Friday, 24 July 2015

Short & Tweetish #6 & Giveaway: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

I'm back again with a Short & Tweetish Review (There's no way I can keep it to 140 characters!).  This style of reviewing was introduced to me by Mary@The Book Swarm  and Karen's @For What It's Worth

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1) by Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: August 5th 2014
My rating:  4 stars 
Amazon | B&N | TBD | GRs
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind...

My Thoughts:
Engrossing and disturbing, Mortal Danger combines revenge, horror, and the trials of high school. Edie was a sympathetic character, a victim of cruel school bullying. This pushes her to take a deal that ends up being too good to be true.  The consequences are ugly and terrifying and Edie is caught up in a deadly supernatural game.  While Edie’s back and forth with Kian was understandable, it was a little frustrating at times. Still, I was rooting for their romance because they had so much in common, pain and circumstance. Revenge stories can be tricky and very negative, so I was happy that Edie’s human compassion made her horrified by the actuality in spite of her past treatment.  

 I'm giving away my ARC copy of Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre to one Readers Den follower.  The giveaway is restricted to US or Canadian residents only.  Fill out the rafflecopter below for a chance to win.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Review: After the War by Jessica Scott

After the War by Jessica Scott
Publication date: May 5th 2015
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

The second book in the emotional new Homefront series from USA Today Bestselling author Jessica Scott

A terrible loss…

Captain Sarah Anders lost her husband to the Iraq war and has nearly lost the career she loves. Sent to Fort Hood, she only wants to do her job and take care of the daughter she’s raising on her own. She never counted on running straight into a memory she’d tried to forget.

A love he never forgot...

Captain Sean Nichols never got over Sarah. He simply tried to forget her amidst the war and the chaos of combat. But when she’s assigned to investigate his unit, he comes face to face with the woman no war or any amount of time could make him forget.

A dark secret…

As Sarah gets closer to the truth, Sean must accept that actions he took during the war may end the tentative love building between them. And even if Sarah can forgive him, Sean may never be able to forgive himself.

My Thoughts:
Captain Sarah Anders never counted on being a single mother, but being in the Army she understood the risk when she married a soldier.  But before she married, there was another man in her life, one she’s tried and failed to forget, Captain Sean Nichols.  Now years later when an injury brings her back to the States, serving at Fort Hood, Sarah is face to face with the man that broke her heart. Can they put the past behind each other and work together peacefully or even better (IMO) have a second chance at love?

Captain Sean Nichols has never loved another woman since Sarah, but she chose the Army over him, or at least that’s what he thought so many years ago. It’s funny what growing up can do to your perspective and Sean realizes now what an idiot he was to let Sarah get away back then. When he comes face to face with her again, pain overrides his sensibilities and Sean lashes out, but an investigation forces them to put the past behind them and work together.  Realizing the amazing opportunity he has before him again, Sean sets out to right the wrongs of the past and win the woman he never forgot.

Life in the Army is no walk in the park. Navigating the politics and personalities is difficult. Dealing with the demons these soldiers dragged home from war complicates things further.  Sean’s team has two men fighting in what seems like a cut and dry situation until Sarah is called in to investigate.  It’s tricky and heartbreaking trying to do right by these men who’ve given up so much for their country.  Sean struggles to balance what’s right with loyalty to a man that had his back in battle years ago. My heart went out to all involved. 

After the War was a touching second chance romance, and I found myself tearing up over Sean and Sarah’s story.  Jessica Scott writes beautiful, emotional romances, and I think her background in the military makes the stories feel authentic and relatable. The troubles and growing pains Sean and Sarah went through felt realistic, and I could easily understand how they bungled things up when they were young, even though they were so passionately in love.  Of course, I was thrilled that these two would have a second chance at happiness.  

Connect with Jessica Scott:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Author Event Recap with Sarah Alderson

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Sarah Alderson Event hosted at Birmingham New Street. I'd met Sarah last year at a blogger's event, but I couldn't wait to catch up with her again and see other fans of her work too. 

Sarah is one of the nicest people I have ever met, I've absolutely loved her work, and I tend to get super nervous about meeting and chatting with authors who I am huge fans of. Of course I got to the event early, so I ended up sitting in the front row. Sarah kicked off with a reading of her latest YA release Conspiracy Girl.

And then went straight into questions from the audience.

Sarah said that she sort of stumbled into writing, she hadn't planned to be a writer from a very young age.

Very exciting things are happening with the Hunting Lila film, they've narrowed the casting of Lila down to six actresses. Sarah wouldn't reveal anything about who these actresses could be. They're looking to cast Alex next week, they're going to film a scene with Alex and each of the Lila's and then decide on the chemistry between the actors. Sarah has asked to be able to be in the room when this scene took place, but it doesn't look like this will happen :(  Rachel has already been cast.

I was able to put my hand up and squeak out a question, which was who was Sarah's favourite male character from her books, her answer was Demos. I was sort of surprised that she chose him, but Sarah explained that there's so much more to Demos than you expect. And if you have read Sarah's Lila series you would understand what she means, as Demos is rather more complex than expected. 

Sarah's inspiration for her books came from travelling, which she's loved that she's been able to do.

Sarah was asked which of her characters she finds herself most like and her reply was Lila.

Sarah's favourite charcters from books she has read are Buffy and Katniss. She likes her kick ass females.

On whether there will be an upcoming third book in the Lila series, Sarah's response was that she was hoping to get to it once the screenplay for Hunting Lila kicked in. (I was super excited when I heard this!!)

Sarah's favourite cover from her own books is The Sound.

Sarah found that most readers chose Alex as their favourite male character from her books, she's written seven books and still can't top him. 

I had an amazing time at this event with Sarah, thank you to Birmingham New Street for having such an amazing author like Sarah do an event for us and Sarah for taking the time out for your fans (she was really great in chatting with all the readers who queued up to get their books signed). 


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Review: The Yellow Rose Beauty Shop by Carolyn Brown

The Yellow Rose Beauty Shop (Cadillac, Texas #3) by Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication date: July 14th 2015
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Stella’s mama never should’ve put Stella on the church prayer list. With Stella’s twenty-seventh birthday coming up fast, Nancy desperately wants to see her daughter married and giving her grandbabies. Petitioning heaven seems like a surefire way to get it done. But in Cadillac, Texas, where the gossip’s hotter than the city’s famous jalapeño peppers, it isn’t long before all hell breaks loose.

Heather, the bossy leader of the church’s Prayer Angels, thinks a summer ball will get Stella and the town’s other single gals paired off. But nobody can tell redheaded spitfire Stella what to do—not her mama, not Heather, and not even the sexy beau Stella’s been seeing in secret. Together, Stella, her best friends Charlotte and Piper, and the loyal customers of the Yellow Rose Beauty Shop hatch a good old-fashioned scheme to sabotage the ball. But will it wreck Stella’s relationship with her mama forever? And what will the church folk think when Stella reveals the identity of her mystery man?

My Thoughts:
The Yellow Rose Beauty Shop was hilarious, and so much fun to read. But sweet romances, strong female friendships and family bonds make this more than just a humorous read.

Twenty-six year old Stella has been put on the Prayer Angels’ list by her mother, Nancy. Nancy wants a grandchild and she thinks Stella needs a husband first to make that happen. Nancy doesn’t know her daughter already has a man because Stella’s been keeping him under wraps for a good reason. Unfortunately, the leader of the prayer group, Heather, has a grudge against Stella, and so she takes the opportunity to humiliate her by putting up a sign for the whole town to see: “Pray for My Daughter. She Needs a Husband.”  With Cadillac, Texas being a small town the gossip spreads like wildfire and speculation about why Stella would need a husband set tongues a wagging.

Heather’s machinations know no bounds, but she’s come against the wrong girl, because Stella is a redhead by birth and temperament, and she has an arsenal of loyal friends at her back. The hilarity that ensues had me laughing my ass off for much of this story!

While Stella is the center of the story, her best friends, Piper and Charlotte take up a good portion as well. Their loves and lives in this story reminds me a lot of the movie Steel Magnolias; laughing during the good times and crying together during the bad. The movie also just happens to be one of their favorites (mine, too!).  

Stella’s romance is hidden, but very solid. Still, when she finds out about the sign Stella’s a little afraid of her man’s reaction. He’s a complete sweetheart so of course she gets nothing, but support from him.  As a reader you find out early on who she’s involved with and why Stella’s keeps it hush, hush. I understood why she kept the relationship under the covers so I didn’t find it frustrating.  The gossip was so out of control I really couldn’t blame her.

Piper is a single mom with two twin boys, getting by on her own after her ex-husband, Gene, decided he wanted date other women and didn’t want to bother with kids.  Gene is pretty much a dirt bag, and gives Piper grief, but she has Stella and Charlotte at her back.  Stella’s parents were also very sweet and supportive, and I loved the example they set as a married couple.  Piper is gun shy about dating, but that doesn’t stop a hunky cowboy from taking notice. Charlotte is engaged to her high school sweetheart, Boone, and while they seem very devoted, Charlotte needs her girls to help her sort out a dilemma, too.

I loved the female relationships in this book, there was pretty much only one mean girl, Heather, and she just added entertainment so it was all good. I must mention Agnes Flynn, the eighty-year old spitfire of this novel:

If anyone in town could put things to rights, it was Agnes. She was eighty years old and ornery as a rattlesnake, and there wasn’t a person in town who messes with Agnes.

Thankfully, Agnes is on Stella’s side in this whole mess!  Seriously, that lady had me cracking up so many times in this story:

"And FYSA, I was plenty spicy enough to chase down men prettier than Rhett Monroe twenty years ago."—“It's FYI. The initials mean 'for your information,'" Charlotte said.
"I don't like your alphabet soup world, but maybe I meant for your stupid ass when I said FYSA," Agnes smarted off.

“I’m not telling you jack shit about my snitch. The FBI or the NASA would come haul my skinny ass off to jail if they knew who I had in my pocket.”
“NASA is the place that sends spaceships to the moon and Mars.” Trixie laughed.

I can’t help but narrate these stories in my head with a Southern accent and have to stop myself from saying ‘y’all’ when I finish.

I’ve enjoyed each and every story by Carolyn Brown. You can tell she writes from a well of life experience.  Her small town, Southern romances are filled with humor, heart and sass!

Connect with Carolyn Brown:

Monday, 13 July 2015

Review & Giveaway: Ask Me Why by Virginia Kantra, Shirley Jump, Marie Force & Jodi Thomas

Ask Me Why by Virginia Kantra, Shirley Jump, Marie Force & Jodi Thomas
Publisher: Jove
Publication date: July 7th 2015
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
New novellas in the Green Mountain, Harmony, Southern Belle Book Club, and Dare Island series!

From four contemporary romance stars, stories filled with first kisses, first dances, and happily-ever-afters…

You’ll Be Mine by Marie Force: Will Abbott and Cameron Murphy are finally ready to tie the knot—as long as family, friends and a love-struck moose don’t get in the way.

Midnight Bet by Jodi Thomas: When cousins Rick and Lizzy Matheson of Harmony, Texas, wind up on the wrong side of an attempted shooting, they know they’re in deep. Still, the biggest danger is losing their hearts—Rick to an old flame and Lizzy to an old friend she’d never noticed before…

Wrapped Around Your Finger by Shirley Jump: Maggie McBride is just one of the guys in the hard-knocks world of construction. Until she’s dared to ask Nick Patterson to a wedding, enticing her to knock down some walls—and risk falling in love.

Carolina Heart by Virginia Kantra: Determined to leave her wild past behind, Cynthie Lodge is forging a new life for herself and her daughters—one that’s man-free and drama-free. But when her high school crush shows up on Dare Island, he’s determined to make her break her rules…

My Thoughts on each novella:
Midnight Bet by Jodi Thomas:
This was a double romance, one for each Matheson cousin, Rick and Lizzie.

Rick’s an attorney with a lot of enemies and Trace is a U.S. Marshall who has guarded him in the past. Since they parted ways, Trace hasn’t answered any of his emails or calls, but Rick can’t get her off his mind. Trace can’t hide her feelings when a Rick’s life may be in danger again.

Lizzie’s is the oddball of the Matheson clan. She’s never fit it and she’s long past trying to. Lizzie has a big heart, but someone has it in for her. When it becomes apparent that her life is in serious danger, the town vet and her neighbor, Dr. McCall steps in and an attraction Lizzie never considered starts to simmer between them.

I liked Rick, but Trace was a little too remote for me. I never got a real handle on her. I was rooting for a happy ending for the two, but their story paled compared to Lizzie and McCall’s.  Their  quiet, but moving romance between Lizzie and Dr. McCall. They lived right next door, but Lizzie always thought a broken heart kept McCall at a distance, or maybe that he just preferred animals to people. McCall turned out to be all sorts of perfect for Lizzie and sort of her knight-in-shining-armor!  So very sweet!
Rick & Trace’s romance: 3 Stars
Lizzie & McCall’s romance: 4 Stars

You’ll Be Mine by Marie Force:
I adore Marie Force’s Green Mountain series! Every story is charming with plenty of sizzle, but Will and Cameron’s romance will always hold a special place in my heart. “Getting to attend” their wedding was a real treat. Will and Cameron’s special bond was brilliantly captured in this novella, with some super hot sexy times, of course! The Abbott family’s love and hilarious antics won Cameron’s heart and mine from the first book forward. Fred the Moose, who was partly responsible for bringing Will and Cam together, makes a memorable appearance, rounding out the evening.

I was very intrigued by the prospect of a romance for Patrick, Cameron’s rich city dad, who has a player reputation.  Mary, the Abbott’s store manager captures his eye, and although Mary is flattered, she’s cautious. I’m crossing my fingers, but I guess we’ll see.
4 Stars

Wrapped Around Your Finger by Shirley Jump:
Maggie the opposite of a Southern Belle, she’s a construction worker, but has to go back to her roots for her best friend’s wedding. She’s been dared to bring a date, and if she doesn’t Maggie knows she’ll be paired off with someone’s wacky second cousin. Maggie’s always been attracted to Nick, her sexy co-worker, but he’s had a revolving door of dates (so she thinks) and Maggie doesn’t want to be another one of many, but Nick’s about the only guy she can think of to bring.  Can she keep her feelings in check spending a week pretending to be a couple? Well, we certainly hope not!

Nick was a peach and I just melted over him. Maggie was tough as nails and just wouldn’t budge or believe in Nick’s sincerity. Her constant denial and pushing was seriously annoying. I face palmed several times, but I glad Maggie finally pulled her head out!
3 Stars

Carolina Heart by Virginia Kantra:
Cynthie’s mother has always said “You have a soft heart and willing hands. A pretty girl don’t need more.” So Cynthie has never thought of herself as a smart girl, but she’s trying to make a better life for her and her girls by going back to school.  Max was in love with Cynthie in high school, a fact she never knew, being she was the school’s looker and he was just a nerdy kid. But now, Max is all grown up, back working on Dare Island, and seeing Cynthie again brings back all his feelings.  He’s determined to get the girl this time.

I admired Cynthie so much. She worked hard as a single mom and wanted to be a good example for them. She was cautious about Max, partly because of her girls, but also because her low self-esteem made her feel inadequate for someone successful and smart like Max. Max was such a super sweetie and I fell hard for that man! He helped bolster Cynthie’s confidence and provided support without robbing Cynthie of her dignity.  She in turn cared for Max, something he never had growing up, and it meant the world to him. I loved Max and Cynthie’s story. Virginia Kantra skillfully avoided the insta-love pit a novella can fall into, and instead gave us a slow (but very HOT!) burn romance full of longing and with just enough build-up to make the payoff oh-so-sweet!
4.5 Stars

The publisher has generously provided a Paperback Copy of Ask Me Why to one Readers Den follower. Entrants must be 18 years or older.  Giveaway is open to US or Canadian Residents only. Simply fill in the rafflecopter for a chance to win. 
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