Friday, July 15, 2016

Every Time with a Highlander by Gwyn Cready

Every Time with a Highlander


She can work her magic on any man...

In a quest to bring peace to her beloved Scottish borderlands, fortune-teller and spy Undine Douglas agrees to marry a savage English colonel. Desperate to delay the wedding long enough to undermine the army's plans, Undine casts a spell to summon help and unexpectedly finds herself under the imperious gaze of the handsome and talented Michael Kent, twenty-first century British theater director.

But in this production, he commands the action...

Though he abandoned acting years ago, Michael will play whatever part it takes to guard Undine's safety—he's used to managing London's egocentric actors and high-handed patrons, after all. But not even Shakespeare could have foreseen the sparks that fly when the colonel's plans force Undine and Michael into the roles of their lifetimes.

This was one of those books that you just know you'll love from the first chapter.  I didn't realize that it was the third in a series and I was missing out on some prior knowledge, but I went ahead and read it anyway without feeling like I was lost. 

Both main characters were well-written and relatable.  Michael was especially fun to read about because his skill as an actor led him into several very tricky situations that we're never sure if he's going to get out of.  He was also honorable and so very funny.  I wish the book was twice as long, really.
Undine is the type of fierce woman that we all love to read about but her friendships and love for people kept her from being a rigid ice-queen. 
The author also did a fantastic job of creating a villain that had depth and emotion instead of being a cardboard cutout.  Well done!

I'd absolutely recommend this book for anyone who loves historical romances, time travel, and actors who are just too good at their craft.

I received a free copy for review from the publisher via Netgalley.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase

Mad About the Hatter


25926238This isn’t his sister’s Wonderland….Henry never believed his older sister, Alice’s, fantastic tales about the world down the rabbit hole. When he’s whisked away to the bizarre land, his best chance for escape is to ally himself with the person called the Mad Hatter. Hatter—an odd but strangely attractive fellow—just wants to avoid execution. If that means delivering “Boy Alice” to the Queen of Hearts at her Red Castle, Hatter will do what he has to do to stay alive. It doesn’t matter if Henry and Hatter find each other intolerable. They’re stuck with each other.

Along their journey, Henry and Hatter must confront what they’ve always accepted as truth. As dislike grows into tolerance and something like friendship, the young men see the chance for a closer relationship. But Wonderland is a dangerous place, and first they have to get away with their lives.

I had quite a lot of expectations of this book.  How could I not, when it's set in Wonderland?  The beginning absolutely lived up to all expectations.  I loved the description of the Red Queen and her Guard and Hatter was wily and funny, just like I had hoped. 

Once the story moved on, however, I found that I was enjoying it less and less.  I didn't like Henry's character and I thought he was a jerk and undeserving of Hatter.  Henry spent his entire life not believing his sister's story of Wonderland (which is fine) and acted like an asshole to her when she wouldn't change her story (which is not fine).  Imagine, if you will, that Henry's theory was correct and Alice was kidnapped and went through some terrible trauma.  Would you really demand that this person tell you everything they went through in excruciating detail, and then hate them and blame all of life's problems on them if they refuse?  Not cool, Henry.  Not cool.

I felt as though the author spent more time on descriptions of Wonderland than she did with her characters.  Sure, some of the places were interesting (like Drawrof), but some were just downright silly and made me roll my eyes at the overeager writing.
If only the author had made the characters more complex and interesting!  Hatter certainly should have been more than the one-dimensional character we were stuck with.

I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Only Option by Megan Derr

The Only Option


29541892A desperate dragon. A lonely necromancer. A marriage neither wants.

When he is summoned to the royal castle, Rochus anticipates nothing more than a particularly difficult assignment. The bothersome journey is almost made worthwhile when he is propositioned by a young, beautiful dragon, Tilo, who seems untroubled by the fact that Rochus is a necromancer.

When Rochus arrives at the castle he is ordered to marry the very same dragon he spent the night with. Though Rochus would rather sign papers and return home, he is helpless against Tilo's pleas for help, even if it means spending more time around a man he is desperately drawn to but who doesn’t seem to want him.

It's no secret that I love Megan Derr's books.  I recommend them to friends whenever possible.  Have you read Tournament of Losers yet?  No??  Well go read it!  What about The Lost Gods series?   Read that one too.

The Only Option brings us back to Derr's fantasy world where different beings (Necromancers, Dragons, Queen's Hands, etc) co-exist in relative peace.  Rochus is forced into a marriage because Tilo needs help to save his lands and so far his pleas have gone unanswered.  When in need, force a necromancer to become your husband to secure his magical assistance.  Derr 101. 

I loved Rochus and his insecurities only made him more endearing.  He doesn't believe anyone would fall for a 43 year old necromancer with pale skin and blue teeth.  Little does he know...

Tilo's character was interesting and I've always had a soft spot for dragons.  He was a bit annoying at times because he's quick to pout or cry.  But I guess that's what happens when you're a 20 year old dragon trying to save a kingdom on your own. 

Everything about this book was great.  I loved the magical/ghost companions and the sweet interactions between Rochus and Tilo.  The age disparity just made it that much more precious. 

Here's another to add to the list of Megan Derr books I'll be recommending!

I received a free ebook copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tremaine's True Love by Grace Burrowes

Tremaine's True Love


24296368Tremaine St. Michael is firmly in trade and seeks only to negotiate the sale of some fancy sheep with the Earl of Haddonfield. The earl’s sister, Lady Nita, is pragmatic, hard-working, and selfless, though Tremaine senses she’s also tired of her charitable obligations and envious of her siblings’ marital bliss. Tremaine, having been raised among shepherds, can spot another lonely soul, no matter how easily she fools her own family. Neither Tremaine nor Nita is looking for love, but love comes looking for them.

When Tremaine St. Michael travels to the Earl of Haddonfield's estate to barter over the price of some sheep, he never expects to fall in love.  He has some bad experiences that have left him shy of love and matrimony.
Lady Nita has given up on love altogether and instead spends her days tending to the sick and infirm in the local village.  She does it because she believes it is her duty, and because the local doctor is a quack that cannot be relied upon. 

What follows is a very sweet story about two people who are shocked to find that they understand one another better than their respective families do.  I loved the interaction between them and I thought that having a gentle, honorable hero was very refreshing after reading so many romances with rakes and scoundrels. 

Of course, it wouldn't be a Grace Burrowes story without a large cast of characters, a bit of angst, and a snake in the grass.  And let me just say that Ms. Burrowes' handling of Nita's brother George was perfect!

I'd recommend this to anyone who loves bluestockings and very intelligent heroines, heroines who succeed at male-dominated professions, and heroes who are true gentlemen. 

I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hate F*@k: Part One by Ainsley Booth

Hate F*@k: Part One

Ainsley Booth

24308483Warning: This is just the start. This doesn't end well. And it's going to get much worse before it ever gets better.

I push her buttons. I want to push them in the good way. Dirty, up-against-the-wall, my-hand-in-her-pants kind of way.
But that’s not possible, because I’m dark and she’s light, and we both know it.
So I push her buttons in the bad way, making her hate me.

If a genie granted me three wishes, I’d ask for Cole Parker to never look at me again, that I’d forget the dark promise in his eyes, and that just once, before he vanished from my life completely, that he’d push me up against a wall and fuck me.
Then I’d go wash my mouth out with soap.

The title of this book put me off at first.  It's a terrible title, really.  But when I saw it come up in a friend's Goodreads feed and she raved about how good the book was I knew that I had to request it from Netgalley.  And after reading the novella I immediately bought the entire book on Amazon because I had to know what happened!
Right away I was sucked into the story and the lives of the characters.  I liked Hailey immediately and Cole...well, Cole is delicious. 
This novella was amazing and very hot.  I usually skip "those scenes" because I get bored but Ms. Booth writes like a boss. 

I highly recommend this book to all romance/erotica readers.

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle

Hold Your Breath



A Year Less Three Days by Alyx J. Shaw, Mychael Black

A Year Less Three Days


Only love will save them…if it can survive the pits of the damned.

When Lias’s wife was kidnapped, all his skills as a woodsman couldn’t save her—or himself. Captured, sold repeatedly to different masters, Lias endures abuse, torture, and worse. By the time his latest master buys him, Lias is little more than an animal.

He is a creature of rage and hate, antagonizing his master at every turn, lashing out at his boundaries, waiting and watching for a chance to escape and return to his children—or die trying.

At times, Necromis, a knight of the Order of the White Bear, would like nothing more than to oblige his aggravating new charge, but one thing stays his deadly hand. Lias is his last hope. Long ago, Necromis made a deal with a demon named Bonecracker to gain fame, wealth, and respect.

But the day of reckoning is coming, and there’s only one way out of this bargain—capture the heart of a broken slave, or Necromis’s soul will forever belong to Bonecracker.

It's hard to know just how to rate this book.  It began so well that I had convinced myself that the rest of the book was going to continue to be just as amazing.  I was disappointed when the characters seemed to suddenly change their personalities and I was at a loss.  I preferred their original personalities, which had more depth and feeling.

Plot-wise the book was pretty good.  I liked the curse aspect and I enjoyed the slave/master parts of the story.  I just wish that the characters had continued with the same strength.

I've decided to rate this book as a solid three stars.  It was a good book and quite interesting, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good M/M fantasy.

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

Monday, May 2, 2016

Blood and Clockwork by Katey Hawthorne

Blood and Clockwork


28421848Alistair Click set out to lay to rest the superstitious fears about the Mad Prince's clockwork tower. If that meant he might bring the ghost city of Avalonia back to economic life, connecting the western kingdoms once again, so much the better. So what if no adventurer who'd entered the tower in the last century of desolation had ever re-emerged? They didn't have his skill and wit. He could do better.

The tower turns out to be far more than Alistair expected, however. Not only are there clockwork puzzles to open every door, but one of them drops a boy from a strange world into his lap–figuratively speaking, if only just. Marco Murphy was just gaming in his New Jersey apartment, and now he's stuck in what feels like a never ending LARP nightmare.

The deeper they delve into the Mad Prince's tower, the darker the secrets they uncover. They're not entirely sure they'll ever be able to get out again, either. It'll take all Marco's charm and Alistair's cleverness, plus the strange bond growing between them, to get them out together… and alive.

This was a very descriptive novella set in a tower where most everything in each of the vast rooms is made up of clockwork.  I enjoyed the visuals, but after a while I began to get bored when nothing interesting happened.
Marco was a great character.  I loved his humor and his use of the modern-day Earth phrases that confused Alistair.  He pretty much saved the book for me.
One thing I loved was that Alistair was an asexual character.  That is very uncommon in books, especially in romance.  I thought that was pretty brave of the author.  After sells, right?
I would have rated this book higher if there was some sort of action or purpose to it all.  It was mostly a story about two characters exploring a strange tower and getting to know each other.  Not quite enough "meat" for my taste.
I received a free Kindle copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Primal Force by D.D. Ayres

Primal Force


23723773  Passion is always worth fighting for…

Jori Garrison trains dogs for Warrior Wolf Pack, which provides service animals for disabled veterans. Four years ago, she was wrongly convicted of a crime—thanks to her no-good ex-fiancé. Now she just wants to live her life in peace with her beloved dogs. No men, no complications. But it’s hard to play it cool when a lethally hot male is on her tail—and the attraction is fierce, mutual, and


Lauray "Law" Batisse is a Military Police veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan. Haunted by the loss of his K-9 partner in combat, he’s reluctant to accept a service dog named Samantha into his life. But once he meets her trainer—the gorgeous Jori Garrison—he can’t fight his primal instincts. And neither can Jori. This sexy alpha male might be the only man strong enough to unleash her desires. And when unseen enemies start hunting them down, he and his new K-9 partner might be her only hope… to survive.

I just love this series.  Each one is so well-written and researched, with interesting characters who are very believable.

The author obviously does a lot of research and it shows when she writes about training dogs or military/law enforcement K-9 work.  It has the effect of drawing the reader even more into the story.  The dogs themselves are complex characters.  Sam even gets her own scenes in this book!

There aren't many books out there with characters who have PTSD, and even less have characters with disabilities.  D.D. Ayres doesn't shy away from having a character with not only PTSD but also an amputated leg.  His character is written with compassion and respect.  He is strong and capable, and I wish more characters were written like him.  Ok, so he is a bit of an asshole in the beginning, but he has his reasons. 

This series is amazing and I wish more people knew about it.  I'd recommend it to anyone who likes romantic suspense with hot military men, and also for those who love dogs.  

I received a free ebook copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

A History of Glitter and Blood


17831753Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.
But when Beckan's clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn't have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected.

This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

Oh friends...There are so many mixed reviews of this book!  It seems as though everyone either loved it or hated it.  They either understood it or ended up lost in a cloud of confusion.  I suppose that's to be expected.  It is a Hannah Moskowitz book, after all. 

One of the main grievances I've read is that some people think the author forgot to edit out notes written to herself about what she was writing.  That is, in fact, not true.  The story is told from the point of view of a character who is writing a story about a girl, a group of friends, and the events that happened to them during the war between the gnomes and the tightropers.  It is the first draft of the character's narrative so there are some notes to himself and mistakes that he points out.  Still odd, but completely intentional and it will make sense toward the end. 

Hannah Moskowitz writes with a lyrical style that may be very different to most readers.  It can be confusing if you dwell on it too much.  My advice is to relax and not try to force the meaning to come.  When you get down to it, it's pretty simple.  It's a story about war, unrequited love, and above all, friendship.  It is about the sacrifices we make for those we love.

The main character is sixteen but I honestly don't think that this should be classified as YA.  Do most YA novels nowadays deal with prostitution and cannibalism?  Gosh, I hope not. (Ok, who am I kidding?  I'd totally read those)

Everything about this book was great, from the unreliable narrator to the lyrical writing and the dark subject matter.

I'd recommend it to those who don't mind having their mind stretched a bit.

I received a free ebook copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Vampires Never Cry Wolf by Sara Humphreys

Vampires Never Cry Wolf


Sadie Pemberton is the DJ at the hottest vampire club in New York City, and she loves her freedom almost as much as she hates werewolves. She has no desire to tie herself to anyone for eternity—even the deliciously sexy Killian Bane—werewolf prince and heir apparent who has been sent to patrol the city.

But Sadie bears the mark of the moon—the mark that Killian has been looking for, the mark that's meant to reveal his perfect mate. How can the fates be so cruel? Even more importantly, how is he ever going to change her mind?

This is the first book I've read by Sara Humphreys and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed.  The writing style was great and I loved the humor/snark that the characters exhibited.  The pacing kept me on my toes and I never felt as though the story lagged. 
Vampires and werewolves are very mistrustful of each other and that is something our main characters had to struggle with throughout the book.   No one ever said love was easy! 

This is a great book for lovers of paranormal romance and anyone who likes vampires and werewolves. 

Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for sending me a copy to review

The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory

The House of the Four Winds


The tiny nation of Swansgaard is a lovely place with abundant natural resources, including the royal family, which has been blessed with twelve daughters and a son. As this boisterous baker's dozen approaches adulthood, the king and queen lovingly tell their daughters, "You must make your own fortune, for we cannot enrich you without impoverishing our people or leaving our lands defenseless, and that we will not do."

Happily, the princesses of Swansgaard are eager to meet this challenge, for they yearn for adventures both near and far from home.

Clarice, an expert swordswoman, is the first to depart. Disguising herself as Clarence, she signs on for a voyage to the New World. The captain is vile and blackhearted, and the crew soon mutinies. Clarice becomes first mate - and finds her heart captured by the new captain, Dominick, who is, to his own surprise, increasingly attracted to Clarence.

Now outlaws, Dominick and his crew turn to piracy - though their hearts are not entirely in it. They soon run afoul of the Pirate Council, who orders them to retrieve the Heart of Light. All who have searched for this great treasure have vanished, with neither ships nor crews ever seen again and no sign of their fates ever discovered.

But none before have carried with them the sorceress Shamal, who stakes a claim of her own on Dominick's heart.

Adventure, romance, magic, swashbuckling and pirates....this book has it all!  I am a huge Mercedes Lackey fan and have been since I was an awkward, friendless teen who spent all of my free time with a nose in a book.  Mercedes Lackey has never let me down. 

The House Of The Four Winds begins like a traditional fairy tale but turns aside to become a pure adventure story.  Clarice is an intelligent woman who uses her wits and her skill to make her way in the world.  She ends up as a passenger on a ship where nothing is as it seems and it's hard to know who to trust.  
Like most of Mercedes Lackey's books, there are many interesting characters and they are all very likeable.  Well...the ones who are meant to be! 
I have always loved the trope of a woman disguising herself as a man to gain the same opportunities and respect that men have.  Something about it gets my imagination going.  I thought that it was very well-written and believable in this case.  This is the beginning of a new series that I am very excited to continue.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, adventure, and kick-ass heroines. 

I was sent a free copy in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

On His Watch by Katie Ruggle

On His Watch


27430562In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

Ice rescue diver Derek Warner never meant to be a hero. But when two little girls go missing, he's the first in line to bring them home-even if that means scouring the wilderness with the woman he once loved and lost, Artemis Rey.

Artemis has never stopped wanting Derek. Now, racing to find the girls before it's too late, minutes turn to hours. Night falls. Old flames rekindle. And a danger grows in the darkest wilderness that may be more than even the Search and Rescue brotherhood can hope to face...

This novella was a great introduction to Katie Ruggle's Search And Rescue series. 

It begins with a show-and-tell type presentation to a crowd of school children and progresses quickly from there.  I just loved Derek's character.  He is hilarious and sweet and so in love with Artemis, his childhood sweetheart.  

Two things kept me from rating it higher.  One, I didn't believe that two characters who are actively searching for two little girls during a snowstorm would spend so much time thinking about sexing each other up (at least I hope not!).  And two, it was very short and I had hoped for more.
The sneak peek at the back of the book has me very interested in the next book in the series.  I am looking forward to reading more from Mrs. Ruggle.

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

Eden's Fire by Samantha Holt

Eden's Fire


21449085A god. A mortal. A treacherous journey that will bind their hearts forever.

Lonely and cast out of society, Eden gets a visit from Tyondric, God of Fire, in answer to a prayer. Gods can only appear once in a person's lifetime, so when he returns a second and third time, she knows her life will never be the same. When the beautiful god reveals Eden is The Pure Soul--the only one who can close the gate to the heavens and prevent the evil in Ananthuria from spreading--their relationship gets complicated.

Ty is willing to break every rule to save the world. And to save Eden.

As they set out on their dangerous journey to the gate Eden is kissed by the god. It's then she realizes Ty holds the power to break through every wall she's erected around herself and force his way into her heart. But what will happen when they close the gate and the world returns to normal? Can a mortal and a god ever be together? And with an evil lord on their trail, will they even succeed?

CONTENT WARNING: Contains sensually erotic scenes, a snarky heroine and a gorgeous god.

I just couldn't finish this one.  Even after reading the first page I suspected I wouldn't like it, and by the end of the first chapter I was sure I didn't. 
The writing wasn't what I normally like and I couldn't find anything interesting about the characters. 

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

Monday, April 18, 2016

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Don't Even Think About It


We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming.

Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.

I don't remember what led me to request this book from Netgalley.  Maybe it had something to do with the ESP?  Or maybe I just wanted a quick read I didn't have to put much effort into reading?  I don't know.  Sometimes my Netgalley requests astound even me.  

This book is exactly what you would expect it to be: a book about teenagers being teenagers.  Even with the ESP they had catfights, worried about being the best in the class, wondered if their best friend secretly liked them, and used said ESP to get a date.  And found out everyone's secrets, of course.   

There wasn't much depth to the story and I found it irritating at times because of the very immature narrators.  There was only one character that I can say I truly liked. 
If you don't mind YA with a lot of fighting and boy-crazy teens (or if you're a high school student yourself) then you just might like this one.
For everyone else, maybe get a sample before buying.

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

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Enticing Miss Eugenie Villaret by Ella Quinn

Enticing Miss Eugenie Villaret


22090692William, Viscount Wivenly, plans to remain the most eligible of bachelors. He refuses to surrender to the schemes of husband-hunting ladies and matchmaking mamas. Fleeing the pressure of the ton, he's bent on finding refuge in the West Indies. What he finds instead is a fascinating stranger, a woman so unlike those of his society that he can't resist such a beguiling distraction. . .

Determined to let nothing complicate her mission to protect her family's livelihood while covertly rescuing orphaned slave children, Miss Eugénie Villaret does her best to evade suitors. But when dashing William lures her down a path of forbidden adventure and delicious danger, she may be convinced that business can indeed be mixed with pleasure—and persuaded to add passion to her priorities. . .

There are times when I like a domineering hero in romance.  Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward, and Celeste Bradley are very good at writing the "asshole turned nice guy" type of character.  I never feel like I want to chew them up and spit them out.  William, on the other hand, is the kind of character I'd dearly love to give a hard kick in the balls.  He is a cad and treats women, especially Eugenie, like crap.  I hated him.  Even after the turning point I never fully liked him or believed that he could so easily change his behavior. 

The plot meandered along at a slow pace and there were times when I had no idea why a certain scene was included in the book because it had no importance to the storyline.  I got very bored with it.

Because I had a hard time keeping interested in this book, I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone.  It just wasn't for me and I'd think twice about picking up any other books from this series.

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

The Diary by R.M. Jane

The Diary


John Bridly has been enamored with Paul Duvant, son a of a rich American merchant, since the moment he laid eyes on him. But though the love proves mutual, John is a marquess, second son of a duke, and as such has a duty to his family.

When Paul has to return to his homeland, John’s duty forbids him from following Paul, and the lovers part ways. One year later, John finds a mysterious diary, dated from the last century…

This is one of those books that I wouldn't recommend to anyone, I'm sorry to say.  It didn't have enough historical detail to make the setting interesting, and the romance itself was unbelievable and felt forced.  I didn't care much about the characters, to be honest.
The story jumps forward in time quite often so I felt robbed of the interaction between the characters.  I feel like somewhere, in one of those time jumps, was the moment when the characters fell in love.  I really wish we got to read about it. 

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

Friday, April 15, 2016

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

At the Water's Edge


23209927After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind.

To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war.

Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants.

The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.

I have been a big fan of Sara Gruen since I read Water For Elephants several years ago.  Her writing style sucked me in and I read her other books as soon as I could.  When I saw that At The Water's Edge was coming out I requested it from Netgalley immediately.  After reading a few reviews, I was prepared to be disappointed.  To anyone wondering if they should give it a chance I'll say this: Give it a few chapters.

The first few chapters were a chore to get through, not because of bad writing or boredom, but because the three main characters were so selfish and thoughtless that I despaired of ever liking them.  Things quickly picked up.  Maddie wasn't who I thought she was and I began to understand her better.  I liked Maddie a lot.  She was brave, intelligent, and long as her husband wasn't around. 
The characters are all very interesting and fleshed-out.

One thing Sarah Gruen does extremely well is atmosphere.  Scotland and the war were so well-written that I could envision every scene very clearly. 

This book had everything: romance, adventure, was a wonderful historical novel with a touch of magic and wonder.  I highly recommend it.

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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Time Garden by Daria Song

The Time Garden



The Time Garden is an amazing and beautiful coloring book for adults.  Before receiving this book, I hadn't colored since I was a kid.  Now I understand why so many adults are now in a coloring phase and why there are dozens of intricate coloring books available today.  There is something meditative about coloring.  It helps our stressed-out minds focus on something other than our busy lives or frustrating jobs.

The Time Garden is beautiful.  All you have to do is open the cover and you'll immediately want to break out the pencils (or crayons, or markers).  I loved the fantastical drawings of the girl and the clocks, though I admit I enjoyed the trees and flowers the most.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves to color, or for adults who want to try it out.

I received this book through in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rescue Me, Maybe by Jackie Bouchard

Rescue Me, Maybe


If you lost both your husband and your dog to cancer within weeks of each other, but you were sadder about the dog, would you tell anyone? Maybe your closest friends. Unfortunately, Jane Bailey’s closest friends are on the other side of the country. That’s where Jane plans to go now that she’s free to leave Philadelphia, the too cold, beachless, street taco-deficient city her husband dragged her to six years ago. But with no job prospects in her hometown of San Diego, Jane is roped into helping out temporarily at her uncle’s southwestern small-town B&B. En route to her new role as innkeeper and breakfast chef, she finds a stray at a rest stop. With her heart in pieces from the loss of her dog, she’s determined not to let this mutt worm its way into her affections. She’s also determined to have next-to-no interaction with the B&B’s irritating guests, and the even more annoying handyman who lives next door. Can Jane keep her sanity—and her secret that she’s not really a grieving widow—while trying to achieve her dream of getting back to the place she thinks is home?

Let's be honest here, I chose this book because of the dog.

I did not like Jane at all.  I'm surprised she had any family or friends who tolerated her.  She is extremely judgmental about everyone she meets and is defensive, stubborn, and rude.

It probably would have been a good book with a character I could relate to,  but as it is I couldn't read more than a chapter or two without wanting to toss the book aside in frustration.  

Even the dog didn't save things for me.

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

The Merman and the Barbarian Pirate by Kay Berrisford

The Merman and the Barbarian Pirate



Raef, a lonely merman, spends his days watching the dashing Lord Haverford from afar and dreaming of love. When Haverford is robbed by a pirate, Raef vows to reclaim the stolen goods, hoping his victory will buy him the happiness he yearns for with Haverford.

But Jon Kemp does not match what Raef knows about pirates, and the simple quest Raef anticipated turns out to be an epic journey. For while Jon might be a nobler man than Raef believed, he’s still a pirate. Love and loyalty are not on Jon’s agenda, and he certainly has no plans to love someone not entirely human …

This was a very quick, fun read.  I loved the characters and the story line.  What could be better than pirates, mermen/mermaids, despicable villains, and seafaring adventures? 

This was a "slow burn" romance, which is how I like them.  I like the characters to get to know each other before they fall head over heels (or fin) in love.

This is a great book if you're looking for a little adventure with your romance and good characterization.  It's a quick read for those days when you need a pick-me-up.

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

Unwept by Tracy Hickman



18490661Gamin, Maine, is a remote seaside town where everyone seems to know Ellis Harkington better than she knows herself—but she doesn’t remember any of them.

Unknown events have robbed Ellis of her memory. Concerned individuals, who purport to be her friends and loved ones, insist that she simply needs to recuperate, that her memories may return in time, but refuse to divulge what has brought her to this state. For her own sake, so they say.

Ellis finds herself adrift in a town of ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers. The Nightbirds, a clique of fashionable young men and women, claim her as one of their own, but who among them can she truly trust? And what of the phantom suitor who visits her in her dreams? Is he a memory, a figment of her imagination, or a living nightmare beyond rational explanation?

Only her lost past hold the answers she seeks—if she can uncover its secrets before she fall prey to an unearthly killer.

I'm afraid I don't have anything good to say about this book. The rule of "when you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" makes it difficult to write a review on a book that you loathed.

I didn't like any of the characters and couldn't connect with them. I couldn't care less what happened to Ellis or any of her friends.
The author tried so hard to be mysterious that in the end nothing made sense and there was no resolution. The ending was especially awkward and confusing.

The book was a big mess and I would never have finished it if it weren't for the fact that I had to write a review.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the free review copy.

Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran

Fool Me Twice


Sensible and lonely, Olivia Mather survives by her wits—and her strict policy of avoiding trouble. But when she realizes that the Duke of Marwick might hold the secrets of her family’s past, she does the unthinkable, infiltrating his household as a maid. She’ll clean his study and rifle through his papers looking for information.
Alastair de Grey has a single reason to live: vengeance. More beautiful than Lucifer, twice as feared, and thrice as cunning, he’ll use any weapon to punish those who fooled and betrayed him—even an impertinent maid who doesn’t know her place. But the more fascinated he becomes with the uppity redhead, the more dangerous his carefully designed plot becomes. For the one contingency he forgot to plan for was falling in love…and he cannot survive being fooled again.

I had been looking forward to this book so much!  It has everything I usually love: a dark brooding hero, a lower-class love interest, secrets and lies and danger.   What I couldn't get past, though, was Olivia's refusal to apologize for some of her actions which could have been very damaging to Alastair's reputation and psyche.  She irritated me to no end. 

Besides that, the storyline was very good.  I loved the angst and the slowly-blossoming love between the two main characters.  The writing was very good and I am looking forward to reading more from Meredith Duran.

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

Suffer The Children by Craig DiLouie

Suffer The Children

by Craig DiLouie

From an acclaimed horror writer, a chilling tale of blood-hungry children who rise from the dead in this innovative spin on apocalyptic vampire fiction.

Suffer the Children presents a terrifying tale of apocalyptic fiction, as readers are introduced to Herod's Syndrome, a devastating illness that suddenly and swiftly kills all young children across the globe. Soon, they return from the grave…and ask for blood. And with blood, they stop being dead. They continue to remain the children they once were...but only for a short time, as they need more blood to live. The average human body holds ten pints of blood, so the inevitable question for parents everywhere becomes: How far would you go to bring your child back?

Suffer The Children starts out as a great horror novel and the lead-up to the 'big event' was great.  I found it went slightly downhill after that, though.  Instead of the pure horror that I was expecting, there was a lot of dialogue between characters and filler scenes.  At times I grew bored and wished that things would hurry up. 

It was an interesting take on vampirism, though, and I liked the moral ambiguity the characters struggled through.

It would be a great book for people who like their books to meander along before hitting you with the more intense scenes.

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

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hear Me by Viv Daniels

Hear Me



I really enjoyed Hear Me.  It is the perfect book to read during the cold winter months.  There is adventure, magic, romance, and great world-building.  It's pretty short and I would have liked it to be longer, but I think that just shows how much I was enjoying the story.
And just look at that cover!  Wowza. 
I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves paranormal romance, or even those who like fantasy and want to dip their toes into the romance genre.

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

Riding Steele, by Opal Carew

Riding Steele 


22456991Being kidnapped by bikers is a harrowing experience, but for some reason, Laurie doesn’t feel as terrified as she should.  The leader’s steely eyes soften when he looks at her, and the others in his gang clearly know she’s hands off.  But does that include Steele's hands?  Her brain resists him, but her body insists she wants those big hands all over her.

Steele doesn’t know how he wound up in this mess—with a kidnapped woman on his hands and the police hot on their trail.  Now he and Laurie are in hiding at an isolated cabin, and Steele has to figure out how to extricate himself...and steer clear of his accidental captive whose tight, slinky clubbing attire is making him think all kinds of dangerous thoughts…

Hoo boy, do I have Problems with this book. 

Laurie is just getting out of a bad relationship with a controlling, abusive man.  She is kidnapped by a motorcycle gang, tied up, and spends the next few days with Steele chasing after her and trying to get into her pants.  Not to mention getting his buddies in her pants, too.  That would all be fine, if she were a woman who knew what she wanted and stood firm about things she doesn't want.  She spends the entire book being unsure of herself and what she wants and just giving in to Steele.  No, she doesn't really want to let his buddies have their way with her, but oh if that's what you want Steele. 

And what about birth control and STDs?  Has no one ever heard of those things?

I don't mind reading books with sharing-is-caring characters, but I do mind when the character being shared is unsure about it.  And I absolutely mind when the asshole jerk knows it but goes ahead anyway because she hasn't actually said no.

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

It's Complicated by L.A. Witt

It's Complicated


After their umpteenth breakup, Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden are living apart and starting over from scratch. The morning after a promising first date, they’re more optimistic than ever that they can make it work this time . . . until Jeff’s ex-wife and business partner calls to announce she’s pregnant with Jeff’s baby. Brad’s already competing with a demanding business for Jeff’s time. Now there’s a baby on the way, and worse, he’s afraid Jeff is still carrying a torch for the woman who’s carrying his child.

Jeff is desperately trying to keep his life together, but before he can even get his head around the news that he’s going to be a father, his ex announces that she wants to leave Tucker Springs. Now he either has to take over her role at the shop while ferrying the baby back and forth from Denver, or move the business—and himself—with her.

Brad and Jeff knew reconciliation wouldn’t be easy, but they’re rapidly running out of room for compromise. And sooner or later, something has to give.

*Free review copy provided by the publisher and Netgalley*

I'm afraid I didn't care for this book very much.  I'm not a fan of characters who can't make up their minds if they love each other or not, and I really dislike when two characters can't be bothered to communicate.  I spent so much time being frustrated by Jeff and Brad that I barely noticed other details.   
If those things don't bother you then you'll probably enjoy the book.  As for me, I'm just hoping they don't have many appearances in future books.

The River Leith, by Leta Blake

The River Leith


Memory is everything.

After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.

For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach's choices may come back to haunt him.

Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.

I had a difficult time deciding what to make of this one.   On one hand, the author did a great job showing the confusion and loss that Leith's injury gave to not just him, but his friends and family.  I loved the interactions between them and I loved the angst between Leith and Zach.  And Zach....well, I didn't love him.  It took me a while to warm up to him as a character.  Some of his actions made me want to smack him.  Still, I think things wrapped up nicely and I ended up liking it quite a bit toward the end.  

Free review copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley

The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Lavender, by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender



I read this book a while ago and I couldn't begin to formulate a review.  It was beautiful and lyrical and I loved every minute of it.  Because it took me so long to review I can't quite remember all of the details, but I still remember how beautiful it was and how much feeling the author put into every word.  It is a tragic story of love and loss, of family and the wounds we all carry and pass down through the generations.
It's one that has stuck with me even though there have been many months, and many books, in between.

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

Goals For 2016

Well, it's a new year again.  I'm not one for making least not anymore.  Too many times I have made resolutions and had nothing to show for it at the end of the year and so I gave up.

So this year I have goals (which is really just a resolution in disguise).  I am going to do my best to meet these goals, but if I don't make it I'm going to congratulate myself for trying and plan to do better in the future.

Since no one wants to hear about weight loss or job searching, I'll focus on craft and reading related goals.

  1. Read and review at least half of the Netgalley books I've requested.
  2. Finish a few of my knitting projects, starting with my Winter Is Coming Scarf
  3. Finish writing one of my stories
  4. Finish more paintings
  5. Start a craft/art blog
  6. Re-read The Lord Of The Rings

So, what are your goals for the year?