What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'Review')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Review, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,368
1. Review and Giveaway: Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo Putney

Review:

The last Mary Jo Putney I read was a Signet Regency Romance that was published in the 90s. I loved this line, and still have a box of Signet Regency paperbacks in the the basement.  When I had an opportunity to read a brand new book by Putney, I jumped at the chance.  I enjoyed Not Quite a Wife, though I did not buy into the conflict between Laurel and James.  I guess I am so indifferent to violence that I couldn’t understand why Laurel would leave her husband, James, after he defended her and himself from an assassin.  She didn’t even ask him for an explanation for his actions – she just packed her bags and walked out on her young, loving husband.

Laurel Herbert and her brother have been operating an infirmary and home for abused women and their children in Bristol.  Laurel is shocked when her newest patient is carried into the ward.  It’s James, her estranged husband.  He’s been beaten and robbed, and he’s suffering from a fever.  In the 10 years that they have been apart, Laurel has settled into a comfortable life, helping disadvantaged women learn skills to assist them in earning their independence.  Nostalgia and her confused feelings for her husband lead to a moment of passion between her and James.  Because he’s out of his mind with fever, James thinks he’s just had a very erotic, very vivid dream, and Laurel isn’t willing to divulge the truth.  Sending him on his way the next day, she returns to her duties and tries to put James out of her mind.

Unfortunately, her momentary indiscretion leaves her pregnant.  Putting on a brave front, she approaches James, confesses, and they agree to a month long reconciliation.  They’ll need to put up with each other for the sake of their child, so Laurel reluctantly agrees to accompany him to London for one month, with every intention of returning home afterwards.  Despite her misgivings about James, she knows that it would be best of all involved to attempt to reconcile.

This is an enjoyable read, but I didn’t feel that there was much conflict between the protagonists.  Laurel just can’t forgive James for taking a life, regardless of how justified he was.  James is a spy, and it’s his job to protect the Regent and all of England, but he doesn’t take any satisfaction from the fact that he’s killed.  It eats at his soul, and this darkness within him is what originally drew him to Laurel.  Though they were both very young, from the moment he saw her, James knew that he would love Laurel forever.  I think I liked that best about this story; he really did love her from that moment on, and when she left him, it destroyed him.  Determined to let her find her happiness, he respected her wishes and stayed away from her.  Now that he’s been given a second chance, he’s going to do everything in his power to keep her.  James was kind, patient, and understanding of Laurel, sometimes more than I thought she deserved.  The lack of communication between them was the biggest obstacle they had to overcome, and it took more than ten years to finally learn to talk to each other.

I’m kind of a sucker for sea battles, so the evil Captain Hardwick and his attempt to make off with Laurel’s lady’s maid was a welcome diversion.  It added a life threatening complication, and gave James a chance to be a hero.  It also gave Laurel some insight on how it felt to defend your loved ones, regardless of the consequences.  The entire abduction episode kept me on the edge of my seat, and I found the resolution to the battle fitting.

 

Not Quite a Wife

The Lost Lords # 6

By: Mary Jo Putney

Releasing August 26th, 2014

Kensington

Blurb

Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

James, Lord Kirkland, owns a shipping fleet, half a London gaming house, and is a ruthlessly effective spymaster. He is seldom self-indulgent…except when it comes to the gentle, indomitable beauty who was once his wife.

Laurel Herbert gave James her heart as an innocent young girl—until she saw him perform an act of shocking violence before her very eyes. That night she left her husband, and he let her go without a word of protest.

Now, ten years later, a chance encounter turns passionate, with consequences that cannot be ignored. But as they try to rebuild what was broken, they must face common enemies and a very uncommon love….

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/06/not-quite-wife-by-mary-jo-putney-lost.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18048060-not-quite-a-wife?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Not-Quite-Wife-Lost-Lords/dp/1420127160/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406678719&sr=8-1&keywords=9781420127164

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/not-quite-a-wife-mary-jo-putney/1117555664?ean=9781420127164

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/not-quite-a-wife

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/not-quite-a-wife/id836627729?mt=11#

Author Info

Mary Jo Putney is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has written over 60 novels and novellas. A ten-time finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA, she has won the honor twice and is on the RWA Honor Roll for bestselling authors. In 2013 she was awarded the RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Though most of her books have been historical romance, she has also published contemporary romances, historical fantasy, and young adult paranormal historicals. She lives in Maryland with her nearest and dearest, both two and four footed.
Author Links

Website: http://www.maryjoputney.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryJoPutneyAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MJPutneyNews

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/33876.Mary_Jo_Putney

Rafflecopter Giveaway (3 Print Copies of Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo Putney )

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Review and Giveaway: Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo Putney appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
2. Gathering the Sun


Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Each September, we celebrate the Hispanic Heritage Month here in the United States. It runs from September 15 to October 15 and its purpose is to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, México, the Caribbean and Central and South America. These individuals have impacted the community in a positive way.
Gathering the Sun, written by award-winning author Alma Flor Ada and gorgeously illustrated by Simón Silva, fits perfectly for the occasion. Ada’s inspirational poems using the alphabet help the reader to discover the essence, strength, and beauty of a community of lives and work in the field. The marvelous twenty-eight colorful pages honor the courage of women and men who, with their daily efforts, create a better place to live for all.
Each letter transmits a strong message that glorifies the perfection of Mother Nature. These poems glorify the gifts of the harvest season to be enjoyed as brothers and sisters.
Árboles (Trees), Betabel (Beet), Cesar Chávez, Duraznos (Peaches) are some of the words that you find in this lovely book. Let’s celebrate and honor the unique and wonderful riqueza latina.
Visit your local library for more interesting stories. ¡Viva Hispanic Heritage Month! Reading gives your wings.
To learn more about the Hispanic Heritage Month visit the following links:
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->

0 Comments on Gathering the Sun as of 9/10/2014 2:38:00 AM
Add a Comment
3. Novella Review: Rodeo Rebel by Donna Alward

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I am a big fan of Donna Alward, so when I saw this free novella, I scooped it up and immediately sat down to read it.  Like her other books, this short story just clicked with me.  I could easily relate to Megan; she’s a hard working vet during the week, but she loves participating in rodeo during the weekend.  Pax isn’t a bad guy, he’s just a bit misguided.  Five years ago, after a traumatic event puts him in charge of the family business, he abruptly breaks things off with Megan after she leaves for college.  He ignores her calls and emails, leaving her broken hearted and confused.  Hadn’t they fallen in love over the summer before she left for school?

Megan realizes that she never got over Paxton when she sees him at the fairgrounds where she’s competing.  His family breeds stock for rodeos, and he’s there with a trailer of animals for the show.  They immediately butt heads, and when he tries to apologize for ending things the way he did, Megan just can’t get past her anger.  He took the coward’s way out back then, and she doesn’t want to hear his excuses.  Deep down Pax thought he was doing the right thing.  By ending their relationship, he was ensuring that she would follow her dream of becoming a veterinarian, instead of being tied to the fortunes of his ranch. 

Now that Megan has built a life that she likes and is proud of, she resents that Pax has come marching back into it.  She has bulls to ride, and she needs to concentrate on that, and not let Pax distract her.  She keeps dredging up the past, though, and wonders if she’ll ever be completely over him.  When a bull ride goes wrong, Pax thinks that he made a mistake, but nothing has really changed, so he doesn’t see a way for them to be together.

Even though Rodeo Rebel is a short story, it packed a big emotional punch.  I could feel Megan’s pain and frustration over Paxton and his insistence that there was no way they could be together.  Though he originally thought he was acting in her best interests, he still refuses, years later, to compromise.  He doesn’t like being at the rodeo fairgrounds, but Megan thrives on the excitement and the commotion.  He loves the quiet of his ranch, and Megan has a job that she loves, at a vet practice far away.  Instead of thinking of ways to work things out, he keeps putting up road blocks, and threatening to break Megan’s heart all over again.

I enjoyed this so much that I grabbed the rest of the books in the Texas Rodeo Barons continuity, and I am looking forward to reading them.  I like the Harlequin American Romance line, but I don’t feel that I read enough of them, which is unfortunate, because I know I’m missing out on some good stuff.

Grade:  B+

Review copy purchase from Amazon – FREE

From Amazon:

The Barons, six tight-knit siblings—loud, daring and loyal—are about to discover that love can be as rough as the rodeo. Bestselling author Donna Alward introduces the exciting Texas Rodeo Barons series with her charming prequel novella, Rodeo Rebel.

Back in the ring

As the first female bull rider in her circuit, Megan Robertson needs to focus. But all she can think about is her ex, Pax Lantry. Megan knew their paths would cross again—she just wasn’t prepared for the effect it would have on her. More surprising than the old heartache is the jolt of pure attraction she still feels for him.

Even after five years, Pax has never gotten over Megan. All it takes is seeing her, just once, for him to know that their connection is as strong as ever. But he’s committed to his family’s ranch and Meg has her own demanding career. It seems as if Pax and Megan have moved on, so why can’t they let each other go?

Don’t miss the first heartwarming novel in the Texas Rodeo Barons series, The Texan’s Baby.

The post Novella Review: Rodeo Rebel by Donna Alward appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
4. Review: His Secret Superheroine by Patricia Eimer

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I love superhero books, so I immediately snatched up Patricia Eimer’s His Secret Superheroine.  While I did enjoy this romance, I have some reservations.  The biggest one?  I did not like the hero.  Dylan is Petyon’s neighbor, and once he discovers that she’s the newest superhero in town, he betrays her trust and treats her inexcusably poorly.  I never bought his redemption, and thought it was motivated only because of personal gain, not because he sincerely changed his mind about superheroes.

Peyton is a divorced kindergarten teacher struggling to make ends meet.  She’s also Fantastigirl, a superheroine.  Her ex, Mr Marvelous, tampered with her birth control pills, and the unintended side effect had her manifesting super powers.  She has to keep her crime fighting identify a secret, because Safer America, a powerful political group, is pushing for legislation requiring that all supers register with a national registry.  They promote distrust and fear of superheroes, and have infiltrated police forces and the government.  Peyton fears being locked up and treated like a lab rat if her super secret identity ever gets out.

After her landlord throws her out of her house because of her connection with her ex, she has nowhere to go.  Her gorgeous neighbor, Dylan, suggests she move in with him.  Peyton has been helping to care for his young daughter, Liza, and Dylan would be grateful knowing that she’s not home alone while he’s working his crazy hours as a police officer.  Peyton reluctantly agrees, hoping she can keep her attraction to Dylan in check.  She doesn’t need any more complications in her life; her ex husband won’t leave her alone, and she hopes that living with Dylan will keep him off her back.

I liked the world building, as well as Peyton. As I mentioned earlier, I did not like Dylan.  He behaves like a sheep instead of a leader, and he betrays Peyton in the worst way possible.  Worse, she is almost killed by an attacker, but because Dylan accused her of not being able to control her powers, she takes the beating and doesn’t fight back.  Why?  To prove herself to a guy who has already proven to be narrow minded and unforgiving?  I just didn’t think that Dylan was worth it, so I’ll recommend His Secret Superheroine with that one reservation.

Grade:  B / B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

All kindergarten teacher Peyton Pearson wants is a nice, quiet life. Unfortunately, quiet isn’t something she’s had a lot of after tainted medicine turns her into a superhero. She’s single, and saving the city from criminals—which is increasingly dangerous as the anti-superhero movement in St. Louis gains traction. Then there’s her hot next door neighbor who makes her think super-dirty thoughts, and has no idea who she really is. 

Police officer Dylan Wilson is trying to make the world safe by working to unmask all superheroes. When his sexy neighbor, Peyton, is evicted, Dylan offers her his spare room, unknowingly opening his home—and his heart—to the city’s most reluctant superhero.

Can love survive when the masks come off?

The post Review: His Secret Superheroine by Patricia Eimer appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
5. Novella Review: Captured by S J Harper

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I enjoyed Cursed and have been waiting impatiently for the next book in the  Fallen Siren series.  When I saw Captured, a prequel, up on Amazon, I didn’t hesitate to click the “Buy” button.  And why would I?  This suspenseful read is FREE.  If you enjoyed Cursed, too, or just want to get to know the characters before diving into the series, you have nothing to lose to snatching is up!  Plus it will tide you over until the October release of Reckoning.

Captured chronicles the first case Emma and Zack team up on.  On loan from the San Diego office when Zack’s partner is unable to help with a case, Emma is in Charleston to help Zack with two mission objectives.  First, locate Cooper Anderson, a four year boy who has been kidnapped, and two, capture the kidnapper before he or she strikes again. The federal agents are racing against time; two other little boys have already been murdered, and all signs point to the same perpetrator in their latest case.

Zack is a werewolf, and Emma is a Siren.  She’s been cursed for failing to keep Hades from kidnapping Persephone.  Tasked with redeeming herself in the eyes of Demeter, she works tirelessly to save innocent lives from harm.  She has a couple of rules that she won’t allow herself to break, the most important being:  never fall in love.  All of her lovers have met with unpleasant fates at the hands of the vengeful goddess, so Emma tries to save herself a lot of grief by not getting involved with anyone.  This proves a challenging task because the sparks fly between Zack and Emma as soon as they meet.

While the mystery isn’t too challenging, the blossoming romance between Emma and Zack kept me turning the pages.  They really click as a team, their work styles complimenting and strengthening each other in their race against time to find the missing boy.  Emma’s quest is doubly urgent, because she never knows if this is the the case that will bring her redemption for her failure centuries ago.  Every life held in the balance may bring about her freedom from Demeter’s vengeful rage.  Zack is a complication she doesn’t need, but can’t resist, regardless of how many times she’s been burned in the past.

Likeable characters make this a worthwhile read.  Captured reminded me how much I’m looking forward to the next book in the series! 

Grade:  B

Review copy purchased from Amazon FREE

From Amazon:

Join FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.

She’s a Siren. He’s a Werewolf.

Their mission is redemption.

Emma Monroe is a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now she works for the FBI and is on temporary assignment in Charleston. Solving this next missing persons case could be the key to ending her ancient curse—unless the temptation that’s her new partner gets in the way.

Zack Armstrong is a Werewolf. Tall, dark, and dangerous, he currently works for one of the bureau’s elite Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams. In many respects the man is every bit as mysterious as his secret and perilous past. But there are two things he’s certain about, that he’s going to get his man and his woman.

When Zack finds himself suddenly shy a partner and a third child goes missing in Charleston, Emma goes from consultant to CARD team member in the space of a few hours. The abductions of the first two boys ended in murder, an outcome that neither Zack nor Emma can abide. As they race against time to track down the kidnapper and rescue the latest victim, they find themselves fighting something just as treacherous—a growing attraction that can’t be ignored or denied.

The post Novella Review: Captured by S J Harper appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
6. Wickedly Dangerous Review at Romance at Random!

 

I have a new review posted over at Romance@Random!  If you have time, check out my thoughts on Wickedly Dangerous.

The post Wickedly Dangerous Review at Romance at Random! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
7. Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 25 by Yoshiki Nakamura

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Holy Cow!  Sometimes I just have to get that off my chest.  The 25th volume of Skip*Beat! ROCKED!  The drama was cranked up when Sho made a surprise appearance during the filming of Kyoko and Ren’s TV show and WOW!  He really knows how to stir up trouble.  And best yet, how to get under Kyoko’s skin.  Jealous when he thought that she was hung up on Reino, a rival singer, Sho wanted to make sure Kyoko knew what she was missing.  Delivering a huge bouquet brimming with all the things he thought she’d love, he throws down the gauntlet.   He’ll not be overshadowed by the Beagle or by smarmy Ren, either!

When Sho steals Kyoko’s first kiss, hilarity ensues.  She is distraught, Ren is quivering with rage, and poor Yashiro – he can only look on in horror as his client’s sense of well-being is shattered into a billion tiny pieces.  I didn’t know who I felt worse for – Ren, Kyoko, or Yashiro, who would have to deal with the fallout from Ren’s state of agitation.  Kyoko is traumatized, until Ren scoffs at her reaction to Sho.  If she wasn’t a willing participant in the kiss, is it really a kiss?  Besides, she’s an actress, and there will be times when she’ll have to kiss a co-star.  That’s not a kiss, either, it’s just part of the script, and part of the job.  Just when he’s made her feel better about the whole episode, Ren works in a little threat; she needs to be careful to never let Sho take advantage of her again, because she only gets one chance.  There will be no second chances.  Oh, dear!

Later, when Kyoko is alone in Ren’s dressing room, he does something to push Sho completely out of her mind.  Literally.  Suddenly, she can only think of Ren, and don’t think that doesn’t make him all smug and extremely self-satisfied.  Valentine’s Day was so much fun, I was sorry to see it end.  This has been my favorite volume of Skip*Beat! so far, and I wonder if it can be topped.  Even the art was kicked up a notch, but that impression might be due to the amount of illustrations featuring Ren.

Grade:  A-

Review copy purchased from Amazon

From Amazon:

Kyoko’s Valentine’s battle with Reino has finally gained her Sho’s attention—but now it’s the last thing she wants! Sho is determined to make her obsessed with him, and shows up on set with an over-the-top gift to taunt her. But when Kyoko explains her true relationship with Reino, Sho makes an inexcusable move. Has he undone her years of healing in one fell swoop?!

The post Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 25 by Yoshiki Nakamura appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
8. Review: Dead Sexy by Aleah Barley #zombies

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I love zombie books, but I have to admit that boyfriend zombies are my least favorite trope.  I just can’t get onboard with undead boyfriends.  I mean, let’s think about it for a second.  They are essentially decaying corpses with a craving for brains and raw flesh.  Your flesh, or the flesh of your friends.  It just doesn’t seem worth the risk to date a dead guy who could turn on you at any moment, going from Romeo to Hannibal Lector.  Though, since raw meat is his preferred dish, even my humble cooking skills would wow a hungry zombie.  Just head up to the local butcher shop, buy a tasty steak, and serve.  No fuss, no muss, if you overlook the dripping blood.

Now, I might be willing to make an exception for DS Thomas Conroy, the zombie government agent in Aleah Barley’s Dead Sexy.  He’s gorgeous, tall, dark, and firmly in control of his motor skills.  He works for a government agency that works to ensure equal treatment for zombies.  Since the plague 12 years ago, businesses have found a way to exploit this new source of labor.  Zombies work for low wages, rarely complain, and contentedly accept ground beef for an annual bonus.  This cheap influx of employees has forced many of the living factory workers out of a job, so the economy hasn’t improved much in Barley’s post-rising Detroit.  With the dead and the desperate roaming the streets, Motor City is even more dangerous than ever.

Gemma Sinclair works at the family mortuary, in addition to hunting zombies to help make ends meet for her and her mother.  Her uncle Donny works for them, and he’s a typical zombie; slow, can’t remember the past, and speaks only in stilted sentences.  Still, he’s family, and Gemma loves him, despite his undead condition.  Gemma is still mourning the death of her father, the one person who understood her.  After his death, he made certain that he didn’t come stumbling back to life, and now Gemma is bitter about losing him.  She doesn’t get along with her mother, and she chafes at still living at home.  Worse yet, she’s still a virgin and with her dangerous profession, she worries about dying before experiencing some hot sexy times.  No wonder she can’t get DS off her mind.  He’s about the only guy she’s been attracted to, even if he is dead.

I really enjoyed this short read.  It’s about category length, and the tone is snarky and humorous.  I don’t always like snarky heroines, but I found Gemma engaging and relatable.  She’s just trying to make a buck, be independent, and find herself a guy to love at the same time.  She and DS get off to a rocky start; she Tasers him and turns him over to the police, even after he saved her from a feral zombie.  To say that he’s a bit annoyed with her is an understatement.  To make up for the major inconvenience she has caused him, he makes her partner up with him on the case he’s working on.  An agent from Toledo, he needs help from someone more familiar with the streets of Detroit.  Zombies are disappearing, and it’s his job to find out way.  For 150 bucks an hour, plus expenses, Gemma’s happy to pitch in on his mission to find the missing Biters.

There are some annoying editing errors that jarred me from the story, but at .99 for the Kindle, Dead Sexy is a great buy.  I liked the protagonists and the setting, but I would have liked more background on the zombie plague.  Maybe I’ll get that in the next installment of this series, which I am eagerly looking forward to reading.

Grade:  B / B+

Review copy purchase from Amazon

From Amazon:

Mortuary attendant Gemma Sinclair hunts zombies for a living. It’s messy work, but it pays the bills… right up until she stun guns the wrong dead man in the ass.

Now to keep her family business going, Gemma’s forced into a partnership with federal agent D.S. Thomas Conroy. Zombies are disappearing all over town, and he needs Gemma’s help to figure out why.

With a villain on her trail and a gang of zombies ready to attack, Gemma’s just glad her backup is dead sexy…

The post Review: Dead Sexy by Aleah Barley #zombies appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
9. El Piñatero/The Piñata Maker


Review by Ariadna Sánchez

Ejutla de Crespo is a small town located in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Many years ago Don Ricardo, or Tío Rico as people usually called him, was the man responsible for creating astonishing piñatas. Tío Rico’s creativity is the inspiration for El Piñatero/The Piñata Maker by award-winning author and photographer George Ancona.

Tío Rico created artistic white swans, silky herons, cheerful dolls, and delicious orange carrots just to mention some.  His piñatas made birthday celebrations special all over Ejutla de Crespo. My father and my mother told me wonderful stories about Tío Rico’s work. For example, they told me that Tío Rico’s piñatas were the most popular items in the community all year round. My grandparents bought piñatas from Tío Rico for my parents, uncles and aunts for their parties. If you ask me where magic and fun meets, I have to respond by saying, “inside Tío Rico’s piñatas.” Ancona’s lovely pictures capture Tío Rico’s patience during the step-by-step elaboration of his one-of-a kind art pieces. El Piñatero / The Piñata Maker is a bilingual book that offers an additional guide to create your own piñata at home. Each page of El Piñatero/ The Piñata Maker is an open invitation to discover the beauty of Ejutla de Crespo, Oaxaca.

Visit your local library for more interesting stories. Reading gives you wings!

Additional information for El Piñatero/ The Piñata Maker:

Meet Mr. Ancona:

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->

0 Comments on El Piñatero/The Piñata Maker as of 9/3/2014 1:46:00 AM
Add a Comment
10. Review: Irresistible Force by D D Ayres

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I don’t usually read romantic suspense because the heroine is usually put into a dire, life-threatening situation, and sometimes that just stresses me out.  I ventured outside of my comfort zone because Irresistible Force features a K-9 dog.  I wasn’t sure how big a part the dog would play in the story, but anything with the word “dog” pretty  much gets my attention.  I’m so glad I picked this up!  While there are several uncomfortable scenes for our heroine, Shay, she thinks well under pressure and refuses to allow herself to be a victim.  It helped that James, her police officer love interest, is brave, kind, and understanding, and oh, yeah, Bogart the dog puts all of his training to the test to save Shay from danger.  Thank goodness!

Shay is need of a serious break.  Her whole life has been one traumatic misunderstanding after another.  After an abusive experience when she was a young girl, she has lived with whispers, taunts, and outright bullying at one school after another.  Now an IT professional, she’s changed her name and buried her past behind her.  Or so she thinks.  When her ex, a powerful, wealthy banker, just can’t take “no” for an answer, all of her fears from her childhood catch up with her.  Fearful of Eric, who is stalking her, she rescues a shepherd from the animal shelter where she works as a volunteer.  A woman brought the dog in to be destroyed, claiming that he was aggressive and had attacked a child.  When he turned out to be anything but, Shay renamed the animal Prince and took her home, thankful to have such a trustworthy guardian at her side.

Police officer James Cannon is desperately searching for his canine partner, Bogart.  He gets a tip that the dog is at a cabin in the woods, and he confronts Shay, accusing her of dognapping his partner.  By the time they work out the misunderstanding, Shay can’t help but act on her attraction to the gorgeous cop.  She wants to be in charge for a change, and after another frightening encounter with Eric earlier in the day, she throws her inhibitions out the window.  Her no-strings encounter backfires because James is a great guy and wants more than what she’s originally willing to offer, but Shay’s demons won’t let her trust him.

Shay is a tragic character, and I couldn’t help liking her.  I wanted her to finally have a happy ending, because up until the start of this book, life has done nothing but crap on her.  Eric is a first-class bastard, and once Shay finds the courage to call it quits with him, he refuses to let her go.  His ego won’t let her call the shots, and his need to be in control puts her in an unenviable situation.  With the power that comes with his position at the bank, he arranges for Shay’s placement company to have her temped to bank.  Then he does everything he can to make her regret ever having met him.

Normally I would think the heroine was an idiot for not just going to the authorities when someone is harassing them, but Shay’s previous run-ins with the law makes it perfectly logical that she would avoid trying to get help from anyone.  She has always had one person to rely on, and that has always been herself.  The whole world seemed like it was out to get her when she was younger, so her reluctance to trust was believable.  James is still kind of an unknown, too.  She’s just met him, they got off on the wrong foot, and she can’t bring herself to confide in him, especially when he isn’t exactly upfront with her.  I loved the push and pull between them, and wondered how they would ever come to an understanding that allowed them to be open and trusting with each other.

If you like romantic suspense, you will love Irresistible Force. The hero is everything that Shay needs, Bogart has a starring role, and Shay learns to open her heart and finally learn to trust.  If you are like me and on the fence about romantic suspense, you have to give this book a try.  I couldn’t put it down, and even though I was squirming near the end during Shay’s life and death ordeal, I knew that James and Bogart would eventually race to her rescue – but only after Shay found the strength to save herself from the danger confronting her.  I can hardly wait to meet the protagonists from Force of Attraction, the next book in the series.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

“Incredible! You’ll be on the edge of your seat to see if the heroine can make it out alive.”—Catherine Coulter, New York Times bestselling author

When adrenaline runs high, so does the force of desire…

For Shay Appleton, it’s love at first sight when a gorgeous stray dog is brought into the animal shelter where she works. She just knows he’ll make a terrific watch dog—and with an abusive ex who won’t let go, she needs all the protection she can get. But Shay never suspected that her new pet is actually a trained police K-9 named Bogart—until Bogart’s even more gorgeous, human partner shows up on her doorstep.

IRRESISTIBLE FORCE by D.D. Ayres

Officer James Cannon is one tall, strong alpha male who’s convinced that Shay stole his dog. But once he gets closer to the suspect, he realizes that this stubborn, independent woman not only needs a guard dog, she needs James as well. It seems that someone from her past is stalking her, and threatening her life. When danger meets desire, will James risk his career and his best friend…to protect the woman who’s stolen his heart?

The post Review: Irresistible Force by D D Ayres appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
11. Review: Ivy's Ever After

Ivy's Ever After by Dawn Lairamore

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that if there’s one book weakness I have, it’s fractured/retold fairy tales. So Ivy's Ever After looked right up my alley.

Ivy is the only child of the king of Ardendale (not to be confused with Arendelle of Frozen fame), and it’s her 14th birthday. While that may be a good thing for some girls, for Ivy it means that she’s about to be locked up in a tower. Ardendale is a kingdom on the edge of the dragon lands, and each area has a fragile peace held together by the so-called Dragon Treaty. And the treaty says that the princess of Ardendale must be imprisoned in the tower on her 14th birthday, guarded by a dragon, until a prince comes to kill the dragon and rescue her.

So despite Ivy's misgivings about the whole thing, she ends up in the tower, waiting for a prince and guarded by her dragon guard Eldridge. And while that sounds like a familiar tale, author Dawn Lairamore has a twist in store for readers. Because Ivy doesn't really want to be rescued, and Eldridge doesn't really want to be slain. In fact, he’s a peace-loving dragon who is quite unhappy about the situation. So when Ivy’s prince, Prince Romil shows up to rescue her, and it becomes clear that he’s really out to take over Ardendale, there’s only one thing a princess can do: escape. Now Ivy and Eldridge must embark on a quest to find Ivy’s fairy godmother and save the kingdom, before Prince Romil can achieve his plans.

As much as I love retold fairy tales, sometimes it’s nice to read a story that takes fairy tale elements and makes its own story, which is one of the thing that’s so nice about Ivy's Ever After. But in the end, it really is mostly a fluff book. Ivy’s characterization isn’t particularly deep, and most of the other characters pretty much are fueled by a single motivation. Although I loved the inventiveness of the quest that dragon and girl embark on, the plot really is definitely the focus on this one. Girls from 8-12 who love princess stories will definitely eat it up, and I enjoyed reading it, but it’s not particularly thought-provoking. This may make a good crossover book for boys as well, since the plot is not focused on romantic love, but more about the friendship that exists between Ivy and Eldridge.

However, despite the fluff aspect, it still is a good read, and a book that I enjoyed in the reading process. If you do like the book, make sure to also check out the sequel Ivy and the Meanstalk, which was also a fun, fluffy read.

Also, this is definitely a "don't judge a book by its cover" moment.  I'm not a fan of the artwork on the cover at all.

Shady Glade Rating: 6/10

Available at Amazon.com in Hardcover or Paperback 
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on Paperbackswap.com

0 Comments on Review: Ivy's Ever After as of 8/31/2014 9:35:00 PM
Add a Comment
12. Novella Review: Nightingale by Cathy Maxwell

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I am of two minds about Nightingale.  I enjoyed this novella, but I would have enjoyed it better if I liked the heroine a little more. While I was finally able to cut her some slack, most of her misery is of her own making, and while past events are always viewed with 20/20 vision, it’s that murky, uncertain future that needs a lot of trust and faith that things will work out for the best.  They didn’t for Jemma, and instead of a spoiled, willful girl, she’s now a desperate, improvised woman.  Manipulated by her parents since birth, and now willing to trade her soul to save her brother from his own folly, she is forced to turn to the man she rejected years ago with a plea to allow her brother to live.

Now, while I had some issues with Jemma, I loved Dane.  He is dark and broody, still smarting after losing the love of his life.  While he can look back on their childish promises with clearer head, he still aches for what he can’t have.  After Jemma married another man without a word to him when he was away at school, Dane was a shattered soul.  To finally seek some peace for himself, he sets off to make his fortune and to try to forget about the woman who rejected him for a title and all the wealth that accompanied it.  Dane does find his fortune, as well as adventure aplenty, but a part of himself that still belongs to Jemma continues to long for what might have been.

Imagine his twisted emotions when Jemma’s brother challenges him to a duel.  With his pride at stake, Dane accepts the challenge.  If he’s honest with himself, he would even admit that he pushed and prodded so that the insult was given and the duel would be proposed.  What better way to get back at the woman who broke his heart, but to break her heart in return?

I wish the story had been longer, because there is so much angst and so many feelings for both Jemma and Dane to work through.   Jemma realizes that she made a mistake, and after suffering through a loveless, passionless marriage, she wonders how differently things would have turned out if she hadn’t agreed to marry a older, wealthier man.  She soon found herself with nothing, as her husband was not a competent manager of his fortune, and after his death, his family gave her the cold shoulder.  So it’s with a great deal of trepidation that she approaches Dane with a bargain to save her brother from certain death on the point of Dana’s blade.  Now the tables have turned; Dane is one of the wealthiest men in London, he’s been knighted, and he’s has the respectably he lacked when he was younger. With this one duel, he thinks he will retain his pride and finally put Jemma out of his heart.

If you’re looking for a quick read between Labor Day weekend festivities, Nightingale will keep you entertained for an hour or so.  I just wish it had been a little longing, because I felt that the ending wrapped up to quickly, and left me a little nervous about a forever HEA for Dane and Jemma.

Grade:  B / B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Fate has brought them together—again.

At one time, Jemma meant the world to Dane Pendleton, but then she betrayed their young love.

Now Time has turned the tables. Dane is wealthy, respected, and knighted, while Jemma has nothing but her pride.

His honor for hers …

Dane’s name is on the lips of every beauty in London. They whisper that he learned “tricks” while he was in the Orient. But has he forgotten Jemma and what they once meant to each other?

And will he accept her devil’s bargain?

In every woman’s life, there is that one flame who slipped away. The man who makes her wonder “what if?”

But is this a momentary madness or a chance to rekindle a love that could last a lifetime?

The post Novella Review: Nightingale by Cathy Maxwell appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
13. Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 24 by Yoshiki Nakamura

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Valentine’s Day seems like a complicated occasion in Japan.  It’s no wonder it gave Kyoko so much trouble in the 24th volume of Skip*Beat! Her interactions between the men in life are confusing to say the least.  There’s Sho, who tromped on her heart but now reluctantly harbors feelings for her, and Reino, the lead singer of a rival band of Sho’s, who stalked her and now that he’s captured one of Kyoko’s grudges, is demanding chocolates made with “her true feelings” from him before he’ll return what he’s stolen from her.  And then there’s Ren.  Ren.  Ren!  The guy who has gone out of his way to help her navigate the cut-throat world of show biz, but does she give even the slightest regard for his feelings?  No.  No.  No!  Sigh.  Kyoko, you need to worry more about the people who care about you because of who you are, and less about those who only want to manipulate you.

I loved this volume of Yoshiki Nakamura’s comedy romance.  It’s funny.  Kyoko makes a muddle of Valentine’s Day, and Sho is driven to misery when he thinks that Kyoko likes Reino.  I wasn’t so happy when Ren thought Kyoko liked someone else after dropping the chocolates she made with every bit of hate she possessed for the Beagle, or when she skipped around the movie set giving everyone obligation chocolates – everyone but him.  At least she gave him a birthday present, belated though it was, so I think Ren should cut her some slack.  Anyone who knows Kyoko well knows that she’s kind of a spaz.  What they don’t all know is that after Sho left her heart full of holes, she swore off love and guys, so because she’s not looking for a relationship, she doesn’t see the possibility for one when it’s standing right in front of her.  She is blinded by her need to have her revenge, and to silence all of her little grudge Kyoko’s. 

I love how this storyline sets up all kinds of opportunities for misunderstandings between, not just Ren and Kyoko, but between Kyoko and Sho, and even Kyoko and Reino.  I think that Kyoko’s personal, as well as professional life, is going to get very, very complicated,  and I can hardly wait to see what happens next!

Grade:  B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

From Amazon:

Valentine’s Day is on its way, but Kyoko won’t be able to celebrate love and friendship the normal way. She’s getting blackmailed into giving chocolate to guys she hates, she has her ongoing revenge to oblige, and to top it all off, it’s Ren’s birthday! How can Kyoko give him a meaningful present when she’s slinging meaningless chocolate left and right?

The post Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volume 24 by Yoshiki Nakamura appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
14. Review: Islands of Rage & Hope by John Ringo

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Once again, I succumb to the zombies’ siren call.  I was looking forward to spending more time with Faith and Sophia as they struggle to survive the zombie apocalypse, but I was disappointed with the pacing of the first half of Islands of Rage & Hope.  There weren’t enough zombies to keep me entertained, and the military aspects of the story bog things down for me.  I like the zombie battles, and even though they get repetitive, the zombie clearance missions.  There’s nothing quite like imagining a bad-ass 13 year old girl leading a squad of Marines into the thick of a zombie battle and showing her troops how to get the job done.  Faith’s efficient dispatch of the infected is something I look forward to with each new installment of the Black Tide Rising series.

The Wolf Squadron, in need of medical facilities to produce vaccine against the virus that has wiped out most of the population, leaving those that don’t die outright mindless, savage beasts with an endless hunger for flesh, have taken back Gitmo from the hordes of zombies that have taken up residence on the base.  In order to free the submarine crews from their vessels, the Wolf Squadron needs the vaccine.  They need the expertise of the personnel trapped on the subs.  One of the sad results of losing so many to the plague is a void of skilled scientists and engineers to help rebuild civilization.  The key to taking back the world from the infected lies with the submarine crews, and Steve Smith, leader of the Wolf Squadron, will do whatever it takes to get them vaccinated against the flu and back in active service with his troops.  He’ll even put his daughters, Faith and Sophia, at risk obtaining the materials necessary to manufacture the vaccine.

After securing Gitmo, the story stalled for me.  Faith has to learn how to get along with her new Gitmo Marine troops, and things just aren’t going well for her.  People she trusted have been promoted to other units to help prepare for missions against the zombies, and she’s struggling with her new duties and her new Staff Sergeant.  Military protocols are as much a mystery to me as they were to Faith, and the lack of action made me put the book now down for a while.  I just wasn’t in the mood for the personnel struggles;  I wanted more zombie killing action and less procedural training for Faith.  Who really cares whether she can write up a report when the world is overrun with zombies?

I picked up the book again and gave it another go while torturing myself on the treadmill.  Once Faith was given the mission to clear some islands, the plot picked up and I couldn’t put my Kindle down.  I even walked longer on the treadmill than I intended, because I didn’t want to stop reading, not even to relocate to a chair.  Back in her element, slaughtering plague victims, Faith proves her worth as a Marine.  Her skeptical new squad members see first hand that she’s a zombie killing machine, and her confidence is restored.  Report writing, meetings, and parade drills don’t mean much to Faith.  Killing zombies, though – now that makes all the sense in the world.

Islands of Rage & Hope ends on a high note, and I was sorry to hit the last page.  The Wolf Squadron now have most of the tools they need to begin restoring some sort of civilization to a world gone mad.  I am really looking forward to the next book, but I’m sad that it will be the last.  I don’t normally like reading series, but Black Tide Rising has been a fun ride, so I’ll be sad when it’s over.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

BOOK 3 IN THE BLACK TIDE RISING SERIES FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR. Sequel to To Sail a Darkling Sea and Under a Graveyard Sky.

With the world consumed by a devastating plague that drives humans violently insane, what was once a band of desperate survivors bobbing on a dark Atlantic ocean has now become Wolf Squadron, the only hope for the salvation of the human race. Banding together with what remains of the U.S. Navy, Wolf Squadron, and its leader Steve Smith, not only plans to survive—he plans to retake the mainland from the infected, starting with North America.

The next step: produce a vaccine. But for do that, Wolf Squadron forces led by Smith’s terrifyingly precocious daughters Sophia and Faith must venture into a sea of the infected to obtain and secure the needed materials. And if some of the rescued survivors turn out to be more than they seem, Smith just might be able to pull off his plan.

Once more, exhausted and redlining Wolf Squadron forces must throw themselves into battle, scouring the islands of the Atlantic for civilization’s last hope.

The post Review: Islands of Rage & Hope by John Ringo appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
15. Review: Will the Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up? by Sara Hantz

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I decided to read Will the Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up? because Abi’s a kickboxer, and the movie set setting sounded interesting.  I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, but Abi’s lack of common sense derailed some of my enjoyment later on.  The ending was satisfying, but the middle stretch did test my resolve.  The story would have worked better for me if Abi had been 16 instead of 18, because she acted so immature.  Part of that is because of her speech impediment, which made her family and her friends want to take the lead and help her over life’s little hurdles.  It quickly got annoying when she continually craved their help and feedback, or when she blamed everyone but herself for the messes she found herself in.

With speech therapy, time, and practice, Abi has overcome her embarrassing stutter.  Bullied because of it when she was younger, her parents enrolled her in kickboxing lessons to help build her self esteem.  Discovering that she was good at it, Abi has become a champion kickboxer.  When her instructor suggests she audition as a stunt double for an indie movie that his friend is working on, she’s reluctant to step outside of her comfort zone.  Her friends Matt and Liv convince her to give it a shot, but Abi still has her reservations.  She’s never wanted to be in the limelight, and even though the job is to be star Tilly Watson’s stunt double, she’s scared she’ll have trouble interacting with a new group of people.

The audition is almost a complete disaster; her stutter returns with a vengeance, and she’s so nervous she can barely think.  When it’s time to show off her martial arts skills, however, she’s immediately calmed and is able to nail the job.  Once on the set, she starts to think that she’s made a horrible mistake.  Tilly is mean and taunts her about her speech impediment, and the director is a stern task master.  Just when she’s beginning to regret taking the position, Tilly’s boyfriend shows up on the set.  Mistaking Abi for Tilly, he greets her with a kiss – and Abi is smitten with the young actor.

As I stated earlier, I enjoyed the book at first.  Then after Abi starts her new job, I started to get annoyed with her.  She’s basically a doormat for Tilly, and starry eyed over Jon, she starts letting down her best friends.  She makes some very bad decisions, and then doesn’t take ownership of them.  She feels sorry for Jon because Tilly is cheating on him, and starting wondering what it would be like to be his girlfriend. He’s so kind to her, and he’s gorgeous, too.  I was disappointed in her, thinking that it was kind of low for her to even contemplate stealing someone else’s boyfriend, so when Jon’s attentions aren’t quite everything they seem, I thought Abi got a little bit of what she deserved.

At the start of the story, she is head over heels in love with Matt, but because she’s afraid of ruining their friendship, she keeps her feelings a secret.  Her flip-flop between the two guys made her seem shallow, and it looked like she was just using Matt.  As a distance grows between them, she’s confused and blames him for not accepting her new happiness with her job.  She finally feels like she belongs somewhere, but she can’t seem to meld her old life with her new one.  Soon, Liv isn’t speaking to her at all, and there’s a new awkwardness with Matt.

While Abi does finally understand that she is the cause for most of her grief, it takes a long time for her to get even the smallest hint that most of her problems are self-inflicted.  I liked the ending because she finally does grow up and stop taking her friends and family for granted, but it took a long time for that to happen.

Grade:  C+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Abi Saunders might be a kickboxing champion, but when it comes to being the center of attention, she’d rather take a roundhouse kick to the solar plexus any day. So when her trainer convinces her to audition to be the stunt double for hot teen starlet Tilly Watson, Abi is shocked—and a little freaked out—when she gets the job.

Being a stunt double is overwhelming, but once the wig and makeup are on, Abi feels like a different person. Tilly Watson, to be exact. And when Tilly’s gorgeous boyfriend, Jon, mistakes Abi for the real star, Abi’s completely smitten. In fact, she’s so in love with her new life, it isn’t long before she doesn’t have time for her old one.

But when the cameras are turned off, will she discover running with the Hollywood A-list isn’t quite the glamorous existence she thought it was?

The post Review: Will the Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up? by Sara Hantz appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
16. Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volumes 22 and 23

I’ve been in a manga kind of a mood recently.  I’ve been reading some new series that caught my attention, as well as trying to catch up on some of my favorites that I’ve fallen behind on.  Skip*Beat! is one of those.  Kyoko is a fun protagonist; she’s a good girl who had her heart stomped on by the guy she loved, and now she’s out for revenge.  Sho is an up and coming celebrity, and in order to get back at him, Kyoko is determined to become more popular than he is.  When she’s in a rage, she’s possessed by her anger, which causes dramatic, and usually, hilarious results.

Now that we are quite a ways into the series, the tables have turned on Sho.  Now he has a crush on Kyoko, but he won’t come out and tell her directly (as is the shoujo way!), nor will she give him the time of day.  Kyoko just wants her revenge, revenge, revenge!  She’s even gotten over her earlier animosity for Ren, one of  Sho’s rivals.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?  Only Ren has developed feelings for the stubborn Kyoko and her never say die spirit, but she’s so oblivious she doesn’t even notice.  Just like with Sho, all of her focus is on becoming a success in show biz.

In volume 22, Kyoko is having a hard time stepping into her latest role.  She’s confused about what the director wants, and she’s holding up shooting with her inability to immerse herself into her new character.  With some help from Ren, her acting mojo is recharged and viola!  She’s become Natsu, a high school bully, much to the dismay of Chiori, one of her cast mates.  Chiori is resentful of Kyoko’s success, and she wants desperately for her to fail.  Chiori’s career is stuttering, and the intense competition she feels for Kyoko isn’t helping her.

I thought that volume 22 dragged a bit, but volume 23 cranked up the drama and the action that I love this series for.  Kyoko and Chiori’s feud becomes explosive.  Chiori schemes against Kyoko, almost causing her great bodily harm. In return, Kyoko pushes Chiori to deliver the very best performance she’s capable of.  Their competition is intense, and I felt really bad for the actress who got caught up in the middle of it.

Volume 23 closes out with the beginning of a fun Valentine’s Day story, which I’m looking forward continuing in the next installment of the series.

Is there such a thing as being too good? With Ren’s help, Kyoko finally gets into her new character. But when she shows up on set and wows the crew with her new spin on the old bully role, it sends some of her costars over the edge! Kyoko’s used to dealing with her own demons, but can she stand up to someone else’s?!

Chiori’s rage threatens the whole production when she lashes out and hurts Kyoko. Kyoko is used to overcoming obstacles, and she uses her injury as an excuse to push Chiori into exploring her acting. But Chiori has a traumatic past. Will focusing on the dark side of her character bring it all rushing back?!

The post Graphic Novel Review: Skip*Beat! Volumes 22 and 23 appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
17. Colores de la Vida



Review by Ariadna Sánchez

A vast variety of colors cover the universe. Their presence in the environment provides human beings with the inspiration necessary to create exquisite art pieces. Colors can cheer the spirit up in only seconds. They transform a lonely soul into a cheerful one by giving hope and serenity to it.
Colores de la Vida by Cynthia Weill has fabulous folk art by Artisans from Oaxaca, Mexico.  Weill’s perfect combination of art and colors results in a boost of power of the immense world of colors in English and Spanish. Page by page, Colores de la Vida is an open invitation to admire the beauty in our surroundings.
Visit your local library to check out other great books written by Cynthia Weill. Reading gives you wings!
For additional information regarding Weill’s work click the following link:
Listen in Spanish Cynthia Weill Interview

0 Comments on Colores de la Vida as of 8/20/2014 2:55:00 AM
Add a Comment
18. Novella Review: The Wager by Lily Maxton

 

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was in the mood for a short, quick read, so I turned, once again, to the Entangled library to fulfill this need.  The Wager had me at “Novella.”  Yes, sometimes even I am easy to please.

Anne loves to make wagers with her sisters, and when she’s caught “borrowing” a scandalous novel from her host while attending a social function, she’s only somewhat taken aback.  When Michael, Earl of Thornhill, catches Anne red-handed stealing a naughty book, his interest is piqued.  After exchanging a series of letters, the first an apology from Anne that lacks conviction or finesse, their paths cross again, leading to a wager between Michael and Anne.  They’ll have a late night swim race, and if Michael wins, he’ll be reward with a kiss.  If she wins, he must answer a naughty question he dodged during their correspondence.

One wager leads to another, until the final stakes are both their hearts.  Who will win?

I really enjoyed the letters, which showed a believable progression of their affection for each other.  The main conflict in The Wager is Anne’s self-doubt.  A year earlier, Michael thought himself in love with Anne’s older sister, Elizabeth, but she rejected his suit because she was in love with someone else.  Anne now feels that she’s only second best, and refuses to take their flirtations seriously.  At times this made her come across as shallow and spoiled.  She can’t accept that feelings can change, and that Michael’s infatuation with Elizabeth was fleeting.  Her stubbornness almost costs her her happiness, because she’s so focused on the fact that Michael was attracted to her sister first.

This is a quick read with a fun, if somewhat over-indulged heroine, and a very sexy earl. The romance was a bit rushed, but I blame that on the length of the story.  I’m curious to read about Anne’s sisters now.

Grade:  B / B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

 

London, 1818

Anne Middleton never plays by the rules. She is willful when she should be obedient and unabashed when she should be decorous. Worse still, she can never resist a good wager… or a very naughty book. And Confessions of a Courtesan is about as sensational and risque as a book can be.

Michael Grey – Earl of Thornhill – had once courted Anne’s sweet and modest sister. But whilst Anne is certainly no lady of decorum, her bold impulsiveness slips through his armor, and propriety is forgotten. Now he too is immersed in the book of forbidden delights, where each page is an invitation to sin and a guide to pleasures unknown…

Roused by heady desire, Michael tempts Anne in a way she cannot resist – a wager. Thus begins a game of chance, where coins have been replaced by a currency that is far more illicit. And the stakes of seduction are dangerous indeed…

The post Novella Review: The Wager by Lily Maxton appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
19. Novella Review: Cursed (The Order of the Wolf) by Angela Addams

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was in the mood for a quick read, so when I saw Cursed, it’s like it was calling my name.  All it took for me to start reading this were the following words: “Vengeance Dealer” and “Werewolf.”  Yeah, I was all over that!  I loved this short read – the pacing is blistering, the romance hot, and I loved the wolves.

I’m not going to lie, though.  It took a long time to like Darcy.  At first, she impressed me with her boldness and confidence.  Then I started thinking about what she was doing and I thought, “Damn, girl!  That is so not right!”  A Vengeance Dealer, Darcy’s clients engage her services to curse the men who have hurt them.  On the surface, that’s just great.  Girl power and all that.  But under closer examination, she’s not much better than the men she’s trying to teach a lesson to.  In fact, she’s worse.  She collects bodily fluids (semen, no less), casts a spell on it, and curses the guy to lust for her for the rest of his life.  She then promptly vanishes without a trace, reveling in the satisfaction of a job well done.  Ugh!

Not to worry, though, because Karma has a particularly nasty joke to play on Darcy.  After having the best sex of her life, she curses her latest victim.  Only to discover that he’s a werewolf.  Ho boy!!  Things can’t get any worse!  Or can they?  Werewolves have a gift for hunting, and they never forget a scent.  Darcy’s on the run for her life, with a very pissed off supernatural creature on her trail.  Her pathetic skills at witchery are no match for Raven and the rest of his pack, and Darcy is about to learn the error of her ways.

I am all about the pack.  I want to get to know each and every one of them.  I think Mayhem is my favorite, but that’s probably because he’s in charge.  Raven is a younger pack member, still coming into his powers, which can be tenuous when he’s emotionally charged.  The guys are members of a popular rock band, and while the idea is really cool, I wonder at the practicality.  How are they going to be guests on daytime talk shows or shoot music videos at the beach when they are confined to their wolf forms during the day?

Anyhoo, Cursed is the perfect read for a lazy afternoon.  It really is a fun read.  The hero is hot, the heroine is redeemed, and then she totally kicks ass.  Where is Book 2?  (It’s not out until October – boo!)

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Her biggest mistake comes with fangs…and a nose for tracking her down.

The Order of the Wolf, Book 1

Wherever there’s a lying, cheating scumbag who’s broken a woman’s heart, Vengeance Dealer Darcy Wells is there. So what if she isn’t the most skilled witch around? She’s only using one spell, which leaves the hapless male suffering tormenting lust for one woman. Her.

The beautiful part? This curse comes equipped with a blinding agent, allowing her a clean getaway. Unrequited lust, coming right up! As far as Darcy is concerned, it’s justice served. Her next target: Raven Glock, rock band bassist and drop-dead-gorgeous sex god.

When Raven lays eyes on the luscious Darcy, he gives her what he promises all the starry-eyed groupies who toss their panties at him—one unforgettable night in his bed. Sex with Darcy is so epic that he forgets his cardinal rule: to get her out before morning.

At the crack of sunrise, Darcy serves Raven a face full of cursed ash. But something goes horribly wrong…and she finds herself magically tethered to one pissed-off werewolf.

Worse, breaking the spell could cost her everything…maybe even her life.

Warning: Sexually explicit language, tattoos, piercings, and giant…um…feet. Wet panties are a given. Author assumes no responsibility for spontaneous ravishment of significant others, pool boys, or local pizza delivery personnel.

The post Novella Review: Cursed (The Order of the Wolf) by Angela Addams appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
20. Shelter Me Review at Romance at Random!

 

I have a new review posted over at Romance@Random!  If you have time, check out my thoughts on Shelter Me by Catherine Mann.

The post Shelter Me Review at Romance at Random! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
21. Review: Falling for the Pirate by Amber Lin

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

After reading House of the Four Winds, I was in a pirate kind of a mood.  Good thing I had Falling for the Pirate locked and loaded on my Kindle.  I admit that I wasn’t charmed with the beginning, but after Juliana lost her memory, I was a convert.  I’m not sure why I felt that way, because she’s not annoying or a bad person.  Maybe her blind devotion to her missing father, and the risks she was willing to take to clear his name, didn’t work for me?  Or maybe I liked the person she became better when her circumstances better mirrored Nate’s previous meager life?  I’m totally baffled by my first response to her.  Maybe I just needed to get to know her better?

After Nate catches her sneaking around in his new building, a chase ensues, and Juliana is injured and almost drowns, but Nate saves her.  When she regains consciousness a few days later, she has no recollection of her past.  She can’t even remember her name.  Nate finds this all together too convenient;  first, she was sneaking around his property, snooping through the file room.  Second, he discovers that Juliana is the daughter of his greatest enemy.  Her father murdered his parents and destroyed his young life, all for his own greed.  Nate suspects that her father put her up to her midnight burglary.  I have to admit that all of these background details made me a little nervous.  How would Nate ever be able to trust Juliana and put his awful past behind him?  Could he?  How would she react when she regained her memory and learned of the horrible things her father did, and of Nate’s tireless quest for revenge?

Nate’s not really a pirate.  Though he was imprisoned during his youth, he’s an honest, caring man.  But because his hatred for the man who destroyed his family has driven him for the last ten years, he doesn’t allow himself to feel emotions. He lives for his revenge.  He dreams of it, and it’s the only thing that kept him alive during the most trying times in his life.  He’s gruff and abrupt with Juliana, though she slowly thaws his icy interior. Despite his desire to be perceived of as a harsh man, Nate simply isn’t.  His experiences have made a better man of him, and though he doesn’t realize it, he is incapable of being cruel.  Instead, he has a deep-seated need to protect the weak and the helpless from bullies.  I really liked Nate!

While Juliana may have lost her memory, she’s savvy enough to realize that she currently has nothing.  Regardless of her circumstances prior to falling under Nate’s protection, now she hasn’t two pence to rub together.  Everything she has is because of his good will, and she feels an obligation to pay him back.   While this gave him far too much power over her, he doesn’t take advantage of it.  Honestly,  all he wants is for her to exit his life so he can get on with his plans for revenge against her father, but since she has nowhere else to go, he’s kind of stuck with her.  And, yup, before he’s what’s hit him, he’s fallen head over heels for her.

Because this is an amnesia story, I had to leave certain things by the wayside – like a sense of reality.  Juliana’s forgotten memories are just a bit too convenient, but it didn’t bother me too much because I liked Nate so much.  This is a quick and entertaining read that will fill a void in your afternoon or evening.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

London, 1820

After the deaths of his parents and a dark, troubled childhood, Captain Nate Bowen vowed he would have his revenge. But he never expected to have the tool of his revenge dropped so neatly into his lap. Juliana Hargate is not only the daughter of his enemy, but is destitute, very much alone – and exquisitely desirable.

And now that Nate has saved her life, she’s at his complete mercy…

Captive. All Juliana wanted was to clear her father’s name. Instead, she’s been struck with amnesia – unable to recall even her name – and imprisoned by a tall, imposing, and entirely unscrupulous pirate. A pirate whose eyes seem to look past her skirts and many petticoats, and whose touch sends delicious ripples of desire through her. With every passing day, she finds herself tempted to give him the very thing he’s determined to take

The post Review: Falling for the Pirate by Amber Lin appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
22. Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming

title: Brown 9780399252518Girl Dreaming

author: Jacqueline Woodson

Date: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin; August 2014

Main Character: Jacqueline Woodson

MIddle Grade Fiction

There are rules to children’s books you know, and Jacqueline Woodson just broke one.

Brown Girl Dreaming is the author’s poetic telling of her childhood and retrospective visits to childhood are supposed to be adult books. Somewhere along when Jackie learned to embrace words and the power they contain, she became entitled to a Poetic License that let this book be produced as a children’s book. Thank goodness!

For me, a Black woman of the same generation who grew up in Ohio with a mother from Mississippi, I quite often found myself pausing and connecting to the story while I daydreamed about my own life. But, this book wasn’t written for me. Will teens relate? Will they find themselves in the spaces Woodson creates when she talks about teeth, not being as smart as, about grandpa’s love and forever friends? I think that they will not only find themselves in these nuances, but they’ll also see how they fit into the larger stories of their family, community and history itself.

In creating a fictional autobiography, Woodson leaves huge spaces that all readers can dive into and find their own meaning. Woodson looks back as adult, but tells the story through the eyes of a child. Her family is her haven whether they’re in New York or South Carolina and even when it looks like things might be going wrong, Jacqueline’s family is perfect in the young girl’s eyes. This girl has a dream to fulfill and we’re going to find out where she gets her strength!

Young Jacqueline is disenchanted with the inaccuracies of memory and the confusion between storytelling and lying.

Keep making up stories, my uncle says.

You’re lying my mother says.

 

Maybe the truth is somewhere between

all that I’m told

and memory.

So, Jacqueline decides to give us her own truths in this story of self empowerment.

I’m so glad Woodson broke the rule!

I reviewed an ARC and am looking forward to adding a final copy to my collection as it will also contain photos.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline Woodson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She now writes full-time and has recently received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Her other awards include a Newbery Honor, two Coretta Scott King awards, two National Book Award finalists, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. source


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: african american, Jacqueline Woodson, review

3 Comments on Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming, last added: 8/14/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
23. Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I always have the urge to read a horsey book right before a horse show.  I kept seeing the Timber Ridge Riders series on Amazon, and wanted to check it out, so when I had the chance to do just that, I jumped at it.  I don’t ride hunt seat, so I always find depictions of hunter shows interesting.  The horse care details were spot on, and nothing made me cringe due to inaccuracies.  I’ll tell you what did make me cringe: the behavior of Kate’s rival, Angela.  What a spoiled, selfish girl!  If I was her coach, she would have been booted from my barn.  Her casual treatment of the animals and her teammates had me boiling mad!

Keeping Secrets is a middle grade book, but it will appeal to horse enthusiasts of all ages.  I felt so awful for protagonist Kate.  She has spent the last six months blaming herself for the death of  a horse at her old barn.  A convenient scape goat, she was kicked out, banished for allowing the horse to escape from his stall, get into the feed room, and colic.  What a crappy thing to do to a 14 year old girl.  The old trainer earned zero respect from me, and poor Kate, heartbroken over the loss of her favorite horse, decided that horses would no longer play a part in her life.  Kate’s disinterested father didn’t help her with her grief.  The guy, a professor, was never home, and he probably didn’t even know about the horrible experience Kate was struggling to deal with.  Instead, he traipsed around the planet research butterflies. 

With her father on a trip, she’s moved in with her aunt.  Kate wants a job, so when she hears about a babysitting job, she applies for it.  Her charge is actually her own age, and Holly has been confined to a wheelchair after an auto accident.  Kate’s job is to be her companion for the summer, so her mom can continue coaching riders at the barn behind their small house.  Barn?  Yes, barn!  So even though Kate wants nothing to do with horses, she is stuck having to deal with them every day.  Holly’s dream is to get back in the saddle again, and she drags Kate to the barn every day.  To hide her new discomfort around the animals, Kate lies and tells Holly that she’s terrified of them, and, oh, yeah, she’s allergic, too.  When her secret is outted, she has to earn back Holly’s trust, as well as help save Holly’s mom’s job.

This is a very fast paced read, and I couldn’t put it down.  Once Kate gets back in the saddle, things accelerate even more.  She has to help win a team competition, but guess what?  Angela is out to get her, because Kate rides better than she does, so Kate has to learn quickly to avoid Angela’s attempts to sabotage her.  I loved all of the conflict Angela started.  She’s the perfect girl you love to hate, but because her mother demands constant perfection from her, you feel a smidge, just a smidge!, of pity for her.  She’s afraid that Kate will show her up in front of her mother, and all her mother cares about is that Angela is the best.  Her mother also has a lot of control over whether or not Holly’s mother will keep her job, it turns out, so there’s even greater friction between the girls.  Add in the fact that Angela is a bully and likes to pick on what she considers weaker girls, and you really have the perfect villain.

I enjoyed Keeping Secrets, and I’m looking forward to more adventures with Kate and Holly.  I’m sure that Angela will continue to make trouble for the girls, making for more entertaining reading.

Grade:  B/B+  (I love the cover – that gets an A)

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A valuable horse is dead, and it’s all her fault, which is why 14-year-old Kate McGregor has banished horses and riding from her life … forever!

But her new summer job as a companion to Holly Chapman, a former riding star who’s now confined to a wheelchair, takes her back to the barn—the last place Kate wants to be. 

Can Kate keep her terrible secret from Holly, who is fast becoming her best friend? And, more important, can she keep her secret from Angela Dean, a teenage bully who lives for only two things: winning ribbons and causing trouble? 

Kate manages to keep her secret hidden until an accident forces it into the open … and it’s just the moment Angela has been waiting for.

The post Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
24. Graphic Novel Review: Food Wars! Vol 1 & 2 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

I like food so I thought I’d give Food Wars! a try.  I thought the first volume was okay, but it didn’t blow me away.  Soma’s family owns a diner, and Soma’s number one goal in life is to be a better cook than his dad.  I love this storyline; it kept me reading The Prince of Tennis for a long time (and I need to catch up on that one!).  I’m not sure why I find this trope so appealing, but it is one of my favorites.  The protagonist working to hone his skills, hoping to one day surpass the person who taught him almost everything he knows, yeah, I really like that.

Food Wars! Volume 1 ends the competition between father and son very quickly.  Soma’s dad decides he’s going to sharpen his cooking skills, and he leaves Soma with hardly a word.  Off he goes, we discover, jet-setting around the globe, creating fabulous dishes at 5-star establishments.  Soma, in the meantime, has been enrolled in a prestigious culinary school.  The only hitch? He has to pass a cooking test, or he flunks out of school before it even starts.  His judge is fellow student Erina Nakiri, and she’s one tough critic.  From a blue-blooded family of in the gourmet food biz, she has already created a name for herself in the foodie world.  Noted for her incredibly discerning sense of taste, she has no patience for anything less than the best.  Unfortunately for Soma, that includes him.  When Erina discovers his background is from a humble family diner, she has nothing but contempt for him and his cooking.

 

I think the thing I enjoyed best about Food Wars! is Soma’s personality.  He’s brash and outspoken, but he doesn’t mean to come across as a douche, though he often does.  He just wants everyone to appreciate all kinds of food, especially meals prepared with less expensive ingredients.  He’s also very confident in his own abilities, having worked in the family restaurant since he was a small boy.  He makes himself a target the first day of school by sounding like an obnoxious jerk, making a speech in front of the incoming class that is cringe worthy in its arrogance.  Since everybody has a bone to pick with him now, he suddenly has dozens of classmates rooting for, and even actively participating in efforts to see him fail.  Most of the students come from wealthy families, with esteemed backgrounds in gourmet food industries, and they don’t want his kind there.

Volume 2 introduces a parcel of eccentric personalities for Soma to interact with, as well as his first cooking battle.  If he loses, he’s agreed to pack his bags and leave school for good.  His opponent is a genius with beef, and since her family has made a fortune selling grade A cuts of the stuff, he probably shouldn’t have challenged her to a cook-off using meat as the main ingredient.  That’s what I like about Soma; he feels so strongly about an issue that he jumps to accept any challenge, without having the faintest idea or plan of how he’s actually going to win. It’s always Ready! Fire! Aim! with him, with very entertaining results.

So far, I am enjoying this series. The drama of the food wars is fun, and the descriptions of the food makes me drool. I hate cooking, but even I’m tempted to try some of the recipes included because they sound so darned tasty. I have my usual gripes while reading a comic aimed primarily at boys, and I’m not sure how these 14 year old girls can have boobs the size of their heads, but then I remember that I am not the target market. It’s still fun anyway.

About the book:

Soma Yukihira’s old man runs a small family restaurant in the less savory end of town.  Aiming to one day surpass his father’s culinary prowess, Soma hones his skills day in and day out until one day, out of the blue, his father decides to enroll Soma in a classy culinary school!  Can Soma really cut it in a school that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate? And can he convince the beautiful, domineering heiress of the school that he belongs there at all?!

Leaving home for the first time in his young life, Soma moves into the  Polaris Dormitory—a place run by an old crone and filled with crazy and eccentric students! Barely settled in, Soma quickly finds himself in one of Tohzuki’s legendary cooking duels—a shokugeki! Who will his very first opponent be?

Review copies provided by publisher

The post Graphic Novel Review: Food Wars! Vol 1 & 2 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
25. Review: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I love this series so much that I preordered Sisters’ Fate as soon as I noticed it listed on Amazon.  Book 2, Star Cursed, ended on such a great cliffhanger, and I could hardly wait to see what happened next. The wait was agonizing.  There are times when I enjoy a series, but then I lose interest in the period between releases.  The Sisters’ Fate release date was close enough to when I finished Star Cursed that I didn’t forget about it.  Good thing, too, since I have the attention span of a small bug.

The narrative picks up right were it left off.  Maura has erased Cate right out of Finn’s memories, and now she’s nothing but a stranger to him.  What?  Wow!  What an awful thing for her to do!  I hated Maura!  She has one priority, and that’s herself!  She will do anything to earn praise from Inez, the new leader of the Sisterhood, even betray her sister.  And then not be one bit apologetic for her horrible actions.  No wonder Cate simmered with rage every time she had to interact with her sister.  I really wanted to see Cate kick her butt, but I know that wouldn’t have done anything to change Maura’s attitude. 

Cate is worried about how the Brotherhood will react now that Inez has reduced their leaders to mindless vegetables.  Will they start a second Terror, killing any woman or girl suspected of being a witch, without a second thought?  Inez’s agenda frightens Cate, so she attempts to establish ties with the Resistance.  She knows that she has to stop Inez and her followers somehow, but she realizes that she can’t do it alone.  Making an uneasy truce with Merriweather, who runs an illegal newspaper that reports on the actions of the Brotherhood without censorship, things finally start falling into place.  Then her temper gets the best of her, threatening everything she’s worked so hard to accomplish.

To up the stakes, Cate is not only fighting against those that would destroy all witches, there is also a fever raging through New London, and nobody seems to be doing anything about it.  Since it originated among the poorest citizens of the city, there’s not a whole lot of concern at first.  So what if a bunch of river rats die of the fever?  When the disease jumps to the wealthier occupants of the city, it’s the perfect opportunity to blame the witches for cursing the populace with the illness.  Once again, the witches become a convenient scapegoat to control the population through fear and intimidation.  The Brotherhood did awful things to anyone who got in their way, and then they orchestrated convincing cover stories for every heinous act the committed. They made powerful, frightening villains.

I thought Sisters’ Fate was a fitting end for the series.  All of the loose ends are tied up, and the conclusion is very satisfying.  I was even able to forgive Maura, at least a little bit.  The romance was well done, and while it ended with a Happy For Now, you know that everything will work out for Cate in the end. 

I highly recommend The Cahill Witch Chronicles.  There’s a sweet romance, action, and interesting world building.  It comes to a satisfying end with Sisters’ Fate, so if you like YA paranormal romance, give this series a try.

Grade:  B+ / A-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

The post Review: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts