Monday, July 22, 2019

Blog Tour: Review of Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep

Author: Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Date of publication: July 2019

Magic, murder, adventure, and romance combine in this second novel in the exciting Crown of Shards saga from New York Timesand USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep.
Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.
First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.

Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.
Dark forces are also at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, her immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes Evie wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.

Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s … well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.

Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…

My thoughts:

Protect the Prince is the sequel to Kill the Queen (my review).  That one was a pleasant surprise, so I was really looking forward to reading this one.  It takes place a few weeks after the events in the first book.  Since this one assumes you have read the first book, it will be hard to review without major spoilers.  It does not really work well as a stand alone, so I would read Kill the Queen first.

That being said, I loved this one almost more than the first book.  I loved watching Evie slowly ease her way into becoming the queen she was meant to be.  The other characters that I enjoyed from the first book are in this one and added so much to the story. Paloma is my favorite out of the group.  There is some love interest angst but the ending more than made up for it.    The one down side to reading a series this good is that I have to wait for the next book, Crush the King, to come out.  March 2020 can't come soon enough for me.  This is a fantasy series I highly recommend!

Purchase Links

About Jennifer Estep

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author who prowls the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Find out more about Jennifer at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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TBD: Thursday, July 18th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Review: The Final Awakening Series by J., Thorn & Zach Bohannon

Authors: J. Thorn & Zach Bohannon 
Publisher: Molten Universe Media
Published in 2017

The series begins with Dawn.  We meet our unlikely hero, Dax, who has broken out of prison. There was a major event that is not explained until much laer in the series, but essentially, all of the power in New Orleans has been knocked out.  No help or relief has come.  No one it sure if the rest of the country has suffered from the same disaster.  Through flashbacks, we learn about each character and  how they coped with the power fail and resulting chaos in the city.

When I first started this series, I thought it was going to be a disaster survival series.  But about halfway through the book it became a paranormal series with vampires.  In a way, it reminded me of The Strain.  Only, the vampires in this book don't drink blood.  They feed off of the negative emotions from their victims.  This ensures that they can feed for a long time.  I though that concept was interesting and unique.

Overall, the series was enjoyable.  I liked Dax as the hero.  He was always torn about saving himself or helping others.  He came across as genuine.  The Casket Girls were fun additions to the final book, Night.  I loved the pure evilness of the villains.  I would have to say my biggest complaint about the series was the final battle scene in Night .  It was a bit anti-climactic and kind of a little cheesy.

This is a trilogy that I really believe could have been a duology.  I really feel like Dawn and Dusk could have been combined into one book. Overall it was a fun and interesting take on a post-apocalyptic disaster.  One of the best parts was that we get to see it from the beginning of the "event".    I listened to the audiobooks and I highly recommend that format.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Review: This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

Author: Chelsea Pitcher
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Date of publication: December 2018

Tell the truth. Or face the consequences.

Clue meets Riverdale in this page-turning thriller that exposes the lies five teens tell about a deadly night one year ago.

One year ago, there was a party.
At the party, someone died.
Five teens each played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth.

But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true.

Now, they realize they’ve been lured together by a person bent on revenge, a person who will stop at nothing to uncover what actually happened on that deadly night, one year ago.

Five arrived, but not all can leave. Will the truth set them free?
Or will their lies destroy them all?

 In This Lie Will Kill You, a group of teens are invited to take part in a contest that will result in a large scholarship for the winner. From the beginning, it is clear that the mysterious host has ulterior motives for the contest.  Once again, I had high hopes for a good YA thriller, only to be greatly disappointed.

I found this book to be kind of all over the place.  The transitions between points of view was never smooth. I didn't feel like I got to know any of the characters or their motivations. Because of that, i didn't really care about any of them.  There was no real mystery.  It was very easy to figure out what happened the year before and who was behind the "contest".  The ending was really disappointing and wrapped up too easily. I guess one positive thing I could say about the book was it was short. I would love to find a good YA thriller, so if you know of one, please comment.   I wouldn't recommend this one.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Blog Tour: Review of Christmas In Evergreen: Letters to Santa: by Nancy Naigle

Today we have the blog tour for CHRISTMAS IN EVERGREEN: LETTERS TO SANTA by Nancy Naigle! Check out this sweet new Hallmark holiday romance and grab your copy today!

Author: Nancy Naigle

Genre: Holiday Romance

Publisher: Hallmark & Crown Media

About Christmas In Evergreen: Letters to Santa:

Return to Evergreen, the town where Christmas wishes come true… But only if you know what your heart really wants.   When Lisa takes a last-minute Christmas trip to her hometown of Evergreen, she finds that the historic general store has closed. The place was a beloved local tradition, and she decides to use her skills as a professional retail designer to bring it back to its former glory. She charms a local contractor, Kevin, into working with her, and the pair find themselves facing one surprise after another.   One of the biggest surprises of all is finding the mysterious 25-year-old letter to Santa that never made it to the North Pole. Who really wrote it, and will its request come true at last? And will Lisa and Kevin figure out what they’re truly wishing for?   This sweet small-town romance includes a free Hallmark original recipe for Incredible Apple Dumplings.  

Get Your Copy Today:

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Walmart

My thoughts:

If you are a fan of The Hallmark Channel Christmas movies that they run every year, then this is the book for you.  I know Christmas is months off, but there is nothing like reading a book like this during a heat wave. Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa is a book based on a Hallmark movie.  This is a really cut, quick and clean story that will make you believe in the magic of Christmas and in the magic of small towns.  The characters were fun and the romance will leave you with a smile.

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Nancy Naigle whips up small-town love stories with a whole lot of heart. She began writing while juggling a successful career in finance and life on a seventy-six-acre goat farm. Her many books include The Secret Ingredient, Christmas in Evergreen, and Christmas Joy and Hope for Christmas, which were adapted into Hallmark movies. Now happily retired from a career in the financial industry, she devotes her time to writing, horseback riding, and enjoying the occasional spa day. A Virginia girl at heart, Nancy now calls North Carolina home.

Connect with Nancy:

Facebook | Website | Twitter

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Review: A Justified Murder by Jude Devereaux

Author: Jude Devereaux
Publisher: Mira books
Date of publication: February 2019

The small town of Lachlan, Florida, was rocked last year when two bodies were uncovered in the roots of a fallen tree. Despite their lack of investigative experience, Sara Medlar; her niece, Kate; and Jack Wyatt found themselves at the center of the mystery, working together to reveal the truth behind a decades-old secret in the sleepy town. After a narrow escape, they vowed to never again involve themselves in something so dangerous--until Janet Beeson is murdered.

When Janet's body is discovered, everyone is shocked by the violence of the attack. The sweet little old woman has been shot, stabbed and poisoned, but no one can imagine who would want to harm one of the town's kindest, most helpful residents. Sara, Kate and Jack are determined to leave this case to the professionals. But they are soon bombarded by townspeople eager to tell their stories and clear their names with the trio who solved the Morris murders. Even the sheriff is hoping they'll lend their skills to a crime that seems to have no explanation and no motive. And once the town gets talking, they begin to see that there are more secrets buried in quiet Lachlan than anyone could have imagined..

A Justified Murder is the second book in the Medlar Mystery series.  This one picks up months  after the events of the fist book.  Sara, Kate and Jack are reluctantly pulled into a murder investigation of a local woman who everyone said was a sweet old lady.  But was she?  I wouldn't say this one could really be read as a stand alone.  Reading the first book will give you a much better understanding of the dynamic between the trio of amateur detectives.  There isn't a lot of recap here.  

I wish I could say I enjoyed this one as much as the first one.  The mystery was good, but it just wasn't as engaging as the first one. I also kind of felt a little satisfied with the ending. Some of the humor from the first book was also missing here.  I did like how the three have grown closer and have formed a small family of sorts.  We also get to learn more about Kate's father. 

I do think if you liked the first book, this is worth a read.  I'll probably read the next one.  I just hope that Kate and Jack figure out their relationship.  I'm not a fan of "will they or won't they?" tropes that drag on for several books in a series.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Blog Tour: Excerpt of By the Light of Embers by Shaylin Gandhi

Author: Shaylin Gandhi
Publisher: Briar Rose Publishing
Pages: 382
Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction

 It's 1954, and twenty-two-year-old Lucia Lafleur has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. While sock hops and poodle skirts occupy her classmates, she dreams of bacteria and broken bones—and the day she’ll finally fix them.
After graduation, a letter arrives, and Lucia reads the words she’s labored a lifetime to earn—"we are pleased to offer you a position at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine." But in the midst of her triumph, her fiancé delivers a crushing ultimatum: forego medical school, or forego marriage.

With fractured hopes, she returns home to Louisiana, expecting nothing of the summer of '54 but sweet tea and gumbo while she agonizes over her impending choice. There, she unexpectedly befriends Nicholas, a dark-skinned poet whose dignity and intellect are a salve to her aching heart. Their bond, initially forged from a shared love of literature, soon blossoms into something as bewitching as it is forbidden.

Yet her predicament deepens when a trivial misunderstanding between a local white woman and a black man results in a brutal lynching, and the peril of love across the color lines becomes chillingly real. Now, fulfilling her lifelong dream means relinquishing her heart—and escaping Louisiana alive.

Praise for By the Light of Embers!

"Gandhi's passion and creativity spill forth onto every page of this book, creating a truly magnificent and brave narrative." -- Entrada Publishing

“I genuinely don't know any other way to describe this book than to say it's beautiful.” – Lacie, Amazon Reviewer

“There are also books that you want to keep reading no matter how painful or heartbreaking or just downright unfair the endings are…because life’s got those moments and Shaylin Gandhi brings them out so well in her characters that you cannot help but grab that box of tissues and still smile in between scenes.” – Dora, Amazon Reviewer

“Beautifully atmospheric, you’ll cry your heart out…” – Kay Smillie, Amazon Reviewer



Book Excerpt:
Bellefontaine, Louisiana, 1945

It was the first dead body I’d ever seen. 
Thick July heat pressed in, sticking my dress to my skin, while steam rose from waters as dark as motor oil.  Cypresses held the sky aloft, and there—in my little haven in the bayou, where the marshy ground turned firm and the old fallen blackgum slowly fell to pieces—lay a man with skin like molasses.  Black eyes stared upward, fixed on eternity. 
He shouldn’t be here.  That was my first thought.  Nobody else knew the way into the secret heart of the swamp, through the sucking mud and tangled underbrush.  Yet here he was. 
Something squirmed in the shadows of his mouth, and I pressed my hands to my stomach.  If I threw up, Mother would be angry.  I already had mud on my dress, which was bad enough.
Lured by horrified fascination, I stepped closer.  What happened?  Was he murdered?  I couldn’t tell.  The dead man lay so still that he gave the impression of something missing, rather than something there, as if he were nothing but a yawning void or a cicada’s left-behind skin.  Empty.
I knelt.  Up close, his flesh was ruined, his body swollen, his right hand chewed to shreds.  Faint rustling drifted from his mouth—worms definitely wriggled inside.  I leaned in and studied the wreckage of his face.  Something familiar...
I jerked backward, sprawling to the ground.  More mud on my dress.  But it didn’t matter—no, because this dead man was no stranger.  This was Tom Fletcher.
And I hated Tom Fletcher. 
True fear fluttered in my belly.  I couldn’t be alone with him, not even if he was dead.  I had to get away, across town to the big house, and tell Etta.
Scrambling back like a spider, I made it halfway to the edge of the clearing before my panic subsided enough for me to think.  Tom was bad, yes.  But Etta was good, with her warm cookies and warmer words.  I didn’t want her to see his vacant face, those eyes full of nothing.
I straightened up, brushed myself off, and tried hard to be brave.  Even so, I stood there a long time.  Closing Tom’s eyes seemed impossible, but for Etta’s sake, I had to.  She shouldn’t remember her husband like this.
I forced my feet to move.
When I got close, Tom's cold obsidian skin stole the warmth from my fingers.  One eye had retreated into his skull and his lids didn’t fit together right, but when I finished, the blank stare was gone.  He looked more peaceful, somehow.
Then I wiped my hands on my dress, went to the water’s edge, and threw up in the bushes.
*          *          *
“Lucia, child, what’ve you gotten into?  The pigpen?”  Etta Fletcher put big hands on big hips and laughed, her teeth flashing white in her round, dark face.  “I’ll hear your mama cryin’ from here when she sees that dress.”  She clucked her tongue and turned away.
The plantation’s kitchen was the same as ever, with its crackling hearth and billows of sweet steam.  Etta stood at the stove, frying something in a dark iron pan.  Oil popped and sizzled.
“Cinnamon rolls,” she said.
My stomach soured.  For once, I didn’t want sweets.  I just wanted Etta to turn around and listen, and I wanted to be brave enough to tell her.  While I gathered my courage, the kitchen door opened, and Etta’s son strode in, setting a dirty, tool-filled bucket on the spotless floor. 
I shrank back.  Nicholas terrified me, just like his father.  He straightened, fixing me with creepy yellow eyes.  At nineteen, he was six years my senior, but might’ve been a hundred for his size.  He was as black as his papa and larger than any grown-up I’d ever seen. 
“Ma,” he said.  “What’s she doing here?”
Etta glanced over her shoulder.  “She’s come for a treat.  An’ since she’s mudded her dress, I might take pity and give her two.”
With a wink, she offered a fragrant roll.  It coiled in her hand like a snake, oozing vanilla cream.  From the doorway, Nicholas gave me a look like he’d found a cockroach in his gumbo.
Vomit still coated the back of my throat.  I stared at the pastry as a sticky glob of icing plopped to the floor.  “Tom’s dead,” I said.
Etta’s grin slowly died and her brows drew together.  “What?  My Tom?”
I nodded, wishing Nicholas would disappear instead of staring at me like that.  He made me want to crawl in a hole somewhere.  “I found him in the swamp.  He’s dead.”
Though Nicholas’s expression didn’t change, he quit looking, at least.  His terrible yellow eyes shifted toward his mother.  Etta’s cinnamon roll fell in slow motion, landing topside down and squirting cream across the weathered floorboards.
Silence.  Nicholas caught at his mother’s elbow, but she shook him off. 
I wondered why she didn’t cry.  My mother cried over nothing—stained dresses, rain flattening her hair.  But Etta stood straight and wiped her hands on her apron. 
“You show us, child,” she said.  “You gone show us.”

About the Author

SHAYLIN GANDHI secretly stole her mother’s copy of Clan of the Cave Bear at age ten, and fell madly in love with love stories. Now, as an author, she still can't get enough, and the tales she spins all center around affairs of the heart. To her, that's what makes a story truly worth telling.
Besides writing, she tries to stamp her passport at every opportunity. Traveling has been a lifelong passion, and she’s lucky to have done it a lot. Shaylin and her husband once spent an entire summer living in their van while touring the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and Alaska. Her most memorable trips often tie in with writing: her books are usually inspired by majestic places that stole her breath.

In addition, Shaylin practices medicine, scuba dives, plays the piano, and once rode her bicycle from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. She now lives in Denver with her incredible husband, their identical twin daughters, and two adorable rescue dogs. They can usually be found in the mountains, either hiking up or skiing down.

You can find Shaylin online at or on Twitter @shaylingandhi. Please get in touch—she would love to hear from you!


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: A Girl Like You by Samantha Chase

Author: Samantha Chase
Publisher: Chasing Romance, Inc
Date of publication: June 2019

Sam Westbrook has always been the family hell-raiser, but as an adult he's enjoyed not being under the constant watchful eye of his family. That was until his great-grandfather passed away. Forced to move to the small coastal town of Magnolia Sound, Sam can't escape the reputation that has followed him since his teenage years. But he'll have to do it to get his inheritance. 

Shelby Abbott was always the good girl – it's what happens when you're the pastor's daughter in a small town. Now, she's ready to leave that image behind. For years she's heard about wild Sam Westbrook, but she never though she would be the one to catch his eye. And being the center of Sam's attention isn't something Shelby ever prepared for. 

Sam's time in Magnolia Sound has an expiration date and Shelby's not sure she's the kind of girl who can be just another one of his flings. But Sam's ready to make some changes. And a girl like her is just who he needs.

A Girl Like You is the second book in the Magnolia Sound series.  It follows Sam and Shelby.  Sam is Mallory's (from the first book) twin brother.  He has been given the landscaping business after his great-grandfather passed.  The catch is that he must work for a year before selling or he forfeits the business to his cousin.  That means staying in Magnolia Sound.   Shelby is the local librarian and daughter of the local pastor, who is bored with her life.

I did ultimately enjoy the book.  I didn't love it as much as the first book, however.  I felt like there was a little too much angst with both of the main characters. I kept waiting for Sam to get out of his pity party, but it seemed like it took forever for that to happen.  Shelby took a little less time to realize that Sam was into her.   I thought Shelby handled her parents exactly right and was glad she stood up to them.  They did have pretty good chemistry though. There was still a lot of humor in the book.  I found the mornng after scenes in the kitchen particularly hilarious.   

The next book is Mason's book.  I'm looking forward to him telling his parents where to go!  If you missed the series, I do recommend it.  

Monday, July 15, 2019

Review: People Like Us by Dana Mele

Author: Dana Mele
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Date of publication: February 2018

Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she's reinvented herself entirely. Now she's a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl's body is found in the lake, Kay's carefully constructed life begins to topple. 

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay's finally backed into a corner, she'll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make...not something that happened.

People Like Us takes place at a boarding school where seniors have a tradition of skinny dipping in the local lake After the Halloween dance, a group of friends find a dead classmate floating in the lake.  The next day, Kay gets an e-mail from the dead girl with a scavenger hunt.  If she doesn't participate, her deepest secret will be revealed to all.  I was looking forward to reading this one, but sadly it didn't live up to my expectations.  

The book just ended up being an OK read for me.  I felt like the characters were kind of cliche. None of them were very likable, including the main character.  Her "secret" didn't even end up being that bad and was easily explained.  I mean there was a little twist to it, but no one knew about that twist except Kay.  The "scavenger hunt" was very underwhelming.  I thought it would be more mysterious, but it really wasn't.  The killer was very easy to predict.  There was a little twist about the killer, but that wasn't even that exciting. 

I think YA mystery lovers will find something they like about the book.  It wasn't awful, it just wasn't as good as it could have been.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Review: Her Other Secret by HelenKay Dimon

Authoir: HelenKay Dimon
Series n/a; standalone
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date June 25, 2019

Is it the perfect escape?

Whitaker Island is more than a getaway. For Tessa Jenkins, the remote strip of land in Washington state is a sanctuary. Fleeing from a shattering scandal, she has a new name, a chance at a new beginning, and a breathtaking new view: Hansen Rye. It’s hard not to crush on Whitaker’s hottest handyman. At six-foot-three and all kinds of fine, he’s also intensely private—and the attraction between them soon simmers dangerously out of control.

…or a private trap for two lovers?

After a devastating family tragedy, Hansen finds the pebbled shores of the faraway island to be an ideal refuge. Letting down his guard for the sexy, impulsive Tessa is an unexpected pleasure. But there’s another newcomer to Whitaker. He’s no stranger to Hansen. And when he’s murdered, the crime casts a threatening shadow. As suspicion falls on Hansen, all his secrets are about to collide with Tessa’s. Now the pasts they were determined to outrun are catching up to them. So is a killer who’s putting their love—and their lives—on the line.

In Her Other Secret, both Tessa and Hansen find a dead body on their island.  Now, their secrets and time of solitude is about to be disrupted.  Everyone on Whitaker Island has a secret.  For some reason, I kept starting and stopping this book.  It's a shame it took me so long because once I finally got past the second chapter, I ended up finishing it in one sitting.

 Not only is this a great mystery, it's a really steamy romance.  I loved Tessa and Hansen.  Their banter was really fun.  Hansen was adorable with his awkward way of flirting.  Once they finally got together, things turned really hot. I also loved the friendship between Hansen and Sam, the sherrif on the island.   Aside from the fun romance, I did enjoy the mystery part.  One of the twists I did see coming.  But there was another one that I didn't call.  

This is the first book I have read by this author.  The next book in this series, The Secret She Keeps, comes out in December.  I'm looking forward to reading it.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Review: Muzzled by Eileen Brady

AUthor: Eileen Brady
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press 
Date of publication: May 2014

Making rounds to homes one wet spring morning, veterinarian Dr. Kate Turner rescues a family's hamster from a vacuum cleaner, then visits an estate whose owners breed champion Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Instead of sharing traditional tea with the couple, she confronts a bloody scene of bodies and twenty-seven blue-ribbon dogs running wild. Police initially suspect a murder-suicide, but when Dr. Kate proves the famous best-in-show champion is missing, a darker reality intrudes. She remembers her grandfather saying that there are two motives for murder-love and money. While treating local pets, Dr. Kate discovers suspects and motives everywhere in this charming town filled with people who wanted the couple dead. Was the couple murdered for money their champion could bring to another breeder? How is their daughter, anxious to rid herself of the pampered dogs, handling the wealth she inherits? Would the celebrity filmmaker living nearby kill to end a multi-million dollar lawsuit? Did long-buried personal secrets cause the deaths? And what's going on at the office behind her back? Is Dr. Kate now in danger?

I was in the mood for a cozy-type mystery and found Muzzled on my library's Overdrive site.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  The story follows Kate Turner who is filling on for a local Veterinarian for the next year while he travels the world.  Hoping to make a fresh start in a new town, she is sidelined when she stumbles on the dead bodies of a couple during a home visit. 

For the most part, I enjoyed the mystery.  I definitely did not figure out who the killer was as there were a lot suspects.  Kate, herself, was being framed.  The characters were engaging and fun. There were some very funny moments. I loved Kate.  She was a great lead who didn't take herself too seriously.  The fact that the author is a vet herself helped to lend an air of authenticity to Kate and the story.  If you  are in the mood for a fun cozy mystery to curl up with on a rainy day, I  do recommend this one.  I have Unleashed, the next book in the series on my iPod ready to listen to very soon.