Announcemet, Book List 2018, Reviews

Release Day: Secrets of a (Somewhat) Sunny Girl by Karen Booth

secrets_sunnygirl_cover_1600x2560Title: Secrets of a (Somewhat) Sunny Girl by Karen Booth

Release Date: October 16, 2018

Length: 318 pages

Subgenre: Romantic Women’s Fiction

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Summary:

As sisters, they tell each other all their secrets…except one.

With divorce and infidelity hanging from nearly every branch of her family tree, Katherine Fuller sees no point in marriage. Boyfriends? Sure. Sex? Of course. Wedding vows? No, thanks. Still, when her younger sister Amy gets engaged, Katherine gathers all the enthusiasm she can. She won’t let Amy down. She’s done enough of that for a lifetime.

Sunny Girl Teaser 1As the sisters embark on wedding plans, Katherine’s college love resurfaces. It nearly killed Katherine to part from sexy Irish musician Eamon more than a decade ago, but falling under his spell a second time forces her to confront everything she hid from him. The secrets surrounding her mother’s death are still fresh and raw in her mind, but one has haunted her more than the others. She can’t bear to tell anyone, especially not Amy. It could ruin far more than a wedding. It could destroy a sister’s love forever.

 

About Karen Booth:

Karen Booth is a midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on ‘80s music and repeated readings of Forever by Judy Blume. An early preoccupation with rock ‘n’ roll led her to spend her 20s working her way from intern to executive in the music industry. When her kids came along, she traded late nights for early mornings, writing contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Karen was a finalist for RT Magazine’s Series Romance of the Year and Gold Seal of Excellence, and the 2018 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages.

Connect with Karen: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Giveaway: Win a signed print set of Karen Booth’s three Romantic Women’s Fiction novels: Secrets of a (Somewhat) Sunny Girl, Bring Me Back and Back Forever, or 1 of 2 e-copies of Bring Me Back!

About Bring Me Back: Nearly forty, Claire Abby had thought life would be a whole lot smoother by now. Single parenting her college-bound daughter is trying, her journalism career is fading, her sister’s a handful, her dad is worse, and her mom has been gone so long it’s hard to remember what it was like when she was here.

So it’s both a lucky break and a jaw-dropping distraction when Claire lands an interview with British rock star Christopher Penman. Claire spent her teenage years fantasizing he was her boyfriend. In person, Chris is everything Claire feared—off-the-charts sexy, ridiculously charming, and utterly nerve-wracking. He’s not about to discuss the rumors he’s dodged for a decade. She must earn his trust and unearth the truth, but she never banked on the heartbreaking secret behind it.

His blockbuster story is her first priority when she returns home, a nearly impossible task when Christopher starts calling. And flirting. There’s no denying his wit or his buttery British accent, and once she agrees to see him, it’s beyond anything her teenage brain ever imagined. But when Christopher’s painful past repeats itself, can Claire smooth out her life and save the man she could never forget?

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Book List 2018, Reviews

Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

norse mythologyTitle: Norse Mythology

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: History, mythology, super awesome audiobook

Summary:

Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok. 

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

My Thoughts:

Oh my gods. This is one of the best books I’ve read and the best audiobook I have ever listened to.

I now own a full Neil Gaiman audiobook collection because this man is so nice to listen to. His care for his writing and subject matter really does shine through in his reading of this work.

I have long loved reading about the different myths, and legends from other countries, and did read rather extensively about the Norse Gods when I was in college, but this was one of the most wonderful re-tellings I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

There is no dryness to this writing, but rather life is breathed into every tale, injected with humour and tragedy where needed. The Gods come to life in a way they have not in many years, and with it a different point of view of Norse life.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves Gaiman, mythology, or just plain good literature.

Book List 2018, Reviews

Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton

my plain janesTitle: My Plain Jane

Author(s): Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton

Series: The Lady Janies

Genre: Alternate History, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Summary: 

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights

My Thoughts:

I wish I could express to you how much I was excited about this book, and I mean truly, mind-numbingly excited. I absolutely loved the first book, I read it four times in the last year because it was  so humorous, and the story was woven so tightly I could hardly find fault with it.

This book was good. Please do not think that I didn’t enjoy it because I did. But…I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I had enjoyed the first one.

The parts I wanted more of (the ghost hunting adventures), I got very little of, and wished it had been expanded upon. The parts I could’ve done with a little bit less of (the actual plot of Jane Eyre) I got too much of.

I did like the twist on the story, but it wasn’t as twisty as some of my other favourite Jane Eyre works (The Eyre Affair for example), and the character I actually enjoyed the most was Charlotte Bronte, I was left with very little interest in Jane herself.

The characters alongside Jane are enough to keep the book going, and the end truly does build to a rather satisfying climax, but it’s just not quite enough.

Now a novel with more of Charlie and Blackwood? I would be behind that in a second.

And as for the next book, My Calamity Jane? I can’t freaking wait to read that one.

 

Book List 2018, Reviews

Review: The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri

the witch of little italyTitle: The Witch of Little Italy

Author: Suzanne Palmieri

Genre: Magical realism?

Summary:

In Suzanne Palmieri’s charming debut, The Witch of Little Italy, you will be bewitched by the Amore women. When young Eleanor Amore finds herself pregnant, she returns home to her estranged family in the Bronx, called by “The Sight” they share now growing strong within her.

She has only been back once before when she was ten years old during a wonder-filled summer of sun-drenched beaches, laughter and cartwheels. But everyone remembers that summer except her. Eleanor can’t remember anything from before she left the house on her last day there.

With her past now coming back to her in flashes, she becomes obsessed with recapturing those memories. Aided by her childhood sweetheart, she learns the secrets still haunting her magical family, secrets buried so deep they no longer know how they began. And, in the process, unlocks a mystery over fifty years old—The Day the Amores Died—and reveals, once and for all, a truth that will either heal or shatter the Amore clan.

My Thoughts:

Funnily enough this is actually one of the first books I ever bought digitally. I then proceeded to not read it for a very long time for reasons I cannot explain.

When reading it I could not figure out why the heck it took me so long to read it because this book is captivating. There was just something about how the magic and the mystery of the Amore clan was woven into what could’ve been an almost over the top plot.

I know, I’m weird, to me it wasn’t the magic that was over the top, it was everything else.

It was the mysteries and the little touches of magic that kept me going within this book but I can’t really reveal too much without giving it away and spoiling the whole novel.

The cast of characters are interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed flipping the pages of this book, which definitely helped to pull me out of my reading slump.

 

Book List 2018, Reviews

Review: Love in a Small Town by Zoe York

love in a small townTitle: Love in a Small Town

Author: Zoe York

Genre: Romance

Series: Pine Harbor

Summary: 

Police officer and army reservist Rafe Minelli knows better than to tell his wife no, particularly since they aren’t married anymore. She can’t hightail it out of town, though, not when they’ve finally broken through the post-divorce cold war status quo.

Olivia Minelli needs to leave Pine Harbour. It’s just too hard to see Rafe moving on without her—even if he says he doesn’t want to. But when a new and exciting job falls into her lap, she needs to choose: protect her heart, or take the new job and risk getting emotionally entangled with her ex-husband. Again.

My thoughts:

Whenever I can’t get into reading again I always end up going for something like this. Something that is relatively light, something that can be read very quickly without too much investment.

That does not mean that this book is bad, because it’s not if you take it for what it is. It is a warm, sometimes sad, but mostly warm and romantic.

Olivia is a pretty independent character, but you get the impression that she wasn’t always. She’s learning to say what she wants, and how she wants to be treated which is something that I really do appreciate.

Rafe is kind of a mess, and unfortunately in my opinion he remained messy for quite some time.

Book List 2018, Reviews

Review: Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

listen to your heart.jpgTitle: Listen to Your Heart

Author: Kasie West

Summary: 

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere. 

My Thoughts:

Do you like happiness? Do you like sunshine? Do you like lakes? Do you like romance? What about podcasts?

If you answered yes to most of those, no to romance then maybe this is not the book for you. But if you answered yes to any of those, and yes to romance then maybe you should pick up this lovely summer read and give it a go.

This book is not perfect. No book ever is. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t find this one perfectly enjoyable for a summer day that’s cool where it’s supposed to be warm.

The protagonist, Kate, or Kat if you hate her is unsure, yet confident in herself in a way I appreciate.

Her best friend is loyal in a way a lot of teenage girls are not portrayed.

Diego is lovely. He’s awkward and charming and my kind of lead. He’s sweet and yet sucks at being straight forward and should probably learn to be so but it makes for some great reading in this case so I won’t complain too much.

The podcast as a plot device was very entertaining and I found myself wanting more of those snippets as they were really enjoyable.

 

Book List 2018, Reviews

Re-Read Review: Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

bone crossed.jpgTitle: Bone Crossed

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson/Mercyverse

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Summary: 

By day, Mercy is a car mechanic in the sprawling Tri-Cities of Eastern Washington. By night, she explores her preternatural side. As a shapeshifter with some unique talents, Mercy has often found herself having to maintain a tenuous harmony between the human and the not so human. This time she may get more than she bargained for.

Marsilia, the local Vampire Queen, has learned that Mercy crossed her by slaying a member of her clan—and she’s out for blood. But since Mercy is protected from direct reprisal by the werewolf pack (and her close relationship with its sexy Alpha), it won’t be Mercy’s blood Marsilia is after.

It’ll be her friends’.

Review: 

Oh and you thought the vampires were creepy as hell before? Well they just went and got creepier! They saw your thoughts as a challenge, my friends, and they came back badder than ever.

That being said, so did Mercy.

She is a total badass. The baddest around in fact,so far.

Her relationship with Adam is growing in this book, in a very natural and organic sort of way. Often you pick up the next book and the characters are all in but Patricia Briggs is allowing a slow progression that feels more real.

Her friendships are changing and evolving, and it feels more like family this time around with many of the secondary characters.

The villain in this is creepy as hell, and I found myself squirming in discomfort when he was on the page because damn, some people are just flat out maniacal and I don’t think I realized what that meant until now. Now I know. I partly wish I didn’t.

This is a solid installment in the Mercy-verse and I have no complaints to speak of.

Oh just one actually, more Warren please. It’s really more of a  request than a complaint. I love that good ol’ country boy.

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: A Snow Country Bride by Linda Lael Miller

a snow country brideTitle: A Snow Country Bride

Author: Linda Lael Miller

Genre: Romance

Summary: It’s a Christmas affair to remember as a Hollywood mogul discovers his inner cowboy—and the woman of his dreams—amid the rugged beauty of Wyoming.

Raine McCall would take snow-covered mountains over a star-studded premiere any day. But when hotshot movie executive Mick Branson arranges dinner on Christmas Eve to discuss a work opportunity, she’s intrigued—by the offer and the man. She’s a no-makeup, no-frills single mom, who’s happy with her quiet life. Sharing chili cheeseburgers and sizzling kisses with Mick is sure heating up her holiday, but country girl and power player don’t mix…

It’s not just work that’s brought Mick back to Mustang Creek. Since he first visited to oversee a documentary, free-spirited graphic designer Raine has been in his head. Her approach to life is as unconventional as her quirky holiday ornaments. Their attraction is undeniable—and so are their differences. Putting down roots in the Wild West wasn’t in the script. But there are some Christmas gifts you can’t walk away from, even when they turn your whole world upside down…

Review:

Warmth.

That is the word that comes to my mind whenever I am reading a book by Linda Lael Miller. I can’t even tell you how long her writing has captivated me for but it has been quite a while, which is why I was so happy to get my hands on a copy of this book, especially with the coming holidays.

This book and its characters made be delighted to be reading it. Raine is not your run of the mill romantic heroine, and Mick is definitely not your typical cowboy. In fact he’s rather laughably not one at all. But man are they both awesome characters.

Raine is an artist, interested in the beauty of the world around her, and despite living in Hollywood Mick is much the same.

The two of them come together in a really sweet way, friends of friends, I suppose you could say, and it makes it all the more magical.

The cast of characters includes Raine’s daughter, their dog, Sampson, and their colourful, amusing cat who doesn’t seem to realize how large he is.

This is the type of book that you should read before the holidays, to incite those warm, loving fuzzy feelings within yourself. Or all year long when you need a little bit of Christmas magic.

This book feels indulgent, it’s an escape from a world that has gone a little bit chaotic, even for a little bit.

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: Eliza and her Monsters


64Title: 
Eliza and Her Monsters

Author: Francesca Zappia

Genre: Romance, contemporary, YA

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea.

Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fan fiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

With illustrations from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums and snippets of Wallace’s fan fiction, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

Review: 

This book. This freaking book. This wonderful book. These characters. Please just take a chance on this if you have ever considered yourself a nerd, or a geek, or for a time or even now find the online world a more comfortable place to be than the real world. You need to go to your local book retailer, or your library, or online and get a copy of this book.

I will start out by saying that I bought this book two days ago and started and finished it in one sitting. I devoured the words on the page, and the illustrations and I adored the meta within.

The setting is standard, a girl’s bedroom, her computer, her art, her whole life encompassed in one room and school the interloper in that life.

It’s possible I felt an affinity for this character because she reminds me so much of myself when I was younger. I often felt more comfortable online, behind a computer screen, only instead of drawing I would write feverishly, words flowing out about my favourite characters in TV, movies and books. My friends, encouraging me from around the world.

I was never a big name though, but did seek comfort from my anxiety in that world. Sometimes I still do.

This book is reminiscent of Fangirl, which is one of the things that appealed to me about it. It is a familiar world in this genre now and I am not complaining as it does remain set apart, without seeming to copy Rowell’s work. Eliza’s journey is individual, and wonderful on its own without the comparison.

The story unfolds with each anticipatory word, skillfully written, and each artwork, beautifully rendered. There is immense growth within the characters, and a bleak, hopeless moment or two that had me clutching my eReader, half panicked.

It is not without flaws, sometimes the characters seem a touch pretentious, but then don’t we all when we’re teenagers, thinking we know everything? Their self-absorption is as real as the words on the page, but so is their character development and their gaining strength.

It is a real, and sometimes upsetting portrayal of anxiety that really impressed me in this, the symptoms and the feelings of that vivid, and possibly triggering.

Favourite Quotes:

“That computer is my rabbit hole; the internet is my wonderland. I am only allowed to fall into it when it doesn’t matter if I get lost.”

“Monstrous Sea is mine.
I made it, not the other way around.
It’s not a parasite, or an obligation, or a destiny.
It’s a monster.
It’s mine.
And I have a battle-axe waiting for it.”

“I do have friends. Maybe they live hundreds of miles away from me, and maybe I can only talk to them through a screen, but they’re still my friends. They don’t just hold Monstrous Sea together. They hold me together.
Max and Emmy are the reason any of this exists.”

What I plan to read next by this author:
The Children of Hypnos
Made You Up

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

63.jpgTitle: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Genre: Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA+

Summary: 

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Review: 

This book is an insane amount of frustrating fun. I know that sounds like one of the weirder descriptions that I’ve given a novel but it’s true. The language in this book is flourishing and imaginative without being too descriptive which you all know is my Achilles heel when it comes to reading.

The plot is over the top in one of the best possible ways and to be honest it is not a book I would have chosen for myself. Which is why I am so glad it was included in an Owlcrate box which allows me to step outside of my comfort zone a little more and pick up a book I might otherwise have not read. There are pirates, there is alchemy, mystery, scandal and intrigue.

Olivia Pope would have her hands full with the Duke of Bourbon, that’s all I’m saying, y’all. That’s all. Because he is a mess, and not even a hot one.

The frustrating part of this novel comes with the knowledge that although the ignorance of some characters is contextual for the time, it is still a piss off. The racism made me grit my teeth and growl in frustration, so did the ablelism and the misogyny. When I say grit my teeth I mean for a moment, until I found myself ranting, alone, in my bedroom at about…1 in the morning. If this review does not make sense that would be why. Please forgive me.

How dare they treat my darling wonderful Percy in such a manner? And Felicity as well? Monty stop talking and start thinking. And Scipio. ❤

Characters:

Monty is the main character and he will piss you off, and make you love him in equal turns. He is one of those people who could be smart. He could be. And in the end he is (Thank God). But along the route to his character growth, and he does grow, you will want to smack him upside the head (gently) or rail against the attitude he gives the world (with reason). But he is wonderfully written, and I have a real soft spot.

Percy. Oh Percy. He is a character that could do with a bit more backbone, and yes, he does get it thankfully. More serious than his best friend, he fleshes out the pages and gives the book more humanity, and humility where it’s needed most. He also experiences quite a bit of growth over the course of the novel.

Felicity is tenacious with a capital T and has brains in spades, hidden behind fake dust-covers. She is badass. So freaking badass and definitely deserves a tale or two of her own.

The Duke. Oh the Duke. A true asshat. A real villain. I don’t like him at all.

Scipio is a character I need more of. He’s trying so hard to suppress his cinnamon roll side and it’s not really working for him. But make no mistake, I think he’s at least thinking about killing you.

Favourite Quotes:

“Just thinking about all that blood.” I nearly shudder. “Doesn’t it make you a bit squeamish?”
“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood,” she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison.”

It’s beginning to feel like he’s shuffling his way through the seven deadly sins, in ascending order of my favourites.

I have lived most of my life as a devotee of the philosophy that a man should not see two sevens in one day…

Other Thoughts:

Take a minute before opening this book and enjoy the cover design because it is gorgeous and deserving of a second, third and fourth look.