Friday, September 30, 2016

Blood Red Kiss -- anthology

The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole
Blood Red Kiss by Kresley ColeI only just discovered the Immortals After Dark series and when I had a chance to read the first book in the series from NetGalley, I jumped at the chance. This is the story of how Myst, a Valkyrie, ended up hooked with a formerly human vampire (Forbearer), Nikolai.
The two meet when Nikolai and a group of other rebel vampires take the castle of one of Demestriu's (the King of the Vampires) right-hands. Myst is a prisoner in the castle. And Nikolai's true mate. But it will take some time for them both to figure it out.

Really uncomfortable with all the stuff about her having to do what he said. Just felt... ooky. Not sexy at all.

Two and a half stars

Forsaken by Night by Larissa Ione
Well. This had some uncomfortable stereotypical undertones. And was confusing as all heck since I hadn't read any of the other books in this series.
Lobo is a vampire who is able to take on the appearance of others. He was kicked out of the vampire clan he had been a part of since he was a boy and would have probably died if not for Tehya, the wolf that he saved. The wolf that is now in trouble. So he risks his life to save hers. And when she is taken, she wakes up in another form, her vampire form.

Two stars

Dark Swan by Gena Showalter
Lilica is one of three girls bred to be superbeing. Her two sisters have been dubbed Little Divine and Little Delirium while Lilica is known as Little Wicked. They have been held in a lab and studied. But Lilica knows that they will escape some day.
Dallas Guitierrez hunts rogue alients. Or maybe it's rogue alien diseases. And now he's starting to have visions. Visions of a woman who ends up being the one held in his friend's house. One who can lead him to the Queen of the Schon (a disease that may end up taking over Earth). And with an immediate connection, the imprisoned woman is his mate. And the Queen that Dallas wants to kill... her sister.

An interesting (and sad) story. Very interested in reading both Jade and Trinity's (Lilica's triplets) stories.

Three and a half stars

Two and a half all together
This book came out September 20

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Bachelor Auction by Rachel Van Dyken

The Bachelor Auction by Rachel Van DykenJane is a modern day Cinderella, except that her evil sisters are full-blooded. But still fairly evil, I mean, they expect Jane to do all their cooking, cleaning, and bill paying.
Brock can sort of understand. His younger brothers (twins) are not only working their way through most of the beds in town leaving him to run their family company, their reputation is leaking over to him as well. Which is why his grandfather wants to auction Brock off to some lucky lady. And heck, they might as well go ahead and get married. So that's why he's going to sneak off to his family's ranch. To get away from the ensuing hubbub. Too bad he finally may have met the woman of his dreams.
Is it coincidence that Jane ends up at the ranch? No. Not when his grandfather is involved.

Too bad Jane was such as wet dishrag. Everyone. EVERYONE walks all over her. And she doesn't even get to be the author of her HEA. She just has to trust Brock. Nor does it feel like her sisters ever get a good comeuppance. This might not be annoying to other readers but it really dropped my rating a lot.

Two stars
This book comes out O

The Haunted Heist by Angie Fox

The Haunted Heist by Angie FoxVerity and Frankie are caught up in a new mystery. When the book opens, Verity is still reeling from the effects of her ex-nearly-mother-in-law who has blackballed her with everyone in town. Verity has had to sell off the furnishings from her family home just to keep it. When her best friend LauraLee brings by her banker uncle so that Verity can bump up the bank's website. Too bad Verity's first visit with Uncle Reggie ends with him being murdered in the bank's vault. With a signature mark that indicates that it may have been done by someone who is no longer living.
It's up to Verity along with Frankie and Ellis to solve if this murder was done by someone on the earthly plane or the ghostly plane.

Three and a half stars
This book came out in March
Followed by Deader Homes and Gardens

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray

This book started off sadly (death of character from the prequel) but with the introduction of a new character, Emmeline Truelove, who is snappy and a female secretary. Ooooooo.
A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana  GrayHer love interest, Lord Silverton, reminds me of no one so much as Lord Peter Wimsey. Seemingly blithe and a little stupid, his thin veneer hides a deeper pain and intelligence. Silverton is to be Emmeline's chaperone on a trip to discover where the new Duke of Olympia (Max Haywood) is since he seems to have disappeared from his latest archaeological dig. A trip that the ghost of Victoria (yes, the former Queen of England) expressly forbade her from going on. So. We've got snappy dialogue, an intelligent female, light paranormal with the heroine seeing (maybe- she keeps telling herself they're figments of her imagination) ghosts, and a quest. Great start.
I was getting excited about this book and went to Goodreads to start writing my review because I was enjoying it so much and didn't want to miss anything. When I got there, I was puzzled as to why a three-star average (which may, of course, change, and god knows I definitely have enjoyed books more than the Goodreads average). But I was only 100 pages in at that point. And I remained puzzled until the last 150 or so pages. Oofda. I feel like the last part of this book was from some other story and was just copied and pasted on to the end. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason for why a book that was zigging and zagging along gentlly (though Silverton seems turns out to be much more of a rake than I suspect Lord Peter was and Emmeline really was turning out to be TSTL, though I could argue with myself that that was probably closer in character to how a woman of her time would have been) all of a sudden veered off a cliff and nosedived into a completely new genre. Even the writing style changed. It was frustrating. Especially given how much I remembered liking the "Duke of Olympia Meets his Match" (which I only gave three stars but thought that it could have been better as a full-length novel). Both books could have benefited from good editing.

Two and a half stars because I enjoyed so much of the book so much before the ending tanked it badly enough that I'm not sure I would even try to pick up the next book in the series
This book comes out October 4

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton

Narwhal by Ben ClantonIn a recent yoga training, the teacher talked about unicorns and narwhals as a way to think about posture, to hold your horn high, so to speak. So when this book crossed my NetGalley queue a few days later, I requested it, thinking it a nice coincidence.
And I'm glad I pulled this book. It's a just a nice, fun story about a Narwhal who is maybe a little overenthusiastic but very imaginative and read to play. The illustrations were great and went well with the story.
Book comes out October 4
Four Stars
Followed by Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt

Monday, September 26, 2016

You Can't Touch My Hair And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

OK, so the biography authors I've been reading lately have really been knocking it out of the park and Phoebe Robinson is no exception. I had never heard of her before but the title of her book intrigued me. I soon learned that Phoebe is a an actress and, if I still watched the Daily Show, I might've seen her there.
And her strong authorial voice makes me feel like I get to know her as a person. A wonderfully delightful person. She talks a lot about what it's like to be a black woman in today's day and age and speaks very insightfully into the struggles that she faces as someone who is more often surrounded by people who are not her skin color than people who are.
Her stories are told with not a little bit of humor but at the bottom you can still feel the anger and frustration that builds up as these little micro aggressions get you Every. Single. Day. She brings her experience to the page in a way that even I, a white woman living in Montana, can start to understand. I will most definitely be looking up 2 Dope Queens and will be looking out for more by this author as well as her partner on "Queens," Jessica Williams (awesome name!), who wrote the forward.

This book comes out October 4
Five Stars

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee StewartBenedict Society fans rejoice! This new book from Trenton Lee Stewart introduces new characters  who feel familiar and the writing is like a cozy blanket, recognizable and comforting. There were some rough spots but overall an enjoyable story.
Reuben is a boy who lives in a neighborhood ruled by The Smoke through the man's group The Directions, four men who  collect bribes to keep the neighborhood safe, mostly from them. He avoids thinking about his neighborhood life and how life for he and his mother has changed, gotten harder. Instead, he does a version of parkour, exploring the abandoned buildings around him. But then, he discovers a mysterious watch, one that enables him to turn invisible. A treasure The Smoke will do anything to get ahold of.
So Reuben will need help. He tracks down the family of the man who used to own the watch, more specifically, he finds Penelope, "Penny". Penny is related to another Penelope, one who was an adventuress (but not in the romance novel sense, a woman after someone's money, no- she is a female who had adventures. At least, until she disappeared). Apparently, Penny's family has stayed in the same lighthouse for generations, just waiting until the day that they will be able to find out what happened to the first Penelope and what she hid in the smugglers tunnels.
With The Directions quickly tracking Reuben, he and Penny and her brother Jack will have to work hard and fast in order to stay out of the hands of The Smoke.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out September 27

Comics Confidential by Leonard S. Marcus

I think you might really have to be into graphic novels to enjoy this book. I got it on a whim, not having read lot of nonfiction books at the time and was a little disappointed by the format. This is a book where it's a series of questions and answers rather than essays written by the artists themselves.
A nice look into the world of graphic novels and the people who create them, but a little hard to read since it doesn't really flow. It was really nice to see examples of the artists work and I'll probably still go look some of them up online or find more of their books. IT also seemed like a nice cross-section of artists.

Three Stars
This book comes out September 27

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Timmy Failure: The Book You're Not Supposed to Have by Stephan Pastis

This was a weird and wacky book. I quickly realized (once I started reading) that I was coming into a series in the middle. While I was quickly able to jump into the story, I did wish I had the background from the first four books to help clear up some of the mysteries-- is that a real polar bear? or a stuffed animal a la Calvin and Hobbes? Why doesn't Timmy like Doorman Dave? Why doesn't Timmy seem to actually encounter very many mysteries if he's a detective?
I really enjoyed this book. I'm pretty sure I had no idea what was going on for most of it but enjoyed the ride all the same.

This book comes out September 27
Four stars

Friday, September 23, 2016

Home with My Sisters by Mary Carter

There were times when the writing was rough and the story didn't quite hold together in all the places, but this was overall a book that gave me some warm feels.
The book opens with an elderly woman revealing to her neighbor that her cancer is going to cause her death, probably before the new year. Then, she tells him that she has three granddaughters, about whom he's never known. And she wants them to come for Christmas. In order to get them there, he's to tell them that they will inherit her estate. And it's a pretty big chunk of change.
Hope is ecstatic. She's been trying to get her sisters together for the holidays for years. Her older sister Faith took off pregnant at seventeen and left them to the dubious care of their mother. The youngest sister, Joy, is flighty and also isn't talking to Hope at the moment. Hope is just trying to ride out the holidays so she can break up with her boyfriend when neighbor Michael appears on her doorstep. Well, not exactly her doorstep, at the shelter where she works. After having just taken in a bloodhound.
The three of them are off (since Hope's boyfriend decides to break up with her, Merry Christmas! (she's actually very relieved)) to find Joy. She's panhandling with her boyfriend but Hope and Michael are able to follow her and her boyfriend to the boyfriend's mother's apartment where Joy is at first reluctant to come up to visit their grandmother, but then learns of the money and decides to come along. And the portrayal of Joy was problematic. She was painted as being perceived as money-grubbing by her sisters, but we were supposed to be seeing her in this different light because of a side she wasn't showing them. And frankly, the money-grubbing was way more apparent than the other.
And Faith, the oldest, shows up with her two children, even though she was supposed to spend one last holiday playing Happy Families with her husband. It seems he caught her cheating and their marriage is about to be kaput. Faith was also a character that was difficult to like, since she is so concerned with staying thin and fit and not at all concerned about her children, barely even noticing that her son is on the verge of committing suicide.
There are some major themes in this book like suicide, mental illness, and racism (Joy's boyfriend is black) but many of them are dealt with rather perfunctorily -- here's a problem, it's bad, now we've fixed it. The swiftness of it bothered me but somehow the book overall charmed me.

This book comes out September 27
Three and a half stars

Thursday, September 22, 2016

That Mistletoe Moment --Anthology

A Boyfriend by Christmas by Cat Johnson
Noelle has been dating the boy next door, George, for the past five years. This Thanksgiving, she's sure that he's going to propose. Probably at Christmas. But that doesn't stop her from checking out the cute guy who has the last two bags of cranberries and offers her one. And then her boyfriend announces that he really doesn't ever see them getting married. So she breaks up with him. Too bad her family is pressuring her so much to get married. Good news, her sister has gotten her a trial for this new app that lets you pretend that you have a boyfriend. You can great photos, get texts, and just go along your merry way. Except that Noelle accidentally texted  cute grocery guy instead of the app.
Nathan is totally fine with that. He's not even weirded out that a woman he met once is inviting her to her family's Christmas Eve party. They figure out the mistake pretty fast and then hop into bed. And then into love.

Two and a half stars

All I Want for Christmas... by Kate Angell
Daniel Hayes is a super-rich guy who employs a personal shopper. Well, he used to but she fell in love with him and it ended up being an issue. So now he's down to three interviewees.  And because of the last gal, he only wants women who are in a relationship. So Riley uses the app. Then she finds out each of the candidates is going to buy him a gift and the one who chooses best will be the woman he hires. Okay. What is this premise? Then pile a snowstorm where they get caught together... Oh, and Riley is all "Christmas, Yay!" and melts his frozen heart. yay.

Two stars

Her Favorite Present by Allyson Charles
Oh. And then there's the owner of the app. The one who thinks that all of his clients are losers. The one whose best friend and other employees dare him to meet one of their clients and see if he still thinks they're losers. So he meets this girl, under false pretenses, has whiplash changing his mind but then has to convince her that he's in love.
This might have been a better story if we had seen more character development that just isn't available in an anthology.

Two stars.

Overall Two stars
This book comes out September 27

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Christmas at Designers’ Homes Across America by Katharine Kaye McMillan & Patricia Hart McMillan

Christmas at Designers' Homes Across America by Katharine McMillanDo NOT buy this as an ebook. The font is small and the pictures are often hard to see on a small screen. I have a feeling that this is stunning as a coffee-table book though, of course, I can't judge it that way at the moment.
Was this book good? It was interesting. I really enjoyed voyeur-ing into peoples Christmas homes. And these homes were beautiful. Just perfectly prepped for the holidays.
What are the other reasons for only three stars? There are a lot of adjectives in this book. A lot. A LOT. And I get that a design book needs adjectives but it feels like someone sat down with a thesaurus and then regurgitated it. Also, not all of the pics are Christmas-y. There's a small percentage that are just home pictures. Is that to show that not every inch of a designer's home is decorated? I'm just not sure.

This book comes out September 28
Three and a half stars

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

Okay, the first book in this series, though by one of my favorite authors, just wasn't up to Ms. Shalvis' usual level of snuffiness. And I have to admit, the preview for this book wasn't making me any less nervous about the series. In the preview, we learned that Willa Davis, pet shop owner, was to be the next heroine. And her hero? A guy who had stood her up in high school (duh duh duh duh) and doesn't remember her now (duh duh DUH!) Too bad he needs her help. She'd refuse but she's nicer than me and has a soft heart for the kitty that Keane is watching for his sick great-aunt.
The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay, #2)The dance between these two was fantastic. And when Keane told Willa that he didn't want to save her <swoon>.
And then.
And then.
One last Big Misunderstanding. I am NOT understanding this misstep by Shalvis. It is just so ham-handed and one of the characters seems to completely step off the path that s/he had been moving in. And then there was ANOTHER little misunderstanding. Like, why? why? So disappointing. It immediately dropped the book down from 4 1/2 to 3 1/2 stars. There's a lot of time before this book hits the shelves and I'm hoping a good editor will fix this before the book actually comes out (I read the book in May).

Three and a half stars
This book comes out September 27

Monday, September 19, 2016

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare

Do You Want to Start a Scandal (Spindle Cove, #5)Oh God. This book was mostly fabulous. The wit and charm of A Week to be Wicked was very evident in this book and Dare ties together two of her series with the sister of Minerva from AWTBW and the brother from Say Yes to the Marquess. But then. There is the Incident. About three quarters of the way through the book. I hated it. Other readers may, may find it charming but I found it out of character for Piers. And I didn't think that the description of trying to figure out "who did whom in the library" really came through in this book. Loved the characters. Loved the plot (mostly) and I think regular Dare readers will feel the same.
Charlotte Highwood is the youngest of three sisters whose mother was desperate to marry them off. One of her sisters married a viscount amid great scandal and her other sister married a blacksmith. Charlotte has seen from both that the true measure of a marriage isn't from how much a woman can get, but how much she can be loved. Which is why she's so vexed that she's caught alone in the library with Lord Granville, especially since she was trying to warn him about her mother's matchmaking.
For his part, Piers is instantly captivated. Yes, he's supposed to be at this house party to discover whether his host is fit for a government position but Charlotte is more important. How can he win her to be his own when she's so obsessed with finding the lovers and thus freeing herself of their engagement?
I wish we had seen the bratty Frances get her comeuppance (or will we discover in future books that she was just protecting her sister, Delia?) and I'm hoping that we also get to see Delia, Charlotte's best friend, find true love.
Four stars
This book comes out September 27

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Unromantic Lady by Lucy Gordon

I generally enjoyed this re-issue of a 1996 book (I like the new cover much better) but the ending really killed it for me. It was a book with fairly low-level drama until the end when it suddenly got ramped up rather needlessly. I feel like this was rather typical of historical categories but I honestly wasn't really reading those at the time so it's a vague sort of notion.
The Unromantic LadyDiantha is a major heiress who has all sorts of fortune hunters who are after her money, even though she's only <gulp> one generation removed from having earned it. But her mother's family is posh so the most needy gentleman are willing to overlook her background. Too bad she can't be tricked into marriage because she doesn't believe in love. In fact, the man who finally manages to convince her is Rex, the one man who also doesn't believe in love. Rather, he puts the marriage to her as a sort of business deal. And those are terms she can accept. They deal rather well together, even her mild flirtations cause no Big Misunderstandings (so refreshing!). There are some rather nice subplots with marriages of love that start to have both characters questioning their earlier stance and then... Big Misunderstanding! Drama! And... le sigh. This may not be a deal breaker for others but it dropped the book a full star for me.

Three stars
This book came out September 5

Radical Beauty by Deepak Chopra, Kimberly Snyder

Radical Beauty by Deepak ChopraThis was a really well-written book and a nice collaboration. The thoughts about setting up beauty as pillars is very reminiscent of yogic principles and made a lot of sense. I really enjoyed the in-depth discussion of GMOs and the break out sections were fairly useful. An easy read that was well-edited. I liked the mention of moving in ways that weren't forward and the inclusion of some mantras.
But. There was a lot of repetition from other books (including a lot of references to said previously written books; it was really irritating, why add ads for your other publications?), and not a ton of new information if you know anything about Ayurveda, enjoy reading about yoga and healthy living in general, or have read either of these two authors other materials. Other irritations included the sheer number of ways they told us that veggies were super important (repetition within the book!). I got it the first 56 times. Did we really need it again? And, quite frankly, it sent me running for some chocolate. There were a few points that contradicted themselves like telling us naps were bad and then recommending naps in the grass. And there were just so. many. things to follow. I just to see how the average person is supposed to do them all.

Three stars
This book comes out September 20

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Proposal to Die For by Vivian Conroy

A Proposal to Die For by Vivian ConroyLady Alkmene Callender is a bit ahead of her time. She's wanting to do more with her life than just sit at home while her father travels the world searching for rare plants. And she gets her chance when she overhears a man proposing to someone but being told that the woman's uncle would never approve. There is a joke that she could marry whomever she pleases when the old man passes away. Lady Alkmene then meets the woman, American actress Evelyn Steinbeck. But, she doesn't meet her for very long. instead, she spends some time talking to her hostess, the Countess of Vivienne, and learns that Evelyn and her uncle were at the theater when a young man came and caused a scene.
It will come as no surprise to mystery readers that the uncle is killed two days later. Alkmene immediately jumps to the conclusion that it was murder and decides to head out and discover if anyone else feels the same. She encounters the countess sitting with a young man who ends up being a reporter. Or a private detective. Either way, he has a lot of contempt for the aristocracy. But he allows Alkmene to tag along because he thinks there something to this issue as well. It's an adventure that's going to take Alkmene out of London and out of her everyday life.
This was definitely a first book. The characters felt fuzzy around the edges, like she was still trying to figure out who they were. And the story is also a bit scattered with story threads not really weaving in smoothly. The author mentions that she did a lot of online research to get clothes and cars, etc. right but the tone... I just finished a mystery actually written in the '20s and the language was SO different. There were so many words and phrases that were just too modern and kept pulling me out of the story.
An okay story but I probably won't keep reading the series.

Three stars
This book comes out September 19
Followed by Diamonds of Death

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Courting the Countess by Anne Stenhouse

Melissa, Lady Pateley, has a lot going on. Her beloved husband died (I think three years before the story started?), a recent housefire not only had her caught under a roof timber, she ended up with burns over a lot of her body, and now she's been kidnapped. Not by George Gunn, the man who has made ever-increasingly fervent advances (notable even among the many fortune hunters who hope to marry her right before she dies and leaves them her wealth), but by his second (or more removed) cousin, Harry Gunn.
Courting the Countess by Anne StenhouseIt seems that Harry's great-uncle has grown concerned over the way George is acting toward Melissa. It's the same way that his father acted toward a debutante, a passion that ended with him climbing into the debutante's room, being captured and sent to the mad house.
Harry is trying to protect Melissa by whisking her away but doesn't realize that his formidable sister, Mrs. Duart, is bent on making sure that Melissa and George marry. Which gives them both pause.
I kept trying to figure out if this was a reprint because this seemed more like an old-skool romance than something from today. There was just SO MUCH going on. It's only 165 pages but there are secrets and then other secrets and then partial secrets... It was a lot. A Lot.
Overall a fast and fluffy read with a light romance not going farther than some heated kissing.

Three stars
This book came out September 9

Friday, September 9, 2016

Baba Jaga by An Leysen

Baba Jaga by An LeysenOverall a very nice story. A play on some very familiar storybook themes (one version of Hansel and Gretel has them escaping with a comb and mirror; Cinderella/Snow White with the evil stepmother; Little Red Riding Hood with going to visit a relative; Baba Yaga, the Russian witch who lives in a house with chicken legs). This book has Olga, an orphan whose father has remarried, being sent to her stepmother's sister to ostensibly borrow some needle and thread. However, the real plan is for Baba Yaga to eat Olga. Luckily, because Olga is kind, she has some help in escaping.
Though translated from the original Dutch, this is, in the main, a very nice book.
The illustrations are are absolutely fabulous and the book is worth reading just for those alone.

Four stars
This book comes out September 13

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Autumn Allure by Allie Boniface

Was I the only one weirded out that the title is "Autumn Allure" and Autumn is the name of our hero's daughter? I get that "allure" doesn't necessarily mean something, well, mature, but it sure implies it.
Autumn Allure by Allie BonifaceAnyway. Reading this book was some slow going. I thought that maybe this was the author's first book because the sentences didn't really flow. It was just sort of choppy. And I never really connected with the characters and couldn't really figure out why they were connecting with each other. I finished it and was okay with the end but couldn't help to wish for a little more.
Maxine "Max" Abbott is a librarian who, in her late twenties, still lives with her mother. Her mother is a former beauty queen who jumped from man to man and is now embarking on a quest to get on the town council.
Nate Hunter is a bar tender who loves his life. He's jumping around from girl to girl all while being footloose and fancy-free. And then. An ex-lover he barely remembers comes and tells him that he has a daughter. Suddenly, the guy who throws out pans and dishes rather than cleaning them is going to be raising a child. At least until her aunt gets back into the country. But his sister is leaving the house they've been sharing and Nate will be on his own with a four-year-old girl.
When Nate overhears Max's mom trying to bully her into being more of a girly-girl and then notices that she seems to connect with Autumn in a way that he can't, he comes up with a solution. Max can move in and help him take care of his daughter.

Three stars
This book comes out September 15

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

Where Am I Now? by Mara WilsonThere is a reason that the blogs I read are talking about how much they love this book. It's fantastic. Not just a retrospective into her film history, Mara Wilson talks about her life up until now. The fun sides (getting to work with Danny DeVito) but a lot of the darker sides as well (her mother dying, her issues with OCD). Her writing flows, jumping back and forth seamlessly along her timeline. I sat down to read a few pages and resurfaced in the world a couple hours later having devoured the whole thing. It's the kind of book that makes you want to sit down with the author and see if they're really like their writing because it's just... that... good.

Five stars
This book comes out September 13

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Short Con by Pete Toms and Aleks Sennwald

The Short Con by Pete TomsThe book opens with a newly orphaned girl staring out a window and remarking on how much she hates life. We learn that her name is Mary Branwell and that she is being assigned as a partner to another girl "Pop" Popowski. The nun in charge of the orphanage says that Pops is a weird kid and needs socialization. Oh yeah, and they're kid detectives. Kid detectives that are going to solve the murder of Mary's parents.
This was an odd book. I liked the premise and the illustrations. The ending was just a bit too weird for me.

Three stars
This book comes out September 13

In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett

In Such Good Company by Carol BurnettA wonderful look behind the scenes of "The Carol Burnett Show." Stories about the people (cast members, guests, friends, and those working behind the scenes), about the clothes, about the sketches... Carol includes them all. This isn't a strict biography, it's more of a stitching together of stories (some are repeated but told from different angles).
A feel-good book that is exactly what you want when reading Carol Burnett.

Five stars
This book comes out September 13

By Firelight by Janice Maynard

By Firelight
Grant Monroe is enjoying being by himself in his mountain cabin when, during a heavy snow storm, there's a sudden thunk at the door. And then Madison Tierney stumbles in. She was hiking the Appalachian Trail, got ditched by her two friends, then got lost, and only barely made it to Grant's cabin. Now the two are trapped together in a cabin.
This story has my least favorite trope of "we don't need condoms I'm on birth control" and was also just a bit too insta-lurv-twee for my tastes.

Two and a half stars

Hot Arctic Nights
Hallie lost her mother in January and he job the Monday after Thanksgiving. She's not really in a holiday frame of mind so she agrees to fly up to Alaska and fill in for her friend's parents for two weeks at their B&B. She doesn't expect to find semi-permanent guest, Daniel.
When they meet, Hallie is about to fall over exhausted from travel and Daniel is dressed as Santa. She takes him to the school and learns that he works for the navy as civilian law enforcement.
Hallie then discovers that she has a family of fifteen that she's going to be expected to host, including cooking for them. Of course, as this is a holiday story, she is immediately enveloped into their warm bosom. Or something.   Daniel helps her as often as he can and, as the two grow closer, Hallie starts to reclaim some of her holiday spirit. And she also starts to realize that maybe, as people kept telling her in the beginning of the book, Alaska is a place that she can fall in love with. Especially if she has a special someone to share it with.
Good use of condoms in this story.
Three stars

This book comes out October 11

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark MansonBased on the title, you can probably tell that this book has a LOT of "language" in it, so if that offends you, this is not the book for you. Basically, the lays out the idea that we all care too much, especially in this age of social media. And he seems to present it as a new thought except that this is actually an ancient idea; I would liken it to Aparigraha or "nongreed," basically not wanting what other people have.
Is this a self-help book? Pretty much. Is it disguised by a bunch of fucks and a few shits thrown in? Pretty much. But it's actually not horribly written and has some good gems. If you have read a lot of books like this, there is nothing new. But if you're new to the self-help game, this would be a great starter book.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White

The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert WhiteI really enjoyed the world-building in this book, where orphans can't become adventurers if they have no last name (like Anvil, "Anne") or if their families are notorious (like her friend Penelope Shatterblade). But that doesn't stop Anne from applying to as many adventurer schools as possible. She's pretty much given up hope that she'll be taken before she's kicked out of the orphanage on her thirteenth birthday. Or will she? At the last moment, Anne is informed that the train will be leaving before midnight on the day before Anne's birthday rather than 10 minutes into it, which means that Anne has to stay at the orphanage for another year. But Anne has different plans. And the world has different plans for her as, while she is walking the matron's fire lizard "Dog," a woman appears and tells Anne she has been accepted into a school.
This book is all sorts of crazy sauce -- in the very best way. Just when you think you've figured out the zigs, the book zags. For instance, the headmistress of the Death Mountain Quest Academy is Her Royal Highness Princess Fluffington Whiskers of the Mousetrapper Clan. In short, a cat. There are dragons whose fireballs help aid travel, a book that becomes whatever it needs to be, and a main character who is not only female, she has dark brown skin. A fact that is only mentioned once and then briefly.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

So Good by Darcy Burke

So Good by Darcy Burke
Cam Westcott kicks off a new series. This Westcott brother is well-known, and not just by his family, for being a major player. But he's been concentrating more on work lately and is starting to back off the merry-go-round of women. So when he meets Brooke Ellis, a wine distributor, he doesn't want to be interested. But (and even though she says she doesn't want to date him), he decides to trick her into a date. Which is SO romantic (Nope).
Brooke has her own issues. And she knows Cameron's reputation. So she doesn't want to get involved. But she is feeling more and more drawn to Cam.
I quite frankly didn't get the attraction between these two. No, I got the attraction, I just didn't get why they would have an HEA. It was an okay book most of the way through but the last Big Misunderstanding really dropped it a full star for me.

Three stars
This book comes out September 6