Sunday, January 14, 2018

Man Card by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby | ARC Review

Man Card (Man Hands #2) by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 452
Source: eARC from Publicist
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Goodreads Description

Nothing ventured, nothing banged...

Ash
I still don't know how it happened. One minute I was arguing with my arrogant competitor--our usual trash-talk over who deserves the larger commission. But somehow I went from throwing down to kneeling down... 
It can never happen again. I don't even like Braht. He's too slick. He's a manipulating mansplaining party boy in preppy clothes.
So why can't I get him out of my head? 

Braht
There are two things I know without question. One: Ash and I are destined for each other. Two: never trust a man with a unibrow.
Ash is my missing my piece. She's the sweet cream to my gourmet espresso. And nothing gets me going faster than her contempt for me. They don't call her the Ashkicker for nothing. 
Eventually I'll win her over...if my past doesn't ruin everything first.

My Thoughts


Last month I had the opportunity to read and review Man Hands, the first book in this series. I enjoyed the story these two authors brought to life through Brynn and Tom. However, going into Man Card I was a little skeptical if I would enjoy the story as much because I wasn't sure the main character and her love interest were a good match.

I'm so happy to say I was proven wrong. I hate to say it but I think I enjoyed Ash and Braht's story more than Brynn and Tom's. Ash and Braht had a lot they needed to work on before they were ready for each other. It took a while for me to warm up to them but ultimately I ended up loving them and their progression from the beginning to the end of this novel.

There were a few times throughout the book when the characters seem to speak directly to the reader. It felt weird and I didn't like it because it pulled me out story each time. Besides this I really enjoyed the story. I was happy I got to see a little of Brynn and Tom and how life for them was after Man Hands. I really hope Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby decide to collaborate at least once more for Sadie. She deserves a happy ending too!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova | Review

The  Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Genre: Adult (YA Crossover), High-Fantasy, Steampunk
Pages: 395
Source: Received from Author
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Goodreads Description

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

My Thoughts


Going into this I wasn't really sure what to expect. The Alchemists of Loom was one of those books that I've wanted to read since the first time I heard about for some reason I never picked it up. I was expecting to enjoy the story but not as much as I did.

At the start of this book we are following Ari as she's out on a mission. On her way home she runs into a Dragon and decides she can't pass up on the opportunity to harvest his organs. The Dragon has to convince her not to harvest her organs as well as help him on a mission of his own. After these two characters come to an agreement the story really begins to take take off.

Characters can make or break a story for me and these characters helped me become immeresed in their story and really care about their story. I loved the majority of the characters. They were all really  well written! I enjoyed seeing how each character developed as the story progressed and I can't wait to see how they continue to do so throughout the rest of the trilogy.

There were parts of this books  that were confusing. I didn't complete understand the magic system and the way the guilds work. I thought as I continued to read I would understand a little better but there wasn't really much explained. Hopefully the sequel gives a little more insight into this. The Alchemists of Loom was unlike anything I've ever read and I can't wait to see where the story goes in The Dragons of Nova.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

In The Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende | Review

In The Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Genre: Historical, Literary Fiction
Pages: 340
Source: Finished Copy from Publisher




Goodreads Description

In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster—a 60-year-old human rights scholar—hits the car of Evelyn Ortega—a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz—a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile—for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.

Exploring the timely issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees, the book recalls Allende’s landmark novel The House of the Spirits in the way it embraces the cause of “humanity, and it does so with passion, humor, and wisdom that transcend politics” (Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post). In the Midst of Winter will stay with you long after you turn the final page.
 

My Thoughts


A goal of mine in 2017 was to try books that are outside of the genres I typically pick up, which really encouraged me to give this book a try. In The Midst of Winter follows three very different people that are brought together due to unlikely circumstances. It takes place over multiple timelines and the main plot follows Richard Bowmaster, Lucia Maraz, and Evelyn Ortega in present day New York. Richard hits Evelyn's car in the middle of a snowstorm. After realizing thing are more serious than they Eem at first Evelyn shows up at Richard's house. Not knowing what to do Richard enlists the help of his neighbor/colleague Lucia and the story between these characters takes off from there.

My favorite thing about this novel was going into the past and learning about where each character came from and how they got to where they currently are. Each character had such a heart breaking story. I loved being able to follow their stories and see how they were able to overcome so much. I also really loved that I learned some things while reading. I had to take a step back and really think about each event in the character's lives and the consequences of those events. I would like to do some research to learn more of the basis where each character's story came from.

While I did enjoy the story I don't think I read this at the right time in my life. It took a lot out of me to get through but I felt like I wasn't retaining a lot of the information. I ended up switching over to the audiobook and once I did I felt like I was able to become completely immersed in the story and really enjoy it. However, I wasn't able to personally connect with any of the characters. Once again, the background of the characters as well as the mystery/thriller component was the main source of my enjoyment. In The Midst of Winter is a book I would like to revisit in the future! For now, it was an entertaining look on what it means to be human and how that experience is affected by different circumstances and experiences.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby | ARC Review

Man Hands (Man Hands #1) by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Expected Publication Date: December 11, 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 180
Source: eARC from Publicist
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Goodreads Description

BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass. 

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer. 

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don't expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life. 

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them. 

But I will find her.

My Thoughts


Man Hands is the first book in a new series by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby. This book is told in dual perspective following Brynn and Tom. Brynn is recently divorced and not really sure where her life is going. Tom's renovation show is on hiatus and he just want to enjoy his time off. Trying to get her over the divorce, Brynn's friends take her to a party where she meets Tom when she literally runs into his arms.

This book was so much fun and I flew through it. From the characters to the plot the story was well done. Also, the writing between the two authors was seamless. I think my favorite part of the book was the characters. Each character had their own personality and I could feel how much thought went into them. I do wish we could have gotten a little more time with them and see the characters really get to know each other. Nonetheless, Man Hands was a sexy, funny read. I can't wait to see what these two authors come up with for Man Card, the next installment in this series.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Bountiful by Sarina Bowen | ARC Review

Bountiful (True North #4) by Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: October 20, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 315
Source: eARC from Publicist
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Goodreads Description

No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on. 

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life. 

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard won love—are Bountiful.

My Thoughts


Bountiful is the fourth standalone in the True North series. I hadn't heard of this series before receiving this book for review. Bountiful follows Dave and Zara after they meet in the bar Zara is running for her uncle in a small town in Vermont. After basically getting dumped Zara decides to use Dave as a distraction for the few weeks he's in town. Fast forward 2 years, Dave is back in town but his plans are quickly derailed when he finds out he has a daughter.

This story is not what I was expecting at all but I still really enjoyed it. Compare to some of the contemporary romance novels I've read lately, Bountiful is more realistic and I really enjoyed that. Zara and Dave both have a past that make it hard for them to open up and truly let someone in. A big part of this book revolved around both of them realizing they deserved more out of life than they kept telling themselves they did. It was nice seeing them take the time to get to know each other and take a chance at being happy.

After reading this I do wish I was able to see Dave interact more with Nicole and the rest of Zara's family. I know everyone wasn't going to completely accept him right away but I feel like I missed out on a big part of Dave's growth as a person. I wasn't a big fan of the abrupt ending. I appreciate that everything wasn't perfectly wrapped up but it just felt like the story ended in the middle of a thought. This is the first book I've read that Sarina Bowen has written by herself. As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed Bountiful and look forward to reading more of her novels.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Emergence by S.G.D. Singh | Review

Emergence (The Infernal Guard #1) by S.G.D. Singh
Publisher: Glory Press
Publication Date: January 30, 2016
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 491
Source: ebook from Author
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Goodreads Description

Seventeen year-old Asha's days are spent training in martial arts, attending homeschool classes, and helping in the kitchens of a luxurious Miami resort which she seldom leaves. Until the night her grandfather arrives home mysteriously injured, accompanied by a terrifying stranger. Asha begins to suspect that nothing is what it seems when she is abruptly sent to Punjab, India to live with relatives she never knew she had. 

Joined by her best friend, Lexi, and her newfound cousin, Nidhan, Asha is soon drawn to an unusual place where the three of them learn that our World is much more than it appears. And there is a good reason people are afraid of the dark. 

Meet The Infernal Guard: Shape-shifting Jodha warriors, Seers of various psychic Talents, Healers, Illusionists, and weapons-creating Tvastars. They are the gifted few who fight to protect our realm from demonic Underworlders escaping the seven lower dimensions of Hindu Mythology's Fourteen Worlds. 

As the next generation of heroes from around the globe gathers to begin training, Asha discovers true love and a family in her friends and instructors. But something in the darkness knows that she alone possesses the rarest Talent of all. Now Asha must find the courage and strength to risk everything she has gained before a devouring evil like no other The Infernal Guard has ever faced destroys our realm's very existence.

My Thoughts


Emergence follows Asha, a 16 year old living with her grandfather in Miami. Her days are filled with home school, martial arts, and helping her grandfather in a restaurant in the resort they live in. At the beginning, Asha's grandfather returns home with mysterious injuries and without any explanation he decides to send her to live with family in Punjab, India.

I have some mixed opinions about this book. Overall I enjoyed the plot and looked forward to seeing how everything worked out. On the other hand while I was reading I found myself picking at things about the writing and composition of the story. One of the biggest problems I had was the pacing. There were times that the story dragged because it was drowned in details that weren't always necessary and other times the scene flew past before I had time to fully grasp what was going on. The training scenes were really well done and I wish there were a few more of them.

By the end, it's clear the story isn't over. I have no idea where the story might go from where it left off. While I think it could have been amazing if it was cleaned up, Emergence is a fun urban fantasy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wicked Torture by J. Kenner | ARC Review

Wicked Torture (Stark World #3) by J. Kenner
Publisher: EverAfter Romance
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 300
Source: eARC from InkSlinger PR
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Goodreads Description

Outwardly, Noah Carter is riding high as the tech world’s hottest new genius. Inside, he’s still reeling from the abduction of his wife and baby daughter eight years ago, and then the devastating discovery of his child’s body. For years, he kept up hope that his wife was alive, but now that she’s been declared legally dead, he’s thrown himself even more deeply into his work, cutting himself off from emotional ties because they just hurt too damn much.

Then he meets Kiki Porter, an eternal optimist with a killer work ethic and dreams of fronting a band. And everything changes. Even though he tries his damnedest to fight it…

Sexually, they are combustible together. But their true fire is emotional, though it is a slow to burn. But once it lights, it is all consuming. The relationship grows emotionally, the sex is hot, things are good.

But just when it’s looking like they might have a real future together, the past comes back to haunt them. And Noah’s going to have to decide what he’s willing to give up for love …

My Thoughts


Wicked Torture is the third book in the Stark World series. Although this is the third book in the series each of them can be read as a standalone. As can be expected when going into a book with characters who have been previously introduced, it was a little unsettling because I felt like there was information about Noah I should have already known. I felt like I was missing out on some things at first but I enjoyed working my way through Noah's story.

At the beginning of this story Noah is reeling with guilt over the loss of his wife and daughter. It has been almost 10 years since they were kidnapped and his daughter's body was found but he hasn't allowed himself to heal. After another failed attempt to distract himself he runs into Kiki, someone connected to his past. I appreciate that it wasn't completely easy for them. Even though the attraction between the two never died, they had to learn to trust each other again and I liked being able to see that process.

I'll admit I'm a skeptical person so I still didn't completely believe everything that happened with Noah's wife. Some parts seemed a little too easy and didn't explain everything that happened. Wicked Torture was a lot darker than I was expecting but I still wanted a little more. This was a fast read and it's one to check out if this sounds like your type of read.