Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Hating Game, By Sally Thorne - Review

Title: The Hating Game
Series: n/a
Author: Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Reviewing: eARC
Reason for reading: Strong rec from trusted PR agent

The Short Answer
Fans of the "enemies to lovers" trope will love this one. Well-written, with snappy dialog and killer sexual tension, it has wide appeal... but wasn't a 100% hit for me.

The Blurb
Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

What I wasn't crazy about
I will often avoid buzz and other reviews about a book if I know I'm going to review it, but I didn't for this one. I read several reviews and have had a few discussions with people who over-the-moon loved this one. It's making a number of "summer's best" and even "year's best" lists. You should probably read it, and if you like the "enemies to lovers" trope, you'll probably love it.

People are telling me that it's hilarious. That they laughed their asses off. I didn't. This could be a me thing. Let me put it this way: did you LOVE Ross Gellar on Friends? Did you LOVE Seinfeld? Most people did/do, and I bet all those people will love this book. But I don't. The humor and the conflict in this story and most of those TV characters comes from a painful awkwardness. Really painful. Maybe this is my baggage, but I don't find that especially funny: it makes me wince, it makes me ache a little and sometimes it makes me angry that I'm supposed to laugh at it. So I can say this book engaged my emotions, for sure.

The story is told deep in the heroine's first person present POV. She is apparently very bad at understanding what is going on behind the hero's facade -- but in fairness, that's the way he wants it. The problem is, this POV is SO deep, and so consistently executed, that the hero was completely opaque to me, too, for 90% of the book.

This isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but honestly, the hero's arc here was way more interesting than the heroine's, and I only got to see it through the most shuttered glimpses. It was frustrating for me. Several other reviewers have said that they knew instantly that Josh was madly in love with Lucy from the first page, but I really didn't get that.

There's a scene where they have their first kiss, in an elevator heading down to the creepy basement level of a creepy parking garage. He hits the emergency stop, and in her point of view, she straight up says that she absolutely isn't sure whether he is going to strangle her or kiss her.  I hate to be a buzzkill, but people THAT. IS. NOT. SEXY.
"You drive a 2003 Honda Accord. Silver. Filthy messy inside. Chronic gearbox issues. If it were a horse, you'd shoot it." The elevator arrives and I step in cautiously.

"You're a way better stalker than I am." I feel a chill of fear when I see his big thumb push the B button. He looks down at me, his eyes dark and intense. He's clearly deliberating something.

Maybe he'll murder me down there. I'll end up dead in a Dumpster. The investigators will see my fishnets and heavy eye makeup and assume I'm a hooker. They'll follow all the wrong leads. Meanwhile, Joshua will be calmly bleaching all my DNA off his shoes and making himself a sandwich.

"Serial killer eyes." I wish I didn't sound so scared. He looks over my shoulder at his reflection in the shiny wall of the elevator.

"I see what you mean. You've got your horny eyes on." He spirals his finger dramatically over the elevator button panel.

"Nope, these are my serial killer eyes too."

He lets out a deep breath and pushes the emergency stop button and we judder to a halt."

"Please don't kill me. There's probably a camera." I take a step backward in fright.

"I doubt it." He looms over me. He raises his hands and I start to lift my arms to shield my face like I'm in some awful schlocky drive-in horror movie. This is it. He's lost his sanity."
I will say that I was pretty sure as a reader that he wasn't going to strangle her (on account of, then it wouldn't be a romance.) Other readers that I've talked to are convinced that Lucy knows it too. I guess I'm just not subtle enough of a reader to feel sure about that. I thought that the games Lucy plays were kind of immature and, well, stupid. It made me not like her very much. It was also not exactly clear to me whether Josh was really playing her or if she was inflating all of this in her own head.

Redeeming Things
When you finally start to understand where Josh is coming from, it gets better.  There is a scene where Lucy tells off Josh's nemesis and it is EPIC.  Worth the book for that scene alone.  It was very, very good. 

The sexual tension between the two is sky-high (especially when she stops with the strangling references).  This is a slow-burn book, with lots of unconsummated make-out sessions. Josh refuses to actually have sex with her multiple times, and she's weird about it. He's weird about it. It's got a very different vibe to it than a lot of contemp romance.

Bottom Line
I'm going to say again: you should probably read this book. Then hopefully come back and tell me I'm not crazy for being the only one who doesn't love it...
 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Shiloh Walker: Rust City Featured Author

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Welcome to the FINAL Feature Author profile for RustCity, which is NOW UNDERWAY in Troy, Michigan.  If you're not here, you can read back through this profiles and ask yourself, WHY WHY WHY didn't I sign up for this?? And if you are here, then here is everything you need to know about
SHILOH WALKER
a/k/a J.C. DANIELS

Hi Shiloh! what do your fans need to know about you?

I’ve been married since I was 19 to my high school sweetheart and we live in the mid-west. I started writing full time in 2004 and for the most part, I write romance but in 2011, I tried my hand at urban fantasy, put it out under the pen name J.C. Daniels and to my surprise, it did really well.

Oh, right, you mean this J.C. Daniels? That I lurrrvved? No surprise to me that it did well... But anyway, let's talk about RustCity!

1. Fill in the blank: "I used to be really good at climbing up the swingset , but these days I'm pretty rusty."  You know, sometimes skills get rusty because the need for them goes away, lol...

2. Eminem or Aretha? Explain.

Neither... Marc Cohn. He's my favorite singer (solo) of all time. And also completely different!  Nice choice.

3. Choose One:
Vernors
Faygo
I'm confused. And not from around here.

4. What are you looking forward to most at the RustCity conference? Meeting readers and talking to other authors.

5. Which is NOT an actual community in Michigan? (no googling!)
Bad Axe
Mullet Lake
Alpha
Hero
Colon
Kalamazoo

(The correct answer is "Hero." I got very tickled at some of the names, especially when I saw that "Alpha" was one!)

6. Your latest work of fiction features a wealthy industrialist and an R&B singer. What's the first sentence? The guy was too rich for this part of town and that only meant one thing...trouble.

What's it about? I'd prefer to sit on it for a while. Yeah, I'd say that's pretty open-ended...

Thanks so much for playing today, Shiloh!  Let's go have a drink.  For readers, where else can we find you?

Here you go!  Shiloh website  |  JC Daniels website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Alpha Heroes Mentions

 

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Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2016, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Suzanne Sabol: Rust City Featured Author

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Welcome to your introduction to some of the fantastic authors who are joining us for the conference this weekend. Today is another DOUBLE HEADER day, with this afternoon's guest:
Suzanne Sabol


I write the Blushing Death Series and love every minute of it. The genre I feel most comfortable in is Urban and Dark Fantasy. I love the hard edge that the genre permits and is even expected. There's nothing too gory or off limits. My latest release is Emerald Fire which came out in June of 2016. I'm working on book 7 of the series but I also have a 15 month old at home (our first) and it's kinda set me back a little. End of summer! I will have this done by the end of summer or I'm disappearing for at least a week and my husband will have to deal with the baby all on his own!   

That sounds like a great series, Suzanne! Shall we talk a little about about RustCity?

1. Fill in the blank: "I used to be really good at time management , but these days I'm pretty rusty." Yeah, toddlers have a way of blowing up the best of those systems...

2. Eminem or Aretha? Explain.

Aretha! I'm not much into rap but love jazz and soul.  Fair enough!

3. Choose One:
Vernors
Faygo
I'm confused. And not from around here.
neither, water please

4. What are you looking forward to most at the RustCity conference? I'm looking forward to meeting readers and other authors. I love hanging out with people who love books as much as I do. You'll have plenty of that sort of company, for sure!


5. What is an off-the-cuff association you have with Michigan, Detroit, or Troy?
I'm from Columbus, Ohio. We don't talk about Michigan... :)  Based on my survey results, I would say that you will have a lot of  "ex-pat" company!


6. Your latest work of fiction features a wealthy industrialist and an R&B singer. What's the first sentence?  She definitely wasn't going to sing her way out of this one.

OK, I really want to know what the next couple lines are. Thanks so much for hanging out here, Suzanne!  I want to mention to my readers that Suzanne was totally up for the 5 words game, but when I got behind schedule, we couldn't make the quick-turnaround work. Maybe next time! In the meantime, where can we find you on the 'tubez?

Thanks for having me! I really appreciate it. My links are below. website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter


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Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2016, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Mervyn Seivwright: Rust City Featured Author

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Welcome to your introduction to some of the fantastic authors coming to RustCon this weekend. We've got DOUBLE HEADER posts all week. So this morning, please welcome:
MERVYN SEIVWRIGHT 

Hi Mervyn, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi Nicola. I am a poet that believes in social change one person at a time. My writing has developed along those lines influenced in travels and living in different countries around the globe such as England, Japan, Germany, and America; travels to more than 40 countries. My 7 poetry collections each have their themes from third person first voice stories of life, love, Christianity and social issues. The next book in works is a biography in poetic form. Wow, that's very ambitious! Ok, Mervyn, let's talk about RustCity!

1. Fill in the blank: "I used to be really good at performing, but these days I'm pretty rusty."

2. Eminem or Aretha? Explain.
Aretha. Real life songs that touch the spirit and move emotions. can't argue with that!

3. Choose One:
Vernors
Faygo
I'm confused. And not from around here.

Something to look forward to at the conference!

4. What are you looking forward to most at the RustCity conference? Networking in a new market and meeting people to share my work and its imagery. Hopefully to touch a person's spirit in the connection.

5. What is an off-the-cuff association you have with Michigan, Detroit, or Troy?
I have had some great friends over the years from Detroit but this is my first time in the area. I hope it turns out great for you!


6. Your latest work of fiction features a wealthy industrialist and an R&B singer. What's the first sentence? Each night he would dream past the systematic infrastructure twisting corporate entanglement aplacing himself to the innocent imagery of the gutter strings plucked in Brazilian syncopated scale to hear her voice.

Wow, that is definitely the most surreal answer I've received to that question! I need to know what Brazilian syncopated scale sounds like now.  Mervyn, I'm so glad you could stop by today!  See you later this week!

Thanks Nicola! You can find me elsewhere at my website, my Amazon author page, or Facebook.

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Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2016, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Jordin Mack: Rust City Featured Author

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Welcome to your introduction to some of the fantastic RustCity authors. All this week you'll find DOUBLE HEADER profiles here on Alpha Heroes. This afternoon, please welcome
JORDIN MACK


Hi Jordin, can you tell us a little about your writing?

Hi Nicola! I always had a passion for writing and planned to pursue a career as a fiction novelist; however, I kept procrastinating for one reason or another. Then one day, I decided to stop talking about and just do it, write my first novel. In April, 2016, I released my debut novel, The Kokuran. In this story, Astrid, a naïve girl, marries Philip, who loves and praises her and later abuses and tries to break her. In the aftermath of her divorce, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery that leads her down a path of uncensored sexual encounters, love and despair. Only to discover that she was already in possession of what she was searching for.

Ok, Jordin, let's talk about RustCity!

1. Fill in the blank: "I used to be really good at tennis , but these days I'm pretty rusty." I always wanted to learn how to play... maybe some day!

2. Eminem or Aretha? Explain.

My author personality is similar to the Gemini zodiac sign, so I am both Eminem and Aretha. As an author, my literary expression is very urban and relevant to the times similar to Emimem's music, but also classic and soulful like Aretha Franklin's music.   What a very personal answer. I love it!

3. Choose One:
Vernors
Faygo
I'm confused. And not from around here.
Faygo. No, Vernors! Both?

4. What are you looking forward to most at the RustCity conference?
Connecting with existing and new fans and networking with other authors.

5. What is an off-the-cuff association you have with Michigan, Detroit, or Troy?
My hometown is Detroit. I took a writing class a few years ago and the instructor recommended that we stay in our comfort zone with our initial manuscript. So, it felt quite natural to write a book with a storyline that was set in Detroit. I always enjoy reading a story where I recognize streets and neighborhoods. I think specifics and familiarity are a plus most of the time. 

6. Your latest work of fiction features a wealthy industrialist and an R&B singer. What's the first sentence?
My NFL player boyfriend hosted a birthday party for me and surprised me by hiring Kem to sing at my party.  Hmm, that could go a couple of ways... intriguing!

Thanks so much for joining me here today on Alpha Heroes, Jordin! I look forward to seeing you this weekend!

You are welcome, Nicola!  Please feel free to check out my website, and see you soon!

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Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2016, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Tara Eldana: Rust City Featured Author

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Welcome to your introduction to some of the fantastic authors who will be joining us in just a few days  for the conference. All this week we're having double-header profiles -- first up today is 
TARA ELDANA

Hi Tara! Can you tell us a little about your writing?

Hi Nicola! I am a debut author with Black Opal Books with "Reclaiming Lexi" a contemporary romance novella and "Under the Riptides," a paranormal contemporary romance novella. I have seven books under contract with BOB, all romance novellas. My next release is "Double Dare." For Liz it is hate at first sight. She is incensed at Luke for helping his best friend Gray leave her best friend Amy at the altar. Amy and Gray reconcile and fly with Luke and Liz to Las Vegas to elope. Liz gets drunk and dares Luke to marry her. He does and she demands an annulment. He refuses because he has never wanted anyone the way he wants her, even though she threatened to shoot him. It's been through first-round edits, but I don't have a release date. Liz is my favorite characters so far.

Liz sounds like a hoot! Ok, Tara, let's talk about RustCity!

1. Fill in the blank: "I used to be really good at cooking , but these days I'm pretty rusty." I personally am pretty happy with cheese and crackers and a frothy beverage. No muss, no fuss, and I can keep reading...

2. Eminem or Aretha? Explain.

Aretha. Knew You'd Be a Vision in White. How'd you get your pants so tight? And "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" and "Freedom." She totally gets it.

3. Choose One:
Vernors
Faygo
I'm confused. And not from around here.

4. What are you looking forward to most at the RustCity conference? Meeting readers and writers.
Awesome! we can totally arrange that!

5. What is an off-the-cuff association you have with Michigan, Detroit, or Troy?
Troy is my beat for my day job with a weekly newspaper and I tell people I live just over the border.
Oh, that's fascinating. I look forward to hearing some stories about that!

6. Your latest work of fiction features a wealthy industrialist and an R&B singer. What's the first sentence? The martini slipped out of her perfectly manicured fingers as he sang to her as if she was the only person in the crowded bar.

That is a GREAT first line!  Thanks so much for stopping by today, Tara.  Where else can we find you?

You're welcome, Nicola, it was fun!  You can find me at my website, or on Facebook!
 


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Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2016, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sara Dobie: Rust City Featured Author

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 Welcome to your introduction to some of the fantastic authors who'll be joining us in a few days for the conference. Today is a RUST CITY DOUBLE FEATURE DAY! Please welcome 
SARA DOBIE

Hi Sara! Can you introduce yourself?

I am a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. I spent most days at home in my pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for SheKnows.com. Oh my. I bet you have a few stories to tell from that gig!


Ok, Sara, let's talk about RustCity!

1. Fill in the blank: "I used to be really good at cartwheels , but these days I'm pretty rusty." That is an entirely fair answer.

2. Eminem or Aretha? Explain.
Aretha. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  *nods* Self-explanatory.

3. Choose One:
Vernors
Faygo
I'm confused. And not from around here.


4. What are you looking forward to most at the RustCity conference? Sharing BITE SOMEBODY with the world!

5. What is an off-the-cuff association you have with Michigan, Detroit, or Troy? I'm a huge Michigan Wolverines fan. Even though I grew up in Ohio, I was brainwashed by my Michigan-loving father from a young age. I develop severe migraines whenever surrounded by too many Buckeye fans. (I may be allergic.)  Hmmm. I'm afraid you might be sharing your profile day with an Ohio person! You'll have to ask her at the conference whether she's a Buckeye fan. You might need to bring your migraine meds to the con...


6. Your latest work of fiction features a wealthy industrialist and an R&B singer. What's the first sentence? Despite the swanky penthouse office accommodations, he spouted, "I like big butts, and I cannot lie," but she was not amused.

Optional: What's it about? Forty-two. You know Sara, I get the feeling that you are not taking this writing prompt very seriously. Should I be offended?


 Right, I didn't think so. 

Thanks so much for joining us today!  Can't wait to see you this week!
 
Thanks for this! Here are a few links to find me around the web:  My website | Buy BITE SOMEBODY | My Twitter | My Facebook |




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Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2016, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

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