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


Daily Deals: Soccer rivalries, porn stars, and workplace romances

Daily Deals: Soccer rivalries, porn stars, and workplace romances

Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World's Greatest Sports Rivalry by Sid LoweFear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World’s Greatest Sports Rivalry by Sid Lowe. $ 2.99 From the Jacket Copy: Fear and Loathing in La Liga is the definitive history of the greatest rivalry in world sport: FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. It’s Messi vs. Ronaldo, Guardiola vs. Mourinho, the nation against the state, freedom fighters vs. Franco’s fascists, plus majestic goals and mesmerizing skills. It’s the best two teams on the planet going head-to-head. It’s more than a game. It’s a war. It’s El Clásico. Only, it’s not quite that simple. Spanish soccer expert and historian Sid Lowe covers 100 years of rivalry, athletic beauty, and excellence. Fear and Loathing in La Liga is a nuanced, revisionist, and brilliantly informed history that goes beyond sport. Lowe weaves together this story of the rivalry with the history and culture of Spain, emphasizing that it is “never about just the soccer.” With exclusive testimonies and astonishing anecdotes, he takes us inside this epic battle, including the wounds left by the Civil War, Madrid’s golden age in the fifties when they won five European cups, Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona Dream Team, the doomed Galáctico experiment, and Luís Figo’s “betrayal.” By exploring the history, politics, culture, economics, and language—while never forgetting the drama on the field—Lowe demonstrates the relationship between these two soccer giants and reveals the true story behind their explosive rivalry.

The World Cup is over and I feel somewhat deflated. I enjoyed it but…what the heck happened to Brazil? I need a book explaining their last two game meltdown. Nonetheless, the sparse reviews say that this is a great futbol book chronicling a rivalry starting back in 1902 with the Spanish War. One reviewer said that it was a bit like Yankees and the Red Sox only bigger. I’m vaguely intrigued by the women’s World Cup to take place next year.

AmazonBNKoboBook DepositoryAREApple Google

Lessons in Rule-Breaking by Christy McKellenLessons in Rule-Breaking by Christy McKellen. $ 1.99 From the Jacket Copy: Journalist Jess has always followed the rules when it comes to her career: 1) Never say no! Trying to extract a tell-all interview from bad boy of the art world Xander Heaton might be her own worst nightmare, but she’s just going to have to grin and bear it! 2) Absolutely no flirting on the job—professionalism is key to a journalist’s success. Even if Xander does have her imagining the most unprofessional scenarios?. 3) If resistance proves impossible, remember the golden rule—never kiss and tell! One night with Xander and she’s broken at least one rule?and discovered it’s much more fun breaking rules than making them!

Brie from Romance Around the Blog pointed out that a number of Harlequin Kiss books were priced a $1.99 or even cheaper on the Harlequin website. I choose this book because it had one of the highest star ratings but then there are only three and I really didn’t glean much from the reviews. I’ve never read McKellen before so I have nothing insightful to add. Maybe a reader does?

AmazonBNKoboBook DepositoryAREAppleGoogle

9780007541072_p0_v7_s260x420Melting Ms Frost by Kat Black. $ 1.99 From the Jacket Copy: How do you thaw the coldest of hearts? Find out in the sexiest romance to hit the shelves this year.When Aidan Flynn walks into Cluny’s Restaurant, he can’t take his eyes off his new boss, Annabel Frost. With his heart set on winning her over, Aidan can think of nothing but getting beneath her cold exterior.Known as one of the toughest women in the business, Annabel is impervious to Aidan’s many charms. His compelling grey gaze and persuasive Irish lilt do anything but captivate her.But Aidan senses there’s more to Annabel than meets the eye. And he’s not going to stop until he reveals all…A seductive tale that will delight all fans of romance.

This is a British set … romance? chick lit? The top rated three star review is a pretty good endorsement. “If you are looking for a fun holiday’ish book, with a lot of steamy romance, this is the book for you.”

AmazonBNKoboBook DepositoryAREApple Google

9781500136628_p0_v1_s260x420Decker’s Wood by Kirsty Dallas. $ .99. From the Jacket Copy: ** Reader Warning** – This novel is NOT a dark romance. There are absolutely no whips or floggers, no matter how much Andi wants to smack Decker over the head at times. There are no BDSM slavery themes, unless you can count that Decker is a slave to Andi’s hot cowboy boots and sexy Texan drawl. Decker’s Wood does however feature glitter rain, manscaping, vajazzle, tequila shots, roof-top dancing and one hell of a dick trick! Decker Steele had it made…Penthouse apartment, VIP parties, girls on tap. You see, Decker Steele is the Pornography Associations award winning, money making machine. But what does a self-confessed, pussy pounding warrior do when his prized package begins to fail? Freak the ‘F’ out, that’s what! Andi Jennings is the socially inept, geeky and awkward cousin of Decker’s best friend. Only she’s not so geeky and awkward anymore. Now she’s a smokin’ hot country bumpkin, with a smokey voice made for phone sex, and a pair of hot as hell cowboy boots. Everyone adores her, my porn star buddies, my mom and dad, my ‘equipment’. So, the prized package isn’t so failing anymore, the catch is, it will only perform for Andi…My friend WITHOUT benefits. What will the prince of porn do? The girl or the career? This book is recommended for mature reading audiences. It contains sexual references and language some might find offensive.

Despite not loving porn star heroes, I thought I would give this a try when it was talked up on an Amazon board. I ended up DNFing it fairly early on for believability issues. Decker is a porn king but wears condoms. He lives in NYC (I’m pretty sure porn isn’t legal to be shot in NY. Maybe Jersey?). The heroine buys a bookstore in Soho. When she arrives in SOHO, she knows she’s in the right place because there is a sign saying “welcome to SOHO”. Also, did I mention she bought an entire building in SOHO? I…yeah. But readers say it’s funny and sexy.

AmazonBNKoboBook DepositoryAREApple Google

Daily Deals: A melancholy Russian, Reunited lovers, quilters, and a SFF YA

Daily Deals: A melancholy Russian, Reunited lovers, quilters, and a SFF...

Tatiana (Arkady Renko Series #8) by Martin Cruz SmithTatiana (Arkady Renko Series #8) by Martin Cruz Smith. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Arkady Renko, one of the iconic inves­tigators of contemporary fiction, has survived the cultural journey from the Soviet Union to the New Russia, only to find the nation as obsessed with secrecy and brutality as was the old Communist dictatorship. In Tatiana, the melancholy hero— cynical, analytical, and quietly subversive— unravels a mystery as complex and dangerous as modern Russia itself.

The fearless reporter Tatiana Petrovna falls to her death from a sixth-floor window in Moscow the same week that a mob billionaire, Grisha Grigo-renko, is shot and buried with the trappings due a lord. No one else makes the connection, but Arkady is transfixed by the tapes he discovers of Tatiana’s voice describing horrific crimes in words that are at odds with the Kremlin’s official versions.

The trail leads to Kaliningrad, a Cold War “secret city” that is separated by hundreds of miles from the rest of Russia. The more Arkady delves into Tatiana’s past, the more she leads him into a surreal world of wandering sand dunes, abandoned chil­dren, and a notebook written in the personal code of a dead translator. Finally, in a lethal race to uncover what the translator knew, Arkady makes a startling discovery that draws him still deeper into Tatiana’s past—and, paradoxically, into Russia’s future, where bulletproof cars, poets, corruption of the Baltic Fleet, and a butcher for hire combine to give Kaliningrad the “distinction” of having the highest crime rate in Russia.

More than a mystery, Tatiana is Martin Cruz Smith’s most ambitious and politically daring novel since Gorky Park. It is a story rich in character, black humor, and romance, with an insight that is the hallmark of a writer the New York Times has called “endlessly entertaining and deeply serious . . . [not merely] our best writer of suspense, but one of our best writers, period.”

Library Journal gave this a starred review.

“Burnished to a fine sheen, this tale has it all: a high-velocity plot complete with diabolically clever codes, endearing chess-playing teenagers, patricide, and death-defying Renko, still indomitable despite a scarred and weary hide. Pair Renko with Stuart Kaminsky’s Inspector Rostnikov, and throw in Brett Ghelfi’s gun-for-hire Alexei Volkovoy to achieve an unbeatable season of well-written and crackling reading enjoyment. “

AmazonBNKoboBook DepositoryAREApple Google

An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill MansellAn Offer You Can’t Refuse by Jill Mansell. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Nothing could tear Lola and Dougie apart, except his mother…

Seventeen-year-old Lola has no intention of accepting when her boyfriend’s snobbish mother offers her a huge bribe to break up with him. Then Lola discovers a secret that makes her think again, and the only way she can help one of the people she loves most in the world is to take the money and break Dougie’s heart.

Ten years later, when Lola meets Dougie again, her feelings for him are as strong as ever. She’ll do almost anything to get him back, but she can never tell him the truth. Can she overcome his bitterness and win his heart? She’s attractive, persuasive, and endlessly optimistic, but even Lola’s got her work cut out for her this time.

The general sense I have from reading the critical reviews is that if you like Mansell you will like this book. It’s storyline is predictable but the characters are nice enough.

AmazonBNKoboBook DepositoryAREAppleGoogle

Starglass (The Starglass Sequence) by Phoebe NorthStarglass (The Starglass Sequence) by Phoebe North. $ 1.99 Apple | Amazon

From the Jacket Copy:

In this futuristic, outer space thriller that #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth calls “richly imagined” and “beautifully written,” Terra has to decide between supporting the rebellion she believes in—and saving the life of the boy she loves.

“This richly textured first novel deserves to be widely read” (Publishers Weekly).

For generations, those aboard the Asherah have lived within strict rules meant to help them survive the journey from a doomed Earth to their promised land, the planet Zehava—which may or may not be habitable, a question whose imperative grows now, in the dwindling months before touchdown.

Sixteen-year-old Terra’s situation is tough. A dead mom. A grieving dad. A bitchy boss, and a betrothed who won’t kiss her no matter how bad she wants it. She’s doing her best to stay afloat, even when she gets assigned a vocation she has no interest in: botany.

But after Terra witnesses the Captain’s guard murder an innocent man, she’s drawn into a secret rebellion bent on restoring power to the people. The stakes are higher than anything she could have imagined. When the rebellion gives Terra an all-important mission, she has to decide where her loyalties lie for once and for all. Because she has started to fall for the boy she’s been sent to assassinate…

Booklist says “With its onion-skin layers of plots and subterfuge around issues of trust and loyalty—not to mention a very strong writing style—this stellar debut should have strong interest from dystopian fans. Hand to fans of Maria V. Snyder or Beth Revis.”

School Library Journal “While there are certainly strong science-fiction overtones and dystopian influences, the claustrophobic nature of the ship grounds the characterization. This book offers an excellent resource to support diversity as marriage equality and LGBT issues are a dominant factor in the narrative, making it more interesting than many similar titles.”

AmazonBNKoboBook DepositoryAREApple Google


The Sugar Camp Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts Series #7)by Jennifer ChiaveriniThe Sugar Camp Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

A week after Uncle Jacob’s death, Abel Wright came to pay his respects. Dorothea Granger took him to the grave and stood some distance away while he bowed his head in silent prayer. Then he looked up and said, “I have something to tell you and your folks.”

History is thick with secrets in The Sugar Camp Quilt, seventh in the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series from bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini. Set in Creek’s Crossing, Pennsylvania, in the years leading up to the Civil War, the story begins with friends and neighbors taking sides in the abolitionist debate, and as events unfold, an ex-traordinary young heroine passes from innocence to wisdom against the harrowing backdrop of the American struggle over slavery.

A dutiful daughter and niece, Dorothea Granger finds her dreams of furthering her education thwarted by the needs of home. A gifted quilter, she tragically loses her hope chest in a flood. A superior student, she is promoted from pupil to teacher — only to lose her position to the privileged son of a town benefactor.

But the ultimate test of her courage and convictions comes with the death of her stern uncle Jacob, who inexplicably had asked Dorothea to stitch him a quilt with four unusual patterns of his own design.

After he meets with a violent end, Dorothea discovers that the quilt contains hidden clues to guide runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad. Emboldened by the revelations about her uncle’s bravery, Dorothea resolves to continue his dangerous work. Armed with the Sugar Camp Quilt and its mysterious symbols, she must evade slavecatchers and outwit unscrupulous neighbors, embarking upon a heroic journey that allows her to discover her own courage and resourcefulness — unsuspected qualities that may win her the heart of the best man she has ever known.
Told with Jennifer Chiaverini’s trademark historical suspense, The Sugar Camp Quilt blends danger, moral courage, romance, and hope into a novel of antebellum America whose lessons resonate with timeless honesty.

Library Journal says “Steeped in rich period detail and gentle romance, this seventh entry in Chiaverini’s “Elm Creek Quilts” series wonderfully captures the courage of the Underground Railroad supporters and the runaways who risked everything to find freedom. Recommended for most collections”

Deal is available at

AmazonBNKoboBook DepositoryAREApple Google