Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey | Review

Title: Not So Nice Guy
Author: R.S. Grey
Goodreads Rating: 4.36 stars
Published: August 9th, 2018
Source: ebook/from author


"Oh my god. Who that?"
I get asked this question a lot.
"Oh him?" I reply. "That's just Ian."

Just Ian is the biggest understatement of the century.
Just the Mona Lisa. Just the Taj Mahal. Just Ian, with his boring ol' washboard abs and dime-a-dozen dimpled smile.

Just Ian is... just my best friend.

We're extremely close, stuck so deep inside a Jim-and-Pam-style friendzone everyone at works assumes we're a couple - that is until one day, word spreads through the teacher's lounge that he's single. Fair game. Suddenly, it's open season on Ian.

He should be reveling in all the newfound attention, but to our mutual surprise, the only attention he seems to want is mine.

He's turning our formerly innocent nightly chats into x-rated phone calls. Our playful banter sports a new, dangerous edge.

I want to assume he's playing a prank on me, just pushing my buttons like always - but when Ian lifts me onto the desk in my classroom and slides his hands up my skirt, he doesn't leave a lot of room for confusion.

I'm a little scared of things going south, of losing my best friend because I can't keep my hands to myself. So, I'm just going to back away and not return this earth-shattering kiss - oh who am I kidding?!

Goodbye Ian, ol' buddy, ol' pal!

Helloooo mister not so nice guy.

My Thoughts:

While I love all of R.S. Grey's RomComs pretty equally, I think this one is my new favorite.  Adam & Madeline {The Foxe and The Hound} have been a steady favorite since I first discovered Rachel's books a year or so ago {has it really only bee that long??}, but I think Ian & Sam are my new favorites.  Sorry, Adam & Madeline - I will always love you guys too!

It takes a really fantastic writer to create two characters who are believably just friends, while both secretly wanting to be more.  Almost all the stories I've read of friends to lovers there is something that happens that makes one or both characters suddenly become attracted to each other.  Rachel gives us two amazing characters who are basically head over heels for each other within a few months, but remain very good friends for years.  All without the other having any clue about their mutual feelings.

And, in true Rachel fashion, she is the absolute QUEEN of Rom Coms.  I was cracking up within the first 10 pages, and found myself constantly laughing at Sam and Ian's antics and banter.  Oh, the banter was superb!  They are very clearly the best of friends, and it shows in the way the talk and their attitudes towards each other.  I think I might just live a little for the banter in each of her books {the rest of my living goes to my husband and kids}.

I am so sad to be done with this book - its been one of the highlights of my summer reading and I just really wanted it to go on forever {or maybe more than 24 hours}!  No matter what I have going on, if I find myself picking up one of R.S. Grey's books, I usually finish it within a couple days {and any of her books would have totally been one day reads back when I didn't have kids!}, then immediately regretting my binging because why didn't I make it last??  You would think I've learned my lesson by now, but nope.  I'm the fat kid, and Grey's books are my cake after crash dieting - I eat them up as soon as I get them!

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes | Review

Title: Fawkes
Author: Nadine Brandes
Pages: 448
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Goodreads Rating: 4.03 stars
Published: July 10th, 2018
Source: Hardcover/bought


Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

My Thoughts: 

Historical fiction is my first love.  And historical fiction with some fantastical, magical elements is quite possibly my first love, returned and looking like something I could have never imagined.  You know when you see a character in a movie reminiscing about their first love from childhood, and suddenly that person shows up and its like WHOA, this person is more than they could have even dreamed of!

Nadine Brandes is a word wizard, and her novel Fawkes is a spell she's cast over all of us lucky enough to read it.  I love how she takes things from history, twists them up so tightly and perfectly with her fictional world, and presents them in the bindings of this book.  While I have her Out Of Time trilogy, this is actually the first book of hers I've read.  I plan on rectifying that soon.

Thomas Fawkes is such a complex character with so many things going against him... but one thing that ends up being the best thing for him {don't worry, no spoilers as to what that is!}.  Thomas does all he can think to do to help rid himself of the Stone Plague and get his color power.  He befriends an Igniter, and slowly starts to question everything he's known was true and right.

I love the Lutheran twist this story takes with the color powers.  I don't want to give too much away, but its fun to read through and know some of the history that Nadine ties in with her magical fantasy.

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.