Tag Archive | 4 Stars

REVIEW: Princess of Draga by Emma Dean

Princess of Draga Book Cover Princess of Draga
Draga Court #1
Amma Dean
Sci-Fi Romance
October 17, 2017
E-ARC
276
The Author
Jillian Ashe
October 2017

In the first book of the Draga Court series, Princess Adelina's coming-of-age party will declare to the worlds she is finally eligible to wed. All she wants is to serve her people and the crown with honor, but when a dangerously attractive prince from another galaxy - one who they all thought was dead - arrives with warnings of monstrosities and war, will her feelings put her in a position where she has to choose between her people and love?

The Draga Court series is a beautiful combination of fantasy and space opera set in a faraway future where humans have altered their genetics to save their species from their destructive natures. Dominance and rank weave a complicated dance among the galaxy's society where a true submissive has to find her place, and learn the true meaning of power and love.

Review

First – let’s take a moment to swoon over this gorgeous cover. Emma Dean’s covers are legitimately top notch.

Now, I don’t normally read steamy books, but Emma Dean asked me to, so I did. And I don’t regret it.

Warning: Have a fan ready because this one is HOT!

This is a new epic sci-fi romance series by a veteran author (Jillian Ashe) using a pen name for her steamier writing. The sci-fi is light, but the world building is not. It’s an Earth-like feeling, but definitely not the Earth we know and love. In this world, humans have been genetically altered with a dominance gene. This ensures that peace is kept.

The main character is the youngest Princess, Adelina. She’s a submissive, which is odd for a royal, but everyone loves her. She’s a bit annoying for me at first because of her submissive trait, but I promise she does grow as a character and I came to like her more before the end.

There are a number of side plots going on as well (think Game of Thrones style) and I had so many favorites in those subplots it was hard to choose one! The main story though follows Adelina and her family. Her father has fallen ill with one of the VERY FEW illnesses that don’t have a cure. The eldest Princess, Raena, is preparing to step in as queen early. A nearby galaxy has been attacked and overthrown by a mysterious enemy and it’s feared that their Draga Galaxy is next.

The best way to describe this series is probably Game of Thrones in space in the future. Except I’m hoping not everybody will die. 😉


Quotes

“Sometimes the submissives are the ones with the most power. They draw strong dominants to them, incite the age-old instinct to protect and defend. You do not have to be the strongest or the most dominant to wield those who are.”

 

She arched a brow at him and he awkwardly cleared his throat. “I apologize,” he said again. What the gods had this woman done to him? He didn’t normally act like such a fool.

 

Adelina was a master at dissembling. The princess made herself into what she thought those around her wanted or needed. Masks came and went until even Nadyah was unsure of who the female truly was underneath them all.

 

Varan leaned against the guard station and gave her a cocky smile. “I set up my scanner to recognize your retina whenever you’re within a two block radius of my court.”

She narrowed her eyes at him and ground her teeth, not sure whether to be flattered or irritated. “Why in the gods’ name would you do that, simply to annoy me?”

 

Sirus rubbed a hand over his face and shook his head. “No, this is simply moving very fast. I wanted to speak with you, not defile you.”

She smiled at his choice of words, as if she were somehow the innocent and naïve one. “I believe I was the one doing the defiling.” 

 

“I would wait until the stars changed if you asked it of me.”

 


My (Writing) Life

OMG YOU GUYS! PEACE IN FLAMES is going up for preorder next week! If I were a good little girl I’d have already had it up and running, but…. this week got away from me. (Any fellow book bloggers interested in a YA contemporary romance novella, hit me up! I’d love to send you a review copy! Those who already asked will be getting theirs next week.)

This is also my first post since the new year – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’m hoping to post next week (on my birthday!) declaring my goals for the new year. I find goals to be easier to meet than resolutions.

SUMMER OF PEACE is coming along. My editor went through it once, even though it’s not done yet. I’m hoping to finish the draft by the end of next week, then go through again before sending back to my editor.

I’ve also started work on my vampire/witch PNR. I’m very excited to see how this goes. If I keep on schedule, the first draft of book one should be finished around the end of February. Ideally I’ll be publishing by early summer. (I want the first draft of book 2 ready before I hit publish on book 1.)

So that’s about it. I’ve got to head to work in less than an hour, so I’m off to get ready!

Catch ya later, happy reading!

 

REVIEW: The Bookworm and the Beast by Charlee James

The Bookworm and the Beast Book Cover The Bookworm and the Beast
Charlee James
Entangled Publishing (Bliss)
December 4, 2017
E-ARC
140
NetGalley
12 Books of Christmas
November 13, 2017

When quiet, bookish Izzy Simon accepts a two-week assignment as an assistant for an author of children’s books, it seems like the perfect way for her to make some much-needed extra money, but the grumpy author claims he doesn’t want or need her services. He might be as handsome as a storybook prince, but his prickly personality and resistance to all things Christmas are sure to make for a chilly holiday season.

Derek Croft never agreed to the cheery temp his staff arranges for him while they’re on vacation. Izzy is his polar opposite, but Derek soon realizes she could be the perfect solution to his interfering family…if he can get her to agree to pretend to be his live-in girlfriend. Before long Izzy’s sweet disposition and unflappable optimism has him decorating a tree and looking forward to late night hot cocoa, but he’s all too aware their time together can’t last.

The 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 12 Books of Christmas! This is my TWELFTH contribution and… I miscounted, so watch for a BONUS Christmas book review TOMORROW!

For more information about this reading challenge and to join go here: The 12 Books of Christmas Challenge


Review

Hands down, this is my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling. Okay, I think I’ve only read one other, but this one was a total winner in my book.

You have Izzy, the very determined woman who accepts a job through a temp agency working for Derek. Then you have Derek, the man who never wanted a temp, but thanks to his meddling staff (whom he’d given the holidays off) he now has.

Derek was dark and brooding, full of backstory. Izzy was bright and optimistic, with her own sad backstory as well. They were fleshed out enough that they weren’t JUST characters in the book, they had layers and personality.

You know how in the original Disney version of Beauty and the Beast where suddenly he starts to warm up to her and if you blink you miss that moment where annoyance turns to admiration? I saw that little spark in this book.

This book adds and extra layer with a little plot twist in which Izzy is asked by Derek to pretend to be his girlfriend in order to get his stepmother to stop trying to set him up with every girl she can think of. It was great!

For me, this was the perfect holiday romance slash (modern) fairy tale adaptation.

 

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


Quotes

Why couldn’t the client have been a sweet old man, or bald and frumpy? Instead, she had to trail a dark featured version of Thor, who had the disposition of a porcupine, around the endless mansion while tying to avert her eyes from his backside.

 

He’d tried to get rid of her less than an hour ago, and now he was asking her to stay as his mock girlfriend? There was no way she’d add another layer of frosting to the towering cake of implication currently baking inside the castle’s curved walls.

 

Gosh he was good-looking. And salty—he looked very, very salty.

 

It was the ugliest sandwich she’d ever seen, and it made her grin ear to ear. Maybe part of Derek did care, after all.

 

The castle, the dashing good looks, the spirit of the holidays swarming in the air, those kisses that lit her soul on fire. It wasn’t so cut and dry for her. When she was committed to something, it was one hundred percent. Had she found the one shed dreamed of her entire life in Derek? Or was it just that—a dream that would evaporate in less than two days, no matter how hard she fought to hold on to the edges of it?


My (Writing) Life

I’m writing this in the past (last night) and scheduling this to post in the future (right now!).

I just survived hosting Christmas for my family. It was a lot of fun, a lot of food, and plenty of presents for my parents seven grandchildren.

Tomorrow…er, today… is Christmas Eve and I’m at work. If you’re reading this the day it posts, I’m probably currently folding laundry. Or maybe eating left over pork loin covered in bacon (because how else would you eat pork loin???) Tomorrow is Christmas and I fortunately do not have to work! I get to spend the day with family, enjoying more food and cookies and gift giving.

And then life returns to morning, just with more clutter in the house.

I don’t really have a point to any of this. I’m exhausted and rambling. So I’m going to end this now so that I can play a bit of Long Live the Queen before I crash for the night.

Merry Christmas, everyone! (And if you don’t celebrate, happy Sunday!)

REVIEW: The Christmas Holiday by Maxine Morrey

The Christmas Holiday Book Cover The Christmas Holiday
Maxine Morrey
Contemporary Romance
HarperCollins
September 22, 2017
Digital ARC
384
NetGalley
12 Books of Christmas
November 19 - 26, 2017

Fall in love this winter on a romantic trip around the world ending in a fairy-tale winter wedding!

As winter comes to London, journalist Mia Walker is desperately hoping for her big break as a travel writer, dreaming of exotic locations and sun-soaked beaches. When she’s invited to write a romantic travel piece that ends in a huge winter wedding in London, she jumps at the chance. The only trouble is, the photographer is renowned adventure-junkie Hunter Scott, who Mia last saw five years ago when she ended their engagement.

It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, and Mia knows she’d be mad to say no – even if it does mean spending weeks traveling round the world with the one man she never wanted to see again! But as the wedding approaches, and the magic of Christmas begins to take hold, Mia can’t help looking out for mistletoe – and wishing she hadn’t cancelled her own engagement after all…

 

The 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 12 Books of Christmas! This is my NINTH contribution and I’m excited to share my final three reviews over the next couple days.

For more information about this reading challenge and to join go here: The 12 Books of Christmas Challenge


Review

Imagine getting your dream assignment. And then finding out that you’ll be partnering with your ex. The ex whose heart you broke years ago. That’s what happens to Mia, a journalist, when she’s tasked to write about her boss’s daughter’s pre-wedding trip around the world—while her ex, Hunter, photographs the whole thing.

While billed as a Christmas romance, this felt more like a travel romance. Christmas does occur during the book, as well as Thanksgiving, but most of the story is spent with the characters traveling the world.

I loved Mia. She was sweet and funny and easy to like. Hunter was a little more difficult to like because he came off very Alpha male-like in the beginning. As the story went on, and I learned what had happened to him between his breakup with Mia and the books events, I warmed up to him. Despite his alpha-qualities he was charismatic.

The supporting characters were also great, I really enjoyed Liv (who was a nicely developed sub character) and even Sandeep (though he wasn’t as developed, mostly because the story is told through Mia’s POV and she never spent alone time with him.)

Really, the only negative I can say is that this didn’t feel like a holiday romance… which isn’t a negative unless you really had your heart set on a holiday romance. But it was a very enjoyable romance and I had a lot of fun traveling the world through these characters.

 

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


Quotes

“Let’s go and sit down. Making a scene in front of a client isn’t my usual style.”

“You started it.”

“Real mature, Mia.”

Shit. Since he put it like that, it did sound childish and that wasn’t how I’d meant to sound at all. Double shit.

 

“Well, he clearly doesn’t want you dead, so that’s a start.”

“Right.” I wasn’t sure that the fact he didn’t mind if I was alive was a whole lot to grab on to but I dint have much else.

 

“Sorry if I spoiled your plans to take your friend.”

“Are you?”

“No. Not in the slightest.” And with that I silently congratulated myself as he’d suggested, pulled out the SkyMall magazine and began window shopping.

 

 

Hunter pulled one leg across the other knee. “Darling Liv is under the impression that if a woman doesn’t want to sleep with me, then it’s because I don’t have the right… let’s say, equipment. Which, although incredibly flattering, is somewhat far from the truth.”

 

The sarong was about the same size as a men’s large handkerchief and pretty much sheer so it was definitely more for show than purpose. But if show was the purpose, it was doing its job spectacularly.

 

I give him a sweet smile and he gave me a look like he wanted to use me as alligator bait.

 

“I swear to God, Mia. If you hit me one more time, I’m absolutely going to turn around, pick you up, and throw you in.”

“I’m not doing it on purpose!”

“I will absolutely be doing it on purpose.”

 

 

“I’d rather you didn’t speak to me right now, if that’s OK with you,” I snapped at Hunter, keeping my eyes on the horizon. “An bearing in mind there’s a two-hundred-foot drop right there, you might refer not to as well.”


My (Writing) Life

Super quick update! I’ve got to get this post set up super fast so that I can go fold some laundry before working this afternoon.

I’ve got a couple reviews left to write… and 10 pages left of my last Christmas book to read! I should be able to get all that done at work tonight.

If it’s as slow as I’m anticipating/hoping, I’m going to start plotting BLOOD & MAGIC. If you haven’t heard me talk about that project yet, here’s the short story. I wrote it in 2013 for NaNoWrimo. I’ve toyed with it multiple times since, but it’s not where I want it to be. I feel the best thing for me to do is tear it apart and rewrite from scratch. It should be easier than writing a brand new story because I already know the characters and I mostly know what happens. But I want to plan for a long game and make this a long series, or at the very least, a trilogy. I also have to decide if I want to write/market it as PNR or Urban Fantasy. I also might age up my character a bit, she’s currently just turned 18 but maybe she’ll just turn 19.

So yeah, that’s the scoop!

I hope everyone who celebrates is done with their Christmas prep and able to relax and enjoy their holiday! (Tomorrow my kids are off school so it’s going to be a baking/last minute grocery shopping day before the party we’re hosting on Saturday with my parents/siblings/nieces & nephews!)

REVIEW: Can’t Miss Christmas by Miranda Liasson

Can’t Miss Christmas Book Cover Can’t Miss Christmas
Mirror Lake #3.5 (stand alone novella)
Miranda Liasson
Contemprary Romance
November 7, 2017
E-ARC
74
NetGalley
12 Books of Christmas
November 2017

Here comes a charming standalone Christmas novella by Amazon bestselling author Miranda Liasson. Fans of both Mirror Lake series will recognize familiar elements and people along the way.

It’s two days before Christmas and bestselling children’s author Grace Alberts needs to fulfill a promise—to make it to a book signing for the kids at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the place that did so much for her during a very rough time. But the weather’s getting awful and all flights are cancelled out of Boston, where she’s wrapping up her book tour. Then in walks her annoying but extremely sexy ex-husband, who (as usual) thinks he’s got all the answers.

Graham Walker just stopped by to get a book signed for Grace’s biggest fan, his niece, and wish Grace a Merry Christmas—why not? But he soon finds himself troubleshooting her dilemma. He’s got a Range Rover that can plow through a hundred-year Nor’easter. He’s even headed home to Philly. Trouble is, Grace's and his past is a disaster, something he has no intention of reliving while driving through a winter storm, no matter how much he once loved her. And maybe still does.

Bad weather has a way of bringing out the best and the worst in people, and when a run in with some deer antlers leads them to a forced stop in Mirror Lake, Connecticut, anything can happen, naughty or nice. Maybe a bit of enforced alone time and some Christmas magic can be just what it takes for them to face their past—and each other—once and for all.

The 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 12 Books of Christmas! This is my SIXTH contribution and I’m excited to share reviews for twelve holiday books over the next coming weeks.

For more information about this reading challenge and to join go here: The 12 Books of Christmas Challenge


My Review

When I started reading this story I had no idea that A. It was a short novella, and B. It was a part of a series (Mirror Lake).

I have a love hate relationship with novellas because sometimes they’re just too light on plot or substance, but that wasn’t the case with this story.

This ended up being a perfect second chance romance with a holiday theme as a bonus. Graham and Grace used to be married, but their marriage fell apart after the premature birth and death of their son. Neither knew how to handle the grief and pushed the other away. Years later, on a joint cross-state car ride, their feelings are rekindled and they’re forced to deal with all of the old feelings they never talked about between their sons death and their divorce.

The characters were likable. Graham was a business owner and Grace was a children’s book author, which added to their interest.

Toward the end they wind up in the town of Mirror Lake, and at that point very minor characters were suddenly name dropped and I realized this was part of a bigger series. Readers of the Mirror Lake series will love it, but me as an outsider, I was thrown a bit at first. That said, I kind of want to go read the rest of the Mirror Lake series and see what other stories those characters have!

A mild content warning: The subject matter may be triggering for those who have lost children. Also, 99% of this book is clean, but there is one sex scene.


SHOULD YOU READ IT?
This is a sweet story of love lost and found. If you want a contemporary romance holiday story, but don’t have a lot of time, this might be worth the read.

 

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


QUOTES

All it would take was one of them reaching out to the other, to tear down the barriers between them. Everything that had happened to them since he’d walked into the bookstore yesterday—maybe it had all happened for a reason.

 

Being with him was like being covered by a soft blanket, or wearing a comfy pair of jeans—unlike anything she’d felt before, except with him.

 

He wanted to be a part of her world too, and for the first time, he felt like it was possible to leave their past behind and start again. If he could just convince her to believe it.

REVIEW: Holiday Baby Bombshell by Karen Booth

Holiday Baby Bombshell Book Cover Holiday Baby Bombshell
Little Secrets #5, The Locke Legacy #2
Karen Booth
Contemprary Romance
Harlquin Desire
November 7, 2017
E-ARC
224
NetGalley
12 Books of Christmas
September 12-13, 2017

From Rivalry to Revelry…to Romance?

Competitive swimmer turned real estate magnate Michael Kelly is tastier than a Christmas cookie. But now Charlotte Locke's sexy former lover is her top business rival…and the father of her unborn child. Determined to keep her professional cool, the hotel heiress hides her delicate condition from her family—and from her commitmentphobic ex. Until Michael moves in next door, exposing a desire left unquenched and Charlotte's pregnancy secret.

Michael may not be daddy material, but losing Charlotte and their baby isn't an option. He'll close the deal at any cost—even if it takes a Christmas miracle to prove this playboy is reformed for good!

The 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 12 Books of Christmas! This is my THIRD contribution and I’m excited to share reviews for twelve holiday books over the next coming weeks.

For more information about this reading challenge and to join go here: The 12 Books of Christmas Challenge


My Review

Okay, I’m not going to lie. When I saw this book I thought it was going to be all fluff and zero substance. With a title like that, how could it not be? In all honesty, I only requested this book from NetGalley because I got it in my head that reading 12 books before Christmas for this blog series was a good idea and totally doable with the million other things that I have to do. <<That was sarcasm.>>

I was in for a helluva shock though when I actually started reading this book and fell in love. This little holiday book was friggen adorable!

Charlotte is pretty much the family screw-up. She hasn’t found her calling in life and is trying really hard to prove to her brothers that she can be successful. This is doubly important to her right now, because a few months ago her boyfriend, Michael, broke her heart and she ran off to Europe to lick her wounds… only to discover that she’s pregnant with his baby.

So, Charlotte returns home and tries to pick up where she left, in her latest career venture as a real estate agent. Her family owns a luxury hotel and her brother has converted the unused top floors into luxury apartments for sale. She asks for the listings and her brother gives her half… the rest of the listings going to none other than her ex and baby daddy, Michael.

Sparks fly between the pair as they compete to sell their half of the listings first. Charlotte is early enough in her pregnancy that she’s able to hide it, promising to tell her family and Michael once she’s proved she can sell the apartments.

Of course, this being a novel, there is some conflict. Michael is a bit of a diva at times, but he and Charlotte both grow as individual characters and couples.

In the end, I was absolutely delighted with this adorable holiday romance.

 

So, should you read it? If you enjoy romance novels I don’t think this book will disappoint you. I know I’ll be watching for more from Karen Booth in the future!

 

* Big thanks to the author and publisher for providing a e-copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Quotes

Charlotte nearly blew steam from her nostrils. “First of all, I don’t remember asking for your sage life advice. And second, you have a lot to learn about women. I never wanted you to solve my problems. I wanted you to listen.”

 

She hated Michael. Or at least she was trying very hard to.

 

Love had always been Charlotte’s drug of choice. She’d wanted it more from Michael than she’d wanted it from any other man.

 

He was so arrogant it made her want to scream. And kiss him.

 

“I know you and that’s a let’s-have-sex kiss.” Good god, it really was a let’s-have-sex kiss. And she was mad about it. “That was not a reunion. What were you thinking anyway?”

“I was thinking that you’re beautiful and I wanted to kiss you.”


My (Writing) Life

I finally feel like I might be getting into a solid groove here, you guys!

I’m not currently falling behind on anything in my life. (Except dishes and other housework….but we won’t talk about that. HA!) Today I’m trying something new to keep myself on task. I have a notebook to my left and my phone to my right. Every time I start a new task I start the stopwatch on my phone. When I end said task, I stop the stopwatch and jot down the task and time spent in the notebook. I feel like I’m accomplishing more and because I’m basically competing with myself I feel more inclined to work faster and stay focused. There’s probably an app for this, but I haven’t found it yet.

We’ll see how long this lasts!

Alas, I’m digging into my time right now by writing this up. I’ve got tons left on my to do list so I’ll catch you all later with my next book review!

REVIEW: My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

My New Crush Gave to Me Book Cover My New Crush Gave to Me
Shani Petroff
YA Contemporary Romance
Macmillian / Swoon Reads
October 31, 2017
E-ARC
224
NetGalley
12 Books of Christmas
August 25 - 27, 2017

Charlotte Charlie Donovan knows exactly what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He s the school s star athlete, in the National Honor Society, invited to every party, contributes to the school paper (where Charlie is co-editor), and is about to be featured as One to Watch in a teen magazine basically, he's exactly the type of guy Charlie s meant to be with. The only problem he barely knows she exists.

But Charlie is determined to be Teo's date to the Christmas ball. And she has a plan: To rig the paper s Secret Santa so that she can win his heart with five perfect gifts. But to do that she needs help. Enter J.D. Ortiz Teo s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He s easy going, laid back, unorganized, spontaneous, and makes a joke out of everything the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he s willing to provide insight into what Teo wants, so she s stuck with him.

Yet, the more time Charlie spends with J.D., the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?

The 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 12 Books of Christmas! This is my first contribution and I’m excited to share reviews for twelve holiday books over the next coming weeks.

For more information about this reading challenge and to join go here: The 12 Books of Christmas Challenge

My Review

I was in the mood for a light and fluffy YA romance and this one from NetGalley really did the trick. It was a quick, fun, and sweet read. To top it off, it’s the end of August and I’m suddenly ready to set up my tree and string garlands and lights around my house!

The characters were all unique and fun to get to know. Charlie is a very type-A girl, she likes lists and keeping to a schedule. She’s very orderly and a little uptight. JD is pretty much her opposite, he’s more of the “creative type” and really wants Charlie to just chill a little. When she bribes him to help her win over his cousin via a rigged Secret Santa gift exchange, Charlie ends up learning a little about herself. And realizing that maybe she was judging JD too harshly.

The romance in this story very much had a Pride & Prejudice feel to it. With a little bit of Cyrano. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a retelling, but it certainly had a bit of those elements at least as far as Charlie goes (P&P) and JD (Cyrano).

The first half of the book I liked it, but I really wasn’t smitten. Something was just falling flat for me. But the more JD and Charlie interacted, the more I fell in love with the story and their chemistry. JD was the perfect yin to Charlie’s yang. There was a point when I thought they wouldn’t end up together and I was angry and crushed! That was the moment when I realized this 3 star book had hit 4 star status for me.

 

So, should you read it? If you’re in the mood for something light, sweet, and festive, I don’t think My True Love Gave To Me will disappoint!


Quotes

* All quotes taken from an advanced digital galley and subject to change prior to release.

I had my whole day planned out on my phone, which I synced to the calendar on my iPad and computer and then printed out as a hard copy every day. I even allocated time for “unplanned holdups.” It may have been a smidge obsessive, but it kept me focused and made me much more productive.

 

“You don’t get to choose your Secret Santa,” Ira reminded me. That’s what he thought. I was already formulating a plan.

 

“So,” J.D. said, with one eyebrow raised, “did you just come to spin around at my doorway or did you want something?”

 

Well, if Morgan had stellar parking karma, J.D. had the opposite.

 

The idea of kissing J.D. Ortiz was about as appealing as taking a nap on the bathroom floor.

 

I watched as she and Ira walked ahead, arm in arm, talking and laughing. I wanted a guy like that, one who was there for me, who made me laugh until it hurt, who came out to dinner even though he’d already eaten just so he could spend time with me, who ordered onion rings just because I liked them, who bought a cupcake he didn’t need because I made it.

 

“We’re glad you could come. J.D. has told us a lot about you.”
His cheeks turned a light shade of pink.
“All bad, I assure you,” he said.

 

“I was just giving you a hard time. It’s kind of fun pushing your buttons.”

 

“Getting a gift like this— does it mean you’ve been naughty or nice?”
“It’s marshmallows, not coal,” J.D. answered for me, despite my glare in his direction, “so I’d say nice.”
“Well, it’s always the nice ones you have to watch out for, don’t you?” Teo said, while J.D. groaned.

 

“Is it maybe . . .” He lifted the present above my head. “Mistletoe?” It wasn’t, but now I kind of wished it was.

 

And sometimes it’s the smaller, not as in the center of it all, less obvious choice that’s the better one. The one that will surprise you.


My (Writing) Life

My writing life has been…. interesting lately. I started strong with NaNo, but missed a few days and basically quit tracking. Even with “failing” NaNoWriMo this year, I still wrote over 30k, which is pretty awesome for me. I also explored some little side projects that were very new to me and expanded my horizons a bit.

Christmas is drawing near, hence this 12 Books of Christmas post today. This challenge, which I came up with, and Katie over at Just Another Girl and Her Books actual set up, is going to force me to post a pile of my reviews! I’ve got 10 of my Christmas books already read, most of the reviews written as well. I’m a little side tracked right now reading another book for a blog hop and re-reading Twilight just for the hell of it.

So yeah, that’s what’s going on. I meant to post this first review on Black Friday, but…. shopping happened. Then my sister informed me that her kids probably gave us lice. So then lice eradication happened. And is still happening. I’m almost done Christmas shopping and aside from wrapping, I think things are calming down.

 

REVIEW: Royal Guard of Draga by Emma Dean

Royal Guard of Draga Book Cover Royal Guard of Draga
Draga Court #0.5
Emma Dean
Sci-Fi Romance
August 3, 2017
Kindle
174
The Author
Jillian Ashe
July 2017

In a galaxy far from our own in a faraway future humans have settled among the stars, altering their genetics to create a more peaceful society where dominance and rank are known instinctually. Princess Adelina of the Draga royal family seeks love before political gain and her guard is the only male her eyes see. Alpha is the most beautiful man she's ever laid eyes on and ever since he came back from his training Adelina can't get him out of her mind.

The strength and dominance Alpha has tests her will and all Adelina wants to do is submit to him, but she has duties required by the crown. When her father becomes ill her life, and that of her siblings are turned upside down. Can Adelina find love with her royal guard before it's too late and the choice is taken from her?

My Review

This is a prequel to the new Draga Court series by Emma Dean (pen name of author Jillian Ashe).

So, right off the bat, the heroine of this story, Adelina, is kind of hard to like, at least for me. This epic, sci-fi universe takes place in the far distant future and people have been genetically altered so that they are born with a natural “dominance” level. Princess Adelina is at the bottom of that chart, being very submissive. She can come across as a push over and weak at times. Do NOT let that turn you off. Keep reading.

This story is a short little introduction to this new world. It’s descriptive, interesting, and very sexy. This particular story, as I said before, is a prequel and takes place before the events of book 1. You don’t have to read it to know what’s going on in the series, but you’ll understand the events referenced later a little better having read this.

Basic gist – the princess has feelings for her personal guard. He shares those feelings. You have to read on to find out what, if anything, becomes of that.

I also feel like this isn’t too heavy on the sci-fi so anyone who enjoys steamy romance, who is open to non-contemporary genres, can enjoy this series. It is VERY steamy at times.


Quotes

How one was born was reflected in their personal, natural scent. It broadcasted their abilities to everyone around them and created a safe environment where those who were dominant protected those who served. She always knew who to defer to and how to act thanks to protocol. As a royal she should have been more dominant.


Alpha didn’t move for a second. His whole body tensed and then it was like he let go of everything holding him back. His arms went around Adelina’s waist and held her close. Alpha’s touch was soft and gentle – barely there – but he kissed her back with force.

REVIEW: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia Book Cover Nyxia
The Nyxia Triad
Scott Reintgen
YA Sci-Fi
Penguin Crown Books
September 12, 2017
E-ARC
384
Penguin First Reads
August 20 - September 20, 2017

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

My Review

I received a copy of this book from the Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

I heard good things about this book, so when I saw it on Penguin First To Read I took a chance and guaranteed a copy for myself. I started reading soon after… and it took me a long time to get through his one.

Brief summary: a big corporation in the not-so-distant future has gathered a group of poor teenagers, offered them enough money to keep them and their families comfortable for life, and taken them aboard their space ship en-route to a new planet called Eden. They need the kids because the native peoples on this planet hate humans, but they have a deep affection for children and won’t hurt them.

So, I’ll start with the negatives…

  • Early on I was honestly bored. This book had a little bit of a Divergent feel to it, but I didn’t really feel any emotion or connection to the characters. I think part of the problem was that they dumped SO many characters on us at once. By about 15% things were looking up and I was enjoying it a little more.

 

  • The main character, Emmett, has some characteristics that bothered me. He would call his parents “moms and pops” – I’ve heard pops before, but something about moms just grated on me. It’s a personal thing, not a deal breaker.

 

  • The other thing Emmett did that drove me crazy was saying things like “I filed that under A for Anger” all the time. They finally explained WHAT that was all about, but it was too little too late for me. The annoyance was firmly there.

 

  • Too many characters were introduced all at once and I was really never given a chance to really get to know them. Not even the one involved with the first big plot twist around 30%. Had I been really given a chance to connect with that character I might have gotten bent out of shape.

 

  • The villains were a little one dimensional. I’m hoping they will evolve when it comes to book 2.

 

Okay, all that said, there were a lot of things I DID like. I mean, I’m giving it 4 stars after all.

  • This book is very creative. Just the concept of Nyxia (this alien material that can be controlled by your thoughts) is fascinating as all get out. There’s more to the substance than we know as well, it’s already been alluded to, and I look forward to finding out more.

 

  • The challenges the kids underwent were also very creative and unique. They got a little repetitive at times, but overall I did enjoy them.

 

  • This book is as about diverse as one can imagine. The protagonist is African American from Detroit, his bestie on board the ship is from the Middle East. His roommate is from Asia. There’s tons of representation in this book and it was pretty awesome.

 

  • The plot twist at the end. I did NOT see that coming. I was left speechless. With an ending like that there’s no way I can skip book 2.

 

So, should you read this? If you’re looking for a (mostly) unique Sci-Fi teen novel, this might just do the trick. It has a few flaws, but on a whole the creative and unique bits (and that ending!!!) make for a pretty compelling read.


QUOTES

When Babel recruited me, they said all of this was a game. I like playing games, but I like winning even more.

“The reward for your efforts will be beyond your imagination. A trust fund has already been established for each of you. A check for fifty thousand dollars will be put into your account every month for the rest of your lives.”

I almost laugh, thinking we’re the politically correct version of the Justice Squad. But if Babel’s looking for heroes, they picked the wrong guy.

Habitable planets. Aliens. Right. Our generation watched the Mars landings. We’ve seen NASA’s recruiting posters all over our high schools. But there’s never been a whisper of other life-forms.

“I get a suit?”
He nods. “And a gun.”
“Really?”
“No.”

“Congratulations,” Defoe says. “Expect adjustments to the course tomorrow.”
Translation: The glitch will be fixed, but we like that you took advantage of it.

“Yes, but are you familiar with the phrase, ‘you should see the other guy’?”
I nod. “Of course.”
“Well, you should see the other guy,” Defoe says, throwing me that dangerous grin of his.

“And how did it make you feel?”
Oh. He’s one of those doctors.

“The sky isn’t much of a sky. More of a misty overload pressing down on any and every thing.

“Everything causes cancer,” Vandermeer deadpans. “Except Nyxia. We’ve tested it.”

Does Morning want to talk, or does she want to talk? I may have bragged otherwise to the Most Excellent Brothers, but I’ve never really done that kind of talking with a girl like Morning.


My (Writing) Life

I took my girls to their school skate night (yep, roller rinks are still a thing here) and got a nice bit of writing done on SUMMER OF PEACE while the kids burned some energy. I may have lost some of my ability to hear thanks to the shrieking kids during the Hokey Pokey and YMCA, but overall—despite the evening ending in tears when my little one dropped her hoop right away during the hoola-hoop competition—it was a good night.

I’m trying to get some work done today before I start another long weekend at the hotel. Hopefully it will be pretty tame and I’ll have an opportunity to write during some down time.

In other news, I binged season 2 of Outlander over the past 3 days. Now I’m going through a bit of withdrawl. Never have I wished more for the Starz channel!

Anyone have big plans for the weekend? Or are you lame like me and spending it at work?

REVIEW: Live Fast, Die Young by Vanessa Barneveld

Live Fast, Die Young Book Cover Live Fast, Die Young
Vanessa Barneveld
Contemporary YA Romance
September 27, 2016
Kindle
118
Amazon
Beat The Backlist
August 5, 2017

Molly Corbett can’t stand seeing her childhood pal Alex Gibson destroy himself. He’s gone from straight-A student to rebel without a cause. With so much at stake, some serious interference is called for—or at least Micromanaging Molly thinks so. Alex needs to get back on the path to the Ivy League. But the harder Molly pushes Alex, the harder he pushes back.

Alex has a secret. Well, two secrets. Number one: He has terminal melanoma. With six months to live, Alex hasn’t got a second to waste. And hanging around hospitals when his friends think he’s cutting school definitely counts as wasted time. Instead, he’s going to drop out, surf, drive fast cars…and finally put secret number two out there. He’s in love with Molly and he’s going to tell her before it’s too late.

My Review

If ever there was a book that made me think twice about skipping the sunscreen, it was this one.

I’ve been downloading a lot of free books lately from all those newsletter full of book deals. So many that I started to feel guilty. So, I took a break from my ARC reading and chose a book at random from my Kindle backlog. I chose this one because I liked the title and the cover looked fun. Perfect for a summer read. Bonus it was a novella!

Then I started and oh boy…

Live Fast, Die Young is an emotionally turbulent novella. Alex has terminal cancer (melanoma) and doesn’t want anyone to know. Not even his best friend, Molly, the girl he’s also in love with. He doesn’t want people to look at him differently. So, he keeps his cancer a secret and vows to live what’s left of his life to the fullest.

This story is tragic and beautiful. It can be hard to connect to characters in novellas sometimes because of the limited number of pages you have to get to know them. Vanessa Barneveld portrayed these characters seamlessly. I got to know them and grew to care for them.

The only disappointment I had was that this book, which I got as an Amazon freebie, wasn’t a prequel! I was really hoping to go buy the next book, in which Alex and Molly work to complete Alex’s bucket list before his time runs out. Or to watch Molly learn to love again after Alex’s death. I’m uber bummed that this wasn’t the case. I will however be on the lookout for more from his author.

So, should you read the book? If you want a short, well-written, tragically beautiful story look no further. If books about cancer trigger you, maybe leave this one alone.


QUOTES

Kip’s tongue flicks out and laps sauce off the corner of his lips. Could this guy be any more reptilian? I shudder.


“…But right now? I’m thinking I want to be like James Dean. You know, live fast, die young. Do things at full speed and go out with a spectacular crash.”


This is what dying feels like. When your heart pounds hard enough to crack a rib. When loud, squealing noises echo from an unseen source. When you look around and the world distorts, fades to black. When the last thing your brain registers is the thud of your head hitting the linoleum.


I don’t even remember the exact moment I fell in love with her, but I can’t imagine being out of love with her. Yet I don’t want Molly to fall in love with me. Not when I’ve got a death sentence.


My (Writing) Life

I’m a terrible, horrible person. Instead of doing real work a couple nights ago, or going to bed like I should have, I stayed up late mocking up two book covers. For myself. For books that don’t exist yet. Except very loosely in my head. To go along with another book cover I mocked up for myself. So.. yeah. I’ve pretty much got myself committed to at least a three book YA contemporary romance series, each book a standalone. Hopefully I’ll get started on that by early 2018, if not sooner.

In other news, edits on Peace in Flames are going well. And re-writes on Summer of Peace are moving along nicely as well. A new plot twist popped into my head, so hopefully that works out. I’m very excited to share these novellas with you all.

Here’s a little teaser from Peace in Flames.
(Peace in Flames is Valerie and Liam’s story. Summer of Peace is JoJo and Matt’s story.)

REVIEW: The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen

The Secret of the India Orchid Book Cover The Secret of the India Orchid
Nancy Campbell Allen
Historical Romance
Shadow Mountain
August 1, 2017
E-ARC
320
NetGalley
August 28 - September 4, 2017

Anthony Blake is in love with his best friend's sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover spy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies-including his own-has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the façade of a flirtatious playboy.

Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most exotic regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn't as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned.

She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won't confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?

My Review

 

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

I had just read another historical novel before I started this one, so I wasn’t really in the mood for another historical romance. My NetGally backlog was glaring at me from my Kindle though, and I knew I did have to read this sooner rather than later. All that said, I did still enjoy this story.

The first chapter was a little boring for me, but completely necessary for the plot. I enjoyed the story quite a bit actually. I was expecting a little more James Bond or Jason Bourne with the spy stuff, but it was (thankfully) not like that at all.

Both the hero (Lord Anthony Wilshire) and heroine (Sophia) are well thought-out and interesting. I especially enjoyed how strong-willed Sophia was, especially in a time where women were expected to be the opposite. The chemistry between them was also quite fun, especially as he had to watch her be admired by other men, while secretly still in love with her.

What I loved most about this book, however, is that while it is most certainly a romance, I think it was more of a mystery. Both Anthony and Sophia are trying to solve the disappearance/possible murder of… well, they actually don’t know who at first! I always find it fun to try and guess whodunnit in mystery novels and this was no different. In this book there are a number of suspects and though I wasn’t ENTIRELY surprised by the answer, I also didn’t exactly see it coming, so that’s a good thing! Additionally there were a couple other subplots that tied in with the murder plot, adding more interest and intrigue.

Should you read it? Overall this was a solid historical mystery romance. I haven’t read a lot of historical romance to compare this to, but I enjoyed it quite a bit and think it’s worth taking a chance on.


QUOTES

 

Braxton’s very presence now in his home engendered emotions that had no place in his current life, a new life he’d planned to begin that very evening by announcing his intentions to court a beautiful woman who had become his dearest friend.

She narrowed her eyes, her nostrils flaring slightly, much preferring anger to heartache. Perhaps it was time to petition God again about striking him dead. That thought cheered her immeasurably, and she looked forward to the coastline with a smile.

The familiar sound of his voice had washed over her like warm rain, and it had taken true restraint to keep from launching herself at him.

“You frighten me, Rachael Scarsdale. What will you do? Make sure of medieval torture devices?”
“Oh, Sophia, what nonsense.” They reached the drawing room and Rachael smiled. “I don’t have access to any of those.”

“Oh, it is no impertinence on my part, I assure you! Lord Wilshire and I are the dearest of friends, you see. He is rather like my own brother. We are truly family.” Sophia thought she heard Anthony grinding his teeth, but she wasn’t certain.

Anthony’s eyes narrowed fractionally. She felt a thrill course through her limbs and caught her breath. He was irritated. Well, let him be. He made this friendship bed, and now he could lie down in it.

“You never even kissed me! I had no desire to be publicly ruined, but gentleman steal kisses from ladies frequently. I heard all sorts of gossip in the retiring rooms. Do you have any ida how long I was waiting for you to snatch a momenta t a party, perhaps two seconds in the shadows of the balcony—” He tilted her face up with both hands and cut off her sentence.

“Are you well?” he asked Sophia quietly.
She nodded, but swayed on her feet.
“Shall I carry you to your bedchamber?” His lips twitched, and she smiled.
“Yes, please, my lord. Perhaps if I should faint, you would be obliged.”
He leaned close to her ear, taking advantage of the distraction now spilling through the house. “And then I should be obliged to loosen your stays so you might regain your breath. Strictly for your well-being of course.”

And by all that was holy, if Braxton did not stop leering at Sophia, Anthony was prepared to put his fist in the man’s throat.

“My petticoat is exposed, but not my ankles. My modesty is preserved.”


My (Writing) Life

Ahhh……

It’s been a long weekend. After a busy Friday evening at the hotel, I spent all of Saturday doing party prep. Cleaning, assisting with removing branches from trees (this is normal party prep, right???), and baking. Plus birthday dinner at Culvers. Today, on my daughter’s 6th birthday, we had family over to celebrate. It went off without a hitch. And for the first time in I don’t know how long, I’ve come out of hosting a party not utterly exhausted. It does feel nice to just relax though after all that!

This week is an exciting one. I’m off work (at the hotel) until Thursday evening, which means I’ll be dedicating a lot of time to working and setting myself a schedule for my days offincluding a house cleaning schedule. I’m also going to make sure I get at least a couple hundred words written each day.

And speaking of writing, I received the first round of edits on Peace in Flames back on Friday. I skimmed through the edits/comments from my phone and there isn’t a whole lot to address aside from accepting some punctuation changes. Yay! I do need to add a bit more with my villain but she already warned me about that.

So, yeah. That’s what’s up.

 

Did you have a busy weekend? Or were you able to just relax?