Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Narrator: Brian Hutchison, Mia Barron, Therese Plummer

Title: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Release Date: March 1st, 2011
Format: Audiobook (17 hrs and 26 mins)
Genre: Fiction, Women’s Literature
Published By: Atria Books
One miscarriage too many spelled the end of Max and Zoe Baxter’s marriage. Though the former couple went quite separate ways, their fates remained entangled: After veering into alcoholism, Max is saved in multiple senses by his fundamentalist conversion; Zoe, for her part, finds healing relief in music therapy and the friendship, then romantic love with Vanessa, her counselor. After Zoe and Vanessa, now married, decide to have a baby, they realize that they must join battle with Max, who objects on both religious and financial grounds.
three-stars
I started this book already having experience with Jodi Picoult’s writing, so I knew I was in for an intense experience. She is so methodical and expressive but I always find her stories disconcerting. I appreciate that the author told the story from Zoe, her new wife Vanessa and Zoe’s ex-husband’s point of view. It gave me an opportunity to empathize. I’ll admit it that I found the story a bit preachy and definitely advocated a viewpoint, but the story felt real especially in today’s political and religious climate. Zoe and Vanessa’s court case against Max made me examine my own views about this controversial issue. But the author’s writing was remarkable in that I could empathize to all three main characters even if I didn’t quite like them.

The story began with Zoe and Max struggling to conceive. What the reader never got to experience was any real tenderness, happiness or the power of their love. Their relationship was that of a woman determined to have a baby and the man she needed to make that dream a reality. It should have come as no surprise to the readers that Zoe and Max broke up. Unfortunately, Zoe’s new relationship didn’t resonate with me either. What did resonate with me was Zoe’s desire to have a family and the stress the struggle caused her, Max and Vanessa.

I would have loved this story more if the author had delivered multifaceted characters instead of Max, an alcoholic turned bible thumper fighting a music therapist and an atheist school counselor. The characters were over-simplified in such a way to make you either love them or hate them. The stereotypes were written in such a way that I felt led by the nose to the conclusion, which was a typical Picoult ending.

Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year, #2) by Kaje Harper

Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year, #2) by Kaje HarperSeries: The Rebuilding Year
on 2015-06-09
Pages: 427
Amazon • (Website, Facebook, Goodreads)
Finding love in the ashes was easy. Building a life together? Don’t make Fate laugh.The Rebuilding Year, Book 2After spending the first part of his life chasing pretty girls, love has finally come to Ryan in the form of John, a tall, lanky, red-headed landscape architect with wide shoulders and a five-o’clock shadow. For the first time in his life, love feels easy. Hell, he even ran into a burning building for John and his son, and he’d do it again if he had to. But telling his father and brothers “I’m gay. I’ve met a man”? That’s a bumpy ride he’s not looking forward to.For John, loving Ryan is as natural as breathing. Now if only the rest of his life would fall into place. Dealing with his teen son is complicated enough, but with his ex-wife causing trouble and his daughter wanting to move in, John’s house—and his relationship with Ryan—threaten to split at the seams.Would one month without a new surprise knocking him upside the heart be asking too much? If the sound of Fate’s laughter is any indication, the answer must be yes...Warning: Contains two formerly straight guys learning to navigate the gay-guy waters, sometimes without a paddle. Plus six kinds of family ensuring nothing comes easy.

Special Thanks to Samhain Publishing via Netalley for the e-arc.
four-stars

I was excited to revisit John and Ryan, who fell in love in the Rebuilding Year, one of my favorite books. The sequel starts right where book 1 ended, with Ryan, John and his son Mark  recovering from the school fire.
Then out of the blue, John’s daughter and his pregnant ex-wife Cynthia show up on their door step. And immediately the fireworks began.

Let me start off by stating what I loved: I loved John and his capacity to be understanding to the point of fault. While some may see it as a weakness, I saw it as strength and I admired him for keeping a cool head under pressure. I loved how regardless of what was going on, Ryan and John’s love never wavered! Both John and Ryan were very good at not letting other people define their relationship. They were supportive, loving and tolerant of each others’ baggage, which in case were their respective families. They truly blended into one loving unit.
What I didn’t love: Cynthia and her drama. She was self centered, ungrateful and just disrespectful. Ryan and his Jekyll & Hyde responses when his family shaded his relationship.

The book was solid. The writing is top notch and everything flowed. Whenever I read a book by Kaje Harper, I know it will be a good story. This is my favorite series by the author and John and Ryan will always be one of my favorite couples because their journey continues to make me feel good.

About Kaje Harper

I live in Minnesota, where the two seasons are Snow-removal and Road-repair, the mosquito is the state bird, and where sometimes in winter it can be breathtakingly beautiful. Of course, the deepfreeze chill contributes to the breath-taking, but Minnesota’s a kindly, quiet place and it’s home to me now. I’ve been writing for far longer than I care to admit (*whispers – forty years*), mostly for my own entertainment, and currently am focused on M/M romance (with added mystery, fantasy, history, SciFi…) I also have a few Young Adult stories released under the pen name Kira Harp.

My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out from MLR Press in May 2011. My husband finally convinced me that after all that time writing, I really should submit something, somewhere. I was thrilled when it was accepted. I have a weakness for closeted cops with honest hearts, and teachers who speak their minds, and I had fun writing the four novels and three freebie short stories in the series. I’ve been just delighted by the reception Mac and Tony have received.

My first free book became the first story that I actually released – I put it up a month before Life Lessons just for the fun of getting it out there. Lies and Consequences began as a reaction to the November 2010 election. It looked like the repeal of DADT might be derailed by the political shift and I put the insanity of that law into the book. Then as I was finishing the first draft in mid-December the repeal passed. Which was great, but prompted a rewrite to a lighter and more action/romance book. This was a solo effort and I learned a lot from writing and releasing it and from the reviews. Check Smashwords for that one and many of my other freebies.

I now have a decent backlist in ebooks and print, both free and professionally published. A complete list with links can be found on my Books page. This writing thing is addictive. So read, comment, tell me what you like and what you don’t, and help me make the upcoming books even better. I have an author page on Goodreads where I do a lot of book reviews, and this blog is reposted there.

You can find me to chat on my author page on Goodreads most easily – I hang out on Goodreads a lot because I moderate the Goodreads YA LGBT Books group there. I also post free short YA stories on that group, more than 50 of them so far.

You can also email me : kajeharper ~at~ yahoo ~dot~ com or find me on Facebook –

Chained by Night (MoonBound Clan Vampires #2) by Larissa Ione

Chained by Night (MoonBound Clan Vampires #2)  by Larissa IoneSeries: MoonBound Clan Vampires #2
on 2014-09-30
Pages: 416
Narrator: Amy Landon
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Larissa Ione sets the night on fire with a thrilling new novel of irresistible hungers and immortal enemies in a world as sensual and dark as her Demonica series…THE FUTURE OF HIS TRIBELeader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction—or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation. To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader’s daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans. THE LOVER OF HIS SOULBut survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress’s identical twin sister?
three-stars

I enjoyed this book better than book 1, but there is still something missing for me.
In this sequel, Hunter, chief of MoonBound clan has to fulfill the bargain he made in book 1, to marry the daughter of a rival clan. While Hunter wasn’t looking forward to mating Rasha, as a leader, he had to create alliances as the human attacks on vampires continue to increase.

Rasha travels to her new clan with her twin sister Aylin as a decoy in case they come across trouble. Aylin is disposable since she has a limp, and she is a second twin who should have been drowned according to clan customs. When the group came under attack, Hunter was able to rescue the princess and they spent some time getting to know each other. Imagine Hunter’s shock when he learned that it was actually Aylin, not Rasha that he has been spending time with at the hidden cabin.

The contrast in personalities is vast as Rasha is just awful and Aylin is so sweet. I did find that cliche that the beautiful one was rotten inside and the deformed sister was a gem inside. But it put Hunter in a quagmire–does he do his duty or follow his heart?

The length of time it took to resolve this triangle, coupled with the dangling issues with Mine and the traitor left me unsatisfied.

The world building in this book was much better and more interesting. The origins of the clans, seeing some of the individual’s abilities such as Aylin’s gift was a good touch to this story. I will continue the series but I wasn’t wowed by this one either.

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy (Smythe-Smith Quartet #4) by Julia Quinn

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy (Smythe-Smith Quartet #4) by Julia QuinnSeries: Smythe-Smith Quartet #4
on 2015-01-27
Pages: 384
AmazonNarrator: Rosalyn Landor
Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can't be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family's infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She's the type of girl you don't notice until the second—or third—look, but there's something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she's the one.Iris Smythe–Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can't quite believe it's all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can't help thinking that he's hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.
three-half-stars

★★★★ for the writing, ★★★★ for Iris Smythe-Smith; ★★ for Richard and his family–what a self-centered lot! If you subscribed to the notion that the end justifies the means, then the Kenworthy family’s drama would probably not be as offensive to you as it was to me.

Sir Richard Kentworthy came out to the notorious Smythe-Smith Concert featuring the quartet of unmarried girls. After he spied Iris as the only proficient on her instrument the cello, Richard pursued her immediately. However, the reader was privy to the fact that Sir Richard was in despeate need of a wife, so much so that he planned to compromise whomever he chose in order to expedite the matter. In fact, he already procured a special license.

Which is exactly what he did to Miss Iris Smythe Smith. While she agreed to wed him, she knew he was hiding a secret, but she was willing to give him a chance because they did get along famously. The only probably was her husband made up excuse after excuse not to consummate the marriage. then he would spend the day wooing her, giving her flowers, talking walks with her. As soon as it was nighttime, Sir Richard avoided Iris like she had the pox. The more the mystery dragged on, the antsier I got as the reader. I imagined all sorts of things, but when Sir Richard’s scheme was finally revealed, I was thoroughly disgusted. Acting so nice and charming, only to force her to take part in his deception, no matter his reason, was contrary to way he presented himself.

I do not feel like the author accomplished her goal of redeeming him and his family. the 1st half of this book was stellar. It was entertaining with a touch of humor and intrigue. The 2nd half left me feeling cold and bewildered. I felt for Iris. This book really highlighted the fact that gaining spouses in the English ton was business arrangement with a great deal of inequality to the wife.

The writing was really good in this book, but the hero makes my list of unlikeable Heroes. In fact, his whole family is undesirable to me. I applaud the author for a story that creates such a visceral reaction. So I am really torn if I should rate this story on how much I enjoyed the story telling, or how much I did not enjoy the main characters.

Forged in Steele (KGI, Book 7) by Maya Banks

Forged in Steele (KGI, Book 7) by Maya BanksSeries: KGI #7
on 2013-06-25
Pages: 384
AmazonNarrator: Adam Paul
The next heart pounding novel in the KGI series from Maya Banks, the New York Times bestselling author of Rush, Fever, and Burn, the Breathless trilogy. The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business. Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background. Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t... Steele, a KGI team leader, is an enigma not even his teammates understand. His emotions are tightly locked down and nothing can break that icy exterior. Nothing except Maren Scofield, a doctor on a mission, a woman who has gotten under Steele’s skin and threatens to crack that unflappable cool he’s legendary for. Steele is determined not to allow Maren past his carefully guarded defenses. But when she’s in danger, there’s no way he’ll allow anyone else to protect her. Maren’s hiding something. He’s sure of it. But he isn’t prepared for the shocking discovery her secrets reveal. Or how they will forever alter the course of his destiny. He has a decision to make. Hold tight and shut her out. Or take a chance on something more powerful than he’s ever faced: Love.
four-stars

Finally, it was Steele’s time! There are 2 teams that work with KGI (Kelly Group International). Steele is the leader of a team and Rio is the leader of another team.

In this book, Jackson “Iceman” Steele decided that the best way to get over his dream girl Dr. Maren Scoffield was to have a weekend of passion with her. That way he can move on without her haunting his dreams. The problem was, once Steele had a piece of Maren, he found he wanted more. In fact, she was just as desperate for him as he was for her. A case of reality turning out better than fantasy.

This installment was much better than the prior book. It was nice to see Maren thaw out Steele’s heart. I also didn’t remember Steele’s first name until this book. The couple had great chemistry and it was a nice adventurous story. I honestly didn’t get why the bad guy was obsessed with Maren. That aspect of the story was kind of thrown out there. I did love Maren’s strength in character and desire to help others. She was definitely different from the prior Heroines in that manner. She was the closest to Sara, but Mara had much less baggage.

I enjoyed seeing PJ doing well with Cole as well as a reappearance of Hancock. I think Maya Banks did a good job in redeeming Hancock.

Hidden Away (KGI #3) by Maya Banks

Hidden Away (KGI #3) by Maya BanksSeries: KGI #3
on 2011-03-01
Pages: 336
AmazonNarrator: Harry Berkeley
Most people would take an all-expense=paid trip to the beach in a heartbeat. Garrett Kelly only accepts to keep tabs on Sarah Daniels, who's in hiding after witnessing a murder committed by her half brother-a personal enemy of KGI. But Garrett hadn't planned on falling for Sarah. When he glimpses her dark past, he feels an urgent desire to keep her safe-even as she disappears, running for her life.
four-half-stars

Garrett Kelly is a marine and oldest son of the Kelly clan. In the last book, he was shot when they went to rescue Sophie, his brother’s pregnant wife. In this book, he was still recuperating from his injury when KGI got another assignment. Garrett was sent to find Marcus Lattimer, a well known arms dealer, traitor and personal enemy of the KGI guys. The only thing Marcus cared about was his half sister Sarah Daniels, so the CIA knew she would be their best lead to find Lattimer.

As Garrett gets to know Sarah, he finds that she was not what he thought she was. Also, Sarah becomes so comfortable with Garrett that she began sharing her secrets with him. What will Sarah do when she finds out that Garrett was really up to.

This one was really good because Garrett was the less friendly Kelly, the grumpy, suspicious big brother. It must have been a hoot for his brothers to see Garrett fall hard for his mark. I think her vulnerability really called to the normally unemotional Garrett. Sarah was a likable heroine. I like the strength she continued to exhibit because she made a lot of choices to protect the ones she cared for. Garrett and Sarah had great chemistry and it was fun following their journey together.

The subplot I truly enjoyed was the story with Rusty. The female Kelly was due to have a change in attitude and to have her place with the Kelly’s solidified.

I am surprised at how much I am enjoying this story but I guess I shouldn’t be as I loved Maya Banks two historical romances. The story telling is face paced and it’s predictable enough that I feel comfortable with where the author is going. I will try to read the next book next week.

Review: The King (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 12) by J.R. Ward

Review: The King (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 12) by J.R. WardSeries: Black Dagger Brotherhood #12
on April 1st, 2014
Pages: 592 pages
AmazonNarrator: Jim Frangione
Long live the King…

After turning his back on the throne for centuries, Wrath, son of Wrath, finally assumed his father’s mantle--with the help of his beloved mate. But the crown sets heavily on his head. As the war with the Lessening Society rages on, and the threat from the Band of Bastards truly hits home, he is forced to make choices that put everything--and everyone--at risk.

Beth Randall thought she knew what she was getting into when she mated the last pure blooded vampire on the planet: An easy ride was not it. But when she decides she wants a child, she’s unprepared for Wrath’s response--or the distance it creates between them.

The question is, will true love win out... or tortured legacy take over?
three-half-stars

It was okay, but not great. The narration was the same if you have been listening to this series. It didn’t add or take away for the story. I have to admit I haven’t enjoyed the narrator, he just is…

It’s time for me to accept that this series will ever return to the glory days. As I reflected on why this series was my favorite, I was surprised to note that there are more “okay” books than “great” books in this series. Thus, I don’t think it makes sense to call BDB my favorite series anymore. The first 5 books were PNR at it’s finest, a complete focus on a particular couple, where as Books 6-12 have been more story-led and less captivating.

There is a problem when Assail has more lines than almost all the brothers put together. I am not sure why the author is choosing to move the focus from the brothers to fringe characters, but she has definitely changed the tone of the series and not for the better.

In a nutshell, Wrath and Beth lack of agreement on whether to have a young was dealt with in this book. We also got an opportunity to meet Wrath’s father and mother via flashbacks. There was an attempted coup and there was a change in the political climate, affecting the monarchy and the glymera. Assail and Sola made some progress in their relationship, as well as Xcor and Layla.
I must admit that I am baffled at how such an ambitious man like Xcor would agree to the deal with Layla, thus betraying his alliance. It seems selfish and self-centered, and proves that he isn’t fit to lead the BoB. I am sure that will be addressed in future books. It seems to me that Layla was the winner in that bargain too.

The one bright spot in this book was Trez and iAm. I feel like I understand both of them better and there has been some personal growth on their parts. I look forward to seeing Trez continue his journey to his chosen Selena.

For such a long book, I didn’t really feel like there was that much substance or real movement in the story. I continue to be baffled by the Scribe Virgin’s absence when her brother the Omega has clearly returned.

I am resigned to reading BDB for curiousity sake, but I cannot say that I will be waiting on pins and needles for the next book. My passion of the series is pretty much gone, we have now settled into a comfortable friendship