Monday, July 31, 2017

Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery

In the first book in this series, we learned a lot about Mathias Mitchell. He's an artist, he sleeps with the numerous bridesmaids that come through their destination-wedding town, and he's entranced by his neighbor, Carol Lund. Well, it's just a flinch, but this is a romance series so we all know what's what.
Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery
Carol considers herself a peahen (which, thank god, she let go of after the three times it was mentioned in the first chapter. She's a gamekeeper in her family's recycling center/game preserve and she has a massive crush on Mathias. But they're friends and she doesn't want to ruin that. Plus, he only goes after peacocks (which is not a good analogy, especially for someone who knows animals).
For his part, Mathias is fascinated by Carol. And also more than a little hesitant. His parents have a ... strange relationship and he doesn't want to pull Carol into the maelstrom that is sure to result if he falls in love.
Mallery often twines love stories in her shorter series and stand-alones but she did it in this book as well, linking Carol's sister to a handsome duke.
There were moments that were a little too twee and we didn't get to see as much of Carol and Mathias because of the B plot but I am very much enjoying this series and am looking forward to Ronan's story

This book comes out September 26
Four stars

Sunday, July 30, 2017

PTL by John Wigger

PTL by John WiggerI have been interested in the PTL because I live near the CUT and my interest has expanded to the wider religious field. This book was interesting but would have been better served by being cut down by about 100 pages. At least 50. There was a LOT of extraneous information that felt like filler. There were several times where I thought, "Oh, it's coming to an end" and, when I looked, there were still a hundred pages left. Other than that, this was a nice book with a lot of behind-the-scenes.

Three stars
This book comes out August 2

Saturday, July 29, 2017

An Earl by Any Other Name by Lauren Smith

An Earl by Any Other Name by Lauren   SmithI was excited to read a new-to-me author. And the blurb sounded pretty good. Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton, is saddled with a debt-ridden estate on the death of his father. The rather scandalous death of his father. He needs to marry well in order to save the family coffers. He has a woman in mind but his mother and Ivy Leighton think that she is the better choice. Of course, she's brash and loud, not what Leopold wants. Or so he thinks.
This could have been a nice book if it were only longer. At under 100 pages, we don't really get to know that much about Leopold or Ivy. I wish we had gotten to see more of Leopold's journey from rake to stolid family man. Or learned more about why Ivy was still so obsessed with Leopold years after they were children.

Two and a half stars.
This book comes out August 1

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Gone Gull by Donna Andrews

Gone Gull by Donna AndrewsThe book opens with Meg Langslow helping her grandmother Cordelia run Cordelia's artist retreat. There have been several incidents of misbehavior as well as some out right sabotage. Both Meg and her grandmother suspect the work of another artist cooperative, one that is not as well run (because Meg's family does everything flawlessly).
However, when the mischief escalates to murder, Meg is not amused. Then a second body turns up.
Regular Andrews readers will probably be delighted. I was little bummed that we didn't get a little more character development but there isn't usually a ton in these books.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out August 1
Follows Die Like an Eagle
Followed by How the Finch Stole Christmas

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 BooksThere's unfortunately not a lot to say about this book. Martin Edwards has put together several good anthologies of classic mysteries based on various themes: crimes on the continent, locked room mysteries, winter crimes. Here, he writes short descriptions of the 100 books that have helped to frame mysteries as we know them today. These are not the 100 best books by anyone's standards but it is a nice mix of names that I knew and names that were new to me.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out August 1

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying by Amanda Hosch

Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules For Spying by Amanda HoschMabel Opal Pear is not your ordinary almost-11-year-old. For one thing, her parents are spies. For another, she's a spy-in-training. She knows immediately that something is wrong when her parents disappear and her Aunt Stella, Uncle Frank, and Cousin Victoria show up. Victoria is mean, Frank is clueless and Stella is something else. Normally Aunt Gertie takes care of Mabel but she's in jail. So it's up to Mabel to not only run the family spoon museum but also figure out the mystery.
I couldn't quite get into Mabel's world. I'm not sure where the connection was missing. It seemed like a serviceable story with some interesting world-building but... not for me.

Three stars
This book comes out August 1

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty and the Beast by Jerry Mahoney

My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty and the Beast by Jerry MahoneyI wasn't sure what this book would be and I think that helped me enjoy it a little bit more. It appears to be at least the second book in a series since our main characters, Maddie and Holden, get sucked into a fairy tale and quickly take it in stride.
Of course, the main lesson that Maddie learns is that beauty is on the inside and I'm not sure what the irrepressible Holden learns but I enjoyed that there was a twist on the Beauty and the Beast trope with Maddie hopping into Beauty but Holden becoming a whole new side character. One who doesn't speak French. In France.
A fun book and I look forward to reading another in the series.

This book comes out August 1
Four stars

Thursday, July 20, 2017

All or Nothing at All by Jennifer Probst

All or Nothing at All by Jennifer ProbstWhen she was younger, Sydney Green loved Tristan Pierce fiercely. She didn't have a lot of love in her life and she was able to find a little with Tristan until he unceremoniously dumped her. Now they've been working together at the Pierce Brothers Construction. And he's the only one standing between her and what she wants, a giant promotion. Well, she's damn good at her job so he doesn't stand in her way for long. It seems like a lot of their old hurts are being mended. Tristan is even taking some interest in Sydney's daughter, something he didn't seem to be able to do for a long time. Now there's just one more secret left to be told...
I didn't love how they resolved this secret. It was a bit... contrived. This was not my favorite Probst series though this actually was the best book in the bunch.

Three books
This book  comes out July 25

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Marry Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

Marry Me at Willoughby Close by Kate HewittThis book is a very sweet romance. A very sweet romance. With a heroine that is sweet. And a heroine whose hard outer shell hides his sweetness. It was... a lot of sweet.
Alice James has just aged out of the foster care system. She has nowhere to go. Until she's hired to be the companion for a dying woman, Lady Dorothy Stokely. Too bad her nephew isn't as charmed by Alice.
I didn't feel like I needed to have read another book in this series. There weren't giant swathes that I felt like I was missing. This book was just a little too ... sweet. There wasn't a lot of depth to either the story or any of the characters. I have a feeling this will be a book that will appear to readers who like stories with young heroines and treacly romance.

Three stars
This book came out July 18

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Until You Loved Me by Brenda Novak

Until You Loved Me by Brenda NovakI read the first chapter of this book at the end of No One but You and was immediately entranced. Yes, this is a surprise baby BUT it's a result of a failed condom (which happens, at least they were being responsible) and she responsibly lets him know about the baby... as soon as she figures out his last name.
I liked watching these two fall in love. Ellie's last relationship ended when when walked  in on her coworker/fiance with his (male) best friend... who is also a coworker. The biggest problem I had with the book was how these two were portrayed. Yay for homosexual representation. Boo for making them both so thoroughly unlikable (aka The Bad Guys.)
Yay also for the representation of Hudson King, a football player who seems like a generally  nice guy, doesn't sleep around. He's got some demons-- like being left in a bush as a baby and now being blackmailed. His drama (and dramatics) were a bit overwhelming but Ellie handles it all like an adult which was incredibly refreshing.

Four stars
This book comes out July 25
Follows No One But You

Monday, July 17, 2017

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen PetersenI didn't even read the description of this book; I loved the title so much I requested it from NetGalley. And really, really enjoyed it. Petersen takes aspects of what women aren't supposed to be in today's culture and applies it to famous women. Melissa McCarthy is too fat, Nicky Minaj is too slutty, etc. Then she dissects why these women (and their adjectives) are so divisive. Is it the women themselves or the norms that they're bucking?
A highly enjoyable book and a fast read.

This book came out June 20
Four stars

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mind Over Matter by Nora Roberts

Mind Over MatterThis book was originally published in 1994 and I should have suspected that I had read it before but the description on NetGalley didn't sound familiar. Once I started reading the story, I did remember more. While it feels a wee bit dated, this book actually isn't too bad for being 23 years old. Hero David Brady is a little alpha-male-ish but it's not any worse than some of the more recent books I've read. He's a big-shot documentarian (think Ken Burns) who is doing a show on psychics.
AJ Fields is the agent for one of those psychics, Clarissa. But she's reluctant to put Clarissa to yet another battery of tests. And she's even more reluctant to explore the draw she's feeling for David. But we get to see the two of them fall in love, figure out their relationship, and find their HEA.

The ebook comes out July 17
Three and a half stars

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Women In Sports by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women In Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to WinI really enjoyed the layout of this book. Each of the women got a page describing their feats as well as trivia around the edges of the main text. They author chose fifty women and showed how they contributed to a wide range of sports.
It got a little wearing after a while to read these short snippets. It didn't hold my attention. So while this book may not have been a good fit for me, someone who loves short, tight writing in their informative fiction might really enjoy this book.

Three stars
This book comes out July 18

Friday, July 14, 2017

Heart Stop by Radclyffe

Heart Stop by RadclyffeOlivia Price is peeved. She has narrowed down her choices for the three fellowship positions but has just been told that she must make room for Jay Reynolds. She's definitely not enthused. Especially after meeting Jay.
Jay isn't exactly sure that she wants to move into the morgue after having been a trauma surgeon. Being a surgeon was the culmination of a lifelong dream. Working with dead people. Not so much. Until she starts working with the delectable Olivia Price and Jay realizes exactly how much she can learn.
A nice short story but there is a lot of overlap from previous books in the series which means we don't get as much of Jay and Olivia's story as I would have liked.

Three stars
This book comes out July 18

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Bonnie and the Beast by Alexa Black

Bonnie and the Beast by Alexa BlackAt 26 pages, this was a really, really short book that was mostly... well, it wasn't character development, that's for sure. It would have made a nice first chapter for a book but since it was set up as being an entire book... not as enjoyable.
This is a twist on Beauty and the Beast where the Beast is a woman who actually seems to have grown to enjoy her beast-hood. Bonnie (our erstwhile Beauty), meanwhile, has a few more tricks up her sleeve than just looking good.

Three stars
This book comes out July 19

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon

Killer Party by Lynn CahoonJill Gardner is getting used to living with her sheriff boyfriend Greg and now she's joining him and his  high school friends at a local museum/historical site/hotel-ish type thing. Levi, it seems, is about to get married and he wants a bachelor party weekend. But Jill is not amused when it seems like the men's needs come first while the women are left to fend for themselves. And Greg's high school friends seem stuck in the past and that includes a lot of juvenile behavior. Don't even get her started on the groom-to-be. When he ends up dead in a pool, there are a number of suspects. The friend who invested with Levi and lost his life savings is one. Then there's Levi's fiancee who seems to be hiding something. There's a mysterious disappearance from the men's past that might be coming up again.
One of my frustrations with this book is that there are a lot of well-developed possibilities for the killer but the end comes out of left field. Mid-left field because I saw it coming but I really hoped that it wasn't so. And that ending? Ufda.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out July 18

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Spellbinder by Thea Harrison

Spellbinder by Thea HarrisonHow do you take the villain from the first book, and not just the villain, but, like, a super bad no good horrible very bad villain, and make him the hero of your second book? Well, somehow Thea Harrison manages.
In  Moonshadow, a gender-flipped, slightly differently spelled Morgan le Fae is a wicked wizard/lycanthrope. In this book he's revealed to be a slave to the evil Isabeau, bound to follow her every command. So when she commands him not to come into her sight until he's healed, Morgan takes full advantage and makes plans to stay injured for as long as possible. While he's "on vacation," he hears about Sidonie Martel. She is a fabulous violinist and Morgan has always been drawn to music even if he doesn't play anymore. He, like many of her audience, is completely entranced. Too bad his interest brings Sidonie to the attention of Robin/Puck who kidnaps Sidonie and delivers her to Isabeau in an effort to get even with Morgan.
Sidonie has no idea what's going on. One minute she's on the road after a concert, the next she's in Avalon, the prisoner of vindictive queen who has her hands broken. But then, a mysterious force comes to heal her and protect her. Over time, she learns to trust this man she doesn't see, but isn't sure how they can ever be together.
A lovely story that continues the world-building I enjoyed in the first book.

Four stars
This book comes out July 18

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne BrockmannSuzanne Brockmann, in the past, has been at the forefront of contemporary authors; revamping tired cliches, showing that protection is sexy, and creating stories for the current day. And this book continues that trend. A diverse (but not forced) cast of characters come together in a story that is on the lighter end (sometimes there are some DARK themes) of the Brockmann spectrum.
I missed the novella that introduced Lieutenant Peter Greene so I did feel a little behind on the story, but that may have been because I'm used to having so much history on previous heroes and  heroines. He's struggling. Like, a lot. This isn't a secret-baby story because he knew he had a daughter, he just didn't get to spend a lot of time with her until her mother died. She's sullen and withdrawn but he doesn't realize that might be out of the ordinary until she disappears.
Shayla Whitman is a divorced romance writer (LOVE THIS CHARACTER) who is sort of peripherally aware of her SEAL neighbor but doesn't really connect with him until he's standing in the middle of the road trying to get someone to pull over and help him.
A lot of action and sexy times. A REALLY fast story and an epilogue that didn't need to happen. Overall, a highly enjoyable book that Brockmann fans will adore.

Four stars
This book comes out July 11

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan MalleryGriffith Burnett knows why tulip farmer Kelly Murphy is avoiding him. After he insulted her fairly cruelly in high school, he deserves a little bit of a cold shoulder. But also wants her to get over it because he wants to get with her.
Kelly has more issues that just an overzealous suitor. Her sister is home for the first time years and Kelly has to admit that she had a large part in helping to have her sister sent to boarding school. Also in town as a surprise? The mother who had a number of embarrassingly public affairs and then walked out on them all. And then there's her best friend who's harboring a secret crush on Kelly's father....
Olivia Murphy isn't exactly loving her life either. Her father sent her away as a teenager and, though Olivia has built a life for herself, she's not really sure it's a life that she wants. Maybe going home will help her clear her head.
I didn't love the main hero, Griffith. I think he was supposed to be forceful but was mostly sort of a jerk. And Kelly has an issue that I felt was not handled well. Olivia was a nice addition but she had too many problems that got solved way too quickly without any build or tension.

Three Stars
This book comes out July 11

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes; Jo Piazza

Fitness Junkie by Lucy SykesA book of our times: an obsession with weight, a plethora of today's trends in exercising, and the bruffin that starts it all. Janey Sweet had forgotten the codicil in her business agreement that forbid her from changing size but her partner sure didn't. In fact, he's invoking it. Janey will take three months to lose the weight or she'll be kicked out of the firm that she helped build.
And for whatever reason, Janey doesn't fight back. Of course, that would have shortened the story a LOT. Instead, she throws herself into a whirlwind of exercising and self-exploration. She meets men (one younger, one older) and gurus. Janey also gets involved with one of the "it" women of fitness, Sara Strong. 
This is overall a fun story but I wish we had seen more of Hugh and that the big denouement weren't quite so crazy.

Three stars
This book comes out July 11

Monday, July 3, 2017

Instant Pot® Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook (An Authorized Instant Pot® Cookbook) by Sara Quessenberry, Kate Merker

Instant Pot® Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook (An Authorized... by Sara QuessenberryI love my Instant Pot and was excited to see this book come up as an option in NetGalley. I was immediately disappointed by the length (75 pages). I was further disappointed by the recipes. Who has millet in their cupboards on a regular basis? There are some with ingredients that I would consider standard but there were enough with some slightly odd ingredients as to make it not worth reading. Also, the large pages made loading on the ereader very, very slow.

Two stars
This book came out April 15