Tuesday, January 23, 2018

#COYER Review ~ At Peace ~ Kristen Ashley

At Peace (The 'Burg, #2)At Peace by Kristen Ashley
The 'Burg #2
Release Date: May 2, 2011
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on kindle
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
Violet Winters once had it all but lost it when her husband was murdered by a criminal madman. During a cold winter night Violet has to leave her warm bed to tell her neighbor to turn the music down. And that's when she meets sinister, scarred, scarily attractive security specialist, Joe Callahan.

She wants to deny it, but Violet can't beat back the hunger she feels for Joe so she gives in again and again. Feeling it himself, Joe feeds Vi's hunger, breaking his own rules to keep her in his bed.

Even though Violet had only one man in her life, she's sure Joe is giving her the signals and Vi decides she's ready to take a second chance at life and, maybe, love. But Violet doesn't know the dark secrets in Joe's past, secrets so soul-wrenching, they've drained him dry. With nothing left to give, Joe's determined to live his life alone and he breaks Violet's heart.

Crushed by Joe's betrayal, Violet comes to terms with the fact that, no matter what signals he gave, Joe was not theirs to win. But Violet's husband's murderer is obsessed with her and heartbreak again haunts the door of the Winters home. When it does Joe is forced to face the knowledge that he can't fight Violet's pull, she's under his skin and filled him full to bursting.

Joe needs to win her back and put his life on the line to keep Violet safe. But, having had it all once, can Violet endure losing Joe?



After spending a little time in the world of KA's Unfinished Hero series, it was good to return to a story that gave me more of what I expect from KA. A return to The 'Burg was just what I needed.

Highlights:

  • Characters
    Violet is so awesome! Not only is she a great mom to 2 teen daughters (who are equally as awesome as their mom), she's a devoted sister and friend. She's loyal, compassionate, and so resilient! I adored her outlook on life - bad things happen but you have to go on because there's just no other choice. Joe has been mostly existing for the last 17 years. He lost everything he'd ever wanted in one fell swoop and changed his goals thereafter. He never thought to hope for more. And then Vi and her girls moved in next door. As is typical with KA, she has a large secondary cast who are well-developed and engaging. Not only did I get to spend time with old friends (from For You) but I met new ones who I hope to spend more time with in the future.
  • Story
    Both Vi and Joe know about loss. It broke my heart how well acquainted with it they are. Together they filled holes in each other - gave each other things they needed. Watching them fall wasn't always comfortable - I wanted to shake them both silly sometimes - but they knew they were meant to be and it was worth all they went through to get there. 
  • Suspense
    The way KA incorporated the suspense element was well done. Where things came to a head might have been a little formulaic (a la KA) but I give her a pass here because she writes good suspense in her romance and doesn't really shy away from the grit.

So At Peace was that comfort read for me - what I expect from KA - and just what I needed. I'm eager to spend more time in The 'Burg and I dearly hope to get better acquainted with a few of my new friends.

Monday, January 22, 2018

#COYER Review ~ The Black Lily ~ Juliette Cross (@Juliette__Cross)

The Black Lily (Vampire Blood, #1)The Black Lily by Juliette Cross
Vampire Blood #1
Release Date: March 27, 2017
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance, Fairytale
Source: Purchased on Nook
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #TravelingtotheTerminus
Goodreads

Synopsis
Cinderella like you've never seen before...

With the threat of the vampire monarchy becoming stronger every day, the Black Lily must take drastic measures. As the leader of the underground resistance, Arabelle concocts the perfect idea to gain the attention of the Glass Tower. Her plan? Attend the vampire prince's blood ball and kill him. Fortunately for Prince Marius, her assassination goes awry, and Arabelle flees, leaving behind only her dagger.

Marius is desperate to find the woman whose kiss turned into attempted murder, hunting for the mysterious assassin he can't push out of his mind. But what he uncovers could change the course of his life forever...



After finishing The White Lily, #3 in the series, I knew I'd *need* to go back and read the first two...and the finale which releases this month. :)  I'm not much of a fairytale retelling reader but JCross hooked me with her vampire/fairytale blending. The Black Lily, a Cinderella retelling, was every bit as engaging as The White Lily.

The Black Lily is where it all started. This series revolves around a revolution - the peasant class tired of making life comfortable for the ruling vampires - started by a young woman named Arabelle. Arabelle has good reason for her long-held belief that all vampires are monsters. Meeting Prince Marius makes her rethink her stance a bit. Prince Marius has always envied the lower classes believing their lives simple and happy. He has his eyes opened to their plight when he meets Arabelle.

The Black Lily did well in setting the stage for the series without overwhelming world building. (these truly can be read standalone) All the characters are introduced and we're given the vampire mythology as well as the reasons behind the revolt. And don't worry - the bones of the Cinderella story are present as well. I admire how well all the elements - world building, character development, action, romance - are balanced. And the dialog between the characters, especially Arabelle and Marius, is sharp and compelling.

JCross did an excellent job of putting her own spin on this classic story and I'm anxious to get to The Red Lily - Little Red Riding Hood - before The Emerald Lily releases!


Friday, January 19, 2018

#COYER Review ~ Masters Forever ~ Ginger Voight

Masters Forever (Masters Saga, #3)Masters Forver by Ginger Voight
Masters' Saga #3
Release Date: November 27, 2015
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Nook
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #ShelfLove, #TravelingtotheTerminus
Goodreads

Synopsis
DISCLAIMER: This book is part of a series. Spoilers might be contained in the description. For new readers, start your journey with Devlin and Coralie in Masters for Hire, now available everywhere!

After a devastating betrayal fractures the fairy tale romance between Coralie and Devlin Masters seemingly beyond repair, Coralie tries to piece together a future without the man she had come to love.

Devlin, however, refuses to let her go. He doesn't give a damn if there's a new man on her arm these days. Since that man is Caz Bixby, Dev's sworn enemy, it only makes him even more determined to win her back.

Caz is the new prince in Coralie's fairy tale, her miracle-working personal trainer who had transformed her from a meek pussycat into a sexy, confident lioness ready to take what she wants.

What she really wants is her happy ending with Devlin, and Dev knows it. He digs himself even further into her world so that she can't ignore him, or what she feels about him. He swears that he loves her, and there's much more to the story. To get her back, he knows he has to share his many dark secrets with her, ultimately dragging her down the rabbit hole to the dark and dangerous depths where he's been forced to reside.

But can she ever trust him again after what he did?

Can you?

The shocking secrets finally unfold in MASTERS FOREVER, Book Three of the Masters Sage, Ginger Voight's unconventional love story that will stick with you long after the last page.

Readers 18+: Adult content, including sexual situations some might find objectionable.


So despite having Masters Forever since it released as well as dying to know how things shook out for Dev and Coralie, I waited 2 years to read it. *gasp* I know! Apparently it's a talent. ;) But hey, I finished a series! *fist pump*

Voight's books are a guilty pleasure of mine. I adore her unconventional heroines, with their voluptuous figures, and her heroes who are quite often anti-heroes and who always somehow manage to win me over. Voight is a screenwriter and that talent is showcased in her stories. She always incorporates some relevant issue and music and/or television also typically play a vital role. Her stories are told with aplomb with a flair for the dramatic...thus the reason they're a guilty pleasure. ;)

In this final installment of the Masters Saga, Devlin must do his best to win back Coralie while protecting her from the thing that holds his life hostage. Coralie must decide whether she can forgive Dev while she deals with family issues and an attempt to take down a couple hellbent on the White House.

See what I mean? But the story was engaging and entertaining and I was pulling hard for Coralie and Dev. Voight deftly draws a colorful secondary cast as well which added depth to the story overall. The way things all panned out tested my limits for suspension of disbelief and yet I flipped through the pages as quickly as I could. In the end, I was happy with Coralie and Dev's story and I hope to see all these characters in future books.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #73 ~ At Peace ~ Kristen Ashley


Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts is a weekly meme hosted by my blogger wife, Lexxie, @(un)Conventional Bookviews. It's a way to highlight a book using quotes that revolve around food and/or drinks. Every Thursday, post a line or two...or heck, a whole paragraph, that spoke to you in some way using food or drinks. *wink* Don't forget to link up!

My pick this week for Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts is from:

At Peace by Kristen Ashley

***

"Buddy?" Joe called when we were in bed.
I was in his tee, my cheek to his chest, his heart beating in my ear and I was half asleep.
"Yeah?"
"That first time, shoulda made me a hot fudge sundae."
My head came up and I looked in the direction of his face, even though I couldn't really see him because it was dark.
"What?"
"Before I f*cuked you over the first time, you should made me a hot fudge sundae."
"Why?" I asked.
"I wouldn't have f*cked you over. I woulda taken you to Vegas."
"Vegas?"
"Married you, Vi," he said, sounding like he was close to laughing.
"What?" I breathed.
"They're that good."
"What are?"
His hand curled around the back of my head and he urged, definitely laughing now, "Stick with me here, honey. Your sundaes. They're that good."
My sundaes were good. I loved my sundaes. The hot fudge was Bea's recipe but I made it better simply by putting in a bit of cinnamon.
Still, I asked, "You wouldn't have told me you were done with me if I'd made you a sundae? Instead, you would have married me?"
"Yeah."
"Are you tryin' to piss me off when I'm half asleep?"
"Just givin' you a heads up on what'll keep me happy."
I pushed up higher. "You are tryin' to piss me off when I'm half asleep."
He curled up, his arms went around me, and suddenly I was on my back, Joe on me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Review ~ A Man Called Ove ~ Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Genre: Adult, Literary Fiction
Source: Purchased paperback
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.


James and I recently discussed whether movies like Grumpy Old Men and The Bucket List get funnier to us with age. We didn't come to a consensus but we do find grumpy old men funny. So I couldn't wait to dive into A Man Called Ove with its description of a man so curmudgeonly that most people avoid him. And while it certainly did have its moments of laugh out loud hilarity, Ove brought so much more to the table.

We first meet Ove at an Apple store where he's trying to buy a computer...a process that is much more difficult for a 59 year old man than you'd think it would be but he just doesn't seem to speak the language. From there we get well acquainted with Ove - his childhood tragedies and triumphs, his systems and beliefs, his love of Saab, and, eventually, of a woman named Sonja.

I'm not gonna lie...I love Ove...HARD. They don't make men like him anymore and although I'm not sure I'd want to live with him, that's still a crying shame. Ove made me think on things - what's important in this life, how I approach life, how I perceive death, what it means to love...and what the type of car you drive says about you.

A Man Called Ove is gripping, poignant, full of humor and sadness. The characters are all engaging and the story is masterfully told even if the prose is simple. Ove is a man I felt I knew at times, and identified with at others. I alternately found myself laughing and sobbing throughout. But Ove is not a character I'll forget anytime soon nor will I forget his lessons on life.

I'd also like to point out that this book was originally written in Swedish. That it's so moving says a lot for its translator. 


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

#COYER Review & #Giveaway ~ Mr. & Mrs. ~ JA Huss

Mr. & Mrs. (Mister, #6)
Mr. & Mrs. by JA Huss
Misters #6
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #TravelingtotheTerminus
Goodreads ~ Amazon

Synopsis
Mr. Perfect, Mr. Romantic, Mr. Coporate, Mr. Mysterious, and Mr. Match found what they were looking for and now it's time to seal the deal. Five Aston hasn't quite found his happily ever after yet...not quite. But he will. And he's about to host the party of the century for all his family and friends.

If you loved Happily Ever After, you can't miss this one either. It's the delicious cherry on the top of the most perfect dessert and all your favorite characters will be back for one...final...swoon-worthy story.



It was such a treat to get to spend time with the Misters and their Missuses - all together at one time, in one place. And no one was in any real danger if you didn't count the pigs...or the kittens...or the stallion...or those island kids! LOL Seriously though, Mr. & Mrs. was a lot of fun.

It's been almost a year since the Misters dealt with all that Mister business and now they're all getting down to the business of living. Of course, they want to really start things with a wedding. And if one Mister is going to do it, they all will. Getting to see what everyone is up to now was a pleasure. I mean, each of the couples came together under strenuous times so it was nice to see them just be "normal" - worrying about being couples and/or parents, etc. I was also a joy to see the camaraderie between them all - the family they've created outside of family, how they are all there for one another. And then there were the surprises. Naturally, Huss had to throw a few twists in and for these particular ones, I'll always be grateful.

Mr. & Mrs. was the pretty, sparkly bow tying up an already fantastic series.






For those of you who haven't yet started the Misters series, I have a signed paperback copy of Mr. Perfect up for grabs. Just obey the Rafflecopter below. 
Sorry! Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is for U.S only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday, January 13, 2018

My TBR List ~ January ~ And the Winner is...

MyTBRList

My To-Be Read List is a meme hosted by Michelle @Because Reading. I think it's a fabulous idea because it gets y'all in the game and it helps me knock off some of the many, many books on my TBR list. You're more than welcome to join in the fun! I've included the basic rules below but you can click on the graphic above to hop over to Michelle's site where you can find all the details. 

Here's how it works:
On the first Saturday of each month, I will make a post with three books from my TBR List (these books can be already on your ereader or bookshelf OR books you might want to purchase) and add your link on the linky that will be provided on Michelle's post. Y'ALL will help me choose which book I will read next. The following Saturday, I will announce which book won. Then the last Saturday of the month, I'll post my review.

Fun, right?!?

***

In 2018, I'm once again working at catching up on series and y'all get to decide which series I'm going to read each month! :D

And the Winner (by a nose) is:

Steal the Day (Thieves, #2)Steal the Day
Thieves #2

Synopsis
When a member of her crew is dragged to Hell by a demon, Zoey plans the most dangerous heist of her career. With her team at her side, Zoey intends to sneak onto the Hell plane and steal Sarah back.

The job seems impossible until a new client makes them an offer too good to refuse. If she can find an ancient artifact called The Revelation, she can use it to locate an angel who holds Sarah's redemption in his hands.

Surrounded by warring angels and demons, the greatest threat may come from one of her own. Torn between her Fae lover and the vampire who has always held her heart, Zoey finds that she and Dev are trapped in Daniel's web of secrets and it may be Zoey who has to pay the ultimate price.



Thanks so much for voting, y'all. It was a close one this month. One vote decided the winner. Check back on January 27th to see my review. :)

Friday, January 12, 2018

New Release Review ~ Angel of Shadow ~ D.H. Nevins #2018NewRelease

Angel of Shadow (Wormwood #2)Angel of Shadow by D.H. Nevins
Wormwood #2
Release Date: January 13, 2018
Genre: Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Source: I received an eARC from the author. This did not affect my rating and my review is provided voluntarily.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease
Goodreads

Synopsis
D.H. Nevins hurtles you into a world of half-angels, demons and tormented love in this driving, dystopian sequel to Wormwood.

Half-angels, known as Nephilim, have all but destroyed the surface of the Earth. Yet for Kali Michaels, her life is now much more complicated than simply surviving. Grappling with her own powerful identity, she worries her connection to the world of Shadows could destroy those around her.
And what if she hurts Tiamat Wormwood, the Nephilim outcast who has given everything to save her?
Tiamat and Kali know hey have no future - not when outside forces and Kali's own power push both the humans and the Nephilim to the brink of extinction.
As she fights to stop the inevitable, she is led to question who her real enemies are, and whether the ultimate threat may actually be herself.



To say I'd been anxiously awaiting the release of Angel of Shadow is an understatement. Wormwood made much an impression I couldn't wait to see what Kali and Tiamat did next. But wait I did. And fortunately, Angel of Shadow was worth the wait!

Highlights
  • Characters
    Of course, Kali and Tiamat are the central characters of the story but Nevins also further developed characters we'd previously met as well as weaving in some new ones. All the characters, particularly a demon named Richard, added complexity to the story overall as well as creating tension, suspense, and providing comic relief. I'm a fan of character growth and watching Kali in particular grow, change, and mature was a pleasure.
  • Action/Suspense/Gritty Setting
    Angel of Shadow didn't skimp on action or suspense. Now that the Nephilim are split and no one is quite certain what the new missions is, I waited and watched with bated breath to see what was going to happen. Also a revelation concerning Kali had me biting my nails as the repercussions slowly revealed themselves. And of course Richard had to keep stirring things up for all involved.
    Nevins adeptly paints a post-apocalyptic landscape. I could almost taste the dust and ask, feel the crunch of dirt and small pebbles being walked on, feel the oppressive darkness of the caves. And the battle scenes had me gasping for air.
  • Thought-provoking Elements
    Nevins had Kali, Tiamat, and other dealing with accepting new roles as well as accepting themselves when new characteristics/traits were realized. It was interesting and exciting to witness characters learning to deal when things went against long-held beliefs, when they reached deep and found inner strength they didn't realize was there, and try to understand that genetics don't make a person, it's the choices the person makes and the actions the take that make them who they are. Kali and Tiamat are also exploring love - what it means to love and to be loved.
And all this was delivered in Nevins' beautiful prose.

The future is uncertain for Kali, Tiamat, and their friends. Whatever comes, they'll face it together. I'm eager to see where things go from here.