4 star review

Review – The Trouble with Misteltoe by Jill Shalvis

The Trouble with Misteltoe

If she has her way . . .

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work . . .

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Edelweiss, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

I was hooked with the debut in this series and have not been waiting patiently at all to get my hands on this book after reading the teaser. So I loudly squeed and did the butt wiggle dance in my chair when I got this handed to me. (Don’t judge, the butt wiggle chair dance is a real and valid thing.)

I’ll admit that it is a little odd to read a Christmas book in the summer, but I am giving that a pass because of the whole wanting it immediately thing.

This series so far is pretty fantastic. I am not always down for contemporary, but these characters really work for me. Just a messed up group of mostly adults hanging out, making family of friendships, and often having a ridiculously good time. You really can’t go wrong with hot drunk guys doing karaoke.

Willa is such a mixed up sweetie pie, taking care of pets and people and her friends, but not really taking such great care of herself. And mostly she’s just out there and open and upfront, maybe not so much with herself, but she’s a clear read for almost everyone else including the reader. Keane on the other hand is pretty opaque and who he is, his past, and his motivations dribble out through the story. It takes a little more to get him. And then there’s the cat, I am a fan of the plot pet, and this one is just a delightfully supercilious and vicious cat.

Delight with the secondary characters aside, the focus is clearly on the main characters. The secondary characters make up part of the tapestry of who they are, but the story focuses on their individual character growth and how they develop their relationship…which is hella bumpy at times. But it worked, because their struggles in coming together as a couple made sense in the context of their personal histories. And they were sweet together, and when they hurt, I hurt. And when they finally resolved things all I could do is grin.

As for the relations (as opposed to the relationship) they have mad heat, and are by turns awkward, and hot, and make-up, and hilarious. Cat care indeed😀. Plus, we have condom love, and I love that kind of love.

So I am really digging hanging out with these people, and it is probably only psychosis if I actually ADMIT that I refuse to admit they are imaginary. So I am going to be all stoked waiting for the next book to find out what hapens next, and to hang out with the gang as the mute friend in the corner. Because that is what it feels like, being there and hanging with the gang. It is really good stuff.

(I have one quibble, one little point of being irked, and this one won’t make a lick of sense unless you have read the previous book, but I simpy must get it off my chest. I wanted to see Jake getting enfolded into the group and hanging around so I could feel secure he would be getting his own hapily ever after. There, whooo, I got it off my chest.)

The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay, #2)

Standard
3.5 star review

Review – Highland Chieftan by Hannah Howell

Highland Chieftan.jpg

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

Responsible for protecting her younger siblings from their abusive father, Bethoc Matheson is in no position to rescue another soul in Scotland. Yet when she sees a bleeding man on the verge of drowning, that’s exactly what she does, securing him safely in a cave where she can return day after day to tend to his wounds.

Sir Callum MacMillan can scarcely believe such a slight lass as Bethoc could save him from the grasp of death. But he knows the telltale marks of an angry fist on her skin, and he knows she has the soul of a fighter within her feminine frame. Raised to be a protector of the weak by his Murray clansmen, Callum would prefer to be the one saving her—and save her, he will. If he can first survive the treacherous attack that led him into her irresistible arms . . .

I’m so absolutely thrilled to be back with the Murray Family, despite the fact I mostly enjoyed my sojourn with the Wherlocke-Vaughn family. It is slightly insane that I haven’t actually reviewed one of these here since they were such a staple of my romance diet and I still have an enormous stack of dog-eared (yes I was one of those-you dead tree lovers can be grateful for the advent of digital so hooligans like me no longer deface books) and well-loved books chronicling the lives and loves of the Murrays and MacEnroys.

For the most part I think these can be read as stand alones. Yes there are characters from previous books, but with no centralized arc, jumping in just anywhere is entirely possible, even here with the 21 book, though I do tend to recommend the rest of the series. I suggest no hard long gloms though as it can all be a bit predictable.

This is another of Howell’s damsel and knight in distress books, where they each save each other, with a passel of plot moppets to round it out. I adore it.

We have two mysteries circling around to entertain us, and of course a delightful push-pull of romance between our two main characters.  Callum is one of the rescued boys from Highland Angel, and it is good to see those poor boys grown up and getting the happiness they deserve. And he has grown up to be such a sweet man, and Bethoc is a fitting mate for him. There are some heartbreaking events but overall it is a sweet and happy book.

We also got to check in on the lives of beloved characters, though as I said this can be read as a stand alone, so I don’t think they are overly intrusive if you haven’t read them. You can depend on what you’ll get from this series though, good kind people doing good kind things even in the face of heartbreak, and even though they are a bit muddle headed about love. I am really pleased to be back with the Murray’s and hope to keep visiting with them for years to come.

Highland Chieftain (Murray Family #21)

Standard
5 star review

Review – Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Magic Binds.jpg

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

Heckfire!!! What did I just read? I never saw any of this coming, not even a little bit. And yet? It made complete sense too. This is book 9 in the Kate Daniels series, and be ready for it, because I am going to gush and spoilers for earlier in the series may occur and if you haven’t read the series it is going to be pure gibberish (it’s book 9, what do you expect?). Kate Daniels rocks out with her socks out…or on as the case may be…in a tutu.

We’ve seen Kate grow from a low-lying no-name merc, to a POWER. She’s made friends and enemies. Just, aargh, I don’t even know how to express all the things that make me love this series. But I love it so. The night I was reading it someone asked me what I was reading and I TRIED to explain it. But trying to express into words what makes me so enthralled with this series proved pretty much impossible and devolved into something that probably resembled the kind of embarrassing spectacle that was once associated with Bieber fans. My love for this series is vast, I walk in this world in my head and it is a mythology that makes sense to me.

So this book in particular? Leading up to it we have seen how the structure of the people in Kate’s life have shifted, it was moving toward something. But that structure is pretty effing clear now. War is coming and alliances are and will be tested.

Christopher, the broken man, the apparent deus ex machina that I thought was there to show who Kate really was, to set her apart from her father, yeah, he turned out to be pretty ever-loving important. He hurts my heart, but I think he’s going to get better now. And I can’t wait to see how his story shakes out.

Roman the Dark Vohlv is freaking adorable. Just the cutest little Dark Vohlv ever, and as the representative that your job doesn’t have to define you, he’s pretty perfect and I want a HEA there quite badly.

Jim, the new Beast Lord, yeah he done screwed up. Fortunately Dali is a magnificent Beast Lady who is perfectly willing to call him on whatever he needs calling on. She is just as good of a Beast Lady as I knew she would be. I expect Jim will have some consequences, as he well deserves. But I expect we’ll see that shake out in the next book.

And of course Ghastek , Master of the Dead, came through, I’ve always liked him. I’d like to see his story play out too. We don’t necessarily need a whole book, but a little more wouldn’t go amiss.

We also got quite a bit of back story on everyone. Roland, Era, Hugh. Lots of emotions to be wrong there.

And the rest of the gang; Andrea, Raphael, Desandra, Derek, Ascanio, Samhain, everyone made an appearance and played their parts.

And I guess that pretty much shows if not explains why I love this series. These characters are as real to me as anyone else. The world is built and layered so I believe it too, so the characters they’ve created can walk there and I can believe in them and feel like I know them too.

As for the events, this is very much a learning book, more so than an action book. But is still felt really exciting. So yeah, we tromp through Kate’s past and her future, and Kate learns a heck of a lot, but it still felt like there was a lot going on and that there were some real stakes. And there was a wedding. I don’t know, it came down fairly easy and then hooked for the next (last?) book. Good stuff, all the stars, 10/10 would read again, recommend this series to everyone and all that jazz.

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)

Standard
4 star review, Miscellaneous

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer Lunar Chronicles 2 (audio)

 

13206760

 

Here is another multi-faceted installment in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and it is just as entertaining as the first. Similar in structure to Cinder, Scarlet covers the ongoing story-lines of Lihn Cinder, Emperor Kaito, Lunar Queen Levana, and seamlessly introduces Scarlet Benoit, Wolf (Ze’ev) and Thorne to the mix. Each chapter in the novel flips between the primary story-lines showing how they are beginning to intertwine and overlap as the overall plot takes shape.

Scarlet is Meyer’s take on Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, with just enough similarity to make the connection, but not so much as to alter the overall path of the series. Some commonalities include the Wolf (of course), a missing grandmother and the red hooded girl. This tale picks up around the same time Cinder ends, with the newsreels of Cinder’s fall down the stairs at the coronation.  

Scarlet Benoit lives in the rural town of Rieux, France with her grandmother Michelle Benoit, retired military pilot turned farmer. We learn early on that Michelle has been missing for approximately 2 weeks and that local law enforcement has closed the case due to lack of evidence. Scarlet is certain that her grandmother was taken unwillingly, primarily because of their close relationship and the fact that Michelle’s ID chip was left behind. Those chips are only removed when you want to fall off the grid or if you want to ensure that someone isn’t found. Scar won’t rest until her grandmother is found, and she will do everything in her power to succeed.  

Wolf is a little rough around the edges and gives off a predatory vibe that causes most people to take wide leave of him. Wolf starts off as a pretty shady creeper out to harm Scarlet, but he turns into something so much more. Originally, Scarlet met Wolf in passing during her produce deliveries, but she ran into him again at her home. After recovering from the shock of finding a stranger on her farm, Scar and Wolf create a tentative agreement to find Grandmere Michelle Benoit and take down a Lunar organization called LSO. Can she trust a man like Wolf? She knows nothing about him or his past, but she is putting her life in his paws..I mean hands…or do I?

Catching up with the Cinder-Crew worked in well considering that Scarlet isn’t truly a sequel to the first installment, but rather a parallel timeline that slightly overlaps where we left off in book 1. Scarlet isn’t the only who meets a new man, Cinder stumbles across a guy too….while she was breaking out of prison. The discovery of her Lunar heritage and the events surrounding the coronation landed her in jail until Levana could deal with her, as dictated by an older Earthen/Lunar agreement which prevents the harboring of Lunars on earth. With the help of fellow inmate, Carswell Thorne and Dr. Erland, Cinder begins a journey to find answers about her past.

So many things happened book 2 that I couldn’t summarize every aspect without rewriting an entire novel, but one major event was an act of world-war treacherously ordered by Queen Levana in the middle of the night. To take her stand against Cinder, Kai and the perceived injustices of the Commonwealth, the Lunar Queen uses an army of super-soldiers to slaughter thousands of Earthens on each continent. Kai offers to make the ultimate sacrifice to end the world-wide siege, and nearly breaks Cinder’s heart in the process.  

This series is so addicting that I had to ensure that book 3 was downloaded before Scarlet was even over! It’s interesting to see how the original characters interact and grow alongside the newbies. While some things are expected, like people falling in love or disagreeing, other topics are nice surprises. The depth of each character isn’t sacrificed to ensure that each has their story told individually. I think it helps that they are all around the same general age, have experienced hardships and disappointments, and have a desire to see a better Earth free from the Lunar Queen.

 

Standard
News, Thoughts and Opinions

September TBR Challenge 2016 –

TBR Challenge 2016

Topic: Random Pick (a built-in off-theme month – go where your mood takes you!)

If you are reading this, this is my public shaming that I did not follow through on my TBR Challenge 2016.

The mood in all honesty took me no where. I am completely floundering this semester. Readers may have noticed from my blog blurb that I am an audiologist. What you might not know is that I am an audiologist who works at a University and am on the Graduate Faculty. Traditionally I have seen patients, managed scheduling, coding, contracting and billing, as well as supervising students in clinical service provision, and teaching labs. This year due to a retirement, my teaching load has increased significantly, as well as increased research…on top of my traditional duties/ On the positive my students say I am doing well and they seem to be enjoying my class despite the fact it is extremely intense, and 3 publications I am involved with are going through the reviewing process. Should i get published I might just share it on this blog. On the negative, I can’t remember when I was last so exhausted (happily so, but still), and this is all on top of personal health issues, family health issues, and just innumerable other things. Anyway, I am doing quite a bit of rereading. And like I have told my students in the past, eventually you will get used to your new schedule….I just hope I haven’t been lying to them all those years.

Standard
cinder
4.5 star review, Books By Rating

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer Lunar Chronicles 1(audio)

 

Hello hello! It has been a long time since I’ve had something to write about, but I figured tonight’s the night. I’ve been extremely busy wrapping up my final semester of grad school and time to read an actual book is scarce. I have picked up the habit of listening to audiobooks during my commute and I think I’m hooked. As an avid reader I can’t honestly say that I have read no books, but there hasn’t been anything new or fresh on my reading list. If anybody’s interested in my recent go-to picks, the “Carpathian” series by Christine Feehan is always a good choice and I am never disappointed. There are so many different family lines, story lines, and just a good variety in each book that she writes. Each title that I have read has had enough romance and sensuality in it to make it interesting, but not enough to make it smut.

Now on to the audio books! My current digital bookshelf is full of the “Lunar Chronicles” by Marissa Meyer. It’s a 5 part series (so far) based on several different fairy tales and I’ve just finished up the first in the series. I’m not going to lie, I have already began on the 2nd installment and it is great!  The narrator plays a huge role, in my option, in how well the book comes across in an audio format. Rebecca Soler is fantastic! She is so very talented in giving each character their own voice and personality in this very busy novel. It becomes easy to distinguish each character based on Soler’s voice characteristics and accents. I am excited to hear more by this narrator in the future.

Cinder is a post-World War IV story , very loosely following the classic tale of Cinderella and her wicked stepmother. The main similarities include the stepmother and step-sisters, a ball, peculiar transportation and the attention of a prince.

The year is 126 TE (Tech Era), in the New Beijing area of the Eastern Commonwealth on Earth. Linh Cinder is the most highly recommended mechanic in the city, and her services are even sought out by the Prince. What the community doesn’t know is that Cinder is actually a cyborg, part human and part machine. More than 30% of her body was upgraded with computer sensors, auditory and visual interfaces, as well as a bionic hand and foot. Cinder’s intellect and wit has to be more than a feature of programming. She is fully wired with instant access to the web and receives her comms with audio and visual relay scrolling right before her eyes. Because of her enhancements, Cinder is able to fix most any machine she comes across, including an antique automobile hidden in the depths of a junkyard. As odd as it may seem, Cinder is pretty much like any other teenage girl…who is under the control of a selfish stepmother, Linh Adri.

Adri cares more about gowns & kimonos than an outcast ward she never wanted to take in. Her fashionable lifestyle is funded by Cinder’s repair business and little else. She treats Cinder more like an android or burden than one of her children. Adri’s husband was the one who adopted Cinder soon after the accident that killed her parents, he died soon after taking her in.

 The step-sisters are only half bad, with Pearl who is much like her mother and Peony, Cinder’s darling little sister. Pearl has high hopes of catching the eye of the eligible bachelor Prince/Emperor Kai at the coronation ball, but little does she know, Kai has already invited Cinder to be his date. Poor little Peony was Cinder’s best friend and ally, but she fell ill and passed away fairly early in the story. 

As the story is told, Cinder’s birth family was killed in a horrific car accident that left the small child’s body battered, broken and bruised when she was only eleven years old. Because of the significant damage to her body, scientists performed a procedure to save her life that included converting some of her body systems to robotic replacements. But as things unfold, and many subplots start to take place, the thought arises that Cinder could actually the long-lost Princess Selene, from the Lunar Kingdom based on the Earth’s moon.

The Lunars were originally Humans that fled Earth to colonize the Moon many centuries ago. They have since evolved into a mythical race that uses magic and mind control to maintain the security and culture surrounding the Queen, Levana. Levana is a monster bent on conquest and destruction, with the goal of controlling Earth by force. She uses her “glamour” powers to portray her self as an untouchable beauty, when in realty she is brutal and heartless. She has a small party of protectors that carry out her viscous punishments and tortures to prove her superiority over the Earthens she wishes to rule.

In an attempt to gain further control, she blackmailed and manipulated the new Emperor of the Commonwealth, nearly into marriage. Kai, as he’s called by friends and family, is a young ruler who recently gained the crown when his father died from the highly contagious and incurable plague, Letumosis. Kai’s heart holds the well-being and care of his people, but his brain is being bombarded with the political responsibilities of the crown. He can see through Levana’s mask, but she makes offers that are hard to refuse, especially in the area of medical research and treatment. Levana claims to hold to cure to the plague, but will only release the secret if a marriage agreement is arranged. Kai knows the weight of the Commonwealth is on his shoulders, but can he take the bait and commit himself to a marriage with a monster?

I could write about this book forever. Covering the main points, the subplots, the character development… every little detail of the book, but I won’t. I have to leave something for you to read on your own! One thing I did want to touch on is the relationship between Cinder and Kai. I really thought they had a bit of a budding romance but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. They seemed like they would have been so right for each other. Maybe they can overcome their differences in the other installments, and I can’t wait to find out.

 

Standard
3 star review, DNF

August TBR Challenge 2016 Double Header – Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lyndsey & Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

TBR Challenge 2016

Topic: Kicking It Old School (publication date 10 years or older)

Defy Not the Heart

Reina seethes with rage over her fate: taken captive by the knight Ranulf — a golden giant of a man — who has pledged to deliver her to the nuptial bed of the despised Lord Rothwell. She will never accept such bondage — and Reina offers herself to her kidnapped instead, offering to make Ranulf a great lord…if he agrees to wed her.But the brave knight desires much more than a marriage of convenience from this proud, headstrong lady who treats him with scorn yet makes his blood run hotter than liquid fire. She must come to him of her own free will — or Ranulf will take her. For the passion that consumes them both cannot long be denied — even though gravest peril surely awaits them on the heart’s trail to a destines and turbulent love.

This one has been on my TBR for some time, and it seems to be one of the few Johanna Lindsey books I can not remember having read during my teen Lindsey binging period. It has been published and then republished (multiple times) since 1989-so it fits comfortably in the TBR Challenge parameters. And just this past fall it was brought to my attention again, and once again slipped off my radar-I even had it checked out from the library and forgot to read it. I was going to do a different book for this challenge, but I figured NOW is the time.

This should have been my jam. Heroine starts out in armor defending her home. Hero has a cat. I hear good things. But alas, by the 5th chapter I was STILL trying to force myself to read it. Even reading the last chapter didn’t entice me to continue reading. I didn’t even get to any of the good parts when I had to quit. Something about the was the author used language just put me right off and had me crinkling my nose and curling my lips into a sneer.

I tried, really I did. I don’t remember if this is the way Lindsey has always written, or if this is unique to this particular book, but it really didn’t entice me to go back and reread anything. And pleasure reading really shouldn’t be this hard, so I finally gave up.

Defy Not the Heart (Shefford's Knights, #1)
But, since I got an early start on this one and had the time, i went ahead and tried for a second one.
Cold Comfort Farm

This was another recommended read, it is the oldest book on my TBR (published in 1932), it was immediately availalble from the library, and I was hoping a change was as good as a rest.

When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex.

At the aptly named Cold Comfort Farm, she meets the doomed Starkadders: cousin Judith, heaving with remorse for unspoken wickedness; Amos, preaching fire and damnation; their sons, lustful Seth and despairing Reuben; child of nature Elfine; and crazed old Aunt Ada Doom, who has kept to her bedroom for the last twenty years.

But Flora loves nothing better than to organize other people. Armed with common sense and a strong will, she resolves to take each of the family in hand. A hilarious and merciless parody of rural melodramas, Cold Comfort Farm (1932) is one of the best-loved comic novels of all time.

I don’t know exactly what I just read, but it was unexpectedly delightful. Somehow much of it puts me in mind of my childhood memories of the Anne of Avonlea series…though I read those so long ago anyone with current experience could likely rightfully dispute me. The rest of the book is filled with onomatopoeia and ridiculousness. Half the words aren’t really words, and the rest of the words don’t often make sense when put together….if you stop and think about it. So whatever you do, don’t think about a bit of it and let the imagery the paint pictures in your mind.

So what that the cows might lose legs, and hooves, and their horns? Just enjoy how Flora cheerfully goes about managing everything in her midst until everything is just so. She plots and maneuvers with the best of intentions until everything falls perfectly into place, and then is left lonely and bereft. So what is a managing female to do but fall instantly in love with the man who won’t tolerate her managing, and him with her?

I suspect that there is much I am missing in this. But it seems the type of thing one can either read surface or deep, and enjoyment is possible at either level. I am not in raptures over it as some seem to be, but it was cute. And while I won’t likely be re-reading it, I do think I will recommend it to others. It is definitely unique if nothing else.

Cold Comfort Farm

Standard