Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy | Review

Title: The Last of the Firedrakes
Author: Farah Oomerbhoy
Pages: 488
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Goodreads Rating: 3.89 stars
Published: August 15th, 2015
Source: Paperback/from publisher


16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way.

Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

My Thoughts:

This one took me a little while to get started, and it's not because the book didn't bring me into the story quickly - it is because I actually lost the book for a while, and once I found it and had gotten into the story, I lost it again.  Can I blame in on "mommy-brain"? *smacks head*

While I really liked the story as a whole, it was a little difficult for me to really connect with the main character Aurora {called "Rory" for a good portion of the story}.  This book is a true Young Adult, with the characters having attitudes and thought processes like a young adult would have.  As an almost-35-year-old woman, it would take me a little bit to get into the mindset of a young person.  Were we all so hot-headed as young people?

The premise of The Last of the Firedrakes is a fun one, with a girl never having known her biological family suddenly being thrust into the world they are from {and the world she is from}, and quickly discovering she is the very last in a powerful family that could bring peace to a country tortured by her very own aunt.

I really don't want to give too much away, but it's a very enjoyable story.  If you like YA fantasy, you will probably enjoy reading The Last of the Firedrakes.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Arrogant Devil by R.S. Grey | Review

Title: Arrogant Devil
Author: R.S. Grey
Pages: Unknown
Goodreads Rating: 4.73 stars
Published: March 10th, 2018
Source: eARC/from author


Everyone in Cedar Creek, Texas, knows Jack McNight is an arrogant devil. Physically, I get it: he’s tan and fit, with coal-black hair that’s clearly been scorched by hellfire. Oh, and his personality? It burns just as hot.

When I show up on the doorstep of Blue Stone Ranch, I’m run-down and rockin’ my last pair of underwear. I’m hoping for a savior, but instead, I find him.

My opinion of Jack is marred by a dismal first impression, but his opinion of me is tainted even before I arrive. He’s heard I’m a spoiled princess there to take advantage of his goodwill. To him, I’m more trouble than I’m worth.

Our button-pushing banter should get under my skin. His arrogance should be a major turn-off. Problem is, devils are known to offer their own form of temptation.

Every one of his steely glares sends a shiver down my spine.

Every steamy encounter leaves me reeling.

Sure, it could be the Texas heat messing with my head, but there’s no way I’ll survive the summer without silencing him with a kiss and wrestling him out of those Wranglers.

Who knows…going to bed with the devil might just be the salvation I’ve been looking for all along

My Thoughts:

She's done it again! R.S. Grey is definitely the queen of Rom Com, and I tip my hat to her.  Arrogant Devil has a bit more drama than her other books, and I just want to throw out a bit of a trigger warning with this one because of the verbal abuse flashbacks.

Meredith looks like she has the perfect life, and most everyone in her life sees it through Instagram-tinted glasses.  So everyone in her life is stunned when she up and leaves her husband of five years in the middle of the night with nothing but the designer clothes on her back.  But she knew she couldn't pack or plan it without chickening out at the last minute.

Jack is married to his ranch, and that's the way he likes it.  He doesn't want to trust anyone {other than his grandmother, Edith} and he won't love anyone and he sure as hades doesn't want a spoiled California princess as a housekeeper, especially if she's going to be running back to her husband after her tantrum subsides.  At least, that's what he thinks.

I'll admit I was a little wary of this book, only because Rachel writes the romance part of Rom Com so well, and Meredith, while having been checked out of her marriage for quite a long time, is still married in the eyes of the law.  I found myself both wanting to see Meredith and Jack get together and not wanting it to happen.  And while Rachel is also the queen of Slow Burn, she did a great job building up the relationship between Jack and Meredith without concentrating on the sexual aspect.  There are steamy bits, but most of that waits until what I would consider a decent time for both of them.

Watching the relationship between Meredith and Jack grow was brilliant and beautiful.  And along with gaining a friend in Jack, she gains family with Edith, something she never really had, despite having both her parents living and well and a older half sister too.  To see Meredith gain a family after not having had one for so long and being trapped in a horrible marriage made my heart so happy.  R.S. Grey always gives her couples their happily ever after, but the journeys are always so different and great to go on with some amazing characters.  Arrogant Devil fits that bill, and was a very entertaining read!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night | Review

Title: The Crowns of Croswald
Author: D.E. Night
Pages: 314
Stories Untold Press
Goodreads Rating: 4.06 stars
Published: July 21st, 2017
Source: paperback/from author


In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret… 

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic––and her life––is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

My Thoughts:

I went into reading this thinking it would be similar to Harry Potter, and on the surface the summary really is: young, nonmagical girl discovers she is magical and goes to a school for magical young people.  But that's where the similarities end.  And while I love Harry Potter, this story holds a place in my heart for a whole other reason.

I love young Ivy.  She is so uncertain in the beginning and just cannot believe she is a scrivner - she has magic!  Something she wished for since she was a young scaldrony maid, stoking the dragons who made the food in the House of Plum.  She spent her small amount of free time drawing memories of dreams or reading the books her dwarf friend Rimbrick brought her.  When she suddenly found herself without a home and with a kitchen dragon on her own, she barely has time to think before she's whisked away to her magical future at the Halls of Ivy.

The Crowns of Croswald was a fun ride!  While I'd originally been expecting one kind of magical story, I was transported to a world of a completely different kind of magic!  Like a cross between a bit of Harry Potter and a whole lot of Eyes Like Stars, The Crowns of Croswald is a world all its own with magical creatures, potions, spells and characters with special powers!

*disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Friday, April 27, 2018

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber | Review

Title: Reclaiming Shilo Snow
Author: Mary Weber
Pages: 352
Thomas Nelson
Goodreads Rating: 4.31 stars
Published: March 6th, 2018
Source: Physical ARC/from publisher


Trapped on the ice-planet of Delon, gamer girl Sofi and Ambassador Miguel have discovered that nothing is what it seems, including their friends. On a quest to rescue her brother, Shilo, a boy everyone believes is dead, they must now escape and warn Earth of Delon’s designs on humanity. Except the more they unearth of the planet and Sofi’s past, the more they feel themselves unraveling, as each new revelation has Sofi questioning the very existence of reality.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Sofi’s mom, Inola, is battling a different kind of unraveling: a political one that could cost lives, positions, and a barely-rebuilt society, should they discover the deal made with the Delonese.
But there’s a secret deeper than all that. One locked away inside Sofi and ticking away with the beginnings, endings, and answers to everything. Including how to save humanity.

My Thoughts:

How can I review this book and not have spoilers everywhere?  I'm not entirely sure I can, honestly, but I will give it a try!

Picking up right where The Evaporation of Sofi Snow left off, Reclaiming Shilo Snow dives more into the family relationships while taking you on the ride of your life.  While I felt like Sofi Snow had left me with more questions than anything, Shilo rapid-fire answered a lot of those questions and left me reeling.  Some of the answers were not what I wanted, and left me with a bit of an ache in my chest.

One of the most defining moments {for me} in this book was one I thought I was ready for in the first book.  Nay, not even just ready for, but almost even wanting.  By a third of the way through the second book, I knew I wanted that moment to happen.  But, oh man, Mary practically said "Kari, I know you want this.  I know many of my readers want this.  But *pauses* *writes more*... there.  Sorry, but it just had to be done.  And I know you still might not want your original desire, but I'm going to give it to you anyway."  To which I just said "noooooooooo!!!"

Mary has been very open about using this book to shine a giant light on human trafficking, and if you've read it you can see that just screaming from the pages.  It's a eerie, haunting fictional representation of how that takes place, with people high up in society not just turning a blind eye, but helping those who would take our young ones and use them however they see fit.  This book had me holding my kids close and wanting to be there for them for every little aspect of their lives.

This last year Mary Weber has cemented herself as one of my auto-buy authors, this book just confirming how I feel about her writing style.

*disclaimer: I recieved an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for posting an original photo on Intagram and an honest review*

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Refuge of the Heart by Ruth Logan Herne | Review

Title: Refuge of the Heart
Author: Ruth Logan Herne
Pages: 336
Franciscan Media
Goodreads Rating: 4.73 stars
Published: September 25th, 2015
Source: Paperback/from publisher

District Attorney Mitchell Sanderson wanted for nothing and lost everything in a tragic accident. A dogged worker, Mitch’s conviction rate earned him respect and trust. Now up for re-election, Mitch’s law-and-order persona makes him a shoo-in candidate. But when faith, conscience and love of a troubled refugee ripple the smooth waters of his existence, can Mitch risk everything for love?

Magdalena Serida fought her way out of the terrors of a government-quelled insurgent uprising in Chechnya. The church-sponsored refugee knows the horrors of war first-hand. Now in America with her five-year-old sister, Lena is uncertain who to trust. Her Christian faith has maintained her through the loss of her family, but when Mitch Sanderson shows interest, Lena longs to take a chance. Should she open herself up to this man of law and order, a man who imprisons women like her? Or slip quietly back into the shadowed fringe of anonymity?

But choices slip away when Mitch’s friend spews half-truths about Lena, rumors that cost Mitch his new love and possibly the election. Can he find his way to a faith deep enough to love again, and to offer Lena the refuge of his heart.

My Thoughts:

Okay, I'm honestly having a little trouble collecting all my thoughts for this!  So this might be a little more of a bullet review.  Disclaimer: I received this book free from the author for an honest review.  Here I go!

The book follows the story of Lena and her little sister Anna, both refugees from Chechnya who have been in the US for a couple years.  Lena was working towards a nursing degree so she can continue doing what God had called her for and provide for her sister (she had just graduated with her doctorate before her and her mother were taken by a Russian officer).  She had many things happen to both her and her mother that still haunt her, things she just does not want to share with anyone unless absolutely necessary.

Mitch Sanderson was... content with where he was in life.  He was skating by in life, had dove into his work so hard that he had absolutely no time for anything else.  After losing his wife and unborn child in an accident, everything he had truly loved was gone and he didn't want to face it.  Then, one day, he helped a young woman with her flat tire, and he started to see what he was missing.

I love the story of Mitch and Lena (and Anna)!  I was drawn into their world and hoping they would both learn to trust the other and lean on them.  At first it seemed like Lena would have the hardest time trusting Mitch, and that was true.  But Mitch had a difficult time trusting Lena with his heart as well.  At one point he pushed her away so hard, and it was all because he couldn't trust that she would tell him the truth - without even asking her one simple question: "why?"

Ruth Logan Herne is a wonderful story teller, bringing characters to life in a world you will get so engrossed in, you'll feel like you're there.  I actually had my fireplace going one of the days I was reading, because I just felt so cold when she was describing how cold Lena and Anna always were during the cold months where they live!  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I hope anyone reading this review decides to pick it up and enjoys it too.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Taming Him by Kennedy Fox | Review

Title: Taming Him
Author: Kennedy Fox
Pages: 394
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Goodreads Rating: 4.39 stars
Published: January 30th, 2018
Source: eARC/from author


Alex Bishop is your typical cowboy.
Charming, sexy, and wears a panty-melting smirk. 

Working on the ranch helped build his solid eight-pack and smoking body. He's every girl's wet fantasy, and he knows it too. Alex doesn't follow the rules of your typical playboy bachelor. After wining and dining his dates and giving them the best night of their lives, he always sends flowers and calls the next day—even if it's to say, let's just be friends. His mama taught him manners after all, and his Southern blood knows how to be a gentleman. Still, that isn’t enough to tame the wildest of the Bishop brothers. 

River Lancaster has finally met the man of her dreams. Too bad after six months of romantic bliss, she finds out he's married. With a broken heart and blind rage, she books herself a ticket to Key West, Florida. Tired of cheaters and liars, she’s set on escaping to forget he ever existed. Who needs a man when there's an all-you-can-drink margarita bar, anyway? That's what she tells herself until she bumps into the right guy who can make all those bad memories disappear.

Even if it's only temporarily. 

Two weeks on the beach is what they both need. No strings attached, no expectations, no broken hearts. Too bad the universe has other plans—one that'll change the entire course of their lives in just nine short months.

My Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings for some of the Kennedy Fox books I've read, but that's not to say I don't enjoy them!  I love how they portray the lead women in the book as strong and not in desperate need of a man, but when finding one that completes them so well they know to hold on to that {or run and get him back!}.  

I love River.  I love that she's a nurse, and her reasons for being a PICU nurse.  I know a lot of nurses, so seeing her finally take some time to herself and go on vacation at the beginning made me do a little sigh for her.  She has such a big heart!  That being said, I"m a little surprised in her choice of best friend, because she seemed to just be wasted the entire trip and wanting River to just find a random hookup to bang her brains out {how is that what someone in their late-20s wants to do for their entire vacation?  I get the strong libido and wanting her to loosen up, but good lord!}.

Alex is a major player, but at least he knows he is and doesn't try to sugar-coat it for any of the woman he uses.  Of course, when him and River meet in Key West, they immediately click and start a bit of a shag-here-bucket-list. They don't spend the entire vacation in bed and do go and see some of the sights, but they do spend a good deal of time between the sheets {or in the water, on the beach, etc}.  I didn't have too much of a problem with that, really.  I mean, this is a sexy book, so I expected it to be, well, sexy.

After parting ways, the story follows Alex more than River, and the player went from shagging any pretty thing who'd let him to being so hung up over the woman he spent a week and a half with that everyone knows who she is and is getting fed up with Alex moping about her.  A few of his brothers straight up tell him that they don't believe she's even real.

The story takes a pleasant turn, when River confronts Alex about being pregnant.  Now, I have a little bit of a frustration with this point.  I understand people make mistakes, condoms aren't 100% effective, and stuff can interfere with birth control pills.  Seeing that River is an intelligent adult and a nurse, she should have known that being on an antibiotic would make her birth control pill ineffective.  She acknowledges that after she's talking to Alex about being pregnant, but I would think a nurse who doesn't want to get pregnant from a fling with a guy she has said she won't even contact after their week together would be hyper aware of how her birth control work and make sure a condom was used no mater what since that would also protect her from STDs.

Another thing that drove me bonkers was how every man in the Bishop family thought they would be responsible for any woman getting pregnant with multiples.  One of them is a flipping doctor, for goodness sake!  He should know the basic biology that a man just provides the sperm, it's all up to either the woman with how many times she ovulates or God and if he decides to split the fertilized egg.  {BTW, if you're wondering the twins in the Bishop family are identical, so it's totally just a random, God decided it would happen kind of thing.}

Overall, two big quirks aside, I did enjoy this book.  Would I recommend it to others?  I think that would really depend on their taste and if I know quirks like the ones in this book would bug them.  I know a lot of bookish friends who wouldn't care and would just enjoy it, and for the most part I really did too.  But between those two things and the overabundance of cussing, I just had a hard time with it.  I know cursing is something pretty common in a lot of these kinds of books, but it just rubs me the wrong way to be used so much and so flippantly.  If that doesn't bother you, you'd probably enjoy this book a lot more than I did!  I found myself mentally replacing some of the unneeded curse words with my "mommy versions" or even just something not so intense/harsh.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Beau & The Belle by R.S. Grey | Review

Title: The Beau & The Belle
Author: R.S. Grey
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Goodreads Rating: 4.44 stars
Published: February 2nd, 2018
Source: eARC/from author

Beau Fortier starred in most of my cringe-worthy teenage fantasies.

I met him when I was a junior in high school, a time that revolved exclusively around bad hair, failed forays into flirting, and scientific inquiries into which brand of toilet paper worked best for stuffing bras.

That is, until Beau moved into the small guest house just beyond my bedroom window. 

A 24-year-old law student at Tulane, Beau was as mysterious to me as second base (both in baseball and in the bedroom). He was older. Intimidating. Hot. Boys my age had chicken legs and chubby cheeks. Beau had calloused hands and a jaw cut from steel. Our interactions were scarce—mostly involving slight stalking on my end—and yet deep down, I desperately hoped he saw me as more of a potential lover than a lovesick loser.

Turns out, I was fooling myself. My fragile ego learned that lesson the hard way.

Now, ten years later, we’re both back in New Orleans, and guess who suddenly can’t take his eyes off little ol’ me.

My old friend, Mr. Fortier.

But things have changed. I’m older now—poised and confident. My ego wears a bulletproof vest. The butterflies that once filled my stomach have all perished.

When I was a teenager, Beau warned me to guard my heart.

Let’s hope he knows how to guard his.

My Thoughts:

You've read the blurb, so I'm not going to tell you what The Beau & The Belle is about.  I will tell you it'll rock your socks off, and possibly make you cringe as you remember any embarrassing teenage crushes you had in the past {oh lord, I'm just glad none of mine ever lived with my family, even in a guest house out back!}.

I love Lauren, both the past version and the present one.  In the beginning she has the upbringing many people could only wish for, and even though she resents some of it {cotillion}, she knows its ridiculous to slap a gift horse in the face {this mainly pertains to her schooling, which she almost wants to toss for her crush}.  Thankfully she doesn't, she goes to school and becomes an amazing career woman, who uses her knowledge and a lot of trust money to start a new business after working for a very prestigious company for a few years out of college.

And Beau... poor, handsome, thoughtful Beau.  First falling for her innocence and trying to protect it from stupid high school boys, their paths cross again 10 years later and he's struck with the woman she's become, as well as how much of Lauren's younger self he still sees in her.

The romance between the two is sizzling, so much so that I think my tablet got a little on the hot side.  I might have had to fan myself off a bit.  I love that this can't be classified quite as friends-to-lovers, but at the same time its not enemies-to-lovers.  I think Lauren would call it the later and Beau would call it the former!  Maybe it's more of a made-for-each-other romance?  They both compliment each other so well, as soon as they come back into each other's lives after 10 years apart.

I love a good comedy and a slow burn romance, and TB&TB brings both.  After being immersed in the world of New Orleans, I have now put it on my bucket list {much to my husband's chagrin}.  Rachel is so detailed in her writing, I felt like I was actually there.  It's currently about 55 degrees or cooler where I live, but I found myself sipping lemonade while reading {and thankful it wasn't Mrs. LeBlanc's acid-like lemonade!}.
Rachel has done it again. As far as I'm concerned, she is the queen of Rom-Com, and I'm not sure she will ever be replaced.  I've read 4 {or 5?} of her books, and each one has been at least a solid 4 star read for me, more often then not landing in the 5 star rating.  The Beau & The Belle might be my favorite so far, though The Foxe & The Hound is a very close second!