Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

About Jane Litte

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

Posts by Jane Litte:

Daily Deals: Carnies and former pop princesses turned detective

Daily Deals: Carnies and former pop princesses turned detective

Carniepunk  by Rachel Caine(Gallery Books)Carnie Punk by Rahcel Caine. $ 1.99 at AMZN | Google

From the Jacket Copy:

Come one, come all! The Carniepunk Midway promises you every thrill and chill a traveling carnival can provide. But fear not! Urban fantasy’s biggest stars are here to guide you through this strange and dangerous world. . . .

RACHEL CAINE’s vampires aren’t child’s play, as a naïve teen discovers when her heart leads her far, far astray in “The Cold Girl.” With “Parlor Tricks,” JENNIFER ESTEP pits Gin Blanco, the Elemental Assassin, against the Wheel of Death and some dangerously creepy clowns. SEANAN McGUIRE narrates a poignant, ethereal tale of a mysterious carnival that returns to a dangerous town after twenty years in “Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea.” KEVIN HEARNE’s Iron Druid and his wisecracking Irish wolfhound discover in “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street” that the impossibly wholesome sounding Kansas Wheat Festival is actually not a healthy place to hang out. With an eerie, unpredictable twist, ROB THURMAN reveals the fate of a psychopath stalking two young carnies in “Painted Love.”

Jia reviewed it and gave the collection a B- overall.

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The Book Thief  by Markus ZusakThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak . $ 3.99

From the Jacket Copy:

The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that will be in movie theaters on November 15, 2013, Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

School Library Journal says “Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative”

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Friends Without Benefits (Knitting in the City)  by Penny ReidFriends Without Benefits by Penny Reid . $ Free

From the Jacket Copy:

Friends Without Benefits can be read as a standalone, is a full length 120k word novel, and is book #2 in the Knitting in the City Series.

There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Finney: 1) She suffers from severe sarcastic syndrome, especially when she’s unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her like Nico Manganiello, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Elizabeth Finney is almost always right about everything: the musical merits of boy bands are undervalued by society, “benefits” with human Ken dolls are better without friendship, and the sun has set on her once-in-a-lifetime chance for true love. But when Elizabeth’s plans for benefits without friendship are disarmed by the irritatingly charismatic and chauvinistic Nico Manganiello- her former nemesis- she finds herself struggling to maintain the electric fence around her heart while avoiding electrocution or, worse, falling in love.

Reid wrote this funny book called Neanderthal Seeks Human. The heroine in that book is a high functioning autistic. The heroine in Friends without Benefits is friends with the heroine in Neaderthal Seeks Human. Her one true love died when she was sixteen and Elizabeth is stuck in romantic stasis forever. (or so she believes) Ultimately the lower starred reviews mention this issue as being problematic. Either you buy into that concept or it doesn’t work for you.

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Size 12 Is Not Fat (Heather Wells Series #1) by Meg CabotSize 12 Is Not Fat (Heather Wells Mysteries) by Meg Cabot. $ 1.99.

From the Jacket Copy:

Heather Wells Rocks!

Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two — and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather’s perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York’s top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather’s residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen — not the police, her colleagues, or the P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives — even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective!

But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who’s sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong . . .

This is a fun little series about a Resident Assistant at a NY college. Mixed in with her penchant for solving mysteries is Heather’s struggle with her ex who is becoming famous and her feelings for her ex’s hunky older brother. I enjoyed the ones that I read quite a bit.

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REVIEW:  Bare Knuckle: Vegas Top Guns by Katie Porter

REVIEW: Bare Knuckle: Vegas Top Guns by Katie Porter

Dear Ms. Porter:

Each book in this series supposedly deals with some sort of sexual kink. The first book was where the hero scandalously enjoys seeing a woman dress up, like in fishnet tights and a waitressing costume. I remember remarking on a podcast with Sarah at SmartBitches who enjoyed it more than I that I thought unless the hero wanted the heroine to dress up like a dog and bark while they were doing it, his kink didn’t seem very perverse. So then comes “Bare Knuckle” and I’m wishing for a tamer story.

The hero is Captain Eric “Kisser” Donaghue who is moonlighting as a fighter to pay for the rehab bills of his younger brother.  The heroine is Trish Monroe, a showgirl whose headlining act just got canceled and works as a ring girl at an underground fighting club while attending classes and living with her pageant driven mother.

Bare Knuckle: Vegas Top Guns Katie PorterShe likes to perform; he likes to watch. This should be a perfect match but the connection between the characters was almost clinical and the love scenes read like a porn script taking place in a concrete bunker.  We don’t even get the cheesy music to provide some ambience.

Besides Eric’s predilection for fighting, he’s a nude photographer in his spare time and maybe a part time film maker. He has many, many nude portraits in his bedroom and he felt like his current films were getting stale. In sum, I felt like he was a neckbeard who spent all of his time whacking off in his poster ladened bedroom, watching his old porn films and feeling like he just couldn’t get it up anymore unless he found some new material. Enter Trish.

These two seem to get off on everything but actually doing it. Eric is always checking out other women because he likes to watch (or that’s his excuse). After having ordered, he found it difficult to keep from checking out the waitress’s ass. Any guilt he might’ve felt dissipated when he realized Trish was looking too. But why is Trish looking? She’s the performer. I felt like she was written in way to make every lewd and unsavory action of his seem okay yet it never did.

Trish’s character, for all that she was taking classes, plays on her looks and pursues the kind of guys who only want her because she looks good on their arms and then she cries about it.

“Every man looks at me like you do,” she continued, forging on with only a whisper. “I play up to the fantasies you mentioned. And sure, I get off on it. But sometimes I’m not worth talking to. Sometimes I’m a fun fuck, or I get slapped with dumb-shit remarks that remind me I’m meat.”

There is no sense of connection between the two. He’s watching the ass of every woman that walks by and Trish is going home with a former ex-girlfriend. Trish and Eric pass this off as meaningless but even though she didn’t have sex with the ex girlfriend, she was being intimate with her in an emotional sense which means it wasn’t really that innocent. But because they aren’t having sex and the ex is NOT A GUY, it’s okay:

“Had it been with a guy, that would’ve been different.” He licked his lips. He abandoned her knee in favor of the softer meat of her inner thigh. His thumb rubbed along her taut tendon. The comforter slid back, revealing inch after inch of skin.

“Different how?”

“I’m not ready to share you yet.”

And when she is with the woman physically, it’s still okay to Eric because it’s two women together:  Maybe another man would be offended when he realized they were lost to one another. They’d used him for a moment to urge their passion to new heights, then forgot about him. Eric loved it—the pure voyeurism of watching when all the defenses were stripped and no one pretended anymore.

This gender flip didn’t work for me because all it meant to me as the reader was that Trish really wasn’t into Eric nor was Eric into her. They were into the act but there was no emotional connection. And the “if it was a guy” excuse seems to belittle lesbian relationships altogether.

Finally, the book seemed to suffer from series-itis. There was a ton of backstory that I was missing out. Eric is apparently a former mysogynist but was reformed in a previous book (he still came off as a chest beater in this book).  There were several references to previous relationships with which I was unfamiliar.  Overall, this book didn’t work for me. In an effort to be really outre, I ended up being turned off by the unlikeable characters and the lack of emotional resonance between them. D

Best regards,



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