Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cover Reveal: Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis


From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes the next sexy, standalone novel in the Heartbreaker Bay series...



Meet cute...
Run for the hills—temporarily. That’s Colbie Albright’s plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie’s so over it that she’s under it. She’s also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she’s pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won’t be a stranger for long.

Make merry...
Spence’s commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn’t have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot—chemistry he’s got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself... just because she’s gorgeous and a great listener…just because she “gets” Spencer immediately doesn’t mean he won’t be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

…and hope for a miracle.
Now the clock’s ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime

Pre-Order CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE in ebook or paperback, releasing 9/26/17

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      EXCERPT: The bathroom door opened, and even better than his fantasy, Colbie emerged from a cloud of steam, her willowy body wrapped in one of his towels, her exposed skin gleaming and dewy damp. Her hair had been piled on top of her head, but wavy strands had escaped, clinging to her neck and shoulders. He couldn’t tear his gaze off of her. There was just something so uncalculated about her, so . . . natural and easy. She was like a beacon to him, which was both crazy and more than a little terrifying. Clearly not seeing him against the wall, she moved with an effortless grace to the suitcase she’d left at the door. Bending low enough to give him a near heart attack, she rifled through her things, mumbling to herself that she should’ve researched more about how to be a normal person instead of how to kill someone with an everyday object. “Do you kill a lot of people, then?” Spence asked. “Motherforker!” she said with a startled squeak of surprise, whirling to face him, almost losing her grip on the towel. Five days a week, Spence worked out hard in this gym. Mostly to outrun his demons, but the upside was he could run miles without losing his breath. But he lost his breath now. And that wasn’t his body’s only reaction.    

Heartbreaker Bay graphic

And don’t miss the previous books in Jill Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay Series, SWEET LITTLE LIES, THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE, ONE SNOWY NIGHT and ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE, now available! Grab your copies HERE!

Jill Shalvis - headshotAbout Jill Shalvis: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.      

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: K Street by M.A. Lawson

K Street (Agent Kay Hamilton, Book #3)
by M.A. Lawson
Release Date: January 17th 2017
2017 Blue Rider Press
Ebook Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0399573842
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

It’s been almost a year since Kay Hamilton was fired from the DEA for going rogue. Since then, she’s been employed by the Callahan Group, a covert intelligence agency based in Washington, D.C. Her job description is as dubious as the people she works for, and the undercover mission that nearly killed her in Viking Bay has Hamilton questioning the legitimacy of her employers.

When Hamilton arrives at the Callahan Group’s K Street office to tender her resignation, she unwittingly interrupts a deadly heist during which the robbers have stolen the company safe and left her boss gravely injured. She knows that Thomas Callahan doesn’t keep much cash in the safe—the men must have been after something other than money. But before Callahan slips into a coma, he whispers a name that will lead Kay to an organization even more secretive than the Callahan Group: the NSA.

My Thoughts
K Street is a great novel for those who new to suspense or to action as the chapters are relatively short and the action sequences aren't overly drawn out, and I liked the the plot, while fairly simple, still has some twists and turns to it.  To someone with an extensive reading knowledge in this genre, the plot might be quite simple compared to some of the novels and authors, but I liked that the action was clean and not too convoluted.  Sometimes it's nice to read one of these novels where my head isn't spinning throughout the whole novel, and I have to wait another two or three books to figure out what is happening, or there is so much going on even the author loses track of the main points.

For those who don't know, M.A. Lawson is the pen name for Mike Lawson (a former nuclear engineer in the US Navy), who also writes the Joe DeMarco series, of which House Reckoning is probably my favourite.  One of the things that Lawson excels at is making the reader feel empathy for the main character.  So while you may not necessarily agree with the choices Kay made (or Joe DeMarco for that matter), you still empathize with the character and understand why those choices were made.  And you root for them no matter what.  Kay is a tough, kick-ass character who is fun because she can be quite unpredictable.  While she didn't quite display those rogue, lone-wolf tendencies in this novel as much, there was still plenty of action to be found.  The last mission in which she was involved left Kay questioning the Callahan group and her part in the group, so she decides to quit the whole thing.  Right from the beginning though, Kay walks into a dire situation as the office is attacked and she has no idea of the reasons behind the attack.  Even though she decides to help, I liked how she questioned the investigation the entire time and didn't take anything at face value.  What she did discover will definitely have repercussions into the next book and I can't wait to find out how things will transpire as she discovered some pretty deep secrets as well as some government cover-ups that will leave ripples in many different areas.  I don't want to say too much and give away any details from the book, but it was fun to delve deeper into the government cover-ups and discover a bit more about the Callahan group.  There is definitely a lot more to learn however. 

Like I've already mentioned, the plot was quite simple, which is something I enjoyed as sometimes these action / suspense novels can get quite convoluted and complicated, but I believe this is a strength of this writer.  The chapters are told from different points of view, and while it's not always something that I enjoy, it definitely worked in this novel - plus some of the dialogue was witty and engaging, with some laugh-out-loud moments, to relieve tension  The characters are engaging, and we are slowly learning more about them, which is one of my frustrations, even if I understand the reasoning behind it; I would love to learn more about Kay's neighbour and see more of her in future novels.  The action is non-stop, with Kay dodging bullets, being chased, learning secrets, and pretty much just kicking it when she gets a chance - fun stuff.  

K Street continues the Kay Hamilton saga and her involvement with the Callahan group, deepening the mystery of their involvement in government secrets and cover-ups.  I found the writing to be engaging, and Kay to be a kick-ass heroine.  The plot was simple, but engaging, and I enjoyed the story very much.  I am looking forward to the next installment in the Kay Hamilton series.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, Book #1)
by Alison Goodman
Release Date: January 26th 2016
2016 Viking Books for Young Readers
Hardcover Edition; 482 Pages
ISBN: 978-0670785476
ASIN: B00X5938K2
Genre: Fiction / YA / Historical / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

My Thoughts
The Dark Days Club was quite different than what I expected; the strong mystery, the paranormal element, the intrigue, the regency element, and the romance combined with a very strong-willed and interesting heroine make for intriguing and fun reading.  I was already a huge fan of her fantasy duology Eon: Dragoneye Reborn and Eona: The Last Dragoneye, so I was thrilled to receive the first two books in the Lady Helen trilogy in the mail.

First of all, what I really like about this author's books is the way she is able to blend the fantasy into her settings.  So our heroine, Lady Helen, was brought up in true Regency style, learning to become a proper young lady, destined to possibly marry a duke or an earl. With a very rigid moral code, she struggles to become the proper young lady her uncle and aunt demand of her, especially as she seems to have inherited this restless energy and wild side that cause her to do impetuous and impulsive things that get her in a lot of trouble.  When she learns what that restless energy actually means through a chance meeting with Lord Carlston, she struggles to deal with what her aunt and uncle want from her and what this more restless and exciting side of her wants to do.  As a modern woman, it is really hard to understand the constraints put upon young women during this time period, and I tend to really identify with Lady Helen's struggles; if she chooses to go against society, she could lose everything that is dear to her including her family and friends, but if she chooses to go with her heritage, she could lead an exciting if ultimately dangerous life.  I think it would be really hard for us modern women to really understand the struggles Lady Helen faced and how difficult the decision would have been. 

I really like the struggle that Lady Helen faced upon learning she may be destined for more than just marrying a duke or early and attending parties for the rest of her life.  There was a part of her that really liked the idea that there was something more in this life for her, and that perhaps her mother was something much more than what she was told.  What I especially liked in this story is that she was never forced into her role, she was always told she had a choice as to which role she wanted to accept.  And I liked her thinking as she made her decision as to which role she wanted and why; it just showed another level of maturity and intelligence to her character that I liked.  It didn't mean that I liked her choices, but I liked how methodical she was in making them. 

The author pays a lot of attention to detail, and although the book is a bit slow in the beginning, it really didn't bother me too much as the descriptions were really interesting; it is very evident she has put a lot of research into this book which made the Regency period feel very much alive.  She does the same thing with her characters, and I will admit a bit of frustration towards the end, but in a good way, as there were some things I just didn't understand, especially regarding Lord Carlston. The tension between them was fun and I can't wait to see how things turn out. Very little has been revealed about the man, and although we learn he is decent and good, there is a part of him that is hurting and struggling.  Naturally, there is always a third person involved and I am hoping we don't end up with a love triangle as I am not a big fan of those.

The Dark Days Club was quite original, and very different from what I was expecting.  The characters developed quite naturally, and while we learn quite a bit about each of them, it is just enough to be tantalizing, but not enough to totally satisfy. I found the plot to be quite engrossing, and I liked how Lady Helen was allowed to make her own decisions about her own involvement in things, even if I didn't necessarily agree with them.  I am looking forward to reading The Dark Days Pact, the second book in this trilogy, which I just got for review. 
Sunday, February 12, 2017

Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

The Fifth Petal (The Lace Reader, Book #2)
by Brunonia Barry
Release Date: January 24th 2017
2017 Crown
Ebook Edition; 432 Pages
ISBN: 978-1101905609
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, investigates a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed one Halloween night. Aided by Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who has returned to town, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter in Salem’s past. Callie, who has always been gifted with premonitions, begins to struggle with visions she doesn’t quite understand and an attraction to a man who has unknown connections to her mother’s murder. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian and sometime-aunt to Callie, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

My Thoughts
The Fifth Petal is the second book in the Lace Reader series, and although the author makes references to the first book, it is not necessary to have read it in order to enjoy this one.  I didn't read the first one, and didn't feel like I was missing anything from the story, although I will read it when I get a chance as I am curious as to what happened.  

I was drawn to this book because of the setting, no question.  I love anything to do with Salem, paranormal or not, as I am intrigued with its history and its development.  While I enjoyed the characters and the story line in this novel, I did find it somewhat drawn out, and I felt like the author lost sight of the actual murder investigation in lieu of the developing romance between Callie and the son of a prominent member of the town.  Although I did find the historical aspects of the story fascinating, including the search for more details on the original residents of Salem and those who were executed and how it relates to the current residents of Salem and surrounding areas, and the way the author just gave tidbits of information drawing the reader into the story so they could learn more as the story progressed, it just wasn't enough to make up for the drawn-out mystery.  I did enjoy the basic story, but I never felt truly engrossed into the story or in their lives.    

To be honest, I think part of the problem was there were too many story lines going on and I was never sure exactly which one was the main part of the story.  When Sheriff Rafferty began looking into a 25-year-old triple homicide, I thought it would be more a police procedural than it was, but there wasn't really a lot of investigating going on. For those of us who read police procedurals on a regular basis, it was a bit disappointing, to be honest. I liked the man, and I thought the author did a great job showing how people can panic and do silly things when scared, but I just felt like something was missing. Then you have Rose Whelan, a woman who was quite respected for her historical research into the Salem witch trial, now thought to be guilty of the homicide and talking to trees in search of the answers to the case. I really didn't know what to think about that, and it's not because I don't like the paranormal, it's just because it didn't seem to fit into the story very well.  Then there was all of the drama with Towner's aunt and the home for abused women on the island with all of its secrets. Then there was the feud between two founding members of the town, going on for centuries, with explanations that were not fully satisfactory.  While each of the story lines would be very interesting on their own, I am wondering if there was too much going on, and the author should have just focused on one or two for the novel, and left some of these brewing in the background for future novels.

The Fifth Petal, while interesting in its own way, was more a love story rather than a murder / mystery and I found this to be a bit disappointing.  I did like the characters however, and thought they were quirky enough to be interesting, and would like learn more about them.  There were huge aspects of the book that were quite irrelevant to the story, and were used as filler, but she is a good writer so I went along with them.  I definitely liked the historical tie-ins to the witch trials and although nothing new was really revealed, it was still interesting, and it is evident a lot of research went into it.  If you think you can plow through this one, then I would recommend it just for the writing and the historical research.  If you are looking for a murder / mystery, then I would pass.