Thursday, December 31, 2015

Kari's Top 10 of 2015

I know I complained last year that it wasn't a great year for books.  This year was slightly better, but not by much.  I was able to find 10 books that stood out for me this year.  I'm looking forward to 2016!  Maybe you will discover a new great book from this list...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Autumn's Top 10 of 2015

Kari and I have discussed repeatedly how this year pretty much sucked for books.  I couldn't come up with 10 books that deserved to be in a Top Ten.  Don't even get me started on the Goodreads winners this year...

So I came up with 7 really good books I read this year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Books We Didn't Finish - December Edition

The Telling:  I didn't even make it through the first disc of this audio-book.  I was just really bored and just couldn't get into the story.

Edge of Normal: I think the biggest downfall for this book was the horrible audio narration for the book.  I didn't like the reader at all.  The story also didn't just didn't pull me in.

The House: I'm not sure I could have been any more bored with this one. For me, the book never got off the ground.  I didn't like the writing.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here:  And are as ordinary as everyone else... I'm not sure what this book was trying to do.  The characters were dull and the story was boring.  I also felt like I walked into the middle of a movie.  The characters kept referring to incidents that happened before, but I know this is the first book.  The lack of world building was frustrating and it wasn't worth it after a while.

Scorpion Rules:  I don't know that there was really anything terribly wrong with this book.  I'm probably just catching it at the wrong time.

Liars, Inc.:  This book was highly disappointing.  I had been wanting to read it for a long time.  It was really....crass?  Maybe is the word?  These kids are doing all sorts of awful things within the first few chapters.  It just didn't seem very plausible.

Welcome to Braggsville:  I didn't care for the writing style of this book.  It was very wordy.  I could see how
it would be appealing to some readers, maybe 20 somethings, very cerebral type readers.  Maybe in a different mood it might be my cup of tea, but today it wasn't.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Book Spotlight: Rebel Love by Jodi Linton

Author: Jodi Linton
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date of publication: January 4, 2016

The Dirty Sinners Motorcycle Club is Em Connors’s only family, but she’s ready to risk everything—both her club and her life—for vengeance. Ten months ago, she was brutally attacked and her lover gunned down by a rival gang member. Now, she’s using her position as the Dirty Sinners president to track down the truth and exact her revenge.

He’ll risk it all...

With his partner murdered by a local motorcycle gang, Houston police officer Cade Jackson jumps at the chance to go back undercover and bring down the woman the department calls the Motorcycle Princess. But the sexy-as-hell leader awakens a hunger in Cade. Dark desires run deep—and he intends on teaching Em exactly how dirty he can be. But when his cover is blown, Cade must choose to uphold the law or protect the woman he’s grown to going rogue.

Get More information at: Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

"Sexy, suspenseful and thrilling. Jodi Linton's gritty, MC world of the Dirty Sinners leaves you breathless with excitement and is one you won't ever want to escape."  Author Naima Simone

About Jodi Linton

Jodi Linton is the author of the Deputy Laney Briggs Series and the upcoming The Dirty Sinners Motorcycle Club with Entangled Publishing. She lives in Texas with her husband and two kids. When she is not writing about sassy females and dirty talking heroes, she enjoys long walks and family time down at the river. Join the Pink Pistol Readers! Jodi Linton's official Street Team for insider scoops on all her upcoming books. 

Connect with Jodi at: Website | Facebook | Twitter |GoodReads | Amazon

Sunday, December 27, 2015

December Mini Musings

A Spark of Death: I think I've had this one for a long time in my TBR Pile.  I'm not sure what made me finish the book, but I think I was hoping it would get better.  While it's a decent mystery, it's really slow.  The killer was a surprise.  I also thought the electricity parts were interesting. I'm not sure if I will read any more of the series.

Wild Sky: I was disappointed in this sequel to Night Sky. It was OK, just not as good as I was hoping it would be. For the length of the book, not much happens.  Sky and her friends are still on a quest to find Dana's sister.  Cal is accidentally injected with Destiny and can walk.  But, he is a ticking time bomb.  The gang meets a new male Greater Than who is pretty powerful.  That's about it.  Honestly, I feel like this one could have been shorter than it was and maybe combined with the next book?  The ending was kind of left with the possibility of another book and a maybe evil Lacey.  I would also suggest reading Night Sky first.  I don't fell like this one works too well as a stand alone.

The Grownup:  I'm a huge fan of Gillian Flynn.  This little short story of hers was a fun, little, screwy story.  It's about a con artist that sort of meets her
match.  It's not very long at all, in fact it's almost disappointingly short!  It's definitely read worthy!

Winter Stroll:  Another writer of which I'm a huge fan, Elin Hilderbrand.  This book is a follow up to last year's Winter Street.  It has all the same characters and how their lives have changed one year later.  I think this is a fun alternative to her beach books and well worth the read.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore

by:  Meg Mitchell Moore
published by:  Doubleday
publish date:  August 18, 2015

The Hawthorne family has it all. Great jobs, a beautiful house in one of the most affluent areas of northern California, and three charming kids with perfectly straight teeth. And then comes their eldest daughter's senior year of high school . . .
     Firstborn Angela Hawthorne is a straight-A student and star athlete, with extracurricular activities coming out of her ears and a college application that's not going to write itself. She's set her sights on Harvard, her father's alma mater, and like a dog with a chew toy, Angela won't let up until she's basking in crimson-colored glory. Except her class rank as valedictorian is under attack, she's suddenly losing her edge at cross-country, and she can't help but daydream about the cute baseball player in English class. Of course Angela knows the time put into her schoolgirl crush would be better spent coming up with a subject for her term paper—which, along with her college essay and community service hours has a rapidly approaching deadline. 

This book was really good.  It probably shines a light on many middle/upper class families in the United States.

The Admissions is told from multiple viewpoints of all the Hawthorne family members.  Nora is a successful real estate agent, but she has just found out one of her deals could go into litigation and cost her everything.  Gabe, her husband, is a successful businessman and expects his daughter to go to Harvard because that's where he went.  However, he has a new intern that is threatening to bring down his entire world.  Angela is a type A student that has to win at everything.  Everything hinges on her getting in to Harvard.  Younger daughters Cecily and Maya are just trying to not get lost in the shuffle.

This is a book I'd definitely recommend.  Readers of contemporary fiction will definitely love this story.  Meg Mitchell Moore has a good understanding of what so many American families are going through.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all of our readers and authors a VERY Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
May the spirit of the season stay with you always.

Autumn & Kari

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride by Susan Mallery

Author: Susan Mallery
First published in 2000 by Silhouette

Swept away by the passionate Prince Khalil Khan, Dora Nelson reveled in her new fairy-tale life as princess of El Bahar. But once she learned that the love and affection Khalil had showered her with were a sham, she refused to bend to his will. For he'd tricked her, and she couldn't forgive him....
But she also couldn't stop loving him. More than anything else, Dora wanted a happy home and an adoring husband. Still, when Dora's feistiness met Khalil's arrogance, sparks flew. And unless Dora and Khalil agreed to meet halfway, this fiery marriage threatened to consume them both!

The one thing I like about the Silhouette romances is that they are always a quick and entertaining read.  The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride was a pleasant surprise.  I thought it was a cute story, but it certainly could be frustrating at times.  One thing I thought was interesting was the even though it was written in the year 2000 it had an 80's romance feel to it.  
Dora and Khalil were well matched.  I liked that Dora wasn't  a doormat and stood up for herself.  They were both stubborn and that drama did drag out a  little long, but I was rooting for them the whole time. My favorite character though was Fatima, the grandmother.  I always love an eccentric matriarchal character!
I think fans of this author would enjoy this story.  It's the first in her Desert Rogues series.  Pick it up and give it a shot!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephanie Meyer

by:  Stephanie Meyer
published by:  Little, Brown
publish date:  October 6, 2015

Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight! This special double-feature book includes the classic novel, Twilight, and a bold and surprising reimagining, Life and Death, by Stephenie Meyer.
Packaged as an oversize, jacketed hardcover “flip book,” this edition features nearly 400 pages of new content as well as exquisite new back cover art. Readers will relish experiencing the deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful love story of Bella and Edward through fresh eyes.
Twilight is 10 years old?  Way to make me feel like a grandma or something.  So I saw this Twilight Reimagined book and wondered what it was all about.  I thought it was going to be that Bella was the vampire and Edward was the human.  Uh no, that wasn't the case at all.

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined is the story of Beau and Edyth.  Almost all the genders are flip flopped in this book.  So Bella is Beau and Edward is Edith.  Most of the story was exactly the same.  Obviously, some things had to be changed.  Beau didn't go prom dress shopping, he went corsage shopping.  It was a little weird having the Bella character as a boy.  The drama downplayed a bit, the awkwardness was still there and that was a little weird.  The running scenes were kinda bizarre because having a girl running through the woods with a guy on her back is hard to imagine.  I haven't read Twilight in probably 8 years or so, I don't remember how much "insta-love" there was, but it was pretty bad in this book.

Will Twilight fans love this book?  I don't know.  I'm curious to find out.  Would I recommend it?  Probably not.  However, it did make me want to read Twilight again just to see how it compared.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge

by:  M.J. Arlidge
published by:  NAL
publish date:   October 6, 2015

The body of a middle-aged man is discovered in Southampton's red-light district - horrifically mutilated, with his heart removed.

Hours later - and barely cold - the heart arrives with his wife and children by courier.

A pattern emerges when another male victim is found dead and eviscerated, his heart delivered soon afterwards.

The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse; revenge against the men who lead sordid double lives visiting prostitutes. For Grace, only one thing is certain: there's a vicious serial-killer at large who must be halted at all costs . . .

This is book #2 in the Helen Grace series.  I really liked that we didn't have to wait forever for the second book to come out, and book #3 is coming out soon.  The Doll's House will be out in February, 2016.  

In Pop Goes the Weasel, Helen is still struggling with her demons.  She is still in her BDSM type relationship.  She is having difficulty dealing with the aftermath of her sister's death.  Also, in this book we learn that she has a son that she gave up for adoption.  She is juggling these issues all while trying to solve this new horrific case.  

I always say the Brits have a lock on the twisted and bizarre.  This book is just another example of this.  This book is just really high on the "ew" factor.  But, that kind of appeals to me as a reader, so I like this series.  I like the Helen Grace character.  I can't wait to read The Doll's House.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Illusion of Innocence by Jacqueline Jacques

Author:Jacqueline Jacques
Publisher: Honno Press
Date of publication: November 2015

Three people on a crowded train, brought there by the same crime.
Archie Price, painter and police artist, blessed with a photographic memory, is travelling to Chelmsford to testify in a murder trial.

The accused, Freddie Porter, is under police escort in the guard’s van.

Freddie’s sister, Polly, is desperately trying to escape her brother’s gang before they realise what she’s done, unaware he’s on the same train.

When the locomotive is derailed, Archie and Polly are injured, and put up by the same local family while they recover.

Where is Freddie?
Polly is so terrified she is driven to desperate measures and Archie finds himself being drawn into her nightmare…

I am usually about 50/50 when it comes to historical mysteries.  sometimes they just grab me and sometimes it takes several times to get into a story.  Unfortunately, The Illusion of Innocence falls into the later category.  I started this book a few times, only to put it down again in favor of another book.  On my final attempt, I got about halfway and gave up.  It just didn't grab me. It dragged in parts and I found myself skimming. I will admit that some of the story line was a bit surprising especially for a story taking place in this time period.  Part of the plot involves photos of a disgusting nature and ones that involve children.  While I'm sure it went on back then, it just isn't something I am used to reading about having taken place during this time period.

The others on this tour have written some great reviews for this book, so make sure to visit them and check them out..   I think that any fan of this type will enjoy this book.

About Jacqueline Jacques

Jacqueline Jacques was born in war-time Anglesey, North Wales, but has lived most of her life within spitting distance of London; hence the East End references in each of her seven novels. She taught in mainstream primary and special needs schools, until the writing bug bit her and has never regretted her late career move. She is now the author of six books, this is her seventh, and the second of the Archie Price Victorian thrillers.

Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links
Jacqueline’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, December 1st: Girl Lost in a Book
Tuesday, December 1st: Dwell in Possibility
Wednesday, December 2nd: Raven Haired Girl
Thursday, December 3rd: FictionZeal
Monday, December 14th: Helen’s Book Blog
Monday, December 21st: From the TBR Pile

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

Author: Leah Remini, Rebecca Paley
Publisher: Ballantine Books 
Date of publication: November 2015

Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.
That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.
Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, Troublemaker chronicles Leah Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom, both for herself and for her family. This is a memoir designed to reveal the hard-won truths of a life lived honestly—from an author unafraid of the consequences.

I know I always say that I am not a fan of autobiographies or biographies in general.  I am really beginning to realize that the statement isn't very accurate.  I should say that I like to read them when they are about an interesting person or include an interesting portion of someone's life.  I'll admit that the subject of Scientology has always fascinated me, so reading Ms. Remini's book was a no-brainer.

I really enjoyed reading about Leah's life.  I felt that her book came across as very honest.  She opened the book with a laundry list of all of the scandalous things in hers and her family's life.  She clears the air so that no one in the church can't try to discredit her claims by making her look bad.  Smart move!  As I listened to her talk about her early life, her family and her fame, I found myself gaining a lot of respect for this woman. She just came across as very real to me.  I loved her anecdotes about being a mother.  Her birth story is hilarious and just so true..  I found myself agreeing with a lot of how she felt about her role as a mom.  Leah, I couldn't agree more!

I'm not going to discuss all of the "juicy" parts about Tom Cruise or the Church in this review. You'll have to read for yourself to get the details.  All I will say is that it is one messed up belief system. While there are some good things that Ms. Remini walked away with, there was a lot of messed up stuff that she is still working through.  As she says, the one thing Scientology does is help you to be a good Scientologist, but a lot of it doesn't work in the real world.

 I was a fan of The King of Queens, but now I love the show even more.  I highly recommend this book. The audio is even better because Ms. Remini reads it herself.  Make sure to check it out!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Killing Lessons by Saul Black

by:  Saul Black
published by:  St. Martin's Press
publish date:  September 22, 2015

When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done.

For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of victims--women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them--has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she's losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens.

This was probably my favorite book of 2015.  Saul Black is the pseudonym for Glen Duncan the author of the werewolf books.  I'm glad he used another name for this book because I probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise.

This book was dark and twisty and totally creepy in all the right ways.  It alternates between a multiple viewpoints.  Valerie Hart, the killer, and a victim that got away all tell their story.  I really liked how all their stories weave and intertwine together.  It kept me interested in the story all the way through.  The fate of Rowena's daughter was the one that had me most captivated, the worry over whether or not she was going to be rescued was so frustrating.

I definitely recommend this book for all the murder mystery lovers!!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Spotlight Tour: Excerpt from How to Seduce a Scot by Christy English

Author: Christy English
First in her new Broadswords and Ballrooms series
ISBN: 9781492612872
Release date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

He’s the terror of the ton...

The plan is simple:
1. Descend from the Highlands to face the aggravation of a London Season;
2. Foist his wild sister off on some gullible English lord;
3. Retreat before the ladies of the scandalized ton can get any ideas.

Determined to see his hellion of a sister wed, Highlander Alexander Waters is willing to face anything—even the English. He just didn’t expect his own rough manners to cause such a riot…or for a blooming English rose to catch his eye.

Gently bred Catherine Middlebrook must find a respectable man to marry or her family will be ruined. She won’t allow herself to be distracted by Highland barbarians…no matter how her body may thrill whenever Alex is near.

Catherine wasn’t part of the plan, but as their battle of wills escalates, Alex comes to realize this “proper” English girl is as wild as the Highlands themselves...and nothing will stop him from having her.

Mini excerpt:

Alex wanted to drag her into his arms and check the soundness of her limbs. Another, darker part of him wanted to drag her away from her family, behind a tall bush, and discover what else he might find beneath the frothy petticoats of her skirts. He could not get the sight of her knees and those pink ribbons out of his mind. That view was going to haunt him, until he saw more.

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Author Bio

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in North Carolina.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Courting Catherine by Nora Robers

Author: Nora Roberts
First published in 1991 by Silhouette

It's the stuff that love - and legends - are made of. 

Mechanic Catherine "C.C." Calhoun and hotel magnate Trenton St. James mix like axle grease and mineral water - until they kiss. 

Efficient Amanda Calhoun finds easygoing Sloan O'Riley insufferable - and irresistible. And they both must race to solve the generations old mystery surrounding a hidden emerald necklace.

Courting Catherine is the first in the "Calhouns" series.  In all there are 5 books.  The series involves that Calhoun sisters and their quest for love and hidden treasure.  There is a legend of a hidden emerald necklace somewhere in their house. 

Courting Catherine is probably one of the cleanest romances that I have read by Ms, Roberts.  C.C. is a virgin and she actually stays one.  That was surprising and not something I'm used to from her books.  It was kind of refreshing.  I wish this book was longer.  The love declaration came way too fast for me.  Two days and 2 kisses do not mean love.  But since this is a series that builds on each previous book, I am hoping I will see more of their relationship in later books.  

listened to the audiobook for this one.  My biggest complaint was the horrible "Boston" accent that she gave to Trent.  It was horrible. Next time don't even try.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Book Spotlight: Book Excerpt from When Darkness Falls by Marina Anderson

Author: Marina Anderson
Publisher: Self
Datre of publication:  December 2015

A love affair that even time couldn't destroy.

When Abby and Dominic move into the beautiful Dower Cottage it seems like a dream come true. But beneath its chocolate box exterior, the cottage holds a terrible secret, and unknown to her; Abby holds the key to rewriting a terrible wrong from the past. Soon she becomes obsessed by the dark stranger whose spirit is trapped in the attic, a man who teaches her more about herself and new pathways to ecstasy than she had ever imagined possible, until she is lost in his world of dark pleasures and his overpowering need for her. As their love grows, Dominic fights desperately to keep his wife, and Abby is caught between her husband and her charismatic, jealous lover from the past. But their mutual obsession will take her to the edge of insanity as she discovers what her stranger needs from her to ensure they are the ones to be together forever.


He'd lost track of time since the last couple had left. It was hard to tell when time to him was counted in centuries. So many years, and so many disappointments, but still he waited.  One day she would return, he was sure of it.  One day she would find him again, and then he would be able to put things right.  Only then would he finally be free. He also needed her to know that she'd been the only woman he'd truly loved, and what had happened had left him a broken man. Afterwards there had been no joy in anything in life, nor any peace in death.

His line of thought was interrupted by the sound of a heavy lorry on the road outside the cottage. He moved swiftly to the small window that looked out over the front garden and saw a removal van turn slowly into the drive.  His brown eyes, so dark they looked almost black, watched keenly as he waited for the occupants of the following car to get out.

The driver got out first, a very tall, broad shouldered man, in his late twenties he thought, with a mop of blond hair, dressed in the scruffy clothes so favoured by younger men now. But the man was of no interest to him. It was the woman he wanted to see. As the passenger door opened he realised that he was holding his breath, hoping, praying that at last, this time, it would be her.

She was holding one hand up to shield her eyes from the bright summer sunlight, and her long chestnut hair fell to her waist in the tight curls he remembered so well.  His fingers moved as he remembered the way her hair had felt when he'd run his fingers through it, and how she'd watched him, half-warily and half expectantly as she'd waited silent and obedient for him to take charge.

Next to the blond man she looked tiny, as small as he'd remembered her, and she was still as slender as a reed, with a tiny waist. She was wearing a pretty floral dress that reached to her ankles, and he realised it was the first time he'd seen her wearing anything other than black and white.  It was a shock, but apart from that nothing had changed, and through the ill-fitting window he heard the sound of her laughter, that well remembered sound of delight and excitement that he'd so often coaxed from her, and he knew that finally the wait was over.

Abigail had returned to him.

About the author:

Marina Anderson is the pseudonym of British author Margaret Bingley, whose novels have been published all over the world. Margaret uses this pseudonym for her series of erotica novels. She also publishes erotica for women under the pseudonym Fredrica Alleyn.

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