J to tha M: What We’re Reading

We’re Back – the Worldbuilding Edition

J:  Hey, have you read the Irin Chronicles series by Elizabeth Hunter?2930716970_644598079b

M:  yep. You must have lent me the first one (The Scribe), and then the first and second (The Singer) both went on sale a little while ago, so I bought both

J:  The third is out. The Secret

M:  She does great worldbuilding

J:  yeah she really does

and there’s enough…supported information with her mythology

M:  I love when the worldbuilding not only pulls you in and feels like a true alternate reality, whether fantasy, paranormal, dystopian, or even contemporary just with different rules

J:  When an author not only makes me feel like I’m RIGHT THERE in the story, but also that the story could be right here with me, that’s what I love

Urban fantasy just absolutely kills me for that reason.

I’m not escaping to a new world… I feel like those characters have lived right here beside me the whole time

M:  makes you excited and curious and want to know more, even to live in that world

or know the characters personally

the curiosity and intrigue is the best, though. That’s when I know I’m reading something that’s a winner for me

J:  That’s what I loved so much about Twilight, actually

I mean, yeah, the gaspy, will-they/won’t-they romance, pain of teen love thing

she did that really well

but she also made me think, if only for a little while, that the guy next to me at the supermarket could possibly be a vampire

and that’s what I loved so much about Brigid Kemmerer’s Elemental series, too

and why I got super sucked into Elizabeth Hunter’s Irin Chronicles

(well, everything I’ve read by her so far, but most recently the Irin Chronicles)

M: yeah, it’s the intriguing wish fulfillment-fantasy-believability-intrigue thing

and it’s amazing when it is done well

and consistency is so important *coughJRWardcough*

I really enjoyed Hunter’s worldbuilding in both her series

made me want to know more and figure out the mystery. And cheer for a relationship for the MCs

J:  It’s amazing how much more I forgive when the world is solid

like, I believe the characters

and accept their flaws

and love them anyway

things that would piss me off beyond all belief if in a contemporary romance set in the here and now

I don’t know why I’m more likely to forgive, but I am

*coughEdwardCullencough*

M:  Haha. Yeah, that’s an interesting point, really

because it’s not real and we’re already plausibly suspending disbelief, maybe?

J:  perhaps

but if you presented me with a contemporary realistic fiction YA about a boy who crept into a girl’s bedroom to watch her sleep, I’d throw the book out the window

M:  Exactly. Actions, reactions, situations in those made-up worlds don’t make me twitchy in a lot of instances where they would in a contemporary

J:  and the same was kind of true in Hunter’s Irin books

she writes strong females, yes

but sometimes strong to the point of being careless or stubborn

M:  that’s fairly typical for most romances – and a lot of other genres, too

makes the plot easier to forward

add conflict

but yeah. it gets annoying

I just find it an interesting thing that we forgive stuff in alternate reality stuff we probably wouldn’t in straight contemporary

but that’s a whole different subject and blog post

J:  Well, with Hunter’s Irin world, it was much like the vampire world in that I really felt like an Irin or Irina could be next to me

or *gasp* what if I’m part Irina?

she made the characters real in spite of their fantastic nature

and she revealed things in such a logical way that I never felt she was withholding information for drama’s sake (which is also probably another blog)

and so much of her world consisted of real places here – foreign to me, but still real

and so vivid in their descriptions that I felt I’d seen them before

M:  I think that’s such a huge thing, making the reader have that feeling of “maybe I could be one, too”

that ordinary person having hidden “special”

tapping into that inner fantasy

J:  she really does that so well

M:  I’ve read a couple that I was all fangirl over the worldbuilding lately

J:  do tell

M:  one was Ilona Andrews’s new Hidden Legacy series – the first. Called Burn for Me

Have to admit I’ve never read anything by her (them? It’s a hubs and wife team), but I shall remedy. Heard a lot of good things about her Kate Daniels UF stuff

but the Hidden Legacy series is about magicians, like wizards. Which is my fantasy superpower, so that was all win

and she did it so well, when sometimes it can be so eye-rolly

did a great job explaining not only how people came to have the powers (although I do admit I’d like to know more) and also building a whole social structure and hierarchy based on magic ability

and the hero. siiigh. one of my fave kind

J:  you do love the alpha heroes

M:  enigmatic, clever, arrogant, super powerful, and watching how the female MC makes him more “human”

I really liked

she’s all “you can’t do that” and he’s “um, well, I just did, soooo…”

a lot of fun, and not super romancey, more tension and character and worldbuilding

but the tension between the two is so well done, I didn’t need the straight-out sexytimes

and that’s delicious in itself

and she’s a great heroine – smart, capable, not stupid

J:  oooh, I actually prefer the tension and chemistry to straight-up romance, too

not so much the back and forth type, but the type where it builds naturally

and everything the hero says makes me just swoon

because I know that’s what the heroine has to feel

M:  well, he’s not blatant swoon – he’s privileged, arrogant, powerful

which sounds ick, but flaws so skillfully done you can see the heart in him

so when he does caring or swoony things, much more impact

and he holds all the power, literally in his magic and money and social status, etc., but she has more important things to teach him, like being decent and human and family and true caring

a lot of character development for both, which is so fun to see

it’s just total win in my opinion

J:  I’m on board.

M:  and dammit, I want to be a wizard

J:  hahahaha

I felt like that after Harry Potter (okay. I still feel that way sometimes)

M:  another one that I found really interesting was The Others series by Anne Bishop. The first book is Written in Red, the second Murder of Crows, and I’m about to start the third, Vision in Silver

and I could see why I totally got into the Ilona Andrews series, because, you know, wizards

but the Bishop series is about shifters. I’m not usually a shifter fan much at all, but these are good

great mystery and tension, and the word and rules she’s built are so different

J:  how did you end up reading it if you’re not a fan of the theme?

M:  I’d read a couple of reviews and rec’s on blogs, so I figured I’d give it a shot

and the whole world and social hierarchy between humans and the Others – so unique

the shifters are the top of the food chain and just suffer humans existing in their world

and it’s not just animal shifters, but elements and seasons and stuff

and more about the slowly building tension and relationship between the two MCs in this one, too

a lot of action and mystery and intrigue, great character development

but the worldbuilding – so good and thorough

J:  yeah, I really can forgive just about anything when it happens in a really great fictional world

M:  she did such a good job with not just the world but the different characters and interactions

a really vulnerable female MC that needs protection for damn good reasons that slowly unfold, a strong alpha male MC who finds himself all messed up with what’s happening but tries to do the right things

a true alpha in my opinion

and all the amazing imagination of animal and element shifters, how they’re shown and personified

it’s a winner

I like urban fantasy, but I also need that romantic element – just adds so much. and when the slowly building tension is done well, and the developing close caring just goes on and deeper, I’m all in

J:  well, you sold me

I’m gonna start with the wizards first, though. I’ve had a craving since Harry Potter

grown-up wizards are just too hard to pass up

M:  yeah, I really enjoyed that one

I liked the writing style better

not that I wasn’t hooked with Bishop’s series or anything, just sometimes I had to push a little, you know?

Where I just ate the Andrews one up

plus, snarky, arrogant adult wizard. Yeehaw

J:  I need a bookstore therapy session

Amazon will probably have to do

M:  I need therapy for my Amazon one-click addiction. Speaking of which…

brb

photo credit: hammer cuddle via photopin (license)

J to tha M: What We’re Reading

amokN to tha A

M:  I’ve actually read some good NA books lately I think you’d like

J:  Oh yeah? No dark seekrits?

M:  Heh, no. All were on sale, too

The first one is The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen – 99 cents

J:  oh yeah!

I read her novella

I like her

M:  Fell Down was good

very solid. I enjoyed

J:  it’s hockey, right?

M:  kind of

J:  her novella was sports, too. Blonde Date.

M:  both MCs play/played hockey

J:  yeah. injury for the girl

looked a little close to home for me

M:  The hockey was more background (and – sigh – not super realistic, but eh)

J:  I’ll definitely read it. Not sure why I didn’t just snap it up after I read the novella because I really liked how she handled the alpha/beta hero in Blonde Date

I’ll start it tonight

M:  I remember you telling me you liked Blonde Date

J:  yeah. thought the hero was really cute in that one

M:  I liked Adam in Fell Down, too

although he does have a girlfriend through a lot of the book – a mostly absent one, but still

but the author made it work

and the hockey stuff…

he broke his leg and can’t play until it heals, but it’s like he just gets a free pass vacation from hockey

An upperclassman on the team, who has been playing for the past couple years? Trust me. He would not get a free pass vacation from hockey

He’d still have to train (as much as he could), have curfew, still have all the rules and schedule of the team

They’d find something for him to do. He’d WANT something to do

but instead, they put in in the “accessible” dorm and it’s like he’s a regular student

no mention of a scholarship or how it affects one, even though his family has no money and the school is super-exclusive

but, one of those things probably no one else would notice and it was only a minor irritation

the rest was totally worth the read

J: I read a cute one, too

The Bowler University series one. Make it Count by Megan Erickson

Dealt with issues. A little like my Side Effects and the to-be-finished-someday sequel, Soundtrack

Yeah, it was cute. The girl has always gotten by on her looks, but she really hates that people assume she’s stupid

She goes to tutoring and finds out her boyfriend’s BFF is the tutor

of course, she doesn’t think she’s good enough because he’s crazy smart

and I just really loved Alec

there wasn’t cheating–not from the main characters, anyway, except for the emotional kind

I guess that’s just as bad in some ways

but it was done in a way that you rooted for them instead of being upset by it

you=all readers (or at least me)

M:  oh, that does sounds cute

J:  it is pretty cute

I’ll get the second one, for sure

M:  how does the author handle the boyfriend? I can totally deal that kind of thing if it’s handled well

J:  the BF was obviously distracted and upset by something way outside their relationship

by the time Alec comes in, she’s feeling very neglected and alone

and when her BF is around, she just feels used

there’s a good reason Max (the BF) and Alec are friends, even if they aren’t much alike

and there’s a good reason the BF is getting distant

by the time things explode between the main characters, she’s broken up with Max

realizes she deserves better, even if it is Max’s best friend

M:  sounds nicely done

J:  it really was

there were a few will-she/won’t-she times where I wanted to punch her, but then, it’s understandable that she’s dealing with a learning disability, finally feeling like she’s worth something after all this time

and also the breakup and the emotional beating she takes when she gives in to her ex’s BFF

but Alec

he’s a doll

M:  ooh, that sounds interesting

J:  total alpha/beta

more beta. just alpha when he needs to be

M:  that’s always interesting, too

esp when it’s done well

J:  plus the next one tells Max’s story

and I’m excited to see how she redeems him

the general consensus is that she redeems him very well

M:  I really like those kind of stories

Hard to find good redemption tales, but there’s just something about them I really like

turning a character around

J:  I think it just recently released

so I’ll probably get it after reading the one you just rec’d

M:  The Year We Fell Down was kinda similar – the hero already has a girlfriend

that trope sometimes makes me frustrated–either it’s more on the cheating side or the BF/GF is a total douche, which I think is often a lazy or easy out

and the GF in this is pretty much a rich bitch cliche, but there’s an interesting reason he’s with her in the first place

which was good, because usually it’s not presented well

Makes me sit there and wonder if the MC is so smart and cool and wonderful, why is he/she with a douche?

If there’s a good reason, I roll right along. Otherwise, it’s teeth-gritting time

J:  yeah. like, it’s easy to hate the BF in this one, until the whole story is revealed

and then you hate him even more for just a few minutes

and for good reason

but then you also forgive

for good reason

M:  now you’ve got me really interested. I shall read

J:  It’s only $1.99

M:  it will go on my list when I’m in the mood for a good NA. I can only read those by rec anymore, as you know

some make me so ragey, but the good ones are worth it

J:  this is not the typical NA

well, it is in some ways

but not in those dark seekrits, party-all-the-time, where-are-the-parents kind of way

I don’t understand why so many authors think the moment a character turns 18 the parents can just disappear

or even high school story authors

M:  Well, kind of like the other NA I’m reading now–the prequel (Elemental) and first book in the Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer

The first one – Storm – is free right now. I’m only about 2/3 of the way through, but so far it’s pretty good

solid characters, editing very good, sucked me right in, decent suspense and mystery

it’s free – you should get it

J:  just got it

M:  The parents are conveniently absent, though

J:  sure, some parents are absent, but those aren’t the only kids who have great stories

and dude. if there’s ever a chance for humor or mortification in a high school/NA story, it’s when parents are involved.

use them.

M:  haha – that’s a really good point

It’s like wanting to make the HS kids act like adults but in a teenage setting almost

so – buh-bye parents

and the kids can run amok like 20-somethings instead of HS students

J:  right. never happens

Also, the parents aren’t absent in Make It Count

I think perhaps the authors who leave the parents out must not have had a great relationship with their mom or dad

My parents were just as fun as some of my friends

and they found me hilarious most of the time, in all my seriousness

M:  I don’t think it’s that so much. More the convenience of not having the parents around so there can be amok-running for the main characters

I still managed to have some fun amoking in HS, and trust me, my parents were around

But it is harder for an author to figure out a way around a boy sneaking in to stay the night or go to crazy parties if parents are in the picture. Not impossible, but takes some work

I guess it’s easier just to kill parents off or have them work overnight shifts

Not to say it never happens in real life, but I doubt as much as it tends to be portrayed in books

J:  oh, I had some amok-running, too. It’s actually a part of being a teen, to get around the parents. and I think it should be a part of any story

M:  not sure why it isn’t

J:  even if the parents are absent a lot, they should still have some kind of influence

M:  and like you said, it’s a great point for adding conflict and tension

Actually, running amok sounds pretty good right now. Hmm. brb

 

J to tha M Review: Ever After (Transplanted Tales #4) by Kate SeRine

 

 

Ever After blog tour

J:  hey!

So, did you love Ever After?

M:  I don’t think Kate could write anything I don’t like

I think I’m still starry-eyed over Grimm Consequences, though, and have a so-in-love-with-that-story hangover. I really liked Ever After, but it just didn’t grab hold of me like Grimm did.

I felt a lot more of being told what Gideon felt than experiencing the emotions with him

J:  well, I think I was resigned to love Nate most of all from the beginning

M:  yes, but even loving Nate, I really got into Nicky and Seth’s stories, still got that connection. I just didn’t feel the same intensity with this as with the others

I had no idea why Gideon loved Arabella as much as he did

J:  well, that is a difference I noticed with this one

but the problem, I think, is that with Nicky and Seth, we watched the beginning

with Gideon, he was already in love when the story began

so we didn’t get to experience the falling

even with Red, where Nate already loved her, we got her first feelings

M:  yes, but maybe that could have been made up with experiencing Gideon’s anguish of seeing her again? He told us how he felt, he told us he loved her, but I never felt his emotion, and Arabella never showed us why he loved her, you know? Not like the characters did in the other tales

Arabella never showed anything really loveable, or her pain in leaving him, staying away

I wanted all that heart-tugging struggle of impossible decisions. The set up was perfect for it, but…

J:  I still loved every second. I suppose I did write all that off as entering their love story in the middle

M:  Oh, I really did enjoy, too – so, so worth the read. One of my all-time favorite series.

But Kate did such a great job in Grimm to show the struggle, the anguish, the impossible situations and choices, and this is another great set up and storyline to do that

and it just didn’t grab me by the throat like Grimm, for sure. Man, I loved that story

J:  also, I’m pretty sure I was totally dazzled by the Arthurian legend

you know how I love me some King Arthur

M:  Heh. Yes

that was a great twist – classic Kate and the world she’s created

J:  there was so much there, so much fun, and action, and twisty-ness. So, what would you rate it? I think I went four stars for this one.

M:  Absolutely. Strong 4 stars. Her Transplanted Tales world is just as fun and compelling as the first time I got sucked in. I can’t wait for her new project. So excited to see what she can do with a romantic suspense.

J: Yeah, what’s the story with that?

M:  She’s got two new series coming in 2015, the Templar Legacy series and Protect and Serve. I love me some good romantic suspense. I love Kate’s writing. Something definitely to look forward to

J: Sounds perfect for settling in to read for hours with ice cream. Or coffee. Or beer…

M: Ooh, or an appletini! Mmmm. brb…

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Kate is offering a $50 gift card to Amazon, B&N, or BAM (winner’s choice), a signed paperback copy of Ever After, Transplanted tales swag, and 2 winners will receive an ebook copy of the transplanted tales book of their choice!

About the Author

Kate SerineKate SeRine (pronounced “serene”) is a hopeless romantic who firmly believes in true love that lasts forever. So it’s no surprise that when she began writing her own stories, Kate vowed her characters would always have a happily ever after. She’s the author of the award-winning TRANSPLANTED TALES series and will be releasing the TEMPLAR LEGACY series with Kensington and the PROTECT AND SERVE series with Sourcebooks in 2015/2016.

Kate is a member of Romance Writers of America and of Indiana RWA and has been a finalist in the Fire and Ice Contest (2010), the Finally a Bride Contest (2010), and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence (2013), and is the recipient of The Emily (2012) and the National Readers Choice Award (2012). She is represented by Nicole Resciniti with the Seymour Agency.

Kate lives in a smallish, quintessentially Midwestern town with her husband and two sons, who share her love of storytelling. She never tires of creating new worlds to share and is even now working on her next project.

Follow Kate on: Twitter    Facebook    Goodreads

Purchase EVER AFTER on Amazon   B&N   Kobo   iTunes

 

 

J to tha M: What We’re Reading

GRIMM CONSEQUENCES by Kate SeRine

medium_7516365696J: So

Nate

*sigh*

M:  I really loved this book. I think it’s the strongest of the series so far

Kate really tapped into Nate’s emotions, made me feel and wonder and worry and despair right along with him

I loooove when a story can do that

and a character

J:  I agree that it’s the strongest as far as emotional connection. I wonder if that’s because I was already in love with him from Red, at least a little bit

M:  part of it, probably.

I think it’s how well she hit the sacrifices both Red and Nate made, the selfless choices and decisions because of how much they love each other

J:  Never have I ever read a man who loved a woman so much without seeming corny or overdone

M:  exactly!

so selfless

J:  His devotion was so true

so real

that I never once thought “gross.”

M:  true to his character and a true alpha hero

the kind that doesn’t have to be a dick or pound his chest

he just is and knows it and does hero-y things

J:  well, he’s the embodiment of show, don’t tell, too

he’s not really the flowery-word type

but we never doubt how sincerely he loves her

M: he shows us through his actions

J: learning how far he’s come, too

that was a bit of a risk that really paid off for her

M:  yeah, keeping him mysterious would seem the safer bet

but, oh.

I liked him a lot before. Now I love. I have serious excitement when a character (and writer) can draw me in like that

J:  I had this profound thought that has now left me…

oh! how he’s more human now than he was when he was as an actual human

M:  yes!

J:  that kind of development isn’t easy to make real

to convince readers it actually does happen

after all, power usually corrupts

and he’s pretty damn powerful

and instead, he bettered himself

M:  We can get all technical and talk about character growth, the mechanics of how she showed that, etc. etc. blah blah

but there’s nothing like just being a reader and getting sucked in, hit with all the feels

but yeah

how he grew. how he loved. how he changed

J:  takes some kind of skill to make the reader believe this, you know?

M:  oh, yes, that’s what I’m saying

and to make it look effortless–that’s a serious talent.

J:  I love her. Kate, I mean

and him

M:  yes. this is such a good fun read of a series

J:  and holy if I’m not squirming waiting for Gideon

she’s made him ridiculously sexy with just a few mentions

I’m not sure I could handle a whole book about him

but I’m damn sure gonna try

M:  and holy jumpin around, that cover

you know of my deep and abiding love of good shoulders on a man

J:  I do

M:  yow

J:  Well, I have a deep and abiding love for men in leather pants

M:  and swords

J:  I don’t actually, but that cover makes me reconsider

M:  mmm. hits my happy places

J:  swords? really?

M:  haha – the cover does. shoulders and back and leather pants and sword

I can’t wait. August. sigh.

but the good news is, I pre-ordered, so it will magically appear on my Kindle.

J:  ooh, we should do that space sleep thing

where we go to sleep and wake up the day it comes out

M:  um

J:  nothing could go wrong there

M:  or, we could have a magic hurry up button and just make it come out now

waiting does not hit my happy button

J:  or develop psychic abilities and read it straight from her mind

M:  or beg her to just send it to us, but that might be a little too creepy, even for us

and she’s so super awesome

J:  well, I have my fingers crossed she reads this and hears our pleas

M:  no need to clue her in to the depths of our depravity

J:  I have zero cool

if I met her, I’d damn sure make a fool of myself

I have a history of that, anyway

M:  I’d just want to sit at her feet and have her tell me stories

J:  should we stop being creepy?

M:  heh. why stop now?

I’ve never been one for lists, like my top five favorite heroes

I’ve been hovering around 3 or 4 if pressed to name

but Nate made it into that mention, for sure

J:  I’m not sure who mine would be either…

I think I change my mind too easily

but he’s definitely there

today, anyway

M:  I have a few that make me swoon just remembering their stories

and Nate is swoony

and even though we were lucky enough to read an arc through Netgalley, I pre-ordered Grimm Consequences, too

although I might have to order a paper copy of Gideon’s story, just to have that cover

but Nate’s story is out in April, right?

J:  Yeah. She had to push it back a bit

I will order a print copy of them to complete my set

M:  oh yeah. and Nate’s story, more novella length

which was perfect. so much packed in

J:  oh! that’s what was so impressive about it

I mean, we knew the characters through Red

so that was helpful

but she still managed to make them MORE in such a short number of words

M:  I don’t think you necessarily have to read Red first, but it really helps understand and love the characters

and, I mean, why wouldn’t you?

J:  that’s exactly what I said

why deny yourself the joy?

M:  Let’s do a giveaway when Ever After comes out in August

J:  yes

M:  All the others in the series

J:  we should go for broke

ask her to sign hard copies of all of them

and then run away with them

I mean

and then watch people line up for them

M:  Hate waiting. Appletinis will help. brb

Grimm Consequences. Transplanted Tales #1.5

Have you read The Transplanted Tales series? Let us know if you have or not, and tell us what you think!

J to tha M Review: What M’s Been Reading

Our scheduled review and reviewer couldn’t make it today, so you get me again.

M Talks Kristen Ashley. And I Like

own-the-wind-2-3_4So, yeah, I’m may be late to the Kristen Ashley club, but boy, I have arrived. I’d heard her name and good things about her stories but never picked one up. Most of what I’d heard rumblings about was her Motorcycle Man books, and to be honest, that only slightly intrigued me. For no particular reason, really, other than I’ve simply never read any motorcycle club books or even watched Sons of Anarchy (although I have listened and grinned at J spouting all things Charlie Hunnan). But then, Ashley’s new Chaos series novel, Own the Wind, went on sale, and I do love a sale on a reputed good book, so I went and checked it out.

You all know how I love a well-written bad boy alpha hero with a heart of gold. Yep, sold. And swoon.

And, oh, Shy was. Swoony and alpha bad boy in all the good ways and a big old heart who loved his woman, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Yep, I got the starry eyes over him. And Tab was a great strong heroine who stayed true to herself while working to accept growing up and everything Shy was without wanting to change him. I love that, too.

Ashley has a unique writing style that took a little getting used to, but I fell right into the characters and story. The change in POV, and going from first to third in those changes, did throw me a little, but she didn’t use that often and while the technique did pull me out a bit, nothing that really bothered me. Also the time skipping ahead, the chapter and section breaks starting with “Three months later…” “Six Weeks later…” Wish that could have been smoother, but overall, very minor pulls out of the story and the story and characters were well worth the read.

I enjoyed the way Ashley handled the character growth while keeping true to their personalities and who they were at the core. A refreshing change from many romance plots, where often the alpha hero tuns into a whipped pile of whatev to prove he loves the heroine, or she becomes a doormat because he’s so hot. Both Shy and Tab did things they came to realize were mistakes, accepted their own failings as well as the others’, dealt with them, and moved on. Ashley is able to show you both sides of a situation, put you right in a character’s head and make you feel  their thoughts and actions are the right ones, then make you see the errors of their ways right along with that character, see both sides, balance and deal with them, and then move forward right along with the hero and heroine.

I also really liked the way she handled the “outing” of Tab and Shy’s relationship. They tried to keep their burgeoning feelings quiet to settle in and be comfortable themselves first, but when they are inevitably found out, instead of groveling for everyone’s forgiveness, Ashley had them handle it head on, stand up for themselves, point out how it’s no one’s business who they sleep with, they have no obligation to tell everyone who they’re sleeping with, and it’s no one’s place to make judgements about what they choose to make common knowledge about who they’re sleeping with. Bravo! So refreshing and yay! And even better, Ashley addresses both sides, showing how their friends and family could still be upset- and make that sound reasonable, too – that they felt they should hide their relationship for any other reason that those Tab gets into their shit about. I was cheering the whole way through that scene. I love getting pulled in and taking a side of one character, only to have the author skillfully show the other side, and have you cheer for them, too, and then take in the entirety of the whole situation. I wish we all had that ability in real life, and I don’t just mean writing about it.

So, yeah. I loved Own the Wind and will definitely by the next in the series, Fire Inside, and then go buy the precursor, the Dream Man series.

6538757What I did buy after finishing was another Kristen Ashley book that was on sale, Rock Chick. I liked this one, too. Reminded me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, but better, and Linda Howard’s To Die For. Light, silly, sexy, and fun. Ashley gives great bad boy alpha heroes. I’ll definitely continue on with this series. Each features different characters but includes old favorites, and they sound just as sexy-heroed and fun as the first.

And then. Looking through more of Ashley’s back list, what do I see? A series of anti-heroes? Be still my heart. I mean, I love a well-written bad boy alpha hero, but a bad boy alpha anti-hero? My excitement and joy knew no bounds. So, I bought Knight, and oh yeah. Very nicely done. Sexy and uncomfortable and wow and amazing and holy shit all in one. Not for the faint of heart, but if that’s your kink like it is mine, you’re in for a ride. I’m still a hot mess and conflicted and loving it all at once.

41S8guclCULAshley shows great versatility in her ability to go from a tough guy motorcycle club, a light hearted comedic romp, and a darkish erotica, although her heroes have a strong common thread of that bad boy dangerous alpha. Her unique writing style quirks and dialog style remain a little too similar throughout the 3 1/2 books I’ve read so far despite the vastly different sub-genres. That hasn’t really bothered me too much yet as it is different, fun, and sexy, but we’ll see as I read more into her backlist.

With more than twenty books in her backlist, I think you’ll find one that intrigues and I definitely recommend giving her books a shot if you haven’t already. If you have, give J and I your thoughts on what you’ve read and what you’d recommend a latecomer to the Kristen Ashely fanclub.

About the Author:

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen’s Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning.

Nothing’s changed.

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she’s blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing, it keeps getting better.

J to tha M Review: The Transplanted Tales Series

Rounding Out our Kate SeRine Week Celebration

J and I were going to do a chat review of Kate’s Transplanted Tales series, but our best laid plans did not come to fruition for a couple of reasons. I’ve been lunatic busy and distracted this week, and J abandoned me for the Bobby Long concert in Atlanta this weekend, which, in all honestly is one of the only acceptable excuses for skipping out on your partner in crime, damn her. Second, we realized we’ve already posted all the things we adore about the Transplanted Tales and are bordering on being gushy, which gets close to that fluffcoud line. Since I’m left alone in the wheelhouse this weekend…well, you all know who floats the cotton candy boat around here (hint – it ain’t me). In that light, I made the executive decision to give you all the rundown on the novels that have captured our fangirl love and trust that you’ve picked up enough in the J to tha M chats here and here this past week to get that we’d definitely give the books in the series 5 monkeys right down the line.

I first heard about RED on a blog somewhere when the story first came out and was intrigued enough to put it on my want to read list. A few months later, a note from Kate’s critique partner, Cecy Robson, came across my local Greater Seattle RWA chapter loop that RED was free for the day. I mention this just to show that those free days really can work 😉 I immediately downloaded, and when scrolling through my Kindle carousel for what to read next, saw the fun cover and opened the book.

What do you get when you cross an egomaniacal fairy godmother, an arrogant genie, and a couple of wandering plagiarists whose idea of cultural preservation is stealing the stories of unsuspecting villagers and passing them off as their own?

If I were tossing back a few shots of Goose with the guys at Ever Afters, I might chuckle at such an intriguing setup for what has all the promise of a hilarious punch line–except the punch line of this little beauty isn’t funny at all. ‘Cause what you get, my friend, is a pissing contest of epic proportions.

After I read those first lines from RED, I knew we were going to be friends. Me and the book that is, and I wasn’t disappointed. Haven’t been, as a matter of fact, even three books later. Most of you know how much I enjoy clever twisties in the stories I read, and the Transplanted tales have that in abundance. I could go on and on how Kate has woven the classic fairytales and literary characters together in a way that makes you not only totally buy into her version, but wish there really were Tales from the land of Make Believe living in the Here and Now. If you enjoy a clever weaving of familiar stories and characters turned on their, um, tales, and incorporated into an original and extremely fun new world, give Kate SeRine’s Transplanted tales series a try. Then come back and tell us what you think!

Thanks – M

Transplanted Tales by Kate SeRine

About the Books:

Red by Kate SeRine

RED

“My name is Tess Little. But everyone calls me Red.”

Once upon a time, a spell went awry, stranding Make Believe characters in the ordinary world. Since then, Tess “Red” Little—a/k/a Little Red Riding Hood—has worked as an Enforcer for the Chicago branch of the Fairytale Management Authority. But, consider yourself warned—she’s not just some waif with a basket of goodies. All grown up and with nothing to lose, a gun and combat boots is more her style. And Red’s new assignment threatens to be short on happily ever afters…

Someone is murdering transplanted Tales in gruesome fashion. The list of fictional characters capable of such grisly acts is short and includes more than one of Red’s old flames. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s another complication, in the form of sexy, enigmatic Nate Grimm, the FMA’s lead detective and part-time Reaper. Used to following her own rules and living life on the edge, Red has managed to avoid taking on a partner until now. But Nate’s dark side makes him perfect for a case like this. That is, if she can trust him. Because if there’s one thing Red knows for sure, it’s that believing in the wrong person can have big, bad consequences…

The Better To See You by Kate SeRine

The Better to See You

Once upon a time, a spell went awry and Make Believe characters were cast into the ordinary world. And the results aren’t always happily ever after…

Everyone thinks fairy godmothers can do no wrong. But if not for a certain spell mis-cast by Lavender Seelie, Cinderella’s former fairy godmother, the Tales would not be stuck in the Here and Now. Fortunately for Lavender, she’s about to get a second chance at a happy ending…

The Refuge, a sanctuary for wayward Tales, seems like the perfect place for Lavender to start a new life—especially when she discovers an unexpected ally in Seth, the brooding werewolf who’s been typecast as a villain ever since his run in with Little Red Riding Hood. But when humans from nearby towns start turning up dead, their bodies mutilated with archaic Tale symbols, Lavender wonders if Seth’s deep sensuality has blinded her to the truth. And that distraction could put innocent lives in danger. Including her own…

Along Came a Spider by Kate SeRine

Along Came a Spider

Along came a spider…

When Trish Muffet is attacked at a grisly crime scene, the last person she expects to come to her rescue is Nicky “Little Boy” Blue. But since walking away from everything two years before, Nicky’s been doling out vigilante justice as “The Spider,” taking on the vicious predators of the night in hopes it’ll lead him to his ultimate target – Vlad Dracula. And he needs Trish’s help.

Although Nicky’s renegade style goes against everything Trish stands for, she’ll do what she must to bring Dracula down. With danger stalking her, Trish knows the only person she can count on is the one man who has the power to leave her breathless. There’s no way she’s letting this spider frighten her away…

About the Author:

Kate SeRine (pronounced “serene”) faithfully watched weekend monster movie marathons while growing up, each week hoping that maybe this time the creature du jour would get the girl. But every week she was disappointed. So when she began writing her own stories, Kate vowed that her characters would always have a happily ever after. And, thus, her love for paranormal romance was born.

Kate is a member of Romance Writers of America and of Indiana RWA and has been a finalist in the Fire and Ice Contest (2010), the Finally a Bride Contest (2010), and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence (2013), and is the recipient of The Emily (2012) and the National Readers Choice Award (2013). She is represented by Nicole Resciniti with the Seymour Agency.

Kate lives in a smallish, quintessentially Midwestern town with her husband and two sons, who share her love of storytelling. She never tires of creating new worlds to share and is even now working on her next project.

Find Kate on her website, blog, Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for great Transplanted Tales prizes and swag from Kate!

J to tha M: What We’re Reading

Too Much (or Not Enough) of a Good Thing?

medium_5795161232J:  I’m trying to think of the stuff I’ve read lately

My nerd kick led me to Nerd in Shining Armor

ehhhhh

and Love Kinection

better than ehhhh but still not everything I ever dreamed of

I should actually say Shining Armor was cute

but not what I expected

and the author of Love Kinection took too much pride in the nerdiness, but the story was pretty cute

M:  Oh yeah? I like the titles

J:  It was just a big dump of the geekiest things the author could think of

like she polled people for ideas and then threw them all in there

pop culture references galore

you know how I feel about those

besides dating a book…

I mean, there was Buffy, Star Wars, Star Trek,

stuff I’ve never heard of, comic books, nintendo, nerdy references that only nerds get, joss whedon, conventions. it never ended

that was Love Kinection

cute story. cute hero

too much nerd

M:  it’s a fine balance, like the alpha bad boy/alphahole. Too much is sometimes…too much.

J:  yeah. I would have loved the story otherwise

and the Nerd in Shining Armor was like “what else can we get these guys into?”

psychic brother, psychotic boss, heroine from the hills of Tennessee (little offensive there, too, though I know there are people like that here), color blind hero, set in Hawaii, plane crash, overprotective mother

the hero was adorable, just as I’d hoped

and adoring, like the shy guys are

but I sighed a lot

M:  I finished the Alpha Bad Boys 7 book pack – 99 cents when I bought

I liked the Olivia Cunning stories, I’d read her again

and Shayla Black’s story was good. Worth buying for those three stories alone

Started out good with those, but the rest I pretty much skimmed through

like, major skim

J:  assholes instead of alphas?

M:  snoozeholes

J:  hahahahaha

M:  the stories from the third one on did not hold my interest

not so much alpha or enticing

I mean, I was expecting some serious, bordering-on-alphahole heroes, and none of them really were

I was a bit disappointed. Maybe my idea of alpha bad boys differs, though, so…

J:  I can’t handle alphaholes

M:  I like a certain amount of arrogant alpha

as long as they have a good heart

these weren’t heroes I’d pull together specifically for a collection of that title, but that’s me

and there is a difference between an alpha bad boy and an alphahole

so there’s that

but these were just…romance heroes

and not that they weren’t good heroes, but just not what I get excited about when I think of alpha bad boys

J:  I feel like I’ve read more than just the geek ones lately…hmmm

M:  I read a couple of Entangled Brazen that were/are on sale to celebrate their birthday

all were pretty good

Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson – football player hero marriage for convenience/bolster his reputation. I’ve read a few by her lately and they’ve all been pretty good

Officer Off Limits by Tessa Bailey – hostage negotiator hero who falls for his boss’s daughter, forbidden romance angle. I’d read more of her stuff

I started One Night with a Hero by Laura Kaye, military hero one night stand turns into next door neighbor and related complications

only a little ways in, but so far so good. I’ve read a few of hers before, too, and they’re all  solid good-old sexy romance.

J:  Ooh, an Entangled one comes out today about a geek

must go buy

M:  read a couple m/m that were free and pleasant surprises

Reaching the Edge by LM Somerton. On sale for 80 cents

and Yes, Sir – a free short erotic novella that was pretty steamy and decent. I’d read more from both of them.

I read a couple of Skye Warren books, too

they were solid, but very different subject material. dubious consent, non-consent, that very dark side of erotica. Definitely not for everybody.

J:  holy crap. when do you read?

has it been that long since we chatted about books?

M:  I’ve read a ton. the past couple of weeks have been hella stressful and distracting

so I read if I can’t write

the one click ordering is so dangerous

J:  I agree with that. I ration myself

hahaha

not myself. my books. my money

or I’d never do anything

M:  I tried, but fell into the purposeful delusion of “oh, it’s on sale. That doesn’t count.”

and wheee

I can find lots of good books on sale

but I do have a new house and lots of fun remodeling to pay for soon, so…

budgeting sucks

but then, “it’s only 99 cents. What’s 99 cents?”

times fifty

J:  it’s a lot if you buy one a day

exactly

M:  I figure I’m doing good with one a day

I mean, I don’t buy coffees or anything. No Starbucks on the island.

right? heh

J:  that’s how I justify my pedicures

lol

I don’t buy handbags or shoes, so….

M:  yeah, those aren’t my crack

Buying books? Oh, yeah.

Speaking of which…

brb

photo credit: Domiriel via photopin cc