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Blog Tour: Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron (review + giveaway!)

Sea of Strangers Book Cover Sea of Strangers
The Ryogan Chronicles #2
Erica Cameron
YA Fantasy
Entangled Teen
December 5, 2017
E-ARC
340
NetGalley
Flights of Fantasy
November 26 - December 7, 2017

Know your enemy if you want to survive…

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.

Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.

I don’t usually partake in blog tours, because, let’s be honest, I’m not usually organized enough for that!

However, when I learned of this tour for Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron I had to sign up! I read the first book in The Ryogan Chronicles earlier this year and knew I needed to find out what happened next.

Read on for my review of Sea of Strangers, and some other goodies!

I’ll try to make this as spoiler free as possible, but if you’d rather just check out my review of book 1, Island of Exiles, you can find that HERE.

You can also find the FULL SCHEDULE for all stops on this blog tour HERE.


Review

I received a copy of the first book in the Ryogan Chronicles, Island of Exiles, earlier this year, so I jumped when I had a chance to read the continuation of this story in Sea of Strangers.

If you read and loved Island of Exiles, you will not be disappointed with Sea of Strangers. The stakes are higher, the missions are deadlier, and things start to heat up between Khya and Tessen.

Like the first book, I had trouble keeping up with all the new terminology, but there is a handy glossary in the back for those who really want to get to know the terms, or if you’re too lazy to keep flipping (like me!) you can still enjoy the story even if some of the words make no sense to you.

This book ended with a BANG and left me wanting the third book in the series ASAP. It feels like this might be a trilogy, but I don’t know, it could probably stretch longer if the author chooses.

If you love epic fantasy, pick up this series. It will be well worth your time and money!

 

Special thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.


Quotes

 

 

 

 


About the Author

Erica Cameron is the author of books for young adults including the Ryogan Chronicles, the Assassins duology, and The Dream War Saga. She also co-authored the Laguna Tides novels with Lani Woodland. An advocate for asexuality and emotional abuse awareness, Erica has also worked with teens at a residential rehabilitation facility in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale.

 

 

 


Giveaway

Sea of Strangers Prize Pack, including:**

* A signed copy of Sea of Strangers

* A $20 Visa gift card

* A swag pack

**For international: 1 copy from book depository and a $20 Visa gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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: 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: 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: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe Book Cover Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe
Melissa de la Cruz
Contemporary Romance, Christmas
St. Martin's Press
October 17, 2017
E-ARC
225
NetGalley
12 Books of Christmas
October 31 - November 2, 2017

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe from New York Times bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, is a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32-years-old and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

 

The 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 12 Books of Christmas! This is my FIFTH 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 don’t know why I keep reading retelling of Pride & Prejudice. None of them live up to the original story and this book was no different.

First, I need to preface this by saying I’ve tried to read exactly one other book by Melissa de la Cruz and I hated it and quit after about two chapters. I am clearly not her ideal reader. That said, this sounded like a cute Christmas story and perfect for my 12 Books of Christmas reading challenge. If you’ve enjoyed the author’s other work, you may fall in love with this story.

So, we’ll start off with the good things. I love that the author chose to do a gender swap, it’s always nice to shake things up a little bit that way. I also really liked the sub-characters, specifically Bingley and Luke’s brother… who’s name I can’t even remember anymore. I like that the author chose to include a same-sex couple, that really helped to modernize the classic tale. Darcy was a self-made woman who left home all on her own to live the life she wanted, not the one her parents wanted for her, and I love and respect that.

Unfortunately my list of dislikes far surpassed my likes. Most importantly, I hated Darcy. While I loved that she was self-made and successful, she was just so immature. I hated almost everything about her and the way she behaved. I didn’t like how Luke acted either half the time. Neither of them held the charm that Lizzy and Mr. Darcy from the original tale possessed, and unfortunately they came across as unlikable and their actions were unredeemable in this reader’s eyes.

Honestly, this book just left a bad taste in my mouth. Darcy and Luke’s lack of communication with one another and their personal hang ups and immaturity made them perfect for one another, because I’d hate for anyone else to be saddled with them.

At least I can say that my time reading this is over, and I know to never pick up another Melissa de la Cruz book in the future.

So, should you read this? I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends, but if you’re a fan of the authors previous work you may fall in love with this one.


Quotes

See, it is an assumption universally made that any beautiful, brilliant, single woman who is rich as hell will be in want of a husband. She’d heard it time and time again.

 

Wanting to be near family and actually being near family were two completely different things.

 

There had been a part of her that thought maybe, after all these years, there was no way he could still be so mad, or so hurt, whichever it was.

 

Mr. Fitzwilliam’s wishes for his daughter were twofold, and the second fold involved her doing what a truly good and honorable woman would do: give birth to children and dedicate her life to raising them.

 

From their very first kiss until now, his kissing technique had evolved in no way whatsoever. It had always been good, sure, but not incredible. It was nice, practiced, wholesome, almost regulated. He had reliable rhythm and predictable moves.

 

 

REVIEW: The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Bowen

The Ghost of Christmas Past Book Cover The Ghost of Christmas Past
Molly Murphy Mysteries #17
Rhys Bowen
Historical, Mystery
Minotaur Books
November 14, 2017
E-ARC
272
NetGalley
12 Books of Christmas
November 2 - 12, 2017

Semi-retired private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan is suffering from depression after a miscarriage following her adventure in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906. She and her husband, Daniel, are invited for Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, and they gratefully accept, expecting a peaceful and relaxing holiday season. Not long after they arrive, however, they start to feel the tension in the house’s atmosphere. Then they learn that the host couple's young daughter wandered out into the snow ten years ago and was never seen again. Molly can identify with the mother's pain at never knowing what happened to her child and wants to help, but there is so little to go on. No ransom note. No body ever found. But Molly slowly begins to suspect that the occupants of the house know more than they are letting on. Then, on Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and a young girl stands there. "I'm Charlotte," she says. "I've come home."

The 12 Books of Christmas Reading Challenge

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

I snagged this book from NetGalley because I was determined to do this 12 Books of Christmas series of reviews. I wasn’t too discriminating because I was desperate for holiday books. I like mysteries and I mostly like historical, so I was optimistic about this book.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize this was the 17th book in this series! I had a hard time connecting with the characters and I imagine part of that is because most readers who pick up this book will have already had 16 mysteries solved with Molly Murphy.

The pacing was my biggest problem. The beginning was very slow for me, introducing characters. By the time they reached the destination where the mystery occurs I was contemplating DNFing this book. I stayed with it and by 30% I’d solved part of the mystery and my theory on “whodunit” proved right as well.

All that said, once the ball got going I did find myself enjoying many aspects of the story. I was still a little disappointed that I figured it out so early, but by that point I was determined to keep reading in the hopes of it being a red herring.

Part of my problem with this book might be the fact that everything sounded so stiff. It’s historical, so it fits, but I struggled with it in this context. Other readers of historical’s and mysteries might not have the problems I had.

 

SHOULD YOU READ IT?  While you can jump into this book not having read any other Molly Murphy Mysteries, this reader would advise starting at the beginning if you enjoy historical mysteries with strong female leads.

 

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


Quotes

“What on earth could a bunch of women find to talk about until after eleven?” Daniel asked, going over to the basin at the washstand to shave.

“Plenty,” I said, “We were scheming and plotting all evening how to disrupt the workings of the government in New York. We thought we might kidnap the mayor.

He turned back to me, a horrified look on his face. “You can’t be serious!”

 

“I think you should leave it, Molly. A good detective relies on facts, not flights of fancy and not besmirching characters without any modicum of proof.”


My (Writing) Life

It’s the holidays so life is hectic. Lots going on. Trying to keep my head above water. The usual!

I downloaded a new task manager app. It’s pretty awesome because it’s part task manager/part game. It’s called Habitica and if you don’t complete your tasks your little 8-bit character loses health. When you do complete your tasks you gain XP. As you level you unlock more items/features. The Husband and I both have it and we’re going to set the kids up with it soon as well. Maybe this will entice them to get their every day things done!

As far as writing, I’m going to start sending PEACE IN FLAMES out to reviewers SOON. So that’s exciting. The February release will be here before I know it! I’m also doing really well on SUMMER OF PEACE. I’m in the 18k range with a target goal of at least 20k, so that’s good. We’ll see what can be added/fluffed and fixed in the first round of edits soon!

My other writing projects are benched for the moment while I work on getting SUMMER completed. I’m hoping I’ll be able to dive back into SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT shortly after the new year. I’ll probably take a little break after that book to go back to my urban fantasy BLOOD & MAGIC, which needs to be completely restructured and rewritten. I’m both excited for and dreading that! Mostly I’m excited though.

So yeah, that’s what’s going on!

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: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones Book Cover The Beautiful Ones
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Historical Romance (with a touch of paranormal)
Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan)
October 24, 2017
E-ARC
320
NetGalley
August 20-23, 2017

In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society. Under the tutelage of the beautiful but cold Valérie Beaulieu, she hopes to find a suitable husband. However, the haphazard manifestations of Nina’s telekinetic powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

Yet dazzling telekinetic performer and outsider Hector Auvray sees Nina’s powers as a gift, and he teaches her how to hone and control them. As they spend more and more time together, Nina falls in love and believes she’s found the great romance that she’s always dreamed of, but Hector’s courtship of Nina is deceptive.

The Beautiful Ones is a sweeping fantasy of manners set in a world inspired by the Belle Époque.

Review

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

  

Oh goodness this book….

Okay, right off the bat I wasn’t crazy about his one. The blurb promised me telekinesis and I expected this big paranormal world with hidden superpowers or something. Instead, I got a Victorian romance.

Once I got over the disappointment that the telekinesis was really just used as a plot devise, (both the hero and heroine have this power), I really got involved with the story and the characters.

Let me warn you, right off the bat, that the main characters are not instantly likable.

Hector begins courting Nina just to be close to Valerie. He and Valerie, a decade before, had shared a whirlwind romance complete with a secret engagement. An engagement that she ended when she married another man—Nina’s cousin. Though he did things for the wrong reasons, it was easy to like and forgive Hector.

Nina is a so naïve at times it’s hard to root for her, but she grows so much as a character in this book.

And Valerie… well, to put it nicely, she is a selfish brat for 99.9% of this book. She has her reasons, but those reasons never justified all the wicked things she did in this reader’s opinion. She was an excellent villain.

This book is told in third person POV from all 3 of the aforementioned characters. Getting into each of their heads was really crucial to the execution of this story. Without each of their internal thoughts there’s no way a reader could feel anything except hatred, or at least annoyance, with them.

The story is also told in two parts and lasts the course of an entire year. When I reached the end of part 1 I was heartbroken. I was flipping pages like mad trying to get through part 2 to see the happy ending I wanted.

And in the end, the telekinesis played an important role in the story. It wasn’t just there to add something new and different. It actually was important to the plot.

So, should you read it? If you enjoy historical romances of epic proportions and are looking for something new and different…. and if you’re the kind of person who loves to see characters redeem themselves and get what’s coming to them, read this book. (There’s also a good old fashioned duel. No joke. It’s great!)


Quotes

(From an advanced digital review copy. Actual print copy may differ.)

 

“It’s probably best if we exit this room now. A bachelor such as myself, a young lady such as yourself— we wouldn’t want to cause a scandal.”

  

“Do you make it a habit to go to balls, then, and creep into the library to brush up on your history?”
“Do you talk to all men in this manner?” he replied, growing more curious than irritated.

 

While her mother was expecting only a suitable match, Nina was hoping for the romance of a lifetime followed by the grandest wedding imaginable.

 

The universe was unveiling new wonders every day, motorcars and the photographic camera, to name but a handful of the inventions dazzling the world. She preferred to classify herself as one of these new wonders.

  

Valérie had shattered him. The intensity of emotion he felt in those days had vanished, and in its place there lodged a tepid, distant approach to everyone.

 

She was Gaetan’s cousin, but also one of those people, the country folk who seek to ingratiate themselves with the Beautiful Ones and must be repelled.

 

Perhaps he expected her to fail in this demonstration. But she had not been called the Witch of Oldhouse for no reason.

  

You’ve come to hurt me, Hector. You’ve come to toy with us. Feel free to toy with her. But you’ll find I am not a piece you can slide across your board.”

  

He tried to imagine what he might be like if he’d never laid eyes upon her, if they’d never spoken. Whether he might be happy or equally miserable. Perhaps he was predisposed to follies, the victim of a nervous ailment.

  

Hector had spent so many years being the man who loved Valérie that he could not conceive of becoming anything else. She was a goddess at whose feet he worshipped, and to cease in his adoration of her would imply he had spent a decade following a false idol.

  

“You don’t know how it was when I was small, how they’d taunt me for it. I didn’t mean to make the flour fly through the kitchen, I didn’t mean to make the stones rain or the porcelain shatter. It happened and they’d frown or they’d laugh or they’d say, ‘There goes the Witch of Oldhouse.’”

 

Valérie had never been gentle or simple. But her passion, tucked under her perfect exterior, had echoed the passion within him. They were both creatures of tempestuous seas and stormy nights.

 

 “Why do they call it the Philosophers Club?”
“After a few drinks, all men become philosophers.”

 

 The food there was excellent and the service appalling, which was a requirement at any chic restaurant.

 

She looked at him carefully, and saw a man. Not the romantic notion of a man she’d glimpsed before, her vision colored with memories of books and plays. A man, flawed and sad, who’d hurt her once , but whom she nonetheless esteemed.

  

“Do you think he is serious?” Hector asked.
“About what, breaking your jaw?”

  

She was the princess in storybooks, the embodiment of every girlish fantasy she’d ever had.
She felt, however, as if she were drowning and kept thrashing her legs in a futile attempt to remain afloat.

 

 “What happens when you stop loving me?” he asked tersely.
That was the crux of the matter, the invisible dividing line on the floor.

 

 

“When you knocked on my door, I was half-dead. I had spent days dragging my sorry carcass around my room, convinced I would not see you again and wishing I could tear the world apart for this injustice.”

 

Nina giggled as he tried to undo the buttons of her dress. “Here?” she asked. “But the bed—”
“Books detailing the mating habits of beetles don’t explain everything, it seems.”

 

 

“You look as happy as a clam.”
“I would think clams cannot be happy, since they are mollusks who spend their days filtering water,” Hector replied.


My (writing) Life

Last week I got hit by a nasty bug, like, to the point where I went to The Urgency Room to get it checked out because I thought there was a chance I had strep. Turns out it’s just a nasty virus. I should have known better, I never have symptoms when I get strep – I just spread it. Just call me Typhoid Mary! Anyway, aside from a cough and stuffy nose I’m past the worst of it. The peak of horribleness was Thursday when I spiked a fever of 101.8 – at work! That was fun. NOT. At least I got paid to be sick though?

The good thing about being so sick and miserable those few days? I didn’t feel well enough to do any work for my publishing job, so I pretty much didn’t. That left me plenty of time to write. Yes, writing is work, but I can’t screw it up, like I could, say, formatting a book. Okay, I mean, I can screw it up, but I end up reading through my work 50 bazillion times (minor exaggeration) for errors anyway, so it didn’t matter. I ended up making great progress on Summer of Peace. I’m so excited for this series!

I’ve also had some EUREKA moments while planning out my YA contemporary romance series that’s coming next. By planning, I do I mean thinking of random details/plot points while doing other things. Usually listening to music. Current country music has been awesome for my writing.

So yeah, that’s about all that’s going on.

Has anyone else been hit by one of the nasty bugs going around?

 

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?