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Tricked by Kevin Hearne

Tricked - Kevin Hearne, Luke Daniels

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this book. I do have to admit that it was not my favorite book in the series so far but it was still good. This is the fourth book in the Iron Druid Chronicles which is a series that really has to be read in order. I have found the entire series to be rather entertaining and this book was no exception.

The book started out really strong. Atticus needs to disappear so a plan is developed to make sure that everyone thinks he is gone for good. I really enjoyed the parts of the book that dealt with Atticus and Granuaile leaving their old life behind. Atticus finds himself owing Coyote a favor which Coyote cashes in quite wisely. Coyote is such a sneaky character which I find a lot of fun. 

I will say that this book felt a bit uneven to me. There were parts of the book where I was hanging on to every word because I was totally into the story. There were other sections that I wanted to drift off so I had to focus so that I didn't miss something important to the story. This was never a book that I didn't like but I did find a few sections to be a little slow. 

Luke Daniels continues to do a fabulous job with this series. I really could not imagine experiencing this series in any other way. He is the voice of Atticus but he also is able to encompass all of the other characters. I think that my favorite voice is probably the one he uses for Oberon. It is really quite brilliant. Luke Daniels has quickly moved to the top of my list of favorite narrators and I can't wait to listen to him bring the rest of the series to life.

I would definitely recommend this series to others. I think that it is a really well-done series filled with great characters and exciting situations. My rating of this book is really closer to 3.5 stars and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I can't wait to see what happens next in the series!

Initial Thoughts
I am not sure maybe 3.5 stars? I am going to have to think about whether to round up or down a bit. I liked this one but I liked parts of it more than others. I felt like I was a little more prone to my mind wandering while I listened to this one than the previous books in the series. There were some things that happen in this one that I feel will have a significance in later books. The narration was fabulous as expected. I look forward to reading more from the series soon.

Book Source: eStories Purchase

Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong

Watcher In The Woods - Kelley Armstrong

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was really good. I have really enjoyed all of the previous books in this series so I was really eager to dive into this newest installment. This is the fourth book in the Rockton series which is a series that I think works best when read in order. This was an exciting story that I found hard to put down. I had a fantastic time with this story.

I love the basis of this series. A super secret city filled with criminals and other individuals in hiding definitely has its own unique set of problems and challenges. Over the course of the series, I feel like I have got to know some of the more colorful residents of this odd little community. Casey and Eric are a vital part of this community. Eric is the sheriff and has a lot of authority over all of the day to day decisions within the town. Casey was a detective before coming to Rockton and fills that role within the town. 

I really like all of the dynamics between the characters in this series. Everyone has their roles to fill and I love how Casey is very aware of needing to let Eric take the lead on some things. The psychology behind the behavior of some of the residents is really quite interesting. I love how there is just a touch of romance with Casey and Eric's relationship but it doesn't overtake the story, only adds to it.

This was a rather exciting installment. A US Marshall shows up in Rockton intent on getting his hands on one of the residents which is a giant problem for both Eric and Casey. At the same time, they are worried about how someone found the town even though they just snuck in someone themselves. There were several mysteries happening at the same time and I was never quite sure how things would work out. 

I do highly recommend this series to others. This is a series that I could really see myself picking up again just so I could watch everything play out a second time. I cannot wait to see what will happen next in the town of Rockton!

I received a digital review copy of this book from St. Martin's Press - Minotaur Books via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was good. A lot of things that happened in earlier books from the series came into play in this installment. This time around Casey and Eric must deal with an outsider determined to get to one of their residents. There are several different mysteries going on and a lot of excitement to go with it. I can't wait to see what will happen in Rockton next!

Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

Priest of Bones - Peter McLean

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I absolutely loved this book. This was one of those books that I was able to lose myself in for just a little while. This book first fell on my radar when it was listed on First to Read. I signed up for a copy but let it expire before I got around to reading it. As luck would have it, my local library had a copy and I was able to give it a try. Let me tell you, I should have read this book as soon as I had a chance because it was fabulous!

This was a fantasy that I found very easy to slip into its world. It is a rather dark story and you can expect to see a fair amount of blood and violence. I was hooked by this story pretty much right away. The story follows Tomas Piety who happens to be an army priest. The war is over and his group of soldiers that have looked to him for leadership still wish to follow his lead. The group goes back to his home known as the Stink where Tomas plans to put everyone to work in his businesses. When he arrives home, he finds that all of his businesses have been taken over by others and he will have to fight to get them back.

I liked Tomas right away and the more I read, the more I liked him. When necessary, he delivers swift justice but overall he is a fair leader. He is incredibly smart and is a natural leader that seems to know exactly which job would be the right fit for all of his men. He inspires complete loyalty from his men which he returns in full. Tomas is put in a position where he not only needs to reclaim his territory but must also work with a powerful group to help prevent another war. It is a delicate balancing act that he is able to maneuver with finesse.

I thought this book was really exciting. There is plenty of action to keep the pages turning but I found the strategizing to be equally entertaining. The entire book was really well paced. The characters were very well developed and I not only liked Tomas but also really grew to care for the other members of his crew. There were a few magical elements that I found really well done as well. 

I would highly recommend this book to fans of darker fantasies. I was totally drawn into this wonderful story that I found almost impossible to set aside. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Penguin Publishing Group via First to Read and borrowed a print copy of the book from my local library.

Initial Thoughts
This was fantastic! Easily the best book that I have read so far in 2019. It was dark and bloody and rather hard to put down. I liked Tomas and his crew. I liked being in his head as he made decisions to lead his men and when he felt like he had no control over what was going on. The more I read the more I liked this group as they tried to retake what was theirs and what was ordered. I will definitely be looking for the next book in this series.

Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline

Corrupted (A Rosato & DiNunzio Novel) - Lisa Scottoline

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was really good! I have had this book for a long time and I have to say that right now I am kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. I was totally sucked into the story and had a hard time setting it aside once I got going. I think that one of the reasons that I hesitated for so long is because it is the third book in the series and I wasn't sure that it would work out of order but it works perfectly as a stand-alone novel. I am so glad that I finally decided to give this book a try.

This book covers two different cases at different points in time that share the same cast of characters. Thirteen years ago, Bennie represented Jason who was twelve years old at the time. Jason was sent to juvenile detention over a relatively minor incident where he stood up to a bully in the school cafeteria. The punishment of 90 days in juvenile detention seemed quite harsh for such a young child and Bennie worked hard to get him released. Unfortunately, she was pulled off the case by Jason's father because of a personal relationship. The current case has Bennie defending Jason who is being charged with murdering the same bully from all those years ago. 

I liked how different the two cases were in this book and thought that they were both equally interesting. I really enjoyed the fact that this book really focused on all of the legal maneuvers. I found all of the motions and appeals to be very interesting in the way it was presented. I also liked getting the chance to learn Bennie's thought process during the trial as she made decisions to object and question witnesses. 

I did like the characters in this book. Bennie is incredibly competent as a lawyer and there was never a doubt in my mind that she would always do what was in her client's best interest. She does have a romantic relationship in this story and I think that seeing her in a more vulnerable situation really helped to make her feel authentic. It was interesting to see the contrast between Jason as a child to the man being tried for murder. 

I thought that Kate Burton did a fantastic job with the narration of this book. She just pulled me into the story and held my attention. I think that she did a wonderful job with all of the character voices and brought a lot of emotion into the story anytime it was warranted. I believe that this is the first time that I have had the chance to listen to Kate Burton's work but I plan to look for her in the future.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a well done legal thriller that kept me guessing. This was quite the page-turner in the end and I cannot wait to read more from Lisa Scottoline very soon.

I received a digital review copy of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

Initial Thoughts
I thought that this book was very well done. There are really two cases that are detailed in the book. The first case happens when Bennie's client is a middle school age child and the second case occurs about 13 years later when the same client is an adult. I liked that this book stayed pretty focused on the court proceeding and rationale behind the lawyer's moves. There is a romance that comes into play but the main focus is on the cases. The audiobook narration was easy to listen to and added to my enjoyment of the novel.

The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow - Fiona Barton
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought this book was really well done. I have had this book for several years but never got around to reading for one reason or another. When I noticed that a copy of the audiobook was available and it featured a large cast of narrators, I decided it was time to see what this book was all about. I was hooked by the story right away and there were times that I didn't want to put it down. I really did enjoy this book in the end.

This is a book that jumps around in time a bit with several different points of view. I think that the way the book was set up helped to add to the mystery. From the start of the book, I had an idea of where things might go but I was never quite sure. This is a rather sad book in a lot of ways largely because the story felt so realistic and a crime against a small child is at its core. How many little boys and girls go missing every year without a lot to go on? It happens all too often based on what I see on my local news. I wanted a happy ending in this book (don't I always?) but I got a more realistic one instead.

Much of this story is told from Jean's point of view. We hear from her both during her marriage to Glen and after his death. I wasn't quite sure if she was hiding something or covering for her husband. Was she the clueless wife, was she involved, was he an innocent man? I can't really say that I really liked Jean but I did feel somewhat sympathetic to her at times. Then there's the reporter who was probably one of the more likable characters in the book. She wants the story but is pretty competent in her quest to find answers. The detective was determined to solve this case. It was the one that kept him up at night and he was willing to do what needed to be done to get some resolution. We do hear from Bella's mother and Glen and while those points of view are short they are powerful.

There are quite a few narrators that lend their voices to this audiobook and I thought that they all did a great job with the story. The bulk of the work fell on just a few narrators since most of the story was told from their character's point of view. I found all of the narrators to be easy to listen to and I believe that their performances added to my enjoyment of the story.

I would recommend this book to fans of mystery thrillers. I think that this story felt very authentic and the way the story was presented kept me guessing. I wouldn't hesitate to read more of this author's work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

Initial Thoughts
This one did keep me guessing. I wasn't quite sure what happened to Bella until it was revealed. I had a pretty good idea but there was enough doubt thrown into the story that I wasn't really sure. The book does jump around in time a bit but I think that the way it was done added to the mystery. I can't say that I really liked any of the characters but I was somewhat sympathetic towards Jean and I didn't dislike any of the key players either. This was a sad story in so many ways largely because crimes like this happen way too often in our world. I thought that everything was really very plausible. The narration was very well done. There is a rather large cast of narrators for this book with each reading the parts of the book from their assigned character's point of view. The bulk of the story was done by just a couple of the narrators and I think that the whole cast did a nice job.

 

Omega Days by John L. Campbell

Omega Days - John L. Campbell

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had fun with this zombie book! I saw this book featured at Chuckles Book Cave by my blogger friend, Chuckles, and decided that I would give it a try after finding out that my local library had a copy. I ended up reading the entire book in a single day so I guess you could say that I enjoyed it. It was really one of those books that was hard to put to put down. I am so glad I decided to give this book a try.

This was one of those books that tell a story through a lot of different stories. The book starts right as the zombie outbreak starts and nobody is quite sure what exactly is going on. We meet Skye, a college student, as she is moving into her college dorm with her family's help. Father Xavier Church has an unfortunate event occur that leaves him questioning so many things before the world completely changed. Angie is out filming her reality TV show with her uncle and crew and find that just getting home with the changes in the world will be a challenge. We also meet a Russian pilot, a couple of escaped convicts, a writer, and other assorted characters.

I liked getting all of these different perspectives. Each character had a different situation as that outbreak started and it was very eye-opening to learn how these very different characters dealt with such an impossible situation. Of course, all of the characters that lead these stories are strong characters who are smart, resilient and handle themselves well. Not everyone they come in contact can say those things and often things will end badly for them.

I thought that this story was exciting. There are some pretty intense situations and living conditions for all of the characters are quite harsh. I was happy to see a lot of zombie action in the book and even more happy that a lot of that action is rather brutal. What can I say, I like a bloody book. All of the different threads in the story did start coming together as the book progressed and I am quite excited to see where things will go in the next installment.

I would recommend this book to fans of zombie stories. I thought that this was a well-written story that proved to be quite the page-turner. I look forward to reading more of this exciting series soon.

Initial Thoughts
I had fun with this one. This book is told from a lot of different perspectives. Some of the characters are only around for a small amount of time and there are a lot of pages between their appearances. At the very end of the book, things do start to come together. I liked seeing the progression of the zombie epidemic through all of these different perspectives. We see a priest, a college student, a writer, a pilot, and even a couple of inmates dealing with this new world. I found this to be a quick and entertaining read and will most likely try to continue with the series.

Book source: Library

Playing for Keeps by Jill Shalvis

Playing for Keeps  - Jill Shalvis
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I loved this book! This is the seventh book in the Heartbreaker Bay series but it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. Fans of the series will enjoy checking in with some much-loved characters. I have enjoyed all of the books in this series so I was pretty eager to read this newest installment and it did not disappoint. Once I started reading this book, I didn't want to put it down and felt swept away by the story.

Caleb and Sadie are the focus of this book along with their little dog, Lollipop. The book opens with Caleb and Sadie finding a stray dog in the rain. They both are ready to accept responsibility for the dog and end up deciding to share custody of the pup. Of course, this means that the pair will be seeing a lot of each other as they pass the dog back and forth.

Caleb and Sadie are both great characters. Sadie's past was rather heartbreaking and her relationship with her family wasn't great. I think that learning about her past really gave the reader a lot of insight into her personality. She is very independent and refused to ask anyone for help. Caleb is rich and highly intelligent. He is also a very hard worker and quite generous. He is very close to his family but has spent a lot of his life being protected by them.

I loved watching this pair fall in love. I think that they had great chemistry with each other and I enjoyed all of their interactions. Caleb wants to take care of Sadie when he sees that she needs things but that didn't mean that he thought she wasn't capable. I liked that they both had to give and take a bit and when they were upset they talked about it.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This was a heartwarming romance with fantastic characters and an adorable dog. I can't wait to read more from Jill Shalvis!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Tasty Book PR via Book Funnel.

Initial Thoughts
I thought that Sadie and Caleb were great together. They had a lot of chemistry and seemed to be exactly what the other needed. Lollipop was adorable and I liked how she helped to bring them together. They were both scared at times and their families were not a big help. It was great to see them work together to make a relationship work. I do wonder who the next book will be about....maybe Ivy?

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient - Helen Hoang

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this was really good. I have had a copy of this book for some time but never picked it up despite the fact that other readers have been raving about it. I wanted to read the book but I just couldn't seem to work it into my reading schedule so when the audiobook went on sale recently, I jumped on it. Sometimes, it is just easier to work an audiobook into my reading schedule and I have to say that the narration added to my enjoyment of this wonderful little story.

I wrongly assumed that this would be a sweet and rather tame romance largely because of the cover. Boy, was I ever wrong! The story may have had its sweet moments but this is not a tame romance. This was pretty steamy and there were a lot more sex scenes than I would have guessed. I don't mind romances with a lot of heat and rather enjoy them in most cases so the fact that my assumption was wrong didn't make a difference to me but I thought I would mention the fact to other readers.

Stella has Asperger's and sometimes looks at the world a little different than others. She excels at her profession as an econometrician but knows that she has a few things to learn when it comes to sex. She decides that the best course of action is to hire a professional to teach her what she needs to know which is where Michael enters the picture. Michael is not proud of his job as an escort but he is resigned to doing what his family needs him to do. He has a one date rule for his clients until he meets Stella and agrees to help her with her lessons.

I really liked getting the opportunity to be in Stella's head. I loved the way she described everything and her internal monologue provided a lot of insight to the reader. She tries to break everything down into logical steps but is really unsure about a lot of things. Michael's character was just as interesting. He is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his family. He really was a great guy and I loved how he was with Stella. He thought highly of her and thought others should as well. He seemed to know just what she needed.

I had a great time watching these two fall for each other. They had such great chemistry with each other but they also seemed to be able to see everything good about each other. They didn't hold anything against each other. Michael didn't care about Stella's labels and Stella didn't care about Michael's history. They instead saw what kind of person the other was.

Carly Robins did a fantastic job with the narration of this audiobook. I think that her performance really helped to bring the story to life for me. I think that she captured the personalities of both Stella and Michael and brought a lot of emotion into the reading. She had a very pleasant reading voice that was easy to listen to for hours at a time.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This was a great romance with wonderful characters that made me laugh and touched my heart. I look forward to reading whatever Helen Hoang comes up with next!

I received a review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via Bookish First and purchased a copy of the audiobook.

Initial Thoughts
This was good. I liked Stella and Michael a lot and thought that they were both very interesting characters. I liked how well these two seemed to fit with each other and thought that the chemistry was intense. The narrator did a great job with the story and added to my overall enjoyment.

The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

The Year We Turned Forty: A Novel - Lisa Steinke, Liz Fenton

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this story. I found that this book grabbed my interest right from the start and was a rather solid read until the very end. I found that I wanted the best for these three women and hoped that the choices that they were making would work out for them. I wondered what I would do if I were thrust into the same situation that they were presented with and still haven't decided on an answer. 

Jesse, Claire, and Gabriela have been best friends for years and have always celebrated their birthdays together. The celebration for their fortieth birthday was one of the more memorable parties since it ended with Jesse going into labor with her son, Lucas. Fast forward ten years and the trio is celebrating their fiftieth in Las Vegas where they are given the chance to go back and relive the year they turned forty. 

I loved the concept behind this story. Who doesn't have things in their past that they would love to go back and change? I know I could compile a rather long list of things I wish I had done differently without a problem. These three ladies all of have major things that they want to change. Jesse wants to save her marriage, which fell apart after the birth of her son. Gabriela wants to have a baby. Claire wants to save her mother who died from cancer that year. The changes that they are making create such an impact that other unexpected changes start occurring and they have no idea how to handle everything.

I liked these three characters. They were all flawed and made some pretty big mistakes in their lives. I found Jesse and Claire to be my favorites of the group. Gabriela was so focused on her single goal of having a baby that she pushed everything else aside. Jesse wasn't able to change the biggest obstacle to saving her marriage but she could change how she handled things. I wasn't always happy with the choices she was making but I understood why she made them. Claire had a lot to deal with and I understood her desperation to save her mother and improve her relationship with her daughter. 

This was my first experience listening to Lisa Larsen's narration but I think she was a great choice for this story. She was able to capture these three characters along with all of the emotions that they were experiencing. I found her voice to be very pleasant and I had no problems listening to her for hours at a time.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a thought-provoking story of three friends trying to repair some of the mistakes in their lives. There were no easy fixes in this story and all of the changes they accomplished took a lot of hard work. I wouldn't hesitate to read more from this talented writing pair in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Atria Books via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library via Hoopla. 

Initial Thoughts
I really enjoyed this story. This book takes a look at three friends who get the opportunity at age 50 to go back 10 years and try to do things differently. It was a rather interesting plot that made me wonder if I would have made the same decision in their place. Of course, there are things in my life I wish I could change but if I did where would I be right now? Their 40th year was memorable, to say the least, and it was interesting to see how many things changed often unexpectedly. I thought that the narrator did a great job with the story and added to my overall enjoyment of the book.

At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost

At Grave's End: Night Huntress, Book 3 - Jeaniene Frost, Tavia Gilbert

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a great time with this book during this re-read! I fell in love with this series quite a few years ago and decided to get the audiobooks since I knew that I would want to revisit this world. This is the third book in the Night Huntress series, which really does need to be read in order. There were parts of the book that I did remember but I had lost quite a few details over the years. I am very slowly working my way through the series for the second time and found it to be just as enjoyable as it was the first time around if not more. 

I love Cat and Bones. More accurately, I like Cat but I LOVE Bones. There are actually a lot of great characters in this series but Bones is my favorite by far. Bones can do just about anything and doesn't make apologies. His love for Cat is sincere and unquestionable. I do like the two of them together. I must admit that there were a few times in this book that Cat got on my nerves just a bit. I like Cat and I understand that she has some great ideas but it just seemed odd that all of these really old vampires were taking her lead. I wanted to be quiet for a minute and maybe learn something from the very capable people she had around her. I also thought that Cat took some unnecessary risks and put herself in some uncomfortable positions which illustrated the fact she still has a lot to learn. I did think that Cat really showed her strength when everything went horribly wrong and she was forced to take a leadership position.

The secondary characters played really important roles in this book. I believe that this is Vlad's introduction in the series and I was quickly reminded why I love his character. The background that we learn about his character in this book was very touching. Mencheres was in the spotlight for a lot of this book and I have always enjoyed his character. I liked the developments in vampire politics that revolved around him and found his backstory to be rather eye-opening. 

This was an exciting story. There were a few scenes that stayed with me over the years which really says a lot about the book. There were some rather emotional moments in the story which I thought were handled very well. I liked that there was such a wide range of emotions in a single story and it all worked so well. 

Tavia Gilbert did a fantastic job with the narration of this book. This story has a pretty large cast of characters and she handles all of their different voices very well. I am actually rather amazed by the wide range of accents and voices that she does use in this audiobook. I thought that she expressed all of the emotion and excitement of this story expertly. I would say that her narration added to my overall enjoyment of the story.

I would recommend this series to others. This is an exciting installment in a series filled with wonderful characters and intense situations. I can't wait to continue with my re-read of the series!

Initial Thoughts
I had a great time with this. This was a re-read for me but it has been several years since I last read this book. I really didn't expect to remember much of anything but I did remember some parts of the story. Maybe my memory isn't as bad as I think it is. Bones is my favorite character in this series by far but Vlad is right up there so I was thrilled to see him play a role in this installment. Ian, Spade, and Mencheres are also around which made me a happy camper. Cat did get on my nerves a time or two but I do like her character and thought that she was rather strong in this book. There is quite a bit of action and some pretty intense scenes that kept the excitement going.

Book source: Audible Purchase

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

The Winter of the Witch - Katherine Arden
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I absolutely loved this book! Ever since I finished The Girl in the Tower, I have been eager to read the next chapter in Vasya's story. I went into this book with incredibly high expectations and I have to say that this book was even better than I could have hoped for. There is just something magical about this trilogy. This was a book that I found almost impossible to set aside. I just had to know how things would work out for Vasya, her family, and all of Russia. I found that this story was really able to touch me emotionally and I had a fantastic time reading it.

The Winter of the Witch is the final book in the Winternight trilogy which really must be read in order. This book does pick up shortly after the events of the previous book by throwing the reader right back into the action. If I had to find one thing to criticize about this book, it would be that this book does not take the time to refresh the reader's memory of the events from the previous installments. Since it has been over a year since I read the previous book, it did take me a moment or two to really remember the details regarding what had been happening with Vasya. 

Vasya is a wonderful character and I have found it a joy to watch her develop and really find herself over the course of the trilogy. She seems to be ready to take on the world in this book. She is strong and has proven herself worthy of being a leader. She is also compassionate and mourns the ones she has lost and works to protect others often at her own risk. She does expect others with power to also do what needs to be done even if it comes with significant risk and does not hold back her opinion when she thinks that they are not doing enough. 

This book was exciting. I worried about the safety of Vasya and the other characters quite often since there are a lot of dangerous situations in the book. Vasya has really embraced her powers by the end of the book and I had a great time seeing everything she was capable of doing. I also loved all of the magical creatures that were a part of Vasya's world. The Winter King, the Bear, Midnight, and even a mushroom king all played important and sometimes surprising roles in this wonderful story. 

I thought that the writing was beautiful. I felt like I was carried away by the words as I read this book. There was a wonderful flow to the story and I think that the writing added to the overall beauty of the story. This story made me feel a lot of things. I was nervous and worried about the characters at times and smiled in joy when things worked out. I felt pain when things went horribly wrong and had tears of joy when things went oh so right. The story is dark and it is often violent but it was always beautiful.

I would highly recommend this trilogy to others. I was swept away by this dark fairytale of a story and loved every moment of it. I must say that this book brought everything to a fantastic conclusion and the ending was even better than I could have hoped. This is a trilogy that I plan to revisit many times in the future. I can't wait to see what Katherine Arden writes next!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Del Ray via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was the kind of story that is easy to lose yourself in. It was a magical fairytale of a story but a rather dark fairytale. From the start, I was completely swept away by this story and the beautiful way that it was told. Vasya has grown into a powerful woman and does what is necessary to protect herself, those she loves, and Russia. The story was epic and the ending was beautiful. 

 

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry

The Girl I Used to Be - April Henry

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this was really good. I have had this book for years but it somehow got lost in my pile at some point. I am glad that I decided to dust it off and give it a try because it turned out to be quite an enjoyable read. This was my first experience with April Henry's writing and I am rather impressed. This was a really fast read and I loved the fact that the mystery kept me guessing until the very end. I found this to be an overall enjoyable read. 

Olivia is a seventeen-year-old living on her own as an emancipated minor. She has spent years in the foster care system before going out on her own. Her life wasn't always like this. She had a family until her mother was killed when she was only three years old. She then lived with her grandmother until her death a few years later. Everyone always assumed that her father killed her mother since he hasn't been seen since that fateful day so many years ago. Oh, and her name was Ariel back then but that was really a lifetime ago. When new evidence that proves her father could not have been the killer, everything Olivia thought she knew is called into question.

I was really curious about what really happened to Olivia's parents. Olivia/Ariel was there that day but she was so young that she just doesn't remember. It was really interesting to watch her try to piece everything back together and figure out what really happened. There were so many possibilities and I never knew which way things would end up going. I have to admit that I didn't figure it out until everything was revealed which is just how I like it to go. There was a lot of excitement towards the end of the book and things were rather intense for a while but I was pretty satisfied with how everything was resolved. 

I liked Olivia/Ariel. Considering everything that she has been through, she really has a lot to be proud of. She is a hard worker and is completely self-reliant. She was very focused on her task in this story and wouldn't let herself be distracted by romance, even though there is a touch of that in this story. I really liked how she was with Nora, the older woman that used to live next door to her grandmother. 

I would recommend this book to others. I found it to be a fast-paced mystery that kept me guessing. This was the kind of book that can really hard to put down. I look forward to reading more of April Henry's work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was good. I really liked that this was a pretty fast moving story. I found the mystery to be very engaging. I liked Olivia/Ariel and thought that the way her past was described made her a bit easier to sympathize with. This was the first time that I have read any of April Henry's work and I really enjoyed her writing. 

What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin

What Nora Knew - Linda Yellin

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this was a good read. I have had a copy of this book for years but for one reason or another just never got started with it. I decided that it was time to dust it off and give it a try and found it rather amusing. I do have to say that I am probably not the target audience for this book. I am the right age to have seen quite a few of Nora Ephron's movies, which I have, but with the exception of When Harry Met Sally I found them to be only mildly entertaining and not something I would feel the need to revisit. There are a lot of Nora Ephron references in this book which really didn't do anything for me. I still found this to be a very pleasant way to spend a few hours.

The book opens with Molly meeting her eventual ex-husband. After a quick introduction, the book picks up with divorced Molly working at an online magazine. Molly is in a relationship with Russell who might be slightly boring but they are comfortable with each other. Her friends really wish that Molly would give up on Russell and look for someone who will bring some passion to her life and really be the one. When Molly is given an assignment at work to write about love as Nora Ephron would, she has to examine her own life.

I liked Molly and found her to be funny at times. A lot of the book is spent in Molly's head as she thinks through her assignment and her life. It really made sense that she wasn't eager to take a big risk in regards to romance since her former husband really took advantage of her trust. Molly wanted to find a passionate relationship but she found herself making choices with lower risks instead. 

Unfortunately, not a whole lot happens in this book. The romance in the story doesn't get going until the very end of the book. I understand that this was really more about Molly's journey but I would have loved to see just a bit more of her life as she takes some risks. I found this book to be only mildly funny. It was amusing but there was nothing that brought on actual laughter or stayed with me.

I found this to be a nice quick read that I am glad I finally decided to pick up. Fans of Nora Ephron's work will enjoy all of the references to her books and movies worked into the story. I would not hesitate to read more from Linda Yellin in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was good. I liked Molly and thought that much of the book was mildly funny. It seemed like a lot of the book was spent in Molly's head as she navigated her job as a reporter along with her relationship with her comfortable yet boring boyfriend, Russell. Unfortunately, not a lot happens in the book and the big romance doesn't get going until the very end of the story. There were a lot of references to Nora Ephron and her movies that fans will appreciate.

Straight Outta Fangton by C.T. Phipps

Straight Outta Fangton - Cary Hite, C. T. Phipps
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this one even if I didn't love it. I decided to read this book because I have really enjoyed this author's work in the past and this sounded like a lot of fun. I did enjoy the story but it didn't grab me the way that I had hoped it would. It took me a lot longer to finish this audiobook than a book this length usually does. I actually started the book over about two hours in because I felt like I had missed some key plot points. I did end up having some fun with this one and am glad that I gave the book a chance.

Being a vampire is supposed to be glamorous, right? That has not been the case for Peter Stone. Peter is a poor black vampire working at the local convenience store. Peter is the only employee at the store that is willing to do any work. Peter can't even get his servant to do anything. When a woman turns to a vampire in the store's bathroom, it is up to Peter to keep things under control.

I had a really hard time connecting with the characters in this story. I didn't dislike Peter but I was never really invested in his well-being. There were a couple of characters that died during the story and I have to admit that I wasn't moved by the development. I feel like it is probably a bad sign when character deaths don't elicit any kind of reaction. I thought that some of the special abilities and unique world building were interesting. I also appreciated the complexity of the mystery and the amount of action in the story.

This was my first experience with Cary Hite's narration. I feel like he did a good job with the story overall but I do wonder if his delivery might have taken some of the humor out of the story. This was described as a comedic story but the humor was completely lost on me. I had no issues with Mr. Hite's reading voice but I do wonder if his narration style might have kept me from really connecting with the story. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to his work again though.

I think that this book will work better for a lot of readers. It was a unique take on vampires with a well thought out mystery. I wouldn't hesitate to read more from C.T. Phipps in the future.

I received a review copy of this audiobook from the author.

Initial Thoughts
This was okay for me. I found parts of the book to be amusing but I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters. I felt like the book tried really hard to be funny but often fell flat. This was the first time that I have listened to Cary Hite's narration and I felt like he did a good job overall but I wonder if his delivery might have taken some of the humor out of the story. 

 

Whispers at Seaside by Addison Cole

Whispers at Seaside (Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers) - Addison Cole

This review can also be found at Pure Textuality PR

I really liked this romance. This is the tenth book in the Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers series but it works perfectly fine as a stand-alone. I have read just a few books in the series and had no trouble keeping up with this one. Addison Cole is the pen name that Melissa Foster uses for the sweeter versions of her books. Whispers at Seaside is the sweeter version of Seaside Whispers. Before trying an Addison Cole book, I had worried that it might feel overly tame and a little too PG for my tastes but there is still plenty of heat to be had in these stories even without detailed sex scenes.

This book is about Matt and Mira and I have to say that I really liked both of these characters right away. Matt is on sabbatical from his job as a professor at Princeton and wants to spend some of his time in Seaside with the bookkeeper that works for his father, Mira. Mira is a single mother to a bright little boy named Hegan. I loved how all three of these characters just seemed to fit together from the very start. Matt and Mira had excellent chemistry while Hegan and Matt bonded over several projects that Hegan proudly called “guy stuff”.

There really weren’t too many obstacles keeping these two apart. Matt’s time in Seaside is temporary but I felt like that was something that could be worked out from the start. I had a great time watching these three come together as a unit and I liked the fact that Mira’s son played such an important role in the story. Matt and Mira do get quite a few moments of time just to be together as adults and I thought that their connection felt very real.

Andi Arndt and Sebastian York are one of my favorite narrator pairs. I think that their voices really compliment each other well in this kind of audiobook and I was excited to see that they performed this book together. I thought that both narrators did a great job with all of the character voices and brought a lot of emotion and some heat to the story. I think that their talent really added to my overall enjoyment of the story.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought it was a really well-done romance with wonderful characters. I had such a good time watching these three make everything work and become a single unit. I plan to read more from Addison Cole very soon!

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author/publicist.

Initial Thoughts
I really liked this romance. I thought that Matt and Mira were perfect together and Mira's son, Hegan, added a whole lot to the story. There was plenty of chemistry between Matt and Mira and no big obstacles to their relationship but it was still fun to watch it develop. The narrating pair of Andy Arndt and Sebastian York did a fabulous job with the story.

The First Days by Rhiannon Frater

The First Days: As the World Dies - Rhiannon Frater

This review can also be found at Pure Textuality PR.

I have a lot of mixed feelings regarding this book. I have heard great things about this book and the description really appealed to me so I was excited to dive into this one. The book opens right in the middle of some rather heartbreaking zombie action and I was sure that I had made a good choice. There were some things that I absolutely loved about this book but there were other things that bothered me. It was a book that I didn’t want to put down even while I grew more annoyed with each page.

At the start of the book, Jenni is trying to get away from her husband and two young children who have recently become zombies. The imagery was very well done and I could envision those tiny toddler fingers reaching for his mother. Katie happens upon the scene in a truck and rescues Jenni. The pair has no idea what is going on or what they should do. They eventually head out of town and eventually meet other people who are just trying to survive as they are.

I thought that the zombie scenes were very well done. They were descriptive enough that I could picture everything quite well and I found them to be rather exciting. I thought that the confusion regarding the situation that some in the community seemed to have kept things really interesting and felt authentic. I liked the survival aspect of the story and enjoyed seeing the characters adapt to their changing environment.

I did have some pretty big issues with this book. I didn’t care for one of the main characters at all. I thought that Jenni was okay at the start of the book but as I read I disliked her more and more. I think that the book would have been a lot stronger without her and I have to admit that I kind of wished that she would be eaten by a zombie before everything was over. She wanted to be the only person to be close to Katie and had some rather unreasonable behaviors if Katie was in any danger. Jenni also seemed to be very focused on finding a new relationship when it seemed like she probably had a few other important things to think about.

I also had some major issues with the fact that Katie’s sexuality seemed to take over the story at times. Katie lost her wife, Lydia, at the start of the epidemic. She loved Lydia and thought that the way she mourned her was very well done. I just got so sick of all of the other characters talking about the fact that she is into women. She was doing all of these amazing things but the only thing anyone wanted to talk about was her sexuality when she just wanted to be left alone to mourn her wife. Katie’s sexuality does end up being a bit more complex which just added more unnecessary drama.

I am glad I read this one and do think a lot of readers will like it a bit more than I did. I found this to be a rather exciting zombie story with enough action to keep me turning the pages. I don’t think that I will be reading any further in the series because of the issues that I did have with the story.

Initial Thoughts
I don't know how I want to rate this one...3 stars....4 stars...2 stars. I just don't know. There were some aspects of this book that I LOVED and there were other aspects of this book that annoyed me to no end. I liked one of the main characters at the start of the story but there were times during the book that I kind of hoped she would be eaten by a zombie. There were characters that I really liked a lot though. I loved the zombie action and the survival aspect of the story. I hated the fact that romance started to take over the plot before the book was over. I would have appreciated less talk about the characters' sexuality and more zombie action. I am glad I read it but I don't know that I will read any further in the series.

Book source: Library