These ‘about me’ sections, or even sections that inform you about blogs, have never been my forte. Much to my chagrin, I was never taught the unwritten rules of what you are supposed to say. The links at the side of the blog – Twitter and Goodreads, for example – are liable to tell you more than I could ever say in words.
Mostly, this will be a book blog. I read a lot, and I love to share my views on my most recent reads. I try to read a little bit of everything, but if you look closely you’ll notice I will occasionally become obsessed with one specific genre for a short period of time. Old books, new books, yet to be released books – I read them all. If you’re an author looking for advance readers or just wish for more reviews of a book you’ve already released, please feel free to contact me. There is a contact form at the side of my blog – if you scroll down below the Twitter and Goodreads sidebar you will find it – so drop me a message and I’ll be sure to get back to you in double time. After all, finding new authors is what makes the book world go around.
Thanks for taking your time to read this. With a little bit of luck, you will find my blog much more interesting than this mundane introductory section.
Thursday, 27 April 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think Nikki Ashton may have broken me this time.
Earlier this year, I read Nikki Ashton’s ‘Roman’s Having Sex Again’. I loved it. In fact, I came to enjoy it so much more than I’d initially anticipated. Thus, I knew I needed to read more of her work. A month later, I picked up ‘I Wanna Get Laid By Kade’, which Nikki Ashton wrote with Victoria Johns. Again, I was in love. In fact, I’ve gone on the recommend it to quite a few people. Fast forward another month and I jumped into yet another brilliant read by Nikki Ashton. Box of Hearts had all the trademarks of the prior two books I picked up, and yet was so much more at the same time. If I hadn’t already planned to pick up all of Nikki Ashton’s work, this would have been the book to convince me. Honestly, this story is a thing of beauty. I’m an emotional wreck after finishing it, and such a thing very rarely happens to me.
Box of Hearts is deeply emotional in so many ways. It is so much more than a simple tale of second chance love. It’s a story of finding your place in the world; it’s a story of trust; it’s a story of family; it’s a story of redemption. In so many ways, it’s a very real story. To label this as a mere ‘second change love’ is an injustice. There are countless second chance love stories out there, but none have ever hit me as hard as this one. There are so many beautiful aspects to this story, so many things I wish to speak about, and yet I fear I will not be able to cover it all no matter how lengthy this fangirl of a review becomes. Nevertheless, I will try to cover the main things.
The story begins reading very much like a soap opera. We have wedding drama followed by a drastic life change. It was wonderful to read, yet this entertainment high quickly turns into something so much more serious once our female lead moves overseas. Whilst her heart may be bleeding in many ways, she is soon pulled into the lives of those on the Connor Ranch, a family filled with sorrow. Despite the dark cloud following them around, the family truly is a thing of beauty. If you’ve read Roman’s Having Sex Again, imagine Roman’s family but with less crazy. They’re so close; they have their ups and downs; but no matter what happens they come out stronger. I loved each and every character, and I was quickly pulled into their individual stories.
The award for best character, however, has to go to the child. Addy is a truly wonderful character. Yes, I loved our romance leads – but Addy added that little something extra to the story. The deep emotions experienced by the child and how her emotions impact those around her… well, you have to read it to believe it. Nikki Ashton has done a wonderful job at pulling at heartstrings through this child. The emotional depth for a young character that would often be overlooked in such stories made Box of Hearts a thing of beauty.
As I said, though, I loved all the characters. Our leads had such wonderful chemistry, and despite the constant push and pull (something I’m not usually all that crazy about) I was rooting for them. They were both such real characters that worked beautifully together. They both went through so much development throughout the story, and Nikki Ashton does a wonderful job of showing this. I’m positive, at certain moments in the story, there was a fist squeezing my heart, as the emotions that were brought about by the development of a certain character left me feeling so much more than I usually do.
Don’t worry, though, the story isn’t just desperate emotional moments that will leave you with a trembling bottom lip. There are plenty of amusing moments to be seen as well. A certain character in particular will leave you giggling, with Nikki Ashton ensuring her usual light-hearted eccentric family member makes an appearance. It’s not just the two ends of the spectrum – the heart-breaking moments and the laughter – as we experience everything that falls between the two. Throughout, Nikki Ashton manages to hit upon every possible emotion.
There’s no denying it, the book left me an emotional wreck. It was a truly beautiful read, and I cannot wait to see what comes next for this series. I’m so excited to see more of this family, and I’m positive Nikki Ashton will reach all new heights with it.
Despite how much I loved it, however, I couldn’t quite bring myself to give it a five star rating. I’m super harsh with my five star ratings – I know this, and I keep meaning to change, yet I never do make the change that is needed. In my mind, my five star ratings are the elite of the elite, meaning I spend all my time looking for little things to prevent me from handing it out. Thus, whilst I managed to find that little thing, I’m sure many will be able to overlook it and hand out that five star rating. For me, though, this is just a very strong four-point-five read.
What was that little thing that prevented me from rounding the book up to the five star rating? For me, I found a certain character’s story to be a bit too predictable. Although I was ever so slightly off with the specifics, I knew how the story of one of the characters would play out and how this would have a massive impact upon the overall story. From almost the first scene in which this character appeared, I worked out what kind of role they would be playing in the overall story. Whilst it was a vital aspect of the story, and it did play in well, I found myself disappointed in how obvious this turn of events seemed to be.
Nevertheless, I positively adored this one. A truly beautiful read, one I certainly recommend you go ahead and read.
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book grabbed my attention because it mentioned two of my favourite things in romance novels: Beauty and the Beast inspiration (I can never say no to something that speaks of a Beauty and the Beast style story) and shifters (they’re my go-to fantasy creature in romance, the one thing I never grow bored of). Thus, through seeing the two thing sitting side-by-side in the synopsis, I knew I needed to give this one a read. It was screaming out for me to read it.
I’ll admit, despite how pulled in I was, a part of me was tentative. I love long detailed stories, and find myself rather nervous when entering a story that is completed in a mere handful of pages. I shouldn’t prejudice such stories, and yet I always fear that a book I can complete in under half hour will fail to leave me with the same kind of feelings that a tome that takes me hours to read will. Fortunately, Beauty in Winter managed to provide me with another example of how such a short story can fill you with so much. In fact, it’s probably one of my favourite romance reads of this length. Despite completing this book in well under half an hour, I experienced so much throughout.
The characters were a lot of fun. The romance was steamy. There were many emotions experienced. Most importantly, for me, was that the story provided something more than sex scenes. Yes, it made up the majority of the book – however, there was also a story. Oftentimes, I find the story gets loss within all the body on body action, but such was not the case with this one. Although you knew where it was going, even though there were no surprises to be found, this one managed to give a fulfilling story.
Honestly, I enjoyed it so much. Despite being happy with the story, a part of me (as always with stories of this length) wishes it had been longer. Not that it wasn’t wonderful, oh no. My desire for the story to be longer has nothing to do with the story being lacking. Rather, I feel as though this story had the potential to be even more wonderful. I could imagine it as a truly amazing full-length novel. It really was amazing considering how short it was, and I can only imagine the kind of beauty that would be found if this story was made into something more.
Overall, a truly wonderful quick read.
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Wednesday, 26 April 2017
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Engadine Aerie is the fifth book in the Hardy Durkin Travel Mysteries series, although it works perfectly fine as a standalone novel. Personally, I read it as a standalone novel. Although there were numerous references to events that had clearly occurred in the prior books, it was done in such a way that you were never left with questions of how it related to the current storyline. I do have questions, though, but these are more so questions because I now wish to go and give the prior books in the series a read. I want to know more about Hardy Durkin and the mysteries he has been pulled into whilst travelling.
If I’m so interested in giving the prior books a read, if this book has left me with such a strong desire to read more of the series, why did I give it a three star rating? It’s a valid question. Note that this book is more of a three-point-five rating. Although there were points where I considered giving this book a four star rating, I couldn’t quite bring myself to do so for the entire book. It has left me with the filling that other work by the author could easily earn a four star rating from me, though.
Engadine Aerie is a story rich with detail. The setting is easily brought to life and the history involved in the story is vivid. If I were rating this book purely on the research that went into it, I would have to give top marks. Honestly, words cannot begin to describe how well done the research is. It’s something you need to experience to believe.
As wonderful as this was, however, I also found it to be a bit of a downfall for the story. As stated, the vividness was wonderful, but at times it took the attention away from the overall story. A large section would suddenly appear that was in relation to giving us history, and it pulls you from the mystery of the book. I really enjoyed all of the knowledge, yet I wish it had been placed within the story a bit better. To put it simply, it was jarring to suddenly have masses of texts that did not move the characters forward. I’m very much a person who loves it when characters are constantly on the move, and the knowledge based sections pulled me away from the characters.
After all, the characters are wonderful. We have a wonderful cast of characters, a diverse cast. You’re pulled into the worlds of so many characters, there is so much going on that you want more from each of them. They’re all very real characters, with the story allowing their characters to grow in so many ways. One thing I really liked was the way in which we got to see the everyday aspects of the characters, we got to know the little details, even for the characters who weren’t quite central to the story.
I also enjoyed how there were multiple aspects to this story. There was one big mystery and many smaller aspects. I’ve been left with some questions about certain things, but as a whole I was pleased with the way things played out with this one (even if serendipity seemed to play a vital role in some of the information being found out). Compared to other stories where there are multiple mystery elements going on, this one was rather short – and whilst I would have liked for it to be a bit longer, whilst I would have liked more time wracking my head around the mystery, things did come together nicely.
Overall, it was an interesting read. Despite the three star rating, I did enjoy this one and I am interested to read more in the series.
As a final note, I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to advance read Engadine Aerie.
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Tuesday, 25 April 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
To Live To Die, the first Thelonious Mitchell story, was a deeply emotional read. It touched upon a very real topic, it gave so much depth, and as a whole sent a very deep message. Despite this, I couldn’t quite bring myself to give it a four star rating. It had potential yet little things prevented me from going all the way – namely, it felt as though things were told rather than shown.
Fortunately, The Chosen Path massively improved upon this point. Whereas the first book told you how things are, in this one we are also shown how things are. We get to gauge emotions, and we get to experience things alongside the characters. Thus, that little thing that prevented me from giving a four star rating in the first story was gone in this one. The Chosen Path easily earned a four star rating.
As with the first book, The Chosen Path is a very quick read. Depending upon your reading speed it is possible to complete this one in under an hour. As with the first book, though, the length of the story fails to influence the emotional depth of the book. The Chosen Path has just as much emotional depth as To Live To Die, yet it is a very different kind of story. The Thelonious Mitchell stories seem to be snapshots of our main character’s life, and in this one we get to see another turning point. In this one we deal with the big ‘l’: love.
I’m always tentative when deeply emotional reads try to deal with love. I find, more often than I’d like, the story slips into clichés. The emotional depth often vanishes as the author tries to ensure a happily ever after, as the author tries to fit in those mind blowing scenes we see in the movies. Fortunately, Jason Hershey does not fall victim to the traps. The Chosen Path remains a deeply emotional read about growing up, giving us a sensitive read about love whilst staying realistic. I’m so glad to see an author approach the topic in the way Jason Hershey has – not everything is rainbows and butterflies when it comes to real life, and Jason Hershey demonstrates the good and the bad side by side. Honestly, all the marks right there for writing such true to life fiction.
One thing everyone should know before entering this read, however, is that it ends on a cliff-hanger. The story of Thelonious Mitchell has more to come, and this one will leave you curious as to what exact choice our main character has made this time. I’m so excited to see what the third story brings. Whilst I’m not usually a massive fan of stories where the life of the character seems to be shown in snapshots, I’m finding it works perfectly with this one. Jason Hershey writes with such emotional depth that you cannot help but fall in love with the main character and get wrapped up in his life.
Bring on the third book, I say!
As a final note, I would like to thank the author for allowing me to read this book in exchange for a review. It’s very much appreciated, and I cannot wait to see where you take your story from here.
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My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Gas up the Jet, Baby is a novella in the Love On series, although it’s advertised as working perfectly fine as a standalone. As a standalone read is how I read the book; however, after reading, I was left with the feeling that I would have enjoyed the story much more if I had read the prior two books in this series. Despite how easy it was to understand the characters, I didn’t have quite the appreciation for the referenced events as I would have had if I’d read the prior books. Thus, I suggest a bit of tentatively if you plan to read this as a standalone novel – it may work well alone, but it’s not quite the level of singularity as I usually like in my series spin-off novellas.
Although I tried to prevent my lack of knowledge from affecting my enjoyment of the story, I found it did in quite a few ways. References went over my head; the bonds between characters didn’t feel as strong as they probably would to those who have read the entire series; assumptions were made. It was a lot of little things that influenced my enjoyment, and yet I found these little things did add up.
Despite this, it was an interesting story. I admit that it didn’t quite grab me in the way I hoped it would – things seemed to happen too fast, it seemed to be a case of telling rather than showing, and I would have liked it if the story had a bit more depth than the events simply being – yet there was enough in the story to keep me entertained. There was romance and there was a bit of suspense. Throughout I was interested to see where things would be going, and as I worked further through the book I found events reached a higher point than I’d originally believed due to more being added than the synopsis had left me expecting.
Overall, an okay standalone read. As I’ve stated many times, it’s probably best if this novella is read in the context of the entire series.
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When my brother and his problems had me coming back to Stales, my hometown, I was scared not just for my twin’s health, but also because I knew I’d run into Law, my bear-shifting ex and the sheriff of Stales.
Our breakup hadn’t been grisly, but after nearly two years, the thought of seeing him again had everything tightening in me because … I still loved him.
But that was the past, and I knew I had to move on, right?
Brittin was the only woman I would ever love. She was it for me, even if she broke it off because of my domineering ways. I screwed up when I lost her, and I spent the next two years regretting it. But she’d wanted space, and when she left for the city, I let her.
But now she’s back, and it’s my chance to show her I can give her everything she wants. It’s my chance to show her I can be the man she deserves.
I just hope I haven’t let too much time pass, because not having Brittin in my life is a fate worse than death.
Warning: This short story features a growly bear shifter, and a stubborn heroine. Bear With Me was previously published under the title “Yes, Sir” and was included in the Cuffed and Claimed anthology. It has since been revised and re-edited, but the story itself is the same.
My bear wanted out, wanted to claim our mate right now. But I told myself I needed to go slow. After all the shit we’d been through over the years, and the fact I’d let her walk away from my own arrogant, demanding attitude, I had to make things right. I had to show her that I knew I’d fucked up.
I had to show her even a bear could make love, could admit he was wrong.
But I liked the rough kind of sex, the kind that had my female submitting to me. And Brittin had been such a perfect submissive. I wasn’t into the whole BDSM scene, but the occasional spank, the random restraining … yeah, that got me off.
But only with Brittin.
I only wanted to do that with her. Only her.
“Tell me you want this,” I growled against the side of her throat. I just stood there with her pressed against the wall, my body pinning her, making her submit to me. “Tell me, Brittin.” I ground my cock against her belly, wanting her to tell me, wanting her to feel how hard I was for her.
“Tell me you’re mine, baby.”
“You just think things can be patched up?” She breathed the words out.
She was mine. Only mine.
I wouldn’t let her go.
“No, I don’t think things can just be erased, but I want to show you what we used to have. I want to show you how good it was.”
She closed her eyes and moaned. “I know how good it was, Law.”
I said again, loving hearing her say that.
“I want this,” she breathed out.
I ground my dick into her harder. “Say my name, baby. I want you to tell me how much you want this. I want you to tell me that it was a mistake we stayed apart.” It was my fault just as much as it was hers; I’d stayed away. “Things can be different now, Brittin. I can be a better male to you.” I pulled back and looked at her. She looked drugged right now.
“This might be a mistake…”
My heart fucking stopped.
“But I want this, Law. I want you.”
I growled out low, my bear pushing for supremacy.
“I want you to make me yours again. Lord help me, but I want things to be different than before.”
I stared into her eyes. “You’re mine, and I’ll never let you go. Not again. That was the worst damn mistake I’ve ever made.”
She licked her lips. “This is insane,” she whispered. “But fuck me, Law. Fuck me like you’ve been aching for me this entire time.”
“I have, baby.” I leaned forward and ran my tongue up the length of her neck. “Tell me this doesn’t feel good.” I gently bit the spot where I used to all those years ago.
“It would be a lie if I said that,” she whispered, and I groaned in approval.
I rested the tip of my nose right on the side of her neck and inhaled. Yeah, she smelled the same.
So. Fucking. Good.
“It’s only ever been you, baby.” She gasped after my words. “I haven’t been with another female since you. And I don’t want anyone else.” I leaned back and looked into her eyes.
“I haven’t been with anyone else, Law,” she whispered, her eyes wide.
“Are you surprised, Brittin? Did you really think anyone else would compare to you?”
She licked her lips, and I watched the act. “I didn’t want to think about that.”
I lifted my gaze to look into her eyes. “Once we start, I won’t stop. I can’t. Too much time has passed, and I don’t want to waste another second.”
She parted her lips and sucked in a breath.
I leaned in so close our lips were almost touching. “Tell me you want this, and that you want more than my cock filling you.”
She didn’t answer for long seconds, and I wanted to tear through my skin to get the answer.
“Fuck me.” She pulled me close and slanted her lips on mine. “Let’s just take this one step at a time,” she whispered against my lips.
She was mine, and I wouldn’t let her get away again.