Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Friday Fail - Fiction Friday on a Tuesday

Damn, I appear to have gone into stealth mode and have failed to post anything to my blog for the last two weeks. I blame the Easter holidays, final (hopefully) edits on my WIP ‘New Lease of Life’ while I ready it for submission, and beta work with a tight deadline *side-eyes KH*.

That means I’ve missed two weeks of Fiction Friday. So let’s get the ball roll with that. Yes, I know it’s Tuesday.

My favourite read of the last two weeks, and much anticipated by me from the moment it was announced, was JL Merrow’s Heat Trap. Heat Trap is book three in the Plumber’s Mate series and I’m hoping it won’t be the last.

The wrong secret could flush their love down the drain.

It’s been six months since plumber Tom Paretski was hit with a shocking revelation about his family. His lover, P.I. Phil Morrison, is pushing this as an ideal opportunity for Tom to try to develop his psychic talent for finding things. Tom would prefer to avoid the subject altogether, but just as he decides to bite the bullet, worse problems come crawling out of the woodwork.

Marianne, a young barmaid at the Devil’s Dyke pub, has an ex who won’t accept things are over between them. Grant Carey is ruthless in dealing with anyone who gets between him and Marianne, including an old friend of Tom and Phil. Their eagerness to step in and help only makes them targets of Grant’s wrath themselves.

With Tom’s uncertainty about Phil’s motives, Tom’s family doing their best to drive a wedge between them, and the revelation of an ugly incident in Phil’s past, suddenly Tom’s not sure whom he can trust.

The body in the Dyke’s cellar isn’t the only thing that stinks.

Warning: Contains British slang, a very un-British heat wave, and a plumber with a psychic gift who may not be as British as he thinks he is.

I love Tom and Phil as a couple, but I have found that I want to spend a lot of my time smacking some sense into Tom, and this book was no exception. In fact, I might have wanted to slap him more in this one than in both of the other two books put together. And add in some of his friends and family for the slapfest, too.

I thought the investigation was weaker this time around and I couldn't quite put my finger on how I was supposed to feel about Carey and what he had, or hadn't, done, before or during the story. I was disappointed that Phil and Tom didn't work together as much in this one and I guessed the 'secret' Phil was hiding in the cupboard from the off (I'm hoping this means we're getting another book). 

Does that mean I'm taking off stars? No. Who am I kidding? I loved it. As always, the writing was sharp and funny. And despite my propensity for sticking one on Tom, I do think their relationship feels real.

I have only one real complaint about this book (and the series as a whole): I want to be able to get these books in audio and, as far as I can tell, Samhain don't do them.

Heat trap - 5 stars with an overall series rating of 5 stars.

Honourable mentions go to:

Boats in the Night by Jo Myles. Why this book had been languishing unread on my Kindle for 3 years is anybody’s guess. I love Jo Myles' quirky characters and is Smutty is just another in a long line :)

For a Rainy Afternoon by R J Scott. Which I actually read on a bright unseasonable warm spring day, not a rainy afternoon, and was perfectly suited to both my mood and the weather.

The Inventor’s Companion by Ariel Tachna. Another book that had been hanging around on my Kindle for 3 years. Possibly because at 350 pages it is a long book by romance standards. It’s a steampunk story with excellent but unobtrusive world building and a cast of supporting characters who are likeable and well rounded. The book took me nearly a week to read because I kept waiting for ‘something bad’ to happen. The anticipation gave my reading an edge that meant I struggled to read more than a couple of chapters at a time. However, Luc and Gabe are a great couple and I was rooting for them from the very beginning. 

Have you enjoyed any particular reads in the last couple of weeks? Or do have any strong opinions on the books I singled out here?

Friday, 3 April 2015

Fiction Friday - All She Wrote

My read of the week was actually an audiobook and a re-read.

All SheWrote (audiobook) by Josh Lanyon

Giving screwball mystery a whole deadly new meaning.

A murderous fall down icy stairs is nearly the death of Anna Hitchcock, the much-beloved American Agatha Christie and Christopher Holmes s former mentor. Anna s plea for him to host her annual winter writing retreat touches all Kit s sore spots traveling, teaching writing classes, and separation from his new lover, J.X. Moriarity.

For J.X., Kit s cancellation of yet another romantic weekend is the death knell of a relationship that has been limping along for months. But that s just as well, right? Kit isn t ready for anything serious and besides, Kit owes Anna far too much to refuse.

Faster than you can say Miss Marple wears boxer shorts, Kit is snooping around Anna s elegant, snowbound mansion in the Berkshires for clues as to who s trying to kill her. A tough task with six amateur sleuths underfoot. Six budding writers with a tangled web of dark undercurrents running among them.

Slowly, Kit gets the uneasy feeling that the secret may lie between the pages of someone s fictional past. Unfortunately, a clever killer is one step ahead. And it may be too late for J.X. to ride to the rescue.
Warning: Contains one irascible, forty-year-old mystery writer who desperately needs to get laid, one exasperated thirty-something ex-cop only too happy to oblige, an isolated country manor that needs the thermostat cranked up, various assorted aspiring and perspiring authors, and a merciless killer who may have read one too many mystery novels.

Having listened to Somebody Killed his Editor last week how could I not follow that up with All She Wrote. Once again narrated by the fantastic Kevin R Free I have to confess I luxuriated in this book, stretching it out over the entire week on my journey to and from work.

Having read the ebook I knew who the murderer was so I was in no mad rush to get to the end to salve my curiosity. And with that in mind I could focus on the budding relationship between Kit and JX. The way the narration breathed an extra layer of life into Josh Lanyon’s already superb prose. Kit’s self-deprecation and neurosis. (How I wish I had known Kit before David and Dickie. FYI, Josh, I would love to read about that weekend so long ago.) JX’s patience and love.

Oh, and for those of you that haven’t read the book, it’s another cracking mystery a la Agatha Christie but happy to take a sharp stick to those cosy detective/grand house mystery tropes. Like the first book, it is set in the world of writers and publishing, this time having a poke around in writing circles, wannabe authors and *shudder* writer’s block.

The original book got a resounding 5/5 for me and as I said before the narration gives the entire story another layer.
My blog, my rules: 6/5.

For an actual read Anne Tenino’s Too Stupid to Live gets a recommended from me.

It isn't true love until someone gets hurt.

Sam’s a new man. Yes, he’s still too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels, but he’s wised up. His One True Love is certainly still out there, but he knows now that real life is nothing like fiction. He’s cultivated the necessary fortitude to say “no” to the next Mr. Wrong, no matter how hot, exciting, and/or erotic-novel-worthy he may be.

Until he meets Ian.

Ian’s a new man. He’s pain-free, has escaped the job he hated and the family who stifled him, and is now—possibly—ready to dip his toe into the sea of relationships. He’s going to be cautious, though, maybe start with someone who knows the score and isn’t looking for anything too complicated. Someone with experience and simple needs that largely revolve around the bedroom.

Until he meets Sam.

Sam’s convinced that Ian is no one’s Mr. Right. Ian’s sure that Sam isn’t his type. They can’t both be wrong . . . can they?

A story in parts funny, sexy and sad. There were moments I wanted to punch things, other times when my Kindle damn near got a good shake, and then me giggling like a loon. There is IMHO to much sex in the book. I know it can be argued that sex was Ian's primary means of relationship communication, however I think in order to really show this it would have been better for the on page sex to peeter out as Ian became emotionally invested. However that is a small complaint, and one not every reader would find a problem.

I'm always up for recs, so did you enjoy any particular read/audiobook this week? 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

World Autism Awareness Day

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I’m taking part in RJ Scott’s Blog Hop for World Autism Awareness Day. Click the link to see all the other great authors and bloggers taking part.

Since this isn’t the first time I’ve taken part in RJ’s blog hop to raise awareness for autism I decided that I would look more deeply into the history of autism and when it became a recognised condition.

The following pocket history was taken from this site

Where Did the Term "Autism" Come From?

From the early 1900s, autism has referred to a range of neuro-psychological conditions.
The word "autism," which has been in use for about 100 years, comes from the Greek word "autos," meaning "self." The term describes conditions in which a person is removed from social interaction -- hence, an isolated self.

Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, was the first person to use the term. He started using it around 1911 to refer to one group of symptoms of schizophrenia.

In the 1940s, researchers in the United States began to use the term "autism" to describe children with emotional or social problems. Leo Kanner, a doctor from Johns Hopkins University, used it to describe the withdrawn behaviour of several children he studied. At about the same time, Hans Asperger, a scientist in Germany, identified a similar condition that’s now called Asperger’s syndrome.

Autism and schizophrenia remained linked in many researchers’ minds until the 1960s. It was only then that medical professionals began to have a separate understanding of autism in children.

From the 1960s through the 1970s, research into treatments for autism focused on medications such as LSD, electric shock, and behavioural change techniques. The latter relied on pain and punishment.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the role of behavioural therapy and the use of highly controlled learning environments emerged as the primary treatments for many forms of autism and related conditions. Currently, the cornerstones of autism therapy are behavioural therapy and language therapy. Other treatments are added as needed.

What surprised me, but probably shouldn’t have, considering the way that perceived mental health issues have been dealt with in the past, was this revelation. From the 1960s through the 1970s, research into treatments for autism focused on medications such as LSD, electric shock, and behavioural change techniques. The latter relied on pain and punishment. I suppose my shock came from how late in the century we were still considering trying to cure people—and by people I actually mean children—by quite literally beating the condition out of them.

The practise sounds similar to attempts to cure homosexual behaviour several decades earlier. And just as barbaric.

Enough, of the doom and gloom. *inserts photo of rubber ducks to lighten the mood* 

photo credit: alles-schlumpf via photopin cc photo prejudice_zps3b5d76aa.jpg
photo credit: alles-schlumpf via photopin cc

Thankfully, although we live in a time that is not without its issues, the world we live in is, for the most part, more enlightened. And we can do our part by teaching our kids, hell no, teaching anyone we come into contact with, to be open minded and accepting of all and to encourage them to embrace the differences in people.

To raise awareness for World Autism Day and celebrate all things different I’m giving away one copy of Theory Unproven (or another book from my backlist).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 30 March 2015

I wouldn't normally do this

I came across a 4.5 star review for Theory Unproven on Goodreads the other day. Now, normally I would do a little fist pump and move on. But this review was eloquent, well thought out, and perfectly presented and I pegged the reader as a more than casual reviewer. So after much deliberation I dropped Tina a message and enquired if she reviewed for a particular site so that I could comfortably share her review.

Turns out she doesn't anymore but she did give me permission to share her review with you all and directed me to where the review is stored on Leafmarks.  The full review can be found on Leafmarks but here some of my favourite parts.

"Both characters are just wonderfully elaborated, and they have this freaking hot chemistry, despite all the things popping up to mess with them. Lillian Francis did a wonderful job of conveying the heart and soul of these two guys, and when the heat turns up, it gets damn hot! It’s either slow and romantic, rough and steamy, or smoking hot and passionate."

"Lillian’s writing is powerful, gripping, emotional and captivating, she creates enticing characters and a sexy, emotionally charged story line."

"I lived within the story, I felt the South African heat, smelled the elephants and tasted the dust on my tongue, I laughed, smiled and cursed with the guys. How they managed to overcome their challenges to form a deep and everlasting love and build such a strong relationship touched me deeply."

"Highly recommended for those who share my love for the beautiful African continent... and want a well done, sweet, funny, suspenseful and delicious romance without too much angst."

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Friday, 27 March 2015

Fiction Friday - Raining Men & Somebody Killed his Editor (audio)

Raining Men by Rick R Reed 

Sequel to Chaser 

The character you loved to hate in Chaser becomes the character you will simply love in Raining Men. 

It’s been raining men for most of Bobby Nelson’s adult life. Normally, he wouldn’t have it any other way, but lately something’s missing. Now, he wants the deluge to slow to a single special drop. But is it even possible for Bobby to find “the one” after endless years of hooking up? 

When Bobby’s father passes away, Bobby finally examines his rocky relationship with the man and how it might have contributed to his inability to find the love he yearns for. Guided by a sexy therapist, a Sex Addicts Anonymous group, a well-endowed Chihuahua named Johnny Wadd, and Bobby’s own cache of memories, Bobby takes a spiritual, sexual, and emotional journey to discover that life’s most satisfactory love connections lie in quality, not quantity. And when he’s ready to love not only himself but someone else, sex and love fit, at last, into one perfect package.

This is not a love story. It's the journey of a man. There is a romance of sorts but it more than takes the backburner to Bobby's growth, in fact it all but happens off the page.

If you read Chaser and hated Bobby for his actions, then you have to read this book. There are numerous sex scenes but Rick R Reed in no way included them for titillation. They will leave you hollow and empty inside. 

I know you won't believe me, those of you that still hold on to the memory of the deplorable way Bobby behaved in Chaser, but your heart will ache for the man that you thought you hated. Not once, but time and time again. 


Somebody Killed his Editor - Josh Lanyon

The road back to bestsellerdom can be deadly.

Holmes & Moriarity, Book 1

Thanks to an elderly spinster sleuth and her ingenious cat, Christopher Holmes has enjoyed a celebrated career as a bestselling mystery writer. Until now. Sales are down and his new editor is allergic to geriatric gumshoes.

On the advice of his agent, he reinvents his fortyish, frumpy, recently dumped self into the sleek, sexy image of a literary lion, and heads for a Northern California writers conference to try and resurrect his career. A career nearly as dead as the body he stumbles over in the woods.

In a weirdly déjà vu replay of one of his own novels, he finds himself stranded in an isolated lodge full of frightened women—and not a lawman in sight. Except for J.X. Moriarity, former cop and bestselling novelist. The man with whom he shared a one-night stand—okay, maybe three—long ago. The man who wants to arrest him for murder.

A ruthless, stalking killer, or a hot, handsome ex-lover. Which poses the greater danger? It’s elementary, my dear Holmes!

Witty, mystery story which pokes fun at all manner of things to do with writers and publishing. I crushed on this book so hard when I read it, didn't think it could be improved upon. But I was wrong...the audio book is brilliant. Kevin R Free does an amazing job of bringing Kit and JX to life. Kit comes across in turns as insecure, confused, and frustrated, and JX, well, JX is damn sexy and just a little mysterious.

If I could give this 6/5 I would. 

Hey, this is my blog... 6/5

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

February's reads

Following on from my last post I have February's reads.

Series: I finished the Lang Downs series by Ariel Tachna. I only had the one book left to read in this series, Conquer the Flames (Lang Downs #4) - 4 stars.   Revisiting Lang Downs is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and meeting up with your favourite people (not that I often wear a blanket for that.) I know what to expect and Ariel Tachna doesn't disappoint. It's been a while since this book was published (2013) so I'm not holding out much hope for a fifth book but I can always read them again :)

Anthology: Brit Boys: On Boys -  4 stars. Of the 8 stories I had: 1 x 5 star, 2 x 4 stars, 4 x 3/3.5 stars and a DNF. It should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that Locked out was my favourite (and the 5 star read) since it is written by Josephine Myles.

For the rest of my reads this month I tried to finish as many of the Love's Landscapes stories that I had missed when they originally came out as I could. This made for a mixed bag of results, as you can imagine, and I still didn't manage to finish them all.

Read: 24
5 star: none!
4 star: (including the 2 listed above) 7
DNF:  5
And I read one one the oldest books on my TBR - Clouds and Rain (Clouds and Rain #1) by Zahra Owens

4 star

Until Next Time by Xara X Xanakas
Chapter Five and the Axe-Wielding Maniac by Marie Sexton (read in anticipation of sequel)
Apartment 14 and the Devil Next Door by Marie Sexton
She's Got Balls (Handcuffs and Lace, #9) by Mia Watts
Fighting Dirty by Olley White

Phew. That's that all caught up now.

Hope I've given you ideas for a new title or two you fancy reading.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Tut, tut, tut

Yes, it appears I have already fallen foul of my plans for regular blog posts, namely the 'What I read last month' feature. I think the problem is that it takes some time to collate the information into a format I can use easily here. So my plan going forward is to highlight my favourite book or books of the previous week and to post on fridays (I already have a Fiction Friday tag I can reappropriate).

In the meantime I'm going to run through my reading for January and February in this post.

I think I mentioned my intention for this year was to clear a lot of books on my TBR pile including finishing one series a month and reading at least one anthology.


Series: Tyack & Frayne by Harper Fox 
For this I read: Tinsel Fish, Don't Let Go, & Kitto All the books got 4 stars. The characters, pairing, and settings all got a strong 5 stars from me but I had to deduct a star because each story in some way focused on abuse which made for uncomfortable reading at times.

Anthology: Sindustry Vol 1 - 4 stars. Stories ranged from 4.5 to 2 stars. 
Favourites: The Four Seasons by Diana Copland, A Muse by Zahra Owens, Stripped Bare by S. Blaise.

In total I read 18 books
5 stars: Only 1
4 stars: (including the 4 mentioned above) 8
DNFs: none!
Books with a 4+ rating on GR & I had eagerly anticipated reading but found lacking: 1

5 stars

Simple Gifts by LB Gregg

4 stars

Dear Alex by Clare London
The Gentleman and the Lamplighter by Summer Devon
A Case of Spirits (A Charm of Magpies, #2.5) by KJ Charles
Chaser by Rick R Reed (My first RRReed and typing this has just reminded me that I had intended to read the sequel almost immediately. Bumped up my TBR pile.)

This is already quite a large post so I'm going to list February's reads under a seperate entry.