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Book Review + Giveaway – AMENDS (Diana Hawthorne Supernatural Mysteries) by Carissa Andrews

 

Welcome to the blog tour for AMENDS, the second book in the adult urban fantasy/mystery series, Diana Hawthorne Supernatural Mysteries, by Carissa Andrews

Welcome to the blog tour for AMENDS, the second book in the adult urban fantasy/mystery series, Diana Hawthorne Supernatural Mysteries, by Carissa Andrews. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, my review, and details on her giveaway.

AMENDS, the second book in the adult urban fantasy/mystery series, Diana Hawthorne Supernatural Mysteries, by Carissa Andrews

AMENDS (Diana Hawthorne Supernatural Mysteries #2) by Carissa Andrews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
For as psychic as she is, shit goes sideways far too often around Diana Hawthorne.

Diana now has everything she ever wanted–her memories, and the soul mate she didn’t realize she was missing. There’s just one problem… the old gods expect her to make amends for her absence. And her work starts now.

But time lost at the oracle isn’t the only thing she has to atone for. Her friend Demetri was stripped of his powers–and it was all her fault. If she could just set things right, she’d feel a whole lot better about moving forward. Unfortunately, Demetri wants nothing to do with her and knows exactly how to keep her out of his head.

To make matters worse, in the age of social media, Diana’s abilities have gone viral. People from all over the world are clambering to get on her books. One case, in particular, hits her radar and despite herself, she can’t shake it. A 14-year-old boy is wrapped up with a deadly governmental agency and he’s scared to death. And he should be–they want to weaponize his power.

Torn between what was and what is, Diana struggles to fully embrace who she’s becoming. Will she be able to help Demitri and make things right? Or will her new role mean leaving the past behind?

Calling fans of KF Breene, Shannon Mayer, and Shayne Silvers! If you like snarky-fun humor, gripping supernatural scenes, and twists that leave you spellbound — then you will LOVE Carissa Andrews’ world built especially for Diana Hawthorne.

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My Review
She’s baaaack! Diana Hawthorne from ORACLE returns with a whole new host of problems. If you haven’t read ORACLE yet, be aware there are mild spoilers head for book 1. Our favorite psychic/goddess is back, along with the rest of the cast, with a new mission — fix the problem she created for Demitri, and oh yeah, make amends for her past. Now that Diana finally knows who she is (the big question in book 1), with Blake by her side again, just as annoying and steamy as before, she has her work cut out for her. While Diana attempted to live in the past before, she’s now thrust into the twenty-first century with a vengeance she cannot ignore, which only complicates what she needs to do.

AMENDS picks up right after where the first one ends. This time, Diana will be forced to choose between her two worlds or find a better way to straddle them, all while still carrying a heavy dose of guilt over Demetri’s loss of powers she fully blames herself for.

Plot
As with book 1, AMENDS has an intense plot with solid subplots, including ones that span at least two books and definitely a third. Andrews does a stellar job with plotting, weaving the pieces together brilliantly. She ups the stakes this time, which was hard to do, considering we were dealing with a child sex-trafficking ring in book 1, but she manages to pull it off, generating another unputdownable page-turner.

Characters
Once again, the characters are complex and fun. Bringing in new characters, like the curmudgeonly Kyros, who is the oil to Ren’s water, along with favorites from Greek mythology, including Apollo. The “will they or won’t they” between Diana and Blake is only further intensified, making this even more delicious. Especially since they now both have the added insights of who they each other truly is.

What I Enjoyed About AMENDS
1. Greek Mythology.
I absolutely love this part of the book. The author incorporates the mythology with expertise, that only adds to the story.

2. Diana. She really grew on me over the course of ORACLE, so by the time I started AMENDS, I already loved her. She’s more her than ever, now that she has her memories back.

3. Blake. The man with the perfect ass is less of a mystery, making him much more fascinating.

4. Kyros/Ren. The battle of the assistants is worth the price of admission alone!

5. Psychic Powers. I’ve always been fascinated by this particular trope, and the author does a great job of brining the supernatural to the modern world without making things too easy for Diana and crew.

Bottom Line
Better than the first, AMENDS is a wild page turner with a fantastic cast.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: AMENDS
Series: Diana Hawthorne Supernatural Mysteries #2
Authors: Carissa Andrews
Release Date: July 23, 2021
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy/Mystery
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR

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Get Caught Up on the Series

Book 0.5: THE FINAL FIVE
Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR

Book 1: ORACLE
Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR

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International Bestselling Author Carissa Andrews

Author Carissa Andrews

About the Author
“An author emerges from the depths of Minnesotan waters. Sci-fi/Fantasy is my pen of choice.”

Carissa Andrews is a Minnesota-based genre-bending author who writes a combination of science fiction, fantasy, and dystopia. When not writing her own books, she’s busy reading them. Carissa’s internationally bestselling trilogy, The Pendomus Chronicles, is now in digital, print, and audiobook formats. She has hit the scene as an up and coming speculative fiction author who uses a mix of scifi and fantasy, twisted in modern mythology and alternative history. Check out The Final Five, Oracle, Awakening, and Love is a Merciless God!

Carissa has big plans for 2020. Check out her upcoming series, The Windhaven Witches. For more information on their release, visit Carissa Andrews’ author website: www.carissaandrews.com and sign up for her newsletter notifications. She lives in central Minnesota with her husband and brood of five kids. Not to mention, her insane husky puppies, Aztec and Pharaoh.

Carissa is also a freelance graphic designer, writer and content creator, social media manager, and marketing professional. She writes consistently on topics of science, technology, art, writing, photography, graphic design, health, self-improvement, and more. Her articles can be found published across the interwebs. Carissa is also a Top-Rated Freelancer on Upwork, and can be contacted for freelancing opportunities: http://bit.ly/UpworkCarissaAndrews.

Where to find Carissa Andrews
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

 

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Giveaway
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Book Review + Giveaway – TELL ME S’MORE (The Campfire Series) by Beth Merlin

 

Welcome to the blog tour for TELL ME S'MORE, the fourth book in the adult contemporary romance series, Campfire, by Beth Merlin.

Welcome to the blog tour for TELL ME S’MORE, the fourth book in the adult contemporary romance series, Campfire, by Beth Merlin. See below for information on the book, buy links, my five-star review, and details on her giveaway.

TELL ME S’MORE, the fourth book in the adult contemporary romance series, The Campfire, by Beth Merlin

TELL ME S’MORE (Campfire Series #4) by Beth Merlin

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
“A beautifully written contemporary romance, with plenty of enjoyable comedy, it challenges us to evaluate our lives and make big decisions on who we want to be and not necessarily what everyone expects us to be.” – Adventures in Lit about The Campfire Series

Camp Chinooka was supposed to be a place of inspiration, the place where Perry Gilman would finally compose his symphonic masterpiece. But four years later, Perry Gillman isn’t any closer to his dream of becoming a world renowned musician. Instead, he fell love in with Gigi Goldstein and he thought that love would be enough. Now, struggling to find the right subject for a new musical while hustling as a piano player at a local jazz bar, he can’t help but measure his own shortcomings to his famous father’s monstrous success. So, when he stumbles onto the idea to write a musical about the life and times of Elizabeth I, everything finally changes. The musical is an international sensation and suddenly, Perry is on the fast track to super stardom.

However, fame and success come at a price. When his relationship with Gigi is thrown into a tailspin, he must decide whether to follow his dream for which he fought for so long or sacrifice it all for true love.

Told from Perry’s perspective, Tell Me S’more shows that there are two sides to every story and a cost to every choice.

 

 

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My Review
While billed as book four in the series, I’d recommend reading it after book two and before book three. It fills in nearly all of the gaps between books one and two, but I’d read it after the second one so it doesn’t spoil any of the best surprises. After Camp Chinooka, Perry and Gigi are making a go of it in New York. Perry plays piano in a nearby jazz club at night while Gigi and Jamie work on getting G. Malone off the ground. But Perry is hitting one creative roadblock after another, and after he suffers a particularly rough setback, he takes stock of the project he’s been working on for the past four years, Frostbite, a retelling of Shakespeare’s, The Winter’s Tale.

When tragedy strikes at home, Perry rethinks everything in his life, and begins to formulate an idea for a musical based on Elizabeth I. In the vein of Hamilton, the work unfolds with the level of detail Merlin is famous for, and I’d go see this right now if it was a real musical. However, as Perry’s successes pile up, his relationship with Gigi begins to crumble, and he will be forced to choose between his two greatest loves.

Plot
I ultimately knew what was going to happen going into it, because it’s essentially the same thing from Perry’s point of view, but since most of it happens between the end of book one and the beginning of book two, it does fill in some gaps. It ends at the conclusion of book two, and nicely sets up the third book. It’s well-told, as all Merlin’s books are, but doesn’t move quite as fast as book two. Still, it’s an engaging read and Perry’s character is so fully developed, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The descriptions of his process for creating Elizabeth was riveting, and his heartache is palpable, endearing him to me forever. I know I was on the fence about Perry vs. Gideon after book two, but now I’m solidly in Perry’s court.

Characters
It’s the same cast I’ve already grown to know and love, but from a different perspective, plus a few new characters thrown in the mix. They’re all very well crafted and believably unique.

What I Loved About TELL ME S’MORE
1. Elizabeth I.
I loved seeing the process for this musical coming to life. I’d buy tickets to go see it tomorrow if it was a real thing!

2. Perry. He has redeemed himself and I’m now rooting for him.

3. Music. I’ve always been in awe of the way musicians write music, and feel like I have a better understanding of the process now.

4. Annabelle. I liked her in book two and love her even more in this one. She and Gideon both got raw deals, but I’m pulling for them both to get their own HEAs.

5. Ending. Gut-wrenching and fitting for this story. Loved it, even though it made me cry.

Bottom Line
Can be read as a standalone, but packs SO much more emotional punch if read after book two.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: TELL ME S’MORE
Series: The Campfire Series #4
Authors: Beth Merlin
Publisher: Ink Monster, LLC
Release Date: April 27, 2027
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

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Author Beth Merlin

Author Beth Merlin

About the Author
Beth Merlin has a BA from The George Washington University where she minored in Creative Writing and a JD from New York Law School. She’s a native New Yorker who loves anything Broadway, rom-coms, her daughter Hadley, and a good maxi dress. She was introduced to her husband through a friend she met at sleepaway camp and considers the eight summers she spent there to be some of the most formative of her life. One S’more Summer is Beth’s debut novel.

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Where to find Beth Merlin
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Book Review – S’MORE TO LOSE (The Campfire Series) by Beth Merlin

 

S’MORE TO LOSE (The Campfire Series #2) by Beth Merlin

S’MORE TO LOSE (The Campfire Series #2) by Beth Merlin

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Four years after her life-changing summer at Camp Chinooka, Gigi Goldstein has a second chance at her dream career. As her design house takes the fashion world by storm, it attracts the notice of Victoria Ellicott, the fashionable British socialite who just happens to be engaged to the future king of England. When Gigi is chosen to design the royal wedding dress, she’s forced to confront her ex-fiancé, Perry Gillman, now a successful composer with a hit show on the West End of London.

When Gigi learns Perry’s been dating Victoria’s sister—who rivals her in looks, style and sophistication—Gigi can’t help but feel inadequate. Her world crumbles as she develops a creative block so debilitating she fears a wedding dress of royal proportions is never going to happen. Not even her budding relationship with the handsome and wealthy Viscount of Satterley can make her forget Perry. While the world gears up for the wedding of the century, Gigi is on the brink of buckling under the immense pressure of the uncertainties of her future and the failures of her past.

Can Gigi overcome her creative paralysis and design the dress of Victoria’s dreams? Or will everything slip through her fingers now that she has even s’more to lose?

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
This was a case where the second book in the series was better than the first. The title, S’MORE TO LOSE, is the perfect way to describe how the stakes are higher this time around for Gigi and Perry. Set four years after ONE S’MORE SUMMER, book two finds Gigi and Perry established in their respective careers, but apart. It takes at least half the book for the reader to fully understand what happened between them that set their relationship into a death spiral even as Perry’s musical about Elizabeth I takes the world by storm at the same time that Gigi and Jamie’s new label, G. Malone, is getting the kind of recognition they both dreamed of.

With G. Malone in the running to design the wedding gown for the bride of the next king of England, the spotlight couldn’t be brighter. But when she runs into Perry in London, old feelings and insecurities coming racing back, leaving her no choice but to return to Camp Chinooka to get her groove back. Gigi grows as an individual and as designer in the one place that never ceases to inspire her creativity. But nothing is ever that easy, and Perry’s new love interest could ruin everything for Gigi and Jamie, just as Gigi is finally moving on with Gideon, the charming Viscount of Slatterley.

Plot
I felt like this story moved faster due to the backstory being told in book 1. There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns that made this one much more fun for me to read. I was heartbroken at first to find that Gigi and Perry had broken up, but Gideon grew on me from nearly the beginning. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding a royal wedding, and I felt much more drawn into the world of fashion this time around. I could almost see the pieces in my head, the author’s descriptions were so vivid.

Characters
I loved seeing Gigi’s growth in this book and not repeating the mistakes of her past. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t make new mistakes, because she does, and they come back to bite her in the arse big time. New characters, like the bride-to-be, Victoria, and her sister, Annabelle, and Gideon are welcome additions to the cast.

What I Loved About S’MORE TO LOSE
1. Fashion Design.
While I love looking at beautiful clothes, the whole couture thing has never been something I was interested in. Until now. I loved all the description of the gowns, the clothes, the fabrics, the details.

2. Character Development. Seeing how Gigi has grown since the first book was one of my favorite parts about the sequel. Something many books in a series fall flat on.

3. London. I’ve only been to London once, but I felt as if I was back there again through the author’s descriptions.

4. Camp Chinooka. A nice way to circle back to the s’more theme of the series.

5. Ending. Another perfect happy-for-now ending with the promise of more to come in book three.

Bottom Line
A fun, flirty, heartwarming romance with all the elements of a page-turner.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: S’MORE TO LOSE
Series: The Campfire Series #2
Authors: Beth Merlin
Publisher: Ink Monster, LLC
Release Date: December 5, 2017
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

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Author Beth Merlin

Author Beth Merlin

About the Author
Beth Merlin has a BA from The George Washington University where she minored in Creative Writing and a JD from New York Law School. She’s a native New Yorker who loves anything Broadway, rom-coms, her daughter Hadley, and a good maxi dress. She was introduced to her husband through a friend she met at sleepaway camp and considers the eight summers she spent there to be some of the most formative of her life. One S’more Summer is Beth’s debut novel.

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Where to find Beth Merlin
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter

Book Review – ONE S’MORE SUMMER (The Campfire Series) by Beth Merlin

 

ONE S'MORE SUMMER (The Campfire Series #1) by Beth Merlin

ONE S’MORE SUMMER (The Campfire Series #1) by Beth Merlin

4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
If you love Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin, you’ll love this heartwarming debut from a fresh voice in contemporary chick-lit that offers a lighthearted and fun take on friendship, love, and how to recover from past mistakes.

For twenty long years, Gigi Goldstein has been pining away for her best friend’s guy. She knows it’s wrong and it has to stop, but she hasn’t been able to let go ever since they all met on the bus to summer camp back when they were 7 years old. The same week that her best friends finally announce their wedding date, Gigi loses her high-profile design job. With all of her dreams unravelling, she runs to the last place she remembers being happy.

Taking the Head Counselor position at Camp Chinooka, Gigi hopes to reclaim the joy she felt as a camper, but the job isn’t all campfire songs and toasting marshmallows. Gigi’s girls are determined to make her look bad in front of the boys’ Head Counselor—the sexy but infuriating Perry—and every scrap of the campground is laced with memories.

When Gigi finally realizes she can’t escape the present by returning to her past, she’s forced to reexamine her life and find the true meaning of love. But will she be able to mend fences and forgive herself before she loses her one real shot at happiness?

 

 

 

 

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My Review
This was such a blast to read. So much of it was reminiscent of camping as a child, but with adult problems thrown in the mix. Georgica Goldstein (aka Gigi) is a twenty-something fashion designer who was runner up in a reality TV show that launched her career. Now in the midst of a savage creative design block, she is fired from her job and has lost the only man she’s ever loved. Escaping to her childhood sleep-away camp, Camp Chinooka, as senior counselor, she hopes to find some inspiration while mending her broken heart. What she doesn’t count on is meeting fellow counselor, Perry, with his good looks, swoony British accent, and his own secrets and reasons to escape. They begin summer as adversaries, but anything is possible when sultry nights and s’mores by the campfire are involved.

Plot
The plot moves well, taking us from the present back to what drove Gigi to escape to Camp Chinooka in the first place. Much of the relationship stuff with Perry early on is the typical inaccurate assumptions that are common in the trope, but I love that the story breaks from the expected in the middle and forged its own path to the ending. Though this is the first book in a series, it ends with an HFN and a lot of reader satisfaction.

Characters
I loved the characters. Gigi is seriously flawed, but not in a way that makes her unlikeable. Just the opposite. I found her completely relatable as someone who has made my own share of poor relationship choices in the past . Perry is also less than perfect, but also completely redeemable. The young campers, the other counselors, and even the camp’s owner, Gordy, all add charm and conflict to the story.

What I Loved About ONE S’MORE SUMMER
1. Sleep-Away Camp.
Visiting summer camp again through the eyes of an adult who had been there as a child was a real treat, and brought so many memories flooding back.

2. Gigi. She is so easy to relate to as the once chubby girl, now fashion designer, who suffers from a deep bout of imposter syndrome.

3. Perry Gillman. What’s not to love about the swoon-worthy Brit who plays the violin like a god?

4. Campers. The drama surrounding teen girls at summer camp was all too familiar and absolutely fun to read.

5. Ending. A perfect happy-for-now ending.

Bottom Line
A light-hearted summer romance that has “beach read” stamped all over it.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: ONE S’MORE SUMMER
Series: The Campfire Series #1
Authors: Beth Merlin
Publisher: Ink Monster, LLC
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon IT | Amazon FR | Amazon DE | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author Beth Merlin

Author Beth Merlin

About the Author
Beth Merlin has a BA from The George Washington University where she minored in Creative Writing and a JD from New York Law School. She’s a native New Yorker who loves anything Broadway, rom-coms, her daughter Hadley, and a good maxi dress. She was introduced to her husband through a friend she met at sleepaway camp and considers the eight summers she spent there to be some of the most formative of her life. One S’more Summer is Beth’s debut novel.

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Where to find Beth Merlin
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter

Book Review – THE SWALLOWS by Lisa Lutz

 

THE SWALLOWS by Lisa Lutz

THE SWALLOWS by Lisa Lutz

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
A new teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war–with deadly consequences.

What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want?

It starts with this simple writing prompt from Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy’s new creative writing teacher. When the students’ answers raise disturbing questions of their own, Ms. Witt knows there’s more going on the school than the faculty wants to see. She soon learns about The Ten–the students at the top of the school’s social hierarchy–as well as their connection to something called The Darkroom.

Ms. Witt can’t remain a passive observer. She finds the few girls who’ve started to question the school’s “boys will be boys” attitude and incites a resistance that quickly becomes a movement. But just as it gains momentum, she also attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her–including what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.

Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom, but can’t find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there’s Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt.

As the school’s secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal–and potentially fatal–consequences for everyone involved.

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My Review
Told from various third-person points of view, THE SWALLOWS is a deep-dive into the world of privileged boys meets aggrieved girls hellbent on revenge. When new teacher, Alex Witt, assigns a routine paper for students to anonymously tell her something about themselves, she discovers an ugly secret society of misogynistic boys who rate girls on their unique abilities. What she discovers will ignite a fire under the girls to fight back and get even, with tragic consequences. The mystery of what the Darkroom is and means to students at Stonebridge Academy unfolds slowly, leaving the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next. It all builds to an ugly climax that leaves everyone forever changed.

Plot
This is my first novel by Lutz and I’m hooked. She weaves a captivating tale, building suspense, gluing me to the pages, or in the case, my Kindle screen. More than a few hours of sacrificed sleep were involved. Her characters are so complex, damaged, real, and very well distinguished from one another, that I always knew whose point of view I was reading. Though she sets up the tragedy throughout the story, it doesn’t ruin the ending. All we know is something bad is going to happen, but so much builds throughout the preceding chapters, there’s no way to know exactly what it’ll be.

Characters
The cast is full of diverse, well-developed, well-differentiated characters. Because it’s told in so many first-person points of view, this was key, and the author knocked it out of the park. Lutz does an amazing job of crafting compelling characters to tell her story. Even the ones I didn’t like, I still felt like i really understood.

What I Loved About THE SWALLOWS
1. Pacing.
The story is expertly paced to keep me turning the virtual pages.

2. Alex Witt. The primary protagonist and the most damaged of the bunch. She was the perfect blend of jaded teacher and inspirational mentor.

3. Getting Even. The girls fighting back with what they had available was one of my favorite parts of the story.

4. Characters. A thrilling cast brought this story to life in a way that other characters wouldn’t have been able to carry.

5. Ending. Without giving anything away, I love the way the author concludes her tale and the ramifications it has on her characters’ lives.

Bottom Line
A thrilling tale of lust, power trips, and revenge.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE SWALLOWS
Authors: Lisa Lutz
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon IT | Amazon FR | Amazon DE | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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New York Times bestselling Author Lisa Lutz

Author Lisa Lutz

About the Author
Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of the six books in the Spellman series, How to Start a Fire, Heads you Lose (with David Hayward), and the children’s book, How to Negotiate Everything (illustrated by Jaime Temairik). Her latest book, The Passenger, a psychological thriller, will be published March 2016 by Simon and Schuster. Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel.

Although she attended UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, the University of Leeds in England, and San Francisco State University, she still does not have a bachelor’s degree. Lisa spent most of the 1990s hopping through a string of low-paying odd jobs while writing and rewriting the screenplay Plan B, a mob comedy. After the film was made in 2000, she vowed she would never write another screenplay. Lisa lives in the Hudson Valley, NY..

Where to find Lisa Lutz
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram

Book Review – A HEART LIFE by Patricia Yager Delagrange

 

A HEART LIFE, a contemporary women's fiction, by Patricia Yager Delagrange

A HEART LIFE by Patricia Yager Delagrange

3 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Leena Coughlin is simply eye-candy to her husband Steven’s sky-rocketing career. Steven may be a brilliant cardiac surgeon, but the self-absorbed man is more focused on other people’s hearts—and his own pleasure—than on the emotional heart of his family. He’s a God-like man, after all, saving lives every day. And a man like him has needs. More than Leena can provide.

To fend off the growing loneliness of her marriage, Leena strikes up a relationship with a stranger, Michael Casspi, through a letters-to-prisoners program. Michael was also once a cardiac surgeon. He claimed that assisting his dying wife with suicide was an act of mercy. The state called it murder. Can a man imprisoned behind bars fill Leena’s emotional void?

Focused on their own strained relationship, neither Steven nor Leena has noticed the deteriorating mental health of their college-aged daughter, Joy.

Two men. One woman. And a fragile girl teetering on the knife-edge of depression. But when Michael is unexpectedly released from prison, the precarious balance of all their lives will be dramatically altered forever.

 

 

 

 

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My Review
The story is told in four first-person points of view: Leena, Steven, Michael, and Joy. Leena and Steven’s marriage is far from perfect, which is obvious right away from both POVs. The fact that Leena is writing to Michael out of loneliness as he languishes in prison is not a surprise. The opening chapter is Michael’s and it starts with a bang, hooking me almost instantly. As the story unfolds, we find out more about Steven’s extramarital behavior. He seems to love his wife and daughter, though he never has time for them. At least he sees his wife in bed most nights, where he grabs a quickie before going to sleep. But he barely sees his daughter and hasn’t for years. Steven is a famous cardio-thoracic surgeon, in high demand. He believes the material things he provides for his family should be enough. It’s not enough for him, though, because he has a rather active sex life with women who are not his wife. He claims it’s because he needs to blow of steam and doesn’t want to bring his hospital life home, which he views as a safe harbor. But in reality, he likes to do what he considers dirty and depraved things he believes his wife is too good for.

Leena is the long-suffering wife who we all know deserves better. She clearly loves her husband and adores her daughter, yet she’s completely oblivious to everything going on around her. She has no idea her daughter is suffering form mental illness that pushes her to the brink of suicide, nor that her husband has been unfaithful for probably most of their marriage. Shea assumes because he comes home to bang in her in the night, he’s clearly not getting anything on the side.

So much of the story I found problematic, but the author kept me turning the pages, proving she’s an outstanding storyteller. The book could have been a stronger story for me if the author had gotten certain details correct. For instance, Steven, a renowned surgeon, and even Michael for that matter, keep referring to conjoined twins as Siamese twins. That’s not a medical term at all and is actually quite offensive. I cringed every time it was mentioned, which was a lot. There was also a continuity error that yanked me out of the story when Leena is driving her beloved Karmann Ghia through the streets of San Francisco, only to end up in her black Mercedes, which blends in, without ever going home and swapping out cars. There is nothing about a Karmann Ghia that blends in, so this was jarring. And finally, the biggest problem I had was Joy’s mental illness. Throughout the book, everyone, including Joy, blames her father’s lack of presence in her life as the cause of her depression. But this does a disservice to anyone who suffers from mental illness. It is not caused by someone else. The blame game is very dangerous and hurtful, especially to anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide. The thought that if they’d only done more, been more present, etc., they could have prevented it, is a terrible message to send.

Plot
The plot centers around Michael’s release from prison, his future beyond his time behind bars, and the relationships between all four main characters. There’s a lot of drama and even more at stake, and the author does a good job of keeping the pacing spot on. As I said, I was riveted to the story and wanted, or rather needed, to find out what happened next, regardless of my issues.

The Characters
The characters were all well-developed and deeply flawed. We get deep into each of their points of view, even Steven’s. While it was good to understand what drives a man who has everything to throw it all away for cheap thrills, it didn’t really do much to make me like him, but I think that was never the point. it was an interesting twist I wasn’t expecting, though.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About A HEART LIFE
1. San Francisco. I loved that my favorite city in the world was the backdrop for these characters. The story is as much a love letter to the City by the Bay as it is anything else.

2. Joy. She was my favorite character. Maybe because I have a daughter the same age or maybe because I could see a lot of my nineteen-year-old sister in her, but she was probably the only truly innocent person in the story.

3. Cliffhangers. Each chapter ended strongly, forcing me to read on. I love when an author can do that.

4. Twists. There were only a few twists that really caught me by surprise, but those are always a treat and I enjoyed them immensely.

5. Storytelling. The author knows how to weave a tale that kept me turning the pages.

Bottom Line
A fun, fast read with deeply drawn characters.

Disclaimer
I was provided by a copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title:
A HEART LIFE
Author:
Patricia Yager Delagrange
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date:
November 26, 2020
Pages: 293
Rating:
4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR

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Author Patricia Yager Delagrange

Author Patricia Yager Delagrange

About the Author
Fascinated by broken-hearted couples and atypical families, Patricia writes women’s fiction, weaving engaging tales of men and women who create cohesive families where love reigns supreme. She sprinkles her books with intriguing characters who struggle to find balance in life. Whether an unwed teenager, desperate widow, abandoned father, disconnected sisters, or a troubled couple, her characters form relationships impacted by their desire to create a family.

Patricia lives with her husband and two children on the island of Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with three chocolate labs and a rescue terrier mix. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, Patricia enjoys riding her Friesian horse Maximus, who lives in the Oakland hills with a million dollar view.

 

Where to find Patricia Yager Delagrange
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Book Review + Giveaway – THE GAME CHANGER (Parkwood Mysteries) by Jennifer Brown

THE GAME CHANGER Blog Tour

THE GAME CHANGER (Parkwood Mysteries #1) by Jennifer Brown

THE GAME CHANGER (Parkwood Mysteries #1) by Jennifer Brown

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Hollis and Daisy love podcasting about murder cases…But can they solve one?

Hollis Bisbee used to be a big-city crime reporter. Now, she’s a small-town journalist, and she’s bored. She and a young mom, talented baker Daisy Mueller, start the Knock ‘Em Dead podcast—”Where murder and muffins meet!” It’s all fun, games, and baking tips until murder comes to Parkwood.

After a brutal homecoming game loss, the coach of the rival football team is the victim of a hit-and-run in the high school parking lot. The entire town is on edge, and the star quarterback—who happens to be the police chief’s son—may just look the guiltiest of all.

With Hollis’s investigative skills and Daisy’s famous muffins…and in spite of the charming rookie police officer tasked with keeping Hollis out of the way…the podcasting duo sets out to solve their first real case.

This cozy mystery includes a killer free recipe for Daisy’s Cherry Chocolate Chunk Muffins.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
OMG! How much do I love this book? Soooooo much! Seriously, this is just the thing I needed to help break up my post-holiday blahs. Hollis Bisbee is a reporter of a tiny newspaper in Parkwood, Missouri. She writes about hotdog rollers and new vacuum stores in the local mall. A former crime reporter in Chicago, to say her job lacks the excitement she’s used to would be a gross understatement. While interviewing the snack bar supervisor at Friday night’s big high school homecoming football game, an altercation occurs on the field between the Parkwood quarterback and the opposing team’s coach. When not long after the game, said coach ends up dead in the Parkwood High parking lot, things get a little sticky for Hollis and her best friend, Daisy, who have a true crime murder podcast that is equal parts macabre and munchies, since Daisy is also the best baker in town and uses the platform to help promote her baking business. And when Hollis discovers the quarterback is also the sheriff’s son, and the death has been ruled natural causes, Hollis has had enough of her feel good pieces and drags Daisy into an investigation that the sheriff, the new local hunky deputy, and her boss, the paper’s editor, can’t catch wind of.

Plot
The primary plot is the murder mystery and it’s exceptional. There were so many red herrings, I got to the point where I suspected it was going to be a MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS ending. There are a few minor subplots including Hollis’s job and a budding romance with Office Blue Eyes, but they were just there to round out the main plot. This was such a fun ride, I’m anxiously awaiting more Parkwood Mysteries!

Characters
The characters are THE best! I would read anything with Hollis and Daisy in it. They’re both hysterical, witty, charming, and definitely the kind of people you’d hang out with in real life if they weren’t just figments of Brown’s imagination. Maybe I just need to hang out with the author in real life! Hollis is amazing as the spirited reporter who refuses to take no for an answer. Her bff and sidekick, Daisy, is a stay-at-home mom to like 32 kids. Entire scenes are devoted to her chewing out one kid after another as she still manages to carry on a coherent conversation with Hollis. She’s quick on her feet and helps Hollis out more than a few tight spaces. The rest of the cast, including Officer Hopkins, with his muscles and impossibly blue eyes, are just as warm and loveably quirky as Hollis and Daisy. If Hallmark makes this into a movie or a TV show, I’m all in.

What I Loved About THE GAME CHANGER
1. Everything.
 Seriously, I can’t find any fault with this book. The story, the characters, the writing, everything is top notch.

2. Hollis. She’s funny, smart, endearing, and tenacious.

3. Daisy. The best BFF ever and the type of person we all want in our lives.

4. The Mystery. Really well done. One of the best I’ve read in the genre in a long time.

5. Podcasting. My co-author and I have been toying with the idea of starting a pod cast in the near future, but nothing we come up with will ever be as good as the Hollis and Daisy show.

Bottom Line
An absolutely adorable cozy mystery with a sweet romance and some of the best damn characters in the book world.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE GAME CHANGER
Series: Parkwood Mysteries
Author: Jennifer Brown
Publisher: Hallmark
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Pages: 288
Genre: Adult Cozy Mystery
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon ITBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Walmart

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Author Jennifer Brown

Author Jennifer Brown

About the Author
Jennifer Brown is the author of acclaimed young adult novels, Hate List, Bitter End, Perfect Escape, Thousand Words, Torn Away, and the Shade Me series. Her debut novel, Hate List, received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA “Perfect Ten,” and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Bitter End received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA and is listed on the YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list.

Jennifer also writes middle grade novels — her debut novel, Life on Mars, was the winner of the 2017 William Allen White Children’s Book Award. She also writes women’s fiction under the name Jennifer Scott. Visit her at www.JenniferScottAuthor.com Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.

Jennifer is available for school visits, workshops, classroom and book club Skypes, and speaking engagements. Contact JenniferBrownYA@gmail.com to book her for your next event!

Where to Find Jennifer Brown
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Review – THREE STAR ISLAND by Kat Caulberg

THREE STAR ISLAND by Kat Caulberg

THREE STAR ISLAND by Kat Caulberg

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Stepping through a time portal into 1716, historian Penny Saunders didn’t expect to get stranded in the past. Five years later, now a pariah to the townsfolk of Three Star Island, she endures solitude and ridicule until a hurricane tosses a dangerous castaway onto her shores.

William Payne’s history precedes him. Pirate, outlaw, and ruthless captain, he’s a monster among men. . . or so it seems. Desperately seeking redemption for his blood-soaked past, he upends Penny’s world by showing her a passion she’s never experienced.

But time is closing in on them; the governor of the Carolinas has rescinded his pirates’ pardon, the locals are growing suspicious of Penny’s new houseguest, and she can’t keep her secrets from William forever. When everything falls apart, she must use both wits and weapons against lawmen and pirates alike to save the one man who would tear down the world for her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
If you’re a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER, you will fall in love with Kat Caulberg’s THREE STAR ISLAND. Set on a small island off the coast of Carolina in the early 18th century, Penny is literally centuries ahead of her time. An historical researcher, she was understandably drawn to a time gate, having traveled too and from this time period before getting stuck in the past for nearly five years. While she waits for the gate to open once more, desperate to return home, she stumbles upon a victim of the recent hurricane and nurses him back to health. She finds him alluring, sexy even, before realizing he’s the subject of much of her research; a pirate with a wicked reputation. But his renown doesn’t fit with the man she’s getting to know and before long, the two are battling an attraction to one another that is ultimately an unwinnable fight for both of them. Always a bit of an oddity around town, Penny sticks to her island as much as possible, but now that Will is by her side, she ventures into town, unleashing a series of events that will seal both of their fates forever.

Plot
Penny is just biding her time until she can return to her own era. After rescuing a man on the beach, she finds herself drawn to him, until she discovers his true identity. With equal parts fear and attraction, Penny gets to know Will for who is beyond the history books. And the more she learns, the more she fears history has done him wrong. But the secrets she’s keeping are as dangerous to her as they are to any budding romance with the dashing pirate. The author tells a compelling tale of love set in Colonial America between a modern day time traveller and a man with attitudes well ahead of his time. There’s danger, steamy romance, and a hefty dose of historical reality that keeps things anything but easy.

Characters
Penny is fantastic as a woman out of time, trying to survive on her wits and anonymity. But a woman alone in the early eighteenth century makes keeping to herself nearly impossible. Will is swoony as they recovering pirate with a sordid past. The rest of the cast rounds out nicely, within the confines of the era they inhabit.

What I Loved About THREE STAR ISLAND
1. The Romance.
 It’s hot, steamy, burning, but oh so romantic.

2. Time Travel. It’s my favorite sub-genre of all. And while no actual time travel takes place during the book, the fact that she brought a bit of the future to the past with her, adds to the story as well as the world building.

3. History. I’m a fan of historicals, but what I love even more is one that places a modern day hero into a historical setting and watching them navigate this foreign world.

4.Will. He’s no Boy Scout, but he’s got a heart of gold and would do anything for Penny.

5. Penny. She’s fiery and passionate and is anything but a damsel in distress.

Bottom Line
A steamy time-traveling historical romance. Everything I love all bundled in one great story.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited

Title: THREE STAR ISLAND
Author: Kat Caulberg
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Release Date: April 10, 2019
Pages: 230
Genre:
 Adult Historical Time-Traveling Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon IT

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Author Kat Caulberg

Author Kat Caulberg

About the Author
For as long as she can remember, Kat Caulberg has been obsessed with history and the paranormal. Somewhat to the dismay of her parents, her interests led her into both museums and graveyards as a child, a trend which has continued into her adulthood. This has influenced her reading tastes and her writing, whether it be a good ghost story, thrilling tales of time-travel, or devouring endless volumes of ancient warfare.

She signed a contract with Soul Mate Publishing in 2018 for her first novel, Three Star Island, a time-travel story set in 1721. She enjoys writing strong, quirky heroines, and has a weakness for cheeky heroes who have as much compassion as they have flaws.

Kat currently lives in North Carolina with her Englishman and a few cats.

 

Where to Find Kat Caulberg
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Book Review + Giveaway – THE PRINCESS PROBLEM (Unexpectedly Royal) by Christi Barth

THE PRINCESS PROBLEM Blog Tour

THE PRINCESS PROBLEM (Unexpectedly Royal #) by Christi Barth

THE PRINCESS PROBLEM (Unexpectedly Royal #1) by Christi Barth

4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
What girl doesn’t want to wear a tiara? Me. The one who lives in yoga pants and knows she’s not special enough to be a princess.

One minute I’m starting my dream life in NYC, and the next, a man too hot for his own good is banging on my door, telling me that I’m a long lost princess of a country on the other side of the Atlantic.

Not exactly your typical Friday night in the Big Apple.

Suddenly, all of my plans for the future are yanked away. I’m trapped in a life filled with social obligations—and stilettos!—and an uptight royal family I didn’t know existed. They, and the whole rest of the freaking country, have lofty expectations I’m not sure I can meet.

At least the aforementioned sexalicious man, Elias, is my constant shadow, protecting me with his life. The whole situation is overwhelming. So I’ve secretly put him in charge of my happiness, too…and he’s taking my orders very, very seriously.

So seriously, I’m falling for him even harder than the new country I’m coming to…maybe…love.

And that’s a major problem, because he’s crazy about me, too. I may not know all the zillion rules about being royal, but I know one for sure: No way can a princess date her bodyguard…

Each book in the Unexpectedly Royal series is STANDALONE:
* The Princess Problem
* Ruling the Princess

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My Review
Kelsey and her big sister Mallory have just moved to the Big Apple, NYC, Manhattan, and are ready to live the dream they’ve been planning and saving up for for nearly a decade. After finally moving into their tiny apartment, they begin to unpack and dive into life in the big city at full steam when a knock on the door changes everything. Kelsey’s world is upended when she’s told she’s the long-lost daughter of the king of a small country nestled near the Italian coastline. A country she’s never heard of. They tell her she was kidnapped as an infant, something that makes no sense to Kelsey, who grew up in a very decidedly middle class family that was perfectly average in every way. She never had even a hint that she was a) adopted or b) kidnapped. None of it makes any sense to her or Mallory. And the fact that she can’t reach her parents, only makes matters worse when government officials from Moncriano want her to return to her home country. Elias, her self-described body guard is as hot as he is foreign, only muddying the waters further.

Kelsey not only needs to navigate royal life, bond with a family she’s never known, come to terms with her past, but also decide in two weeks if she’s ready to embrace her true identity and give up the only way of life she’s ever known. Yeah, no pressure there.

Plot
Kelsey must embrace her true roots or not. That’s the heart of the story. But the romance with Elias is a strong subplot. Her journey throws a lot of obstacles in her way, not the least of which is getting to know her royal family. With her birth mother having already died, her father, the king, is struggling with embracing the daughter he believed gone forever. She has a brother for the first time ever, but also an older sister who seems to hate her. The fact that Elias is her subject as well as her employee makes any relationship completely off limits. Which of course only makes the sparks fly hotter.

My biggest problem with this book is that Kelsey seems to take it all in stride. The fact that she’s willing to just go with the hot stranger without verifying anything for herself, that she’s not more distraught over her past and secrets withheld from her, ate away at me at a low level as she meets her “real” family. She mentions a few times in passing that her parents weren’t kidnappers, but this should have been driving some serious low-level angst in everything she does. Instead, less than 20% in, she’s snogging her security detail in the garden instead of having an identity crisis of epic proportions. But if you can overlook this for the sake of convenience, it’s a lighthearted take on what it’s like to be unexpectedly thrust into royal life, like a grown-up THE PRINCESS DIARIES. It’s definitely a fun, fast read.

Characters
The characters aren’t terribly deep, but they are fun, and not stereotypical. Kelsey is delightful as the reluctant royal and her sister, Mallory, is hysterical as her partner in crime. I love Kelsey’s loyalty to Mallory as well as her sense of duty to both her families. Elias is honor-bound and full of principle. Princess Genevieve is so relatable as the older sister whose entire life has been shaped by Kelsey’s kidnapping and is struggling with yet the latest upheaval in her relatively short life. Prince Christian is adorable as the loving older brother who has no idea how to interact with his youngest sister. I was totally pulling for a Christian/Mallory side romance. The rest of the characters are there to provide humor and conflict and do their jobs well. There really isn’t a whole lot for any of them to overcome on a deep level, leaving this more plot-based than character-based and that’s perfect for a romantic comedy.

What I Enjoyed About THE PRINCESS PROBLEM
1. Royalty.
 Sure, Americans don’t have our own royalty, in fact if anything we’re anti-royal since our whole country was founded on bucking the monarchy, but it’s still fun to get a behind-the-scenes reminder of why being a princess would suck on almost every level.

2. Elias. Not only is he yummy to look at, but his sense of duty and honor makes him nearly irresistible.

3. Christian. He walks a fine line between the duties of heir to the throne and that of an adoring older brother with class, humor, and intense hotness.

4. Mallory. Kelsey is her sister. She always has been and she always will be, regardless of Kelsey’s royal status. I love how nothing changes for her when it comes to her little sister.

5. Politics. I’ll admit, I didn’t really expect that in this story, but it plays into everything, although with a light touch by the author. It adds intrigue that would otherwise be missing.

Bottom Line
A super fun, lighthearted royal romance.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title:
THE PRINCESS PROBLEM
Series: Unexpectedly Royal #1
Author: Christi Barth
Publisher: Entangled Amara
Release Date: November 18, 2019
Genre:
 Adult Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
Pages: 395
Rating:
4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AUAmazon DE | Amazon FR | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Christi Barth

Author Christi Barth

About the Author
USA TODAY bestseller Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance.

Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to Find Christi Barth
Goodreads │ Website | NewsletterFacebook │Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Book Review + Giveaway – JUST IN CASE by Laura McHale Holland

JUST IN CASE Blog Tour

JUST IN CASE by Laura McHale Holland

JUST IN CASE by Laura McHale Holland

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Imagine a world where shadows of enchantment instantly render ordinary experiences eerie, terrifying or sublime, and where the unexpected becomes the norm. The twenty-one micro stories in Laura McHale Holland’s Just in Case comprise such a place: a universe where a wife betrayed relishes her revenge; a couple chugging toward retirement takes a surprising U-turn; a much maligned character finally has his say; a cozy family scene chills the blood; a curious relative cannot leave a half-human baby alone. These, and more, are what you’ll find in this book.

The dark, often revealing themes in this collection marry exquisitely with the precise flash fiction form, offering a full reading experience in few words. If you enjoy engaging, short reads with deliciously poetic prose, plenty of imagery, and context left to the imagination, you’re likely to love the concise gems found herein.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
JUST IN CASE was a delightful, fast read, which I finished in just half a day. The stories are short, vivid, and left me wanting more. The author weaves tales using carefully chosen imaginative words that not only set a scene, but get us deep into character point of view. The shortest is just a half a page and the longest was probably less than ten, but the amount of real estate had nothing to do with the reading experience. I devoured each one, then reread it to savor it, to marvel at the author’s ability to use words as if she was wielding magic, making us see and feel with intensity. My favorite was the tale of a mailman and his favorite customer, a man with wolf-dog hybrids, but I don’t have a least favorite. They were all so very good. I will be reading more by Laura McHale Holland!

What I Loved About JUST IN CASE
1. The Writing.
 The author has the ability to draw me deeply into a story that takes no more than five minutes to read.

2. The Length. As someone with ADD, I loved that I could read a story while I was waiting for water to boil or my computer to boot up. I could set it down and not have to remember where I was because that story was over.

3. Reader Interpretation. Due to the nature of the storytelling, so much is left for the reader to interpret, and each one had me thinking about it long after I was done reading.

4. Quirky Characters. Many of the tales had richly drawn characters that were fun and a little different, making them a delight to read.

5. Darker Subject Matter. I loved the darker tones of many of the stories without ever becoming macabre. Perfect for reading during an autumn evening by a warm fire.

Bottom Line
Wonderful short tales of fascinating characters wrapped up in spectacular storytelling.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: JUST IN CASE
Author: Laura McHale Holland
Release Date: August 17, 2019
Genre: Adult Contemporary Short Stories/Flash Fiction
Pages: 57
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author Laura McHale Holland

Author Laura McHale Holland

About the Author
In all of her work, Laura McHale Holland strives to stir people’s emotions and find hope hidden in unlikely places. Her novel, The Kiminee Dream, set for release in 2020, introduces a cast of quirky characters in a fictional Illinois river town where unseen forces both help and hinder, and people learn to rise in the face of adversity, accept what can never be and embrace big dreams anew. Laura’s published books include two memoirs, two collections of flash fiction, and an anthology on sisterhood. In addition, three of her plays have been produced in San Francisco’s North Bay region.

 

 

 

 

Where to find Laura McHale Holland
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Book Review – COCONUT CRUSH (Press Pass Mysteries) by April Anderton

COCONUT CRUSH (Press Pass Mysteries #3) by April Anderton

COCONUT CRUSH (Press Pass Mysteries #3) by April Anderton

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Dinner, drinks, and death.

A honeymoon cruise they won’t forget.

Boston reporter Ali Loukas hasn’t had time to legally change her name, but a week in the middle of the ocean with her shiny new husband should mean time to kick back and relax–with no dead bodies. No such luck. Ali’s reputation and penchant for coming across corpses have preceded her. Trapped on a floating city with a handful of eccentric fans, she finds herself swept up in the lifestyle of the Boston Elite.

When a body turns up on the second day at sea, one fan turns to Ali, expecting her to help the ship’s security team come up with a killer. But Security’s not interested in Ali’s help and they threaten to throw her in the brig if she interferes with their investigation.

Mysterious elderly stalkers, a magic show gone bad, and a killer on board, make Ali wonder if her tropical vacation will bring her closer to her husband as intended or send her overboard.

If you’re a fan of Mary Higgins Clark mysteries, get this book today!

Content Note: PG equivalent – No swearing, no sex, and no graphic violence. Sweet newlywed innuendo.

Other books by April Anderton:
Previous Engagements – Press Pass Mysteries Book One
Drowned at The Rat – Press Pass Mysteries Book Two

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My Review
WARNING: Mild spoilers for Books 1 and 2.
This is my favorite book in the series so far. Anderton has upped the humor, created endearing and developed characters, and once again, kept me guessing. Ali and Ryan are on their honeymoon cruise, organized and paid for by their mothers, which means it’s bound to have issues. What should be the perfect romantic getaway becomes deadly when l one of the guests dies on board. And of course Ali and Ryan have a connection to the deceased — he was sitting at the same table as they were. The ship’s security team doesn’t want Ali poking her journalist nose in their business and do everything they can to keep her at arms’ length from the story. But being Ali, she can’t just let it go. All she’ll commit to is not reporting the story during the cruise. She honestly befriends a couple of her fellow passengers who also happen to be close to the deceased, which provides her with an edge when it comes to solving the mystery.

Plot
The story centers on the mystery surrounding the death of a cruise ship passenger. The search for answers brings Ali closer to several of her fellow passengers and throws her into the path of two mysterious passengers who seem to be following her. As Ally and Ryan sneak in as much quality alone-time as possible, the events aboard and onshore keep them torn between relaxing and solving the crime.

Characters
I love the characters. Ally is only more endearing with each book, as is Ryan. The quirky supporting cast are just as fun and delicious as I’ve come to expect from this author.

Top things I Loved About COCONUT CRUSH
1. The Setting. I’ve never been on a cruise myself, but I’ve seen enough episodes of The Love Boat in my life to appreciate the setting.

2. Backstabbing and Plotting. This story is rife with character’s plotting against one another, bringing a level of hilarity and confusion to the mystery.

3. Ali. She’s more tenacious than ever without losing that sweet, funny side of her.

4. Ryan. He seems to have reluctantly accepted his wife’s job and all of the pitfalls that accompany it.

5. Mystery Guests. They had me laughing out loud!

Bottom Line
A wonderful cozy mystery by an author coming into her own. If you love Stephanie Plum, you’ll adore Ali Loukas.

About the Book
Title: COCONUT CRUSH
Series: Press Pass Mysteries #3
Author: April Anderton
Release Date: August 19, 2019
Pages: 228
Category:
Adult Cozy Mystery
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author April Anderton

Author April Anderton

About the Author
April Anderton is a designer, blogger and author of cozy and young adult mysteries, survival adventures, non-fiction how-to books and articles for blogs and magazines. She lives off-grid in the mountains of North Idaho with her husband and their homeschooled pre-teen son. She doesn’t quite understand why her grown children would rather live in cities in homes with running water, plumbing and electricity, but she loves them anyway. If you ran into April at the grocery store, chances are high that she would not be wearing makeup and may be on the edge of looking presentable. She’d still say hello..

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Where to find April Anderton
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramAmazon

 

Book Review + Giveaway – THE FIXER UPPER (Echo Springs) by Maggie Mae Gallagher

THE FIXER UPPER Blog Tour

THE FIXER UPPER (Echo Springs #1) by Maggie Mae Gallagher

THE FIXER UPPER (Echo Springs #1) by Maggie Mae Gallagher

3 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Abby Callier is more in love with Shakespearean heroes than any real man, and she’s beginning to wonder if there is life for her outside the pages of a book. It doesn’t help that her esteemed parents tend to view her as they would one of their science experiments gone wrong. On the eve of finishing her dissertation, she escapes her staid existence to live in the house she inherited from her Great Aunt Evie in the small town of Echo Springs, Colorado. Because, let’s face it, when a woman starts comparing her life to horror films, it might be time for a break.

Sheriff Nate Barnes believes in law and order and carefully building the life you want. In his spare time, he has been remodeling his house in the hope that one day it will be filled with the family he makes. But Nate doesn’t like drama or complications and tends to avoid them at all costs. And yet, when Miss Abigail Callier, his newest neighbor, beans him with a nine iron, he can’t help but wonder if she might just be the complication he’s been searching for all along. It doesn’t hurt that he discovers a journal hidden away by the previous tenant and decides to use Old Man Turner’s advice to romance Abby into his life.

Abby never expected her next-door neighbor, the newly dubbed Sheriff Stud Muffin, to be just the distraction her world needed.

The problem is she doesn’t know whether she should make Echo Springs her home, or if this town is just a stopover point in her life’s trajectory. And she doesn’t want to tell Nate that she might not be sticking around—even though she should because it’s the right thing to do, the honest thing—because then all the scintillatingly hot kisses with the Sheriff will come to an abrupt halt. Did she mention that he’s a really great kisser?

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My Review
Abby Callier uproots her academic life under academic parents and defies them to write her dissertation on English Literature, instead of something more appropriate, in the small Colorado town outside Denver where her great aunt lived. Tiny Echo Springs is the opposite of everything Abby is used to. She plans on finishing her paper, get her doctorate, and sell her aunt’s house. That’s the plan anyway. But things seldom go according to plan. For one, her aunt’s victorian home is filled with an army of tiny porcelain dolls that leave Abby uneasy. So uneasy, she leaves them in the living room while she sets up camp upstairs, far away from the creepy things. For another, her aunt’s neighbor is beyond hot and also the town’s sheriff. The more time she spends with the man she calls Sheriff Stud Muffin, the more she questions her current objectives and the less sure she is of what her next step will be. She takes a job at the local community college and meets a colorful cast of characters. It’s easy to see where the next books in the Echo Springs series will take us.

Plot
This is a straight-up romance that follows the typical format of meet-cute followed by all the ups and downs you expect in a contemporary romance. There’s a minor subplot involving a series of break-ins in the small town, but the subplot that really shines is Old Man Turner’s journal that tells a romantic tale that started before World War II between Old Man Turner and Abby’s great aunt. It serves as both a parallel tale as well as backstory.

Characters
This was the one part of the story I’m iffy on. Abby’s ovaries “sigh” at the sight of the studly-muffinesque sheriff. And not just once, there is much ovary sighing throughout. And Nate’s declaration that Abby “isn’t like other women” was too cliche. However, the supporting cast saved the story for me. Nate’s bevy of messed-up buddies and punk community college teacher Tessa and her gorgeous, but militant sister, Cybil, drew me in. In fact, if any of these characters are involved in the second book in the series, I’m there!

What I Enjoyed About THE FIXER UPPER
1. Rufus.
 Nate’s big, lovable, slobbering Great Dane provided some great comedic moments.

2. Tessa. She’s tough, acerbic, and funny. I can’t wait to read her story.

3. Cybil. She’s snark and sour wrapped in a pretty package, and her story is going to be epic.

4. Aunt Evie. The story of her romance with Old Man Turner is heartbreaking and bittersweet.

5. Old Homes. I adore old homes and the descriptions of the two Victorian homes made me want to do a few more renovations around here, much to my husband’s dismay.

Bottom Line
A decent romance with a stellar supporting cast.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE FIXER UPPER
Series: Echo Springs #1
Author: Maggie Mae Gallagher
Publisher: Blushing Books Publications
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Pages: 296
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Blushing Books

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Maggie Mae Gallagher

Maggie Mae Gallagher

About the Author
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Maggie grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Maggie never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.

Maggie is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes erotic romance under the name Anya Summers. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the Midwest with her two furry felines.

 

 

Where to find Maggie Mae Gallagher
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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Book Review – DROWNED AT THE RAT (Press Pass Mysteries) by April Anderton

DROWNED AT THE RAT (Press Pass Mysteries) by April Anderton

DROWNED AT THE RAT (Press Pass Mysteries) by April Anderton

4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
The bass player’s dead and no one’s talking.

When the bass player of a local punk group turns up dead at the infamous night club known as The Rat, it looks like a clear-cut case of band envy. Boston reporter, Ali Loukas, isn’t so sure. Something smells off and with the help of her boyfriend and homicide detective, Ryan McGuire, Ali sets out to sniff out the real killer . . . or killers.

It’s 1997 and The Rat is slowly dying. Underground violence and cutthroat competition have become the norm, but Vinny G.’s death threatens to close the curtains. Can Ali help find the killer and save the club or will she end up six feet under?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
The second book in the Press Pass Mysteries, Ali Loukas has come into her own as a reporter for Channel 7. In the midst of doing a story at The Rathskeller nightclub, she stumbles upon the murder of Vinny G, a member of a band slated to play there. And Ali, being who she is, can’t just walk away from this story, even though her sort of boyfriend, Detective Ryan McGuire, all but begs her to. Their budding romance is hit from all sides as Ali is determined to find out what happened to Vinny at the same time that Ryan is keeping valuable information about the investigation from her. The deeper Ali digs, the more secrets she uncovers, secrets people will kill to keep hidden.

Plot
Once again, Anderton tells a well-plotted tale with plenty of twists and red herrings to throw us off, but in the end, the truth has been staring us in the face the entire time. Where the first book had multiple points of view, this second one in the series is only from Ali’s, which makes it smoother. By not being privy to anything she is not, the mystery unfolds at the perfect pace. The humor is ramped up in this installment without ever veering into silliness. The romance is a solid subplot and believable, adding a nice counterbalance to the murder mystery.

Characters
The characters are where the story really shines. Ali Loukas, once again, is a likable protagonist who is easy to root for. Ryan is both her perfect foil and a swoonworthy book boyfriend. The rest of the cast of characters are ideal for the roles they’re scripted for and are far more than two-dimensional stereotypes.

Top things I Enjoyed About DROWNED AT THE RAT
1. 1997. From the fashion to the music references, this is a fun romp down memory lane.

2. Ali. She’s come into her own with style and wit. I love her even more than I did in the first book.

3. Ryan. He’s still a tough-as-nails cop who plays his cards close to the vest, but watching him soften toward Ali makes him all the more adorable.

4. The Rat. A retro 80s punk-styled nightclub in the late 90s is everything.

5. The Mystery. Once again, the author keeps us guessing.

Bottom Line
A fun fast read with delightful characters and plenty of heart and humor

About the Book
Title: DROWNED AT THE RAT
Series: Press Pass Mysteries #2
Author: April Anderton
Release Date: May 31, 2019
Pages: 238
Category:
Adult Cozy Mystery
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author April Anderton

Author April Anderton

About the Author
April Anderton is a designer, blogger and author of cozy and young adult mysteries, survival adventures, non-fiction how-to books and articles for blogs and magazines. She lives off-grid in the mountains of North Idaho with her husband and their homeschooled pre-teen son. She doesn’t quite understand why her grown children would rather live in cities in homes with running water, plumbing and electricity, but she loves them anyway. If you ran into April at the grocery store, chances are high that she would not be wearing makeup and may be on the edge of looking presentable. She’d still say hello..

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Where to find April Anderton
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramAmazon

 

Book Review – PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENTS (Press Pass Mysteries) by April Anderton

PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENTS (Press Pass Mysteries #1) by April Anderton

PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENTS (Press Pass Mysteries #1) by April Anderton

4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Senator Morgan Maxwell’s fiancée is dead and it’s not the first time.

It’s 1996 and Boston reporter, Ali Loukas, has her sights set on advancing from radio newscaster to TV correspondent, so when the Maxwell story practically drops into her lap, she seizes the opportunity to solve the murder, scoop her competitors, and move up the broadcasting ladder.

But gaining access to evidence and witnesses without stepping on the toes of family friend, Detective Ryan McGuire, could be tricky.

Despite a knife wedged in her front door and opposition from the police, Ali is determined to prove that she can find the answers, solve the crime and earn the dream job…if she can stay alive to make it all happen.

If you love Mary Higgins Clark Mysteries, grab this one today!

Content Notes: PG equivalent – No swearing, sex or graphic violence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
Set in the mid 1990s, this is a delightful trip into my pre-kids/marriage youth, with references to some of my favorite music and other pop culture from that time. Ali Loukas moves to Boston as a cub reporter for a radio station, her sights set on working in TV some day, following in the footsteps of her idol. When she dives into the murder of a prominent citizen, she gets to meet her idol, only to discover she’s the exact opposite of what Ali imagined. As a viscous rivalry develops between the two, Ali is determined to solve the mystery first. Her sleuthing sends her directly into the path of dreamy Detective Ryan McGuire, the son of her mother’s best friend, making things doubly complicated, and then triply so when Ali discovers Ryan might just have reciprocal feelings for her. But before long, Ali somehow asks the wrong person the wrong question, putting her directly in the crosshairs.

Plot
The primary focus is the mystery – who killed Senator Maxwell’s fiancee. But there are a couple of solid subplots involving Ali’s career and her budding romance with Detective McGuire. The mystery is well done, with several twists and a culprit, who I did suspect from time-to-time, I never really latched onto as the one. The author expertly foreshadows everything, though, so the big reveal feels inevitable. Because the story takes place more than twenty years ago, there are some fun things the author takes advantage of, including the fact that smart phones weren’t a thing and the internet was still dial-up for a lot of the population.

Characters
The characters were awesome. Ali is instantly likable as a determined reporter, who is maybe a bit naive, but tenacious enough to overcome it. Ryan is swoon-worthy as her foil and potential love interest, and the moms are the absolute best, driving some of the funniest moments in the book.

Top things I Enjoyed About PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENTS
1. Ali. She’s funny, smart, and will stop at nothing to get to the truth.

2. Ryan. He’s all about the rules. At least until he meets Ali.

3. The 1990s. Showing my age here, but the 90s were my favorite decade from the music, to movies, and TV shows. The pop cultural references were a blast from my past.

4. The Mystery. It was well done and kept me guessing.

5. Humor. A lightheartedness to the story kept it from getting too dark and had me laughing throughout.

Bottom Line
A fun cozy mystery with a nostalgic edge and a lighthearted romance.

About the Book
Title: PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENTS
Series: Press Pass Mysteries #1
Author: April Anderton
Release Date: March 1, 2019
Pages: 247
Category:
Adult Cozy Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author April Anderton

Author April Anderton

About the Author
April Anderton is a designer, blogger and author of cozy and young adult mysteries, survival adventures, non-fiction how-to books and articles for blogs and magazines. She lives off-grid in the mountains of North Idaho with her husband and their homeschooled pre-teen son. She doesn’t quite understand why her grown children would rather live in cities in homes with running water, plumbing and electricity, but she loves them anyway. If you ran into April at the grocery store, chances are high that she would not be wearing makeup and may be on the edge of looking presentable. She’d still say hello..

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Where to find April Anderton
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramAmazon

 

Book Review – AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET by Danielle K. Roux

AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET Blog Tour

AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET by Danielle K. Roux

AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET by Danielle K. Roux

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Katherine Garnet is a writer who has never cared much about much, making it awfully difficult to create new content. Despite the fact she has the “edge” of being trans (according to her cis male editor) she is not looking to capitalize on her own personal story. Garnet tries to sneak a peek at her rival, August Prather’s, latest fantasy manuscript about a quest for the elixir of life.

While reading, Garnet gets accidentally dragged into a bizarre cross-country road trip that may or may not have a purpose and begins to see parallels in the story of the manuscript and the reality of their journey. Along the way, they encounter a parade of equally troubled individuals, including ghost-hunting priests, a robot magician, a discarded piece of furniture, a runaway teenager, and a Japanese rock star.

As Garnet confronts her past, she begins to understand why someone might want to live forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
I’m not sure exactly what to make of AUGST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET. There’s a quote by one of the protagonists that says a good book is one that leaves the reader to figure out what it’s about, and I kind of feel like the author was letting us know that it’s up to us to decide what her novel is about. To say I was confused for much of the book would be an understatement, but at no point did I want to put it down. I needed to know what the heck was going on. And because the characters are so fascinating, I was hooked on their fates from the beginning. But if I had to tell you what this book is about, I’m not sure I can easily sum it up the way I normally do for a book review. It’s about letting go and finding yourself, it’s about exploring all the sides of yourself, it’s about friendship and camaraderie, doing the right thing for no reason other than it’s the right thing to do, and the quest for immortality, but it’s also none of those things and a thousand things more. And yet the story is riveting as author Kate Garnet sets off on a cross-country trip with fellow author August Prather along with two “priests”, a table, and a dead body in a Prius. And that’s not even the strangest part.

Plot
The plot unfolds haphazardly with as many detours as the group takes on their road trip. Kate gets herself accidentally kidnapped when she sneaks into August’s car to read her latest unpublished manuscript. We alternate between the two stories as Kate reading the book is interspersed with their adventures. August’s manuscript is the story of a two individuals on a quest to find the elixir of immortality, but there are so many parallels between the book Kate’s reading and what’s unfolding in her real life, she soon discovers what she thought might be a lighthearted road trip with a group of free spirits might be something much more deeply personal.

Characters
The characters are, simply put, brilliant. August is a quirky bohemian who befriends anyone and everyone she meets. Kate is complex as a trans woman who is still on a journey of self discover. Mitya and Lyosha, the Russian ghost hunters, posing as priests, are both irreverent and the cutest couple ever. Everyone they meet along their way is somehow larger than life, but in a completely believable way. it’s not that they’re necessarily caricatures, but we view them through Kate’s lens, and she notices the more obscure oddities more than most people would, so that’s how the reader gets to experience them. Even the characters in August’s book have depth. These are the types of people who not only temporarily occupy my mind as I read about them, but take up space in my brain for a long time after I finish the book.

What I Loved About AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET
1. August.
 If she mentioned a road trip, I’d be strapped into the shotgun seat before the “p” popped on her lips.

2. Quirky Characters. Everyone who populates this story is unique and a delight to read.

3. Witty Banter. The dialogue is among the best I’ve ever read, whether they’re dropping off a dead body at the hospital or discussing a murder that August witnessed, everything uttered is pure gold.

4. Road Trips. Setting off on a cross country trip with no itinerary not only makes for a fantastic story, but it’s a metaphor for what life should be.

5. True Love. Mitya and Lyosha are so freaking adorable. One of my all-time favorite fictional couples.

Bottom Line
An unusual tale with compelling characters that is impossible to put down.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET
Author: Danielle K. Roux
Publisher: Parliament House Publishing

Release Date: August 7, 2018
Pages: 368
Genre: Adult LGBTQ+ Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Danielle K. Roux

Author Danielle K. Roux

About the Author
Danielle K. Roux is a writer, teacher, and historian. Her first novel August Prather is Not Dead Yet is currently available in e-book and paperback through Parliament House Press (and soon will be available in hardcover and audio book). Danielle has always loved reading and telling stories – especially stories with adventure, mystery, humor, romance and at least a little bit of spookiness. Not Dead Yet has all this covered, with a story-within-a-story structure and a quest for immortality in the early twentieth century paired with a present-day road trip. There’s a lot of existential crisis and a male/male romance that is sweet and steamy.

Danielle has been writing fiction since she was nine, after getting tired of reading from the perspective of white, straight male characters in fantasy novels. Her first written story involved a group of middle school girls who find necklaces used by a dead witch that give them supernatural powers. It was written in notebooks in purple and green gel pens that are currently housed in a box in her linen closet. She is inspired by travelling to new places and reading about the stories tied to landscapes. She has at least three novels building in her brain (or wherever novels come from) and wishes she was writing them all right now.

Danielle lives with her wife and two orange cats in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has added a lot of young adult fantasy fiction to her bookshelves recently, and regrets nothing. Her dream library would be accessed through a secret door and look something like the library in the animated Disney Beauty and the Beast, although it would also have a cute barista or sentient coffee machine that once was said barista.

When she isn’t writing or thinking about writing, Danielle is building houses in the Sims, listening to podcasts, or taking Buzzfeed quizzes to find out what kind of tree she is based on her hair color. She has recently been watching lots of old BBC period pieces, and some of them are good. She has begun to drink Diet Coke and is worried this might be a real problem. Coffee and tea are still her primary beverages of choice..

Where to find Danielle K. Roux
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Instagram

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Book Review – RUSTY NAIL (Jack Daniels Mysteries) by J.A. Konrath

RUSTY NAIL (Jack Daniels Mysteries #3 ) by J.A. Konrath

RUSTY NAIL (Jack Daniels Mysteries #3 ) by J.A. Konrath

4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Lee Child, David Morrell, and M.J. Rose all agree: Jack Daniels is the one to watch! Anthony Award finalist J.A. Konrath’s latest novel featuring the feisty female police detective serves up another thriller

Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels of the Chicago Police Department is back, and once again she’s up to her Armani in murder. Someone is sending Jack snuff videos. The victims are people she knows, and they share a common trait — all were involved in one of Jack’s previous cases. With her stalwart partner hospitalized and unable to help, Jack follows a trail of death throughout the Midwest, on a collision course with the smartest and deadliest adversary she’s ever known.

During the chase, Jack jeopardizes her career, her love life, and her closest friends. She also comes to a startling realization — serial killers have families, and blood runs thick.

Rusty Nail features more of the laugh-out-loud humor and crazy characters that saturated Whiskey Sour and Bloody Mary, without sacrificing the nail-biting thrills.

This is Jack Daniels third, and most exciting, adventure yet!

 

 

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My Review
RUSTY NAIL is my first book by J.A. Konrath, and I now consider myself a fan. This is the third book in a series, and it builds upon characters and events in the first two books, but the author weaves in just enough information that I wasn’t lost without recapping everything. Part thriller, part mystery, Detective Jacqueline (Jack) Daniels is faced with a cruel serial killer who has ties to previous cases of hers. As she attempts to track down this new killer, she must determine if it was an accomplice or a copycat of the original. She works with her partner, Herb, a handful of FBI agents, and a collection of officers in various jurisdictions. Interspersed with this is the marriage of her former partner, Harry, a romance with an ex, and coping with her feelings surrounding her mother who is in a coma in a skilled nursing facility.

Plot
The main plot is the mystery, told in first-person POV from Jack’s perspective, as well as various third-person POVs, including the killer. The story moves at a steady pace, building to a pulse-pounding climax. Humor is woven throughout to keep it from getting too dark, and this really helps an otherwise gruesome story from getting too morbid. I prided myself on figuring out who the killer was only to be floored when I was wrong. But in retrospect, everything I needed to know was skillfully placed throughout the story.

Characters
I had some difficulty connecting with Jack at first. She’s rough, tough, and really hard around the edges, but as the story unfolded, I saw softer sides of her, including her visits with her unconscious mother, the way she cares for her mother’s cat, who clearly can’t stand Jack, and even her broken heart. Herb, Harry, and even Harry’s fiancee, Holly, were all fascinating characters that helped make Jack that much more human when she tried her best to be inhuman.

What I Enjoyed About RUSTY NAIL
1. Plotting.
 Great plot with lots of twists and unexpected surprises.

2. The Ending. I love the way the author wound up the story in a way I didn’t expect.

3. Jack. It took me a bit to warm up to her, but once I did, I loved her more than just about any detective I’ve read in a long time.

4. Harry. Jack’s former partner, Harry McGlade, is a soft, pasty, gross mess of a man, but he has some of the best lines in the book.

5. Evil. The villains on Criminal Minds ain’t got nothin on Konrath’s bad guys.

Bottom Line
Gripping thriller/mystery with great characters and a plot that never lets up.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: RUSTY NAIL
Series: Jack Daniels Mysteries #3
Author: J.A. Konrath
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Release Date: July 1, 2006
Pages: 288
Genre: Adult Thriller/Mystery
Rating:
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author J.A. Konrath

Author J.A. Konrath

About the Author
J.A. Konrath is the author of eleven novels in the Jack Daniels thriller series. They do not have to be read in chronologically to be enjoyed, but the order is: Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini, Fuzzy Navel, Cherry Bomb, Shaken, Stirred, Rum Runner, Last Call, and White Russian. More coming soon.

Jack Daniels also appears in the novels Dead On My Feet, Dying Breath, Everybody Dies, Shot of Tequila, Flee, Spree, Three, Timecaster Supersymmetry, Banana Hammock, Lady 52, and Serial Killers Uncut. She’s also in the novellas Floaters, Burners, Planter’s Punch, Babe On Board, Racked, Straight Up, October Dark, Jacked Up!, Beat Down, Cheese Wrestling, Abductions, Watched Too Long, and Babysitting Money, and the collection Jack Daniels Stories.

Wow, that’s a lot of Jack.

Other novels include the thrillers Origin, The List, Disturb, Timecaster, Afraid, Trapped, Endurance, Haunted House, Webcam, Grandma?, Holes In The Ground, and Draculas. Other novellas include Fix, Hit, Naughty, Exposed, Rescue, and Wild Night is Calling.

He also writes the Stop A Murder mystery puzzle series, where you become the sleuth and solve brain teasers to try and catch a killer.

And, finally, he writes erotica under the pen name Melinda DuChamp.

Joe writes a lot. You should probably read everything.

Where to Find J.A. Konrath
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

 

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