Ellie Reads Fiction

1 Dec 2016

Review: Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins

Title: Glass Tidings
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Date of publication: 5 Dec 2016
Genre/Themes: Romance, queer, holidays

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 5 Stars



Blurb

Eddie Rodrigues doesn’t stay in one place long enough to get attached. The only time he broke that rule, things went south fast. Now he’s on the road again, with barely enough cash in his pocket to hop a bus south after his (sort-of-stolen) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Midwest, USA.

He’s fine. He’ll manage. Until he watches that girl get hit by a car and left to die.

Local shop owner Grayson Croft isn’t in the habit of doing people any favors. But even a recluse can’t avoid everyone in a town as small as Clear Lake. And when the cop who played Juliet to your Romeo in the high school play asks you to put up her key witness for the night, you say yes.

Now Gray’s got a grouchy glass artist stomping around his big, empty house, and it turns out that he . . . maybe . . . kind of . . . likes the company.

But Eddie Rodrigues never sticks around.

Unless a Christmas shop owner who hates the season can show an orphan what it means to have family for the holidays. 

Review


I'm a big fan of Amy Jo Cousins and I have read and enjoyed most of her books. Glass Tidings is no exception, I can honestly say it's one of the best books I read this year. 

Glass Tidings is a moving romantic tale where the reclusive, a bit jaded and a lot lonely owner Christmas ornaments shop Gray falls for the always-on-the-road glass artist working at Renaissance fairs Eddie. They meet under very unlikely circumstances and are put in a situation of forced proximity where they become roommates, friends, confidants, partners, lovers. 

What I love about Amy Jo's writing is how real, almost tangible she makes her characters. Gary and Eddie could be any of us - ordinary people with real problems who become something special and truly precious for the other. They are full-fledged, complex characters, each with his history and set of issues. And the romance that blooms between them is my own favourite kind of romance - slow burn, based on friendship and true partnership. I loved the way the author presents the domesticity of their relationship, the process of sharing our life with someone - the little things that bring two people together and the big issues that can tear them apart. 

The sexual tension is right there from the start but it's not central in the story, rather the focus is on the inner struggle both Eddie and Gary experience with their growing attraction. For different reasons both of them find it difficult to give themselves permission to let go and follow their heart's desire, to risk a comfortable routine (which admittedly was not working for either of them any more) for the chance at happiness and more fulfilling, richer life.

This is a Christmas story, but the holiday spirit is not overdone and I really appreciate that. Yes, they are selling Christmas ornaments but what the author focuses on is buy no means the commercial aspect of the holidays but their relation to following/creating tradition, setting roots, building a home, creating a family and on a larger scale a circle/community of friends.

I loved following Eddie and Gary falling in love with each other, sharing a common living space and gradually making it their own. Their romance was all about establishing something in the always transient life of Eddie and simultaneously, bringing new possibilities and change in the too quiet and lonely life of Gray.

There is some crime/mystery plot that I liked and it helped move the story along rather nicely. I found Adrian intriguing and I'm curious what happened with him before and after. I felt like this plotline was left unfinished and wish we got more closure on him (perhaps an YA story about him?).

Overall, Amy Jo Cousins has written yet another deeply engaging and real story, heart-warming and just perfect Holiday romance with two strong, complex characters for find love and get their HFN.

Pre-order link: Riptide

Release Blitz: All In Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Stories


Want something a bit different for the holidays? Horror has never looked this enticing! New release, All in Fear, is a gorgeous collection of horror tales from some of the hottest names in queer fiction. Be prepared to be titillated...and terrified.


All in Fear

By KJ Charles, Roan Parrish, J.A. Rock,
Steve Berman, Avon Gale, and Kris Ripper

Horror wears many faces, and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in time—and all in fear.



Company by Roan Parrish
Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous . . . and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself.

Love Me True by Kris Ripper
Palmer's life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he's found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband.
When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the worldto other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him.
How could he have possibly been so stupid?

The Price of Meat by KJ Charles
Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive?

His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman
Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse?

Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale
STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS:
REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED]
ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING.
ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED.

Beauties by J.A. Rock
When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold.
Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him. Lester has always wanted the chance to work with an adult AI, and around Lester, Ira isn’t violent. He’s strangely innocent, uncannily perceptive, and his company does much to ease Lester’s loneliness. Except something’s not quite right: Ira roams at night, even when Lester’s sure he’s locked Ira’s door.
Soon Lester is certain of only one thing: Ira has a secret. Something that will link their pasts and change the course of their future—if Lester is willing to face what’s on the inside.

Learn more on Goodreads.

Order it now: Publisher’s Site | Amazon | B&N | ARe | Apple | Kobo

An engaging anthology of queer fiction filled with monsters, mysteries, and menace.” Kirkus Reviews

About the Authors:

Steve Berman

Steve Berman loves to tell stories that are both queer and weird. He was a Zeta Psi back in his college days at and remembers being hazed. He survived and graduated and even earned a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies. He has written and sold over a hundred articles, essays, and short stories. His YA novel, Vintage, was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award.


KJ Charles
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, and a cat with murder management issues. KJ writes mostly historical romance, mostly queer, often with fantasy or horror in there.

Find her on Twitter @kj_charles, pick up book info and free reads on her website, get the infrequent newsletter, or join her Facebook group, KJ Charles Chat, for sneak peeks and exclusives.

Avon Gale

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.


Roan Parrish
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

Sign up for her Newsletter to receive updates about new releases, works-in-progress, and bonus materials like sneak peeks and extra scenes! 


Kris Ripper

Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a little kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.



J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock is the author or coauthor of over twenty LGBTQ romance, suspense, and horror novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. J.A. has received Lambda Literary and INDIEFAB Award nominations for Minotaur, and The Subs Club received the 2016 National Leather Association-International Pauline Reage Novel Award. J.A. lives in Chicago with an extremely judgmental dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.


24 Nov 2016

Review: Wrong for Me by Jackie Ashenden

Title: Wrong for Me (Motor City Royals #2)
Author: Jackie Ashenden
Date of publication: 29 Nov 2016
Genre / Themes: Contemporary romance

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 3 Stars




Blurb

After eight years in prison, Levi Rush is finally out and back on the gritty streets of Detroit to claim the future he was owed. A future that includes the one woman he’s wanted for years—his former best friend Rachel. She’s the reason he went inside and if getting her to do what he wants means buying the building that houses her tattoo studio and using it as leverage, then that’s what he’ll do. Because if there’s one thing he’s learned inside it’s that if you want to win, you have to play dirty.

Rachel Hamilton is a tattoo artist and one hell of a tough girl. Detroit is her home, and she’s determined to make it a better place. But her plans are threatened when her old friend Levi reappears and gives her an ultimatum: she gives herself to him body and soul, or else she and her business are out on the street. Levi’s got no room in his heart for anything but anger and the lust he’s been carrying around for so long. But the only thing stronger than the secrets of their shared past is their fiery attraction to each other . . .


Review



I really enjoyed the first book (Dirty for Me) in this series and was excited about this one. Sadly, it was not as good as expected it to be. I liked some aspects of the story and the writing felt solid most of the time, but there were a couple of issues which didn't sit well with me.

I found the premise of the story intriguing - Levy is an ex-con trying to rebuild his life and figuring out what exactly happened with Rachel and why she did the things she did. I liked the tension between them and while I understood his anger and his need for revenge, I felt he went overboard with both of them.

His blackmail, forcing Rachel into a relationship, if you can call it that, bordered on non-consent for me and even if being together was what they wanted, they way this happened (for most part of the story), it still made me uncomfortable. It was a weird kind of revenge, hurting them both. On the one hand, I can't accept the deal he made with her and seemed very similar to a previous arrangement she had with another man. On the other hand, he loved her (always had), wanted to have a real relationship with her, yet he mostly hurt and humiliated her before turning all his emotions around and making it all about love and a common future.

I must say that the non-romance aspects of the story worked better for me. Levy's relations with his friends, his ambition to make something of himself, to rebuild his life felt real and I had no trouble relating to it. The gentrification of Detroit was also explored in a sympathetic way.

In short, I have mixed feelings about the romance in this story - some of it felt real, some of it was forced, and there were elements in it that made m,e downright uncomfortable. I don't regret reading this book, but I'm not sure I can recommend it.

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

20 Nov 2016

New and Debut: Sasha Clinton

It's time for me to present to you yet another new author of romance. Please welcome Sasha Clinton, author of the NYC Singles series. The third book in the series, Love Me Like You Do, comes out on Nov 26. Read on to learn more about Sasha and the stories she likes to tell.

Currently the first two books, You're Still the One and In My Arms Tonight are on sale for 0.99 and the third book, Love Me Like You Do can be pre-ordered for 0.99 too!



Meet Sasha


1.Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer? 

Hi, I am Sasha. I’ve always loved reading romance novels, and planned to write one someday. In 2015, I started writing what would become the first book in the NYC Singles Series. I really enjoy reading, eating, listening to music, and 

2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors? 

Judith McNaught and Lisa Kleypas were the authors who pulled me into the romance genre, along with Nora Roberts. Other romance writers I love are: Courtney Milan, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Julie James. Some of my favorite books/series are Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries by Agatha Christie, Perry Mason books by Erle Stanley Gardner, translated works of Keigo Higashino, and the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo. As you can see, I love reading all kinds of books. 

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration? 

I feel like I have been influenced by many writers, which has led to a writing style that is a mix of many styles. 

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)? 

Until now, all my books have been contemporary adult romances, but I am planning to branch out into fantasy-romance at some point in the future. However, I will continue writing contemporary romances also. 

5. Please, introduce your upcoming/latest release. 


Love Me Like You Do is the third book in the NYC Singles series and can be read as a standalone. The main story is based around Dr. Bella Hopkins, a philosophy professor who runs into a TV producer at Trader Joe’s. The TV producer is the guy she eventually falls in love with—Jamie. Jamie is producing a show and an actress playing an important character injured herself. Since Bella looks very similar to the injured actress, Jamie wants her to substitute. 

The book also features a secondary romance between Jamie’s father, who is an Oscar-winning actor, and one of his co-workers. 

Blurb 

A single, overweight college professor. 
A TV producer looking for a replacement actress. 
A chance meeting that changes both their lives. 

Dr. Bella Hopkins is looking for love. The forever kind. But instead, she gets a role in a new sitcom, when she runs into Hollywood-screenwriter-turned-producer Jamie Star at the supermarket. 

Jamie wants his first show to succeed. He didn’t count on the lead actress injuring herself and pulling out last minute. When he meets Bella, who looks exactly like the actress he just lost, Jamie is convinced that the solution to his problem is simple—convince the college professor to act in his show. 

But a misplaced sext, almost kiss, and crazy co-actress later, what started out as a simple solution turns into a problem of its own.



Author Bio and Links

Sasha Clinton discovered romance novels at the age of thirteen and has been addicted to the genre ever since. After getting a degree in Chemical Engineering and realizing that there was no way she could ever be an engineer, she decided to follow her passion and write romance novels. Sasha has lived in New Delhi, Melbourne, Manchester and Boston and continues to move frequently. But wherever she is, she's hard at work on her next book.



You can read the first chapter of Love Me Like You Do HERE 



18 Nov 2016

Review: Hold Me by Courtney Milan

Title: Hold Me (Cyclone #2)
Author: Courtney Milan
Genre/Themes: New Adult, academics
Release Date: 25 Oct 2016

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
Add on Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars



Blurb 


Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. He doesn’t know how to stop or even slow down. The instant he lays eyes on Maria Lopez, he knows that she is a sexy distraction he can’t afford. He’s done his best to keep her at arm’s length, and he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Maria has always been cautious. Now that her once-tiny, apocalypse-centered blog is hitting the mainstream, she’s even more careful about preserving her online anonymity. She hasn’t sent so much as a picture to the commenter she’s interacted with for eighteen months—not even after emails, hour-long chats, and a friendship that is slowly turning into more. Maybe one day, they’ll meet and see what happens.

But unbeknownst to them both, Jay is Maria’s commenter. They’ve already met. They already hate each other. And two determined enemies are about to discover that they’ve been secretly falling in love.

Review


I have been waiting for this for what feels forever, ever since I read the first installment in the series last year. We meet Maria in book 1 and I was excite to for her to get her romance. And what a treat her (and Jay's) story was!

It is really difficult for me to review without giving out a major spoiler though but I will try. This is an entertaining read, often funny but heart-breaking at the same time. This is an interesting take on the enemies(friends)-to-lovers trope and I found it fascinating the way the author explored how people presented and interacted online and how different they can be offline. 

I loved how full-fledged and real the characters felt. They both have personal and professional (academics) struggles going on. They are complex people, smart and focused on their work/studies, yet they are both vulnerable, shy even, in their own ways. I loved the contrast between their texting and their interactions in real life. It's so easy to make the wrong assumption, to hurt someone, even if you don't mean too and there is no taking it back. Just working through it, accepting it as part of your common history.

The personal traumas Jay and Maria had as their baggage is no minor thing but it was never exploited by the author for superficial drama and angst. It was real and painful and was dealt with in the proper way - with the help of professionals. In a sense Maria was more stable, her own person, though she nearly broke because of all the hurt she suffered. Yet it was Jay who had more work to do to deal with his past/present. His growth was painful and slow and I really appreciate the author presenting it as an everyday struggle. You don't become a different, better person overnight.There were setbacks and mistakes and by the end he was by no means perfect, but he was aware of his mistakes and weaknesses and was actively trying to do better by himself, his family, his friends and most importantly, by Maria.

The second half of the story, after the big reveal, was very emotional. overcoming hurt and gaining someone's trust is one of the most difficult things in life. Forgiveness is not easy to ask/give. 

There were lots of science bits and humor in the story which I loved despite being terrible at science myself. I found the presentation of the academic world very realistic based on my my experience - I could easily relate to all the pressure, the expectations, the struggles to stay on top, to insecurity what you will do next. 

We see more of the Cyclone family which I really liked. The next book will revisit Blake and Tina and I am not sure how necessary that is but I am curious how the author will develop their story further.

If you a looking for well written, smart contemporary NA romance with diverse characters living real lives (with a bit of science/computer geniuses, billionaire entrepreneurs on the side), I strongly recommend this series!

Purchase links: Amazon / iBooks / B&N / All romance / Kobo / Smashwords

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