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Review – Problems in Paradise – Kelsey Brown

problems in paradiseProblems In Paradise
Author: Kelsey Brown
Series: #3 in the Texas Nights series
Rating: ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩

Review Copy Provided By Author

Description:
Eden Durant hasn’t always been Eden Durant. She’s made a fresh start in Shelbyville, Texas, far from her mother’s notoriety. Running the Paradise Garden Café is as much excitement as Eden wants—or it was, until she meets Beck Childress. Although he’s the one man who could expose her past, she’s willing to open up enough to see if he might be her future.

Chief Deputy Childress is determined to get to know the real Eden, when he isn’t busy cleaning up after the sheriff and running in the election to replace him. When several men fall sick after eating in Eden’s café, he investigates even as her mysterious past raises both his suspicions and his protective instincts.

As their relationship heats up, so do the pressures of Beck’s campaign. When Eden’s secrets are revealed, jeopardizing his dream of becoming sheriff, he’ll need to choose: serve and protect the town he loves or the woman who makes it home.

Review:
I blame Jamie Farrell for my current addiction to Kelsey Brownings books – back when book 2 in the Texas Nights series (Running the Red Light) was released, she was talking about it on her facebook page and like a sucker, I one clicked it on Amazon and was hooked. I will however admit that while I remember Beck from the previous books, I don’t have as strong a recollection of Eden. I vaguely remember the discussions about her organic vegan restaurant – which I found funny, since the series in set in Texas (yeah, I know it was supposed to be) and how most texans I know (although not that many) are red meat lovin’ people. So seeing the interaction between Beck, the self-avowed junk foodie and Eden, the organic, homemade, health food junkie made me squee. (and yes, squee is a word!)

The sexual tension between Beck and Eden was hot enough that I found myself fanning my face a few times while reading – i’m sure red in my skin tone is such an awesome look! But it wasn’t overly done – meaning, there was so much more to the story than sex. Especially, the mystery about who was trying to sabotage both Beck’s campaign for Sheriff (I personally, still don’t get that, shouldn’t the Sheriff be the best at the job, not the person that can lie, whoops, I mean campaign the best). I will admit that I kind of had the mystery figured out before the reveal, but then I quite often do – its rare that I had no idea prior (except with this darn new J.K. Rowling book that STILL has me stumped, but that is a story for another day). I will admit that I did like the underlying, OMG, vegetarian food may kill us vibe that I got from several of the characters who made an appearance – it reminds me very much of my family and how they still react to this day with my sister who is a vegetarian (going on 10 years now). Such an insight, it was like the author is or knows someone who is a vegan and sees the interaction that occurs between us meat eaters (yeah, I’m admittedly one) and the non-meat eaters – haha!

Plus as with her previous books, we got to visit once again the couples from both Personal Assets (bk 1) and Running the Red Light (bk 2), but without their stories taking over, they were just there, in the background, hanging out, like good friends do. So basically, sexy contemporary romance, personal beliefs tension (carnivore vs. vegan), unresolved sexual tension and lite mystery make so a great read from Kelsey Browning. Overall, I gave Problems in Paradise 4 stars.

Kelsey will be giving away 1 copy of Personal Assets (the first book in the series) to one lucky commenter, so make sure you leave some love below (and your email, so I can get a hold of you if you win) and good luck. You have until July 25th (next Friday)

Buy Links:
Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights) – Amazon
Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights) – Barnes and Noble
Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights) – Carina Press
Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights) – Books A Million
Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights) – Kobo

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses – Molly Harper

witch's handbook of kisses and cursesA Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses
Author: Molly Harper
Series: #2 in the Half Moon Hollow series (spin-off of the Jane Jameson series)

Review Copy Provided by the Publisher Via Edelweiss

Description:
Nola Leary would have been content to stay in Kilcairy, Ireland, healing villagers at her family’s clinic with a mix of magic and modern medicine. But a series of ill-timed omens and a deathbed promise to her grandmother have sent her on a quest to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, to secure her family’s magical potency for the next generation. Her supernatural task? To unearth four artifacts hidden by her grandfather before a rival magical family beats her to it.

Complication One: Her grandfather was Mr. Wainwright and the artifacts are lost somewhere in what is now Jane Jameson’s book shop.

Complication Two: her new neighbor, Jed Trudeau, who keeps turning up half naked at the strangest times, a distraction Nola doesn’t need. And teaming up with a real-life Adonis is as dangerous as it sounds, especially when he’s got the face of an angel and the abs of a washboard—can Nola complete her mission before falling completely under his spell?

Review:
I have come to the conclusion that one never knows what exactly they are going to get when they pick up a Molly Harper book to read and that is what makes her books so enjoyable. In this one, we were introduced to the fact that not only were there Vampires and Werewolves in her world, but also Witch’s – which as far as I know, have not been introduced before (but I haven’t read all of the Jane Jameson books, so maybe I am missing something). This book also marks the second in her spin-off series, Half-Moon Hollow (although, there is also a .5 book in the mix – so does this make it truely book 2, or maybe it should be book 3…). Anyways…she will be continuing on my auto-buy list in the future.

In this installment, we meet Nora, an Irish witch – who has come to Half-Moon Hollow to find several artifacts that will help her family seduce their magic and the power over a rival family for another generation. And as it always seems to be, this rival family and Nora’s has been in a feud for generations, but from the sounds of it, no one really remembers the who/how/why of it coming to be…

Witch’s Handbook was filled with the typical Molly Harper snark – where you about pee your pants laughing at a random comment, and then before you can stop, another one hits you and it just keeps on rolling through. Although, admittedly, I didn’t find as many quotable quotes in this one, as I have in previous ones. It was funny without being highly memorable (if that makes sense).

I loved both Nora and Jed as characters and am definately looking forward to reading more books with them in the future. It was also nice to see Jane and her cohort. Although, I will warn you, there are spoilers for later books in the Jane Jameson series (if you are like me and are pitifully behind on those)…so don’t say I didn’t warn you. But it isn’t like they are needed to enjoy the book, rather, they just add to the world-building. Overall, I’d give this a strong 3.5, but rounding up to 4. But I would warn about drinking while reading – you may cause damage to your book, kindle or other e-reader.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Composing Myself – Elena Aitken

composing myselfComposing Myself
Author: Elena Aitken

Review Copy Provided By Author

Description:
Whitney Monroe’s not ashamed of the way her mother can work a brass pole, not really. It’s just that some things are better left unsaid; especially when your mother’s a stripper and you’re trying to get a job at a prestigious private school that definitely won’t appreciate her talents.

Raised by her grandma, Whitney’s always managed to keep her two worlds separate, even if it meant lying to everyone. And when Reid Phillips—a charming, sexy songwriter—becomes her not-entirely-welcome roommate, Whitney has no intention of telling him the truth either. But she wasn’t excepting Reid to see right through her and challenge her compartmentalized life. With Grams seriously ill, her mother’s life in turmoil and her dream job on the line, it’s more important than ever for Whitney to keep everything together. But that will mean being honest with everyone, starting with herself.

Review:
This is my first time reading Elena Aitken’s stuff, but honestly, based on Composing Myself, it won’t be the last. I was immediately drawn to the description, I mean, brass pole, aka stripper pole, in the first sentence of the blurb – who wouldn’t be intrigued. I started reading this at about 8pm on a Friday night, with every intention of only reading a “few chapters” as is my nightly routine. Unfortunately, that didn’t exactly pan out…an hour and a half later, I will still reading…I had to force myself to stop reading and go to sleep (otherwise my run the next morning was going to suck!)

I did find it interesting that the author used a flash-back method of telling part of the story – I’ve found that sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. For me, it worked in past – but not completely – it just needed something else as a wow factor (I hope that makes sense…). I did find it interesting how similar in character Whitney’s mother and grandmother were (although, i’m sure that they would hate to admit it) – it was their stubborn-ness and need to be right that led to so many of the trials/tribulations in the story.

I loved Whitney as a character, she was just so young and careful, but oh man, was her boyfriend a douche-bag…sorry, no other words describe him. I wanted to boink him over the head. I was so glad when Reid came into the picture. Anyways, i’m not going to be belabor the point, but the say, I really enjoyed this book, will be reading more of Elena Aitken in the future. Overall, I gave this story 3.5 but still debating on the rounding up/down for Goodreads.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – How to Misbehave – Ruthie Knox

how to misbehaveHow to Misbehave
Author: Ruthie Knox
Series: #1 in the Camelot series

E-book provided by the author for review

Description:
As program director for the Camelot Community Center, Amber Clark knows how to keep her cool. That is, until a sudden tornado warning forces her to take shelter in a darkened basement with a hunk of man whose sex appeal green lights her every fantasy. With a voice that would melt chocolate, he asks her if she is okay. Now she’s hot all over and wondering: How does a girl make a move?

Building contractor Tony Mazzara was just looking to escape nature’s fury. Instead, he finds himself all tangled up with lovely Amber. Sweet and sexy, she’s ready to unleash her wild side. Their mutual desire reaches a fever pitch and creates a storm of its own–unexpected, powerful, and unforgettable. But is it bigger than Tony can handle? Can he let go of painful memories and let the force of this remarkable woman show him a future he never dreamed existed?

Review:
I’ve been reading romance novels for a long time (probably close to 16 years now, and I am barely in my 30’s)…so I have see the gamut of authors from the very good to the ehhh, to the what the heck did they just write. But it has been a long time, since I have come across an author like Ruthie Knox who reminds me why I fell in love with reading romances. Her characters just jump off the page, and you either way to hug them, or hit them upside the head (a la Gibbs in NCIS). Either way, when Ruthie Knox posted on her twitter about having review copies of her two new books (this being the first one in the series), I jumped on the opportunity to read/review it.

What can I say – for sure, she packed a whollop of a punch into a short read – I think it only took me just over an hour to read (came in at about 30k words and about 100 pages) – but I was sucked in. I love the contemporary take on the damsel in distress (see also Laura Kaye’s Heart in Darkness for a similar theme) and the strong guy, who is really soft on the inside. Yes, I am gushing, I know. all I can say is that I want more and I want it now (mocks stamping her feet in a tantrum) – thankfully, I have the next book in the series (also courtesy of the author) waiting for me. I really hope that the later books in the series (which they will from my understanding) will have cameos of Amber and Tony because I want to know more about them and their lives together – does everything workout for them. While their story was short, they (and all of her other characters) are ones that I become invested in. More books please, Ruthie Knox!! 4 stars overall of a solid (if short), contemporary romance.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – The List – Karin Tanabe

the listThe List
Author: Karin Tanabe
Release Date: 5 February, 2013

Review Copy Provided by Washington Square Press, via Edelweiss

Description:
Meet Adrienne Brown, a twenty-eight-year-old Wellesley College grad who recently left her glamorous job at Town & Country for a spot at the Capitolist. Known simply as the List to Beltway insiders, it’s the only media outlet in D.C. that’s actually on the rise. Taking the job means accepting a painful pay cut, giving up perks like free Louboutins, and moving back in with her parents, but Adrienne is certain that her new position will be the making of her career. And it is—but not at all in the way that she expects. The Capitolist runs at an insane pace: Adrienne’s up before five in the morning, writing ten stories a day (sometimes on her BlackBerry, often during her commute), and answering every email within three minutes. Just when it seems like the frenetic workload is going to break her, she stumbles upon a juicy political affair, involving a very public senator—and her most competitive colleague. Discovering that there’s much more to the relationship than meets the eye, Adrienne realizes she’s got the scoop of a lifetime. But should she go public with the story?

Review:
Having lived and worked in DC for nearly three years now as a member of the Federal Gov’t, I was immediately drawn to the description provided. I mean, most of us have probably caught glimpses of those government/celebrity scandals on different TV stations and wondered how they came to list – which is what Ms. Tanabe did in her debut novel, The List.

I have to admit, however, that as the book progressed, I became more and more conflicted about the outcome and what route Adrienne would take. While so much of the book was a play on the hypocrisy of people in situations like that (and I have been in them to), I kept hoping that she would take the high road. But in the end, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in the outcome. I had grown to like Adrienne as a character, as well as the various secondary cast, but her actions, ultimately pissed me off. Yet, this highlighting of the hypocrisy of peoples actions in order to make their mark and get ahead was intriguing. Much of my career in the military has been similar – and there is a reason that one of the unofficial mottos in my career field is stab, stab, look, stab stab…because there is a belief that in order to get ahead, you need to be able/willing to sacrifice others. What kind of society have we turned into where that is acceptable is scary unto itself…

While I have to say that I disliked the ending, overall, I remained intrigued through-out most of the book and will be interested in seeing what this author comes up with in the future. I would give it 3.5 stars overall, but rounding up to 4.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Mrs Lincoln’s Dressmaker – Jennifer Chiaverini

mrs lincolnMrs Lincoln’s Dressmaker
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Release Date: January 15, 2013

Review Copy Provided by Dutton Adult via Edelweiss

Description:
In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents a stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.

In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste,” responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world.

Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives.

Review:
I have previously read/listened to Ms Chiaverini’s work (her Elm Creek Quilters series) and enjoyed it, so when I saw that she had written a new book that was primarily historical fiction, I jumped on the opportunity to read/review it. My favorite part of her other series is how she is able to seamlessly go back in time to describe a key element, so I was curious to see how she could pull off an entire HF book. There have been numerous books written about Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, her modiste (although the title is dressmaker, that isn’t necessarily accurate). However, I haven’t read any of them, which I am kind of glad of, because it meant that going into reading this book that my mind was a clean slate.

I found the first part of the book the most interesting about how Elizabeth came to work for Mrs. Lincoln following the election. But not only that, the sense of realism that was portrayed in how Mrs. Lincoln was talked/gossiped about – I made me think about the similarities between her and celebrities today – nice to see that some things haven’t changed. I really enjoyed the book up until the point just after Lincoln was assassinated and what happened to Mrs. Lincoln and her family – but then it just felt like it started going down hill. There were parts that it seemed like the author had just gotten a hold of Elizabeth Keckley’s memoir (which I am planning on reading) and was just regurgitating some of the stuff mentioned in there. It felt much more memoir-ish, than historical fiction -which is a pity. The last 25% of the book or so just dragged – I wasn’t that interested in what was going on which was a disappointment because I had enjoyed the first part of it. The story behind the tell-all memoir was intriguing, and kind of reminds me of how pretty much every celebrity today has had a bio/memoir written about then and how newspapers like the National Enquire go to extreme lengths for these “tell-all” tales – so maybe some historical basis to how these items came to be?

I think that this stage, I probably would have gotten more out of reading the memoir, so I could see what was real and what the author had actually interpretated based on her research. The story behind the quilt was interesting (and I did like that in the authors note, she described how she had come up with the storyline for it that she had). While I enjoyed bits and pieces of the authors writing style, I think I am going to stick to her contemporary fiction with flashbacks – I found it much more enjoyable. I have requested a copy of Elizabeth Keckley’s memoir from the library and am curious to read it. Overall, I’d give Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker 3 stars, but it is on the lower side of the 3.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year – Annameekee Hesik

The You Know Who Girls
Author: Annameekee Hesik

Review Copy Provided by Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley

Book Description
Abbey Brooks, Gila High freshman-to-be, never thought a hellish day of shopping at the mall with her best friend, Kate, could change her life. But when she orders French fries from the flirtatious Hot Dog on a Stick Chick, she gets more than deep-fried potatoes. Abbey tries to ignore the weird, happy feeling in her gut, but that proves to be as impossible as avoiding the very insistent (and—rumor has it—very lesbian) players on Gila High’s girls’ basketball team. They want freakishly long-legged Abbey to try out, and Abbey doesn’t hate the idea. But Kate made Abbey pinky swear to avoid basketball and to keep away from the you-know-who girls on the team.

Sometimes promises can’t be kept. And sometimes girls in uniform are impossible to resist.

Review
Its hard for me to preface why I requested this book to read because I can honestly say that non-romancy LGBT fiction normally isn’t my thing. But there was just something that drew my attention in the description. And I am glad that I took the chance. It has been a while since I was in high school (but I’m not going to tell you how long…lol), but I still remember being that awkward freshman, trying to make new friends and find myself in the hierarchy that is a high school. I can’t imagine struggling with my sexuality, while going through those normal high school trials. While I was reading, I found that Ms Hesik managed to walk the fine line between the dramatic without being too angsty.

While for me the ending was only so-so, I enjoyed the vast majority of the book and I hope that she plans on writing more focusing on Abbey’s other years at Gila High, or if that isn’t possible, then maybe at least her senior year. Overall, I’d give this a solid 4 stars and will definately be looking for more by this author in the future.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Book Review

 

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