Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Review: Choke by Lisa Towles

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Choke
Author: Lisa Towles
Publisher: Rebel ePublishers
Pages: Kindle; 262
Release Date: June 22, 2017
Source: Author
Genre: Thriller / Mystery

HDB Rating: 2 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who like reading noir and thriller books.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon
Your life is a lie.
The past you remember isn't yours.
There is no one to Trust.

Kerry Stine’s plan to rebuild her life goes into freefall when a patient vanishes from San Francisco General Hospital on her watch, thrusting her down a rabbit hole that leads to a past from which she can no longer escape. Fired, frantic, and running from the police, she trusts no one and every step pushes her further away from logic and reality.

Three thousand miles away, scientist Adrian Calhoun has developed a cigarette that cures lung cancer, and he’s hell bent on distributing his miracle cure before the pharmaceutical mafia gets to him first. Kidnapped by his pursuers, he is held prisoner in exchange for the chemical formula to his invention. His redeemer holds the key to not only his life, but Kerry’s as well. And when the threads finally intertwine, Kerry discovers that what she and Adrian Calhoun have in common will return to her pieces of her past that she never knew she’d lost.

This book was a tricky one to rate. See, at its core, Choke has great bones. The premise of this book, the idea of a tobacco that can cure cancer instead of cause it, is pretty amazing. Just think of all the implications that would bring. Consider how readily big pharma would fight it being released to the masses, in an attempt to hold onto their easy cash flow. It's intriguing, right? We all know that there are things buried out there, things that probably exist but will never see the light of day. That's where Lisa Towles' book draws its ideas from and that's pretty cool.

The major problem with this story is the fact that it's very difficult to track. I'll try to explain the best I can without giving anything away. This book opens with a scene that the reader has no context for. That's not too surprising, since many Noir and Mystery books tend to use this as an opening, and then go back and explain it later. The problem here is that the explanation doesn't happen right away. In fact, more and more scenes unfold in front of the reader, introducing multiple characters who are caught up in this madness, without actually setting any context for them. It took until almost halfway through the book for me to realize what part each character played, why they were being targeted, and why they were so important (or evil as the case may be). It was fairly frustrating, to be honest.

In fact, Kerry's story feels disjointed at the best of times. Even after I started to figure out why she was missing portions of her life, or how she was linked to Adrian Calhoun at all, I was still barely hanging on to a thread of understanding. There is a lot of cloak and dagger type action, and a lot of cutaway scenes, which would normally make for great reading! The problem is that there simply isn't enough explanation given, quickly enough, to keep the reader from being frustrated. People died, and I didn't know who they were. Mysterious figures flitted in and out of Kerry's life and, before I could blink, they were gone. I felt for Kerry, I really did, but mainly because I was just as baffled and lost as she was.

I believe that this book has great potential. Choke has, as I mentioned above, the kind of strong premise that really has the potential to draw readers in. With a little finesse, and maybe some small restructuring, I honestly believe that this book will do well. I'd even happily read it through again. For now, my review stands as above. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Stonetree Trilogy by Ophelia Bell

Stonetree Trilogy
Ophelia Bell
(Black Mountain Bears #1-3)
Publication date: August 29th 2016
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Gaia save the Queen…
Emma Stonetree’s father is missing. Worse yet, her uncle’s gone too, leaving her and her two cousins, Jasper and Jade, floundering for an explanation.
All Emma can think of are their fathers’ stories—tall tales of magic, mystery, and a whole host of shifter races. Stories she might not have believed, if not for her own research into the matter—research that hardly prepares her for the trials of magic she and her cousins will endure as they set off that Midwinter’s night to discover their roots.
Nor does it prepare the three for what they find on the other side of the mystical portal their fathers disappeared into: the ursa, a fertility-focused race of bear shifters, with customs that defy their human sensibilities. Except the trio swiftly learn they aren’t really human either, and once inside the ursa Sanctuary, they are just as bound by ursa laws as the earth is bound by the seasons.
Emma and her cousins must make a choice: accept their legacies as ursa royalty, accept the love they find inside the sanctuary, or reject their passions and retreat to their safe, mundane lives, never to return to the realm they were meant to inherit.
99¢ for a limited time only!

“Where am I now?”
“In the Sanctuary, Princess,” Green-Eyes said.
She sat up, scrubbing her hands over her face, then raked her fingers through her tangled hair. A warm breeze blew through, tickling across her skin, the sensation way too pleasant and intimate. She shivered, glancing down her body and realizing she wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing. Her stomach lurched, her entire body growing intensely warm at the realization she was buck naked. She immediately clutched her knees to her chest and looked wildly around.
“Where the fuck are my clothes?”
Brown-Eyes chuckled. “You left quite the trail of breadcrumbs. It was fun watching the striptease you gave us on the way in.” He let out a pleased sigh. “Gorgeous, really.”
Emma stared at him, shocked at the appraising look he gave her and uncertain whether she should be offended or flattered. At least until she gave him a once-over and realized he was just as au naturel as she was. She raised an eyebrow, then turned to look at her other new companion. Yep. Green-Eyes was as bare as a newborn. He was also definitely all hard-bodied man and not the least bit shy about it.
Seeing his naked body made her forget about her own. How in the world could a man so perfect actually exist? So perfectly messy, really. His brown hair was short, but a little shaggy, sticking out in all directions like he’d worried it over and over. He was well-muscled without being bulky, with a long, lean torso, his chest covered in a luxuriant layer of hair. Just enough to make her want to run her fingers down his chest and stomach, but not so thick that she’d think of him as actually furry. The hair tapered past his navel, the natural growth a kind of arrow pointing southward, and her eyes followed.
A throat cleared, but Emma found it difficult to tear her eyes away from the slumbering beast that was nestled between the man’s legs. Jesus, he wasn’t even hard and he was that big?
“See something you like, Princess?”
Um, everything?

Ophelia Bell loves a good bad-boy and especially strong women in her stories. Women who aren't apologetic about enjoying sex and bad boys who don't mind being with a woman who's in charge, at least on the surface, because pretty much anything goes in the bedroom.
Ophelia grew up on a rural farm in North Carolina and now lives in Los Angeles with her own tattooed bad-boy husband and four attention-whoring cats.
If you'd like to receive regular updates on Ophelia's publications, freebies, and discounts, please subscribe to her mailing list:


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Don't Look Back by Vicki Tharp

Don’t Look Back
Vicki Tharp
Publication date: November 19th 2011
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
Ridley Meyer’s latest murder left him unsatisfied, but the spitfire with the U-haul may provide just the challenge he craves.
Veterinarian Audrey West is running out of time, yet she is determined to keep her inherited home out of foreclosure. With no more than a dream, a prayer, and a packed U-Haul, West moves back home to complete the expensive repairs. Just when Audrey thinks she might pull off the impossible, she finds her dream is not the only thing being followed.
Scott Romero has it all—money, ambition and a growing reputation as the city’s top veterinary surgeon. However, when his best friend Audrey is abducted by a killer, Scott realizes what he doesn’t have and he must risk losing his job, and his life, to save her.

He leaned in to scrutinize his work. “Let me see.”
She turned toward him.
He pushed her hand out of the way. He poked. He prodded. He pressed. “I did Doctor Frankenstein proud. Maybe my stepmother was right. I should’ve been a real doctor. At least I wouldn’t have risked my veterinary license stitching you up.”
“I don’t—”
“I know. I know. You don’t like hospitals.”
“It’ll take more than a little thump to get me in one again.”
“Little thumps don’t require stitches. Little thumps don’t give you a concussion. And little thumps don’t get you almost killed.”
“Not this again.”
“Yes. This again.”
He raised his hands and took a step back. “Do me a favor.”
“What’s that?”
“The next time one of your clients waves a gun around, stay out of the way.”
“What in the purple hell did you expect me to do? Let her kill herself?”
“You should’ve gone for help.”
“Ms. Sims wasn’t trying to hurt me. Her dog, her baby, dropped dead. She was distraught, disturbed. If I hadn’t nosedived into the bench grabbing for the gun, I doubt
I’d’ve had a scratch on me.” Audrey squeezed her head to keep it from exploding.
“You’re not Superwoman. Bullets won’t bounce off you.”
She didn’t have the energy for this. “Finished?”
“Not hardly.” Scott tilted his head and gave her that sexy half-smile. That devilish smile. That maddening smile the lucky few had followed to his bed.
It was too painful to think about, and not just because of her headache, so she pushed it from her mind. “Thanks for letting me crash at your place last night. And for stitching me up.”
She’d stuffed everything she owned into her truck and U-Haul trailer. That wasn’t saying much since the truck and trailer were small.
“Staying at a hotel by yourself with a concussion wasn’t and option. As for the other, I don’t know how you talked me into it. You’ll probably have a scar.”
“Not a problem as long as your malpractice is paid.”
A laugh rumbled his chest, but the smile quickly slid from his lips. “You should stay a day or two. Make sure you’re really okay.”
Audrey scooched back and propped herself up against the leather headboard. Her brain protested behind the fireworks and the nine-piece drumline. “I’ve only got thirty days to finish the repairs on my uncle’s house. I have to leave today. I’ll call you from the road, let you know I haven’t bled out into my head.”
“Not funny.” Scott frowned but kept her gaze. “I’m due at the animal hospital at seven. I’m going to miss having you around. Guess I can’t talk you into staying for good, huh?”
“What?” Her voice jumped two octaves. “Who’s the one who stood in my kitchen two weeks ago and told me I should go? ‘This is your last chance to make good on your promise to your uncle,’ you said. ‘Take a chance on your dream,’ you said. Don’t even—”
“Down, girl.” Scott eased her back into the pillows with a hand on her shoulder.
Thank God. Hells-bells clanged in her head.
“Forget I said anything. At least sleep for a few more hours and then head out. You don’t look so hot.”
No kidding.
He patted her leg and by the way he didn’t get up to leave, she knew he wanted to say more, but he wasn’t any better at goodbyes than she was. Then Scott braced his hands on either side of her head, and planted a quick kiss on her nose. Like an adult to a child.
It might have hurt less if he’d eviscerated her with a spork.
She was leaving Texas. This morning. For good.
She snagged his tie. “If that’s the best you can do, Romero, it’s no wonder your girlfriends leave you.”
Why had she baited him? He couldn’t refuse a challenge, any more than a dachshund could refuse table scraps.
Was her mind muddled from the concussion? Or was she finally thinking clearly? One kiss. That’s all she wanted.
Like a lover, not a friend. Stupid. He’d locked her in the friend-zone years ago.
Except for the night of her high school graduation.
And two weeks ago when he’d convinced her she should leave.
The look in his eyes was the same now as then. Want, need, hunger.
Hand over hand she pulled him down. His lips brushed hers. Her breath caught. She blamed the
concussion. Her hands trembled. She blamed the pain. Her heart hurt. She blamed herself.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, deepened the kiss, tasted the coffee on his tongue, smelled the subtle tang of surgical scrub that never quite left his skin. She tilted her head, and he nipped her lips, traced the line of her jaw and down to her pounding pulse at the base of her neck. She guided him on top of her, his weight braced on his arms, but she drew him down until his full weight pinned her.
She floated.
No fears, no worries, no will power.
No wondering if she should stop or if she could stop – because she didn’t want to stop.

Born with a love for animals, author Vicki Tharp pursued a career as a veterinarian, graduating from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine in 1992. Always an avid reader of mystery and suspense, she combined her interests into her first book entitled "Don't Look Back".
She makes her home in south Texas with her husband, two children and pets too numerous to mention.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Review: People of the Sun by Jason Parent

Media Type: Ebook
Title: People of the Sun
Author: Jason Parent
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Pages: Kindle; 327
Release Date: March 15, 2017
Source: Author
Genre: Science Fiction

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy Sci Fi that is on the lighter side, with a lot of heart.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
All life comes from the sun. Sometimes, death comes with it.

Filled with hope and driven by fear, four would-be heroes are driven from their home planet in a desperate bid to save their civilization from extinction. But survival takes on a whole new meaning when a malfunction sends their ship plummeting toward Earth.

Surviving the crash is only the first obstacle on their path to salvation. The marooned aliens soon discover that Earth’s beautiful exterior masks an ugly foundation, a place inhabited by a warrior race that’s on a path toward self-destruction.

Brimming with action and intrigue, People of the Sun is sure to entice fans of dark fantasy and sci-fi thrillers such as Watchmen and I Am Number Four.

I've been meaning to review this for a while, but time got away from me! So, as I'm going off my notes, I hope I can do justice to Jason Parent and People of the Sun. This Science Fiction adventure was a brilliant way for me to dip my toes back into this genre. It was imaginative, but also realistic enough to make stepping into it easy. I have to say, I was impressed with the solid way that Jason Parent writes. Having not read anything of his yet, this book has my interest peaked!

Basically, this book is the story of all of the disastrous occurrences that befall the poor Symorians who are featured here. From the moment that they leave their planet, nothing seems to go right. What I found most fascinating, was the difference in the ways that they interacted with the human race, once they arrived on Earth. We always like to peg aliens as either infinitely good, or infinitely evil. Parent shows that there are grey areas there. Survival instincts can overcome common sense sometimes, and that's an important distinction.

I think the toughest part of this book for me, honestly, was that there wasn't really anything remarkable about this story. It's solid, and the premise behind most of it is really well grounded. It's just not as exciting as I hoped it would be. I felt like I wanted to be more invested in the Symorians that I was, and that really hampered the effect that the ending would have had on me otherwise. It was a little disappointing, but nothing that kept me from finishing the story. I definitely still had to know how everything panned out.

All in all, People of the Sun is a solid and relatively entertaining way to spend a few hours. I'd recommend it to readers who, like me, are still feeling their way into the SF genre. It's easy to read, and will welcome you with open arms! Now, to go and find more Jason Parent books to read!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, June 19, 2017

I'm back!

Hello friends! I'm back! Did you miss me? I know it gets pretty quiet around here when I'm out and about, but our vacation to Chicago was much needed. I needed to get away from work for a bit, decompress, wander around in awe in a place I'd never been before, and eat way too much good food. I'm happy to report, all of those missions were completed! I'm back, and feeling a million times better than I was before I left.

We spent 9 days away from home, and 5 of those traipsing around Chicago and utilizing all manner of public transportation. We literally did everything touristy that there is to do! We took an architecture tour, visited The Bean, went to the aquarium, saw the Art Institute, and so many more things that it would take me an eon to explain them all to you. It was so much fun. This was only the second time we've ever left the bordering states of California, and I'm becoming addicted.

The hubs and I took a lot of photos, and of course shared our journey with our friends and family through Instagram! It was our first time being somewhere completely new for this long, and so we had ample time to fit in all the things that we wanted to do, like taking a jaunt to the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower, and even touring Wrigley Field!

All in all, it was an awesome trip. I got to get away from home, away from responsibilities, and away from stress for long enough to feel completely at ease again. The only downside? Hahaha. Totally missed my puppy child. How do you not miss a face like the one below? Needless to say, I was so ready to come home by the time our trip was over.

I'm back, and ready to blog again. I didn't get a whole lot of reading done while I was gone, for good reason, but not to worry because I have plenty of backlog material to write. Thanks for sticking with us, y'all. You're the best.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Vacations, Babies, and Blogging- Oh My!

Greetings my fellow readers! It has been far too long since I've done a personal update and I *magically* have 2 sleeping children at the moment so I figured now is my chance! If you're wondering why our site has been so quiet this week it's because Jessica is on vacation. I'm sure we'll hear more about her many adventures when she gets back, but until then you're stuck with just me. Unfortunately I haven't been doing a ton of reading/blogging stuff lately but bear with us, we'll have more updates soon.

If you've been following our blog for a bit, you know that I'm a mom to a wonderful almost 2 year old whom I lovingly refer to as Peanut. Well back in April we welcomed a wonderful baby brother for her to play with, Batman (also a nickname 😜). Our transition to a family of 4 has been exciting and challenging, but alas hasn't left me with a lot of spare time. I do read lots of children's books with my toddler, over and over and over and over again, but will get back to adult books soon. The love of reading is something I truly hope to pass down to both of the kids, and if Peanut's current excitement about story time is any indication, she will be reading books for the rest of her life.

Those of you in our vast reading community that have young kids- share with me your secrets of getting in uninterrupted time. Am I bound to just read during naps and after the kids go to sleep? Help a fellow reader out with some advice- pretty please?

I have managed to read a few books since Batman arrived and am currently 1/4 of the way through the massive American Gods by Neil Gaiman so look for that review on the blog in the coming weeks. For now I need to jump off the computer as I hear Batman stirring.

As always, thanks for your readership and for continuing to follow our sometimes quiet little blog. We appreciate all of you!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Small Business Spotlight: Luna Love by Corinna

It's been over a month since I last posted one of these, and I'm so sorry bookish friends! I honestly want to keep this habit going, because there are so many amazing small businesses out there deserve your love! As a member of bookstagram, I'm constantly buying bookish merchandise and gushing over it. Let me bring you into that circle too.

If you spend too much money? Well... I'll consider it a job well done!

Today's spotlight is on one of my favorite shops, and people:

Luna Love by Corrina!


Now not only is Corinna a totally fabulous person, hashtag creator extraordinaire, and bookstagram master. She is also a creator of candles and jewelry that make my heart happy!

Check out her Instagram!

Are you a fan of all things Ed Sheeran?
Perhaps you'll need this "Lyrical Gangster" candle to suit your mood!

Do you love glitter, and plan never to grow up? (I'm with you.)
Then you're going to need this "Peter Pan Syndrome" candle to keep you company!

Or, if like me, you have ample love for a certain redheaded best friend...
you'll definitely be needing this "Weasley Is Our King" candle!

(Pssstt... I owned this one and burnt it until it was ALL GONE. It smells so perfect. Rest in peace Ron Candle the first. You will be missed.)

Now you're looking at me and saying "But Jessica, I don't really like candles. So this doesn't apply to me." Oh, but perhaps you like earrings? Necklaces? Touting your love of Harry Potter wherever you go? No problem, Corinna has you covered.

Yes, those are Platform 9 3/4 earrings. Yes, I do own them. Yes, they are amazing.


So there you have it! Your feature for this spotlight, and hopefully I've prompted you to go and give Corinna's shop a visit! Celebrate small businesses, promote small businesses, because that's what it's all about.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review: Taking a Gamble by Britni Hill

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Taking a Gamble
Author: Britni Hill
Publisher: Self Published
Pages: ebook, 134
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Source: Author
Genres: New Adult Romance

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a lighthearted romance

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon 

Who knew a weekend in Vegas could change everything about your life?

Not me. I went to there to get married.
Kind of.
That was the plan. Until it wasn’t anymore.

I had the perfect dress, an awesome venue, and my closest friends with me.
What was missing?

My groom. That’s right. He bailed.
It’s all going to be okay. Some things are just meant to be. What better city than Vegas to leave it to chance?

Maybe that’s how I woke up as Gabby Thomas and went to bed Mrs. Brennan …

Ah Vegas, Sin City, where there are no clocks and endless alcohol consumption. What could possibly happen? Anything is the answer.

If you're looking for a funny, lighthearted romance this is definitely the book for you. If you've ever been on a vacation to Las Vegas, you can probably relate to Gabby and her friends. They are there to have a good time and find it in the form of poolside drinks and dancing the night away.

Of course no Vegas trip would be complete without a little romance. Sometimes that void is filled with a stranger on the dance floor, and sometimes you find out your best friend's twin has a thing for you. Gabby is still reeling from her cancelled wedding but sometimes you have to trust your guts and gamble with your heart.

I recommend snatching up this fun little romance tomorrow when it releases, you won't be disappointed! 

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book Review: Nahia by Patricia Bossano

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Nahia
Author: Patricia Bossano
Publisher: WaterBearer Press
Pages: Paperback; 261
Release Date: March 2017
Source: Author
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of stories filled with fae and mischief.

(Buy Links to Be Added)
Like most teenagers, Nahia is a rebellious faery princess who struggles with satisfying her own desires over what’s best for her loved ones. Following her heart in pursuit of the man she loves, Nahia hides her true identity as a faery in order to enter the human dimension. After giving birth to a daughter, Nahia's true identity is revealed, as is the realization that she has forever altered the genetic human footprint. Faced with death, Nahia escapes to the faery realm and quickly learns the realm has entered a dormant state. To save her home and renew ties with both her human and faery family, Nahia find a way to reawaken the realm, become the new Faery Queen, and provide a royal descent for the Keeper of the Forest.

In a perfect blend of fantasy and realism—and inspired by Bossano’s real-life matriarchal family—Nahia celebrates the profound relationship between mothers, daughters, and sisters, while encouraging readers to redefine and embrace the powerful magic within.
Back when I was a new blogger, and was trying desperately to catch up with all the new books I'd missed, I went on a fairy themed binge. I ravenously read all the books about fae that I could get my hands on, immersing myself in their worlds and their culture. Then, like most readers do, I burnt myself out and wandered away to other bookish pursuits. It's been a good long while since I've devoured a book like Nahia, and I honestly think that's a good thing. I was ready to be swept away.

First off, kudos to Patricia Bossano for her brilliant way of introducing Nahia's world. The first few pages of this book introduce you to everything from their customs, to the way that time functions within their realm. It's a nice way to get acquainted, before diving in. Plus, since I read this book as a standalone, it was a benefit to me because I felt like I was knowledgeable enough not to feel lost while following Nahia's story. Definitely a nice touch.

The other thing that I did enjoy about this book, were the themes that stretch across the whole story. The ideas of loyalty, what makes up a family, and sacrificing for the greater good, are all things that play a strong role in Nahia's journey. I appreciated the fact that she wasn't a perfect character. She makes mistakes, she's selfish at times, but over the course of the story she definitely grows and learns. I can't deny that I was a little frustrated with her at first, but as I read on I realized that she was just as human as the humans that she wasn't certain of.

Now, for what didn't quite work for me. First off, true to most Fantasy realms, the families in this book are so large that it's tough to keep track of them after a while. I would have loved a family tree, or some other way to keep tabs on all the characters who kept flitting in and out of the story. My other issue was the way that the chapters are laid out. In Nahia's realm, time passes much more slowly than in the human world. So one chapter can cover only two years, while the next covers fourteen. The jumps in time were a little jarring and, honestly, I felt like they could have been balanced a lot better. I found myself having to re-read the headers over and over to make sure that I was correctly situated in the right time frame, so I could keep it. It made things confusing. Additionally, the dialogue never felt like it flowed as much as I would have liked. Since the descriptive writing is so lyrical, which is perfect for the setting, I really wanted the interactions between characters to be equally as seamless. Again, it was a jarring feeling to swap back and forth between the two.

So, final thoughts? Nahia is definitely a read that has prompted me to want to read the first two books in this series. It's also a book that has pushed Patrcia Bossano into my watched authors list. I think there is a potential here, with the realm that was built. I just think perhaps a little more polish is needed, both with the dialogue and the timeline, and it will be simply perfect. All in all it was a great way for me to dive back into the world of the fae! I couldn't be happier.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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