Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Forgiven

The Forgiven (Keepers of the Promise - Book 1) by Marta Perry

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Books
Genre: Amish Romance
Pages: 384
ISBN-10: 0425271412
ISBN-13: 978-0425271414

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Books)

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

Marta Perry on the WEB: website, blogfacebook, goodreads

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

Synopsis:

When three women, all cousins, are given the task of sorting through the treasures of several generations of their Amish family, they each discover a story from the past that provides insights and inspiration for their own lives.
 
Central Pennsylvania, current day. Rebecca Fisher gladly accepted her husband Paul’s dreams as her own, but now that he has passed away, she’s struggling to raise two children and keep her home. Renting her stable to carpenter Matthew Byler offers a partial solution—even though Matthew has a troubled history, having sometimes failed to embrace Amish beliefs. As Matthew seeks to prove himself, Rebecca realizes how dependent she has become on others. Where can she find the courage to grow and change?
 
Lancaster County, 1941. As war threatens, Anna Esch pours her experiences into her diary. Her world seems to crumble as neighbors turn against the Amish and her love, Jacob, is sent to a camp far away for refusing to fight. She can’t know, as she grows from a girl into a woman during a time of trouble and grief, that one day another Amish woman will gain strength from the words she writes and will learn that she, too, can become a keeper of the promise.


Thoughts:

Marta Perry brings readers a new Amish romance series. The Forgiven is the first book in the Keeper's of the Promise series featuring three Amish cousins and their struggle to preserve their family heritage. Readers looking for a sweet portrayal of love and loss will find this book both compelling and inspirational. Perry captivates readers with, not one, but two stories interwoven to create a great reading experience and proves that some things are same no matter what you believe in. Grief, love and family are universal.

What I liked:

Marta Perry isn't new to Amish fiction. In fact she has several very successful Amish series', including the Pleasant Valley series and the Amish Suspense series. Perry may not be considered an expert on the subject, but she certainly knows a lot about the simple style and strong belief system of the Amish people. Living in Amish country will do that to you. It gives the author an interesting perspective because she is on the outside looking in, but is still able to capture the spirit and determination of this remarkable people.

The Keeper's of the Promise series has a unique and interesting premise. You have three Amish cousins who are tasked with going through their grandmother's attic. Grannie wasn't a hoarder but she did keep a lot of things that were meant to keep the Amish heritage of her family alive and she wants the girls to carry on with her legacy. Each young woman will find something in the attic that helps them in their current circumstances in life. I often find it amazing how the past tends to repeat itself and how we can learn so much from those who have gone before us. I think Perry captures that idea and infuses it into this story. It gave the book a heart-warming and nostalgic feel to it that couldn't be beat.

Rebecca is the heroine in The Forgiven. While she is cleaning the attic she finds a diary belonging to an ancestor living during WWII. Rebecca is struggling to find herself in the wake of her husband's death. Paul had big dreams and was on his way to fulfilling them, but his death leaves Rebecca as a single mother with a mortgage and very little practical experience. Perry gives readers a young woman in the midst of grief and loss. Rebecca will grab the heart of the reader and won't let go. She finds the strength within herself to move on with the help of Anna's diary. I loved the dual stories and how they played out within the pages of this novel. Perry does a great job of weaving the lives of Rebecca and Anna together.

Matt is an Amish man seeking redemption. His wild younger years drove him from his Amish community and his return is fraught with a lot of misgivings and feelings of unworthiness. When he asks to rent Paul's unused stable as a woodworking shop, he not only gives Rebecca a way to save her home, but he also finds salvation for himself. I loved the fact that Perry doesn't give us a hero that is flawless. Matt has his issues and his own demons to tame and that was refreshing for this kind of novel.

The Amish people are portrayed in this novel as more than just a religious group, who doesn't believe in cars or electricity. Perry gives this group of people a human face. She shows their struggles and their victories in such a way that is should remind readers that we are all no so different after all. We all want to live and love and keep the heritage of our family alive. It was a well told story with a lot of heart.

Bottom Line:

I loved the tender and thoughtful romance that develops between the lead characters. Matt and Rebecca have a lot to overcome and the story has an underlying message of forgiveness that is very captivating. Perry's character development was beautifully done and readers who are looking for a series that is both lovingly crafted and well written will find this one top notch. This is Marta Perry at her best!

The Forgiven is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


A lifetime spent in rural Pennsylvania and her own Pennsylvania Dutch roots led Marta Perry to write about the Plain People who add to the rich heritage of her home state. She is the author of more than fifty inspirational romance novels including the Pleasant Valley series and the Lost Sisters of Pleasant Valley series. She lives with her husband in a century-old farmhouse.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Forgiven by Marta Perry.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 13th.

1. Please leave a comment. Have you read any of Marta Perry's other Amish Romances? If so, what do you think?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review and Giveaway: Murder Off the Beaten Path

Murder Off the Beaten Path (Search and Rescue Mystery - Book 2) by M.L. Rowland

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425263673
ISBN-13: 978-0425263679

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

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

M.L. Rowland on the WEB: website, blogfacebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Search and Rescue Mystery

1. Zero-Degree Murder
2. Murder Off the Beaten Path

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




Excerpt from, Murder Off the Beaten Path, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

As a member of a mountain search and rescue team, Gracie Kinkaid routinely volunteers to put her life on the line. But it’s at her new day job at a residential camp in the mountains of southern California where she finds her life is really in danger… 

As a volunteer for Timber Creek Search and Rescue, Gracie responds to a call out for a car that’s gone over the side of a treacherous mountain road. The crash, which Gracie quickly suspects is no accident, proves to be one in an escalating and deadly series of events that lead her right back to Camp Ponderosa, a church-owned camp where she works as Program Director. As Gracie probes more deeply into the dark secrets at the camp, she unearths a hidden world of illegal activities, including murder…and finds herself going head-to-head with desperate perpetrators who will do anything to silence her forever.


Thoughts:

Murder Off the Beaten Path is M.L. Rowland's second book in her Search and Rescue mystery series. Rowland has a great eye for detail. Her descriptions of the scenery, the search and rescue missions and daily life at Camp Ponderosa were spot on and very detail oriented. Readers who are looking for a little adventure in their cozies with appreciate Rowland's vast experience with SAR and her way of writing a good whodunit. A great second book in the series!

What I liked:

In M.L. Rowland's first book in the Search and Rescue mystery series, Zero-Degree Murder, I questioned whether or not the book truly fit into the parameters of the cozy sub-genre. It leaned quite heavily toward being a thriller, but in Murder Off the Beaten Path, Rowland has settled into a more common cozy pattern. The balance between adventure and amateur sleuthing is much better in this one, but it still gives the reader a good dose of heart pumping action. 

Rowland's experience as a form mountain search and rescue operative is essential to giving this series it's authenticity. It is obvious that this author knows exactly what's she's talking about when it comes to this subject. It gives her main character Gracie Kincaid a lot of credibility and makes the story so much more believable. The powers that be often tell new writers to write about what they know. Rowland has certainly taken that to heart and provided readers with a very well written portrayal of what a woman faces working in the search and rescue arena. 

Gracie impressed me in this book. In the first book she was a bit more complacent. She didn't quite have the confidence I thought she needed in the beginning of that book, but throughout the course of the read she earned that confidence and became a much better heroine. In Murder Off the Beaten Path, Gracie already has a handle on who she is and where she fits. I liked her spunk and her zest for life. I appreciated her need to be of service and help people not only in her search and rescue efforts but also in her work at Camp Ponderosa. She is coming into her own as a heroine and Rowland continues to develop her character until the final page of the book. 

The search and rescue missions are important in the book but Gracie's search for answers is central to the theme of this one. When her friend is killed in an accident under suspicious circumstances, Gracie begins to question her work with Camp Ponderosa a church supported camp in the area. As things start to come together in her amateur search for clues, Gracie becomes more determined than ever to find out what is going on behind the scenes at the Camp. It was a very well written mystery that kept me guessing all the way through. It was a true cozy mystery and Rowland excelled at bringing it all together. 

Bottom Line:

I liked this one even better than the first book in the series. Gracie is becoming just as much a sleuth as she is a search and rescue worker. Rowland's balance between adventure and sleuthing was much better in this one and readers will appreciate her attention to detail in every aspect of the book. This book really rings true and feels real and believable. A great second book in the series!

Murder Off the Beaten Path is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


M.L. Rowland is the author of Zero-Degree Murder: A Search and Rescue Mystery.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Murder Off the Beaten Path by M.L. Rowland.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 13th.

1. Please leave a comment. Have you had any experiences with search and rescue?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Unbinding

Unbinding (World of the Lupi - Book 11) by Eileen Wilks

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 400
ISBN-10: 0425263371
ISBN-13: 978-0425263372

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

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

Eileen Wilks on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

   1. Tempting Danger
   2. Mortal Danger
   3. Blood Lines
   4. Night Season
   5. Mortal Sins
   6. Blood Magic
   7. Blood Challenge
   8. Death Magic
8.5. Human Error (Tied in a Bow)
   9. Mortal Ties
 10. Ritual Magic
 11. Unbinding

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




Excerpt from, Unbinding, courtesy of 

Synopsis:

In the newest Novel of the Lupi, the human and elven worlds are both about to come under attack… 

After questing through the sidhe realms with her ex-hellhound lover, Nathan, Kai Tallman Michalski has finally returned home. But she knows Nathan will eventually be called back to serve his queen—and Kai will have to decide whether to enter her majesty’s service as well. Sure, the job comes with great bennies, but there’s one big downside: she would have to swear absolute fealty to the Queen of Winter.

For now, though, Kai is glad to be home, and glad that Nathan completed his mission for his queen with surprising ease. But what seemed to be a quick conclusion turns out to be anything but. The two of them helped thwart the sidhe god of chaos—and he is not happy about that. He’s got plans for them. Plans, too, for the sidhe who killed him some three millennia ago. Nor has he abandoned his plans for Earth, as they learn when chaos begins bursting out all over...


Thoughts:

Eileen Wilks returns to the World of the Lupi with her eleventh book in the series, Unbinding. Readers who have followed the series from the beginning might miss the normal lead characters, Lily and Rule, but if they give this one a chance, they should be really pleased at how it fits into the series. Wilks is a fantastic storyteller and her world building, though sometimes complex, is always intriguing and multi-layered. Kai and Nathan's story enhances what Wilks has already done with this series, but also transforms it, adding a much needed new direction. 

What I liked:

As many of you know my favorite paranormal character is the werewolf. One of the things that I have always loved about this series is that it is so wolf-centric. From the title of the series to the pack dynamics and everything in between, this is a series, though populated with many types of supernatural characters, has always been about the wolf. Wilks has been able to create an amazing world with an interesting belief system and that continues in Unbinding, though there are some major differences.

Lily and Rule have been the main characters in the series from the git go and they are noticeable absent in this book. Wilks was obviously trying to change things up a bit. Ten books into the series, I thought that was a very wise move. Lily and Rule, though amazing, have become a little set in their ways. Their stories are becoming more predictable. By giving the reader a new lead couple in Kai and Nathan, Wilks changes the direction of the series and gives it a more realistic trajectory. These characters didn't just show up out the blue and readers will be somewhat familiar with them, enhancing the overall idea of the series.

Kai is what is described as mindhealer. I found that concept really captivating. I wanted to know more about what she could do and how she used her magic. Kai was a little hard to get used to in the beginning. She was having some issues with confidence and she seemed a little petulant and very stubborn. Her resistance to anything related to the fae and faery was hard to understand, given that her lover Nathan is sworn to the service of the Queen of Winter. Did I mention that this one has a lot of sidhe referencing and interactions? Another reason I liked this book a lot.

Nathan is a former hellhound and quite the leading man. I liked his straightforward attitude. He was certainly an alpha male but he didn't come off as overbearing or condescending as some do. He was very driven and loyalty meant everything to him. Kai and Nathan are already together when this story begins so the reader doesn't get to see the genesis of their relationship but that didn't take away from how well they worked. They made a great couple and brought out the strengths in each other that was needed in the face of the conflict with the god of chaos.

The god of chaos was a formidable foe and Wilks made him all the more sinister. The action in this book doesn't really get going until the second half. The beginning of the book was a bogged down a bit by the descriptions of the gods and what they could and couldn't do. I felt like this was something the reader needed to experience, through the actions of the gods instead of being told about it. But Wilks does give the reader a lot of information about the god of chaos and how he figures into the story.

Bottom Line:

Once the tempo picked up this one started to get better and better. Wilks is a master storyweaver. She has so many things going on that all relate to the story and the way she works them altogether is just a joy to read. I found myself enjoying the growth and changes in the characters, the thrilling sequences with the villain and the overall new direction that this book took me in. I'll have to say that if Wilks was intending to make a statement with this book, it worked. The World of the Lupi has a lot more in store.

Unbinding is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

About the Author:


Eileen Wilks is a USA Today bestselling author, a three-time RITA Award finalist, and the recipient of a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times. One of the previous Novels of the Lupi,Blood Challenge, was a New York Times extended list bestseller.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Unbinding by Eileen Wilks.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 11th.

1. Please leave a comment. What do you know about elven legends and stories?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review and Giveaway: Bless Her Dead Little Heart

Bless Her Dead Little Heart (Southern Ladies Mystery - Book 1) by Miranda James

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304 
ISBN-10: 0425273040
ISBN-13: 978-0425273043

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

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

Miranda James on the WEB: website, blogfacebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Bless Her Dead Little Heart, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

The new series from the author of The Silence of the Library and Murder Past Due...

New York Times 
bestselling author Miranda James returns to Athena, Mississippi, with an all-new mystery featuring Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce Ducote, two snoopy sisters who are always ready to lend a helping hand. But when a stressed socialite brings murder right to their doorstep, even they have trouble maintaining their Southern hospitality…

 
With the Mississippi sun beating down, An’gel and Dickce are taking a break to cool off and pet sit their friend Charlie Harris’s cat, Diesel, when their former sorority sister, Rosabelle Sultan, shows up at their door unexpectedly, with her ne’er-do-well adult children not far behind.
 
Rosabelle’s selfish offspring are desperate to discover what’s in her will, and it soon becomes clear that one of them would kill to get their hands on the inheritance. Suddenly caught up in a deadly tangle of duplicitous suspects and deep-fried motives, it will take all of the sisters’ Southern charm to catch a decidedly ill-mannered killer…


Thoughts:

Author Miranda James brings readers a new series, set in Athena, Mississippi. The Southern Ladies mystery series is a spin-off of James' Cat in the Stacks series and readers will be thrilled to see the Ducote sisters get their own stories. James is a master at character development, as well as, weaving a complex and well layered mystery. Filled with tons of Southern charm and humor, Bless Her Dear Little Heart is sure to be a great success!

What I liked:

The Cat in the Stacks series featuring Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel, has been one of my favorite cozy mystery series' for a long time. In the fourth book in that series, Out of Circulation, readers were introduced to the Ducote sisters, An'gel and Dickce. Readers who loved their southern charm and hospitality in that book, will be thrilled that James has written a spin-off series, with the sisters as the main characters. They remind me of the lovely Baldwin sisters from the old Walton's television series. Set in their ways, Southern to the bone, and ready to get knee deep in a good mystery. James really pulls out all the stops with this new series and readers are going to love it.

To say that James is good at character development is a big understatement. This author does a fantastic job of creating memorable characters that readers will want to read about again and again. The Ducote sisters have a charm and wit about them that is unique, but also comfortable. There is just something about them that will make the reader feel reminiscent and perhaps even a bit nostalgic. But when it comes to sleuthing they have their own way of doing things. I liked the way James introduces the ladies and lets the reader jump right into the action with them.

A former sorority sister, Rosabelle Sultan arrives unexpectedly and needs An'gel and Dickce's help. She thinks her children might be trying to kill her for her money. The sisters don't think much of this because Rosabelle was always known for exaggeration. But when her adult children show up on the door step and murders start to follow, it's up to these two southern belles to get to the bottom of it. James give readers a very dysfunctional family with plenty of suspects. The motive is an easy one, but no less intriguing. The clues were believable and the scenario, though hilarious at times, was completely plausible. I think readers will find this whodunit full of surprises.

Bottom Line:

As with any new series, it is sometimes hard to introduce readers to everything they need to know for the series background and still provide a thoughtful and interesting mystery. But James pulls it off with style. This is a series that I will definitely be keeping my eye on. The Ducote sisters have already garnered a place in my heart. A great start!

Bless Her Dead Little Heart is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Miranda James is a pseudonym for Dean James, the Agatha Award-winning author of several works of mystery nonfiction as well as four mystery series including the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series including such titles as Out of CirculationFile M for Murder, and Classified as Murder.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Bless Her Dead Little Heart by Miranda James.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 11th.

1. Please leave a comment. About other Miranda James books you have read and how you think this series will be.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Priestess Dreaming

Priestess Dreaming (Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon - Book 16) by Yasmine Galenorn

Publication Date: 09/30/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Jove
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 051515475X
ISBN-13: 978-0515154757

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Jove)

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

Yasmine Galenorn on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon

O.5. Etched in Silver
   1. Witchling
   2. Changeling
   3. Darkling
   4. Dragon Wytch
   5. Night Huntress
   6. Demon Mistress
   7. Bone Magic
   8. Harvest Hunting
   9. Blood Wyne
9.5. Ice Shards
 10. Courting Darkness
 11. Shaded Vision
 12. Shadow Rising
 13. Haunted Moon
 14. Autumn Whispers
 15. Crimson Veil
 16. Priestess Dreaming

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




Excerpt from, Priestess Dreaming, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

We’re the D’Artigo sisters: savvy half-human, half-Fae operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. My sister Delilah is a two-faced werecat and a Death Maiden. Menolly is a vampire married to a gorgeous werepuma. And me? I’m Camille, a Moon witch married to three hunky husbands, and I’m about to journey through the veils to search for a long lost legend…

With the war in Otherworld raging, the Queen of Shadow and Night summons me to her court. Aeval orders me on a quest through the mists to find an ancient ally of hers. I am to seek out The Merlin and wake him from his long sleep. Surrounded by danger on all sides, with Morgaine and Bran along for the journey, I must pray they are allies rather than enemies, as we undertake a perilous search through the labyrinth of time…


Thoughts:

The D'Artigo sisters are back in Yasmine Galenorn's sixteenth book in the Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon series, Priestess Dreaming. This book is a work of art from the gorgeous cover illustration to the strong female characters and sexy men who love them. Galenorn once again thrills readers with an action packed story that will keep them on the edge of their collective seats. Camile, the Moon witch is the main protagonist in this one and fans of the series will love her search for The Merlin and the nod to the legends of King Arthur. A good addition to the series!

What I liked:  

I was a little skeptical the first time I read a Yasmine Galenorn novel. I mean let's face it, she is a little intimidating. Especially, with a series that is sixteen books in. But after reading Crimson Veil the book that comes before Priestess Dreaming, I at least felt like I had a good understanding of the world building, the important relationships and an overall grasp of the story arc. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to jump into this book and feel good about where I was within the story. I'm not a big proponent of starting a series that is this far along, but I might make an exception for this one.

One of the things that I really like about Galenorn's writing is the strong female characters that she writes. All three of the D'Artigo sisters have a strength that is born of adversity. Camile, is a Moon witch and is the lead character in Priestess Dreaming. She has a tough skin and has been through a lot. But she knows who she is and is comfortable in her own skin. She has three sexy husbands and somehow still manages to make it look easy. But she also has a vulnerability about her that makes her endearing and intriguing at the same time. A very well written character.

I love the interactions between the characters in Galenorn's books as well. In this book, we don't see a lot of the interplay between Camile and her husbands because she is on a quest that does not require them to all be together. But we do get to see how she works around people she trusts and those she doesn't. While she is trying to find The Merlin to bring him Earthside to help her destroy a new foe that has been unleashed, Camile is still learning about herself and growing. I thought her character was expressive and easy to like and her attitudes towards others and her life was interesting.

Most of the action in the book begins closer to the middle of the book, than in the beginning. Galenorn goes to great lengths to inform readers who may be reading her books for the first time about what has gone on before and how we got to this point. So, there is an inordinate amount of backstory in the beginning, but once the quest to find The Merlin begins the action picks up to a frenzied pace. 

When The Merlin finally returns Earthside to take on the wyrm, the showdown is over very quickly. I wasn't quite sure how to take that. It seemed like the resolution was a bit too easy for my tastes. This is supposed to be one of the most villainous foes they have ever faced, but it only took a few pages to take him out. I was expecting a more formidable bad guy and to feel like the characters were really facing mortal danger.

Galenorn does bring the conflict in The Otherworld a little closer to home and the sisters face some loss in this book that was unexpected. Galenorn, thankfully, is not one for cliffhangers and the book does come to a good ending point. I do think the overall story arc has veered a little bit off course. This book didn't have a whole lot to do with Shadow Wing and the war going on in the Otherworld, though it does touch the subject here and there. We'll see what happens I hope we get back to that. I want to know where this is headed.

Bottom Line:

I had my ups and downs with this one. I loved the character building and the world building was fantastic as usual. But I felt that the resolution was a bit too easy and that it did not stick very close to the overall story arc. I still liked it a lot and want to read more. Definitely a great series for Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance readers. 

Priestess Dreaming is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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


Yasmine Galenorn is the New York Times bestselling author of the Otherworld series (Crimson VeilAutumn WhispersHaunted Moon) and the Indigo Court series (Night VeilNight Seeker,Night Vision).


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Priestess Dreaming by Yasmine Galenorn.

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

1. Please leave a comment. The D'Artigo sisters are a very eclectic bunch. If you've read the series, which sister is your favorite and if which do you think will be?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review and Giveaway: One Potion in the Grave

One Potion in the Grave (Magic Potion Mystery - Book 2) by Heather Blake

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Obsidian Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0451416317
ISBN-13: 978-0451416315

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)

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

Heather Blake on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Magic Potion Mystery

1. A Potion to Die For
2. One Potion in the Grave

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




Excerpt from, One Potion in the Grave, courtesy of 
Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

Carly Bell Hartwell’s love potions are always in demand in Hitching Post, Alabama, the wedding capital of the South.…
 
When Katie Sue Perrywinkle walks into the Little Shop of Potions, Carly is surprised and delighted to see her old childhood friend. Katie Sue fled her hometown and a troubled family over a decade ago. But she’s not back for a social visit. She’s come to settle a score with Senator Warren Calhoun, who is in town for his son’s high-profile wedding.
 
But before Katie Sue has a chance to voice any objections, she’s forced to forever hold her peace. After finding her friend dead, Carly vows to find her murderer. Were the corrupt Calhouns willing to go to any lengths to avoid a scandal? Did Katie Sue’s family take the term “bad blood” to a whole new level? And why did the bride-to-be come to Carly for a love potion? As Carly gets closer to the truth, a killer is planning a very chilly reception.…



Thoughts:

When a long lost friend returns to Hitching Post, Alabama it's up to Carly Bell to figure out why she ends up dead in Heather Blake's newest, Magic Potions mystery, One Potion in the Grave. Readers will be thrilled to return to this enchanting small town, where the mystery is almost as captivating as the southern drawl of the characters. Blake continues to draw readers in with strong character development and a ton of humor. This is a series that paranormal cozy fans can not afford to miss. A great addition to the series!

What I liked:

One Potion in the Grave is the second book in the Magic Potions mystery series and Heather Blake once again scores a big hit. This book has a bit of witchery, a dash of blackmail and a smidgen of murder to keep readers glued to the pages. Blake introduced readers to the town of Hitching Post, Alabama in the first book in the series, A Potion to Die For and now readers are back in town with Carly Bell and her gaggle of friends and family. The town is buzzing with the all the details of the nuptials of Senator Warren Cahoun's son. But it's the return of one of Carly Bell's childhood friends that has her in a dither.

Katie Sue isn't Katie Sue anymore, though. She is Kathryn Perry, a woman on a mission. When she returns to Hitching Post, she apparently wasn't just here to see her sister. When she ends up dead, Carly Bell has to step in and figure out what was going on and why she was murdered. It appears that blackmail may have been in the wind and politics was playing a part. I thought the mystery itself was captivating. There were so many ways it could have gone and Blake had me puzzling it all out late into the night. With so many guests in town for the wedding and more motives than an amateur sleuth like Carly Bell knew what to do with, it was a great ride. Hard to put together and full of surprises.

I thought Blake did such a good job with the characters in this book. Carly Bell is just as perky and vivacious as usual and the Odd Duck's (her aunties) are just as funny as ever. Readers also get the added bonus of learning more about Carly Bell's relationship with her ex and her troubles with her hexy cousin, Delia. Ainsley is ever the great sidekick and readers will love seeing how the interactions between the characters add to the story. It seems as though, Blake was very conscious of the fact that not did the mystery need to be good, but the back stories and the development of the mood of the story had to be right as well, to make this such a good book. She had her ear to the pulse of the town and it's inhabitants and that made a big difference in how enjoyable this book was.

I love the aunt's. The Odd Ducks add so much flavor to the story. They are not only the comic relief that keeps the book light and fun to read, but they are also an integral part of the small town of Hitching Post. Aunt Margie and the pitchfork had me laughing out loud and wondering if she really did have the hots for another one of the locals was priceless. Blake knows how much humor to add to keep readers engaged but not to take away from the real reason for reading the book... the whodunit! She did a masterful job here and I think readers will agree.

Bottom Line:

This is a great new series. Coming in at Book 2 shouldn't be any problem for readers. The potions and the hexes are important to the story but not overwhelming, as is the humor. It was just the perfect balance to make this book a great addition to the series. Blake seems to have hit her stride with this one and I look forward to seeing what happens in Hitching Post next. 

One Potion in the Grave is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Heather Blake is the author of the Magic Potion Mysteries (A Potion to Die For) and the Wishcraft Mysteries (A Witch Before DyingThe Good, the Bad, and the WitchyThe Goodbye Witch).


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of One Potion in the Grave by Heather Blake.

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

1. Please leave a comment. Ever thought about getting a magic potion or charm? I've seen them offered online... LOL. 

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Carolina Blues

Carolina Blues (Dare Island - Book 4) by Virginia Kantra

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425269698
ISBN-13: 978-0425269695

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

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

Virginia Kantra on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Dare Island

1. Carolina Home
2. Carolina Girl
3. Carolina Man
4. Carolina Blues

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




Excerpt from, Carolina Blues, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

Jack Rossi is Dare Island’s new police chief. The laid-back North Carolina community is just what he needs to recover from a rocky marriage and a big-city police department.  He’s learned his lesson: no more high-profile women or high-pressure jobs. The last thing he wants is an unconventional alt girl rocking his world.
 
Grad student Lauren Patterson made headlines when she kept a bank robbery from going bad.  She’s fled to Dare Island to clear her head and focus on writing her story. However, sexy Jack Rossi is a distraction that’s too hot to ignore, and it’s igniting an affair too combustible to resist—or quit.
 
But when their pasts come looking for them, Jack and Lauren find themselves fighting for the future they deserve, whatever the price.


Thoughts:

Virginia Kantra once again reminds readers why small town romances are oh so goood to read with her latest book, Carolina Blues. This is the fourth book in the Dare Island series and readers looking for a sweet romantic story about two people who are trying to move on from their troubled pasts will find it enchanting. Kantra's writing is smooth and flows with ease, as she wades some deep waters with PTSD and betrayal as themes in this book. Readers looking for passion and love won't be able to resist this amazing addition to the Dare Island series.

What I liked:

Virginia Kantra is one of those writers that I have on my watchlist. I look forward to every book she puts out and I was eagerly awaiting Carolina Blues for several reasons. I knew this would be a transitional book for the series and I wanted to know where Kantra would take us next. The Fletcher's have been an amazing family to read about, but they are settled into their own lives and loves now and the series continues. 

I liked the way that Kantra decided to go here. She starts to let the reader develop a relationship with Dare Island itself and not just the Fletcher family in this book. She is branching out and including some of the characters who have been more secondary in the first three books of the series. I loved the addition of Jack Rossi as the new chief of police. It puts the series on a good track to continue for some time and that's what I was hoping would happen. 

Jack is a little different than Kantra's other heroes in this series. He is a big city police officer that takes a job in a small town. He is a bit darker, a bit more edgy and more world weary than we've seen before in the series and I definitely thought that was a good move. He is sexy, passionate and he has a soft side. From taking in strays to helping Lauren with her PTSD, Jack is what a hero is all about. He has his own demons to fight, but he doesn't shirk helping others with theirs. I loved his character development throughout the book and felt that Kantra really gave readers a lead character that mattered.

Lauren's story was both poignant and scary at the same time. She was able to talk down bank robbers but she has trouble getting through a normal day. Readers join her in the aftermath of a traumatic experience. She is has been flooded with attention and she isn't dealing with it well. I know from personal experience that a person needs a measure of calm after a storm and that's what Dare Island was providing for Lauren. I loved the way Kantra was able to show the reader what Lauren was going through and how it affected every aspect of her life. She was a great character with a lot of courage and strength. 

The relationship that develops between Jack and Lauren is pretty straight forward. There isn't a lot of severe conflict or emotional gut wrenching moments. It's just one of romances that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. These are two people who have had trouble in their past. Jack's ex-wife's betrayal was painful and Lauren's near death experience changed her life and together they weather the storms of moving on. 

Bottom Line:

I didn't need a lot of hoopla with this one, it was just passionate and romantic and what I needed to uplift my spirits and make me believe in happy ever afters again. Kantra does a great job of transitioning the series and moving the reader forward. I loved it, and so will you!

Carolina Blues is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


New York Times bestselling author of the Dare Island novels, including Carolina Home, Carolina Girl, and Carolina Man, and the Children of the Sea series, Virginia Kantra has won numerous industry awards, including Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award and two National Readers’ Choice Awards.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Carolina Blues by Virginia Kantra.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 5th.

1. Please leave a comment. How do you feel about stories where the people have had a traumatic experience and then turn it into a book? Non-fiction or otherwise.

2. Please fill out the FORM.