Icon Tag: ARC

Review: If Not for You by Debbie Macomber

Posted April 17, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

Review:  If Not for You by Debbie MacomberIf Not for You by Debbie Macomber
Series: New Beginnings #3
Published by Ballantine Books on March 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 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.

An emotionally stirring novel that shows how obstacles can be overcome, differences can be strengths, and sometimes a choice can seem wrong even though it s absolutely right
If not for her loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme might never have taken charge of her life and moved from her native Chicago to Portland, Oregon, where she s reconnected with her spirited Aunt Sunshine and found a job as a high school music teacher. If not for her friend Nichole, Beth would never have met Sam Carney, although first impressions have left Beth with serious doubts. Sam is everything Beth is not and her parents worst nightmare: a tattooed auto mechanic who s rough around the edges. Reserved and smart as a whip, Beth isn t exactly Sam s usual beer-drinking, pool-playing type of woman, either.
But if not for an awkward setup one evening, Beth might never have left early and been involved in a car crash. And if not for Sam who witnessed the terrifying ordeal, rushed to her aid, and stayed with her until help arrived Beth might have been all alone, or worse. Yet as events play out, Sam feels compelled to check on Beth almost daily at the hospital even bringing his guitar to play songs to lift her spirits. Soon their unlikely friendship evolves into an intense attraction that surprises them both.
Before long, Beth's strong-willed mother, Ellie, blows into town spouting harsh opinions, especially about Sam, and reopening old wounds with Sunshine. When shocking secrets from Sam s past are revealed, Beth struggles to reconcile her feelings. But when Beth goes a step too far, she risks losing the man and the life she s come to love.

Beth escapes her mother and moves to Portland, Oregon, where her aunt lives in order to live her own life. She gets a job as a teacher and is very excited to be independent without her mother hovering everyday. Her friend Nichole, a fellow teacher one day decides that Beth should meet up for a blind date with a guy Sam – who happens to be Nichole’s husband’s best friend. The date is a disaster, but what follows the rest is even more painful as Beth gets into a car accident in front of Sam and is badly bruised. They bond over the accident during her hospital stay and despite not liking each other at first – maybe they click after all?

Gah, I wanted to like this I really did. I am familiar with the authors writing and enjoyed her books in the past. I did not like this one at all. This was not her best for me.

I felt like Sam and Beth acted like children most of the book. If something did not go their way, they pouted, closed off and asked that maybe the other person shouldn’t call them again? Really, you have been seeing each other for a month and when one cancelled plans for a reason you think they shouldn’t call you again? Who, the hell does that?

Their entire relationship was just giving me an eye twitch. It was suppose to be all sweet and cute and it ended up being a complete failure. I never thought these two should be together and honestly in the end it would have been a better book if they went their separate ways.

I hated Beth, I really did. There is a difference between growing up sheltered and insensitive. That woman, unless it came to her, failed to count other peoples feelings, especially when she would consistently butt into their lives. What’s worse? She would dig up old wounds, ones that she had no business of sticking her nose in and not for one moment consider how that might affect the person she is screwing over.

That thing in the end with Sam. He opened up to her and shared a really painful thing from his past and she almost ruined him because not for one moment she stops and thought – oh gee, Sam will never be able to do anything about what I am just about to rub it into his face. It was like slashing open old wounds and rubbing salt into them over and over again. I was horrified that she couldn’t see what she did wrong there. I was even more annoyed that in the end, Sam took her back. No, he should, he let her walk away. Oh, and that ending with how they got back together was really so unnecessary. On second thought, someone should consider not letting this woman drive.

The only person in this book that I liked in this book was Sunshine. I thought she was the only character that did not grate my nerves, outside of Nichole and
Rocco.

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Review: Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller

Posted April 10, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael MillerShadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller
Series: Kaitan Chronicles #1
Published by Delacorte Press on March 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 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.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can't resist her, even if her ship is an antique.
As for Nev, he's a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.
But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they're more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.
Nev's mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she'll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power--and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

I always enjoy experiencing new authors and since this was a science fiction book compared to Firefly, why not give it a shot?

I enjoyed the book for the most part. I really liked Qole, Arjan, Eton, Basra and Telu. I thought they were an interesting cast of characters all with their own special gifts and I loved how close knit they were.

I struggled with Nev at times, who is basically the male lead as this book is told from his and Qole’s POV. For someone so smart, he could be a bit thick at times when it comes to reality. I guess it isn’t completely his fault as it was how he was raised, but even in the end I still struggled with him a bit.

I think I am struggling with this review a bit also.

It’s about this world where they use Shadow to run things. There is a group of people that go out of their way and Shadow fish. Unfortunately, because of what the shadow does it eventually drives people mad and it’s a bit unstable when it comes to running everything so Nev believes his family can fix that. He needs Qole to submit to some testing, but all of it is for the greater good of everyone, as he assures.

I found the world building lacking at times. I did not understand how they used Shadow to run the things they did. (Maybe I fell asleep during the explanation?) I get it’s science fiction, but I found the explanation lacking. Interesting concept, but it felt a little weak without a supporting argument or explanation.

I wanted to know more about the world.

I felt the book was also a bit too long. The chapters weren’t quick and I found myself bored or falling asleep half the time. The pacing was way too slow at times. It picked up at the end, but I found myself not really caring. I also had a hard time with the ending because it did not seem plausible to me that 5 people can take on that many people.

Overall. I thought it was a decent read. A little long. The pacing a little too slow at times. But, Qole and her team were fun at times and the loyalty between them was heartwarming.

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Review: My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch

Posted April 9, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  My One True Highlander by Suzanne EnochMy One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch
Series: No Ordinary Hero #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on April 4th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance, Scotland
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-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.

Rugged highlander Graeme has one thing on his mind—take a stand against the horrible Englishman Lattimer and he will be rewarded with enough money to be set for life. But when his reckless younger brothers take it one step too far and kidnaps a young woman on her way to see Lattimer, Graeme has to intervene. He cannot send the lady back without his kin getting in trouble. And when a damsel this beautiful is dropped into your lap, it’s hard to let her go...
Marjorie should be terrified she’s been captured by highland scoundrels, but it’s hard to live in terror when your captor is a devilishly handsome and sinfully tempting as Graeme is. She cannot stay by his side forever—no matter how her heart may pound at the thought—but Graeme seems to have other plans. This wicked highlander is out to seduce her and doesn’t plan to stop until she’s in his arms...forever...

Lady Marjorie is on her way to the Highlands in order to surprise her older brother and his soon to be wife. What Marjorie did not know was that she was stumbling right into the middle of a clan war, and her brother is involved.

Graeme is a chieftain of clan Maxton. When his chief of Clan Maxton asks him to stand against Lattimer and be rewarded. Graeme finds a lot of trouble on his hands. First, he is unsure if he wants to kill the new Duke, but he is also aware that their money is running low and he has a lot of people relying on him.

Well, when his younger brothers overhear the conversation, they step up in an attempt to help. But, when they kidnap the duke’s sister and dump her under Graeme’s roof, the trio instead, end up causing more trouble for Graeme then good.

This was so much fun. It’s my first book by Enoch and I am super glad I read it. I enjoyed it so much, I really want to go back and read the first book, since the first book kind of sets up the conflict between Lattimer and Maxton.

Graeme and Marjorie were delightful. I love the slow romance that builds between them, despite the conflict that Graeme’s brother’s have caused. But, Graeme was not the one who kidnapped her, nor did he ever intend on doing so. Still, watching the two butt heads was super fun and amusing.

I especially had a fun time when Graeme dug himself such a hole that he had to go out of his way and commit a similar crime by kidnapping Marjorie’s lady companion.

I also loved the family dynamics happening there. Graeme has been taking care of his younger brothers for a long time, on top of taking care of people who live on his land. He is hard working and loyal to a fault. Definitely someone that Marjorie needed by her side, considering his Chief of the clan would love to see her dead in order to get back at her brother.

Gah this was fabulous. It reminds me how much I love historical romances set in Scotland and feel the need to read more. The book started a bit slow for me, as it took me a few pages to get used to the dialect again. But once I was set, it took off and never really let me go. I really, really enjoyed everything about this – including the writing.

I did feel bad for Graeme. He was put in a bad predicament. He didn’t want to give Marjorie up to his Chief because he knew she would get hurt, but he also couldn’t let her go because he had his brothers to worry about.

I think the only thing I did not like about this was Marjorie being so hung up on London and her belonging there even if she never really did. She is a new heiress and is having trouble fitting in. She is lonely and would need to spend a lot of money and a lot of years trying to get people in that society to care and would likely marry a fortune hunter.

She fits right into Graeme’s household and grew on everyone around here and there, people cared.

Also, the ending felt like it wrapped up a little too perfectly.

But, overall, this was a fun read and I really enjoyed this.

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Review: Forever a Hero by Linda Lael Miller

Posted April 5, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review:  Forever a Hero by Linda Lael MillerForever a Hero (The Carsons of Mustang Creek, #3) by Linda Lael Miller
Series: The Carsons of Mustang Creek #3
Published by Harlequin on March 20, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:two-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.

For the youngest Carson brother, finding—and fixing—trouble seems to be all in a day's work 

Mace Carson is no hero. Back in college, he came upon a woman in trouble and intervened—but he was just one irate Wyoming cowboy with his boots planted firmly on the side of right. Now a successful vintner, Mace is shocked to be reunited with the woman he saved. But it turns out she's in Wyoming on business…a corporate executive representing the company that wants to buy his winery. Only, he's not selling. 
Kelly Wright has never forgotten that horrible night ten years ago when Mace came to her rescue, has never forgotten him. The surprising success of a winery in the middle of ranch country has brought her to Mustang Creek, and she's secretly thrilled to discover Mace at the helm. Reluctant to mix business with pleasure, Kelly vows to keep things professional, until her attacker is released from prison and comes for vengeance…against both of them.

City girl falls for a cowboy.

Kelly has met Mace before back in college when she is attacked after dark while walking back home alone. Mace happens to be around, saves her and with his help lock up the man that almost raped her.

Now years later, their worlds collide again.

Kelly is in Mustang Creek with a business proposition for Mace and his winery, something he apparently wants no part of – but never really stop her from flying from California to Wyoming?

I wanted to like this book. I did. I love my cowboy romances. I even kind of liked Mace and his passion for his winery.

I couldn’t stand Kelly and by the time I came to terms with her it was a bit too late. The whole business side of this story was downright annoying. Like the guy didn’t want it, and she kept pushing and not understand why he didn’t want a corporation taking over basically his passion and something he worked on so hard to build.

The romance itself was a bit flat. I did not feel it at it, could not connect.

Of course, there had to be an unnecessary suspense drama that also was kind of bland.

What I did like is the secondary characters. I absolutely loved Mace’s big and loud family. I loved the banter and I loved how close knit they were. The back and forth had me giggling.

I almost gave this 3.5 stars, but then the whole thing with the condom happened and dear god could it have been anymore predictable? Like I was waiting for something different than the usual to happen and nope wasn’t in favor… Oh well.

Rant below if you really want to know.

View Spoiler »

 

end rant.

 

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Review: Every Little Thing by Samantha Young

Posted March 29, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Review:  Every Little Thing by Samantha YoungEvery Little Thing by Samantha Young
Series: Hart's Boardwalk #2
Published by Berkley on March 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:three-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.

Hartwell, Delaware—the perfect place to get away from it all, and find what you never knew you needed…
Bailey Hartwell has many reasons to feel content—her successful business, a close circle of friends, and her steady boyfriend…even if their romance feels staid after ten years without a serious commitment. The only challenge in her life comes in the form of sexy businessman Vaughn Tremaine. She thinks the ex-New Yorker acts superior and that he considers her a small-town nobody. But when Bailey’s blindsided by a betrayal, she’s shocked to discover Vaughn is actually a decent guy.
Vaughn admires Bailey’s free spirit, independence, and loyalty. As his passion for her has grown, his antagonism toward her has only worsened. Every little thing Bailey does seduces him. But when Vaughn’s painful emotional past makes him walk away in fear he will hurt her, it opens an old wound in Bailey, and she uncharacteristically retreats.
Once Vaughn begins to realize he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he has no choice but to fight like he’s never fought before to convince Bailey that the love they’ve found together only comes around once in a lifetime.

Every Little Thing is a second book in Youngs new series Hart’s Boardwalk. It’s an enemies to lovers story with a bit of angst. Normally I love my enemies to lovers so much, this was not my favorite. Nor was it my favorite of Young.

I admit, I was excited about her new book because I really enjoyed her other series – so maybe I set my bar a bit too high.

The story follows Bailey, who is pretty much the proclaimed princess of Hartwell and Vaughn, a newcomer to Hartwell, who has built a hotel on the boardwalk but not before Bailey gave him a run for his money. The attraction was instant, but Bailey was dating someone and truly believed that Vaughn hated her.

This book was riddled with too many cliches. Seriously, when Bailey had the big break up moment with her boyfriend, you kind of feel what is going to happen coming. I found myself irritated, like come on… How many times we have seen this happen when a woman tries to spice up her failing sex life by showing up at her boyfriends half naked under a coat only to discover he is already well into another dessert. Like, really? Really?

I really loved Vaughn, and maybe that was what made this book enjoyable because I hated Bailey. I found her frustrating, irritating, and immature. I liked everyone in this book BUT her. The secondary characters were amazing. Bailey just kept making stupid decisions at every turn.

Also, what is with the loose ends? Bailey gets attacked in her hotel room and she thinks she knows who it is and there is an investigation, but nothing happens after the cops show up at her place. It’s like everything was forgotten after her and Vaughn get their dirty out of the way. Honestly, the entire scene felt like a cliche set up and there was no follow through after Bailey explodes her frustration vocally in the store and muddles the investigation. Ugh and her background story? That felt random, it felt like it came out randomly just to add more angst and drama to the story. It was unnecessary and it made my head spin. The reasons she couldn’t commit and trust? Hello, you just came out of a long term relationship where apparently this wasn’t an issue.

My thoughts are jumbled. I wanted to enjoy this. I didn’t. It felt frustrating.

Will I read more of this series? Of course. Dahlia’s and Emery’s stories look so promising.

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Review: A Nun Walks into a Bar by Piper Davenport

Posted March 21, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 26 Comments

Morning guys! Hope you grabbed your coffee, I know I have. This morning I have Sophia Rose back with another Guest Review – Today she will be reviewing a Romantic Suspense A Nun Walks into a Bar – I think the title alone has got me giggling. Check out her wonderful review below and don’t forget to leave her some love <3

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  A Nun Walks into a Bar by Piper DavenportA Nun Walks into a Bar by Piper Davenport
Published by Self-published on March 6th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 333
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:four-flames

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.

After growing up in an abbey, orphan Sadie Ross becomes Sister Abigail Eunice. Her life and career are on track until a chance meeting with a handsome stranger in a place no nun should ever go.

Ryder Carsen’s sister is missing, and he doesn’t have time for distractions. But when a pretty nun walks into his bar, he can’t ignore his attraction to her, even though she’s not the “sister” he’s looking for. He’s relieved when she walks out of his life for what he believes is forever.

Sadie’s life takes a surprising detour when she finds her path crossed with Ryder’s once again.

When they are brought back together, Ryder knows he’s found the only woman he’ll ever love, but time is running out for his sister.

Will Ryder save his sister from the men who took her?

The title… I was smiling and intrigued from the first time I spotted the title. And *snort* it’s the NUN-rated edition.

I’m already familiar with the author’s earlier Dogs of Fire MC series so I was curious about this spin-off story going on in the Dogs of Fire world. New readers can easily pick this one up without having read the older ongoing series without trouble since this pulls in new lead characters and a parallel story line.

I found this a light story with some heartwarming and thoughtful elements. The romance is the focus, but the suspense is a solid element to keep things interesting too. A woman who grew up with nuns and wanted to be a nun, but really wasn’t cut out for that vocation and a guy raised in a dark, gritty world come together. It was an intriguing situation.

Sadie was a mystery to me much of the time, I’ll admit. I had no idea why she got bent out of shape half the time’s she did or at least to the extent she did. She’s naive and vulnerable, but she’s also defensive and snarky. She needs a bit of help transitioning out into the world but sometimes she gets a chip on her shoulder and takes it wrong. She wants to be thought to have arrived before her train is barely leaving the station if that makes sense.

Ryder, now he wasn’t a mystery. He’s a steamroller once he gets going. He’s alpha to the core and has the need to be in control and keep those he cares about safe- bubble wrap probably isn’t out of the question. But, this need makes sense when his past and his sister’s issues come into play. Sadie was a good fit for him and kept him on his toes just like he had the patience and understanding not to see her as an oddball, but a person who just needs some time.

The suspense part seemed to be leading in one direction with Ryder’s missing sister, but then it became something huge and much more. Sadie finds out just how dark Ryder’s world was and has to figure out if she’ll stand with him or sit this one out.

I had a good time with this side story in the Dogs of Fire universe. I think lovers of that series as well as those who enjoy romantic suspense with a stronger dose of spicy romance should definitely snag this up.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjørk

Posted March 17, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel BjørkI'm Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjørk
Series: Holger Munch & Mia Kruger #1
Published by Penguin Books on March 14th 2017
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 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.

International bestseller Samuel Bjork makes his US debut, a chilling and fast-paced thriller in which two detectives must hunt down a vengeful killer--and uncover the secret that ties each of them to the crime A six-year-old girl is found in the Norwegian countryside, hanging lifeless from a tree and dressed in strange doll's clothes. Around her neck is a sign that says "I'm traveling alone." A special homicide unit in Oslo re-opens with veteran police investigator Holger Munch at the helm. Holger's first step is to persuade the brilliant but haunted investigator Mia Kruger, who has been living on an isolated island, overcome by memories of her past. When Mia views a photograph of the crime scene and spots the number "1" carved into the dead girl's fingernail, she knows this is only the beginning. Could this killer have something to do with a missing child, abducted six years ago and never found, or with the reclusive religious community hidden in the nearby woods? Mia returns to duty to track down a revenge-driven and ruthlessly intelligent killer. But when Munch's own six-year-old granddaughter goes missing, Mia realizes that the killer's sinister game is personal, and I'm Traveling Alone races to an explosive--and shocking--conclusion. "From the Hardcover edition.""

As I am sitting here trying to figure out how to write a review for this book, I think I am slowly coming to terms that I am not positive how to word my feelings.

I’m Traveling Alone is a US debut novel by a Norwegian novelist about two detectives who are in a fight against time to track down a vengeful killer coming after six year old girls. To say that I breezed through this book would be a lie, but not for completely negative reasons.

This book was good. The writing was amazing. Samuel Bjørk is an excellent, creative writer that knows how to pull you in and tell an interesting story that will really pull you right out of your comfort zone.

With the victims in this book being six year old girls, this book was NOT an easy read. It was heart-wrenching, dark and uncomfortable. So even thought the book was completely engrossing, well crafted and a page-turner – I couldn’t finish it in one sitting. I had to take a step back and read something easy in between because being a mother, at times the story was truly terrifying.

I really liked the two main detectives in this story. Mia and Holger grew on me quick and I found myself rooting for them until the very end. Mia comes with a dark past and at the beginning of the book, Mia is in a really dark place. There is mention of alcohol and drug abuse, which can potentially be a bit triggy for some people (thus the content warning). I got to see how being bought back to work on this case with the only other person she cares in the world, pulls Mia back out of this haze she lives in.

There is just so much going on in this book, so much. The killer leaves puzzles for the detectives and it was interesting to see how Mia’s mind works in uncovering these puzzles. It was just so cleverly crafted, which made this book so hard to put down at times – even thought I had to. There are also other storylines that we get a glimpse into and how they end up merging and connecting with the case. There is a church, that’s like a cult and we get to see where that is relevant. It was just so much, but so good and there was just never really a dull moment. The story ran at a steady pace and completely enthralling when not dark and scary. It really did pull me out of my comfort zone as I find stories with children as victims absolutely hard to read. I wasn’t sure if I would like it or would be able to finish it – but I did and I enjoyed it.

My only gripe was I did not understand how Mia came to the conclusion the way she did about the killer. I have to admit, I did not know whodunit. The story follows so much that it could have been any of the people mentioned. Once unveiled, though, I think it was even more frightening. Also the fact that psychopaths like that can exist just really makes you shudder.

Oh, also the writer is Norwegian so the story takes place in Norway, which I think was the best part of this whole experience. I love when books take place outside of the states

Overall, it was gripping, it was intense and compelling. I am glad I read it. These characters really grew on me and I am looking forward to see what’s in store for them next, because they have issues with their own inner demons that they are still battling.

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Review: The Awakening by Amanda Stevens

Posted March 9, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  The Awakening by Amanda StevensThe Awakening by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen #6
Published by Mira on March 28th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 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.

Shush…lest she awaken…
My name is Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer who lives with the dead. An anonymous donor has hired me to restore Woodbine Cemetery, a place where the rich and powerful bury their secrets. Forty years ago, a child disappeared without a trace and now her ghost has awakened, demanding that I find out the truth about her death. Only I know that she was murdered. Only I can bring her killer to justice. But the clues that I follow—a haunting melody and an unnamed baby's grave—lead me to a series of disturbing suspects.
For generations, The Devlins have been members of Charleston's elite. John Devlin once turned his back on the traditions and expectations that came with his birthright, but now he has seemingly accepted his rightful place. His family's secrets make him a questionable ally. When my investigation brings me to the gates of his family's palatial home, I have to wonder if he is about to become my mortal enemy.

Ever since the disturbing events of the last book, I knew I had to get my hands on The Awakening in order to find out what happens next. Luckily, I read the two back to back and was left with a piece of mind.

The Awakening follows in not to distant feature from book five. Amelia is hired by an anonymous donor to restore the Woodbine Cemetery and all its dark and hidden secrets.

This book at times I find was hard to read, it just slowly keeps getting darker and darker. I still feel like book five was a tad bit darker, but things are really starting to hit the fan.

I really missed Devlin in the last book and even thought he was mentioned often, he finally makes a comeback. I really wanted to know what was going on with him and the strange rift that formed between Devlin and Amelia. Luckily for us, we don’t wait too long to find out, and I loved that we don’t have to wait till book seven for everything to get sorted.

In The Awakening, Amelia has to find the secret behind the murder of a little girl. I find children’s death stories one of the hardest to read. It feels so emotional, so uncomfortable at times. For Amelia especially, as we come to learn that this ghost really hits close to home for her. Not only does Amelia ends up discovering some dark secrets of her own family, she also ends up in a mess with Devlin’s secrets.

More is revealed about the secret societies, more death, more progression in the storyline. I loved reading about all the cemetery research and what the symbols in the children’s cemetery mean. The build up was amazing, the end, rushed.

This seems to now be a consistent trend in Stevens book, and one that I am now finding a bit annoying. We get this amazing build up, this amazing story and then everything happens so fast in the end that you can’t wrap your head around anything. It’s rushed, which makes it more than a little disappointing at times. The ending was mind blowing, but it was just so… quick… Even the confrontation was really quick.

I also feel like Amelia could use a little bit more emotion. She loves Devlin, but her grief felt a little robotic? I guess. It could be the fact that she trained herself not to show emotion, but that’s something that I feel is lacking a bit. It is necessary? I guess not, the book is still amazing, even without it. Just an observation, I guess?

Also, the ending? The ending ended with a mind blowing note. I hope there is a book seven because I need it now. There are still so many unanswered questions, even more after book five.

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Review: Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon

Posted March 2, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnonBel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon
Series: Belfast McGrath Mystery #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on March 7th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 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.

Bel McGrath loves her work as a wedding chef. But with her latest event set to take place at Shamrock Manor, she just can't seem to catch a break. The Casey wedding has left her with ten thousand greenbacks in the hole, a missing staff member, and a dead groom. Now, in between Guinness beers and pub brawls, Bel must find a way to crack the case--even though what she should be cracking are eggs into the batter of the wedding cake. A good Irish girl's work is never done. . .
What begins as local town fodder for an episode of "Wedding Gone Wild" is turning into "Gangsters with Guns." With the Casey family spiraling out of control, and billable McGrath hours being lost by the minute, Bel is definitely in too deep. With all these shenanigans, she barely has time to obsess over her new boyfriend and her own unsolved mystery from years ago! Time is running out on getting the next couple down the aisle before the so-called luck of the Irish takes a deadly turn... Bel of the Brawl will keep Maggie McConnon's fans, new and old, guessing.

When I first saw the blurb for Bel of the Brawl, I knew I had to read it. It’s a cozy mystery, set in a small town. It focuses on Bel and her family who owns the Shamrock Manor (seriously, I love the name) the family is also very Irish. I didn’t read book one, but I kind of get the feel for it in the second book. There has been a murder and Shamrock Manor is suffering a little because it’s a wedding place, so the brides and grooms have a bit of reservation when it comes to booking their wedding. It also doesn’t help that when they do book, Bel’s father gives them massive discounts.

After managing to book the wedding, despite some obvious concerns, things seem to go smoothly until the end of the wedding when Bel discovers the groom – dead in the women’s bathroom. Now the tip money from the wedding is missing, along with one their server’s, and Irish gangster’s are breaking into Bel’s apartment. Can she sort through all the lies flung at her and uncover the real killer?

This was a quick read. I really appreciated the quick short chapters, with my schedule it just seemed to work out well for me. What I liked most about this book is the sibling relationship between Bel and her brother Cargan. The two are very close in this book and are working on the mystery behind the murder and the disappearing banquet server together.

This book was filled with interesting characters, from Bel’s mother and father to her brothers. I really adored the family and the closeness and how they seem to look out for each other. I absolutely adore the way her mother complains about Bel’s cooking, because Bel likes to branch out and try thing that are outside of her parents or Irish comfort zone.

I followed Belfast (loved her name) as she sorted through the lies and was bold enough to approach some people that she never should have.

Also, there is a secondary ongoing mystery in this series with Bel’s long lost best friend Amy. A girl who disappeared years ago and seemed to have shaken the little town. In this book it seems remains have been uncovered and Kevin (Bel’s friend, ex boyfriend) believes that this might be Amy. New evidence has come to light about that night also that shake Bel’s world.

What didn’t I like?

I found myself a bit peeved at Bel and Kevin. In this book Kevin is also getting married to what seems to be a wonderful woman, but because of the connection they share over this mystery with their disappearing friend – Kevin and Bel find themselves in a lip lock not once but twice now. I guess, that bothers me a bit. Bel has some unresolved feelings for Kevin and Kevin seems to as well – but they are also indirectly hurting Kevin’s soon to be wife, who seems to be Bel’s friend and a wonderful person.

The pacing was interesting, but there seem to be a few things I was left unsure of. I wanted to know what happened to the Irish Gangster and the man that was helping him, Donnie.

The reveal was weird and also felt a bit anticlimactic. If you are looking for a cozy mystery that is really just a bit subdued – this will be for you. Also, I wasn’t sure I was 100% on the same page about the reason behind the murder.

But it was cozy, and it did feel like a page turner for me. I didn’t find this boring at all.

Overall, I loved the Irish family dynamics. I loved the secondary mystery lurking in the background and I enjoyed the authors laid back writing. This series comes with well fleshed out characters, some sibling love and an interesting mystery. I did enjoy following the clues and meeting the town locals. I am looking forward to seeing where this takes us next.

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Review: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted February 26, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 5 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn SparksHow to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 7th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:three-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.

Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father's life.
Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage...until he discovers she's vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?
If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?

It’s really tough to write bad reviews. Especially bad reviews on books that I end up feeling like the only black sheep.

I picked up How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days because so many of my friends loved it, and I went into the book with a lot of excitement.

It started out great, with an interesting premise, an interesting beginning of the world – but ultimately faltered by half way.

There are a few things I really dislike in my books and it’s like this one hit each one with a nail on the head.

1. Insta-love – The characters fall in love almost right away. She was drawn to him by just seeing him and was already claiming love after only talking to him twice? Five days in, two conversations later and the poor girl Luciana couldn’t live without Leo. She was so terribly in love with the man of her dreams, who happened to be the man she was being forced to marry.

2. Rapid Fire Writing – what else would you call this? umm… Hectic writing? I don’t know how to explain this, but it’s when things happen so quickly and so much at a time it makes your head spin, but things also get resolved within a first few paragraphs and we move on to more really quick scenes, you know what I mean? I hate that. I feel like the author was trying to smash together too many things into one book and it kind of ended up a big giant mess. First, she didn’t have to put so many things in one book. Second, I felt like it left the book with no detail nor substance.

3. Too much drama – seriously, especially near the end. There were just one too many things happening and so quickly, it probably would have been better if one or two big things happened. I felt like I was reading a movie on rewind or cliff notes. A lot of drama was happening in the end there and it was getting resolved so super quickly that my brain was hurting.

4. Plot – Okay this wasn’t all that bad, but I had some issues. First, Luciana is being forced to marry in place of her twin dead sister because if she doesn’t – her father dies. She accepted her faith, way too easily. Next, she must pretend to be her sister Tatiana, and she ends up being really horrible about it because her sister was a complete opposite. People are suppose to believe that she is one in the same person. The two girls grew up in two different places, so even if they were identical (I am assuming?) there would probably be some differences due to their environment and not enough time had passed between the death and Luciana assuming the role that would make up for these discrepancies. Also, I did not expect the book to resolve the problem with the king as fast as it did. I expected this to be ongoing in the series.

5. World Building –  I was really, really, excited about the world at first. There are many different kingdoms and they are at war…but.. why? I wasn’t 100% sure why they kept attacking each other. Maybe I accidentally glazed over that part. There were different regents of the world, but not much is known about any of them, with the exception that the main land does not tolerate the embraced – yet multiple characters are without consequences. I felt the book would be stronger if there was more focus a bit more on world building. I get it, it’s just a paranormal romance so technically there isn’t a need for complete world building. But, since this is also a fantasy, it really would have benefited from more building.

Overall, I was really excited. I came prepared to love it and really wanted a solid paranormal (fantasy?) . Instead, I found myself rather disappointed. It didn’t help that Luciana was the most awkward virgin ever and the love scene made me cringe hard.

I think my favorite part was Brody and the dragon scene. A bit disappointed there wasn’t more of it. Instead, most of the story focused on finding assassins or assassination attacks and just, blah..

And this is just a mild annoyance, but the male lead had a head full of red hair… the cover model, doesn’t.

Now this totally could just be a me kind of thing and not the book, but for me, there was just too many things that I am not a complete fan of when it comes to books. I will probably give this author another chance as I keep hearing wonderful things about her other series.

Rating Report
Plot
2.5 Stars
Characters
1.5 Stars
Writing
2 Stars
Pacing
2 Stars
Cover
2 Stars
Overall: 2 Stars

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