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Monday, December 11, 2017

REVIEW: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

*Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit for an ARC in exchange for a review*

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Into the Drowning Deep was a stellar horror novel with a truly inventive foe. I'm from the generation where mermaids should be red haired, sing, collection flatware and be BFFs with fish, crabs and seagulls.  Grant has deftly crafted a dark, suspense filled addition to the horror genre that echos Hans Christian Andersen's macabre classic fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid." 

Excellent pacing and build of intriguing characters surrounded by uncertainty and some truly creepy creatures.  What I did like was Grant's ability to give the mermaid/sirens depth and develop the idea that they might be intelligent and deadly but only out of necessity as the characters (and the readers) learn more about them and why they behavior the way the do.  I'm looking forward to the develpment of this as a series since there is huge potential for more narrative based on Into the Drowning Deep's ending. 

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

REVIEW: The Hunt by Chloe Neill

When bounty hunter Liam Quinn discovered that Claire Connolly was a Sensitive and infected with magic, he should have turned her in to be locked up in the prison district known as Devil's Isle. Instead, he helped her learn to control her power and introduced her to an underground group of Paranormals and humans who know the truth about the war and those who fought it.

Now the weight of Liam's own secrets has forced him into hiding. When a government agent is killed and Claire discovers that Liam is the prime suspect, she races to find him before the government can. But she'll discover proving his innocence is no simple matter. Their enemies are drawing closer, and time is running out.

The Hunt picks up several weeks after the end of book two. Liam is MIA after his magical pick me up, Claire is feeling uncertain but readers hope those two will actually communicate and figure out they are better together. Our heroine is also in for some harsh truths about her past that shed light on their current predicament and the future of NOLA and the world itself.

This was an entertaining installment to the series and a good set up for a lot more to come in following books. I did find Liam's last line a bit corny but it works for the next book. Well developed urban fantasy with a post apocalyptic twist. Neill continues to write quality, original works.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, November 26, 2017

REVIEW: The Shadow Revolution by Clay & Susan Griffith

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

The Shadow Revolution marks the beginning of the Crown & Key series from Clay and Susan Griffith. Set in Victorian London, the novel dabbles in magic, mystery and the perfect amount of entice steampunk. The audiobook held my attention as the story progressed.

Loved the spin on the classic werewolves in London! Definitely a multitude of creepy villains and other monsters.  

The characters are equally intriguing and sometimes sassy. I'm curious about the 'key' and unlocking the secrets that link Simon and Kate together for the subsequent books.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Highlighted Reviews, November 2017

Welcome back to the Point.

Noe Lee made an enemy of Snowden Stark when she robbed his apartment. In major trouble with some bad people after her, Noe has no one else to turn to for help. 

Stark did not expect to see the tiny, mighty homeless thief, and his first reaction is refusal. However, Stark has second thoughts, but Noe is kidnapped and tortured before he can help her.  To right his wrongs, Stark becomes invested in trying to get her back safe and sound. 

True to Crownover's past characters, both Stark and Noe have their fair share of personal demons. Stark is good with computers, but not necessarily people. While he's super sexy and a bit of a geek, he also has guilt from his past and has kept his emotions buried so he is more machine than man. But something about Noe and his guilt from refusing her brings out more of his emotions.

Noe has had her own painful past. She is a survivor, and is strong, smart, and resourceful. She is a talented techie in her own right so can appreciate Stark's skills. She is good at running and disappearing, but this time she is in way over her head. What they both learn from each other is that sometimes the only solution is to not hide any longer and to face obstacles head on.  They find strength in each other.

I loved Dignity just as I do all Crownover's book.  Excellent characters with depth, intrigue, suspense and detail plus good steamy bit!

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Saving It by Monica Murphy is a cute young adult romance about a girl helping her best friend find someone to help him lose his virginity but instead finds themselves falling for each other instead. The novel is cute and angsty if a bit predictable. 

Eden and Josh are bestie who haven't really thought about each other as anything more than friends until they do. Changing emotions set new jealousies into motion, invite drama and lead to more than one falling out before the couple can admit their feelings.

I liked the book. It was a good, quick, easy read. Appropriate for a teen reader and those transitioning toward the new adult genre.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Never challenge a cowboy to a little naughty competition… 

A flirty game of sexual truth or dare between best man, Wynton Grant, and maid of honor, Melissa Lockhart during their BFF’s wedding reception results in a steamy hookup. 

But their plans for a one and done change when a family crisis leaves Wyn shorthanded at the Grant Ranch. Experienced horsewoman Mel volunteers to help out and gets way more than she bargained for living under the same roof as the sexy rancher. Playing house has never appealed to Wyn…until now. 

James never disappoints. This is another steamy but well written and developed novella from the Blacktop Cowboys series.  I liked Mel and Wyn, although knowing so many people with diabetes, I wanted to smack Mel more than once for her secrets that could have killed her.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .


The premise may sound intriguing but I pretty much hated this book. I couldn't engage with any of the characters.  The change in POV each chapter makes it difficult to follow and I couldn't remember the laundry list of characters and how they connected.  I didn't feel bad for any of the dearly departed.

I'm not alone. The entire book club felt the same. 

All in all, not my cup of tea and I won't plan or reading any of her other works.

Final rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The Shadow Land is an engrossing novel that spans the past and the present and unearths the dark secrets of Bulgaria, a beautiful and haunted country. 

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes. 

As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by oppression and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger. 

I enjoyed this engrossing tale, especially the audiobook. It was a surprising departure to most fiction I pick up but I was a fan of Kostova's The Historian, so I thought I'd give this a try.  I'm glad I did.

The attention to detail, slow build of the narrative, complex characters and plenty of surprise revelations had more enthralled with the story.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

REVIEW: Bourbon Kings #2 & #3 by J.R. Ward

The Bradfords hold the upmost tier to high society and a bourbon empire; however, the apparent suicide of the family patriarch is starting to look more and more like murder…

No one is above suspicion—especially the eldest Bradford son, Edward. The bad blood between him and his father is known far and wide, and he is aware that he could be named a suspect. As the investigation into the death intensifies, he keeps himself busy at the bottom of a bottle—as well as with his former horse trainer’s daughter. Meanwhile, the family’s financial future lies in the perfectly manicured hands of a business rival, a woman who wants Edward all to herself.

A lot happened in Book 2, but I found the pacing and the whole drama of it all too much. Honestly, it was like being stuck in an a combination between a Dynasty and a Dallas episode. Who shot JR?--er, no what happened to William?

I don't love this family, the setting or the characters but I kept reading because I want to know what happened and IF anyone in this familly might have a happily ever after.

The audiobook was a HUGE disappointment. I really disliked the narrative performance and found the use of character voice inflection distracting and a bit silly.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind.

Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.

As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again.

The final stretch! I was relieved to find out whodunnit but albeit surprised by the big reveal. I won't spoil it for those planning to read but it was a bit of a jolt. I'd figured out much of the other big reveal toward the end. It was nice to see Richard get the boot and for Gin to have an epiphany.  Lane and Edward were less interesting for me and I really felt that Max wasn't done justice with the storytelling.

Overall, it was just an 'okay' series for me. I prefer Ward's take on the supernatural to Kentucky bourbon.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

REVIEW: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

*Thanks to Netgalley & St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for a review*

Ever since Reyes escaped from a hell dimension in which Charley accidentally trapped him, the son of Satan has been brimstone-bent on destroying the world his heavenly Brother created. His volatile tendencies have put Charley in a bit of a pickle. But that’s not the only briny vegetable on her plate. While trying to domesticate the feral being that used to be her husband, she also has to deal with her everyday life of annoying all manner of beings—some corporeal, some not so much—as she struggles to right the wrongs of society. Only this time she’s not uncovering a murder. This time she’s covering one up.

Throw in helping Cookie's daughter Amber and Quiten's start-up P.I. business and keeping the Vatican from snooping into the existence and whereabouts of Charley and Reyes' daughter. But when someone starts attacking humans who are sensitive to the supernatural world, Charley knows it’s time to let loose her razor sharp claws. Then again, her number one suspect is the dark entity she’s loved for centuries.

Can Charley bring Reyes back from the brink? Can she discover the killer in time? Can she recover from breaking the unforgivable rule????

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave is another wickedly funny and hot fantasy ride with plenty of intrigue, characters we love and great storytelling. Narrator Lorelei King does another stellar job with the audiobook. You'll laugh, you'll cry!

Quite possibly the best moment of the entire series is homeless 'stripper' Cookie. I laughed so hard!

The ending had me reeling and waiting with anticipation for the next book!

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, November 4, 2017

REVIEW: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit who collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. She's sarcastic and withdrawn, feeling outshined by others in her family.

While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Hoover does what she does best, write about interesting characters who wriggle under the readers' skin and make an impact with their biting humor, significant and unique world struggles. Merit is uniquely likeable in her own unlikeable way. Readers feel for her but want to shake her at the same time. 

Without Merit itself fits as a new adult romance/YA crossover book. I'd recommend it for YA readers transitioning to adulthood but have liked Sarah Dessen, Katie McGarry and other similar writers.

I enjoyed this wacky, dysfunctional family despite the book's imperfections.  There's a lot going on here including themes like mental illness, sexuality, suicide, abuse, even the Syrian refugee crisis while meshing it all with a romance plot. Sure, there are imperfections but I found this to be an engrossing, quick read. The audiobook narration by Candace Thaxton was excellent.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Send Me An Angel--highlighted reviews

As an Agent of Death, Madeline Black is responsible for escorting the souls of the dearly departed to the afterlife. It's a 24/7 job with a lousy benefits package.

Maddy's position may come with magical powers and an impressive wingspan, but it doesn't pay the bills. And then there are her infuriating boss, tenant woes, and a cranky, popcorn-loving gargoyle to contend with.

Things start looking up, though, when tall, dark, and handsome Gabriel Angeloscuro agrees to rent the empty apartment in Maddy's building. It's probably just a coincidence that as soon as he moves in demons appear on the front lawn. But when an unholy monster is unleashed upon the streets of Chicago, Maddy discovers powers she never knew she possessed. Powers linked to a family legacy of tarnished halos.
Black Wings has been on my radar for a while and I finally got to it. This was a quick, enjoyable read. I could certainly tell it is the first of a series as well as one of Christina Henry's earlier novels.  I've read later works in her twist on Alice in Wonderland. She continues to hone her craft.

There was enough 'meat' to this first book, development of an arc and great tension for the romantic relationship that I will definitely pick up the rest of the series.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Archangel's Enigma is the 8th in Singh's Guild Hunter series.  She continues to build upon the rising tension as Archangel Lijuan plots to kill the Ancient Alexander.

Naasir is the most feral of the powerful group of vampires and angels known as the Seven, his loyalty pledged to the Archangel Raphael. When rumors surface of a plot to murder the former Archangel of Persia, now lost in the Sleep of the Ancients, Naasir is dispatched to find him. For only he possesses the tracking skills required - those more common to predatory animals than to man.

Enlisted to accompany Naasir, Andromeda, a young angelic scholar with dangerous secrets is fascinated by his nature - at once playful and brilliant, sensual and brutal. As they race to find the Sleeping archangel before it's too late, Naasir will force her to question all she knows...and tempt her to walk into the magnificent, feral darkness of his world. But before they can give into their newly developed feelings, they'll have to face unparalleled dangers as the power balance in throughout the world continues to shift.

I really enjoyed this book because they narrative was compelling as was the character development. It is a try mystery/thriller with the addition of romance but was not overtly focused on so much of the sexual dynamic between the potential couple. Sure, the tension and banter is there but there are more important tasks to focus on throughout the journey.

And what an ending!

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

REVIEW: Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

*Thank you to Netgalley and Del Rey Books for an ARC in exchange for a review*

A Plague of Giants marks the start of a new series by the New York Times bestselling author Kevin Hearne.  Rather a departure from The Iron Druid Chronicles, Hearne creates an unforgettable fantasy world . . . one that is forever changed when an army of giants invades. The kingdom's only hope? The discovery of a form of magic that will call the world's wondrous beasts to fight by the side of humankind.

Fans of epic fantasy with strong characters and world building will flock to this book.  Hearne continues to establish himself as a master storyteller. What I loved most were the echoes to the great oral masters in history--Homer, Ovid, & Virgil.  Plague reads in much the same way as the episodic nature of The Odyssey and I loved the way that the structure of the novel and its chapters support this homage.

A true shining star is the audiobook as narrated by Luke Daniels and Xe Sands.  Through their performances, the characters truly come to life and enhance the reading experience.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Highlighted Reviews--Catching up 2017

A year ago, Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a failed suicide attempt. Just when she's sure the credits have rolled on her life story, she gets a second chance with the Arcadia Project: a secret organization that polices the traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with creatures straight out of myth and fairy tales.

For her first assignment, Millie is tasked with tracking down a missing movie star who also happens to be a nobleman of the Seelie Court. To find him, she'll have to smooth-talk Hollywood power players and uncover the surreal and sometimes terrifying truth behind the glamour of Tinseltown. But stronger forces than just her inner demons are sabotaging her progress, and if she fails to unravel the conspiracy behind the noble's disappearance, not only will she be out on the streets, but the shattering of a centuries-old peace could spark an all-out war between worlds.

This was an AMAZING first in series by recommendation of a close friend. What I loved about this book was the authentic characterization plus the inventive twist on fae-lore connected to our world.  All of the characters are fascinating and well depicted, making the reader want to know more about them and follow their journeys. 

5 out of 5 stars

Heir to Lund Enterprises and ladies’ man Jensen “The Rocket” Lund has three conditions when it comes to dating:
1) No single mothers
2) No cheerleaders
3) No medical personnel
So it makes no sense that he’s wildly attracted to Rowan Michaels, who breaks all three.

Rowan Michaels didn’t pass the rigorous requirements to become an athletic trainer and Vikings cheerleader in the hopes of landing a pro athlete: been there, done that, and she has a young son as proof that football players and fidelity don’t go hand in hand. When Rowan learns her new neighbor is Jensen Lund, the smoking-hot tight end who takes being neighborly to a whole new level, she’s grateful for the team’s strict “no fraternization” policy because the sexy man defines temptation.

This is the fourth book of the series and includes everything you love about a great Lorelei James book--characters, family relationships, good plot tension, banter--oh and yeah its super steamy!

5 out of 5 stars

Jeremy Gallow is just another construction worker, and that's the way he likes it. He's left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be. Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae—by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer's Court is breaking loose.

This satisfied by 'book recommended by an author' for this year's Pop Sugar reading challenge.  Recommended by Kevin Hearne, I enjoyed this very different take on fae urban fantasy.  It is always an adjustment acclimating to a new author's style.  The plot was creative and I enjoyed the character development plus the building of intrigue.  I'm curious to see where this series goes and will definitely seek out the second book.

As an audiobook, I was less impressed with the narrator and production, having to relisten to entire sections since I 'zoned out' at times.

3 out of 5 stars

Angels are falling from the sky in New York, struck down by a vicious, unknown force.

Vampires are dying impossibly of disease.

Guild hunter Elena Deveraux and the Archangel Raphael must discover the source of the wave of death before it engulfs their city and their people, leaving New York a ruin and Raphael’s Tower under siege by enemy archangels.

Archangel's Legion was another great entry to the series. Full of action, intrigue and super hot romance from Elena and Raphael.  It is always amusing that they can find time for togetherness even when NYC is under attack and their whole world seems to be falling apart.

My favorite part was the end, I won't ruin it--but the new surprise visitors will definitely impact future books.

4 out of 4 stars

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot— should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

I loved this addition to the series following the epic events of Archangel's Legion.  This one fits within the fallout but is essentially a standalone paranormal romance within the Guild Hunters world.  Ash and Janvier have a dynamic relationship which builds nicely, especially since Ash is too afraid to tell him to truth behind her family legacy. I found the mystery/thriller plot engaging as well and loved that the couple showed a bit of diversity.

4 out of 4 stars

Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstöm has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty… and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

This has been in my 'to-read' pile for eons.  I liked this Norse mythology twist.  Decent characters and plot engagement but it dragged at times.  I'm curious enough to try book 2 but do not need to rush to do so.

3 out of 5 stars

Karen Marie Moning returns with the epic conclusion to her pulse-pounding Fever series, where a world thrown into chaos grows more treacherous at every turn. As Mac, Barrons, Ryodan, and Jada struggle to restore control, enemies become allies, right and wrong cease to exist, and the lines between life and death, lust and love, disappear completely.

Black holes loom menacingly over Dublin, threatening to destroy the Earth. Yet the greatest danger is the one MacKayla Lane has unleashed from within: the Sinsar Dubh—a sentient book of unthinkable evil—has possessed her body and will stop at nothing in its insatiable quest for power.

The fate of Man and Fae rests on destroying the book and recovering the long-lost Song of Making, the sole magic that can repair the fragile fabric of the Earth.

SO MUCH HAPPENS! Part of me is glade this phase of the series has come to an end.  Moning wraps up most story arcs well.  I spent a good portion of the book in dire distress for Mac's soul, but she's tough and I had faith that Barrons and the rest of the crew would prevail.  There's some HUGE implications for the next books and I'm extremely looking forward to finally seeing what happens for Dani and Ryodan.

But can we talk for a minute about the soul crushing devastation for the lost of THAT character!!!!  No spoilers but I was wrecked.  Full sobs and heartbreak :(

4 out of 5 stars

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

I loved and adored everything about this third in the series. However, I postponed reading it for months because I was so terrified by what might happen--would Feyre reunite with Rhys? ALL THE FEELS!

I certainly wasn't disappointed!  The lush world building! Character development! Action! Steamy romance! Magic! Betrayals!

So, so, so good!  I need another book!

5 out of 5 stars

Ben, Gigi's old boyfriend, must find a way to save his new love after a freak Ultimate Frisbee accident. But will she want to live after she finds out how Ben had to save her?

In this exciting addition to Molly Harper’s beloved Half-Moon Hollow series, the focus is on Gigi’s ex-boyfriend Ben. When his new girlfriend is killed in a freak Ultimate Frisbee accident, he’s determined to save her, no matter the cost, even if it means bringing her into the darkness of vampire life!

Molly Harper is my humor based urban fantasy hero.  I love the comedy, the plots and the romance.  I laughed out loud during this tale--especially since the audio narration was once again done by Amanda Ronconi.  Genuine. Fast paced, sexy and sweet.

4 out of 5 stars

For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn't anything new. They'd been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the 'man' in man-whore. He's never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn't want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she's perfect and she's everything. But the feelings he has for her, he's always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they're stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor'easter, there's nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

Again, I'm a sucker for friends to lovers romance. I liked this quick read; however, there was a point where I thought too much was happening. I'd been okay with just the relationship developments and the typical insecurities before the happily ever after.  The development of danger is this mystery/thriller arc just didn't work for me.  I get that it is a vehicle for more character angst, but found it unnecessary.

4 out of 5 stars


Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

This was a book club title and conveniently came at a time when racism is at the forefront of the new in North Carolina and across the country.  I was engaged with the book and the story, mostly frustrated by it all.

I didn't LOVE this book. In fact, I found its praise for the author's exploration of racism rather stereotypical and trite. I felt like it was trying too hard to make a point and actually missed the mark.

3 out of 5 stars

Meet Katy Peacock. She has a fun-filled life as colourful as her name, and you can always rely on her to be the life and soul of any party. And it’s a good job too, given she spends her weekends photographing other people’s weddings.

Yet underneath it all, things aren’t so good. Her wedding photography business has fallen on tough times, and she’s had her heart broken more times than she cares to remember.

But she’ll get through it, she knows she will. She just needs to avoid best men, bad men, and ushers of any variety.

I had high hopes for this since it is tagged as a laugh out loud comedy. However, I was bored and couldn't engage at all. Pacing was too slow and was the rare DNF for me.

1 out of 5 stars

Sloan will go through hell and back for her little brother. And she does, every single night.

Forced to remain in a relationship with the dangerous and corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to make sure her brother has what he needs.

Nothing will get in her way.  Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the only good thing to ever happen to Asa. He knows this and he never plans on letting her go; even if she doesn't approve of his lifestyle. But despite Sloan's disapproval, Asa knows what it takes to get what he wants. He knows what he needs to do to remain on top.

Nothing will get in his way.  Nothing except Carter.

I'm typically a huge Colleen Hoover fan but I supremely disliked this book.  It felt rushed--even though I know it was written in parts on Wattpad.  The entirety of the novel felt like a rough draft.  I couldn't stand any of the character or their behavior.  I'm actually pretty haunted by the sour taste this novel left for me.

2 out of 5 stars

Beautiful red-haired and blue-eyed spitfire, Leora, ‘Leo,’ was wooed by her best friend to embark on a girls’ getaway to escape her post-break-up blues for the adventure of a lifetime, leaving the East Coast behind to conquer the Wild West of Wyoming for a week. One ranch run by three stunning Warner brothers, cowboys but not quite.

One almost-cowboy but with the looks of a Viking, Cyrus ‘Cy’ Warner, a grizzly, gruff, and gorgeous man of towering strength and pure ‘Renaissance-sculpted’ muscles was the perfect distraction that Leo did not know she needed.

Danger strikes, threatening to derail to red hot attraction building between Cy and Leo before they have a real chance to explore their feelings. The threat pushes them together yet adds more complications for if what develops might be real.

I love Crownover's writting and ability to create dynamic characters who experience a roller coaster of feelings and situations. I enjoyed this book and look forward to the next of the series.

4 out of 5 stars

The terrifying king of hell...

As a boy, Abyssian "Sian" Infernas had his heart shattered by a treacherous fey beauty who died before he could exact vengeance. Millennia later, a curse has transformed him into a demonic monster--just as she's been reincarnated. Sian captures the delicate but bold female, forcing her back to hell.

Meets his match.

Princess Calliope "Lila" Barbot's people have hated and feared Abyssian and his alliance of monsters for eons. When the beastly demon imprisons her in his mystical castle, vowing revenge for betrayals she can't remember, Lila makes her own vow: to bring down the wicked beast for good.

Can two adversaries share one happily-ever-after?

Typically I like the Immortals After Dark series but it is growing rather tiresome.  There wasn't anything special about this book--just more of the same formulaic narrative common to this series and similar books.  I'm ready for something drastic to happen with the Lore for the series to progress.

3 out of 5 stars

Highlighted Reviews--author Jennifer Probst

Miranda Storme never expected to see Gavin Luciano again. Three years ago, they had an intense affair—and then he bolted. Now he’s back, and Miranda has the pleasure of a little payback: a scathing review of his restaurant. Revenge is a dish best served the first chance you get…

Perhaps my least favorite Probst book to date. It lacks something for me, maybe since it is a standalone. I couldn't really engage with the plot or characters. 

2 out of 5 stars

Aidan Hunter is tired of city living and shallow women who only want to date him for his money and family legacy. He hopes to meet a woman who will love him for who he is…but he never counted on a certain schoolteacher to throw his world into chaos.

Isabella Summers is shocked at the sexual attraction she feels for the rude worker on the Christmas tree farm. But when he shows up at a friend’s party and seeks her out, she finds she no longer wants to fight their attraction…but she never counted on love with a stranger carrying a secret.

This was an entertaining holiday romance. I liked the short story format with good pacing and character development.  

4 out of 5 stars

The Billionaire Builders Series

Ever the responsible eldest brother, Caleb Pierce started working for his father’s luxury contracting business at a young age, dreaming of one day sitting in the boss’s chair. But his father’s will throws a wrench in his plans by stipulating that Caleb share control of the family business with his two estranged brothers.

Things only get more complicated when demanding high-end home designer Morgan hires Caleb to build her a customized dream house that matches her specifications to a T—or she’ll use her powerful connections to poison the Pierce brothers’ reputation. Not one to ignore a challenge, Caleb vows to get the job done—if only he can stop getting distracted by his new client’s perfect…amenities.

These books are like the Property Brothers meets contemporary romance. I enjoyed this book. Caleb and Morgan have great chemistry. There is a good build of romantic tension plus incorporation of character development for the later books in the series.

4 out of 5 stars

When she was a teen, Raven Bella Stratton’s father was killed in a horrible car crash. The bigger shock was the discovery of a woman with him—Diana Pierce—and their two fully packed suitcases with airline tickets to Paris. Devastated by her father’s betrayal, Raven went to live with her aunt, never truly overcoming the traumatic event. When she discovers that the mysterious woman had a family with a husband and three boys, Raven vows to leave the memory of her father behind.

Until Dalton Pierce visits one night and suddenly her past challenges her future...

Leaving his life in California behind to run Pierce Construction with his two older brothers, Dalton Pierce has enjoyed returning home and studying his passion of woodworking. But when he visits the local bar with his brothers one evening, he’s immediately drawn to the smart-mouthed, badass, sexy bartender who sets his body on fire. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem as intrigued by him, and his multiple advances are met with rejection. When he offers to restore the bar back to its original glory, he begins to work with her on a daily basis, and falls harder.

This second book has more depth and a heavier storyline since it is dealing with grief and other complicated feelings surrounding tragedy. I like Raven and Dalton has a couple, perhaps my favorite of the series.

4 out of 5 stars

Tristan Pierce left the family business to carve out a life of his own, but never forgot his passionate affair with the much younger, inexperienced Sydney Green, or the hurtful break-up that tore him apart. When he’s forced to return home and face his past, will he be able to carve out a future, or will lies ruin his second chance at love?

Sydney Green loved Tristan her entire life, but when he left, he took not only her heart, but her trust with him. Now that they’re together again, it’s time they both face the biggest secret of all….

I had high hopes for this third book especially since Probst was building toward the relationship between Tristian and Sydney. Some good twists but she lost me when Tristian started to be such an arrogant, misogynistic ass--forcing Sydney into situations she wasn't ready for solely because he felt wronged and 'wanted' her to do what he perceived was right for their 'family.' That behavior was a real turn-off to the whole relationship for me as a reader and ultimately jaded the whole book for me.

3 out of 5 stars

The Searching For Series

This series is loosely tied to the Marriage to a Billionaire series with some cameos and character interaction in later books.  The premise is the three friends start Kinnections dating service. The first three book center around pairing for these three ladies--Kennedy, Kate and Genevieve--with short stories still connected by secondary characters.  

I've previously read Searching for Someday (Kate's book) and Searching for Perfect (Kennedy's) book over the past few years and enjoyed them for there characters, pacing, general storyline and steamy romance.

"Searching for You" is a short story set between books 2 and 3 and originally published in the anthology Baby, It's Cold Outside.  When a high-powered CEO and a playboy billionaire get stranded in a snowstorm, sparks will fly…if they can make it through the night together! 

This is one of those fun, snowed in romps where old classmates rekindle their attraction after a surprising and disastrous blind date. It is a quick, sexy read full of great banter, tension and romance.

4 out of 5 stars

Genevieve MacKenzie has her life completely under control. About to wed the charming Chief doctor at the local hospital, she’s an up-and-coming surgeon with everything she could ever want. Until an escape through the church window on the day of her wedding sends her life into a tailspin...and flings her right into her best friend’s arms. When Wolfe catches his best friend falling out a window on her wedding day, he doesn’t ask questions. He whisks her away, determined to watch over her and discover the truth behind her desperate escape. But when his feelings turn more than platonic, he realizes he may risk his most important relationship in order to protect his damaged heart, and the woman he loves.
Can Genevieve and Wolfe’s friendship turn into something deeper—or is it already too late for true love?

Fans of the Marriage to a Billionaire series have been waiting for Wolfe's story a long time.  Readers certainly won't be disappointed, especially if you are a sucker for best friends turned lovers romances like I am.  Wolf is still the super sexy bad boy with a secretive past but he adores and cherishes is friendship with Genevieve. He is there for her when her life spirals out of control.  This was by far my favorite book of the series!

5 out of 5 stars

She’s an expert in helping others de-stress, but Arilyn Meadows is running on fumes. Along with her job counseling singles seeking soul mates at the Kinnections agency in Verily, New York, she’s a yoga teacher, animal shelter volunteer, anger management therapist, and helping hand to her beloved grandfather. No time to find Mr. Right—but after discovering her yogi boyfriend in a compromising situation, Arilyn would rather dog-sit for her honeymooning friend Kate than risk her heart on another downward dog. And when police officer Stone Petty—radiating masculinity and bad-boy attitude—is sent to her for mandatory lessons in cooling off when the job gets too hot, Arilyn vows to ignore his seductive glances and sexy grin. But there’s no halting their sizzling flirtation—a red-hot, high-speed chase that’s breaking all the limits. 

I enjoyed this book and the character development but it wasn't my favorite.  The couple do have good banter and chemistry but I wasn't engaged as a reader like I have been with Gen and Wolf's story.

3 out of 5 stars

When Isabella MacKenzie tries to move on from her disastrous past, Officer William Devine is determined to show her that love is the only way to heal. This sexy enovella, the final installment in Jennifer Probst’s heartwarming Searching For series, follows the high-powered women of the popular matchmaking agency Kinnections, located in the small, picturesque town of Verily, NY.

Isabell is Gen's twin sister. She's had her own troubles with drug use and is determined to move on from her mistakes and have a bright future. One of her biggest regrets is the ending to a life-changing one night stand years ago.  Fate intervenes and places her back in the path of William Devine, now a cop.  These two get a second chance for forgiveness and finding happiness.

4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, October 5, 2017

REVIEW: But My Brain Had Other Ideas by Deb Brandon

*Thank you to Netgalley and She Writes Press for an ARC in exchange for a review*

Expected publication: October 10, 2017

When Deb Brandon discovered that cavernous angiomas--tangles of malformed blood vessels in her brain--were behind the terrifying symptoms she'd been experiencing, she underwent one brain surgery. And then another. And then another. And that was just the beginning. 

The book also includes an introduction by Connie Lee, founder and president of the Angioma Alliance. Unlike other memoirs that focus on injury crisis and acute recovery, But My Brain Had Other Ideas follows Brandon's story all the way through to long-term recovery, revealing without sugarcoating or sentimentality Brandon's struggles--and ultimate triumph.

I found Brandon's journey poignant, especially since my father suffered a traumatic brain injury in the summer of 2017.  As a family member, I can relate to much of what she describes during the diagnosis and healing process--the terror, confusion, frustration, rage, and pockets of all too fleeting hope.  Reading Brandon's memoir gives me some insight into what my father may have experience and shows me that our own experience with some neuro-specialists was similar--how can you justify sending someone home who has literally just had major brain surgery?

One criticism for me as a reader what the ebb and flow of the memoir itself.  I remain unsure if the fractured nature of some of the pacing was intentional to mimic the author's recovery or if it was a weakness of editing. This stunted my ability to read without having to take significant breaks.

Overall, while our own family story didn't have the happy ending we'd hoped for, I gained solace through Brandon's ability to share her struggle and her triumph. 

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

REVIEW: Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

*Thanks to Netgalley and Thomas Dunne Books for an ARC in exchange for a fair review!*

Godsgrave marks the second in the Nevernight Chronicle by Kristoff. Check out my review for Nevernight, probably by favorite book of 2016 and a stellar re-read for 2017 prior to this release in September.

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

I adored this book.  It is well written and edgy with fantastic structure, pacing and characterization. The characters and narrative are complex and highly entertaining. I love the dark humor and sense of unease. Mr. Kindly's banter with Eclipse is truly epic. I love Mia. I was on the edge of my seat with some surprise revelations and a fantastic cliffhangers for the next book.  Readers are in for a bloody good treat full of sarcasm, betrayal, sex and violence.

Final rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

REVIEW: Besieged by Kevin Hearne

*Thank you to Netgalley & Del Rey Books for an ARC in exchange for a fair review*

Our favorite Druid is back in a collection of short stories. Besieged gathers many of the previously published tales in the Iron Druid Chronicles with appearances by Atticus, Granuille, Owen, Oberon and many more!  Here's a quick summary of each story:

The Eye of Horus - Atticus is visited by the Morrigan and sent on a mission that will take him to the Library of Alexandria and change the course of his life. ~Super fun. I'm always a big fan of Egyptian mythology but wish the gods present had some more personality.

Goddess at the Crossroads - Atticus tells the story of how he met a drunken Shakespeare, saved his life and changed Western literature. ~Love this story and the others where readers get to see Atticus interact with other historical figures.

The Demon Barker of Wheat Street - Atticus and Granuille visit her old home town and run into a host of demons who are using a carnival to feed their unholy appetites. ~I enjoyed this update and audio narration much more than the original published version which wasn't performed by Luke Daniels.

Gold Dust Druid - Gold rush era San Francisco suffers biblical consequences. ~This was a fun story, loved seeing Atticus in this environment. Poodles!

The Bogeyman of Boora Bog - It turns out that not all druids make for good neighbors. Owen goes Dirty Harry and winds up meeting a young Atticus in old-school Ireland. ~Interesting adventure plus a little backstory into how Owen meets Atticus. 

Cuddle Dungeon - Gods get their freak on. This is very much an adult short story. ~I thought this one narrated by Perun in a BDSM dungeon rather unnecessary. 

Blood Pudding - Granuille has the spotlight to herself in this story. Vampires can't be trusted and it's up to her and some thick necked mercenaries to remind some Polish vampires that they aren't at the top of the food chain. ~Granuille always kicks ass. Love her!

Hunted to Devils - Owen and Atticus team up with Owen's new apprentices to prevent the extinction of Tasmanian devils. ~Interesting story and I like the crossover of characters plus the incorporation of the new generation of Druids.

The End of Idylls - The Morrigan pays Atticus a visit and let's him know that the end is nigh. Loki is on the move and Lucifer is his new bff. Fun time is over and he has the talk with Oberon. ~Eek! The last book needs to get here soon! I'm excited. I'm terrified. What will happen? Will Atticus make it back? That almost goodbye with Oberon was too much!

Overall, I adored Besieged and its audiobook, another perfectly narrated confection by Luke Daniels. I cannot imagine the characters any other way! 

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

REVIEW: White Hot by Ilona Andrews

White Hot is the much anticipated follow up to Andrews' Burn For Me. Quite possibly one of my favorite books in the world. I've actually read it three times already and that rarely happens!

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice.


What can I say?  This writing duo has done it again.  There is a fantastic blend of urban fantasy elements (magic, supernatural abilities) along with a thrilling plot steeped in intrigue, greed and a bit of power hungry chaos.

Excellent character development with some twists and plenty of the trademark snarky humor which I love.

I'm not sure there is a hotter couple than Nevada and Rogan. The narrative sizzles with their tension and when these two do connect, I thought the speakers would combust! Another stellar performance by Renee Raudman.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, July 9, 2017

REVIEW: Trust by Kylie Scott

*Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a fair review*

Expected publication: July 18, 2017

After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen-year-old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.

While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

I enjoyed this--good premise, angst and romance. The character development is sound; however, I did feel like some aspects were rushed and could use some more transitional development. Best categorized as an emerging new adult title rather than YA, despite the fact that the main characters are in high school.  I say this mainly but some of the sex scenes are rather explicit. 

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

REVIEW: Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price

*Thank you to Netgalley & Penguin Books for an ARC in exchange for a fair review*

Grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to the dead talking. She raises shades, works with ghosts, and is dating Death himself. But the dead walking? That’s not supposed to happen. And yet, reanimated corpses are committing crimes across Nekros City.

Alex’s investigation leads her deep into a web of sinister magic. When Briar Darque of the Magical Crimes Investigation Bureau gets involved, Alex finds herself with an unexpected ally of sorts. But as the dead continue to rise and wreak havoc on the living, can Alex get to the soul of the matter in time?

This was a fantastic, detailed and exciting urban fantasy read building on the standalone story but also on the world-building and character struggles of the previous books in the series.  I love Alex. She's smart, kick-ass and funny but there is also a vulnerability to her as she explores more of her magic while also balancing the limitations set upon her by her grave magic.

Her love life continues to be complicated and one scene in particular made my heart break. I'm excited to see what might be in store for future books.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

REVIEW: Salvaged by Jay Crownover

Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.



There is a bittersweet quality to knowing that the Saints of Denver series is finished. However, I know that Crownover always has an ace up her sleeve. So, in the meantime, I'll re-read all the books and wait to see what happens next.

I've been waiting for Poppy's story and happily ever after for a long time and certainly wasn't disappointed. Wheeler is amazing and perfect in every way. Salvaged was romantic and sexy and super satisfying.

Go forth and read!!!

Final rating: ALL THE STARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Highlighted Reviews July 2017

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now.

One that had been on my 'to-read' list for a long time and our June 2017 book club selection. I definitely found this thought provoking and now I need to watch the series which I've been avoiding.  However, there was a certain level of disappointment.The audiobook narrated by Claire Danes was stellar. The premise is both fascinating and terrifying since it has that definite feel of possibility.  I'm glad I read it but it didn't change my life.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Trinity Carlson might be having the worst day ever. And that was before she started drinking in a dive bar, right across from her ex and his new girlfriend. So when she finally decides enough is enough, she grabs hold of a hot, blond stranger and gives him the kiss of his life.

Walker Lund never expected that a chance at love would hit him right on the mouth. Since the moment his brother decided to settle down, Walker has been dodging his family’s hopes that he’ll do the same. He’s never been interested in following in anyone’s footsteps. But when he discovers his sexy assailant has given him a fake name and number he suddenly finds himself in the mood for a little hot pursuit.

Another engaging and stellar romance from Lorelei James. Super fun and sexy with characters that have depth. Trinity and Walker both have some issues but they balance each other out well.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

PR agent Annika Lund can spin any disaster into a win. But revamping the reputation of a notorious Swedish hockey player will take every trick in her arsenal, especially when his agent insists that convincing everyone he’s no longer a playboy is top priority. And that it requires a sham relationship—with Annika playing the part of loving girlfriend.

On fire in the rink and in the bedroom, Axl Hammerquist couldn’t care less about being anyone’s golden boy. So when his agent forces him to play nice with a new publicist, he takes satisfaction in being as much of a pain as possible. But the more time he spends getting to know Annika, the more Axl starts to think that being Mr. Nice Guy might be worth it if it gets him the girl.

Who doesn't love a good hockey romance? Especially when it brings in elements of the faking a romance and building tension that blossoms into full out attraction and forever love.  Great banter between Annika and Axl. James knows what she is doing with building tension and memorable interaction.  

I enjoyed this third installment to the series and can't wait for the next book!

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, convicted of treason against the Blind King, is facing a brutal interrogation and torturous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yet after a life marked by cruelty and evil deeds, he accepts his soldier’s fate, his sole regret the loss of a sacred female who was never his: the Chosen Layla.

Layla alone knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life. But revealing his sacrifice and his hidden heritage will expose them both and destroy everything Layla holds dear—even her role of mother to her precious young. Torn between love and loyalty, she must summon the courage to stand up against the only family she has for the only man she will ever love. Yet even if Xcor is somehow granted a reprieve, he and Layla would have to confront a graver challenge: bridging the chasm that divides their worlds without paving the way for a future of even greater war, desolation, and death.

As a dangerous old enemy returns to Caldwell, and the identity of a new deity is revealed, nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone. felt like readers have been waiting for Xcor and Layla's book for eons.  It wasn't perfect and there was A LOT going on but I still enjoyed this book like I do all the BDB books. There are a lot of interesting twists seeming to peek over the horizon so I'm curious for the next few in the series. 

I still have some hang ups regarding Qhuinn's behavior and the neat little bow wrapped around a lot of what happens in the book.  I'll get over it but it will take some time.

FYI, if you haven't read Ward's Fallen Angels series yet, you better since those events and characters are likely to make their way to meet the BDB soon.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Blade Bound is the final book in Neill's Chicagoland Vampires series!  Fans finally get Merit and Ethan's wedding but it would be out of character for things to go smoothly.

When the House is infiltrated and Merit is attacked by a vampire seemingly under the sway of dark magic, Merit and Ethan realize the danger is closer than they could have ever imagined. As a malign sorcery spreads throughout the city, Merit must go to war against supernatural powers beyond her comprehension.

Our favorite vamps have to work together to not only save the city but each other.  

Remember that prophecy!?! Something important happens, leading into a new spin off series.  Readers won't be disappointed, so definitely check out the conclusion to these books.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe...

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves.

Not my favorite in the Mercy series but still entertaining. Rarely is Mercy a damsel in distress and she proves this again in Silence Fallen. She can take care of herself in a crisis but usually needs a little assistance from allies. 

What I didn't care for was the overlap in narrative and change in POV writing, shifting from Mercy to Adam. It threw off the storytelling and was too much of a departure from previous books. It gave an odd feel to the audiobook as well. Lorelei King's narrative was amazing as usual.

Final rating: 3.75 out of 5

This was my book with a beach on the cover challenge for summer reading.

For fifteen years, four "girls of August" would gather together to spend a week at the beach, until tragedy interrupts their ritual. Now they reunite for a startling week of discoveries.

The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt.

Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women uncover secrets that will change them in ways they never expected.

Not my typically read but it held my interest, even if it was preditable--pregnancy, divorce, cancer, and some pretty vicious hazing of the new girl. I kept thinking it would make a great Lifetime movie. I don't think I'll rush out and read another Siddons books right away.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Ten years ago, Flynn Carson was the only living Librarian. When the ancient criminal organization known as the Forty steals the oldest known copy of The Arabian Nights by Scheherazade, Flynn is called in to investigate. Fearing that the Forty is after Aladdin's fabled Lamp, Flynn must race to find it before the Lamp's powerful and malevolent djinn is unleashed upon the world.

Today, a new team of inexperienced Librarians, along with Eve Baird, their tough-as-nails Guardian, is investigating an uncanny mystery in Las Vegas when the quest for the Lamp begins anew . . . and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

As the first novelization of the television series, this was a fun, adventurous story featuring all the aspects fan loves about The Librarians.  What was lacking for me was a bit of the character pizzazz that the actors bring to the show. I missed seeing these portrayals acted out on the screen in front of me.

All in all, still fun.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

A novella starring Silvio Sanchez, the vampire assistant of Gin Blanco, as he goes on a holiday date that turns out to be more deadly than romantic. All’s fair in love and war, though. Just as Silvio is starting to enjoy himself, he realizes he’s being watched. His nice guy date doesn’t sense the danger, and Silvio wants to keep it that way (and, well, keep the guy alive) so Silvio ends the date early—only to be abducted by some villainous giants.

The story itself had some nice twists.  It was interesting to get to know Silvio a bit more but this wasn't my favorite story in the series.  Maybe it is still because Silvio is such a new character, but for me, he lacks personality in the way that Gin, Finn and the other staple character have established over the course of the other books.

Did anyone notice how much the cover model looks like Sam from HBO's True Blood?

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers—and the bureaucratic finesse—to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries:

The Checquy—the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural
threats, and…
The Grafters—a centuries-old supernatural threat.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women, who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

Stiletto is the quirky yet fascinatingly hilarious sequel to The Rook. O'Malley's genius in creative writing and blending the sci-fi/fatasy genre puts him in an elite class right up there with Terry Pratchet and Jasper Fforde.  I enjoyed the rather bizarre story and character.  However, I did miss the duck (just sayin').

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Natalie Banks and Brady Coldwell are total strangers when they discover they are each other's new roommates, a bit of a masterful plan on behalf of some of their friends. They decide to make the best of it.  Soon sparks fly but will lust and romance stand a chance against the other hurdles in their way?

Roommates is part of a series.  It was a cute read with some good steamy romance elements. I'm always a sucker for a good roommates turned more story. Natalie is a bit irksome as a female protagonist. Readers who enjoy romance and a good sports themed hockey one at that will like this book.

The construction and flow needed some work to improve the narrative but I enjoyed it for what it was.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

When Isabella MacKenzie tries to move on from her disastrous past, Officer William Devine is determined to show her that love is the only way to heal. This sexy enovella, the final installment in Jennifer Probst’s heartwarming Searching For series, follows the high-powered women of the popular matchmaking agency Kinnections, located in the small, picturesque town of Verily, NY.

My attempt at catching up on the installments to the series I might have missed.  This was a quick, engaging novella. Isabella is a recovering addict determined to keep her life on track. Years earlier, her one night stand with Will has always haunted her with the 'what ifs'. 

They finally get their chance at happiness if she won't let her fears get the best of their impending happily ever after.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Hamilton has been an important activity center in Butler County since its founding in 1791, as its proximity to the Great Miami River made it an ideal county seat and agricultural hub. Beginning in 1845, the Hamilton Hydraulic Company diverted the river's flow through town and developed a system that supplied cheap waterpower to area mills. 

By 1900, Hamilton was "the greatest manufacturing city of its size in the world," and by the 1940s it was home to several of the world's largest industries. Champion Paper milled coated paper, Niles Tool Works manufactured machine tools, Hooven-Owens-Rentschler built Corliss engines, Estate Stove made stoves, and Mosler and Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Companies earned Hamilton its reputation as the "Safe Capital of the World." More than 150 factories and shops developed diverse product lists in the early 1900s, but only three of these businesses still operate in Hamilton today (which probably isn't even an accurate account as of 2017).

This is my read a book about your hometown for summer reading. Very interesting and fantastic historical pictures!

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars
For maverick LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal...because the murdered man was a fellow Vietnam "tunnel rat" who had fought side by side with him in a hellish underground war. Now Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam. From a dangerous maze of blind alleys to a daring criminal heist beneath the city, his survival instincts will once again be tested to their limit. Pitted against enemies inside his own department and forced to make the agonizing choice between justice and vengeance, Bosch goes on the hunt for a killer whose true face will shock him.

My mystery/thriller for the summer.  I'm a fan of the Amazon show Bosch and figured I needed to at least read the first book.  It was a good procedural thriller and I can see the series appeal.  Bosch is interesting but at this point I prefer the television series and would need to see Bosch develop as a character more throughout the books.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.

As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.

What I like about David Grann's nonfiction writing is a the narrative quality which makes it easy to read. This is an intriguing if albeit disturbing account of horrific crimes fueled by greed and racism. It was interesting to read about the development of the FBI to help solve these crimes.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars