Friday, September 11, 2015

The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee

The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath

1888. A little girl called Mirror and her shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human.

John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr. Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree.

Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down...

"My name is John Loveheart and I was not born wicked."

What a whimsical, wicked little book!

I've been sitting here for the last half hour trying to come up with a way to put into words how I feel about it, and still I've got nothing. 

The writing style was lyrical and it sucked me right in and I gobbled this book up in one sitting.
Some people have shelved this book as YA, but don't be put off if you don't care for the genre.  I don't consider this YA at all.  Some of the characters might be young, but they aren't YA characters.   Mr. Loveheart is too twisted, too bloodthirsty.  Mirror is too unapproachable.  When you add in the blood and gore it becomes very much an adult book.  There may be a pretty cover on the front and the writing style is beautiful, but the story is anything but.  It is bloody and twisted. 
Oh well, to each his own.  I don't really know where to shelve it either. 

I don't often buy books because I have a budget and a very good library system, but this series has just made my autobuy list. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Dead Boy by Laurel Gale

Dead Boy

by Laurel Gale

A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship - and a chance at getting his life back

Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a life.

Crow Darlingson died in the 4th grade. But he’s still alive. And growing, actually. He can’t eat or taste anything, his body parts sometimes fall off (mom always sews them back on, though), and he’s only allowed to leave his house once per year, on Halloween.

Crow’s parents are separating, and despite their reassurances, he’s pretty sure it’s his fault. After all, having an undead son can’t be much easier than being one. Sneaking out at night only makes things worse, but he can’t resist the chance at a real friendship with Melody Plympton, the new girl next door, who loves mystery more than she minds the stink of his flesh or the maggots that sometimes crawl out of his nose.

Together they investigate the mysterious Meera - a monster living in the nearby park. Logic and fear tell Crow to stay away, but fuzzy memories lure him on. When Crow and Melody venture into its underground lair, Crow’s not just risking the half-life he clings to. He’s also risking the only friend he’s had in years.

The importance of friendship is crystallized as Crow and Melody face tests of loyalty, courage, and honor in this macabre middle grade novel by a debut author.

This was a light read about a boy who died and the family who couldn't let him go.  It is also a story about friendship and treating others well, even when you don't like them. 
There is a lot of gross stuff about creepy crawlies and decaying bodies so if you're bothered by that stuff I might give it a pass or skim over those sections.
I think this would be a great book to give to young teens and middle grade students to help teach them about standing up to bullies and acting with honor.

**Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me a free copy for review**

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

The Iron Trial

by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

I had a blast reading this book.  It wasn't perfect and I really didn't care.  I just had so much fun reading it.
I liked Callum as a character.  He's sarcastic and a little awkward.  It made for a lot of humor all the way throughout the book.
A lot of people are concerned about the similarities between this book and Harry Potter.  Yes, there are some similarities but after a while it's not very obvious unless your entire reason for reading The Iron Trial is to find those similarities. 

I've never read anything by Cassandra Clare but I do enjoy Holly Black's books.  I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me a review copy.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Force of Attraction by D.D. Ayres

Force of Attraction




Irresistible Force by D.D. Ayres

Irresistible Force



There is something about a man who loves animals...
This was a thrilling book.  I loved the characters and the interactions between them.  The author did a great job of describing how K-9 officers' train and work together, without delving into so much detail that the reader is swamped.  The writing was very well done.
The characters were well-defined and interesting.  They had a lot of personality.  Bogart, the K-9, was one of the best animal characters I've read in a while. 
I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who likes romantic suspense.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the free review copy!

A Pretty Mess by Carla Caruso

A Pretty Mess




I'm not normally a huge cozy mystery fan but this book was chosen as a book of the month read in my Goodreads group and I wanted to give it a try.

I didn't connect very well with Celeste.  Honestly, one thing I do not do well is clean and organize.  I was not born with that particular skill set.  Celeste's desire to clean everyone's home and work space had me shaking my head in wonder.
Otherwise, it was a good book.  A quick read with more romance than plot, it would be a good book for anyone who likes cozy mysteries and romance with sexy contractors (or builders, if you're Australian).  Or if you like to clean. Ok...especially if you like to clean.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Room by Jonas Karlsson

The Room

by Jonas Karlsson

17830958 Bjorn is a compulsive, exacting bureaucrat who discovers a secret room at the government office where he works--a secret room that no one else in his office will acknowledge. When Bjorn is in his room, what his coworkers see is him standing by the wall and staring off into space looking dazed, relaxed, and decidedly creepy. Bjorn's bizarre behavior eventually leads his coworkers to try to have him fired, but Bjorn will turn the tables on them with help from his secret room. Author Jonas Karlsson doesn't leave a word out of place in this brilliant, bizarre, delightful take on how far we will go--in a world ruled by conformity--to live an individual and examined life.

I found myself oddly charmed by this book. 
Bjorn is such an unlikeable character at first but his inability to understand social cues and his obsessive desire to be seen as a hard worker and a valuable employee made me look at him in a different light.  He's a man who tries so hard to be everything to everyone that he ends up making enemies of them all.  In the end he's a very lonely man who uses his work as a shield.

This book ambled along at a slower pace than I'm used to and I got the feeling that it vas very deliberate on the part of the author.  I liked the story and loved the ending. 
I'd recommend it to anyone who feels like an office drone or just enjoys an unusual story.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for the free review copy.

Venomoid by J.A. Kossler


Night Code Saga #1

by J.A. Kossler

22521435In Book One of The Night Code Saga, Venomoid, paranormal creatures are governed by the IPO, a secret police force that ensures vampires, zombies, and others follow all required public safety regulations. Among the officers is 17 year-old Lorin, theIPO's most skilled cadet. His co-workers distrust him, however, and in extreme cases barely tolerate him. As a vampire, he must follow the rules -- including turning a blind eye to the IPO's practice of torturing prisoners -- or face death by sunlight exposure.

On one intense dragon-hunting mission, Lorin encounters Lex, a handsome but flesh-eating paranormal who is quickly intrigued by the young vampire. Lorin fears this hunter, but as an unexpected friendship unfolds between the two, an even more unlikely romance blossoms. The problem is Lex is on the IPO's radar, and when they capture him for scientific experimentation, Lorin must risk his life to overthrow the organization he's always feared in order to save his love.
The synopsis for this book was what pulled me in enough to give it a try.  Who wouldn't want to read a book about a romance between a vampire and a zombie?  Sounds awesome! 
Unfortunately it just didn't hold my interest at all and I kept kind of hoping it would be over soon.  The main characters, Lorin and Lex, didn't have much personality beyond the first few chapters.  I was hoping for more and I was disappointed. 

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the free review copy.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

In Despair by Megan Derr

In Despair (Princes of the Blood #3)

by Megan Derr

19162088Prince Telmé Guldbrandsen has been groomed since childhood to become a Prince of the Blood and Commander of the Legion. He will be the youngest person to ever take the Blooding—if he can behave long enough to prove he can be trusted with the responsibility. But behaving is difficult when he is constantly forced to endure Korin: heir to the Reach of the House and the Temple of the Sacred Three, and the snotty brat Telmé is expected to someday marry.

Then the unthinkable happens, leaving Castle Guldbrandsen—and the Legion—in pieces. Overwhelmed by fear and grief, Telmé convinces Korin to help him attempt the impossible. But rather than relief, Telmé's triumph is met with anger and rejection …

This is the story of how Telme and Korin came to be the people that they are.  It's a story about magic and love, and standing up for what's right even when the people you expect to have your back reject you.  The story was painful and heartbreaking but worth every minute reading it. 

Telme and Korin begin as brats.  They are a constant disappointment to their superiors with their fighting and inability to get along, even though they are betrothed.  I loved seeing their relationship grow into true respect and affection.  This book is non-explicit since it takes place when the characters are young: sixteen and seventeen, respectively.

I had a wonderful time reading In Despair and I hope that Mrs. Derr will write more in the series some day.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the free review copy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Rusted Sword by R.D. Hero

The Rusted Sword



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kiss the Earl by Gina Lamm

Kiss the Earl





Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman




 I think that maybe I wasn't the right audience for this book.  I've read other reviews and most of them give it four or five stars and talk about the mastery of the writing and emotion behind it all. 
For me? Not so much.
To be honest, I was bored for most of the story.  While I certainly agree that the ending was a great surprise, it wasn't enough to make me like the book.
 I didn't like Bilodo (let's be honest here, the dude's a creeper) and I didn't really care what happened to him or his haiku.

This is probably better suited to a reader who likes cerebral-type books with an emphasis on poetry and introspective thought.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me a copy to review.

Losing Ground by Sasha L. Miller

Losing Ground

by Sasha L. Miller

23904009Carter Bellwood's family has Earth-claimed the Bellwood territory for generations and they've always had an excess of Earth energy to back it up. Until Carter, whose energy is barely a fraction of that his mother has. But he's the only Earth wizard in his generation and set to inherit the territory—if there's anything left of it. The territory is being ravaged by a disease that kills all plant life it comes into contact with. They can't cure it, can barely contain it, can only watch as their territory turns into a barren landscape.

Then a new Earth wizard shows up. Tai is everything Carter is not when it comes to the strength of his magic, and more importantly he knows how to cure the disease. But he's also terrified and clearly on the run from something, and Carter's not sure Tai's help is worth the risk of him trying to stake his own claim on the territory—or the risk that whatever he's running from finds him...
This was a bit of a miss for me.  It wasn't bad, but I thought it was forgettable.  I couldn't connect with the characters at all and I wasn't convinced by their burgeoning romance. 
The ending was very anti-climatic.  I kept expecting something else to happen, something the characters missed or a new threat...but no.  It was just over and I was really disappointed by the sudden letdown.  Also, the book was non-explicit up until the ending when the author tacked on an epilogue for the sole purpose of giving the readers a sex scene.  It felt clunky and I would have rather had a completely non-explicit book or one where the characters had sex within the main section of the book.  This just made it seem like an afterthought. 
It was a mildly interesting novella and would be good for those who want to read a short book about magic and romance. 
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me a review copy.

RIP Sir Terry Pratchett

“They do not want to shout. Their hearts are too full for worrrrds. … But for now, each Feegle remembers her in silence. We dinna mourn like ye do, ye ken. We mourn for them that has tae stay behind.”
--The Wee Free Men

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”
--Going Postal

Today I want to do nothing but curl up and read some Discworld novels.  I knew there was a reason I didn't want to get out of bed this morning.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz


Gone, Gone, Gone

by Hannah Moskowitz

In the wake of the post-9/11 sniper shootings, fragile love finds a stronghold in this intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer.

It's a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.

Craig's crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him...and if he'll do it again...and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.

Lio feels most alive when he's with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable...and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.

This intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer is a poignant look at what it is to feel needed, connected, and alive.

"I wake to a quiet world.
There's this stillness so strong that I can feel it in the hairs on the backs of my arms, and I can right away tell that this quiet is the sound of a million things and fourteen bodies not here and one boy breathing alone."

This was a beautiful story. It was lyrical and captured all of the emotion and confusion of the aftermath of 9/11 and the D.C. sniper shootings.
Craig brings animals home and cares for them. It's his way of coping with events that have happened in his past. He wants to fix them, make them better. He also wants to fix Lio, his quiet friend who barely says a word most days.

Their friendship was sweet and I loved seeing each of them them through the other's eyes.
"I cry, like, all the time," I say.
He nods. "I know." A smile plays with his mouth. "It's okay. Sometimes I get cancer."

I really connected with Lio. He is quiet but sure of himself...usually. Mostly he just feels talked out and doesn't want to be seen as the cancer boy anymore.
The thing I loved most about Lio is that he was fully capable of fixing himself. I think it's too common in books these days (especially YA) to find a character that has to rely on another person to fix them. It creates a power imbalance and an unequal relationship, IMO.

"I don't want to die, but I wish waking up every morning didn't feel like such a fuck-you every single time."

This was a very beautiful book. I was constantly making notes because some of the passages were just so beautiful that I had to read them over and over.
I'd recommend it to anyone who likes YA romance.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Angry Optimist: The Life And Times Of Jon Stewart by Lisa Rogak

Angry Optimist: The Life And Times Of Jon Stewart

by Lisa Rogak

20575404A New York Times Bestseller Since his arrival at The Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has become one of the major players in comedy as well as one of the most significant liberal voices in the media. In Angry Optimist, biographer Lisa Rogak charts his unlikely rise to stardom. She follows him from his early days growing up in New Jersey, through his years as a struggling standup comic in New York, and on to the short-lived but acclaimed The Jon Stewart Show. And she charts his humbling string of near-misses—passed over as a replacement for shows hosted by Conan O’Brien, Tom Snyder, and even the fictional Larry Sanders—before landing on a half-hour comedy show that at the time was still finding its footing amidst roiling internal drama.

Once there, Stewart transformed The Daily Show into one of the most influential news programs on television today. Drawing on interviews with current and former colleagues, Rogak reveals how things work—and sometimes don’t work—behind the scenes at The Daily Show, led by Jon Stewart, a comedian who has come to wield incredible power in American politics.
I grew up in a family that watched Fox News religiously.  Every day, from the time I was home from school to the time we went to bed there was hardly ever anything but Fox in the background.  It was like the soundtrack to my life.  My dad's favorite: Bill O'Reilly.  I have a family member who keeps the radio tuned to Rush Limbaugh and I've had to suffer through whenever I was visiting.   I hated every moment of it and after a while I grew anxious every time the tv was on. 
One day I ran across The Daily Show, quite by accident, and was amazed that someone dared to call out Fox News.  Even better, Jon Stewart was making fun of these people that I had always thought ruled the news world.  It was funny and it made me think.  There was no spewing hatred at homeless people or immigrants like you see on Fox.  It was like Jon Stewart understood how disillusioned I had become with news commenters.
I requested this book hoping to gain more insight into Jon Stewart as a person.  I'm not sure that the book delivered quite what I was hoping.  There were a lot of quotes and facts from past interviews.  The author wrote in such a way that felt very detached from Jon Stewart.  It was hard to believe that she had ever met him.  I was hoping to understand him better and get a sense of his personality off-camera. 
It was a good book for a general sense of Jon's life.  I just wish it delved deeper.
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this free review copy*

Saturday, March 7, 2015

200 books a year should be enough, shouldn't it?

I have recently realized that I suffer from reading envy.

 I am quite blessed to have a lot of time to read (though I don't use it wisely) and a pretty good reading speed.  I average about 200 books a year. 

I'm quite active on Goodreads (probably much more than I should be) and every year I join the GR reading challenge.  I used to think that reading 200 books a year was a lot until I met some other readers who read 400+ books a year.  And these people work and have families! 

You know that thing about emulating masters?  Well, that's what I've taken to doing.  I regularly check how many books my 400+ friends have read so far and use that to spur myself on.  I see how many of those are shorter books and plan to read some shorts, too.  It's a sad, sad thing, people.  These are the lows that readers can sink to. 

At least there is a bright side to my obsession.  Reading more means that I can visit more worlds, discover more characters to fall in love with.  There is so much more to learn! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Darker Shade of Magic (Preview Excerpt) by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (Preview Excerpt)

From V.E. Schwab, the critically acclaimed author of Vicious, comes a new universe of daring adventure, thrilling power, and parallel Londons, beginning with A Darker Shade of Magic.
Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands. There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London...but no one speaks of that now.Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me this excerpt*
I don't usually read excerpts because I tend to be impatient and I hate to leave a book half finished.  I gave this one a try because, really, how can I resist a synopsis like that?
This is definitely a book that I want to find soon so I can read the entire thing.  The worldbuilding is very unique and I was constantly amazed by the little things Schwab imagined.  Kell's coat was especially interesting. 
I loved the writing style and the characters.  I won't say much about the plot since I don't yet know exactly how much I'll love it in the end.
From what I've seen I can say that this will be an excellent book and I think you should read it.  I think I should read it, too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk

Restless Spirits

by Jordan L. Hawk

23569031After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.

The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.

Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.

For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.
   This was another amazing book by Jordan L. Hawk. I'm really impressed with her writing. Most books of this genre focus on the romance and leave the plot full of holes or sometimes abandon it altogether. Restless Spirits was a perfect balance of romance and plot and Ms. Hawk obviously spent a lot of time thinking things through.

This was also a book about racism and discrimination. The characters weren't white-washed. There was a Native American man, an African American girl, and...well, someone else... in a time period when people like them were thought to be of less worth than anyone else. And Jordan L. Hawk handled it perfectly. Bravo!

All of the characters were amazing. I loved Henry and Vincent and their relationship felt natural to me. Even the side characters were fleshed-out and they added a lot to the story. I just saw that this is meant to be a series and I'm looking forward to seeing more of these characters in the future.

Monday, March 2, 2015

When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries

When the Rogue Returns

by Sabrina Jeffries


 Victor Cale never imagined that his sweet, shy bride, Isabella, would use her talents for creating exquisite imitation jewels criminally. But there's no denying that her handiwork was used in the theft of the Dutch royal diamonds-- right after Isa disappeared into the night.

Ten years later, Victor is sent to Edinburgh to investigate a wealthy baron's mysterious bride-to-be... who turns out to be Isa, masquerading as an alluring widow. No longer the meek girl he once knew, Isa boldly asserts that it was Victor who abandoned her, after he helped steal the royal diamonds!

Piecing together the truth of the past reawakens their volatile passions, which burns hotter than ever. But with a decade of secrets between them, Victor and Isa must trust each other to bring the real thieves to justice-- without getting burned themselves.
*I received a free copy for review from the publishers via Netgalley*
 I really enjoyed this one!  The synopsis was intriguing enough that I requested it from Netgalley a while back.  Quite a while back, if I'm being honest here.  It's my mission this year to read most (or all) of my Netgalley books.  Since this book was one of my earliest requests I started here.

Since this book has a "big misunderstanding" theme, I expected a lot more fighting and tantrums.  It was surprising that the main characters actually behaved like adults and had an honest to God conversation!   That made my rating go up immediately.  I love some angst now and then, but mostly I like when the characters are mature enough to work things out.
I loved the plot and the writing.  It was interesting, and while it was slightly unbelievable at times, I thought the author did a great job.
The characters were especially well-written.  I loved Victor and his loyalty to Isa even when he was under a lot of pressure.  Isa herself was strong and courageous.  I loved the interactions between the two of them.
I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to read a good romance.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Body Language Quick & Easy by Richard Webster

Body Language Quick & Easy

by Richard Webster

18126468Words can be lies, but body language always tells the truth

They say actions speak louder than words, but what are those actions really saying? Body Language Quick & Easy shows you how to use the hidden communication of the body to improve your relationships, build confidence, understand your friends and colleagues, and even be able to tell when people are lying.

Explore the secret codes of unconscious communication that most people don't even know exist. Use your understanding of the body to influence others, interpret motivations, and achieve goals at work. Making a good first impression and gaining rapport is easy when you know how to use body language.
I have always been interested in body language and the 'tells' that we unconsciously give off.  I used to watch the show "Lie To Me" constantly...though a lot of that may have been because of Tim Roth.
This was a good look at body language and how you can tell certain things about someone's emotional status while you're talking to them.  It's titled "Quick and Easy" so I didn't expect it to go into a huge amount of detail and wasn't disappointed with what I read.  I do wish a few things had been expanded, though.  I would have liked to hear more about micro-expressions and less about what anger/sadness/fear/surprise looks like.  I think most people are already pretty aware of those expressions. 
It was an interesting book and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a simple, overall look at body language.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a review copy. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Knit Your Own Farm by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne

Knit Your Own Farm

by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne

The Best in Show series is an outstanding success. Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne are back with a collection of new patterns for farm animals. There is something here for everyone, with instructions for large farm favourites such as cows, bulls, horses and pigs as well as cute chicks, lambs and piglets. The animals are surprisingly easy to make. It will only take a few evenings to create yourself a loveable companion. These knitted animals in miniature are much easier to look after than the real things - they don't need feeding, they won't make a mess and they take up hardly any room. Join this evocative tour of the farmyard, with all the different animals you could hope to meet. Patterns include sheep and lamb, cow and calf, pig and piglet, goat and kid, chicken and chick, goose and gosling, horse and foal, llama, donkey, bull and even a rat. Idiosyncratic descriptions of the various species accompany beautiful photography, making this book irresistible for both keen knitters and animal enthusiasts.

This is a cute book with a lot of pictures of the finished knitted animals.  The instructions seemed pretty clear and there was a range of difficulty levels.  I haven't knitted any of the patterns yet because I am a professional procrastinator.  But I will get to it...some day.
With this book what you see is what you get.  The patterns aren't exactly elegant works of art.  A few of them seemed a little clunky to me.  This is, after all, a book about knitting small animals.  How elegant are you going to get?

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a copy for review. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

With This Ring by Celeste Bradley

With This Ring

by Celeste Bradley

From bestselling author Celeste Bradley comes With This Ring, a delightful tale about the lengths one woman will go to marry—at all costs…


Elektra Worthington is the lovely middle daughter of the eccentric, impoverished Worthington family. Her beauty means nothing to her except as her currency to return the Worthington name to its former glory of status, riches, and dominance in the ballrooms of Regency England. To this end, she will stop at nothing—even if she must kidnap a rich lord in the process. If this lucky gentleman is just returning from a long absence and knows nothing of the Worthington reputation, well, a girl shouldn’t look a gift lord in the mouth…right?


Lord Aaron Arbogast, returning to England after a decade-old scandal—of which he was not truly guilty, but instead took the blame out of loyalty to a good friend—is the last of his line. He will someday become the Earl of Arbodean and inherit the estate…if, that is, he can prove to his ailing grandfather that he is a reformed man. Falling for a woman like Miss Worthington could cost him everything. But his desire for her? Priceless…

*Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for sending me a free copy for review*
I love Celeste Bradley.  She has been on my favorite author list for years because of her Liar's Club and Royal Four series.  There were several characters from those series that make an appearance in this book, which I enjoyed a lot.  Button will always be welcome!

With This Ring ended up only being about 3 stars for me, which is still a pretty good rating.  I have a difficult time connecting with some heroines, especially when they are stubborn and headstrong.  Elektra had her reasons for being the way she was, but she still irritated me to no end.  She uses people and manipulates them to get her way, and since she is so focused on her family she convinces herself that it is all worth it.  She didn't seem overly concerned when her actions caused hardship for other people.  Even so, she softened toward the end and seeing her through Aaron's eyes helped me to understand her more.

Aaron himself was a good character.  He was honorable and trying to make up for his past mistakes.  I loved the relationship with his friend because it showed the reader exactly how far he's come since he was an arrogant young man. 

I'm glad I read this book and I would definitely read more from this series in the future.  Celeste Bradley still remains one of my favorite authors.

The Duke's Disaster by Grace Burrowes

The Duke's Disaster

by Grace Burrowes

Noah Winters, Earl of Anselm, spent months sorting and courting the year's crop of debutantes in search of an ideal bride. When the sweet, biddable young thing he selected accepts another's proposal, Noah decides to court her companion instead.

Thea Collins, though, is anything but biddable. She has learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted, especially the handsome ones. When she reluctantly accepts, Noah rushes Thea to the altar before she can reveal her deepest secret. Can she finally move on from her past, or will it come back to haunt her?

*Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me an ARC for review*
I've read several books by Grace Burrowes and I've never been disappointed by any of them.  Each book is fresh and interesting, with a writing style that leaves no question why Mrs. Burrowes is one of the most well-known romance writers. 
At first, I was concerned because I didn't quite love the way the book began.  It starts in the middle of a conversation between the two main characters and I wish there was a bit more of a lead-in.  After that, though, the book really takes off.  It is a wonderful story with amazing characters.
Noah Winters is dark and brooding (exactly the type of hero I love) but he is also affectionate and shy.  I really loved the way his character was written.  He was given a heroine who deserved him.
Thea was very brave and sweet.  She has moved on from her past and done the best she could to care for her family.  I'm glad this honorable woman was given such a wonderful hero.  The romance between the two was very believable.
The two of them had a rocky start and had to build their trust over time, given the fact that **Spoiler** Thea wasn't a virgin on their wedding night and Noah was understandably upset.  He is a duke, after all.  **spoiler**

This actually made them take longer to get to know each other and made their love stronger, imo.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves romance, and I'd also recommend it to anyone who wants to give romance a try.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

When a Rake Falls by Sally Orr

When a Rake Falls

by Sally Orr

To win a race to Paris, dashing Lord Boyce Parker hires a balloon. He expects to be crowned the victor and become famous for his courage and intelligence. Only then can he regain his father’s respect from the scandal of publishing the naughty book The Rake’s Handbook: Including Field Guide.

Bluestocking Miss Eve Mountfloy makes a bargain with the handsome Pink of the Ton. She’ll fly the balloon during the dangerous crossing to France, if he lets her finish her scientific experiments to predict violent storms and thereby save lives.

Eve proceeds with her studies, but the results are not what she expected. Chafing to keep warm creates unusual sensations everywhere. Then when Lord Parker asks if she is curious about the heat generated by a kiss, well, she is curious. It seems Lord Parker is performing experiments of his own that will forever change Eve’s perception of the word "results."
*Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC for review*
My goodness, Boyce is a funny man!  I'm used to reading books with heroes who are dark and brooding, so it's refreshing to find a character who is lighthearted and funny.  Boyce is sweet, charming, and he loves to sing at the oddest moments.  I found myself laughing constantly because of his funny quirks and inner monologues. He is also very tenderhearted.  He shows a lot of concern for animals and even insects and isn't afraid to show affection.
Eve wasn't quite as interesting as Lord Parker.  I still enjoyed hearing things from her point of view...but let's be honest here, it's mostly because I get to hear more about Boyce.  There were times that I just wanted to slap Eve silly. 
I enjoyed this book quite a bit and would definitely recommend it to people who like historical romance and lighthearted heroes.
***slight spoiler ahead***
There was some good tension between the characters throughout the story.  This would probably be a good book for those who don't want much sex in their romance.  Besides some light make-out sessions, there is only one sex scene late in the book and it is pretty tame compared to most romance books.  It isn't spelled-out or very explicit.     

Friday, February 20, 2015

Unbearable Desire by Vivi Andrews

Unbearable Desire

Lone Pine Pride #4


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Never Surrender to a Scoundrel by Lily Dalton

Never Surrender to a Scoundrel




Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman

The Winter Family

by Clifford Jackman

Tracing a group of ruthless outlaws from its genesis during the American Civil War all the way to a final bloody stand in the Oklahoma territories, The Winter Family is a hyperkinetic Western noir that reads like a full-on assault to the senses.

          Spanning the better part of three decades, The Winter Family traverses America's harsh, untamed terrain, both serving and opposing the fierce advance of civilization. Among its twisted specimens, the Winter Family includes the psychopathic killer Quentin Ross, the mean and moronic Empire brothers, the impassive ex-slave Fred Johnson, and the dangerous child prodigy Lukas Shakespeare But at the malevolent center of this ultraviolent storm is their cold, hardened leader, Augustus Winter—a man with an almost pathological resistance to the rules of society and a preternatural gift for butchery.
     From their service as political thugs in a brutal Chicago election to their work as bounty hunters in the deserts of Arizona, there's a hypnotic logic to Winter's grim borderland morality that plays out, time and again, in ruthless carnage.
     With its haunting, hard-edged style, The Winter Family is a feverishly paced meditation on human nature and the dark contradictions of progress.
*I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
This is the kind of book that all other books should aspire to be.  It is dark and gritty and full of emotional complexity.  It is full of bad people who do terrible things and have terrible things done to them.  It's about war and brutality, and how people can believe themselves to be good and righteous and yet do horrendous things because they believe in their 'goodness' so much that they can't look past it.  It is, in a word, brilliant.
"The world's a hard fucking place…A little hard to get by with just please."
More than anything, The Winter Family is a book about humanity. 
"People don't even really make this thing; it's this thing that makes people.  It's as natural as a dream.  It's meaner than me, Bill.  And it's never going to die."
Augustus Winter, the leader of the Winter Family, is a brutal killer with a twisted sense of justice.  He sees the world as it is, a bloody mess of hate and greed where men prey on the weak.  Where 'good' men are allowed to get away with their crimes because they conform to the new laws of society.  A society that is as corrupt and greedy as its people.
"But then what's justice? It's men forcing themselves on the world.  You see?  I couldn't break the rules and escape.  For their rules to be real they have to spread over every inch of the earth.  There can't ever be one free space."
The west is slowly becoming more developed, the Native Americans are being killed for their land or forced into reservations, and the wild places of the land are disappearing.  The Winter Family is becoming a relic of the past.
"I got news for you.  The war was civilization.  That was it!  You ain't fighting civilization, Winter!  There's no civilization out here for you to fight.  But it's coming.  And it's a whole lot bigger and meaner than you, friend.  And it's not going to have no use for you when it gets here."
There are no heroes, no pure souls.  Just blood and death and shifting loyalties.
A solid five stars!  I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind having a bloody good time.

Yogi and the Bear by Nix Knox

Yogi and the Bear



*I received a copy of Yogi and The Bear from the publisher via Netgalley*

This began as a 4-5 star book but unfortunately I had to bump the rating down the more I read.  It's more like a 2.5, and the extra half star is just because of Ryan.  His personality grabbed me from the very first page and I fell in love with his character.  He is confident, unafraid of acting silly or being forward.  And he is hilarious.

Then comes(hur hur) Niklas, who is...different.  He begins the story as a calm yogi who is at times confident and at times skittish and afraid of everyone.  And he has good reason to be.  But it didn't make sense to me that this character would **spoiler**quite suddenly change his personality and become a virgin Dom with something very like a split personality.**spoiler**

What really ruined the book for me was that most of the plot was dropped in favor of constant sex.  I felt like everything that happened after the beginning of the book was an excuse for the characters to jump into bed together. Most of the book was sex and the rest was the two characters talking about sex.  I was so bored!  After the first few chapters I didn't glimpse Ryan's amazing personality again.
It was very disappointing because I thought I was going to love this book a lot.

Snowcroft Lost by Christi Snow

Snowcroft Lost

by Christi Snow

Secrets and Lies…
Everyone has them. Big ones. Little ones.

For Trevor Mayne and Jamie Vaughn, secrets and lies are how they’ve made their fourteen year friendship work. Don’t talk about it. Ignore it and it won’t be real. Pretend like everything’s fine between the two of them.

Jamie can’t live like this anymore. He’s in love with Trevor, his best friend who just happens to be straight. Tired of hiding his feelings, he decides to walk away. From their friendship. From his hometown. From his business.

But before Jamie gets a chance to leave, a freak accident leaves Trevor with amnesia. A new blank perspective leaves him confused about the inconsistencies of what he’s told his life should be vs. the feelings that he knows he has. Now those secrets and lies, that should be safer than ever, are suddenly front and center and changing everything between them.

Their world is at risk because their secrets and lies aren’t the only ones at play here. There’s a bigger lie out there and it could just destroy everything as they get closer and closer to the secret hidden in depths of the Snowcroft forest.
*I received a free copy of Snowcroft Lost from the publisher via Netgalley*

I was pretty satisfied with this book.  There was a lot to like and very little that I didn't.  It's a very solid three stars for me.  It was exciting and very interesting. 
Things I liked:
Mention of the Forest Service! I come from a Forest Service family and I'm very proud of our local men and women in green.
Trevor's dark secret.  It's a subject not often talked about and I like that the author was not afraid to address it.
The friendship between Trevor and Jaime.
What I didn't like:
It seemed a little unrealistic that so many men in such a small town were gay and in the closet.   
Overall I think it was a pretty good book and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a good M/M romantic suspense.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Winter Knitting by MillaMia

Winter Knitting

Patterns for the family and home

by MillaMia

*I received a review copy from the publisher via Netgalley*
This is a great pattern book for winter knits.  The layout is very nice and the pictures themselves are beautiful.  The patterns range in size and difficulty, from candle holder cozies to fair isle sweaters.   There is a lot of charting, but I tend to knit from charts anyway.
There are a few projects that I wouldn't personally knit (like the knitted ribbon for gift wrapping), but they are lovely to look at and probably a great stash-buster project.
I'd say this would be a good addition to any knitter's library.