Saturday, April 5, 2014

Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined. Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.
I really liked this one. I love when you pick up a book and you can tell right away that you're going to enjoy it. When you see that it is almost 500 pages and glad it's going to last awhile. That's how I felt when I started reading this one. The writing was well done, I never felt bogged down by unnecessary details. Everything was told for a reason and helped move the story along. It also helps when you like the heroine, which I did. Cécile starts off as a normal farm girl, who had an amazing gift for singing. She has just turned seventeen is about to leave her country life to go live in the city with her mother. Her plans quickly chance when she is abducted and sold to trolls.

I enjoyed the world building here and the world of Trollus. It was easy to picture their kingdom and the trolls within. I like that Cécile had a strong spirit and never gives up. I liked her relationship with Tristan. I thought their bond was interesting and unique. I also liked how Cécile was able to see the good in those around her and make friends. At times I think she was a little naïve, but it was also nice that she is optimistic and genuinely wants to help. I didn't like Tristan at first, he just rubbed me the wrong way (and not because he was an evil troll) and I wasn't sure if I would like him. He does grow on me though and the more we get to know him the more I liked him. I will say, at times some of the language seemed too modern for the setting and would take me out of the story a bit. I actually would have liked more of Tristan's POV, we get a few here and there and I would have liked to see more.

Overall, a great start to a new series (a little bummed that I have to wait so long for the next book). If you enjoy high fantasy, kickbutt princesses and swoony princes then you need to pick this one up!

Romance: Clean
Language: Mild
Violence: Mild

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the local art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?
Affascinante! This book was totally charming. Maybe it’s because I’ve always wanted to visit Italy, ever since I was very small. I still hope to get there one day, especially after reading this book.

While I think it’s totally insane to send your seventeen-year-old daughter alone to Italy, it did make for a fun plot here. Pippa goes to Italy to study art. Once she arrives she decides to go her own way and explore the country she has always wanted to see and photograph. Pippa was pretty likable, I thought she fit her age well, but still had a good maturity about her. It was fun to watch her explore Italy and also discover herself along the way.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I actually enjoyed the love triangle in this one. Maybe since she meets both guys at the same time and has to spend time with each to really decide who she likes best. Seemed realistic to me. Both guys had their own charm, but there is definitely one I liked more. Bruno was the hottie Italian she was hoping to meet. He is charming and knows all the right things to say. Darren is the cute American who is sweet and kind and a little slower in showing his feelings. I’m never sure how these travel romances are going to work out, so I was glad to see how things wrap up. I loved Pippa’s BFF Morgan and I hope she gets her own book. She is such a good friend, I loved the goal journal she made for Pippa. Such a fun idea.

Overall, a charming read and one I would highly recommend. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for what this author comes up with next!

Content: Clean!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Love Gone Wild by Amy Matayo

As the daughter of a well-known politician, Anna Lloyd has been groomed for success. There’s only one problem: for her, success never sticks. Texas-bred rancher Jay Maddox wants one last chance at fun. After a lifetime of being responsible for siblings, mortgages, and a dysfunctional mother, he’s ready for an adventure that’s all his own. When both of them arrive to begin taping the show, they’re joined by three other couples, and all are eager to get started. Until the producers make a decision that throws everything into chaos. Now Jay and Anna are alone in the wilderness—forced together against their will into a partnership neither one bargained for. How is Anna supposed to get her boyfriend to commit to her when she’s stuck with this southern cowboy instead? How is Jay supposed to survive a solid month with this big-city girl who gets under his skin in more ways than one?
I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since I finished The Wedding Game. It didn’t disappoint, I was quickly engaged in the story and rooting for Jay and Anna. I liked both Anna and Jay and it was fun watching them fall in love. They do so under some pretty dire circumstances and will probably make their relationship stronger in the long run. I thought the setting was fun, although I wouldn’t go rushing off to Alaska any time soon. I was surprised by how much time they were actually alone during the filming of the show; I guess I was expecting more of a Survivor type setting (only in freezing Alaska). As in most of these type stories there are some obstacles for the couple to overcome. It was a tad frustrating; I wanted to shake Anna a few times. I understood her though; I got how she couldn’t or wouldn’t want to disappoint her family. It’s a lot easier said than done and her behavior and choices seemed realistic. I was happy with how everything worked out.

Overall, a super fun read. Ms. Matayo is quickly becoming an auto-buy author for me! Can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Romance: Clean, a few passionate kissing and very mild innuendo
Language: Can’t remember any, if there was it was mild

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Compromising Kessen by Rachel Van Dyken

The last thing career-driven Kessen Newberry wants is to leave her home in Colorado to spend a Season in London, far away from her job, her friends and the memories of her mother. However, her father, the Earl of Newberry, threatens to disinherit her unless she gets in touch with her British roots. She complies, but has no intention of enjoying the experience. That is until she meets Christian Vandenbrook, the arrogant and irritatingly handsome future Duke of Albany and her father’s business partner. Unfortunately, Christian hates Americans. And coffee. And apparently, Kessen. A hatred this passionate can only lead to one thing… marriage. Caught in the middle of a Regency-inspired nightmare, Kessen and Christian are forced to marry in only one week’s time. Resigned to their fate, the two resolve to give the relationship a chance—which would be much easier if everyone would stop interrupting them every time they found a moment alone.
This was charming! I loved how lighthearted it was, I caught myself smiling a lot throughout the book. Christian and Kessen had great chemistry, I liked their banter. I also loved their friends Nick and Duncan, they were a riot. I loved how they were trying to keep them apart before the wedding and also how they wanted to help them get to know each other. I think the characters would probably die if they knew I've never had a drop of coffee or tea! There was a lot of kissing in this book! They couldn’t keep their hand off each other. And while I think that’s important in a relationship, I also think there are more important things for long-term success. By the end I still kind of felt the main component for their relationship was lust. I hope that when things mellow out and they settle down they are able to build on their friendship and have their HEA. Overall, a fun escape and I agree with another review that said this would make a fun movie!

Romance: Pretty clean
Language: Mild

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series

I thought this was a great idea for a series. Basically, the action of a character in the first book directly affects the main characters in book two, and so on down the line. So, while the books could stand on their own, they are better read in order. I thought this was a fun concept. The authors came up with their own plots and then worked together on how to weave their stories together. The first book will be released in early March and then each consecutive book will be released a couple weeks later (release dates below). Full reviews of each book can be found on my Goodreads or Amazon profile.

Home Matters (March 10): I liked this one. I thought it was a fun story about discovering what you really want out of life. The romance was sweet (I liked how our couple initially meets).

Silver Linings (March 24): I wanted to like this one more than I did. I know others will probably love it, and I did like it, I just would have tweaked a couple things. Drew and Eden are cute together though and you’ll be happy to see them get their HEA.

Righting a Wrong (April 7): Great story about second chances. This one had a lot of heart. Not only was the romance sweet, but I loved the relationship between father and daughter. I was also happy to see Jace get his HEA, especially after all he went through in Silver Linings. Cute read!

Lost and Found (April 21): A fun story full of romance and mystery. I thought this was a sweet read, the characters were likable and you can’t help rooting that they can find a way to be together. Heartwarming and a good message on what is truly important.

Second Chances 101 (May 5): It’s never too late to find love and to have new beginnings. I thought this was a cozy read. I liked the college setting and the relationship between Francie and Alex and Sam. I wish this one was longer!

Immersed (May 19): Super cute! This had a fun premise and was just fun to read. I liked Erik and Lisette. Creative idea for a story with a lot of charm.

Overall, a super fun contemporary series. I loved how the books connected together, but stood on their own. Very charming and sweet. Highly recommended!

Content: Clean

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way. Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated? From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?
Review: I've always loved the movie When Harry Met Sally and was excited when I saw this was going to be loosely based on that movie. I liked Macallan and Levi and it was fun to see their story unfold. They meet and become friends in seventh grade. The story takes place from when they meet until they are seniors in high school. There are some fun moments between the two and I thought they had good chemistry. I wanted to see them actually together. It was sad to see how the both had feelings for each other but were too scared to show it. There's some fun tension as they both date other people and have to put on a brave face. The story is told from both POVs, which I liked. I did think Levi didn't always "sound" like a guy. Their voices were just a little too similar for me.

Overall, it was a fun read. I enjoyed it and would read it again. I've really enjoyed Eulberg's books and look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Content: Clean. Mild language (I think one swear word).

Monday, January 13, 2014

Romance Through the Ages

I couldn’t believe it when I saw this collection pop up for sale. Usually these collections can be a little disappointing with maybe one or two good ones. Not in this case, I enjoyed each of these stories. I actually already owned them and still had to buy the collection (killer deal at only .99 for pre-order). This collection contains the works of some of my favorite authors and I hope they come out with more collections in the future.

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson I loved this one! It’s one of my favorite romantic comedies and one I’ve read a few times. Anderson’s books are charming and always give you a happily ever after.

She Owns the Knight by Diane Darcy Who doesn’t love a Knight? I’m a sucker for a medieval setting and loved this story. It’s a story that pops into my head from time to time.

Pride and Precipitation by Heather Horrocks Horrock’s books are full of fun. Great if you’re looking for a lighthearted romance.

Heart of the Ocean by Heather Moore Moore is a great storyteller. Her books always draw you in. I love a good mystery and a ghost story that isn’t too spooky. Combine that with a little romance and you have a winner.

My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White Who doesn’t love a good Pride and Prejudice retelling? This was a lot of fun and had endearing characters.

Masquerade by Janette Rallison You can’t read a Rallison book without smiling! I loved this one and have re-read it a few times. I enjoy her YA books, but especially love her grown up books!

Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve heard great things about the author and look forward to reading this when the collection is released in February.

If you haven’t bought this yet, what are you waiting for? I think the pre-order price of .99 is just until it is released, so hurry!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Defy by Sara B Larson

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?<
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A great addition to the YA High Fantasy genre, which is a favorite of mine. I love stepping out of our contemporary world and into a fictional land. With fantasy novels anything is possible; I love the magic, politics and romance. This story had them all. Our heroine Alexa was likable and easy to root for. She has to hide her identity to protect herself and for the past three years has not only been a personal guard to the Prince, but has also been disguising herself as a boy. Normally I’m not a huge fan of the girl-dresses-as-boy storyline, but it was well done here. I guess I have a hard time believing people would be fooled. I think since no one knew her before and the fact she looks so much like her twin brother it was easy for them to believe. For the past three years everyone has known her as a boy, but in that same time she has actually grown into a young woman. She is now seventeen and beginning to show an interest in a couple guys and is surprised when they are showing an interest in her. It was interesting to see how she begins to see herself differently. Never really finding herself pretty and content with being a soldier, it was nice to see her softer, feminine side come out. To have men appreciate her for more than her fighting skills. For those who know me, you know I am not a fan of love triangles. While this one was better than most, it still seemed a little unnecessary to me. I liked both guys (which of course must be a requirement with LTs), Prince Damian really grows as the story progresses and the more we learn about him the more you like. I also liked fellow guard Rylan, who is loyal and protective and an all around good guy. I like who Alexa ends up with and thought they had good chemistry. I think their story could have been better and developed more if the LT element wasn’t involved (but, again that’s mostly because I don’t care for LT). Overall, I thought it was a fun read. I was luckily able to read it on my iPhone, so I could read and take care of my new baby at the same time. I had a hard time putting it down and wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next. I thought things ended well, but also look forward to reading more in the series. A great debut. Content: Clean, PG13. Clean romance, language and mild violence. Talk of breeding houses and rape (not descriptive).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Winter Queen by Amber Argyle

Mortally wounded during a raid, seventeen-year-old Ilyenna is healed by winter fairies who present her with a seductive offer: become one of them and share their power over winter. But that power comes with a price. If she accepts, she will become a force of nature, lose her humanity, and abandon her family.

Unwilling to pay such a high price, Ilyenna is enslaved by one of the invaders, Darrien. While in captivity, she learns the attack wasn’t just a simple raid but part of a larger plot to overthrow her entire nation.

With the enemy stealing over the mountains and Darrien coming to take her to his bed, Ilyenna must decide whether to resurrect the power the fairies left behind. Doing so will allow her to defeat Darrien and the other invaders, but if she embraces winter, she will lose herself to that destroying power—forever.

The synopsis and cover totally drew me to this book. After reading the Amazon “sample” I was hooked and wanted to keep reading. It’s one of those books that is hard to put down, you want to keep reading to see what will happen next and how everything will work out. I liked our heroine Ilyenna, she puts others needs above her own. She doesn’t back down and tries to do the right thing. She has it pretty rough throughout the book and I admired how she was able to stay strong. I also liked our hero Rone. He is loyal, brave and kind. I like that he continued to put Ilyenna first, even above his own needs. I liked their relationship, it did save the book for me. I thought they had good chemistry and I was rooting for them to be together. I had read some reviews that mentioned the violence, but I guess I still wasn’t expecting so much or so detailed. It seems like it was non-stop from start to finish. It seemed like so much time was spent on the violence that the rest of the story suffered. The politics and romance were overshadowed by beatings, wars and pain. I ended up skipping a couple fight scenes at the end because I was just burned out. Too much violence for my taste. I also thought the end wrapped up rather quickly. Especially in regards to Ilyenna and Rone’s relationship, it was rather sudden. The fairy elements were okay, but I’m still on the fence about how everything ended up in that regard. Overall, an interesting read. While I liked the overall story the violence was a big turn off for me. Content: There is sex before marriage and a pregnancy results. Aside from kissing, everything fades to black and there is no details. There are a couple attempts at Ilyenna’s virtue, but nothing goes too far. There is a lot of war, beatings and other violence.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

You Are Mine by Janeal Falor

Serena knows a few simple things. She will always be owned by a warlock. She will never have freedom. She will always do what her warlock wishes, regardless of how inane, frivolous, or cruel it is. And if she doesn’t follow the rules, she will be tarnished. Spelled to be bald, inked, and barren for the rest of her life—worth less than the shadow she casts.

Then her ownership is won by a barbarian from another country. With the uncertainty that comes from belonging to a new warlock, Serena questions if being tarnished is really worse than being owned by a barbarian, and tempts fate by breaking the rules. When he looks the other way instead of punishing her, she discovers a new world. The more she ventures into the forbidden, the more she learns of love and a freedom just out of reach. Serena longs for both. But in a society where women are only ever property, hoping for more could be deadly.

The synopsis for this one totally drew me in. I’m a sucker for marriage of convenience stories and high fantasy, so this was a nice mix of both. I got sucked into the story right away and had a hard time putting it down. It’s a little slow moving, knew going in that it was the first in a trilogy so that didn’t bother me too much. The subject matter was pretty heavy though.

The world building was unique. The country of Chaldonia has some very backward ideas about women. They are treated poorly, actually that’s an understatement. Women are nothing more than property, and not property that is treated well. Our heroine Serena especially had a hard life with a very abusive father. They have no rights and are really nothing more than baby breeders and punching bags. It was disturbing, but even more so when you think of the countries and religions around our world that do treat their women in a similar fashion. It’s heartbreaking to know there are women out there going through similar things. I am glad that the author wasn’t overly descriptive of the punishments and abuse. You know what has gone on, but nothing is overly detailed.

The romance was a bit lacking for me.  I think if the romance had been showcased more it would have lightened an otherwise pretty serious book.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is a downer, but it is definitely more on the serious side and the treatment of women is at times pretty disturbing. Again, nothing is overly detailed, but the overall mood is oppressive. I liked the end, the last chapter or so things happen that leave you happy and hopeful for Serena’s future. I am curious about continuing the series and look forward to seeing what will happen next. Overall, I enjoyed the book. I liked that it was unique and the characters were likable. The world building and writing was well done, easy to get into and hard to put down.

Content: Clean. Nothing more than kissing, but it’s clear a woman’s main purpose is producing heirs, especially male heirs. Some violent themes, but nothing overly descriptive. Some abuse, but again, nothing too descriptive. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Just Ella by Annette K Larsen

Ariella was only looking for a distraction, something to break up the monotony of palace life. What she found was a young man willing to overlook her title and show her a new and vibrant way of life. But when her growing feelings for Gavin spiral out of control and clash with the expectations of her station, she will discover that the consequences of her curiosity are far more severe than she'd imagined.

I watched in helpless horror as two guards hauled Gavin to his feet and dragged him from the room. My voice was frozen, unable to protest as another guard took hold of my arm, leading me upstairs. From the confines of my room, I stared into the darkness beyond my window, hoping to catch one more glimpse of Gavin. He was gone, and I wondered if he would have been better off if he had never met me.

This was a pleasant surprise. For some reason I didn’t have the highest expectation going into it. I think part of it was that I didn’t love the cover. I probably would have put off reading it for awhile if I hadn’t read the great reviews (especially Chrissy’s). I guess I’m a cover snob and I gravitate to the books with awesome covers (which doesn’t always mean you’ll get an awesome book. Unfortunately.) Ariella was a great heroine. I really liked her. The book opens when she is fifteen and I thought the author did a good job portraying her at that age and especially how her relationship with Gavin grows from friendship to young love. Very believable. I liked that the book takes place over a few years and we get to see the changes Ariella goes through and how she handles struggles. I like that she wanted to do the right thing and was willing to make hard choices, if it meant doing the right thing. Again, I really liked her character. I also liked Gavin. He was a sweetheart. I thought they had good chemistry and I was rooting for them. I wasn’t sure how things were going to play out, they come from different worlds and obviously won’t have the support of her family. There was another character introduced towards the end that I actually loved, I think he is more my “type” and almost started rooting for him, but I was still on Team Gavin. I was happy with how everything eventually works out. Anyway, I love high fantasy novels that have a princess as our leading lady. Not sure why, but it’s just a great setting. The book kind of reminded me of Seer and the Sword and Queen in Exile, although this book focused more on Ariella’s self discovery, and not too much court intrigue. Maybe since I had those other books in the back of my head I expected this to be similar in action/intrigue, and did keep expecting something to happen, but for the most part it’s just a nice story. There is some excitement thrown in though and I thought that made the story fun. I think it’s one I would probably enjoy even more the next time around, knowing what to expect. The writing was well done and the characters likable. I look forward to reading about Areilla’s sister Lylin in the next book. Hope it comes out soon. Overall, a fun read and one I would recommend. Can’t wait to read more from Ms. Larsen. Content: Clean.
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