Tuesday, May 31, 2016

REVIEW Tangled by Kate Douglas

by Kate douglas
Cassie as a temptation, Nate doesn't stand a chance.

Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks

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Categories ~ contemporary romance, intrigue 

Nate shows up to work at Tangled Vineyards ready to do what he loves best—craft award-winning wines. But when something better comes in the form of Cassie, the winemaker and former owner, Nate is completely love-drunk. Getting involved with Tangled's mixologist is a bad way to start off a new job, but with Cassie as a temptation, Nate doesn't stand a chance.

I was first introduced to Nate and Cassie in Intimate from the Intimate Relations series. In that book I became very curious about these two characters and I was excited to see this short story come out explaining their back story. The author does a great job in this short story of creating fully developed characters that are both exciting and interesting. There is definitely some intrigue as well with a secret her father is keeping.

The reader will enjoy this story because they can read it in one sitting when they don't have a large block of time to read but like to read in one sitting.

A copy was gifted in exchange for an honest opinion via Netgalley.

Books in the Intimate Relation Series
Intimate (Intimate Relations #1) ~ my review
Redemption (Intimate Relations #2) ~ my review
Awakened (Intimate Relations #3) ~ my review
Tangled my review 
(though not technically part of the series the characters are in each of the other books)

Some people just seem to know they are meant to write, but it can still take a while to figure out exactly what their career will entail. Kate Douglas started out writing radio copy for a country western radio station in 1972, wrote and illustrated an educational cartoon strip for the American Mosquito Control Association for a number of years, was a newspaper reporter for a small town weekly where she covered everything from high school sports to drug busts, and then, in the mid-1980s, decided to write her first romance.

Many submissions and rejections followed.

In 1998, she published with a small ebook publisher before anyone knew what an ebook was, but it wasn't until 2005, a full twenty years after finishing that first romance, that she signed with a New York publisher.

In January 2006, Kensington Publishing launched their Aphrodisia imprint of erotic romance with Kate's Wolf Tales, a sexy paranormal series about a lost race of shapeshifters. Kate has continued on as the imprint's lead author, with twenty-one novels and novellas in the full Wolf Tales series. She also has a series with Kensington's Zebra imprint, DemonSlayers, and has just completed her latest Aphrodisia series, Dream Catchers, which opened with the NightShift anthology and her novella, Dream Catcher, followed by the novels Dream Bound and Dream Unchained.

Her next series, Spirit Wild, debuts April 30, 2013 with Dark Wolf. This is a spin-off series that takes place in the Chanku world readers first met in Wolf Tales. Characters are the grown children of the first Chanku.

Kate and her husband of over forty years have two adult children and six grandchildren. They live in the small town of Healdsburg, California, in the heart of the beautiful Sonoma County wine country. 

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Monday, May 30, 2016

#USofBooks ~ NY ~ GUEST REVIEW Drown by Junot Diaz

For more information on the United States of Books (click here for details).

The United States of Books the State of New York

Drown by Junot Diaz

Reviewer ~ Serena Agusto-Cox at Savvy Verse & Wit

~ Review ~

Drown by Junot Díaz, which Entertainment Weekly selected to represent New York, is not set in New York.  It is set in New Jersey.  In most cases, the neighborhoods in New Jersey can be transposed over those in New York City.  However, given that the young boy views a trip across the bridge as a trip to another world, these New Jersey neighborhoods are unique in terms of how many residents are Dominican and how those residents interact with other minorities.  EW said that the "book of stories stands out for its depiction of immigrants striving for their own versions of the American dream," which is an accurate description.

There are 10 stories in this collection, and Díaz never shies away from the darkness that can envelop an immigrant's life, especially when jobs and money are scarce and discrimination is around many corners.  A young immigrant boy must come to terms with his new life in the United States, after spending his early years feeling abandoned by his father.  Living an impoverished life with his mother and brother in the Dominican Republic, waiting for money from their father or even word from him, was somewhat easier because of its familiarity.  In the United States, these children must learn to live with a father they barely know, and it is a jarring experience.
"The uniforms Mami could do nothing about but with the mascotas she improvised, sewing together sheets of loose paper she had collected from her friends.  We each had one pencil and if we lost that pencil, like I once did, we had to stay home from school until Mami could borrow another one for us." (pg. 71, "Aguantando")
The immigrants in these stories are from the Dominican Republic, but even that does not summarize the power of these tales.  A family is fractured by a man with big dreams, but even those dreams are not enough to keep his focus most of the time.  One day after pledging his devotion to his wife and children, he takes his family's money and flies to the United States, leaving his wife and two sons behind.  They live a squalid life to say the least, and while they make the best of it with the girls and the friends they have on the dirty streets, they know that there is something missing, and in some cases even blame themselves for the empty space.

Drown by Junot Díaz is gritty.  There are dark alleys, drug deals, fights, and sexual promiscuity, but there also is a desolation as these immigrants find that they are without an anchor in American but unable to return comfortably to their former lives.  Immigration can provide opportunity, but it also can provide paths that are unsavory and dark, leading to loss and hardship, similar to those left behind in their home countries.  These stories seek to shed light on the darker side of immigration and the breakup of families in search of an American dream.

Rating: Quatrain

About the Author:
Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed DrownThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

REVIEW Stepping Over the Line by Laura Marie Altom

Stepping Over the Line
(Stepbrother #1)
by Laura Marie Altom
If you love the stepbrother romances of Sabrina Paige, Caitlin Daire, and Krista Lakes, you’ll fall hard for Laura Marie Altom’s tale of forbidden love—a red-hot novel in her Shamed series featuring two tortured souls with an unbreakable bond.

Find This Book At ~ Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Categories ~ contemporary romance, stepbrother romance
Audience 18+ 

As the chief legal counsel for dot-com billionaire Liam Stone, Garrett Marsden has grown accustomed to being universally loathed. In fact, he welcomes it. Because the bigger the fight, the easier it is to run from his desire for someone he can never have: his stepsister. But when Garrett flies back to Julep, Mississippi, for Savannah’s med school graduation, a steamy encounter makes all his wildest dreams come true—and leads to his undoing. Because that’s when he meets Savannah’s boyfriend.

Five years later, Savannah Boudreaux couldn’t be happier as a small-town Southern doctor and single mom to a young son. There’s only one thing missing. Her stepbrother, Garrett, has just been released from prison, and although he may be a free man, he’s become a bitter shadow of the kind and caring man who once came to her rescue. Now Savannah will cross the line to save Garrett from himself: to prove that he can live his life, love whoever he wants . . . and be a wonderful father to their son.

A gritty love story between a stepbrother and stepsister involving horrible repercussions. Yep this pretty much says it all but it doesn't say enough. 

A heartbreaking story that walks the reader through one night's experience that changed the life of two families and ruined Garret's life. It shows the heartbreak in both families and what strict beliefs do to tear families apart. It is about death, anger, pain, birth, love, being honorable and forgiveness. It is very emotional and a fast paced read involving strongly written characters that show the reader what it's like to show authenticness in relationships.

This book is a dramatic example of what happens when society chooses your existence based on their beliefs and I for one love the ending as it clarifies that we have a choice to be another way.

a copy was gifted via Netgalley

You will want to read these first books in the Shame series.

Read my review on the first book of this series Control and learn how Liam and Ella meet.

Also check out my review on the second book of the series Possess

Also check out my review on the third book of the series The Escort

Laura Marie Altom is the author over 40 books in three different genres. She's been happily married to her college sweetheart (Go Hogs!) for 25 years and believes their boy/girl twins actively plot to drive her crazy!
Now that her kiddos are in college, Laura spends her days contentedly writing and chasing after the family menagerie of pets, ranging from a mutt named Sweet Pea, a mini-long-haired dachshund named Cocoa, a Yorkie named Daisy, and Domino--a black-and-white stealth cat she rarely sees. There are also plenty of ducks and geese who live in the backyard pond but would like to live in the house!

When night falls, Laura steals a few romantic moments for herself and her own hunky cover stud!

Laura loves hearing from readers and may be reached via email at BaliPalm@aol.com or snail mail at P.O. Box 2074, Tulsa, OK 74101.

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REVIEW The Beast of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood

The Beast of Clan Kincaid
(Highland Warriors Series #1)
by Lily Blackwood

A Highland warrior battles to reclaim his birthright in the first of a new series filled with seduction, revenge, and soul-stirring passion…

Find This Book At ~ Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Categories ~ historical romance

They call him the Beast—a hardened mercenary whose heart seems as cold as his icy blue gaze. They do not know his true name: Niall Braewick, son of the Laird of Kincaid. It has been years since he escaped into the forest the night his father was murdered. Now he has returned, ablaze with a vengeful hunger. He will gain the MacClaren chief’s trust, gather his clan, and take back his lands. And take the MacClaren’s daughter as well…

Though he pulled her from the river, saving her life, Elspeth has been warned to keep her distance from her father’s hired warrior. He is a barbarian—a shame, as he is far more compelling than the lechers and fools competing for her dowry. Little does she know that, like the castle itself, she is a prize Niall intends to claim…but will he extract blood for blood and possess what is his, or will his enemy’s beautiful, innocent daughter tempt him to forsake his dream of conquest?

It is always fun to read a book by a new author to me and this was as good as I was hoping it would be. This book opens dramatically and continues to expand on the drama between clans when Niall comes back to reclaim his lands. The authors robust descriptions of the landscape and scenery is done in a manner that the reader can almost touch, smell and taste it. The enemy's were very evil and created enough drama to make this an edgy read.

I was drawn to Niall's pain over the lose of his father, land and clan. Though he was a mercenary I admire the compassionate side that he hide. His character was interesting and multi-faceted.

Elspeth was a surprise as her character was a cross between demure and outspoken. I like that the balance wasn't even or over much in either direction but appropriate for the moment.

The emotions between the lead characters of Elspeth and Niall kept me drawn to the storyline as I pondered how this could end satisfactory for anyone in this story. Though I had in my mind how I wanted this to end the author created a non-expected ending that will thrill the reader.

I give it 4 STARS and recommend it to everyone.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

My Reviews Of The Highland Warrior Series ~
The Beast of Clan Kincaid (#1) ~ my review
The Rebel of Clan Kincaid (#2) ~ my review 
The Warrior of Clan Kincaid (#3) ~ coming soon

Lily Blackwood lives in Texas with her family and mini-menagerie of two cats and a dog. When she isn’t writing, she loves reading, cooking, travel, sleeping and not cleaning her house!

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Monday, May 23, 2016

REVIEW The Queen's Dance (The Emerging Queens #3) by Jamie K. Schmidt

The Queen's Dance
(The Emerging Queens #3)
by Jamie K. Schmidt
He can never have her, but he'll protect her with his life

Publisher: entangled publishing
Categories ~ paranormal romance, dragons, fantasy
Find This Book At ~ Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Despite his handicaps outside his natural habitat, water dragon Remy “Champ” Champlain fights to protect Queen Margery from those who plot to quash her damaging news reports by silencing her...forever.

He can never have her, but he'll protect her with his life.

After newly shifted sky dragon Queen Margery is rescued from smugglers by water dragon Remy Champlain, she debates whether to flesh out the story that nearly got her killed or embrace her royalty and build a court of protectors and studs. Sparks fly between Remy and her. He’d love her to give up her job and settle down…hopefully with him…but he can’t fly and she can’t swim, so their relationship can never get off the ground.

This finely woven story about emerging dragon queens is amazing. The authors unique writing style draws the reader into the mystery behind the missing women and wondering how Remy and Queen Margery could possibly have a relationship with their dragons being polar opposites.

Her attention to detail gives the reader a front seat to beautiful imaginary and there were times I wish I could fly like one of her dragons. It was interesting how she dealt with Remy since he is a water dragon and has no hands or feet so he can't fly to protect his Queen Margery.

At times I wanted to shake Margery because her reporter part of her personality just couldn't be quiet...but this part is satisfactorily resolved by the ending and I was pleased with how it was dealt with.

I give this 4 stars. 

An copy was gifted in exchange for an honest opinion via Netgalley.

USA Today Bestselling author, Jamie K. Schmidt is a hybrid author who has over thirty short stories published in small press and ezines, and a variety of novellas and books online. Her Club Inferno series from Random House has been in Amazon's top 100 ebooks sold and Barnes and Noble's top 10. She has a dragon paranormal romance series at Entangled Publishing. Book one of the Emerging Queens series is The Queen's Wings.

Jamie holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz in Secondary Education English, which is a fancy way of saying she went to college to teach high school English. When that didn't pan out, she worked as a call center manager, a Tupperware consultant, a paralegal, and finally a technical writer for a major conglomerate company. She is an active member in the Romance Writers of America (RWA). When not writing, Jamie relaxes with a mug of hot tea and knits or makes beaded jewelry. 

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#USofBooks ~ KS ~ GUEST REVIEW Doc by Mary Doria Russell

For more information on the United States of Books (click here for details).

The United States of Books the State of Kansas

by Mary Doria Russell 

Guest Reviewer ~ Elisha of Rainy Day Reviews

~ Synopsis ~
Entertainment Weekly says - Set in the saloons of Dodge City in 1878 before the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral, this murder mystery paints Doc Holiday as a tragic hero and gambler, bringing one of the state’s most legendary events and personages to life.
(Courtesy of goodreads)

~ Review ~
Born to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday arrives on the Texas frontier hoping that the dry air and sunshine of the West will restore him to health. Soon, with few job prospects, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally with his partner, Mária Katarina Harony, a high-strung, classically educated Hungarian whore. In search of high-stakes poker, the couple hits the saloons of Dodge City. And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins--before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety

I have to say, I had heard of this book, was told about this book, but never read the book. Until now. The synopsis was intriguing yet kept an air of mystery. I was even more intrigued and excited to read this book after finding out it was based off of a true story. I love a good non-fiction read, and this did not disappoint. Set in western Texas during the frontier, Doc Holliday makes his name known through gambling with his co-conspirators. Then, there’s a twist among all the other twists in the story…a murder. 

Or was it a murder? 

I loved the thick plot, the western touch, the “old days” feel, the relationships…especially with Doc’s “special” on again-off again friend. I found this story very interesting and it did captivate my attention. I was worried it wouldn’t because I am not a fan of a lot of westerns, I am a but picky in that area. But all in all, it was really good and I would definitely recommend this story.

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