another solid one for you. If you’re just exploring the genre, this is a good one to try out – and maybe even read Forgiven first, if you’re more comfortable in the MF romance space.

While I don’t see where this series goes from here, if indeed it is to continue, I’m not opposed to coming back to this world. Leigh does a truly solid job of establishing it and allowing her characters to live mostly real lives within it, including the added tag of drama near the end of this one – which can happen to most anyone. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, we get a little over a page from – IIRC – Chapter 1 as an excerpt, followed by the book information provided by the publisher. ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: The Vineyard At Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a long, drawn out, soap opera type tale that still manages to work quite well and tell a solid story. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Vineyard At Painted Moon by Susan Mallery.

This is a book that on the whole, worked quite well. For those looking for in-depth character building, slower paced tales, and drama along the lines of a Dynasty-type story (but with wine, rather than oil), this is going to be *exactly* the type of book you’re looking for.

Here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

Slow Start, Sordid Middle, Solid End. This is one of those soap opera type books that starts out *slow*. There’s enough to keep most readers hooked, but dang, the pacing could have been a bit tighter. Indeed, the titular Vineyard doesn’t even get mentioned at all until at or after the halfway point in the tale. Instead, quite a bit of detail and most of the story is given to the fall of McKenzie Davis – who the description labels as the primary protagonist, but who never *really* feels as such. This is because so much attention is given to two other characters – Stephanie, McKenzie’s sister-in-law and best friend, and Barbara, McKenzie’s mother-in-law. So to my mind, these three were the core of the story, though McKenzie’s own plot did indeed drive the other two’s for the most part. McKenzie’s story works well, Stephanie shows a great deal of development, and Barbara… starts out regal, yet falls to her own madness to become a character clearly intended to be despised. Still, overall this story could have been shortened by 50-100 pages and still worked just as effectively, maybe moreso with a bit tighter plotting such a reduction in page count would have required. Yet there is nothing technically wrong with this story or the storytelling, and therefore the tale overall gets the full five stars. Very much recommended.

Below the jump we get the first 2.5 or so pages of the book, plus all the relevant information from the publisher. ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid Book 1 of a potential new superhero fiction series. For this blog tour, we’re looking at We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen.

This is a book that feels very much at home with the kind of superhero world the CW’s Arrowverse has built out – and indeed this world could fit in right alongside that renowned universe.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

My First Foray Into Superhero Books. As much as I’ve read scifi for literally decades, this is actually my first foray into the actual superhero fiction genre. Yes, I’ve read a few comic books in my day and am a big fan of most of the major franchises, but this was my very first superhero fiction novel. And y’all, I found it quite compelling – even as a 38 yo married male reading about two people closer to that Young Adult / New Adult category. While the Arrowverse inspirations for this project were quite clear in so *very* many areas, Chen still managed to create an intriguing and interesting story that could plausibly hold its own against any of those shows – and maybe even be better than some of them. This book definitely feels like a Book 1 for a potential new series, and this reader for one would be down for that. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, we have an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the book along with all of the relevant information from the publisher. ๐Ÿ™‚
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