Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Can't Forget You by Rachel Lacey

Can't Forget You by Rachel LaceyMark Dalton grew up an orphan in a small-ish town. The one person he clung to was Jessica Flynn. At least until he unceremoniously dumped her right and left town to join the Special Forces. He's been back in town for awhile and now is trying to buy the plot of land that is in between her spa property and he and his friends outdoor recreation area.
Jessica isn't thrilled that Mark is back in town but she's mostly been trying to avoid him. Even if that old heat is still there....
There were some B plots that weren't woven into the main plot very well and I didn't love the Big Misunderstanding that was woven throughout the story but it was still a fast, fun, and fluffy book.

Three stars
This book comes out December 19
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley
Follows Crazy for You

Sunday, December 3, 2017

So Over You by Kate Meader

So Over You by Kate MeaderIsobel Chase was raised to be a winner. While her father ignored her older sister and hid her younger sister, he groomed her to be a hockey player. The Best hockey player. Which is why he chased off Vadim Petrov when he dared to de-virgin-ize Isobel when both were teens.
Now the two have been thrown together again. Vadim has just been drafted to the team Isobel inherited, with her sisters, from her father. And, because he's injured, Isobel is working with him to get him back up to speed. It will result in a player for the team and a new chance for Isobel (her professional career ended after about 20 minutes with a skate to the helmet).
There are a number of stumbling blocks -- she's technically his boss, sleeping with him might look like she's using him to help further her coaching career, their first time together was less than stellar for her... but the chemistry between them is enough to overcome them all.
This wasn't my favorite Meader book. There was a lot of Vad being just SO Russian and it was a little hard to take. I didn't read the first book and didn't feel like I needed to and I am very much looking forward to Dante's love story.

This book comes out December 6
Three stars
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Murder on the Sugarland Express by Angie Fox

Murder on the Sugarland Express by Angie FoxThe book opens with Verity Long celebrating the opening of her boyfriend Ellis' restaurant. Too bad the picture the local paper uses is one of her... in his brother's (her ex) arms. They decide to take a break on the recently re-started Sugarland Express. Frankie (the mobster ghost that Verity connects with) decides that he wants to go along and brings his sweetheart with them. Too bad the ghosts of the people who died on the original Sugarland Express are still on board and at least one is warning Verity that murder is going to happen again.
I liked this book for the way it moved Verity's relationships forward; with Ellis, his brother Beau, and their mother Virginia. The story itself... parts seemed to try to capitalize on <i>Murder on the Orient Express</i> (murder on a train, woman in a kimono) but don't connect and this was one of those books with not a lot going on in the first 3/4 of the book and then a dump of info at the end.

Three stars
This book came out November 25
Follows Sweet Tea and Spirits
ARC provided by NetGalley

The Lady in Red by Kelly Bowen


The Lady in Red by Kelly BowenFor a novella, this was quite a full story. We get Lady Charlotte Beaumont who cannot be considered a good painter because of her gender. Then there is Flynn Rutledge who has not been considered for the Royal Academy because of his background. When these two each get a chance to work on a job together, Charlotte is first brought in as Charlie. Yes, the method of getting her on the job are a little overly complicated and, yes, there is a bit of an overused plot-line but this was a fast read and very enjoyable.

This novella comes out December 5
Three and a half stars
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Monday, November 27, 2017

Final Fall by Heather W. Petty

Final Fall by Heather W. PettyI requested this book from NetGalley thinking that I had read the first book in the series. I had not but I didn't feel like I needed to read either of the first two books in this series to understand the story. There was some back story on why the book opens with Mori in a cell, trapped by her aunt and separated from her brothers.
This book focuses mainly on Mori and her search for revenge. We don't get a lot of "Lock" in this book and their meetings are... I guess the "bittersweet" from the back cover blurb sort of covers it.
Not my favorite update of the Sherlock story but not horrible.

Three stars
This book comes out November 28
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Barking with the Stars by Sparkle Abbey

Barking with the Stars by Sparkle AbbeyCaro Lamont, pet therapist to the stars, is helping to arrange a charity to raise money for a group that provides service dogs to wounded warriors. It's too bad that the charity's headliner, Purple, has been murdered. And it doesn't help that Caro's ex-husband is running around spreading rumors about her. And now he's a suspect in Purple's murder...I like Caro. She doesn't try to solve the murder herself, she calls the cops (well, her cop friend Detective Malone). She's smart, she's confident (mostly), and she believes in herself. I skipped a number of books in this series but was able to pick it up right away.

Four stars
This book came out November 17
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger by Victoria Alexander

The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger by Victoria AlexanderLady Wilhelmina Bascombe lived a carefree, somewhat wild life until her husband died. Then it all came crashing down. It wasn't that she truly loved her husband but she also didn't know how truly in debt they were. The only way she can dig herself out of the hole is to retrieve a priceless family artifact that her husband used as a lien on a loan. 
Her family friends arrange to have her lead a tour of mothers and daughters on the Continent. A cover that will help her hide her true purpose in going to Italy. Too bad one of the tour group's number is actually a man, one who is interested in the painting for his own purposes.

Three stars
This book comes out November 28
Follows The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo WrightThis was a quiet mystery, moving back and forth between the past, when Ivy Thorpe is trying to discover who killed a young girl and shoved her body into a hollow tree, and the present, where Kaine Prescott has moved from California to Wisconsin to rehab a house in the town where her great-great-grandmother grew up.
The writing was not a style that I particularly enjoy and the story was still a bit rough in points. This read more like two half-formed novellas than one story. Still, it was readable and quick.

Three stars
This book came out November 21
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah MorganHarriet Knight has always been the shy twin. She grew up with a stammer that got worse when her father would berate her. Her brother and sister always stuck up for her. It's a habit that has continued into adulthood. And it's annoying Harriet. She's ready to step out on her own and has started daily challenges to help build up her bravery. Too bad she's on the date from hell when the book opens. It ends with a badly sprained ankle. It's in the ER that she meets Doctor Ethan Black. He vaguely notices that she's more polite than most of his patients but then forgets her. He doesn't even recognize her when she comes over to help with his sister's dog; Ethan's taking care of the dog while his sister is taking care of his niece who has broken her leg. Unfortunately, he's doing a terrible job at it. Harriet can't stand to see a creature suffering so she moves in with the doctor while he is taking charge of Madi (the dog). 
This book was so much better than the last in this series. Ethan was fallible and even admitted it. The ending was a bit drawn out but I think that regular "From Manhattan..." readers will not be disappointed.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out November 28
Follows Holiday in the Hamptons
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Of Murder and Men by Lynn Cahoon

Of Murder and Men (Cat Latimer Mystery, #3)It's time for another writer's retreat at Cat Latimer's bed and breakfast. Too bad her business partner Shauna is so involved with her new fiance. Cat's worried about whether she's going to be there to help. She's also worried because Shauna's fiance is a bit of a jerk. But it's still a surprise when he ends up dead. Even more surprising when Shauna becomes the prime suspect. But Cat knows Shauna would never hurt a fly and, more logically, why would she kill the man before they were married?  Even if she was seen with rat poison before the man was killed by that same method.
There is a lot going on in this book including some movement in the storyline of Annie's now-deceased ex-husband. The ending wasn't particularly fairly clued though there were some hints here and there, especially right before the denouement.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out November 28
Follows Fatality by Firelight

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Actor's Life by Jenna Fischer

The Actor's Life by Jenna FischerThis was a nice cross between biography and honest advice from an actor who succeeded in Hollywood. Jenna Fischer outlines her eight-year journey to becoming an overnight sensation. She also gives concrete and (at least from my incredibly un-knowledgeable point of view) good advice on how to be an actor and what you can realistically expect when you move to LA to become a Big Star.

Four stars
This book came out November 14
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Husband by New Year's by Sean D. Young

A Husband by New Year's by Sean D. YoungRenee McClendon has been writing in her journal every since her mother gave her one when she was younger. One of the main things that she write and re-writes is her list of the qualities of a perfect man. When her frenemy challenges Renee to actually find a man who fits all of those qualities, she takes her up. Her dates aren't going well (though work is). Too bad the man that interests her most is the "lowly" chauffeur. But it obviously doesn't bother her that much since she starts dating the man.
Patrick Dunlap isn't a driver in real life; he's the son of the man who owns the very lucrative company. He's in town trying to figure out why the company seems to be hemorrhaging money under his older brother's care. Too bad older brother doesn't seem to want him around. Good thing Renee does.
There was a lot going on in this story; not just the romance but relationships between Renee and her friends, Renee and her family, Patrick and his brother, Patrick and his father... It's a lot to fit into one book. I might've marked this book a little lower but I really appreciated the deftness of the author in adding Christianity to the story. I've had a few books lately where it's been heavy-handed and unappreciated.

Three stars
This book comes out November 13

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Attraction Equation by Kadie Scott

The Attraction Equation by Kadie ScottMax Carter is a pretty rigid dude. He only sleeps with women, he never dates them. This is a practice that gets him into trouble when he blurts out at the family Thanksgiving dinner that his family can stop fixing him up- he's already got a girlfriend. Too bad that's not true. So he decides to blackmail the first woman he sees into being his fake girlfriend.
All Gina Castillo wants to do is sneak a small puppy into her friend's apartment. She doesn't want anyone to know about the dog because her friend might get kicked out. The dog wasn't supposed to be adopted yet since he's a gift for Gina's brother for Christmas which is still a month a way.
This is a romance novel so of course peripatetic Gina and uber-rigid Max are going to fall in love. Did I buy it? The attraction, yes, the long-term possibilities for their relationship? Not as much.

This book comes out November 13
Three stars
ARC provided by NetGalley

Friday, November 10, 2017

Changing Colors by Elyse Springer

Changing Colors by Elyse SpringerTony Quinn likes the world to be well-defined. People go in boxes and that's where they stay. Even in the world of the theater, he manages to keep his life very tidy that way. At least, that's until he meets Gee in a club one night. It's lust at first sight. But then Tony muffs it up. See, Gee is a man who  likes to wear women's clothes. He is not transitioning in any way; he just likes to wear women's clothes. Half the time, he doesn't even shave. And Tony can't handle that. They are together for a short time, then apart for a long time, then together again.
I seem to have picked up several romances lately where one character is rigid and the other one has to make all the changes. That's how I felt about Gee. Here's Tony stepping out of his comfort zone and Gee is shitting all over his efforts. Gee is otherwise so comfortable in his own skin, something you don't get to see often, I wish he hadn't been such a jerk. Then there's the fact that Tony was more or less stalking Gee (or at least his sister had a Google alert out.)

Two stars
This book came out October 23
ARC provided by NetGalley

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering

Murder on the Moor (Drew Farthering Mystery #5)Drew and his wife Madeline are in Scotland for the British Open. They were ostensibly invited by Drew's cousin Lady Rainsby but Lord Rainsby confides that he was the one who wanted Drew to come. But before he can reveal his reasons, Lord Rainsby is murdered.
There are several subplots with Nick trying to drum up the courage to finally ask Carrie to marry him and the search for Drew's long-lost mother continues.
I didn't love the ending of this book. It didn't seem fairly clued. Even the role the mysterious Count has to play is weird and seems tacked on. It's overall a very nice book and it very much makes me want to re-read the first book in the series.

This book came out November 7
Three and a half stars
ARC provided by NetGalley
Follows Murder on the Moor

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Death at the Emerald by R. J. Koreto

Death at the Emerald by R.J. KoretoThirty years ago Lady Beatrice Torrence and her husband disowned their daughter when she became an actress. She comes to Lady Frances Ffolkes for help finding her daughter before she dies. The mystery will take her into the world of the theater and into a myster decades old.
Frances once again teams up with her maid Mallow but this time her husband-to-be also plays some part. I like Hal; he seems like the progressive sort of husband a bicycle-riding suffragette would need.
This was a nice addition to the series. It was a little over the top in places but mostly an enjoyable book that I think regular readers will enjoy.

Three stars
This book came out November 7
ARC provided by NetGalley

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Cici's Journal by Joris Chamblain

Cici's Journal by Joris ChamblainThis is almost like a modern-day Harriet the Spy with a young girl making observations about the world around her and then writing them down.  Like Harriet, Cici makes some missteps in her personal life, her journal becoming more important than her friends or listening to her mother. It's a charming book with a built-in mystery. It is a little preachy and, like most graphic novels, it takes a loooong time to load the pages on an ereader.

Three stars
This book comes out today
ARC provided by NetGalley

Monday, November 6, 2017

Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

Someone to Wed by Mary BaloghPrevious stories in this series had three siblings being proven illegitimate and their cousin coming into the title. Alexander Westcott never wanted to be the Earl of Riverdale. He likes his cousins and he liked his life. But now he's inherited not only the title but land, a crumbling house, and a mountain of debt.
Wren Heyden knows about the debt and she is offering up a solution; marry her and get her inheritance. Alexander is taken aback, especially when he discovers why she's been a recluse for most of her life. They decide that it won't work... until Wren comes to London.
Regular Balogh readers will recognize themes that she's played with before -- long-lost family, a slow build to love, etc. There is a nice balance between bringing back previous characters in the series and setting up for the next book. Regular readers will enjoy this book.

Four stars
This book comes out November 7
ARC provided by NetGalley
Follows Someone to Hold

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Christmas at the Graff by Kaylie Newell

Christmas at the Graff by Kaylie NewellJemma Banks isn't going to be in Marietta for long. She's just here to help the father who abandoned her as a child. To say she has mixed emotions is an understatement. And meeting her father's friend/pysical therapist, EJ Corpa doesn't help her sort those feelings at all.
The man is handsome as heck and really seems to see Jemma's father as, well, a father-figure.  And while he says repeatedly that he's not interested in long-term relationships, he seems to have a heart as big as the mountains they climb to find the perfect Christmas tree.
This was mostly an okay book except that EJ was sort of a creepy person. He was controlling, never even tried to see Jemma's side of the story, and kept having thoughts about how to kidnap Jemma. I soldiered through to the end of the book but it was a near thing.

This book came out November 1
Two stars
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Monday, October 30, 2017

Ring In the Year with Murder by Auralee Wallace

Ring in the Year with Murder by Auralee WallaceErica and Freddie are back in another madcap adventure. The story starts with a hangover and then resets at New Year's Eve. Our first person narrator, Erica, and her BFF Freddie are working with Rhonda Cooke to get Otter Lake Security off the ground. They're having trouble though since Rhonda's PI license hasn't come through yet. Erica is trying to be upbeat declaring her theme of the year to be The Year of The Adult., even it means spending New Year's Eve with her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend. And Rhonda's cousin who she keeps threatening to set up with Erica's flame/crush/could-have-been, Matthew. Something happens during the night but Erica's memory is rather... spotty.
This is a back and forth between "present" and the night before. I've never really connected with this series. My biggest problem is the fact that Erica doesn't seem to be growing as an investigator or as a person. Freddie either. Four books in and you'd think that there would be some change. People who have enjoyed the other books in this series may enjoy this one as well those with frustrations... this book doesn't change any of those.

This book comes out October 31
Three stars
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Fourth Ruby by James R. Hannibal

The Fourth Ruby by James R. HannibalSince their last adventure a year ago, Jack and Gwen haven't been speaking too much. Jack has been working with another (more advanced) Quartermaster while also keeping another secret... he might be losing his power. It's no wonder Gwen hasn't been talking to him lately.
The book opens with Jack being in the middle of the Hunt (an annual game) and betraying the fact that he can spark. Keeping that secret causes him to get kicked out of the Hunt. Life doesn't get any better after he gets set up for the theft of the Royal Crown jewels. And just like that, Jack, Gwen and even his sister Sophie are off on a trip that will take them to exotic locales.
This book started off both slow and confusing. If you haven't read the first book, I would definitely suggest starting there. It did get better though and I am looking forward to the third book in the series.

Three stars
This book comes out October 1
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Thread the Halls by Lea Wait

Thread the Halls by Lea WaitThe Mainely Needlepoint group is ready to celebrate Christmas but an unexpected guest shows up and brings even more people with her. Patrick's mother, the famous film star Skye, is going to spend Christmas in Maine. It seems that the actors on her latest film aren't getting along and there is some hope that a group vacation will do them some good. Too bad one of the actors gets killed the night they arrive. Especially disappointing after all of the hard work Angie and her friends put in trying to make the house festive.
I haven't read the other books in the series but felt fine jumping in at number 6. I liked the character development and most of the story but the end of the book was just... disappointing. The entire wrap up took something like, 10 pages? An okay dip into this series but one I won't continue.

Two an a half stars
This book comes out October 31
This book was provided as an ARC by NetGalley

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Auction Action by Andrew Grey

Auction Action by Andrew  GreyFor a 35 page novella, this was a surprisingly good story. It's two men who meet at an auction. One man wins a painting that the other wants. Then they meet again at a gay bar and enter into a... relationship? Maybe? It's an incredibly short story and I don't go for erotica but for the length, etc. ... not a bad way to spend 15 minutes.

Three and a half stars
This novella comes out November 2
Kindly provided as an ARC from NetGalley

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

MAD Librarian by Michael Guillebeau

MAD LibrarianIn a tragic mirror of real life Serenity Hammer is a librarian who has to fight for every penny to keep her library open. But the Powers That Be won't oil just any squeaky wheel, just the ones that oil them back. So Serenity decides that she's going to take matters into her own hands, whether it's legal or not.
As a former librarian, this book really hit home. The story is a good one. The execution... (sigh). The writing is rather stilted; it makes the reading less than smooth. Characters are just a little too broad and stereotypical. This was obviously a labor of love and I like that some proceeds from the sale go to a library but I probably wouldn't generally recommend this book.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out December 1
ARC kindly provided by NetGalley

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James

Wilde in Love (The Wildes of Lindow Castle, #1)Lord Alaric, third son of a duke, is known more popularly in England as Lord Wilde. His travel books have made him famous but the play written about him has made him notorious. When he returns home, he is stalked by women everywhere. He is set up as a teen heartthrob. Well, and older women as well. But he is not impressed. These women know a facsimile of him, not the man who misses his oldest brother, the man who might just be ready to come home.
Willa Ffynche is not one of the screaming hordes. She is more impressed by dead explorers than by one man who is more than likely exaggerating most of what he's written. Too bad the man is just as handsome as the rumors say. She'll have to get over her own fear of being in the spot light to grab the man she loves.
I didn't love the fact that the ending went on. And on. And on. There were THREE epilogues. Well, two were supposedly more chapters but... it just kept going.
I did love the world building. Alaric has many, many siblings. His oldest brother, now the heir to the dukedom, fell in love with a woman at first sight. He dressed in the high fashion of the day in order to impress her. But she still ran away. I'm assuming we'll get to read North and Diana's story at some point.
Also sequel-bait? Both Willa and Alaric's best friends. Lavinia and Parth can't stop fighting which, in Romancelandia means that they are perfect for each other.

Three stars
This book comes out October 31

Totally His by Erin NIcholas

Totally His by Erin NicholasSophie Birch grew up with a father who was a con man (what is the deal with romance heroine's named Sophie always having con men fathers?). Obviously, this has made her fairly wary of relationships in her adult life, even with her roommates (the heroines of the first two books in this series). Except... it's different with Angela. Sophie sees her as a sort of surrogate mother. And that's the reason she tries to run back into her burning theater; to save the only copy of Angela's play. Too bad some dude keeps trying to rescue her.
Finn Kelly is trying to keep a crazy lady from running into a building but can still take the time to appreciate how hot she looks in the lingerie she's wearing. He can tell she's not the sort of woman who's going to fit into his life but he is drawn to her anyway. Even after meeting her father (this cop can tell when he's being played), he wants to know more and more about her.
This was a typical Nicholas book that I think regular readers will enjoy. I got SO annoyed with both Sophie and Finn though. Finn seemed to have a hero complex that was unwarranted and Sophie was so wishy-washy.

Three stars
This book comes out October 31
Kindly provided as an ARC by NetGalley

Monday, October 23, 2017

Right Where We Belong by Brenda Novak

Right Where We Belong by Brenda NovakSavanna Gray didn't know her husband was a serial rapist. But once the town found out, she became a pariah. So she packed up her two kids and took them to the house she had inherited from her parents. She's never been there, it's barely livable, but she's going to go anyway. Thank goodness the guy next door is willing to help her out.
Gavin Turner just wants to work on his music and live his life. He'd rather his ex-girlfriend were a little farther away but she seems happy in her new relationship. The new neighbor is hot so he doesn't mind helping her out.
The two almost immediately start hooking up which then leads into True Love and Happily Ever After.
Novak does a great job of portraying people in hard circumstances. Savanna isn't the only one with emotional scars. I got a good idea of why she and Gavin got together but couldn't really see them working out longer than that. I didn't see the ties. And I really disliked the "crazy ex-girlfriend" storyline.

Three stars
This book comes out October 31

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Gin and Panic by Maia Chance

Gin and Panic by Maia ChanceThis is the first book I'd read in this series but it didn't take long for me to catch up to what was going on. Lola Woodby is the main character in this book. She's supposed to be part of society but doesn't really have the money for it. She and her former cook, Berta, have opened up a "discreet retrieval agency" in order to make ends meet. In this book, she's supposed to have a simple retrieval, getting a rhino's head off a hunters wall. But it turns into diamond smuggling and murder and nothing is what it seems.
I thought this would be a fun mystery novel and for some readers it may be. It was just a bit too cutesy for me. Lola was actually pretty annoying what with not actually working on solving the case... ever. And she's food-focused? How is that new or interesting in a female detective?

Two and a half stars
This book comes out October 24

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Cycling Wangdoos by Kelly Pulley

The Cycling Wangdoos by Kelly PulleyI read this book with a two- and a five-year-old. There was a little too much text on some of the pages to keep the two-year-old's interest. But they mainly seemed to enjoy the pictures. The theme (teamwork is important) is great and the rhythm of the rhymes was very nice. I'm not sure if my ARC was damaged in some way but the book ended really abruptly; it would have been nice to do a wrap up of realization that everyone was doing their part rather than having the book end at the trophies.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 24

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Unqualified by Anna Faris

Unqualified by Anna FarisIf you've ever listened to the podcast, you've got a good idea of what this book is going to be like. If Faris had a ghostwriter, that person captured her voice perfectly. A lot of these stories have also been part of the podcast. And then there's the super-awkwardness of having your ex-husband not only do your introduction, but be referred to by "my sweet husband" in all of the stories that include him. I have a feeling this will be a fabulous audiobook.
If you like Hollywood bios, you'll like this book. If you like Anna Faris, you'll like this book.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 24

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers

Loving a holiday story and being a fan of anthologies, I requested this ARC from NetGalley. It is, as described, an eclectic mix of sixteen stories that span the subgenres of mystery from noir to cozy. There are stories with Santas but some without but all take place at the Christmas season. It is a nice collection with authors that were mostly new to me. There really are stories from around the world including England, France, Vietnam, China to name a few. There are also several time periods covered, early 1800s, early 1900s, 1970s, 1980s, present day.
An enjoyable collection.

Four stars
This book comes out October 24

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How the Finch Stole Christmas! by Donna Andrews

How the Finch Stole Christmas! (Meg Langslow #22)It’s Christmas in Caerphilly once again. This year brings Michael directing A Christmas Carol but, instead of a one-man show, it’s a full-on play. The university is insisting he bring in an aging B-list (on a good day) television actor in as Scrooge. Too bad the man is not only ill-tempered, he’s drunk more often than not, even with the mayor threatening retaliation to anyone who gives the man liquor. And Meg Langslow’s usual web of spies can’t figure out where the man is getting his booze.
While it might be expected that the grumpy actor is the one to get bumped off, it is actually the man who is supplying him the alcohol. Oh, and seems to be illegally smuggling animals at the same time.

This is your usual Langslow book though lately I’ve felt like the books have fallen into the trap of some other long-time series – there is a certain smugness combined with seemingly miraculous fixes at the end. This has always been a fast, fun, and fluffy series without a lot of depth but the ending on the last couple books have felt more… judge-y than usual. 

Three stars
This book comes out October 24
Follows Gone Gull

Monday, October 16, 2017

Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Christmastime Cowboy (Copper Ridge, #10)Sabrina and Liam have a past. One that ended badly and scarred both of them for years. It even spiraled to the point where Sabrina is estranged with her father. She now works in the family's vineyard... which no longer belongs to the family since her brother cheated on his wife. Sabrina sided with her (not the reason for the estrangement but it certainly isn't helping since her brother is the family's golden child.)
Liam's family is trying to branch out their dairy program and think that partnering with the vineyard will be a perfect way to do so. Unaware of her past with Liam, Sabrina's boss assigns her to work with him.
Watching these two get back together was interesting. Liam didn't exactly sleep with Sabrina and then discard her but he was still an asshat, even thirteen years later. I didn't love the end of Sabrina's storyline with her father but it was overall a sweet book that regular Yates readers will enjoy.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 24

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm by Dana Simpson

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm by Dana SimpsonPhoebe and her unicorn are back and as adorable as ever. This time they not only have to deal with Dakota and her goblins but with a serious cold spell and a sudden lack of magic. Marigold and the goblins are able to figure out most of the story but they still have work to do to clear everything up. Through their explorations, they manage to charm the reader as well as help facilitate another human/magical creature pairing. All this and yet there is time for a costume montage.

Four stars
This book comes out October 17

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines

Capital Gaines by Chip GainesIf you’ve picked up this book, you probably already know why Chip Gaines is famous. And if you already know why he’s famous, you’ve probably already heard his voice and know the way he thinks. This book is on point for that. Chip and Joanne wrote a book that describe much of their lives, both apart and together. In this book, he goes a little bit deeper into his own thought processes as well as a little bit more into the history of the Magnolia shop and ideas. He’s a big proponent of listening to your gut, even if it means sometimes not waiting for evidence. And he’s not only a fan of listening to his own gut, he helps Joanna when she wants to listen to hers.

Four stars
This book come out October 17

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis

Holiday Wishes (Heartbreaker Bay, #4.5)In high school, Lotti was the ultimate good girl while Sean was the bad boy. One night, she was trying to comfort him (I guess?) and they lost their virginity to each other. Since then, Sean has pretty much just been bed-hopping while Charlotte (she's grown-up now) has been a serial monogamist.
They've met again because Sean reserved Lotti's B&B as the place to host his brother and all of their friends for his brother's wedding. Now the two are forced together because a giant storm has made all the roads impassible. It also gives them time to get to know one another as adults.
This was pretty good for a novella. There is never enough time for character development or really getting into a romance but it was a light, fun read that fans of Shalvis will enjoy.

Three stars
This novella comes out October 18

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Pride and Prejudice and MistletoeIn this gender-flipped, updated version of the beloved P&P, Darcy Fitzwilliams is high-powered, beautiful, and rich. She doesn't get home to Pemberley, Ohio very often but her mother has suffered a heart attack so she's back for the Christmas season. She's been "dating" a family friend, Carl for eight years on and off but hasn't been able to commit. It is that lack of commitment that caused an estrangement between she and her father. It's at her parents annual party that she realizes another reason she hasn't committed, there are no sparks. At least, not like the sparks she's getting with Luke Bennett. They've had a contentious relationship since high school and it's morphed into... well, one hot kiss. But then they get engaged quickly afterward. To other people.
This book had a nice start but it veered too far from the original story. The best adaptations show the author's love for the original work but I didn't really even get that de la Cruz had even read P&P much less enjoyed it. The heart of that book are the relationships that already exist between the main characters and the new ones they are starting to build. Elizabeth and Luke barely interacted.
I liked that Darcy's best friend Bingley was still male and that he fell in love with one of Luke's brothers. But then there was a lot of exposition that was just... bleh. And Luke's explanations for his behavior both in present day and in high school were just gross.

Two stars
This book comes out

Monday, October 9, 2017

Murder Over Mochas by Caroline Fardig

Murder Over Mochas by Caroline FardigI was more than a little trepidatious when requesting this book from NetGalley. The previous couple of books have pissed me off more than made me smile from enjoyment of reading. This book cleared up most of my issues. Juliet is finally settling in to being a PI. She's not bumbling around but actually doing her job. Well, sort of. It seems she needs to use her developing skills to prove that she didn't kill her ex-fiancĂ©. The one who stole her life. The one who just walked back into it. The one she punched in the nose.
I didn't love the crossover. Maybe those who regularly read about Lizzie and Blake would enjoy. I did love that the romance triangle (quadrangle?) is finally resolved.

Four stars
This book comes out October 24

With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

With This Christmas RingThe cover blurb on this one is a bit misleading. Miss Merry Parks isn't exactly a wallflower. After all, she was once engaged to Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham. That was, admittedly five years ago and she hasn't gone out much in society since but she's about to come face-to-face with the man again because of a deathbed promise.
Alex is delighted to see Merry. He never understood why she left him so many years ago.  He might have been happier had she not shown up with a baby in tow. But when he finds out it is his cousin's child and her mother is dead, his disappointment knows no ends. As the head of the family, he is duty-bound to make sure that the child is well cared for. If that means he can wrangle some extra time with Merry... well, okay.
It's always nice to have novellas where the two main characters already know each other. It means an author can skip the meet cute and head straight to the HEA. The ending  was a little TOO happy, happy, joy, joy it-was-actually-misunderstandings all around for me but a nice enough read anyway.

Three stars
This novella came out October 3

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Fowl Language: The Struggle Is Real by Brian Gordon

Fowl Language by Brian  GordonThis was an interesting read as an ebook in that a lot of the punchlines would be on the next page-- an extra swipe and some processing time really disrupted some of the flow of the book. I would definitely get this as a paper book. Those who love Brian Gordon though will still enjoy this book.

Three stars
This book comes out October 10

Friday, October 6, 2017

Necessary Roughness by Julie Brannagh

Necessary Roughness by Julie BrannaghTanner Cole was a football star until one bad tackle took him out of the game. Now he’s just struggling to get through rehab and move on with his life. Too bad he doesn’t really know what he wants to do. Physical therapy is not one of the things, he knows that. Too bad his physical therapist is dealaing with his own mending after a car accident which means that Tanner is about to get reassigned.
Jordan loves her job. No, like really, enjoys going to work every day. Until she meets Mr. Full-of-Himself Tanner. Him, she doesn’t like. His house, she does. And since she needs a place to live (not a great plot point) and he has space (and the hots for her), she moves in. So that she can be his in-house physical therapist. Or something. Living together leads the two to believe that the sparks between them might be more than just annoyance with each other.
Wow. This book REALLY struggled with pacing issues. The first 2/3ds was just a discussion of how much Tanner and Jordan really disliked each other with some growth toward friendship. Then, suddenly, in the space of 10 or so pages, they’re suddenly desperately in love and dying to be together even though they’re geographically apart. And whatever happened with Star? She was set up to be a much larger plot point and then just ended up as the psycho ex-girlfriend.
If this weren’t from an author I know could do better, I don’t feel like I’d be as disappointed.

This book comes out October 10

Two and a half stars

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Hope for Christmas by Stacy Finz

Hope for Christmas by Stacy FinzIn a previous Nugget book, we met Emily and Clay McCreedy. She's a famous cookbook author while he's a rancher. They've created a blended family with his two sons but Emily can't ever forget her daughter. Especially now that there are calls claiming that somebody has her. After seven years, can it possibly be true? And what does that mean? Not only for Emily but for her ex-husband and his new wife.
A nice addition to the Nugget series. I like that everything wasn't solved neatly and some ties were left undone. This is definitely not a story for people who haven't read the rest of the series.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 10

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki

Lumberjanes by Mariko TamakiI love the Lumberjanes, their friendships, their propensity for exploring, and the tongue-in-cheek stories. This chapter book continues all of those properties created in the graphic novels. And I might have liked this book even just a teeny bit more because we got more story in this book. We've got the adventure (climbing the highest mountain; one that didn't seem to have been there before), the supernatural (the Cloud People), and the humor (the unicorns smell bad, really, really bad.)
Definitely worth reading.

Four stars
This book comes out October 10

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Homicide for the Holidays by Cheryl Honigford

Homicide for the Holidays by Cheryl HonigfordIt's the Christmas season but Vivian is not so merry. She's back at the family mansion for a command performance and has stumbled on a secret key in her father's study. It's a key that opens up a drawer that has been locked for eight years, since her father's death. In it, a mysterious envelope filled with cash. But it has disappeared when Viv next goes back to look for it. It's a mystery that Viv isn't sure she wants to explore, delving deep into the last few weeks of her father's life. Even though it is eight years past, this murder has repercussions that ripple into Viv's life today.
I'm not sure about the ending on this one. And the story is just a little confused. I am still looking forward to the next one in the series.

Three stars
This book comes out October 3

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay CurrieIt wasn't Tessa Woodward's decision to move her family from Florida to Chicago. And it certainly wasn't her decision to move them a month after school started. Nor is she especially excited to live in a haunted house. And it's... really haunted. Like, not just a little haunted. The ghost is even communicating through her brother's ventriloquist's dummy. AS if that weren't creepy enough to start with.
But, at least it does help lead her to making friends. While Tessa doesn't actually believe in ghosts, her new friends are willing to help her do research in order to solve her problem.
While 3/4 of the book was fairly intriguing, the end was WAY too sappy for me.

Three stars
This book comes out October 10

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Bachelor Games by Daire St. Denis

Bachelor Games by Daire St. DenisBecca and Grace have always been a team. Grace is the beauty while Becca is the brains. And even though Grace is the elder, Becca has been protecting her since high school. And that’s what Becca plans on doing during the latest contest at a resort in the Caribbean. The prize is a date with a billionaire eligible bachelor, Calum Price.
But it’s not Grace who gets a seat next to Cal on the flight to the Caribbean, it’s Becca. And it’s the plain, brainy, slightly mouthy sister who captures the man’s attention. Sure, Grace is nice enough, but she’s not the one who arouses his… curiosity.
I should have figured, this being a part of the “Blaze” series, that this book would have some sex scenes that were less than vanilla. They’re not my favorite but I think regular readers will enjoy the book as a whole.

Three stars

This book comes out October 9

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran KramerI was intrigued by the premise of this book. You've got a Southern matchmaker, Macy Frost, meeting a Northerner who just wants to have fun, Deacon Banks. Macy takes her matchmaking role very seriously. How could she not? She comes from a family of matchmakers who may or may not be descended from Cupid himself.
Deacon Banks is a confident tech entrepreneur (isn't that nice and vague?) who just wants to make his aunt happy this Christmas season by appearing to be searching for his true love. As long as the women know what the score is, why would it be a problem? Except that Macy seems to want him to concentrate on true love and Deacon's wondering why he can't be matched to the matchmaker.
I thought I knew Kramer's name and at the end of story, I finally remembered why. I have tried at least a couple of her books before but there is something about her writing that I just do not connect to. Not her fault or mine, it's just not a good match. I really liked the idea of this book and I think her regular readers will be more than satisfied.

Three stars
This book comes out October 3

Hello Again by Brenda Novak

Hello Again by Brenda NovakEvelyn Talbot is still working in Alaska trying to decipher the secrets of some of the world's worst serial killers. In this story, she is concentrating on Lyman Bishop, a man who liked to lobotomize his victims. But was he wrongly convicted?
At the same time, she's trying to figure out whether the murder of a woman from her high school class was perpetrated by Evelyn's high school sweetheart, the one who murdered three of her friends and tried to murder Evelyn.
I liked the short story that started this book, the first book a little less, and this one even a little less. The overall arc for Evelyn is just so slow moving. She's more or less the same woman we met in the short story. You'd think that events would change her more. I think people who enjoyed the first book will like this one but this may be the end of the road on the series for me.

Three stars
This book comes out October 4
Follows Her Darkest Nightmare

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Human Workplace by Andy Swann

The Human Workplace by Andy SwannNonfiction books, especially books about the workplace can get a little dry. This book was very readable and eminently pragmatic. Definitely a British book, I think there are still applications for those of us in America. My personal takeaway was that you need to have the right person in the right place doing the right actions to make a successful workplace. This is a little more touchy-feely than most of the work-related books I've read and a little bit more than I really wanted in a workplace book but overall a nice read.

Four stars
This book comes out October 3

A Talent for Temptation by Sabrina Jeffries

A Talent for Temptation by Sabrina JeffriesMeriel Vyse isn't sure about the way her life is going. She has been working for her husband's brother as a spy but she hates the work. And getting to know Quinn Raines has really made her long for a normal life.
Quinn Raines is also in love with Meriel which is why he fakes a kidnapping (really?) so that he can "rescue" her. Little does he know she's perfectly capable of rescuing herself. He finds out when she pulls a knife from her reticule and stabs him.
At under 50 pages, that really is pretty much the whole story. It's a nice story though short. Very, very short.

Three stars
This book comes out October 2