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Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Jenn McKinlay

Barking Up the Wrong Tree (Bluff Point Romance, A) - Jenn McKinlay

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

I really enjoyed this romance. I had such a good time with the first book in this series, About a Dog, when I read it earlier this year so it was a given that I would want to read more of the series. I will admit that I was a little surprised when I saw this book was about Carly and an unknown character named James. I had kind of thought that we would see Carly and Zach end up together but it looks like they are truly just friends. I was quickly won over by James and ended up really enjoying watching him win Carly over.

The characters in this book are great. Carly is just full of life. She had to come back home to her parents' home after losing her job. She doesn't come alone. She has just inherited a senior dog and a bird with a colorful vocabulary. Carly doesn't do relationships. One night stands are fine but that is where she wants things to end. I liked Carly from the start and loved watching her try to figure out where she wants her life to go.

James was nearly perfect. He was kind, funny, and easy on the eyes. He wants more than the one night stand Carly is offering. He quickly shows that he will do what is needed in order to keep Carly near him so he can convince her to give a relationship a try. I loved James from the start of the book and fell a little bit more in love with him with each page. 

Carly and James made a great couple. They had some amazing chemistry and I really enjoyed their banter. There really were just as many comical moments in this book as tender ones. There was a point in the book that Carly seriously overreacted which kind of annoyed me. James made a rather boneheaded statement which annoyed me fairly equally. I did really enjoy the book so I guess all is forgiven.

I would recommend this book to others. This is the second book in the Bluff Point series but could easily be read as a stand alone. I thought that this was a great romance filled with wonderful characters including 2 awesome dogs and a talkative bird. I am really excited to start reading the next book in the series.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I liked Carly and James a lot. Carly was great even though she was afraid to let herself be in a relationship. James melted my heart a few times during the book. He does make a pretty boneheaded move towards the end of the book but I guess I can forgive that. All in all a nice romance with a couple of cute dogs and a talking bird to round out the cast.

Cover of Night by Laura Griffin

Cover of Night (Alpha Crew Book 3) - Laura Griffin

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

This was a very well done novella. I was really excited to win a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway because I have been wanting to try Laura Griffin's writing for some time. I discovered that I really enjoy her work. This story really did a lot in just a few pages and left me feeling very satisfied in the end. 

Karly is a journalist spending time with a United States ambassador at a resort in Thailand. Things end up going horribly wrong when terrorists attack the resort. Karly's quick thinking may be what keeps her alive and her phone call at the start of the attack is what alerts others to what is happening.

This story started with a bang. There was so much action and I was in fear for Karly. She handles the situation a whole lot better than I would have been able to do. She meets Ethan, a Navy SEAL, during the rescue operation and they make a connection. That connection becomes even more intense when they run into each other later after everything is over.

I liked Karly and Ethan. Ethan was hard not to like. He was everything that Karly needed him to be during the rescue mission and was able to do what needed to be done. He was really willing to put everything on the line. Karly handles herself well under pressure but she does have some emotions to deal with when everything is over. I loved them together and thought that they had wonderful chemistry.

I would recommend this novella to others. This was an incredibly fast paced and action packed romance that had me turning pages as quickly as possible. I was completely entertained by Karly and Ethan's story and have plans to read more from Laura Griffin soon.

I won a copy of this book from a giveaway on Goodreads.

Initial Thoughts
This was a nice short read. Lots of action and great characters. I would definitely read more from this series.

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels, #5.5) - Renée Raudman, Ilona Andrews

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

I enjoyed this book. This was a re-read for me and I had a lot of fun re-visiting this book since I know what will happen to these wonderful characters as the series moves forward. I do remember being slightly disappointed when this book was first published simply because I wanted another book featuring Kate and Curran and I got Andrea instead. I ended up loving the book though. 

Andrea and Kate are best friends so their lives overlap in a lot of areas but Andrea does have her own story to tell and I am glad that Ilona Andrews made the decision to let her do just that in this book. Andrea is not in a great place as this book opens. Her relationship with Raphael is over and she has lost her job with the Order. Both of these things meant the world to her and helped shaped her identity. 

Andrea is working with Kate at their new agency, Cutting Edge, when she gets a call about a new case. This new case just happens to be tied to Raphael which only proves to make things more interesting. Throw in some strange snake people and a complex mystery and you have plenty of excitement. All the action is nicely balanced with a bit of humor and romance.

I really enjoyed seeing Kate, Curran, and all of the other characters from a different perspective. I think that Andrea is in a unique position to give that perspective because she is close to a lot of the key characters but she still feels and acts like an outsider. Andrea grows a lot as a character over the course of this book and the insight into her background really helps with understanding some of the ways that she looks at the world.

Renee Raudman does a fabulous job with this series. It is funny that I didn't really care for her narration for the first couple of books in the series but now I couldn't imagine anyone else. She really is able to perform a wide range of characters very well and with a lot of emotion. She has a very pleasant voice that is easy to listen to for hours at a time.

I highly recommend this series to others. This is a series that you do need to read in order since each book builds on the last. This is a very important book in the overall story arc and should not be missed. I can't wait to continue with my re-read of this wonderful series.

Initial Thoughts
I enjoyed watching Andrea figure out her place in the world. There were some really exciting moments. All of the characters that I know and love played an important role but Andrea still isn't Kate. 

Source: Audible purchase

Mother's Day Out by Karen MacInerney

Mother's Day Out (The Margie Peterson Mysteries) - Karen MacInerney

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

My feelings are pretty mixed about this one. I really enjoyed the last book by Karen MacInerney that I read a few months ago so I decided to give this one a try when I saw it offered through Prime Reading on Amazon. I had a moment while listening to this book that I considered not finishing it. I decided to keep going and did find the second half more exciting. I would say that this was an okay read in the end.

Margie has been a stay at home mom but she decides to go back to work to help make ends meet for her family. Getting a job turns out to be more of a challenge than she expects until she gets a job with a local private investigator firm. Now while her kids are at preschool, she is out doing surveillance and whatever is needed. Everything seems to be going okay until she finds a murder victim while on the job.

There were a few moments that were humorous during the story but I often felt like the book was trying too hard to be funny. There was never a time that I actually wanted to laugh out loud. I may have actually groaned a time or two due to the forced humor which wasn't all that funny. 

I was also not a fan of Margie's husband. From the very start of the story, I didn't care for the man. As the book progressed and I realized that he was hiding a few things, I liked him even less. What I really disliked was Margie's response to everything. I couldn't understand why she wouldn't sit down and have a conversation with him instead of investigating everything. Although, I must say that one of the things that kept me listening when I considered stopping was that I wanted to know what was going on with this man. 

I did have a little bit of an issue with how the transvestite characters were treated in this story. The murder victim in this story is a transvestite and had an identity both as a man and a woman. I didn't think that this was handled in the story with any sensitivity. It almost seemed like it was supposed to be funny when the characters stumbled over which pronoun to use. 

There were several storylines going on during this book and I wondered how everything would eventually come together. I did find the story to be a bit more exciting once some real action started happening. I did think that some of the things that happened in this book to be a bit of a stretch and there was at least one "clue" that Margie suddenly remembers from the very beginning of the story seemingly out of nowhere.

This was the first time that I have had the chance to listen to Cris Dukehart narrate a book and I think she did a great job with it. There were a lot of different voices that she used to really help bring the story to life. She had a very pleasant reading voice and I wouldn't hesitate to listen to her work again in the future.

In the end, this was a book that had some good moments and some moments that weren't as great. I thought it was okay but I probably won't be continuing with the series. If you are wanting to try one of Karen MacInerney's cozy mysteries, I would recommend picking up Killer Jam instead.

Initial Thoughts
I am honestly not sure what I think about this one. It seemed to try a little too hard to be funny at times and some of these steps taken to solve the mystery were a reach. I didn't hate it and I didn't love it. It was simply okay. I don't really feel compelled to continue with the series even though I was enjoying the story a bit more by the end. The narration was great.

Book source: Kindle Prime borrow

So Long, Lollipops by Sarah Lyons Fleming

So Long, Lollipops: The Free Until The End of the World Novella - Sarah Lyons Fleming, Julia Whelan

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

I really need to warn anyone planning to read the first book in the series, Until the End of the World, to stop reading this review now. I cannot talk about this novella without spoiling the first book. It just cannot be done. This review could ruin one of the best moments in the first novel. You have been warned.

I enjoyed this novella quite a bit. I usually listen to audiobooks at work and only rarely listen to much at home. I decided to start this one on a Saturday while I was walking my dogs and planned to finish during the work week. I listened to the whole thing over the weekend because I couldn't get enough. It is rather short but it answered a lot of questions that I had from the first book in the series.

**Spoilers Ahead**

This novella tells Peter's story. Peter was a character that I wanted to feed to the zombies at the beginning of the series. You know, the one guy that you kind of hope will die quickly and painfully. Peter did what few characters are able to do. He completely redeemed himself in the first book. The same guy I wanted to see die a horrible death became a man that I got a little choked up over once I believed he had actually met that fate. Not to mention the surprise and joy when I realized he had survived at the close of the first book.

Since finishing Until the End of the World, I wondered how Peter could have possibly survived. When the group left him, he was in an impossible situation. This novella details what Peter goes through from the point the group left him until he is reunited and what a story it is. Peter has turned into a genuinely good guy that I would want fighting on my side. He encounters a few new characters and has some great moments with them. He also runs into more than a few zombies and things look dire a time or two. Of course, I knew he would survive and make it back to the group since I saw that in the first book from Cassie's point of view.

I think that Julia Whelan does a great job with this series. I am very happy to see that she narrates all of the books in the series. I think it would have been a huge mistake to switch to a male narrator for this one despite the fact that this story is told from a male point of view. She does a great job with Peter and all of the other characters he encounters. I look forward to listening to this narrator again very soon.

I would recommend this book to others. This is a series that really should be read in order. I think it would be possible to read and enjoy this as a stand alone but I don't think that it could possibly have the same kind of impact. I can't wait to read the rest of this touching zombie series!

Initial Thoughts
So this answers the question in regards to what actually happened to Peter. I am really enjoying this series now that zombies are everywhere. I picked this one up as a freebie on Audible a while back but decided to listen to them in order which I think was a good choice. This could possibly work as a stand alone but so much of the book is directly related to the first that I do think it would be best to read this series in order. I thought that the narration was very well done.

Book source: Audible freebie

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor

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

I loved this book! Once I started reading this book, I didn't want to put it down. I ended up reading the whole book cover to cover in a single evening. This was a pretty fast paced novel that kept me guessing. I may have figured a few things out but there were a whole lot of things that really surprised me. I was truly impressed by this thriller.

This book is told in two timelines, 2016 and 1986, so we get to see Eddie and his friends both as children and adults. Both of the timelines worked together to tell the story and I really enjoyed both of the equally. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough as I was incredibly eager to know what had happened when they were kids and what was happening to them in their adult life. 

I thought that the opening pages were incredibly strong and set the stage for the novel. I wanted to know how that body ended up where we see it at the start of the novel and needed to know its identity. When everything was eventually revealed, I found it to be a somewhat surprising and satisfying conclusion. 

I thought that the characters were well developed. The story is told from Eddie's point of view so we see everything from his own perspective. There are things that the boys do that made me cringe a bit but I thought that they all felt very realistic. This group of boys go through a lot together and it was interesting to see how some of those things impacted their relationship with each other over the years.

I would highly recommend this book to thriller fans. I found this to be a really exciting read that kept me guessing. I am really impressed by that fact that this is C.J. Tudor's debut novel. I will be eagerly waiting for more books from this new author.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from Crown Publishing Group via First to Read and Blogging for Books. 

Initial Thoughts
This was really, really good! Just the kind of book that I was in the mood to read. Once I started reading this book I did not want to put it down. I ended up reading the book cover to cover in a single evening. The book is told through two timelines, 2016 and 1986, so we see Eddie and his friends as both children and adults. I may have figured a few things out in the book but I was for the most part completely in the dark. I couldn't turn these pages fast enough.

On the Naughty List by Lori Foster, Carly Phillips, Beth Ciotta, and Sugar Jamison

On the Naughty List - Lori Foster, Carly Phillips, Sugar Jamison, Beth Ciotta

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

This was a nice enough read. I have had a review copy of this book for a couple of years but somehow missed reading it and it ended up buried on my Kindle. I decided to dust off as I was trying to get into the holiday spirit this year. I don't know that it had any impact on my readiness for the holiday but I did find the book to be an okay read. I enjoyed all four of the stories pretty equally with nothing really standing out.

Christmas Bonus by Lori Foster
I am not always a fan of office romances but I thought this one worked. The couple in the story have known each other for a long time. They really did seem to work well together and I liked the chemistry between them.

Naughty Under the Mistletoe by Carly Philips
This one starts off at an office holiday party. Intending to finally make a move on her boss, the main character ends up kissing his twin instead. The couple has a lot of chemistry. I liked the twist on the office romance since she worked for his family but not him directly.

Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison
This was another story featuring brothers. Dina decides to reach out to her baby's father but finds his older brother instead. This was a fun opposites attract kind of story and I liked how the baby, Dash, played an important role in it.

Some Kind of Wonderful by Beth Ciotta
This was a fun friends to lovers story. The couple has known each other for years but they haven't seen each other lately. They find themselves stranded in a cabin and realize that they both might feel more for each other than they realized.

I thought that this was a worthwhile anthology. I would give each of the individual stories 3 stars and really liked how different they were. I had fun sampling the writing of a few new to me authors and would definitely try their work again in the future.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was okay. Nothing terrible but nothing great either. All four of the stories were pretty equal for me with none of them really standing out too much.

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

Neanderthal Seeks Human - Penny Reid

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

This was such a fun romance! I have heard so many wonderful things about Penny Reid and have had this book in my Audible account for a couple of years so I thought it was time to finally give it a try. I can understand why so many readers have raved about this author's work. I was hooked on the book from the start and enjoyed it until the very end. 

Janie starts this story out having a very bad day. She loses her boyfriend, her apartment, and her job in a single day. She is escorted out by the hot new man working with security, Quinn. She moves in with best friend while she tries to get her life in order. She actually handles all of this a whole lot better than I would have imagined. 

Janie is a great character. She is really smart and tends to over share. Conversations with Janie often go in strange directions but are always a lot of fun. She doesn't take the easy option if it doesn't feel right. Quinn was amazing. He was such a good match for Janie and really seemed to watch out and care for her from the very start. I thought these two had some great chemistry with each other and had a lot of fun being there while they fell in love.

I thought Jennifer Grace did a fantastic job with the narration of the audiobook. I haven't listened to her work before but will be looking for her again in the future. She was able to present the book in such a way that the funny parts seemed a bit funnier and the romantic parts left me swooning. I liked how she was able to voice a variety of characters with ease and I never tired of listening to this book.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This book had a little bit of everything. Some parts were funny, some were loaded with action, some parts made me think, while others touched my heart. I definitely plan to read to continue with this series in the future.

Initial Thoughts
This was fun! Janie was adorable and Quinn was great. I thought that they made a great couple and enjoyed watching them get to know each other. There were a few really predictable moments but a few moments that made me chuckle. It really was a great time.

Book Source: Audible Purchase

The Sweetest Burn by Jeaniene Frost

The Sweetest Burn - Jeaniene Frost

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

I liked this book. After having mixed feelings about the first book in the series, The Beautiful Ashes, I had considered not reading this book. I decided to give it a try in the end and actually liked it more than the first book in the series. I do think that this is a series that needs to be read in order. This book picks up shortly after the events of the first book and is really a continuing story. I am very glad that I made the decision to give this book a chance.

I love the world that this story is set in. It is like the world we live in but with a few extra features available to certain people. In other words, most people don't see the things that Ivy and Adrian see and I like the idea of the something extra. In some cases, people really just don't want to believe what they are seeing. It was rather exciting to go with Ivy and Adrian to all of the realms and deal with so many different issues.

Ivy and Adrian's relationship takes some big steps in this book. I do really like them as a couple and was happy to see things progress for them. At the start of the book, Ivy did drive me a bit nuts by being a tad dramatic. I understood why she was upset but maybe she could have found out why things happened the way they did. It just seemed to slow the story down at times.

There were some pretty interesting developments in the overall story. I really didn't expect the artifacts to work for Ivy quite the way that they did and I found it to be really creative. They spend a lot of this story looking for the second artifact which is a staff. We learn a lot about Adrian's history as they search through different areas.

I did enjoy the narration of this audiobook. Tavia Gilbert does a really good job with the character voices which helped to bring the story to life. I thought that she really added a lot of emotion to her delivery which made everything a bit more exciting. I thought that her voice was very pleasant and I found myself listening to the book for hours at a time.

I would recommend this book to others. I can't say that I like this series as much as the Night Huntress series but it is quite entertaining. In the end, I found it to be quite enjoyable and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this book better than the first in the series. I thought that the narration was well done and very easy to listen to. There were a few times that I felt like things dragged a bit but overall it was well done.

Source: Library via Overdrive

An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne

An Ex for Christmas (Love Unexpectedly) - Lauren Layne

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

This was a fun little Christmas romance! Lauren Layne is one of my go to authors when I am in the mood for a contemporary romance. When I pick up a Lauren Layne romance, I expect to enjoy myself for a few hours with characters that just seem to fit with each other. This was a perfect example of her writing and I had a really nice time reading the story.

Kelly and Mark were great. They have been best friends for the past ten years. They live right next to each other sharing a backyard and even a dog. Seriously, they share a dog...I am not sure that it even gets more perfect than sharing a dog. There is one little problem in that Kelly is convinced that her romantic future is with one of her ex-boyfriends after a conversation with a psychic at the train station.

So this book was a little bit predictable. I knew that Kelly wasn't going to find her happily ever after with one of her loser ex-boyfriends as soon as Mark entered the story. They were just so perfect together and I thought that they had a really fun way of relating to each other. There was some definite chemistry between them as well.

This book was filled with Christmas fun. Kelly goes all out for Christmas and this is the first year that her parents are out of town for the holiday. You will get the full holiday experience with this story with tree decorating, holiday movies, a Christmas parade, and even a bit of snow. I loved the small town holiday setting and thought it added a bit of romance to the story.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. I thought that this was a well done friends to lovers story with a whole lot of holiday spirit. I can't wait to read more from Lauren Layne very soon.

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

Initial Thoughts
Completely predictable but cute.

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower - Katherine Arden

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

I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. I really liked the first book in the series, The Bear and The Nightingale, so I was looking forward to reading this second installment. I enjoyed this book even more than the first. I was completely swept away by the story and wanted to savor every word. I honestly didn't want the story to end. This is the kind of book that made me fall in love with reading and I know that I will reading this story again in the future. 

Vasya is such a wonderful character. She doesn't quite fit in with what would be expected of a proper lady. She actually spends most of this book posing as a boy. She doesn't want the life that would be expected of her as a lady. She wants to see the world and do some good. She does what is right even when those actions put her at risk. 

Vasya strikes out on her own along with her trusted horse, Solovey. Solovey is quite the traveling companion and is really a strong character throughout the story. She finds villages that have been burned with many dead and their daughters taken by bandits. She sets out to find the girls of a village after some advice from one of the local spirits. One thing leads to another and she ends up seeking refuge in the same location as her brother and the Grand Prince.

It was great to see Vasya's brother, Sasha, and her sister, Olga, both have important roles in this story. Vasya's actions will not only have an impact on her own life but could also influence how people see her family members. Another character that I really enjoyed in this book was Morozko, the frost demon. He is drawn to Vasya and his feelings for her are complicated. 

This book pulled me in almost immediately and never let go. There was so much excitement in the overall story. There are battles and violent scenes offset by moments of tenderness and caring. The descriptions really brought the story to life. The writing was absolutely wonderful.

I would highly recommend this book to others. This is the second book of a trilogy that really needs to be read in order because the events of the first book are often discussed. I found this book to be a simply wonderful fairy tale of a story. I can't wait to see what happens next in the trilogy!

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Del Ray directly and through NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
Beyond good. I was completely enchanted by this wonderful story.

But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure

But Then I Came Back - Estelle Laure

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

Well, this was disappointing. I had a moment at around 50 pages in where I considered giving up on this book and I probably should have followed that instinct because I really didn't enjoy reading this book. I did think that some sections of the book were better than others but I spent most of my reading time wanting to reach the end just so I could move on to something else.

This book opens with Eden having an accident that leaves her in a coma. As she comes out of the coma, she has to slowly get back to her life which turns out to be a lot harder than you would imagine. She feels a strong connection to another coma patient on her floor Jaz and eventually forms a bound with Jaz's frequent visitor, Joe.

One of the key parts of the book revolved around what Eden experiences while in the coma. I really found that entire section of the book to be more confusing than interesting. I had to go back and read parts of that section several times and was still quite confused. It made sense by the end of the book but I had lost interest by that point.

I thought that the parts of the book involving Joe were much better. Joe was my favorite character in the book by a large margin. He was really a good guy. Eden and Joe's relationship was interesting and a bit unusual. Unfortunately, it seemed to take a really long time for the relationship between these two to even get started.

I will not be recommending this book to others. I am sure that some people will enjoy it a lot more than I did. I was able to get through the book and would be open to trying other works by Estelle Laure.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from HMH Books for Young Readers via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I had some problems with this one. I thought parts of it were very confusing and found that I was often bored by the story.

Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck by Molly Harper

Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck (Southern Eclectic Book 1) - Molly Harper

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

I didn't want this story to end! I was really excited to get my hands on this prequel novella to Molly Harper's Southern Eclectic series. The fact that I won this title in a Goodreads giveaway made it even a little nicer. I listened to the audiobook of another of Molly Harper's books earlier this year and really enjoyed it so I was really eager to give this new series a try. This turned out to be a very enjoyable read.

This really felt like Marianne's story to me. Yes, there is some romance between Marianne and Carl but this was Marianne's tale. Marianne left the small town she grew up in when she went to college because she was looking for something more. She found what she thought she wanted and has a life she likes and what she thinks she needs as she comes home for a little while before going to law school.

Marianne has a large and colorful family and they all live by each other. Some of her family works in the funeral industry and Marianne is there to help out since she is home for a while. She ends up putting some of her negotiation skills to use pretty quickly when a family can't decide how to handle a loved one's final wishes. It was fun to watch Marianne try to find her spot in her family and their business.

When Marianne left the small town, she left Carl. It is pretty obvious right away that Carl and Marianne are still very attracted to each other. They have a lot of unresolved issues to work through since their break up was pretty rough but I thought that they really seemed to fit with each other.

I would recommend this book to others. I will say that just as the romance started to get going the book ended. I guess the idea behind a prequel novella is to make readers want to start reading the series and I can say that this novella accomplished that goal because I do want to find out what happens next. Anyone who enjoys a fun romantic story filled with humor and great characters will enjoy this one. I can't wait to read more from Molly Harper soon!

I won a kindle copy of this book from a giveaway on Goodreads. 

Initial Thoughts
I didn't want it to end! Really...it was just getting to the good stuff and boom...it's over. It was a nice intro to the series. I thought it was fun and the characters were great. I had fun with it but would have really liked to see another chapter or maybe an epilogue. 

Van by Sawyer Bennett

Van - Sawyer Bennett

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

This was great! Honestly, I think that this may be the hottest book in the series so far. If you follow my reviews, you probably already know that I am a huge fan of the Cold Fury Hockey series. I jumped into the series with the second book and haven't looked back although I should probably check out the first book at some point. This is a series that works great as stand alone books but fans of the series will appreciate seeing well loved characters for just a bit. Van is a excellent addition to the series.

I went into this book hoping that I would like it as much as the others but not sure that I would warm up to Van as a Hero. Let me assure you that was not a problem because I fell completely in love with him. He has such an interesting history that really explains some of his behaviors. He is really a great guy that has spent his life trying to remain distant from other people.

Simone was something else. She is the baby sister of the two Fournier brothers that have been the Hero of their own books, Max and Lucas. Simone is at a crossroads in her life and is trying to figure out what direction she wants to go. One thing that she knows she wants is Van and I loved watching her go for what she wants. I loved how Simone isn't afraid to take risks and was so willing to put her heart on the line.

This book actually takes place at the same time as the previous book in the series. You do not need to read the previous book to enjoy this one but I really enjoyed seeing certain events from a different perspective. The book opens with Simone moving into the house the her brother shares with Van. The chemistry between Simone and Van was wonderful and grew throughout the story. If you are looking for a steamy story, this one brings quite a bit of heat. I just loved this pair together.

I would recommend this book to others. I had so much fun reading this sexy romance with great characters. I can't wait to read more from Sawyer Bennett very soon!

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

Initial Thoughts
Whew! This may be the steamiest book in the series so far. I liked Van and Simone together a lot.

A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

A Short History of the Girl Next Door - Jared Reck

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

This book really got to me. I mean there were tears with this one. Real tears! I almost never shed tears over books but this one got through my shield. I didn't really know a lot about this book going in. I saw the book offered on Blogging for Books and decided to give it a try without reading any reviews for it. I ended up really enjoying Matt's story.

Matt and Tabby have always been together. Tabby lives just across the street from Matt and they have really grown up together. Matt's mom watched Tabby while her dad worked since she was an infant. They are really almost like family. Except they are not family and Matt is not thinking of Tabby like a sister at all. 

Matt doesn't know what to think when Tabby starts handing out with Liam, a cool senior. Tabby is only a freshman. Matt really doesn't know how to handle this new development. Suddenly Tabby has other places to be even though she still makes some time for Matt and his family.

I really liked the characters in this book. They all felt so very real to me. Being a teenager is tough and I think that this group of characters did a fantastic job at really illustrating the emotional ups and downs in their lives. I also liked the adult characters in this book. I thought that they were very supportive. Sometimes that support was shown by remaining silent and other times speaking up. 

This book really did put me through a wide range of emotions and it did it well. I thought some parts were rather comical while others broke my heart. Some parts made me uncomfortable and other made me fondly remember my own childhood. This story really packs quite the punch.

I would recommend this book to others. I would recommend that other readers go into this book as blindly as possible since some spoilers could really lessen the book's impact. This is Jared Reck's debut novel and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

I received a review copy of this book from Knopf Books for Young Readers via Blogging for Books.

Initial Thoughts
Dang...those may have been real tears.

Until the End of the World by Sarah Lyons Fleming

Until the End of the World - Sarah Lyons Fleming

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

I ended up really liking this book. I stumbled upon this series quite by accident while I was browsing Audible. I am a huge Walking Dead fan so I thought this looked promising and decided to give it a try. This was a story that I liked more and more as I continued to read. I listened to the audiobook for hours at a time and never tired of the story. I am so glad that I took a chance with this book.

This book starts just as the trouble begins. Cassie and her friends live in New York City and there is a virus causing people to get sick. The group quickly figures out that things are a lot worse than they are being told and they make plans to get to Cassie's parents' home. Cassie's parents prepared for disasters and though they have both passed away the home is well stocked.

I found that during the beginning stages of the book the focus was more on the drama between the characters than the zombie outbreak. I really wanted someone to smack a couple of Cassie's "friends" and move on to more zombie stuff. As the book progressed, I started seeing more and more of the zombie action that I had wanted.

There is a rather large cast of characters to keep track of in this book but each of their personalities were well developed so it really wasn't too much of a problem. The characters do grow over the course of the book and the same characters that I wanted to feed to the zombies did end up redeeming themselves. I did end up liking the characters and wanted to see the whole group remain safe.

I thought that Julia Whelan did a great job with this story. She handled a large number of character voices very well. She put a lot of emotion into the reading of the story and made some of the scenes fell even more intense. She had a very pleasant reading voice and I look forward to listening to more of her work soon.

I would recommend this book to others. This may not have been the most original story but it was a lot of fun. I can't wait to see what is in story for Cassie and her friends in the next installment.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this one. At the beginning, I did have a few moments that I wanted more zombies and less drama but as things progressed that changed. I was very invested in the safety of these characters and wanted to see things work out. The narration in the audiobook was very well done and I am looking forward to listening to more of the series very soon.

Book source: Audible purchase