A Caryn Release Day Review: The Long and Winding Road (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #4) by T.J. Klune

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This entire book was one long paean of gratitude to love and family.  Which is, indeed, beautiful.

This book will mean nothing to people who haven’t read the rest of the BOATK (Bear, Otter and the Kid) series.  For those who are fans – like me – it is a very fitting ending to the series, but more than that it is a gentle and gracious goodbye to these beloved characters.  I won’t say it’s angst free (after all, is it physically possible for Mr. Klune to write a book without angst?), but the levels are much lower than in the three previous books.

We are back in Bear’s head for this one, but this is a more mature, confident, and settled Bear than in the earlier books.  The years of his marriage to Otter have given him a surety in the future, and happiness, that he was never able to believe in before.  He still has manic ramblings that lead him to outrageous hysteria like he had in the previous books, but the edge of panic isn’t there like it used to be.  It’s as if his thoughts are used to flowing into this crazy morass, but the reality of Otter’s love is now there to create a dam of sorts, to lift him out of the frenzy before it can really take hold.  So, still hugely entertaining, but no longer making the reader fearful of where it’s going to lead him.  Bear is continuously aware of how blessed he is to love and be loved by Otter and Tyson and his growing circle of friends and family, and he expresses that gratitude continuously, both aloud and in his head.  And I never got tired of hearing it.  He had been through so much pain in the past, and he learned never to take joy for granted.  Personally, I find that admirable and refreshing – I feel like it is much more common in our society for people to think they deserve that kind of joy regardless of what they’ve done with their life, or to lose sight of how amazing a gift it truly is once they’ve had it for a while.  Bear and Otter were able to look at each other with the love that comes from knowing someone else deeply and completely, and yet still be astonished by the depth of that love, and they expressed that love time after time. 

When it comes from the heart, you can never say I love you too much.

The book starts in New Hampshire where Bear and Otter moved when Tyson started college at Dartmouth.  The story of Tyson’s spiral into panic and addiction was revealed (I have to admit when I read The Art of Breathing I had a bit of whiplash trying to figure out how the Kid got to that point when things were going so well at the end of Who We Are.  I needed to know this!).  Bear and Tyson’s harrowing early years had left them so enmeshed – which was both a strength and a terrible weakness – that the process of disentangling was bound to be fraught with difficulty.  Even more so than in The Art of Breathing, in this book I really saw Bear and Tyson become separate individuals, though still incredibly close.   After Tyson left the nest to embark on his own journey, Bear was finally able to focus on Otter and his long-deferred needs and wishes.  Seeing the return to Seafare through their eyes, coming back to where it all started in order to start the next chapter of their lives, was really the focus of the story.  And it was full circle – endings, but also new beginnings, and throughout, an attitude of hopefulness.

The secondary characters are, as always, so lovable and so much fun!  Creed and JJ were by far my favorites, but Dominic, Ben, Anna, and the rest of the crew were there, joined their half sister Izzie and  Megan (Bear and Otter’s surrogate) and her Lamaze instructor boyfriend with a pregnancy kink, Marty.  Mrs. Paquinn is never far from anyone’s thoughts, and her memory remains a touchstone.  The Green Monstrosity starts bursting at the seams with the additions to the family, and Bear’s freak outs about becoming a father were hilarious (as was his pride in his super sperm).  I loved how all the things that made Bear so entertaining in the first book were still there, but with so much more!

Cover art by Paul Richmond is exactly right for the book, in ways I can’t find words to describe.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 346 pages
Published August 9th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleThe Long and Winding Road
ISBN139781635336818
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bear, Otter, and the Kid  aka BOATK:

A Stella Release Day Review: ​A Destiny of Dragons (Tales From Verania) by TJ Klune

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Sequel to The Lightning-Struck Heart

Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.

Life is good.

Until it’s not.

Because Vadoma, the leader of the gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.

And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.

Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.

I was waiting for this book since I finished The Lightning-Struck Heart in the 2015. I was waiting for Sam to take me on his beautiful world with his amazing friends. TJ didn’t disappoint me. He did great, again.

I spent a whole week on A Destiny of Dragons , I dosed the reading not only because I actually didn’t have a lot of time, but I wanted to truly enjoyed each single word. And IMO that’s the key of the success of TJ Klune’s  writing especially in these kind of stories: each word is perfect, each sentences is hilarious, every new chapter is a surprise. The reader can’t try to imagine where he was going to bring us, because everything is unpredictable and over the top. And I can’t have enough.

I couldn’t wait for meet again Gary, he is still sassy and beautiful as ever, still in love with Kevin, no matter what he claims. And then Tiggy, with his big heart and his readiness to smash things and people. But I have a confession to make, someone else stole my heart in this book and it was inevitable, I’m pretty sure no one will be able to resist at a fourteen years old emo snake dragon. I want Zero to be the main characters in the next book in the series. He deserves so much from life and I bet Sam will take care of him, since he is such a good boy. And good boys always win, right? Well I can tell you me and Ryan were pissed more than once with our beloved (apprentice) wizard.

I feel to of course recommend this series, it’s funny, light, full of amazing characters, most of all it’s packed with feelings, every kind of feeling you can think of.   

The cover art by Paul Richmond is simpler compared to the cover of the first book and I like it, but maybe  simple and clean don’t fit the story a lot.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 400 pages

Publication Date: June 30th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781635335576

Edition Language English

Series Tales From Verania #2

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Until You (At First Sight #3) by T.J. Klune and Michael Lesley (Narrator)

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 

Together with their families and friends

Paul Auster

and

Vincent Taylor

request the honor of your company at the celebration of their marriage.

 

This is another wonderful story in the At First Sight series.  Paul and Vince are just as wonderful together as they have been in the other stories.  They both love and know each other so well that they can make the other feel better and make their worries go away.

 

Paul is just as hilarious has he has been before and I love hearing how his mind work because it is AMAZING!  His mind can make the craziest jumps but it works for him.  Seeing his whole family, Sandy and Darren just brings everyone together so much more.  I love their unconditional love for each other and how much they support one another.  These stories make me laugh so much, I always feel better at the end and it lifts up my day.

 

Michael Lesley did a wonderful job narrating this story.  I was able to connect with the characters well and feel their emotions in his reading as he used different voices for the characters.  His voice changes so much you really get to see the differences with the characters.

 

Cover art by Reese Dante is sweet and understated but I love the simpleness of it for this story.

 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 5 hrs 4 min
Published: May 2, 2017 (ebook first published February 27, 2017)
Edition Language: English

Series: At First Sight #3

A Stella Release Day Review: Olive Juice by TJ Klune

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RATING 3 unsure stars out of 5

It begins with a message that David cannot ignore:

I want to see you.

He agrees, and on a cold winter’s night, David and Phillip will come together to sift through the wreckage of the memory of a life no longer lived.

David is burdened, carrying with him the heavy guilt of the past six years upon his shoulders.

Phillip offers redemption.

I really have no idea what to say in this review, I can’t talk about the plot, cause the blurb tells you pretty much nothing and the story really needs to surprise the reader. As it surprised me, in a good or bad way? I picked Olive Juice and I didn’t even read the blurb, it’s a TJ Klune story, one of my favorite author so I couldn’t miss his new release, no matter what the story was about. Now that I just finished reading this novella, I honestly can’t say if it was a good surprise. I don’t even know how to rate it. I simply don’t know.

Olive Juice left me with a sour taste in my mouth as every story like this one would have done. I actually wanted to DFN it because I understood what was happening and I couldn’t stand that kind of feeling, the book deeply hurt me and not even the ending, not a HEA because the impossible would have need to happen to have a HEA, satisfied me. It couldn’t satisfy me. I can’t even say I’m happy for David and Phillip to be together again.

And now that I read the whole story, I’m a little dubious about the initial part, I feel cheated by the author for introduce me to Matteo and let me like him a lot and then nothing more. I don’t want to ask for his own book because I don’t want it to be related in any way with Olive Juice. This is surely and probably the only book by this author I will never reread in the future, I can’t take it.

I think I will settle on three stars simply cause, although it’s not the kind of book I love to read and I would never have picked it if the blurb was more explicit, Olive Juice is well done, too emotional and powerful, beautifully written. The author was great at putting me on the edge from the beginning and it was brave for choosing this theme.

The cover art by Reese Dante is lovely, I like it a lot.

Sales Links

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 121 pages

Publication date: April 26th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1635335027 (ISBN13: 9781635335026)

Edition Language English

A Stella Release Day Review: Until You (At First Sight #3) by T.J. Klune

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

until-you-by-tj-kluneSequel to The Queen & the Homo Jock King

Together with their families and friends

Paul Auster

and

Vincent Taylor

request the honor of your company at the celebration of their marriage.

Until You by TJ Klune is the HEA all the fans of Vince and Paul deserved. Maybe we fans deserved it more than the MCs for all the shit we had to read in the previous books (Just joking!).

I can always count on TJ and his writing, I can’t explain how much I laughed reading this new release, how many times I rolled my eyes at Paul and Sandy, how much I wanted to be part of that crazy family of blood related and not people.

This new installment was exactly what I was expecting, crazy and funny and stupid, just perfect and always over the top. It’s what I want from the At First Sight series.  I was so happy to have the chance to revisit these favorite persons of mine, not just Paul and Vince, but all the other characters too, I saw a little more of the homo jock king heart and I fell in love again with Corey. I so hope TJ will give me more.

I enjoyed and deeply loved each chapter, each full of not just laughs, but full of what truly conquered me, the positiveness and the emotions, had the book not been so funny, I surely would have cried as a baby, because the love was not only in the air, the love was everywhere and the characters’ hearts were full of it. It warmed my soul and left me with a smile on my face.

I don’t want to spoil the story telling little details, but I want to highly recommend the whole series and if you are missing just Until You, run to buy it right now and read it soon. It’s a winner.

The cover art by Reese Dante is awesome, I like this artist style a lot and this is no exception, especially for the cake topping, too cute.

Sales Links

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BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 162 pages

Published February 27th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ASIN B01NB1N45J

Edition Language English

Series At First Sight #3

An Ali Audiobook Review: Murmuration by T.J. Klune and Kirt Graves (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
murmuration-audioIn the small mountain town of Amorea, it’s stretching toward autumn of 1954. The memories of a world at war are fading in the face of a prosperous future. Doors are left unlocked at night, and neighbors are always there to give each other a helping hand.

The people here know certain things as fact:

Amorea is the best little town there is.

The only good Commie is a dead Commie.

The Women’s Club of Amorea runs the town with an immaculately gloved fist.

And bookstore owner Mike Frazier loves that boy down at the diner, Sean Mellgard. Why they haven’t gotten their acts together is anybody’s guess. It may be the world’s longest courtship, but no one can deny the way they look at each other.

Slow and steady wins the race, or so they say.
Something’s happening in Amorea. And Mike will do whatever he can to keep the man he loves


But something’s wrong with Mike. He hears voices in his house late at night. There are shadows crawling along the walls, and great clouds of birds overhead that only he can see.
So this book is a trip. It’s impossible to discuss the plot without spoilers so I’m going to skip that. I will say that this book had me hooked from the beginning. At first I wasn’t sure what was going on. Then part way in I thought I had figured it out. I was wrong. Then I had a new theory and I was part way right. And then…….gah. (I could do this all day.) 

Here’s what you need to know. The writing was fantastic. It is some of TJ’s best work imo. I literally couldn’t put this down because I was dying to know what was going on. There are plot points that I really disliked. Plot points I’m not comfortable with. And yet……..I was captivated by this story.

There is a really unique romance. It’s so different than anything I’ve ever read before. It’s this sweet, pure, 1950’s courting type romance and I never would have thought that was my thing but apparently it is. (I still need my smut and won’t be running off to find these kind of romances in general but it really worked with the plot).

The end keeps you guessing. I mean right up to the very end. The very last paragraph or two. I was holding my breathe and while I knew I was intrigued I under estimated how emotionally invested I was because all of a sudden I had tears in my eyes. 

I did most of this on audio and the narrator, Kirt Graves, was excellent. One of the best I’ve listened to. I got about half way through on audio and then switched to reading because I was so impatient to find out what was going to happen. I then switched back to audio for the last few chapters. If you like audios I recommend doing this story that way. It was top notch and really added to the overall storytelling. 
Cover by Reese Dante: I love the cover.  I had seen the guy on the cover on some other books so I didn’t think much about it going into this story.  After reading it though, I have to say the cover is perfect for the story.  
Sales Links
 
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio
Published January 16th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published October 28th 2016)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Wolfsong by TJ Klune and Kirt Graves (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

wolfsong-audiobookOh my! This was the very best shifter story I’ve ever read! A master of intricate plots, TJ Klune applied his very vivid imagination to creating an intriguing, complex drama that also happens to be a sweet story of a love between a man and a wolf—a love fated to last for all time. Add to that, the very talented voice of narrator Kirt Graves, and I could have listened to this eighteen-hour audiobook for another eighteen hours without being the least bit bored. Every time I thought it was coming to an end, a new plot twist was thrown out to intrigue readers and listeners even more.

Ox was a plain-speaking, easygoing, simple man with no expectations for himself beyond being good to his mother. After all, his daddy always told him he’d get nothing but shit in life before his daddy left for good. Ox lived with his mom near the big house at the end of the lane that was vacant for years, until one day he came home to find a boy standing in the road—a boy named Joe, who now lived in the big house. Ox didn’t know it then, but this talkative, high energy boy would someday be the focus of his world.

The author takes us into that world—the world of werewolves and magic—and what an adventure we get! It’s not pretty; it’s not sweet and fluffy romance; it’s gritty, and powerful, and gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and heartwarming drama. But when I finished, I wanted to howl and sing their wolfsong.

It’s not often that I’m at a loss for words, but I don’t think there are enough adjectives to describe how incredible this book is. And the narration? Outstanding and superb are somehow too inadequate to do it justice. Just buy it and listen and wallow in the joy of having found the best book of the year.

The cover by Reese Dante features two paw prints on a black background—striking in its simplicity.

Sales Links

Audiobook Details:

18 hrs 40 mins
Audible Audio, 19 pages

Published October 5th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 20th 2016)
Original TitleWolfsong
ASINB01LX3DCUR
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Stella Release Day Review: Murmuration by TJ Klune

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RATING 2,75 out of 5 stars

murmurationIn the small mountain town of Amorea, it’s stretching toward autumn of 1954. The memories of a world at war are fading in the face of a prosperous future. Doors are left unlocked at night, and neighbors are always there to give each other a helping hand.

The people here know certain things as fact:

Amorea is the best little town there is.

The only good Commie is a dead Commie.

The Women’s Club of Amorea runs the town with an immaculately gloved fist.

And bookstore owner Mike Frazier loves that boy down at the diner, Sean Mellgard. Why they haven’t gotten their acts together is anybody’s guess. It may be the world’s longest courtship, but no one can deny the way they look at each other.

Slow and steady wins the race, or so they say.

But something’s wrong with Mike. He hears voices in his house late at night. There are shadows crawling along the walls, and great clouds of birds overhead that only he can see.

Something’s happening in Amorea. And Mike will do whatever he can to keep the man he loves.

My review on Murmuration by TJ Klune will be brief. You want the truth? I don’t have a lot to say. I could have given it 5 stars because in a way it deserves the highest rating but I can’t and I’ll try to explain why without spoiling it. Basically I’m not sure what to make of the plot. I found the relationship between Mike and Sean sweet and cute.  I liked the story.  I found it mysterious, it intrigued me since I read the blurb and it kept my interest through a long part of it. I had no idea what was going to happen, where the author was going to take the MCs,  but I wasn’t worried because I knew I would have an HEA.

I liked the writing, it’s easy and great and brought me to Amorea and its sceneries and habitants. It brought me on a balcony, it brought me on a sterile room. I appreciate the author’s talent, his invention, he loves words and he knows how to use them to create unique and awesome sentences.  I have to give it to TJ. The book is amazingly written and well done, really really well done. Unexpected as everything TJ writes.  I’m blown away but still not in a good way.

That said I can’t give it 3 stars. The problem is I’m so disappointed and angry. This story was hard to take to me and I can’t overcome  the bitter taste if left on my heart. I could have so loved Murmuration but TJ ruined everything. He destroyed what I loved, who I loved, all the people I met in Amorea, in the last part of the book. And to me is unecceptable. And the ending? That was supposed to be a HEA? It wasn’t.

The cover art by  Reese Dante is amazing, one of the best covers I saw this year.

Sales Links

        

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 324 pages

Publication  date October 28th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1634774558 (ISBN13: 9781634774550)

Edition Language English

An Alisa Audiobook Review: The Queen & the Homo Jock King (At First Sight #2) by T.J. Klune and Michael Lesley (Narrator)

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 

the-queen-the-homo-jock-king-audiobookDo you believe in love at first sight?

 

Sanford Stewart sure doesn’t. In fact, he pretty much believes in the exact opposite, thanks to the Homo Jock King. It seems Darren Mayne lives for nothing more than to create chaos in Sandy’s perfectly ordered life, just for the hell of it. Sandy despises him, and nothing will ever change his mind.

 

Or so he tells himself.

 

It’s not until the owner of Jack It—the club where Sandy performs as drag queen Helena Handbasket—comes to him with a desperate proposition that Sandy realizes he might have to put his feelings about Darren aside. Because Jack It will close unless someone can convince Andrew Taylor, the mayor of Tucson, to keep it open.

 

Someone like Darren, the mayor’s illegitimate son.

 

The foolproof plan is this: seduce Darren and push him to convince his father to renew Jack It’s contract with the city.

 

Simple, right?

 

Wrong.

 

I loved this story just as much as I have every TJ Klune story I’ve read.  Sandy is absolutely hilarious, if not completely stubborn at the same time.  Seeing all the characters from the previous book helps to connect with the story even more.

 

You can’t help but connect with Sandy and feel exactly how he did.  I could see the other characters emotions through Sandy’s eyes even when Sandy didn’t seem to see them himself.  I loved Darren, he couldn’t help but take anything he could get when it comes to being with Sandy since he feels he doesn’t deserve him.  I would love if TJ continues this series and we get to see Cory find someone.

 

Michael Lesley did a wonderful job narrating this story.  I was able to connect with the characters feel their emotions in his reading as he used different voices for the characters.  His voice changes so much you really get to see the differences with the characters.

 

Cover art by Reese Dante is perfect for this story.

 

Sales Links

 

 

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 17 hrs 5 min
Published: August 1, 2016 (ebook first published February 29, 2016)
Edition Language: English

Series: At First Sight #2

A BJ Review: Crisped + Sere (Immemorial Year #2) by T.J. Klune

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Rating:    4 stars out of 5

Crisped + SereTwenty-one days.

In a world ravaged by fire and descending into madness, Cavalo has been given an ultimatum by the dark man known as Patrick: return Lucas to him and the cannibalistic Dead Rabbits, or the town of Cottonwood and its inhabitants will be destroyed.

But Lucas has a secret embedded into his skin that promises to forever alter the shape of things to come—a secret that Cavalo must decide if it’s worth dying over, even as he wrestles with his own growing attraction to the muted psychopath.

Twenty-one days.

Cavalo has twenty-one days to prepare for war. Twenty-one days to hold what is left of his shredded sanity together. Twenty-one days to convince the people of Cottonwood to rise up and fight back. Twenty-one days to unravel the meaning behind the marks that cover Lucas.

A meaning that leads to a single word and a place of unimaginable power: Dworshak.

Like the first book, this one is dark and creepy. The excellent world-building continues, and the character development of all the people we met in book one was excellent. Also, this read smoother to me than the first, whether because I had a background now and wasn’t confused as I had been often in the first, I’m not sure. I don’t think there was as much of the hopping around like in the first book, there was some, but it flowed better.

This time we get more of a relationship between all of the characters. It’s not just about Cavalo and Lucas, but about all the people that formed his strange family. As before, Bad Dog was a huge favorite for me during the whole of this story.  I was glad to get more info on Lucas and came to feel the connection between all four of them (including the robot SIRS) as a family that worked. Cavalo thinks of himself as a monster, a bad guy, and yet in this we see him risk everything to help others, including those outside of his little family. While I didn’t feel invested in them as a couple in book one, by the end of this book, I most definitely did. And loved the end. Reminded me a bit of Star Trek, and I am a trekkie since a teen.

The way it was written without us really knowing if Cavalo actually heard Bad Dog and Lucas in his head, or if it was part of his mental issues, worked for me. As a movie, this would definitely be horror… maybe something like The Stand, only even more gory. There are definitely plenty of visual images to fill that screen with action, special effects, and blood. I’d like to see it.

The pace in this one felt right most of the time, but I think it could have been tightened up and the story shortened and still read just as well. There was an event about midway that made me say… UGH, not again. However, later on I came to accept it and even like that it had happened because of what else came after.  It really came to bug me how they kept speaking of killing Lucas, not just once but so many times.

BTW, when reading the first book, I didn’t actually realize where the titles originated. This time I did. It’s from the poem Ulalume by Edgar Allan Poe. I feel like I should have gotten that, but I’m not much of a poetry reader.

While not everything was bright or wrapped up, this ended much more hopefully than book one and does not have a cliffie. I’d still like more in this world though to see if they rebuild and how.

The cover is creepy as hell, and the feel of it fits the book.

Sales Links

DSP Publications

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Book Details:

ebook, 340 pages
Expected publication: August 23rd 2016 by DSP Publications
Original TitleCrisped + Sere
ISBN 1634770684 (ISBN13: 9781634770682)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series: Immemorial Year