Friday Book Club #20

Friday, April 5, 2019

 Read & Have Opinions On:

Connections in Death by J.D. Robb (Futuristic Procedural, Romantic Suspense)
Homicide cop Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke, are building a brand-new school and youth shelter. They know that the hard life can lead kids toward dangerous crossroads—and with this new project, they hope to nudge a few more of them onto the right path. For expert help, they hire child psychologist Dr. Rochelle Pickering—whose own brother pulled himself out of a spiral of addiction and crime with Rochelle’s support.

Lyle is living with Rochelle while he gets his life together, and he’s thrilled to hear about his sister’s new job offer. But within hours, triumph is followed by tragedy. Returning from a celebratory dinner with her boyfriend, she finds Lyle dead with a syringe in his lap, and Eve’s investigation confirms that this wasn’t just another OD. After all his work to get clean, Lyle’s been pumped full of poison—and a neighbor with a peephole reports seeing a scruffy, pink-haired girl fleeing the scene.

Now Eve and Roarke must venture into the gang territory where Lyle used to run, and the ugly underground world of tattoo parlors and strip joints where everyone has taken a wrong turn somewhere. They both believe in giving people a second chance. Maybe even a third or fourth. But as far as they’re concerned, whoever gave the order on Lyle Pickering’s murder has run out of chances…

My Thoughts: I think the best thing about this series is that even after a number (don't ask me how many) of books away I could jump back in to Connections in Death and enjoy the hell out of it. I picked this up from the library after hearing so many good things from voices I trusted, and damn were they right. Action, emotion, family - it all takes center stage of this story, and the full cast of characters we've come to love are there to take part in it. The "whodunnit" is not a huge mystery, but the process of how the story evolves from A to B to C is enough to keep you invested - but not if you've never read one of these before. Like, Robb (Nora Roberts) is amazing, but I'm still not going to say Connections is a total stand alone - maybe after 10 or books you can jump around? Read them and come back and tell me.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry, Planet by Becky Chambers (Sci-Fi)
Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

My Thoughts: I picked up this up from the library on an author's recommendation, and I'm a little torn on how to write about it. I very rarely read sci-fi unless it's sci-fi romance, and while this was has a found family (another of my favorite tropes) it's a harder one to read. There are happy endings, though no HEA (but a probable HFN) and I feel like while I thought it was objectively good, it wasn't my favorite. Is that damming with faint praise? I do think it raises some great points about individualism, uniqueness, family and relationships and connection but it just didn't catch me the way I thought it would. Due to all that though, I still feel like you should pick it up because it is very pleasantly different from what I usually read. It just perhaps won't be a reread for me.

Cast in Oblivion by Michelle Sagara (Fantasy)

Kaylin wasn’t sent to the West March to start a war. Her mission to bring back nine Barrani might do just that, though. She traveled with a Dragon, and her presence is perceived as an act of aggression in the extremely hostile world of Barrani-Dragon politics. Internal Barrani politics are no less deadly, and Kaylin has managed—barely—to help the rescued Barrani evade both death and captivity at the hands of the Consort.

Before the unplanned “visit” to the West March, Kaylin invited the Consort to dinner. For obvious reasons, Kaylin wants to cancel dinner—forever. But the Consort is going to show up at the front door at the agreed-upon time. The fact that she tried to imprison Kaylin’s guests doesn’t matter at all…to her.

A private Barrani Hell, built of Shadow and malice, exists beneath the High Halls. It is the High Court’s duty to jail the creature at its heart—even if it means that Barrani victims are locked in the cage with it. The Consort is willing to do almost anything to free the trapped and end their eternal torment. And she needs the help of Kaylin’s houseguests—and Kaylin herself. Failure won’t be death—it will be Hell. And that’s where Kaylin is going.

My Thoughts: I say this with love, but this is probably one of the few later books in this series where I didn't find myself confused 50% of the time. This is #14 in the series and there are so many threads and plot lines, and the books are published far enough apart that sometimes I'm just along for the ride and believing the author when she tells me things. This time I could actually remember (mostly) where all these people/beings/whatever came from, and by the very nature of the plot itself I was able to connect it everything else. Though side note (I love this book, it's absolutely not a stand alone), does anyone else get a little annoyed with people constantly chastising Kaylin for being young/mortal/ignorant, etc? I feel like the interwebs are always out here complaining about Mary Sues but....I could do with more "magically can do everything". I'M NOT SORRY.

Sleigh Ride by Heidi Cullinan (Contemporary Romance, MM)
The way to a man’s heart is on a sleigh.

Arthur Anderson doesn’t want anything to do with love and romance, and he certainly doesn’t want to play Santa in his mother’s library fundraising scheme. He knows full well what she really wants is to hook him up with the town’s lanky, prissy librarian.

It’s clear Gabriel Higgins doesn’t want him, either—as a Santa, as a boyfriend, as anyone at all. But when Arthur’s efforts to wiggle out of the fundraiser lead to getting to know the man behind the story-time idol, he can’t help but be charmed. The least he can do is be neighborly and help Gabriel find a few local friends.

As their fiery arguments strike hotter sparks, two men who insist they don’t date wind up doing an awful lot of dating. And it looks like the sleigh they both tried not to board could send them jingling all the way to happily ever after.

My Thoughts: I saw this bandied about online closer to the holiday, but only recently bought it myself. WHICH I THOROUGHLY HATE MYSELF FOR. I'm not sure why the description didn't move me, maybe I was concerned that Arthur would be too much of a jerk (ala Harlequin Presents) but honestly this is a heartwarming - and spicy - romance. It was also longer than I expected, fully deserving of the $5 price tag, but near the end there was I really starting to get worried that there was going to be a big emotional breakup before the HEA, but there wasn't! I'm happy to report this is a incredibly heartwarming romance, between two men who not only have to open up to each other, but also have to open up to themselves about what they really want. Plus, whoo boy the heat. I was not expecting such a... variety of sexual playtimes in this book, maybe because I just don't see it as often in Holiday themed books, but again, they were very well done. I know I've been harping on the topic in my reviews lately, but ALL THE CONSENT TALKS. ALL OF THEM. LET'S TALK ABOUT BOUNDARIES AND SAFE WORDS AND WHAT WE'RE INTO. It's so awesome. I can't wait to check out this author's backlist and would lightly recommend this one, no matter the season.

I'm Looking Forward To:

American Witch by Thea Harrison (April 29, 2019, Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, MF) 
Power can change a person…

For months Molly Sullivan endures the inexplicable: electrical surges, car breakdowns, visions. She even wonders if she might be the cause… and wonders if she might be crazy. Then she discovers her husband has cheated on her. Again. Now Molly realizes she is a newly awakening witch and a woman pushed over the edge.

Revenge can shape a person…

Josiah Mason is a Powerful witch and the leader of a secret coven with a shared goal: to destroy an ancient enemy who has ruined many lives. Josiah lost years to this man, and his sole focus is revenge. He’s prepared for every contingency—except encountering a beautiful new witch who understands nothing of the immense Power building within her or the attraction she wields over him.

Danger can bring them together…

When divorcing her husband, Molly uncovers a dangerous secret he’s willing to kill to protect. She turns to Josiah for help, and they discover a connection between Molly’s husband and Josiah’s enemy.

As they work together, a spark ignites between them that threatens to become an inferno. But Molly is done compromising herself for any man, and Josiah’s mission is his top priority. And the enemy is cunning, cruel, and drawing ever closer.

As the danger escalates, so does the tension between them. Is a lasting relationship possible? Will either of them live long enough to try?

That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert (May 2, 2019, Contemporary Romance, MF)
She wants a fake relationship. He needs something real.

If there’s one thing Rae can’t stand, it’s pity. She’s forty, frazzled, and fed up—so attending an awards ceremony alone while her ex swans about with his new wife? Not an option. To avoid total humiliation, Rae needs a date of her own. And her young, hot-as-hell new best friend is the perfect candidate…

Zach Davis, king of casual hookups, has a secret: the notorious womaniser craves emotional connection, and anonymous encounters leave him feeling hollow. After years of performance, Zach’s desperate to be himself. So why does he agree to play Rae’s fake boyfriend? And why does it feel so easy?

When the line between pretence and desire blurs, Zach’s forced to face an unexpected truth: there’s nothing phoney about his need for Rae. But the jaded divorcée’s been hurt by playboy men before. Can a weekend of faking it prove that Zach’s for real?

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