Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review: Dark Queen

Dark Queen (Jane Yellowrock - Book 12) by Faith Hunter

Publication Date: 05/01/2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Ace
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 432
ISBN-13978-1101991428

(Received for an honest review from Ace via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Faith Hunter on the WEB: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

Jane Yellowrock

0.2. The Early Years
0.4. Cat Tats
0.6. Haints
0.7. Signatures of the Dead
   1. Skinwalker
   2. Blood Cross
   3. Mercy Blade
3.1. Easy Pickings (with CE Murphy)
3.2. Blood, Fangs, and Going Furry
3.5. Cat Tales
   4. Raven Cursed
4.1. Cajun With Fangs
4.2. Golden Delicious
4.5. Have Stakes Will Travel
   5. Death's Rival
   6. Blood Trade
6.2. Beneath a Bloody Moon
   7. Black Arts
7.5. Off the Grid
   8. Broken Soul
   9. Dark Heir
9.1. Cat Fight
9.2. Bound No More
 10. Shadow Rites
 11. Cold Reign
 12. Dark Queen
Cat O'Nine Tales
Blood in Her Veins

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



Excerpt from Dark Queen, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

Jane Yellowrock used to hunt vampires, but now she must fight--and win--beside them.

As Enforcer to the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans, Jane Yellowrock stakes her reputation and her life on keeping her territory safe. But Leo has been issued a blood challenge by the emperor of the European vampires, who seeks to usurp all of his power and possessions. If Leo loses the match to the death, the city will be forfeit, and the people of New Orleans will suffer the consequences. Jane can't let that happen.

Preparing for the duel requires all of Jane's focus, but with so much supernatural power in play, nothing goes according to plan. She has to rely on herself and the very few people she knows she can trust to stand and fight. Only two things are guaranteed: nothing is sacred, and no one is safe.


Thoughts:

I've been reading Jane Yellowrock since the beginning and let me tell you, this book is something else. Author Faith Hunter returns for a twelfth book in the Jane Yellowrock series, Dark Queen. If you thought you knew what was going to happen in this series, this book probably tossed your ideas out the door. Long time readers will experience a myriad of emotions as the novel twists and turns to the final page. Love. Hate. Revenge. Sadness. I think you'll feel them all. I'm still in a bit of shock after finishing this one. Can't recommend it enough for Urban Fantasy readers.

What I liked:

First I want to say that this series is close to the top of my Urban Fantasy picks. It is so well written. The world building is among the best in the business and the characters grow on you so much you hate to leave them when each book ends. Jane Yellowrock is as badass as they come in this genre. I was under the impression that this would be the final book in the series and I was dreading that, but the author was given a contract for two more. That's why the book reads with so much finality to it and then flips a switch and goes in a new direction. A lot of it was already in play before the two new ones were ordered. That's good and bad in some ways. As for myself... I want more.

Jane is an enforcer. She's not someone that anyone in the supernatural world or the human world for that matter would want to mess with. In this one Jane does a lot of soul searching. She also does a lot of fighting. She is attempting a relationship with Bruiser but a lot of stuff is going on here, that could effect everything including where that is going. I thought Hunter set a very rapid and gut wrenching pace for Jane in this one. So many things happen to her. We learn more about her past but we also get more questions. Beast is very insistent in this one which I liked. Soooo good!

There was so much action and thrills in this one. There wasn't really much a break for the characters and I was one the edge of my seat for most of it. It seemed like one action scene just flowed into another. That's really the difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. In Urban Fantasy the romance takes a back seat to the action of the story. If this type of book is something you've never tried before... Jane Yellowrock is such a good place to start. 

What I didn't like:

Because there is so much action, there is a lot of gore and violence. As I said before Jane knows what she's doing and how to get it done, but that isn't for every reader. Some readers will not like how heavy handed this one is with killing. It's just not something everyone will be into to. I don't care for it all the time but it was necessary in this one. So take with a grain of salt and don't get too hung up on it. 

Bottom Line:

I really can't recommend this one enough. Jane Yellowrock is one of my favorite heroines of the genre. Faith Hunter does an amazing job of pulling it all together and making the reader crave more. I'm glad this wasn't the last one. It should be interesting where we go from here. Bit of a cliffhanger with this one folks. Don't you hate those... Go buy this one and the whole series. You won't be disappointed.

Dark Queen is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:

Faith Hunter, urban fantasy writer, was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. Hunter fell in love with reading in fifth grade, and best loved SciFi, fantasy, and gothic mystery. She decided to become a writer in high school, when a teacher told her she had talent. Now, she writes full-time (about 60 hours a week) tries to keep house, and is a workaholic with a passion for travel, jewelry making, white-water kayaking, and writing. She and her husband love to RV, traveling with their dogs to whitewater rivers all over the Southeast. 

The dark urban fantasy Skinwalker series, featuring Jane Yellowrock, is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling series with multiple books and compilations. Jane Yellowrock is a Cherokee skinwalker who tracks, hunts, and kills rogue-vampires for a living -- that is, until she takes a gig working for Leo Pellissier, the Master of the City of New Orleans. The series is set in an alternate reality, modern-day world, one inhabited by humans, vamps, and other things that go bump in the night.

Her Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban fantasy series, feature Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage in a post-apocalyptic, alternate reality, urban fantasy world. These novels are the basis for the Rogue Mage World Book and Role Playing Game, which contains lots of fiction for the readers!

The Soulwood series features Nell Nicholson Ingram, and is a spinoff from the Skinwalker series. Nell is an escapee from a cult, a solitary woman with deadly magic of her own. In book one, Blood of The Earth, she is hired to help PsyLED (a division of Homeland Security) find a missing child.

Under her pen name Gwen Hunter, she writes action adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. 

As Faith and Gwen, she has 40 (or so) books in print in 29 countries. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Midnight Wolf

Midnight Wolf (Shifters Unbound - Book 11) by Jennifer Ashley

Publication Date: 04/24/2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-13978-0425281390

(Received for an honest review from Berkley via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Jennifer Ashley on the WEB: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series: (Highlighted titles are books I have reviewed in the series)

Shifters Unbound

 0.5. Shifter Made
    1. Pride Mates
    2. Primal Bounds
 2.5. Bodyguard
    3. Wild Cat
 3.5. Hard Mated
    4. Mate Claimed
 4.5. Perfect mate (in Unbound)
 4.5. Lone Wolf
4.25. Perfect Mate
     5. Tiger Magic
   5.5. Feral Heat
      6. Wild Wolf
   6.5. Bear Attraction
      7. Mate Bond
   7.5. Bad Wolf
 7.25. Lion Eyes
 7.75. Wild Things
      8. White Tiger
      9. Guardian's Mate
    10. Red Wolf
    11. Midnight Wolf
Tiger Stripped

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



Excerpt from Midnight Wolf, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside Feature

Synopsis:

Angus Murray, bouncer for a New Orleans Shifter bar, is sent to round up an elusive, Collar-less Shifter woman, Tamsin Calloway, who is causing trouble for Shifter Bureau, and possesses information they want. If Angus refuses, he risks losing his cub. He finds Tamsin but she's slippery and not about to be rounded up quietly.

In fact, quiet is nothing Tamsin will ever be. She leads Angus on a wild chase, but he's determined to bring her in to save his son.

Can Tamsin convince Angus she's worth helping before she's locked away by Shifter Bureau, Collared, or perhaps killed?


Thoughts:

Jennifer Ashley always creates a good story. The eleventh book in the Shifter Unbound series, Midnight Wolf is no exception to that rule. Ashley takes us back to the world of shifters, fae and humans interacting together but not really on the same side. A war is brewing and every book seems to be leading up to it. Long time readers of the series will find this one intriguing for a lot of reasons and new readers won't feel like they've missed too much. Great characters, exceptional world building. A great paranormal series and book.

What I liked:

This is a series I have really enjoyed along the way. Ashley has a way with building a world that is creative, unique and full of surprises. The Shifter Unbound series is based on the premise of the fae creating shifters as battle weapons which got out of hand. Now that the shifters have been exposed to the human population the fae have regained a bit of their power by effectively limiting shifters to 'shiftertowns' and reducing their primal urges by controlling them with collars. This sounds harsh and it is. But doesn't it remind you of how our own culture treats those who are different? It's a paranormal version of our own stupidity in some ways. And I think Ashley does a remarkable job of making her novels entertaining with frighteningly realistic undertones. 

Angus and Tamsin meet under some unusual circumstances. Angus is being forced to hunt Tamsin down because she is uncollared and has information that the Shifter Bureau wants. It isn't what the tracker would like to be doing with his time, but they are using his son as leverage to make him cooperate. I loved the fact that Tamsin is fierce and strong willed. She is defying the rules by remaining uncollared. You can tell that there is unrest among the shifters over the collar situation and this is just the beginning. She isn't letting the powers that be rule her life and she was an amazing character. I was glad that Ashley gave her a lot of the characteristics you would expect from a fox shifter. Clever, sneaky, and full of sass.

Angus is a father to the core. He would do anything to protect his son, even if it means hunting down a woman he eventually falls for. I enjoyed the way Angus and Tamsin not only interact together but also the way they interact with Angus' son. The relationships that develop between them as a family were some of my favorite moments of the story. When Angus gets to the point that he knows he can't turn her in, the adventure begins. I really loved the setting for this book as it doesn't stick to the shiftertowns. There are some big top moments that readers are sure to love. 

What I didn't like:

Personally, I really enjoyed this addition to the series. There isn't much I didn't like, but I understand that for some readers may not like the idea that shifters allowed themselves to be put in this situation in the first place. While agree that, that is true in this series, there were reasons for that, which you learn more about if you read the entire series. This is a stand alone novel but you really miss out on a lot of the background information and world building by not reading the others. I highly recommend them. Good stuff!

Bottom Line:

This is a good book. Readers who have followed the series for a long time will love revisiting old characters as well as come cool locations. The setting for this one is exception. I really enjoyed being out of shiftertown and on the run. Adventure abounds. Tamsin was one of my favorite female characters in the entire series. So sassy and true to shifter form. I thought the romance was hot but not overdramatic or too forward. The family situation including Angus's son made this one stand out. A very good novel!

Midnight Wolf 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 and USA Today Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley writes historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance, mysteries, and historical fiction as Jennifer Ashley; paranormal romance and urban fantasy as Allyson James; and mysteries as Ashley Gardner. Jennifer's novels have won RWA's RITA and RT Reviewer's Choice awards among others. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Review: Royal Treatment

Royal Treatment (His Royal Hotness - Book 2) by Tracy Wolff

Publication Date: 04/24/2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 255
ASINB07287QDC3

(Received for an honest review from Loveswept via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Nobleitunes

Tracy Wolff on the WEB: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

His Royal Hotness

1. Royal Pain
2. Royal Treatment

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




Excerpt from Royal Treatment, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

What’s a crown prince to do with time on his hands? Or better yet, who? It’s Prince Garrett’s turn to find love in this mouthwatering standalone novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Royal Pain.

Once upon a time I was being groomed to sit on the throne of Wildemar. Now I’m lucky they let me into the palace through the front door. After I was kidnapped and tortured by extremists, my reward upon my release is that nobody trusts me enough to let me be king. And since my twin brother, Kian, has assumed all my responsibilities, I figure why not take over as the black sheep?

But after breaking things off with my betrothed—we never had much chemistry, anyway—and giving the jetsetting playboy lifestyle a try, I’m starting to wonder if I’m cut out for this s***. Then I meet Lola Barnes, a drop-dead gorgeous entrepreneur from the States who’s as refreshing as she is feisty.

It’s supposed to be a one-night-stand—until the press catches wind of my “new American sweetheart.” Trouble is, Lola’s no sweetheart. But the more I see our names together in the headlines, the more I find myself craving another taste. .


Thoughts:

Author Tracy Wolff knows her way around a Crown Prince in the latest addition to the erotic contemporary romance series, His Royal Hotness. Royal Treatment takes readers back to Wildemar and introduces them to the heir to the throne, Prince Garrett. Only things aren't going quite as planned after Garrett's traumatic kidnapping and torture. Readers who are intrigued by royal life and the ins and outs of court will find this one a very good read. 

What I liked:

Every once in awhile I want to read a good quick and dirty erotic romance and Royal Treatment certainly fits the bill. Tracy Wolff is able to get readers in the mood quickly for a romp with a playboy prince. I don't know a lot about royalty. Most of us don't. Just what we are allowed to see in the media and what stories we get from those paid to provide photos that cast royals in the limelight whether good or bad. I liked that Wolff gives us a glimpse into a world most of us will never see and that makes this one a grand escape. 

Garrett isn't quite what you'd expect. He is definitely on a bit of a tear after his recent experiences. He was kidnapped and tortured and then removed as heir to the throne by his ruthless father. He has a lot of issues and he's taking his frustrations out with wine and women. What's a prince to do with no country to rule? Wolff does a wonderful job of portraying Garrett as more than just a lost soul. He has been preparing for the duty of being King his whole life and without that coupled with PTSD, he is the epitome of a tortured hero. But he's not sitting around lamenting his woes, he's out there trying to enjoy a debauched life. He was quite endearing as he worked through his issues with candor and honesty. I liked his attitude, his demeanor and his ability to love. A very good character.

Oh Lola! I loved Lola. What a spitfire. Who just goes toe to toe with a prince over a swimming hole? She had spunk and determination and it has served well as a fashionista and entrepreneur. Garrett has met his match with this one. She doesn't put with any nonsense and she calls him out when she needs to, but she also understands the position he is in with his family and does what she believes is right for him even though perhaps it was a misguided gesture. I liked that Wolff made her tough but showed her vulnerabilities with Garrett. Their chemistry was not only off the charts hot, but it was endearing and loving as well.

What I didn't like:

We hear quite a bit about the King though he never really makes an appearance. As readers we can easily decide that he is quite a pain and very tedious and somewhat mean to his children. He deems Garrett unfit and hands the throne over to Kian who is even more unfit to rule. I wanted the boys to have a chance to their father in his place a bit but it didn't happen. Just a pet peeve that they didn't get to have their say with the man in question.

I had to throw my ideals of what is proper and right for the crown out the window a bit with this one because it seemed a bit out of place with my thoughts about royals. I've been watching too much Netflix lol... It's all about decorum and what kind of royal face is presented to the public. This one was bit of a clash with that and I was a bit skeptical in parts until I thought some of the things real "princes" have been caught doing.

Bottom Line:

This is a very good hot read. If you are looking for that book that takes you out of your head and out of the mundane everyday life... this is a good one. It's not everyday we as readers can rub noses with royalty. I loved Wolff's approach to main character Garrett. A tortured but beautiful soul. The high spirited Lola was his match in every way even though there were other reasons they probably shouldn't try to make a go of it. A good book if a little out of the norm when what you'd expect from a royal family. And the King needed a good spanking.

Royal Treatment is available in e-book format from your favorite online booksellers.

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




About the Author:


New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Tracy Wolff collects books, English degrees and lipsticks and has been known to forget where—and sometimes who—she is when immersed in a great novel. At six she wrote her first short story—something with a rainbow and a prince—and at seven she forayed into the wonderful world of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. By ten she’d read everything in the young adult and classics sections of her local bookstore, so in desperation her mom started her on romance novels. And from the first page of the first book, Tracy knew she’d found her life-long love. Now an English professor at her local community college, she writes contemporary romance and erotic romance as Tracy Wolff, paranormal romance and urban fantasy as Tessa Adams and young adult novels as Tracy Deebs.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Review: Total Bravery

Total Bravery (True Heroes - Book 4) by Piper J. Drake

Publication Date: 04/24/2018
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Imprint: Forever
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 304
ISBN-13978-1538759530

(Received for an honest review from Forever via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Piper J. Drake on the WEB: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

True Heroes

1. Extreme Honor
2. Ultimate Courage
3. Absolute Trust
4. Total Bravery

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



Excerpt from Total Bravery, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis

True heroes will do anything to protect the women they love...

As the newest recruit at Search and Protect, Raul has a lot to prove. Luckily, he's got the best friend and partner a man could ask for: a highly trained, fiercely loyal German Shepherd Dog named Taz. Together, Raul and Taz make an unbeatable team. But their first mission in Hawaii really puts them to the test when an international kidnapping ring sets its sights on the bravest woman Raul's ever met . . .

Mali knows her latest job has put one hell of a target on her back. And on this small island paradise, there's nowhere to hide. With a service dog like Taz, Mali feels safe. Sharing close quarters with a smoldering muscle-for-hire like Raul, she feels something else - an unexpected wave of desire. Raul feels it too. But when the kidnappers make their move, he's got to turn that slow-burning passion into hard-hitting action - and save the life of the woman he loves.


Thoughts:

Author Piper J. Drake continues her popular True Heroes series, with her latest offering, Total Bravery. This book delves into some stirring issues including human trafficking and readers will be on the edge of their seats throughout. Shifting from the Hope Crossing Kennel to the Search and Protect company provides a change in the atmosphere of the series and creates a lot of new opportunities for canine, human interaction. Readers who love a good romantic suspense novel with find that and more in Drake's newest title. 

What I liked:

Lately, I've been getting into good romantic suspense books. The mix of action and romance is intriguing and easy to get taken in by. Piper J. Drake is a master at combining the two genres into a series that is both steamy and thrilling at the same time. Total Bravery is the fourth book in the True Heroes series and it gets the blood pumping in more ways than one. I enjoyed the change in the series from the Hope's Crossing Kennel to the Search and Protect agency. I feel like this will add a ton of opportunities for a different type of action and the romance is always a great addition. 

Raul has all the qualities that I'm liking in a hero right now. He is former military, always a sexy plus and he is good with animals. His canine partner Taz, is not just a figure head animal in the series. He contributes a great deal to the overall storyline and readers will love him almost as much as Raul. I liked that Drake made Raul sensitive to the fact that he was having some serious feelings toward his best friends sister and how that might play out. Raul was an alpha male with a strong need to protect Mali but he wasn't a brute. He shows a vulnerable side in his relationship with the heroine and in his friendship with Arin. A great character!

Maybe i'm an oddity when it comes to reading but I prefer books to have some relevance and Drake certainly accomplishes that with this title. Total Bravery touches on the issue of human trafficking which is such a huge problem. The statistics are staggering and I appreciated that though this book was meant to entertain and not really center on the subject, it was still able to spread awareness. Mali's research team got a little too close to a human trafficking ring and their plight shows the ruthlessness that surrounds the issue.  

What I didn't like:

Mali was a wonderful heroine. Raul was an amazing hero. It seemed like a perfect match between them and as a reader I was waiting with baited breath for that scene where they finally give in to those desires they feel from pretty much the start of the book. This one is definitely a slow burn and to be honest the outside forces of the suspense part of the book weren't really the issue. These two characters were getting in their own way throughout the book. It was good that Raul was conscious of Arin's feelings about her sister but that went on a bit too long for my tastes. Mali was concerned for her team and that showed her integrity and honesty as a character but man, I was ready for some romantic action long before these two were lol... Still an excellent romantic read!

Bottom Line:

This title has a lot to offer to a reader who likes a romance with some punch to it. Drake mixes the two genres of suspense and romance with ease. Total Bravery has action and thrills and a great romance even if it takes awhile to get there. Readers get a glimpse into a world they may not understand but need to be aware of with the human trafficking aspect of the book and canine Taz is a welcome addition to the series that provides that special something that puts this one over the top. A great new book by Piper J. Drake!

Total Bravery is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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




About the Author:

Piper J. Drake is a bestselling author of romantic suspense and edgy contemporary romance, a frequent flyer, and day job road warrior. She is often distracted by dogs, cupcakes, and random shenanigans.
Play Find the Piper around the internet for insight into her frequent travels and inspiration for her stories.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Review: The Amish Teacher's Gift

The Amish Teacher's Gift (Love and Promises - Book 1) by Rachel J. Good

Publication Date: 04/24/2018
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Imprint: Forever
Genre: Amish Romance
Pages: 384
ISBN-13978-1538711262

(Received for an honest review from Forever via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Rachel J. Good on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from The Amish Teacher's Gift, courtesy of 

Synopsis:

A Teacher's Love
Widower Josiah Yoder wants to be a good father. But it's not easy with a deaf young son who doesn't understand why his mamm isn't coming home. At a loss, Josiah enrolls Nathan in a special-needs school and is relieved to see his son immediately comforted by his new teacher, a woman whose sweet charm and gentle smile just might be the balm they both need.

With seven siblings to care for, Ada Rupp wasn't sure she wanted to take on teaching, too. But the moment she holds Nathan in her arms, she realizes she'll do all she can to help this lost little boy. Plus, it gives her a chance to spend more time with Josiah. Falling for a man in mourning may be against the rules, but his quiet strength is the support Ada never knew she needed. And, together, they could have the loving family she'd always hoped for.

Thoughts:

The Amish Teacher's Gift is the first book in a new series, from writer, Rachel J. Good. Readers of Amish fiction will love the atmosphere and setting of this novel. Good captures the Amish way of life in a different light with this one and is able to draw the reader in from the beginning. Josiah is recently widowed with a special needs child and Ada is young woman caring for a large family on her own. Good's character development and knowledge of Amish customs and practices shine here.

What I liked:

The romance that develops between main characters Ada and Josiah is sweet and loving. Unfortunately, the circumstances of life seem to have a way of keeping them apart. As with most Amish romances, this is a very clean book without a lot of frills and elaborate plot devices. Good is able to keep the readers interest by providing them with characters that are have depth and substance. She does an excellent job of showing the readers emotions and love for each other without overcomplicating or dramatising their attraction. 

The special needs aspect of this book is what really sets it apart from other books in this subgenre. With Amish books you generally get a lot predictability. They tend to follow a certain pattern and sometimes that's not a bad thing, but it's an expected thing. Good however, changes things up by giving readers a special needs character that is very central to the plot. Nathan, Josiah's son is deaf and he has lost his mother. For some reason he is having a difficult time communicating and there is an element of fear in Nathan's reaction to his father. When Josiah enrolls Nathan in the new special needs school, Nathan begins to turn a corner and I thought that Good did an amazing job of showing what special needs students need in order to be successful.

I loved the relationship that develops between Ada and Josiah but I really felt that the addition of Nathan's disability added depth and sincerity to the story. Ada was a strong young woman. Dealing with seven siblings and teaching is a feat in itself, but the way she dealt with the challenges of her students with patience and love was just a joy to read to read about. Good makes Nathan's character as important as the love story and that was unexpected. 

What I didn't like:

There was only one little thing that niggled at me about this book. There is not a lot of dialogue or story that explains Nathan's resistance to his father or the reason behind their failure to communicate with each other. I don't know a lot about Amish communities but it seems to me that Josiah should have been able to learn ASL or some other way to interact with his son. I just felt there was not enough back story for the reader to understand both Nathan's vehemence and fear of Josiah who essentially seems like a good father.

Bottom Line:

I enjoyed this one a lot. I'm a fan of good Amish fiction and this one had a unique quality about it that made it stand out from the pack. The special needs aspect of the story was very well written and the character development was good. I liked the romance between Ada and Josiah, but really enjoyed Nathan and the qualities this character added to the story. A good clean enjoyable read.

The Amish Teacher's Gift is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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


About the Author:

Rachel J. Good grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for her Amish novels. Striving to be as authentic as possible, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farms and attending family events. Rachel loves to travel and visit many different Amish communities. She also speaks at conferences and book events across the country and abroad.
When she's not traveling, she spends time with her family and writing. In addition to her Amish novels, she's written more than 40 books for children and adults under several pen names.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Review: Betting the Scot

Betting the Scot (Highlanders of Balforss - Book 2) 

Publication Date: 04/23/2018
Publisher: Entangled
Imprint: Amara
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance
Pages: 360
ASINB07C9Y4JNW

(Received for an honest review from Entangled via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Jennifer Trethewey on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

Highlanders of Balforss

1. Tying the Scot
2. Betting the Scot

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



Excerpt from Betting the Scot, courtesy of 

Synopsis:

Declan Sinclair is a Highlander who believes his dreams never lie. When he spots Caya at a public house, he knows instantly she is the woman in his dreams—his future wife. Though her brother had promised never to gamble again, he engages Declan in a card game—and the prize is the lovely Caya.
Caya Pendarvis has no time for childish things like dreams or fairy-tales or love. She’s the sacrificial lamb on her way to the far north of Scotland to wed a wealthy merchant in exchange for settling her brother’s gambling debts.
Winning at cards is one of the many things Declan Sinclair does well. Unfortunately, the ability to court a woman—a talent he lacks—is the only skill he desperately needs to win Caya’s heart.

Thoughts:

Jennifer Trethewey's second book in the Highlanders of Balforss series, Betting the Scot is a fast paced Scottish romance that will have readers swooning. Main character Declan Sinclair has a way with dreams. When he sees the woman he's been dreaming about for three years in a public house, the adventure begins. Readers looking for a good rollicking Scottish love story will find this one captivating. With everything from pirates to witchcraft and a bit of healthy competition for a woman's heart, Betting the Scot is a great "bet" for a good read. 

What I liked:

Oh for the love of highlanders! I love a good story set in Scotland and highlanders are always fun to read about. Declan Sinclair is no exception. This hero is a warrior, a dreamer, and a darn good card player. Betting the Scot starts out with Declan seeing his dream bride for the first time and then winning a bet in which she is the prize. He's been dreaming about this girl for three years, preparing for it even. He's such a sweetheart of a character. I enjoy a good alpha male character, and Declan has those characteristics but he also has a softness about him, a shyness that is so endearing. Trethewey, gives readers a different sort of Scottish hero and that was quite a surprise in a very good way.

As with the first book in this series, Tying the Scot, Trethewey continues to wow with her smooth style and powers of description. The Scottish way of life is often portrayed in a barbaric sense, but Trethewey really captures the essence of family and Clan and what that means with this novel. I loved the parts of the story where Caya, Declan's intended, is becoming a part of the way of life that Declan grew up in. When Declan's Uncle and Laird refuses to let them marry right away because Caya is English, it gives her time to learn the lay of the land and understand what she's getting herself into. I found this aspect of the book very nice.

The romance between Declan and Caya is not an easy one. First, he practically wins her in a card game. That's not a good start. She's upset with her brother for basically handing her over because of gambling debts and drinking and she doesn't have the best of self esteem because she doesn't feel anyone values her. It's interesting to see how she reacts to Declan and how he sees her, wants to protect her and cares for her. She makes a few blunders and there is another man interested in her. There are some bad decisions and the relationship is a bit rocky until the end. But the chemistry between Declan and Caya is honest and sweet and readers will find it enjoyable to read.

What I didn't like:

You guys know how I am about Scottish historicals. Having a Scottish background myself, I'm fairly hard on authors of this subgenre. I want to see a story that is based in historical fact. It's not necessary to make a romance a good read, but it is more authentic and more realistic as it relates back to history. There were a few missteps in this area of the book. It did not take away from the story, but it stood out to me. Not everyone is going to be bothered at all by it, but some of you will. So keep it in mind.

I loved Declan as a main character. He was everything I wanted in a hero. But Caya wasn't my cup of tea. I like a good romance between a highlander and an English lass and that angle was a good. But she kept making these judgement calls and mistakes and outright bad decisions. I thought Declan deserved a better heroine. Caya had issues of her own and perhaps that could account for some of her mistrust and glaring disregard for Declan's feelings, but not all of it. I just didn't get behind her. 

Bottom Line:

This one is pretty good. There is a lot of adventurous moments and Declan is a real dream. I enjoyed revisiting the characters from the previous book in the series, but there were a few key problems for me. I just didn't particularly like the heroine. Though Declan's way of wooing her was sweet and sensual and their chemistry was good despite her issues. Those little historical pet peeves are hit or miss. Some will be bothered, others won't. Take my opinion with a grain of salt, because this is still a very good romance.

Betting the Scot is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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



About the Author:

Hi, I’m Jennifer Trethewey and I write about men in kilts because, hey, what’s not to love about a man in a kilt? I was lucky enough to travel to Scotland twice. I’m planning a third trip next year. I have fallen in love with the Highlands and all things Scottish: the people, their language, cuisine, customs, idioms, humor, history, intense sense of pride, and, most of all, the land—the perfect setting for sweeping romantic tales of love, strife, and glory. As they say, Scotland is pure dead brilliant! 

As for more personal stuff, I’m an actress, former co-artistic director of a professional theater company, and my husband and I operate an improv comedy club. I live with my comedian husband in the Midwest where I’ve been ever since college. 

I write both contemporary and historical fiction full time. I like to read romance, mystery, fantasy, and paranormal, as well as literary fiction and non-fiction. As you can imagine, I’m a big fan of Outlander and Herself. I adore traveling to new places (but I hate flying). I love movies and music and dogs and good wine and I love to enjoy them all with my friends.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: The Music of the Deep

The Music of the Deep by Elizabeth Hall

Publication Date: 04/17/2018
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Imprint: Lake Union
Genre: Women's Fiction
Pages: 288
ISBN-13978-1503954687

(Received for an honest review from Lake Union via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Elizabeth Hall on the WEB: Website, Goodreads

Excerpt from The Music of the Deep, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis

Fleeing an abusive marriage and tormented by her past, Alexandra Turner finds solace in a small coastal town on Puget Sound and a job with a local marine biologist studying orcas.
After befriending a group of locals, Alex learns that she has moved to a place that has a reputation of being the “most haunted town in Washington.” Such superstitions would be easy to dismiss…if Alex wasn’t already on edge.
Haunted by shreds of memories of her days with her husband, Alex can’t keep from looking over her shoulder. As unexplained sounds and scents accumulate and unnerving forces seem to take hold, Alex is beginning to believe that she’s not escaping her ghosts, after all. In fact, she might finally be inviting them in.

Thoughts:

Elizabeth Hall brings readers the haunting tale of a woman escaping an abusive marriage. Alex Turner moves to the Puget Sound in search of peace and finds true friendship and community as well. Hall's voice is lyrical, descriptive and stirring. This novel not only delves into surviving abuse but also the plight of a J-Pod of Orca whales off the coast of Alex's new Pacific NorthWest home. Hall intertwines the subjects in such a way that the reader will be truly affected.

What I liked:

Abusive relationships are not something I have had to endure myself in my own life and I can't say that I have truly felt I understood why some women choose to stay with their abusers. In Elizabeth Hall's book, The Music of the Deep the reader sees how Alex's relationship with her husband Daniel deteriorates slowly and becomes so volatile that she feels both love for him and fear of him. I honestly felt like I came away from reading this novel with some clarity in my own mind about how this sort of thing happens and what motivations are behind the victim's actions. I thought Hall just had a way with allowing the reader to share in Alex's pain and to understand her as a character. 

I loved the friendships that Alex creates in her new home. From Maggie, the marine biologist she is working with to the local knitting club. Hall develops her characters slowly and with great depth. Little by little we learn more about these women and the lessons they learn from each other. The bonds between women are always something that intrigues me. The deep lasting friendships that women can create with each other are simply unexplainable and Hall really captured the essence of that idea in this book. 

I don't know about you guys but I have always been a big fan of whales. They are so large and majestic and beautiful. Hall is able to not only educate her readers about handling abusive situations in this novel but also to educate them about the plot of the killer whale population and what is happening to their ecosystem as we continue to ravage the oceans of her vital resources. I found myself very invested in the plight of this Pod and the whales who were fighting for their habitat. Hall affected me with her writing and I'm sure I won't be the only one. Such a well written side theme to a very good novel.

What I didn't like:

The book blurb is slightly misleading. Some readers will pick this book up with the thought that it will center on the "haunting" paranormal aspects of the town that Alex has moved to. Though this is discussed in the book it is a minor theme and the blurb should have projected more of the true synopsis of the book.

I didn't really feel as though this book was necessarily women's fiction. When I think of that genre this is not a book that I feel falls in that niche. Yes, the protagonist is a woman and she does make friendships and grows immensely within the book, but somehow it didn't quite seem to fit. It was not a beach read or a cutesy novel. This one had some substance to it and some mystery, some informative aspects. There was just a lot more to it.

Bottom Line:

This is a good read. It doesn't fit the description given but it was very well written, engaging and informative. It was about a whole lot more than a possibly haunted town. If you picked it for that reason you are still gonna get a really good book, so no harm, no foal. I can't say that I totally related to the main character, Alex but I really liked her. And I understood her battles within herself. I loved the friendship aspect of this book and the Orca theme was exceptional. Give this one a try. It's a perfect book club pick, but maybe a little different from most women's fiction titles you might pick up. 

The Music of the Deep is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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



About the Author:

Elizabeth Hall spent most of her life in the mountains of Colorado. She has worked as a teacher and communications consultant, including hosting, writing, and producing the radio show Heart of the West (KRZA, Alamosa) and producing an oral history compilation for the Great Sand Dunes National Park. She now lives in the Pacific NW.