Thursday 31 August 2017

Review: Sweet Sacrifice

Sweet Sacrifice Sweet Sacrifice by L.D. Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I cannot begin to explain how much I adore L.D Rose’s The Order of the Senary series. Without a doubt, it’s one of my favourite paranormal romance series. Which is saying something, when you stop to think of how only two of the books have been released thus far. It’s a sure sign you’re a goner when you’re as addicted as I am so quickly. Knowing how much I adore The Order of the Senary series, it should come as no surprise to hear I jumped at Sweet Sacrifice as soon as I had the chance.

Sweet Sacrifice is the ninth book in The Soul Mate Tree Collective. It’s a series of standalone novellas, one for each month for thirteen months. We’re promised a collection of wonderful stories, all linked back to the soul mate tree. Thus far, I have read the first three novellas in the collective. The first three novellas – Realm of the Dragon, Can’t Stop the Music, and Between Venus & Mars – were all wonderful reads. I thoroughly enjoy them all, each offering something very different. I also have the fourth novella – The Trail to Love – on my Kindle, ready for me to dive into soon. Despite having novella number four on my Kindle, I had to read Sweet Sacrifice first. L.D. Rose is one of those authors I will willing bump up my to-read list. I needed to know what happened in Sweet Sacrifice, and I needed a fresh dose of L.D. Rose.

Sweet Sacrifice is a wonderful addition to The Soul Mate Tree Collective. This isn’t just my L.D. Rose bias speaking – it’s a fact that I need to state. The story is wonderful, playing with so many of your emotions throughout. Honestly, it’s a truly wonderful read. It had the trademarks I have come to recognise as pure L.D. Rose, along with offering a range of things we have yet to experience in The Order of the Senary series. Without a doubt, this story really shows off what L.D. Rose is capable of.

If you’re a fan of L.D. Rose, you need to pick this one up. If you’re a fan of The Soul Mate Tree Collective, you need to pick this one up. If you’re new to either, you cannot go wrong with picking this one up.

Sweet Sacrifice will be a difficult read for a number of people – it is a fact people need to be aware of in advance. Our male lead has made the greatest sacrifice possible – he gave his own life to save his brothers in arms. Sometimes authors fail to hit the right tone when telling soldier’s stories, yet this one is deeply emotional. There is a certain point in this story where things become overly emotional, where the details are shared, and people need to be warned of this. Not because there is a lot of gore, but because of how heavy the emotions are. There is no denying it will play with your heartstrings.

In addition to this deeply emotional story, L.D. Rose delivers a fantastic supernatural storylines. I like to think you can never go wrong with angels and demons, but you can. There are more bad stories out there than I care to accept. Sweet Sacrifice is not one of them. The classics of angel and demon stories can be found within this one, along with enough new stuff being introduced to make the story unique. You’re quickly pulled into the supernatural world, coming to love the world building and the characters.

My favourite aspect of this story was the way L.D. Rose kept us guessing until the very end. I once read an interview where a romance author spoke of how happily ever afters are a must. Romance is escapism, the fairy tale everyone is looking for. We expect to see rainbows and butterflies. L.D. Rose had me seriously doubting this. In the back of my mind, I was cursing the soul mate tree. It had to work – it just had to. Yet L.D. Rose had me seriously worried. The tension really does build in this regard. Mix it in with all the heavy emotions involved in the overall storyline, and you’re left a tight ball of tension throughout.

Without a doubt, this was a wonderful read. I cannot recommend this one enough, as it truly is beautiful.

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Review: A Royal Apocalypse

A Royal Apocalypse A Royal Apocalypse by Louisa Lo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I positively adore Louisa Lo’s Vengeance Demon series. I was pulled in from the very start, desperate to grab the next tale whenever I can. In fact, I’m having difficulty containing my excitement as I wait for the next book to be released.

When I heard Louisa Lo had a new book coming out I had the usual mix of emotions when it comes to authors I enjoy. I was super excited, intrigued as to what the next tale would bring. I was also a bit disappointed because it was not the next Vengeance Demon tale. I know, however, that when a story needs to be told, it will be told. Mostly, however, was the excitement. After all, A Royal Apocalypse sounded truly amazing.

To boot, it was truly amazing.

Alternate histories are wonderful. There are so many paths that can be taken in these kinds of novels. With the Lady Slayalot books, we have one big change in history with many of the other elements remaining the same. We come to terms with a very difficult world, but our everyday references are consistent with what we know and love. The two are merged wonderfully, allowing you to become fully invested in the world.

Not only do we have a wonderful alternative history, we also have a great paranormal element. It is something completely new, something wholly refreshing. Our paranormal element has a feel of something we all know well – zombies – without conforming to the tropes of the creature. It is a wonderful twist, allowing for so many possibilities. It allows for everything I’ve come to expect from Louisa Lo – the mystery, the humour, and the intrigue.

As with the Vengeance Demon series, I fear I’m a goner when it comes to Lady Slayalot. There were so many element introduced in this one. We start with a leading lady I wasn’t crazy about, a main character that developed so much throughout the book and left me thoroughly in love with her. We have side characters I cannot wait to find out more about. We have events that are super interesting, twists thrown in that will leave you begging for explanations. Mysteries and histories I cannot wait to unravel. Honestly, this book has so much.

My biggest disappointed is that I cannot jump into the next book. A Royal Apocalypse is a quick read, and by the end, I was so invested in the world I found myself disappointed that I could not jump straight into book two. As soon as book two is ready, I’m diving in it.

All in all, Louisa Lo has created another series that I’m going to be following with eager anticipation.

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Review: Night Shift

Night Shift Night Shift by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Night Shift is the final book in the Midnight, Texas trilogy, and it was my favourite of the three books. In fact, for the first time in the series, there were moments when I considered giving a four star rating. Whilst there were a few four-star moments, it still wasn’t enough for me to round my rating up to four stars. At a push, I would give it a three-point-five star rating, but I wouldn’t go higher than that.

Throughout the first two books, we haven’t really been given one single story arc that we can become truly invested in. There are things happening, yes, but it is a case of bits and pieces here and there. Lots of little stories, linked only by locale. I’ve been waiting to find out how all the individual elements would come together, hoping there was something more.

Some details are explained. Some elements do come together. Some things get resolution. However, I wasn’t content with everything. There were still some things I was waiting to find out more about, still questions I needed answering. My initial feeling was contentment, but when I stopped to think, I realised I was nowhere near as happy with all of the details as I should have been. It was made to feel like a resolution through the biggest issues being given some kind of conclusion (be it good, bad, or merely predictable), yet there were quite a few little things for which I needed answers.

I think my biggest issue is that I was never really as invested in this series as I had hoped to be. I never really enjoyed the characters, I was never invested in the events, and I was merely making my way through the three books. Night Shift simply worked to bring things to a close, leaving me rolling my eyes at the predictability of some of the events and wishing other details had reached the potential they had.

Overall, this trilogy was mediocre – a way to pass the time, but not something I’ll be returning to at any point in the foreseeable future.

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Wednesday 30 August 2017

Review: Day Shift

Day Shift Day Shift by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Day Shift is the second book in the Midnight, Texas trilogy, making for a more enjoyable book than the first. Despite being a more engaging tale than book one, this book still failed to deliver the amazing read I’d been hoping to receive.

I gave book one a three star rating, despite considering it to be a two-point-five star rating. Book two is a solid three star rating. I considered amending my rating of book one down to two stars, but in the end I opted to keep it at the rounded up rating. Therefore, whilst both books one and two received a three star rating from me, there was a difference in how much I enjoyed the stories.

The first book introduced us to our small town and the inhabitants, yet we didn’t really get to know them all that well. Book two works to amend that to some degree. More information is given about characters, along with more questions appearing. For a second book in a trilogy, it hits the right spot in that regard – you want answers but you do not want all of the answers.

However, whilst it was fun to get to know some of the characters better, I feel as though it wasn’t all the book could have been. There were many elements of book one that seemed to have been pushed aside completely and forgotten about, ignored to allow new elements to develop. I hate it when this kind of thing happens in a series. I understand that there are times where certain elements are more important, but I feel as though some of the big things from book one were completely ignored.

In addition, I felt as though the book failed to deliver the promised punch. As with book one, the mystery side of the story was overly obvious. In addition to being obvious, I feel as though it failed to deliver many of the important aspects of mystery story telling. You need build up and suspense, then a big bang when the resolution becomes clear. Things simply seemed to sort themselves out – handed to us on a silver platter once someone else had played about with them, a ‘here you go, here is something I made earlier, let me tell you about it without letting you experience all the hard work involved’.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an okay read. I certainly enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the first book, yet I really wasn’t crazy about it. Truthfully, I’m glad this is merely a trilogy and not a longer series.

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Review: Midnight Crossroad

Midnight Crossroad Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Charlaine Harris is best known for her Sookie Stackhouse series, made all the more popular through the True Blood television show. I started the Sookie Stackhouse series, but I never finished them. They’re certainly on my to-read list, but I’m not sure when I will get around to them. They’re books I need to be in the mood for if I want to really enjoy them.

Midnight Crossroad is the first book in the Midnight, Texas series. It is set in the same world as the Sookie Stackhouse series, but you do not need to have read one to understand the other. References are made throughout the series, but nothing so dire that you’ll be left in the dark about what is happening. Therefore, if the Sookie Stackhouse series does not grab you but this one does, you can jump solely into Midnight, Texas.

I went into Midnight Crossroads with surprisingly high expectations. Despite the line-up of characters sounding like the start of a bad joke – imagine “a witch, a vampire, and a psychic walk into a bar…” – I was intrigued to see how the story would come together. It was advertised as a dark story, it had the supernatural suspense, and there was the promise of mystery. All in all, it seemed right up my street.

Alas, by the time I finished this book I was extremely disappointed. I kept holding out and holding out, hoping the book would amaze me, but it never quite got there. In fact, a large part of me feels I have been overly nice with my three star rating. There were many moments where I considered giving two stars. In the end, I’d say it was a two-point-five star read. Due to the promise of where the rest of the series will head, I opted to round up to three stars. As I said, though, I feel overly generous with this three star rating.

Rather than being the dark story I had been hoping for, this felt like a collection of moments from a very small town. In fact, you could have done away with the supernatural elements. If you change the supernatural elements to any unusual idiosyncrasy, it could be any tale of small town life. It wasn’t the supernatural tale I had hoped for, it was merely moments in a town that isn’t quite normal.

There was potential, I cannot deny that. Sadly, we were too caught up in the boring everyday moment details to be engaged by the possibilities. Rather than being given spooky moments, we’re given mundane routines. Rather than being given a mysterious air, we’re given a predictable collection of events.

Overall, I’d hoped for more from this one. Had I not brought all three books when seeing them on offer, I doubt I would have carried on with the series.

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Review: Letters to Lincoln

Letters to Lincoln Letters to Lincoln by Tracie Podger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Letters to Lincoln is such an emotional read. It’s a wonderful read, filled with emotions from both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in-between. It will break your heart and leave you smiling. It is one of those books that manages to feed you so many different things.

Truthfully, I’m tempted to push aside the ‘contemporary romance’ label this book has been given. Whilst it does fall into that category, to label it in such a way minimises what people can expect from it. The story is so much more than your standard contemporary romance. In fact, the romantic elements take a bit of a backseat. It is a story of life. Of living. Of moving forward. Of acceptance. Of recognition. It is one of those stories that contains so many different elements. It is deep and passionate, forcing you to experience more than you could ever imagine. It deals with family, friendship, heartache, pain, and so much more. Each time you think you’ve reached all the hard-hitting elements, something more hits you. Blow after blow is made, leaving you an emotional wreck throughout.

From the very first page, the emotions hit you, breaking your heart. You feel so many emotions for the main character even before you know her. The mere knowledge of what has happened – of the loss she experiences, of losing both her husband and unborn child – rips you apart and leaves you connected to her in ways you could never imagine. Then, as the story starts to move, you connect with her in many other ways. You feel for her, not only because of what she went through – and because of what she is still going through – but because she is a character, you can come to love. She is real, she is flawed, and she wiggles into your heart.

However, one blow is not enough. Life has a way of kicking you when you’re down. As the story progresses more and more elements are introduced. Some are predictable, yet such does not lessen the impact. You become truly invested in the story, and each new aspect leaves you wanting more. You’re left curious as to how everything comes together, you’re left wanting to know all the details. It sucks you in and refuses to let go, the good and bad (there’s a lot of the latter, be warned) leaving you unwilling to put the story down.

Throughout the drama that is our main character’s life, we have the reason for the title – letters written to Lincoln. We come to love Lincoln in the same way we love our main characters, connecting due to the intense emotions involved. There’s the continuous underlying element of who Lincoln is (although I will admit it was rather clear), and we’re constantly left loving him more and more as he grows as a person.

In the background is that love story I spoke of, hence the contemporary romance label. It is never at the forefront of the story. It is not the focus of the story. It happens, it is a message of hope, but it is not what the story is about. In fact, it was my least favourite element of the story. I enjoyed it, yet it felt a bit cheap when compared to the rest of the story. The romance elements happened very quickly towards the end of the story, never feeling quite as intense as the elements at the start of the book.

Overall, however, this was a wonderful read. A truly emotional read, a truly enjoyable read, which I cannot recommend enough. Read it – you won’t regret the decision.

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Review: Stepbrother Anonymous

Stepbrother Anonymous Stepbrother Anonymous by Aria Cole
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Stepbrother Anonymous is my third Aria Cole read. I’ll say in advance, I’m not really a fan of her work. I’ve read three of her stories as a way to say I did give her a try, but I think it is now safe to say Aria Cole is not for me. It’s too much instalove, with lust and no real story, and whilst many will enjoy this, such is not what I want in my quick reads.

I’ve read quite a few stepsibling romance novels. Before entering my first one, I was tentative. I was unsure about the taboo element. Although it is not for everyone, I’ve found I don’t mind such tales – in fact, if done well, I rather enjoy them. There is plenty of space for drama and complex emotions when done correctly, making for an addictive read.

Sadly, I found Stepbrother Anonymous to be lacking in the elements that make these kinds of tales so interesting. It was lacking in the kind of drama that makes these tales so much fun. In fact, a large chunk of the story passed before we found out about the relation between the characters. There was a small amount of debate, nothing that really set of emotional chimes, and then we jumped straight back into instaemotions saving the day.

I wanted a read that would leave me experiencing all kinds of emotions, instead I was given a few hot moments and a very lacking story.

As I said, this is a confirmation Aria Cole is not for me.

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Review: The Monarch of the Glen

The Monarch of the Glen The Monarch of the Glen by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Monarch of the Glen was a novella in the back of my copy of American Gods. My relationship with American Gods was a bit up and down – some elements I was really interested in whereas others I didn’t really care about at all. Despite this relationship, I was interested in giving the novella a try. If nothing else, I’m always happy to dive into stories set in Scotland (especially considering I was outside of Scotland when I was reading this).

Truthfully, I didn’t really care much at all for this little addition to the American Gods story. I was pretty much content with the ending of American Gods, and The Monarch of the Glen left me with more questions rather than providing me with the something more I’d been hoping to receive.

It’s a tale of what happens to Shadow after the ending of American Gods. It is interesting to receive a snippet of the ‘what comes next’, but I do not feel as though it provided me with much. It gives us more detail about the world as a whole, telling us about more than just the Gods of America, but at the same time it didn’t feel as though much happened. I wanted a big bang, I wanted something really powerful, only to be given a story I felt dragged somewhat.

In other words, I do not consider this a necessity should you have read American Gods. Whilst it does add a little more to the world, it is not be all or end all read.

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Review: Keeping The Dead

Keeping The Dead Keeping The Dead by Tess Gerritsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Keeping the Dead is the seventh book in Tess Gerrtisen’s addictive Rizzoli and Isles series, and it was another addictive read.

In all honesty, I was rather disappointed by The Mephisto Club. It wasn’t quite what I had been hoping for, and I feared the series was starting to dip. Fortunately, Keeping the Dead (or The Keepsake as it is called in other countries) returns the series to what we know and love. It may not be my number one read in the series, but it was certainly a wonderful addition to the overall storyline.

Keeping the Dead gives us something we all love: Egyptians. As someone who enjoys history and archaeology, this book gave us a lot of fun stuff to deal with. I can imagine for some people such will not be the case, but I really enjoyed the elements of this tale related to history. It made for a grizzly yet interesting tale – exactly what you want from crime fiction.

As with the prior book, however, I did find myself rather disinterested in some of the elements of personal life. My disinterest wasn’t to the degree it was in the prior book, but there were times where I wanted us to get back to the good stuff. I liked how some elements from The Mephisto club made a reappearance, but at the same time I felt it was a bit forced in regards to adding more drama to one of the personal life elements. This is just me, though, and I’m hoping I’ll be interested in these elements again in the future.

Overall, though, this was a great addition to the series. Once again, I’m super excited to dive into the next book.

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Tuesday 29 August 2017

Review: Evil at Heart

Evil at Heart Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Evil at Heart is the third book in the Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series. Part of me feared this series would become strained and repetitive, but three books in I’m of the firm belief this series is going to continue growing stronger and will keep us on our toes.

Honestly, I was amazed by the tale in this one. The usual undertones are felt throughout this story – everything we have come to love about the Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell dynamic in the first two books – yet the story has a slightly different feel to it. It was a refreshing addition to the series, a way of guaranteeing fans will continue to return.

I was hooked with this series already. Book one gave me the dark and twisted villain I had been hoping to receive. Book two gave me the damaged lead and twisted emotions I had hoped for in regards to our main character, the damage continuing to develop. Book three gave me both of those things, along with an addictive storyline that works perfectly fine as an individual tale whilst also adding a lot to the overall series.

I feel as though this book holds a number of secrets that will become more important in the later books. There were details I found truly interesting, and yet I cannot help but hope they will prove to be truly powerful elements in the later books.

Without a doubt, I think this is my favourite in the series thus far. There is such promise of where the future books will take us, and I cannot wait to dive into more of this series.

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Blog Tour: The Marooner.

The Marooner (Pirates of the Coast Book 3)
USA Today and Amazon All-Star best-selling author Barbara Devlin
Publication date: August 29th, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Lady Sophia Grace Radcliff, the epitome of a genteel Englishwoman, has no idea what awaits her, when she is summoned to her father’s study to meet her prospective husband. Given the miserable state of the family finances, she understands she will be sold to the highest bidder, to save the earldom from a humiliating declaration of insolvency, and it is a sacrifice she is prepared to accept. But the impeccably tailored garb and clean-shaven face do nothing to conceal the menacing demeanor of her intended. How will she survive a match to a man she fears?

Leland Stryker, known throughout the pirate ranks as The Marooner, for his practice of abandoning his victims on deserted islands, is a ruthless buccaneer who reluctantly signs a pact with the English, in exchange for a full pardon for past crimes. But the Crown extends no protection to the fairer sex, and it is in the sensual realm that Leland feeds his basic instincts. After he successfully negotiates the purchase of a highborn bride, he proceeds to well and truly debauch her. But something happens on the journey to America, as his wife assumes her position without complaint, and soon Leland realizes he faces his most lethal opponent. Who will win the battle of the hearts?

“How do you know of my fortitude?”  His approbation did not quite appease her.  “We had known each other not even a day, which strikes me as precious little time to make such a momentous, lifelong decision, when you offered for me.  What did you know of my character that convinced you that I was your bride?”

“While I will not deny I find you uncommonly attractive—no, you are beautiful, there is more to you than a pair of brown eyes that puts to shame the emeralds I gifted you.”  He kissed the sensitive flesh behind her ear, and she gasped.  “Rather, it was your sharp rebuke of Miss Barty and Miss Oswald that garnered my admiration.”

“So you overhead the entire conversation, including their praise of you?”  Was that why he spurned the two other ladies?  When he trailed his lips along the curve of her neck, she closed her eyes.  “Had I voiced similar interest, would you have shunned me?”

“No.”  From behind, he cupped her breasts, long fingers questing and stroking, her cambric day dress no real barrier to his touch, as he licked and suckled the skin along the edge of her jaw.  “But you would never be so vulgar or so obvious.  Rather, it was your defense of your situation that won me.  When a man seeks a wife, he wants a woman capable of standing with him, working alongside him.  They do not possess your courage of spirit, and they cannot compete with your resilience.”  Then he pinched her turgid nipples, through the fabric, and she whispered his name.  “But that is not the real reason I want you.  Because you are blessed with that which cannot be taught, and a man knows it when he sees it, thus I would have paid three times what I gave your father, to claim you.”

Before she could reply, he turned her to face him and favored her with another mind numbing, soul-stealing, full-frontal attack.  Her ears pealed a carillon of warning, as he distracted her with a familiar tactic when she wanted to talk.  Lifting her lids, she was startled to discover him watching her.

Calm and self-assured, he moved on her, and she stared into his blue gaze.  For a brief instant, what she glimpsed frightened her.  Somewhere behind the polite façade and somewhat genteel demeanor, hidden amid the gentleman’s attire lurked something dark and sinister.  Defying her attempts to seize upon some measure of recognition, a very real malevolence colored his expression, and she wished she had delayed accepting his proposal, because she still knew naught about his past.  Given her father had spent a vast deal more than modest sum of the money, she found herself trapped in another prison.

Only the gilded cage was of Sophia’s making.


To enter to win a signed paperback from Barbara Devlin, follow her on BookBub and then comment on this blog post to be entered to win!

Devlin's prose and descriptions enchant right from the opening scene. ~RT Book Reviews

This heart-fluttering, nerve-wracking, swoon-worthy romance is one for the ages! ~InD'tale Magazine

Barbara Devlin offers history, romance, and mystery all wrapped up in an engrossing story that is filled with witty repartee and ribald scenes that border on debauchery. ~IndieReader

USA Today bestselling, Amazon All-Star author Barbara Devlin was born a storyteller, but it was a weeklong vacation to Bethany Beach, DE that forever changed her life. The little house her parents rented had a collection of books by Kathleen Woodiwiss, which exposed Barbara to the world of romance, and Shanna remains a personal favorite. Barbara writes heartfelt historical romances that feature not so perfect heroes who may know how to seduce a woman but know nothing of marriage. And she prefers feisty but smart heroines who sometimes save the hero, before they find their happily ever after. Barbara is a disabled-in-the-line-of-duty retired police officer, and she earned an MA in English and continued a course of study for a Doctorate in Literature and Rhetoric. She happily considered herself an exceedingly eccentric English professor, until success in Indie publishing lured her into writing, full-time, featuring her fictional knighthood, the Brethren of the Coast.


Friday 25 August 2017

Release Day Blitz: Pucker Up.

Book: Pucker Up
Author: Sara Hubbard
Release Date: 25th August 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance/New Adult

His name was Ozzie. He was the college hockey star every girl wanted a piece of and who every guy wanted to be. But I didn’t know he existed. Not until the editor of the school paper agreed to give me a position in exchange for writing an article about him and his private life. I want the position. More than anything. It’s been part of my plan for as long as I can remember. But associating with jocks isn’t something I’m comfortable with given how unpopular and awkward I was in high school. I can’t let that stand in my way, though. I’m too stubborn for that. I devise a plan to meet him and it works better than I thought it would. I don’t tell him what I’m up to, and by the time I start to realize what all the fuss is about, it’s too late. My lie threatens to expose his darkest secrets and also break my heart.

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Meet The Author
Sara Hubbard is an author of romantic fiction. Her debut novel BLOOD, SHE READ released fall 2012 and was a NEORWA Cleveland Rocks winner and a RCRW Duel on the Delta finalist. Her first contemporary novel, Beautiful and Broken was an Amazon bestseller. Sara lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her two children (four if you count her husband and her needy labradoodle) and works as a registered nurse.
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Blog Tour: Fate.

Fate (Trinity Series #5)

by Audrey Carlan
Release Date: 22nd August
Buy Today: Fate:
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Fate (Trinity Series #5)
Not many can say they were burned by fate. I’m the exception.
Scalded figuratively, emotionally, and physically… I have the scars running down my arm, ribs, and side to prove it.
The doctors have done what they can to heal me by smoothing the abraded skin using other parts of my body. But they can only do so much. Sometimes, what can’t be seen can’t be healed.
The fire that night took more than a pound of flesh. It obliterated my talent, beauty, and most importantly, seared the connection I had with the man I loved. Sure, it was me who pushed him away, but I had my reasons. I did what any woman would do in my situation. I gave up everything so that one day he’d find happiness and peace.
Now I’ve healed a bit on the outside, and on the inside, but I still crave the one I let go. To this day he looks at me with fire in his eyes, a heat so bright in his being he glows with it. I fear the light, the flames that could consume me whole. The problem now is, he’s not mine anymore. I just may have waited too long to fight for him, for us, for a future together.
There’s only one thing I can do. Let fate decide.

Meet The Author

Audrey Carlan is a #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She writes wicked hot love stories that are designed to give the reader a romantic experience that’s sexy, sweet, and so hot your ereader might melt. Some of her works include the wildly successful Calendar Girl Serial, Falling Series, and the Trinity Trilogy.
She lives in the California Valley where she enjoys her two children and the love of her life. When she’s not writing, you can find her teaching yoga, sipping wine with her “soul sisters” or with her nose stuck in a wicked hot romance novel.
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Wednesday 23 August 2017

Review: American Gods

American Gods American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

American Gods is one of those books everyone seems to be reading. Be it because they’re a Neil Gaiman fan or due to the television series, everyone seems to have something to say about it. As I’m a ridiculously weak person when it comes to bookish peer pressure, I gave in and brought the book. I’ve been meaning to pick up a Neil Gaiman book for quite some time anyway, so I was effectively killing two birds with one stone.

I went into this story with too many expectations and no expectations at all. I went in with notions of a literary masterpiece. Almost everyone has something positive to say about this book. There are rave reviews, awards have been piled atop the book, and it just seems to be one of those books (you know, the type you simply must read because of x and y reasons). At the same time, I had no idea what to expect story wise. I created my own ideas based upon the title and blurb – powerful Gods and all-out war – but I honestly had no expectations whatsoever in regards to what kind of story I would be receiving.

Truthfully, my feelings towards American Gods are extremely mixed. There were times where I was really enjoying the story and then there were other times where I had no idea what was going on. In fact, I spent a large percentage of the story clueless as to what I was reading. For the first couple of hundred pages, if someone asked me what I was reading I would reply with ‘a psychedelic wet dream’. Actually, I would say that throughout the entire story. There were many great elements but it was always (what I came to refer to as) the psychedelic wet dream elements that stood out the most.

I mean, really, who would have thought powerful Gods would be so caught up with anatomy. When I think of Gods, I do not think of time spent in the bedroom or the kinds of antics I imagine teenage boys get up to in locker rooms. It simply jarred with my image of what Gods are. It made for an interesting and unique take on Gods, but it was not at all what I had imagined they would be. Even upon finishing the book, I cannot say whether or not I liked this take on the omnipresent creatures. As I said, it was different, but it did not match with the images in my mind.

Another thing that jarred with my preconceptions was the way in which the story played out in regards to the war. I know there is much more to war than the battlefield elements. There are politics to consider, the effect had on those at home, and many other behind the scene elements that are missed out in most stories. However, I feel as though this one didn’t really hit upon many of the real elements. You knew a war was building, and yet everything seemed to take part in the background. It is probably some meta way of storytelling – the whole ‘it is taking place where humans will not see’ – and yet I wanted to view more. It was almost as though multiple stories were fighting to take control of the tale – you had the war and you also had all the drama occurring in Shadow’s life. Whilst you were engaged in some elements, you were never as fully engaged as you could have been.

I realise I’m seeming to be somewhat overly negative about this one, but it wasn’t all bad. As I said, there were some elements that I really enjoyed. The book had moments where it was a lot of fun, yet my expectations seemed to have been set much higher than what the book delivered.

Although I was never entirely sure about the way the Gods were portrayed, I really enjoyed the way they were introduced to us. We had the old Gods – those we can easily think of, the real religions of the world – and we have the modern Gods – of the things we love, aspects of the modern world that are central to everyday life. These two opposing types of worship made for such an interesting tale. They develop slowly, giving us more and more information as the story progressed.

Moreover, the multiple layers of the story ensured you were never quite one hundred percent sure about what would come next. Some elements were quite predictable, but it was nice to watch how everything linked together. You always had some kind of question lingering in the background, you were constantly wondering about the significance of little things.

It was a wonderfully complicated tale, and I’m glad I gave it a read. Not only can I finally jump into all those American God conversations that are occurring but I also enjoyed the book. Although I did have fun, it wasn’t all I had hoped it would be. I’ll certainly be giving Neil Gaiman another try, but I had wanted something more from this one – I just feel as though there was something missing (even now I could not tell you what, all I know is that I never experienced the mind blowing phenomenon everyone else seemed to).

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Review: As Old as Time

As Old as Time As Old as Time by Liz Braswell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As Old As Time is the third Twisted Tale story, this time giving us a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I positively adore Beauty and the Beast retellings, so I was excited for this one.

With the first book in this series, the Aladdin retelling, I was super excited for the series. With the second book in the series, the Sleeping Beauty retelling, I was extremely disappointed. With this third book in the series, the Beauty and the Beast retelling, I was somewhere in the middle. I wasn’t crazy about this one. It was nowhere near as interesting as the first book in the series, but it was a lot more enjoyable than the second book in the series.

I think the reason I enjoyed the first book so much is because of the story chosen. It is extremely rare to see Aladdin retellings. It was unique, hence my level of enjoyment. With the Sleeping Beauty story, I had comparisons I could make, thus allowing me to see how it wasn’t quite up to par with other retellings. With Beauty and the Beast there are countless retellings to be found. Some retellings are amazing, others not so much. To fall at either end of the spectrum this book would need to be either mind blowing or truly atrocious – thus, it was in the middle ground.

There was so much potential for this one. There was a twist added that I have never seen before – the one to curse the Beast was Belle’s mother. In addition to this, we had a world of magic. There was more to the story than simply accepting the Beast for being a monster – throughout the same message was sent. We are to accept others for their differences – be it a beastly form, magical powers, or the prejudices you see in everyday life. It is a great message to be sending, even if the story didn’t grip in quite the way it could have.

I feel as though it wasn’t as deep as it could have been. Certain elements were glossed over whereas some dragged on for far too long. Things were moving either too slowly or too quickly. I went from being gripped to being bored. It was the potential for great things that left me reading, and it never quite delivered the powerful hit I’d been hoping it would.

Whilst the book did have some good moments, moments in which an already interesting story was given new exciting twists, it didn’t blow my mind in the way it could have. It was an okay Beauty and the Beast retelling yet it was far from being my favourite.

I may carry on with this series, should more be realised, but I’m not going to go out of my way to read them. They’re okay tales to pass a bit of time, but there are plenty of other stories I’m more interested in reading.

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Friday 18 August 2017

Review: Survivor

Survivor Survivor by Hayley Oakes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Survivor is my second Hayley Oakes read and the second Richmore book. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Condemned, I was super excited to jump into this one. I wanted more of the Devereux family and I was not disappointed by what I was given.

Survivor is a different kind of read to Condemned. Both are emotional heavy books, yet this one didn’t feel quite as intense as Condemned. Condemned pulled us into the darkness from the very start, we were constantly given glimpses of what was hidden below the surface, whereas Survivor slowly unwraps layer by layer. We’re given a wonderfully sweet story with a darkness hidden below the surface. The sweeter the story gets the closer to the surface the darkness rises. You hope the darkness never reaches the open air, and yet it slowly seeps through. Rather than being engulfed, as you are in Condemned, this one slowly seeps into you. It makes for a very different vibe, but it’s just as powerful.

It’s not just the way the story unfolds that results in a very different vibe, but the relationship between the characters is vastly different. The personalities of our characters in this book couldn’t be any more different to the personalities of the characters in the prior book, giving us a refreshingly different kind of tale. Although vastly different, they’re just as wonderful. In fact, I think I fell in love with them more. It is hard to say considering how I feel in love with the two sets of characters for vastly different reasons, but I think I may prefer this couple.

Moreover, we get to visit our favourite characters from the prior book. Although they’re not a central part of the story, we do get to spend some time with them, and it is wonderful. Survivor works perfectly fine as a standalone novel; however, if you’ve read Condemned this book allows for a beautiful insight into what the future held for the characters. It’s always wonderful when you get to see the ‘what happens next’ and this book does so without the glimpses of our Condemned characters overshadowing the drama of the Survivor characters.

Honestly, this was another beautiful read. It deals with sensitive topics with such great care, creating a deeply emotional read that leaves you addicted throughout. Condemned already had me believing I needed to pick up more Haley Oakes books, and Survivor has merely reinforced the notion. Without a doubt, Hayley Oakes is an author I need to read more of.

I cannot wait to see what comes next.

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Review: The Irish Getaway

The Irish Getaway The Irish Getaway by Siobhan Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been excited about The Irish Getaway from the moment Siobhan Davis mentioned a Kennedy Boys short story. Reading Loving Kalvin merely increased my desire to read this short story, the titbits offered leaving me super excited to find out more of the specific details. I hate to say it, but whilst I enjoyed this, it wasn’t quite all I had hoped it would be.

I have a very complicated relationship with short stories. I hate more than I love. With the Saven series, Siobhan Davis convinced me her short stories are more than worth the read. In fact, I’m impatiently awaiting the rest of those short stories. Due to this, I had high hopes for The Irish Getaway with Siobhan Davis being one of the few authors whose short stories I look forward to reading.

Truthfully, this is more of a three-point-five star read than a three star read. I did my usual debate of whether I was to round up or down, yet I’ve been in one of those weird reading moods lately where very little seems to be pleasing me in the way I hope. I’m still enjoying books, but I’m waiting on that one book that will blow my mind. I’d been hoping The Irish Getaway would be that book, and because it wasn’t I believe that is why I opted to round down. I know many fans of the series will give it a higher rating… but yeah, weird reading mood right about now.

The Irish Getaway brings Faye’s story full circle in a wonderful manner. We’re back where everything started, returning to Ireland to be giving one final tale from the perspectives of Faye and Kyler. As with the other Kennedy Boys books, this one was filled with drama and mischief. With all of the boys on vacation, things quickly get out of hand. Fun, fisticuffs, and the other ‘f’ word you can easily fill in without me saying.

I feel as though this story gave us a nice insight into many of the future Kennedy Boys books. We get to see glimpses of things that promise to blow our minds in later books. In fact, I think my preferred release order for the future books has changed. I’m even more excited for certain stories now that I’ve been giving a little bit more about some of the boys. These little tasters do plenty to build up an appetite yet nothing at all is solid – things are very much open, and there’s no telling what Siobhan Davis will bring us.

Whilst this story did give us lots of little things, I feel as though it never quite reached the one big bang that we were given with the main books in the series. It was lots of little explosions, and whilst they were lots of fun, they never really reached the intensity of the one big bang I’ve come to love in the other books. It pulled everything together well, we had some nice moments, but it didn’t quite move me in the same way the main books in the series have.

Overall, it was an enjoyable quick read. In addition to the little something more added by the short story, we are also given some bonus scenes to go with the Kyler books. Without a doubt, it is worth picking up if you’re a fan of the Kennedy Boys.

Honestly, I think it’s just my current reading mood that left me feeling a bit out of touch with this one. It was fun; I just wanted something to truly blow my mind.

Bring on Saving Brad (I’m more hyped for it now after the snippets of drama we get to see in this).

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Thursday 17 August 2017

Review: Lovemurder

Lovemurder Lovemurder by Saul Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love Murder is the second Valerie Hart book, and much like the first I wasn’t crazy about it. Yes, it was enjoyable; however, it’s not a series where I’ll be going out of my way to pick up the next book.

I picked up The Killing Lessons as a means to entertain myself whilst travelling. Although I started the book whilst travelling, I wasn’t as pulled in as I had hoped to be, resulting in me picking it up and putting it down. It was a decent enough read, but I wasn’t crazy about it. I spent quite a bit of time feeling as though it would only pull a three star rating from me, yet I opted with four stars in the end. I was unsure as to whether I would pick up the second book.

Fast forward to the release of Love Murder and we have a Goodreads giveaway. I decided to enter, indifferent about whether or not I would win. As is always the case when you’re indifferent, I won. It took me a while before I was able to jump into it (I selected the wrong address when entering, resulting in the book being sent to my family rather than me), but when I could I was surprisingly excited. The synopsis had me expecting big things.

I did enjoy this one a lot more than I enjoyed the first book, but my engagement was not all it could have been. Due to my lack of complete enjoyment with the first book, it took me a while to reconnect with the characters. There were details I could not remember, things I didn’t really care about all that much. All the talk of love grew annoying, to the point where I was constantly rolling my eyes. Yet the crime intrigued me. I was curious. I was pulled in. I wanted to know more.

At first, I had some Gretchen Lowell vibes from our villainess. Despite the different types of crime, the beauty and destruction reminded me of the Chelsea Cain books. These vibes were mostly pushed away. The story was completely different to a Gretchen Lowell story, even if there were moment in my mind where the two characters merged somewhat. This was much more complex, giving me a story that pulled me in.

As much as I loved the crime aspect of the story, I still do not care much about the characters. I liked them more in this one, but they continued to annoy me in a number of ways. I simply cannot connect with them, making it hard for me to find myself truly lost in the series.

I probably will pick up a third Valerie Hart book if it comes to be, but I’m not going to go out of my way to read it. There are many other crime fiction series I’m deeply invested in, and this one pales in comparison to those obsessions.

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Review: The Assassin and the Empire

The Assassin and the Empire The Assassin and the Empire by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having read and enjoyed the first five Throne of Glass books and impatiently awaiting the sixth, I decided it was time to work my way through the five novellas offered up in The Assassin’s Blade. I’d debated reading these stories at an earlier stage, yet I found myself too pulled into the main story to take a detour. Detour now, officially over, I’m hoping book six will be well worth the wait.

With these novellas, I’ve had ups and downs. Upon finished The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, I was unsure whether or not the stories would do much. The Assassin and the Pirate Lord was an okay read, but for the most part I really didn’t care. The Assassin and the Healer improved upon the first novella, yet it still wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. It was enough to leave me with the belief the stories would improve. With The Assassin and the Desert, I found myself back at my earlier stage. It was an okay read, but it failed to give me all I had hoped for. The Assassin and the Underworld returned me to the point of the second book. In fact, it was my favourite of the first four novella – I enjoyed it much more than the other stories. The Assassin and the Empire was somewhere in the middle, for me. I didn’t love it in the way I had hoped I would, nor was it terrible. It was merely okay.

Considering how much I enjoyed the fourth novella, I was expecting really big things from this one. We all knew what was coming, and due to that, I was anticipating a truly powerful read. Instead, I felt as though it dragged. It never really hit the high point I was waiting for. I appreciate being given the background details, I enjoyed seeing what played out, but what was in my mind was much more moving than the events that played out. I wanted more. I wanted my emotions pulled at, my heartstrings damaged once and for all.

I fear I’m in the minority when I say this, but this last novella wasn’t at all what I’d been hoping to receive.

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Review: Yes, Prime Minister

Yes, Prime Minister Yes, Prime Minister by Aria Cole
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yes, Prime Minister is my second Aria Cole book. As with my first Aria Cole read, I wasn’t crazy about it. I contemplated three stars – as my prior Aria Cole read somehow managed to pull such a rating from me (I believe I was much nicer with my ratings back then) – but I couldn’t quite bring myself to give it a three star rating.

For me, this book was a case of insta everything. You name a cliché and it happens at hyper speed. You blink and you’ve missed a sudden shift in the story, a move that is quite large yet wholly predictable. Everything was too quick, you didn’t get a chance to connect, and I didn’t really care one way or another how things played out. All in all, it wasn’t for me.

I plan to try one more Aria Cole book (possibly two, as I have a feeling I have multiple on my Kindle for some reason), and if I have the same response, I will conclude Aria Cole books are not for me. I’m just too picky when it comes to my short stories, and neither of the Aria Cole books I have picked up thus far have done it for me.

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