Tag Archive | ARC

REVIEW: The Royal Deal by D. G. Driver

The Royal Deal Book Cover The Royal Deal
Chasing the Romantics #1
D. G. Driver
Fairy Tale
January 16, 2018
E-ARC
63
The Author
January 18 - 21, 2018

A pampered princess is told she must marry a prince she doesn't like, let alone love, on her nineteenth birthday. Desperate to find a way to stop this arranged marriage, she makes a bargain with her father. If she can survive for three months in the forest with no help of any kind and return healthy and unharmed, then she can choose the man she will marry. The King accepts the wager, knowing he can't possibly lose. Princess Faith knows she must win this deal, but once she ventures into the forest, she has no idea how she can possibly succeed.

Review

I’m a huge fan of D. G. Driver’s, so when she asked me to read and review her latest release, The Royal Deal, I gladly accepted.

This book isn’t quite like her others. For one, it’s a short novella. And secondly, it’s written as a traditional fairy tale, similar in style to Gail Carson Levine’s The Princess Tales.

I loved the concept of this fairy tale. Pampered princess doesn’t want to marry the prince she sees as irresponsible. She wants to marry his older brother, the prince who is responsible and devoted to his people. The prince who has also been missing since the last battle he fought in.

So Princess Faith makes a deal with her father to let her stay in the woods for three months, if she survives on her own she’ll get to marry whomever she desires. Should she return home, having failed, before the end of the three months, she will marry the young prince.

I loved that Princess Faith believes so highly of herself as an independent and self-sufficient person, but as soon as she enters the woods she learns she’s actually entirely unprepared. Even when a hermit living in the woods comes to her aid, she runs away, refusing to back down and accept help, thus negating the deal.

Faith’s stubbornness and belief in good were a delight. Even though she basically had zero chance of surviving on her own in the woods, she still made the deal to get out of the marriage she didn’t want.

The hermit was an interesting character as well. I don’t want to spoil his story, so I wont say much, just that as a reader I understood the moral/lesson the author meant for me to takeaway right away and liked it.

Unfortunately, I can’t give this 5 stars because there were so many more details I wanted to know! Novella’s are often tough for me, especially in fantasy (as fairy tales are) because they don’t give the details I crave. Everything moves so fast. BUT – this is my personal preference. If you shoved this story into a book of classic fairy tales I wouldn’t question it being there. Not for a second.

So ultimately, if you enjoy classic style fairy tales this could be a winner for you.


Quotes

Prince Jaeger of Aronsite had asked Faith’s father for her hand in marriage. Her father, the King of Devonedge, accepted. When he joyously told Faith the news the night before in front of a banquet full of people, Faith very calmly stood and replied, “I would rather be boiled alive in a vat of lava than marry that sniveling rodent that calls himself a man.”

“You haven’t any skills to survive. This is a wager you can’t possibly win.”
“Still,” she came back, “I’m willing to make it. I’m that against marrying Jaeger and ever hopeful that those three months will bring Mikhail home.”

Failure. Hopeless. Pathetic. Fool.
This mantra looped around and around Faith’s brain…

“Nothing in stories is ever completely accurate for everyone. Nor are stories ever entirely inaccurate about a great number of people.”

Yes, she could marry whomever she wished, but that didn’t mean she would. It didn’t mean she’d give up her nobility to be with a man who lived in the middle of the forest. Marrying for love was not how the world worked for princesses.

 


My (Writing) Life

Oh what to write, what to write!

I suppose, first of all I should apologize for going MIA for a while here. I’ll explain below.

But FIRST I should let everyone know that PEACE IN FLAMES is now available for preorder – WOOHOO!
If you’re in KU you’ll be able to read for FREE beginning Feb 16, 2018 OR you can preorder now and show your love.

In other news I’m nearing the end of my current draft of SUMMER OF PEACE. I anticipate getting this to my editor by early next week, then going through it again using text to speech. (Amazing what your eyes will skip over! Listening is key for proofing!)

If you’re a fellow reviewer and have any interest in reading/reviewing either/both PEACE IN FLAMES (YA Contemporary Romance) and/or SUMMER OF PEACE (NA – clean – Contemporary Romance) shoot me a message. I’d love help spreading the word about my book babies.

So to expand upon what I said above, I recently had about a week of deep depression and didn’t write or blog or really do anything. It was awful. Even reading brought me no joy and felt like a chore. Zero words were written and I second guessed everything I’d written to date. But I made it through to the other side and I’m looking forward to catching up posting my reviews here and diving back into my writing projects. My contemporary YA romance, tentatively titled SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT, is calling to me.

We also had a massive snowstorm four days ago. The roads were absolutely terrible and I was so grateful I didn’t have to leave the house. Unfortunately the schools did not let out early enough and I ended up with my kids school bus stuck in front of my driveway. It had spun around so it actually looked like it had pulled OUT of my driveway instead of like it had tried to drive past. But let me tell you, Minnesota Nice is a real thing because my feeble attempts to help dig the tires out with my snow shovel were met with the assistance of a neighbor across the street with his snowblower. When the bus got stuck again, he was right back out there helping the driver out by clearing more snow. It was a combination of awful/hilarious/amazing to see all of this happening.

And now I need to get ready for a busy night at work. #hotellife

REVIEW: Married Till Christmas by Christine Rimmer

Married Till Christmas Book Cover Married Till Christmas
The Bravos of Justice Creek #9
Christine Rimmer
Contemporary Romance, Christmas
Harlequin
November 21, 2017
E-ARC
224
NetGalley
12 Books of Christmas
December 2017

An impulse wedding...

Strong, sexy Nell Bravo won't be fooled again. After all, Declan McGrath already shattered her heart into pieces--not once, but twice. When alluring CEO Deck sweeps Nell off her feet in Las Vegas, though, she tumbles headlong into an "only in Vegas" fling with her first love. But Nell sure didn't bargain on a Vegas wedding

...a lifetime of love?

It's taken a long time for Deck to finally capture the one who got away. And this time, he's charmed her straight to the altar. But Nell will stay married to him only until Christmas Day--unless Deck can prove that this time, it's for keeps. With the clock ticking, can Deck convince Nell that he truly is her one and only...or has Mr. Love-'Em-and-Leave-'Em broken a Bravo's heart for the last time?

The 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 12 Books of Christmas! This is my TENTH contribution and I’m excited to share my final four 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

Right off the bat, I had some problems with this book. Who the hell goes to Vegas and ACCIDENTALLY marries someone? I don’t care how drunk or buzzed she was, Nell knew exactly what she was doing.

Aside from that impulsive choice she tried to pretend she didn’t make… I liked Nell. She was strong and tough and didn’t put up with Deck’s bullshit.

And speaking of Deck, what an alpha male ass. I did not like anything about him. I think he had a sweet side, but it was buried deep, deep down.

Because of my disbelief of the whole plot conflict and my dislike of Deck, I didn’t love this book. There were plenty of lines and scenes that I enjoyed and made me laugh, but this is one that I won’t be remembering. There was also a LOT more sex in this book than anything else.

On a whole, average as best IMO. I think the author probably has better books out there and I just picked a dud to introduce myself to her writing, which style-wise I had no issues with.

So…. take that however you will.

 

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


Quotes

After a month or so of turning up just about everywhere she went, he’d called her again and asked her straight out for a date. She’d said, “Absolutely not and do not call me again.”

 

She met those eyes and felt as light as a sunbeam, fizzy as a just-opened bottle of Don Perignon. It had to stop. She needed to remind him that they’d said goodbye last night. And then she needed to leave.

 

“You wont get away, Nellie,” he whispered. “I wont blow it this time. You and me. That’s how its supposed to be.”

“Don’t go there.” She made her voice as low and rough as his. “Or I’m leaving.”

They glared at each other, a battle of wills. And then he gave her that slow, dangerous grin.

 

But sometimes, even though you don’t believe it could ever happen when life is crappy, things do get better.

 

He just sat there, looking infuriatingly drool worthy with his bed-messy hair and his scruffy, square jaw, his broad, muscled heat and that mouth that could kiss her like no other mouth ever had. He just sat there and said, “I’ve always loved you.”

 

“How about this, Ma? You tell me that you’re sorry.”

“Why? We both know I’m not.”

 

He left the flower shop grinning. His guess? Nell hadn’t told anyone in her family that shed married him in Vegas. Should that bother him? Probably. But he couldn’t help thinking that he might use that information to his advantage. A better man would do no such thing. But he’d never claimed to be any kind of saint.

 

He flashed her a look—annoyed, but maybe a little abashed, too. Being Deck, he went with annoyed. “You’re pissing me off.”

“Welcome to married life. It’s called compromise, Deck. And we’re both going to be doing a lot of it—oh, and as for your fabled need for control? You’ll have to let some of that g, I’m afraid.”

 

He was branded on her heart, the one shed loved and lost and somehow miraculously found again.

 

“I believe I am mildly offended.”

“Only mildly? Good. I can work with that. This could be hot.”


My (Writing) Life

I literally spent my entire day away from the computer until after 10 pm.

Grocery shopping 3 days before Christmas… with both kids.

Cleaning, and attempting to get the kids to help clean… followed by cookie baking. I figured cookies might take 2 hours? HA! Try 4.5 hours.

Once the kids were in bed it was back to cleaning.

I think we’re nearly ready for the party tomorrow. I hope….

REVIEW: Approximately Yours by Julie Hammerle

Approximately Yours Book Cover Approximately Yours
North Pole, Minnesota #3
Julie Hammerle
YA Contemporary Romance
Entangled: Crush
October 2, 2017
E-ARC
220
NetGalley
12 Books of Christmas
October 5 - 7, 2017

Danny Garland is so out of Holly’s league. And her family is only back in North Pole, Minnesota, long enough to sell Grandma’s house and say “Merry Christmas.” So telling her basketball-star, too-hot-to-be-real long-time crush that she’d like to kiss him under the mistletoe just isn’t going to happen.

And now he’s asked out her cousin, Elda. Elda is a mess at flirting, so when she begs Holly to intervene, she does. Holly helps her flirt with him over text. And then again. And again. Now she’s stuck texting him as her cousin, and Elda is the one going on the date. Holly thought she could settle for just conversation with Danny, but talking with him is some kind of magic. He’s got the perfect comebacks, she makes him laugh, they text until everyone is asleep.

She just can’t ever tell him it’s her he’s really texting.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book has hot texts, gingerbread wars, and a slow-burn romance that could melt a Minnesota winter.

The 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 12 Books of Christmas! This is my SEVENTH 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


Review

This was a cute holiday book I found on NetGalley that caught my eye because A) it takes place in my home state of Minnesota, and B) it revolves around the plot of a one girl texting a boy to make him like another girl, and C) I’ve basically fallen in love with YA contemporary romances lately.

So yeah, this was a cute book, but it wasn’t unforgettable. I think Holly is pretty relatable, because what girl hasn’t compared herself to a friend/sister/cousin she thought was prettier than her? She clearly suffers from a big case of low self-esteem and has built up some very big walls to prevent herself from getting hurt. Unfortunately, those walls have also done her the disservice of keeping others away.

I also really liked Danny because he was the guy who had it all – he was the hot star of the basketball team with the hot, “perfect”, cheerleader girlfriend. Until he injured himself and his girlfriend dumped him. Then who was he? He really was just a sweetie and it was obvious why Holly liked him. I really loved that the author showed that someone who had it all, like Danny, could also suffer from low self-esteem and self doubt. Feelings of unworthiness run rampant in the teen years.

The way Holly and Danny bonded over the gingerbread competition was pretty adorable, but I was mostly frustrated that Holly would even want to encourage her cousin to date the guy she’s been crushing on her entire life. That just never really made sense to me from the get go. I mean, maybe in the beginning, but when it became pretty clear Elda wasn’t really all that interested in Danny Holly still pushed her cousin into continuing the charade.

In the end, it was a cute story, but like I said above, it just wasn’t entirely memorable. I would read the other books in this series, just to see what happens with the other minor characters, but I wouldn’t buy the books.

 

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


Quotes

 

(Elda) was the girl next door of every boy’s dreams. Holly was the girl next door who actually lived next door. Of course he was checking out Elda. Anyone with eyes would have done the same.

 

A girl with Holly’s savvy and Elda’s body would be more powerful than Wonder Woman. “We’d rule the freaking world. A guy like Danny Garland wouldn’t know what hit him.”

 

“Let them see how sad you are,” Craig said. “Girls love a wounded guy. They’ll want to help you. Seduction 101.”

Danny blinked at Craig. “What do you know about seduction?”

“I’ve seen a lot of movies.”

 

Maybe she suffered from a mild case of resting bitch face.

 

He got into a bit of a groove, not on his showstopper to do list, but on a list of ways he could stop being so pathetic in front of Holly. He’d just written “Stop whining to her about how she doesn’t like you,” when the bell above the Santabucks door jingled.

 

Man, North Pole loved karaoke almost as much as it loved Mariah Carey.

 

It was the day of his North Pole architecture tour date, and Danny felt a bit like someone was forcing him to eat his vegetables, which was silly. Elda wasn’t broccoli.

 

A whole morning alone with Holly. This day was going to end in tears—his.

 

I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to be honest with someone about how I feel. I’ve been pushing people away for so long that I don’t know how to let anyone in.

 

“Why are you whispering?” she whispered back.

“My mom’s just over by the counter.”

“And she can still hear every word out of your mouth,” came his mom’s voice.


My (Writing) Life

Christmas is nearly here and if I want to get all of my 12 Books of Christmas posted before Christmas Eve, I need to get my rear in gear! I have two left to finish, I should be able to finish both today as I have 10 pages left of one and the other is a very short novella.

I’m hosting Christmas for my immediate family on Saturday so I also need to get the house in gear. That’s going to mean probably little to no writing from me for the time being. Which is okay, because I’m stuck on SUMMER OF PEACE. I have the ending written, but I’m just not sure right now how to bridge the gap between where I currently am and the ending. I’m so close, but I’m drawing a blank. I think I’ll need to go back and pepper in a few lines of dialogue to make the transition smoother.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to work ahead on my publishing work. I want to get ahead and stay ahead! I’ve been formatting books like crazy the last couple days (okay, I formatted four books. That’s not that crazy…) and I’ve been working on covers. Completed two covers and am *THIS CLOSE* to finishing a third. My goal is to complete all of the Jan/Feb releases in December, then move on and complete all of the Feb/March and March/April ones in January. That’ll put me ahead just enough.

Anyway, enough from me. I’ll see you all tomorrow with my EIGHTH book of Christmas. 🙂

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: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Read: June 25-27, 2017

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Random House, Del Rey Books

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Genre: YA / NA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Reading Challenge(s): Flights of Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.


REVIEW

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

 

First of all, can we look at this cover? How cool is this cover! And it’s entirely appropriate for this book. Like, I can’t think of any cooler cover for this book. It perfectly sums up the story and the character Elanna.

So, as far as I can tell this is a stand alone fantasy novel. It’s billed as YA, but it’s really more upper YA into NA due to one steamy scene. I hope this becomes a series though, because I was blown away. I’m just not sure what is left of the story to tell… but I’d still read it!

This world and magic system is so cool. Basically, El lives in a country where magic is outlawed. If someone is suspected of magic, the Witch Hunters are called, and it’s a death sentence. So El doesn’t tell anyone that plants come alive around her – one touch of her finger and she can make them grow. She has big plans of going off for further training to be a botanist. Of course, the king might have other plans, like an arranged marriage.

No worries about that whole arranged marriage by the king thing though, because the king is murdered. Oh, and El is one of the prime suspects. And aside from taking her away from her parents and homeland at five years old to become a political prisoner—due to her father leading a rebellion, she actually kind of liked the guy. So begins her tale. She goes through a lot of changes of heart in this book, starting with not wanting anything to do with her parents. Not wanting to accept her magic. Wanting things to stay the same for her in King Antoine’s court.

El’s journey is a long one. Like, this book could have been broken into like, at least a trilogy, but it wasn’t, and I’m glad the author chose to keep it as one book. It meant no wait time to finish this journey!

The magic in this book is so cool. The land is literally alive and that power lives inside Elanna. There’s a lot of talk of the ancestors and ancient magics and so on. I loved it.

The romance? I don’t know if I was just in the mood for this kind of romance or what, but I immediately fell under Jahan’s charms. His personality was just so… charming! And he’s got secrets of his own. He was very easy going and had a nice sense of humor.

This review does this book no justice. Seriously, none. I can’t even describe all the feels. I can say this though, I did not want to put this book down. Most times I have my specific reading times and I stick to them. With this book? That went out the window. I read and read, and then I read some more. Until I’d devoured this entire thing in 3 days time—which is pretty quick for me for a book this long.

So, long story short: fans of YA fantasy tales with really cool and unique magic systems and a swoon worthy love interest will enjoy this story.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

It’s been fourteen years, last night. Fourteen year since King Antoine took me hostage; fourteen years since I’ve seen or heard from my parents.

 

I’m supposed to be safe here, safe to taunt myself with a magic I am not supposed to possess. A magic I still don’t understand.

 

I have no power but the king’s mercurial affection, which would vanish as soon as anyone named me a witch.

 

For a moment, I forget to be afraid. I just want to listen. I want to understand what the plants are saying.

 

“Jahan what?” I demand. “And I’ll thank you to state your intentions as well!”

A snort escapes him: He’s definitely trying not to laugh. “Jahan Korakides, at your service, demoiselle. I swear to you, my intentions are nothing but honorable.”

“Indeed?” I say. “A man takes a woman—by magic—and knocks her senseless, and she comes to on a horse in the middle of the night, and she’s supposed to assume his intentions are honorable?”

 

But I won’t use my magic to help them. It’s too dangerous, and it gives others ideas. It makes them think I might be what they want me to be.

 

“But you never came for me,” I say. “You left me there. You left me—”

“No,” she says fiercely. “I was always with you. Every day. Every moment. I am your mother, and I was with you.”

 

There’s a story in which Wildegarde makes an entire forest grow overnight; the next morning, the trees rip their roots from the ground and walk.

 

“…The Ereni had to fight their way through shifting forests and hills; they drowned in streams that appeared out of nowhere and valleys that seemed never to end. So by the time they reached Barrony, they wanted more than conquest. They were half mad. They wanted blood.”

 

The earth knew what I wanted. It did as I asked.

 

“So you trust me now?” His breath touches my face; his fingertips linger on my neck.

“Maybe,” I say with a laugh that catches in my throat.

 

REVIEW: Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

RoamHer Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #1

Read: May 21-June 21, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: August 30, 2016

Genre: Romantic Thriller

Pages: 407

Reading Challenge(s): Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER

Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her—and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amarok, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.

BEGINS WITH AN ESCAPE FROM HER PAST

Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amarok, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her—the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again. . .and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same…


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads. I am in no obligation to review this book, let alone give it a good review.

  

Word to the wise: Don’t read two thrillers concurrently in which a teenage girl is the sole survivor of a massacre.

This was a book I won through Goodreads. (Yay!) I don’t read a lot of straight up romance, but this is a romantic thriller. And though from the very beginning I was hesitant, I wound up absolutely loving this book. I need to get my hands on the prequel and the next one in the series!

Evelyn Talbot is an interesting character. Having survived being tortured and left for dead by her psychotic high school boyfriend—after he killed all her best friends—she’s spent her life dedicated to unraveling the minds of psychopaths as a psychiatrist. Now running Hanover House, a prison in the wilderness of Alaska meant to house the most dangerous psychopaths in America, Evelyn must face her past.

In this book, one of Evelyn’s dearest friends at Hanover House is murdered, her dismembered head the only thing found. Evelyn is sure it’s Jasper, her psychotic ex-boyfriend, toying with her before finishing what he failed to do when she was sixteen. From there, the clues keep piling up.

This was a very fun, dark, and twisty ride. There were so many red herrings it was hard to know who the killer really was. And just when you think it’s going to end — BAM!! Another twist!!

The romance was really good too. Evelyn is emotionally scarred because of Jasper and has never been with a man since. The sexy and fierce state trooper, Amarok (a nickname, which means wolf), is determined to break through her shields though. She doesn’t think she’s worth the hassle, but he begs to differ. The chemistry between them is awesome. I can’t wait to see what happens next for them.

I also really loved all the quotes from real psychopaths which preceded each chapter. Those plus the story itself had me looking at every person I know with a “could they be a psychopath?” filter on.

I absolutely recommend this to readers who enjoy mysteries and thrillers. This was a real treat and won’t be my last Brenda Novak novel.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

 

Looking down at their entwined hands, he moved his thumb over her palm in a seductive circle. “You realize you’re giving me conflicting signals.”

 

Maybe he was as attractive as sin, but they were worlds apart in every other way.

 

Psychopaths dismissed murder as easily as most people dismissed neglecting to send a thank-you card.

 

“I haven’t seen you with anyone since I’ve been here. So. . . Who is your type?” She held her breath after she asked. She’d opened herself up, knew he had to understand she wanted to be his type ….

“Apparently I like uptight psychiatrists.”

 

“I can’t—I can’t be restrained.”

“I’m not restraining you. This is called comfort. There’s a difference.”

 

“I don’t want to fall in love with you.”

“Because of my age, Evelyn? Really?”

“No, because love is the biggest risk of all.”
 

REVIEW: The Haunted Heist by Angie Fox

The Haunted Heist by Angie Fox

Series: Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #3

Read: June 5-7, 2017

Format: Kindle ARC

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Moose Island Books

Release Date: March 17, 2016

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Pages: 320

Reading Challenge(s): TBR 2017, Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Just because she can see the dead doesn’t mean Verity Long wants to spend her days hunting ghosts. Instead, she’s over the moon to land a marketing job at the local bank . . . until she finds her new boss dead in the vault. Even her ghost friend, Frankie, knows that’s no way to start a career.

Relieved to let the police take charge, Verity steps aside, bound and determined to keep her ghost sightings to herself. But when she learns the main suspect in the murder is a very crooked, very dead mobster, Verity knows it’s up to her to solve the case.

She teams up with her ghostly gangster buddy Frankie, as well as the irresistible and charming Ellis, as the three of them search haunted mob hideouts, hidden passageways, and historic cemeteries for the facts behind the heist of the century—and a modern-day motive for murder.

Too bad uncovering the truth could very well make Verity the next victim…


REVIEW

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

 

I’m not sure why I put off reading The Haunted Heist for so long. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for a cozy mystery? Regardless, I felt guilty staring at it in my NetGalley queue, so I bit the bullet and started reading.

This is the third in a series and I haven’t read any of the previous books. Unfortunately for me, that meant the first chapter was full if info dumping to catch me up on what I missed in books 1 and 2.

I read 99% of this book via text-to-speech (aka, listening to a semi-robotic voice read to me while I did other things, like exercise or fold laundry). Text-to-speech is great for multitasking, but I know I missed some things along the way, but it didn’t hurt the story for me.

I like the main character, Verity Long. She doesn’t want to have the ghost of an old mobster hanging around, but she’s stuck with him. (I’d have to go read the first books to find out exactly why, see the paragraph above!) The ghost, Frankie, was a blast. Seriously, his questionable morals and zero filter made the book.

This story revolves around Verity trying to get a job doing marketing work for the bank, but instead she finds herself at a crime scene. Sounds like this is something that happens to her fairly regularly.

I loved the subplot with sexy cop Ellis—and his overbearing mother who hates her. Apparently, Verity was supposed to marry Ellis’s brother, but she left him. It sounds like their Facebook relationship status should be ‘It’s Complicated’ because it is. But they’re soooon cute together!

So, basically, after a rocky start, I enjoyed this story full of southern charm and ghosts. I was never completely hooked, but as I said above, I just haven’t been in the mood for a cozy mystery, so I think that detracted from some of the enjoyment for this book.

If you’re into cozy mysteries, go pick up this series. It’s a cute, quick read, and book one is currently FREE on Amazon (and maybe other retailers?) at the time of this review posting.



Get the Book here:

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Catch up with book 1, Southern Spirits, for FREE here:

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QUOTES
(From an advanced release copy. Actual quotes may differ in final book.)

 

I felt my smile go wooden It was one thing to have a bad couple of days or even years, but to disrespect my town?

“Bless your heart,” I said, stepping past her desk, determined to end this conversation on a civil note.

 

“What do you want me to do?” Frankie huffed. “Embroider it on a pillow?”

 

“You got some natural talent behind the wheel,” Frankie said, approving from the passenger seat. “If you ever wanted a career in getaway—“

I clutched the wheel. “I don’t want to hear about it.”

“Just saying…”

 

“You mean like when I shot Crazy Louie in the leg to get your gun?” I challenged.

Frankie grinned wide. “You should have shot him in the balls.

“They chased us,” I said. “I had to dodge bullets. Ellis took us off road.”

“You’re just trying to make me jealous, aren’t you?”

 

“Who gets your house when you die? Your sister? God I, I hope not. I can’t break in another perky blonde.”

 

 

REVIEW: Beauty of the Beast by Rachel L. Demeter

Beauty of the Beast by Rachel L. Demeter

Series: Fairytale Retellings #1

Read: February 6 – April 10, 2017

Format: ARC eBook

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: March 15, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages: 342

Reading Challenge(s): Fairy Tale Retellings

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

* * *

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

* * *

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

Beauty of the Beast is a slow-burn romance that features a descriptive, richly detailed, and atmospheric writing style.


REVIEW

Beauty of the Beast is a realistic historical fairy tale retelling. I’ll let you figure out which fairy tale. 😉

From the start I was lost in this epic tale. The setting (though over described for this particular readers tastes) was epic and beautiful. The heroine kind and caring. The hero, beyond damaged. And the villain? Just when you loathe him beyond imagination, the author gives you a taste of his backstory and you almost don’t hate him as much. Almost.

It was fun to read this book and compare events and scenes to the Disney version, at times they were nearly identical, but at other times they were brand new. I much preferred the brand new, because it was something… new!

I loved the backstory of Prince Adam, how he was forced to watch his family murdered, how he was burned and badly disfigured. It was at times TOO well described. Leaving me feeling a little sick. (I mean that in the best way.)

I honestly didn’t care as much for Isabelle, I’m not sure if it was her use of Mon Dieu all the time or what. But something about her kept me from fully connecting. She was well developed, so I think its just me. Isabelle and I probably just wouldn’t be good friends if she was a real person.

Raphael, the villain, is a selfish, arrogant, drunken jackass. I was absolutely repulsed by him. I couldn’t believe Isabelle would ever have agreed to marry him, no matter how dire her situation. In other words, he was a great villain.

I liked that Demeter also added in a couple of “wicked step-sisters” for Isabelle. It was a nice touch, one of those changes from the Disney version that I appreciated.

The love story built slowly. So slowly that I can’t really pinpoint the moment their relationship turned into “something more”.

I would recommend this for fans of sweeping epic historical romances. Those looking for the magic and wonder typically found in a fairy tale will be disappointed that there are no evil witches and curses. A word of warning though, this book gets very dark in a few places.

 

An ARC of this book was kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


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QUOTES

 

“Why are you trying to prove?” she managed to choke out. Her voice sounded faint and weary; she didn’t recognize it as her own.

“That you are mine. And you belong to me.”

 

Adam was a flesh-and-blood enigma, a beautiful mystery that she ached to unravel.

 

Adam’s eyes flashed open and captured her own. In a rush of movement, he closed the space between them and seized her mouth in a blistering kiss. It burned. Claimed her soul. Whispered a thousand unspoken secrets.

 

A chill seeped into her bones—one that had nothing to do with the rain and everything to do with her blossoming feelings.

 

Rivulets of water dripped from the dark strands of his hair and tracked down his cheeks; they resembled the tears he refused to shed.

“You, Isabelle, have reminded me that goodness and beauty still exist in the world.”

 

Deliberately. Softly. She poured all her longing, all her loneliness, into the intimate movement. The kiss began as a featherlight caress, a whisper of a butterfly’s wing, that left her throbbing for more.

 

“You’re a dreadful dancer,” he murmured against her ear. Paired with the husky baritone of his voice, the insult sounded rather like an endearment.

 

Isabelle stopped dead in her tracks while a premonition eclipsed her thoughts. Her flight or fight instinct kicked into place. She was being watched… hunted.

 

Alas, should he live to see a hundred years, he’d never forget the sight of the king and queen’s severed heads on spikes… how the mob had paraded them about the courtyard, the crowd cheering and waving their tricolored freedom flags. Those memories were forever burned into his thoughts, into his very being. 

 

REVIEW: The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

Read: December 21-28, 2016

Format: ARC Kindle Book

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Abrams / Amulet Books

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary / Magical Realism

Pages: 384

Challenges: 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?


REVIEW

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

I acquired an ARC of this book from NetGalley and read it pretty quickly. The cover was what first attracted me to this book.  It’s just so… pretty with the blues and pinks and stars. I love the text and the imagery (which is entirely appropriate for the story) and… everything. The second thing that hooked me was the story concept, teen girl is pregnant… but she’s also the the daughter of a politician. I wanted to see how this drama unfolded. And honestly, it was not at all what I expected.

This is kind of an odd book. Not odd bad, just… hard to put my finger on how exactly to describe it.

16 year old Quinn is pregnant and has no recollection of ever having had sex. Sure, she’s messed around with her boyfriend, but nothing that could result in a baby! But there she was, pregnant.

This book follows Quinn throughout the nine months of her pregnancy while she tries to figure out when and how she ended up pregnant. She’s convinced it was rape and she has blocked any memory of the event. Until she discovers a secret about her grandmother.

I seriously can’t say much else about what happens without spoiling the story! I can say that I could not put this book down. I devoured it. I needed to know what happened next. At 76% I updated my reading progress on Goodreads with: “I still have no clue where this is going! And I’m loving it!” and my final thoughts were: “Wow! What a beautiful book.”

The only negative I have about this one aren’t really negatives about the story, just personal hatred for Quinn’s father. He just rubbed me the wrong way. I liked the rest of the family, but her dad is kind of a jerk.

So, I guess I’ll just tell you to give this book a chance and go into it with an open mind and be prepared for ambiguity.



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

 “But I’m not lying. I don’t know how it happened! How am I supposed to figure it out if I’m telling the truth and none of you want to hear it?”

“…but I wanted to mention that my daughter had . . . an active imagination when she was younger. If she says anything that seems upsetting or unusual, please let me know . . .”

Because something was wrong, and if she could figure it out, maybe she could help.
Maybe she could save her.

If she hadn’t happened to go to the doctor, would she have been one of those girls who went all nine months without knowing? Because, clearly, there was something really wrong with her.

“…But you realize my boys would have to be superheroes? Like, wearing tiny little capes and doing impossible things.”

The words crept under her skin and stayed there, crawling around like maggots. And what other things had people said? What else did they think about her and her baby? The curiosity worked up into a frenzy inside of her. She didn’t care if the people were insane. She needed to know what they were saying.

Too many questions.
All she wanted was for someone to give her the answers.

“Seriously?” Jesse said, breaking into a jog. “You get to be friends with the ocean, and I get a pigeon?” 

 

REVIEW: Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Read: December 27, 2016 – January 10, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC / NetGalley

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Random house

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Genre: Literary Mystery

Pages: 352

Challenges: none

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this sharp and clever debut novel of suspense, a young woman—presumed dead—leaves a series of clues for her twin sister, which leads her on a scavenger-hunt-like quest to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. But two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.

Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls’ increasingly unstable mother, Zelda is allegedly burned alive when she passes out in the barn with a cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message—from her sister. Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues to her disappearance. Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama. Along the way, Zelda forces Ava to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke her heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving? To teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?

Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut suspense takes readers on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family.


REVIEW

Caution: There may be mild spoilers, but I promise, NOTHING will ruin the ending.

 

Literary fiction isn’t my GO TO genre. In fact, I tend to avoid it. For the most part I don’t like that style of writing. Going into Dead Letters I knew it was a more literary book than I gravitate toward and honestly, up until about 15-20% I seriously considered quitting. By the time I reached THE END (sobbing like a baby) I was so glad I didn’t quit this one.

As the blurb indicates, Ava’s from a family of alcoholics. They’re all pretty terrible people, making all kinds of terrible life choices. It was hard to relate to them because I’m the opposite, I just don’t see the point in alcohol so I usually abstain. It actually bothered me a lot more up until the point when Ava says out loud that she knows she has a problem. Once the cards were on the table, I could respect her more.

One of the problems I have with literary fiction is that they tend to linger on seemingly random tangents. That was very much the case with this book, as present day Ava reminisced about something that happened years ago, usually involving Zelda. And much of the time they seemed unimportant to the story, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of a flashback that didn’t pertain to the clues/ending.

The clues laid out by Zelda were very clever. I found myself wondering how she was doing it. What was going on. Just when I thought I figured it out, I got a slap in the face. My theory was 100% incorrect, and though it would have been cool, this ending was so much butter. (If anyone wants to know my theory, feel free to private message me! I don’t want to spoil the journey for other readers by posting it here!)

Seriously, I can’t express my feelings for this book without spoiling it!

I’ll sum it up this way – for 95% of the book I could have cared less what happened, I just wanted to FINISH. Then the ending happened. And suddenly I was completely and totally invested in the story. Days later and I’m still thinking about it. The book shot from like, a 2.5-3 star book to a 3.75/4 star book.

So should you read the book?

If you’re into literary books – YES.

If you’re not so much into literary but you like a book with a mind lowing ending that leaves you thinking – YES.

 

 I received an advanced release copy of this book from Goodreads First to Read and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Random House and the Author.



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

I’m an idiot and accidentally deleted all of my quotes from my phone! Yikes!