Sunday, December 4, 2016

DIGGING UP THE DIRT by Miranda James



Publisher:    Berkley
Published:   September 6, 2016
ISBN:        978-0425273067
Genre:       Cozy Mystery
Format:     Print
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina  Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com

FOUR HEARTS
 

Back home after a wedding that wasn’t due to a murder that was, sisters An’gel and Dickce Ducote are ready to get down to life as usual in Athena.  First up on their agenda is a meeting of the Athena Garden club to start planning club’s annual home tour.  When they arrive they receive quite a surprise—former Athena resident, Hadley Partridge has returned and he plans to restore his family home to its glory days, aka, the days before his brother Hamish took over. And despite the passage of 40 years, Hadley hasn’t lost any of his looks or charm. In fact, if anything, he’s even more attractive, at least to the senior ladies in the garden club.  So much so that one of the club ladies are found dead not long after the meeting ends.  On the heels of Sarinda’s murder, another club member is run off the road and left for dead.  While the sisters don’t want to meddle and firmly believe in Chief Deputy Kanesha Berry’s ability, they may have a clue as to who done it.  For each question answered, the sisters find another one pending.  And when An’gel’s car is struck from behind, is it an accident tor is the killer coming after the octogenarian?

Miranda James is one of my all time forever, favorite cozy authors.  He creates the most wonderful characters – true to life with marvellous personalities that make you want to at least sit down and have a coffee with them if not know them personally.  Even with some quirky names, like Mrs. Turnipseed, the characters are realistic in their actions, motivations and reactions. Added to the mix are some wonderful “southernisms” that appear to be very much parts of James’ personality. 

James’ story telling is a wonderful weaving of past stories with the current so you can see how the characters are developing over time – and he does it in a gradual, believable way.  when his own twisted secrets are revealed, there is the desire to know what is driving him. And since the Southern Ladies are an off shoot of James’ Cat in the Stacks series, readers get to visit Charlie and one of my all-time favorite characters, Diesel, along with the sisters. 

The mystery in this one had some fun twists and a couple of surprises along the way. 

As much as I like the sisters, I have to say that Endora the cat and Peanut the labradoodle are the stars of the story.  Their antics give you a smile if not an outright chuckle in the middle of crime solving.

Even though each book builds on the one before, the books do not have to be read in order.  But no matter which order you read them, you don’t want to miss any.



This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Monster Alpha by Marcy Jacks

Publisher: Siren Publishing, Inc.
Date published: December 2015
ISBN: 978-1-63259-856-1
Alternative (M/M, Gay), Paranormal, Shape-shifter
Ebook
Reviewed by Gabrielle (meingee@yahoo.com)
Weblink: http://www.bookstrand.com/book/monster-alpha

Obtained via publisher
Rating: 3 Hearts



Peter and Phoenix may be mates but that does not solve everything.  The two are walking a fine line and working hard to not mess things up but lately things have been even tenser than normal. Phoenix hates humans and especially doctors which are the two things that make up Peter. How can Peter think that Phoenix would ever be happy having him as a mate? Phoenix does not understand humans and he thinks that he is constantly doing or saying the wrong thing to Peter. How can the two ever get past all the misconceptions and enjoy being mated?

I was eager to read about Phoenix  and Peter finding their way. Phoenix is one of the more volatile characters in this series and I wondered just how his mate would change him. I enjoyed watching Phoenix as he struggled to understand his human mate and how to interact with him.  Peter is a smart man but at times it seemed like Peter was a bit too naive for me. His reactions to some of the things said and done come off as very naive. He has deep feelings for Phoenix and struggles with how to share them with the man. Peter's refusal to acknowledge just what kind of shifter Phoenix and the rest of the pack are was mind boggling. So much that it becomes a sticking point in their story. Peter seems very young and inexperienced but when push comes to shove he is ready to help the pack and more than ready to face his demons and help the man that he loves.


While I enjoyed Peter and Phoenix's story it did not seem as intense of a ride as the other books in this series. There was a nice mix of action and emotions in this story and it moves along quickly never lagging or losing my interest. I just thought that Phoenix would get a more intense story than he got. Love finds a way to those who deserve it and Phoenix sure does deserve it.


This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

BLOOD STORM by Steven Harper



The Books of Blood and Iron, Book 2
ROC
December 1st, 2015
978-0-451-46847-5
Epic Fantasy, Action-Adventure, Mystery
Mass Market Paperback
Reviewed by Dawn (love2read28@gmail.com)
Obtained by Self-Purchase
4 Hearts

 

For Danr, the half-troll, he ended centuries of fighting; he is still not living a quiet life that he longs for. Now rumors are abound of people having the power of shape again and if Danr can learn to wield it, he could be human and spend his life with Aisa. But he is not the only one who wants that power. When two of their friends are held hostage, Danr, Aisa and Talfi must face the fates, Death and a giant wyrm to get that power because if he fails then the enemies that are closing in will destroy all they know and love in one fell swoop.

When I picked up the first book, Iron Axe, it was on a whim and I was looking for something different to read. What I encountered was a story so amazing, edgy and consuming with characters you fell in love with that I immediately grabbed book two after I finished Iron Axe. If you haven’t read book one then don’t worry. The author does a great job in catching up readers in the beginning of BLOOD STORM but I highly recommend reading the trilogy in order to get all the nuances and meet all the characters from the beginning.

 BLOOD STROM picks up months later after the end of Iron Axe and we find Aisa, Danr, Talfi, Kalessa & Ranadar in the port town of Balsia. Things are not easy for them. When they go out in the public, some townspeople want to hear the story of how Danr saved the world; the other half just see him as a half-breed and is evil. But when problems come up between Danr and Aisa, well, let’s just say the enemies of this group of friends decide to use it in ways that will make you scream in agony and wait on the edge of the seat for more.

BLOOD STORM is also about strength…strength of character, of convictions and in oneself and others. Here we see a female character strong not in wielding a weapon and wining battles, but in her convictions and simply being themselves. That goes for all of our four main characters. Strength to do the right thing, to see what others see in themselves and more play a major point in the story. What thrilled me the most was how the author does a great job in showing these characters as they continue to grow and learn about themselves and each other, as they find they are needed in ways they never anticipated or dreamed and that doing the right thing means something totally different to another person?

What I loved the most about this book, heck this series so far, was how the author makes the characters so wildly different yet so enjoyable as well, even the bad guys had a few turns where I sympathized with them even as I rooted for Danr and his friends to defeat them. This is a new to me author and I am finding I can not get enough of this series. I am eager to get back into the story as these characters go on their last leg of the journey and discover more secrets. If you enjoy epic fantasy stories filled with magic, mystery, characters that brim with life and steal your heart then I highly recommend the books of Blood and Iron to you and am eager to see where this author goes next in the final book, Bone War.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement


 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer



Feiwel and Friends
November 8th, 2016
978-1-250-04465-5
Young Adult Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Romance
Hardcover
Reviewed by Dawn (love2read28@gmail.com)
Obtained by Library
4.5 Hearts


Before she became the Queen of Hearts and terrorized Wonderland, all Catherine wanted to do was open a bakery and bake with her best friend. She never anticipated falling in love. But that is a dream her mother tells her is not obtainable. She is for better things, for the unmarried King of Hearts. But when she meets the King’s mysterious court jester, she finds someone she is drawn to, that thrill of attraction and falling in love was never so right. But in a land where magic, madness and monsters lay, Catherine is about to find out that the life she dreams of is not really what fate plans for her.

I have to hand it to the author in creating something so vivid, so magical even as she uses the world that was created for Alice in Wonderland to be the backdrop of HEARTLESS; she creates just enough of a few points to connect the two books but turns it into something wholly its own in the end. With classic lines from Alice such as ‘How is a raven like a writing desk?’, ‘off with their head’ and more, she creates a prequel story that is at turns sweetly romantic, filled with characters that you know and love from the classic story and delivers a lush backdrop of Wonderland to anchor it all. It’s an epic story that will draw you in, consume you and won’t let you go until the very last page is read. This story doesn’t show you just how Catherine became the Queen of Hearts but how the Mad Hatter became mad. It’s a story of a girl who had dreams of her own and finds that though she was determined to reach those dreams, sometimes fate is a fickle thing and life has a way of forcing you to become something else, to dream of something else.

I first got HEARTLESS for my kids from the library but soon fell into the story myself and found myself mesmerized at how the author breathed life into a classic story filled with beloved characters and made them wholly her own. The backdrop of Wonderland is vivid and captures the imagination of the reader right from the beginning. If you are looking for a happy ending kind of story then this is definitely not it. The path to the end of the book is full of twists and turns, scenes that will make you gasp and characters that you tear up over. It’s not for the faint of heart, where you think unicorns and roses will win the day. It’s a gorgeous, well written book that is impressive in it bringing who the characters where before that classic story made them well known and shows how magical, fun, sweet and silly it can  be alongside the darkness that clings to the shadows as well.

Ms. Meyer is a superb storyteller who delivers an epic, heartbreaking story that will leave you in tears in the end because you don’t think the Queen of Hearts can be likable or sympathetic or even enjoyable but in HEARTLESS, the author does just that and does it so well, I forgot I was reading a prequel to the classic story about a character that is so awful in it, you couldn’t help but not like her. All Catherine wanted was a simple life, of work that she loved, of a man who loved her and a life filled with joy & happiness but it wasn’t meant to be. What this author does is so wonderful, so entertaining that I am awestruck by it all even days later after I finished the book. She wrote the perfect bridge to Lewis Carroll’s story and in it delivers a character we can not help but root for, fall in love with and in the end, mourn alongside her as she tries to pick up the pieces of a dream that blew up in her face.

Ms. Meyer has written a story that will thrill you, chill you and steal your heart when you don’t even know it. Her prequel to the Alice in Wonderland story is at turns, sweet, simple, silly and wonderful and then at times dark and shadowy. When the climatic ending comes, even as you know the famed Queen of Hearts is coming, you hold out that she will have a different ending even as it is not meant to be. Fairytale retellings are a hit or miss with me but in this, in HEARTESS, you will find that Ms. Meyer hit it out of the ballpark and delivers a story so wonderful, you can’t help but want more.

As a new reader to this author, I am finding that HEARTLESS makes me long for more of this author’s work and I am eager to see what else is there to enjoy. If you enjoy fairytale retellings, of multidimensional characters that leap off the pages and a story that at turns thrills you even as it chills your heart, then grab HEARTLESS, settle in and get ready for a wild ride because once you start, you won’t want to put it down.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

HER GENTLE GIANT, PART 1: NO REGRETS by Heather Rainier



Publisher: Siren Publishing Inc.
Date published: December 2010
ISBN: 1-61034-054-X
Contemporary, Western, Erotic, Romance
Ebook
Reviewed by Gabrielle (meingee@yahoo.com)
Weblink: http://www.bookstrand.com/her-gentle-giant-part-1

Obtained via
publisher
Rating: 4 Hearts



Eli has been trying to get Rachel to be more than friends with him for months now but she insists that her jealous nature would only break them up in the long run.  She watches the woman fawn all over him at the bar that he works security at and knows that if they she gave in to her feelings for Eli her jealousy would only get worse and cause him strife. Yet when Rachel needs help she feels safe with Eli. He is more than ready to help her and expect nothing in return. This only adds to the feelings growing in Rachel for Eli.  Will Rachel finally see the benefits of a relationship with Eli or will she lose the best thing in her life right now?

When love comes knocking why ignore it? Rachel has fought hard to keep her feelings for Eli at bay but for what? I enjoyed seeing Eli and Rachel's adventure begin. The two are a good match if only Rachel would stop fighting her emotions. Eli is a good man who has eyes for only Rachel. Once Rachel lets Eli in just a little bit her walls begin to crumble and she sees what she has been missing by pushing him away. The two quickly find that they are a perfect pair and it was nice to see the trust and love shine through in everything that they do. As their story evolves Rachel learns to trust and let people in and especially Eli.

This is only the beginning of their story and I am excited to see what happens next for this couple. The author does a wonderful job of bringing the reader into the world of Divine Creek Ranch and immersing you into an engrossing and beautiful love story.


This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.