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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: review, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,376
1. Review: He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

While I’ve read a few other Jill Shalvis titles, He’s So Fine is the first in the Lucky Harbor series that I’ve picked up.  I’m wondering why I waited so long.  Like Olivia, I was charmed by Lucky Harbor and the people living there.  Cole is a great hero, and his buddies Sam and Tanner kept him humble.  Mr. Fix It, Cole seems able to repair everything but the tattered remains of his heart.  Or was it his pride that needed a patch job?  Whatever it was, he didn’t have enough pockets on his cargo pants to mend the damage.  He needed a little help from Olivia to get the job done.

Heroine Olivia is in need of some mending, too.  A former child star, she went on a binge of bad behavior after her TV show was canceled.  When everyone in her life moved on, she lashed out, tarnishing her image and causing the creation of countless Youtube videos and online posts chronicling her bad behavior.  With her money-grubbing mother and jealous sister, I’m not surprised that she had no guidance and no rock to anchor herself to.  I really sympathized with Olivia.  She carried the careers and jobs of many people for years, and then, when her “cute” days were over, she was tossed to the curb like yesterday’s trash.  Her TV family moved on, leaving her adrift.  Her real family was never emotionally there for her.  How awful.  To realize with sickening clarity that the only worth you have to others is your ability to finance their paychecks.  Until you can’t.  And then you are washed up and not worth the time of day.  Ugh.

When Cole takes an unexpected dip in the frigid water of the marina while working on his boat, Olivia quickly jumps to his rescue.  She bravely leaps onto his head, almost drowning him, all the while thinking that she is saving him.  The start of He’s So Fine had me hooked.  How could I not be, after an introduction like that one?  Shivering with the cold, Cole quickly shepherds his would be savior onto the boat, demanding that she divest herself of her wet clothing before hypothermia sets in.  I loved this whole scene, and it set the tone for their relationship.  There’s humor, and hotness, and two genuinely nice people who you want to get together.  They are both broken, so it’s no surprise that it takes a freezing dip in the ocean to jump start their love lives.

I like small town romances because of the quirky characters that inhabit them.  In He’s So Fine, Cole’s friends and family liven up his life.  Not always in a good way, but Cole is unflappable and always willing to lend a helping hand.  He practically carries a tool box around with him in his cargo pants.  He has to fix things, which makes it all the more troubling when he refuses to fix himself.   After losing his best friend in a terrible accident, he also loses the woman he loved, when she walked away from him at Gil’s funeral.  Cole has never gotten over Susan’s betrayal, and he’s just not willing to put himself out there to be hurt again.  But then Olivia jumps on his head, and the man has absolutely no chance of escaping unscathed. 

He’s So Fine kept me entertained from the first dip in the cold waters to Cole’s eating humble pie act at the end of the book.  I have have two other Lucky Harbor books stashed away on my Kindle (I don’t even remember purchasing them!), so I’m looking forward to more visits to the town, and meeting more of its inhabitants. 

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It’s the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone . . . until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she’s rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she’s ever laid hands on.

Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to “save” him. In fact, he’d like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He’s just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole’s heart, or will it be the end of Olivia’s days in little Lucky Harbor?

HE’S SO FINE is available in mass market paperback, ebook and audio book formats wherever books are sold

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The post Review: He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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2. Review: The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

The Bloodbound appeared in my mailbox about a month ago.  Until I had received an email from the publisher, I had never heard of it, and that’s extremely unusual when it comes to fantasy novels.  I am like a Bloodhound; I relentlessly sniff out new titles, especially when they contain romance elements and aren’t part of an already ongoing series.  And look at the cover?  Protagonist Alix is wearing plate mail and wielding a sword, with barely any flesh exposed.  Finally, a female warrior who looks like she’s actually ready to fight and not pose for the swim suit issue of Sports Illustrated.   Better yet, she actually kicks ass!  She saves her king, Erik, not once, but many times, placing herself at risk of imminent death each and every time.  She’s both physically and mentally tough.  Hooray!

Alix is a scout in the Alden army, serving her mandatory time in the military.  She’s also Lady Black, a member of one of the politically powerful banner houses.  Stealthy and brave, she takes her duties in the army seriously.  When it becomes clear that the King’s brother, Tom, has betrayed him, withdrawing his forces from the field of battle and leaving Erik to die, Alix ignores her orders to hold her position as lookout and rushes to save her king.  She hauls him from his horse to keep him from taking an arrow from an enemy archer, pulling the horse down on top of him.  The resulting injuries, knocking him senseless and breaking his leg, are small prices to pay for saving his life.  She carries him away from the fighting to safety, and the grateful Erik appoints her the head of his personal guard.

I really enjoyed Alix’s strength.  She doesn’t back down from a confrontation, and she always tries to do what’s right.  Her strong morale code and her impetuous nature often earn her the wrath of her commanding officer, but she doesn’t let that stop her from taking risks to keep Erik safe.  His attitude doesn’t help her, either.  Erik isn’t used to hiding behind others, and it’s not until an assassin attempts to take his life that he heeds Alix and follows her security instructions.  There were times at the beginning of the book when I thought Alix was the only character to display any sort of common sense, and I did fear for Erik’s safety.  He was is own worst enemy for most of the book, and his sense of self-preservation was sadly underdeveloped.

With an enemy army perched at the border of his kingdom, as well as his brother’s efforts to take control of the throne, Erik doesn’t know who he can trust outside of a small group of nobles.  Alix has proven her loyalty, so she is given a position of trust within his circle of supporters.  Alix proves herself to be politically astute time and again.  As Erik fights to protect both his people and his crown, his own beliefs are put to the test.  How will he keep control of the country, without tearing it apart from within and adhering to his own code of ethics? 

I enjoyed the political maneuvering, as well as the action peppered throughout the narrative.  The battles were exciting, and neither Alix nor Erik take a backseat during the action scenes.  They meet their opponents head on, blades swinging, unflinching.  I really got a sense of the chaos of battle, and found these sequences hard to put down.

There isn’t really a magic system, other than the bloodbinders.  Few and far between, these individuals can take the blood of a warrior and blend it with the steel of a sword, creating a weapon that is an extension of the wielder.  Alix has a bloodbound sword, which makes her even deadlier in a fight.  It is rumored that the invading Oridian’s have a priest able to bind warriors to himself.  These mindless thralls fight like berserkers, unmindful of wounds and throwing themselves into battle until they kill their targets, or are killed themselves.  Incapable of feeling pain or fear, the thralls are fearsome warriors that never retreat.  An all out battle with the Oridian thralls will cost the lives of many, many Aldens, and Erik despairs at victory.  With Tom dividing the country, the outcome doesn’t look good for Alden.  Erik’s one hope is to kill Madan, the Oridian priest, which will break the blood seal that’s been cast over the bloodbound warriors.

There is a lot going on in The Bloodbound, and while some of the world building elements were a little light, the story was interesting and kept me engrossed in the book.  If there was anything that detracted from the story, it was the love triangle between Alix, Liam, and Erik.  I am firmly in the I can’t stand love triangles camp, so even if this was the best love triangle in the world of love triangles, I still wouldn’t have liked it.  It’s a plot device that is far too overused in YA, and I don’t like it when it pops up in other reads. 

I enjoyed The Bloodbound, and the ending left off with room for another book, so I wouldn’t mind spending more time the characters.  Rig, Alix’s older brother, is a favorite, so I hope he gets more page time. Since his house needs an heir, I’m curious to see who he gets paired up with.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Of all those in the King of Alden’s retinue, the bloodbinders are the most prized. The magic they wield can forge invaluable weapons, ones that make soldiers like Lady Alix Black unerringly lethal. However, the bloodbinders’ powers can do so much more—and so much worse…

A cunning and impetuous scout, Alix only wishes to serve quietly on the edges of the action. But when the king is betrayed by his own brother and left to die at the hands of attacking Oridian forces, she winds up single-handedly saving her sovereign.

Suddenly, she is head of the king’s personal guard, an honor made all the more dubious by the king’s exile from his own court. Surrounded by enemies, Alix must help him reclaim his crown, all the while attempting to repel the relentless tide of invaders led by the Priest, most feared of Oridia’s lords.

But while Alix’s king commands her duty, both he and a fellow scout lay claim to her heart. And when the time comes, she may need to choose between the two men who need her most…

The post Review: The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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3. Review and Giveaway: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

I am beyond thrilled to be part of the 50th anniversary blog tour for Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three.  My history with Prydain goes WAY back.  The Book of Three was one of the first fantasy novels that I ever read, recommended to me by my uncle right after I finished the Narnia Chronicles.  I loved the world of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and I wanted to read more books in this wonderful new genre that I had just discovered.  I was 11 or 12, and armed with a list of books from my uncle, I hit the library and checked out as many as I could find.  The Book of Three and The White Mountains made the biggest impression on me, and I’ve been meaning to reread these treasures from my childhood for quite some time.  The problem: I was afraid that they wouldn’t stand up to the test of time.  The Book of Three is as old as I am, and I wondered if the years would be good to Taran and Eilonwy.  Would they still seem relevant after all this time?  You bet!  I loved the re-read as much as when I read the book for the first time!

Taran is an assistant pig-keeper, and he lives with Coll and Dalben in a remote hamlet.  Nothing much happens, and Taran is bored.  He dreams of swords and chivalry, or doing brave things and being more than he is.  When the animals go nuts one day, and Hen Wen, the oracular pig he helps care for, escapes her pen and flees in terror, Taran learns first hand that being a hero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  It’s full of hardship and weariness, life-threatening danger, and fear.  It’s also full of new friends, patience, and learning who you are and how you’ll act when faced with the most fearsome foes imaginable.

The writing style is engaging and it didn’t feel dated at all.  I have tried to re-read other books from my past, and have been left disappointed.  The Book of Three still feels fresh and exciting, and if anything, I liked Eilonwy now even better than before.  She’s brave, fearless, and doesn’t wait for someone else to save her.  She’s self-assured (probably too much so!), and her sharp intelligence helps her and Taran out of many nasty situations.  She wants to pull her own weight, and she never loses her ability to think and reason her way out of trouble.  She even has common sense!  More than Taran, at least at first.

Taran begins his journey to save Hen Wen, and then all of Prydain, an impulsive, overly confident boy.  He arrives at the end of his travels far more mature than when he started.  He cares about his friends, even the ones he doubted at first, and doesn’t hesitate to put himself in harm’s way to save them.  He even comes to appreciate the predictable peace of home, and wants nothing more than to return to the old, boring life he took for granted.

If I have any complaints about The Book of Three, it’s about the final battle with the Horned King.  Most of the action takes place off page, and is related to Taran by a third party.  I felt ever so slightly ripped off by that, but it’s not enough of a gripe to mar my reading experience.

If you haven’t read the series before, I highly recommend it, for readers of all ages. 

 

Info about the 50th Anniversary editions:

Henry Holt Books for Young Readers is proud to publish this 50th Anniversary Edition of Lloyd Alexander’s classic The Book of Three, the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain, with a new introduction by Newbery Honor–winner Shannon Hale. This anniversary edition is filled with bonus materials, including an interview with Lloyd Alexander, a Prydain short story, the first chapter of the next Prydain book (The Black Cauldron, a Newbery Honor book), an author’s note, and a pronunciation guide.

I have a hardback copy of The Book of Three to give to one of you!  The book is BEAUTIFUL, so please enter below!  US/Canada only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

The Book of Three 50th Anniversary Blog Tour

Monday September 22

YA Bibliophile

Tuesday September 23

Maria’s Melange

Wednesday September 24

The Book Wars

Thursday September 25

Bunbury in the Stacks

Friday September 26

Manga Maniac Café

Monday September 29

Read Now Sleep Later

Tuesday September 30

The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

Wednesday October 1

Word Spelunking

Thursday October 2

Proud Book Nerd

Friday October 3

Book Haven Extraordinaire

The post Review and Giveaway: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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4. Review: Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I had a hard time with Winning Ruby Heart.  I was fascinated with the premise, especially with all of the reports of terrible behavior by athletes during the last week.  While Ruby hasn’t committed domestic abuse, she has committed abuse of another kind: she doped before the Olympics, costing her a gold medal and leaving her reputation in tatters.  She was forced to forfeit the one thing she lived for.  Now she can no longer participate in any Olympic sport, and for a period of five years, she can’t compete in any sport at all. 

The story begins right after her five year suspension has ended.  Ruby has always loved running, and she can’t give it up.  She’s competing in her first ultramarathon, and as luck would have it, Micah Blackwell, the reporter responsible for crumpling up the last of her career and tossing it in the trash, is covering the race.  He recognizes Ruby and is instantly curious.  Why is she there?  What is she up to?  Is she breaking her suspension by participating in the race?  He smells a story, and he won’t rest until he’s uncovered it.  Besides, there’s an anchor slot available at his network, and he knows that this story will seal the deal for him and give him his dream job.

My biggest problem with Winning Ruby Heart was Ruby herself.  I didn’t understand her.  She was already the best in the world at her distance, so why did she allow herself to be talked into cheating?  She is firmly convinced that she would have won the race anyway, but she let her coach chide her into blood doping.  Everyone is doing it is not a good enough reason to risk your entire livelihood and your ability to participate in the one thing you love most in the world.  She knew the consequences if she got caught, but she cheated anyway.  Worse, when she was first interviewed by Micah, she wasn’t even repentant. With his skillful prodding, she came across as spoiled and self absorbed, and certainly unworthy of a second chance.

The romance left me unmoved as well.  At 29, Ruby has always been dependent on her parents.  She lives in their home, her father’s law firm has been handling her legal matters at no cost to her, and with no job, she has no means to support herself.  Her parents are fearful that she’ll embarrass them again, and they make no secret of their disapproval.  Once Micah reenters Ruby’s life, they know it’s only a matter of time before the family is paraded through the papers again, making their lives a nightmare.

I wasn’t convinced that Ruby and Micah made a good match.  Micah has had to work hard for everything he has, while Ruby was given the world on a silver platter – which she promptly threw away.  After an accident on the football field leaves Micah paralyzed, he turns all of the energy and dedication that made him a stand out player into becoming a stand out sports reporter.  And that was where all of my skepticism for their  HEA flourished.  When Micah was kicked on his backside, he found the strength and the willpower to reinvent himself.  Ruby crawled into a hole and hid.  I just don’t see them making it for the long haul, because I wonder what Ruby will do when things go south again?  Even with Micah’s support, she doesn’t come across as a fighter to me, and she’s not one to deal adequately with adversity.

I found the training interesting, and I can’t remember reading romance with a paralyzed hero in a long time.  I enjoyed the introduction of Dotty into Ruby’s life (because dogs make everything better), but overall, I was disappointed with Winning Ruby Heart.

Grade:  C

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

It’s a race to their beginning…

Exposing world-class athlete Ruby Heart’s cheating scandal five years ago made reporter Micah Blackwell’s career. Falling in love with her now could end it. Yet watching her determination to return to the top, he can’t resist the woman she has become. 

Working with Ruby to tell America her story, Micah falls deeper under her spell. But at a crucial moment, his feelings for her conflict with his job—the very thing that once saved him. Now he must choose between his skyrocketing career and the unlikely love of a good woman….

The post Review: Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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5. Novella Review: Meeting Her Match by Mary Connealy

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I really enjoyed Meeting Her Match.  This novella features an unconventional hero, and honestly, when we are first introduced to Marcus, all I could think was, “No!  He can’t be the hero!”  He is clumsy, he can’t look Hannah in the eye, and he’s completely tongue-tied in her presence.  Turns out our sweet hero has been in love with Hannah since he was a young lad, and he turns into a dithering clod whenever she is near. 

Hannah, who has spent many hours secretly finding matches for the eligible singles in town, has failed to find a match for herself.  She’s a busy gal, though, so it’s not surprising that she hasn’t found a man to get hitched to yet.  She’s the school teacher, she helps her sickly mother tend to her huge brood of siblings, and the timing never seems right for her.  Her fiancé was killed in a freak accident, and she’s been drifting through life ever since. 

When tragedy strikes her family, Hannah finds herself even more harried than before.  Then, when her father practically kicks her out of the house, she’s heartbroken.  She mopes about, feeling sorry for herself, not seeing the handsome, caring man that’s right in front of her.  Instead,  because of Marcus’ shy ways, she thinks that he doesn’t like her, even though nothing could be further from the truth.

With the meddling of the townsfolk, Hannah finally gets a clue.  This is a cute read, with likeable characters and a heroine who deserves a HEA.  The only glitch for me was that the ending took too long to wrap up.  Otherwise, this is a great time killer if you’ve got about an hour to fill.

Grade:  B

Review copy read on Scribd

From Amazon:

When the tables are turned and a tenderhearted meddler becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme, her world is turned upside down. As her entire life changes, will she finally be able to tell the banker’s son how much she cares for him?

The post Novella Review: Meeting Her Match by Mary Connealy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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6. Novella Review: No Match for Love by Carol Cox

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I enjoyed Cowboy Unmatched, another A Match Made in Texas novella, so when I was browsing around on Scribd, I was delighted to see other stories from the same anthology on the site.  I quickly added No Match for Love to my library and read it Sunday night.  This is a cute story and now I want to read the all of A Match Made in Texas novellas.

Lucy’s father left her penniless after his death, and she’s relying on the charity of her friend’s family to keep a roof over her head.  Overindulged by her father, she has never learned useful skills; she can’t even make a pot of tea, let alone find employment to give her some independence.  Her only option is to marry Walter, a man who makes her uneasy and who she doubts she could ever develop feelings for.  Her friend is marrying soon, however, and she knows that she can’t live with her parents forever, so Lucy is desperate for any opportunity to present itself.

When she’s offered a job far away from Dry Gulch, she jumps at the chance to escape Walter and being a burden to her benefactors.  All she has to do is care for Andrew Simms’ elderly aunt.  Martha refuses to sell her ranch, the Diamond S, but Andrew has concerns about her mental health.  She firmly believes she saw a cow leaping over the moon, in addition to other impossibly odd occurrences at the ranch, and now Andrew is worried about her living by herself.

Lucy expects to find a doddering old woman, but instead she is introduced to an intelligent, capable woman.  One who doesn’t want a stranger living with her on her ranch.  Andrew convinces Martha that she’ll enjoy the company, and a thankful Lucy has a place to stay, at least for a while.

I enjoyed the friendship that develops between the women.  Lucy is hopeless in the kitchen, and she doesn’t know the first thing about running a household.  Gruff Martha teaches her all she knows, and the two become friends.  The only sticky point? Every full moon, something weird does happen at the ranch.  With Martha hollering into the night, brandishing her shotgun, Lucy fears for the woman’s sanity, too.  It quickly becomes clear that something, or someone, is responsible for the disturbances plaguing the ranch, and Lucy is determined to discover the reason behind them.

I thought that the romance was secondary to the mystery.  The mystery was solved a little too easily, too, but I still enjoyed the interactions between the characters, especially between Lucy and Martha.  This is a quick, satisfying read with a very sweet romance, so if you’re looking to fill a short period of time, No Match for Love is an entertaining choice.

Grade:  B

Review copy read on Scribd

From Amazon:

Andrew can’t fathom how refined Lucy ended up as the caretaker to his dotty aunt, and somehow her arrival has prompted even more bizarre occurrences around the ranch. When they join forces to unearth the truth, will the attraction between Andrew and Lucy develop into more?

The post Novella Review: No Match for Love by Carol Cox appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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7. Review: Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was offered a copy of Hook’s Revenge for review, and how could I possibly refuse? Pirates!  Sword play!  Adventure! It was a no-brainer to load this on my Kindle and start reading.   Following Jocelyn, Hook’s 12 year old daughter, on her grand adventure to Neverland, I was captivated from the first page.  Jocelyn is a rough and tumble girl, with no patience for manners, baths, or hair brushing.  She’s brave and intelligent, but when she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies to learn how to behave in polite society, she bristles at every lesson.  She gets off on the wrong foot with her classmates, and once they discover that she’s the dreaded Captain Hook’s daughter, watch out!  Nobody wants to be her friend, and one of her roommates begins bullying her unmercifully.  While there is little that Jocelyn is afraid of, she is miserable and friendless at school.

Then Jocelyn meets Roger, the cook’s helper.  Suddenly, everything seems bearable again.  That is until the horrible Prissy finds a way to hurt Jocelyn by having Roger dismissed from his position at the school.  Dreadfully unhappy, Jocelyn makes a wish, and ends up receiving a mysterious letter from her father, delivered by Edger, a talking bird.  Before she knows it, she’s been whisked off to Neverland to face her father’s nemeses – Neverland’s crocodile.  Will she be able to carry out his final wish and defeat the monster that devoured her dad?

I enjoyed Hook’s Revenge because Jocelyn is such a capable girl.  She doesn’t sit around and wait for someone to come to her rescue.  Instead, she creates her own opportunities for rescue and adventure, relying on her bravery and intelligence to make her own luck.  Unlike her father, she’s a kind girl, though she longs to step into Captain Hook’s shoes, and be as terrifying as her father was.  The captain of her own ship, with Smee and the rest of her motley (a barely capable crew) at her command, she sets off to face the crocodile.  What she doesn’t expect is how terrifying the beast is, or how many dangers she’ll face during her quest.  She faces cannibals, rival pirate crews, and the Fairy Queen with equal aplomb, but will it be enough to see her safely to the end of her adventure?

Hook’s Revenge is a fun read with a humorous and droll narrator.  I really liked Jocelyn.  Peter Pan makes a few guest appearances, as do the Lost Boys, and it was interesting seeing Neverland through fresh eyes.  There’s room for a sequel, so I hope I’ll be able to spend more time with Jocelyn soon.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

 

Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn’s hopes of following in her father’s fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink. So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn’t hesitate—here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. But Jocelyn finds that being a pirate is a bit more difficult than she’d bargained for. As if attempting to defeat the Neverland’s most fearsome beast isn’t enough to deal with, she’s tasked with captaining a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwitting cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescuing her best friend from a certain pack of lost children, not to mention that pesky Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited. The crocodile’s clock is always ticking in Heidi Schulz’s debut novel, a story told by an irascible narrator who is both dazzlingly witty and sharp as a sword. Will Jocelyn find the courage to beat the incessant monster before time runs out?

The post Review: Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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8. Review and Giveaway: What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson

 

Review:

I haven’t read a Rachel Gibson book in ages, so I was eager to dive into What I Love About You.  I loved this book and could not put it down. Blake is a flawed hero, a “raging a**hole” according to heroine Natalie, and he’s only two steps above a Cro-Magnon.  He’s suffering from PTSD, and he’s an alcoholic, 62 days away from his last drink.  He’s also a bundle of rage; he doesn’t feel that his family is supportive, they keep ragging on him about the littlest things, and all he wants is a little peace and quiet.  Hiding out in his new home in a remote Idaho town, he’s determined to beat back his demons without any help from anybody.  He’s not a wuss, after all.

What he gets is daily aggravation from the little girl next door  a tiny pest with ninja-like skills of stealth.  Her pretty mom takes offensive with how Blake talks to her daughter.  I don’t know how I’d feel if someone told my kid he shit bigger than her, so I had to excuse her for giving him a piece of her mind.  The sparks fly between them, and both of them pretend to want nothing to do with the other.  Blake has to concentrate on beating old man Johnny, and Natalie is a single mom, working hard to provide for her daughter.  One puppy bomb later, though, and they are sharing custody of Recruit Sparky, much to Natalie’s dismay.

Natalie has been burned badly by the man she loved since high school.  After struggling to become pregnant, her husband leaves her, running off with a twenty-year-old – and a large portion of the money he’s been entrusted to invest for his clients.  Now he’s serving time in jail for embezzlement, and Natalie is still trying to put her past behind her.  She’s not having much luck, however, and her first priority is now the true love of her life, her daughter Charlotte.  The grumpy next door neighbor is a pain in the butt, but as long as he stays on his side of the property line, they won’t have any trouble.  Too bad she can’t keep Charlotte from ambling over to pester him.  Repeatedly.

I thought What I Love About You was a great read.  It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.  I loved how fragile both characters were, and how they both had to learn to trust in themselves and others again.  Add in one annoying kid and a rambunctious puppy, and you have a recipe that never fails to please.  Blake is a gruff, crass hero, and I loved him.  He tells it like it is, and goes after what he wants.  He doesn’t always come across as the kind of guy you’d want to wake up next to for the rest of your life, not at first, but his rough edges are smoothed by the end of the story, starting when he befriends the little girl who lives next door.   This pushed all the right buttons for me, and I highly recommend it.

 

What I Love About You

Truly, Idaho # 3

By: Rachel Gibson

Releasing August 26th, 2014

Avon Romance

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson returns to Truly, Idaho, and to the fate of sexy SEAL Blake Junger
GIMMEE A B-R-E-A-K!
Ex-high school cheerleader Natalie Cooper could once shake her pom-poms with the best of them. But she’s paid for all that popularity—her husband’s run off with what’s left of their money and a twenty-year-old bimbo named Tiffany. Leaving Natalie to manage a photo store and having to see some pictures she, well, really shouldn’t.
GIMMEE A S-H-O-T!
Then she comes toe-to-manly chest with Blake Junger. Exiled to a remote cabin in Truly, Idaho, Blake wants nothing to do with anyone. Instead, he’s determined to struggle with his demons and win—all on his own. But the last thing he needs is Natalie distracting him with her luscious curves and breaking down the barriers of his heart.

GIMMEE YOUR H-E-A-R-T!

Can be read as a standalone. Returns to Truly, ID and is about the second Junger twin, Blake Junger.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/06/now-booking-tasty-virtual-tour-for-what.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19099609-what-i-love-about-you?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/What-Love-About-Truly-Idaho-ebook/dp/B00H1UFLDS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1406676705&sr=1-1&keywords=What+I+Love+About+You+%28Truly%2C+Idaho%29

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-i-love-about-you-rachel-gibson/1117542217?ean=9780062247391

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/what-i-love-about-you-1

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/what-i-love-about-you/id771697623?mt=11#

Author Info

Rachel Gibson lives in Idaho with her husband, three kids, two cats and a dog of mysterious origin. She began her fiction career at age 16, when she ran her car into the side of a hill, retrieved the bumper, and drove to a parking lot, where she strategically scattered the car’s broken glass all about. She told her parents she’d been the victim of a hit and run and they believed her. She’s been making up stories ever since, although she gets paid better for them nowadays.

Author Links

Website: http://www.rachelgibson.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RachelGibson

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/33952.Rachel_Gibson

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two Print Copies of WHAT I LOVE ABOUT YOU)

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9. 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 )

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10. 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:
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11. 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.

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12. 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?

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13. 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.

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14. 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.

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15. 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.

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16. 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.

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17. 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:

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18. 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?

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19. 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

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20. 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.

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21. 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?

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22. 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.

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23. 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?

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24. 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?

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25. 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

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