#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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#BlogTour: The Patriot by Nick Thacker

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a remarkable book showing many real-world issues on Puerto Rico while still telling a kick-ass mystery with an explosive ending. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Patriot by Nick Thacker.

I’m actually going to turn my normal approach on its head and give you the Goodreads review first, with my confession underneath. Here’s the Goodreads review:

Excellent Story With Explosive Ending. So some people of late have decried reviews that even mention anything at all about the ending. If you’re such a person, stop right here. I’m not going to give away any spoilers- not my style at all – but that ending deserves a mention: It sets up what could be one HELL of a book 3.

Beyond that though, this book does an *excellent* job of showing the dichotomies of life on Puerto Rico and the nearly-as-divisive-as-mainland-US-politics issue of whether PR should be granted Statehood, maintain the status quo, or become an independent nation. Even while the main thrust of the actual action and mystery actually revolves around Big Pharma, how they are treating the citizens of PR, and terrorism. Indeed, we pick up not far after the ending of the first book, which was explosive in its own right and which set in motion the events here, at least as far as Parker’s involvement in them.

Truly an excellent mystery with plenty of action in a cool tropical setting (and with the requisite hot, mysterious woman), I’ll have a bit more to say about my own story that actually blends well with the overall story here when I participate in the publisher’s Blog Tour on my blog (BookAnon.com) on release day. So you might want to check that out – I even have a picture to share. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Obviously, I can’t wait for Book 3 – even if it is a possible finale, it should be an epic one. Very much recommended, both this book and the series.

And while you really should go buy the book already, here’s my confession, the story I promised in the review ๐Ÿ™‚

The date is Martin Luther King Jr Day 2017 – so Monday, January 16, 2017. Just four days before Donald Trump would be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. I am on a cruise aboard the Carnival Sunshine out of Port Canaveral with my wife – a fellow experienced cruiser who actually got me into cruising – and three friends, none of whom have been on a cruise before. On this day, we’ve stopped in San Juan – a port I’d stopped in once before and loved, particularly for its two centuries old forts. We’d just been at one of the forts – Castillo del San Cristobal – when we walk through the plaza right outside of it – the very plaza you see in the picture to the side here. Apparently it is a popular political demonstration spot, being just blocks away from the Capitol Building there. And that particular day, it was indeed hosting a political rally. As we walked by, all we could tell was that it was very obviously a lot of Puerto Ricans – there were numerous PR flags all over the plaza – and we were obviously… not Puerto Rican. The crowd sounded agitated, the speaker was very enthusiastic… so I made it a point to guide my group swiftly along the edges and away from this crowd. We wound up walking down a street of shops nearby, one I had been on in my previous trip. We went into one store, and when we asked the shopkeeper what was going on up the street, he went into a very passionate diatribe about it being a Puerto Rican Independence rally and that Puerto Rico should be free of the mainland US. So we quickly left his shop as well, and when we went across the street to another shop had a much more pleasant experience. Showing me that day the very dichotomies Thacker brings to life to well in The Patriot, just how very divisive the issue of Independence continues to be in Puerto Rico. Personally, I don’t have a position on the exact issue of Puerto Rican Independence, but I *do* believe it is time for the US to give up the “territory” system. Either grant every “territory” its full independence (even if under a Commonwealth type system such as the British have where the nations are independent officially, yet closely linked economically) or bring them in as full States of the United States of America. Even there, I don’t have a real preference, I just believe an action of one of those two types needs to be made.

But enough about my confessions. Seriously. Go buy the book already!

Oh, and here’s a blog tour poster that Bookouture (the publisher) provided. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now. Go. Buy. The. Book! ๐Ÿ˜€

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Last To See Her by Courtney Evan Tate

This week we’re looking at a solid escapism tale where virtually none of the characters come out likeable. This week we’re looking at The Last To See Her by Courtney Evan Tate.

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

Solid Story Full Of Unlikable Characters. This is one of those stories where *none* of the characters come out looking overly rosy. The characters that are developed well are either assholes or idiots, and the characters that aren’t developed so well seem to barely be caricatures. That said, the story is solid enough and compelling enough that once you get into it, you’re going to want to finish it. And sometimes, that level of escapism is really all you need. Particularly with when this book is slated to release, barely a week before Christmas, it could be near-perfect counter-programming escapism for the season. Recommended.

Below the jump, the first 2.5 ish pages of the book! ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: The Secret Ingredient by KD Fisher


Once again we come to a Carina Adores Blog Tour, which are always awesome. Seriously, I haven’t encountered a bad book in this program yet, and I’ve found several authors doing this that have taken me to places I’d never been before – and that is always awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

This time, we’re looking at The Secret Inredient by KD Fisher.

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

Fun Foodie FF Romance. This is a lesbian romance where the two ladies are about as opposite as it gets – one is a trained chef working for a corporate restaurant group, the other is a legacy baker who took over and revitalized her mom’s shop. As a short romance, it works well in that it hits all the requirements of the genre (yes, including sex) and executes each solidly – but you’re not going to get the conflict and growth of a 100 page longer book. Though there are still significant, more complicated than Hallmarkie, conflicts here. Ultimately a fun book that hits all the right notes and even manages to highlight the particular region it features very well. Very much recommended.

And below the jump, a page-ish excerpt from near the front of the book (Chapter 2, IIRC):
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#BlogTour: Feel The Fire by Annabeth Albert

Welcome back to yet another Blog Tour from Carina Press, the first of two this week in as many days. Both feature excellent though very divergent tales, and we’re gonna see my own reviews of each, a couple of pages from when the characters first see each other in each, and all of the relevant details to make it really easy for you to jump over to your eBook market of choice and buy the dang books. ๐Ÿ˜€

First up, we have the most recent entry (and possibly last, if it is a trilogy?) in Annabeth Albert‘s High Heat series, Feel the Fire.

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

Feel-Good Finale. This second-chance romance tale, seemingly the last book of this year’s Hotshots series, was a solid way to go out. It is *very* loosely coupled with the previous two books – both prior couples make cameos – but can largely be read as a standalone. Fans of the MM genre will like this one, as it contains pretty well all of the standard elements of the genre. But that actually gets to one of my quibbles with the book. One of the guys here is alternatively described as both demisexual and asexual – which are both elements of the spectrum that don’t get mentioned as much, and thus it is always awesome to see. Yet in playing too much into genre expectations, to me it felt like Albert did the asexual aspect a disservice in almost making it seem that an asexual may just turn out to be a horn dog… with the right person. Similar to a character described as being comfortably childfree winding up with a kid at the end of the tale. (Note, that is just an example – in this particular tale one of the two is actually already a father.) The other quibble? Not enough actual firefighting in this book, particularly relative to the other two books in the series. Though the jobs here are actively away from the front lines, and for what they are, the jobs seem well represented in and of themselves. Still, a solid tale and a satisfying conclusion. Very much recommended.

And after the jump, a 2 page-ish excerpt from near the beginning of the book, when one of our leads learns he is about to run into the other for the first time in many years:
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#BlogTour: A Better Man by Michael Ian Black

I got invited to work with another blog tour, this time working with a celebrity I’ve seen on my screens enough to be aware of the name and to have a generally good impression of. So for this tour, we’re looking at a book written by comedian Michael Ian Black talking about… well, most everything under the sun in what is truly a letter of love to his son on the event of his son leaving for college. This really is one of those kinds of books that so many fathers wish they could write to their own sons, and even more wish they had the ability to tell their sons their own thoughts on these topics and many similar ones. And that is the truest, brightest fact about this book: Black’s love for his son shines through in ways I’ve very rarely encountered in any other book. Which alone is more than enough reason to recommend picking up this book. Yes, I did in fact have a couple of quibbles with it as I discuss below in the Goodreads review. But even more than those, seriously, read this book just to see what so many sons wish their fathers could have told them and what so many fathers wish they could tell their sons. Truly a superb job, and you should absolutely go buy this book for yourself.

And the Goodreads review…

More Solid Than Jello, Less Solid Than Steak: Advice From Father To Son On The Event Of The Son Leaving For College. And with that long-ass title out of the way… ๐Ÿ˜€ Seriously, this is a near-perfect letter of advice about life, love, and other mysteries from father to son as the son heads off to college and happens to have a celebrity dad. His statements about mass shootings are 100% demonstrably incorrect in a couple of places (and I in particular once analyzed such data at a level *few*, *if any*, others have), and his statements about Ayn Rand and White Guilt are philosophically incorrect (but in line with expectations given his own liberal philosophy), but otherwise what Black writes here rings true. And nearly as importantly, the love for his son rings through even louder than any moral or philosophical point he makes here. This is a type of letter than nearly any man wishes his dad would have left him, and Black truly does an excellent job of showing his own thinking and philosophies about the various issues discussed. In the end, I personally would love a celebrity from the right – as well as one of the very few celebrity anarchists such as possibly Woody Harrelson – to write similar public letters for their own kids, as between the three one would likely get an even stronger overall look at the topic at hand. But for exactly what it is, this truly is a phenomenal work with a quibble here or there, and very much recommended.