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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Undead and Unwary

Undead and Unwary (Undead/Queen Betsy - Book 13) by MaryJanice Davidson

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Paranormal
Pages: 320
ISBN-10: 0425263444
ISBN-13: 978-0425263440

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

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

MaryJanice Davidson on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Undead/Queen Betsy

     1. Undead and Unwed
     2. Undead and Unemployed
     3. Undead and Unappreciated
     4. Undead and Unreturnable
     5. Undead and Unpopular
     6. Undead and Uneasy
     7. Undead and Unworthy
     8. Undead and Unwelcome
     9. Undead and Unfinished
   10. Undead and Undermined
   11. Undead and Unstable
11.5. Undead and Underwater
   12. Undead and Unsure
   13. Undead and Unwary

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




Excerpt from, Undead and Unwary, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

How do you out-devil the devil? For Vampire queen Betsy Taylor, the answer is relative—literally—as MaryJanice Davidson’s “sexy, steamy, and laugh-out-loud funny” (BooklistNew York Times bestselling series continues…

Thoughts:

MaryJanice Davidson returns with another book in the Undead/Queen Betsy series. Undead and Unwary is the thirteenth book in the series and fans will be thrilled with the humor and banter between Betsy and her cohorts. The Queen of the Vampires is up to her ears in new responsibilities and lots of family drama. Davidson excels at quirky characters with so much dysfunction that the reader can't help but laugh and she does it again in this book and gives readers just another reason to cheer for Betsy as she tries to re-organize Hell.

I've got to admit, first of all that this is my first Betsy book. MaryJanice Davidson has done very well for herself with this series and she has tons of fans to prove it. Being a paranormal fan, you would think I would have tried this series out by now, but it has somehow stayed off my radar. There were some things that I liked and some things that I found daunting, coming into the series at book thirteen. Davidson has created a world where a lot of impossible things are possible and that alone was reason enough for me to like this one.

Betsy has a very eclectic household, that includes a ton of characters. Which provides the reader a lot of different angles to view the story. But it was a bit confusing for someone who has never read any of the other books. It didn't take me long to figure out who Betsy's lover was, Sinclair, or who her sister was. Betsy refers to her as the Antichrist, which I found exceptionally funny. But all of the other characters were harder for me to place. I wasn't sure how they had all come to live together or what each persons significance was. Also there was the issue of some sort of time warp disturbance that had things in the house turned upside down. I said all that to say this... Read these in order, I think you'll understand it better and enjoy it more. That's not to say that I didn't have some good things going on in this one.

I loved the humor and the banter that MaryJanice Davidson uses in this book. Betsy has a penchant for sarcasm and I loved that. Her inner dialogue is irreverent and full of one liners that a person won't be able to pass up. The way she talks about her sister is just too funny. Now that they are tasked with running Hell, together, they are going to have to spend some time together and it was a riot. The humor was well written and added a lot to the story.

From what I could gather, Betsy is a bit new to the responsibility of Hell and she doesn't seem too interested in making a go of it. Add to that, that some strange things are going on in her household and it's a recipe for disaster. There were parts of the book that had a feeling of immaturity to them that I couldn't quite understand. I thought maybe Betsy was just a little irked with her title of Queen, but it was obvious that this was not what she had in mind for the way her life would go. It was a bit disconcerting to read. I wanted her to accept her life and her responsibilities and get on with it. She does come around a little bit, but I was still somewhat disappointed in the way she handled things.

The bigger part of the story is told through dialogue. There are pages and pages of it. And in some books that works and in others it doesn't. For me, it didn't quite work here. I had a terrible time trying to follow some of it and had to go back and re-read several portions to try to understand what was meant to be shared. As I said before, this is my first book by the author and perhaps that is just part of her style. But it was new to me and a bit too hard to understand. 

Bottom Line:

I liked the humor in this story, but I felt very out of place with most of the book. I didn't get a good feeling for the author's style and way of writing. It was hard for me to follow and seemed at times too immature for my tastes. However, none of that may be the fault of the author or writing. I am pretty old school when it comes to reading and this was just too different from what I was used to for me to enjoy, but that doesn't mean it won't be for you. Give it a try and see what you think!

Undead and Unwary is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag! Based purely on my own issues with it.




About the Author:


MaryJanice Davidson is the bestselling author of several books, most recently Undead and UnsureUndead and UnstableUndead and UnderminedUndead and UnfinishedUndead and UnwelcomeUndead and Unworthy, and Dead Over Heels. With her husband, Anthony Alongi, she also writes a series featuring a teen weredragon named Jennifer Scales. MaryJanice lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children and is currently working on her next book.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Undead and Unwary by MaryJanice Davidson.

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

1. Please leave a comment. Have you read any of the Undead books, what did you think?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review: The Bloodbound

The Bloodbound (Bloodbound - Book 1) by Erin Lindsey

Publication Date: 09/30/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Ace Books
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 368
ISBN-10: 0425272680
ISBN-13: 978-0425272688

(Received for an honest review from Ace Books)

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

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

Excerpt from, The Bloodbound, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

Of all those in the King of Alden’s retinue, the bloodbinders are the most prized. The magic they wield can forge invaluable weapons, ones that make soldiers like Lady Alix Black unerringly lethal. However, the bloodbinders’ powers can do so much more—and so much worse…

A cunning and impetuous scout, Alix only wishes to serve quietly on the edges of the action. But when the king is betrayed by his own brother and left to die at the hands of attacking Oridian forces, she winds up single-handedly saving her sovereign.

Suddenly, she is head of the king’s personal guard, an honor made all the more dubious by the king’s exile from his own court. Surrounded by enemies, Alix must help him reclaim his crown, all the while attempting to repel the relentless tide of invaders led by the Priest, most feared of Oridia’s lords.

But while Alix’s king commands her duty, both he and a fellow scout lay claim to her heart. And when the time comes, she may need to choose between the two men who need her most…


Thoughts:

Erin Lindsey brings readers, The Bloodbound, the first in a new romantic fantasy series, featuring swords and sorcery and a bit of trickery. Readers who love fantasy and romance will love the blend that Lindsey has put together with this book. It has all of the usual fantasy hallmarks, including an epic quest to restore the kingdom and enough magic to make things interesting, while also giving readers a good dose of desire. Readers who are hoping to bridge the gap between the two genres will find this book intriguing. A great new book, in a new series!

What I liked:

I have been a fantasy readers for many years and let me tell you, it sometimes gets a little one dimensional because epic or high fantasy tends to be all about the battle or the quest. Romance is practically non-existent, so when I found out that The Bloodbound was a romantic fantasy I was really excited. It's a great sub-genre but not one that is widely popular. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Lindsey surprised me and surpassed my expectations in a lot of ways. 

The world building in a fantasy novel is usually pivotal in whether it's a book I love or a book I hate. Erin Lindsey took a very different approach than what I expected. Fantasy novels often require a map and glossary for readers to get the true gist of what's going on, not so with this book. Lindsey was able to use a minimalist approach here. She gives the reader enough information but does not overwhelm them. There is no need for an information dump because she allows the world building to develop along with story, putting the characters in situations where their purpose and their beliefs become a part of the solution to the current problem. I liked that. It was a new and exciting way to view fantasy and I think Lindsey did a great job with it.

The Bloodbound provides the reader with a strong heroine in Alix Black, a noblewoman serving her required military time as a scout. But Alix is not one to stand in the shadows and when her King is betrayed she takes herself into the height of battle to save him. I liked the gender reversal in this one. Alix is forever saving Erik instead of the other way around. She is a character that is head strong and impulsive, but her heart is in the right place. I loved the fact that Lindsey was able to mesh fantasy with the a more modern idea of what women are capable of. Certainly not a usual thing in the fantasy genre.

The romance was a little bit cliche, starting out. Alix has a romantic relationship with Liam, another Scout, but it is not one she can count on. He is of a lower station than she is and a bastard to boot. Not a new idea for a romance novel, but definitely interesting when the fantasy aspects are joined with it. I'm not always a big fan of a love triangle, but it works here. Not only is Alix attracted to Liam, but she is flattered by the attentions of King Erik as well. Lindsey doesn't give too much detail in the bedroom, but I didn't expect that, because after all this is epic fantasy. I thought the romantic parts of the book were well written and added another dimension to the story.

One of the parts of the story that I really enjoyed was the battle to keep the kingdom out of the hands of Erik's treacherous brother, who seeks to destroy him. Fantasy is often about the journey or the quest and in this book, that aspect of the story is very important. I liked all of the political and religious background, with blood binding of the weapons and the worship of the nine virtues. Lindsey doesn't just throw readers into the deep water with this stuff, she allows them to experience it and that was pretty amazing.

What I didn't like:

There were a few places where the author used language and slang that I did not fit in with the story. She is perhaps trying to put a modern spin on high fantasy, but it just didn't work well. 

Bottom Line:

I liked the blended composition of the book. I love fantasy and I love romance and I think that readers who love both will really embrace this novel and see what this series may have to offer. It's too soon to tell whether it will be successful, but there is a lot of potential here. I think Lindsey gives us a great start to a new series.

The Bloodbound is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

About the Author:


Erin Lindsey is on a quest to write the perfect summer vacation novel, with just the right blend of action, heartbreak, and triumph. The Bloodbound is her first effort. She lives and works in Bujumbura, Burundi, with her husband a pair of half-domesticated cats.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Picked to Die

Picked to Die (Orchard Mystery - Book 8) by Sheila Connolly

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425257118
ISBN-13: 978-0425257111

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

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

Sheila Connolly on the WEB: website, facebook, twittergoodreads

Books in the series

Orchard Mystery

1. One Bad Apple
2. Rotten to the Core
3. Red Delicious Death
4. A Killer Crop
5. Bitter Harvest
6. Sour Apples
7. Golden Malicious
8. Picked to Die

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




Excerpt from, Picked to Die, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

The new Orchard Mystery--from the New York Times bestselling author of Golden Malicious andScandal in Skibbereen

A TREE IS KNOWN BY ITS FRUIT

 
It’s harvest time in Granford, Massachusetts, and orchard owner Meg Corey and her fiancé, Seth, are both racing to beat the New England winter. Meg is bringing in her apple crop with a team of workers, while Seth is working to restore an old building in the center of town. But when his project is set back due to the unexpected discovery of a skeleton under the building—and even worse, a young man related to one of Meg’s former apple pickers is found dead behind the local feed store—the couple’s carefully laid plans are quickly spoiled…
 
Meg can’t help but wonder: are they just unlucky, or is there something rotten in Granford? If so, she knows she’s got to seek out the bad apple before it ruins the whole bunch…


Thoughts:

Author Sheila Connolly takes readers back to Granford, Massachusetts. Picked to Die is Connolly's eighth book in the Orchard series which centers around Meg Corey and her heritage orchard in New England. It's harvest time in Granford and readers will be feeling the autumn season, with apple picking in full swing, as well as, a historic building project and a murder or two thrown in for good measure. This is a whodunit that may fall on the shoulders of a young boy scout, if Meg and her friends don't figure out who really did the deed. It's a great addition to this much loved series!

What I liked:

Sheila Connolly is a very busy lady. She writes several cozy mystery series, but the Orchard series has always been a favorite of mine. It may be the New England setting, or perhaps all of the information she instills in the story about apples and the growth and management of an orchard. It might be because of the Meg's love interest, Seth who adds so much to the series with his restoration business. It could be the quirky characters that Connolly brings to life from the small town of Granford or the fact that the author generally gives her readers more than one mystery solve in each book. There are so many reason, I could go on and on.

Meg Corey came to Granford with the intention of staying long enough to fix up the old house and orchard for sale and ended up with her own business, and a new lease on life. Now in the eighth book in the series, wedding plans are in the air, but there just isn't enough time to get started. I loved the excitement in the air with this book. It's harvest time and there is so much to do for Meg and Bree, her orchard manager. Seth also has a lot of irons in the fire with digging a new basement for one of the historic buildings in town and tons of other projects. There was an urgency in this book that made me want to read faster and faster. Connolly sets a blistering pace with this one and it was fun to be along for the ride.

Tensions were also getting a little high now and then as Meg took more time to sleuth and less time to work at the Orchard in this book. Readers will be able to feel Bree's frustration and I found myself wishing Meg was around more as well during this really difficult time of the year. When the apples are ready, they don't wait. But I suppose that's why Connolly gave us Bree's character in the first place, to give Meg that chance to dig around in the mysterious things that happen in Granford. I love all of the tidbits about apples and the harvesting and business side of the orchard. It's very interesting and I believe that's one of the reason readers are so drawn to the series.

With this book, we have not one, but two whodunit's to figure out. When Jeffery, a boy scout looking for a way to earn a badge offers to help with Seth's project, it seems like a win, win. Then he finds some bones that bring the bring the project to a stop and sleuthing begins. When Jeffery finds another body behind the feed store, he becomes suspect number one and Meg is determined to figure out what gives. Are the murders related? Years apart, do they have some sort of connection and who besides Jeffrey could have done it? It was a great set of clues and historic information about Granford that made this one a top notch cozy. Connolly kept me guessing to the end with this one and readers will love all the twists and turns it takes before the end. This one was just full of surprises.

What I didn't like:

I wanted a little more progress on the wedding in this one. Meg and Seth didn't get much done on their plans and I felt like that touch of romance that is normally present in the Orchard books was absent in this one. Not worry though, I think Connolly will get around to the big day soon!

Bottom Line:

This was a great addition to the series. I love the Orchard books and the way that Connolly weaves in all the details about the apple orchard and the restoration business into each mystery. I wanted a little more romance, but I got a whole lot of sleuthing which was almost just as good. Two great mysteries and some new characters. Just an all around good book!

Picked to Die is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




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

About the Author:


Sheila Connolly is the New York Times bestselling, Anthony and Agatha award–nominated author of the Orchard Mysteries, the Museum Mysteries, and the County Cork Mysteries. She has taught art history, structured and marketed municipal bonds for major cities, worked as a staff member on two statewide political campaigns, and served as a fundraiser for several nonprofit organizations. She also managed her own consulting company, providing genealogical research services. In addition to genealogy, Sheila loves restoring old houses, visiting cemeteries, and traveling. Now a full-time writer, she thinks writing mysteries is a lot more fun than any of her previous occupations. She is married and has one daughter and three cats.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Picked to Die by Sheila Connolly.

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

1. Please leave a comment with you favorite apple dessert.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Broken

Broken (Cavanaugh Brothers - Book 2) by Laura Wright

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet Eclipse
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
ISBN-10: 0451464990
ISBN-13: 978-0451464996

(Received for an honest review from Signet Eclipse)

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

Laura Wright on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Cavanaugh Brothers

1. Branded
2. Broken

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



Synopsis:

The Cavanaugh brothers left behind River Black, Texas, long ago. But after their father dies, bequeathing them the Triple C, a cattle ranch that sustains their small town, they return—and confront the painful memories of their childhood home and the truth about their sister’s murder…

For years, James Cavanaugh has traveled the world as a horse whisperer, but even the millions he’s earned hasn’t healed the pain he hides behind his stoic exterior. Forced to tackle old demons at the ranch, James throws himself into work to avoid his true feelings. Until he meets a woman who shakes the foundations of his well-built walls…

Sheridan O’Neil’s quiet confidence has served her well, except when it comes to romance. Refusing to allow her heard to led her to disaster, she chooses to focus solely on work. But after Sheridan is rescued from a horse stampede by the most beautiful cowboy she’s ever met, her vow to keep her heart penned wavers. Only, as Sheridan uncovers James’s belief that no woman is safe with him, she wonders if such a wounded man could ever give in to love, or if some hearts are too broken to be healed.…


Thoughts:

If you are a sucker for a tortured hero, James Cavanaugh will have you melting! Laura Wright returns with the second Cavanaugh Brothers novel, Broken. Readers who started out with Branded will find each brother just as intriguing as the others. James is a "horse whisperer' with a tragic past. Sheridan is a woman who puts work before relationships. When they rocket into each others worlds, the combination is explosive. A great addition to the series!

What I liked:

A hero with a lot of baggage generally gets me right in the heart. Add to that, that James Cavanaugh believes himself cursed and I was hooked, big time. This is a great contemporary romance with a western slant. If you are looking for a story about a modern day cowboy, you've come to the right place with this series and this book. Laura Wright gives readers not only a love story, but an added mystery thread that runs throughout the series. 

James is carrying around a lot of demons. He would generally rather be with the horses he loves than people. Since the death of sister Cassie, he has tortured himself with guilt and believes that he is unable to protect any woman he loves. I loved the way Wright was able to show the pain that James was in. She didn't just gloss over it by providing a love interest that automatically brought him out of the shadows and back into his life. James struggles with is feeling for quite awhile before he lets a little of Sheridan's light into his heart. Seeing his growth throughout the book was achingly sweet. A fantastic character.

Sheridan was a businesswoman at heart. No time for romance and not time to get entangled with the bosses brother. But there was just something about James that drew her in. She was able to look deeper into his heart than most people. She saw his pain but also saw who he could be, the man that was hidden underneath the weight of guilt. She was perky and bright and she also had a wisdom that didn't always fit with her personality, because there was more to her than met the eye as well. It had to take a strong woman to take James on and Sheridan more than fit the bill. Another great character!

I loved the sweet romance that these two characters shared. The way that they each showed their flaws and imperfections to each other and could still see what was deep inside. It wasn't an easy road for them and I think that made it all the more realistic and believable. The sexual tension was palpable. It zinged in the air like electricity arcing on a line when they were in each others presence and when they finally do let loose, the reader will be swept up like a twister. 

It was a great romance, but it was also a story about family. These Cavanaugh boys have been through the wringer. Their sister was murdered when they were teenagers and her murder is still unsolved. Their mother blamed them for her death and their father was living a double life. It hasn't been easy for them but their love for each other is very evident. Family means everything. 

The overall thread of the series centers around Cassie's death and finding out what really happened to her and who did it. That part of the story was riveting. Each new piece of information the brothers uncover reveals more of the story along with diary entries from Cassie's diary. I can't wait to find out what happens next in Cole's story. Will we find out who really killed Cassie? Will Blue get his own book? So many questions... What a great book!

Bottom Line:

This series is top notch! Everything about it rings true. The characters are amazing. The setting is authentic and the mystery is gripping. The love stories draw the reader in and then they become fascinated by Cassie's death and finding the answers. Broken is a excellent second book to the series. Laura Wright is definitely on to something!

Broken is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:


Laura Wright is a New York Times bestselling author who is passionate about romantic fiction. Though she has spent most of her life immersed in acting, singing, and competitive ballroom dancing, when she found the world of writing and books and endless cups of coffee, she knew she was home. Broken is the second novel in The Cavanaugh Brothers series, following Branded. Laura lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and twolovable dogs.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Broken by Laura Wright.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, October 31st.

1. Please leave a comment. Do you believe in animal whisperer's? What's your belief based on?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Sweet Harmony

Sweet Harmony (Cricket Creek - Book 7) by Luann McLane

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet Eclipse
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0451470486
ISBN-13: 978-0451470485

(Received for an honest review from Signet Eclipse)

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

Luann McLane on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Cricket Creek

1. Playing for Keeps
2. Catch of a Lifetime
3. Pitch Perfect
4. Whisper's Edge
5. Moonlight Kiss
6. Wildflower Wedding
7. Sweet Harmony

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




Excerpt from, Sweet Harmony, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

Cricket Creek, Kentucky, is no Nashville—it’s a sweet, small town outside the big-city limelight. But here, two headstrong country music stars will need to rely on their Southern roots and explosive chemistry to top the charts together.
 
When Cat Carson drops her record label and signs with an independent label based in Cricket Creek, it’s a huge upset in the music world. But the residents of Cricket Creek are thrilled to have a real country music star in their midst. Everyone except Jeff Greenfield, that is—a local rising star himself, who’s been asked to record a duet with the stunning beauty.
 
Jeff grew up on a farm, but his smooth, soulful country style is starting to get him noticed outside Cricket Creek. And while a duet with Cat Carson could send his career skyrocketing, he doesn’t want to lose touch with his roots—or lose his head. Because sparks are flying every time he and Cat hit the studio. And it’s more than a little distracting....


Thoughts:

Cricket Creek, Kentucky, is the setting for the seventh book in the Cricket Creek series, Sweet Harmony by LuAnn McLane. Readers will love the country music overtones in this book, as well as, the charming small town setting and robust characters. When a country/pop sensation moves to town, after ditching her big city record label for more musical control, things start to get out of hand for a local boy. Fans of the series will love the returning characters and embrace the new ones in this addition to a sweet romantic series.

What I liked:

Well, first of all I am a Kentucky girl and reading books set in my home state is always a pleasure. LuAnn McLane obviously knows a lot about small town life and big city dreams. These two ideas combine to make Sweet Harmony a great addition to this well written series. I love all of the nuances and enchanting little tidbits that make Cricket Creek so special. The small town flavor of this book is one of the things that makes it enjoyable. Readers will want to come to Kentucky just to find out if McLane's rendition of a Kentucky hometown is on the level or not and let me just say... it's spot on!

I am not always a big fan of celebrities somehow falling off the beaten track to become locals, but McLane tempers that to an extent in this book, by having Cat sign with a local small town record label. Great things often come from humble beginnings and liked the way that McLane is going with this. Cat is a great character in herself. She may be a famous singer but isn't full of herself. She wanted more control over her career and the music she was making. She could have stayed in Nashville and worked for the machine, making a ton of money, but she choose a different path. I liked her a lot. She was klutzy and sweet and she knew what she wanted out of life.

Jeff was a bit more of a stickler. He didn't say he didn't like Cat's music but he didn't say he liked it either when they met. He was not a fan of Cat's rise to success. His own career as a traditional country musician was a much harder fight and he thought Cat's breezy songs were not heart felt and real. He did however have a soft spot for Cat as a person. In fact he was very attracted to her from the first and when they have to work together on a song, he has a hard time reconciling how he feels about working with her with his attraction to her. I liked him better as the story progressed but I did want to beat him over the head now and then...LOL!

I'm not sure the story was completely realistic, but it wasn't out of the realm of possibility either. It was a sweet romance that builds slowly and allows the reader to enjoy the time these two spend together. I thought Cat and Jeff made a good couple once he was willing to accept that they could make a go of things despite both being in the music business. Like I said he was a little hard to convince, but what man isn't? 

What I didn't like:

I'm still not convinced that celebrities and locals make a good fit in most instances, but I in this novel McLane makes it work. Most of us read for escape and this was a good one. 

Bottom Line:

I loved the setting of course, being from Kentucky myself. The small town aspects of the book were a joy to read and reminded me of small towns I've been in myself over the years. Cat was a great heroine, strong minded, a little clumsy and very tender hearted. Jeff was a harder sell for me, but in the end he grew on me and I thought they made a good couple. A good addition to this excellent series.

Sweet Harmony is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

About the Author:


LuAnn McLane lives in Naples, Florida, near the coast. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys beachcombing, reading, traveling, and entertaining friends and family. She loves hearing from readers.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Sweet Harmony by Luann McLane.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, October 30th.

1. Please leave a comment. Have you read any of the other books in the Cricket Creek series? What did you think?

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Review and Giveaway: A Midwinter's Tail

A Midwinter's Tail (Magical Cats Mystery - Book 6) by Sofie Kelly

Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Obsidian Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0451414713
ISBN-13: 978-0451414717

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)

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

Sofie Kelly on the WEB: website, news, goodreads

Books in the series

Magical Cats Mysteries

1. Curiosity Thrilled the Cat
2. Sleight of Paw
3. Copycat Killing
4. Cat Trick
5. Final Catcall
6. A Midwinter's Tail

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




Excerpt from, A Midwinter's Tail, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

Kathleen Paulson is snowed under running her library and caring for her extraordinary felines, Owen and Hercules. But when a fund-raiser turns deadly, she’ll have to add sleuthing to her already full schedule....

Winter in Mayville Heights is busy and not just because of the holidays. Kathleen is hard at work organizing a benefit to raise money for the library’s popular Reading Buddies program. She has her hands full hosting the event. And when a guest at the gala drops dead, her magical cats, Owen and Hercules, will have their paws full helping her solve a murder.

The victim is the ex of town rascal Burtis Chapman, but she hasn’t lived in the area in years. And though everybody is denying knowledge of why she was back in town, as Kathleen and her detective boyfriend, Marcus, begin nosing around, they discover more people are connected to the deceased than claimed to be. Now Marcus, Kathleen, and her uncanny cats have to unravel this midwinter tale before the case gets cold.


Thoughts:

Owen and Hercules are back in the sixth book in the Magical Cats series by Sofie Kelly. A Midwinter's Tail takes place during the Christmas season in Mayville Heights and readers will quickly be drawn into a murder mystery. With plenty of suspects, some burgeoning romance, a wedding and fundraiser gone awry, there is plenty going on in this addition to the series. Readers looking for a fast paced whodunit, with a touch of magic will love this one!

What I liked:

As always with the Magical Cats series, Owen and Hercules are the feline stars of the show. With their magical abilities these two kitties have become quite the cozy sleuths. Kathleen may be the heroine of the series, but she wouldn't get anywhere without her feline sidekicks. In A Midwinter's Tail, the cats seem to have acquired a couple of new skills, reading and computer savvy. Though some suspense in reality is required for this series, Owen and Hercules make up for it by making their actions seem realistic for the situation. They still behave like cats for the most part, from one having a catnip addiction to spats between them. Kelly makes it easy to believe in magic, with these two around.

One of my favorite parts of this series is the interactions between Kathleen, Owen and Hercules and the rest of the town of Mayville Heights. From Kathleen's relationship with Marcus to the her friendships with Roma and Ruby and the rest of the gang. I love all of the side plots and stories that add so much to this series. In this addition to the series, there is a lot of romance in the air, as well as, murder. A wedding, some new budding relationships, and just the ongoing details of what's going on around town, make me smile every time I read one of the Magical Cats books.

The mystery in this one centers around the return of Burdis Chapman's ex wife Dayna and her subsequent murder during a library fundraiser. Now that puts a damper on one budding romance since Burdis becomes suspect number one. I thought this was an interesting turn of events and one I didn't see coming. The mystery itself was a bit overshadowed by all of the other things going on in town, but it was still entertaining and kept me guessing to the end. There were suspects aplenty, but the burden of proof eventually landed and Kathleen with the help of Hercules an Owen was right in the middle of it as usual. Another well written whodunit by Sofie Kelly.

What I didn't like:

As I said the mystery was slightly on the back burner due to everything else going on in the book. But I think that's a natural progression for a series sometimes. You just have to have those books that tie up a lot of loose ends or start new threads and that felt like what this one was. The mystery was still just as good, there was just a lot of other stuff getting in the way a little bit.

Bottom Line:

Mayville Heights is busy, busy, busy in this addition to a great series. Kathleen along with her friends and her felines once again are on the track of a killer. Romance is blooming but murder was looming! The background stories take over a little bit but not to worry the mystery is still there and is just a riveting as usual.

A Midwinter's Tail is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

About the Author:


Sofie Kelly is an author and mixed-media artist who lives on the east coast with her husband and daughter. She is the author of the Magical Cats mysteries, including Final CatcallCat Trick, and Copycat Killing, and the Second Chance Cat mysteries, including The Whole Cat and Caboodle.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of A Midwinter's Tail by Sofie Kelly.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, October 30th.

1. Please leave a comment. If you had a magical cat what ability would you like it to have?

2. Please fill out the FORM.