Monday, May 2, 2016

Monsterland by Michael Phillip Cash

Author:Michael Phillip Cash
Publisher: CreateSpace
Date of publication: October 2015

Welcome to Monsterland – the scariest place on Earth. All guests can interact with real vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by an actual werewolf on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.

Wyatt Baldwin, a high school student and life-long movie buff is staring bleakly at a future of flipping burgers. Due to a fortuitous circumstance, Wyatt and his friends are invited to the star-studded opening of Monsterland. In a theme park full of real vampires, werewolves and zombies, what could possibly go wrong?

I have a secret love and it's cheesy horror and sci-fi movies like those on the SyFy network.  I think I have seen every cheesy horror film on Netflix streaming.  Monsterland reminded me of one of those films.  While it wasn't the best horror book I have ever read, it was entertaining.  It's kind of like a Jurassic Park for monsters.  Vampires, Zombies and Werewolves are real and one man has decided to contain them in parks around the world that would give people a chance to view them and have fun at the same time.  We all know how well that worked out for Jurassic Park, right?

As I said, I thought this was an entertaining read.  The characters were very stereotypical, but every good teen horror story needs them.  You have the bully jock, the pretty cheerleader, the nerd, the misfit, and the quiet unlikely hero who is pining for the cheerleader.  They were all fun and fit right into their niches. Not all is what it seems when they get to the park though.  There are a couple of twists just to keep things interesting.  

I do think it is worth taking a peek.  It was a good way to spend a rainy afternoon.  It is a bit gory in places, so I'd keep it to the over 16 crowd.  

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Nightfall by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

AuthorsJake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Date of publication: September 2015

On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours—it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long.

Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night.

Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling—bizarre, even—but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way.

Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and  Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line’s gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.

And it may already be too late

Nightfall was an interesting story that I ended up wanting more from in the end.  The people of the village on this small island live through 14 years of daylight and have to leave the island for 14 years once nightfall comes.  Marin, her brother Kana and their friend Lock are accidentally left on the island when everyone leaves.

I did enjoy the characters.  The friendship between Lock and Marin and their dedication to one another was something that kept me reading.  There was also a good creepy vibe going throughout the book.  It was enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. But, it wasn't overly scary and would be good for any middle grade reader.

As I said, this was an interesting idea, but I felt like the world building was lacking a bit.  Once the kids are in their main part of the adventure, I still didn't have a sense of the reason for the 14 years  day/night and what really lurked in the darkness.  I was left in the end with more questions that I was happy with. I would almost love to have a sequel in order to get more explanation because the epilogue was kind of disappointing.  

I think this is a book that middle graders would like.  It's pretty clean and not too scary.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April Mini Musings

Into the Fury: This ended up being just an OK read for me.   I did like the Ethan and Val.  I thought they were good for each other. I also liked Ethan's scenes with his daughter. Despite all of that, I was bothered by the amount of time that was spent on reminding us that if any of the bodyguards had a relationship with the models they would be fired.  Yet, when Ethan and Val and later Meg and Dirk hook up nothing happens to them.  I mean why the constant reminders if nothing is going to happen?  What makes them so special? It was also a bit repetitive for me.  Anyway, I'll probably read the next one, Into the Whirlwind, because I want to see Dirk and Meg get back together.

Hard as Steel is another novella from the Hard Ink series.  This actually takes place at the during the same time frame of the last book, Hard to Let Go.  I thought it was a cute story.  Not really necessary to the overall story arc, but it does give you a glimpse into what happened to Jessica after Ike takes her away for her own protection.

The Doll's House:  I have really enjoyed this series by M.J. Arlidge.  They're dark and twisty mystery novels.  If you like that kind of book and you haven't started this series, I would highly recommend them.  Another great thing about
this series, is that they've been coming out very quickly.  No waiting like a year for the next seems like it's been only a matter of several months before the next book comes out.

The Wild Inside:  This was a really good wilderness mystery.   A young boy witnesses his father being attacked and killed by a bear.  He grows up to be a Special Agent for the Department of the an agent for Wildlife and Fisheries.  He gets called to investigate a mysterious death by bear mauling.   If you're a fan of CJ Box, Navada Barr, or Paul Doiron, I think you'd really like this book as well.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Books We Didn't Finish - April Edition

Wildest Dreams: I guess you could call this a DNF  since I didn't read word for word.  I have loved this series since the start, but this one was boring as heck.  I found myself skimming just to catch up on the other characters in the town. The main couple had zero chemistry.  Ugh.

Black Rabbit Hall: I was really looking for a good
gothic mystery about a mysterious house.  But, instead, I got a snooze fest.  The story was told in alternating time lines, neither of which were particularly interesting.  About halfway through, I was so bored, I really didn't care to find out the twist or reveal in the end.

Kiss of Deception: Two words...Love triangle  Enough said!

Six of Crows: I was a fool and bought into the hype over this book.  I have seen rave reviews everywhere.  I also have read in numerous places that you did not need to read the Grisha Trilogy by this author to read this one.  That is not true.  From the start, you are thrown right into this world with NO background on the world or on the different factions.  There isn't even a little bit of an overview.   I got halfway through and while I could kind of figure out what was going on, I found I didn't care about any of the characters.  IF you are going to market a book as a stand alone, then help your new readers out and make it a stand alone.

Daughter-I found this book to be very confusing.  I had trouble keeping up with the back and forth in time.  Keeping the characters straight was hard too.  I would never recommend having 2 characters named Ted and Ed.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Spotlight: The Wedding Pact by Katee Robert

Carrigan O'Malley has fallen in love with family enemy #1, James Halloran and he has absolutely no intention of letting her get away.  THE WEDDING PACT is the second book in a smoking-hot series about the O'Malleys—wealthy, powerful, and full of scandalous family secrets from New York Times Bestseller Katee Robert and Forever Romance.

Series: The O’Malley Series #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing- Forever

Carrigan O'Malley has always known her arranged marriage would be more about power and prestige than passion. But after one taste of the hard-bodied, whiskey-voiced James Halloran, she's ruined for anyone else. Too bad James and his family are enemy number 1.

Hallorans vs. O'Malleys—that's how it's always been. James should be thinking more about how to expand his family's empire instead of how silky Carrigan's skin is against his and how he can next get her into his bed. Those are dangerous thoughts. But not nearly as dangerous as he'll be if he can't get what he wants: Carrigan by his side for the rest of their lives.

Get More information at: Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the O’Malley family in book one of the O’Malley series, The Marriage Contract:
Get More information at : Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Coming in July 2016, An Indecent Proposal

Get to know another O’Malley sibling- Cillian O’Malley
Greed. Ambition. Violence. Those are the "values" Olivia Rashidi learned from her Russian mob family-and the values she must leave behind for the sake of her daughter. When she meets Cillian O'Malley, she recognizes the red flag of his family name . . . yet she still can't stop herself from seeing the smoldering, tortured man. To save her family, Olivia sets out to discover Cillian's own secrets, but the real revelation is how fast-and how hard-she's falling for him.
Plagued by a violent past, Cillian is more vulnerable than anyone realizes. Anyone except Olivia, whose beauty, compassion, and pride have him at "hello," even if she's more inclined to say good-bye to an O'Malley. While his proposal of sex with no strings seems simple, what he feels for her isn't, especially after he learns that she belongs to a rival crime family. Cillian knows that there is no escape from the life, but Olivia may be worth trying-and dying-for . . .

Get More information at:  Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

About Katee Robert:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Connect with Katee at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Instagram | Tumblr | Youtube

Throwback Thursday: One Summer by Karen Robards

Author: Karen Robards
First published in  1993 by Dell

High school teacher Rachel Grant believed in her student Johnny Harris's innocence even after he was convicted of murdering his girlfriend. Now, 10 years later, he's out on parole and Rachel has taken him under her wing, even finding a job for him. It isn't long before their relationship changes and Rachel and Johnny become much more intimate. But when another murder occurs and Johnny is the prime suspect, can Rachel prove his innocence before it's too late?

One Summer is a book that I was hoping would grow on me as I read it.  In the end, it ended up being a just OK read for me.  I was torn because there were a few things that I didn't like.  Rachel was Johnny's teacher 10 years before, so he was 17 to her 22.  It's not unusual for a student to have a crush on his teacher, so that didn't bother me, especially since nothing was ever acted upon when he was a minor.  What did bother me was the speed at which Rachel and Johnny fell in love after he got out of prison.  Talk about quick.  I'm still not exactly sure when it happened.  Maybe it was the great sex?  The other thing that bothered me was the constant reminder that Rachel was 5 years older.  Is there really a huge gap between 30 and 35?  It got a bit old.

The mystery of what happened to Johnny's girlfriend years before was kind of OK.  I felt like there was more emphasis on the way the townspeople treated Johnny upon his return than there was on the murder. I mean the reveal kind of came out of nowhere and was really strange.  There were no hints or clues really for the reader to even guess.

There are a few bright spots in the book.  I did like how Rachel stood up for Johnny with the townspeople and her mother.  I also ended up liking Johnny a lot.  His character was funny and came across as really intelligent. This isn't a bad read, it just was longer than it needed to be.  She has a lot of better stuff out there, so don't feel badly if you skip this one.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blog Tour: 300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson

Author:Deborah Lawrenson
Publisher: Harper
Date of publication: April 2016

Traveling to Faro, Portugal, journalist Joanna Millard hopes to escape an unsatisfying relationship and a stalled career; Faro is an enchanting town, and the seaside views are enhanced by the company of Nathan Emberlin, a charismatic younger man. But Joanna soon realizes that behind the crumbling facades of Moorish buildings Faro has a seedy underbelly, its economy compromised by corruption and wartime spoils. And Nathan has an ulterior motive for seeking her company: he is determined to discover the truth involving a child’s kidnapping that may have taken place on this dramatic coastline more than two decades ago.

Joanna’s subsequent search leads her to Ian Rylands, an English expat who cryptically suggests she will find answers in The Alliance, a novel written by American Esta Hartford. The book recounts an American couple’s experience in Portugal during World War II, and their entanglements both personal and professional with their German enemies. Only Rylands insists the book isn’t fiction, and as Joanna reads deeper into The Alliance, she begins to suspect that Esta Hartford’s story and Nathan Emberlin’s may indeed converge in Faro—where the past not only casts a long shadow but still exerts a very present danger.

300 Days of Sun is actually like two books in one.  You get the present story of Joanna who is staying in Faro as a language student. She is recruited by Nathan to use her reporter skills to look for the truth behind his adoption. Interspersed throughout the story  are long excerpts from a book, The Alliance which is a fictionalized account of Esta's time in the Portugal during WWII.

I was initially sucked into the Joanna's story and was eager to follow the mystery to the end.  However, I didn't end up loving this book as much as I wanted to but I did find it somewhat enjoyable. I found that it dragged in places and the insertion of  Esta's book excerpts disrupted the flow of Joanna's story for me.  It was hard to figure out what relevance the excerpts had to the mystery until close to the end of the book and that was frustrating.  It just took too long to get to the point.  Had there been more clues earlier on, I think I might have enjoyed it more. The resolution was one that makes you wonder what is real and what is a lie and I was a bit dis-satisfied with the ending.

When I picked up this book, I had no idea what the title was referring to, but it refers to Portugal having "300 days of sun" a year. The one thing that I did like about the book was the writing.  The author's descriptions of the countryside in the book made me feel as if I were there. I would love to add the area to my travel bucket list. 

About Deborah Lawrenson
Photo credit Rebecca Eifion-Jones

Deborah Lawrenson studied English at Cambridge University and worked as a journalist in London. She is married with a daughter, and lives in Kent, England. Deborah’s previous novels include The Lantern and The Sea Garden.

Find out more about Deborah at her website, read more at her blog, and connect with her on Facebook andInstagram.

Purchase Links

Deborah’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, April 12th: Raven Haired Girl
Thursday, April 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, April 15th: Luxury Reading
Monday, April 18th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Tuesday, April 19th: FictionZeal
Thursday, April 21st: A Literary Vacation
Monday, April 25th: Lavish Bookshelf
Tuesday, April 26th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, April 27th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, April 28th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blog Tour: Return of the Bad Boy Jessica Lemmon

Author: Jessica Lemmon
Publisher: Forever
Date of publication: April 2016

He's a mess...

Asher Knight has three constants in his life: music, beautiful women, and a bottle of Jack. He lives for the next gig, the next city, and dreams only of a life spent in front of an arena full of screaming fans. But Asher's nomad ways come to a sudden stop when he learns he's the father of a three-year-old from a past relationship and suddenly this rock star bad boy is forced to put down roots.

Only she can clean up

Gloria Shields is no one's fool. Sure, the sexual chemistry between her and Asher has always been intense, but she'd never risk giving her heart to a man who has a perfect record for breaking them. Except the man desperate to make things right with his newfound son is nothing like the rock god she's guarded her heart against for years. And it isn't long before she starts to wonder if life with this bad boy might be the best thing that's ever happened to her.

Return of the Bad Boy is the fourth book in this series and only the second that I have read.  I read the first book, but somehow missed the ones in between.  I'll have to remedy that soon.  I will say that this did hold up well as a stand alone book. but I am sad that I missed seeing the other couples in the books get together. In this one, Gloria and Asher have circled each other for years and, finally, Asher is making his play to get her for good. Gloria is really resistant to let her heart go.

 I remember Gloria and Asher from the first book and I was pleased to see that Asher had kind of grown up a lot. He now has a son from a one time hook-up and he wants to do right by him.  I liked seeing him with Hawk. Seeing strong men with little kids can melt anyone's heart!  I also loved how he plowed his way through Gloria's defenses. Becuase, she had some big walls he had to break down. This story was a bit angsty as Gloria really resisted the fall, but I was totally rooting for Asher to win her over in the end. 

I definitely recommend this one.  I know I enjoyed the first book, Bringing Home the Bad Boy, so I know the others in between will be great as well.  Make sure to check out the excerpt below for a little taste of Asher and Gloria together!


Gloria nodded at Evan, and he and Brice made their way through the crowd—which hadn’t thinned even a little despite the band leaving the stage—and walked in the direction of the bar. Gloria figured they’d get back about the time the band took the stage again, which left her with Asher in the interim.
“I didn’t realize you were invited,” she said over the melee.
“I see that.” The corners of his mouth turned down.
“Why did he invite you?” she asked, curious.
“He wants me,” Asher said, a bored expression on his face.
“No. He wants me.” She pressed her fingers into her chest.
Asher leaned closer to speak to her and it took everything in her not to back away a step. Him close had a way of messing with her equilibrium...even more than the whiskey.
“I meant he wants to sign the band, Sarge. He’s probably buttering you up to get to me.”
“What?” she asked, slightly offended. “How egotistical are you?”
“I’m not being egotistical,” he said. “That’s a fact. And you’re welcome.”
Oh, he was too much. “I’m welcome?”
“Yeah. Now that I’m here, you won’t have to touch him. He won’t get within three feet of you.” Stubble lined his jaw, fire burned in his eyes, and he stood close enough that his body heat blanketed her. “Promise.”
“Listen, Asher”—she cleared her throat and tore her eyes away from his biceps, which were absolutely delicious and testing the limits of his T-shirt in the most distracting way possible—“I don’t know what you think you’re doing—”
“No, you listen.” He palmed her hip much like Brice had earlier, but unlike Brice, when Asher touched her, her nipples perked up and every inch of her grew warm. Asher’s nearness, one hand gripping her firmly as he looked down at her with dark hunger in his eyes, was so hot she couldn’t think.
The crowd milling around them were having loud, drunken conversations, so he lowered his face to her ear to speak.
“I’m coming for you, Sarge.” His hand moved from her hip to her lower back, his fingers splaying wide and slipping beneath the material of her shirt. “Bet you’ve never had anyone come for you, have you?” His nose moved along her ear, warm breath tickling her skin. “Bet you were a rebellious teen with a nose ring and a bad attitude and all you wanted was to feel good.”
No nose ring, but the rest was scarily accurate.
“Well, guess what, honey?” he continued, his fingertips sizzling on her bare skin. “I’m going to make you feel good. I’m the only one who can.”
He pulled his face away and she had to will her mouth to close. Her teeth clacked together as her brain scrambled to figure out what part she should argue with first. Wrenching a fist around his T-shirt, she tugged him close. A small smile played on his mouth, and his hand went higher beneath her shirt. He was anticipating a kiss, but she wasn’t going to kiss him.
“Listen up, you arrogant bastard.” Anger vibrated through her arms and a charge shot from her toes to the crown of her head. “You don’t get to claim me. I’m not your property. I can do whatever I want.” Because she wanted to wipe that stupid smirk off his face, she added, “And I can do whomever I want.”
His lips flinched, but he didn’t back away, stepping even closer and touching the tip of her nose with his. Her vision was now swimming in dark hair, dark eyes, and the sexiest smirk she’d ever seen.
It’s not sexy. It’s stupid, remember?
But it wasn’t. And the rest of her knew it. Her nipples tightened, her body tingled, and the hand she’d wrapped around his shirt began to sweat . . .

Buy links:

Amazon Kindle:

About the Author:

A former job-hopper, Jessica Lemmon resides in Ohio with her husband and rescue dog. She holds a degree in graphic design currently gathering dust in an impressive frame. When she's not writing super-sexy heroes, she can be found cooking, drawing, drinking coffee (okay, wine), and eating potato chips. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want.
Jessica is a social media junkie who loves to hear from readers.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Joint Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher:  Fiewel + Friends 
Date of publication:  February 2, 2016

The enchantment continues....

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

I listened to all the stories and mostly they were all pretty good.  I didn't really care for the one entitled The Little Android.  It didn't have any of the characters from previous stories, so it was just sort of a random story.  I guess it would have been ok, but it didn't go with all the rest.  In general, all the stories kind of had the feel of writing exercises or experiments that had been put aside and then they had all been gathered up for this one last book.  They were good to read, but I guess it just sort of seemed like a last gasp of a series that the author and publisher just can't give up.   That said, I was happy to hear the little snippet of Heartless and I'm definitely looking forward to that!

Honestly, I only picked this one up for the last story. So, I can't really comment on the rest of the stories.  I really liked "Something Old, Something New".  I was hoping for an epilogue that showed the couples getting after the events of Winter.   This one was perfect and just what I needed to walk away from the series feeling satisfied.  I got my HEAs and can walk away a happy woman!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Whispers of the Past by Lena Roach

Author: Lena Roach
Publisher: Entrada Publishing
Date of publication: APril 2016

On her last night at as owner and manager of her family’s antique business, a stranger arrives at Tessa’s doorstep with an impossible dream: find and replace a one-of-a-kind chair. Having lost more in his life than just a chair, Brian convinces Tessa to procure and restore the furnishing for his stately family home. With conflicting feelings of attraction for Brian and an embarrassment for her uncle’s dishonesty, Tessa tries to begin her life anew. But the main women in Brian’s life, his beautiful business partner Simone and his sister Darrie don’t want the complication that Tessa brings. They want the family home sold, not restored and will stop at nothing to get their way. Can Tessa do the impossible? Find and replace these antique pieces as well as show Brian that Christians really are good people and find a little love along the way?

If you are in the mood for a clean Christian story, Whispers of the Past just might be for you.  The story involves Tessa, who loses her family business because of her uncle's negligence.  On her last day at the shop, she meets Brian who is looking for a chair to replace one that was sold.  He convinces her to move into his home estate and work on restoring it to what is once was as well as hunt down this chair.

This ended up just being an OK read for me. While that premise of the story was interesting,  I didn't find myself invested in the characters as much as I wanted to be. There is a mystery that was intriguing, but I didn't really feel the attraction between Brian and Tess, SO, I think I liked it more for the mystery and not for the romance. I also felt at times that it was a little too preachy for my taste. But that is just my preference.  

I do think that fans of Christian literature will enjoy this debut.  You can get your copy today at Amazon !

About the author:

Lena Vidrine Roach was born and raised in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana. At an early age, inspired by her schoolteachers, she developed a love for reading and writing. After earning a Master’s degree in English/Education, she became an English teacher. Her first poem, “Success,” appeared in Young People’s Magazine published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Other poems appeared in Kansas City Poetry Magazine and professional periodicals. She wrote a “Dear Teacher” column for several newspapers in Texas and Louisiana. Diverse articles appeared in Louisiana’ New Orleans Times Picayune, Lake Charles American Press, Lagniappe Magazine, and The Voice. One of her short stories was published in Glamour Magazine, England. At present, she continues to live in Lake Charles and is devoted to a writing career in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.