Monday, February 29, 2016


A list of new releases that grabbed my attention for the coming month. As always, release dates are subject to change.  All titles link back to Goodreads.


A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)
A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1) by Brittany Cavallaro (YA contemporary)
Modern Sherlock Holmes with Watson and Holmes's great great grandchildren.  I'm intrigued...

The Princess Wore Plaid (The Oxenburg Princes, #2.5)
The Princess Wore Plaid (Oxenburg Princes #2.5) by Karen Hawkins (historical romance)
A princess in disguise and a tortured former soldier is definitely a story I want to read.

Wedding Night With the Earl (The Heirs' Club of Scoundrels Trilogy, #3)
Wedding Night with the Earl (The Heirs' Club of Scoundrels #3) by Amelia Grey (historical romance)
I discovered Amelia Grey's romances last year and I'm definitely ready to read more from her.


Us (Him, #2)
Us (Him #2) by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy (M/M contemporary)
I fell in love with Ryan and Jamie last year so I am excited to read more about them.

Convincing the Secretary (London Legal, #3)
Convincing the Secretary (Convincing #3) by Ava March (M/M historical)
I'm so happy that Ava March is returning to this series!

Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)
Marked in Flesh (The Others #4) by Anne Bishop (urban fantasy)
I'm still behind on this series, but I loved the first one so much that I am trying to prepare myself for a major series binge.


Out of Frame (In Focus #3)
Out of Frame (In Focus #3) by Megan Erickson (M/M contemporary)
I loved the first two books in the series!


The Study of Seduction (Sinful Suitors, #2)
A Study of Seduction (Sinful Suitors #2) by Sabrina Jeffries (historical romance)
A stoic hero who is thrown off his game when he falls in love?  This is definitely my type of romance!

Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Bend or Break, #6-7)
Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Bend or Break #6) by Amy Jo Cousins (M/M contemporary)
I've been waiting for awhile for Austin and Vincent's stories to be told.


Because of Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys #1)
Because of Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys & Bridgertons #1) by Julia Quinn (historical romance)
The Bridgertons was the series that started my obsession with historical romance so, of course, I'm interested to see what she does with a prequel series.

Six Degrees of Scandal (Scandalous, #4)
Six Degrees of Scandal (Scandalous #4) by Caroline Linden (historical romance)
Caroline Linden writes beautiful romance with intelligent heroes so I am ready for this conclusion to her wonderful series.

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)
The Winner's Kiss (The Winner Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski (YA fantasy)
I loved the first book and, while the second book was a little disappointing, I have to know what happens to Arin and Kestral.

Fortune Favors the Wicked
Fortune Favors the Wicked by Theresa Romain (historical romance)
I recently fell in love with Romain's writing and am interested in this stand-alone romance featuring a an injured naval lieutenant and a courtesan.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

REVIEW: "Magic Rises" by Ilona Andrews

Magic Rises (Kate Daniels, #6)
(Kate Daniels #6)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Violence, Sensuality)
Urban Fantasy

Penguin -- Published on July 30, 2013
Ebook, 368 pages
Read in February 2016
Borrowed from library

Goodreads -- Author Website -- Publisher Website


Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.

Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…

Alpha Hero, Alpha Heroine, Established Couple, Magic/Sorcery

2016 Spooks, Howls, and Fangs Challenge

I'm finally back to this series! I fell in love with Kate and Curran last year and then had to wait awhile to get the two most recent releases from the library. But, now I'm close to being caught up and am just loving how Ilona Andrews is building this world and these characters.

In Magic Rises, Kate and her boyfriend, Curran, are dealing with a major issue within the Pack.  It is common knowledge that there is a chance of shapeshifters going loup and dying during childhood.  So, when Curran is offered the opportunity to receive a medicine that would help prevent such tragedies, he knows he has to take it even if it means acting as a bodyguard and negotiator for two volatile Packs in Europe.  He and Kate knows this is a likely trap so they travel with a large entourage and just hope they all come home.

This was such an action-packed story!  Things get going right away and the plot never lets go.  I loved the suspense element as to who is trying to sabotage the negotiations.  It was also interesting to see the way that the overall series plot is moving along.  The inevitable confrontation between Kate and her father is still in the works, but it is obvious that the effects of it will reverberate throughout the world.

Of course, the characters are what makes this book (and series) come to life.  Kate is narrator and is just one of the best heroines I've ever read.  Her strength is obvious, but this book really shows her vulnerabilities especially when it comes her impending battle with her father and her relationship with Curran.  Speaking of Curran, I was really worried about certain aspects of his storyline in this book.  But, Ilona Andrews did not let me down and even had me tearing up with the beauty of Kate and Curran's connection.

And then there's all the side characters which provide balance and conflict for Kate and Curran.  Pack dynamics are a key aspect of Magic Rises and that is shown in the sheer amount of characters that pepper the landscape of this book.  I loved that Derek, Jim, Barabas, and Andrea were very prominent in this book.  I enjoyed interacting with new characters like Christopher and Astamur.  There are also tons of villains in here to keep Kate and Curran on their toes.

Magic Rises was an emotional, dark, and surprisingly fun installment that continues to show off the authors' writing skills.  The series is just getting better and better which isn't always the case in popular, long-running collections like this.  After the events of this book, I am really interested in where the plot is going next so I'm off to read Magic Breaks!


“Go to the Black Sea, meet new people, see beautiful places, get killed by a mutant carnivorous kangaroo goat. One item off my bucket list.” 


Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1) Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2) Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, #3) Magic Mourns (Kate Daniels, #3.5) Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, #4) Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels, #4.5) Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5) Magic Gifts (Kate Daniels, #5.4) Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels, #5.5) Magic Rises (Kate Daniels, #6) Night Shift (Kate Daniels, #6.5; SPI Files, # 0.5; Psy-Changeling, #12.5) Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7) Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels, #8) Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

NOVELLA REVIEW: "Tycoon" by Joanna Shupe

(The Knickerbocker Club #0.5)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Gilded Age America

Zebra -- Published on February 23, 2016
Ebook, 80 pages
Read in February 2016
Received from Netgalley


Cross-Class Romance, Road Romance

Sometimes the journey is more pleasurable than the destination...

In Gilded Age New York City, the bachelors of the Knickerbocker Club spend their days rubbing elbows with Manhattan's most elite citizens--and their nights with its most intoxicating women . . .

Standing on the platform at Grand Central Station, Ted Harper is surprised by a fiery kiss from an undeniably gorgeous damsel in distress. He's certain she's a swindler who's only after his money, but he's never met a woman so passionate and sure of herself. Disarmed, he invites her to spend the journey to St. Louis in his private car--perhaps against his better judgment . . .

Clara Dawson has long known how to take care of herself, but the savvy shop girl is at a loss when she witnesses--and becomes entangled in--a terrible crime. Desperation propels her into a stranger's arms at the train station, but she hadn't expected Ted to offer her the protection she so badly needs--nor did she expect their chemistry to develop more steam than the engine of the train. He's everything she never thought she could have, and she's everything he didn't know he wanted. But as her secrets begin to unfurl, their fledgling romance could be in danger of derailing before they arrive at the next station . . .

I received a free copy of this book from Zebra via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed Joanna Shupe's European historical romances (Wicked Deceptions series) and I am overjoyed to see that she is now focusing on Gilded Age America!  This is an era that I haven't read much about in romance and I am excited to learn more about it.

Tycoon is a fun, cute novella that introduces readers to the world of the Knickerbocker Club.  It focuses on bank owner Ted Harper who is waiting for a train and is randomly kissed by a woman who is clearly in trouble.  Clara Dawson is just an ordinary shop girl who suddenly finds herself on the run after witnessing corruption in her workplace.  Once the confusion is abated, a deal is settled that will provide protection for Clara on her journey home and give Ted a helping hand on a difficult business deal.

I thought the idea of a romance developing on a train was really cute, kinda combination of a road romance and a cabin romance.  It allowed for Ted and Clara to be in close proximity enough to discover that there might be something between them.  I liked both of their characters especially Clara's street sense and Ted's devotion to his work.  The short length of the book didn't allow for a ton of character development, but I still cared deeply about these two by the end.  On the romance side, there were some communication issues that irritated me though I understood why they were there.

Tycoon does a good job of providing insight into this historical setting and preparing readers for the rest of the series.  I love the idea of powerful men's lives being turned upside down by strong women so I am definitely looking forward to more stories with the Knickerbocker Club.


Tycoon Magnate

2016 Pick Your Genre Reading Challenge

Goodreads -- Author Website -- Publisher Website

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Recent Enjoyable Reads That Weren't My Typical Book/Genre

Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

The Martian
1. The Martian by Andy Weir
I am not usually into science fiction that doesn't have a romance component to it, but I just fell in love with this story and the way that it celebrated problem solving.  Plus the audio narration is fabulous!

2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Like with sci-fi, I normally only read fantasy if it has a lot of romance in it.  While there is a bit of a love story in Uprooted, it isn't the focus at all.  But, that ended up working for me because the friendship between Agnieska and Kasia.

Bitter Spirits (Roaring Twenties, #1)
3. Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
This was unique due to the ghost story element and the fact that it takes place in 1920s San Francisco.  I'm trying to expand my range in historical romance and this book helped me jump start that effort.

Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss, #3)
4. Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh
I normally avoid romances where there is cheating so I was hesitant about reading this since the hero knowingly cheats on the heroine at the beginning.  But, I'm glad I gave it a try because Nalini Singh showed me there is nothing she can't get me to love.

Harlot (Bartered Hearts, #2)
5. Harlot by Victoria Dahl
It is historical, but it is erotica which is not my usual cup of tea.  I was also wary of it since the heroine was a prostitute.  But, I ended up liking the heroine a lot.  My major issue with this book was the hero who I thought was a jerk.

A Forbidden Rumspringa (Gay Amish Romance #1)
6. A Forbidden Romance by Keira Andrews
This is a male/male romance that takes place in an Amish community.  I used to read a ton of Amish-themed books as a kid, but haven't read any lately.  I was a little hesitant about how depressing this might be, but was pleasantly surprised.

A Bollywood Affair (Bollywood)
7. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
I know very little about modern Indian culture and Bollywood so this was a bit of a risk for me.  And, thankfully, I took that risk because Sonali Dev has become one of my favorite contemporary authors.

The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay #5)
8. The Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz
This was the first romance that I've read where one of the heroes is trans.  It was a great experience and really opened my mind to read beyond the "basic" male/male romance.

Listen to the Moon (Lively St. Lemeston, #3)
9. Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner
A historical romance between a valet and a maid?  It is a book that I loved, but I don't think I've ever read a servant focused romance before.

Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1)
10. Radiance by Grace Draven
I had to give this one a try after seeing so many great reviews of it at the end of 2015.  But, I was hesitant about it since the hero and heroine are from different species so I wasn't sure whether it would work.  Thankfully, it works and it works amazingly well.

Monday, February 22, 2016

MINI-REVIEWS: Male/Male Romance

Kings Rising (Captive Prince, #3)
Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3) by C.S. Pacat
M/M Fantasy
Penguin -- February 2, 2016
Damianos of Akielos has returned.
His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.
On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor's forces are massing. In the north, the Regent's armies are mobilising for war. Damen's only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.
Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen's identity - can it stand against the Regent's final, deadly play for the throne?
I have been anticipating this book for almost five years and am happy to say that it met almost all of my expectations!  Damen and Laurent are amazingly developed and it was great to see them working together to reach their destinies.  I just adore the way how Laurent is always a few steps ahead of others.  The world building continues to be detailed and creative while the side characters were almost as fascinating as the main couple.  I do wish that the ending wasn't as abrupt, but I am hoping to get more of Damen and Laurent in the future. (4.5 STARS)

Full Exposure
Full Exposure by Amy Jo Cousins
M/M Contemporary
Smashwords -- August 4, 2015
There’s more than one way to be a rock star...

Evan Pak is a card-carrying geek (he even has the job to prove it), but when his photographer brother invites him to tag along on a photo shoot with rock star Riley Flood, he figures it will be two days of ogling and eye-rolling and nothing more. But the reckless bad boy is nothing like he expected, and Evan is mesmerized by the mix of cocky and sweet he sees in Riley.
When a spontaneous idea ends with Evan stripping down under the hot lights for an intimate portrait for Riley’s next album cover, Evan is absolutely sure their connection won’t end when the lights are turned off. Especially since Riley can’t seem to keep his hands off the tattoos Evan hides under his clothes.

Even a spoiled rock star wants to give up control sometimes, if only for a weekend. The world is full of people who want things from Riley and the demands on him never stop. Evan knows exactly how to turn off the noise in Riley’s head and it starts by putting him on his knees.

Together, they will push each other higher and farther than either one of them have ever gone before. It’s easy to take risks when there’s a time limit on the game. But when their time is up, what comes next if they don’t want the game to end?
This was sweet and sexy novella that was very different from the other Amy Jo Cousins's romances I've read.  I really liked the depiction of Evan especially and thought Riley was a good partner for him.  The chemistry between the guys was electric and their love scenes were much more sensual than I'm used to from this author.  I thought the shorter page length worked well for this story, but I would love to see more about them. (3.5 STARS) 

How the Cookie Crumbles (Bluewater Bay, #12)
How the Cookie Crumbles (Bluewater Bay #12) by Jaime Samms
M/M Contemporary
Riptide Publishing -- February 13, 2016
After losing a rigged cooking show competition — and a potential lover — to another baker, Frederic Jackson packs up his considerable baggage and moves to Bluewater Bay. He uses the network’s hush money to buy a new bakery where he hopes the small town’s revitalized economy will let him start anew.
Blaire Caruthers never wanted to work for his father at Caruthers Industries. He should have known that fixing the company’s show results was a mistake, and that choosing another man over kind, generous Frederic was an even bigger one. But the damage is done. As punishment, he’s been sent to Bluewater Bay to oversee the company’s interest in Wolf’s Landing merchandise.
Stuck in a small, nowhere town doing a job he hates, Blaire wants nothing more than to prove to Frederic he’s changed. However, Frederic struggles to trust the man who betrayed him once already. As Blaire loses ground with his father, and Frederic starts falling back into self-destructive habits, they both have to find the balance and control that’s been missing from their lives.
I received a free eARC of this book from Riptide Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am always happy to return to Bluewater Bay and this was another decent read in the series. I liked the premise of the couple knowing each other from a rigged reality show and being reunited. Frederic was fascinating especially with his bakery obsession. I really felt for Blaire as he tried to prove himself to Frederic. I just wanted more romance development before the I Love Yous. Still I had a good time reading this and recommend it for fans of sweet M/M contemporaries. (3.5 STARS)

Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Love, #1)
Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Love #1) by Heidi Cullinan
M/M Steampunk
Samhain Publishing -- February 2, 2016
As the French army leader’s bastard son, Cornelius Stevens enjoys a great deal of latitude. But when he saves an enemy soldier using clockwork parts, he’s well aware he risks hanging for treason. That doesn’t worry him half as much, however, as the realization he’s falling for his patient.
Johann Berger never expected to survive his regiment’s suicide attack on Calais, much less wake up with mechanical parts. To avoid discovery, he’s forced to hide in plain sight as Cornelius’s lover—a role Johann finds himself taking to surprisingly well.
When a threat is made on Cornelius’s life, Johann learns the secret of the device implanted in his chest—a mythical weapon both warring countries would kill to obtain. Caught up in a political frenzy, in league with pirates, dodging rogue spies, mobsters and princesses with deadly parasols, Cornelius and Johann have no time to contemplate how they ended up in this mess. All they know is, the only way out is together—or not at all.
I received a free eARC of this book from Samhain Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I adore almost everything Heidi Cullinan writes so, of course, I was excited about her new steampunk series.  The world building was very creative and exactly what I want from steampunk.  I especially liked how varied the descriptions of the European countries were.  Cornelius and Johann were lots of fun to read about and very easy to root for.  I loved how well they worked as a couple despite how different they were.  The beginning was a little slow, but things picked up once they joined the pirate crew and the action just kept going from there.  I'm hoping to see more in this world especially if Valentin and Crawley get a story next!  (4 STARS)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

ANTHOLOGY REVIEW: "Stars Above" by Marissa Meyer

Stars Above
(The Lunar Chronicles)

For Ages 14+ (Language, Violence)
Young Adult -- Science Fiction

Feiwel and Friends -- Published on February 2, 2016
Hardcover, 369 pages
Read in February 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?

Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles became one of my favorite series of the past few years.  I loved the sci-fi twist on classic fairy tales, how the author showcased her four heroines, and the way that the complicated plot was slowly revealed.  I finished Winter with happiness, but also wanted to keep hanging out with these great characters.  So I was ecstatic to read Stars Above, which encompasses nine different short stories in this world, and it was as wonderful as I was hoping it would be.

Here is my ranking of the stories (with my notes):

1. Something Old, Something New
An epilogue for the entire series which focuses on one of the couple's upcoming nuptials.  I loved that Cinder was once again the narrator and that it showcased friendship as much as romance.  A great way to tie everything together.

2. The Mechanic
What Kai was thinking when he met Cinder for the first time.  I'm not usually into reverse POV's stories, but I adore Kai and thought this was very well-done.  I liked the insight into his desire to help his country, no matter what he had to deal with personally.

3. The Little Android
The most loosely connected story that is a retelling of The Little Mermaid.  Very interesting information about androids and cyborgs.  This one had me tearing up the most.

4. After Sunshine Passes By
Cress is my favorite of all the heroines and I thought the story of how she was placed on the satellite was heartbreaking.  It just made me so mad to see how the Lunars treated the shells.

5. Glitches
Cinder arrives in New Beijing and meets the Linh family including Iko!  This one was sad due to how alone Cinder felt and what happens when the plague hits the household.

6. The Queen's Army
More about Ze'ev's family on Luna and how he was turned into one of Queen Levana's supersoldiers.  What I liked most about this story was the determination Ze'ev showed throughout his ordeal and how that foreshadowed his storyline.

7. The Keeper
A quick look at how Scarlet's grandmother became involved in the whole situation when her former lover arrives on Earth with the severely injured Princess Selene.  The sacrifices Michelle made was difficult to fathom though I enjoyed the little tidbits we got about Scarlet's childhood.

8. The Princess and the Guard
Winter and Jacin's early years as friends.  This is one of the longer stories and it was an enjoyable look into characters that I felt like I knew the least.  These two just don't interest me as much as the others.

9. Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky
This was funny and surprisingly poignant especially considering it was about a young Thorne.  I liked seeing what his family was like and how they helped shape his seemingly carefree attitude towards life.  It was also interesting to see that his type of girl was the same even back then.

These novellas provide tons of fun to readers who already fans of the series.  I definitely wouldn't suggest reading these before the other Lunar Chronicles books even though, chronologically, most of them happen before the full-length novels.  They are full of insight into characters and secrets that I think would be spoiled if read beforehand.  But, if you love these characters, this is definitely a book you will enjoy and is a great addition to an already fabulous series.