Featured New Release Of The Week: At Home by Carly Marie

This week, we look at a strong and rare (and unique, in my own reading experience) book from a debut author. This week, we look at At Home by Carly Marie.

This book overall is a solid romance between two guys roughly a decade apart in age (with the younger one being mid 20s) who happen to meet by chance. What follows is a moving romance wherein each tries to adjust to the other’s life while also exploring a particular kink that both have considered or actively participated in for several years. It is this particular kink – age play and specifically infantilism, including open discussion of whether the “boy” should wear a diaper – that ventures into “oh hell no” territory for this reader, but it works well within the story and Marie does a great job of humanizing those who enjoy this particular kink that many, perhaps most, would have the same reaction as this reader over. And it is for that reason above all others that this book is a very worthy read. It is a strong romance outside of those elements, but in its efforts to show that even those with kinks deemed particularly strange by mainstream society, it truly shines. Very much looking to see what Marie writes from here.

And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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Featured New Release Of The Week: Shy by Brad Tanner

This week, we look to a fun, flirty Christmas romance. This week, we look at Shy by Brad Tanner.

This was a fun, somewhat typical, comedy of errors Christmas tale. Very light and breezy read, with excellent chemistry between all involved. You’ve got the classic tightwad. The classic flirt. The classic meddling best friend. Basically, nearly every trope of any Christmas romantic comedy you’ve ever seen. But it works well together, as it was designed to do and as it has done for countless tales for decades, which is why these particular tales are so popular. Does this book break any molds? Not really. But does it give you a few hours of light hearted Christmas themed mirth? Absolutely.

So while this book is arguably best read at Christmas or at any time you want to be in the Christmas spirit, it really is a solid book that does exactly what it attempts to do, and for that it is to be commended. Oh, and just to be aware, since some might try to throw their book when they see it on like page 2: This *is* a MM romance. The meddling best friend is straight, but the couple in question is in fact both guys. But hey, it *does* say that directly on the cover, so if you read more than the cover and still got mad… that’s on you. 😉

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon:
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The Troubling Trend with ARC Readers

As the end of the year (and the holiday season) approaches, I’m noticing authors asking for reviews more than normal- which they tend to do at this time of year, as more and newer reviews tend to kick AI algorithms at various retail/ recommendation sites into gear.

And that is all well and good, but I’ve also become much more involved as an ARC reader this year, branching out from doing it consistently for one author to joining a few different ARC programs for various publishers, genres, and general (NetGalley). And it is within this ARC work that I’ve been noticing a troubling trend over the last few weeks in particular, though I’ve seen evidence of it literally for years.

That trend?

People who will receive an Advance Reader Copy from an author or publisher with the understanding that the person will read it and leave a review of the book, with most authors and publishers desiring the review to be left on release day or week… and then not leave a review.

Now, the various “publishing agents” (authors, publishers, and anyone else giving out ARCs) will usually try to gently remind people to leave the reviews and couch it in conciliatory language such as “Maybe you got busy or forgot, but could you please leave your review this week” or some such. Others are quicker to remove the reader from the ARC program.

But here, on this blog today, I want to speak to these readers a bit directly:
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Featured New Release Of The Week: Taking Laura by Vi Carter

This week, we’re looking at the apparent conclusion of a series we’ve been looking at for the last couple of months. This week, we’re looking at Taking Laura by Vi Carter.

In this episode of the Broken Hearts series, recurring character Craig has been broken for a while, but even moreso by his actions at the end of the previous book. New character Laura is just as broken, and together, they just might find a way to heal each other to some degree. For a book that takes entirely inside a mental health facility yet without any form of paranormal or fantasy elements, this book is surprisingly well paced and non-claustrophobic. Carter has done a remarkable job with making sure we know just how broken one character is – and then hitting us unexpectedly with just how broken another character is.

This is a solid conclusion to this series, as there are no apparent openings for new couples to continue the saga, and quite possibly the most impactful for certain readers due to its ultimate subject matter. Truly looking forward to where Carter’s mind goes next and what stories she crafts from here.

And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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Featured New Release Of The Week: Just After Midnight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

This week we look to – surprise, surprise – yet another new to me Lake Union author. This week, we look at Just After Midnight by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

This was a very strong tale from someone who clearly knows her stuff as it relates to the world of show horses. The overall plot, of a girl trying to save her horse while dealing with the sudden death of her mother, is compelling and well executed in its many layers and moving parts. Not only does the girl harbor a secret, but even the woman who has taken her in on this adventure to save her horse has secrets of her own. As does the girl’s grandmother, currently her legal guardian. All of these secrets come to light, and the story arcs of each of these ladies revolve around slightly different yet complementary themes.

The singular drawback to this book is one that can be worked around, but is a frequent stumbling block: Hyde truly knows her stuff regarding dressage (show horses), and it seems to come from a lifetime of living that particular life. If this level of technical knowledge and attention to detail shown in the book was the result of studying the topic just to write the book using it, I would highly recommend asking for her sources if you are interested in learning this particular subject yourself. The best comparison I can use from my own reading history is a book I read many years ago, but which is somewhat infamous for the very scene I mention here: Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears and its page upon page upon page upon page description of… the first few nanoseconds of a nuclear detonation. While Hyde is much more conversational with her use of the various terms – and fortunately uses a primary character who doesn’t know this world herself as a way of explaining it to the reader, which is arguably one of her best decisions as far as the actual craft of storytelling for this particular story goes.

Overall yet another very strong Lake Union book, and yet another author to add to the ever growing list of authors to keep up with.

And guess what we end with? The Goodreads/ Amazon review! 😀
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Featured New Release Of The Week: Rapid Falls by Amber Cowie

This week, we’re looking at yet another book from a Lake Union author. Though in this case, we’re looking at the author’s actual debut book! This week, we’re looking at Rapid Falls by Amber Cowie.

This is a mystery that is told in two timelines – present day and twenty years ago, when Cara was in high school. Between the two timeline structure, the story is very well paced. You begin to get a sense of what is really happening and what really happened… and then yet another swerve is thrown in. And as big as some of the swerves are, the final one is very likely the biggest of them all. It is this final one in particular, in the very epilogue of the book, that will leave you breathless and mindblown.

There really is just not enough positive I can say about this book. It was solid from front to back, and I never saw any weakness at all to any aspect of the story or writing. Simply superb, and a gold standard for Cowie to attempt to meet with her sophomore work.

And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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