Friday, May 30, 2014

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion


Don Tillman is genetics professor who is about to turn 40 years old. His life has always been ruled by outlines and systems – that’s all he knows. Order, schedules, routine are the norm. So when he decides that he might be ready for a wife, he approaches finding one with the same process. Upon realizing he’s never been past a first date with a woman, he figures he must find a way to find a wife other than what “normal” people do – dating, social interactions, and actual conversations. After creating an extensive questionnaire, he embarks on The Wife Project.  

 Enlisting his friend Gene and his wife Claudia, the questionnaire is refined a bit more, posted to online dating sites, and with their help, he also tries to improve his social skills via a match-making organization, and speed dating!

After receiving over 300 responses, he tells Gene there are no suitable responses. Gene is not willing to give up that easily. 

‘Give me your list,’ said Gene. ‘I’ll pick out a few out for you.’
‘None of them meet the criteria. They all have some fault.’
‘Treat it as practice.’
I emailed the spreadsheet to Gene.
‘No smokers.’
‘Okay,’ said Gene, ‘but you have to ask them out. To dinner. At a proper restaurant.’
Gene smiled as if to compensate for my lack of enthusiasm. ‘It’s easy. “How about we do dinner tonight?” Say it after me.’
‘How about we do dinner tonight?’ I repeated.

Enter Rosie. She’s a bartender, graduate student, and walks into Don’s office telling him she was sent by Professor Barrow. Gene. Don assumes Gene has been expedient on his selection of a date for him, and Don immediately asks Rosie out to dinner. Stunned, she tells him he must be joking. Not catching onto the nuances of language other than the direct meaning, Don initially thinks that Rosie “Isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed”. She’s not only brilliant, she’s witty, honest, unconventional, and beautiful. Due to a “Jacket Incident” at the restaurant, they end up having dinner at his place. 

Rosie completely un-nerves him, telling him “Previous rules no longer apply” and he’s in the Rosie zone. He’s intrigued. When she reveals that she’s unsure of who her father is, he figures he can help. He’s a geneticist after all! Thus commences, “The Father Project”. The two interact in the most hilarious ways, trying to collect samples on possible candidates. What they find is a friendship, attraction, and eventually, a stunning realization for Don and Rosie both.

This is a sweet story of an individual finding himself, a friend, and eventually, a partner for life. Unlike most romantic comedies, this one did not contain one sex scene! Not a one. Some hilarity around the topic, but nothing graphic at all.  A bit refreshing given some of the other smut I’ve read recently. It's listed under Humor and Science Fiction/Genetic Engineering, which is a bit off as I would expect books under SciFi to be a bit more...out there. Don't let that fool you. The writing is superb and the story is engaging enough to keep you from wanting to put the book down!

After reading a few disappointing books this week, I was in need of something good. Something light, fun, and happy. I found it!! The Rosie Project is probably one of the most entertaining books I've read this year. As I was reading I couldn't help visioning the Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper , and Emma Stone from....well? Many of her roles! Except the Spidey movie of course. You learned to understand the characters and their quirks, rooting for them in the end.   

An excellent outcome indeed! 

 Go get this one now!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Alpha by Jasinda Wilder

“The first time it happened, it seemed like an impossible miracle. Bills were piling up, adding up to more money than I could ever make. Mom's hospital bills. My baby brother's tuition. My tuition. Rent. Electricity. All of it on my shoulders. And I had just lost my job. There was no hope, no money in my account, no work to be found. And then, just when I thought all hope was lost, I found an
envelope in the mail. No return address. My name on the front, my address. Inside was a check, made out to me, in the amount of ten thousand dollars. Enough to pay the bills and leave me some left over to live on until I found a job. Enough to let me focus on classes. There was no name on the check, just "VRI Inc.," and a post office box address for somewhere in the city. No hint of identity or reason for the check or anything. No mention of repayment, interest, nothing...except a single word, on the notes line: "You." Just those three letters.

The next month, I received another check, again from VRI Incorporated. It too contained a single word: "belong."

A third check, the next month. This time, two words. Four letters. "To me."

The checks kept coming. The notes stopped. Ten thousand dollars, every month. How do you turn down what seems like free money, when you're desperate? You don't. I didn't.

And then, after a year, there was a knock on my door. A sleek black limousine sat on the curb in front of my house. A driver stood in front of me, and he spoke six words: "It's time to pay your debt."

Would you have gotten in?

I did.

It turns out $120,000 doesn't come free.”

_____________________________________________________________

I read this synopsis and sent it to a friend saying “this may be my next naughty read!” It was naughty, and while the premise is good, there was something missing for me to make it a really good book.

 The synopsis sets up the first part of the book, omitting the part about why Kyrie, the main character in this novel, was in such dire financial straits. Seems the downward spiral started once her father was murdered, and she was left to care for a mentally ill mother, her brother, and all their expenses.

“I went from innocent, na├»ve, privileged college girl to primary breadwinner for three people, one of whom didn’t even recognize me most days. Before life went completely down the drain, putting all my dreams out of reach, leaving me desperate, exhausted, stressed, and frustrated.”

At the end of her rope, she cashes those checks each month knowing that somehow, someway, she would have to pay back those funds. When her benefactor sends for her, she’s a bit freaked but goes along with it, with equal parts curiosity and obligation. She is whisked away to an unknown city, finds herself blindfolded and in front of an unknown man, her benefactor this last year. She’s told that he’s there of her own free will, and can leave at any time, yet her financial support will disappear and it won’t be long before she’s back in the same place that she started. Not much of a choice there when you really think about it.

The blindfold, we are told, is so that she will learn to trust without seeing him but we later learn there was another reason for hiding his identity.

 She learns to submit control to him – for everything. With the blindfold in place for a few days, she learns to trust him, depend on him, and react to him. He attends to her every need. There’s some smokin’ hot chemistry between them and when they get together, it combusts. While Kyrie’s body is telling her ‘yes yes yes’, her emotions are saying ‘um, hold up a minute what is going on here?’

When he is finally revealed, she’s in awe. Roth is tall, handsome, caring, and completely devoted to her and her happiness. She recognizes him but just can’t place where she may have seen him before. You find that he only intended to play with Kyrie for a bit, but ended up falling for her and doesn’t really want to let her go. Once they’ve reached a point of total intimacy, trust, and dependence, he tells her he has a secret that once revealed could change everything. It does.

What results is a complex story of deception, trust, conflicted love, and forgiveness. Jasinda Wilder not only has created Roth as an Alpha male to the extreme – controlling, demanding, confident, but a bit of a contradiction in that he tells her he owns her, but she is submitting on her own will.

“You’re here because I own you, Kyrie.”
“I own you but you will submit to me willingly.”

How can you simultaneously be “owned” by someone – which assumes ultimate power and control, and yet “submit willingly”? This is one of the few things I just didn’t get. As well, there some sexually submissive situations (say that three times fast!) that personally, I wouldn’t dream of allowing but hey, it’s not me in the book right? So read with caution – or a very open mind.

While Kyrie is willing to submit sexually without question, there’s a lack of emotional connection. Physically? Certainly. Emotionally? Not so much.  

Kyrie: “I like sex. I like it a lot. But I don’t do random, meaningless sex… Everything that I’ve done before, all the guys I’ve been with before…none of them could even remotely compete with you. Not on any level. That” —I gestured at the bed— “was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It meant something. I don’t know what, exactly, but it did, and I know it, and I think you do, too.” But there was a lie in there. That I did know. 
“You’re right, of course.” Roth said. Then he took a long swallow of wine before passing the last of it to me. “I think we both have a lot to think about.” 

At times the sexual situations in the book seem to be a bit much, overshadowing a deeper emotional piece that would have made this a more believable story. The words seemed a bit empty to me. Normally, when I read emotional scenes and dialogue, I feel it. I had difficulty with the feels in this book. It until much later when Roth’s identity and his role in her life were revealed that I actually felt something. By then, it was a bit late for me.

In all, Alpha creates an interesting framework but is missing a few key pieces to make it whole. It may leave you hot and bothered (ahem *Cough* *uberhotsteamysexscenes*), or just plain bothered by the lack of real emotional connection between the characters. Overall, it’s not a bad read, but don’t expect to feel the angst in your gut. With the sex scenes that push many boundaries, you may end up feeling things in other places. 

Want to read for yourself? Visit  Amazon / Barnes and Noble / or other retail bookstores.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

S.L. Jennings' "Taint" Ain't all it's cracked up to be.

So, I got an email with new releases last week and Taint by S.L Jennings was on the list. I saw all the hype on social media. All the “OMG This book is amazeballs” comments or something to that effect. I read the blurb I didn’t read the reviews. I should have.

From the author’s description of this book, I thought I was in for a freaky erotic read.  Taint ain't about that. I had some hope when I read “Google that shit” in the first chapter – because I use that line in my own life, so must be good, right? Wrong. 

The premise is fascinating at first: women are sent by their husbands to learn how to be more giving in the bedroom. Remove the prude. What’s that old quote? “A lady in the living room and a whore in the bedroom?”  Unleash your inner slut for your man in private while maintaining your role of the socialite, the appropriately coiffed, classy, and devoted wife in public.  

On Day 1, he tells them “You suck at sex…you don’t satisfy your husband sexually, which is why he wants to cheat on you, if he hasn’t already. You may be a fantastic wife, mother, homemaker, whatever, but you are a lousy lover. And that trumps all”. And Justice Drake, a “consultant” is going to teach them how to rectify that. The MEN send their wives to this uber-seclusive resort to get in your face training by Justice Drake. And they go. Willingly. 

So, who exactly is Justice Drake? In the beginning, he’s a total douche-canoe. He’s an ass-hat. Crude, and egotistical, (he describes himself that way) he’s brash, in your face, and the women in this book just go along with what he’s dishing out. According to Drake: 

“Women want a man that will get down and dirty. They want tenderness, but crave to be banged like a $2 hooker. They want a man that’ll go all night but still have the energy to kiss and cuddle and talk about their feelings afterward.”  Is that what women really want? 

And men? Well, in the world according to Drake:
“Men are simple creatures. You have to be what they want. You have to offer what they desire. And if you aren’t what we want, we find something – or someone – we do.” Um, okay.

So, back to the point. The women are there to get sexed-up. The training includes how to dress with sexy lingerie, sexy dancing instruction from a pair of strippers, self-pleasure techniques compliments of a medical student, a tantric sex couple performing a live demo to show the women how to act during the act. On and on….and the women, just go along with it, slowly becoming less embarrassed and less disgusted with his techniques. Never questioning, except one. One of the women, Ally (Allison) Carr, calls Drake out on his bullshit and guess what? He’s intrigued by the intelligent red-head who not only questions his standards, but bucks the standards of the socialite society set upon her with her un-nipped and un-tucked body, complete with red hair and freckles that haven’t been bleached by the dermatologist. She openly challenged him, didn’t give in and conform to his standards, and is quite defiant, opinionated, and has her own personality. I liked her. And she had names for her boobs (that's the second book this week with boobie names!).  Of course, he is attracted to her, but must maintain his professional relationship with all the women despite the obvious sexed-infused temptations around them all day. 

Drake admits that he is not careless, knows his boundaries and doesn’t cross them with the women in his program. But he can’t resist Ally. What starts as simple banter and conversation turns to flirtation and desire. 

“Kissing Ally would be so easy. Touching her, holding her, tasting her…it’d be like breathing. I want to breathe. I want to inhale her in every way possible. I want her life to sustain me, her heartbeat to synchronize with mine…She deserves better, and I’m not better.”

There’s hints (some obvious) that he’s not what and who he claims to be. So just who is the real Justice Drake? You don’t who he really is until the end of the book.  And THIS could have been teased out and make more of the drama. Instead, most of his story is about the internal conversations of Drake and his wussy ramblings about sunshine and freckles. Dude. Really? 

“When you spend your life in the dark, looking up and wishing for something better – something brighter- you don’t realize how lonely you are. Not until the sun shines, spreading light on all the empty spaces filling them with beautiful warmth.” And “Can I spend every night counting her freckles, like I once counted the stars?” Seriously? Dude. Dude.  You’re supposed to be bad ass. Or just an ass. A douche. A dick. Even Ally once calls him a “douche-nozzle” but…. Whomp whomp whoooooommp. He’s not. It’s all an act. He’s all soft and wussy inside. LOL. 

It’s told from the male point of view – also not the norm in this type of book (what type of book is this? It’s filed under contemporary romance btw).  From my experience, men don’t talk like this. They don’t. Okay, I’m not an expert on ALL men, so maybe there are some out there, but not the ones that I know. My man has occasional bouts of squishy, but never has he said I’m his sunshine spreading light across all his darkness.  I’ve read a handful of books from the male POV, and they’ve never been this wussy. Maybe it’s just me, but I want my men to be manly. Big bad asses with a soft spot for their women. They can be sweet, but not wimpy. Not weak or lacking in confidence. Drake needed to man the fuck up in a big way. 

The most refreshing line in the book is from the chef, Riku. “Fuck that. I want a woman that eats. Someone I can cook for and feed while she’s curled up next to me in bed. Ain’t shit I can do with a bag of bones. I mean, have you seen most of them? Shit, if they turn to the side, they fucking disappear. I’ll take tits and ass over Skeletor any-damn-day.”

 Finally, a real man! And he mentioned Skeletor. Real men that want women with real bodies. Hmm. What a concept.  Thank goodness that I have a man like Riku – force feeding me Texas BBQ and deserts all damn day and night. And wouldn’t you know it? He just came home with my favorite lemon cookies! 

Personally, I would have much preferred to cut to the end of the “training” and continue the story with Justice and Ally,  when they’re deep into their deceptive relationship with her cheating on her husband with the sex-coach he sent her to, and him cheating with, well, everyone it appears, THEN drop the bomb of his identity! BOOM! That’s the drama! Plus, let Ally have a bit more of a brain. She’s described as a Columbia educated - she stands up to the ridiculousness of Drake’s teachings and ideologies, but she stays with her cheating bastard husband? Has enough confidence to be herself with a goofy personality and endearing quirks, eat what she wants (ice cream and chicken and waffles), has a shameless obsession with Friends, yet feels guilty when she’s attracted to someone else? Sorry, I didn’t get it. This just didn’t jibe. 

In all, it’s not a terrible read, but not my favorite. Want to read for yourself? Visit Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other book retailers.

On a side note: The bio on S.L Jennings states that she’s recognized from her “starring role in a popular sitcom as a child”…Who and What?I really did try to Google that shit and couldn't find anything. Maybe she used a different name then. Or now.

Sixth Grave on the Edge, Darynda Jones. (Charley Davidson Series #6)


In the Sixth instillation of the “Charley Davidson” series, or the grave series, or the grim reaper series (pick your favorite, I’ve heard them all), Darynda Jones continues to entertain me with her hilarious writing, quick wit, sarcasm, mayhem, and ridiculously awesome chapter titles. For those not familiar with this series, let me catch you up: 

Charley Davidson is a private investigator. She’s also the grim reaper. Oh, but not the kind you think you know – she's not in a black robe with the scythe, and she doesn’t go after people to kill them. At least for now. She is a happy reaper. She can see the dead, talk to them, and help them cross over through her. When said dead people do cross, she sees their life histories, filled with memories and emotions flash through her mind as their spirit passes through her body. She’s the portal to heaven, shining bright like a diamond. She’s yet to discover her full range of super-powers, but in this book, you find she can do more than help people cross, summon spirits at will, stop time and shift the energy of the earth, and leave her corporeal body. She’s more of a coffee freak than I am which is saying a lot! Gotta love that she feels like she has a personal relationship with Mr. Coffee and talks to him as if he were real. But then again, she names many objects in her life, including her breasts: Danger and Will Robinson! Kickass. 

Of course, where there is good, there must also be bad. Ying to the yang right? Enter Reyes Farrow. Reyes. Alexander. Farrow. He’s hot. Hot as hell!  Literally. He’s the son of Satan. Rey’aziel, the Antichrist born into a human and once his corporeal body dies will bring the end of the world as we know it. She’s the portal to heaven and he has the map to the gates of hell tattooed on his back. HE's the one described with the hooded black robe, and the scythe that he wields at will.


Photo credit: 
http://www.daryndajones.com/the-trouble-with-Charley/
Naturally, these two need to get together. Initially, he’s told he was created as and sent to earth to take down the reaper (and of course, all of mankind), but then one look at her and he decides, nope, not gonna do it. Instead, he can’t resist her light and ends up being born so he could be closer to her, protecting her, falling for her, and tries to make her fall his charms and good looks. Reyes is described as having piercing brown eyes, flecked with gold and green, thick curly dark hair, dark golden skin and a devilish grin. Making this woman, hell all women, fall for him? Yah. Not hard to do.


-- “He looks like, I don’t know.” She dared a quick look over my shoulder. “Have you ever seen the sky at night when the stars weren’t out but it was crystal clear, the sky such a deep dark black that you were sure you could drown in it, it was so beautiful.”
I nodded knowingly. “Yes I have.”
“He’s that.” She slammed her eyes shut as thought picturing him in her mind, afraid to look again. “He’s the deep, dark kind of beauty that you’d sell your soul to have.”


And so it goes. In each book, you get Charley investigating some sort of case and there’s always mayhem involved. She often involves her friend/employee Cookie and her uncle/detective Bob (Ubie for short).  She often has run-ins with a bounty hunter named Garret, Angel – a deceased teenaged gang member that helps her solve cases, Rocket – the ghost in the asylum that documents the names of the dead, and a host of others both living and dead. Her dad (a retired detective/bar owner), sister (psychologist), and evil step mother are also around.   Cookie’s daughter Amber is also featured in multiple books. 

In Sixth, Charley is trying to “solve” a cold-case handed to her by her FBI friend Special Agent Carson, discovering who the naked old dude is in her Jeep, dealing with “The Dealer” to get back the soul of a client, all while being followed and blackmailed by the Chief of Police, and devising a complicated scheme to get her uncle and Cookie to finally admit they are attracted to each other and get on with it. Of course, she’s also having some sexy times with Reyes. 

You discover a few more of her super-powers, the story behind Angel, a tad bit more about the prophecies, the real story behind Reyes’ family and the whole abduction thing, and finally, some tidbits about Mr. Wong. I’m sure more will be revealed about him in upcoming books. What we didn’t find out is what is going on with her dad! Seriously, that story line just…poof. Vanished. 

 I love that Jones can simultaneously tell multiple stories without leaving the reader confused, and wraps most of them up within the book.  The bomb dropped on a post-it note at the end of Book 5: Fifth Grave Past the Light is answered, but this one ends with another explosive cliffhanger.  I’m not about to post the ultimate spoiler, BUT did realize that after a re-read of Fifth, there is a MAJOR hint there…I just didn’t get it at first. When I got to the end of and this one and made the connection, thought. “What the Holy Hell?!?!? OMG I get it!!” 
 
Shit. Now I need book 7. I hate it when this happens, because I’m greedy like Veruca Salt, I want it and I want it NOW! 

I really enjoy good mysteries and crime novels, and while this series technically is classified as “crime / mystery / paranormal”, it’s should also be filed under humor, romance, family, and sarcasm. There is a sarcasm category right? If not, there should be.
 I also made a connection that I has been creeping in my head since the first book and really, REALLY didn’t want to make about this series and the characters. After poking around at other reviews, others have said it, so it might not be new to you. Here it is: /Begin Rant: Charley Davidson and her antics could be swapped at any moment with Stephanie Plum. And just like Steph, Charley does things without thinking about the consequences to herself or others.
“I like tricky. Tricky is my middle name. No, wait, that’s trouble. Trouble’s my middle name. My bad.” - Charley
Reyes, like Ranger, has always been there to save her ass, only, you know, Reyes severs the spines of those that mess with Charley ‘cause he’s Satan’s son and all. Like Ranger, Reyes calls her on her crap in this book, and just like with Plum, she keeps on doing what she does and gets kidnapped, nearly killed, and ultimately, makes it through. Since she’s not really human, she will survive, but still – I can only take so much of this. Hell, he’s even bought her a car!

You bought me a new Jeep?”
“ I was hoping you wouldn’t notice”
You could even say that Cookie is the mom version of Lula, the female sidekick except this one doesn’t contribute to the mayhem. In fact, she helps keep Charley and her business running. 
At least with Darynda Jones’ there’s no love-triangle that after twenty fricken books is still not resolved, so there’s that. We already know that Charley gives into Reyes, but heck, even this somewhat practicing Catholic would make a deal with The Dealer for a piece of that devilish hotness! Seven books in to this series, I’m not bored, tired, and seeing repetitive story lines so that’s also good. Having said that, if Charley is still getting into trouble and near death experiences in book 20, and giraffes start to run in the streets after Cookie, I’m going to scream! Assuming there are that many books in this series. /endrant.

Book 7: Seventh Grave and No Body comes out in October. It’s going to be a long summer waiting for that one! 

I do recommend reading in order as you’ll miss a ton of key facts and people leading up to this one. They’re quick and easy reads, especially since they’re so entertaining. Be sure not to miss the chapter titles – those are honestly my favorite.  

For the entire series, visit: Amazon,

and don't forget to visit her website: 
 and read the "Graveyard" - extras and different points of view!