Ellie reads fiction

2 Sep 2015

Waiting on Wednesday for Claimed by Elle Kennedy

Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.

Title: Claimed (Outlaws #1)
Author: Elle Kennedy
Genre/Themes: Dystopia, erotic romance
Release Date: 6 Oct 2015
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Pre-order links: AmazonB&N / Kobo / iBooks


After a devastating war decimated most of the world, Hudson Lane has only known the oppressive life under her own father’s tyranny. She finally escapes, branding herself an outlaw and hunted by the Enforcers. Her best chance at survival is Connor Mackenzie, an aggressively sensual fugitive who opens her eyes to the wicked possibilities of a world without rules.

As the leader of a band of outlaw fighters, Connor can’t resist the beautiful stranger who asks for his protection. Despite his reservations, he agrees to introduce her to a whole new way of life. But when Connor discovers Hudson’s connection to the enemies of liberty, he wonders how far he can trust the woman who has abandoned all inhibitions to challenge every forbidden desire.

*** *** ***

Why am I waiting for this? - I've only read the Off Campus series by Ms Kennedy which is contemporary NA college sports romances but I liked her writing and would like to try more of it. This is book 1 in new dystopian erotic romance series and I haven't read anything like that before and find the blurb rather intriguing. Plus that cover, who can resist a cover like that? :)

31 Aug 2015

Review: Mnevermind series by Jordan Castillo Price

Titlle: The Persistance of Memory (Mnevermind #1)
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Genre/Themes: Dystopia / MM romance
Release Date: 4 May 2012

Author's links:
My rating: 4 Stars

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Every day, Daniel Schroeder breaks his father’s heart.

While forgetting your problems won’t solve them, it does seem like it would make life a heck of a lot easier. Daniel thought so once. Now he knows better. He and Big Dan have always been close, which makes it all the more difficult to break the daily news: the last five years were nothing like his father remembers.

They’re both professionals in the memory field—they even run their own memory palace. So shouldn’t they be able to figure out a way to overwrite the persistent false memory that’s wreaking havoc on both of their lives? Daniel thought he was holding it together, but the situation seems to be sliding out of control. Now even his own equipment has turned against him, reminding him he hasn’t had a date in ages by taunting him with flashes of an elusive man in black that only he can see.

Is it some quirk of the circuitry, or is Daniel headed down the same path to fantasy-land as his old man.

Purchase links: Amazon - Smashwords - iTunes

*** *** *** 

Titlle: Forget Me Not (Mnevermind #2)
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Genre/Themes: Dystopia / MM romance
Release Date: 19 Feb 2014

Author's links:
My rating: 5 Stars

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No two people are exactly alike, but Elijah Crowe is very, very different. 

Elijah is on the autism spectrum, so the tasks of day-to-day life most people breeze through are a challenge for him. His career suffered because he never got the hang of schmoozing, and now his talents are being wasted teaching classes at the mall. His social circle is limited to his ex, his therapist, and a structured inclusion group at the Rec Center. The one bright spot in his life is the memory science of Mnemography.

Although he loves nothing better than devouring the latest research and tinkering with all the specialized equipment, he never clicked with any other experts in the field until he met Daniel Schroeder. Daniel runs a memory palace—he even writes his own mnems—and that shared interest alone would make him fascinating. But Daniel and Elijah met under unusual circumstances, where the statement, “I like you, and I think you like me,” held some surprising nuances.

Now Elijah suspects he’s gay, but the few prominent people in his life are less than supportive. Some are downright hostile. Elijah might not be neurotypical, but he’s plenty smart. Surely there’s some way to get people to accept him for who he is. If only he could figure out how.

Purchase Links: Amazon - B&N - Kobo - iTunes - Smashwords

*** *** ***

Titlle: Life Is Awesome (Mnevermind #3)
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Genre/Themes: Dystopia / MM romance
Release Date: 24 Feb 2015

Author's links:
My rating: 4.5 Stars

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Daniel Schroeder wants nothing more than to repair his father’s broken memories, but it’s been a long time since he’s thought of himself as a memorysmith. Even though convincing Big Dan of their current reality is the most painful task Daniel faces every morning, somehow life manages to prevent him from finding a cure. He needs to keep their family business running. And he needs to moonlight at a competitor’s shop to keep all his employees paid. Or maybe he’s just trying to keep himself from exacerbating the situation. 

A year ago, Daniel would have presumed he was clever enough to memorysmith his way out of their predicament, but nowadays he’s not so cavalier. Playing with people’s memories shouldn’t be taken lightly, and things can always get worse. Even with the help of some of the best minds in the business, Daniel still isn’t sure how to navigate his way out of the persistent false memory that’s crippled his life. Is new programming the answer? Better gear? More money? Or is time the only thing that can heal Big Dan’s memories…if they can even be fixed at all. 

What Daniel needs most is some breathing room, and Elijah Crowe is eager to provide it. Since he’s smitten with Daniel, Elijah is determined to prove himself—and he’s more than qualified to clear Daniel’s schedule by taking over some duties at Adventuretech. With the support of his new boyfriend, possibilities begin to open up for Daniel, hints of things he hasn’t even realized he’d stopped hoping for: the contentment of a harmonious family, the fulfillment of his creative expression, and a chance for a relationship with a man he loves.

Purchase links: Amazon - iTunes - Kobo - B&N - Smashwords 


I read this series a while ago and was very much impressed by it. I meant to review the complete series of three books together but somehow it was never the right time.

I have so many thoughts about these books and will at least try to express some of them in a coherent manner. Simply put - this MM dystopian/speculative (romantic) fiction, and I'm not using these terms as strictly defined categories but rather as a reflection of what the story felt like to me while reading it - is breath-taking, raw, emotional and real and oh, so clever.

I'm amazed at the imaginative genius of Ms Price. The other work of hers I've read (review), Meatworks was also very rich, imaginative romance, though I definitely liked this one better.

The story is set in the not so distant, somewhat bleak future where people experience mnemes (as a mix of dreams and memories) as a form of entertainment.

This is the story of Daniel and Elijah, a story of being adult - serious and responsible, but also hopeful and forgiving and never really giving up on your dreams.

Book 1 was slightly slower, more descriptive, in a way setting the stage for the things to come in the next two books. It created this richly imaginative world populated by characters who felt so real, human, very much like the people we meet in our life - some were smarter, others less so, some were compassionate and loyal, others - less so. They were all multi-faceted, multi-layered, with thier own strengths and weaknesses, searching in one way or another for that forever elusive piece of happiness and sense of achievement and satisfaction. 

Book 2 stood out the most for me. It's told from Elijah's POV and I can't describe how much a loved it. He is on the autistic spectrum and Ms Price made him an absolutely unforgettable character. There was no melodrama and excessive sentimentality in his portrayal. He felt real, his voice was a mixture of strength and confidence on the one hand and vulnerability and confusion on the other. His sudden attraction to Daniel after being married to woman was confusing for him but he took it for what it was and explored it without prejudice or judgement.

The romantic relationship was mostly the focus in the final book. It was difficult, there was no magical 'We belong together, so everything happens naturally/effortlessly'. It took some work both for Daniel and Elijah to be able to be together. The way it is most often in life - love is there but being with someone also takes time, takes getting used to one's quirks and oddities, accepting some limits.

The whole mneming business was complicated to comprehend though in my mind I had this weird association between mneming and a children's animation I watch with my kid (Zack and Quack). The depths of the desrciption of the this future world was fascinating and what was even more fascinating how personal, human Ms Price made the story.

If you are looking for a brilliantly writtne, imaginative, yet as real as it gets, romantic story, you need to try this series! 

28 Aug 2015

Review: Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins

Title: Level Hands (Bend or Break #4)
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Date of publication: 25 August 2015
Genre/Themes: Romance, queer
Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 5 Stars


When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as smooth sailing.

Rafael Castro is so far out of his element he can’t even see it anymore. Carlisle College in Massachusetts is a long way from his Chicago home, even farther from his Dominican Republic roots. 

The only thing keeping him attached to his last nerve is the prospect of seeing Denny Winslow again. The first time they met, Denny taught Rafi to fly across the water, rowing hard in a knife-like boat. Now, two years later, on the wings of a rowing scholarship, Rafi is attending Denny’s elite college. 

Even before the excitement wears off, Rafi is struggling with classes and fending off rumors that Denny’s family, not Rafi’s talent, won him his spot. To quash the gossip, Rafi tries to steer clear of the man he wants. A plan that evaporates in the fire of renewed attraction.

But Carlisle’s academic pressure cooker has Rafi barely treading water. And when a family crisis hits, both Rafi and Denny must pull hard to keep their relationship from capsizing in rough waters.


This is book 4 in the Off Campus series and while I loved them all, I think this is my favourite story. I rarely do more personal reviews but this book touched on so many personal levels that I can't help it.

It's a tender and sexy interracial mm college sports romance and Amy Jo Cousins covers brilliantly, I'd say, so many aspects of college life and the struggles to fit in, to belong in a place and with a person (you love).

It's Rafi's book through and through, not just because the story is told from his POV. Don't get me wrong, I loved Denny quite a lot and he has a strong presence in the story but Rafi got me teary eyed a time or two in this book.

It is uncanny hom much I could relate to some of his college experience given how differen him and I are. I'm a 36 yo white het woman from a small country in Europe. I went to the best University in my country and who lived with her parents at the time and didn't suffer from racial or sexual abuse but none of my parents have university degrees and pressure to fit was real. My first year was so intense and scary and wonderful without having to navigate a love relationship at the time. 

In short, for long stretches of of the story I felt like Rafi's thoughts were mine. His struggle to make sense of this new, unfamiliar  place, to be good enough/to deserve his place there (since he got there on a scholarship). His experience was powerfully presented and his anxiety felt real and true to life, especially to me as someone who is pretty anxious about a lot of things in life.

And I absolutely loved that the story made me look back on my own experiences in university with just a touch of melancholy and no real sense of regret. 

The story covers Rafi's life in its complexity - the romance, the college, the family stuff, the rowing. There is even a brief and rather sweet appearance of Steph and Cash (with some Tom and Reese on the side). Rafi struggled with so many new things in his life and it all was interconnected and affected deeply his relationship with Denny.

The chemistry was really strong but they had to deal with a lot of issues on practical level, basically they had to find a way to be together. I liked how Ms Cousins didn't gloss over their difficulties and made their romance a perfect one. The love to each other and both felt they belong together but that didn't save them from making mistakes along the way. They are too different in terms of social, ethnic background, financial situation, family situation and their love didn't just magically erase those difference. They had to learn how to be together while still being different. There was no sacrifice on oneself just to make the other happy. Rather what we got were two young people making compromises for each other.

There is an element of coming-of-age to this story. Both Rafi and Denny had to figure out what they wanted in life and how to go about getting it. The ending came as a bit of surprise but I think it fits the characters and I see it as promise, something that helps them to be happy together. 

It's a very moving, touching story and at the same time it felt real. This series keeps getting better and better and is quickly becoming one of my all-time favourites.

I want to end this embarrassingly personal review with my favourite quote from the book which is about Denny but I think it fits Rafi as well and pretty much sums up my way of loving - "Denny needed to take care of him because that was how Denny loved."

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks / ARebooks / Samhain

26 Aug 2015

Release Day Launch for Unconditional anthology


Purchase links: Amazon /B&NiBooksKobo

Life isn't easy. Love is harder. Love cuts, love burns and sometimes love breaks.

But living a half-life, living with regrets, that’s no life at all. People say we’re broken, not like other people. Maybe that’s true—ability, disability—what’s in a word? So whatever the world throws at us, we won’t stop, we won’t crumble. When we love, we love hard. Love without limits. Unconditional is an Anthology from authors Stacey Wallace Benefiel, Jane Harvey-Berrick, Sarina Bowen, Mary Elizabeth, D.Hart, Amber L. Johnson, CJ Lyons, Lauren K. McKellar, Shay Savage, and Magan Vernon.

He stole her lipstick…and her heart.

Twenty-year-old Dani Walker can’t believe her luck when she’s paired up with the gorgeous Liam Garrett as her Acting I scene partner – or when he ends up in her bed. Being a Plain Jane with a mouth on her hasn’t exactly served Dani well in the guy department. In fact, she’s had nothing but one night stands.

Ten years after their first affair, Sebastian and Caroline meet again. Now a successful journalist, Caroline heads out to report from the front lines of the war in Afghanistan. Love is the last thing on her mind when she crosses paths with Marine Chief Sebastian Hunter.

Will this chance encounter reignite the erotic passion of their past, or will the hidden cost of war tear them apart again?

Until his accident, bad boy Hank “Hazardous” Lazarus had everything: a gorgeous girlfriend, a career as a freestyle snowboarder and a spot on the US Olympic team. Could he possibly meet the love of his life in the last place he ever wanted to go--the hospital?

Some days are brighter than others, but Penelope Finnel is invisible behind the colored lenses of her heart-shaped sunglasses. Dillon Decker hopes he is the cure to her madness. But when friend turns to lover, and lover turns to caretaker, how much can either of them tolerate before they’re swallowed whole? 

Fate took away Baylor's past, giving her a second chance at life, but when faced with a choice to move forward, leave it buried, or follow her heart, she struggled with her basic need to survive and be loved. When she met Brandt, he gave her a reason to rebuild a life full of forgotten treasures.

When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional. 
Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.
Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart.

A West Virginia mountain, the middle of a blizzard, killers on his trail…no place for a city boy like Lucky Cavanaugh, an ATF explosives specialist.
Out-manned, out-gunned and shot, he takes Forest Service Wildlife Biologist Vinnie Ryan hostage until he convinces her that he’s one of the good guys.
Vinnie heals not only his injuries but also his broken heart. But when they uncover a terrorist plot, Lucky is forced to choose between duty and passion, risking the life of the woman he loves in order to save the lives of thousands.

When eighteen-year-old Kate’s father turns up drunk to graduation, she knows something is wrong—really wrong. What she doesn’t expect is a hereditary disease that will turn her life around.
The Problem With Crazy is a story about love and life—about overcoming obstacles, choosing to trust, and learning how to make the choices that will change your life forever. 

Isolated on a raft after their ship capsizes, an alcoholic death-match fighter and a young woman have to face the elements as well as their entwined pasts. Bastian can survive in the harshest environments, but can he survive Raine?

Honor student, manager at the campus coffee shop, owner of an impressive sweater collection – Melanie Wilder has it all together. Then John “John Boy” Walden strolls into her life wearing nothing more than an impish grin and all-too-revealing loin cloth.
Soon, make-out sessions replace homework, lust triumphs over work. And to further crumble her perfect world, an unexpected phone call threatens to take away everything she’s worked for.

25 Aug 2015

Releaze Day Launch for Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves

HSH Amazon
Title: Heart-shaped Hack
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre/Themes: Romance, lawyers, hackers
Release Date: 25 Aug 2015

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When Kate Watts abandoned her law career to open a food pantry in Northeast Minneapolis, she never dreamed it would be this difficult. Facing the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away, she is grateful for the anonymous donations that begin appearing at the end of each month. Determined to identify and thank her secret benefactor, she launches a plan and catches Ian —a charismatic hacker with a Robin Hood complex—in the act. 

Ian intrigues Kate in a way no man ever has. But after learning he’s snooped around on her personal computer, she demands retribution. Impressed with her tolerance and captivated by her spirit, he complies and begins to slowly charm his way past her defenses. Time spent with Ian is never boring, and Kate soon finds herself falling for the mysterious hacker. 

But Ian has enemies and they’re growing restless. In the hacking world, exploiting a target’s weakness is paramount, and no price is too high to stop an attack. And when Kate learns exactly how much Ian has paid, she’ll discover just how strong her love is for the man who has hacked his way into her heart.

Purchase links: AMAZON / B&N / iBooks

© 2015 Tracey Garvis Graves
Heart-Shaped Hack


“Oh, hi,” she said. 
“Imagine running into you here.” 
“This is quite a coincidence.” 
“It’s not a coincidence at all. I knew you were following me.” 
“You did not.” 
“I spotted you hiding behind the plant when I walked into the bank. Plus I could smell your perfume as soon as I stepped out here.” 
“Did you”—she used her fingers to make little air quotes—“appropriate money from this bank?” she whispered. 
“Of course not. I do all my work from the Batcave. Believe it or not, I actually bank here. I was just signing some papers.” 
Kate had never seen a man look so utterly scrumptious while wearing glasses. There was something about the combination of his hair, his scruff, and the semi-rimless designer frames that made him irresistible. “Are the glasses a disguise? Because I totally knew it was you.” 
“The glasses are real. I often suffer from eyestrain since I spend so much time on the computer, and I was up late last night, working.” 
“They make you look very smart.” She took a moment to imagine how his scruff would feel rubbing against her skin if he were to kiss her. 
“I am smart, but I think you mean devastatingly handsome. More so than normal, that is.” 
“You’re so humble.” 
“Ready?” He walked to the door and held it open for her. 
“Follow me.” He looked at her and laughed. “That shouldn’t be a problem for you.” 
They took the elevator to the basement, and when the doors opened to the parking garage, Kate followed Ian to a row of cars. He stopped beside one and pulled a set of keys from his pocket. 
She gasped. 
Ian smiled. “It’s a—” 
“1964 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe.” 
“’65. But color me impressed.” 
“My brother Chad was obsessed with this car. He used to have a poster of it on his bedroom wall. There were only six built between 1964 and 1965.” 
“A bit rare indeed.” 
The last authentic Shelby had sold at auction for around seven million. Ian’s was obviously a replica, of which there were quite a few, but it was still a very notable vehicle with a price tag that started in the low six figures. “Helena called it an old blue car.” 
He grinned, looking contemplative. “Technically, that is correct.” 
Kate could not resist running her hand lightly over the Guardsman Blue paint and the white racing stripes on the hood. The Shelby was unmistakably race-car-like in appearance with its aerodynamic design and unique body style. Chad was going to be so jealous. “For someone who values his privacy, isn’t this a bit ostentatious?” 
“How so?” 
“Rakishly handsome playboy who makes grand philanthropic gestures and drives a flashy car. Any of this ringing a bell?” 
“Rakishly handsome playboy?” 
“Well, if the Prada loafer fits. Wouldn’t you fly under the radar more easily in, say, a Ford Focus?” she asked. 
“A Ford Focus? You want me to tool around town in a Ford Focus? Jesus, would I still have my balls?”
“No, they cut them off when they hand you the keys. Of course you’d still have your balls. What kind of question is that? This conversation has gotten way off track.” 
“You mean because we started out talking about my car and now we’re talking about my balls?” 
“Are we?” 
“I believe so.” 
“Maybe we should go back to talking about your car.” 
“You want to drive it, don’t you?” 
“Why would I want to drive your car?” 
“Why wouldn’t you want to drive my car? Can you handle a stick shift?” 
“Yes, and rather competently I might add.” 
“That’s an enormous turn-on. Truly.” 
She pretended not to hear him. 
“This is not a good car for Minnesota winters.” “Horrible, I agree. My other car has four-wheel drive, but it’s not nearly as fun to operate as this one.” Ian dangled the keys in front of her. 
He was right. Kate was dying to drive his car and couldn’t wait to see how it handled. She took the keys, opened the door, and reached over to unlock the passenger side for Ian. They belted up, and she started the car. 
“Please note that I’m already making good on my promise, Katie. Because I assure you, driving this car will be the opposite of boring.”

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Author bio and links: 

Tracey Garvis Graves is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, and Cherish. 

Tracey loves to interact with her readers and can be found on Facebook and Twitter
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