Format: Paperback

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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Death Masks by Jim Butcher

Posted October 10, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 35 Comments

Death Masks by Jim ButcherDeath Masks by Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files, #5
Published by Roc on August 5th 2003
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 378
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

Harry Dresden, Chicago's only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But now he's getting more than he bargained for:
A duel with the Red Court of Vampires' champion, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards...
Professional hit men using Harry for target practice...
The missing Shroud of Turin...
A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified...
Not to mention the return of Harry's ex-girlfriend Susan, who's still struggling with her semi-vampiric nature. And who seems to have a new man in her life.
Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you're charging.

Harry is back in the fifth installment of The Dresden Files and the stake seem higher than ever. He is commissioned by a priest to recover the missing Shroud of Turin, but on top of that, he is in a battle with the Red Court. The vampires still want to see him dead after what he did to the Red Court and a vampire named Ortega has challenged him to a duel to the death.

This was an interesting installment. I really enjoy Jim Butchers work and when I am in a slump reading I always find myself gravitating towards The Dresden Files. There is just something about the series that captivates me. Let it be the fast paced style of the book, the noir style, or the one liners that make me smirk – there is always some form of trust that I will walk away enjoying what I got.

I love Harry and his development is progressing within the series. I also enjoy the repeat appearance of the Knights of the Cross and Murphy. We seemed to have missed out on Bob in this book, which breaks my heart a little, but no big deal.

I love Harry and I love his approach to his world with his humor. I also adore the way he seems to care about the people close to him, even if it gets him almost killed like all the time.

The book has a familiar motion that seems to follow Jim Butcher’s style of writing, but I don’t hate it. There is a lot going on, a lot. Storylines intertwine, old characters come out to play, new characters reveal themselves, and the world continues to build on quite nicely.

I was a bit confused by the ending and how Harry found out who the bad guy is, but that can stem from the fact that I picked up the book in the middle after months of it just sitting on my shelf. Also, this one felt a bit more darker. Harry was dealing with demons and sacrifices and there was a bit of gruesomeness that left me cringing. Despite all that, i really had a fun ride and I continue my love and enjoyment of this series.

Memorable Quotes

“It came charging toward me, several hundred pounds of angry-looking monster, and I did the only thing any reasonable wizard could have done.
I turned around and ran like hell.”

“How long have you been a Wiccan?’
‘A what?’
‘A pagan. A witch.’
‘I’m not a witch,’ I said, glancing out the door. ‘I’m a wizard.’
Sanya frowned. ‘What is the difference?’
‘Wizard has a Z’
He looked at me blankly.
‘No one appreciates me.’ I muttered.”

“Michael, are you wearing the armor?”

“I am wearing the armor,” Michael said. “And the cloak.”

“Hello, Michael. We’re going to an airport. The Kind with metal detectors.

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Review: The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

Posted October 7, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 28 Comments

Review:  The Kingdom by Amanda StevensThe Kingdom by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen #2
Published by Mira on March 27th 2012
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 376
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars
Heat:two-flames

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town.
My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I've been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I'm coming to think I have another purpose here.
Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I've discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town, this withering kingdom, and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.

Amelia has been commissioned to restore an old cemetery at Asher Falls, South Carolina. When she arrives things take a strange turn and she begins to wonder the real reason she was bought summoned to Asher Falls and why she feels like she is there for a greater purpose. With the way the residents of Asher Fall’s act around her has Amelia wonders that maybe she wasn’t chosen by random to restore to Asher Falls Cemetery.  The land is cursed, Amelia can feel it in her bones as if she is also a part of it. There is a great evil that lurks in the darkness of the mountain and a woman who keeps showing up always in time to save Amelia from trouble.

Wow! If I thought book one was dark and creepy, it doesn’t begin to hold a candle to The Kingdom. It was creepy, with a gothic undertone and it was tenfold more atmospherical. The book also takes on a more evil and paranormal tone over book one and makes it reading late at night that much more chilling. Don’t make that mistake, I did and found that I lost a bit of sleep because of that, hah.

I loved it. I loved everything about this book. Steven’s writing is enthralling and so good. I was so focused on the mystery, so eager to uncover the secrets of Asher Falls, the secrets of the unmarked grave that Amelia stumbled upon and why Amelia is so drawn to this place.

Thought by the end things unraveled rapidly, I was a bit surprised by the amount that was left unsaid. It might be the reason I did not give the book 5 stars and held back. I felt there was quite a bit answers left for the dead along with Asher Falls. I really hope that sometime in the future things will come to light, but I am a bit doubtful. I wanted to know more about the Asher history, their sins, why almost no one bore an heir yet and how the old cemetery ended up under the water.

I do love how the story progressed and we learned a lot about Amelia. Even if Devlin was absent in this book, his present was still strong through Amelia’s inner battle. There was a brief romance between Amelia and Thane Asher, I wanted to feel angry about it because of Devlin, but I knew there was a reason and in the end it was all going to work itself out.

I cannot wait for book 3, I feel like I should take a break and maybe read something else, but I have been so drawn to this series it is really hard to put down. Especially with the mood setting weather that we are currently experiencing.

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Review: The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

Posted October 4, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 22 Comments

Review: The Restorer by Amanda StevensThe Restorer by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen, #1
Published by Mira on April 19th 2011
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 376
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

My name is Amelia Gray. I'm a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I've always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.
It started with the discovery of a young woman's brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I've been hired to restore. The clues to the killer, and to his other victims, lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I've vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

With the anticipation of Halloween on the horizon, I’ve been in the mood lately for some creepy ghostly reads. After witnessing several of my blogger friends review a new book by Amanda Stevens, I knew I had to go back to the beginning.

So I was introduced to The Restorer and Amelia Gray. Amelia grew up most of her life centering on graveyards. She also has a secret, she can see the ghosts. In order to protect herself from the dead, her father had passed out a very strict set of rules that she had held on to until John Devlin stepped into her life.

A body was uncovered in the cemetery that Amelia had been commissioned to restore and John thinks that there might be something in her pictures or her knowledge that might have them uncover the killer.

I absolutely enjoyed every bit of this book. It was perfect for the cold, gloomy, rainy days that we just got and made it impossible to put it down. The weather here, coupled with the writing of Stevens has made the book very atmospherically heavy. It added to the mood and the chills and thrills.

I liked Amelia and felt her character was very true to self for someone that was just tossed into a very different world. The connection between her and John makes me especially giddy for the upcoming books. John is haunted, he has his ghost, literally that follow him. It’s against Amelia’s rules to get attached to anyone who is haunted, but an unexplained attraction has both of them pulling towards each other. It complicates things, and really makes me wonder how it will play out.

The book was written well, the mystery was a bit dark, but it was the unexplained and the surroundings that gave me the most chills. I figured out who the killer is half way through the book, but it was still interesting to follow the characters as they unravel the secrets of the death and break the code that the killer keeps sending through the cemetery.

I felt like there was a bit of mystery left in the air about the order that was questioned in the book, and wonder if it is something that will become important or get addressed in other books.

I’ve been very happy lately, just sitting back and picking up books I’ve been in the mood to read, even if they are not ARCs. I’ve been impressed with Steven’s first book and already have the second one waiting to be read.

Memorable Quotes

“Don’t look at him.”

I turned in surprise. “You see him, too?”

“Yes, I see him. Now get back to work.”

“But who is he-”

“I said don’t look at him!”

“Do you mind?” Devlin cut in. “If it’s not too much trouble, I’d like to hear your initial assessment.”

“Of Amelia?” Regina gave me a wink. “Lovely girl, handled herself well on camera.”

“I’m talking about the remains,” he said drily.

“Oh, him. Dead as a doornail.”

“Why did you come here tonight?” I asked softly. “Earlier, you said I need to distance myself from the investigation.”

“And I meant it.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Because I can’t stay away.”

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Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Posted October 1, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 43 Comments

Review: The Hating Game by Sally ThorneThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Series: Stand-alone
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:5 Stars
Heat:three-flames

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.2) A person’s undoing3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Oh my god! This book is so good, so good you guys. I picked the book up on the whim when the bloggers that I trust and follow, sang such high praises for it. I knew I had to try it out, and although it started out a little slow for me at first, after 20% I was completely in love.

Anyone who has ever loved romance should give this one a try. Sally Thorne absolutely nails it with her humor and talented story telling. The writing was hysterical, smart, emotionally charged, filled with snarky banter and sexual tension.

Lucy and Josh are both assistants to two CEO’s of two book companies that had merged, Bexley and Gamin. Josh is a Bexley through and through, he is well dressed, he appears well calculated and the staff is scared of him. Lucy is a Gamin, and is quite a bit of a dork – which was one of her redeeming qualities as the book went on. She collects Smurfs, she is from a family who owns a strawberry farm, she is nice and also a bit easy to push around. They share an almost antagonistic relationship that had me laughing through the book.

I will be honest, I didn’t like Lucy as much as I wanted to, but maybe it was because I felt a little protective of Josh – especially when his intentions and feelings were starting to become a bit clearer. I was a little worried that Lucy might be a bit mentally challenged, because I didn’t understand how she kept failing so helplessly at picking these said signals up. I really, really wish Thorne had implanted Josh’s point of view in this book, I think it would have been an A+.

Or as Lucy would have put it;

“I want to know what’s going on in your brain. I want to juice your head like a lemon.”

Her dorky personality did redeem her character for me later on, because it was something I could relate to. But the number of times she wouldn’t stop talking about Josh’s body felt at times over the top.

I loved Josh. I wanted to know what was his story. Josh came off a bit damaged, which was clear by the way he handled himself around Lucy – he didn’t know how to. The moments that Josh did expose himself were sweet, raw and left me with a lot of feeling.

Nor did I understand or fully believe the issue between Josh and his dad and how Lucy handled it, but that’s just a small gripe.

I can’t describe the amount of love I felt for this book, it was nearly perfect. It is now my top favorite read of 2016. I loved the banter, I loved the tension, I loved the hate to love romance. I literally went two days with only a few hours of sleep because I couldn’t stop reading this late into the night. I didn’t want it to end, even if the ending was sweet and near perfect. I am feeling like I am not going through a book withdrawal. This was Thorne’s debut novel and she blew it out of the water and earned herself another loyal fan! I already cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next, even if I am going to miss Josh oh so much.

If you love romance, I highly recommend you read this book if you have not yet. It is worth it. Just take the plunge and let it surprise you, because this book is big must read.

Memorable Quotes

But Clark Kent is such a darling; all bumbling and soft. Joshua is hardly the mild-mannered reporter. He’s a sarcastic, cynical, Bizarro Clark Kent, terrorizing everyone in the newsroom and pissing off poor little Lois Lane until she screams into her pillow at night.

“What are you imagining? Your expression is filthy.”

“Strangling you. Bare hands.” I can barely get the words out. I am huskier than a phone-sex operator after a double shift.

“I love strawberries. So much, you have no idea.” He sounds so kind that I feel a wave of emotion. I can’t open my eyes. He’ll see I have tears in them.

“My evil brain is thinking about grabbing some dinner soon.”

“Mine is thinking about strangling you.”

“I’m thinking if we plunge off a bridge I won’t have to go to this wedding.” He looks at me, perhaps only half joking.

 

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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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Review: My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

Posted September 26, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 41 Comments

Review:  My Kind of Wonderful by Jill ShalvisMy Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis
Series: Cedar Ridge #2
Published by Grand Central Publishing on December 22nd 2015
Genres: Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
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.

UNEXPECTED AND UNDENIABLE...
Bailey Moore has an agenda: skiing in the Rockies, exploring castles in Europe, ballroom dancing in Argentina. Now that she has a second lease on life, she's determined not to miss a thing. What she doesn't realize is that item #1 comes with a six-foot-one ski god hot enough to melt a polar ice cap. She doesn't want to miss out on him either, but Hudson Kincaid isn't the type of guy to love and let go. And as gorgeous as Cedar Ridge is, she's not planning to stick around.
As head of ski patrol at his family's resort, Hud thinks he's seen it all. But never has he run into someone like Bailey. She might look delicate, but her attitude is all firecracker. And her infectious joy touches something deep within him that he's been missing far too long. Now he'll just have to convince Bailey to take a chance on her biggest adventure yet . . . something rare and all kinds of wonderful.

Guys! I cannot believe that as a lover of romances that it took me this long to pick up a Jill Shalvis book. No, really, I am quite embarrassed. Once I read My Kind of Wonderful, which of course I was unable to put down, I have crowned Jill my new Queen of Romance.

Jill’s writing in romance is exactly what I crave.  I love the humor, I love the banter and I absolutely adore the quirky characters that dig their way into your heart.

Bailey and Hudson were the main characters of this book, though the rest of the Kincaid clan pops up in the book – with the exception of Jacob. Hudson was wonderful, even if he does come with a bit of baggage. He feels terrible about what happened between him and his brother Jacob and feels completely and utterly responsible for his mother and her state of mind. Between taking care of his mother, worrying about the whereabouts of his twin brother and taking care of the resort – Hud has no space for anyone in his heart.

Bailey was fantastic. She is a cancer survivor who has a list of things she wants to do in life, especially since she is now free of cancer. She is hired to paint a mural for the Kincaids at the resort, where she runs into Hud. The attraction between the two is crackling, and no sooner do they start a small fling, that quickly develops into something more, a lot more than either of them are willing to admit.

This book was quite a ride. The interaction between the Kincaid clan alone just made the entire journey worthwhile. The way they pick on each other is both endearing and amusing. There is a lot of love there, even if for the most part they are all step-brother’s and sisters. The Kincaids significant others fit into the series perfectly. The book made me laugh, it brought joy into my heart and had me completely hooked. I am now looking forward to more from Jill and I will be reading the books that I have missed out on.

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Review: Strange Girl by Christopher Pike

Posted December 14, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review:  Strange Girl by Christopher PikeStrange Girl by Christopher Pike
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon Pulse on November 17th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 413
Format: Paperback
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.

From the moment Fred meets Aja, he knows she’s different. She’s pretty, soft-spoken, shy—yet seems to radiate an unusual peace. Fred quickly finds himself falling in love with her.
Then strange things begin to happen around Aja. A riot breaks out that Aja is able to stop by merely speaking a few words. A friend of Fred’s suffers a serious head injury and has a miraculous recovery.
Yet Aja swears she has done nothing.
Unfortunately, Fred is not the only one who notices Aja’s unique gifts. As more and more people begin to question who Aja is and what she can do, she’s soon in grave danger. Because none of them truly understands the source of Aja’s precious abilities—or their devastating cost.
Love Aja or hate her—you will never forget her.
In Strange Girl, number-one bestselling author Christopher Pike has created the rarest of novels—a love story that swings between a heart-pounding mystery and a stirring mystical journey.

I have to admit, from the moment I read the blurb, I was sold on this book. A girl with special abilities that carry an unimaginable cost? Yes, please.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. I was so hooked on the blurb I couldn’t wait to read it, but it ultimately fell a little short for me.

I want to talk first about what I liked about the book. I really liked that it felt like it was written as a sort of memoir told of the events of Fred’s life and how he met the mysterious girl named Aja. I really loved the way it reads. The idea behind the story was interesting enough, just I guess not what I expected and honestly I liked Aja more than I liked Fred.

There was romance in the story, but it did nothing for me. Honestly, it was kind of meh. Maybe it was because I honest to goodness disliked Fred. I did not like his attitude, I did not like some of the things he said or thought about Aja and overall I just did not love his character. I just could not connect on the romance, it was sudden, it was odd, and overall a bit boring.

The plot was interesting, but I felt like there was a dig at religion in a way. This is a YA novel I felt like that could have been left out of it.

The story progressed quickly, characters offered up the info quickly. Fred was annoying and boring, and flew off the handle way too easily. Honestly, I felt like the author was bored with his own writing because the twist that was added at the end felt out of place and so random my head was spinning. (Also, someone watches too many action movies – cough)

There was an interesting take on people being selfish and greedy, especially in the end and what it cost. I wanted to throttle the character for asking Aja for what she did, I did not think it was fair, it was greedy, and I guess a bit part of the human nature.

I wanted to love this book, I did and I tried, but it just fell quite a bit short with me. I did give it three stars because I did enjoy it, to an extent. Just some things did not work for me

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Review: Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Posted February 16, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 2 Comments

Review:  Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan MeissnerSecrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
Series: Stand-alone
Published by NAL on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 386
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: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.


She stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see…

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden--one that will test her convictions and her heart.
1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, one million children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed…

The moment I saw that Susan Meissner wrote another book, I knew I had to have it. Last time I read one of her books I fell completely in love with her elegant writing and storytelling and found myself falling in love all over again. She is one of many authors that keep my interest with historical fiction alive and why I keep coming back to this genre over and over again.

The story mostly follows a 15-year-old girl Emmy Downtree, her story told by Isabel McFarland when a young scholar comes to interview the elderly woman in hopes of learning some secrets about the war. Emmy has big dreams, and all she really wants is to find love and acceptance from her mother, for her to be proud of Emmy. She loves to draw wedding dresses, so when she get’s a job at a wedding dress shop, it feels like a dream come true. When her boss informs her that she knows a man who is willing to look at Emmy’s brides and could offer her an apprenticeship, Emmy can’t believe her luck. Luck, that unfortunately soon starts to run out. When the war escalates, Emmy’s mother signs both of Emmy and her half-sister Julia to evacuate London and find refuge in the country side. What happens next changes both of the girl’s life forever…

Such an emotional, riveting tale about love, lose, hope and perseverance. I found myself glued to page after page, immersed in the fantastic storytelling by Meissner. Emmy was just a young girl who thought she was doing the right thing, who just wanted to make her dream come true. In turn she watched her entire world crumble into pieces when the blitz hit and she found herself losing everything that has ever been important to her. I don’t want to dig into the story as much as I want to talk about it more with a fear of revealing a little too much. I did find myself irritated by Emmy’s reckless behavior, I found it selfish and one-sided, but I understood that she was just a young girl who was looking to make her mother proud. In hopes that Emmy would never feel like she had ruined her mother’s life, she wanted to show her that she could do something good with hers.

I found myself in tears by the end of the book. Everything that left me with questions midway through did get answered at the end of the book. Luckily there was closure, or else I am not sure how I would have done without it. I wanted to know what became of Emmy and how she coped with the hand that was dealt to her. How she managed to get through with losing so much in so little time. Her tenacity and ambition to make things right were inspiring, so was the fact that she had a hard time giving up. The 15-year-old girl had to grow up fast during the blitz and become a strong and independent woman.

I could have just hugged this book after reading it. Enjoyed it immensely, glad I gave it a shot and hope to see more from Susan Meissner soon.

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