Thursday, August 29, 2019

Book review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Book Summary
Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou's, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou's most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Flo's Review
Wow. I don't know where to start with this book. I really enjoyed it. I think one of my favorite parts about it was how invested all my Goodreads friends were with my status updates. I've gotten more likes and comments on updates for this book than I have for any other in a long time. I think it's because this book has been heavily hyped.

And let me just say -- worth the hype! The many details and intricate plot points were impressive. It seemed to me that this book really took a lot of thinking and plotting to pull it together. On top of that, it was just fun. I immediately loved these two together, and so I was rooting for them all the way through. That made me feel the range of emotions for them and their relationship as I read. 

I also really enjoyed some of the secondary characters, especially Ansel and Coco. It's a little random, but Ansel is just adorable and I love him. I hope I get to see more Ansel in book #2. Speaking of book number two -- some major reveals at the end of this book! I won't give anything away, but a major reveal about one the characters has me already anticipating book 2. And that last sentence left me questioning and wanting answers immediately.

Serpent & Dove comes out September 3rd. 

On a side note, I am so excited to meet Shelby on the Epic Reads Tour next month and gush with her about it!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Book Review: Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols


I picked up a copy of this book at BEA 2014.  Yes...that is correct - 2014.  I thought it looked really cute and even added all of the companion novels to my TBR list as they were announced, but never got around to reading them.  A few weeks ago I was looking for something light and fun to read at the pool and this finally jumped off the shelf at me.

Tia is getting ready to start her senior year of high school. She has a reputation for being a party girl, but she is also extremely smart and a talented drummer in the school's marching band.  Her mother left years ago and she has watched her three older sisters make epic mistakes in the relationship department.  As a result, she vowed to always keep it casual and to never have a boyfriend.  

Will is the new kid at school.  He recently moved from Minnesota to Florida and his entire world is turned upside down.  At his old school he was the drum captain, student council president, and a star hockey player.  Now that he has to start over, he is no longer the star of the show.

Tia and Will meet his first night in town and immediately hit it off.  When Will wants to continue their relationship she shuts him down due to her no dating rule.  As Tia gets to know him and sees everything they have in common, and the great chemistry and friendship they have developed, she begins to question why she is holding onto this rule.  Then she becomes jealous when Will starts dating someone else and she knows she has to do something to get him back.

This series is based upon a school survey taken at the beginning of the year, which places all of the seniors into various categories for the yearbook.  Most likely to succeed, perfect couple, biggest flirts, etc.  After only a couple of weeks of band practice prior to the start of the school year, Will and Tia's actions led them to being voted biggest flirts.  The pressure of the title put a strain on their easy going relationship and led to some entertaining drama.  I loved both of their characters and everyone could see they were perfect together except Tia.  I was happy to see her come around in the end and hope we will see more of them in the companion novels.  

We were introduced to several of Tia's longtime friends throughout the book. I'm pretty sure the companion novels will focus on some of them, which will allow us to continue the series with the same basic group of characters.  


Friday, August 23, 2019

Book Review: Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins


Goodreads Overview:

Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things. 

Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

Review:

Sweet Peril is the second book in the series and was just as good as the first.  After the discovery of  a prophecy that could free the Nephilim from the control of their fathers, they begin recruiting allies from around the world.  This is a very delicate task and has only succeeded to this point with the help of Anna's father.  Unfortunately, the other Dukes are beginning to questions some of the unusual activity taking place amongst the Neph, and Anna's father is under suspicion. I was happy to see there is a possibility the Nephilim may gain their freedom and could possibly live their lives without the controlling influence of their fathers.  They are; however, putting themselves in an extreme amount of danger.  The outcome is far from guaranteed, but they believe the reward exceeds the risks they are taking.

Anna and Kaidan have finally agreed to give in to their feelings for each other, but understand they must be extremely careful.  As a son and daughter of the Dukes of various sins, they are expected to spread their father's evil while forsaking their own feelings and desires.  Personal relationships between Neph are not allowed.  Things were definitely heating up between the two of them, but they can still only see each other when her father tells them the coast is clear. Obviously this isn't an ideal situation, but it is a drastic improvement from their previous circumstance.

Another character that I really enjoyed was Blake, the son of envy. who really seemed to have it all.  An amazing house with a pool, ocean view, and all the toys imaginable.  He excelled at just about everything and was always the center of attention.  He was able to share some of his energy with Anna and take her mind off of things when she needed it the most.

I am really enjoying this series and would definitely recommend it to any YA fan.  It has some fantasy/paranormal elements, but reads more like a contemporary.  Without the umbrella of fear the Neph are constantly under, the characters wouldn't be much different from any other teenager.  I can't wait to see how everything unfolds for them in the final installment, Sweet Reckoning.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Book review: Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley

Book Summary
Nate never imagined that he would be attacked by his best friend, Cam.
Now, Nate is being called to deliver a sworn statement that will get Cam convicted. The problem is, the real story isn’t that easy or convenient—just like Nate and Cam’s friendship. Cam challenged Nate on every level from the day the boys met. He pushed him to break the rules, to dream, and to accept himself. But Nate—armed with a fierce moral code and conflicted by his own beliefs—started to push back. With each push, Nate and Cam moved closer to each other—but also spiraled closer to their breaking points.

Flo's Review
Aww, come here Nate and Cam, and let me hug you both! I was lucky enough to win an annotated copy of this book, and it was the best thing ever. Zack's comments had me laughing most of the time, but he also pointed out a lot of details about the writing that I wonder if I would have noticed were they not pointed out. For example, things are often said 3 times, and that represents the Holy Trinity. I think I would have noticed the triple plays, but I don't know what I would have known why. There are several allegorical settings and phrases as well.

The short chapters in the book were great, because it made me just want to keep reading on. And the scenes. The scenes! I think this is where Zack excels. There is so much emotion, both good and bad, in this scenes that I left every one really feeling something. It makes sense that the individuals scenes are so stand out, because Cam has the kind of memory where he remembers them all. The scenes were across the board as well. Some made me so mad; others so sad; others put a sweet smile on my face with their delicacy.

There were also a few twists with the story that I didn't see coming -- because let's be honest, I never see these things. Mind blown!

I'm really glad I got to experience this story. If you have the chance, I hope you are able to as well.

Audiobook review: A World Without Princes (The School For Good and Evil #2) by Soman Chainani


Flo's Non-Spoilery Review
So, last year at the Miami Book Fair, they were having this amazing deal on The School for Good and Evil books. It was a BOGO, and you got a free tote bag, and he was there to sign your books! It was truly the best thing ever. I already had a signed copy of book one, so I happily bought books two and three. Sometimes buying books in a series when you haven't read the first one backfires on you, so it was, admittedly, a gamble. Thankfully, it went my way.

It was so nice to head back to the School, even if it was different this time around. I still enjoyed spending time with some of the characters that I'd met in the first book. It was a little slow for me around the middle, but by the end I was holding my breath as I listened to the audiobook and thought to myself, "Come on! Do it! Do it!" There was also a plot situation that I thought I'd figured out mid-book, and it turns out I was wrong! (Honestly, not that surprising. Lol.)

Like its predecessor, A World Without Princes started strong with the action and kept it pretty steady throughout. I am fully invested in this world and in these girls, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to tackle next in the third book.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

EXCLUSIVE GUEST POST: Alison Gervais, author of The Silence Between Us

Guest post
The Silence Between Us is my very first own voices novel that tells the story of Maya, a Deaf teen, attending her senior year at a hearing high school. One thing that makes this book a little different is its inclusion of American Sign Language, which is a lot different than English.

One of my favorite scenes inThe Silence Between Usto write – while not necessarily an exciting one – was later on in the story when Maya visits her new Ear, Nose & Throat doctor at Children’s Hospital. There are different types of hearing loss and our hearing can sometimes change, so it’s important to check in with an ENT every once in a while (if not regularly, depending on your situation) to make sure everything is looking good. I felt it important to include this scene because the medical aspect can sometimes be overlooked when you think about hearing loss.

This was like a blast to the past for me, not only because I used to be a patient at Children’s Hospital in Denver, but also because from the age of five onward I had frequent visits with my own Ear, Nose & Throat doctor. I never enjoyed having my ears poked and prodded at, or the procedures that came about over the years. Because my own hearing loss increased over time, it was important to have regular visits with my doctor to monitor how things were progressing. All the hearing tests I needed to have as a result got old pretty quick.

There’s been this running joke between my mom and I about the speech perception part of all my hearing tests, when the audiologist would say certain compound words to me while I sat in the soundproof booth – like hotdogor rainbow. Anytime my mom or I hear one of those words, we have to finish off the list with all the other words, like pancake, doghouse, baseball, ice cream. To anyone not in the know, it definitely comes across as pretty weird, but it still gets a good laugh from us. Even if I don’t have very fond memories of my various doctor visits over the years, at least I can smile about this particular one.

I hope readers enjoy the glimpse into this part of Maya’s story and maybe even view hearing loss as a whole a little differently afterward.

About the author
Watty Award winning author Alison Gervais is an undergraduate student at Colorado State University Pueblo, and has been writing for as long as she can remember. In 2011, she began posting her work on Wattpad.com, and has been active on the site for the past five years.


About the book
Moving halfway across the country to Colorado right before senior year isn’t Maya’s idea of a good time. Leaving behind Pratt School for the Deaf where she’s been a student for years only to attend a hearing school is even worse. Maya has dreams of breaking into the medical field and is determined to get the grades and a college degree to match, and she’s never considered being Deaf a disability. But her teachers and classmates at Engelmann High don’t seem to share her optimism.

And then there’s Beau Watson, Engelmann’s student body president and overachiever. Maya suspects Beau’s got a hidden agenda when he starts learning ASL to converse with her, but she also can’t deny it’s nice to sign with someone amongst all the lip reading she has to do with her hearing teachers and classmates. Maya has always been told that Deaf/hearing relationships never work, and yet she can’t help but be drawn to Beau as they spend more and more time together.

But as much Maya and Beau genuinely start to feel for one another, there are unmistakable differences in their worlds. When Maya passes up a chance to receive a cochlear implant, Beau doesn’t understand why Maya wouldn’t want to hear again. Maya is hurt Beau would want her to be anything but who she is—she’s always been proud to be Deaf, something Beau won’t ever be able to understand. Maya has to figure out whether bridging that gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds will be worth it, or if staying true to herself matters more.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Audiobook review: Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

Flo's Spoiler Free Review
I'm opting out of putting the book summary up as usual because this is a sequel and the summary is completely spoilery for book #1. 

Because I'm trying to be spoiler free, this will be a short review. I am fascinated by this world. I love reading about the characteristics of the Seasons and the Rhythms, and their interactions with each other. In this book, Meira and her crew travel to another Season and two Rhythms, and I really enjoyed the immersion into their worlds.

Unfortunately, I continue to not like Meira. I just can't with her. But I don't want to be talking bad about the girl so I'll just say this: it's definitely the world building and the plot that are keeping me going with this series.

There was a twist at the end of this one that I wasn't expecting, and it left me with so many emotions. Though I'm going to take a little break from Primoria right now, I am looking forward to reading the 3 POV finale for this trilogy, Frost Like Night.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Blog Tour with Giveaway: Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker


ABOUT SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME:
The bestselling author of The Simple Wild and Keep Her Safe and “master of steamy romance” (Kirkus Reviews) delivers a sizzling novel about an ambitious and high-powered executive who reconnects with her first love: the boy who broke her heart. 

Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counselors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is still alive and strong, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.

FLO'S REVIEW
Happy book birthday to Say You Still Love Me!

Say You Still Love Me is the perfect end-of-summer read. It's a book about summer (partly), but it's a summer of the past, so the summer scenes are misted with nostalgia. These scenes were my favorite, because I spent many summers in the woods as well.  And while my adventures were nowhere near as steamy as Piper's, I, too, have fond memories of those weeks away from real life. I love that the friends Piper made in the past have stayed with her in the present.

I struggled with Piper Present in the beginning. She was just so ... wallowy. (Is that a word?) She was supposed to be this rockstar #girlboss, and all her thoughts were just stuck and stuck on this guy, and not on all the work drama going on around her. Luckily, that shifted as the book went on and she did end up rocking the office situation.

I was completely floored by the reveal at the end -- did NOT see that coming! It seemed super dramatic and I don't know that things needed to be that serious, but I understand that it had to be something big that Piper discovered at that time.

This was my first K.A. Tucker book, and after reading it I am interested in picking up another one of her titles, whether past or future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge. She is the bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series and the novels He Will Be My RuinUntil It FadesKeep Her Safe, and The Simple Wild. She currently resides in a quaint town outside Toronto with her husband and two beautiful girls.

SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME
BY K.A. TUCKER
Atria Books Paperback ǀ On Sale: August 6, 2019 ǀ 320 pages ǀ ISBN: 9781501133442; $17.00
eBook ISBN: 9781501133466; $7.99


Grab your copy of SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME:

Now for the fun….the #SayYouStillLoveMe Contest!
Enter the Rafflecopter to win a finished copy of SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME! (3 prizes in total). Contest is open until 8/27.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Book review: A Song for the Road by Rayne Lacko

Book Summary
When a tornado destroys his Tulsa home, fifteen-year-old Carter Danforth is trapped in the pawnshop where his daddy hawked his custom, left-handed Martin guitar six years earlier―and then took off, leaving Carter with nothing but a hankering to pluck strings and enough heartache to sing the blues. Injured by the storm, Carter’s mother is laid up in the hospital. She wants Carter to fly out to Reno and stay with her sister. Too bad Carter already spent her hidden cash stash to buy his dad’s guitar. Rather than tell her the truth, he embarks on an epic road trip in search of his father in Santa Monica. But Carter isn’t a runaway. He reckons he’s a “running to.”

On his way west, Carter picks up licks, chord changes, and performance techniques from a quirky cast of Southwestern charmers: a rock star, a thief, a bluesman, a chanteuse-turned-chef, and the dream of a girl back home. A Song for the Road reads like a mash-up of The Wizard of Oz and Easy Rider―by the time he reaches the end of old US Route 66, Carter has learned how to deep-fry yucca blossoms and tell the truth of his life through music.

Flo's Review
I'm a sucker for a good travel story and this one did not disappoint. Carter met his fair share of characters along the road, and it was interesting to learn about them as he did. I might have cheered when some people from the beginning of the novel made a reappearance down the line. 

A Song for the Road is deeply about music -- finding yourself in music, learning music, music as liberation. Carter's love of music is so apparent, and perhaps the one constant in his life at the moment. Everything that happens to him somehow involves music. I liked the little touches of detail in the novel -- the way that Carter would write letters to Kaia in sparkly pen and how he created a new dish (the recipe is in the back of the book.) Also, who of us doesn't have a Ledbetter type person in our lives?! I think he was my favorite person Carter met on the road.

While I was reading, I flagged the comment "Love doesn't walk away." It's such a powerful phrase -- four words that hold a lot of meaning, intention, commentary. I thought, "Wow, nice." Little did I know that they would come back around! How does it come back around, you ask? I guess you'll have to read and find out! 

A Song for the Road publishes August 27th from SparkPress. Thank you to the publisher for sending me an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie


Goodreads Overview:

First, there were ten—a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal—and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

Jacque's Review:

I added this book to my TBR list when I was watching the PBS Great American Read series.  I enjoy murder mysteries and felt this was a classic I should probably read.  Then it was on my son's freshman year summer reading list, so we decided to read it together.

The book starts out with each of the guests receiving an invitation for an unforgettable week on an exclusive island.  Some are enticed through a needed vacation, while others are offered various forms of employment.  For example, a doctor is summoned to evaluate Mr. Owen's wife who supposedly refuses to seek medical care.  A police officer is asked to investigate/uncover some suspicious activity.   A married couple is offered employment as the cook/housekeeper and butler/handyman.  

All of the guests appear to have nothing in common, but they soon discover a link between them.  A recording accuses each of them of committing a murder the legal system can not hold them accountable for.  As the guests begin to die one after the other they realize these are not suicides as they originally thought.  They are being targeted and nobody will leave this island alive unless they are "very careful."  They search the island and can't find anyone else, so they conclude it must be one of them that is committing the murders.  Then they search everyone's possessions.  There aren't enough clues to point at anyone, yet the guests are falling faster than dominoes.  

This was an interesting tale, but it wasn't your typical murder mystery.  The author didn't leave a number of clues that in retrospect should have enabled the reader to solve the mystery on his or her own.  There is a very lengthy epilogue that spells out everything that took place on the island.  Without this additional information, I don't think anyone could have uncovered the truth.  That isn't exactly my idea of a murder mystery.  I realize this book was written in the 1930's and times and expectations may have changed.  This may have been the norm in that time period, but it wasn't nearly as engaging as trying to solve the mystery yourself.  As my son and I were reading we would discuss who we thought was the leading suspect, who was going to get picked off next, etc.  Without credible clues and evidence this soon became a fruitless process and my son began to lose interest.  

Overall, I enjoyed the story and could piece things together in the end with the help of the epilogue.  I do not think Preston was too impressed with the story and was just happy when it was over.  If it weren't for the help of an audio book when we had a weekend car trip, I don't think he would have ever finished it.