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Crave Me by Cecy Robson

Crave Me - Cecy Robson

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

I had an absolute blast with this book! I like a good romance and have seen Cecy Robson's books around for several years but had never had the chance to read one so I excited to give her work a try. I think I have been missing out because this book was amazing. Once I started listening, I didn't want to stop. I am so glad that I decided to take a chance with this book.

Wren and Evan were such great characters and they worked really well as a couple. Wren is tough, smart, and seems to win everyone over very quickly. Evan is dedicated to keeping his company going and is willing to make the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. He is very focused on business until he meets Wren. I thought that these two characters had fantastic chemistry and their relationship felt really authentic.

This book has so many elements that I enjoyed. I loved the fact that there was a good amount of humor worked into this story. I was actually laughing out loud as I read certain passages and had a big grin on my face through much of the story. I also liked the bit of mystery in the story. I had a feeling that something was going to happen but I was never quite sure what it would be. There were a few pretty exciting moments before this book was over.

Tara Langella has easily made her way onto my list of favorite narrators with this book. She really brought this story to life through her narration. Her voices for Wren, Evan, and the other characters were all incredibly varied and full of emotion. I thought that the special effects that occasionally showed up during phone calls and other similar events really added a nice touch to the overall audio production. I think that the quality of the narration really added to my overall enjoyment of the book.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This is the third book in the O'Brien Family series but I thought it worked perfectly as a stand alone. This was a wonderful romance filled with fantastic characters that really had me wanting to see them find their happily every after. I can't wait to read more from Cecy Robson.

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

Initial Thoughts
I loved this book! I may end up bumping my rating up a star once I have a chance to process this story. Evan and Wren were great together and I loved the fact that they didn't play a lot of games with each other. I thought that the humor added a really nice element to the story. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator, Tara Langella, did an amazing job with the story. I thought that the audio production was really top notch with a few special effects for phone calls really taking everything to a new level.

Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Iron and Magic -  Ilona Andrews

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

Of course I love this book! How could I not? I have been really eager to get my hands on this book and love the fact that the whole concept started out as an April Fool's joke. Being the awesome people that the writing team of Ilona Andrews are, they decided to make this book happen when their fans showed a desire to read it. I did wonder how I would feel reading an entire book about Hugh. Hugh is one of the bad guys! I can tell you that I enjoyed every single moment reading this book.

This book is set in the same world as the Kate Daniels series. I do think that readers could enjoy this book without reading this series but I think it would work best if read in order. If you were to read this book before reading Kate Daniels, there would be quite a spoilers for the series. Plus Kate Daniels is awesome and you don't want to miss those books. 

Hugh is one of Roland's men in the Kate Daniels series and as I said earlier one of the bad guys. As I read this book, I started to understand Hugh and some of the things he has done made more sense. At the start of this book Hugh is pretty much at rock bottom. His men are doing well and he knows that he needs to do something to improve the situation. He makes a deal with a village to offer protection in exchange for food and shelter by marrying Elara who has her own set of abilities.

Hugh and Elara were so much fun together. They bickered constantly and I have to say I loved every moment of it. I don't know if I have ever had so much fun watching two people fight. Despite their disagreements they grow to have a mutual respect for each other. They also quickly prove to be very honorable and committed to making their agreement work. 

This book had everything I was looking for. There were some pretty comical scenes with great banter. The characters were wonderful and I really getting to see a few favorites from the main series make an appearance. There were some exciting action scenes and a finale that blew me away. I can't wait to read more about this group of characters.

Initial Thoughts
Of course, I loved this book! I wasn't sure that it would happen but Hugh won me over before the end of this book. Elara was great and I loved watching her interact with Hugh and take care of her people. This book had a whole lot of excitement and kept me guessing until the very end. I thought that the way that Elara and Hugh bickered with each other really added to the overall charm of the book.

Let Me Love You by Jessica Jayne

Let Me Love You - Jessica  Jayne
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this one. I took a bit of a chance on this book since I have never read anything written by Jessica Jayne and both of the narrators were new to me. It was a gamble that paid off. It is a rather quick read and I ended up listening to the bulk of it in a single day and found it to be very enjoyable.

Stacey is a thirty-one year old divorced woman who has know Ren for years since she lives next to Ren's parents. Ren is a twenty-three year old recent college graduate who has his eye set on his neighbor. Ren has spent time during the past several summers helping Stacey out around her house and they have a pretty close friendship but Ren wants more. A lot more. Stacey has some issues with the fact that she is older than Ren and she considers his mother to be one of her friends.

I liked Stacey and Ren and thought that they made a really nice couple. They know each other really well from the time before the start of this story and their personalities mesh really well. They have great chemistry together. There were times that Stacey wasn't sure she should pursue a relationship with Ren but there was never a question regarding whether she wanted him. It was nice to see her thought processes as she tried to figure things out. I loved how Ren knew what he wanted and was determined to make it happen. He stood up for their relationship and really was a good match for Stacey. 

I thought that Joe Arden and Samantha Cooke did a great job with this story. I usually listen to audiobooks at regular 1x speed and I did find that felt a little slow when Samantha Cooke was reading. Once I increased the speed to 1.25x speed, the reading felt a lot more natural to me. I thought that both narrators were able to bring a lot of emotion to the story and made some scenes more intense. I liked the voices that each narrator used for the characters in the story. I would not hesitate to listen to more of both of their work in the future.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This was a nice quick listen that had a lot of feels and some heat. I thought that Ren and Stacey were great as a couple and I was excited to watch them figure out how to make things work. I look forward to reading more of Jessica Jayne's work in the future.

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

Initial Thoughts
I liked this one. I thought that Ren and Stacy had a lot of chemistry with each other. I didn't really think that 8 years it too much of an age gap. Nobody would have thought anything of it if Ren had been 8 years older than Stacey. This was pretty short had all of the needed elements. I enjoyed both of the narrators and listened to this one at 1.25x speed. When I tried to listen at 1x speed, I did think that the female narrator was too slow so I started over at the increased speed and had no issues.

 

I Think I Love You by Lauren Layne

I Think I Love You - Lauren Layne

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

This was a fun little book! My actual rating is closer to 3.5 stars but I have decided to round up. I knew I would want to read this book as soon as I saw it. I have had a great time with the Oxford series so far so I had to see how everything would wrap up. This book is the fourth book in the Oxford series but it works perfectly well as a stand alone. This wasn't my favorite book in the series but I thought that it was a very enjoyable and solid story.

I thought that this was a well done friends to lovers story. Brit and Hunter are best buds and often tell others that they see each other as siblings. Brit tends to be pushed to the friend zone whenever she tries to start a relationship and she cannot figure out what she is doing wrong. She decides that she needs a man's perspective to help her seduce future potential suitors so she asks Hunter for instruction. You can probably guess how that is going to work out.

The story was pretty predictable in some ways but it was still a lot of fun to read. Even though I knew going in that Brit and Hunter were going to fall for each other, watching it happen was an enjoyable experience. I did think that it was a little strange how both of them felt no chemistry with each other but everything changed suddenly for both of them at the same time. Who knows...maybe it really happens like that. I do know that it great to watch them as the sparks started to fly.

I did like Brit and Hunter as a couple and individually as characters. Brit is ready for a relationship and isn't afraid to let others know. She knew what she wanted and was willing to do the work to make it happen. Hunter is happy with his life the way it is. He has some great friends including Brit and dates when he wants. Hunter does make some bad decisions in this book that did make me cringe more than a bit. As a couple, they worked really well. They knew each other really well and were very comfortable with each other. There were some pretty steamy scenes in this one.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This book had a lot of great elements including great characters, fun banter, heartfelt moments, and a bit of heat. I had a great time watching Brit and Hunter find their happily ever after. I look forward to reading more from Lauren Layne soon.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
Maybe 3.5 stars but I am rounding up for now. I thought that the set up for this one was a little weird but I just went with it. I liked Hunter and Brit and thought that they worked well together. I did think it was a little strange that neither of them felt any spark before but then all of a sudden the chemistry was off the charts. It was pretty predictable but still an entertaining read.

When Twilight Burns by Colleen Gleason

When Twilight Burns - Colleen Gleason

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

I had a great time with this book! I had such a good time with the third book in this series that I had to start reading this installment right away. This is the fourth book in The Gardella Vampire Hunters which is a series that really needs to be read in order. This was a book that I wanted to read for hours at a time and was completely consumed by the story. I am so glad that I decided to pick this one up.

This book takes Victoria back to London and picks up right after the events of the previous book. Victoria has survived a really close call but not without a few lingering effects. She has a lot to deal with in her own life and will need to move since the heir to her late husband's title has been found. Victoria's mother is back to her match making ways and it appears that there is a vampire in London that is able to move around in the daytime. There is plenty of things going on in this book to keep the pages turning.

I love the excitement of these books but the characters are really what keeps me reading. Just when I think I know all the important stuff about this group of people, some vital piece of information is revealed that changes everything. I am not usually a fan of love triangles but I think that they way it was handled in this book made it work well. I feel like romance is part of the story but the fight against the vampires is always the focus. Victoria does not spend her time swooning over men. I like that she isn't afraid to take what she wants and I think that the chemistry between Victoria and both men felt very authentic. There were a lot of important developments between the characters in this installment.

I would recommend this series to fans of urban fiction. This series has really had everything that I look for in this kind of book with great characters, complex mysteries, and lot of action. I can't wait to read the next book in this fantastic series very soon.

Initial Thoughts
I am loving this series! There is a lot going on in this book and I wasn't sure how things would work out at times. I am really falling for these characters and I hate to see them come to harm or encounter any kind of pain. This book takes Victoria and the others back to London where there is a vampire that seems to be able to move in the daylight. There was a love triangle that played a rather big part of this story. I am not a big fan of love triangles but I think that it works in this story with the way that it has been handled.

The Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason

The Bleeding Dusk - Colleen Gleason

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

I loved this book! This is the third book in The Gardella Vampire Hunters series and my favorite installment so far. This is a series that does need to be read in order since so much of the story builds on events from previous books. I have had this book sitting on my Kindle for several years and I do have to say that I am a little mad at myself for neglecting for so long because it was excellent. I didn't want to put it down for a single moment and was kind of mad that I had to do responsible things, like go to work, instead of read once I started with the book. I had a fantastic time with this story.

This book picks up right after the events of the previous book. Victoria has had a lot to deal with since becoming a vampire hunter. She is now Summa Gardella which means she is now the leader of the group of vampire hunters. Rome is very busy with Carnivale not to mention vampires and demons. Dead bodies are piling up and Victoria and the other vampire hunters are doing their best to keep the city safe.

I have really had a great time watching the characters in this series grow over the course of the series. Victoria is so much stronger than she was at the start of the series. She has been through a lot that has changed her outlook on the world. She cares less about what society thinks of her and feels responsible for the safety of others. When her mother and her mother's friends show up in Rome, she does conform to society's standards but only to make them happy. Max is not in a good place at this point and there are some pretty pivotal changes for him in this installment. Sebastian plays a very important role in this book and some pretty surprising developments with his character that I did not expect.

This was a very exciting book. There were a lot of different things going on and plenty of action to keep things interesting. I was really nervous for the characters several times and I wasn't quite sure how things would work out. I thought that there was a perfect balance between action filled scenes and scenes more focused on the characters.

I would highly recommend this series to others. I love that the series is set in the Victorian period and believe that adds an interesting element to the story. Everything seemed to come together in this book and some really important developments were revealed. I had such a good time with this book that I bought the next book in the series right away because I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to Victoria and the other characters next!

I received a review copy of this book from Avid Press via Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
I loved this! Why I have neglected this series for so long? This is my favorite one in the series so far. I love how much Victoria, Max, and Sebastian have changed over the course of the series. The excitement level in this book was high. I can't wait to get started on the next book!

Sick House by Jeff Strand

Sick House - Jeff Strand
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a good time with this book. This was a really nice change of pace which was exactly what I was looking for. I don't read horror all that often but I almost always enjoy it when I do decide to pick one up. This was a really quick read that hooked me right from the start. I am so glad that I decided to pick up something a little different than my usual reading fare.

Boyd and his family are excited to get a fresh start when he gets a promotion. They find what they believe to be a perfect house for their family in their new town and are thrilled to move in. Then some strange things start happening. Food goes bad almost as soon as it comes into the house. There is an incident with the family's pet tarantula. Then things really start to get crazy.

I really liked Boyd and his family right from the start. They really seemed to be excited about the move and they kept a pretty positive attitude about things until events became out of control. I loved the way that Boyd and his wife, Adeline, always put the kids first and did everything in their power to protect them. The kids seemed to handle things better than could be expected and some pretty important scenes in the book revolve around them so they were important players in the story.

I did enjoy the first half of the book a bit more than the second half. I was almost holding my breath trying to figure out what was going on in this house. I knew that something big would happen and I think the anticipation really added to the overall enjoyment for me. After some of the big events started, the excitement level stayed at a very high level until the book came to a conclusion. I did enjoy the action and liked that there were some pretty creepy and gory scenes but the mystery of the story seemed to fade a bit. I did appreciate the epilogue and liked that there were a few surprises saved until the very end of the novel.

This was my first experience listening to Joe Hempel's narration and I kind of feel like I might have been missing out. I thought he did a fantastic job with this book and I am pretty sure that I liked the story even more because I made the decision to listen to the book. He did a great job with all of the voices and was able to add a lot of excitement to the story. I definitely hope to listen to more books by this narrator in the future.

I would recommend this book to horror fans. This was a really interesting take on a haunted house story with plenty of gruesome and scary moments to keep things entertaining. This was my first time reading any of Jeff Strand's work and I look forward to reading more in the future.

I received a review copy of this audiobook from the narrator or author via Audiobook Boom.

Initial Thoughts
This was a nice change of pace for me. There were some pretty creepy and rather gory scenes in this tale of a family and their new home. I liked the first part of the book when the family was just trying to figure out what was going on quite a lot. The second half of the book was pretty much non-stop action until the end. I thought that Joe Hempel did a fabulous job with the narration of this one and I will be looking for more of his work in the future.

 

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

Blossom Street Brides: A Blossom Street Novel (Blossom Street, #10) - Debbie Macomber
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was just okay for me. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. This isn't normally the kind of book that I would pick up but I added it to my so be read list several years ago largely because of my mother. When this book was being released, my mother was undergoing chemotherapy during her third battle with breast cancer. I took her to all of her doctor appointments and chemo treatments so we spent a lot of time together and she loves Debbie Macomber's writing. I added this book to my review pile due to my mother's recommendation but I accept full responsibility for letting it linger there for years. I did like the book and am glad that I finally picked it up.

This is one of those books that tells several somewhat connected stories. I don't always care for this method of storytelling because I often like one of the plot threads more than the others and the book's momentum seems to slow down with the focus is switched. I had those issues with this book and think that I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if one of the stories would have been the primary focus of the book. 

Lydia, Lauren, and Bethanne all share a love of knitting and know each other through their hobby. Lydia runs the local yarn store and is dealing with some issues in personal life with her adopted daughter and her mother's health. She is also trying to solve the mystery of the knitting baskets showing up all over town tied to her store. Lauren is ready for a long term relationship and decides to move on from her boyfriend and then quickly meets Rooster and finds that he may be the man she needs in her life. Bethanne and her husband live in different states due to work obligations but are deeply in love. Bethanne's daughter and ex-husband are adding an extra set of challenges but they are determines to make things work.

I liked all three of the stories but the book as a whole just felt too sweet. It really shouldn't have been a surprise that the book read like a Hallmark movie since several of her books actually are Hallmark movies. As I worked my way through this book, some of the characters just seemed unrealistically nice and conversations didn't always feel authentic because everyone was just a little too perfect. There were a few characters that were causing problems and being difficult but the overly sweet tone of the book never seemed to subside.

I have listened to Cassandra Campbell's narration in the past and have always enjoyed her work. She had a pretty large cast of characters to deal with in this book and I thought she did a great job of it. There were times that I thought that the narration was a little too saccharine but I really think that this was due to the dialogue more than anything else. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to Cassandra Campbell again in the future.

I would recommend this book to readers that like a sweet and clean story. I did want to see everything work out for the characters and liked the book overall. I don't think that there is anything ground breaking in this book but it was a nice story. 

I received a digital review copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from the library via Overdrive.

Initial Thoughts
I will be honest....I didn't love this. I didn't hate it but this really is not my kind of book. I requested this one from NetGalley over 4 years ago probably because I was spending a whole lot of time with my mom who was going through chemo at the time. My mom loves Debbie Macomber's books but I think that this was just a little too sweet for my tastes. Even the narration of the audio sounded overly sweet at times. 

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley and audiobook borrowed from the library via Overdrive. Full review to be posted soon.

 

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

The Killing Woods - Lucy Christopher
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

My feelings are pretty mixed on this book. I have had a copy of this book in my review pile for a very long time so I am thrilled to be able to scratch it from my to be read list but I do wish it had worked a little better for me. I felt like this book was really slow at times and I found it rather easy to set aside. There were parts of the book that I did enjoy but I had quite a few issues with it as well.

I did think that the book started out really strong. Emily's dad brings home a girl that Emily knows from school, Ashlee. Ashlee is dead and Emily's father can't remember what happened so he is charged with the crime. Emily knows her dad and does not think that he is capable of the crime that he has been accused of committing since he has always been a very gentle man.

Damon was Ashlee's boyfriend. He was with her in the woods on the night that she died but he doesn't remember what happened either. Damon, Ashlee, and their friends had been doing drugs that night and Damon's memories from the night don't explain everything that happened. He has a lot of questions about the night and wants to remember how things happened.

I found this book to be pretty predictable. I thought it was pretty obvious from the beginning that someone else was responsible for what had happened to Ashlee. There were long sections of the book where I felt like nothing was really happening and they were no closer to finding out what had happened to Ashlee than they were at the start of the book.

I also found this book to be somewhat confusing. There is a lot of talk regarding the game that Ashlee, Damon, and their friends were playing on the night in question. I tried to understand this game but I was just as confused about the game at the end of the book as I was at the beginning. This game was talked about so many times during the book but I can't figure out what the goal was or how it could be any fun to play. Another confusing thing that happened in the book is that Damon is in a position to give a punishment to Emily at school despite the fact that they are roughly the same age which didn't make any sense to me.

I did like both of the narrators. Fiona Hardingham and Shaun Grindell both did a great job with this book. I thought that they both brought a lot of emotion to the story and made things a lot more exciting at times. I thought that their voices fit the characters of Emily and Damon really well and were very pleasant to listen to. I think that I probably liked this book a bit more because I decided to listen to the audiobook and I would not hesitate to listen to either narrator again in the future.

This wasn't really a book for me but I do think that others might enjoy the story a lot more than I did. I would suggest giving it a try if you think that it sounds like something you might enjoy.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Scholastic - Chicken House via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from the library via Hoopla.

Initial Thoughts
This one falls somewhere between 2 and 3 stars for me. I may round up after I have a little more time to process. It started out fine but there seemed to be long periods of time where nothing really happened. Somewhat predictable ending. I thought that the narration of the audiobook was well done.

 

Red Velvet Revenge by Jenn McKinlay

Red Velvet Revenge - Jenn McKinlay
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a great time listening to this cozy mystery! I have been slowly working my way through this series after picking up the first book in the series not quite a year ago. This is the fourth book in the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries and while it can be read as a stand alone readers of the series will appreciate checking in with the cast of characters. I found myself quickly caught up in this mystery and I may have developed a mild craving for cupcakes before reaching the end of the story.

This installment takes the cupcake crew to the rodeo. I have to tell you that this development worried me a bit since sometimes when a series hits the road it looses some of its charm. There was no need to worry since the key characters went on this trip together so I didn't find myself missing anyone. The Juniper Pass rodeo had its own quirky group of characters including the man who runs the operation, the unpleasant rodeo star, and the owners of the food truck serving Barbecue right next to the Fairy Tale Bakery's cupcake truck.

Of course, there were a few problems for the crew to work out. There was a shooting at the rodeo's parade injuring Slim, then the rodeo star is murdered, and to top things off someone has sabotaged the cupcake bakery's food truck. Nobody knows if these events are connected but Melanie and her friends are in the middle of it all especially since they were the ones to discover the bull rider's body. There are some developments between Tate and Angie that kept the story interesting on the romantic front.

Susan Boyce continues to do a fabulous job with this series. I love the voices that she uses for this quirky group of characters. She really does a great job in bringing the story to life and is able to add a lot of excitement to the reading. Ms. Boyce has a very pleasant reading voice and I had no problem listening to her narration for hours at a time. I look forward to listening to more of her work in the future.

I would recommend this series to others. This book is filled with great characters and a mystery that kept me guessing. I also love the fact that we get to see enough of the dessert making process to make the cupcake bakery seem real (and to make me crave a few desserts). I can't wait to start the next book in the series very soon!

Initial Thoughts
The group goes to the rodeo in this installment to sell some cupcakes. Of course, all kinds of things go wrong and they find themselves in the middle of a mystery before long. It was nice to spend some time with this group of characters again. The narration was excellent.

Book source: Library via Hoopla

 

Kiss Marry Kill by Sidney Halston

Kiss Marry Kill: Iron-Clad Security - Sidney Halston

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

I ended up really liking this book. I have had a copy of this book for over a year and I have to say that I am a little upset with myself for letting this one get lost in pile. I thought that this was a really well done romantic suspense that kept completely entertained. This was one of those books that was easy to spend hours with at a time. I am so glad that I finally decided to pick up this book.

I tend to love second chance romances so Jax and Megan's story was really appealing to me. This pair had a brief but life changing encounter five years ago. Both of their lives have changed dramatically since their time together and they have not even spoken since the last time they were together. During their years apart, Megan has become a music star and Jax is running a security firm after serving in the military. As soon as Jax hears that Megan might be in trouble, he goes straight to her to offer aid. 

I really liked how this book was laid out. We learn about their history together slowly throughout the book and I really was just as interested in learning how they met as I was seeing them together in the present. It took a bit of time to learn about their initial meeting but it was worth the wait. Let's just say these two started off in a very unforgettable manner. The story set in the present is pretty exciting since Megan is in quite a bit of danger because of a stalker that may be turning violent.

I loved these two together. I think that they were great together in the past as well as in the present. They had so much chemistry with each other and seemed to be able to be what the other needed. There are few times when Jax oversteps his authority and Megan lets him know it right away. There are a few moments that I felt like Jax was acting a bit like an idiot but things end up working out.

The story was pretty exciting. I really did like the mystery of the stalker and was always waiting for the next big thing to happen. There were a few things that really came as complete surprises in this story but one aspect of the overall mystery was pretty easy to figure out. Even though I had a pretty good idea who the culprit might be, I still had a great time watching everything play out.

I thought that Dara Rosenberg did a great job with this book. I think that this is the first time that I have had a chance to listen to Ms. Rosenberg's narration and I was very impressed. She did a great job with all of the characters and was able to bring a lot of emotion to the story. I did find the narration to be a little slow at the normal speed but once I increased the speed to 1.25, I had no issues with the audio. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to this narrator again in the future.

I would recommend this book to others. I found this book to be a perfect blend of excitement, romance, and great characters. I couldn't help but root for Jax and Megan to safely find their way to a happily ever after together. This was the first book by Sidney Halston that I have had the chance to read and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

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

Initial Thoughts
I ended up really liking this book. Jax and Megan had a lot of great chemistry and I liked their story from the past just as much as their present. Jax did act like a fool from time to time in the present but Megan was able to deal with him quite nicely. I was able to guess the culprit long before they were revealed but I still had a really great time with the story. This was my first time listening to Dara Rosenberg and I thought she did a fantastic job with the story.

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

The Mermaid - Christina Henry
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this book and thought it was well done. I do have to say that this book was a little different than I expected. That isn't a bad thing since I like being surprised by the books that I am reading. I loved Christina Henry's previous book, Lost Boy, so I was really excited to see what she would do with this mermaid tale. I found the book to be incredibly well written and quite entertaining.

One of the reasons that this book may have surprised me a bit is due to the fact that my mermaid knowledge is quite limited. I have watched the Disney movie more times than I can count but that is really my total mermaid experience. I did see a few similarities between this book and the Disney film but only at the very start of the story.

I liked Amelia and thought her view of the world was quite refreshing. While women around her concerned themselves with the opinions of others and propriety, Amelia cared little about how others saw her. She did not want to see anyone come to harm and really had a very kind heart. I loved her relationship with P.T. Barnum's young daughter, Caroline, and wife, Charity. Levi and Barnum were both great characters as well. Barnum always had dollar signs in his eyes and didn't always do the right thing but I was impressed that he would back down in certain situations. Levi wanted to protect Amelia and it was quite obvious how much he cared for her.

As I mentioned this book wasn't quite what I thought it would be. Based on my experience reading Lost Boy, I expected a much darker story. As I read, I kept thinking about all the evil things that could potentially happen but I just couldn't guess the turns this book would make since it went in a completely different direction than I thought it would. In some ways the story made me sad. It is terrible the way that human beings will treat each other not to mention animals in our care. I also think it would have been very hard to be a woman during this period of time.

I would recommend this book to others. It was a nice combination of fantasy and historical fiction seen through the eyes of a mermaid that is often more human than those around her. I look forward to reading more from Christina Henry very soon.

I received an digital review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was good. A little different than I had expected it to be but very good. I liked Ameila and thought that the way she looked at the world was somewhat refreshing. 

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Full review to be posted soon.

 

Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Rainy Day Friends: A Novel (Wildstone) - Jill Shalvis

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

I had a fantastic time reading this book! I just didn't want to put it down once I started reading. I fell in love with this wonderful group of characters and couldn't wait to see how things would work out for them. This is the second full length book in the Wildstone series but it really reads as a stand alone with little connection to the previous installments beyond being set in the same town. I expected great things when I picked up this book and I am happy to report that it lived up to all of them.

Lanie hasn't had an easy time of things lately. Her husband died only six months ago. That is bad enough but after her husband's passing, she discovered that she wasn't the only wife. She takes a temporary position at the winery in Wildstone as a way to get away and regroup for a bit. She does not expect to be surrounded by a family like the Capriotti clan. 

I loved the characters in this book. The Capriotti family were all wonderful. They were all genuinely caring people that never hesitated to take those in need under their wing. They were all just a lot of fun. I thought that the banter between the family members added a level of authenticity to their characters. Usually when there is a large cast of characters, I have a bit of difficulty keeping everyone straight but these characters were all so unique and had very distinct personalities from the start of the story. I think that Shalvis did a fantastic job with the character development in this book.

I loved Mark and Lanie together. They were just perfect together and complimented each other wonderfully. I like that they were both coming from a place where they didn't want a relationship but couldn't resist the draw towards each other. They had so much chemistry but the parts of the book that really made their relationship feel real were the more touching ones, such as Mark being there for Lanie when she needed him, or Lanie's interactions with Mark's girls. 

This book had no shortage of excitement. I liked River's character but I had a feeling that she would make things interesting as soon as she entered the story. River and Lanie have so much in common and I loved how all kinds of relationships were explored in this story. I felt like we really had the chance to see these characters grow and learn how to deal with some of the hardships that have been a part of their lives.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a wonderfully written story filled with swoony and heartwarming moments. I can't wait to read more from Shalvis and I hope that we get to see some of these characters again in future installments in the series.

I received a digital review copy of this book from William Morrow Paperbacks via Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
This was great! I may bump my rating up after I give myself just a bit more time to think about the book. I loved Mark and Lanie together and Mark's family was wonderful. River's situation really added to the story. And those twin girls :) 

Stray Magic by Kelly Meding

Stray Magic - Kelly Meding

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

I absolutely loved this book! Having never read this author, I decided to take a chance on this book because I thought that the description sounded promising. Once I started reading this book, I found it to be incredibly hard to set aside. I found myself trying to squeeze in just a bit more of this book during every spare moment I could find and I probably didn't do a few things that needed to be done so that I could read instead. I am so glad that I decided to pick up this book.

Shiloh works as a Marshall in the Paranormal Investigators Unit. She is usually the second in command for her unit but when they are called on a case and her boss is nowhere to be found, she takes the lead. I should probably also mention that Shiloh is half djinn and the rest of her unit consists of a half vampire, an incubus, and a skinwalker so there are plenty of paranormal beings rounding out this story. Their unit is called to a trailer park where residents are being held by a group of vampires. This starts an investigation into a much bigger mystery involving missing vampires, werewolves, and a whole lot of danger.

I loved the characters in this book. I think the fact that Shiloh is half djinn was a big plus for me since it is rather original. Despite the fact that Shiloh has a few special abilities, I found her easy to relate to. She was willing to make personal sacrifices when it was the right thing to do and proved to be incredibly smart. Tennyson, a master vampire, was one of my favorite characters in this book. I loved the way that he worked to protect the vampires in his line. He acts selflessly several times during the course of the story and I thought that he was the perfect partner for Shiloh. 

I found the story to be very exciting. Once I figured out a few things about the world this book was set in, I was hooked. There was a lot of action in the story and I found myself worrying about the safety of the characters more than a few times. The descriptions in the story were incredibly well done and I almost felt like I was there during some of the more intense scenes. I really liked that this book kept the focus on the mystery and that the mystery was pretty complex. There is just a bit of romance but it is really a very small part of the story.

I would highly recommend this book to fans of urban fiction. I found this book to be a highly entertaining start to a very promising series featuring a great group of characters. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment in this series.

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

Initial Thoughts
Loved this book! I was hooked from the start and found myself a little more invested in the story with every page. The characters were great and the story never let up.

Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton

Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe - Preston Norton

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

My thoughts are somewhat mixed regarding this book. I really had no trouble reading it and did enjoy the story but it was missing that extra spark that it would have needed to make it great. It was a book that was pretty easy to set aside because I never felt completely invested in the story. There were a lot of issues address in this story and in some ways it felt like nothing went beyond the surface level. I did find the book entertaining and am glad that I decided to pick it up.

Cliff is huge which is one of the reasons that his classmates refer to him as Neanderthal. He leads a rather solitary life and is dealing with the loss of his brother not too long ago. Cliff and Aaron are not friends at the start of this book. Aaron is the popular quarterback so he has very little in common with Cliff . When Aaron has a near death experience, he partners with Cliff to fulfill a to-do list that he received from God. The list is very specific and everything on it is tied to their high school. If they can accomplish all of the tasks, the school will undoubtedly benefit from their efforts.

This book touches on so many issues. I actually think that it would have improved the story if fewer issues were dealt with but in greater detail. Cliff and Aaron are not only dealing with their list but they are also developing relationships including their own friendship. Some of the items on the list sound almost impossible and other will require some investigation before they can even begin.

I liked the characters but I never felt like I completely connected with them. The book is told from Cliff's point of view and I didn't feel like I got to know any of the other key players beyond the surface level. Even during some parts of the book that were more emotional, I found that I was rather unmoved. I think I would have liked this book a lot more if I had been able to develop an emotional connection with any of the characters.

I did enjoy the story and thought that it had a lot of unique aspects. I do think that a lot of readers will enjoy this one a bit more than I did. I wouldn't hesitate to read more from Preston Norton in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley.

I Was a Teenage Weredeer by C.T Phipps and Michael Suttkus

I Was a Teenage Weredeer - Michael Suttkus, C. T. Phipps

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

This was entertaining. I am not going to lie - the thing that really caught my attention about this book was the title. Weredeer? Have I ever read a book about a weredeer? Of course not so you know I had to give this book a try just to find out more about this weredeer. It ended up being a really clever story with some great world-building. I am glad that I took a chance on this fun little story.

Jane Doe is a weredeer. I should probably mention that there are little bits of humor sprinkled all over this story as you may have guessed as soon as you saw Jane's name. Anyway, Jane's family owns a local diner where Jane works as a waitress alongside other members of her family. Since Michigan is one of only two states that are safe for shifters, the town of Bright Falls has a rather large shifter population. Jane's best friend is a werewolf and there are all kinds of colorful characters around town. 

Jane learns that her best friend's sister has been killed and that her brother has been accused of the murder and decides to investigate. Weredeers often have special abilities and Jane is able to gather a lot of knowledge just by touching objects. Jane and her best friend hope that her special abilities will make finding out what really happened a simple task. Of course, things quickly get complicated and they find themselves uncovering a mystery that goes back quite a few years.

I liked Jane. I thought she was pretty brave to get involved with everything and she was never afraid of asking the hard questions. It was fun to watch her try to figure everything out. There were a lot of other characters in the book and I liked most of them. I did find it a bit difficult to keep everyone straight at times since there were so many characters that had a role. I did think it was odd that Jane's parents were almost always referred to as Judy and John instead of Mom and Dad.

I thought that Arielle DeLisle did a great job with this story. This was the first time that I have had the chance to listen to this narrator and I was impressed by her delivery. I thought that she was able to bring Jane to life and added a lot of emotion and excitement to the story. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to her work again in the future.

I would recommend this book to others. I had a lot of fun with it and found myself chuckling from time to time. There were a lot of pop culture references and puns worked into the story that kept everything rather light. I felt that the ending of this book was pretty satisfying but I may decide to pick up the second book at some point in the future.

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

Initial Thoughts
I found the book to be quite clever and enjoyed learning about the world that it was set in. I have to admit that the idea of a weredeer is what really made me want to pick up this book and Jane was even more interesting that I could have expected her to be. There were some parts of the book that had me chuckling and I thought the narrator did a fantastic job with the story so it was a good overall reading experience.