Release Day Review: Don’t Fear the (Not Really Grim) Reaper by Carole Cummings

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/dont-fear-the-not-really-grim-reaper-by-carole-cummings-10083-b

Blurb

When unassuming college student Emery Sutton wakes up in the morgue, it takes him a few minutes to remember he has magic (superpowers, damn it!) and free himself from the refrigerated drawer. And the body bag. (God.) It doesn’t take long, though, for him to remember the hot guy with wings he ran into just before a city bus ran into him.

Junior Reaper John must explain to his supervisor how his first solo assignment went so wrong. All he knows is that he happened upon Emery quite by accident, that Emery saw John when he shouldn’t have been able to, and when they accidentally touched, a bus came out of nowhere and plowed Emery under. (John really does feel bad about that.)

Hot angels, annoying demons, hijinks, absurdity, drunk siblings, a dash of silly romance, an inordinate attachment to wings, and a highly disorganized bid for world domination—Don’t Fear the (Not Really Grim) Reaper follows Emery and John down the rabbit hole where they find that moms are scarier than demons from hell, a goat is not a puppy no matter what Emery’s sister says, and awkward romance can happen anywhere.
Review by Dee
This is a delightful, fun story. It’s a cross between a YA story, a Monty Python sketch all rolled into a Terry Gilliam or Prachett plot.
Emery keeps getting killed – unsuccessfully. Now, this would not be funny under normal circumstances, but this is a comedy so roll with it. It turns out that a junior Grim Reaper, John accidentally ‘kills’ Emery. John is full of remorse, reports this to his superiors, only to find out that Emery has not ‘transitioned, that is to say there is no record of his dying. More worrisome, there is no record of Emery at all. John is sent to investigate. The investigation leads to hijinks, meeting of demons, minions, family (Emery’s) and 2 young men falling in love.
The story is unique, funny, with a fun pop references, a close knit family and a formidable mum who will not tolerate evil in any of her kids!
If you like fantastical farces that’s not afraid to poke fun, this is definitely a good choice.

4 stars out of 5


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Review by Rebecca

This book drew me in instantly. Character rambling at the beginning, but it’s very humorous and shows the sense of humor and awkwardness of Emery. Movie references that made me smile. John is a Reaper that just wanted to do things right. It’s funny how he’d tiptoe around what really happened on his solo mission. So much nerd humor is in the book, very exciting. Enjoyed Emery’s family and the humor they brought to the book. Poor John is lost as to why he keeps being unsuccessful, yet doesn’t mind being around Emery more. The mutual attraction is overlooked by both. The demons were an amusing addition to the drama. The book isn’t centered on a relationship between Emery and John, but the attraction is there. All around enjoyable book.

Number of stars out of 5

5


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Audiobook: Dawn and Dusk by Dirk Greyson Narrated by Andrew McFerrin

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/dawn-and-dusk-by-dirk-greyson-6765-b

Blurb

Sequel to Sun and Shadow
Day and Knight: Book Three

For Scorpion agents Day and Knight, their relationship is slow to develop, and trust is hard to build. Then Day’s brother, Stephen, goes missing, and Day finds out more about him than he ever dreamed. Day’s first reaction to Stephen’s disappearance is to try to get to him as fast as possible.

Knight initially holds him back, so they can attempt to find out what they’re walking into. But when Knight sees Day’s desperation, he steps in to help and tries to calm the man he’s growing to care about, even though the trail is cold, and clues are scarce.

When Day witnesses his brother being shot live on television, he loses the last of his control. Despite the lack of answers, Day is more determined than ever to find out what happened. Stephen was all the family he had left.

Bone-deep fear and adversity threaten to tear Day and Knight apart but facing unimaginable hardship together might finally cement the bond between them.

Review
Dawn and Dusk picks up almost immediately after book two. Knight is trying to come to terms with his feelings towards Day. Day on the other hand is ready to have relationship based on more than sex. Throughout the series, Knight struggles with moving on from the death of his wife and child. It isn’t until the end of this book that he realizes that he can have true feelings for Day without pushing his wife and son out.
The story line of all three books were very action packed and full of mystery. Book three revolves around the disappearance of Day’s brother. This story travels into the deserts of Arizona and deals with human trafficking and the coyote runners.
I highly recommend reading/listening to the first two books before this one. There is a lot of development in the relationship between Knight and Day that you will miss if those books are skipped.
While this story ends on a high note between Knight and Day, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Hopefully there will be more books eventually released.

The series is narrated by Andrew McFerrin. He is a decent narrator, who has a very pleasant voice that keeps me drawn into the stories he voices. My only issue is that he doesn’t seem to have a large range of “voices”. The two main characters are easily distinguished from each other, but a lot of the secondary characters sound alike.

5 stars for story
4 stars for narration


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Time to Celebrate the Holidays: The Magician’s Angel (The Christmas Angel #3) by Jordan L. Hawk

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/series/242950

Blurb

Vaudeville stage magician Christopher Fiend lives for the spotlight. His chance at big time stardom awaits him in Chicago, the next stop on the circuit after the little town of Twelfth Junction.

Edward Smith wants nothing to do with his family’s theater. Until Christopher catches his eye on opening night, then treats him to a very special performance during intermission.

When a dead body turns up in the middle of Christopher’s act, suspicion immediately falls on him. If Christopher and Edward can’t work together to clear his name, Christopher won’t make it to Chicago in time. Edward knows he shouldn’t get attached to a man who will be gone in two days, but his heart—and a very special angel—have other ideas.

The Christmas Angel series of holiday romances follow the travels of an angel ornament through the decades as she inspires (and sometimes nudges) lonely men to find their Happily Ever After.

The Magician’s Angel is the third in series, which can be read in any order.

Review

As I mentioned with Eli’s book from this series – these don’t need to be read in order just know they are vaguely connected through history via this angel of mysterious power.

I’ve been really enjoying learning/looking at the way the men in these stories have connected given the fact that – to varying degrees – they all needed to hide. It’s been fascinating.

This is during the age of Vaudeville and as a set, the artists in these travelling groups were more open minded than most. However, the lovers still have to hide.

I’m a big Jordan L Hawk fan, but I have to tell you this wasn’t a great story for me. I’m not keen on mysteries and this felt very much like a “Clue” mystery in the most OTT way – which can be fun – but I’m not a fan. I also don’t care much for magicians though I did appreciate learning more about the showmanship of Vaudeville.

Though I didn’t love it, it was well written and good, just not my favorite.

3 of 5 stars


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Release Day Review: Romancing the Undercover Millionaire by Clare London

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/romancing-the-undercover-millionaire-by-clare-london-10016-b

Blurb

Romancing The…
Can poverty and privilege find a loving compromise?
Alexandre Bonfils, a rich and spoiled second son, is tired of being ignored and decides to help when the family’s exclusive wine business is in trouble. Going undercover in the warehouse, he loves the adventure—and the chance to be close to the sassy and sexy manager, Tate Somerton.
Tate is hardworking and financially struggling, bringing up his siblings on his own. A suspected saboteur at work is his latest challenge, but now he also has a clueless, though very attractive, new intern. There’s an immediate spark between the ill-matched couple, until a shocking accident cuts short Alex’s amateur sleuthing.
While recovering in the generous care of Tate and his family, will Alex realize what belonging really means? Passion and pride come together to fight for the company they’re both committed to preserving, but can a personal bond remain when the dust settles?

Review

Alexandre is your typical spoiled playboy rich kid. He gets the bright idea to go undercover to reveal who is causing trouble in the family business warehouse. He meets his boss Tate. Tate is essentially a single parent of his three siblings and occasionally his grandmother when her arthritis is bad . The twins add great humor to the book. The attraction is instant. It was funny to read how easily Tate sees through Alex. Both are guarded. Alex, because he’s never tried for relationships and wanting to keep identity secret until mystery is solved, and Tate, because he feels that anyone he loves will eventually leave him plus the responsibility he feels to his siblings. The mystery incidences added great drama to the book. I enjoyed reading the family dynamics and know personally how tough it is maintaining a family in poverty. Alex gets hurt and shortly after the truth about him comes out. The sex scenes were hot without being detailed. The bond between them was great to read. All background characters were fun to read also. Overall fantastic read.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 5

 


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Audiobook: Hidden in Darkness by Alice Winters; narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Hidden-in-Darkness-Audiobook/B07HJBJND9?qid=1541961109&sr=sr_1_1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=C88ZHS34SJ9AVYKBKM4Z&

Blurb: When Felix lands a job taking care of a man recovering from severe injuries, he thinks his life may have just turned around. Anything has to be better than the place he’s leaving. There’s something about Lane that draws Felix to him and makes him question if this place could finally become a home for him. But when someone begins stalking Felix, he is left to question who Lane is and what actually happened to him. Together, Felix and Lane will be forced to see just how far they will go to protect each other. Being chased by cops, kidnapping a man, and breaking into a drug operation seems to be his normal since arriving in Lane’s life. Felix may be out of his element, but one thing he is sure about is that he doesn’t want to leave, even if it costs him his life.

Review by Dee:

Book previously reviewed here https://openskyebookreviews.com/time-to-laugh-hidden-in-darkness-by-alice-winters/

When I read the book the first (of many times), I was startled by the lack of ‘kid glove’ treatment Felix gave Lane. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny as hell, but wow!, it’s rare to read a story where the disabled MC is treated as they deserved; in this case, a bit meanly (Lane was a bit of a dick at first).
The sarcastic humour and banter is genuinely funny and the crime/suspense kept me engaged.
The audio, as performed by Joel Leslie, does not disappoint*. He continues to wow his listeners with his talent. In this case, he brought Felix to life, capturing his snark perfectly. Joel also captured Felix’s vulnerability and, at times (few), his sensitivity; especially when dealing with Lane. It goes without saying that the overall performance was great, but wow, did he nail the essence of Felix.
This will be an audiobook that I’ll re-listen to often. Loved it!

*(except that there were very slight pauses between sentences due to the ‘I said”s – an editing issue)

5.5 stars out of 5


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Review by Morgan

I agree with Dee that Joel Leslie did a wonderful job as always with his narration.  He manages to convey humor and romance as well as give us a variety of well developed characters.

His narration is definitely a 5 of 5 stars for me.

I’m not a fan of the story however.  I don’t like mysteries and I found Felix tedious rather than charming but I know others like Dee really found him hysterical.  He just grated on my nerves and detracted from my overall enjoyment.  (It could be a mood thing… but it just didn’t work for me.)

The humor here is just not my style of humor so I have to give the story a 2 of 5 stars.  Overall a 3 of 5 stars.

 


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Audiobook: A Light in the Darkness by Alice Winters; narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Link:
https://www.audible.com/pd/A-Light-in-the-Darkness-Audiobook/154144759X?qid=1543000021&sr=sr_1_1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=SJ717YXMZSWR7R1K4JYX&

Blurb: Felix and Lane are trying out their new normal. Normal means no more car chases, no more drug lords, and definitely no more kidnapping bad guys. All of that is a thing of the past in this new, normal(ish) life style filled with family get-togethers, torturous jogs through the park, and the occasional romp in the parking lot. Felix is done stealing (all but for the cat). He is actually enjoying the boring side of life, especially with Lane by his side doing what he does best: looking handsome. But when Felix’s brother wants to repair their relationship, he brings with him a secret that could cost all of them their lives.
Lane isn’t complaining because the thrills of life-threatening situations are right up his alley. They may think they have a handle on the situation, but what they do not know is that someone has been working them from the shadows. Forcing them to do exactly what he wants as he drives them closer to his sick game of life and death.

Review:
Hands down, this is one of the best sequels I have ever had the pleasure of reading and listening to!
Lane and Felix are still very much in love and are settling into the new home that *they’ve just bought, (*well, Felix did contribute $5, lol!), when Felix’s past rears up. It starts with his long lost brother, Darian and soon escalates into a convoluted mind game that tests both Lane’s and Felix’s sleuthing skills. Through it all, the banter, the sass and shenanigans kept me highly entertained.
But, the narration ….
Joel Leslie owned the story, lock, stock and barrel!; especially Felix. You will understand exactly what I mean when you listen to the opening wail “Lane!….”. I don’t know what else I can say about Joel that is not already known – brilliant narrator, versatile performer, excellent for knowing what a character needs and how to portray said character. Joel was born to do this series ☺
What made this a truly an excellent performance is how he minimized the impact of the repetitive “he said”, “I said” that peppered the story. The author may not have realised the impact of this for people listening to the audio. I hope that, (if there is a continuation of the In Darkness series), Joel will be able to give his considerable wealth of knowledge and advice on the editing of the audio.
I absolutely loved the narration and story!

6 stars out of 5


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Release Day Review: Cops and Comix By Rhys Ford

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cops-and-comix-by-rhys-ford-10013-b

Blurb

A Murder and Mayhem Short
It’s all fun and games until someone leaves a dead body on the floor.
Life for comic book store owner Alex Martin usually runs to the mundane. Sure, he has a regular influx of geeks and freaks, but for the most part, it’s a familiar weird. That all changes when he opens up Planet X Comics one morning and finds a corpse in the middle of his shop.
When Detective James Castillo is called in to investigate, Alex is torn between wanting to climb the man like a tree and giving him a wide berth. Luckily for Alex, the handsome detective is just as interested in him—as a suspect in the murder.

Review

This novella starts with a dead body, and you assume most of it will revolve round that drama and the struggle between Alex being extremely attracted to James and fearing he will be accused of murder.

I like that Ford chose to put enough of the romance and solved that conflict sooner than expected. I actually really liked Alex and James, they sort of had a slow buildup and it was very refreshing, considering most full length books jump right into the steam on the first date/meeting. There is a heaping amount of humor and a splash of bad Karma/Murphy’s Law mixed in and it makes for a truly fun read. And surprisingly (or not so much when you consider the talent of the author) you get well rounded characters in such a short story, James is a big softie and I liked his lack of macho ego. Alex is just the right amount of shy and geeky without turning into a total introverted outcast like some books tend to portray geeky/nerdy characters.

This short novella leaves you with a craving for more, written in Rhys Ford’s signature humor and fantastic writing style. The only reason I gave it 3.5 stars is that I felt it was a bit too short or rushed in some parts. Despite that it was just the kind of teasing taste to get you hooked on the series and I am definitely going to get the next ones and dive in.

Number of stars out of 5
3.5


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Recent Release: Hawaii Five Uh-Oh by ZA Maxfield


Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/hawaii-five-uh-oh-by-za-maxfield-9969-b

Blurb: A Plummet to Soar Story

Sarcastic cop Theo Hsu returns home to Hawai‘i after realizing he wants more from his life, and also, less. He hopes to reconnect with his past and make amends with his mother, who remarried a cool, distant man, leaving Theo unsure where he stands.
It doesn’t take him long to figure out where he wants to stand, though: right next to his childhood best friend, tattooed detective Koa Palapiti. Theo would like to upgrade their relationship, but Koa is putting out some seriously mixed signals. It’s a mystery Theo can’t let go, but just as they start to connect, kidnapping, murder, and a deadly game with international stakes get in the way. Koa wants to keep Theo out of it, and if it comes to a choice between him and Koa’s partner, Freddie Ortiz, Theo doesn’t like his chances.
But even if Koa wants to push him out of the investigation, and his life, Theo still has a few tricks up his sleeve. It’ll take all his special gifts, ingenuity, risk-taking, family ties—and even some kinky undercover work—to save the day… and the man he never should’ve let get away.

Review: This is the second in the Plummet to Soar series. It’s a standalone story, (I didn’t need to read the first book to enjoy this). It starts out simply – Theo returns to live in Hawai’i, reconnects with his family and meets up with his old friend, Koa. Then things turn mysterious, starting with Koa and his strange relationship with his work partner, Ortiz and ending with a crime family feud.
The story has lots of twists and turns, keeping you guessing as to what’s going to happen next. There is the budding reconnection between Theo and Koa – the latter blowing hot and cold; the mystery case that Theo inadvertently butts his way into; and Theo’s own relationship with his mum and her new family.
This is a complex and interesting story, with elements of BDSM – not full blown scenes – but enough to know that both MCs like that kink. The blurb isn’t kidding with the sarcasm! The humour is sometimes subtle and always funny as heck ☺
I would describe the story as more of a suspense/mystery with a bit of romance thrown in.

4.5 stars out of 5


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Time to Comfort: Audiobook: Sin and Tonic by Rhys Ford narrated by Tristan James

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/sin-and-tonic-by-rhys-ford-9595-b

Blurb: Sinners Series: Book Six

Miki St. John believed happy endings only existed in fairy tales until his life took a few unexpected turns… and now he’s found his own.
His best friend, Damien, is back from the dead, and their new band, Crossroads Gin, is soaring up the charts. Miki’s got a solid, loving partner named Kane Morgan—an Inspector with SFPD whose enormous Irish family has embraced him as one of their own—and his dog, Dude, at his side.

It’s a pity someone’s trying to kill him.

Old loyalties and even older grudges emerge from Chinatown’s murky, mysterious past, and Miki struggles to deal with his dead mother’s abandonment, her secrets, and her brutal murder while he’s hunted by an enigmatic killer who may have ties to her.
The case lands in Kane’s lap, and he and Miki are caught in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. When Miki is forced to face his personal demons and the horrors of his childhood, only one thing is certain: the rock star and his cop are determined to fight for their future and survive the evils lurking in Miki’s past.

Review:

(Previously reviewed by Dee on this site)

Miki gets his happy ever after! I have had a fantastic time following the series. This last book is just as good, (if not better), than the first.
Miki still has ghosts from his past haunting him. When a stranger who claims to know his mum wants to meet him, he’s understandably skeptical, but curious. Well, the meeting doesn’t go as planned, as someone shoots up the meeting place and the stranger is killed, leaving Edie severely wounded. The murder investigation lands in Kane’s lap and the unraveling of Miki’s past begins.

Although this is the last of the Sinners series, it didn’t feel like a final end, you know? Instead, I felt like I was saying goodbye to my extended family, imagining that I’d see them again in another settings or gathering.
I thought I would be sad reading the last installment – and I was for a bit – but the joy I felt knowing that Miki had finally gotten his happy ending, overrode any sadness. By the end of the book we leave him continuing to heal from all the horrors he’s endured. He is more comfortable with the knowledge that he has a family to call his own, that he can rely on to be there for him. And now, he also knows where he’s from.
It was also lovely to see the others – Dude, Damie and Sionn; Quinn and Rafe; Con and Forest; and of course, Donal and Brigid.
There are a few surprises, heaps of suspense and humour sprinkled throughout the story (indeed, the entire series). But most of all, there is love – romantic and familial within the story; and the love that Rhys has poured into her work.

Absolutely recommend this book and the entire series.

6 stars out of 5

Audio

I will have to agree with Dee for my evaluation of the story. I think – for the most part – that Rhys is a wonderful writer but that you do have to want a certain type of drama to enjoy her stories. She excels at bringing us characters in pain and giving them some sort of resolution. In this series everybody has their back story filled with pain and some with anguish. We couple it with a current bout of violence and luckily the wall of Morgans are there to help keep the tide at bay. I think – though I’ve loved this series so much – that it has come to it’s natural conclusion and aside from some cute side stories – this is a needed/warranted ending.

 

As for the narration- Tristan James is amazing. He’s got this sexy as hell voice and he’s also pretty good at setting the mood for a story with his pacing and energy. For some reason, however, this time around, the voice he chose for Miki is a bit off from what he’d chosen before and it bugged me. Miki didn’t sound like himself – he sounded … softer? I don’t know – but it didn’t match previous narrations. It’s a small thing and definitely doesn’t detract from the rest of the story and all the lovely accents – but it did bug me a little.

 

In any case – fans of the series will be sad to see this one but love it at the same time. It’s not a standalone so don’t start with this one!

 

Recommended!

5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Release Day Review: Fangs for the Memories by Julia Talbot

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fangs-for-the-memories-by-julia-talbot-9965-b

Blurb: One wolf lost his memory, but they’ll both lose their hearts.
Bitten werewolf Tom owes the folks at the Dead and Breakfast big for saving his life. So when they ask for help with a rogue wolf on the premises, he’s happy to do his part….
Though he isn’t quite prepared for what he’ll find.
Werewolf Nathan lost everything to a sadistic kidnapper—his freedom, his memories, and maybe even his ability to be human. But as soon as he meets Tom, he knows he might be able to reclaim his life. And even a turned wolf like Tom feels the mating call. The trouble is, Tom isn’t the only one who wants Nathan, and they’ll need help from all their supernatural friends at the D & B to defeat a powerful enemy and keep their love—and themselves—alive.

Review: This is a standalone sequel to Fangs and Catnip, this time the pairing is between 2 wolf shifters. The story is sweet, with an almost childlike feel to the dialogue, which fit within the storyline.
Tom, (we met him when he was bitten in book 1), is a made wolf. He runs a sort of animal rescue centre that includes helping shifters. The owners of the B&B have noticed a wild, distressed wolf and ask Tom to help. He helps the wolf, learns his name – Nathan and discovers that he’s a shifter.
Nathan has run from a horrid situation and is understandably traumatized. The way Tom and the others look out for Nathan makes up the bulk of the story. We also get to see past characters like Carter and meet new ones like Ed, a magpie shifter.
There is very little angst, some suspense – (when the cause of Nathan’s trauma reappears) – and humour. The suspense piece may have been a tad rushed, but it brings some new faces to the series.
This is a cozy read, like the satisfaction one gets putting on one’s favourite pair of slippers.
And it was my pleasure to read.

3.75 stars out of 5


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