Category: Reviews

Review: Christmas in Destiny by Toni Blake

Posted December 21, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: Christmas in Destiny by Toni BlakeChristmas in Destiny by Toni Blake
Series: Destiny #7
Published by Avon on October 25th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 358
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

“Go to Destiny. There’s something waiting there for you.”
Shane Dalton’s new life is waiting in Miami, complete with fast cars and faster women. But first, he’s heeding his father’s dying words and stopping off in Destiny, Ohio. The detour wasn’t supposed to include a busted pickup and a blizzard. But Candice Sheridan, the cute redhead who reluctantly offers shelter, could prove a pleasant diversion. Trouble is, she thinks Shane’s bad news. And he’s pretty sure she’s right . . .
Candice had her trust broken once before. Yet something about Shane won’t let her stay away. By Christmas, he’ll be gone. Until then, she’s itching to stop playing nice and safe . . . and try being a little naughty for once.
As their holiday romance heats up, Shane uncovers a shattering secret and Candice is preparing to face heartache once again. But there’s no better place than Destiny—especially at Christmastime—for two lost souls to find the gift of sweet, surprising love . . .
 

Shane Dalton is ready to face his new life in Miami, with a new job, fast cars and fast women. But first, he has to make a quick detour in Destiny, Ohio because of his father’s dying last words – that something is waiting for him there.

With now much, but the clothes on his back and a couple of dollars in his pocket, Shane finds himself broken down in Destiny in a middle of a snowstorm standing on Candice Sheridan’s doorsteps.
The last thing Candice expected was for a strange man to be pounding on her door in the middle of the night, worse? He is inviting himself to stay the night because his car has been in an accident. Candice doesn’t want a strange man staying at her home where she lives alone, but the stranger saves her cat when he runs off into the snowstorm, and she allows him to stay from the kindness of her heart.

Now Shane must find what his father was talking about, even if the only clue he has is what was in his father’s last dying breath. But it’s almost Christmas time and the town and with it’s people are slowly growing on him.

This was a really lovely romantic read for the holidays. I really adored Candice with her big, kind heart for allowing herself to get close to Shane even if she knew that there was a HUGE possibility that he was going to leave like he had planned.

I also adored all the town’s festivities they had planned for Christmas. With a Christmas wedding to a small little thing for the kids, Destiny sounded like a really cozy place.

The secondary characters were really amazing as well. I loved the way Shane encouraged Grampy to pursue his love interest, no matter what age. I did enjoy the whole air of mystery around Shane, even if it wasn’t that hard to figure out and the author hints at it really early in the book. I was really curious how it all turns out.

Overall, Blake really does an amazing job spinning the magic of the holidays with a dash of romance and a couple of really unforgettable characters with tons of chemistry.

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Review: Fate of Flames (Effigies #1) by Sarah Raughley

Posted December 4, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Review:  Fate of Flames (Effigies #1) by Sarah RaughleyFate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
Series: Effigies, #1
Published by Simon Pulse on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Years ago, everything changed. Phantoms, massive beasts of nightmare, began terrorizing the world. At the same time four girls, the Effigies, appeared, each with the unique power to control a classical element. Since then, they have protected the world from the Phantoms. At the death of one Effigy, another is chosen, pulled from her normal life into the never-ending battle.
When Maia unexpectedly becomes the next Fire Effigy, she resists her new calling. A quiet girl with few friends and almost no family, she was much happier to admire the Effigies from afar. Never did she imagine having to master her ability to control fire, to protect innocent citizens from the Phantoms, or to try bringing together the other three Effigies.
But with the arrival of the mysterious Saul—a man who seems to be able to control the Phantoms using the same cosmic power previously only granted to four girls at a time—Maia and the other Effigies must learn to work together in a world where their celebrity is more important than their heroism.
But the secrets Saul has, and the power he possesses, might be more than even they can handle…

In a world where Phantom’s terrorize the people, Effigies are meant to protect it. Four girls appeared at the same time these nightmarish creatures came to light. Each girl is able to control their own classical element, but only one type of elemental Effigy can exist at the same time.

When the last Effigy, Natalya, who controls fire dies, Maia becomes her successor and inherits Natalya’s powers and memories.

Maia is scared and does not want to admit that she is the fire Effigy even thought she doesn’t have much time before the organization known as the Sect – who train the Effigy’s comes for her. Maia has a hard history, her mother, father and twin sister perished in a fire. Even thought Maia idolized the Effigy’s, the last thing she expected was to become one.

Now something is going wrong, by random each big city in the world is having a problem with the device that keeps Phantom’s out from entering the cities and hurting people. The devices are failing, cities are getting attacked, people are getting hurt and they don’t know what is causing it.

A mysterious stranger named Saul wants something from Maia, and he just might be the link to all of these attacks.

It was in interesting read. Overall, I felt like this series has a lot of potential, if the kinks could be sorted.

I really liked the plot, to me it felt original and refreshing. I liked that there are four girls who control four different elements of fire, ice, earth and wind. It reminds me a little bit of Captain Planet growing up. The story-line thought engrossing had a lot of holes, and I think that is where it faltered most.

First, I did not understand the need to glamorize the Effigies. They are these normal girls who end up being chosen at random? And they fight the Phantoms until their last breath, protecting the people from harm. They turn into these celebrities with photo shoots, and it was just weird to me.

Second, all their personalities were such a big cliche. Like, you could just feel it coming from each girl, what they are going to act like, and it really had me rolling my eyes.

Third, Maia is obviously special, but why? Why is she the special one, especially since the Effigy before she is supposed to be a sort of legend. Maia is thrown into this fight with NO training, and despite obviously being a huge burden on the girls who suddenly have to protect her, she ends up doing things she shouldn’t really be able to do. She can wield her powers in such way that it takes a lot of work to be able to use, that she is suddenly good at. I felt like it was unrealistic and frustrating.

There were a lot of holes in the plot and most of it was left that way. I wanted to know more about the origins of the Phantoms. Where did they come from? Are they aliens? Are they an experiment gone wrong?

Why is Saul special? The whole mystery surrounding him kind of had me shrugging my shoulders. He told Maia that she wouldn’t like what she discovered and I didn’t see that reaction at all.

There is obvious some internal dirty stuff going on within the Sect itself.

There is a hint of romance… I guess.. It’s a little dry and Rhys, the Sect agent and the romantic interest is hiding a lot of secrets. One of which I think Maia is totally blind to, but is easy to figure out. He is also Geeky Chic… There is a lot of use of the word Chic to describe people in the book.

Overall, it was interesting no doubt it has a lot of potential and I will be reading the next book to find out where it goes. Despite all those things that might have aggravated, it was a great book to pick up when I wanted to get lost in something outside of the real world. I really wish it didn’t leave us with more questions then answers, but I am looking forward to seeing where the author goes with this next.

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Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Posted November 27, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review:  Scythe by Neal ShustermanScythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe, #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 Stars

In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.
Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.

I didn’t know how to start or write this review, I didn’t think it was easy to put my thoughts together for this book, as you see, it was a bit complicated.

The book is about a Dystopian world set in the Age of Immortality and what happens when the mankind has achieved about literally everything, including immortality.

There is a group or an organization of people called the Scythes, who are professional reapers that glean people by random and they are the only ones that can cause permanent death.

After both Citra and Rowan run into Scythe Faraday during his gleanings and he sees something in them that would make both a great apprentice. It’s unusual for a Scythe to take on more than one apprentice, but Faraday takes a risk anyway. Unfortunately, only one of the two can become a real Scythe and earn the ring – so both Rowan and Citra have to pass three tests before being granted the ring.

When a Scythe at the annual Scythe enclave points out that it’s unheard of, Citra and Rowan now face an even greater risk of one of the winners being forced to glean the loser and puts a lot of things at stake.

I thought the concept was interesting. I liked the world that the author had created and I kind of wanted to know more about it. It felt just a tad bit confusing at times. I did not understand how revivals in the world worked. I get that people could not die, but some of the deaths seemed really unrealistic for people to come back from no matter how you swing it.

The pace of the book itself was a bit slow and well over 400 pages, at times I found myself completely dozing. Most of this  book is about Citra’s and Rowan’s apprenticeship and it moves at a snail pace.

Half the time you are just waiting for something, anything to happen.

The romance was awkward and felt forced. There was no need for it. There is no build up. So if you are a lover of romance, I wouldn’t recommend this book based on that. It plays a really minor part of the whole picture.  I felt like the author threw it in as an afterthought because he believed that somehow it’s a must to have romance in books – it isn’t and it could have done without it. Really, I would have been okay with just friendship in this.

The format and the writing of the book is well put together. The character development was really well done as well. Both Citra and Rowan end up being shaped by their experiences and their training and both in the end come out completely different people with a different kind of purpose.

There is a conflict going on between the Scythes with those who believe in a different kind of gleaning and their ‘leader’ was a monster. I think that is where the book got a little weird for me. I understood the purpose of showing those kind of monsters and what happens when you get the power to kill people, but it was still hard. That being said, yes, there was lot’s of killings in this book and the author tried to paint a picture of what happens what you get the power to kill people. The mass murdering was just absolutely hard to read.

Overall, it was interesting and a decent start. Hopefully I will get to pick up book 2, and hopefully it will move at a quicker pace.

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Review: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Posted November 11, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review:  This Adventure Ends by Emma MillsThis Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 4th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:half-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

I picked this one up on the whim because a few of the book reviewers that I trust really enjoyed it, and I don’t regret it. What a pallet cleanser!
The story is actually pretty simple. It’s about a girl in high school named Sloane, who is newer to the area and doesn’t really have many friends and

She meets Vera and Gabe after stepping up and giving a guy at a party a tongue thrashing and the two twins immediately adopt Sloane into their friendship fold.

The friendship ends up meaning so much to Sloane, that when a painting that Gabe meant to save from his late mother ends up being sold, Sloane goes out of her way to try and get it back.

It was a cute story. I thought the writing was great and I absolutely loved the quick and witty dialogue. I think the interaction between the character was my favorite part of the book. The friendship between Sloane, Gabe and Vera was kind of heart warming. So was the fact that Sloane would have done anything for them in order to show the twins how much she loved them and what their friendship meant to them.

This Adventure Ends is not just filled with positive friendships in high school, but also positive parenting and interaction. The relationship between Sloane and her father touched my heart. It is always so nice when there is closeness and understanding in young adult books between the parent and the child because I am so tired with the bad parent trope that seems to be floating around young adult books lately.

In all honesty it was a quick light read. There wasn’t much heart ache in the book and the author handled what little that might have happened very well.

There was a bit of romance, but it’s a sub plot and doesn’t play a huge part in the book. But when it does happen, it’s pretty sweet and I adored it.

I also loved the fact that the author branched out with a mixed bag of characters both in race and sexuality. Also, Sloane’s father is a romance writer who is struggling with writing after a bad review, which I found interesting.

That being said, there is a bit of cursing in this book so be aware. It didn’t bother me, but some people might be taken back by that language in young adult. To me? It sounds pretty realistic.

Overall, a wonderful light read, with witty and quirky dialogue that sticks with you long after it’s over. If you are looking for something light hearted with positive young adult relationships with both friends and family – you need to give this book a shot.

Memorable Quotes

-“I didn’t need anyone’s help. Everything was under control.”
“So the part where he plied your face like Play-Doh was a critical step in your plan?”
The girl snorts, and Gabe shots her a glare.

“Where were you?” he asks when I come in.
“Hanging out.”
“Ooh, with who?”
“Some local youth.”
“You sound eighty.”
“And you look like a maniac. what are you doing?”
“I’m relaxing.” He rubs the towel. “Terry cloth is good for the brain. I read an article on it.”

“Hot Pockets- what were you really doing there?”
I turn to Gabe, that orange shirt glowing in the setting sun. “sorry?”
“Hot Pockets,” he says.
“cinnamon Toast Crunch,” I reply.
“Are we saying this we like?”
“It’s a thing,” he says. “You have to tell the truth. It trumps penguin party.”
“Nothing trumps penguin party.”
“Hot Pockets does.”

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Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Posted November 9, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Review: The Diabolic by S.J. KincaidThe Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:half-flame

A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.
As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

A science fiction, standalone novel that uses politics and religion to build a unique, brutal world, but ultimately falls short.

Nemesis is a diabolic, a genetically engineered humanoid that is built with one purpose in mind and that is to protect the person they are bonded to until their very last breath.

When Sidonia, a senator’s daughter is called to court as a hostage – because of her father’s meddling in trying to bring back the study of science – Nemesis finds herself impersonating the one person she would give her life to make sure she is safe. Nemesis thinks she is heading to court to her death, but ends up finding an entirely different, vicious reason for why she was called to court along with the other heir’s of the ruling families.

It’s been a while since I read a science fiction novel, let alone a young adult science fiction novel, so when I saw The Diabolic, I knew I had to read it right away. Unfortunately the book started off on a rocky ground for me and continued to crumble along. It did not help that it sounds like it is in fact a standalone and has left me with more questions than answers.

I didn’t really know how to rate this book, and I didn’t really know how to review it. Even as I sit here and write it now, it has taken me a few days to chew over my thoughts and try to put them out there as a written word.

I liked the fact that the setting of the book took place in outer space, but where the setting could have really shined – it barely played a big part of the book. The story is that the emperor has suppressed the education of sciences, so the current technology used by the people is so old they don’t even know how to fix it. All these ships that carry people through space break down and cause a rip in the space itself – they call it malignant space that closely resembles a black hole and people are scared that as it expands it will eat up their existence.

But this is just a background story that sets the brutal mood of the book. Most of the story takes place on Chrysanthemum, which is where the Emperor lives and I believe it’s a ship? I found that a little unclear.

I felt like the author was trying to make some sort of political and religious statement here as both play a large part and NOT in a good way. The people are very religious and devout and the political control these people with an iron fist to the point where the emperor and his followers have no qualms when it comes to killing a lot of innocent people. There is a statement that the author makes that the moment people expand their knowledge and discover their capability there is a political revolution and they try to overthrow the current government and that is something the emperor is so afraid of that he even killed his own family members to get to where he is today.

There was a lot of killing, brutal killing and a lot of innocent people and animals alike die in the hands of more powerful. I don’t know why I didn’t like this, it didn’t settle well in my stomach and maybe it’s because it hit too close to some kind of a twisted reality that we are trying not to acknowledge, and I hope that is not the case, but that turned me off from the story.

I didn’t understand Nemesis character. Was she a machine or a human? She has no tear ducks, but many times it mentions that her eyes blurb when she doesn’t blink. She is suppose to have one mission in life and that is to be a cold heartless killer in order to protect the one person she is bonded to. Okay, but as the story goes on, Nemesis has a conscious and she can think, act, and even feel as we grow to find out. This baffles me a little, as the other Diabolics in this book don’t seem to exhibit similar traits. What made her so different?

I was also a bit confused about the issues in this book. It mentions people now knowing even how to fix the current technology, but how did they survive this long on such old ships? Things break down, period, even the ships they live on should be able to break down and they should be able to fix them – so this idiot didn’t make sense to me. If they didn’t have the basic of knowledge on how to fix their ships, then they couldn’t have survived as long as they did – even the ships they live on would have broken down. Even general maintenance need some sort of knowledge.

I felt there were a lot of holes. The romance was meh to me at best. I felt when it finally happened, it was a bit quick, but I guess these two deserved each other.

Overall, I was hoping to be more impressed and I wasn’t. The writing was good, but the pacing faltered at times. I spent have the time wondering if it was over yet or when it will be over. I felt there was a lot of holes left in the story and the ending happened kind of quickly, things just fell together for the characters a little too well.

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Review: Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne

Posted November 2, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 41 Comments

Review:  Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne ThayneSnowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point #5
Published by HQN Books on September 27th 2016
Genres: Romance, Holiday
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


There's no place like Haven Point for the holidays, where the snow conspires to bring two wary hearts together for a Christmas to remember.

It's been two rough years since Andrea Montgomery lost her husband, and all she wants is for her children to enjoy their first Christmas in Haven Point. But then Andie's friend asks a favor—to keep an eye on her brother, Sheriff Marshall Bailey, who's recovering from a hit and run. Andie will do anything for Wyn, even park her own misgivings to check on her grouchy, wounded bear of a brother.
Marshall hates feeling defenseless and resents the protective impulses that Andie brings out in him. But when a blizzard forces them together for the holidays, something in Marshall begins to thaw. Andie's gentle nature is a salve, and her kids' excitement for the holidays makes him forget why he never wanted a family. If only he and Andie can admit what they really want—each other—their Christmas wishes might come true after all.

Andrea Montgomery has had it rough. Not only did she lose her husband two years ago, but she was also betrayed and almost killed by her brother’s best friend and partner – a man her family trusted.

Now she lives in Haven Point and owns a huge favorite to her friend who asks her to keep an eye on her brother, sheriff Marshall Bailey, who is suffering from a compound break after a hit and run.

Marshall Bailey is grouchy, hate feeling defenseless and doesn’t feel like he needs help from anyone, especially the lovely widow who keeps showing up on his doorstep with her two children. But as Chloe and Will bring their joy and happiness for the holidays into Marshall Bailey’s house, the kids and the widow find a way to melt and borrow their way into Marshall Bailey’s heart.

Such a lovely story, RaeAnne Thayne has done it again and again, delivering a sweet, warm Christmas romance that just tugs on your heartstrings and stays with you long after it’s done.

I love her books, her writing and her characters. They are perfect to turn to during the holidays. Snowfall on Haven Point is a slow building romance set in a cozy small town with characters that just touch your heart. I loved both Marshall and Andi and the way she and her children have managed to bridge that chasm and fix what was once broken in his life.

The only thing that I wasn’t a fan off was the whole reveal of the hit and run. I kind of saw it coming, but it made me what and huh and I could have done without that. I was expecting it to be a bit more, but because this is a book on the lighter side – it makes it understandable really. We don’t really find out what happens to that person at the end of the book either, but I think I am okay with that.

I enjoyed the pace of the book. I felt that it moved just right, especially for a holiday read as we move into discovering a secret that Marshall is hiding and how he steps up to the plate to fix his past mistakes.

If you are looking for something to read this Christmas, do not discount Thayne’s work lightly. She does an amazing job creating a clean but, wonderfully sweet romance that makes it perfect for the season. I highly recommend it.

holidayreads

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Review: Mistletoe Cottage by Debbie Mason

Posted November 1, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 26 Comments

Review: Mistletoe Cottage by Debbie MasonMistletoe Cottage by Debbie Mason
Series: Harmony Harbor #1
Published by Forever on October 25th 2016
Genres: Romance, Holiday
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

'Tis the season for love . . . Sophie DiRossi loved growing up in Harmony Harbor. But after fleeing in disgrace many years ago, it is the last place she wants to be. Left homeless by a fire, she's forced to go back to the small coastal town that harbors a million secrets, including her own. Sophie sees this secret reflected every day in her daughter's blue eyes-and she must keep it hidden from the only man she has ever loved.
Sophie's return is a shock for everyone . . . especially Liam Gallagher. The firefighter had some serious feelings for Sophie-and seeing her again sparks a desire so fierce it takes his breath away. Now Liam will do whatever it takes to show Sophie that they deserve a second chance at love, even if everything they've concealed threatens to keep them apart. In this special town at this special time of the year, Sophie and Liam can only hope for a little holiday magic...

mc-blog-tour-bannermistletoe-cottage-quote-graphic-41

 

Sophie DiRossi fled Harmony Harbor out of embarrassment years ago, only to return to the place she once grew up with after her other home went she lived in went up in flames. Now Sophia is back in Harmony and is a carrier of a heavy secret herself. It’s bad enough she is afraid that the secret about her daughter will come out, it’s worse that she has child services on her tail due to the fire that happened to traumatize her little girl – who is now refusing to speak.

Mistletoe Cottage is the first book in Harmony Harbor series from Debbie Mason and it was a decent start to what is looking like an interesting series.

I really liked the little girl Mia, the DiRossi loud and funny family and Liam Gallagher, the hero of this story. It was a relaxing read after all the dark stuff in October and I thought it was a great read to start of the pile of upcoming Holiday stuff.

mistletoe-cottage-quote-graphic-2

The story was interesting as Sophie tries to put together a high profile wedding to save the mansion that Liam’s family happens to own. She is hired as a manager to make it happen right before Colleen, Liam’s great-grandmother passes away. Now Sophie is all stressed because she is planning a Michael’s wedding and that is the last person she wants to see. Not because she is in love with him, but because of the secrets she thinks she is keeping from him.

This was… it started out cute and promising, bu  t somewhere along the way I felt a bit of confusion. I did enjoy the story, as it sets a lot of interesting potential for the upcoming books. I really, really want to know what happened to Sophie’s cousin Ava and her ex-husband and kind of hope we won’t be left waiting too long.

I loved the interaction between Liam and Mia, it was so heartwarming the way he took to the little girl right away and how she took to him.

There was romance, but it didn’t feel like it overpowered the book. When it happened it was nice and added warmth to the book, especially due to Liam.

mistletoe-cottage-quote-graphic-3

My biggest issue was Sophie, I just couldn’t like her and her mood swings gave me a whiplash. I didn’t like the way she behaved with Mia’s father and telling him he didn’t earn the right after SHE was the one who kept the secret away from him for seven years. I also didn’t like the fact that she had the nerve to slap him.

I was a fan of Mason’s other series, this one felt a bit rushed, especially the ending – it left my head spinning as things started to go wickedly fast and scenes just skipping and bouncing all over the place.

Overall, the series has my attention. I am especially interested in Ava and hope she gets her book next. It was a good holiday read with some tender moments and I am looking forward to more

 

Excerpt

 

The door to the bathroom opened. Liam lowered his razor to smile at Mia and Sophie.

Sophie slammed the door in his face.“You stay right where you are,” she ordered him from the other side. “Mia baby, let’s go check out your bedroom.”

He heard the sound of their retreating footsteps and shrugged. He wasn’t sure what the problem was. He’d just lifted the razor to his chin when the door reopened and Sophie stepped inside, closing it behind her. Her eyes flitted over him, then she raised her gaze to meet his, a faint blush coloring her cheeks. He grinned at her reaction. At least he wasn’t the only one feeling the attraction.

She glared at him. “If you wanted to give me a welcome-to-the-apartment present, flowers or a plant would have been a better idea than . . . than this.” Her hand fluttered between them.

“You think I’m your welcome-to-the-apartment present?” he said, unable to keep the amusement from his voice.

“It’s not funny, Liam. I have an impressionable daughter. You can’t just show up at my apartment half naked, expecting to—”

He put the razor down and turned to her, crossing his arms. “Think what?”

“Don’t do that. It won’t work,” she said, her eyes landing somewhere between his chest and the towel.

“Soph, you’ve lost me. I don’t have a clue—”

“Please, as if you don’t know how sexy you look right now standing there all naked and wet with your muscles on display.”

He looked down at himself then raised his gaze to hers while holding back a full-out grin as it hit him what was going on. He didn’t plan to enlighten her just yet. He was having too much fun. “You forgot my impressive abs.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Where are your clothes? You need to get dressed and . . . What are you doing?” she asked as he closed the distance between.

Her palms landed on his chest when he crowded her against the door. “I just thought, since I went to all this trouble to surprise you, you could at least give me a kiss.”

“No, Mia is in the next room.” She stared at his mouth. “And even if I wanted to kiss you, you have shaving cream on your face.”

“Admit it. You like your present. And you really, really want to kiss me.”

The corner of her mouth lifted as her hands inched their way up his chest and around his neck. She leaned into him. “Yes, I like my present. But I’d like it a whole lot more if Mia wasn’t with me. And I might want to kiss you a little.”

“A lot,” he said and cupped her face in his hands, lowering his mouth to hers. He wanted to linger, to explore her sweet mouth with a deep, consuming kiss. Instead, because Mia was down the hall, he went with soft and tender and long enough that she’d feel how much he wanted her.

He pulled back. Her face was tipped up, her eyes closed. He smiled at the shaving cream covering the lower half of her face and slowly trailed his finger through it to draw a foamy line of white down her neck. With her eyes still closed, she leaned back against the door, a small hum of pleasure escaping from between her parted lips. He ducked his head and whispered. “You like that, don’t you?”

She opened her heavy-lidded eyes and nodded, watching him as he dipped his fingers beneath the V of her caramel-colored sweater.

He felt her shiver beneath his fingers and moved her hair off her shoulders with his other hand before rubbing his cheek against hers. He’d never look at shaving cream the same way. He wanted to cover every inch of her . . .

A knock sounded on the door. She shoved him away. Her eyes wide and glazed, she wiped frantically at her face. “Be right there, baby.”

Liam grimaced. He’d gotten so carried away he’d forgotten about Mia. “Sorry, Soph. Give me a sec, and I’ll get some clothes on.” He turned to open the door leading into his apartment.

“You have got to be kidding me,” she said.

Liam glanced over his shoulder. “Nope, your apartment shares a bathroom with mine. Welcome to the neighborhood,” he said with a wink.

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About Debbie Mason

Debbie Mason is the USA Today bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their "likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots" (RT Book Reviews). When she isn't writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, an adorable grandbaby, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.

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The Visitor by Amanda Stevens

Posted October 28, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

The Visitor by Amanda StevensThe Visitor by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen #4
Published by Mira on March 29th 2016
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

www.AmandaStevens.com
My name is Amelia Gray. I'm the Graveyard Queen.
Restoring lost and abandoned cemeteries is my profession, but I'm starting to believe that my true calling is deciphering the riddles of the dead. Legend has it that Kroll Cemetery is a puzzle no one has ever been able to solve. For over half a century, the answer has remained hidden within the strange headstone inscriptions and intricate engravings. Because uncovering the mystery of that tiny, remote graveyard may come at a terrible price.
Years after their mass death, Ezra Kroll's disciples lie unquiet, their tormented souls trapped within the walls of Kroll Cemetery, waiting to be released by someone strong and clever enough to solve the puzzle. For whatever reason, I'm being summoned to that graveyard by both the living and the dead. Every lead I follow, every clue I unravel brings me closer to an unlikely killer and to a destiny that will threaten my sanity and a future with my love, John Devlin.

The Visitor picked up shortly after the events in The Prophet, so if you are interested in giving this series a shot, I strongly suggest starting at the beginning, as a lot had happened. Ever since Amelia took Gray dust and came back, she bought something with her from the other side, a woman who happens to look like her except for the fact that she is blind and very much dead. Now the mysterious visitor is haunting Amelia and want something from her. The Visitor mentions a key that will help Amelia find her salvation, but when a stereoscope shows up in the basement of her house, someone else is trying to get Amelia’s attention. Every sign points her to Kroll Cemetery and it’s starting to look like the original ghosts wants her to find the real reason behind the mass suicide that cause all the people to die.

This was one of my favorite books in the series. We see a lot of character growth from Amelia and we get to dig deeper into her past and where she had come from as well as her father’s background. I thought the story was sad and compelling, Stevens did a terrific job.

This book felt just as creepy as the second book in the series, and it was hard to read at night with the lights off. Now that the rules that Amelia’s father tried to pass on to her no longer work, we get to learn more about what Amelia is as Steven slowly peels away the layers of secrets. Devlin’s family is also filled with secrets that I am eager to uncover as the book goes on and it sounds like it will play a major role between Amelia and John in the future books. Especially since John himself is undergoing certain changes possibly due to the incident in the last book.

The only a few things I felt upset about is the fact that Amelia’s father continues to be a shutout. He seems to now know what his daughter is going through and that the rules no longer protect her, but he is still holding on to many secrets from her. I feel like maybe she should know these things by now as far as her safety is concerned?

Also… What happened to Angus the dog?

Also, Amelia finds herself with an ally in Dr.Shaw… but what about the facts behind Dr.Shaws son and what happened between him and Amelia, the whole situation seems a bit odd to me I think. There was only a mention of Ethan in passing once and the entire incident apparently did not reflect the relationship between Dr.Shaw and Amelia.

Overall, this was a very interesting addition to the series with a lot of secrets coming into play. A few new characters from the last book were put aside for now, but I have a feeling that it is not yet even close to being resolved. Lot’s of things are happening and this is becoming more and more addictive and it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

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Review: House of Whispers by J.L. Bryan

Posted October 27, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  House of Whispers by J.L. BryanHouse of Whispers by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #5
Published by J.L. Bryan on October 2nd 2015
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 215
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The luxurious Lathrop Grand Hotel is a Savannah institution that has entertained guests for more than a century and a half, offering some of the finest accommodations in the city. Famously haunted, the hotel draws tourists from around the world eager to encounter its numerous ghosts. The hotel is also known for being honeycombed with hidden doors and secret passages, enabling staff to appear and disappear quickly as they attend to the hotel's guests.
Now some of the spirits in the Lathrop Grand have turned violent, even murderous. Ellie and Stacey must determine which ghost has become dangerous and remove it from the hotel before it can claim any more lives. They soon learn the hotel has secrets even darker than the notorious string of nineteenth-century murders that made it famous, and the powerful entities inhabiting it don't intend to leave without a fight.

The luxurious Lathrop Grand Hotel in Savannah is notoriously known for being one of the most famously haunted hotels at it’s time, drawing tourists around the world who are eager to experience the encounter of its numerous ghosts. When these encounters turn deadly, Ellie and Stacy are commissioned by the management to help remove the ghosts before they claim any more lives.

What I liked

  • I really loved that Bryan is branching out and taking Ellie and Stacy places that are no longer just client houses, but other properties. In the last one he took us for a ride on a ghost train and in this installment we get to explore the dark history behind Lathrop Hotel and not only its famous ghosts but the dark secrets that have been buried with for years.
  • While reading, I had a thought and did a bit of research, I came to wonder if perhaps the basis of this story was influenced by the famous Marshall House, whose history upon a little research I have come to realize is eerily similar to Bryan’s version in the book. If so, I wonder how many other haunted places in Savannah have influenced his works. I find it very fascinating and it makes me want to dig around a bit in the history of Savannah. I do know that Bryan’s ghost stories are original and even if they are based on the history of a real location, he expands on that basis and makes it into a very engrossing read that is difficult to put down.
  •   This book is probably one of my favorite yet. It is dark, it is scary, and it’s hard to read with the lights out. The ghosts that Ellie and Stacy were investigating were sinister and came with a lot of packages. But the history and the plot that Bryan wove into the story just really made this book for me.
  •   We get introduced to the agency that is thinking of buying Calvin’s and the two people that I think will become significant in Ellie’s life her boss goes forward with the move.

 

What didn’t I like

  • I am a sucker for romance and even thought it does not play a major part in the books, I still wish that we got a bit more. Something strange happens in the scene with Ellie and Michael when she does meet him and it makes me wonder what kind of a role it will play in the later books.
  • When Ellie and Stacy show up to the Hotel they have to sign a disclosure agreement. The way the manager of the hotel was acting and being pushy about it made me wonder if there was something else too it, but it never went anywhere beyond that.
  •  I was a bit thrown off by how Ellie had come to the conclusion of who the bad guy was with all of these ghosts running around because the baddie wasn’t really talked about much through the book. It made me pause and left me wondering what happened there. The whole ending had once again made me feel like it had faltered, just like it had in the last book. I am not sure what is going on. I loved these stories because the ghosts up until the last two books have sounded realistic and that is what made them creepy. The whole showdown with the end boss (heh, see what I did there?) felt a bit cartoonish at times and not what I have come to expect from Bryan’s work. I hope there will be an improvement with endings because I am enjoying the books, oh so very much and cannot wait for more.

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City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

Posted October 22, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

City of the Lost by Kelley ArmstrongCity of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Casey Duncan, #1
Published by Minotaur Books on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again.
Diana has heard of a domestic violence support town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want; she's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding - in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.
An edgy, gripping crime novel from bestselling writer, Kelley Armstrong, City of the Lost boldly announces a major new player in the crime fiction world.

Guys, I am totally kicking myself for not picking up a Kelley Armstrong book sooner. I picked up City of the Lost on the whim, I read the blurb, it caught my attention and I really wanted a good thriller. I know a lot of you have given Armstrong a lot of praises, so I can’t say I haven’t been curious what the fuss is about. What I got in return, I couldn’t have asked for more, mixed in with some really amazing writing and I was completely sold.

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective that has killed a man when she was in college, and not just any man but a grandson of a local mobster. She knows that eventually her secrets will catch up to her, but that does not seem to stop her from tempting fate.

Now with Casey’s best friend is in trouble. Her violent and abusive ex is back in town and she just can’t seem to shake her. When Diana gets attacked in Casey’s apartment and Kurt get’s shot by one of the mobster men, Casey is forced to make them disappear. Leaving behind her job as well as her casual partner Kurt.

The blurb had me at the mention of a city where people go to disappear. I thought that sounded extremely interesting and I was wondering how Armstrong was going to manage that. Casey couldn’t believe that a place like that exists, but she is proven wrong when she arrives in Rockton with the help from the local Sheriff Eric Dalton.

Eric doesn’t want her there. He wasn’t completely buying her story about Diana since Casey has no proof from the hospital that Diana was abused. Plus, Casey herself has committed murder and he doesn’t want people like her in his town. But Eric needs a detective and Rockton’s council kind of bends his arm into taking Casey in – so he puts her on probation for six months.

Casey arrives in town just in time for another murder and secrets of the town and the wilderness keep me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Wow… just wow.. I cannot express how much I loved this. It was so engrossing, it was so original and it was in it’s way creepy. There were secrets, there were settlers in the woods and people called hostiles. There was mention of cannibalism and an interesting mystery. Also, because Rockton is such a remote town in the middle of nowhere, we get to see the darker side of people when they don’t believe in consequences, something primal and scary that came from this. These people can suddenly be someone new, and leave the old selves behind letting the remoteness take over their beings. And since the ratio of men and women doesn’t match – there is also a bordello!

Okay, so I might have figured out who the killer is at around half way into the book. But, I was okay with that because there was just so much more going on. There is even a romance, but it’s kind of a subplot and doesn’t take over the entire book. Still, the romance was fantastic. I really loved Casey with the way she was around Dalton, she really bought something out in him. Dalton has an air of mystery on his own and it made me want to learn more about him.

I was confused about Diana and the way her character has changed so much, Armstrong also puts a strong spin on her story-line. I found that I didn’t like her character to begin with and by the end of the book, I hated her extremely.

One thing for sure, you cannot get attached to the people who live in Rockton. With the killer on the loose, you never know what will happen next and Kelley does not shy away from making sure that the reader gets the full experience.

When the big reveal happened, I wasn’t completely surprised I was just surprised by why and the confrontation was a bit odd to me and almost felt out of character. I forgave this because Armstrong still took us on a wild ride and since this is a series I am super giddy to see what happens next. I absolutely adored the setting, it played such a major part in this story.

I feel like I am going through a withdrawal, the worse part is the second book won’t be here till Febraury. Oh well, she has a ton of other books for me to explore that I think I will really enjoy. I am sorry the review was so long winded, but I was excited and had a lot to say. There is cursing, alcohol abuse and possibly sensitive subjects, so read at your own discretion.

Like thrillers? Like Armstrong? Did not read this one yet? What are you waiting for?

Memorable Quotes

He catches my expression, shakes his head, and says, “Ever heard of those amazing devices called DVDs?”

“Sure, but what do you play them on up here?”

“Tree stumps. If you carve them out just right and get ground squirrels to run around them really fast, you can project moving pictures on a wall.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

 

 

 

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