Monday, October 31, 2016

One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis

One Snowy Night by Jill ShalvisRory Andrews doesn't remember Max Stranton from high school but he sure remembers her. In a gender reversal from The Trouble with Mistletoe, this time, the girl done the guy wrong. It seems that Rory's high school home life wasn't great and she was being picked on at school. Her attempt at retaliation accidentally included taking out the life Max Stranton had planned for himself. And then she ran, leaving Max to face the fallout, and she never even knew. Now, she needs his help to get back to Lake Tahoe in time for her first Christmas with her family in six years. She's disappointed them before so she doesn't want to be late. Too bad there's a blizzard that is leaving them trapped with Max's dog, Carl along for the ride.

This was okay but, as a novella, not enough time to really get to know or fall in love with the characters. Both Rory and Max felt a little stock to me with not enough time to explore how they got from their teenage selves to their nowadays selves.

Three Stars
This novella comes out November 8
Follows The Trouble with Mistletoe
Followed by Accidentally on Purpose

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fatal Passion by Adrian Vincent

A collection of true-crime stories ripped from the headlines across time and place. The author has re-written the stories so they have more of a fictional flavor but with true story realness. I wish we had been given a list of footnotes or even just a bibliography so that we could know what kind of research went into these stories. There was a LOT of details to these stories but no clue about how much the author knew and how much was artistic license. The writing was okay but was rather repetitive after awhile. Stories that should have been SO interesting got lost under too much detail.

Three stars
This book came out October 14

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Miracle of Meditation by Ryuho Okawa

The Miracle of Meditation by Ryuho OkawaI should have read the description a bit more and clued in that this was going to be a meditation book with a religious bent. Nothing against it, just not my meditation style. I didn't count that against the book though. To be warned though, this goes beyond a low-level religious bent and talks about guardian spirits and stray animal spirits, things that not everyone will be on board for.
It's not anything really radical in the world of meditation, just a nice book that outlines not only what meditation is but also provides some really nice examples to use while practicing. The Q&A is definitely a little more "out-there" but some readers may feel comfortable with that. Very much reminds me of the teachings of Elizabeth Clare Prophet.

Three stars
This book comes out November 1

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Danger of Desire by Sabrina Jeffries

The Danger of Desire by Sabrina JeffriesIn The Study of Seduction, Warren Corry, Marquess of Knightford, was trying to protect his cousin Clarissa by asking his best friend Edwin to keep an eye on her. Now Clarissa is asking Warren to help her by keeping an eye on her friend, Miss Delia Trever. It seems Clarissa's brother died and left the family in debt. Now Delia's aunt has given her a dowry in the hopes of finding her a husband but Delia is acting strangely; slipping out of rooms, falling asleep at balls, avoiding house parties. Clarissa wants to see her friend so she wants to know what's going on.
Delia Trevor doesn't want to get married. It might mean saving herself but its not going to save her family. And she wants to make sure that her sister-in-law and nephew are taken care of as well. Then Warren starts getting in her way.
Not my favorite Jeffries book. I thought both Warren and Delia's problems were well-built up and then far to hastily solved. I get the tie-in with Delia's family problems and the banishment of Niall but the way to get them to overlap felt horribly overwrought. An okay addition to the series but I'm much more interested to see what went and will go on with Brilliana (what a name for practically-named-Delia's sister-in-law) and Niall.

Three stars
This book comes out November 22
Followed by The Pleasures of Passion

The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman

The Legendary Lord by Valerie BowmanSarah Highgate, the previous Season's Debutante of the Year (or some such, nonsense) has gotten engaged to a handsome Marquess. Unfortunately, he cares and talks about nothing but himself and she's over it. So she runs away to Scotland, to her father's hunting lodge. Except that she doesn't quite make it to the right place. Instead, she ends up at Christian Bancroft, Viscount Berkeley's, lodge. While there, her chaperone breaks her ankle so Christian's winterkeeper takes her into see the doctor, leaving Sarah alone.
Which is exactly when Christian arrives at the lodge. He's a handsome fellow but has been largely overlooked by eligible maidens because he can't talk to beautiful women without stuttering. Luckily, his first meeting with Sarah is so ridiculous he doesn't have issues with her. The two get to spend time together and become closer. But Sarah comes to the realization that she doesn't want to disappoint her parents so Christian helps to concoct a plan that will get her back to London without any scandal.
I really enjoyed the first half of this book, the two getting to know each other was just adorable and it wasn't quite the typical "I'm running away from a horrible marriage" trope, just different enough to be interesting. The second half got a little overwrought for me but I think most "Playful Brides" readers will be pleased with this book.

Three stars
This book comes out November 1
Follows The Untamed Earl

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Someone To Love by Mary Balogh

Someone To Love by Mary BaloghAvery Archer, Duke of Netherby, is not very excited to have been named the guardian of the new Earl of Riverdale. And he is less excited to learn, from the Countess, that the old Earl had been supporting a byblow, a girl. Everyone is shocked to learn that the girl, known as Anna Snow, was actually a legitimate child while the supposed new earl, Harry, and his two sisters, the managing Camille and the pretty-but-bland Abigail, are products of bigamy. Everyone's world is turned upside down. Even Anna who has to leave the only home she's ever known and suddenly step into the world of the haut ton.
As he helps Anna work through her new life, Avery is shocked to learn that he might be falling in love...
I usually like Mary Balogh's books for their gentle pace and love stories. Unfortunately, while this one is in her normal vein, I just didn't see any connection between the two of them. It was a good start to a series, with plenty of sequel bait (Camille and Anna's friend from the orphanage?). It just suffered from the problem of too much setup, not enough story.

Three stars
This book comes out November 1
Followed by Someone to Hold

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Epic Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce

Epic Big Nate by Lincoln PeirceA look back at the Big Nate comics over the years including an interview with Lincoln Peirce (done by Jeff Kinney, of "Wimpy Kid" fame), a brief history of the strip, and then several examples of the strips from 1991-2015 peppered with comments from Peirce about how he came up with ideas or how characters evolved.
The foreward to this book was certainly interesting. It took a very "Behind the Music" tone. I even heard Casey Kasem's voice as I was reading it, "After 18 years, 'Big Nate' had become an overnight sensation" (not a real quote).
But this was was definitely a fun read though I would recommend the hard copy, NOT the eversion. Reading this on a smaller screen was incredibly difficult, having to make the text big enough to read and then having to scroll, shift the screen, scroll, get to a new page, and then scroll took a lot out of the experience.

Four and a half stars
This book comes out October 25

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Little Luck, A Lot of Fate by Linn B. Halton

A Little Luck, A Lot of Fate by Linn B. HaltonThis book is told in alternating first-person viewpoints from Kristi and Tom who used to live next door and have grown up to be... well. It's interesting. Kristi seems to think of Tom as a friend (at least in the first few chapters) while Tom describes Kristi as his girlfriend (they are, indeed, dating). There are also some chapters from Patrick, a tarot card reader who Kristi reaches out to for help.
You see, Kristi is an incredibly successful modern living guru and she's been working non-stop for the last ten years. Suddenly (literally) there's a Voice that tells her to stop and take time. So she decides on a four month sabbatical. Time to create a book that will tell the world that her life is not as picture perfect as it seems. And time to figure out how her life should work since perfection isn't working for her.
Tom is an artist. A very surly artist who has built a self-sustaining cabin to help stay away from the world. He is seemingly a very good artist but can't get the voice of his overbearing father out of his head. He loves Kristi for all that she's done for him but he's worried that their relationship is changing.
This was a nice book with a somewhat strange ending. And I have to admit that I was trying to stretch my reading horizons a bit so a blonde heroine who is just trying to figure out her life was a bit disappointing but I did end up finding a new-to-me publisher that I think I will enjoy.

This book comes out October 25
Four stars

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Study In Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

There seem to be an abundance of mysteries setting Sherlock homes to have actually been a woman. There's at least one other one where her name is Charlotte. But this series is a little bit different. It's told in alternating third person viewpoints between Charlotte Holmes, her sister Olivia (Livia), and Inspector Treadles.
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry ThomasCharlotte believes herself to be smarter than everyone else in her family, including the father who holds the money. So when she decides to lose her virginity to a now married, ex-suitor, it's very calculated. What she didn't count on was being discovered by the man's wife. And his mother. Or that his mother would die the next day. Or that her sister would be blamed having gone to the woman's house the night before to confront her. She decides to set off on her own and quickly discovers that it is not going to be as easy as she assumed. The world does not have time for intelligent women. Well, except for one man, her childhood friend Lord Ingram.
Lord Ingram was the one to introduce Inspector Treadles to "Sherlock Holmes," the man who has helped him solve a case or two. So when Holmes points out the connection between the newly deceased mother, another Lady, and a gentleman from the country, Treadles listens.
Luckily, there is one other person who seems to appreciate Charlotte's talents, a former dancer named Mrs. Jebediah. At least, that is the alias she uses. She's really more well-known as Mrs. John Watson.
I really enjoyed the way this story was put together. Mrs. Watson, like the fictional male before her, brings talents to Charlotte that she doesn't otherwise have. Unlike Sherlock (at least usually), Charlotte at least seems to understand her value. Also with their relationship, there was a possibility of a Big Misunderstanding but it was nicely avoided. I'm very much looking forward to the next book in the series.

This book comes out October 18
Four stars
Followed by A Conspiracy in Belgravia

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Diamonds of Death by Vivian Conroy

Diamonds of Death by Vivian ConroyThe book opens with a cat burglar (literally) stumbling upon a dead body. When the noise summons the household servants, they immediately jump to the conclusion that he is the killer. Jack Dubois feels differently and he enlists the help of Lady Alkmene since the dead man was married to Alkmene's aunt (her mother's half-sister.)
Alkmene is nervous about visiting a house of mourning, especially since she hasn't met Amy of her cousins before. And what she finds is astonishing. Her oldest cousin Albert is married to Helena, a woman who immediately resents Alkmene's arrival. His younger brother George is resentful of not being the heir and has a strange relationship with Helena. Her cousin Ann had written Alkmene several letters since the siblings and their father had returned to England but Alkmene wasn't sure what to do with them. Her father never discussed that side of the family and she gets the feeling that there is a reason why. She's worried it's because her aunt went insane before her death.
A nice addition to the Alkmene series. I like that both Jack and Alkmene are more fleshed out than they were in the first book. Still some slow places but overall a quick and fun read.

Four stars
This book comes out October 17
This book follows A Proposal to Die For
Followed by Deadly Treasures

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne

To Love and to Cherish by Lauren LayneOof. After the last book, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this one. But it was everything I had hoped for Alexis and Logan. Didn't love the ending but the rest of the book... le sigh.
Alexis Morgan met Logan eight years ago when he invested in her elite wedding planning business, the Wedding Belles. Since then, she's come to rely on his friendship. Meanwhile, Logan has been waiting patiently for her to realize that they are meant to be together. But his timeline is suddenly contracted when his father calls to tell Logan that he is retiring three years before Logan thought he would. Both his father and mother would like him to move back to London and take over the family business.
Meanwhile, Alexis' family has some news for her. Her sister is pregnant by her boyfriend of nearly 10 years. The boyfriend being the man that Alexis thought she was going to marry until she saw them fall in love, breaking Alexis' heart. They did the right thing, waiting a year after Alexis and Adam broke up and then talking to her first, but that doesn't mean it didn't hurt. Now Alexis is flying down to Florida for the wedding. And her friends know the perfect way to help her get through this hard time; send Logan down to be her pretend boyfriend.
The "pretend we're in a relationship" trope is not one of my favorites, but it's not my least favorite and I'm glad that Alexis and Logan got their HEA.

Four stars
This book comes out October 18
Follows For Better or Worse

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mistletoe Games by Jaci Burton

Holiday Games
Mistletoe Games by Jaci BurtonA continuation of the Riley family, Liz and Gavin are back at it in this book. And are they at it alot. A lot. A LOT. Yes, they're trying to get pregnant so there's a lot of sex. About as much as a usual Burton book but compressed into a short story.
A good story if you've read the previous books (since most of the story centers around the prep for and Jenna and Tyler's wedding), I think, but otherwise, it's, like, 50% sex and not much else.
Three stars

Holiday on Ice
Stella is a dancer and Trick, a hocky player. They hooked up off and on for about a year but neither was serious and their relationship sort of fizzled when they both got busy. But now they're in the same bar at the same time and the sizzle is still there. Could it be that there's something more?
I love when romance short stories start with a previous relationship; that means that it's not as hard to believe that true love might happen that fast.
Four stars

Hot Holiday nights
Holy menage, Batman! Warn a woman, NetGalley! This part suffered for me because this is NOT one of my favorite romance tropes. I generally like Burton's writing, even if it does get a little more explicit than I like. For the rating, this is my personal opinion. Do I think that regular Burton readers will enjoy the story? Probably. Do I like that Victoria was the leader in initiating this triad? I gave it a whole extra star because of that. I liked that she was confident in herself and her men.
When Victoria Baldwin finally takes a vacation, little does she suspect that she'll be falling in love. And falling in love.
Three stars

Rounding up to three and a half stars
This book comes out October 18

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Death Among Rubies by R. J. Koreto

Death Among Rubies by R.J. KoretoLady Frances is again caught up in murder. This time, she has been asked by two of her friends to attend a house party. The two ladies are fellow suffragettes and lesbian lovers who have just been threatened with death because of their lifestyle. Instead of the ladies ending up dead, it is the father of Gwen, Sir Calleford. Unlike most mysteries, it doesn't seem like he has a lot of enemies. Rather, it seems he had few and it will be a strain to find them. Another complicating issue is the fact that, though everyone was gathered together after dinner, they all left the room at varying points and no one seems to be able to provide a concrete timeline.
I like Lady Frances, she's charging ahead into the new century but isn't an anachronism. I'm looking forward to the next book.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out on October 11
Follows Death on the Sapphire

Deader Homes and Gardens by Angie Fox

Deader Homes and Gardens by Angie FoxVerity Long wasn't sure if she would ever get hired as a ghost hunter but the day has finally come, Lee Treadwell has asked for her house in ridding his family home of ghosts. The ghosts have been around long enough for even Frankie to remember having seen them. It seems Lee's grandfather was a famous Egyptologist and nearly his entire family died within a week, supposedly the work of a curse. First he died, then his daughter, his wife, and then his brother-in-law. The only person who seemed to have escaped the curse was the family's nanny. She drew protective signs on the house but then was horrendously injured by a fire. It is seemingly her life force that is haunting the house but there is also a little girl who seems to be running some pranks on Lee. But someone in that house seems adamant that everyone should be kept out. And when another person seemingly dies from the curse, it's up to Verity to finally put an end to the cycle.
A nice addition to the Verity Long series. LOVE that there are no love triangles cluttering up this contemporary cozy mystery series.

Four stars
This book comes out October 11
Follows The Haunted Heist
Followed by Sweet Tea and Spirits

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Distilled Knowledge by By Brian D. Hoefling, Illustrations by Leandro Castelao

Yep. This is a very, very science-y book. And I am not great at science so it took some deep reading for me to be able to follow. The pictures made it a little easier. I honestly don't know how much I retained but I had fun reading. I think that people who have some knowledge about liquor may not find much in this book but others may find it a bit confusing. At least until the really fun chapters that start around chapter six. Overall, well-written, seems to be well-researched, and entertaining.

Four stars
This book came out October 4

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Christmas Day at the Office by Matt Dunn

A Christmas Day at the Office by Matt DunnThis was everything that I wanted from a British Christmas novel. Though I wouldn't have minded a little more mayhem. I do love a nice, gentle novel that then ranges into mayhem. Anyway.
Everyone at Seek (a search engine company) is on tenterhooks. They've just been bought out by an American firm, iFeel, owned by an eccentric billionaire, Tony A. Wood, who has invited them all to a mystery Christmas party. No one knows what or where it is but it's pretty well spelled out that it's mandatory attendance. Probably so they can all find out that they've been fired.
The people from Seek include Juliet (about to be divorced) and her boss/bed partner Mark. She's just discovered that her divorce is about to go through which should delight Mark because they can finally bring their relationship out into the open. Too bad she also just discovered that she's pregnant. How are they going to deal with that.
Nathan is the firm's Technical Support Manager. He enjoys being a snazzy dresser and is fairly satisfied with his life. Other than still being a little hung up on his ex-girlfriend, Ellie. So why has she emailed him?
Sophie had a crush on Nathan, but he kindly and firmly rejected her. So she's been dating. Online and through apps. But it's been going horribly. Maybe she should just grab a chance with Tony A. Wood.
Calum is dating Mia. He's trying to figure out how to propose. He's worried not only about rejection, but about losing his job. Which is why the call from a headhunter is so enticing.
Just a wonderful peek at one day in the lives of many people with enough of a glimpse at each that you can get a sense of them and realize how it is that they've gotten here and where they're going.

Four stars
This book comes out October 11

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander

A Terrible Beauty by Tasha AlexanderIt was only a matter of time until Lady Emily's first marriage reared its ugly head. In this case, it's in the form of her first husband. It seems that he wasn't really dead after all and, now, on a vacation to Greece, he has decided to return to Emily's life. Of course, Emily doesn't believe it's him; but the man knows Philip's childhood stories. And he recounts the tale of the first time he met Emily.
As with many of the other Lady Emily books, the main narrative is interwoven with someone else's history, in this case, Philip's. It is here that we learn that Philip has been spending his time at various archaeological digs and has gotten involved in the black market. And it's this involvement that is leading someone to try and kill him.
I'm generally still enjoying the Lady Emily mysteries and I think regular readers will like this book but I feel that they are starting to get just a little repetitive.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 11

Monday, October 3, 2016

Searching for Disaster by Jennifer Probst

Searching for Disaster by Jennifer ProbstLike most novellas, this one was just a little too short to really get into the characters as well as develop a good story. And this one had parts that were just a little too twee. Big props for not allowing a Big Misunderstanding though and actually having (well, one of the characters) talk it out.
Isabella MacKenzie was a screw-up. A drug-addicted screw-up. A stark contrast to her sweet and happily married sister Alexa and an especial contrast to her own surgeon twin, Genevieve. When the novella opens, Isabella is trying to calm her demons by hooking up with a guy who has old Hollywood good looks, Liam.
Liam is visiting his little brother in college while he himself is on break from cop school. At a party, he meets and has an epic one night stand with a girl whose demons are close to the surface. He recognizes that and walks away but still, six years later, can't forget Izzy.
In the present day, Izzy is two years clean (thanks to her best friend Raven (the bartender from the Billionaire Builders series?)) and working at Kinnections, the wildly successful dating agency around which the "Searching For" series rotates. When the ladies of the agency talk about setting her up with Stone's partner Devine, Isabella tells them she isn't ready. She's still working on herself. But then she realizes just who Devine is...
I thought Liam was a little too pushy but overall liked that he was (mostly) willing to wait for Izzy to come to her  own conclusions about their relationship. I think regular "Searching For" readers will not be disappointed by this addition to the series.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out September 10

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Queen's Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal

The Queen's Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNealMaggie is back to real life, working for the SOE, being seriously undervalued, making connections that no one else is making. Agents overseas seem to be in trouble but no one is listening. Meanwhile, in England, someone is mimicking Jack the Ripper and killing off women; specifically, women who are supposed to be working at the SOE.
It was a little grim for me and dragged in some places, but I think regular Maggie Hope readers will enjoy this latest addition to the canon. Especially Inspector Durgin who seems to actually appreciate Maggie and all of her talents. We also get news of Maggie's sister, Elise and learn of the new jobs given to Hugh and Sarah.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 4

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Quiet Life In The Country by T E Kinsey

A Quiet Life in the Country by T E KinseyFlo Armstrong (our narrator) is a long-time ladies made to Lady Hardcastle. Their previous occupation is hinted at during the stories but it seems that Lady Hardcastle (and thus Flo) must have been a spy during the recent war. It brought them close together, as close to chums as one can get being in different social strata. They've moved from London to the country because Lady Hardcastle was looking for a bit of peace and quiet and a house has become available.
It's unfortunate that soon after they arrive, they find a man hanging in the woods. One who most certainly could not have committed suicide. A man is quickly put in jail for the murder but both Armstrong and Lady Hardcastle are skeptical it is the right man. Then another man is murdered (a trumpet player) and an emerald stolen.
Though this the first book in the series, there are hints of grand adventures that Armstrong and Lady Hardcastle have gone through before. It was an interesting book. The ending was a bit strong but otherwise It was an okay cozy.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 4
Followed by In the Market for Murder