Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Man Plan

The Man Plan (Graysons - Book 2) by Tracy Anne Warren

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0451466144
ISBN-13: 978-0451466143

(Received for an honest review from Signet)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Tracy Anne Warren on the WEB

websitefacebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Graysons

1. The Last Man on Earth
2. The Man Plan

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, The Man Plan, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Man on Earth comes a delicious new novel about a young woman’s dreams of finding grand romance and success in the big city—and her schemes to make both come true....
What’s a girl to do when the man she’s loved her entire life thinks of her as a little sister? Worse, her own big sister was the one who broke his heart years earlier. For Ivy Grayson, the chance to get him to see her in a different light comes when she receives an unexpected invitation to move into his luxury New York apartment building. Manhattan also just happens to be the perfect place to pursue her wish to become a successful artist. But how many dreams can one woman expect to come true?

Billionaire financier James Jordon has everything a man could want—except love. When Ivy’s family asks him to keep an eye on their “little girl” in the big city, he agrees. But the innocent girl he knew is now a dynamic woman who knows what she wants, and how to get it. He may have promised himself to keep things platonic, but ignoring the game of love isn’t an option. Especially when Ivy is so eager to play.


Thoughts:

Tracy Anne Warren brings readers the second book in the Graysons series, The Man Plan. This is a contemporary romance set in the world of business. The hero is a successful businessman, while the heroine is an up and coming artist. It's a case of opposites attracting, but they have a lot to overcome, including a substantial age difference and the fact that Ivy's sister left James at the alter in the previous book. Warren is able to pull it all together to provide readers with an adventurous love story that will have them on pins and needles to see if the seduction works.

What I liked:

After reviewing the first book in this series, The Last Man on Earth, I was hoping that James would get his own story. I wanted to see the nice guy finish first instead of last. His character seemed very genuine and caring. I wanted to see him find his own happy ever after because he was jilted by Madelyn and because I wanted to know more about him and I'm really glad that Tracy Anne Warren gave us a book that takes a deeper look into his character. 

What I didn't like:

In The Man Plan, James becomes of the object of Ivy Graysons deepest desires. Her sister may have left him at the altar, but Ivy wanted to be the one to pick up the pieces and now she may have her chance. James is a very successful businessman. His career and his love life seem to be going alright from an outsiders point of view. I liked James in this book, but not quite as much as in the first one. I thought he got a little short changed in The Man Plan. I wanted to see a lot more depth to his character. I understood his need to stay away from Ivy and her conniving. He was the older man and she seemed too young and naive for him, but he just couldn't resist. I was hoping for a love interest that was his equal and didn't quite find that here.

Ivy was not what I expected. I am generally okay with the theme of the older man, having been in that situation myself. But this time it just didn't seem to work. Ivy's maturity level was just too far removed from that of James. He seemed every inch, a man, while she still had all the characteristics of an infatuated girl. Her decisions were often rash and her reactions more like a teenager than a young woman. She goes into her 'man plan' to get James to fall in love with her, all the time knowing he had a girlfriend. I just couldn't make myself respect her or like her. That doesn't happen too often for me.

Bottom Line:

I like Tracy Anne Warren's writing but this book fell a little short for me. I wanted so much more for James. He had his moments of being underwhelming in this book and Ivy was just too young for him in every way. I wish I could have liked this one because I enjoyed James' character so much in the first one, but it just didn't hold together. The last few chapters were good, but the rest of the book was a bit too cliche. As with any book you should read it and see what you think. My opinion is just that, my opinion and yours may be different. 

The Man Plan is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Tracy Anne Warren is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen romance novels including The Last Man on Earth.After working in the corporate world for a number of years, she quit her day job to pursue her first love: writing. She has won numerous industry awards, including Romance Writers of America’s RITA award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the HOLT Medallion. She currently lives in Maryland with a small clowder of rescue cats.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Man Plan by Tracy Anne Warren.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 10th.

1. Please leave a comment about a time when you tried to change someone's opinion of you.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Book Fair and Foul

Book Fair and Foul (Ashton Corners Book Club - Book 4) by Erika Chase

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425271498
ISBN-13: 978-0425271490

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Erika Chase on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Ashton Corners Book Club

1. A Killer Read
2. Read and Buried
3. Cover Story
4. Book Fair and Foul

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Book Fair and Foul, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

For the mystery book lovers of Ashton Corners,
burial plots tell the most intriguing stories.


The members of the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society are all chipping in as Molly Mathews, now owner of the bookstore the Book Nook, prepares the first annual Mystery Book Fair. While gossip circulates about the guest authors, club member Lizzie Turner is unpleasantly surprised to see a certain book publicist make an appearance. It seems Lizzie has a history with Ashley Dixon—a chapter of her life she’d rather leave closed.

But when someone gives Ashley a death sentence, Lizzie becomes the prime suspect in a murder mystery she can’t put down. Now Lizzie and her fellow book buffs have to read between the lines of the publicist’s past and catch the real killer before Lizzie is written off for good.


Thoughts:

Erika Chase brings readers the fourth book in the Ashton Corners Book Club series, Book Fair and Foul. This series focuses on a local book club and their exploits in reading and sleuthing. Chase excels at good character development and plotting. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book that will have the reader up late trying to figure it all out. With former college roommates and several finicky authors there are plenty of suspects to choose from as the gang trys to find the killer who is framing, Lizzie. A good addition to the series.

What I liked:

One of the things that I always enjoy about this series is the fact that the characters are readers. They are a part of book club that enjoys not only reading mysteries but also solving them. I think Chase understood that writing the series from the perspective of actual readers would appeal to people who love books. We tend to see things a little differently. I have a tendency to try to solve the clues right along with the hero or heroine and I think Chase uses that reader mentality to her advantage here. The quotes from other current mystery writers at the beginning of each chapter was a great touch. Many of the books they are taken from are books that I have actually reviewed. A nice touch!

The theme of the mystery book fair went over really well in Book Fair and Foul. I liked learning all of the behind the scenes machinations that have to go on to make a book fair a success. It was interesting to see the process of getting the authors assembled and how the book fair went off. I think it added to the whole atmosphere of mystery reading and mystery solving. It gave the plot cohesion and helped to drive it toward it's ultimate conclusion. Who knew authors could be so catty? LOL!

Lizzie has certainly gotten herself into a mess in this one. Not only has her former college nemesis ended up in Ashton Corners, but she tries to put the moves on Lizzie's police chief boyfriend, Mark. The relationship drama ends Lizzie in a pickle, as the main suspect in Ashley's murder. Continuing with the idea of reading, as well as, solving crimes, the victim's reason for being there was that she was a publicist. I thought Chase really did a great job of pulling everything into a central idea, even the personal aspects of the story. 

What I didn't like:

I liked this book. It had a good plot and the characters not only supported the story, but kept the theme of reading and mystery solving alive. But there just wasn't quite enough punch for me to make this a five apple read. It wasn't bad, in fact there were a lot of things I liked about it. But it didn't give me that wow factor that I need in a good mystery. I solved it a little too soon for my own tastes. The cliffhanger at the end did go a long way toward making me want to read the next book, though, so that was a good thing.

Bottom Line:

Not my favorite of the series, but still certainly worth the time to read. Readers who are familiar with the gang from Aston Corners will enjoy more adventures with characters they have come to know as friends and new readers will like the book fair theme and how it plays out in the mystery.

Book Fair and Foul is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


Erika Chase writes the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries for Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime. In a parallel life she is also known as Linda Wiken, a former mystery bookstore owner. The first in the book club series, A Killer Read, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel from the Malice Domestic conference in 2013. Linda/Erika is also a short story writer and a member of those dangerous dames, The Ladies' Killing Circle. She has been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award, Best Short Story, from Crime Writers of Canada.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Book Fair and Foul by Erika Chase.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 9th.

1. Please leave a comment describing a book fair or convention you have been to or would like to go to.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Shelter Me

Shelter Me (Second Chance Ranch - Book 1) by Catherine Mann

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0425269884
ISBN-13: 978-0425269886

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Catherine Mann on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Shelter Me, courtesy of the authors website (half way down the page)

Synopsis:

From the USA Today bestselling Catherine Mann comes this beautiful, heartwarming novel about a returning soldier, the daughter of his fallen commander, and a very special dog with a mission.  For fans of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery.

Nestled in the sunny fields of Tennessee lies the McDaniel family’s Second Chance Ranch Animal Rescue. Two new arrivals are on their way, but only one is the four-legged kind.
 
Staff Sergeant Mike Kowalski wants only one thing after he gets home from Iraq: to sleep in a king-sized bed with clean sheets. But first, he has to hand off his fallen commander’s dog, Trooper, to his family without handing off his heart to Sierra…
 
Sierra McDaniel needs a break. Her family life is crazy, and when she’s not mucking out kennels, she’s slogging through grad school. Sierra certainly doesn’t want another dog, especially one that reminds her of her father. And she definitely doesn’t want to see Mike with that charming smile of his…
 
But Trooper has a mission of his own. Before too long Mike is moving to the ranch to lend a hand—and hoping for his own second chance with Sierra.


Thoughts:

Catherine Mann brings readers the first book in a new series about a pet rescue operation and a family readers won't soon forget. Shelter Me is the heart wrenching story of the McDaniel family and their struggle to maintain their lives and dreams in the wake of losing their father. Readers who love animals, readers who have lost family members, readers who are just looking for a tender love story, will all find something to cheer about in this book. Catherine Mann delivers a powerful and endearing romance!

What I liked:

I am not even sure where to begin with this book. I have read several books by Catherine Mann and have truly enjoyed all of them. Her characters are always easy to relate to, multi-faceted and emotionally satisfying, but there is something about the McDaniel family. The characters in Shelter Me are so raw and real that readers will have a hard time not being completely drawn in by them. To say that I became emotionally invested in this book was an understatement. It was written with such heart and clarity that I honestly felt every heart break and every joy right along with these characters. 

Mike and Sierra share a past, that wasn't exactly pretty. He didn't feel worthy of her and broke up with her before he was deployed under the command of her father. As the news shows us everyday, our military is still struggling against aggressor's in Afghanistan and soldiers and their families face loss and grief on a daily basis. I think that was part of what was so poignant about this story. When Sierra's father dies in combat and Mike returns his dog,Trooper to the family, something inside the reader will start to wrench and twist. This book is a love story, but it is a lot more than that. It is about the way a family knits itself back together after such a huge loss. It was just incredible to read about and obvious that the author understands what she is writing about. This is something she lives with and the reader will be able to see it in her words.

I am a huge advocate for animal rescue and I was expecting that to be a minor part of this story, but it wasn't. The Second Chance Ranch and McDaniel family commitment to it, was amazing. Readers will get to take a behind the scenes look at what it really takes to run this kind of facility. The difficulties and the decisions that have to be made. The struggles they go through and the deep and endearing love it takes to provide this kind of care. Trooper was amazing! I loved the parts of this book that were told from his point of view. Yes, that's right, part of the story is told from the point of view of a dog and it is something readers won't soon forget. A powerful look at the devotion and love that people can experience through the eyes of their pets. Just a joy to read!

The secondary characters in this story were told with just as much respect as the main couple. They had depth and feeling and made the reader want to know them better. Lacey, Sierra's mom, was a character just trying to make it through another day. I related to her. She was holding it together by a thread and her struggle added so much to the story. Readers will love her, as well as, the rest of the McDaniel family.

I have to give Catherine Mann props for balancing the many emotional elements of this story. The romance certainly does not take a back seat. It is gritty and edgy and these two characters are both hurting but clinging to each other to help them make it through. I loved the way Mike showed his feelings and relished life. It is too short and I think military men and women have a deeper sense of that than most people. Sierra had a lot of love in her heart and she impressed me as a reader at every turn. I loved the nods she made to some literary greats and her intelligence. A great couple, who deserved happiness. 

Bottom Line:

This is one the best books I have read this year. It will pull at the readers heart strings. It will tear them apart and knit them back together, just like this very memorable family. I can't wait to read more about them. This was an exceptional read. I can't recommend it enough!

Shelter Me is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one a resounding 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


USA Today bestselling author Catherine Mann writes contemporary romance for Berkley, Harlequin, and Sourcebooks, with her work reprinted in more than twenty countries. She lives on the Florida coast where she and her military flyboy husband have brought up four children. An active volunteer with her local Humane Society, Catherine enjoys writing while foster puppies nap on her feet. FMI: http://catherinemann.com


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Shelter Me by Catherine Mann.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 8th.

1. Please leave a comment about any rescued pets you may have and how you came to have them.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review and Giveaway: Taken In

Taken In (Southern Sewing Circle - Book 9) by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425257851
ISBN-13: 978-0425257852

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Elizabeth Lynn Casey on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Southern Sewing Circle

1. Sew Deadly
2. Death Threads
3. Pinned For Murder
4. Deadly Notions
5. Dangerous Alterations
6. Reap What You Sew
7. Let It Sew
8. Remnants of Murder
9. Taken In

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Taken In, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

When a trip to the Big Apple ends in murder, the sewing circle searches for a killer who’s rotten to the core. . .
 
Winning an appearance on a top-rated, New York based morning show means the trip of a lifetime for librarian Tori Sinclair and the Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle. Anxious to experience Manhattan with her friends, Tori is less than excited when fellow member Dixie Dunn opts to use the vacation as an opportunity to rendezvous with a man she met online.
 
Still, Tori never imagined her friend would be taken in by a con man specializing in scamming vulnerable older women—or that Dixie would be arrested for his murder.
 
Now, as the sewing circle goes up against Gotham’s elite to prove Dixie’s innocence, they will have to unravel tangled secrets and alibis, patch together a mess of clues, and put a clever killer in the city’s hottest spotlight . . .


Thoughts:

Taken In is the ninth book in Elizabeth Lynn Casey's Southern Sewing Circle series. This series focuses on a group of ladies that could not be more different from each other, but all have a love for sewing and solving mysteries. Casey uses humor, originality and a lot of interesting clues to keep her readers coming back for more. Taken In may be book nine in the series, but it is certainly no stopping place. From Sweet Briar to the Big Apple, these ladies are taking over! A great addition to the series!

What I liked:

There is something about a group of ladies getting together to do a project, whether it is sewing, quilting, canning, cooking, crafting, reading or anything in between that builds camaraderie and relationships. One of my favorite parts of the Southern Sewing Circle series is the friendships that develop between these women. When you start a group like this, you really don't know what you are going to get and that's the best part. There is so much diversity in this group of characters. You have big age differences, different ethnic groups, varied personalities. It just gives an author so much to work with and I think Elizabeth Lynn Casey really uses this to her advantage, especially in her latest book, Taken In.

Because of the diversity of the group, Casey is able to take her characters into so many different directions. This time in Taken In readers get to see how the ladies fare in a different environment. The sewing circle is taking on the big city, as they go to New York to tape an appearance on a talk show. I love the fact Casey often uses common things and current situations in her books and the talk show angle was perfect, as well as, the internet dating scene which is also a big part of this mystery. Both were great ideas and very well executed.

Dixie is quickly thrown in jail for the murder of a man she met on the internet, whom she found out was a con man preying on elderly women. Tori and the other gals are quick to come to her defense and to start sorting out the clues that might lead to the killer. The mystery was interesting and there were a lot of possibilities where suspects were concerned. I thought Casey did a fantastic job of not only making the mystery compelling and intriguing, but also making this one funny. There was so much humor and that just added to it's overall enjoyment. 

Bottom Line: 

I think this is one was a very well written addition to the series. It not only made me laugh, but it made me think. I didn't put it together to quickly and was surprised at the end. I loved the change of locale for the ladies, but I did miss Sweet Briar. There just wasn't anything not to like!

Taken In is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Elizabeth Lynn Casey is the author of the bestselling Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Taken In by Elizabeth Lynn Casey.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 8th.

1. Please leave a comment telling if you've been to 'the big apple' and what your experience was like.
2. Please fill out the FORM

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Unbroken

Unbroken (Silver Creek - Book 3) by Maisey Yates

Publication Date: 08/04/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
ISBN-10: 0425273695
ISBN-13: 978-0425273692

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Maisey Yates on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Silver Creek

1. Unexpected
2. Untouched
3. Unbroken

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Unbroken, courtesy of the author's website (half way down the page)

Synopsis:

In the latest Silver Creek romance from USA Today bestselling author Maisey Yates, former rodeo star Cade Mitchell may never ride again, but there are still a few things he can do—like care for the woman he loves.
 
Amber Jameson has always thought of her best friend Cade as an older brother. A really hot older brother. But growing up in foster care, she learned to rely only on herself. As much as she likes stealing glances at Cade’s chiseled jaw and painted-on jeans, she resents the way he swoops in like a superhero to fix things for her.
 
When former rodeo rival Jim Davis starts harassing Amber to sell her grandfather’s failing ranch, Cade swoops in once again. To send Jim on his way, Cade pretends to be Amber’s boyfriend, moving in to help fix the place up. With her grandfather behind the idea, Amber and Cade have to keep the charade going—whether she likes it or not.
 
But as their make-believe romance starts to heat up, maybe Cade and Amber will learn to admit that they both could use a little saving…


Thoughts:

Author Maisey Yates continues her Silver Creek series, with her latest book, Unbroken. Readers continue to be enthralled by the Mitchell family, a family of ranchers and modern day cowboys and cowgirls. Yates uses the age-old theme of best friends becoming lovers to drive Cade's story and fans of the series will be captivated by his relationship with Amber. With Amber's grandfather's ranch and stake, as well as, Cade's self-respect, Unbroken is a story of love and redemption that readers won't soon forget.

What I liked:

This was my first experience with author Maisey Yates and I will have to say that I was surprised at how much I liked her writing style, her humor and her ability to get inside the heads of her characters. She took a well used theme and injected it with new life. The best friends to lovers theme is always a challenging one, because it has been done so many times before, but Yates was able to add a refreshing originality to the plot of Unbroken that was unexpected.

Yates uses a lot of humor and general banter to endear her readers to her characters and I found myself wanting to know more and more about them. She lets readers see a glimpse inside both Amber and Cade through their inner-dialogue and their interactions with each other. I loved the parts of the book where it was just the two of them talking, because it was light and fun and the reader will easily believe these two had been friends for years. There was a comfort and smoothness in how they related to each other.

This was a relationship that grew out of adversity. Both Amber and Cade have had some tough experiences in their past, from foster homes, to infidelity. From rodeo injuries to atoning for past mistakes. There was a lot of depth to their relationship and I liked the way Yates developed it. I think most readers can relate to having feelings for someone who you thought was in the friend zone. It was believable and beautiful to read. There was an underlying theme of redemption that ran throughout the story. Cade feeling guilt over his past mistakes and Amber trying to show that she had changed from a wild undisciplined youth to a young woman capable to taking care of grandfather. Overall it was a very gratifying read, as well as, a steamy one.

The romance was hot heavy once it got going and I think readers will be able to see just how much these two characters are feeling for each other. They not only respect each other and care for each other as friends, but the passion they share has a depth that comes from truly understanding the other person. That doesn't happen in too many of the fly by night romance books out there. Very nice!

What I didn't like:

Since I had not read the other books in the series, I was a little taken aback by Cade's relationship with his family. It appeared that the Mitchell's were this great ranching family, with lots of love and tradition, but the way Cade was treated didn't seem to fit into that mold. I guess there is always a black sheep in the family and Cade must have been it. 

Bottom Line:

I truly enjoyed this book. Yates was able to create a romance that didn't fall into the typical rut. It was different, it was engaging, it was funny and just down right romantic. I loved Cade and Amber and thought they made a great couple. I do think readers would benefit by reading the series in order, because I felt like I didn't get all nuances and relationships down as well as I could have.

Unbroken is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Maisey Yates is a USA Today bestselling author who divides her time between dark, passionate category romances set just about everywhere on earth, and light, sexy contemporary romances set practically in her backyard. She has written many romances for Harlequin, including The Couple Who Fooled the World, as well as the Silver Creek Romances (Unbuttoned, UnexpectedUntouched and Rekindled) for InterMix. She lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Unbroken by Maisey Yates.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST,
September 4th
.


1. Please leave a comment about what you think draws riders to the rodeo, what is the lure?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Cat, the Vagabond and the Victim

The Cat, the Vagabond and the Victim (Cats In Trouble - Book 6) by Leann Sweeney

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Obsidian Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0451415426
ISBN-13: 978-0451415424

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Leann Sweeney on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Cats In Trouble

1. The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse
2. The Cat, the Professor and the Poison 
3. The Cat, the Lady and the Liar
4. The Cat, the Wife and the Weapon
5. The Cat, the Mill and the Murder
6. The Cat, the Vagabond and the Victim

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, The Cat, the Vagabond and the Victim, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

Heir of the cat...

When Clyde the cat travels two hundred miles back home only to find his former owner dead, the story makes national news. While everyone seems eager to tell Clyde’s incredible tale, someone needs to step up to care for him. Because the media attention is creating chaos at the local shelter, cat quilter Jillian Hart agrees to foster the loyal orange tabby, hoping his location is kept secret.

But while the media circus around Clyde continues, Jillian learns the real story behind his owner’s death—he was murdered. Why would an eldery man already dying from a serious illness become a murder victim? As the local police search for an answer, Clyde makes another escape. Jillian is drawn into the case when she finds Clyde has returned to his home again—and he’s found another body. When the motive behind these murders is finally revealed, Jillian understands Clyde is in danger of becoming the next victim, and she must help find the killer before the claws really come out.…


Thoughts:

Mystery lovers and cat enthusiasts a like will fall in love with Leann Sweeney's latest Cats in Trouble book, The Cat, The Vagabond and the Victim. Bodies abound, as readers are introduced to a cat that likes to travel and a family that likes to fight. Sweeney's brand of quirky characters and felines sets this one apart and gives readers a one of a kind reading experience!

What I liked: 

Leann Sweeney must own cats. There is no other way she could get the interactions between the cats in her Cats in Trouble series, and her human characters down so perfectly. I always enjoy seeing how she is going to use a cat in each of her books in the series. In The Cat, The Vagabond and the Victim, readers meet, Clyde, a lovable feline that wants nothing more than to return to his owner, Mr. Jeffers. Unfortunately, Mr. Jeffers is over 200 miles away and dead. Clyde was certainly the star of the show. He reminded of those animals you see on TV that somehow manage to find their way home despite desperate circumstances. It was a great idea and it really worked in this book. Readers can't help but love Clyde and wonder exactly how he factors into the murders.

Another of Sweeney's many writing talents, is her ability to write her human characters to be just as endearing has her feline characters. The more I learn about Jillian, the more I like her. She is quick when it comes to figuring things out and following the clues that she has been given. She has a presence about her that makes her believable. I like her process, as well. Most cozy heroines go about solving their mysteries in a similar manner in each book. Not, Jillian! She is varied and full of surprises. 

While the mystery is obviously the reason most readers start reading a cozy mystery, there is a lot more going on in most of them. I was glad to see that Jillian and Tom's relationship is still going strong and that we not only get to meet new characters in this book, but we still get to keep up with the other characters from previous stories. I don't need to know their life story in each book, but a nod now and then makes the series seem more cohesive and enjoyable to read. 

What I didn't like:

I didn't like it that I couldn't figure this one out! LOL... It was carefully plotted and Sweeney knew exactly what she was doing. I thought I was following all along, but the surprise at the end was completely opposite of what I thought was going to happen. "Foiled, again!"

Bottom Line:

This is a great mystery for both cozy and cat fans. Clyde is lovable and very loyal. The suspects and family of Mr. Jeffers were a lot of fun to read about and Jillian's life continues to be just as interesting as each mystery Sweeney writes about her. Engaging characters, awesome feline interaction and a well thought out mystery, make this one a must read!

The Cat, The Vagabond and The Victim is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Leann Sweeney was born and raised in Niagara Falls and educated at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Lemoyne College in Syracuse, New York. She also has a degree in behavioral science from the University of Houston. A retired registered nurse, she has been writing in the mystery genre for many years and also writes the Yellow Rose Mystery series.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Cat, the Vagabond and the Victim by Leann Sweeney.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 3rd.

1. Please leave a comment about cool cat names you've used or heard.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Guarded

Guarded (Tidewater - Book 2) by Mary Behre

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 320
ISBN-10: 0425268624
ISBN-13: 978-0425268629

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Mary Behre on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Tidewater

1. Spirited
2. Guarded

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Guarded, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

She’s given up on finding love…

Veterinarian Shelley Morgan has always preferred animals to humans, and not simply because she can communicate with them psychically. Unlike most people she’s known, animals have never broken her heart. But after six months in her new town, some of her favorite four-legged companions begin disappearing from the local zoo. Determined to track down the animals and their thief, the telepathic vet decides to investigate, unknowingly delving into a deadly mystery…

He’s ready to make her heart go wild…

Although his bear-like physique has been an advantage in the Tidewater Police Department, Dev Jones’s size often intimidates people. Only Shelley has seen past his massive build to the intelligent man inside, but that was years ago. So when she contacts him requesting his help to solve a series of animal kidnappings, he’s eager to reconnect with her. But the thefts escalate to murder and all the evidence points to Shelley as the killer, and Dev faces a devastating choice: forsake his career or risk losing the woman he’s grown to love…


Thoughts:

Guarded is the second book in the Tidewater series by Mary Behre. This series focuses on three sisters separated after the death of their parents. Each girl with a special supernatural gift/curse. Behre combines the paranormal with romantic suspense and a touch of humor to give readers a unique reading experience. With fast paced action and plenty of passion in and out of the bedroom, Guarded is an excellent addition to the series. 

What I liked:

After reading Spirited, the first book in the Tidewater series, I was excited when Guarded came along. In Spirited readers got their first taste of three sisters that drive the series. Jules coined the phrase 'crift' when describing her supernatural give/curse of being able to communicate with the dead. Now in Guarded readers get to learn about another one of the lost sisters, Shelley, who is a veterinarian with the ability to communicate with animals. One of the things that I find intriguing about this series, is the originality of the idea behind it. Readers who have been reading paranormal books for awhile have probably seen 'ghost' and 'animal' whisperers before, but not quite in this manner. Having three separated sisters who are trying to find each other, and who can combine their gifts and use them together is something new and different. I think Behre is really on to something here. 

I actually liked several things about Guarded a little more than I did Spirited. I liked the idea of the heroine being able to talk and understand the animals around her. I am an advocate for animal rights and fair treatment and I felt that Behre actually used this story as a platform for causes dealing with animals, whether she meant to or not. Shelley had such a great heart for the animals she worked with and it made her a believable and endearing character.

Dev was a great hero. I enjoyed reading about him a lot. He just seemed like such a good guy. Big hearted and built like a bear. He had connected with Shelley in the past and wanted to help re-unite her with her sister, as well as, solve the mystery surrounding the theft of the zoo animals. The more the clues pointed toward Shelley, the more I felt like he was determined to see the good in her and knew that she could not be the culprit. I loved his faith in her and his romantic and loving way of dealing with her.

There is quite a bit of romance in this book and some hot love scenes, for sure. But Behre really knows how to write suspense. The action starts out slow and starts to build until it is almost at a frenzied pace at the end and readers will find it hard to put down even to eat or sleep. It has some very intense scenes, tempered with moments of levity, like the meeting of the two sisters after so long. It was a good balance, but did lean a little toward the suspenseful side to drive the story.

What I didn't like:

Toward the end, as the mystery started to wind up, things got a bit chaotic. I understood the need to wrap things up, but it seemed like there was an inordinate amount of changing directions and dead ends, and backtracking and all of that. It got a little confusing right before the big reveal at the end. I also has a few issues with Shelley's inability to let the people around into her heart. I was glad when she finally started to drop the walls, it just should have been a little sooner.

Bottom Line:

Guarded is a great addition to the Tidewater series. I can't wait to read Hannah, the final lost sisters, story. I think Behre did a great job of writing a book that incorporated the paranormal and romantic suspense into it seamlessly. The story was tilted toward the suspenseful side, but that didn't seem to take anything away from my enjoyment of it. Shelley was a good heroine, with a great 'crift' and readers are sure to love her.

Guarded is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Mary Behre, author of Spirited, is the lone female in a house full of males and the undisputed queen of her domain. She even has the glittery tiara to prove it. She loves stories with humor, ghosts, mysteries, and above all else, a good romance. When not writing, she enjoys reading, gluten-free baking, and spending time at the ocean with her family.

Daily, she can be found in her office. With her Pomeranian at her feet and her hands on the keyboard, she spends her time plotting new ways to torture her characters before they find their happily ever afters.



Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Guarded by Mary Behre.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 2nd.

1. Please leave a comment about whether or not you think it's possible that animals really understand us?

2. Please fill out the FORM.