Source: Publisher

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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A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Posted October 20, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

A Promise of Fire by Amanda BouchetA Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Pages: 448
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.

KINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER…
“Cat” Catalia Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.
BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT
Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

A great start to what is promising to be quite an original and new series!

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a Magoi, a magic carrier. Not only is she a magic carrier, she is also the legendary Kingmaker who has escaped the clutches of her violent mother from Fisa and is pretending to be a soothsayer in a traveling circus.

Cat thought she was doing fine in hiding her identity until the non-magical Hoi Polloi warlord finds her and practically kidnaps her. Griffin is Beta Sinta and part of the non-magical family who somehow overthrown the last magical Magoi royals who ruled Sinta and now he needs Cat in order to bring peace to the land. Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker and knows that she is able to use her powers to divine the truth through lies and that she would make a powerful weapon for the new ruling family.

This was an interesting read. I picked this up because everyone and their mother’s were raving about this new series and I happen to be an old lover of fantasy, so I knew I had to read this and see what the fuss is all about.

A Promise of Fire is a great introduction into a new world that Amanda Bouchet has pasted together. I love that she uses Greek Mythology, I am a huge fan of Greek Mythology, so naturally I was excited to see what she can do with it.

I think it’s a bit hard to review the first in the series of the new fantasy books. There are a lot of holes to fill and it makes me as a reader a bit more frustrated. I also have to take into the account that even though this is a fantasy, it is not a traditional fantasy, but more of a romantic fantasy, so my expectations have to alter themselves.

We spend a lot of time following Cat and Griffin as they make their way towards Sinta and there is a lot of the same antagonistic play through the journey. As much as I enjoyed the bickering it was starting to feel a bit too repetitive and I felt like much of the book was spent traveling to Sinta and not enough of details of the world was given. I am a sucker for world building and although Bouchet did a great job with her first book, the details were murky at best.

What I did enjoy is the romance between Cat and Griffin and all the bickering between them. I do have to ask, is it just me or does Cat seem a lot younger than Griffin? A LOT. I get that she has a prickly exterior and for good reasons, but the level of maturity between the two was stark.

The humor alone was worth the read and Bouchet’s writing is just simply stunning. It really pulls you into this world and it’s hard to let go. It does make you want more, so much more and might be part of the reason I felt so frustrated. I wanted more details, I wanted to know more about the world and how Sinta, Fisa and Tarva function. the world and how Sinta, Fisa and Tarva function. I I think if readers who have no basic understanding of the Greek Mythology would find some stuff with the god’s mentioned a bit confusing to say the least.

I cannot wait to see how the secondary characters develop, the Alpha Sinta and her sister’s look like an interesting bunch. But, I was confused when Griffin promised Cat that once she meets his sister, she would understand why she was Alpha. I didn’t feel like Cat understood and neither did I to be honest. But, there is some potential for more romance between the princesses and the soldiers. I especially like the forbidden type aspect it’s got going here.

Also, Cat’s history is a huge background to this story and although no big reveal comes of it in this book (which I guess is really important moving forward) it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what is going on, and who she really is. It is a bit baffling that Griffin is slow on the uptake.

Although all of it aside, I LOVED Griffin the best. I think there is a sense of mystery with him that I hope gets resolved in later books. He is a Hoi Polloi warlord but there is something different and special about it and I wonder HOW it came to that.

Overall, I am happy I gave this a shot. The writing was great, talented, and the humor was just what I needed. So I am definitely looking forward to more. I am officially sucked in and need more books and details to fill that hunger.

 

Memorable Quotes

“She talks big, but she’s made of custard.”
“Fluffy and full of cream?” Kato wiggles blond eyebrows at me. Carver grins. “Think she’s sweet, too?”
My eyes spit fire. “Bite me. You’ll find out.”

“You are not tying me up in a cave!”

Flinty eyes swing my way. “I can’t have you attached to me while I fight.”

“Untie me, then!”

He snorts, and I roll my eyes.

“Two hours, then the cave,” Beta Sinta says. “Enjoy the sunlight.”

My jaw goes slack. “Unless you’re planning on knocking me unconscious, dragging me to the temple, and practicing ventriloquy, I still have to say yes!”

Griffin’s face shuts down entirely.

“We’ll discuss this later.”

 

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Review: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Posted October 13, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 33 Comments

Review:  Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth OppelEvery Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on October 11th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 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.

The hunt for a dinosaur skeleton buried in the Badlands, bitter rivalries, and a forbidden romance come together in this beautifully written new novel that’s Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones.
Somewhere in the Badlands, embedded deep in centuries-buried rock and sand, lies the skeleton of a massive dinosaur, larger than anything the late nineteenth century world has ever seen. Some legends call it the Black Beauty, with its bones as black as ebony, but to seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt it’s the “rex”, the king dinosaur that could put him and his struggling, temperamental archaeologist father in the history books (and conveniently make his father forget he’s been kicked out of school), if they can just quarry it out.
But Samuel and his father aren’t the only ones after the rex. For Rachel Cartland this find could be her ticket to a different life, one where her loves of science and adventure aren’t just relegated to books and sitting rooms. Because if she can’t prove herself on this expedition with her professor father, the only adventures she may have to look forward to are marriage or spinsterhood.
As their paths cross and the rivalry between their fathers becomes more intense, Samuel and Rachel are pushed closer together. And with both eyeing the same prize, their budding romance seems destined to fail. But as danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light, Samuel and Rachel are forced to make a decision. Can they join forces to find their quarry—and with it a new life together—or will old enmities and prejudices keep them from both the rex and each other?

Every Hidden Thing is described as a story of Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones. It’s a story about two paleontologists and their kids in search of the Black Beauty or “rex” one of the biggest dinosauria to be discovered at its time in North America. It is also loosely based on a historical event called “Bone Wars

I don’t know where to begin. I hate, HATE writing bad reviews so I am going to make this as positive as I can.

Samuel and Rachel are the children of two feuding paleontologists. Both of their father’s get a hint from the same source about a possible massive carnivorous dinosaur, awaiting to be discovered in the west in the area called the Badlands. A lot becomes at stake as the two families compete as to who is to find the dinosaur. Samuel and Rachel find unlikely in each other as their father’s behaviors drive them to form a force in hopes of recovering the bones themselves.

What did I like about this book?

  • The story-line was interesting. I like that Oppel went out of his way and did a bit of research into both the Native American culture and the Bone Wars before including it in his book. It added substance to the book and made it slightly more believable.
  • The writing in itself was pretty good and consistent. Nothing in particularly dragged and I managed to get through the book fairly quickly.
  • The book was about discovering dinosaurs and working in the field, which I found fascinating especially given the time period and the territory wars between Native American’s and the white man.

 

So why the two and a half stars? POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

  • I disliked the characters tremendously. I absolutely hated the fathers and the two main characters alike. The adults in this book had been just very childlike, and although I don’t doubt that maybe there was some truth to it based on history, the behavior at times were downright disgusting. Honestly, I disliked all the characters so much I am surprised I finished this.
    Rachel’s father was especially horrendous in his actions, especially when he sawed off the dead Native American’s head and then at one part of the book ironically insisted that he was not a savage. Their actions sometimes made me sick.

“We  could give him a good trashing,” said Daniel Simpson.

I looked at him in revulsion; at the same moment my father sternly said. “That won’t be necessary. We’re not savages. What you can do is fetch the heads. They’re in the storage wagon.”

  • The book is from the point of view of Rachel and Samuel and I just couldn’t get behind these two characters. Rachel was in no way someone I could relate to and Samuel I just generally disliked. There was instant love on Samuel’s behalf, and Rachel was about as emotional as a dry wall. There was no substance to her character outside of her passion for going to a university.
  • The romance was horrible. Samuel fell in love with Rachel quickly and could not understand why she did not reciprocate his feelings. He acted as if he was doing her a favore at being in love with her and basically called her emotionless and plain looking to her face. Once again, I found myself struggling to finish this book at that point. I found the behavior disgusting and childish and I was starting to wonder if Samuel was younger then he was suppose to be because he sure as hell acted like he was.
  • To top it off the two decide to ditch their father and their childlike behavior and join forces by running off and getting married. What? Why? How does this make any sense? The romance felt forced to begin with and all the sudden these two are getting married? Of course after they get married Samuel’s behavior towards Rachel turns absolutely crappy when he starts to realize they got married too young and he might not be able to support her. So he gets pissy and moody and treats her like crap. She knew how he was before she got married to him so it absolutely makes NO sense that she decided to go through with it anyway. And oh god, he gets super pissed off because she doesn’t want to have his babies… what? what? what did I just read?!
  • Also, there were super awkward sex scenes, farts and armpit hair. Need I say more?

I got a little more passionate and irritated as the review went on, I apologize for that. It could have been better, it had the potential to be fantastic, but it fell flat. I came into this book ready to love it, expectations were high. When I think of Indiana Jones the first thing that comes to mind is archeology, adventure, action, danger and passion. Indiana Jones this book was not.

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Review: The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

Posted October 11, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

Review:  The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill ShalvisThe Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, #2
Published by Avon on September 27th 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 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.

If she has her way . . .
Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .
He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.
Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .
Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .
Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work . . .

I was super excited when The Trouble with Mistletoe showed up in my mail box. I recently fell in love with Shalvis and her writing and was really looking forward to her new series. The fact that this book had the promise of holidays written all over it was a huge bonus, I am a sucker for holiday books.

Jill introduces us to Willa, an owner of a pet shop and Keane Winter’s – a man who stood her up at a high school prom and is not knocking on her door to cat sit.

Willa is butt hurt that Keane does not seem to remember her from high school, but takes in the sassy cat Petunia under her wing.

The two cannot deny the pull of the attraction between them, Keane just needs to climb over the wall that the pet shop owner flung up first before he can ask her out.

It was a cute story. The high school grudge was only a small part of it. Keane has an attachment issue and isn’t looking for anything serious and Willa was looking for something permanent at first.

I liked this one, but I didn’t love it. I couldn’t connect with Willa at all and although I appreciated her spirit and love for animals, her sudden role reversal with Keane was really unrealistic and did not seem justifiable. It didn’t make sense to me when Keane was suddenly okay for more and Willa was running for the hill, not when she for so long wished for true love.

I did not understand Keane’s attachment issues either. I didn’t feel there was enough backstory to make make him who he was. But, I did love Petunia the cat and their interaction, I thought it was funny, cute and heartwarming.

The romance was still cute. There was still a sign of classic Shalvis banter, but I didn’t feel that it was no where near good as her Cedar Ridge series. I totally adored everyone in that series and their connection. it was still a good escape from all the creepy stuff I have been reading, something on a much lighter side.

The next book is Elle’s book and since I was extremely interested in the relationship she shares with Archer I am eagerly looking forward to that one, it promises to be antagonistic and I am holding it up to that promise.

Memorable Quotes

His dark eyes had warmed to the color of melted dark chocolate. “One question.”
“What?” she asked warily.
“Do you always wear X-rated headbands?”
Her hands flew to her head. She’d completely forgotten she was wearing the penis headband. “Are you referring to my reindeer antlers?”
“Reindeer antlers,” he repeated.
“That’s right.”
“Whatever you say.” He was smiling now, and of course the rat-fink bastard had a sexy-as-hell smile.

“Listen,” he said completely honest. “I’m the guy who needed a fur-sitter because he was terrorized by a ten-pound cat, so I’m not throwing stones here. Speaking of which, where is the little holy terror?”

“She left me half a field mouse,” Mason said.
“She’s noticed your lack of hunting skills and inability to feed yourself,” Sass told him. “She’s trying to show you how to hunt. It’s a compliment.”

“What the hell was that?”
“Me getting you candy.” He held up the bag.
“No, you just peed on me in public.”
His mouth twitched.
“You did!” she said, tossing up her hand. “You totally intimidated that poor guy and all he was doing was talking to me.”

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Review: Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

Posted September 28, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 34 Comments

Review:  Second Chance Summer by Jill ShalvisSecond Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis
Series: Cedar Ridge, #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing on June 30th 2015
Genres: Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 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.

RESCUE ME
Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it's the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there's an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .
The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .

I know, I know I am reviewing these out of order, but I kind of read them out of order. Once I got my taste of Jill Shalvis and My Kind of Wonderful, I knew I had to go back to book 1 and read about the other brother – Aidan.

Once again, I wasn’t left disappointed. Jill Shalvis delivered everything I was hoping for in Second Chance Summer. A second chance romance that left me swooning. It was snarky, it was romantic and it was fun. Filled with characters that I have grown to love from the second book, I was eager to find out all the juicy details of the relationship between Aidan and Lily.

Lily bailed on Cedar Ridge years ago after her sister’s and father’s death. Feeling like it was all her fault, she never looked back, leaving Aidan Kincaid in dust and confused.

Now, after a scandal leaves her out of a job, she must take what is left of her dignity and come back home. The last thing she ever wanted was to run into Aidan, but as luck would have it, not only did she run into the now sexy firefighter on her first day back in town – but also in the most embarrassing fashion.

Aidan has no idea why Lily left, especially not when everything he thought, was going great between them. She broke his heart and he was hoping the girl would not find a way to shatter the walls back down again. But the attraction pulls them back together, and before he even realizes, he might be the only thing that can help Lily heal and move on from her dark past.

Love this, love this so much. The passion, the banter, the love between the Kincaid clan and especially the romance between Lily and Aidan. The book had me laughing and bought a lot of joy into my heart. It was a great read, it’s even better for those days where you need a pick me up, because Shalvis is just so great and the dialogue, with moments that kind of stick with you long after the book is done.

Aidan really made the book for me. A firefighter with a lot of heart, he was just amazing. The passion and the amount of work he put into his job, his care for saving people is apparent and endearing.

Also, can we just sit back and talk about the prank the brother’s have going between them? Each one gets to pick an embarrassing underwear and the other has to wear it and if called upon, most prove that they are wearing it. Seriously, so amusing.

Anyway, if you haven’t given Jill a shot, I highly recommend her. I cannot wait to get my hands on Jacob’s story.

Memorable Quotes

Mitch grinned at him. “Man, you just had your bones totally jumped by a nearly naked chick. We almost had to resuscitate you. Fireman Asphyxiated by Boobs, news at eleven.”

“How long are you going to pretend you don’t see me?” he asked.

“Forever?” she asked.

Okay, enough of this. “It’s just a set of keys.”

When she still hesitated, he revealed the cookies in his other hand, jiggling them enticingly.

 

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