Reviewing Allessandra Torre’s Black Lies

Black LiesBlack Lies by Alessandra Torre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Black Lies might just be Torre’s biggest “totally did not expect that!” twist of a novel yet. Revolving around two main characters, Layana Fairmont and Brant Sharp, this novel takes you on an erotic mystery ride worth waiting in line for.

I don’t want to talk too much detail of the plot in this review. Awhile back I had the chance to interview Torre and happened to ask her for more information on the book since it wasn’t yet released. She politely declined providing said teaser information citing the blurb was enough and that going into detail would only spoil the surprise. I respected this even though I didn’t understand what could possibly be so secretive. However, after having read the book I completely comprehend the need for reticence. Despite the fact that this book has been out since August of 2014 I will continue to respect the reticence, leaving the ultimate surprise up to the reader.

At first reading of the blurb I did think oh, wait, another Sex, Love, Repeat. Hasn’t she done this plot line before? However, the blurb is correct. This is not another Sex, Love, Repeat. So
not Sex, Love, Repeat
. I can’t stress that enough. Yes, Layana sleeps with two different men but … well; you’ll just need to read it to find out exactly how it’s not the same plot line.

While loving the book and all its myriad twists and turns, I can say that Black Lies does not deviate from what I consider Torre’s typical formula in having at least one of her main characters absolutely stinking rich. Layana comes from money, having been bred for high society life. Brant is a self-made billionaire tech head. I understand that being incredibly wealthy opens up avenues in story telling that abject poverty does not but for once I would like Torre to write a novel that doesn’t fantastically transport our imaginations toward a life of never-ending greenbacks and the opportunities such wealth affords. I’d love to see some characters that have to grub about in the poverty-dirt, experiencing life from the ground up instead of from above a plush currency-cushion. Give us less fantasy and more down-to-earth characters that have to struggle with the baser aspects of life. Torre is a deft hand at giving us characters whose emotions and thoughts bleed through, making them relatable in certain aspects, compelling us to love them despite the differences in life styles and financial status. Could she be just as adept at giving us new characters that have to scrounge for a better standard of living while carrying on some exciting erotic adventure? I would love to find out.

Overall I gave this book the highest rating possible. Torre delivers a spectacular tale no one is likely to anticipate. I wasn’t able to put this book down so I suspect others might not be able to either. She kept me guessing from page one, having sculpted a story with genius forethought and creative dexterity. Black Lies is not a novel to be missed!

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Reviewing Murder By Bequest

Murder by Bequest: A Sherrod Colsne MysteryMurder by Bequest: A Sherrod Colsne Mystery by MR John Spencer Yantiss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Murder by Bequest reads like a classic novel, notably something like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have written in his Sherlock series, with highly complex sentence structure that gave the impression of an author with immense vocabulary and equally complex thought patterns but little regard for the ease of reading. At multiple points in the reading I did think “why so many words for so little being said?”
Having conveyed this sentiment I did enjoy this book, to a degree. Because of the complexity of the composition it was difficult to really get emotionally attached to any of the characters. Since I couldn’t connect with the characters the reading was what I consider an “arm’s length enjoyment” in that I was able to appreciate the mystery and subsequent resolution of said mystery for what it was, but from an intellectual distance. I’m of the mind that even if the text is a slog to get through I should at least be able to become emotionally invested in the characters, their development and eventual outcome. Murder By Bequest did not give me any of that which was disappointing since I’m sure Yantiss intended the ending of the book to be emotionally impactful, indicating as much in Monty’s foreword that this is an account of events that caused him great emotional distress.
I gave this book a higher rating because Yantiss mostly accomplishes what he set out to do, which was to deliver a well-researched, well-planned and executed mystery novel. The older-British-mentor and younger-sidekick archetypes were exceedingly in play here – archetypes overdone in my opinion but effective nonetheless. Thank you for the intellectual read Mr. Yantiss but I think I’ll be passing on your other Sherrod Colsne novels. They’re just not my cup of tea, if you will.

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Reviewing Tales from the Rainbow Bridge

Tales from the Rainbow BridgeTales from the Rainbow Bridge by A. Abbie Aardmore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review*

Tales from the Rainbow Bridge is exactly what you think it is: a book full of heartwarming tales about animals (mainly dogs) whom have left this life and are waiting for their owners, or “heart holders” in the grassy green meadows at the base of the Rainbow Bridge.
Charmingly told from the first person – or doggy, as the case may be – perspective of Zack, a dog that has just been put to sleep due to cancer, this book alternately made me laugh and cry. Truthfully I did an equal amount of both despite the fact that I read this within weeks of losing a beloved animal and longtime family pet. The fact that Ms. Aardmore was able to balance the tears with an appreciable amount of humor goes a long way toward making this book easily readable and not an interminable sob fest I was expecting.
I was constantly struck by just how much the author knew dogs, and animals in general. She put a considerable amount of thought into the writing of this book, delivering tales of heartbreak and woe amid just as many tales of joyous homecoming and reunion. Zack’s emotions and deeply abiding, unconditional love made him a narrator impossible not to love and become emotionally invested in, so that by the end of the book I was as overjoyed as he was when at last he is reunited with his heart holder.
She also does a beautiful job with taking into consideration how humans can love many animals and across multiple species throughout their lifetimes, including a story about a woman who loved both a horse and a dog, and Mirielle’s (Zack’s human) second dog Cochese Bad Dog; thereby rounding out the full experience of the human-animal bonding.
My son was deeply affected by our recent loss of our family cat. I’m happy to say that having pre-screened this emotionally evocative book I will gladly encourage him to delve into its pages. This is a book that can and should be read by anyone who has ever had a pet of any species, with all likelihood that they will reach some kind of healing in the reading even if they weren’t a dog owner. I know that I cannot wait to see all of my beloved animals, from childhood and throughout the rest of my remaining life, at the foot of that glorious Rainbow Bridge.
Thank you Ms. Aardmore. This book is a genuine gift of love and compassion.

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Bloodthirsty mermaid or lonely mutant?

With a title like Slug Pie Story #2: How to Rid Your Swimming Pool of a Bloodthirsty Mermaid you know you’re in for an interesting take in children’s fiction. If there is any doubt allowed by such a title the cover says it all, reminding me of the classic horror-fiction of my youth. The two go hand in hand; a perfect alluding to the story to follow.
The author is clear at the outset in his warning note to parents that this is a story not to be taken too seriously since it’s a darker tale for children. I didn’t think this warning note was necessary but it opened the book with humor, setting the stage.
Bogerman either really knows pre-teens or remembers his formative years with precision clarity. The book opens with a twelve year old Mick making a deal with PJ, the son of wealthy business executives, to mow his mansion’s lawns in exchange for free use of the pool to teach Mick’s younger brother Finley how to swim. The need for these swimming lessons has something to do with events that transpired in the previous volume in the series, events that are cursorily mentioned in order, I’m assuming, to make this volume stand-alone. A little more details on the Zombie Cave would have been a nice touch but the lack doesn’t take away from the plot of this book.
PJ asks Mick and Finley to feed his newest pets, Sea Monkeys. Since the brothers have never seen seamonkeys or know what half of PJs vernacular means they accidentally feed the creatures something that irrevocably changes them. Only one creature survives to become a mermaid but it’s a mermaid defying Disney’s beautification process.
The story that ensues is full of wit and twelve year old snark that made me wonder if this is how my pre-teen son thinks or interacts with his peers. I chuckled quite a bit and was pleasantly surprised by Bogerman’s original style in delivering what at first appears to be a grim fantastical tale and turns out to be interwoven with appropriate levels of feasibility, charm and wisdom.
I loved the moral lesson brought home by the end, cautioning against pre-judgment of others based on cursory knowledge. The sibling relationship between the boys was marvelously utilized as was the connection to PJ making this a book (and series, assuming the other volumes are up to par with this one) I would suggest to my son for his or his grade’s reading program and pleasure.
I gave How to Rid Your Swimming Pool of a Bloodthirsty Mermaid a rating of 4 out of 5 stars only because I felt like I was missing something in the shortage of background information about the characters and their previous exploits.

Mythological psychopomps get a facelift in Marked (Servants of Fate)

Marked (Servants of Fate, #1)Marked by Sarah Fine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first book by Sarah Fine and I’m happy to say she has only whet my appetite with Marked. In this darker urban dystopian-esque fantasy, set some distance in the future in the city of Boston we’re introduced to several myths given a new take and life.
Cacia Ferry is the youngest daughter of an ageless family whose public business endeavors have made the family tremendously wealthy. However, the Ferry’s private family business is that of the psychopomp (also their family business’ moniker) in collecting the souls of the newly deceased and, like their mythical namesake, escorting them to their rightful place in the afterlife. Whether that place is in Heaven or Hell isn’t up to the Ferry’s but to the Fates themselves. The Ferry’s work in tandem with their counterparts, the Kere, governed by Jason Moros, brother to the 3 Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. The Kere’s task is to Mark those souls Fated for death. Both the Kere and the Ferry’s make a financial profit in this process, both sides beholden to a higher power/council.
Much to her family’s bafflement Cacia’s chosen profession is that of an emergency medical responder. She is not the only one of her family in this profession, her elder brother Declan serves as her unit’s chief. Their choice in profession puts them on the frontlines in a city ravaged by disease and violence, and is the means by which Cacia is introduced to her paramour, Eli Margolis.
The chemistry between Cacy and Eli is rich from the start but each futilely attempts to ignore it, Cacy due to bad history with men (she’d had to escort her last beau to Hell); Eli due to the fact that her brother is his chief and because he, along with his immune-biologist sister Galena, are new to Boston. The sibling pair hale from far off Pittsburgh whose rivers have long dried up turning the area into a desert wasteland overwhelmed by savage violence. They come to Boston for Galena’s new position with Harvard.
Fine’s writing is superb, her characters deliciously multi-faceted, her attention to plot and its myriad twists excellent. I loved the premise of these two opposite sides of the death coin working in tandem, given new life in physical embodiment. The dynamic between Cacy and Eli sizzles, their intimate scenes bordering on high quality erotica. The mystery behind the character connections and plot is wonderfully complex and skillfully delivered, the plot pacing on target, suspense top-notch. Even Fine’s action scenes are nail-bitingly gripping.
Marked makes a splendid addition to the genre. I enjoyed it so much that I quickly added the follow up, Claimed, and the impending Sanctum to my Wishlist, something I rarely do for extended series books. Fine is quite adept at capturing and challenging the reader’s imagination, never shunning the dark part of the heart, instead choosing to explore them in an attempt to shine light on what we most want to avoid. Marked is not a book to be passed by lightly, the fiction offered therein some of the highest quality I’ve come across in a long time.

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Do Not Disturb hot off the presses!

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18712934Equal parts Dexter and 50 Shades, this is the eagerly awaited follow-up to the daring erotic thriller, The Girl in 6E, by A.R. Torre.

My rules:

1. Don’t leave the apartment.
2. Never let anyone in.
3. Don’t kill anyone.
The rules were simple and I broke them.
Now I must face the consequences.
Everyone else must face me.

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AmazonUS | AmazonUK | AmazonCA | AmazonAU | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

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DND - consequences

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The second Deanna Madden novel Do Not Disturb picks up a few weeks after The Girl in 6E ends story-wise. Having tasted freedom and the possibility of normalcy with a budding relationship with Jeremy, her UPS delivery guy, Deanna takes to experimenting with leaving her apartment on short jaunts with her new beau. The dilemma of the first book is left behind, rarely touched upon directly, mentioned mostly in passing. This second book works well as a standalone in that you needn’t read the first book to connect with and understand Deanna Madden.

Do Not Disturb gives Deanna a new adversary to confront – a new opportunity to let her inner demons loose and on her home turf. What she doesn’t expect is the involvement of her hacker friend/client Mike or her new beau’s life being put at risk.

I enjoyed this second book, grateful for a chance to reunite with one of the most unique characters ever written into existence. Compelling and as equally spellbinding as its predecessor in the series, Do Not Disturb is a page turner that keeps you on the edge of your seat, nose buried in the pages (or glued to the Kindle screen).

I was slightly disappointed with how seemingly easily and quickly Deanna deals with the new dilemma and foe but I think Torre did this intentionally. This second book explores more of Deanna’s relationships with the people outside of her apartment and immediate world, giving us even more hope for her that she might achieve stasis, that somehow the presence of love within her life might give her the means to overcome her mental disorder and deliver her some personal redemption. Alas, Deanna seems fated to reach her happy ending in a fashion much more suited to her darker side but the entire book is written with a refreshing undercurrent of hope and potential. It’s a strange dichotomy in wishing for Deanna to get even one step closer to mental wholeness along with the freedom of movement and life her disorder denies her yet also celebrate her descent into murderous joy. Torre’s writing successfully drags the reader back and forth between the two ends of the spectrum even as Deanna bounces back and forth in her inner struggles.

Readers who fell in love with The Girl in 6E will not be disappointed with Do Not Disturb. With such a fantastic follow up I can only wait with baited anticipation for the next volume in the series. What or who will Deanna Madden face next? Will she and Jeremy make the long haul, love being her saving grace, or will the madness trump all? I suppose only time will tell!

Please Allessandra, don’t make us wait too long in finding out!

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A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Alessandra Torre has written nine novels, four of which became #1 Erotic Bestsellers.

Her first book, Blindfolded Innocence, became a breakout hit, rising to the top of the charts on Kindle and Amazon where it attracted the interest of major publishing houses and garnered Torre her first print deal with Harlequin HQN. Less than twelve months later, Torre signed a second print deal, this time with Redhook (Hachette) for her erotic thriller The Girl in 6E.

From her home near the warm waters of the Emerald Coast in Florida, she devotes several hours each day to various writing projects and interacting with her fans on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Happily married and with one son, she loves watching SEC football games, horseback riding, reading and watching movies.

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Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon Page

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Meet Deanna Madden, The Girl in 6E

The Girl in 6E (Deanna Madden, #1)The Girl in 6E by Alessandra Torre

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading the first Deanna Madden book it’s not hard to understand why Hachette Book Group picked up this originally self-published novel. The Girl in 6E is a unique novel is almost every way.
Centered on the main character, Deanna Madden aka Jess Reilly, her online camgirl persona, this book had me clicking my Kindle’s Next button like my life depended upon reaching the end of the story. Deanna suffers from a mental disorder that makes her focus on death. It’s not some preoccupation or morbid curiosity. It’s a full-on “stay behind locked doors to keep the world safe from me” compulsion that she struggles with daily, the night time worst of all. It’s also genetic, her mother having suffered from the same disorder.
However, Deanna’s one smart cookie. Earning her income as one of the internet’s most popular camgirls, performing for hundreds of clients daily, Deanna has her rules in place. A junkie that lives down the hall locks her in her apartment every night in exchange for free pain pills that feed his addiction. She never leaves the apartment … ever. At least, until a client sparks her interest for reason I’ll not spoil here in this review but suffice it to say that this client and the situation in front of her gives Deanna the perfect opportunity to let her inner demons loose.
I loved the concept behind this story. Deanna is a character you can’t help but love, aching to see her achieve the semblance of normalcy yet sitting on the edge of your seat egging her on, hoping she is able to achieve her goal(s). She’s just so different from other female leads, particularly even from the rest of Torre’s female characters in her other books. Dark, twisted yet also intelligent and self-controlled (to an extent), and infinitely human in her struggles.
While there is the hallmark erotic element that gives Deanna the access to the outside world and the means by which she is able to live, The Girl in 6E is more psychological thriller than erotica. Torre is painstakingly thorough in her research and therefore presents a spellbinding look into a world and mind most would shy away from. I never once questioned a detail or plot device. Deanna Madden may be a fictional character but in the imagination of the author and every reader who imbibes this book she is authentic and real, someone you’d actually want to be friends with as long as you could deal with knowing she’s probably thinking of all the ways she could kill you while you converse … in her apartment, behind locked doors of course.
Torre hits the mark with The Girl in 6E and delivers a story unlike anything any other erotica author out there could possibly imagine sharing with the world. This woman’s imagination knows no limits. E. L. James has nothing on A. R. Torre. I’ll take Deanna Madden over Christian Grey any day.

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Reviewing DeMarco’s Saving Gracie

Saving GracieSaving Gracie by Nancy DeMarco

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Saving Gracie was a thoroughly delightful read. Much like a pot luck held by a denizen of quaint, seemingly quiet Coyne Falls, New Hampshire this story is a cobbling together of story elements that serves to satisfy a gamut of literary appetites. The book’s blurb only hints at what lies between the covers of this book. Discovering the myriad layers of this town’s mysteries is only half the fun of the reading.
The book starts out from Gracie’s point of view, introducing us to an elderly woman who defies her age in thinking and physical mobility. She’s also slightly crazy by the wider world’s standards, able to see and speak to the dead, and lives in a group home with a host of other characters with their own mental illnesses and quirks. Gracie also has a history of knowing and/or predicting things she otherwise would have no business knowing so when she brings what she initially thinks is a disembodied head to the local police with a prediction that someone is going to die that night there is mixed reception.
It is the discovery of this purse that leads the book’s other primary character, Marcel Trudeau, a local police officer and skeptical recipient of said purse deep into a mystery that stems years into the past – a mystery that somehow always ends up involving crazy Gracie and the newest ghost haunting her. This time it’s Hannah, a spunky redhead determined to force Gracie into digging up secrets the town would surely have preferred left buried.
Coyne Falls and its residents feel and read entirely genuine, the connections between the characters (primary and otherwise) skillfully revealed through great storytelling. The mysteries eventually solved – some revealed, others tactfully kept under cloak of ignorance – made for unexpected twists and turns. Light-hearted and respectful, Saving Gracie delivers a savory read, netting it the highest rating possible.

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Review: Clonmac’s Bridge by Jeffrey Perren

Clonmac's BridgeClonmac’s Bridge by Jeffrey Perren

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Note: I received a copy of this text in exchange for an unbiased review.

True to its blurb, Clonmac’s Bridge is an interesting fusion of genres. Revolving around the discovery of a twelve hundred year old bridge near Clonmacnoise Monastery, the story takes us along for the ride as Griffin Clonmac, an archeologist who has spent fifteen years searching for the elusive bridge, finally finds it and subsequently encounters a gamut of natural and man-made hurdles.
More than a story about a bridge (in truth the bridge serves more as a background device around which a variety of relationships develop) Clonmac’s Bridge gives us an exploration in human motivation. Love, academic achievement, personal victory, jealousy, spite, greed … Perren covers the spectrum with uncanny ease, showing deep insight into the human psyche.
I enjoyed this book to an extent. The subject matter fascinated; I spent the entire book wondering just what was so important about this bridge aside from having been built using building techniques not widely developed for another three hundred years. To that length eventually I started to grow bored with waiting, with all the highs and lows of near success and imminent failure. How many times can you knock a man down before he stops trying to get up? More importantly – why do you keep knocking him down, over and over and over again? After a point the story just started to drag, feeling more like an exhibition in persistence and exploring just how many ways Perren could twist his characters up before finally releasing the tension.
Adding to this was Perren’s writing style. While relatable in that each character’s motivations were rooted in the truth of psyche, Perren spent more time dropping us into each character’s laborious thought processes than any “on the edge of your seat, addictive-page-turning-action”. Readers expecting a Brown-esque thriller will be disappointed. I was disappointed that the bridge itself wasn’t more important than it actually was although the unexpected exposure and solving of a mystery provided a satisfactory ending.
Overall I gave Clonmac’s Bridge eight out of ten stars. While enjoyable on a couple levels this story left me wanting more and not necessarily of Perren’s particular brand of historical mystery/thriller.

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Review: Early Daze by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Early DazeEarly Daze by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Early Daze reads much like a memoir although from Roberts’ explanation (found included on the Amazon.com purchase page for the book) it isn’t meant to be. Although partially based on personal experience, this is not Roberts’ story of her daughter premature birth but an attempt to share the most important aspects of her experiences in order to bring light to what is ordinarily a rarely discussed topic.
They say that easy writing makes for hard reading, and hard writing makes for easy reading. This book, short though it may be, reads with incredible ease which tells me the book came from a place of hard writing, of divesting the soul of every easy and every difficult, uncomfortable, emotionally painful moment that comes with delivering a child into the world prematurely.
I connected right away with the main character, Jess. While my son (now in his pre-teens) came into this world somewhat late (it must be in my genetic makeup because no one in my family ever shows up on time for anything), I related to a lot of Jess’s emotional turmoil, particularly over breast feeding. The emotions attached to this natural act are complex even if you are able to breast feed. I was not; my son was either just that lazy that he wasn’t interested in having to work at getting mom’s milk or I wasn’t producing enough or I couldn’t get the hang of getting him to latch on, so like Jess I ended up having to pump around the clock until, also like our main character, I eventually chose to stop altogether and resorted to formula.
Jess’s emotional turmoil is resounding and Roberts’ portrayal of her plight brought me right back in memory to my son’s early days. And when I say it brought me back what I really mean is that Roberts’ writing seemed to reach deep into my mental archives to bring those experiences directly for the forefront of my brain. I relived the first few months of my son’s life while simultaneously reading about Jess’s and couldn’t help but relate to almost everything she went through.
I also enjoyed Jess’s development progression over the course of the story. Events of this magnitude and importance can and do usually serve to broaden our horizons and help us realize where we’ve been and how much we must change in order to prepare for what lies down the road of life. Coming from a sheltered life in a small village, Jess is confronted with realities she never expected the early birth of her child to show her. Roberts’ secondary characters play an excellent role in aiding Jess on a variety of levels, helping her to cope with her new situation as well as providing her with a growing awareness of her faults and where she can improve and move beyond the unintentional narrow-mindedness her sheltered existence has given her.
This was a wonderful read – elucidating and engaging, full of characters easily identified with, perfect for mothers of all kinds. What praise Roberts’ has earned for her writing style and candid sharing of personal experiences (even if they were tweaked to give us amazing fiction) is well deserved and hard earned. I give Early Daze the highest rating possible.

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