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Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: SPY BY NIGHT by Jordan McCollum

From JordanMcCollum.comAfter watching her parents’ marriage crash and burn, CIA operative Talia Reynolds doesn’t believe in “happily ever afters.” Besides, her job entails eighty-hour weeks, juggling a dozen covers and disguises, and tracking down a dangerous Russian spy ring. She hardly has time for romantic entanglements, even if she could let her guard down enough to get close to anyone. But all the rules she lives by could be broken when she meets aerospace engineer Danny Fluker.
Danny moved to Canada for a great job — and a chance to start over after a bad breakup.Dating definitely isn’t in his plans . . . until beautiful and enigmatic Talia throws a perfect storm right in his flight path. When he catches a glimpse of the real woman behind her fa├žade, he has to get to know her better.
Talia has to find a Russian spymaster before he figures out she’s not who she claims, and failing to keep her two lives separate in the process could mean the death of more than just her budding relationship. Danny has to decide if a future with Talia — and facing the past — is worth the risk of getting hurt again. If they can break through the barriers keeping them apart (and avoid a major international catastrophe), they just might have a chance at being happy together.
Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Length: 331 pgs

Rating: 5 (I really loved it!)
Review: I am SO a fan of these books. I remember reading the first one, a year ago, right after I moved to Alaska. I'd lucked upon getting a review copy and I DEVOURED it. Fast forward a few months and I've read Every. Single. Book. in this series. This was lived up to all of them. I love Talia's voice, and I loved finally getting into Danny's head too! It's weird going back in time with Talia and back to where she began but super cool. This one is definitely more of a romance than the others, but still oh, soooo good. 
Content:
Sex - 0
Language - 0
Violence - 1 (It IS a spy book and there IS fighting. Nothing graphic.)
Rating - PG


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Robyn Reviews: EVE by H.B. Moore (Mirror Press, November 2014)

From Amazon: From USA Today bestselling author H. B. Moore, comes . . .

EVE: IN THE BEGINNING

The first love story on earth . . . Haunting . . . Lyrical . . . Unforgettable . . .

In a world where everything is perfect, yet the same day after day, Eve must decide if she wants to live forever in the garden with Adam and never know what lies beyond the walls. When she makes a choice with terrible consequences, the pain of mortality is swift. As she and Adam explore their new world, and her body changes, Eve discovers the sweetness of first love with the man who has always been at her side.

Audience: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 252 pages

Rating: 4

Robyn's Review: Eve, In the Beginning is the story of our first parents in the garden if Eden. It is told mainly from Eve’s point of view. I enjoyed this book because it gave me some new insights and things to think about regarding the relationship between Adam and Eve. They became real to me with real struggles and real joy. I enjoyed that they needed to get to know each other better after they were evicted from the garden. They had some funny misunderstandings and some heartbreak. I especially liked that they had to learn to rely on each other and trust each other to make the right decisions. It is truly a love story for all time, not just a happily ever after fairytale. Ms. Moore is a master at drawing you into the story and letting you feel the emotions of each character. Eve starts out pretty selfish and you grow right along with her. Adam is also quite selfish and arrogant at first, so it was a pleasure to watch them mature into multi-dimensional people. I liked this book because I believe that Adam and Eve are real people, and I enjoyed exploring more about them. I did struggle a little with separating fact from fiction, but not because Ms. Moore didn't make that clear. It was more letting go of my expectations and beliefs and letting someone else show me their perspective. Overall, this is a very good book and let's you explore the humane side of Adam and Eve. .

Content:
Sex - 2 (There was passionate kissing and implied sexual intimacy, but it was handled in a very sensitive, sacred way, there was no/very little sensuality. The characters were obviously naked in the beginning, but it wasn't really mentioned specifically. They talked about intimacy and the ability to have children. A woman’s cycle was also discussed quite openly.)
Violence - 1  (A forest fire, killing of animals in self defense and for food)
Language - 0
Rating - PG-18 (The discussion of sexual intimacy, there is kind of a dark side with Lucifer and the way he tempts them and is always around.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Blog Tour Review: ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES MEETS REFINED by Rachel Anderson

Rough Around the Edges  Around the Edges Meets Refined (Meet Your Match #2) by Rachael Anderson For Noah Mackie, life is finally back on track. He has a great support system, a promised promotion is on its way, and he's finally getting the hang of this single father thing. But when the job falls through and his neighbor's matchmaking efforts become more aggressive, Noah is in for yet another unwanted detour. With his career and two spirited daughters to worry about, he doesn't have time for dating—especially not someone like Cassie Ellis, his girls' beautiful and sophisticated dance instructor, who is about as open and approachable as a brick wall. Rough around the Edges Meets Refined is about two people who think they know exactly what they want but who have no idea what they really need. It's about learning that people aren't always what they seem and that sometimes life’s detours take you exactly where you need to go.  
Rough Around the Edges

Purchase Your Copy from Amazon.com

add to goodreads new


*** Robyn Reviews ***

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length

Rating: 5

Robyn's Review: Rough Around the Edges Meets Refined is a fun sweet romance that tugs at your heart and makes you laugh, too. Cassie has been beaten up by life and choices she made and now she is learning how to become herself again. She is constantly comparing herself to others and puts expectations on herself and what she thinks are the ‘right’ way to do things, especially since she made such a bad choice the first time around regarding men.

Noah is a sweet guy who just wants to be a good dad to his girls. His sister and friends can't help but want him to find happiness again, so the fun ensues.

Noah and Cassie have a fun and heart tugging experience in learning to love again on their own terms and not how everyone else did it. It's a refreshing read without any sex. If you want a feel good read and still watch the characters grow and learn something about themselves along the way, then you will love this book.

Content:
Sex - 1 (Some slightly passionate kissing)
Language - 0
Violence - 0
Rating - PG-16

Source: Review copy
 

Rachael  Author Rachael Anderson USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.








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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: TOMORROW WE SPY by Jordan McCollum

From JordanMcCollum.com: CIA operative Talia Reynolds (Fluker) is off the clock, off the continent and off on her Paris honeymoon. But the happy couple’s trip to the City of Love is cut short when the CIA tracks them down for a top secret mission. Only this time, the Agency’s assignment isn’t for Talia — it’s for her husband Danny.
As an aerospace engineer, Danny’s the one with the connections they need to get to their target, an aerospace executive and a dangerous Russian FSB officer. After all she’s done to protect Danny from her spy life, Talia won’t okay the op until she’s allowed to accompany her husband. And the only safe way for her to do that? Deep undercover.
Balancing her personal and professional personas requires more precision than a Russian ballet. But all the covers in the world can’t protect Danny and Talia when the FSB officer turns the tables on them. Now Talia must use her every skill to save her marriage, her husband and herself — or their first mission together will be their last.
Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Length: 295 pgs
Rating: 5 (I really loved it)
Review: Danny and Talia are married! Yay. I so much enjoyed getting to see more of Danny and how he fights for him and Talia. She can be frustrating, in a good way, and I like seeing Danny stepping out and setting her straight. :) I loved going back to where Talia served her mission and getting immersed in Russia. Tons of great action in this one, and like all the others, I read it FAST.
Content:
Sex - 1 (The book opens on their honeymoon, and the wedding night is mentioned, but so cleanly. Really.)
Language - 0
Violence - 1 (Spy book. Action book. Nothing graphic)
Rating - PG

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: SUN AND MOON, ICE AND SNOW by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury, 2008)

From AmazonBlessed-or cursed-with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she's known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn't hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servants. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who's been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he's forced to marry a troll princess.

Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy-Tale
Length: 352 pgs

Rating: 4+ (I loved it!)

Review: Ms. George is really becoming a favorite of mine, which makes me happy that she has so many books for me to plow through! This one was excellent. I loved the setting and the characters. I loved how well she built the rapport between the Lass and the isbjorn. I loved how the Lass interacted with all the characters and how much they ranged and how round they were. It wrapped up kind of easy, but it is a fairy-tale, so one kind of expects that. I loved the ending despite that!

Content:
Sex - 0
Language - 0
Violence - 1 (and barely that. Mild, mild fighting violence)
Content Rating - G (I'd let my 9-year-old read it if he wanted!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: THE PAPER MAGICIAN by Charlie N. Holmberg (47North, 2014)

From Charlie's SiteCeony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic … forever.
Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.
An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.
Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Fantasy, Historical
Length: 224 pgs
Rating: 5 (I really loved it!)
Review: I had so many "have to" reads behind this book that is was a physical relief to pick up something I'd really been looking forward too. Charlie didn't disappoint me. Even though she and I have bonded over BYU football and our shared admiration for Jimmer Fredette, this review is purely objective. Promise.
This is set in a base Victorian time period, which you all know I L-O-V-E. It was perfect. Besides a couple minor, minor things that seemed a bit too modern, it was a great setting. And since the setting is fantastical, that doesn't even matter. It's unique. The fantasy world is incredible and the world-inside-the-world is perfect too. I could picture everything so well. It has a dash of a love story, which I think is a must, of course, that really rounds the entire thing out. You will not regret picking this one up. I flew through it in just a few nights.
Content:
Sex - 0
Language - 0
Violence - 2 (The scene where Mg. Thane's heart is ripped out is described. There are magical battles. Nothing overly graphic.)
Content Rating - PG
Try this. If you liked The Paper Magician you should read Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie

From AmazonTen people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a lonely mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…

Audience: Adult
Genre: Mystery
Length: 276 pgs.

Rating: **** (Loved it!)

Rating: Last month some friends on Twitter decided to get together to do a Twitter book club, and for October, we chose And Then There Were None to fit the spooky month. Right from the first the voice grabbed me. I am a huge sucker for that cool cucumber 1930s voice. This one was a definite thriller and so much suspense. I never guessed who the murderer would be, although it made total sense at the reveal. The characters were perfectly icky and likable at the same time. Classic! She really was a master.

Content:
Sex - 0
Language - 0 (None that I marked.)
Violence - 3 (It is a murder mystery with a serious psychological twist. Nothing too graphic.)

Try this. Like And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie? Try Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Movie Review: EDGE OF TOMORROW Starring Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise (2014)

From IMDb: A military officer is brought into an alien war against an extraterrestrial enemy who can reset the day and know the future. When this officer is enabled with the same power, he teams up with a Special Forces warrior to try and end the war. Starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.

Audience: Adult (PG-13)
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Length: 113 minutes

Rating: ****+ (Loved it)

Review: I dug the premise of this move from the first time I saw a trailer. All up front, with Cruise in it, I wondered if it would live up to that. I figured Emily Blunt could save it, though. ;) It absolutely lived up to the promise of the premise. Things ran along in an interesting, and at time fun, way. Some of the twists maybe a bit predictable, but still really good. If I had been reading this as a book, I would have marked the end down for being too contrived—but in all honesty it was exactly what I wanted to happen and gives the viewers more resolution than another ending might have.

Content:
Sex – 1 (One soldier fights in the nude under his metal suit. Nothing can be seen except part of his bare behind.)
Language – 1+ (Blunt’s character is often referred to as the Full Metal B*; honestly don’t remember much other language)
Violence – 5 (It’s a military, sci-fi action. It’s basic war violence and at times graphic.)


Read this. If you liked the movie Edge of Tomorrow, you might like the book Erasing Time by C.J. Hill (Janette Rallison). 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Robyn Reviews: TRA SILVER BELLS COLLECTION (Mirror Press, 2014)

Book overview below.

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 292 pages

Rating: *****

Review: This collection is just as wonderful (if not more so) as all the other Timeless Collections. The authors have put together some fun and poignant stories. Sarah M. Eden has created another one of her funny, sweet Irish stories in A Christmas Promise. You will love the fun that Patrick and Maeve have together along with her protective older brothers.

Heather B. Moore’s Twelve Months will have you cheering for the true gentleman in Lucien. Cora is a sweet heroine who recognizes her knight in shining armor in Lucien. Their courtship is fun and sweet.

A Fezziwig Christmas by Lu Ann Staheli, is a fun take on the historical romance stories, it’s fun to watch the growth of both Dick and Cilla in the charming short story.

In A Taste of Home by Annette Lyon, you get to relive just how annoying ‘boys’ can be and what happens when they grow up to be men. Sweet and sentimental.

My Modern Girl by Becca White was fun and interesting. I liked that she thought she knew exactly what she wanted, but found out what she thought and what was real were actually two different things.

Lucinda Brant’s Fairy Christmas was really interesting in that there were actually two romances happening in the story. I enjoyed the misunderstandings and the real life things that happened in the story to make the people real. This was a fun Christmas romance.

You will be entertained by all the stories in this collection. The authors do a great job of being real and fun. You and your daughters will enjoys these stories and put you in the mood for romance and Christmas.



Content
Sex - 0
Violence - 0
Language - 0
Overall Content Rating - PG

Source: Review Copy

Robyn suggests...All the Timeless Romance Anthology Collections“Kiss of a Stranger” by Sarah M. Eden; “Edenbrook” by Julianne Donaldson; Actually, anything by these two authors!


****

Six Award-Winning Authors have contributed new stories to A Timeless Romance Anthology: Silver Bells. Readers will love this collection of six historical romance novellas, all centered around the Christmas season.

In NY Times & USA Today’s bestselling author Lucinda Brant’s delightful novella, FAIRY CHRISTMAS, Kitty Aldershot is orphaned and forced to live on others’ charity. Offered a home under the generous roof of her relatives, the Earl of Salt Hendon and his countess, Kitty wants for nothing, not even the affections of Mr. Tom Allenby. But when Kitty stumbles across a letter written by Lady Caroline that reveals how Mr. Allenby would be ruined should he marry the likes of Kitty, she realizes she has been fooling herself all along. Kitty’s world crumbles around her as she recognizes she will forever be alone with no prospects at all.

Sarah M. Eden’s charming romance novella A CHRISTMAS PROMISE, Sean Kirkpatrick is trying to get to his new place of employment, Kilkenny Castle, in order to start as the new stablehand. His only requirement is to drive a team of high-spirited nags from Dublin to Kilkenny in a certain amount of time. Unfortunately he winds up in a muddy field, stuck, lost, and running out of time. He’s about to lose the job before he can prove himself capable of finishing his first assignment. When Maeve Butler arrives on the scene, Sean isn’t sure if she’s intent on rescuing him or bent on torturing him with her fiery wit and lovely dark eyes.

In Heather B. Moore’s enchanting novella, TWELVE MONTHS, Lucien Baxter’s best and most incorrigible friend, Will, dies unexpectedly, leaving behind his new bride and unborn child the week before Christmas. Will’s last request is that Lucien watches over Cora, not just as a benefactor, but as a husband. When Lucien does his duty and proposes to Cora, he’s turned down flat. But over the course of the next few days, Lucien discovers that marrying Cora wouldn’t be any sort of duty after all, but a matter of following his heart.

In Lu Ann Staheli’s sweet romance novella, A FEZZIWIG CHRISTMAS, Dick Wilkins and his best friend Ebenezer Scrooge have been looking forward to the annual Fezziwig Christmas dance for weeks. Ebenezer is practically engaged to Annabelle Fezziwig, and Dick hopes to start courting her younger sister, Pricilla. Once the dance starts, and Pricilla arrives, as pretty and charming as ever, Dick discovers that he’s not the only man vying for her attention. His best friend advises Dick that he has to win Pricilla’s heart, as well as her mother’s favor. Losing his heart has suddenly become very complicated.

A TASTE OF HOME, a captivating romance by Annette Lyon, we meet Claire Jennings, who’s on her way to spend Christmas with her family. As she rides the train with William Rhodes, who grew up across the street, memories of Christmases past flood her mind. He may be twenty-one now, but she can’t forget his torturous teasing from their school years. At the rail station, Claire discovers that her home is under quarantine because her little brother has measles. She's stuck in town, away from her family, on her favorite holiday. William stays behind with her, and as Christmas Day approaches and her homesickness deepens, she discovers that perhaps he has changed in more ways than one.

Becca Wilhite’s entrancing novella, MY MODERN GIRL, follows Margie, who lands her dream job as a clerk at Macy’s department store in New York City. Margie might be new in town, but she’s determined to succeed and prove to Henry that moving to the city was the right decision. As the Christmas season approaches, Margie realizes that being a “modern girl” might not be all she had dreamed of and Henry might have more to offer than she ever imagined.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Robyn Reviews: A PORTRAIT FOR TONI by Annette Lyon

From Amazon: Toni has no idea what she’d do without her best friend, Carter. Who else would she be able to vent to about her parents, her job at the dance studio, or her latest relationship woes? When Toni’s father lands in the hospital, Carter, as always, is there for her. 

That is, until he starts questioning Toni, saying he thinks she has an eating disorder. Then she starts dating Clint, the hot new guy at the studio, and somehow that puts a deeper wedge between her and Carter. When she’s hospitalized after an on-stage collapse, and Carter stupidly starts in with advice about food and weight, she sends him away—then instantly regrets it. 

Toni tries to mend the hurt between them, but instead of finding Carter, she stumbles onto proof that he has feelings for her that go way beyond those of a friend. Toni is left with the very real prospect of losing Carter forever, unless somehow she can return his feelings—but that’s impossible. 

Isn’t it?

Audience: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 295 pgs

Rating: **** (I really liked it)

Review: A Portrait for Toni was a very moving story. It tells the story of best friends who come to love each other despite problems and misconceptions. Toni is dealing with an eating disorder and Carter is trying to figure out how to help her. I thought the way Annette dealt with the very serious issue of Bulimia was very thoughtful and at the same time straightforward. There are also moments of humor which gives the story a real life feel. I was touched by the way the story came together in the end, and how each of the main characters had to change themselves in order to find each other. The story was well developed and you felt like you were part of their lives. I actually, sometimes, found myself wishing Carter would fall for Brooke because Toni was so blind! You will not be disappointed with this book. The characters are real and come across as imperfect, but lovable people, just like real life! Read it, you will love it.

Content
Sex: 1
Violence: 0
Language: 1
Overall Content Rating: PG

Source: Review Copy


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Robyn Reviews: SAVING GRACE by Michele P. Holmes (Mirror Press, 2014)

From AmazonAfter the death of her grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace Thatcher wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. Her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing. 

As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage. 

Too late Grace regrets her rash actions when her father’s last choice, Mr. Samuel Preston, proves to be a gentleman and a friend. But Samuel is the sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, the man responsible for her “ruin.” Now instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda.  

Audience: Adult
Genre: Regency Romance
Length: 339 pages

Rating: ***** (Loved it!)

Review:
“An early-morning mist shrouded the grounds of the Crosby estate as Grace Thatcher slipped out the front doors. For a moment, she stood alone in the chill and darkness, cherishing the silence and freedom where no one could see her. Then, blessing her good fortune at finding such cover, she crept down the wide steps and disappeared into the fog.”
With a beginning like that how can you not want to finish this book? One of the main things I loved about this book was the believability of the heroine, Grace.   She is human and fallible and makes many errors in judgment, but ultimately learns from her experiences. Nicholas and Samuel are the two men competing for her affections. Both have difficult pasts to overcome, yet each one goes about forgetting the past in different ways. Grace is the one who helps each of them while she is busy running from awful potential suitors whom her father has lined up for her to cover his debts. She is also trying to protect her siblings from his machinations.  Both Nicholas and Samuel are trying to save Grace, but ultimately, Grace ends up saving them.

This book has some light hearted moments, moments of forgiveness and learning, and moments of heartbreak. You will be uplifted and inspired as you read this book. You may even cry.

Grace’s upbringing helps her bridge the gap between classes and she is an honest and caring young woman who doesn’t always make the best choices. You will grumble and roll your eyes at the way she goes about doing this and sometimes you just want to shake the book and say “open your eyes!”  I loved this book from beginning to end.

I surely hope there is a book about Christopher!

Cons:
Sometimes I felt that there was not enough depth to Samuel and there should have been a few more details about his relationship with Grace’s siblings. Grace’s relationship with Lady Sutherland seems to have been resolved a little too easily, but I actually like the way they went about it. I would have liked a little more suspense for her whole situation with her father and the men he was trying to ‘sell’ her to.



Content:
Sex1
Violence:1
Language0
Overall Content Rating: PG

SourceReview Copy

You Might Like: “Kiss of a Stranger” by Sarah M. Eden; “Edenbrook” by Julianne Donaldson; Actually, anything by these two authors!


Follow Robyn on Twitter @birdmom8 for 160 character reviews of the books she's reading!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE by Gail Carriger (Little Brown, 2013)

From AmazonIt's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail's legions of fans have come to adore. 

Genre: YA Steampunk, Fantasy, Historical
Audience: Young Adult
Length: 327 pgs

Rating: ***** (I really loved it!)

Review: Gads, guys, it's been so long since I finished a book. So much other things going on and it hurts me. THIS book was the perfect one to coast in on. Lovely and epic voice. I started Parasol Protectorate (and put it down for personal reasons) and LOVED the voice and the idea and all of it. E&E was so perfect. It had wonderful characters, all of them well thought out, probably all able to have their own story. The execution is hilarious. It felt like the end wrapped up quickly, but it still really worked. Like a cross between Harry Potter and Georgette Heyer--witty, fun, great school world. I'm excited to read the second one!

Content
Sex - 2 (Characters decolletage and bosoms are discussed a few times. It is discussed that certain teachers look more like prostitutes than teachers. The girls speculate that a werewolf teacher may be naked under his coat, and another insinuates that she has heard that werewolves are good in bed, though it is not said bluntly. "I hear they make the best...oooh la la.")
Language - 0
Violence - 2 (There are fights with Flywaymen, with a werewolf, and between spies at a ball. Nothing remotely graphic.)
Substance Abuse - 1 (Some boys spike punch at a ball.)
Content Rating - PG-14

Source - I received a copy via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

As of writing, ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE was on sale on Kindle for $2.99

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: DIE FOR ME (Revenants, 1) by Amy Plum (HarperCollins, 2011)

From AmyPlumBooks.comhttp://www.amyplumbooks.com/books/: 

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.
When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.
Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant–an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Audience: Young Adult
Length: 344 pgs
Rating: **+ (I liked it.)
Review: First off, excellent concept. The idea of people who save the lives of other constantly, who battle evil. I love the idea. I was swept in at the beginning and was right with Kate as she discovers Vincent and who he is. Then in the middle it swung off the tracks for me. I think I wanted something packed with action, and if I'd read this as a basic romance with some thrills, I would have seen it differently. The middle became all about their relationship and much less about the larger plot that involved revenants--and that's what I wanted to explore. So, unfortunately, for me, by the end, the action felt contrived and settled fairly easily. The middle also felt like Twilight, but in Paris. The author began with some distinctions between the French culture, but also as the book went further along, it lost that. The characters--besides Kate and her sister, who are American--all spoke like Americans, using colloquialisms that the author corrected early on. Not sure if I'm interested enough to read the second and third books.
Content:
Sex - 2+/5 She and Vincent cut off a passionate kiss that both infer is very close to leading further. They kiss passionately several times. Kate discusses nude people in art. There is a nude model in Jules' apartment when Kate visits.
Language - 2/5 Constant vain use of "God." Two instances of "Damn"
Violence - 3/5 Lots of discussion of people dying and how they died. Fighting. A detailed and gory fight scene at the end.
Substance Abuse - 1/5 They got to clubs and other characters drink alcohol, though Kate drinks only Coke. She drinks "bubbly" at her birthday dinner.
Source: Bought on Kindle during a $1.99 promotion
Try this. Like Young Adult Paranormal Romance? Read PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson (HarperTeen, 2012)

From AmazonIn this stunning re-imagining of J. M. Barrie's beloved classic Peter PanNew York Times bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson expertly weaves a gripping tale of love, loss, and adventure.
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair… Tiger Lily. When fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan deep in the forbidden woods of Neverland, the two form a bond that's impossible to break, but also impossible to hold on to. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. However, when Wendy Darling, a girl who is everything Tiger Lily is not, arrives on the island, Tiger Lily discovers how far she is willing to go to keep Peter with her, and in Neverland.
Told from the perspective of tiny, fairy-sized Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily is the breathtaking story of budding romance, letting go and the pains of growing up.

Genre: Young Adult Romance
Audience: Young Adult
Length: 309 pgs

Rating: ***** (Really loved it)

Review: In preparation for this book, I read Peter Pan. It was quick. Loved it. Fun voice. Adorable. Then I read Tiger Lily. Loved it, in a the bitterest way. First off, the idea of Tinkerbell narrating was ingenious. I loved the voice. I loved how Anderson stayed true to the character while still giving it her own spin. Perfect. I LOVED reading about Tiger Lily. I loved how she did Peter. True, but different. Perfect too. ALL the characters in this novel, the smallest of small, were so round and I loved them all. The end is so bittersweet, but if you've read Peter Pan, you know how that turns out. It's such a ride finding out how Anderson spins it all in. And all with such beautiful language too. Honestly, it did have more issues that I really like, but you all know me. I'm not much of a YA, contemporary-issue book person.

It is just that she was fifteen once for the first time, and Peter walked across her heart, and left his footprints there.

Content:
Sex - 2/5 Tiger Lily spends the night with the lost boys and lays down with Peter, but there's no discussion of sex. Rape is discussed.
Language 2/5 
Violence 3/5 Rape. Killing. Suicide. SPOILERS Tiger Lily is involved in *revenge* killings, one that she actually could not have possibly committed, but that the villagers attribute to her; the other it's only intimated that it was probably her. It intimates that another village girl kills a man who repeatedly raped her. (Even though some of these were *justified* they did really bother me in that it seemed like the tone of the book was "they did this and it's okay because the people who died deserved it.)
Heartbreak - 5/5 ;) But it's beautiful. Don't worry.

Source: Free on Kindle during a promotion.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: TWELFTH NIGHT by Deanna Raybourn

From www.DeannaRaybourn.com: To mark the passing of another decade, the esteemed (and eccentric) March family have assembled at Bellmont Abbey to perform the Twelfth Night Revels for their sleepy English village. But before Lady Julia and her handsome sleuthing husband, Nicolas Brisbane, can take to the stage, a ruckus in the stable yard demands their attention. An abandoned infant is found nestled in the steel helm of St. George. What’s more, their only lead is the local legend of a haunted cottage and its ghastly inhabitant—who seems to have returned.
Once again, Lady Julia and Nicholas take up the challenge to investigate, and when the source of the mystery is revealed, they’ll be faced with an impossible choice—one that will alter the course of their lives forever.

Genre: Romance, Mystery
Audience: Adult
Length: 51 pages

Rating: **** (Loved it)

Review: First off, I loved the voice of this novel. Lady Julia was a fantastic narrator who drew me in right off. To be honest, the whole thing was just too short! It was really fun and I loved the relationship between Lady Julia and her husband Nicholas. The "mystery" solved itself too easily, I thought, but it was only fifty pages. Having never read any of the others, I felt lost sometimes, but not in a frustrating way--more in a way that I wanted to read the rest of the books.

Content:
Sex - 2/5 (Lady Julia and her husband's nighttime activities are discussed, though tastefully. Lady Julia talks about her sister having lived with another woman as "man and wife, or wife and wife.")
Language - 0/5 (None that I recall...)
Violence - 0/5

Source: Via Kindle during a free promotion

Try this. If you like fun historical romance novellas, read mine, A LADY AND A SPY

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: BLACKMOORE by Julianne Donaldson (Shadow Mountain, 2013)

From DeseretBookKate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead — if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured — and rejected — three marriage proposals.
Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain sooner rather than later and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?
Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to follow her heart.
Genre: Regency Romance, Historical
Audience: Adult (Clean)
Length: 320 pgs
Rating: **** (Loved it)
Review: I've had this book for a while in paperback and this presented a problem. Lately, with an almost-two-year-old running around my house and editing to get done on other projects, the only time I read is at night, in bed. So I've been reading my kindle a ton.
As many people have said, Blackmoore is a bit darker than Ms. Donaldson's first novel Edenbrooke. I think it's fantastic and even better than Edenbrooke. There's more depth and just a lot of soul in this novel. I loved the three proposals plot line. There were quite a few "secrets" in the beginning and I began to wonder if we'd get to know anything, but the way the heroine reveals them worked well too. If a couple minor secrets, like why Mrs. Delafield hated Kate's mother, had been revealed a bit earlier, I could have understood Mrs. Delafield a little better. There was a few things I wanted wrapped up better, but still, all in all, wonderful and excellent.
Content:
Sex 0/5
Language 0/5
Violence 0/5
Try this. If you like romances with depth, read Longing For Home by Sarah M. Eden

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review: A BLUNT INTSTRAMENT by Georgette Heyer

Sourcebooks Landmark, 2010 (Reprint)

From Back Cover: When Ernest Fletcher is found bludgeoned to death in his study, everyone is shocked and mystified: Ernest was well-liked and respected, so who would have a motive for killing him?
Superintendent Hannasyde, with consummate skill, uncovers one dirtly little secret after another, and with them, a host of people who all have reasons for wanting Fletcher dead. Then, a second murder is committed, giving a grotesque twist to a very unusual case, and Hannasyde realizes he's up against a killer on a mission...

Genre: Mystery
Audience: Adult
Length: 320 pgs

Rating: ***+ (Really liked it)

Review: I personally think that Georgette Heyer is a master. She writes in a style that I just love and really get into. She's got a great voice and this book is no different. I've read many, many of her Regency romances, and have been wondering for a while how her mysteries were. This one came on sale for Kindle so I bought it.
I think the characters are brilliant--just like Heyer's always are. Neville is delightfully absurd, and Sally is the perfect compliment. The same wit and hilarity is there. My only complaint is that it felt like much of the mystery was repeated over and over as Superintendent Hannasyde and his sergeant discuss it a lot. With so many other books on my TBR, I'm not sure I'll read another one anytime soon, but I definitely liked it a lot.

Content:
Sex 2/5 - Fletcher's affairs are discussed, the possibility that another character has affairs with other men, an exotic dancer is discussed.
Language - 2/5 Sprinkled throughout.
Violence - 2/5 Two murders and mystery related violence, nothing graphic.

Source: Bought during a promotion on Amazon

Try this. If you like witty, cozy mysteries, read Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: THE NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

From AmazonCrafting likable, interesting characters is a balancing act, and finding that perfect mix of strengths and weaknesses can be difficult. Not only does a well-drawn protagonist need positive attributes to help him succeed, he must also have flaws that humanize him and give him something to overcome. The same is true of villains and the rest of the story’s supporting cast. So how can writers figure out which flaws best fit their characters? Which negative traits will create personality clashes and conflict while making success difficult? 

TAKE CHARACTER CREATION TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL 

Nothing adds complexity like character flaws. Inside the Negative Trait Thesaurus you’ll find: 
*A vast collection of flaws to explore when building a character’s personality. 
*Each entry includes possible causes, attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, and related emotions 
*Real examples from literature, film, or television to show how each flaw can create life challenges and relational friction 
*Advice on building layered and memorable characters from the ground up 
*An in-depth look at backstory, emotional wounds, and how pain twists a character’s view of himself and his world, influencing behavior and decision making 
*A flaw-centric exploration of character arc, relationships, motivation, and basic needs 
*Tips on how to best show a character’s flaws to readers while avoiding common pitfalls 
*Downloadable tools to aid writers in character creation 

The Negative Trait Thesaurus sheds light on your character’s dark side. Written in list format and fully indexed, this brainstorming resource is perfect for creating deep, flawed characters readers will relate to.


Genre: Reference, Writer Help
Audience: Writers
Length: 206 pgs

Rating: ****

Review: This book, like The Emotion Thesaurus that I bought a while back from the same authors, is a great help. It has a wonderful introduction that goes into detail on character flaws, why characters need them, and how to craft them in your writing. It has a long list of flaws, and unlike The Emotion Thesaurus, it includes in index in the back that links the similar flaws. (I find myself using a regular thesaurus with The Emotion Thesaurus since it doesn't include this.) It also includes some great worksheets at the end to help plot out characters. This was perfect for me. It works best if used together with The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and personally, I would have gladly paid more to have both works included in one volume. (I bought each for $4.99.) If you need help delving in deeper with your characters and really making them shine, I would suggest both of these.

Try this. Like good writer reference books? Read DONE & DONE: The Power of Accountability Partnering for Reaching Your Goals by Annette Lyon and Luisa Perkins

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blog Tour Review: BECOMING LADY LOCKWOOD by Jennifer Moore (Covenant, 2014)

Becoming Lady Lockwood Tour

Becoming Lady LockwoodBecoming Lady Lockwood Amelia Beckett is delighted to be a widow. Married by proxy to a man she'd never met, Amelia recognizes that a fortuitous entry into widowhood frees her from meddlesome chaperones and matchmakers. Heiress to her mother's sugar plantation in Jamaica, she happily anticipates working in a man's world, with the additional credibility of her new title: Lady Lockwood. But with the arrival of Captain Sir William Drake, her plans quickly go awry . . . William has traversed the Atlantic with one purpose. If he cannot prove that Amelia's marriage to his brother was a fraud, she will be entitled to a sizeable portion of his family's estate. He is determined to return this duplicitous Lady to London for an official hearing, and he carries with him a letter that will ensure her cooperation . . . Left with no choice, Amelia joins the captain on his return voyage to England, and the two quickly find that ship life does not allow for evasion. Amelia and William are ceaselessly thrown together, and amidst fierce storms and ocean battles, what began as antipathy seems to be evolving quite unexpectedly. But as they draw ever closer to their destination, will the impossibility of their circumstances shatter any hope of a future together?
Praise for Becoming Lady Lockwood
"Moore does a lovely job of showcasing sizzle in this must-read for fans of regency and historical romance." ~ Foreword Reviews

* * *
My Review

Genre: Regency Romance
Audience: Adult (Clean)
Length: 199 pgs

Rating: ****+

Friday, July 18, 2014

NEW cover review for THE PAPER MAGICIAN by Charlie N. Holmberg

My friend Charlie's book THE PAPER MAGICIAN has a new, awesome cover. Now the first one was pretty grand, but I this one is amazing. I love it! And Charlie says I can share it with you all! You're going to love it too, I know.


Isn't it FANTASTIC? I love everything about it. Everything. I think, Charlie, I might even like it better than the first. It makes me hope so so much that my book gets a really fantastic cover too. :D

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic...forever.
Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.
An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

* * *

Homegrown in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie with three sisters who also have boy names. She writes fantasy novels and does freelance editing on the side. She’s a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, and owns too many pairs of glasses.
Links
Website * Twitter * Amazon  






Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: TRA "Old West" Collection by Various Authors

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Romance, Historical
Length: 302 pgs

Rating: ****+

Review: I keep saying this about the TRAs, but this is definitely one of my favorites. As usual, I found a new author I liked a lot. Carla Kelly's Break A Leg was fun and sweet and a great read. Of course I loved Sarah M. Eden's addition The Soldier's Heart. It was so unique and I just loved how it progressed and turned out. Annette Lyon's The Sweetest Taste was another favorite. All in all, another great collection of clean romances to sit down and enjoy in bite size pieces. Love it.

Content:
Sex: 2/5 (In one story the heroine thinks about her late husband "cupping her breast" and later about how they made love. In another unfortunate prostitution of a relative is discussed and a prostitute propositions the hero.)
Language: 1/5 (Two uses of "damn"; two uses of "hell.")
Violence: 1/5 (Injuries to soldiers are discussed, minorly graphic. A fire destroys a home and threatens a character and her animals. There is a gunfight between some cowboys.)

Try this. Check out all the Timeless Romance Anthologies on their blog.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

BECOMING LADY LOCKWOOD by Jennifer Moore Book Blast

Becoming Lady Lockwood


Becoming Lady Lockwood Amelia Beckett is delighted to be a widow. Married by proxy to a man she'd never met, Amelia recognizes that a fortuitous entry into widowhood frees her from meddlesome chaperones and matchmakers. Heiress to her mother's sugar plantation in Jamaica, she happily anticipates working in a man's world, with the additional credibility of her new title: Lady Lockwood. But with the arrival of Captain Sir William Drake, her plans quickly go awry . . . William has traversed the Atlantic with one purpose. If he cannot prove that Amelia's marriage to his brother was a fraud, she will be entitled to a sizeable portion of his family's estate. He is determined to return this duplicitous Lady to London for an official hearing, and he carries with him a letter that will ensure her cooperation . . . Left with no choice, Amelia joins the captain on his return voyage to England, and the two quickly find that ship life does not allow for evasion. Amelia and William are ceaselessly thrown together, and amidst fierce storms and ocean battles, what began as antipathy seems to be evolving quite unexpectedly. But as they draw ever closer to their destination, will the impossibility of their circumstances shatter any hope of a future together?

Praise for Becoming Lady Lockwood
"Moore does a lovely job of showcasing sizzle in this must-read for fans of regency and historical romance." ~ Foreword Reviews


Excerpt

The crew released more sails as the breeze quickened, and Amelia watched, craning her neck as her island home, Jamaica, the pearl of the Antilles, gradually became no more than a small green mound on the horizon. A wave of homesickness washed over her. The ship rolled on the larger ocean waves, and she realized that her discomfort was not strictly limited to nostalgia. She was growing increasingly seasick. Just as she reached this realization, she heard steps coming toward her and turning saw Captain Drake approaching. “Miss Becket, you are looking most unwell. I must insist you take to your quarters and lie down.” Even though he was completely correct, and her stomach was threatening to empty itself, the lack of compassion in his demeanor put her on the defensive. “Indeed, Captain Drake. While I am touched by your concern for my well-being, I have no intention to retire, as I am feeling quite well.” The ship pitched again, and Amelia’s stomach pitched along with it. “I assure you, my concern is for the deck of my ship and for my crew charged with keeping her ­in shipshape condition.” Did the man’s arrogance know no bounds? Amelia felt her head spin in a wave of dizziness, and the captain grabbed onto her elbow. “Your face is green, Miss Becket. I insist you take to your berth.” He spoke sharply, turning to the marine next to her. “Corporal, fetch Dr. Spinner to Miss Becket’s quarters.” She wrenched her arm from his grasp. “Captain, I am not in the least ill.” She spoke through clenched teeth, afraid that if she opened her mouth, the contents of her stomach would make a most unwelcome appearance. She rested her hand in a manner that she hoped appeared casual against the netting of hammocks lining the rail of the ship. But truthfully, besides her determination not to allow the captain to order her about, it was the only thing holding her up. Amelia nearly swooned with relief as Sidney Fletcher hurried toward them. “Miss Becket, are you unwell?” He held her elbow in the same manner as had Captain Drake a moment before, and Amelia leaned against him. “Will you allow me to escort you to your quarters then?” “Thank you, Mr. Fletcher. That would be most welcome. How very gentlemanly of you.” She looked toward Captain Drake and narrowed her eyes. A slight smile tugged at the corner of the captain’s lips, and Amelia found that it infuriated her. But when she opened her mouth to tell him so, her stomach betrayed her, and she was horrified to see her breakfast splatter over Captain Drake’s shiny boots. Amelia and Captain Drake stared at each other in disbelief for one mortifying instant before she felt her stomach clench again and pressed her gloved hands against her mouth. “A bucket!” Captain Drake bellowed.

Jenny Moore  Author Jennifer Moore Jennifer Moore is a Passionate reader and writer of all things romance, helping her find balance with the rest of her world, which includes a perpetually traveling husband and four active sons, who create heaps of laundry that are anything but romantic. Jennifer has a BA in linguistics from the University of Utah and is a Guitar Hero champion. She lives in northern Utah with her family. You can learn more about her at authorjmoore.com. The author's first book, Becoming Lady Lockwood, is a regency romance centered on the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s.







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        Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 8/5/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.

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