Friday, January 31, 2014

Snowbound with the CEO by Shannon Stacey

Snowbound with the CEO by Shannon Stacey
Carina Press
Publication Date:  November 4, 2013
Date Read:  January 28, 2014

I would have to rate this short story 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I love Shannon Stacey's writing and this story was no exception but I found myself wanting a little more out of this short story.  Of course, workplace romances really do not peak my interest either but since I love Shannon Stacey I thought I would give this one a try.

Rachel is at a hotel resort with her employer, Adrian Blackstone, for a very important meeting with a client.  The weather takes a bad turn and not only does the client not make the meeting but the roads are closed and the pair is snowed in and cannot leave.  They have both been attracted to each other and one thing leads to another and that attraction is acted upon.  After the weekend, they return to their home and their normal routine.  The pair find that they want more and they make it happen giving readers the Happily Ever Ending that most romance readers enjoy.

The story was believable but I would have liked to have seen a little more of the couple falling for each other (by which I do NOT mean having more sex).  It almost seemed like they fell into bed together and emerged completely in love.  I do understand that they already knew each other and harbored secret feelings for each other but everything seemed rushed to me.

I did enjoy the story and would recommend it to any romance reader.  It is the perfect length to read in less than a couple of hours with nice chapter breaks.  I would also encourage any reader that enjoys romance to try one of Shannon Stacey's works. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date:  January 28, 2014
Date Read:  January 30, 2014

This book is a perfect example of how to end a series.  While I am extremely sad to come to the end of Cat and Bones adventures, I applaud Ms. Frost for the timing and manner with which this series was wrapped up. 

I loved this book and give it an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars.  I have read all of the books in the Night Huntress World and was incredibly sad to hear that this would be the last Cat and Bones book.  The world that has been created in this series of books has intrigued me from the start.  I would recommend that these books be read in order.  I do believe that Ms. Frost plans to continue writing books about some of the characters found in the series and I am looking forward to reading those....who knows maybe we will even see a guest appearance of Cat and Bones at some point.

Cat is told by her uncle that something may be wrong with her former co-workers.  After a visit to the compound, Cat and Bones discover that something is most definitely wrong and it is apparent that Madigan has something up his sleeves.  It turns out the Madigan is trying to build the perfect killing machine through genetics and is experimenting in a secret compound.  With help from most of the crew that we have met in previous books, the pair rescue the men.  There are a few plot twists and turns after that but in the end everything gets worked out.

I predict that I will be pulling this set of books out to read many times over in the future.  The series ended on a high note which I am thankful for.  I can not tell you how many series that start out wonderfully have ended up leaving an unpleasant taste in my mouth and things slide downhill because the author really has nothing left to say.  I would definitely recommend this book and the entire series to anyone who like stories that fall somewhere between the urban fiction and paranormal romance genres. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Shoreline Drive by Lily Everett

Shoreline Drive by Lily Everett
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Date Read:  January 26, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

I would rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I find that I am becoming a huge fan of Lily Everett's writing.  According to Goodreads, this is the second Sanctuary Island book.  I have not read the first book and had no trouble keeping up with this book.  I have read several of Everett's novellas that were also set on the island and a few of the locations were familiar to me because of that.  

This book is focused on Merry and Ben.  Ben is the local vet who takes care of all of the animals on the island.  Merry goes into labor at the beginning of the book and Ben is there to help deliver the baby.  Merry, a single mother, is determined to be a good mother to her baby, Alex.  Ben feels a connection to both Merry and Alex and asks Merry to marry him.  The couple approach marriage as a business deal and attempt to leave emotions out of the equation but both secretly harbor feelings for each other.  Just as they start to falling in love with each other, Ben's parents show up to cause trouble for the couple.

It is no secret that I read a lot.  The basic plot of the book was one that I have read before.  What sets this book apart for the others for me was the execution of the plot.  I found the characters to be believable and well developed.  I liked the fact that the author did not rely on sex as the main vehicle for the couple to fall in love.  The sex in this book is really left to the reader's imagination.    

I would recommend this book to any romance reader.   I plan to look for future works in this series and by this author.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

2014 Net Galley Reading Challenge


Since I discovered Net Galley, I have developed a problem. I find myself requesting more books to read when I am already so far behind. I hope to work on getting caught up this year so I thought it would be fun to participate in this challenge.

I am very far behind so I am going to go with the hardcore challenge of 21+ books. I cannot wait to tell my husband that I plan to go hardcore this year!

Thank you to Ariel Avalon for hosting this challenge!
Ariel Avalon

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
Random House Children's Delacorte Press
Publication Date:  January 28, 2014
Date Read:  January 23, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

I would rate this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars.  This book was a little different that what I expected.   I love picking up a book and seeing a story told in a completely different manner than I had thought it would.  Jenny Hubbard is able to tell the story of moving on after tragedy poetically. 

Emily's boyfriend, Paul, has just killed himself with a gun in the school library in front Emily.   Her family insists upon Emily changing schools after this event so she finds herself at an all girls boarding school where Emily Dickinson once attended.  Emily tells much of what has happened leading up to this point through her poetry.  

This is a story about moving on and Emily starts to do that by the end of the book.  This book is told in third person with Emily feeling a bit distant at times.  Before I started the book, I worried that it was going to be another overly dramatic teen novel.  I was wrong.  Emily is anything but overly dramatic.  She keeps her pain to herself and tries to fit into her new school.   She is not trying to make lots of friends she just wants to keep from standing out in the crowd.  She is quiet and withdrawn and only lets some of her pain out through her poems.  I am not a big fan of poetry but the poetry in this book helps to tell the story and it was very well done.

I thought the characters in this book rang very true.  Most people find themselves going through the motions after a life changing event as we see Emily doing.  One thing that I did note in the book was that it was set in the mid 90s.  I am not sure what the rationale for this was.  The only thing major change in teens today and then is technology.   Who knows maybe the author just did not want to deal with everybody at her new school knowing who Emily was because of a you tube video.

I found this book to be very well written and I would definitely recommend it to others.  This book deals with some very tough issues and it is handled well.  I will definitely look for more from this author.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Escaping Reality (The Secret Life of Amy Benson #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

Escaping Reality (The Secret Life of Amy Benson #1) by Lisa Renee Jones
Julie Patra Publishing
Publication Date:  July 22, 2013
Date Read:  January 20, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Julie Patra Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

I am feeling lukewarm about this book.  I would have to give it 3 out of 5 stars.  There are a lot of things that I did not like about the book and a lot of things that I did like.   One thing that I really did not like was the ending.  I want to warn anyone who is thinking about reading this book that this is not a complete story.   This book just kind of stops.  If you dislike cliffhangers, then you need to just walk away....this will not be the right book choice for you.

Amy is in hiding at learns that she must immediately relocate.  On the plane to her new location she meets Liam.  Liam is attracted to Amy and starts wanting to protect her immediately.   It turns out that Liam is not only one of the sexiest men on the planet, he is also a self made billionaire.   Why is it in these books the Hero always has more money than he know what to do with AND seems to only be attracted to women who need a lot of help?!?!

Amy is a woman who needs a lot of help.  She is in hiding but is not sure who is hiding her.  She is not sure of her instructions.  She is really unsure of everything.  She is afraid that Liam could be in danger if they grow close so she tries to leave him....but she does not try all that hard.

I was glad to see that sex did not take over this book.  It is a big part of the book and if you don't like to read sex scenes then you need to step away.  Too often books become a string of loosely connected sex scenes with very little holding everything together.  That was not the case with this book.  There was a well developed plot....although nothing gets resolved the book just kind of stops. 

I am sure that book 2 picks up where this one left off but I am not sure if I will pick that up or not right now.  I will have to think about it.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lantern Lake by Lily Everett

Lantern Lake by Lily Everett
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  January 21, 2014
Date Read:  January 14, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novella.  I would rate this story a solid 4 out of 5 stars.  This is the third book in the Billionaire Bachelors trilogy.  I was lucky enough to have the chance to read all of the books in the trilogy in order but I each novella could be read as a stand alone.  The novellas do share several characters and a bet that ties everything together but the focus of the each story is the individual romance.

This story picks up at the wedding of Miles and Greta.  Miles has bet 3 of his billionaire friends that if they came to Sanctuary Island to help him get ready for the wedding they will fall in love.....or they can have his luxury helicopter.  Cooper is jolted when he spots his former love, Vivian at the wedding.  Vivian broke Cooper's heart 10 years ago.  Cooper decides on the spot to punish Vivian by seducing her and then leaving as she left him so many years ago.

Cooper soon realizes that he does not want to leave quite so soon.  Cooper and Vivian decide to work on the cabin she has recently purchased in a business deal.   After spending more time together, Cooper learns that he did know everything that happened to cause Vivian to leave so many years ago.   Vivian has been through a lot in their years apart and she eventually shares everything that has brought her to the place in life she is currently in.  The book does end with a Happily Ever After ending that most romance readers enjoy.

I would definitely recommend this book to any reader that enjoys romance.  It is a short novella and can easily be read in a couple of hours. I plan to look for future works by Lily Everett. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bonfire Beach by Lily Everett

Bonfire Beach by Lily Everett
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  January 14, 2014
Date Read:  January 13, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

I found this book to be simply charming.  This was a definite solid 4 out of 5 star read.  It was short enough to read in one sitting and told the story of Zane and Felicity quite well.

This is the second novella in The Billionaire Bachelors trilogy.  I enjoyed this story more than the first in the series, The Fireside Inn.  The first two novellas can be read as stand alone stories.  There are a few overlapping characters and scenes but nothing that would prevent the reader from enjoying these stories independent of each other.

Zane is on Sanctuary Island to help his friend, Miles prepare for his wedding.  Miles has asked Zane to help with the planning of the wedding.  Felicity has been hired as the wedding planner for the wedding.  Zane and Felicity disagree on almost every aspect of the wedding and reception at the beginning of the story, including the location for the reception.  Zane encourages Felicity to have fun with the planning of the wedding and in turn they have fun with each other.

Zane and Felicity both have emotional scars from their childhood.  I love that both of the characters are upfront with their past.  They have a lot of chemistry as a couple as they learn to compromise and trust each other.

This novella delivers the Happily Ever After that most romance readers are looking for.  I would recommend this story to anyone who loves a charming romance.  I look forward to the third installment in this trilogy and other future works by Lily Everett.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

We Wait

When I started this blog, I thought I would chronicle what it is like to watch someone you love battle cancer.  In my family's case, we have had to watch our mother do this 2 times already.  Sometimes I want to stomp my feet and scream that it is not fair....but life is not fair, I know that.

One thing that you should know if you are planning to be there for someone going through cancer is that you will be waiting...a lot.   This was my view on Wednesday last week for the entire morning while my mother was having her port put in so that we can get started with chemotherapy. 

We had a different view (but nothing any more exciting) on December 12 when she had her second mastectomy exactly 18 years to the day after her first.  Since her diagnosis in late November, I can not tell you how many hours we have spent sitting and waiting.  On December 29, we sat in the oncologist's office for over 3 hours just because he is that far behind that day....and there are so many people fighting cancer. 

We are also waiting for results from Mom's genetic test to see if she has the breast cancer gene.  Considering that this is the third time she has had breast cancer, I think that there is the definite possibility that there will be a positive result on that test.  Not only has Mom had breast cancer 3 times, she has a completely different type of breast cancer this time.  This is not a re-occurrence....this is a brand new cancer!

This week I take Mom to her first round of treatments.  Monday is the first IV antibody infusion which she will do weekly while she is undergoing chemotherapy and every 3 to 4 weeks for the rest of the year after that.  Tuesday is the first round of chemotherapy.  She will have to endure chemo 4 times according to the doctor.  That may not sound like a lot but trust is.

So now we wait. I wait to see how sick my mother is going to get this time.  I wait to see how quickly her hair falls out.  I wait to see if this might be the last time she has to fight this battle.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney

Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney
Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date:  January 14, 2014
Date Read: January 8, 2014

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Grand Central Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

I thought this book was an OK read.  I would rate it 3 out of 5 stars.  This book is Katie Heaney's memoir in which she details her romantic life.  Katie is 25 years old and has never been in a relationship or dating situation in her entire life.  The whole idea of this book kind of blows me away.  The thought of not being in any kind of relationship during high school or college is completely foreign to me and I thought it would be fun to read.

I found the early chapters of the book incredibly cute.  I loved her descriptions of the grade school crushes that I think every female remembers having (at least I do).  The author really hit home with me when she talked about her crush on Home Improvement Star, Jonathan Taylor Thomas.  I am a little older than the author but I had my own teen crush, Jon Bon Jovi, and if I am being honest.....I still have a bit of a crush on the man (shhh.....don't tell my husband!). I found the book very relate-able during the childhood and early teen years where her focus was on fitting in and making friends. 

As she grew older in the book, I found myself relating to her story less and less and growing a little bored.  Going into the book, I knew she would be dateless so there was never any surprising moments for me.  I did find some humor in the manner that she told her story but it was never the laugh out loud funny book that I had hoped it would be for me.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Something Real by Heather Demetrious

Something Real by Heather Demetrious
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
Publication Date:  February 4, 2014
Date Read:  December 1, 2013

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an advance reader edition of this book from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

I may not fit into the Young Adult category myself but I certainly enjoyed this YA novel that explores the pressures of growing up with the pressure of Reality TV. The novel begins with the introduction of Chloe/Bonnie. We first meet Chloe as she is getting her photo taken at school. She is making plans with her friends and being a rather normal teen girl. When she goes home that day, she finds that the camera crews that she thought were a thing of her past, have not only returned but their return was kept secret. Chloe grew up as Bonnie Baker, one of the stars of the Reality TV show Baker’s Dozen. The show is back and Chloe has nothing to say about it. Since the show last aired 4 years earlier, her parents have divorced and her mother has remarried. We see Chloe try to deal with the pressure of always having to worry about cameras, paparazzi, tabloids, and TV producers asking her to wear what they want and say what they. In addition, she is dealing with the normal teenage life of making friends, falling in love, and learning what she wants out of life.

As I read this book, I empathized with Chloe. Being a teenager is hard enough without a camera filming your every move. I cannot image what it would be like to live my life inside Reality TV. I am so very glad that I grew up in a time before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram….not to mention camera phones. If my high school friends had photographed and posted every crazy thing I did at that age, I am not sure that I would show my face in public even now. This book dealt with some interesting social issues. Should we really as a society sit down to watch a family’s pain while eating popcorn? Even if it is entertaining? Even if it makes us feel better about our own lives? Maybe we need to think about subjecting kids to this type of environment. Adults can make their own decisions but child have no say in whether they are a part of this type of show.

This book was well written and flowed quite smoothly. The characters were easy to relate to and the supporting characters were very well written. The only annoying thing that kept popping up in the book was the use of the trademark logo after the names of the Baker family. We understand that this family has sold their life to TV so there is no need to see the letters TM over and over again. This one flaw is easily overlooked. All in all this was a very good YA read. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars is half stars were allowed. I look forward to future works by Heather Demetrious.

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy by Sara B. Larson
Scholastic Press
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Date Read: January 5, 2014

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an advance reader edition of this book from Scholastic Press and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

I am having a really hard time deciding how to rate this book. On one hand, I love the premise of the story but I find the execution somewhat lacking. I would have to say that is a 2.5 out of 5 star read for me. I do understand that as a mother of 2 teenage girls, my daughters are the more likely targeted audience for this novel even though I read and enjoy lots of YA titles.

Alexa and her twin brother Marcus find themselves orphaned at the beginning of the book. They decide that Alexa will pose as a male, Alex, and serve in the king's army alongside her brother. If the fact that Alex is female is ever discovered, she would be forced into one of the king's breeding houses. Alex is an excellent fighter and is assigned as one of Prince Damian's guards.

The beginning of the book was not completely original as anyone who has seen Mulan knows but it was promising. I enjoyed the first 40% of the book or so although it did have some issues. The major issue was that Alex acted like a girl. How she was able to fool everyone for years is beyond me.

Then the book shifted. It almost felt like the author had a checklist that she was following on how to write a YA triangle...check. Really, was the love triangle necessary? Did it further the plot at all? The only thing that the love triangle did in my opinion is ruin any chance this book had of being enjoyable. Instead of the tough girl who will fight to stay alive and for what is right, she became the girl who just wants the boy to like her and to not hurt anyone's feelings. This love triangle seemed very forced to me and I could not for the life of me figure out how she had attracted either of the men.

The end of the book went back to having a lot of action and I felt that those scenes were where the better parts of the book. This story had the potential to be an awesome book if the author had focused on Alex, the tough survivor. I have seen this book described as a fantasy novel and I would disagree on that. Just because a book has a few castles and a little magic does not mean that it should be considered a fantasy. This book should be labeled romance because that is what it is.

I do feel that this book may have an audience but that audience is definitely not me. I do see that this is a planned series but I don't think I will be reading any future books in this series.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sunroper by Natalie J. Damschroder

Sunroper  by Natalie J. Damschroder
Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Date Read: January 1, 2013

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an advance reader edition of this book from Entangled Publishing, LLC and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

I would rate this book 4 1/2 stars out of 5. It is the final book in a trilogy and I really enjoyed it despite the fact I have not read the 2 previous books in the trilogy. The first part of the book was slow for me probably because I had a lot to catch up on that was covered in the first 2 books. The book picked up at the 30% mark and I actually had a hard time putting it down the last half of the book. Seriously, Natalie J. Damschroder where have you been hiding?

Marley is a goddess who no longer possess the typical power of a goddess. Marley now has the ability to nullify power in those who have power that is not rightfully theirs. She is trying to find the goddess supplying their male counterparts, the Numina, with power or flux. She is also trying to nullify the flux in as many of these men as she can. Once she nullifies a persons power, they are no longer able to accept power in the future.

Gage, a member of the Numina, is also looking for the goddess dealing in flux and he is looking for his brother whom he fears is caught up in it. Gage becomes an unlikely ally to Marley and they work together to stop the goddess and her influence. The pair works well together playing off of the strengths of the other. As the pair are falling for each other, Marley realizes that the power she is nullifying is changing her.

This book was very well written. The characters had a lot of depth and the chemistry between Gage and Marley was very believable and not completely over the top which seems to be the norm. I loved the paranormal aspect of the book and loved the world that Ms. Damschroder created in this trilogy. I will most definitely be reading the first two books in this trilogy and more from this author in the future.
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