Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Wickedly Dangerous

Wickedly Dangerous (Baba Yaga - Book 1) by Deborah Blake

Publication Date: 09/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 352
ISBN-10: 0425272923
ISBN-13: 978-0425272923

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

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

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

Excerpt from, Wickedly Dangerous, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…


Thoughts:

Deborah Blake brings readers the first book in a new series, Wickedly Dangerous. Blake has taken an old world fairy-tale and turned it into a modern paranormal romance. Readers who are familiar with the Russian fairy-tale character, Baba Yaga, will certainly recognize her in Dr. Barbara Yeager, a botanist on a mission. She isn't exactly the old hag of legend, and her dragon disguised as a dog, Chuba Yudo is quite the character in his own right. Readers looking for something more than the average fairy-tale retelling will love this one!

What I liked:

Everybody knows that the literary and television worlds have lately been turned on their heads with the influx of fairy-tale based stories. From Once Upon a Time and Sleepy Hollow to Grimm and other television shows, readers are seeing their old familiar stories, changed, retold, modernized. In the book world the same thing is happening, from Snow White to Sleeping Beauty and beyond. I would have to say that some of these books and retelling are quite amazing and I always love it when something new and different comes along. That's what I felt like I got with Wickedly Dangeous... a refreshing look at an old world tale.

The Baba Yaga of legend and myth was an old hag. She was not necessarily good, but not necessarily bad. She was a tricky old lady with a dragon companion and three riders at her back to do whatever she needed done. In Deborah Blake's version of the story, readers get an updated tale that is both intriguing and full of surprises. Dr. Barbara Yeager is a different kind of Baba Yaga, she is still mysterious and sneaky to an extent. Her dragon is disguised as a big dog, Chuba Yudo. Her mode of transportation, a silver Air-stream trailer. She was younger, aged slower and packed quite a punch. I loved the character. She might have been worldly wise in some things, but she didn't know a thing about love. She still has her companions and along with them and the local sherriff, she sets out to find out who or what is taking the children from a small upstate town. A great retelling, very modern, very edgy.

Liam the local sheriff, puts a twist in the Baba Yaga's plans. She is here due to a Russian grandmother desperate to find her missing grandchild, but she doesn't approach things like any other woman, Liam has ever met. He was a strong, dedicated man. The law meant something to him. His own inner demons were hard to tame and he was a bit jaded when it came to love. But he was just the right man for this job and this woman. These two dance around each other for awhile, but it's obvious that they are attracted to each other. The romance wasn't too overstated and it was one element to the story. The fact that the Otherworld has come calling might have been the central conflict of the story, but Blake makes the reader want Liam and Barbara to have their happy ever after, just like in the fairy-tales of old.

The mystery of who or what had taken the children was so interesting. The inhabitants of the Otherworld were full of surprises and a whole lot of trouble. Liam is forced to look at things in a whole different way than he is used to with this case. When he realizes that Barbara may hold the key to finding the missing children he is willing to accept her help even before he learns who she really is and what she can do. I thought Blake did an exceptional job of giving him a reason to suspend his disbelief in the strange and paranormal. She didn't make it easy for him to believe, but she made it imperative that he did. Loved that part!

What I didn't like:

This is probably just a pet peeve, but upon reading about the next book in the series, I found that the author gives readers another Baba Yaga, since there are several that help to keep the balance between this world and the Otherworld. I wanted to learn more about this Baba Yaga in the next one. But hopefully there will some side notes here and there in the next books to let readers know how these characters progress. It certainly didn't take away from my enjoyment of this book.

Bottom Line:

This was a great book to start off the series and readers will enjoy learning about the old Baba Yaga legends and tales, as well as, fall in love with this new and different version of the tale. Strong characters and a very interesting theme help to make this one, a book that paranormal readers will not want to miss. The touch romance was well played and didn't take over. The book has a slight Urban Fantasy feel to it that will definitely broaden the audience. A very good first effort.

Wickedly Dangerous is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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



About the Author:


Deborah Blake has published seven books on modern witchcraft with Llewellyn Worldwide and has an ongoing column in Witches & Pagans Magazine. When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker, tarot reader, and energy healer. She lives in a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magical and mundane.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, October 14th.

1. Please leave a comment. Have you heard of the Baba Yaga? (Russian fairytale of sorts)

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Made For You

Made For You by Melissa Marr

Publication Date: 09/16/2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Imprint: Harper
Genre: YA Paranormal Suspense
Pages: 368
ISBN-10: 0062911197
ISBN-13: 978-0062011190

(Received for an honest review from Harper)

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

Melissa Marr on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Made For You, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

Thrilling contemporary romantic suspense from New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr. Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital to discover an attempt has been made on her life. But who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? Before she can consider the question, she finds that she's awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people's deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva's power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this southern Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa's fans and every YA reader will find its wild ride enthralling.

Thoughts:

Melissa Marr returns to her YA roots with her latest book, Made For You. This book is at it's core a great mystery, while also incorporating paranormal elements, romance and some serious suspense. If you are looking for a book that will not only make you smile, but also make bite your nails, have goosebumps and stay up way too late, this is it! Marr's excellent character development and eerie villain make this a YA must read!

What I liked:

Melissa Marr is very well known in YA paranormal circles for her highly successful Wicked Lovely series. When I heard she was writing a new YA novel I was really excited. This is an author who knows how to write paranormal elements. What I wasn't expecting was that this book would have that, but so much more. This book is mysterious and creepy and will the reader sitting on the edge of their seat. To say it is spine-tingling is probably an understatement. The villain alone will give you the heebie-geebies in the worst way. 

With alternating points of view, the reader not only gets to learn more about the heroine and the hero, but also the inner workings of the mind of a very disturbed villain. I mean if this guy doesn't give you the creeps there is something wrong. I am not usually a fan of books where the villain has 'religious' reasons for his actions, but I do realize that, that is sometimes the case and in this book, it really works. Marr has created a serial killer that could be the student you are sitting next to in class and that's what makes it so terrifying. He is just a normal guy on the outside, it's the inside that is disturbing and readers get to see a lot of the story through his very demented eyes. *shiver*

The heroine, Eva is totally not what I expected. She was billed as a debutante, one of the elite from a small southern town, where tradition and popularity mean everything. What would you expect? Snotty, little rich girl? Me too! So, not the case with Eva. She might be town royalty, but she is very down to earth and doesn't seem to care at all what a person's standing is. She is sassy and smart and she's got a very sick stalker. What I loved about her the most was the fact that once she learns she has a paranormal gift, she doesn't shy away from it. She uses it to fight back against this sadistic killer. Touching people allows Eva to experience and foresee the day of their death. A pretty handy ability with a killer on the loose. Marr has given readers a wonderful young woman, who has been through a lot and comes somehow finds a way to come out on top.

Nate is an old friend, ex-boyfriend to be exact, that has had some very bad decisions, turning to alcohol, drugs and girls to fill the voids in his life. But eventually he gets it under control and turns his life around. Now that he and Eva have reconnected after her accident, it looks like they might have a second chance at love. The added romantic edge to this book was the perfect way to alleviate some of the darkness that pervades the book. Marr shows us a boy that figures out what he really wants is something he left behind and now he has to figure out how to get it back. Just an all around great character.

Grace is Eva's best friend and a true friend indeed. One of the great things about this book was that deep bond that Eva and Grace share. There were a lot of themes going on in this book, and strong friendship was one of them. Marr allows the reader to be a part of it and it's very endearing. It was a part of the book that made me wish I had that soul mate kind of friendship. When an author can make you want something from reading their book, they are someone to take note of.

What I didn't like:

The pace of this book was not frantic. I think Marr took the time to really develop her characters and relationships and sometimes that's good. But it does make you wonder when things are going to pick. When they do get going... Wow!

Bottom Line:

Another excellent book from Melissa Marr. I think readers who are looking for something a little more meaningful than most YA paranormal books will really enjoy this one. You not only get the paranormal elements with Eva's ability, but you get romance, mystery, suspense and the creeps!

Made for You is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Melissa Marr is the author of the bestselling Wicked Lovely series as well as the adult fantasy novels Graveminder and The Arrivals. When not writing, editing, or traveling, Melissa is buried under a plethora of books, dogs, and children in Virginia or online at www.melissa-marr.com.

Review and Giveaway: The Wolfe Widow

The Wolfe Widow (Book Collector Mystery - Book 3) by Victoria Abbott

Publication Date: 09/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425255301
ISBN-13: 978-0425255308

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

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

Victoria Abbott on the WEB: website, twitter, facebookgoodreads

Books in the series

Book Collector Mystery

1. The Christie Curse
2. The Sayers Swindle
3. The Wolfe Widow

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




Excerpt from, The Wolfe Widow, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Check out the quote from Debbie's Book Bag on the cover!

Synopsis:

As Thanksgiving approaches, Jordan Bingham is grateful for her job researching rare books for Vera Van Alst, the infamous curmudgeon of Harrison Falls, New York. But when an uninvited guest makes an appearance, much more than dinner is disrupted—and Jordan is thankful just to be alive…
 
Vera Van Alst doesn’t normally receive visitors without appointment, but she agrees to see the imperious Muriel Delgado upon arrival. Shortly thereafter, Jordan is told that her position is being terminated. Evicted from the Van Alst House, Jordan is determined to find out what hold Muriel has over her erstwhile employer.
 
It seems Muriel has designs on Vera’s money and property—not to mention a particular interest in her collection of Nero Wolfe first editions. When Jordan discovers a deadly connection between Muriel and the Van Alst family, it’s up to her to put the house in order and stop a killer from going back to press.


Thoughts:

Calling all book lovers! The collaborative effort which is Victoria Abbott has released the latest book in the Book Collector mystery series, The Wolfe Widow. Readers who are in love with books will truly find this series captivating. Each book in the series has focused in some part on a particular author and this time it is Rex Stout and his infamous character, Nero Wolfe. Readers are treated to a mystery that doesn't necessarily involve a murder. A rare thing for the cozy genre. Victoria Abbott once again thrills readers with humor, plenty of sleuthing and some very eccentric characters. A great addition to the series!

What I liked:

Did I ever mention I love a good mystery? LOL! The Book Collector Mystery series, strikes a cord with me on a lot of levels. First and foremost, I have been a cozy reader all the way back to high school when I started reading Agatha Christie, who in my opinion was the forerunner to the cozy genre we have today. Victoria Abbott's nod to some of the great mystery writers of the past with this series, is phenomenal. Some readers may not have read these authors, but they certainly have heard of them and getting to find out more about their work in the form of a good mystery is so much fun. Abbott knows how to incorporate interesting facts about authors and books into her mysteries and I think real book lovers truly appreciate that.

Jordan finds herself in quite a pickle with this book, not only does a mysterious woman appear who seems to have some kind of ominous control over her employer, Vera Van Alst, but she ends up back where she started. Jordan is the one member of her family that has chosen the straight and narrow way instead of a life of crime and getting fired from her job as the procurer of Vera Van Alst's rare book collection has certainly set her back. Abbott uses a lot of humor in her writing and it often centers around Jordan's rather dubious uncles who still have their hands in a few pots too many. I loved the development of Jordan's story in this one. She has to fight for position and her uncles actually come to her rescue in a few situations. The more I learn about this family the more I like them. Not only is Jordan a great sleuth, but she is also a great person. Her growth in this one was a joy to read.

Now I am all for a good murder or two to give a cozy mystery the oomph it needs to get going, but sometimes it just isn't necessary. There was a murder attempt and some murder in the background so to speak but Victoria Abbott proves you don't have to have murder as the main conflict to make a cozy mystery work. The real story in this book was what kind of control did Muriel Delgado have over Vera? How does anybody have control over Vera? I love that old lady, she has spunk, determination and she doesn't give a darn what anybody thinks about her. She is an amazing character and I loved the fact that Abbott makes her curmudgeony and grumpy and very likable underneath it all. Abbott pulled it off... a cozy that doesn't rely on a murder. Well done!

What I didn't like:

When you have a dastardly villain appear on the scene, you want to dislike them. You want to feel that thing in your gut go, hmmmm, I don't like that character. Muriel, though certainly formidable, didn't make me scared. She kind of made me mad, but she didn't strike fear into me, like some bad guys do. Though that's often the case in cozies, I wanted to be a little more afraid of what she was up to. Not a deal breaker though, this was a fantastic book, regardless of the fear factor.

Bottom Line:

This series just keeps getting better and better. Abbott obviously loves good mystery writing and she uses it to her advantage. Book lovers and mystery lovers alike will love the nods to the greats, the humor that pervades this series and the great characters that are hard to forget. I want some of Signora's prosciutto sammies!

The Wolfe Widow is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Victoria Abbott is a pseudonym for a collaboration between seasoned mystery author Mary Jane Maffini and her daughter Victoria. Mary Jane, a former mystery bookstore owner, is the author of the Camilla MacPhee, Fiona Silk, and Charlotte Adams series. They live outside Ottawa, ONT.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Wolfe Widow by Victoria Abbott.

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

1. Please leave a comment about your favorite mystery series growing up? The main character mentions the Trixie Beldon series which is my favorite. 

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Honor's Price

Honor's Price (Warriors of the Mist - Book 3) by Alexis Morgan

Publication Date: 09/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet Eclipse
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0451239970
ISBN-13: 978-0451239976

(Received for an honest review from Signet Eclipse)

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

Alexis Morgan on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series:

Warriors of the Mist

1. My Lady Mage
2. Her Knight's Quest
3. Honor's Price 

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




Excerpt from, Honor's Price, courtesy of the author's website

Synopsis:

Cursed by the gods. Bound by brotherhood. Freed by love.

The Warriors of the Mist have fought side by side for centuries, but Kane alone has felt something darker calling to him.  With the Kingdom of Agathia on the brink of rebellion, Kane knows that relying on dark magic to infiltrate the enemy’s court is dangerous but necessary despite the cost to his soul.

Lady Theda hopes to end the tyrannical reign of Duke Keirthan, the man who killed his own brother—Theda’s husband. But she has little hope of succeeding, until a mage-marked warrior appears.

For the first time in centuries, Kane is tempted not by dark magic, but by a woman who wants more than his protection. But with both of their hearts—and her people’s lives—in jeopardy, giving in to their passion may be a risk too great to take…


Thoughts:

Alexis Morgan concludes her Warriors of the Mist series with her latest book, Honor's Price. Morgan is a very versatile writer that shifts between genres. The combination of history and magic in this series is exceptional. Readers who are looking for something different should try this fantasy romance series for it's unique blending of elements. Morgan uses strong characters with magical abilities to create a world that is both historical in nature, and full of surprises. A great conclusion to an amazing series.

What I liked:

This a series that I think the reader needs to read from the beginning for a lot of reasons. The most important being the fact that Honor's Price is the third and final book in the series and Morgan spends a great deal of time wrapping everything up and giving readers a chance to see what is happening in the lives of the characters from previous books. I liked the fact that Morgan doesn't leave readers in the dark about the future of the characters they have grown to care about. It was a great touch!

This series centers around five damned warriors who fight for good at the behest of the Lady and Lord of the River. Their latest quest is to help Lady Merewen protect the kingdom of Agathia from the dark influence of Lord Keirthan. The warriors are invincible, immortal and ready for action in Honor's Price. It is the final showdown between the warriors and the Duke. This particular story focuses on Kane, a warrior that is marked with a dark blood mage mark on his face. He infiltrates the Duke's inner circle and by chance meets the woman of his dreams, Lady Theda. Without a lot of the background I think readers would loose a lot of the nuances and exceptional parts of this book.

The overall story of the warriors is very creative and imaginative. It is obvious that Morgan has a deep love for magic and has a way of writing about it that makes it almost seem real. Readers who are able to suspend their belief in reality will find this series one of the better fantasy romance series' out there. Morgan not only gives the reader something to believe in, she gives her warriors something to fight for. The battle between good and evil is a recurring theme in any kind of writing, but it really stands out in this series. I found it very entertaining.

Morgan has a knack for characterization. Her character's, whether immortal as with this series or more realistic in her contemporary romance writing, are always multi-faceted and have exceptional depth. In Honor's Price, Kane is a character that has some deep rooted demons that he fights within himself. A tortured hero if you will. What I loved about him was his willingness to give his love to Lady Theda. He didn't hold back despite his worries for their future. He was strong and noble. A character worthy of the name hero. 

Theda was also a great character in her own right. She stayed in a situation that was very difficult because she was protecting her people. She was honorable and resourceful. Her relationship with Kane was beautiful. Two people who so obviously deserve a happy ending. I am glad that Morgan was able to give that to readers in this final installment. This is a great character driven series that readers will no doubt find hard to give up.

What I didn't like:

There were a few moments in Honor's Price that I felt like Morgan may have taken the simple way out of a certain situation or solution to a problem. But the rest of the book was so good, it really didn't matter. If an author can make you overlook some of the flaws, you know it's a good book.

Bottom Line:

If you like fantasy romance you can't go wrong with the Warriors of the Mist series. Readers will more out of them if they read them in order, but if they don't not to worry. They'll love Honor's Price so much they'll have to go back and pick up the others. Very good conclusion to a magical series!

Honor's Price is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


USA Today Best-selling author Alexis Morgan has always been an avid reader, and she loves spending her days with hunky heroes and gutsy heroines. She has published more than thirty books, novellas, and short stories, including contemporary romances, American West Historicals (as Pat Pritchard), Paranormal and Fantasy Romances. Her new contemporary series, Snowberry Creek, is being published by Signet Eclipse. She has been nominated for numerous industry awards, including the RITA© from the Romance Writers of America, the top award in the romance genre. Alexis loves to hear from fans. You can contact her through her website at www.alexismorgan.com


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Honor's Price by Alexis Morgan.

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

1. Please leave a comment. Alexis Morgan writes both paranormal and contemporary romance. What do you think it would be like to write both?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Perfect Man

The Perfect Man by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Publication Date: 09/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet Eclipse
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0451419316
ISBN-13: 978-0451419316

(Received for an honest review from Signet Eclipse)

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

Vicki Lewis Thompson on the WEB: websitetwitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, The Perfect Man, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

New York Times Bestselling Author Vicki Lewis Thompson presents a sweet, sexy novel about saddling up, getting lucky, and finding love....

Sorority sisters Melanie, Astrid, and Valerie have been inseparable since college. Even years after graduating, they still get together to debate their favorite topic: Who is the perfect man?

While growing up on a ranch, Melanie always assumed that she’d marry a cowboy—until a Parisian adventure introduces her to a dashing Texas billionaire and makes her doubt what she really wants….

Astrid’s parents expect her to settle down with someone rich, but when she can’t keep her hands off a hardworking and handsome rancher, her world turns upside down....

After a terrifying accident, Valerie doesn’t expect ever to risk love again—until she meets the one man no woman can resist: a billionaire cowboy....

As the three argue over what makes a man a great catch—a pocketful of dollars or spurs on his boots—they discover that the perfect man is sometimes exactly what you’d least expect....


Thoughts:

When most people think of Vicki Lewis Thompson, werewolves come to mind, not necessarily cowboys. Vicki Lewis Thompson brings readers three stories about three different women who end up the cowboys of their dreams. The Perfect Man tells the story of Melanie, Astrid, and Valerie and what each of them is looking for in the perfect man. Readers who are looking for something different from this author, or just a good cowboy romance, this is the perfect book. 

What I liked:

Each of the three stories in this anthology have been previously released from Vicki Lewis Thompson, but having them all together in one book, was a very smart idea. All three women are friends and former sorority sisters, giving them a link to each other and intertwining all of the stories. What do you think makes up the qualities of the perfect man? This is the theme that Thompson is working with here and for these three woman, the answer is a cowboy.

At first I wasn't sure there would be enough realism in these stories for me. Then I thought about it. There are of course billionaire cowboys out there and they do eventually find love. How do they do it? It certainly could have happened any of the three ways that Thompson describes in her book. So, with that decided in my mind I loved all three of these stories. 

One Night With a Billionaire

Melanie's story was interesting to me for several reasons. First she goes on a trip to Paris by herself, when both of her friends back out. I love traveling and seeing new places and that struck a cord with me on this one. Who doesn't want to meet the man of her dreams in the city of love? Drew was a great character, charismatic and all cowboy. This was a great story.

Tempted by a Cowboy

Astrid is the wealthy cowgirl in this story. Her veterinary practice brings her into contact with a local rancher and it's on from there. The connection between these two was more than just good chemistry. There love for animals was also very important to the story. Letting Fletcher in on the fact that she was rich was the obstacle here. This was my least favorite of the stories, but it was still good.

Safe in his Arms 

Valerie's story was probably the most realistic in my mind. Valerie suffers from PTSD following an accident where she was almost trampled during a concert. She meets the man of her dreams while undergoing Equine Therapy to help her manage her panic attacks. I loved the PTSD angle and thought Thompson did a great job of using humor as well as levity in this story.

What I didn't like:

Since these are all three short stories I run into the same obstacle that I generally have with these. I wanted more time with the characters, a chance to get to know them better. There was just a bit too much love at first sight or almost love at first sight due to the constraints of the form. I will say that I like anthologies and collections that are all from the same author, and this is a good one.

Bottom Line:

Three great cowboy short romances. The Perfect Man is great for those who like their romance quick and easy. Each story had it's own plot line, but all three were tied together with the thread of friendship. If you are looking for something outside the paranormal from this author, this is a very good choice.

The Perfect Man is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


A romance-writing career has brought Vicki Lewis Thompson many wonderful things: New York Times bestseller status, the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award from Romance Writers of America, thousands of readers, many dear friends, and the cutest little yellow convertible in the world. She's the author of more than a hundred books, including the Perfect Man novellas (One Night with a BillionaireTempted by a Cowboy, and Safe in his Arms) and the Wild About You series (Werewolf in ManhattanWerewolf in Greenwich Village, and Werewolf in the North Woods). Despite all the books she's written, Thompson continues to be fascinated by the many ways that a man and a woman fall in love. The age-old story remains a challenging puzzle to be solved anew with each book.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Perfect Man by Vicki Lewis Thompson.

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

1. Please leave a comment. What's the likelihood of three friends finding three cowboy millionaires? This book is so good it's doesn't matter (wink) Good idea for a book or not?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review and Giveaway: The Skeleton Takes a Bow

The Skeleton Takes a Bow (Family Skeleton Mystery - Book 2) by Leigh Perry

Publication Date: 09/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425255832
ISBN-13: 978-0425255834

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

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

Leigh Perry on the WEB: website, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Family Skeleton Mystery

1. A Skeleton in the Family
2. The Skeleton Takes a Bow

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




Excerpt from, The Skeleton Takes a Bow, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

And the best performance as a skull goes to… 

After years of hiding in the Thackery family house, Sid the skeleton is delighted to finally have his moment in the spotlight. He’s starring in a high school production of Hamlet. Well, not so much starring in as being a prop. At least part of him has a part—he’s using his head to play Yorick of “Alas, poor Yorick” fame. Every day, Georgia Thackery’s daughter, Madison, who’s also in the play, brings in his skull, and every night, she takes him home...

Until one night when he’s accidentally left at school—and hears the sounds of someone being murdered. But the next day, there’s no body and no one seems to be missing.

Sid is not a numbskull—he knows what he heard. Georgia thinks he imagined it—until a week later when a body is found. Now Georgia and Sid will both need to keep their heads as they stick their necks out and play sleuth to catch the conscience of a killer…


Thoughts:

Leigh Perry brings readers the second book in her Family Skeleton Mystery series, The Skeleton Takes a Bow. This series takes the old saying, "skeleton's in the closet' to a new level. Sid, the walking, talking skeleton is a remarkable character. Readers who take the time to embrace new ideas of what a character can and should be, will love this one! Perry's writing has paranormal elements, good old fashioned sleuthing and a wry sense of humor. This is a book and series readers won't soon forget!

What I liked:

There were several things that I liked about this book. The Skeleton Takes a Bow is the second in the series. Leigh Perry introduced Sid in the first book and described his relationship with Georgia. That's about all the background the reader needs to have in order to enjoy this book. It might be hard for some readers to adjust to Sid, the skeleton being a real character, but he is definitely the character that defines this series. I think Perry is really on to something with this idea. I wonder what other inanimate objects could possibly be characters? There is certainly tons of potential with this series and readers are in for a treat with Sid.

In this particular book, Perry also uses one of my favorite Shakespearean plays, Hamlet. I thought this was a nice touch and a great nod to one of the greatest literary genius' of all time. Hamlet, also takes a bit of poetic license with characterizations. Using Sid to be Yorick's skull was a fantastic idea and I think it worked really well for this book. I was a little surprised that the story did not focus more on the production of the play, for the mystery aspects, but the SAT test ring was also a great plot line. 

The mystery itself was not what I expected but definitely believable and interesting. When Sid ends up at school overnight, he thinks he hears what could have been a murder. I liked the way Perry went about bringing Sid and Georgia into the investigation. It turns out that this mystery was about something totally different than the school's production of Hamlet. I liked the test ring plot because it was unusual and it fit with the idea that this is an unusual series. I like being surprised and this one really did that. 

What I didn't like:

Georgia and Madison are wonderful characters, but they are a bit more secondary to the story. Sid is the star of the show and that is perhaps, not what what Perry originally envisioned. I think Sid was supposed to be more of a sidekick. That's not to say that this is bad, because I think Sid is amazing. It's one of those situations where the story just kind of takes over.

Bottom Line:

I like this series. It is certainly unusual and in the world of cozies that is a very good thing. I like the fact that Perry takes an inanimate object and makes him an amazing character. Sid is wonderful. There were a few hiccups here in there in the pacing of things and I wish that Georgia had a bigger role, but all in all, a good addition to the series. 

The Skeleton Takes a Bow is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Leigh Perry is also the author of A Skeleton in the Family.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Skeleton Takes a Bow by Leigh Perry.

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

1. Please leave a comment. Ever do any school theatre or take acting even further?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Shatter

Shatter (True Believers - Book 4) by Erin McCarthy

Publication Date: 09/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Books
Genre: New Adult
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425275108
ISBN-13: 978-0425275108

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Books)

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

Erin McCarthy on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

1. True
2. Sweet
3. Believe
4. Shatter

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




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

Synopsis:

From the USA Today bestselling author of TrueSweet, and Believe comes a tantalizing New Adult novel about finding love in the most unexpected ways…

Kylie Warner prides herself on being optimistic, but after finding her best friend in bed with her boyfriend and flunking chemistry, her upbeat attitude has taken a dive. Even an impromptu hook-up with her sexy new chemistry tutor only brightens her mood slightly. After all, it’s not like she’ll ever see the tattooed scholar again…

While he’s a whiz at complex equations, Jonathon Kadisch has trouble when it comes to figuring out women. So when Kylie tells him that she’s pregnant after their night of passion, he’s at a complete loss. He’s prepared to be a good father—unlike his own deadbeat dad—but he’s less prepared to fall for the genuine and alluring blonde bearing his child.

With emotions running high, Kylie wonders if Jonathon’s devotion is out of growing love or looming obligation. And when heartbreak threatens to tear them apart, Jonathon will have to fight for the only girl who’s ever made him feel whole…


Thoughts:

Erin McCarthy's True Believers series wraps up with book four, Shatter. Readers have followed this group of friends from their first days at college to their graduation. McCarthy shines in the latest book, by wringing the emotions from her readers, taking them on a journey not into outer space or the paranormal but an adventure in real life. What happens when things get complicated, sticky, and altogether messy. New Adult readers will find Kylie and Jonathon's story a bit different from the previous books in the series and yet connected to the characters and stories that have made this series great. A wonderful conclusion to a very intimate and moving series!

What I liked:

There are so many things to like about this series! Readers who have followed the series, have met a group of friends that go through thick and thin together. They weather a ton of storms from bad relationships to unexpected babies and through it all they have stuck together, grown and matured. When I first started reading new adult books that was what I was afraid would be missing: maturity and strong story lines that were more than just typical romance novels, but I was once again wrong. Erin McCarthy's True Believer series has allowed readers to have that excited feeling about beginning life, but it has also shown so much wisdom and understanding about how real life is. It isn't all unicorns and rainbows and I think that's what makes this series so realistic.

Shatter is the fourth and final book in this amazing series and in my humble opinion the best of the bunch. Kylie has been a character throughout the series who has kind of had things easy. She has always been optimistic and full of energy, but in Shatter she is recovering from betrayal. Her boyfriend slept with her best friend and her world has literally been rocked to the core. She is questioning so many things about herself and her insecurities are on the surface. I loved the fact that McCarthy didn't try to trivialize how devastating something like this can be for a young woman. I understood Kylie's struggles, her loneliness, even her suffering grades. To top it all off, she has a one night stand that changes her life forever. She was a great character, though a bit needy at times and I think young women will really be able to relate to her. McCarthy did an excellent job with this character.

Then you have Jonathon, aka Darwin. He isn't your typical new adult hero. He doesn't even fit the profile that McCarthy has established for the series. He's a geek, a genius, a chemistry nerd. Albeit a very sexy, tattooed geek, but certainly not an alpha male lead. I loved that McCarthy decided to switch it up with this character and show readers that the hero doesn't have to be a bad boy, he can be a smart boy, or even a very emotional boy. He was amazing! I loved everything about this character, from his endearing sense of responsibility to his issues connecting to Kylie. I was rooting for these two from the beginning. One night may have changed their lives, but it is the growth and maturity of both characters throughout the book, that is amazing to watch develop.

McCarthy doesn't give readers a typical boy meets girl romance here. There are a lot of other factors that both stand between these two characters and bring them closer. I was happy to get a romance that wasn't just about chemistry (no pun intended) but about life. About the messiness and the way things really are. Not all friends stay friends forever. Not every relationship is easy and happy. Not every happy ending has to be picturesque. I liked the mess, I liked the angst and the insecurities. This story was intense, emotional and just altogether amazing!

Bottom Line:

You gotta read this one! It is the best of the series and epitomizes what the new adult genre is trying to express. The pitfalls and challenges that face men and women who are just coming into their own. Coming of age stories are generally intense and this one certainly is. The characters are truly exceptional and this is just a great book. I loved it!

Shatter is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


USA Today bestselling author Erin McCarthy sold her first book in 2002 and has gone on to pen more than forty-four novels and novellas in the paranormal, contemporary romance, and young adult genres. She is also the author of the New Adult series, True Believers, including TrueSweet, and Believe. A RITA Award finalist who has been listed on the American Library Association’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list, Erin is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Horror Writers Association, and Ohioana.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Shatter by Erin McCarthy.

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

1. Please leave a comment. Ever had a one night stand that didn't stay that way?

2. Please fill out the FORM.