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Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

Twelve Slays of Christmas: A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery - Jacqueline Frost
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a fantastic time with this cozy! I had heard some really good things about this book so when I noticed that my library had a copy of the audio available, I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. Once I started listening to this book, I didn't want to put it down. 

Holly White has moved back home after her fiance decided to break things off just before the wedding. It works out that she is home just in time to help out during the busiest time of her at her parents' Christmas tree farm. When someone is murdered at the farm, things change quickly and everyone is a suspect. In order to get the farm open again, Holly decided to look into the murder herself and things get even more interesting.

I loved the characters in this book. Holly really felt real to me. She was smart and well-adjusted. I loved that she had a great relationship with her parents. Her parents were wonderful and I thought the way they wanted to protect Holly felt very authentic. Sheriff Evan Grey was great. I really appreciated the fact that he was a capable officer. He was calm and seemed to be able to handle just about anything. I really liked the relationship that developed between Holly and Evan over the course of the story.

I liked the fact that the mystery kept me guessing until the very end. There were quite a few possible suspects and a whole lot of people in town that had some kind of motive for the murder. There were several characters that I didn't completely trust. As new developments were discovered, I found myself trying to piece everything together but I couldn't figure out exactly what happened in this story until the big reveal was made. 

This was the first time that I have listened to Allyson Ryan and I thought she did a wonderful job with this book. I found the voices that she used for the characters really added to the story. I thought that she did a great job of expressing the characters' emotions through her reading. I thought she had a very pleasant voice that was easy to listen to for hours at a time.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a very well done cozy mystery and would be the perfect choice for the holiday season. I am looking forward to reading more in this series very soon.

Initial Thoughts
I had a fantastic time with this cozy. The characters in this book were wonderful and I loved seeing them interact at the Christmas tree farm. I was stumped by the mystery for most of the book but had a lot of fun mistrusting some of the possible culprits. I really enjoyed all of Sheriff Grey and Holly's scenes together and couldn't help but hope for something to develop between the two of them. The narrator did a great job with this one and really brought the story to life. I do hope to listen to more of this series.

Book source: Library via Hoopla

 

In Flames by Jessica Jayne

In Flames - Jessica  Jayne

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

I thought that this was really good. I have enjoyed Jessica Jayne's work in the past so I was really excited to get started with this new book. This was a rather short listen that I was able to finish in just a couple of sessions. I ended up having a great time with this satisfying love story.

This romance has a rather unique set up. At the start of the story, we see Gracelynn lose her husband and Matt loses his brother. Gracelyn and Chad's marriage wasn't perfect but there were working on it and they did care about each other. Matt has spent his life in Chad's shadow. After his death, Matt has done everything that he can to help Gracelyn and the children cope with the loss. 

On the one year anniversary of Chad's death, things change for Gracelyn and Matt and they realize that their feelings for each other have evolved into something more intense. They know that nobody would accept a relationship between them so they do their best not to let anything serious happen but they can't hide what they feel for each other.

I thought that Gracelyn and Matt were great together. These two had a ton of chemistry and there were quite a few scenes that were full of heat. I like that they have a long history together and that things have evolved over time. Gracelyn knew exactly what she wanted and wasn't afraid to let anyone know. Matt was such a good guy who seemed to really be trying to do what was in everyone's best interest. 

I read a lot of romance and it seems to me that a lot of time the big obstacle that the couple needs to overcome really isn't all that big of a deal. This book was different because I really understood the obstacle that Gracelyn and Matt were facing. The steps that they took to keep everyone's feelings in mind while they navigated their new relationship seemed really authentic to me. 

I thought that Joe Arden and Samantha Cooke did a great job with this audiobook. I think it was a really good choice to use a dual narrator format for this story and I thought that both of the narrators brought a lot of emotion into the story. I had no problem listening to this book for hours at a time. 

I would recommend this romance to others. It was a quick read that felt very authentic and was full of emotions. I wouldn't hesitate to read more from Jessica Jayne in the future.

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

Initial Thoughts
This was good. I wish that we would have seen more of them falling for each other during the year between the death of Gracelyn's husband and the big event. I did see the obstacles that they faced and could understand that others might have a few issues with their being together. There were some pretty hot scenes and some more touching ones. I thought that the narrators did a great job with this story.

My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

My Kind of Wonderful - Jill Shalvis
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a fantastic time with this romance. I pulled this book from my virtual stack of past due review books. It was a great book so I have no idea why I waited so long to pick it up and read it. Of course, I have yet to read a Jill Shalvis book that I didn't like so it really is no surprise that I liked this one as much as I did. This is the second book in the Cedar Ridge series but it is easily read as a stand-alone novel.

Hud takes his responsibilities very seriously. He takes care of his mother and accepts all of the blame for his brother leaving town. He is very dedicated to his work and seems to be on the clock all the time. He wants no part of the mural for the resort that his mother has arranged. Bailey is ready to embrace life and do all of the things she has had to put off for so long. The first thing on her list that she wants to complete is the mural for the ski resort.

The characters in this book were great. Bailey has been through a lot but still has a very positive attitude and is looking forward to her future. Hudson is an incredibly hard worker who is dedicated to his family and doing what is right. Hudson has a large family that also work at the ski resort that played a big part of this story and were all a lot of fun. Bailey's loved ones wanted to protect her and keep her safe even though they didn't always seem to completely support her choices. 

I loved Hud and Bailey together. The chemistry between them was amazing and I felt like these two really needed each other. Hudson saw Bailey as more than her illness and helped to give her back the sense of normal that she needed. Bailey added the balance to Hudson's life that he didn't realize he needed. I felt like both of these characters came alive every time they were together and I couldn't help but cheer them on towards their happily ever after.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This was a story filled with great chemistry, touching moments, and a lot of hope. I can't wait to read more from Jill Shalvis!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Forever (Grand Central Publishing).

Initial Thoughts
I pulled this book from my virtual stack of past due arcs. Why didn't I read this book years ago? It was great so I have no excuses. I read the first and third books in the series back when they were being published so skipping this one really made no sense. I love Hudson and Bailey together. The whole Kincaid family was great and I never felt like I was missing anything even though I remember very little from the other books in the series. These two had so much in common and their chemistry was off the charts. They have both been through so much and I was thrilled to see them find their happily ever after together. 

 

Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Blood Moon - Alexandra Sokoloff

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

I thought that this book was very well done. This is the second book in the Huntress/FBI Thrillers series which is a series that really does need to be read in order. This book picks up shortly after the events in the first installment in the series with Special Agent Roarke still trying to capture Cara. I was quickly pulled back into this ongoing story and had a really good time with it.

Cara Lindstrom was the only survivor of a murderer known as The Reaper when she was just a young child. She is now also a murderer and wanted by the FBI. Her crimes have been committed against those that have harmed or are in the process of harming others. It is next to impossible to feel regret over the lives she has taken but Roarke is determined to bring her in.

Roarke intends to set a trap for Cara and stumbles upon a crime much larger than he thought possible. I was completely pulled in by this story and had a great time trying to figure out how everything would work out and what the FBI's next move would be. There was a lot of action and the story moved at a pretty fast pace. I liked the profiling aspect of the story and thought it added a really interesting aspect to the story.

R.C. Bray did a fantastic job with the narration. For some reason, his voice just seems perfect for this kind of story. He was able to really bring the story to life and did a great job with all of the character voices. I really like the quality of his voice and found that I wanted to listen to this book for hours at a time.

I would recommend this series to others. I think that this is a very well done mystery that kept me guessing paired with great characters and enough action to keep things interesting. I am looking forward to listening to the next book in the series very soon.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley and purchased a copy of the audiobook.

Initial Thoughts
I am so glad that I got back to this series. This book was very well done. It picks up shortly after the events of the first book with Cara still on the loose. Roarke and the team are trying to find her and the stakes are high before the end of this story. I liked getting a chance to be with the agents as they worked to figure out how the criminal would act and process the evidence. R.C. Bray did a great job with the narration.

Fireworks by Sarina Bowen

Fireworks (True North #6) - Sarina Bowen

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

I loved this book! This is the sixth book in the True North series but it could easily be read as a stand-alone. I haven't read all of the books in the series and have kind of jumped around a bit so I think that this is one of those series that is fine to jump in anywhere you want. Just know that once you do get started, you are probably going to want to read them all. Benito has played a role in some of the earlier books and I was really excited to read his story and ended up having a fantastic time with it.

I have come to realize that I am a big fan of second chance romances. Benito and Skye definitely deserve their second chance and I was so happy to see them make it happen. I loved the fact that this book shows us what happened back when they were teenagers along with the present day. I think that the two timelines worked really well at telling the full story between this pair. 

Skye is forced to take some vacation time from her job with a new station in New York after drawing something that resembles a male appendage on the traffic map live on the air. Her stepsister talks her into coming to Vermont and before long she learns that things are a lot more complicated with her stepsister than she originally thought. Skye has to turn to the local detective, Benito, for help.

I loved Benito and Skye together. They both still have intense feelings for each other that they have been trying to ignore for twelve years. Skye had a very difficult time at home as a teenager and Benito was always trying to protect her. Some of the events from Skye's past still haunt her and have a huge impact on her present-day life. These two had some things to work through but I loved seeing it happen. Benito was extremely patient and seemed to know just what to say at the most important times. There was a ton of chemistry between these two but it was also very obvious how much they both cared about each other. 

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This was a romance filled with strong chemistry, intense emotions, a lot of heat, and even a few moments of humor. I can't wait to read more of this fantastic series very soon!

I received a digital review copy of this book from the author/publicist.

Initial Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book! It was great to finally get Benito's story and I have to say that Skye was his perfect match. I liked that these two had a history and we got to see that play out along with the present day events in the book. The chemistry was intense and I loved seeing these two work through some problems together. 

Hollywood Heir by Ruth Cardello

Hollywood Heir  - Ruth Cardello

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

I did like this romance quite a bit. I was really curious about how Eric's story would go after finishing the previous book in the series. He is a really interesting character and I was looking forward to learning more about him. I ended up having a great time with this audiobook.

Eric seems to have everything. He is wealthy and everyone seems to love him. He is a well-known actor that is best known for his portrayal of the superhero Water Bear Man. He is somewhat lost and is having a hard time figuring out how to move forward. Sage comes from a wealthy family but she takes care of herself. She works to help people through her chosen career as a plant psychologist. 

Eric is hiding in plain sight as an average guy named Wayne when he meets Sage. I liked these two together from the start and thought that they had a lot of chemistry together. Eric / Wayne does have a few moments where he makes some pretty bad decisions and doesn't always treat Sage in the manner she deserves. Some of that blame could be placed with Delinda who is busy making things difficult and interfering in things that really should be left alone. I was pleased to see the Westerly family back together before this book came to an end. It was great to check in with the characters from the earlier books and to see everyone start to come together. 

I would recommend this audiobook to others. I thought that Teri Clark Linden continued to do a great job with the series. She is able to cover both the male and female parts of the story without any problems. I think that she has a very pleasant voice and I was able to listen to the book for hours at a time. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to more from this narrator or pick up another book written by Ruth Cardello.

Initial Thoughts
Maybe 3.5 stars but I am feeling generous :) I did like this one better than the previous one in the series but I do prefer the first two books in this series. I did like Sage from the start and am pretty sure that I have never read a book with a character listing plant psychologist on her resume. Eric / Wayne did have a few moments were he acted like an idiot in the book. Delinda filled her role of overstepping boundaries once again. Besides Delinda, the rest of the family didn't play too big of a role until closer to the end of the story. I thought that the narrator did a great job with this one.

Book source: Kindle Unlimited

Royal Heir by Ruth Cardello

Royal Heir - Ruth Cardello
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this one but I think that it was the weakest book in the series for me. I don't usually look for royal romances and I am not really sure if I am a fan of the trope or not. I like the idea of a royal romance but I can't really think of any that I was excited to read either. I wanted to read this book because I really enjoyed the first two books from the series and wanted to see what would happen to the other members of the Westerly family. I was never completely hooked by this story but I did find it to be a decent listen.

I must say that I missed the family drama from the first two books. This book takes Rachelle overseas to be with her brother, Eric, who has been largely absent from the series. Many of the characters that I loved from the first two books were not even in the country for this one. Rachelle wasn't my favorite from the earlier books in the series so I really missed seeing the rest of the group. 

I can't say that I really liked Magnus. I can see that he had some good qualities but I was never completely won over by him. I did like seeing Rachelle and Eric grow a bit closer and I thought that the charity work that the characters were involved in was quite touching.

I am glad that I listened to this book. Teri Clark Linden did a great job with the narration handling a large cast of characters with ease. She added a lot of excitement to the story. I think that readers who are fans of royal romances might like this one a bit more than I did.

Initial Thoughts
This was okay. I didn't like it nearly as much as the previous two books in the series. I think that I missed having all of the family drama that was in the first book. I didn't feel as much chemistry between Magnus and Rachelle as I would have liked. The narrator did a great job with the book.

Book source: Kindle Unlimited.

 

Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

Diamond Fire -  Ilona Andrews

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

I loved this novella! Absolutely loved it! It is hard not to gush over how much I loved this book so I am just going to go with it. I adore the Hidden Legacy series and have read the original three books two or three times each already so I was really excited to learn that the series would be continuing. I was really excited to see this world through Catalina's eyes and I was not disappointed. I had so much fun with this story.

I love Nevada and Mad Rogan but I really like the rest of Nevada's family as well so I am more than okay with the torch being passed along to Catalina. I like Catalina even more after reading this story. I felt like I knew her before I got started with this novella but the amount of character development in this short piece was extraordinary. In this story, readers actually see more of Mad Rogan than Nevada which I think worked perfectly since it gave Catalina a chance to really stand on her own for the story. I also fell in love with Rogan's mom. She was amazing in this story and I hope we get to see a whole lot more of her in future books.

There is a mystery that needs to be solved on top the upcoming wedding. There is a big group of Rogan's extended family in town for the wedding and causing a whole lot of trouble at the same time. This is not a very likable group overall and it was hard to trust most of them. It was a lot of fun to watch Catalina navigate such a complicated group of individuals and get to the bottom of it all.

I would highly recommend this story to others. I think that it could work as a stand-alone but I think that it really works better when read in series order. This series is amazing and you don't want to miss any of the books anyway so I would suggest starting with Burn for Me. I can't wait to read more from this fantastic series!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Avon Books via Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
This was beyond amazing! It's a shame that I can only give it 5 stars since it clearly deserves a few bonus stars. Ilona Andrews packed more story and character development into this novella than most books with 5 times as many pages. Fans will not want to miss this one!

Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost

Shades of Wicked - Jeaniene Frost

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

I loved this book! I have to tell you that I went into this book with pretty high expectations. How could I not?! I have enjoyed the heck out of the books in the Night Huntress world and Ian is an awesome character. I knew that this would be a great book and I am happy to report that I was right. Once I started reading this book, I didn't want to put it down. It was really a lot of fun to be back in this world for just a bit.

This is the first book in the Night Rebel series which takes place within the Night Huntress world. Fans of the Night Huntress series have had a chance to get to know many of the characters that appear in this story but this book does stand on its own. I think that readers new to the Night Huntress world will be able to start with this book without any problem. I have read most of the books but it has been quite a few years and I hate to admit that I forgot a whole lot of the details but I had no problem keeping up with this book.

This story focuses on Ian and Veritas. Veritas is determined to take care of a demon and she thinks that Ian may be able to help. I really didn't remember much about Veritas from earlier books but she is a Law Guardian and upholds vampire laws. She is really old and has a few extra abilities. Ian quickly learns that she may be willing to bend a few rules if it helps them achieve their goal.

Ian and Veritas made a great pair. They seemed to understand each other from the very start. It was fun watching them try to outsmart the other, oftentimes unsuccessfully. They fought well together and against each other. It was just a ton of fun to see their interactions and I loved the way that they instinctively knew when they should trust each other.

This book had everything that I was looking for when I picked it up. There was plenty of action with some pretty intense scenes. I found that parts of the book were rather comical and couldn't help reading with a big smile on my face. I loved the chemistry between Ian and Veritas and enjoyed watching them become a team. I had a great time learning about the background and extra abilities that Veritas has.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I had a fantastic time with this story and thought that Ian and Veritas were perfectly matched. I cannot wait to read more from this new series!

I received a review copy of this book from Avon Books.

Initial Thoughts
It was as good as I hoped it would be. Ian has met his match!

Review copy provided by the publisher.

As Shadows Fade by Colleen Gleason

As Shadows Fade - Colleen Gleason

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

I ended up liking this book quite a lot. I have really had a great time with this vampire hunter series set in the Regency period and I was eager to see how everything would wrap up in this final installment. I had some ideas about where things might go in this book and I wasn't completely wrong but there were more than a few surprises worked in along the way as well. I am pretty satisfied with how everything came to an end.

Demons are making their way into the world. Demons are a danger not only to humans but vampires also have a lot to lose with their increased presence. Demons are hard to fight and even harder to overcome. There are a few special items that could help in defeating this enemy but in order to use them, Victoria and the other vampire hunters must enlist the help of one of their greatest enemies, Lilith, the vampire queen. I couldn't wait to see how things would finally wrap up with this master vampire and seeing the members of the group working with her was intense. She has had such a unique hold over Max throughout the series and I knew that things would get exciting when the vampire hunters were finally able to deal with her.

The characters in this series are really well done. The group of vampire hunters were on the road for much of this book so there were not quite so many characters throughout the book as some of the other books. Victoria has become such a strong leader and is willing to sacrifice if that is what is required of her. I do like the fact that she does still want things for herself and actively works to make those things happen. Max has been through a lot over the course of the story and he takes on another huge obstacle in this installment. He has proven that he will do whatever it takes to help make the world a safer place. Sebastian has also changed throughout the series. He isn't as afraid to show how much he cares and actively pursues what he wants in this installment. He is also a very brave man that can be very honorable when given the opportunity.

My one complaint about this book was the love triangle that took center stage at the start of the book. I really wish that this element to the story would have just been left out. One love interest was more than enough in my opinion. The love triangle was really set up in the previous installment in the series but this was where things were really dealt with. Victoria knows what she wants and doesn't waver in that decision which I really appreciated. I was pretty sure how the romantic element of the story would pan out before I ever started reading this book and I was right for the most part. The way that story worked out in the end made the whole triangle make a lot more sense to me and I was really satisfied with how everything turned out.

I would recommend this series to others. This is the fifth and final installment in a series that really does have to be read in order since each book builds on the last. I have had such a great time watching this group of characters change and learn to work as a team to make the world a safer place. I definitely plan to read more from Gleason very soon.

Initial Thoughts
I ended up liking this one. At the start of the book, I was a bit disappointed that the focus seemed to be almost entirely on Victoria's romantic life. I would have been happy to just leave the whole love triangle thing out of this series. The book did get back to the vampire hunting action I wanted to see and there were a few surprising revelations. All in all this was an exiting story.

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Exit Strategy - Martha Wells

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

I had a great time with this newest installment in the Murderbot Diaries series. After reading the previous three installments in the series, I knew that I was going to have to read about Murderbot's further adventures just as soon as I could. This is a novella length piece that could easily be read in a single evening. I do think that this series is best read in order since this newest entry touched on things that happened in previous adventures quite often. This story was everything that I had hoped it would be.

Everything comes full circle in the series with Murderbot working to help Dr. Mensah who we met in the first installment. As soon as the SecUnit finds out that Dr. Mensah is in trouble, immediate plans are made to get close and offer assistance. Things are pretty tense at times and there is a whole lot of excitement that had me at the edge of my seat.

I loved seeing how much Murderbot has grown over the course of the series. There are feelings in this book. Real feelings. Everyone's favorite SecUnit seems to be having a whole lot of feelings for an anti-social cyborg. There is a lot more interaction with others that is done quite willingly and there are times with the SecUnit is willing to self-sacrifice if necessary. I love Murderbot's internal dialogue and really appreciated its sense of humor.

I would recommend this series to others. I think that this book had a great blend of excitement and action. I am so glad that I have had the chance to go along with Murderbot as it tries to find its place in the world. I will definitely be reading any future books in the series.

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.

Initial Thoughts
Another fun adventure with Murderbot! Things have come full circle for Murderbot as the focus is on rescuing Dr. Mensah. The stakes are high and the risk to Murderbot is significant. The SecUnit has a bunch of feelings and isn't sure what to do with any of them. The story is once again filled with a wonderful sense of humor.

Book source: Library

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Magic Rises  - Ilona Andrews

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

This might be my least favorite book in the Kate Daniels series. Of course, I still loved it so that doesn't mean a whole lot. This was a re-read for me. I first read this book shortly after its release and devoured it quickly. I have been slowly working my way back through the series in audio and am enjoying it even more the second time around. I started the re-read of this book when nothing else I started seemed to be working but as soon as I started this book I didn't want to stop listening. I feel very lucky to have found a series of books that I know I will enjoy every time I want to revisit the story.

This book takes Kate, Curran, and many others out of town. I tend not to care for books in a series that move the setting to an unknown location quite as much just because I miss all of the things that I love about the main setting including the characters. I didn't miss the characters all that much since so many of them were along for the trip. I did find the new setting to be unique and rather interesting. I liked that by having the group take a little trip we were able to see a few things that were completely new.

One of the things that I love the most about this series is the relationship between Kate and Curran. It has been fun watching things develop between them over the span of ten books. Since I have already finished the series, I enjoyed this look at their past but this book is not the high point in their relationship. To put it simply - Curran acts like a jerk in this book and I didn't like it. Kate didn't like it either so it causes a few problems. I will say that there are some pretty heartfelt and redeeming moments as well so it all worked out in the end.

This book had all of the action and excitement that I have come to expect from the series. There is a mystery to solve, children to protect, and political moves to be made. This book also brings a healthy dose of Hugh which added a lot to the story. This was a really heartbreaking book because we had to say goodbye to a much-loved character. New characters were also introduced that will play an important role as the series progresses.

Renee Raudman did a fantastic job with this book as she has with the rest of the series. I think that she does a great job of bringing Kate to life and adding to an already exciting story. She handles a large cast of characters really well through the voices that she uses. I have no problems listening to her narration for hours at a time.

I would highly recommend this series to everyone. Honestly, if you haven't read this series yet you really should give it a try. I can't wait to continue my audio re-read!

Initial Thoughts
This was a re-read for me. I do love this book BUT this might be my least favorite installment in the series. I typically don't seem to like books from a series that takes a group of characters away from their normal environment quite as much. In addition to the book being set away from Atlanta, Curran acts like an idiot for much of the book. Plus characters get hurt and killed in this one. I hate having to say goodbye to any of these amazing characters. I still loved the book and thought that some pretty important things happened. I found some of the scenes between Kate and Curran to be quite touching. It was great to see Hugh in all of his glory plus there was a lot of action and suspense to keep me listening. Renee Raudman continues to do a fantastic job with the series. My audiobook also had a copy of An Ill-Advised Rescue

Book Source: Audible Purchase

The Overstory by Richard Powers

The Overstory - Richard Powers

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

This book was a little different than the books that I usually pick up. I like different so I was eager to give this one a try. I found that I enjoyed this book the most when I read just a little bit at a time so I spent over a month with this one working it around other books. It was a book that I found fairly easy to set aside but I always seemed to circle back to it before long. While I didn't love the book, I did like it and am glad that I decided to give it a try.

I knew that this was a book about trees before I started reading and it was. Kind of. Trees do play a very large role in the story but I really saw this as a book about people. The book was told through the stories of several people whose lives were shaped or touched by the trees and nature around them. Each of the characters had a unique and special relationship with the world around them and I was inspired by the measures that they took to protect their world.

The book initially reads like a collection of short stories. We meet each of the characters in their younger years, usually as either children or teens, and see how trees have impacted their lives. Then the book shifts gears and the lives of these characters start to converge and they start to have an impact on each other. As the book drew closer to the end, the characters untangled themselves from each other and went back to a separate existence. 

I enjoyed each of the characters' stories but the strongest part of the book for me was when the majority of the characters were together worked towards a shared cause. I really felt their passion as they worked to save the trees and the environment as a whole. The book lost a lot of momentum for me as it drew to a close. I found that the characters were not nearly as interesting apart as they had been together and the story became quite depressing. 

I did find the writing to be quite beautiful. The descriptions used really brought nature to life and made me want to see it preserved. I felt the impact of its destruction and understood why the characters were willing to sacrifice so much to protect what they could. I do think that this book could have been trimmed a bit. It did feel overly long at times. There was one character that had a story that was really very separate from the other characters and could have been completely omitted in my opinion. 

I am glad that I read this book. It made me really think about our environment and the impact of our behaviors on the world around us. I wouldn't hesitate to read more from Richard Powers in the future.

I received a copy of this book from W.W. Norton.

Initial Thoughts
I did enjoy this book. It started out as a collection of short stories with characters that were drawn together in different ways throughout the book. I read the book a little at a time and found it rather easy to set aside although I did always find myself circling back to make just a little more progress. The last parts of the book did lose a lot of momentum for me and I thought it felt rather depressing at times. I did find this book to be beautifully written which added a lot to my enjoyment.

Book Source: Publisher

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Kill the Queen - Jennifer Estep

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

This was a fantastic story! As soon as I saw this book online, I knew that I wanted to read it. Since this book is the beginning of a brand new series, I was really excited to give it a try. I did have a bit of a slow start with this book but that had everything to do with me and nothing to do with the book because the book was great. Once I had some time to dedicate to reading, I ended up devouring the bulk of this book in a single day. This was a story that grabbed me and didn't want to let go.

Lady Everleigh's life is about to change. She lives in the royal court and is actually seventeenth in line for the throne but she is treated rather poorly. She is often the token royal sent to do the things that more important royals don't want to do like bake pies or learn complicated dances. Things go horribly wrong at an event at the palace and soon Everleigh is more focused on survival than anything else.

I try to go into books as blindly as possible and I don't think I even read the entire summary for this book before I got started with it. I do recommend going into this one blindly because I think that the book's summary gives a whole lot away. I was completely shocked by some of the turns this book took which I think added to my enjoyment. 

I thought that Everleigh was a fantastic character. I loved how much growth we saw in her over the course of the story. She starts out knowing her place in the world and just trying to do what was expected of her to the best of her ability. She proves to be quite resourceful and has a lot of strength she didn't know she had. Even at her toughest, she never stopped thinking about others and was willing to make huge sacrifices in order to protect those she cared about. 

This book had a lot going for it. There are some pretty intense action scenes that really kept the excitement level high. I thought that the world building was very well done and loved all of the different ways that magic could manifest in an individual. I thought that the relationships between the characters were very well done and felt quite authentic. I liked that there is just a hint of romance worked into the story. 

I would highly recommend this book to fans of fantasy or urban fiction. I thought that this book was a fantastic story filled with a lot of action and characters that I grew to care about. I can't wait to read more from this wonderful series!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Harper Voyager via Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
This was really good! I kind of had a slow start with this one but that had everything to do with my life and nothing to do with the book. Once I had the chance to really sit down and read, I didn't want to put this book down for a moment. I just loved the characters and thought that the world-building was very well done. There was plenty of action to keep the story moving forward. I can't wait to read more from the series.

The Last Move by Mary Burton

The Last Move - Mary Burton

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

I thought that this book worked really well. I have only read one book by Mary Burton before starting this one but I enjoyed it so I was pretty eager to pick this one up. I was really pulled into the story from the start and ended up listening to the entire book in just a couple of days. This was a book that I wanted to listen to for hours at a time and completely enjoyed the experience.

Kate is an FBI agent and we learn pretty early on that she handles some pretty difficult cases. She is called to a crime scene in Texas that has all of the trademarks of another criminal. A criminal that Kate put behinds bars. She has to figure out what is going on quickly before anyone else is harmed.

Detective Theo Mazur is a divorced father who has recently moved to Texas to remain close to his daughter. He is the new guy at the department, having left a more prestigious position in Chicago, and reaches out for help to the FBI just as soon as he sees the similarities between his case and the notorious killer. 

I thought that Kate and Theo made a great team. I liked how their partnership seemed to work from the very beginning. I was completely hooked by the case. There were so many twists and turns that I couldn't figure out how things would work out. I liked that there were a few other issues that they were dealing with outside of the case because it made the characters feel a lot more authentic. Kate's past, her relationship with her family, and Theo's desire to stay near his daughter were all not only interesting but each topic added to the overall story. 

Teri Schnaubelt did a wonderful job with the narration. There is a pretty large group of characters in this story and she made each one of them come alive. I was completely engaged in the story from the very start and found myself hanging on every word. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to more of her work in the future.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a fantastic mystery thriller with just a bit of romance worked into the story. The romance was a very minor but quite natural element in the book. I found this book to be rather exciting and hard to put down. I hope to read more from Mary Burton soon.

I won a digital copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway and borrowed the audio from Kindle Unlimited.

Initial Thoughts
This was really good. The crimes in the story kept me guessing and completely engaged. I thought that the characters were very well done and I thought they worked well together to solve what was going. The book was exciting with a nice variety of crimes to keep things interesting. I thought that the narrator did a fantastic job with the story.

Lovers at Seaside by Addison Cole

Lovers at Seaside - Lucy Rivers, Aiden Snow, Addison Cole

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

I liked this one but it wasn't a story that really stood out to me. This is the ninth book in the Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers series but it reads perfectly fine as a stand-alone while readers of the series will enjoy checking in with some of the characters from earlier books. I found this quick and pleasant read and liked the chemistry between the characters.

Parker is an actress taking some much needed alone time after the loss of her good friend and mentor. Her friend, Bert, was like family to her and she now feels alone in the world. Grayson is an artist who has been working on a project for Parker for the past several months. Grayson finds Parker drunk and wants to help her put the pieces back together. Add in Parker's adorable dog, Christmas, and things are looking up.

I liked Parker and Grayson together and I found their relationship to quite authentic. I thought that they had some great chemistry with each other and connected well from the very start. I really didn't see any obstacles to their relationship and honestly, things went really smoothly with the exception of a quick hiccup at the end of the book. In some ways, I would have like to see a bit more drama between these two characters.

This book is narrated by Lucy Rivers and Aiden Snow and it was my first experience with both of their work. I did prefer Aiden Snow's performance in this book and would find that I was a bit disappointed when the narration would change at times. I thought that Lucy Rivers also did a fine job with the story but I found her narration to be somewhat monotonous at times.

I do think that a lot of readers will enjoy this one a bit more than I did. I thought that the characters were very well done but I wish that the book had just a bit more drama to hold my attention.

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

Initial Thoughts
I am somewhere between 3 and fours stars right now. I am going to take a few days before I settle on a final rating. This was good but nothing really stood out to me. There wasn't a lot of conflict and the mystery at the end was very predictable. I did find that I enjoyed Aiden Snow's narration much more than the performance by Lucy Rivers.