Wednesday, January 31, 2018

An Unforgettable, Moving, and Epic Conclusion: Shadowsong (Review)

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.



When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?
Shadowsong
Wintersong #2
S. Jae-Jones
Pub Date: 2/6/18
Wednesday Books
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
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Shadowsong, the breathtaking conclusion to the Wintersong duology is perhaps the most beautiful and thrilling YA novel I have read in quite a long time! S. Jae-Jones writes with her heart and it shows in the challenges overcome by her characters and the vivid landscape of their journey.

It has been six months since Liesl was released from Underground, but all is not resolved. She longs for her austere young man and her little brother, Josef, is still in Vienna. His changeling soul is fading and yearning to return to the Underground. There is a danger roving about and people are mysteriously dying in a manner referred to as elf-struck. It signifies that the barriers between worlds is at risk, and Liesl must fix it before it's too late.

Shadowsong expands Liesl's world quite a bit. There are more character perspectives and backstory that informs while also enriching the plot. Josef and Liesl's characters are developed further as they try to find their way back to each other and to home.

This moving, epic conclusion is darker and even more imaginative than Wintersong! I'm sad it's over, but thrilled to have read Liesl's adventure. This duology is unforgettable and perfect for dark fantasy readers!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

Read where it all started:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Daisy Wickens Returns to Ottercombe Bay (Review)

Escape to the Devon coast, with Part One of a brand-new four-part serial from the author of Willow Cottage. 






Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?
Ottercombe Bay - Part 1
Where There's a Will...
Bella Osborne
Pub Date: 12/28/17
Avon
Rating: 5/5
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The hilarious Ottercombe Bay, from Bella Osborne, begins with Daisy Wickens' return for her great uncle's funeral. What she originally thought was just going to be a pit stop for a quick service turns into a few days more as the will is read. Reg has left Daisy an abandoned railway station, but it's hers only if she stays for a whole year.

The conditions set in Reg's will goes against Daisy's life of wandering from place to place. She's traveled all over Europe working various jobs, but has yet to settle in one place. This is Reg's way of helping her out, though to Daisy it's holding her against her will. This is the kind of story I love to read. Daisy isn't all sunshine and roses. She has issues that manifest through her need to travel and Ottercombe Bay holds a past she wants to forget but can't because it's wrapped up in the memories of her late mother. That tells me that there's more to this story than someone trying to improve her life from beyond the grave. There's a history in Ottercombe Bay that holds answers I'm eager to find as the story continues.

Daisy is a magnet for unfortunate events, but as more crazy things happen to her the more I believe that this town's charm will get her straight by the end of her year. This is the story you read when you want a quick pick me up with an engaging plot and cast of characters. Readers will be charmed and entertained by her neighbor's can-do attitude and Reg's clever pug, Bugsy Malone. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Daisy! I can imagine it full of mystery, surprise, and hopefully a little romance.
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

Don't miss the rest of Ottercombe Bay:

           Part 2: FEB 2018             Part 3: APR 2018               Part 4: JUN 2018

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Dragon-Shifter Romance for Fans of Donna Grant (Review + Excerpt)

Constance Owens has a gift for finding unique items in the most unlikely places, which comes in handy since she buys and sells artifacts and antiques for a living. When she purchases a set of four dragon statues, she has no idea just how unique they are, or that finding them will thrust her into a world of secret societies, men who think nothing of kidnapping and murder to get what they want, and dragon shifters.




Nic hasn’t survived for four thousand years by letting his guard down, and he doesn’t trust anyone except his drakon brothers. The loneliness haunting him has been getting worse since all his brothers have found their mates. And when he finds the woman his drakon recognizes instantly as his fated mate, he doubts he’ll ever have what his brothers have, because it seems she’s involved with the secret society of hunters who have been hunting and capturing his kind for hundreds of years.
Drakon's Past
Blood of the Drakon #4
N.J. Walters
Pub Date: 1/29/18
Entangled: Amara
Genre: Romance
Rating: 3/5
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Drakon's Past is a novel of dragon shifters, romance, and secret societies from N.J. Walters' Blood of the Drakon series.

This quick-moving fantasy introduces collector, Constance Owens, who has a knack for finding valuable treasures surrounded by less than ordinary things. This time, though, her precious find has a strange aura surrounding it and she plans on selling as fast as possible. Collecting the four powerful dragon statues sets off chain reaction with dangerous consequences. One of the buyers kidnaps Constance's sister and the other buyer, Nicodemus Wilde, offers to help Constance retrieve her. Nic especially wants to get his hands on the statues because they have the power to capture a dragon.

Constance and Nic are perfect for each other. It's basically love at first sight, but of course they're the last ones to know! I do appreciate how their romance is challenging and the trust between them isn't immediately there. They have something to work towards besides their present goals. This dragon-shifter romance will be familiar to fans of the sub-genre, but it has its own flare. There's a little action to counter the romance and camaraderie between Nic and his fellow dragon brothers that links the series together.

I admit to not reading the previous novels of this series, but I didn't feel completely left out of the loop. Walters adds in details here and there that allude to previous stories and expound on the world she's created. Readers of Donna Grant will enjoy this walk in Walters' land of dragons and secret societies!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

Enjoy this sneak peek!

Nic wished this situation had ended differently. He wished he’d been able to rescue Constance’s sister. He wanted to be her hero.
Which was stupid. He was nobody’s hero. All he needed to do was get those statues from her. He could take them and walk away, let her deal with the fallout with Dent.
But that would make him no different from the Knights. He’d also never be able to look at himself in the mirror ever again. His dragon might revolt if he tried. The creature was as fascinated with Constance as the human part of him was. There was something about her that drew him on a deep, emotional level, that called to his very soul.
She looked fragile and beaten, but he knew it to be a lie. The woman had a core of steel. Most people would have faltered and crumbled in the face of such adversity.
Not Constance.
Even as he watched her, she slowly straightened her spine and squared her shoulders. “You’re right. Dent will call again. After all, I still have the statues.”
“We still have the statues,” he corrected her. “I’m in this with you.” He put his arm around her and moved her into the shadows toward the door.
She stopped and peered up at him. He knew she wouldn’t be able to see him clearly in the dim light, but he could see her. He wished she hadn’t told Dent his name, but it had only been a matter of time until the Knights discovered his identity. He’d blown any chance he might have had of staying under the radar when he’d gone to visit Constance this morning. He hadn’t known she was being watched. Not that it would have made much difference. He had to have those statues, had to keep them out of the hands of the Knights.
“You get my sister back, and the statues are yours,” she promised.
He growled and leaned down until their noses were almost touching. “I’m not doing this for the damn statues.” And it was true. As important as the statues were, they’d become secondary. The only thing that mattered was protecting Constance and her sister. His dragon rumbled his agreement inside him. Both sides of himself were in accord.
“Then why are you doing it?” He heard the confusion in her voice. It made him crazy that she didn’t already know, didn’t understand that he’d do anything for her.
This was insane. Dangerous. He should walk away from her and the statues. He could disappear and not surface for years.
“I’m doing it for you,” he told her. Then he kissed her.


Read Blood of the Drakon in order:

An Extraordinary Hero for the English Lady: A Devil in Scotland (Review)

The dawning of desire
1806, Scotland. Wild, reckless Callum MacCreath is in no hurry to become someone’s husband. But when his responsible, steady older brother Ian announces his engagement to their childhood friend Rebecca, Callum makes a startling discovery: he wants the lovely young lass for himself. But it’s too late, and when Ian banishes him for his duplicity, Callum is only too happy to leave Scotland forever.

…is delicious and dangerous



1816: Marrying Ian was the practical, logical thing for Becca to do. But once Callum sailed away to America, she missed his rakish charm and lust for life. Now Becca is a widow when a much-changed Callum returns to his Scottish homeland. Will he remember their spirited, fiery connection or does he blame her for his brother’s unexpected death? This time neither of them can deny their scorching attraction. But will their hearts be burned in the blazing heat of scandal?
A Devil in Scotland
No Ordinary Hero #3
Suzanne Enoch
Pub Date: 1/30/2018
St. Martin's Press
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 4/5
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Looking for a dashing Scottish romance? Look no further than Suzanne Enoch's A Devil in Scotland! The third book in the No Ordinary Hero series is the perfect combination of romance and intrigue.

When Callum MacCreath learns that his older brother, Ian, has died he returns to claim his estate and possibly his brother's widow. Rebecca Sanderson married Callum's brother because he provided safety where Callum was wild and immature. Returning to find his childhood friend is still in mourning for his brother and her father, Callum vows to make good on his promise from all those years ago. With his sidekick wolf, Waya, at his side Callum looks for proof that the Duke of Dunncraigh killed his brother.

Callum is the very definition of an extraordinary hero. Away from Scotland he made a living in Kentucky and grew into a self-sufficient man that works with his hands. He causes a stir when he returns home, immediately going after his enemies and traipsing around town with a wolf by his side. I love that this character knows what he wants, but is willing to compromise for love. Rebecca, once cleared of suspicion, helps Callum protect their family and her assets. These two characters balance each other out and keep readers guessing at which way they'll go, towards or away from each other.

Though Callum identifies his enemies from the start of the novel, the level of intrigue is still high. He strategizes and plots to take his revenge while avoiding the trickery of the Duke. It's exciting and just  a tad suspenseful. Don't miss out on Suzanne Enoch's latest story. A Devil in Scotland is a lovely romance that draws you in and keeps you hanging on to every word!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

More from the No Ordinary Hero Series:


Cover Reveal: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

In a new series Publishers Weekly has listed as “one of the most anticipated YA's of 2018”, we're excited to share the cover for Bring Me Their Hearts! NYT bestselling author Sara Wolf delivers a fast-paced, gritty fantasy sure to thrill fans of Holly Black, Sabba Tahir, and Sarah J. Maas.


Zera is a Heartless—the immortal, unaging soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum: if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy Zera’s heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him—every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him—until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.
Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf
Ruthless Song #1
Pub Date: June 5, 2018
Entangled Teen
Genre: YA Fantasy

About Sara Wolf:
Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things. When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as the Lovely Vicious series. She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled + Pre-Order Details!

“Sexy, pulse-pounding adventure.”—Jaci Burton New York Times bestselling author on The Best Kind of Trouble

The sharpest ache comes from wanting what you think you can’t have…

Maybe Dolan has lived independent, free-spirited and unattached since leaving home at sixteen. Whiskey Sharp, Seattle’s sexy vintage-styled barbershop and whiskey bar, gave her a job—and a reason to put down roots. Cutting hair by day, losing herself drumming in a punk rock band by night, she’s got it good.

But a longtime crush that turns into a hot, edgy night with brooding and bearded Alexsei Petrov makes it a hell of a lot better.

Maybe’s blunt attitude and carnal smile hooked Alexsei from the start. Protecting people is part of his nature and Maybe is meant to be his…even if she doesn’t know it. Yet. He can’t help himself from wanting to protect and care for her.


But Maybe’s fiery independent spirit means pushing back when Alexsei goes too far. Still, he’s not afraid to do a little pushing of his own to get what he wants—her in his life, and his bed, for good. Maybe’s more intoxicating than all the liquor on his shelf…and he’s not afraid to ride the blade’s edge to bind her to him.
Unraveled
Whiskey Sharp #1
Lauren Dane
Pub Date: 1/30/18
HQN
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4/5
Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Lauren Dane has captured my attention with the first in the Whiskey Sharp series. Unraveled is romance with an undeniably sexy edge and family of unforgettable characters.

Maybe Dolan would be completely estranged from her horrible parents if it weren't for the love they have for her older sister. Maybe believes that it's her burden to bear as long as Rachel can have them in her life. The sisters' relationship with their parents intrigued me almost more than Maybe's relationship with her smooth-talking boss, Alexsei. The Russian import hired Maybe as a barber at Whiskey Sharp and fell in love despite her quirks and colorful personality.

My one complaint about this story is the long, drawn-out suspense about the reason why Maybe's parents dislike her so much. The wait for insight comes nearly to the close of the novel and by that point the shock factor is zilch. I really expected that Maybe had done something extraordinarily heinous or even unthinkable, but the scenario made her parents' reaction seem overly dramatic. However, the story would not be what it is without that contention.

Thankfully, there's a wild bearded Russian to kiss away Maybe's woes and provide her with the confidence her father constantly tries to take from her. Alexsei is a steady character that provides the Dolan sisters with a sense of security through his family and his protective nature. Unraveled is the perfect way to begin the Whiskey Sharp series. I can't wait for Jagged and Torn, which likely follows characters we've already come to adore!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

***BEFORE YOU GO***

Pre-order WHISKEY SHARP: UNRAVELED before January 30th to receive a FREE, full-length, e-book from Lauren Dane! Input your transaction number from the receipt, before the release, at this link: https://gleam.io/LfyPu/lauren-danes-whiskey-sharp-unraveled-sweepstakes

Welcome to Whiskey Sharp:

                                       MARCH 2018                   MAY 2018

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Bittersweet Bride (Review)

Widow Theodosia Cecil needs a husband to help protect her son. The former flower seller turned estate owner posts an ad in the newspaper, and no one is more surprised than she when her first love, the man she thought dead, reappears.




Ewan Fitzwilliam has been at war for six years. Now, the second son of a powerful earl is back but his beloved Theo needs a husband and will not consider him. She believes Ewan left her—in desperate straits—so she denies the feelings she still harbors for the handsome, scarred soldier. Theo and playwright Ewan must overcome bitter lies and vengeful actions that ruined their youthful affair. Theo must reveal her deepest secret in order to reclaim the love that has long been denied.
The Bittersweet Bride
Advertisements for Love #1
Vanessa Riley
Pub Date: 1/29/18
Entangled: Amara
Genre: Romance
Amazon | B&N | Kobo

In my experience, historical romance has never been as diverse as Vanessa Riley's The Bittersweet Bride. Theodosia Cecil is a widowed, former flower girl, now the owner of a successful flower farm. Because of her late husband, Matthew Cecil, Theo is left with a home and money to care for herself and her son for eternity. Still, she faces resentment and unfair treatment because of her background and skin color. This is especially so when it comes to Ewan Fitzwilliam.

Ewan and Theo fell in love, but his family were completely against the relationship. Off Ewan goes to war and a mix up sends false notification of his death. Theo was the only one who didn't know he actually survived, but she's still left with a baby on the way and no place to call home. Fast forward six years, Ewan and Theo are reunited and Theo is looking for another husband to stand as protection for her son.

The set up of the story is spectacular with bold characters and colorful landscape. The one thing that holds me back from absolutely loving this story is the slow build up and repetitious dialogue that never really evolves from Theo and Ewan talking about their past. It is a point of contention between them, but it's never taken further or explored in deeper context. On the other hand, Theo's friends offer enlightening conversation that paints a wide view of the society Theo lives in and her character.

Out of tragedy comes hope for a better future for Theo and her son. She is one fierce heroine who knows what she deserves and you'll be rooting for her all the way. Vanessa Riley offers readers a romance that will appeal to fans of Alyssa Cole and Beverly Jenkins!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

If Can't Let Her Go Were a Country Song, I'd Play it On Repeat! (Review)

In Nashville the music is louder, the dreams are bigger, and love can bring a cowboy to his knees.

Ethan Walker is Nashville royalty. Born to the King and Queen of Country Music, he's spent his life trying to escape the spotlight of his parents' fame, even walking away from his own promising singing career. He's the kind of cowboy who prefers flannel to flashbulbs, hay fields to hit records, and the solitude of his horse farm to the nightlife along Music Row. The last thing he wants is attention, especially when it comes from country's latest star...




Chelsea Harris's meteoric rise up the charts and string of celebrity boyfriends mean that wherever she goes, the paparazzi follow. A duet with Nashville's favorite son is exactly what her new charity album needs, but when she approaches Ethan, he turns her down flat. To win the camera-shy cowboy over, Chelsea will have to approach him on his terms. Trouble is, the more time she spends on his farm, the more Ethan wants to keep her there.
Can't Let Her Go
Nashville Dreams #2
Sandy James
Pub Date: 1/16/18
Forever Yours
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4/5
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Sandy James writes to country music fans in Can't Let Her Go, the second book of the Nashville Dreams series. Chelsea Harris is putting together an album of duets to raise money for cancer research. Ethan Walker, partial owner of Words & Music and son of the King and Queen Country Music, would be the perfect addition to the album. However, much to Chelsea's disappointment he refuses to sing with her.

Chelsea devises a plan to get closer to Ethan but instead gets pulled into his orbit. As they bond over horses, Ethan allows Chelsea in bit by bit. Chelsea is a world class star and Ethan wants nothing to do with paparazzi and the limelight. On the outside it's like the two of them are the perfect match, except for Ethan's distrust of celebrities and their lifestyle. Ethan is a bit stuck in the past in regard to his experience with the press, but that doesn't keep him away from the top country music star who is open with her fans and stays on top of rumors from the press.

Through misunderstandings and genuine personal revelations, Chelsea and Ethan try to work towards a real and honest relationship. I love how these two put their hearts on the line even though they are at first unwilling to change for one another. To see them move past their insecurities and find what really is at the heart of their fears, and then deal with those fears, is amazing to witness throughout the novel.

Can't Let Her Go is a fun romance filled with passion and devastatingly real characters. Chelsea and Ethan have opened my eyes to a type of romance that I'll be seeking more of in the future!
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

The Nashville Dreams Series:
                                                                                            MAY 2018

Elvis is Back in The Fast and the Furriest (Review)

Sarah Grayson and her trusty companion, Elvis, race to tail the right suspects in the fifth installment of the New York Timesbestselling Second Chance Cat Mysteries.

Sarah Grayson owns Second Chance, a shop that sells lovingly refurbished items, in the charming town of North Harbor, Maine. But she couldn't run the store without the help of her right-hand man, Mac--or her dashing rescue cat, Elvis.


Mac's life before North Harbor has always been a little bit mysterious, but it becomes a lot more intriguing when a woman from his past shows up in town, and then turns up dead. Suspicion falls on Mac, but Sarah--and Elvis--know he can't be the killer, and they hope they can prove his innocence quick as a whisker.
The Fast and the Furriest
Second Chance Cat Mystery #5
Sofie Ryan
Pub Date: 2/6/18
Berkley Books
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Rating: 4/5
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Cats have never been more appealing to me since I came across the Second Chance Cat Mystery series. Sofie Ryan introduced the lovable feline with a knack for detecting lies in The Whole Cat and Caboodle. Four mysteries later and Elvis is still helping his savvy human, Sarah Grayson, solve local murders.

In the fifth book of the series, The Fast and the Furriest, Sarah's right hand man at Second Chance finally opens up about his past. Of course, he has no choice if he doesn't want to go to jail for murder! A friend from the past shows up seeking to talk to Mac, but before they get the chance to speak she's found dead. Finally, it feels like this series is moving forward and past the usual arguments about whether or not Sarah's elderly squad should investigate. Now, they are pretty much an official outfit so the point is moot.

Mac is a constant character whose hidden past always made him seem mysterious and kind of unimportant to the story as a whole. With these new revelations Mac is cast in the spotlight and proves to be a more important character than I realized.

The mysteries of this series are never too complicated, but they take readers down a rabbit hole that really gets you thinking and trying to figure out whodunit. This particular story, though, I think has a bit more emotional tone as multiple characters seem to get fed up with each other or even become closer.

I am eager to see what's next in the Second Chance world. If you love cozy mysteries with lovable kitty cats, then you'll love Sarah Grayson and her rescue cat, Elvis!
*ARC provided via First to Read*

Read the whole series: