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. 

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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.

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: “Warcross” by Marie Lu

62Title: Warcross

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Summary:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Review:

This book is like nothing I’ve ever read before, and I desperately want, but don’t want something like Warcross to exist in real life. It’s exciting, and intriguing but at the same time books like this have made me scared of computers and robots haha.

It is vibrantly described, and has a gritty, dark underbelly I appreciate, especially in a young adult novel. Warcross is an intriguing concept, and not so futuristic that it seems too hard to comprehend or picture.

Emika is a fun character, and extremely well written in my opinion, with stubbornness and determination in spades. She isn’t your normal YA protagonist which I appreciate, and she doesn’t let her judgment get clouded too much by her feelings.

Marie Lu has knocked it out of the park with this novel for me, giving me a series I can’t wait to read the next book in, and an ending that had me furrowing my brow and hugging the book wishing for more.

I wish I could explain how much I loved this book but I find that my words fail me. Just read it for yourself.

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: “A Cowboy to Keep” by Barbara Ankrum

61Title: A Cowboy to Keep

Author: Barbara Ankrum

Genre: Romance

Summary: On the run from her past, photographer Ali Thibeaux arrives undercover in Marietta to find her biological half-sister. Plan A: Meet Olivia, photograph her wedding, and disappear before endangering anyone. Plan B: All hell breaks loose.

Reclusive rancher Adam Wolfe’s only plan when he hires Ali to manage his dysfunctional household is to go on hiding from the world. But his scars don’t seem to matter to the beauty who unexpectedly turns his house into a home and heals the rift between him and the teen aged niece he’s taken in. Still, he suspects there’s more to Ali than meets the eye and he’s determined to uncover what she’s hiding from him before it’s too late.

Review: 

Ali is one tough cookie, and I like her. Plus I am big into photography so I have to admit that this novel may have caught my attention due to that. She is a fighter who thinks she’s a runner, and it makes her someone interesting to read about.

Adam is a character I can appreciate because he’s multifaceted and has some very real trauma to deal with that does extend to his niece, Carrie. He is one of those people who does the right thing no matter what, and sometimes at cost to himself.

Carrie is a great secondary character, who actually goes through the most development out of any of the characters in this book. The  thing I liked about her is she seems like a brat at first, until you realize why and then she becomes much easier to sympathize with.

The plot of this story is familiar, but it doesn’t seem too cliché. It is not slow burn, and does seem to be a rush to romance, but I am certainly not complaining as it was an enjoyable read with comfortable characters.

 

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

 

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: “DJ Dangerfield” by Anyta Sunday

60Title: DJ Dangerfield

Author: Anyta Sunday

Genre: LGBTQIA+, Romance

Summary: “. . . and you’re listening to 91.3 FM.”

Justin knows three things for sure about DJ Dangerfield:

He has some questionable taste in music.
He always provokes Justin into ringing in.
And he might just be his favorite weekly distraction.

But who is this DJ Dangerfield in Real Life? And will Justin like him in the flesh as much as on the air?

Review:

I enjoyed this novella thoroughly, though I wouldn’t have minded a little bit more of a slow burn.

Justin is an interesting character, a little rough around the edges maybe? Without true knowledge of who he is as of yet, without giving too much away. He loves music in a way I can certainly identify with, and I enjoyed him.

This is cute, sweet and made me want to snuggle down in a blanket and read a little slower. But instead I devoured it. This book is a familiar-ish trope, especially for those who read fan fiction and I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: “Rituals” by Kelley Armstrong

58

Title: Rituals

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Defying genres and taking names.

Summary:

Olivia Jones must make a choice. Caught between two rival supernatural forces, Liv was granted a brief period in which to make her decision. Now that time has run out. Whichever side she chooses, someone she loves will pay. Her lover, Ricky. Gabriel Walsh, the man she knows she cannot, must not love. Her parents, already trapped in prison.

And now there is a new, terrifying power rising – one that doesn’t distinguish between good and evil intentions. It feeds on chaos and destroys without mercy. Unless Liv acts fast, no one will survive. In this gripping thriller, international bestselling author Kelley Armstrong brings the Cainsville series to a powerful, richly rewarding climax. 

Review:

What should I say about this book? The last in a beloved series, whose characters I held close as though they were friends I wished to cherish.

This is a book that grasped me from the first word. It fulfilled my hopes for the three main characters, and yet it still left me wanting more. I am not one who wants to let go, and these stories and characters are going to be hard to let go of, even those I don’t like.

The plot was strong, twisting and turning, introducing new characters still, who I loved (some of them) and abhorred (one of them) which really is just the mark of good writing.

Liv, Gabriel and Ricky are each so different, but carry some similarities, and in this book you get to see what characteristics they’ve taken on from each other.

The thing that I think I appreciated most about this book is how there was humour imbued within it, even when bad things were happening it didn’t feel too dreadful and heavy.

I understand Kelley Armstrong will be writing more short fiction in Cainsville, which is good, because I don’t yet want to leave.

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: “The Orange Cat and Other Cainsville Tales” by Kelley Armstrong

orange cat.jpg

Title: The Orange Cat and other Cainsville Tales

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Mystery and Magic (Though really, defies all genre)

Review:

The Orange Cat

This may have been one of my favourite of the tales in this book. It gives us more insight into Gabriel as a professional before the beginning of the Cainsville series. It is almost like gothic satire, reminding me a bit of a classic horror tale with a satirical modern spin on it. It also shows why Gabriel is so open to the thought of magic, and something otherworldly, other than Rose’s powers to foretell the future.

Bad Publicity

God, does Patrick have an ego or what? I hate to say it but he is still one of my favourite characters even though I know he’s not the best guy in the fight. I actually really liked this story because it actually showed how his ego might be his downfall one day.

Lady of the Lake

This was an interesting story for me, skirting the edges of Cainsville, and taking place somewhere I’ve driven along here in Canada. I found it interesting, as Olivia and Ricky did to find out how different places, and cultures have many of the same fae tales but under different names.

The Lady of the Lake was a formidable opponent and the danger, despite this being an in between tale, felt quite real for these two.

The visions as always were a little horrific, and I did appreciate getting a little bit more of Ricky’s point of view on Olivia’s relationship with Gabriel. It only served to flesh out his character more.

 

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: “Deceptions” by Kelley Armstrong

deceptions

Title: Deceptions

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Defies genres but magic and fae ahead

In the exciting new novel in bestselling author Kelley Armstrong’s compelling Cainsville series, Olivia realizes that she is at the heart of a tug-of-war between ancient forces–and that everyone around her risks becoming collateral damage. 

When Olivia’s life exploded–after she found out she was not the only child of a privileged Chicago family, but of a notorious pair of serial killers–she found a refuge in the oddly secluded but welcoming town of Cainsville, Illinois. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a precociously successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she managed to partially clear her parents’ name in an investigation that also revealed darker forces at work in the town that had offered her a haven.

Fleeing Cainsville after she is almost killed, Olivia finds herself not only the target of the Cainsville elders and of the Huntsmen, but also of her ex-fiancé, James, who stalks her and even tries to have her kidnapped. All this as her feelings for Ricky deepen, and confusingly her feelings for Gabriel too.

Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, and holds out in her palm a black stone and a white stone that swirl together to create a balance of light and dark. Death stalks them all, as Olivia desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating the triangle that links her to Gabriel and Ricky, or whether she has the power to change the tragic outcome.

Continue reading “Review: “Deceptions” by Kelley Armstrong”

Book List 2017, Genre: Fantasy, Genre: Mystery, Reviews

Review: “Visions” by Kelley Armstrong

Visions

Title: Visions

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Defies all genre

Summary:

In the second book in bestselling author Kelley Armstrong’s exciting new Cainsville series, Olivia’s newly discovered power to read omens leads to the discovery of a gruesome crime with troubling connections to her hometown.

Omens, the first installment in Kelley Armstrong’s Cainsville series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel’s past mistakes come to light, creating a rift between them just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia’s certain it’s another omen, a sign of impending danger.

But then she learns that a troubled young woman with a connection to Cainsville went missing just days earlier–the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has Olivia’s new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia’s effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don’t want revealed.

Continue reading “Review: “Visions” by Kelley Armstrong”