Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

The Masked City by Genevieve CogmanI definitely think that reading the first book in this series would have been very helpful. There was a lot of world building that must have happened in the first book and it took some scrambling to figure out was going on. But still an enjoyable book and I'm looking forward to getting the third soon.
Irene is a librarian (the reason I requested this book from NetGalley) who collects books from various realities because... well, that wasn't explained in this book really. It stabilizes the worlds or something? But her apprentice, Kai, who is a dragon (and maybe Irene is interested in him more than just as an apprentice), has been kidnapped. And he's been taken to a realm of high chaos where even his super-powerful uncle can't go. So Irene has to pair up with one of the Fae, Lord Silver (who was maybe a bad guy in the first book?) to help get him back.
Again, not a lot of backstory (which can definitely be appreciated) but I can tell this is probably a going to be a great series.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out September 6

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Big Nate: Revenge of the Cream Puffs by Lincoln Peirce

Big Nate by Lincoln PeirceEverything you want from a Big Nate comic book. Lots of time with his friends, with Jenny and Arnold, with Kim, and with Spitsy. We also get to see Big Nate interacting in school and, of course, in detention. We also learn that he is terrified of cats.
A fun book.
Four and a half stars
This book comes out September 6

Monday, August 29, 2016

Best. State. Ever. by Dave Barry

Best. State. Ever. by Dave BarryDo you love Dave Barry? Do you love following "Florida Man" on Twitter? Do you hate Florida? Do you only semi-dislike Florida but wouldn't mind a book making it the butt of all the jokes? Read this book. You'll enjoy it. 
Whether it's mocking an obsession with grapefruits or extolling the virtues of the skunk ape, Mr. Barry's humor shines through in a way that, even after all this time, is incredibly self-deprecating without ever being mean just for the sake of being mean. Checking out the highlights of Florida (including some hot spots and some tourist-y joints), Mr. Barry introduces us to the funnier side of Florida.

Four Stars
This book comes out September 6

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Woman in the Shadows by Jane Thynne

Woman in the Shadows by Jane ThynneI requested this book from NetGalley thinking it might be rather like a Susan Elia MacNeal book. Unfortunately, it was rather more of a trudge (a combination of clunky writing and bad editing as well as a plot moppet whose charms I couldn't quite see).  It may have helped to have read the first book (I did not). There was some recapping but I felt like there was some character exposition that I missed. I did like the character portraits (especially that of Magda Goebells, pointing out the drawbacks of the Nazi system) and the historical aspects, but parts of the plot stretched the suspension of disbelief rather to the stretching point.
Clara Vine is a famous actress who is trying desperately to hide the fact that she hates the current regime, especially since her father is a Nazi sympathizer. He is also English (she is only half German) which is why Clara is invited to the Goebells house to help entertain the Mitford sisters. See, originally they were supposed to tour a nearby bride school but a girl has been murdered and the school has been put on lock down. Then another girl is murdered and Clara is hot on the trail, all while starring in films, being part of the Nazi publicity machine, and being a spy for England.

Three stars
This book comes out September 6

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tell Me Exactly What Happened by Caroline Burau

Tell Me Exactly What Happened: Dispatches from 911A quick read with an enjoyable look behind the scenes of dispatching. I have friends who are dispatchers and it was nice to see behind the curtain (as it were). And this author takes us through some of the highs (delivering babies) as well as the lows (the innumerable deaths) all in a well-edited manner that makes it easy to keep reading.
My two favorite pints were not to slap someone on the back if they're choking and to try to stay on the line with the dispatcher if possible. They're trying to help.

Four stars

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary by Susan Rennie, Roald Dahl

Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary by Susan RennieWhat a perfectly wonderful tribute to a wonderful author (if not always a wonderful human being). This book combines the recognizable illustrations of Dahl's books with the wonderfully creative language of the author himself. This book not only teaches about the language that Dahl used, but how he created his words. A nice combination. I wish that there had been more live links (for instance, being able to jump to a specific letter of the dictionary or being able to jump to a section when the book said "see [this] for more details.")

Four stars
This book comes out September 1

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

He-Man and She-Ra by James Eatock

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe by James EatockIncredibly detailed description of each and every episode of the He-Man and She-Ra television series. Like, really incredibly detailed, including synopses, memorable quotes, the morals from the end of each episode, reviews (the author's personal opinions), deleted scenes, trivia, scenes that were replicated from other episodes (and which episodes those were), sketches from storyboards... Very, very thorough.
If you're a huge fan of both series, you will really enjoy this book. If you're not a HUGE fan, it can get a little repetitive.

This book comes out August 30
Three and a half stars

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine

This anthology has three stories revolving around the annual Halloween party at a B&B, Rose Cottage, in Moonbright, Maine which is apparently an October 31st mecca. There is a touch of fantasy with the owner of the Cottage having a crystal ball that sees the future. Most of the stories are okay but suffer from the regular issues that plague shorter romance books.
The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine by Kate Angell
Charmed by You by Kate Angell
Grace Alden is trying to get the Cottage decorated with the help of Three Men and a Truck, one of whom is Cade Maxwell. He's having issues because she's a commanding woman and he doesn't like having a female boss. Explicitly, his cousins don't like working for a woman but you get that sense from him as well. While helping her aunt Amelia, the far-seeing owner of the Cottage, is having them set up her fortune telling table Grace sees a man's hands in the crystal ball. Later Cade sees a black cat tattoo. They end up together. I'm not sure why or how but it seems like it might be an HEA? 

Two and a half stars

Mesmerized by You by Jennifer Dawson
Chloe and Jack have been friends forever. All of their other friends wonder why they haven't just slept together and gotten it over with. Even her family wonders. Which is why her Aunt Iris, who they are visiting in Moonbright, decides to force the issue. There's only one bedroom left in the last B&B in town. This was also an okay story but there seemed like WAY too much set up as to why the two weren't already sleeping together and then SO MUCH angst about finally doing it.

Two and a half stars

Enchanted by You by Sharla Lovelace
This one was my least favorite of the three. Sidney Jensen works for a horrible human being. One who blames her for a deal imploding and then sends her off to the wilds of Maine to take care of her own (not Sidney's) family business. There, Sidney meets up with the boy (now man) who broke her nerdy heart in high school. They sort of talk and work things out a bit and then have an HEA.

Two and a half stars

Overall, intellectually, this book averaged to two and a half stars but it actually gave me enough good-feels that I'm bumping it up to three.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah MorganFrankie Cole grew up on Puffin Island with her best friend Paige Morgan. And Paige's brother Matt. Matt, who has been secretly in love with Frankie for years. But Frankie's prickly. At least, that's how I described her in my review of the first book in this series. And she has reason to be. Her parents... her mother... they're... interesting. And it really screwed her up. But one night, she finally wakes up to the fact that Matt is a man. A handsome, handsome man. One who not only loves her madly, but respects and needs her wicked-mad landscaping skills .
This book was not the up-all-nighter that "Sleepless in Manhattan" was for me. It felt a little... meandering. There was a little too much going on. And I didn't love that we had to return to characters for another series. But it was a good book and I'm ready to read about Eva and her mystery-writing and mysterious hero.

Three stars
This book comes out August 30
Follows Sleepless in Manhattan
Followed by Miracle on 5th Avenue

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Liar's Key by Carla Neggers

Liar's Key by Carla NeggersColin and Emma are off on another adventure, one that is happening right before their wedding. A friend of Oliver (the infamous art thief from previous books) and Emma's grandfather (famous antiques dealer) is killed. Right after he brings up the suspicious theft of some mosaics. Also involved, a legend of the FBI, one who slipped up only once in his career, but it was with a confidential informant. A CI who is also in Heron's Cover. One who might have some information about what happened with the mosaics.
The mystery was easy enough to solve but it was rather shallow. Not a lot of information. There were so many people that were revisited and introduced (including Father Bracken's sister, Mary). Not my favorite Carla Neggers but not horrible either. Regular Sharpe & Donovan readers will enjoy.

Three stars
This book comes out August 30
Follows Keeper's Reach
Followed by Thief's Mark

Friday, August 19, 2016

If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell

Lady Dorothea Beaumont is tired of the marriage mart. She's tired of being shepherded around and made to act the perfect lady in the hopes that she might capture the eye of some titled gentleman. And she's tired of being known as the girl whose illegitimate half-sister "stole" Dorothea's husband. Instead, she'd rather live with her aunt and perhaps catalog the art collection of the Duke of Osborne.
If I Only Had a Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes, #2)But Dalton, the duke, doesn't believe that an eligible miss would be asking to see his collection just so that she could catalog it. He believes that she has more devious plans. So he does his best to ruin them by waltzing with Dorothea and thus making her popular. Basically plunging her into her worst nightmare. But he doesn't need her distracting him from his true purpose; finding revenge on the man who killed his younger brother.
An okay story but I had problems fitting together all of the pieces. There was a lot going on. A LOT. An interesting book that I think Bell fans will enjoy.
Three stars
This book comes out August 30

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Murder at Rough Point by Alyssa Maxwell

Murder at Rough Point by Alyssa MaxwellEmma Cross is delighted when she is requested to come and cover an artists' retreat at her Vanderbilt cousins' "cottage." What she doesn't realize is that she will be covering people from her past. People like Edith Wharton. And her own parents who she hasn't seen for four years. But she doesn't know about the latter when she's invited to stay at Rough Point to better observe the party.
And what Emma really doesn't understand is the strange undercurrents invading the retreat. Even as early as the first lunch, there seem to be silent conversations happening that she can't understand. And artistic temperaments that she can't even begin to relate to.
Then there's a murder. And another. What exactly is going on at Rough Point? How will the storm exacerbate tempers? And why are her parents acting so strangely?

Three and a half stars
This book comes out August 30

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne

For Better or Worse (The Wedding Belles, #2)I feel bad because I generally liked the first book in this series, but I just could NOT get into this one. I never warmed to Heather and Josh... oofta. Yeah. I get that he had a scrape with death but to me, he was less of a survivor and more using it as an excuse to be an asshole.
Two and a half stars. I rounded up for Goodreads because I have warm fuzzies from the first book and I'm still looking forward to Heather's boss and her accountant finally getting together.
Heather is working to become a full wedding planner for the elite Wedding Belles company. She has just booked her first major client but is having problems not only because her client isn't acting very... bridal but also because the man next door seems to be up all hours of the night playing music with his band.
A few years ago, Josh was making the big bucks on Wall Street and living the hard life. But then, everything changed. Now he's trying to take time to smell the roses... and he thinks Heather should too. Can these two disparate people ever hope to find love?

Two and a half stars
This book comes out August 30
Follows To Have and To Hold
Followed by To Love and Cherish

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wrong Question, Right Answer by Elle Casey

Wrong Question, Right Answer by Elle CaseyOof. I was so looking forward to this book (and not just because the "lithping" plot moppet would have a smaller role.)  Toni was such an interesting character in the first two books. Strong, independent woman who had killed a man. And then, right away, she's sidelined by an unexpected pregnancy. The description of this story says that she's thrown for a loop, more than that, I'd say that she's caught up in one. One that we have to read about, her making bad decision after bad decision. I get that she is supposed to be growing but I'd rather not see that growth come about as as a result of such rampant stupidity.
Antoinette “Toni” Delacourte is a kickass operative of the Bourbon Street Boys. She's always had the hots for Lucky, the computer specialist. Like, always-always. Since they were kids. But she didn't think he liked her so she got involved with a bad guy. A really bad guy.
Too bad she didn't know that Lucky also had the hots for her. Because he did. And one drunken night leads them to that realization.
I so wish that their romance had been more to the forefront of this story. Instead we got one hookup, a pregnancy, a lot of Toni looping in her own head, and then an HEA. I just didn't feel it. Unfortunately, I just read the first book within the last week and comparing the fun of that book with the angst of this book just made this book seem so much... angstier. I will read Thibault's story but I'm worried about whether I will enjoy it.
Two and a half stars
This book comes out August 23

Monday, August 15, 2016

Run to You by Rachel Lacey

Run to You by Rachel LaceyAnother small-town romance? Gimme. Fake relationship? Eh. Not my favorite. In fact, I was super-stoked that Gabby said no at first when Ethan first proposed the plan. I get that the former Olympic swimmer wanted to make his dying grandmother happy, but that just doesn't seem like a great way to do it. But then, Gabby's abusive ex is in town so....
I did love that Gabby wanted to stand up for herself. Oh, and that she's a video game designer. Loved it. And Ethan is beyond romantic in letting her figure out their relationship steps. She sets boundaries and he <gasp> sticks to them. Does this happen in other romance novels? Certainly. But I haven't gotten to read too many of them and we definitely need more out there.
There were some clunky parts of the story but overall it was a fast and fun read with a hero who was an alpha male but NOT an alphahole and thus a delight to read. I really wish that Gabby hadn't been so gung-ho about not using condoms. Just not smart but Ethan did stick to his guns (mostly).
I hadn't read Rachel Lacey before (at least not in my memory or according to Goodreads) but I am very much looking forward to her next Risking It All novel. I think fans of Susan Mallery and Rachel Gibson should do the same.

Four stars
This book comes out August 23

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda NovakOh man. Novak is good at the feels. Very good. And when she turns her mind to a thriller. Oofta.
I read the prequel to this book and it was bad enough. I was going to say "scary" but this is something deeper.
Doctor Evelyn Talbot has opened up a unique facility in the Alaskan wilderness, a house for psychopaths, killers who she and her team study (Hanover House). There are supposedly 250 inmates (which has to be twice the number of a lot of small Alaskan towns). Dr. Talbot is no stranger to killer psychopaths since she was almost killed by one when she was 16. Now she's trying to figure out why they do what they do so that she can prevent more murders in the future.
Sergeant Amarok is seven years Evelyn's junior, but that doesn't mean that he's not wildly attracted to her. And he knows the trauma of her past and is ridiculously romantic in being patient with her. They went their separate ways after the first novella because Evelyn has issues but a massive snow storm in the beginning of the book means that he's given a second chance when Evelyn's car goes out and she's forced to stay at his house for the night. But that same night, there's a murder. Is an escapee from the Hanover House or something more sinister.
The beginning of the book was so great plotting-wise and world building. We get to meet so many of the characters and start the suspense. But the middle started to get a little whirligig-ish and by the end, there was just Too Much going on. This was a solid four star book most of the way through but the last third was definitely a two.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out August 23

Follows Hanover House (novella)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Insidious by Catherine Coulter

I know some readers will disagree but I was so relieved that this book broke just a bit from the more recent formula. You know, Sherlock and Savich bring in a new investigator who falls in love with someone l, there's paranormal, crazy-pants antics and everyone ends up with an HEA. Some of that happens in "Insidious," but it's not the absolute same well-worn path.
Insidious by Catherine CoulterSherlock and Savich are called in when Venus Rasmussen, famous eighty-year-old billionaire entrepreneur, suspects that she's being poisoned by one of her family members. We get to meet all of the family members, including the black sheep who has some insta-love of his own with Delsey, a character we met in a previous FBI Thriller.
There is, of course, a B story with Special Agent Cam Wittier who is traveling to Los Angeles to help deal with a serial killer who has been slicing the throat of young actresses.
I'm really hoping that we get to see more of Cam Wittier and a bit more of Coulter straying just a bit from the FBI Thriller formula that was starting to get a bit tedious.
Four stars
This book comes out August 9

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Friday Barnes Under Suspicion by R.A. Spratt

Friday Barnes Under Suspicion by R.A. SprattThis book picks up right where the last one left off. Friday has been carted off to the police station having been accused of terrorism. There is a man there who has been accused of stealing a sapphire bracelet (though it is referred to as a necklace as well.)
It follows the same format as the first book with Friday solving smaller crimes at her school and eventually solving one overarching crime. A fun read, I can't wait for the next.

Four stars
This book comes out August 9