Thursday, November 30, 2017

Book Review + Giveaway: Dark & Stormy by J. Mercer

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Dark & Stormy
Author: J. Mercer
Publisher: Self Published
Pages: 189
Release Date: May 17, 2017
Source: Author/Xpresso Book Tours
Genre: Romantic Suspense

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a plot twist.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon

Faryn Miller wants to build a new life in a small town. It's her last chance to figure out, of all the roles she's played in her thirty-some years, which one truly fits. Her aim at simplicity sounds like the perfect medicine until she meets Kai Allen, who’s spent his life doing everything the hard way and never bending for anyone. Lucky for Kai, Faryn has no preconceived notions about what he’s done and who he is, unlike the rest of town. 

When cryptic messages start sneaking their way into Faryn’s apartment, then blatant threats, the two of them compile a long list of who could be stalking her. Unable to keep his frustration and rage hidden any longer, Kai explodes on everyone in his path, and Faryn can't help but wonder if the storm is closer than she thinks.

Our story starts out simple enough, a new girl in town meets cute hometown guy and he falls head over heels instantly. The amount of discussion regarding their lust, but respectful lust, was a bit excessive for my tastes. I understand new relationships are exciting and full of positive emotions, I just feel like it was a bit of instalove and an extraordinary amount of discussion about the feel of each others skin and trying to control their lust for each other.

The story moves forward eventually and we get into the drama of the story. Friends and exes interfering, a mysterious past that was never discussed, you get the idea. I actually really loved Savannah as a character. She was feisty and determined and I feel like every small town has a Savannah in it. Faryn and Kai were an interesting match, but his overprotective nature was never really addressed.

All in all, not my favorite story I've read lately but certainly had some interesting characters and a very small town feel which I enjoyed. I wasn't so shocked by the twist at the end because there was some foreshadowing for it, but it was as good finish to the story.

J. Mercer grew up in Wisconsin where she walked home from school with her head in a book, filled notebooks with stories in junior high, then went to college for accounting and psychology only to open a dog daycare. She wishes she were an expert linguist, is pretty much a professional with regards to competitive dance hair (bunhawk, anyone?), and enjoys exploring with her husband—though as much as she loves to travel, she’s also an accomplished hermit. Perfect days include cancelled plans, rain, and endless hours to do with what she pleases. Find her on Facebook @jmercerbooks or online at

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Book Review: Revolutions (Pendomus Chronicles #3) by Carissa Andrews

Media Type: Ebook (ARC
Title: Revolutions
   *Series: Pendomus Chronicles #3
Author: Carissa Andrews
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Kindle; 310
Release Date: November 21, 2017
Source: Author
Content Screening: Violence

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who have been following this series and are ready for an epic conclusion!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
As the timelines of Pendomus fray, one girl born with power has the ability to set things right….

Forcing her way into Videus’ vassalage may be the last thing Runa will ever do, but she knows she has to try. Not only are there others like her—others with powers—but they’re directly tied to her by blood. With Trae's mental stability in question, and Kani missing, Runa can only rely on herself and the aid of her brother to fulfill her destiny. If she can embrace her role as the Daughter of Five, hopefully she can set things right and free Trae from whatever madness is taking over his mind.

There’s more than meets the eye to Videus’ obsession with Runa and her bloodlines. The only problem is, unraveling the mystery could unleash catastrophe on everything she holds dear, if she’s not careful. Can Runa stop Videus once and for all—or will the fate of Pendomus be locked forever by one man’s madness?

Step into Pendomus - a world that meshes mystery, magical creatures, and destiny with science fiction and technology.

Ah, Revolutions. I wish I could express to you exactly how excited I was to start this book. After turning the last page of Polarities, all I could think about was the battle that was coming straight for Runa and how she was going to survive. Everything leading up to this last book had me on edge. The tension, even from opening to the first page, is palpable. I knew that sacrifices were going to have to be made and, I'm not going to lie, I was pretty terrified about who I'd lose this time around.

True to form, Andrews quickly pulls the reader back into Pendomus and takes off into the story. I could immediately tell that something was off between Trae and Runa, which worried me initially. However, and I'm being vague so I don't spoil anything, I soon realized what an interesting bend this lent to the story. Imagine wondering who you can trust, if you aren't even sure you can trust the people closest to you. Not for the first time, I watched Runa dig deep and learn to take care of herself even as she fought to save everyone else. I don't know if I've beat this concept to death in these reviews, but the fact remains that Runa is one hell of a character. She's flawed, but that's realistic. She's tough, but also broken. She's the easiest character in the world to fall in love with simply because you understand her so deeply.

Which is why I definitely did some tearing up at the ending here. I had mild doubts going into the final pages of this as to whether or not things would work out the way I hoped. I wondered if Runa would make a decision that would totally throw me off balance. I'm happy to say that the ending was absolute perfection. Wonderful, selfless Runa remained herself until the very end and that made me more happy than I can ever say.

If this review is vague, it's only because I honestly don't want to spoil a single thing for you. There are amazing fight scenes, touching moments, and definite tension all rolled into Revolutions. I highly suggest that if you haven't started this series yet, you remedy that! You'll definitely want to speed to the ending just like I did.

Monday, November 13, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (11/13/17)

Hello bookish friends!

Am I the only one who is having a mild meltdown at the fact that Thanksgiving is next week, the month is almost over, and that means that Christmas and New Year are right around the corner? I set a goal to read 120 books this year, to keep things calm and simple, and I might actually not hit that. It's been a great year so far, just not quite a great one for reading.

The good news is that I'm not super worried about it. If I've been slacking off on blogging as much as I usually do, it's because I was burnt out and needed a break. Blogging is so fun, and so rewarding, but it's also exhausting. Especially when you have a full time job on top of it. So, if I disappear once in a while, you'll understand.

Anyway enough rambling, here's what I'm reading this week.

I've been on an audiobook binge the last few months, mainly because my attention span has been really all over the place. I'll find myself picking up a new book to read, only to set it down and move on to something else. Audiobooks help because I can listen to them at work and on the commute, so I'm more likely to finish them! Which is why I decided to do a re-read of In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Hiddensee was for a tour, and unfortunately not all I hoped for. However, Snow & Rose was also for a tour and absolutely wonderful! I've been all over the place in terms of reading material lately, and I'm not even sorry.

I have a long list of pending library audiobook holds, and Furthermore was next up in the queue. So far I'm enchanted by it! Let's hope that it keeps its whimsical nature and plucky heroine alive.

I've been eyeing this book for a while now, and I'm in an MG mood all of the sudden, so this will probably be next! It sounds adorable, and has amazing ratings.

That's it for me! What are you reading?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Book Review: Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker
Author: Gregory Maguire
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: Hardcover; 304
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Source: Publisher / TLC Book Tours
Genre: Fairy Tales / Retellings / Fantasy

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy Maguire's magical way of writing, and fairy tale adaptations.

Add it on: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
From the author of the beloved #1 New York Times bestseller Wicked, the magical story of a toymaker, a nutcracker, and a legend remade . . .

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him.

Hiddensee: An island of white sandy beaches, salt marshes, steep cliffs, and pine forests north of Berlin in the Baltic Sea, an island that is an enchanting bohemian retreat and home to a large artists’ colony– a wellspring of inspiration for the Romantic imagination . . .

Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked and to Wonderland in After Alice, Maguire now takes us to the realms of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann– the enchanted Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann’s mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier– the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale ballet– who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.

But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism ties to Hellenic mystery-cults– a fascination with death and the afterlife– and ponders a profound question: How can a person who is abused by life, shortchanged and challenged, nevertheless access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless? Ultimately, Hiddensee offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress on a dark winter evening, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized, has something precious to share.
It should be noted, before anything else, that Gregory Maguire is one of my all time favorite authors. His books are always pure magic, and I'm not even ashamed to admit that I own every single one of them. His writing makes me feel like I'm falling down a rabbit hole, and I never want to come back up again. So, I may have had mildly unrealistic expectations when it came to this book. I tried my hardest to read it without any preconceived notions, but we all know how that goes. I was expecting a lot from Maguire.

The blurb about this book is a little misleading. This isn't a story about Drosselmeier the Godfather, at least not completely. Instead, this is the story of Dirk Drosselmeier, the budding young man who will eventually become that iconic character in the Nutcracker. Fair warning, if you're expecting a light and magic filled read you need to adjust your expectations. Dirk's story is dark, and a bit confusing. It's similar to those fairy tales out there were dark things lurk, bad things happen to good people, and you just hang on hoping for a happy ending.

It's honestly difficult to say too much about Dirk's story without spoiling anything. Maguire blends together myth, magic, and mischief into a story that poor young Dirk is kind of just stumbling through. The odd part of all of this is that he's just kind of reacting to things as he goes. Dirk never really makes his own decisions, or stops to consider his plight, but instead falls headlong into situations over and over again. It made it a little tough for me to love him, because he just didn't learn. If you're in the middle of fairy tale, being manipulated by mythical creatures, you think you'd be slightly more concerned. Ah, Dirk. He's just not.

On the bright side of things, there area a lot of nods to not only the original source material but also to a lot of other fairy tales. In usual Maguire fashion, this book seems to take things that wouldn't normally mesh and put them snugly into a whole picture. If only Dirk had been a little less morose, I feel like I could have really loved this book entirely.

Suffice it say, this wasn't my favorite Maguire book but I do think it carries a lot of merit anyway. The story of young Dirk Drosselmeier is intriguing at its root, and really does tie in nicely at the end to the source material. I love the Nutcracker, and I love Maguire, so this still had a special place in my heart at the end of it all. I can't wait to see what he writes next.

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.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Book Review: Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Snow & Rose
Author: Emily Winfield Martin
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: Kindle; 224
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Fantasy Violence

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love lush fairy tales with characters who are superbly easy to love.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
A New York Times bestselling author-illustrator brings readers into the woods to meet two young sisters and a strange bit of magic in this reimagining of the classic but little-known fairy tale "Snow White and Rose Red."
Snow and Rose didn't know they were in a fairy tale. People never do....

Once, they lived in a big house with spectacular gardens and an army of servants.

Once, they had a father and mother who loved them more than the sun and moon.

But that was before their father disappeared into the woods and their mother disappeared into sorrow.

This is the story of two sisters and the enchanted woods that have been waiting for them to break a set of terrible spells.

Bestselling author-illustrator Emily Winfield Martin has created a world that sits on the border of enchantment, with characters who are grounded in real emotions that readers will recognize in themselves.

It should come as no surprise to my more frequent readers that I eagerly leapt at the chance to read Snow & Rose. Fairy tales were, are, and always will be, my favorite thing to get lost in. In what I can only assume was fate smiling upon me, I started reading this on a day when the weather was particularly rainy and cold. So I got to snuggle up under a blanket, sip tea, and get lost in the world that Emily Martin Winfield had woven for me. It was perfection, and this book had a lot to do with that.

This is a rendition of Snow White and Rose Red, but fundamentally changed in a way that I really appreciated. Snow and Rose's father disappears into the forest one day, leaving his little family to fend for themselves. Cue enchanted woods, mischevious creatures, and two brave little girls who absolutely delighted me every step of the way. I love that Winfield stayed true to the original story, but also gave it a more whimsical spin. Both Snow and Rose come to life on the page, with their own personalities and quirks. I adored them both.

Honestly, I can't wait to see the finished version of this book. The ARC that I was sent for review had sketches of the art that will soon grace the pages, and I am so eager to see the whole package. The sketches that were there already lent so much whimsy to the story, and those were only in pencil. I see Snow & Rose as a story for parents to share with their children at bedtime. I see it as the type of story that will appeal to all fairy tales lovers, both young and old. I see this as the perfect type of escape that we all need sometimes. Snow & Rose is beautiful, and it should definitely be on your reading list.

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, November 2, 2017

Book Review: A Wanted Man by Robert Parker

Media Type: Ebook ARC
Title: A Wanted Man
Author: Robert Parker
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Pages: Hardcover; 307
Release Date: May 14, 2017
Source: Author/PUYB
Genre: Crime Thriller

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a good who done it with some violence.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon

It’s down to fathers and fatherhood.

Ben Bracken, ex-soldier, has just got out of Strangeways.

Not by the front door.

With him, he has his ‘insurance policy’ – a bag of evidence that will guarantee his freedom, provided he can keep it safe – and he has money, carefully looked after by a friend, Jack Brooker.

Rejected by the army, disowned by his father, and any hopes of parenthood long since shattered, Ben has no anchors in his life.

No one to keep him steady. 

No one to stop his cause…

The plan: to wreak justice on the man who had put him in prison in the first place. 

Terry ‘The Turn-Up’ Masters, a nasty piece of work, whose crime organisation is based in London.

But before Ben can get started on his mission, another matter is brought to his attention: Jack’s father has been murdered and he will not rest until the killers are found.

Suddenly, Ben finds himself drawn in to helping Jack in his quest for revenge.

In the process, he descends into the fold of Manchester’s most notorious crime organisation – the Berg – the very people he wants to bring down…

This action-packed and fast-paced story will keep you turning the pages. Manchester is vividly portrayed as Ben races around the city seeking vengeance.

Truth be told, this book was a bit jumbled at first. We jump right into Ben's life and there's very little explanation. I would have preferred a little introduction but we do get a bit of history and context as the book progresses. Needless to say, there is some graphic violence discussed, so be wary of that.

By the middle of the book I was really enjoying it. I did figure out one of the plot twists pretty early on, but that didn't particularly deter from the story. There was, in my humble opinion, a bit too much discussion of the various settings Ben encounters. While I do enjoy knowing the world the characters are experiencing (especially since I've never been there), there was just a lot of unnecessary inclusions that made the story drag a bit at times.

However, I really enjoyed Ben as a character and the ending was an interesting outcome. Ben is a vigilante and lives by his own set of rules, which aren't clear at the beginning of the story. I found myself waiting to see what his next move might be, and I was consistently surprised. I'm definitely interested to read his next adventure.


Related Posts with Thumbnails