Saturday, June 23, 2018

To Kill a Hummingbird by J.R. Ripley

Title: To Kill a Hummingbird
Author: J.R. Ripley
Series: #4 in the Bird Lover's Mystery series
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Lyrical Underground  (July 11th 2017)
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕☕

Synopsis: For Amy Simms, owner of Birds & Bees, nothing is more important than impressing her old professor, but this odd bird is about to fall to earth . . .

When her favorite ornithology professor comes calling, Birds & Bees owner Amy Simms hangs six hummingbird feeders around the shop to welcome Professor Livingston with a flock of his favorite flying creatures. But Amy soon finds that the sugar water in the feeders brings more than a swarm of hummingbirds. It also attracts murder.

Professor Livingston is just as friendly as Amy remembers, but something seems to be troubling him. When Amy pays him a visit that night, she finds the professor slumped over a table with a pair of scissors buried in his neck. And standing over his body is Rose Smith, the local bookseller, who claims she killed him. But while the police believe they have a bird in hand, Amy thinks the real killer may still be in the bush . . .

My Thoughts: My first venture into the world of Birds & Bees and I wasn't super impressed but it wasn't horrible either.

The Good: The setting was interesting. I've really never thought about bird watching as a hobby so it was an interesting bit of information on the subject. The small town setting was also likable and the interactions between the people of the town was fun.

The Bad: Because this wasn't the first book in the series and I've not read anything else by this author I wasn't sure how the character dynamics happened. Amy almost hates her tenant, a little old lady who helps out in the shop when she feels like it. I'm not sure why because she seems nice enough but more inserted into the series for some comic relief. I didn't like Amy's dislike of having her around with n back ground to support the animosity. Also, Amy's boyfriend has an ex-wife also named Amy. This created unnecessary confusion and not humor as perhaps intended.

In a Nutshell: I like the cozy mystery genre and even though I didn't enjoy this as much as I'd hope I'm going to give the author and this series another go.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen

Title: The Sinner
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Series: #3 in the Rizzoli/Isles series
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 19, 2003)
Source: Library Find
Rating: ☕☕☕☕

Synopsis: Not even the icy temperatures of a typical New England winter can match the bone-chilling scene of carnage discovered at the chapel of Our Lady of Divine Light. Within the cloistered convent lie two nuns–one dead, one critically injured–victims of an unspeakably savage attacker. The brutal crime appears to be without motive, but medical examiner Maura Isles’s autopsy of the dead woman yields a shocking surprise: Twenty-year-old Sister Camille gave birth before she was murdered. Then another body is found, mutilated beyond recognition. Together, Isles and homicide detective Jane Rizzoli uncover an ancient horror that connects these terrible slaughters. As long-buried secrets come to light, Maura Isles finds herself drawn inexorably toward the heart of an investigation that strikes close to home–and toward a dawning revelation about the killer’s identity too shattering to consider.

My Thoughts: The third book in the Rizzoli/Isles does not disappoint.

The Good: This particular book showcases Maura Isles this time around. I liked the change in protagonists even though I have really warmed up to Rizzoli. She is, of course, still a main character within the book and pregnant to boot. Anyway, I really think varying the view works well for this series. Seeing things from Maura's view (this is still 3rd person perspective just an FYI) was a little different than Jane's. There are more opportunities for medical aspects within the book whereas with Jane's "stories" it was more about the police work. Even with the heavier medical things we still get a nice dose of police procedures as well.

Maura's background is explored a little within this book which was a positive because she's such an enigma. I love strong and intelligent women and Maura certainly fits the bill. Despite how put together she is Maura also struggles with her faith as many people do which makes her easier to connect to in my opinion.

The Bad: I struggle with books that have religious undertones and this one had them in plenty. Gerritsen didn't beat us over the head with her religious views so that was good. I just didn't like Maura's struggle with her attraction to the priest she meets at the Chapel. I know it happens but for me this is kind of a hot button subject. Nothing actually happened

In a Nutshell: I really enjoyed my re-read of this book and I'm really looking forward to my re-read of the next book as well. I cannot recommend this series enough. If you love thrillers/mysteries and haven't started this series pick it up. You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen

Title: The Apprentice
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Series: #2 in the Rizzoli/Isles series
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (August 20, 2002)
Source: Purchased
Rating: ☕☕☕☕

Synopsis: It is a boiling hot Boston summer. Adding to the city's woes is a series of shocking crimes, in which wealthy men are made to watch while their wives are brutalized. A sadistic demand that ends in abduction and death.
The pattern suggests one man: serial killer Warren Hoyt, recently removed from the city's streets. Police can only assume an acolyte is at large, a maniac basing his attacks on the twisted medical techniques of the madman he so admires. At least that's what Detective Jane Rizzoli thinks. Forced again to confront the killer who scarred her - literally and figuratively - she is determined to finally end Hoyt's awful influence . . . even if it means receiving more resistance from her all-male homicide squad.
But Rizzoli isn't counting on the U.S. government's sudden interest. Or on meeting Special Agent Gabriel Dean, who knows more than he will tell. Most of all, she isn't counting on becoming a target herself, once Hoyt is suddenly free, joining his mysterious blood brother in a vicious vendetta. . . .
Filled with superbly created characters and the medical and police procedural details that are her trademark, The Apprentice is Tess Gerritsen at her brilliant best. Set in a stunning world where evil is easy to learn and hard to end, this is a thriller by a master who could teach other authors a thing or two.

My Thoughts: This is a re-read for me because I'm reading this series with a group of buddies on GoodReads. Originally I'd read the first six books in the series way back when each of them had been released and time tends to make specifics a little hazy. This makes for practically brand new experiences with re-reads. So yay for that! Boo on not remembering what I did yesterday.

The Good: As super villainous Hoyt was in the last book I wasn't sure how Gerritsen would come up with an equally bad guy for her second go round in this series. She did it. She did it in a wicked gruesome way. I loved every nasty, bloody, disgustingly evil thing our villains did in this book. You read that right, kids. Villains. Plural.

Jane Rizzoli is totally in the good column in this second book. In the first book her abrasive personality grates. In this one she mellows and becomes likable even. She is no one's victim even after being victimized. Those who might not have liked her in the first book should have no problem warming up to her in this one. Oh and for those of you wondering where Isles is....well, this second book is still all about Rizzoli.

The Bad: As a warning, new to this series readers really need to read The Surgeon first. Not many people would think this is a bad thing but I do. I like to be able to grab a book and read it without having to worry about if I'm reading a book in the proper order. This is just a peeve of mine and some who insist on reading series books in order will have already read The Surgeon so no harm no foul.

In a Nutshell: Such a good second book. If you love Thrillers and haven't started this series you really need to. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trust Me by Brenda Novak

Title: Trust Me
Author: Brenda Novak
Series: #1 in The Last Stand series
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: MIRA; Reprint edition (January 13, 2017)(originally published in 2008)
Source: Purchased
Rating: ☕☕☕

Synopsis: Four years ago, Skye Kellerman was attacked in her own bed. She managed to fend off her knife-wielding assailant, but the trauma changed everything about her life. As a result of that night, she joined two friends—also survivors—in starting The Last Stand, an organization to help victims of crime.
But now, her would-be rapist is getting out of prison. Skye knows that Dr. Oliver Burke hasn't forgotten that her testimony cost him his reputation—and his freedom. Sacramento detective David Willis, who investigated her case, believes Burke is a clear and present danger—and guilty of at least two unsolved murders.
And now Burke is free to terrorize Skye again. Unless David can stop him. Unless Skye can fight back. Because Oliver Burke has every intention of finishing what he started. And that's a promise. Trust me.

My Thoughts: A great suspenseful read with an unfortunate romance that didn't work well.

The Good: I loved the suspense of this story. I really like when victims of horrible crimes fight back. With The Last Stand ladies we have women battling back for themselves and for other victims. With Skye, she fought back after being the victim of a serial rapist and then helped establish TLS with 2 other women. I'm looking forward to reading their stories as well. One of them has some psychic ability which is right up my alley.

If you've read any other thrillers by Brenda Novak (I'm thinking specifically the Evelyn Talbot series) you know she has a knack for creating diabolical villains. In this case Burke certainly fits the bill. He is so smart and evil I loved each page featuring him.

The Bad: Ugh....the romance. The problem lies mostly in the "hero" David. He was the lead detective on Skye's rape case so four years ago Skye was obviously off limits but he was attracted to her and now is pretty much in love with her. The problem? His two times ex wife. That's right folks, he married her, divorced her, married her again, and divorced her again. Now he's trying to "make it work" because she has been diagnosed with MS and they have a young son. What this translates to is he ran hot and cold with Skye throughout the book. He pulled her close then pushed her way. Rinse. Repeat. Also, just a note...public restroom sex is not sexy. It's something young people do. Not full grown adults with the kind of experience they have.

Oh and one more little irritant for me was Burke was really the main villain in this story and by introducing additional bad guys and multiple murder attempts muddied the story bit.

In a Nutshell: Overall, not a bad book but it really could have been better especially with the romance but I will continue with the series because The Last Stand women are pretty intriguing. And just a disclaimer if blood and rape storylines are hot button topics this might be one you should probably avoid.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

Title: The Surgeon
Author: Tess Gerristen
Series: #1 in The Rizzoli/Isles series
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 2, 2001)
Source: Library find
Rating: ☕☕☕☕

Synopsis: He slips into homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, about to awaken to a living nightmare. The precision of his methods suggests that he is a deranged man of medicine, prompting the Boston newspapers to dub him “The Surgeon.” Led by Detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli, the cops must consult the victim of a nearly identical crime: Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and filled an attacker before he could complete his assault. Now this new killer is re-creating, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell’s ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. And neither Moore nor Rizzoli can protect Cordell from a ruthless hunter who somehow understands—and savors—the secret fears of every woman he kills.

My Thoughts: This is a re-read for me and just as enjoyable the second time around. Of course it helps that I read this book over 15 years ago so things I thought I remembered happened just didn't happen. Old age memory is real kids!

The Good: While this is technically the Rizzoli/Isles series it is only Rizzoli featured in this one. This isn't a bad thing because it gives the reader a good sense of what makes Rizzoli tick. I think if this first book wasn't set up as Jane's her abrasive personality might have been more grating, making the book not as enjoyable.

The mystery is compelling and the killer is so unbelievably evil. Be aware that this is heavy into the thriller category with quite the graphic scenes. Also with the added medical aspect we have ER procedures added as well. I loved every bit of this book from every graphic gross detail to the personal conflict that makes Jane, Jane.

The Bad: Even with Jane's background her personality is abrasive and can irritate some readers. Even though this was my second read through and I was well aware of who she was I also found her to be a bit annoying. By the end of the book I did warm up a bit towards her but not enough.

In a Nutshell: I totally loved reading this book again and am looking forward to re-reading the next book in the series.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Getting Out of Hand by Erin Nicholas

Title: Getting Out of Hand
Author: Erin Nicholas
Series: #1 in the Sapphire Falls series
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Erin Nicholas (July 13, 2014)
Source: Purchased/ Kindle Freebie
Rating: ☕☕☕☕

Synopsis: Genius scientist Mason Riley can cure world hunger, impress the media and piss off the Vice President of the United States all before breakfast. But he’s not sure he can get through his high school class reunion.

Then he meets the new girl in town.

Adrianne Scott loves Sapphire Falls. The sleepy little town has been the perfect place to escape her fast-paced, high stress lifestyle. Her only plans now include opening her candy shop and living a quiet, drama-free life.

Until Mason Riley bids four hundred dollars just to dance with her.

Mason sure doesn’t look—or kiss—like a genius scientist geek. In fact, he makes Adrianne’s heart pound like nothing she’s ever experienced. Passion like this with a guy who travels the world and parties at the White House should probably be a red flag for a girl who wants a simple boring life.
Good thing no one falls in love in a weekend.

My Thoughts: I love when a freebie ends up being the beginning to a new favorite author. What a gem!

The Good
: I love small town romances. This one is set in the quaint (yet fictional) town of Sapphire Falls, Nebraska. Being from the Midwest I love when a book is set in my neck of the woods. So double pluses for this book! I also love me some genius nerd boys! Mason fits the bill to a T. Super smart, socially awkward but so endearing and charming and don't forget he grew up hot too! (please forgive my excessive usage of exclamation points...I'm just super excited for this book!!!)

In addition to many charming characters and quaint setting the romance is sweet and the sexy bits are hot. Adrianne + Mason + Jar of Caramel = well you get the picture. Both characters are equally amazing. Both have strengths and flaws and Nicholas did an amazing job of creating the prefect balance between the two.

The Bad: I think the sexual orientation of Mason's best friend was dwelled on for a bit longer than necessary. We never take up pages explaining someone is straight so to do so for a bi-sexual character seemed a bit much. In Nicholas' defense (I'm playing both sides right pun intended LOL) the fact that she likes women was presented in a couple of scenes later on and the early explanation prepared the reader for those. I just want to make myself clear here....I am in no way complaining about a bi-sexual character. I am complaining about treating her introduction to the book in a different way than a straight character would have been introduced.

In a Nutshell: I really enjoyed this book so much and am looking forward to reading more from Erin Nicholas. Plus this book is still being offered for free on Amazon! Why haven't you tried out Sapphire Falls yet?

Favorite Quote“Why do you care so much?” he asked. “You haven’t been here long.” She looked up at him with a thoughtful expression. “Home isn’t about time,” she finally said. “It’s about where you feel good and can be yourself.”

The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Title: The Assassin's Blade
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: #.1-.5 in the Throne of Glass series
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (March 4th 2014)
Source: Purchased/ Kindle Freebie
Rating: ☕☕☕☕

Synopsis: Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

My Thoughts: First off this is a collection of novellas designed to fill in gaps within the first book. I am usually not a fan of Novellas or short stories but Maas did such a great job with these.

The Good: Sarah J. Maas' writing is engaging. She gave just enough world building to ensure I wasn't lost in the world she created and gave an equal amount of character building if you look at the 5 novellas as a whole. It is the background of Celaena that is completely compelling and makes me want to continue with the series. The last novella posed the question on if another character could forgive her roots. Why would that be a relationship deal breaker? I want to know.

The Bad: Celaena. Well, at least at first. She is a brat and she is arrogant. I wanted to throat punch the twit on multiple occasions during the first novella.  I'm happy to say she and my opinion of her improved as the book progressed. By the last novella I was hooked.

In a Nutshell: I'm glad I read these novella's before starting the series. I was told by a friend that I'd hate Celaena in the first book and now that I have some inkling on her I'm prepared and I'm full on excited to start the first book in the series now. Plus I'm hoping Arobyn will meet with an unfortunate accident.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hello, Again by Brenda Novak

Title: Hello, Again
Author: Brenda Novak
Series: #2 in the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (October 3rd 2017)
Source: Library Find
Rating: ☕☕☕☕


Evelyn Talbot, a psychiatrist at a maximum-security prison in Alaska, studies some of the world's worst serial killers. But she’s about to meet her most elusive patient at Hanover House yet: Dr. Lyman Bishop, AKA the Zombie Maker given his fondness for performing ice-pick lobotomies on his victims. A brilliant cancer researcher, Bishop is either the most cunning psychopath Evelyn has ever encountered―or he is wrongly convicted.


When a new ice-pick fatality occurs, it seems Bishop really was wrongly convicted. Except...Evelyn has a personal connection to the victim and that suggests the killer may be someone from her own past: Jasper Moore, her high school boyfriend who tortured her and left her for dead when she was only sixteen. Jasper also murdered three of her friends―and was never caught. Is he trying to send a message with this copycat crime? The only thing Evelyn knows for sure is that if Jasper is on her trail, she might not be able to escape again . . .

My Thoughts: Just when you thought no one could be more evil and creepy than Evelyn's psycho stalker, Brenda Novak gives us The Zombie Maker and I love her for it!!!!

The Good: I have to admit I was completely ignoring all adulting responsibilities while reading this book. I couldn't help it. This book sucked me in and wouldn't let me go until I knew Evelyn was going to be OK. I'd hate to use the tired cliché  "I couldn't put it down" because then I'd have to punch a baby, so I'm just going to imply my ability to release this book from my non-baby punching hand may have been hindered by the awesomeness of said book.

What I mean to say is this book is chock full of suspense. Between Evelyn's career at Hanover house, the psycho inmates, the psycho outmates (I may have just made up that word but just go with me on it, mmmkay?), I just was one nail-biting session from needing new fingertips. Thank goodness there was a nice blend of romance and other things to balance this book out. Seriously, where would I find new fingertips anyway? Bed, Bath, and BodyParts?

Speaking of romance, in the first book and novella I was getting annoyed with her hang-up with the age difference between her and Amarok. I'm glad it wasn't as prevalent in this book. Their romance is progressing at a slower pace than other books Novak has written but based on the Evelyn's established history it feels organic and not forced. 2 big thumbs up for not being a big sloppy thrown together insta-love couple.

The Bad: As much as I enjoyed this book I was really hoping this would be the end of Jasper. Not so much. His part in Evelyn's life and these books are still dangling. Can you say cliffhanger? (albeit a little one) I really wish there was some closure on this story arc.

In a Nutshell: Even with the minor cliffhanger I gave this book a solid 4 stars and I'm really looking forward to the next book coming out sometime in 2018.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Gone With the Ghost by Erin McCarthy

Title: Gone With the Ghost
Author: Erin McCarthy
Series: #1 in the Murder by Design series
Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Publisher: SilverHart Publishing (May 22, 2017)
Source: Purchased
Rating: ☕☕☕☕

Synopsis: Bailey Burke has had a rough six months—it’s not easy thinking your romantic overtures toward your best friend caused him to kill himself. Except that’s exactly what happened. Ryan is very much dead, having shot himself with his own police-issued gun. Guilt and grief shouldn’t cause hallucinations though, but six months after Ryan went into the ground, Bailey is freaking out and swearing his ghost is standing in her kitchen. Which he is…

Ryan claims he didn’t commit suicide, but was murdered, and he needs Bailey to help him find his killer so he can earn his ticket out of purgatory. Ryan’s counting on a stairway to heaven, as opposed to wings, since that might be a little unmanly for a cop, even a dead one.

An expert in home design, with her own staging business, Bailey can tell you where to place a couch to improve flow and comfort, but solving a crime? Not her area of expertise. But with help from Ryan’s former partner, Marner, she is unraveling the mystery of what happened to Ryan that day… and unwittingly putting herself in grave danger.

My Thoughts: Erin McCarthy is the queen of fun lighthearted reads.

The Good, The Bad, And Everything In Between: I love when the paranormal rubs elbows with mystery especially when it's chock full of humor. I giggled, smiled, and literally LOL a couple of times throughout this book. I enjoyed the various characters including Bailey and Ryan but wish they were more fleshed out. The book is rather short which is awesome for me because I have been struggling with sticking with longer books but, honestly, if it had been longer the characters could have been dug deeper into. In addition there is some closure to the mystery aspect but many dangly bits are left....well...dangling. Now I love me some dangly bits but in my books I don't necessarily like cliffhangers...even minor ones. I enjoyed this book so much though, I like to refer to those dangly bits as appetizers for the next course. I'm really looking forward to digging into the next one too.

In a Nutshell
: This really was a fun book but make sure you have the next book lined up so you can jump right into it because you're going to want to.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hanover House by Brenda Novak

Title: Hanover House
Author: Brenda Novak
Series: #.5 in the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Brenda Novak, Inc. (September 1, 2015)
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕☕☕

Synopsis: Welcome to Hanover House….

Psychiatrist Evelyn Talbot has dedicated her life to solving the mysteries of the antisocial mind. Why do psychopaths act as they do? How do they come to be? Why don’t they feel any remorse for the suffering they cause? And are there better ways of spotting and stopping them?

After having been kidnapped, tortured and left for dead when she was just a teenager—by her high school boyfriend—she’s determined to understand how someone she trusted so much could turn on her. So she’s established a revolutionary new medical health center in the remote town of Hilltop, Alaska, where she studies the worst of the worst.

But not everyone in Hilltop is excited to have Hanover House and its many serial killers in the area. Alaskan State Trooper, Sergeant Amarok, is one of them. And yet he can’t help feeling bad about what Evelyn has been through. He’s even attracted to her. Which is partly why he worries.

He knows what could happen if only one little thing goes wrong...

My Thoughts: What a great introduction to Evelyn Talbot and her passion for Hanover House!

The Good: This is more of a novella rather than a full length book but it felt full and complete. I really liked this glimpse into Evelyn Talbot's life leading up to the finishing touches on Hanover House which will be a psychiatric facility for sociopaths in a small Alaskan town. The town folks are not too keen on the idea of this facility coming to their town but couldn't stop the development. Evelyn is a complex character molded by her past as a victim/survivor of a killer who was never caught. She now studies psychopaths and her "baby" Hanover House will help her goals of finding reason behind why killers do what they do. There is a small amount of romance within the story which should develop more during the course of the series. I liked that the romance is taking time (especially based on her past). The suspense was great as well and I can't wait to find out what happens next.  

The Bad: Even though the length of the story felt as if it were enough I couldn't help but want more. This is just my own opinion though and others may not feel the same. I also thought Amarok's character could have been fleshed out more but this should resolve itself in upcoming books.

In a Nutshell: An excellent beginning to the series and I'll definitely move on to the next book!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

EARLY REVIEW: Christmas at Two Love Lane with Kieran Kramer

Title: Christmas at Two Love Lane
Author: Kieran Kramer
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (October 3, 2017)
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕1/2

Synopsis: The best gift of all is the one you share with someone else. . .

From the moment he strode through the iron gate and into the offices of Two Love Lane on a crisp December day, it was obvious that Deacon Banks was something different. He wasn’t a Charleston native, not with that adorable Yankee accent. And unlike the usual client at the elegant matchmaking agency, he had no interest in finding a woman to marry—just a few no-strings dates while he was in town.

Macy Frost takes her professional services very seriously—how could she not, when she’s rumored to be a direct descendant of Cupid? Tech entrepreneur Deacon says he’s just trying to make his social-climbing aunt happy by being seen out and about with a few prominent beauties, but Macy insists she can make her client fall in love…for real. And Deacon can’t help but think she might be right. As charming as the palmetto trees and magnificent harbor may be, it’s the beautiful, breath-of-fresh-air Macy who’s become Deacon’s favorite part of the scenery. But can the hopelessly romantic Southern belle stop trying to fix him up and just let Cupid do his work on her own heart?

My Thoughts: I went into this book with so much excitement. It's a Holiday book! It's by Kieran Kramer! Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me.

The Good, The Bad, and Everything Else: The setting of Charleston is charming but the pace and the setting of the story makes this feel like a small town story. With Charleston being well over 100k people this felt a bit off for me even though I did like it. I love small town romances. I also liked some of the secondary cast of characters. Fran, Deacon's Aunt, was an interesting woman who stole the scenes she was in, and she was in quite a lot of them and George, her HouseBoy/Manservant, was a hoot . Unfortunately, I never really warmed up to Macy, or even her partners, Greer, Ella, and Miss Thing, or really many of the characters. There was very little background on them and very little divulged during the course of the book. What I got from Macy was she was perfect. She giggled. She was a professional (although the last thing wasn't demonstrated but repeated by Macy herself.) Her only imperfection is that she can't seem to let herself fall in love. She's a matchmaker who doesn't believe she can find her true love.

Anyway, I had a hard time getting into this book. It could have been the pacing, which seemed really slow. Or it could be everything was just so sweet. There wasn't any actual conflict. I don't consider Macy's wishy washy woe is me I can't fall in love ways conflict. I missed this aspect and felt the book suffered a bit without it. In addition, there were a couple sex scenes but they all began on page and finished off page. Very little details were included and I actually prefer a little more sizzle in my books.

In a Nutshell: Even though I really adore Kieran Kramer's historical romances I wasn't blown away by this Contemporary Romance and barely even liked it. Even though this book wasn't for me those who like just plain sweet CRs with a low heat levels might enjoy this.

Friday, July 21, 2017

EARLY REVIEW: Before the Dawn by Cynthia Eden

Title: Before the Dawn
Author: Cynthia Eden
Series: #2 in the Killer Instinct series
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: HQN Books (July 25, 2017)
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕☕☕

Synopsis: Ex-SEAL Tucker Frost knows that the world is full of evil. He saw it in the face of his own brother, Jason Frost, a cold, methodical, sadistic killer. A killer Tucker put down with his own hands in order to save Jason's final victim—Dawn Alexander, the only girl who got away from the infamous "Iceman."

It's Tucker's up close and personal experience with evil that's made him perfect for Samantha Dark's experimental profiling division in the FBI. Samantha wants agents who have personal ties with killers, who have unique insights into the minds of monsters. And when women start turning up murdered with the same MO used by the Iceman, Tucker is sent back to Louisiana to investigate.

The last person he expects to see is his ex-lover, Dawn. Ten full years have passed since the night that Tucker faced down his brother…and since he last saw Dawn. But the dark need still burns just as hot between Tucker and Dawn. As they grapple with a desire that never died, they must also face the shared shadow from their pasts. Both Tucker and Dawn have the same question—has Jason Frost come back from the dead to hunt again? And this time, will he succeed in killing the victim who got away?

My Thoughts: Cynthia Eden can write romantic suspense with the best of them. I loved reading this book and want to dive right into more by her.

The Good: The opening sequence was written so well. It captured my attention exactly as it was meant to do and made me want to keep reading. The momentum continued throughout the book as well. Nothing sucks the life out of a Rom/Susp that can't keep up with it's own prologue. The characters are well thought out and I liked that we continued to learn and understand them throughout the book. The secondary characters are intriguing, especially Macey and Bowen who are part of the special task force Tucker is on. I also enjoyed the investigation aspect of the book. From the precinct, to the morgue, to the hospital, we were with the team every step of the way. The mystery suspense aspect in the story was well balanced with the romance as well. There weren't a lot of annoying misunderstandings between Tucker and Dawn and the characters didn't constantly push each other away (even though at one point it felt like it was almost going that way.)

The Bad: I went into this book with no knowledge of the series, the book order, or even what this book was about. With that in mind I need to say that even though this book was easily read without any other background of the characters or the special FBI unit Tucker is part of I am now very aware of who the perpetrator was in the first book, After the Dark. I'm not sure if this was common knowledge, meaning if the identity was known from almost the beginning of that book, but I'm a bit disappointed in knowing the killer's name and his ties to the other characters. So with that said, I'd recommend reading this series in order. I would prefer to read books as I pick them up and since you really shouldn't in this case I find it a negative. I also thought the killer's identity was a bit of a stretch and his reasoning a bit sketchy but nothing that would prevent me from recommending this book to lovers of these subgenre.

In a Nutshell: A very good book to what appears to be a good series. I'm looking forward to reading the others and if I didn't already have several books lined up I would even consider reading them all back to back. I never binge read so that says something about this book.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Just the Thing by Marie Harte

Title: Just the Thing
Author: Marie Harte
Series: #2 in the Donnigans series
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks - Casablanca (July 4, 2017)
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕☕☕

Gavin Donnigan left the Marine Corps a shell of a man, hounded by guilt for deaths he couldn't prevent. But teaching a self-defense class at the local gym brings some stability to his life―along with a gorgeous leggy woman who won't give him the time of day.
Zoe York lost her twin sister to a freak car accident a few months ago. She's been struggling to bury her grief, but it isn't until she signs up for a self-defense class with its distractingly hot instructor that she begins to come out of her shell again. With the memory of her sister telling her to live a little, Zoe decides a fling with buns-of-steel Gavin Donnigan might be just the thing.
Soon they're sparring both in and out of the gym. And for the first time in a long time, each is looking forward to tomorrow.

My Thoughts: So, I have a confession to make. I requested this book from the publisher based purely on the cover. I'm happy to say that it totally worked out for me because I've now found a new to me author I can happily binge read.

The Good: Both the main characters in this book are broken. Gavin, by his PTSD and survivor's guilt after 3 of his good friends are killed in action over seas while he was in the medical unit healing from a previous mission. Zoe is also suffering a tragedy and dealing with her own demons. Despite them being broken I loved that this book really looked at their healing process. It was portrayed in such a healthy way. We've all experienced loss, I liked that this book didn't gloss over the grieving process and portray the new relationship between Gavin and Zoe as a "cure" for their grief. Their relationship was not a case of instalove but rather a build up over time. We were never blindsided by the I love yous because we saw them grow together as a couple. I really loved this.
The Donnigans are quite the family. Their prank wars were epic and I loved every minute of their interactions. The extended family (Harte wrote about in her McCauley Brothers series) was intriguing as was the tattooed woman, Del, who married into the family during the course of this book. Lets not even start on her family, who appears to be in her Body Shop Bad Boys series. I really love when series books connect like this.
I also would like to mention that during the course of the book I might have teared up a couple of times. Or it was allergies. But seriously, Gavin just broke my heart watching him go through his healing process.

The Bad: I really had a hard time with Gavin's "I'm a Studly Man" mentality. Overall I think he was portrayed this way to contrast between the public Gavin and the mentally anguished Gavin, but for me, he came across a bit too egocentric at times. In addition there were a couple instances where I had to pause and remind myself this man was supposed to be in his early 30's. Some of the things he said came across as a frat boy, barely adult male.
Last thing, at times the book felt a bit too long. I'm wondering if some additional editing could have happened to reduce the page numbers. This might have worked but it could have also happened at the expense of the carefully woven romance. Oh and if you are not someone who appreciates super steamy sex-capades you might want to stay away from these books. The sex is scorching and plentiful. I totally didn't mind this but put it in the "bad" just because I know this is something someone else will be wary of.

In a Nutshell: Despite my issues with Gavin and his Ego I loved this book. I'm looking forward to Hope Donnigan's story and in the future Theo's as well. I'm going to read the McCauley series as well as the Body Shop Bad Boy series. I'm really excited to read more of Marie Harte's contemporary romances.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Unsub by Meg Gardiner

Title: Unsub
Author: Meg Gardiner
Series: #1 in the Unsub series
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Dutton (June 27, 2017)
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕☕

Synopsis: Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.
The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.
Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.
Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?

My Thoughts: This book started out slowly for me but became a whirlwind of a thriller that I enjoyed ultimately, towards the end.

The Good: Once the investigation really took off so did the book. As Caitlin started to put clues together I really started getting interested in the outcome. I enjoyed the revelation the department had when finally figuring out what the Prophet was all about but this was also a weakness within the plot, in my opinion.

The Bad: Ultimately, this book relies on it's readers to suspend their disbelief quite a bit. From a rookie homicide detective solving the case when seasoned veterans couldn't do so in 20 years to a serial killer who was able to de-escalate and just stop killing for all those years as well. Also, as a reader who favors characters over plot, I found myself unable to really connect with Caitlin even once the killer attacked close to home.

In a Nutshell: A decent start to a new series and I'm hopeful the issues are just first book in series troubles and the followups will knock it out of the park. Will I read more by this author? Yes. Will I read more in this series? Yes, again. Would I recommend this book to fans of the genre. I would.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Branded As Trouble by Delores Fossen

Title: Branded As Trouble
Author: Delores Fossen
Series: #3 in the Wrangler's Creek series
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HQN Books (June 27, 2017)
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕☕☕

Synopsis: Every town needs a bad boy, and Wrangler's Creek's has been gone far too long...
Getting his high school girlfriend pregnant was just one square in Roman Granger's checkered past, but it changed him forever. When his son's mother skipped town after the birth, Roman decided to do the same, baby Tate in tow, hoping for a fresh start.
Now Roman fears his teenage son is following in his wayward footsteps, so he returns home to Wrangler's Creek, aiming to set him straight. It's there he encounters Tate's aunt, Mila Banchini, the good-girl opposite of Roman who's had a crush on him since childhood. The old spark between them undeniably never died, though Roman worries it'll only lead to heartache. But if falling for Mila is such a bad idea, why does everything about holding her feel so right?

My Thoughts: My first book by Delores Fossen and certainly not my last.

The Good: The personal conflicts cropping up throughout this small town has a little bit of a Soap Opera feel to it but I loved every minute of it. I very much enjoyed most of the characters and their quirks. I felt the family connections between the Grangers and their extended family, including Mila, was probably one of the best things about this book. Although not completely parallel, the town reminds me a bit like Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek or Susan Mallery's Fool Gold settings.

The Bad: One of my least favorite romance tropes is an older virgin. At 31, Mila and her virginity, seems completely weird. Barring a vow of celibacy while waiting for marriage or Jesus I'm not sure a woman remains a virgin to 30+ without having something seriously wrong with her. In Mila's case, she was just too picky she said. She had her heart set on Roman. Therefore she refused to do the deed until Roman came around and did the deed with her. Even for a romance novel this seems pretty far fetched. One last thing that bugged me a bit. Both Mila's and Roman's mothers seemed equally quirky. Mila's mom is an ex free loving flower child who thinks she's psychic and is rumored to put the stink-eye on people that cross her. Roman's mom is a widow of many years who raised 4 children and is more of a society icon in the town because the Grangers pretty much own the town. These women are polar opposites yet seem to have the same wacky impulses. It was a bit weird but not necessarily a deal breaker when it comes to the enjoy-ability of this book.

In a Nutshell: I really enjoyed this book and will seek out the rest of the series. If you like those small town feel contemporary romances please pick this one up.

Take It To the Grave (Part 1 of 6) by Zoe Carter

Title: Take It To the Grave (Part 1 of 6)
Author: Zoë Carter
Series: #1 in the Take It To the Grave series (Part 1 of 6)
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases (June 1, 2017)
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Sarah Taylor-Cox has the perfect life—a gorgeous husband, a picture—perfect house in the Hamptons and a beautiful baby, Elliot. Now, the invites are being sent out for Elliot's christening, and the Taylor—Coxes are determined the party will be the event of the year.

There's just one chink in Sarah's carefully constructed calm demeanour—her sister, Maisey, will be coming. The sisters used to be close, but now their lives couldn't be more different. Surely though, they will slip back into their old ways, and the party will go off without a hitch…

Then, Sarah's difficult relationship with Maisey is pushed to the back of her mind when she receives a note, one which makes her whole body shake with dread: I know your secret. I'm going to tell.

Part 1 of 6: a riveting new installment in this darkly compelling psychological thriller

My Thoughts: I thought this would be a short, thrilling piece of work, and an introduction to a new to me author, Zoë Carter. Well, two outta 3 ain't bad.

The Good: It was short. Yep, that's about it folks. I'd like to say the writing style appealed to me but it didn't. I'd like to say the intrigue of the storyline captured me but it didn't. I'd like to say the characters spoke to me but....well, actually they did. They said we are all horrible creatures drawn to be completely unlikable to our readers. Not necessarily a good thing when it comes to someone as character driven as myself. However, the plot wasn't without some interest on my part. I thought the opening prologue was interesting, even though nothing in the next 50 pages mentioned it again. I thought the ending was interesting as well, except it came a little to late for me to care what happens next in the story.

The Bad: The book was narrated by both Sarah and Maisey, alternatively. I don't normally mind this but when you're looking at the grand scheme of the book I had in hand, it didn't really work. I had 1/6th of this story. The constant back and forth perspectives made it impossible to really get "into" the story and to feel the tension it was supposed to create. In addition, the characters didn't have the time to grow and feel three dimensional to the reader because we were limited in page space. If the goal was always to release this book as a serial, having the first part as Sarah's voice and the second part, Maisey's, alternating that way, might have worked more in it's favor. Now here is one of my biggest contentions about this book....perhaps, through no fault of the author herself, the first part was offered for free on Amazon, at first. Now it costs $1.99. Each part costs $1.99, with the exception of part 2 right now is on sale for $.99. So, if you managed to get the first part for free and the second part for a buck to get the complete story you, dear reader, will shell out almost $9.00 for a book by an author who now has 2 books under her belt. I'm not trying to undermined all the work Ms. Carter put into her craft but when I can spend only a couple more dollars to get a brand new release by an author who is tried and true with dozens of NT Times #1 best sellers, why would I? I wouldn't.

In a Nutshell: I'm sorry Ms. Carter but I refuse to read any more of this book. Perhaps if it were to be offered as one complete book at a decent price I might reconsider. However, I do see your other book on Amazon is reasonably priced and is a full novel. I will check it out because I don't feel as if I've given you and your writing a reasonable chance.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Phantom Evil by Heather Graham

Title: Phantom Evil
Author: Heather Graham
Series: #1 in the Krewe of Hunters series
Genre: Romantic Suspense (with paranormal undertones)
Publisher: Mira (March 27, 2011)
Source: Library eBook
Rating: ☕☕☕

Synopsis: A secret government unit, a group of renegade paranormal investigators... and a murder no one else can crack.
Though haunted by the recent deaths of two teammates, Jackson Crow knows that the living commit the most heinous crimes.
A police officer utilizing her paranormal intuition, Angela Hawkins already has her hands full of mystery and bloodshed.
But one assignment calls to them too strongly to resist. In a historic mansion in New Orleans French Quarter, a senator's wife falls to her death. Most think she jumped; some say she was pushed. And yet others believe she was beckoned by the ghostly spirits inhabiting the house — once the site of a serial killer's grisly work.
In this seemingly unsolvable case, only one thing is certain: whether supernatural or all too human, crimes of passion will cast Jackson and Angela into danger of losing their lives... and their immortal souls.

My Thoughts: Another Heather Graham book that had great potential but got mucked up while bringing the romance into the book to become an average read.

The Good: The backdrop of NOLA and the setting of a historical mansion, a new murder interwoven with that of a century old serial killer's terrifying reign on the area all coupled with paranormal elements had me glued to my kindle. The introduction of all the Krewe team and their quirks/abilities was interesting and will keep me coming back to the Krewe Hunters series.

The Bad: Angela and Jackson's romance. Just bad. It was so forced. It felt unnatural. At one point, Angela and Jackson had just met, yet were drawn together, of course, and she kissed him on the check in a "friendly" way to show her appreciation. Now, take into mind Jackson is essentially Angela's boss. They've known each other for a few short hours and she kissed him. Granted, it was on the check but still. I've known my boss for over 11 years and even though I really like him and respect him and his opinion  I would Never. Kiss. Him. Also the ending felt a bit rushed and I was left feeling there should have been more.

In a Nutshell: A decent start to a new series even though the concept isn't a new one and definitely one that Graham has done repeatedly. I'll continue with the series because I overall enjoyed reading this book.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Runaway Vampire by Lynsay Sands

Title: Runaway Vampire
Author: Lynsay Sands
Series: #23 in the Argeneau series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Avon  (February 23, 2016)
Source: Purchased
Rating: ☕☕☕

Synopsis: Dante Notte has heard it said that love hurts. He just wasn't expecting it to run him over in an RV. Still, a punctured lung and broken ribs are nothing compared to the full-body shock he feels whenever he's near the vehicle's driver, Mary Winslow. He needs to keep her safe from their pursuers while he rescues his brother. Most challenging of all, he needs to claim this smart, stubborn woman as his life mate.

The naked, injured, insanely gorgeous younger man who clambered into her RV insists they belong together. If Mary wasn't feeling their incredible connection in every inch of her being, she wouldn't believe it. But now that the men who took Dante's twin are after her too, trusting her gut means risking her life for an immortal who's the very definition of a perfect stranger.

My Thoughts: A nice quick read that had some underlying issues I had a hard time moving on from.

The Good: I liked the back story of Dante and Tomasso's capture and Dante's escape. It added a bit of intrigue to the book that had me wanting more. This storyarch looks to be something that will take place in multiple books and I'm looking forward to reading more about it. I liked Dante's character as well but found the relationship between the H/h problematic.

The Bad: Mary. She is a recent widow who claims to have loved her husband so very much but the more we learn about their relationship the more I was convinced it was terrible. Mary was less of a woman in my eyes for putting up with her husband and to stay in a marriage and making all involved miserable as well, UGH! She also had hangups about her 60-ish self and the hot stud that was Dante. Everytime she would mention it (which was all the time) I was pulled out of the story and thought, well maybe she is right. Which is NOT who I really am but when you get beat over the head with it over and over and over again you start to think it as well. Because Mary had so many issues I had a hard time with their romance. I also hated there was no real ending to this book. The interesting backstory of Dante and Tomasso was left dangling and Dante and Mary's HEA felt lackluster.

In a Nutshell: Like I said, it was a quick read. It kept my interest but nothing I'd encourage someone else to read unless they are already fans of the series but I will continue to read The Argeneau series anyway.

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey


Title: The Girl With All the Gifts
Author: MR Carey
Series: #1 in the Girl With All the Gifts series
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Orbit (January 14, 2014)
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕1/2

Synopsis: Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.

My Thoughts: I have a love/hate relationship with this book. There were parts I loved. There were parts I hated. There were parts I wished would just get over with quickly because I was bored during them. I read this with a friend who said "Hey, let's start a book club" then failed to finish the book and drove 1500 miles to get away from it. Technically it could have been his summer job in Yellowstone that drove him from our area but the coincidences are too great to ignore.

The Good: I absolutely love zombie books. Even when the book doesn't come out and say "I'm a zombie book" I'm pretty much hooked and going to enjoy it on a basic level. There is something about an apocalyptic event turning people to mindless flesh eating monsters that can be terrifying and totally awesome at the same time. So props to Carey for writing a book that I was super excited for and for making the first half of the book amaze-balls! I was in love with the carefully laid out plot and the idea that the children were not exactly children but weren't zombies either. What an freaking fantastical beginning!

What else did I like? Melanie. I adored Melanie. I liked seeing things from her perspective and her ability to understand she wasn't like Miss J or the doctor. I thought her character was amazing and her growth during the book was well thought out. Melanie was the book, in my opinion.

The Bad: The entire middle of the book bored me to tears. I couldn't care less what caused the apocalypse. I hated all the science-y mumbo-jumbo and honestly, I thought Dr. Caldwell's entire part within the book was boring and annoying. She made the book almost unbearable to me. How were we to believe she was working on a cure yet she didn't know any more about the thing causing the apocalypse than we did and kept ooooing and ahhhhing over the weird zombie plants. Not to mention she was TSTL (to stupid to live) and almost got the surviving handful from the base killed multiple times.

In a Nutshell: My experience was this book....I'm loving this book. Love it. Love it. Love it. I'm going to totally tell everyone to read this book! What's going on...what happened to this book?.....zzzzzzzzzz.....wha...what?....Did I miss something? nope...zzzzzzzz.......oh good she's finally gone....Well that's an interesting twist....That's the end? WTF? I don't know how I feel about this. If only my Book Club Buddy, KJ, would have finished this book so I can discuss it with him!!!!!!!

Friday, June 16, 2017

#COYER Summer 2017 Reading Challenge

The COYER summer reading challenge is here! Sign up HERE.

The rules are pretty simple. There are no rules. Read whatever you want as long as the book was obtained legally. I love the idea that I can participate in 2 different ways. The first is to just read anything I want. The second is to make a list of 30 books to use during the summer. Of course, as a list maker, I opted for the second option. Full details are on the COYER sign up page.

Now for my list!!!
  1. Unsub by Meg Gardiner
  2. Call to Engage by Tawny Webber
  3. Branded as Trouble by Delores Fossen
  4. Serenity Harbor by RaeAnne Thayne
  5. Down Home Cowboy by Maisey Yates
  6. Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain
  7. Royal Enchantment by Sharon Ashwood
  8. Her Guardian Shifter by Karen Whiddon
  9. The Wicked Heir by Elizabeth Michels
  10. Wicked Kiss by Rebecca Zanetti
  11. To Kill a Hummingbird by J. R. Ripley
  12. Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery
  13. Fuel For Fire bu Julie Ann Walker
  14. Just the Thing by Marie Harte
  15. 30 Second Death by Laura Bradford
  16. Dark Horse by B.J. Daniels
  17. Indigo Lake by Jodi Thomas
  18. Dead Storage by Mary Feliz
  19. Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon
  20. Lucky Charmed by Sharla Lovelace
  21. Worth the Wait by Lori Foster
  22. Before the Dawn by Cynthia Eden
  23. Until You Loved Me by Brenda Novak
  24. Dark Rites by Heather Graham
  25. SEAL Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear
  26. Desert Wolf by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
  27. Dead Ringer by J. B. Daniels
  28. Rough Rider by J.B. Daniels
  29. Saving Mr. Perfect by Tamara Morgan
  30. Never Dare a Dragon by Ashlyn Chase

The cool thing about the list option is after reading 5 books you can add another 5. All my books are review books for NetGalley so I'm hoping this round of COYER will help me pump some of them out. Check out the COYER website and if you don't want to join this round there will be another later this year.