Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Published October 21st 2014 by HarperTeen
Hardcover, 336 pages
Series: Stand-alone
Genre: Young-Adult Paranormal


Summary from Goodreads

It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.

Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance -- and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.

This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance.
With Halloween on the horizon, and so many of my friends enjoying this book, I knew I had to put a few things aside and fall into this world that Parker created.

Welcome to Sticks, Louisiana. A small town, with a swamp that has put a lot of fear into the residents surrounding it. When Sterling's older brother Phin runs away from home and into the town swamp and doesn't return, a girl named Lenora May climbs out of the swamp instead and alters the memories of the town folks. The only person that seems to remember Phin is Sterling herself and as she struggles to hold on to those memories, she needs to find a way to bring Phin back and learn the truth behind Lenora May.

What I like...
  • The story. I thought it was fun. The idea felt fresh and original about a small town with what seems to be a dark history surrounding a swamp where scary things loom and no one really wants to talk about. It was creepy, somewhat dark, and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Once I picked it up, I found myself so engrossed in the plot that I had a really difficult time putting the book down, finishing it in a day. I love books that capture my attention from start to the very finish.
  • The setting. It was dark and creepy and I like the way it read. Plus it was in a small town of Sticks, Louisiana - which I also found kind of appealing to the entire story line and the community of people within it and how that played in the book. But it had sort of Gothic appearance to it, and I couldn't pass that up.
  • The relationships. The bond between siblings in this book is very clear. Especially between Phin and Sterling. It's obvious how much they love each other and how that played in Sterling doing everything she can in saving her brother. That same bond and love was clear in Lenora May's case, but I cannot go too much into detail there in fear of exposing too much. But there is a lot of sibling relationships in play and strong friendships that kept Sterling going, as well as parental involvement and obviously a cute romantic relationship.
  • The romance. Heath and Sterling were two very easy characters to like in this book. I found them enjoyable and I liked their developing friendship turned into romance. Two people who needed each other most provided them both hope that they aren't as crazy as other people seemed to believe.
  • The ending. I like the way everything ended. No loose ends and no cliffhangers. I was a little nervous to see how it would end, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that I actually liked the way the story wrapped up - it was almost kind of comforting.
  • The writing. It's obviously Natalie Parker really knows how to write and it's clear in this book. It's smooth, flowing, and entirely engrossing. She captures the reader's attention and never lets them go. There is something both beautiful and creepy in her writing and I found that this is the perfect book for this time of year for anyone to pick up and enjoy.

What I wasn't fond off...
  • Thought I liked the way the book ended. I found myself with a lot of frustrating questions.
  • One of them was Sterling's best friend Candy and for anyone who read the book and knows that she was deemed "Special" would know what I am referring to. Why was she the special one? How did it not affect her? And if she was special and it didn't affect her. Why couldn't she remember Phin then? Shouldn't she then be one of the few people in town with full memories of him?
  • The old woman Clary. Her family obviously goes a very long way back with the swamp history but we learn absolutely nothing about that. Every time Sterling has questions, the woman fend her off. In the end, we get nothing in return. We don't know how Clary is connected to the swamp, how the family knows so much, how are the bracelets made, how did they know how to make it? When did it all begin? The fact that this all looks like a stand-alone make this even more frustrating because so much I wanted to know.
  • What started this whole thing? I think I would have loved to hear a little more about the origins of the swamp, where it all began.
  • Sterling's parent's dislike of Heath so easily...

Overall this really was an amazing read. I loved the writing, the plot-line, the characters, and the creepy setting. This was just what I needed as far as October reads went and I wasn't at all disappointed but quiet satisfied.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: Hope Burns (Hope #3) by Jaci Burton

Hope Burns (Hope #3) by Jaci Burton

Published  September 30th 2014 by Jove
Paperback, 304 pages
Series: Hope
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Heat Rating: Steamy


Mature Content Advisory, must be 18+ for sexual content and other adult situations.

Summary from Goodreads

A novel of small-town hearts and big dreams...

Molly Burnett dreads returning to her hometown of Hope for her sister’s wedding, especially knowing she’ll have to endure a weekend with the one man she never wants to see again. It’s only a couple of days, so Molly will try to forget her painful past with high school sweetheart Carter Richards. Because despite the bitter memories, she still can’t forget what they once meant to each other.

But when Molly is forced to extend her stay, Carter sees this as his second chance to do things right, to start over again with the only woman he’s ever loved. This time, he isn’t going to let Molly run. Together they’re going to confront the past and put it behind them, and hope for a future as bright as the flame that still burns hot between them.

Welcome to Hope, a small town with a big heart and dreams. Molly's sister Emma is finally getting married and that means that Molly finally has to come home after leaving  many years ago due to a bad heart-break. The one thing Molly had hoped to avoid was the man who shattered her heart, Carter Richards, who is now all grown up and no longer the boy she remembers.
Carter is now a successful business man who works as a mechanic in his own garage and owns a small chain of them. He is very involved in Hope's community and has a great relationship with Molly's family despite what happened years ago.
I have to say I was very curious about this black cloud that hung over their heads and even though the situation was heartbreaking I wasn't sure it really called for her to run for as long as she did. They were both young and things got uncontrollable and Carter's actions may have been a little harsh, but in the end you cannot help but feel for the bot.
So when Molly's mother falls and suffers a few breaks. Molly has no choice but to stay behind and help take care of her. Avoiding Carter this time might not come as easy as she had imagined. I found myself rooting for them I really did. I thought they seemed like a sweet couple once together, but Molly doesn't want to suffer another heart-break with a man who has the capability to cause a lot of damage to her heart.
I like Burton's writing. The story seemed simple enough, with well rounded characters. Lot's of heart-warming relationships, friendships and setting. The story felt like I was after the character's everyday life, but it was done tastefully and still entertaining enough. 
The chemistry between Molly and Carter was clear, and I like how it grew as the story went on. If you are looking for a simple romance, with a bit of heart-breaking background, healing and strong sexually chemistry, this book is probably right for you.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Stirring the Plot (Cookbook Nook Mystery #3) by Daryl Wood Gerber

Stirring the Plot (Cookbook Nook Mystery #3) by Daryl Wood Gerber

Published  September 30th 2014 by Berkley
Paperback, 304 pages
Series: Cookbook Nook Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Summary from Goodreads

Halloween in Crystal Cove, California, is a big deal, involving a spooky soiree where the Winsome Witches, a fund-raising group, gather to open up their purse strings and trade superstitions. But party magicians, fortune-tellers, and herbalists are only the beginning of this recipe for disaster…

Jenna Hart has packed The Cookbook Nook chock-full of everything from ghostly texts to witchy potions in anticipation of the annual fund-raiser luncheon. But there’s one unexpected addition to the menu: murder.

When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead under mysterious circumstances, there’s no logical answer and plenty of blame to go around. With her aunt, Vera, unable to call on her ability to foresee the future, Jenna will have to use more than just sleight of hand and a few magic tricks to conjure up the truth…

It's Halloween in Crystal Cove and Jenna Hart is back in the latest installment of the Cookbook Nook Mystery.

With the town getting ready for Halloween and the Winsome Witches prepping for their annual fundraiser, everything seems witchier than normal especially when the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is suddenly found dead under mysterious circumstances and Jenna finds herself once again in the middle of everything. With plenty of blame to go around, it's amazing how quickly everyone in the group is willing to point fingers at each other. But when her own aunt becomes a suspect, Jenna finds it hard not to try to and get to the bottom of it. Especially since Aunt Vee won't stop acting as strange as this entire case.

I like this story for Halloween, it was a great read and I savored every bit of it. The story was exciting enough, the mystery kept me hooked and guessing  until the very end. The romance between Jenna and Rhett is headed at the right place. I love these two together, they are really adorable.

Gerber with her small town characters and writing really knows how to pull people in. Crystal Cove sounds like an exciting place to live along with it's colorful cast of characters and the little bookstore that Jenna owns. I love that she has incorporated so much into it, including cooking and cooking classes.

Did I enjoy it?


I did have one small problem with the story. I was actually surprised and taken back by the amount of finger-pointing.. From my understanding these people are suppose to be good friend's, but it was amazing how quickly they kept turning on each other and blaming one another about the murder. The accusations, the assumptions, made my head swim. But I can get past that, because I enjoyed everything else.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

CAGED IN WINTER by Brighton Walsh Blitz

CAGED IN WINTER by Brighton Walsh

Pre-order Links:

In this emotional and sexy New Adult debut from Brighton Walsh, the only thing more frightening than commitment is hope…

Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response…

Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want…

Okay, now add the flour, but—” It’s too late, a puff of white exploding in Winter’s face before I can get the words out or reach to flip the switch. “You need to turn the mixer to low.”
She spins around, her cheeks covered in random white spots, some of the flour dusting her hair. “You couldn’t say that before, ‘Now add the flour’?” Her voice is low, her eyes narrowed, and I take a step back.
Well, yeah, I guess I could’ve, but I just sort of figured you’d know enough not to add loose flour to a wildly spinning mixer.”
Oh, you figured I’d know enough for that, huh? Even after I told you I’ve never made cookies before? Even then?”
She’s advancing on me now, and I shouldn’t be retreating like a scared animal. I have more than a foot on her, a hundred-plus pounds, but she looks pissed. And that glint in her eye tells me she’s up to something. I glance down at her hand, seeing a measuring cup half filled with flour, and I realize what she’s going to do a split-second before she does, but not soon enough to dodge it.
A cloud of white powder hits me straight in the face, and I cough as I inhale some. Wiping away the dust from my eyes, I say, “I can’t believe you did that.”
Oh, well, I just figured you’d know enough to duck.” She shrugs and offers me a saccharine smile.
I don’t think you want to start this with me, baby.”
In case you missed the flour in your face a second ago, I already started it, baby.”
I stare her down, then reach over, grabbing the bowl of melted chocolate—my mom’s secret ingredient in her cookies—and dip my fingers into it. Winter narrows her eyes at me and takes a step back. “Don’t you dare.”
Where you goin’? I thought you wanted to get messy.”
No, I wanted you to get messy. I didn’t have a choice with this,” she says as she gestures to where the flour hit her. She darts her eyes down to the bowl of chocolate, then back up to my face. “Don’t, Cade. You’re going to get me dirty, and I have to be at work soon.”
You maybe should’ve thought about that before you threw a scoop of flour in my face.” I don’t wait for her response before I smear the chocolate down her cheek to her jaw, then all the way down her neck and into the deep V of her shirt, stopping when I feel the swell of her breasts. “Whoops.”
You did not just do that.”
Looks like I did.” I shrug, putting the bowl back on the counter before I lick the chocolate from my fingers. She focuses on the act, her lips parted. I lean closer to her, drop my voice, and gesture to the spots of her skin that are covered. “You want me to clean you up, too?”
Glaring, she gives a jerky shake of her head, but a flush works its way up her chest to her neck—one of the tells she’s getting turned on.
I step closer, backing her into the corner until she’s pressed against the cabinets behind her. “Sure about that? It wouldn’t take much. Just a lick or two. Maybe a couple sucks. We’d probably have to take your shirt off, though, and your bra, too. I really got down in there.”
Her head’s tilted back as she stares up at me, her chest rising and falling in quick succession from her labored breathing.
I lean into her space, lick up a path from her neck to her ear. “I think you do. I think you want my tongue all over you, don’t you, baby? I got you all dirty. Seems only fair I clean you up.” Before she can respond, my mouth closes over her shoulder, my tongue tracing along the chocolate I smeared there. By the time I’ve dipped into the neckline of her shirt, my tongue in the valley of her breasts, her nipples are pressed tight against the material, and she’s got a white-knuckled grip on the countertop behind her.
Want me to stop?”
I wait a second. Two. And when she gives the slightest shake of her head, I take. Gripping her face in my hands, my mouth covers hers, my tongue slipping inside. She groans into the kiss, her hands finally coming up to clutch my forearms.
Wait.” She wrenches her mouth from mine, turning her head to the side. “Cade, wait. Your sister.”
I focus on licking every stray ounce of chocolate I can find, her hands a counterpoint to her words as she holds me close. “Not home. Gone till four.”
Shit! Four. I have to be at work at four!”
We’ve got time. Now stop talking.”
I peel her jeans and panties off, then lift her onto the counter, desperate to feel her around me. With one hand, I fumble with the button of my jeans, the other busy between Winter’s thighs, rubbing soft circles around her clit, getting her ready for me. She’s moaning, her head resting back on the cabinets, and the sight of her there, half naked in my kitchen, is too much. Too fucking much, and I can’t get my goddamn jeans off.
When she notices, her hands are there, opening my jeans and yanking my boxers down just far enough to pull me out. Her hands are around my cock, pumping slowly, and I need inside her now.

Author Bio:
Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with writing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

Review: Carolina Blues (Dare Island #4) by Virginia Kantra

Carolina Blues (Dare Island #4) by Virginia Kantra

Published October 7th 2014 by Berkle
Paperback, 304 pages
Series: Dare Island 
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Rating: Steamy to Somewhat Sizzling


Mature Content Advisory, must be 18+ for sexual content

Summary from Goodreads

Jack Rossi is Dare Island’s new police chief. The laid-back North Carolina community is just what he needs to recover from a rocky marriage and a big-city police department.  He’s learned his lesson: no more high-profile women or high-pressure jobs. The last thing he wants is an unconventional alt girl rocking his world.

Grad student Lauren Patterson made headlines when she kept a bank robbery from going bad.  She’s fled to Dare Island to clear her head and focus on writing her story. However, sexy Jack Rossi is a distraction that’s too hot to ignore, and it’s igniting an affair too combustible to resist—or quit.

But when their pasts come looking for them, Jack and Lauren find themselves fighting for the future they deserve, whatever the price.

Let me start out by saying I came into this book having never read anything by Virginia Kantra before, and I know it's kind of in the middle of the series but this book can very much be read as a stand-alone. Thought now having a taste of Virginia Kantra's writing once does not seem to be enough. I will have to backtrack and read some of her earlier books from her Dare Island series and maybe fall in love with the rest of the characters, cause dang it did I fall in love with Jack Rossi and Lauren Patterson!

Jack Rossi is Dare Island's new police chief. He moved to the small town after a disastrous marriage and loosing his other job in a big-city police department. Small town life is different, but Jack seem to slowly warm up to it and enjoy it. He started enjoying it even more when Lauren Patterson stepped into his life. The woman is different, he knows she is different, and probably someone who he shouldn't get involved with but Jack can't seem to fight the sizzling tension between them, and neither can Lauren.

With everything Lauren Patterson had been through, witnessing a bank robbery and surviving, it's no wonder the girl needs a little distraction in her life in a form of Jack Rossi. I love Kantra made Lauren's fear and PTSD feel so real through the package as the book went on. I love the conflict in posed in her life, but also how she came out of it fighting. Yes it caused her to make some mistakes along the way, yes it caused her to make some mistakes with Jack and make me slightly angry with her, but I loved the way it all wrapped up in the end.

The attraction was there, the emotions were there, and so was the wonderful flow of the story that kept me hooked from the very first chapter. Kantra's characters are well fleshed out and completely believable. I will be picking up more books by this author in the future.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Review: Echoes of Scotland Street (On Dublin Street #5) by Samantha Young

Echoes of Scotland Street (On Dublin Street #5) by Samantha Young

Published  October 7th 2014 by NAL
Paperback, 336 pages
Series: On Dublin Street
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Heat Rating: Steamy to Sizzling


Mature Content Advisory, must be 18+ for strong sexual content and language

Summary from Goodreads
From the New York Times bestselling author of On Dublin Street comes a seductive story of forgiving the past and making up for lost time.…

Shannon MacLeod has always gone for the wrong type of man. After she drifted from one toxic relationship to the next, her last boyfriend gave her a wake-up call in the worst possible way. With her world shattered, she’s sworn off men—especially those of the bad-boy variety.
Cole Walker is exactly the sort that Shannon wants to avoid—gorgeous, tattooed, charming, and cocky. But his rough exterior hides a good man who’s ready to find “the one.” He’s determined to pull Shannon from her self-imposed solitude to win her heart.
As Shannon opens up in the face of Cole’s steady devotion, the passion between them ignites to blazing levels. But when Shannon’s past comes back to haunt her, her fears may destroy the trust Cole has built between them—and tear them apart for good.…
After reading Fall from India Place and absolutely falling in love with Samantha Young's storytelling, I knew I had to get my hands on Echoes of Scotland Street the moment I saw the book pop up on my screen. Plus, this was Cole's book, and I loved him and wanted more of him in the last book.

I don't know how to go about this review. It took me a few days to wrap my hand around how I felt after I finished the book. I wouldn't say I am disappointed, but I wasn't very impressed. The writing is still beautiful, Samantha Young really knows how to weave her story and capture the audience attention. Despite me having some issues with this, I found myself devouring the book within two days, unable to put it down.

I loved how the story opened up, with a little flash back showing us exactly how Cole and Shannon met as children. Forward a few years later and Shannon is back in town, looking for a second chance in life and finding a job in a tattoo shop. Cue Cole, a sexy tattoo artist that really made the book dazzle for me. Really, if it wasn't for Cole I probably would have given up on it. I couldn't stand Shannon, I really couldn't. We got off on the wrong foot from the start, and she continued to get under my skin. I did not like the way she treated Cole (protective much eh?), and I did not understand where her accusations stemmed from (yes yes, I get it, she had a bad past and all). Just by looking at him, without knowing him, she accuses him of being a playboy bad boy. Erm, hello... What? It was obvious he remembered her, and was a little taken with her because of the connection the two shared when they met as children. But how does him doing that and being a tattoo artist automatically make him a playboy bad boy? So she keeps accusing him, and calling him that, and it keeps getting old until she says something really hurtful to Cole and I did my best not to let my emotions to get the worse of me....

Cole saved this one for me. But I guess when you become so invested in a character with emotions that's also part of good writing, that it also makes you hate the other for being responsible for their actions I guess could swing your opinion either way.

The one other thing that took away from this for me is that I felt the story probably could have ended at 50%, the rest was kind of mundane and slow. I kept waiting for something big to happen, and even thought there was a fight because of Shannon's stupidity (hurting Cole again, surprise surprise) it felt like the story really could have wrapped up a bit quicker than it did. Regardless, I enjoy Young's writing, and did enjoy Cole in this book. I am glad he finally found him happy ending, even if I don't particularly like Shannon, even now.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review: Risking It All (Morgan Family #1) by J.M. Stewart

Risking It All (Morgan Family #1) by J.M. Stewart

Published September 16th 2014 by InterMix
(first published June 8th 2010)
Kindle Edition
Series: Morgan Family
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Heat Rating: Steamy


Mature Content Advisory, must be 18+ for sexual content and language

Summary from Goodreads

She’s everything he wants…

For years, Kyle Morgan has hidden his true feelings from the gorgeous girl next door that he grew up loving and protecting. But when she shows up at his apartment in the middle of the night, desperately needing comfort and support, his iron will begins to waver…

…and the only thing he can’t bear to lose.

Kyle was always the big brother Cecelia Anton never had, but suddenly her goofy best friend has become a sexy man she can’t keep her thoughts—or hands—off of. As their deep connection melts into uncontrollable desire, Ceci is willing to put it all on the line for a shot at true love. Only Kyle is keeping a terrible secret about Ceci’s past that could destroy not only their lifelong friendship but their happily-ever-after…
Oh gosh I didn't know where to start the review. The story was, cute. Kyle Morgan has been in love with his best friend for many years. He never moved on his feelings for the fear that she might reject him and their relationship will spiral down the drain. The last thing Kyle want's to do is loose her, even if it means never acting on his feelings. But then Cecelia shows up on his doorsteps, pregnant, vulnerable and confused. Kyle's protective side kicks in, and soon he finds it even harder to hide his feelings and he might not be the only one with control issues.

It was cute. I didn't understand why now of all times Kyle choose to act on his feelings, since they have been friends forever and it sounds like he has been in love with her, forever. The story had a theme going, and it sounded repetitive. Basically it consisted of the two rehashing their feelings, how attracted they are to one another, how they wish they could act on their feelings, how scared they are to ruin their friendship and Cecelia begging Kyle to help her with her past. Over and over again, pages after pages, chapter after chapter, this was all basically that the book was about. If I heard one more reason why she couldn't be with him, I think I was going to go nuts. It's like, you obviously love one another. Isn't it harder when you both know this fact, but can't act on it? Why would you go through life torturing yourself and watching the other person with someone else?

That made no sense to me...

Luckily, it turned out for the best. Kyle was wonderful, patient and protective. He is holding a secret from Cecelia that might threaten their entire relationship, secret about her past that she so desperately wants to know. So when it blows up in his face, I cannot help but feel sorry for him, understanding why he done it.

Nonetheless, it was a cute read and I did enjoy it.