Friday, June 23, 2017

The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White

  From the New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street series comes a stunning new novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems....

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It's not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren't helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee--something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

Sugar's stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother's seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee's house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women...


Opening line:

"The Playing Fields Blog: Observation of Suburban Life from Sweet Apple, Georgie; Written by Your Neighbor"

There is a lot of info in the first bit of this book! Smart, sassy, small town with drama.
What a fun and intriguing story. There were times I wanted to put it down when it dragged just a bit but the author made it so I really wanted to see the relationships grow, the memories expanded on and the mystery solved.
The Night the Lights Went Out was told from a three different viewpoints: Sugar (young and old), Merilee and a anonymous blogger. The blog brought in insight and lots of humor; so did Sugar. She's quite a character (in all sense of the word). She's strong, stubborn Southern woman who knows her own mind and will. But her facade, and secrets, slip away as a newly-divorced mother of two rents out her old home behind where she now lives.
Merilee is fresh of a divorce and painful relationship when she meets Sugar and "the love interest (I heard a man's deep voice draw that out...)." Lucky for Merilee, one of Sweet Apple's favorite daughters is there to scoop her up and take care of her "because that's what friends are for!."
This is a story of relationships on all ends of the spectrum and it was enjoyable to watch the build up of where the grenade finally went off.
I would read another of Ms. White's books!

L: a few swear words
V: a murder and fight at the end
S: kissing

Thanks to netgalley for the early read!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

THE SCOURGE by Jennifer A Nielsen

As a lethal plague sweeps through the land, Ani Mells is shocked when she is unexpectedly captured by the governor’s wardens and forced to submit to a test for the deadly Scourge. She is even more surprised when the test results come back positive, and she is sent to Attic Island, a former prison turned refuge—and quarantine colony—for the ill. The Scourge’s victims, Ani now among them, can only expect to live out short, painful lives there.

However, Ani quickly discovers that she doesn’t know the whole truth about the Scourge or the Colony. She’s been caught in a devious plot, and, with the help of her best friend, Weevil, Ani means to uncover just what is actually going on. But will she and Weevil survive the Scourge—and the gorvernor’s wardens—long enough to make their escape and expose the cruel plan?






  Opening line:
"Few things were worth the risk to my life, but the juicy vine fruit was one of them."

I listened to this book and couldn't stop! Another great book from Jennifer Nielsen! 


5 STARS 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

THE VICAR'S DAUGHTER by Josi S. Killpack

Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There's only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.

Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle's heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted in a new town and in his new position.

A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters.

As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar's daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?



 Opening line:
"Cassie fidgeted with the skirt of her day dress and said a silent prayer: Please help me remain calm."


Cassie is the youngest daughter (out of six) of the vicar and he and his wife have decided that only one daughter will be out in society at a time. This is frustrating for Cassie because her sister, Lenora, is shy and anxious. To "help" Lenora, Cassie starts writing letters to Evan, a man Lenora met at a ball, in Lenora's name. Cassie could not have seen the problematic outcome of her innocent actions. This "help" proves to have a ripple effect that is negative to those involved and those not. This is really where the story sucked me in and held me tight.
Cassie fell in love with Evan. Evan fell in love with the woman in the letters but was determined to get to know Lenora better. Lenora was happy Evan paid attention to her. Then Evan proposed to Lenora and everything went downhill.
I wanted to keep reading to find out how in the world the characters got out of this mess! It really seemed hopeless. Josi Kilpack is an excellent writer who keeps her readers guessing and reading.
I really, really loved the character arcs. Cassie's was especially fascinating to read. She grew and matured so much in the story it was delightful to read.

Thanks to netgalley for the early read. I loved it!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

THREE DARK CROWNS by Kendare Blake

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.


 Opening line:
"A young queen stands barefoot on a wooden block with her arms outstretched."

Oh man! I can't wait to read the next book in this series! 


5 STARS

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

DARK BREAKS THE DAWN from Sara B Larson

On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn onto the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.


   



Opening line:
"The jeweled forest blurred into a tapestry of color as Evelayn sprinted away from the castle."

An intriguing retelling, or the start, of Swan Lake. Princess, danger, magic, bad guys, one cute guy, this book has it all plus a slow burn romance. Is the next one out yet??


5 STARS 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

CONDEMN ME NOT by Heather B. Moore

“This woman was one of the most impudent, scurrilous, wicked creatures of this world; and she did now throughout her whole trial discover herself to be such a one. Yet when she was asked what she had to say for herself, her chief plea was that she had led a most virtuous and holy life.” —Reverend Cotton Mather, 1692

USA Today Bestselling author Heather B. Moore brings the life of her 10th great-grandmother to center stage. Susannah North Martin, accused of witchcraft in 1692, joins five women in the Salem Jail, all sentenced to death for their crimes. Amidst tragedy, Susannah finds hope and compassion as she remembers a well-loved life, and readers discover that love reaches far beyond the grave as Susannah faces the magistrates in Salem.



  Opening line:
"This woman was on of the most impudent, scurrilous, wicked creatures of this world; and she did now throughout her whole trail discover herself to such a one."

If you want a personal, beautiful and haunting look into the Salem Witch Trials, this is your book!

This is the story of the author's 10th great-grandmother, Susannah North Martin, who was hanged during the trials. Even though it was really hard and frustrating to reading the chapters about the time of the trials and Susannah's depraving time in jail, there were chapters of love and hope as Susannah and George meet and court and marry. Heather knows how to write romance so the "love" chapters were sweet.
What I liked too was the quotes and dialogue from the actual accusers. Heather put a lot of time and research into this book and it reads smoothly with the history interweaving with the storytelling.
The story is disturbing in that humans could treat other humans so badly. Just straight up lie and someone would die. With that said, if it made me uncomfortable (in the sense of lack of human kindness), it was well-written.

I'd recommend this book to anyone older reader (older teens and up).
There are scenes where the victims are stripped to nothing and scrutinized and abused; death; kissing; intimate touching; martial relationships (not graphic).

Thanks for the early read! I loved it! And I LOVE the cover!


5 STARS

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Vicar's Daughter by Josi S. Kilpack

Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There's only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.

Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle's heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted in a new town and in his new position.

A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters.

As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar's daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?


 Opening line:
"Cassie fidgeted with the skirt of her day dress and said a silent prayer: Please help me remain calm."

Cassie is the youngest daughter (out of six) of the vicar and he and his wife have decided that only one daughter will be out in society at a time. This is frustrating for Cassie because her sister, Lenora, is shy and anxious. To "help" Lenora, Cassie starts writing letters to Evan, a man Lenora met at a ball, in Lenora's name. Cassie could not have seen the problematic outcome of her innocent actions. This "help" proves to have a ripple effect that is negative to those involved and those not. This is really where the story sucked me in and held me tight.
Cassie fell in love with Evan. Evan fell in love with the woman in the letters but was determined to get to know Lenora better. Lenora was happy Evan paid attention to her. Then Evan proposed to Lenora and everything went downhill.
I wanted to keep reading to find out how in the world the characters got out of this mess! It really seemed hopeless. Josi Kilpack is an excellent writer who keeps her readers guessing and reading.
I really, really loved the character arcs. Cassie's was especially fascinating to read. She grew and matured so much in the story it was delightful to read.

Thanks to netgalley for the early read. I loved it!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN by Emily R. King

 As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda’s only hope for escape lies in an arcane, forbidden power that’s buried within her.

In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own




Opening line:
"Snowy mountains tear into the ashen sky, their jagged peaks pearly, like wolverine fangs."

So starts one of the best books I've read this year. Why? Why is it one of my favorites? I got sucked into the book, characters, story and couldn't pull myself out. Heart-pounding adventure, romance and intrigue. Wow. So well written. Ms. King's words are mesmerizing and kept me reading long after I should have been asleep.
Kalinda is an orphan, raised by the Sisterhood, destined to quiet and prayers. But that doesn't really suit her and we come to love her quiet rebelliousness. She must fight to stay alive to become the Hundredth Queen. She's smart, strong and driven to do what's right. I love how she's disgusted with the way the men treat the women.
Deven is the guard is suppose to watch over her. But he gets too close to her and develops a relationship and then more. He's torn between his duty to the empire and his growing admiration (or is it love?) for Kalinda.
Tarek is the rajah is greedy, crazy and cruel, and he is the one who Claimed her and is suppose to marry her. I wanted him to choke on his tongue so many times.
And all of this story is set on the backdrop of an exquisite country and palace. Ms. King has a way with words that develop not only characters, but the worlds in which the characters live. The food, the clothes, the country and its people. I felt like I was there, like I could reach out and touch the Turquoise Palace.

I can't wait to read the next book! Hurry and get it out on shelves!

Violence: Fighting.  Lots of fighting, but not super descriptive. 
Language: No
Sex: Sexual tension; kissing

5 STARS

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

BLODD ROSE REBELLION by Roaslyn Eves

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.


Opening line:

"I did not set out to ruin my sister's debut."

I couldn't put this book down. I even tried to read it in church...
 
I loved the writing, the Hungarian folklore and history and the magic.  

Anna Arden is a blight on her family, at least that's what her mother says to her often enough. The older sister is the cherished one and has the talent with magic. After Anna ruins her sister's debut, Anna is sent off to Hungary with her grandmother.  She loves her grandmother and all her tales. But in Hungary, the tales just might be true. 

She meets family she's never met, makes friends with people she shouldn't have and finds herself in the middle of a revolution. One side wants her to help, another side wants her to desist and other's want her to stay away from magic all together.
There are choices she needs to make and she's overwhelmed by wanting to make things right. 

Thanks to netgalley for the early read!





Tuesday, February 14, 2017

LOVE ME TRUE: Overcoming the Surprising Ways We Decieve in Relationships by Jason B. Whiting, PhD, LMFT

 Even though love should be beautiful and fun, it can also cause emotional ups and downs. In Love Me True, marriage and family therapist Dr. Jason B. Whiting uses engaging, relatable stories to show that deception is often at the root of relationship breakdown and teach how couples can use truth to strengthen their relationships.

•Understand your own tendencies to lie.
•Avoid playing the victim.
•Use body language to communicate more effectively.
•Be present with your partner.

Use Whiting’s counsel to overcome dishonesty and build a more open and trusting partnership.






Opening line:
"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances:
If there is any reaction, boy are transformed. Carl Jung"

This book would be a good one for those thinking of marriage, engaged or long-time married spouses. Each chapter is full of relationship stories, thoughtful examples and ideas. At the end of each chapter, Mr. Whiting sums up the main points and discussions questions.

There were a lot of insights I took away from the book. Understanding my emotions is a good way to start! Anger, fear, pain can all make me lash out at all those around me without thinking what I'm feeling or saying.

I also learned there's a lot more to dishonesty than lying.

This is a quick read with understandable concepts and not weighed down in a lot of therapy jargon.

Monday, January 23, 2017

DAUGHTER OF ISHMAEL by Diane Tolley BLOG TOUR and SPOTLIGHT!

I'm spotlighting Diane Tolley's book Daughter of Ishmael!
(Isn't the cover pretty??)


Hannah, faithful third daughter of Ishmael has been raised happily in the home of an honourable man. A woman wholly committed to her Saviour. A woman who understands Nephi’s love of the scriptures and commitment to the gospel and secretly longs for such a husband, but finds herself given in marriage to his older brother, Lemuel.
Through the women’s eyes, Daughter of Ishmael follows the family of Ishmael as they commit themselves to Lehi and find their faith tested in the wilderness. Recounts their struggles there with deaths, births and apostasy. Tells of their time in Bountiful and the building of a ship. And their suffering below decks on the Great Irriantum when Laman and Hannah’s husband, Lemuel battle the Lord Himself in their drive to defeat Nephi and take control of the family.
Even their arrival in the Promised Land isn’t without its challenges as they settle. Pride, envy and greed are planted along with the crops and Hannah finds herself more and more in the breach, wanting with all her heart to follow the righteous principles that are so much a part of her, but thwarted constantly by the actions of her husband and brother by marriage.
When the final split becomes necessary, Hannah is torn between the faithful branch of the family she yearns to follow and the husband and son she is wholly committed to.
Will she stay and endure the weight of a hundred, hundred generations of sin? Or do the unthinkable and leave her family to follow her prophet?



Trained in journalism and raised by a family of storytellers, Diane Stringam Tolley has spent her life writing. From her first published work, “The Scary House,” penned in Mrs. Hainsworth’s grade six class, to her tenth novel, “Daughter of Ishmael,” Tolley has dipped into every genre from sci-fi/fantasy to spiritual. Her Christmas book, “Carving Angels,” has been featured on the “best of” holiday lists for Edmonton Public Libraries since its first release in 2011. And her follow-up novel, “Kris Kringle’s Magic” (2012) is currently a standard for discussions on prejudice and bullying throughout the Black-Gold region. Drawing on her upbringing on one of the last of the great old ranches of Southern Alberta, Tolley’s stories are filled with unforgettable characters, warm, family connections, and the strength of faith and love.