Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday Memes: Falling Star by Terri Osburn

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Chance Colburn looked about as comfortable as a lumberjack trapped at a royal tea party.
Friday 56:
"Well?" He watched her with raised brows. "You go up first."

"Up where?"

"There." He pointed at the sky. "Climb through the opening so we can lie on the roof."

She would do no such thing. "Are you crazy? I'm not getting on top of this car."
This week I am reading Shooting Star by Terri Osburn. This is a romance from NetGalley. Here is the description from Amazon:
A country star looking for a comeback has one last shot at fame—and he might just have one last shot at love.

Naomi Mallard is a fixer by nature. And as PR manager for Nashville’s Shooting Stars record label, she’s facing her biggest fix: redeeming country music bad boy Chance Colburn. But in Naomi’s eyes, a police record and a stint in rehab are the least of Chance’s sins. He has spent his life running from demons and making tabloid headlines that have sent his career into a tailspin. Now he’s struggling to find his muse and maintain his newfound sobriety, all while counting on the woman he once betrayed to repair his tattered reputation.

Naomi is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but that’s not easy when an unexpected injury forces the former couple into disturbingly close proximity. Will mending their once-broken relationship be Naomi’s best save yet? Or will Chance’s past wreck any hope for a future together?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review: Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston

Hot and Badgered
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Series: The Honey Badgers (Book 1)
Publication: Kensington (March 27, 2018)

Description: It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late.

Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is, if he can keep up . . .

My Thoughts: This is another of Shelly Laurenston's humorous paranormal romances. Berg Dunn is a grizzly and a security specialist. Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan and a wolf-honey badger hybrid. They meet when Charlie, on the run from unknown assassins, lands naked and bloody on Berg's hotel balcony. She escapes with his best gun and one of his tee-shirts leaving him curious about what her situation was.

Charlie has always been the protector for her two younger half-sisters. Max is all honey badger and a borderline sociopath kept from total mayhem by her love for her sisters. Stevie is the youngest and is a honey badger-Siberian tiger hybrid. She is also a certified genius who is subject to panic attacks. The three girls have banded together since childhood to protect themselves from their father who is immoral, inept and constantly doing things that are likely to get his daughters killed. For example, when she was much younger, he tried to sell Stevie to a Peruvian drug lord to cook up meth for him. Now it looks like he has tried to sell Stevie again and it is up to her sisters to save her.

When they run into Berg again in New York City, he offers to help which is a unique situation for Charlie. No one has ever offered to help. Her MacKilligan family has more or less written them off unless they want to use them to get to their father. Right now they do because Freddy has stolen 100 million British Sterling from his brother and he wants it back. Also their aunt Bernice wants to hire them to make sure that her daughter's wedding to an all-human wealthy man goes ahead without a hitch.

Berg's help lands the girls in a house smack in the middle of the bear section of New York City. Did I mention that Stevie is terrified of bears and tends to have more panic attacks around them? She can often be found hiding up a tree or in a kitchen cupboard. But Charlie's habit of baking when she is under stress quickly endears her to all their sweet loving neighbors.

Lots of characters from earlier books in this series make appearances in this one too. From the lethal wolf Dee Ann Smith to the hockey-obsessed bear Bo Novikov to the Jean-Louis Parker family of jackals. There is a lot of humor in this story and a really nice romance too. My only complaint is that the problem with Freddy MacKilligan wasn't resolved by the end of the book. Of course, that does give lots of room for more books and maybe even romances for Charlie's younger sisters.

Favorite Quote:
"Is something wrong?"

"Wrong? What could be wrong?"

"People are trying to kill you?"

"Well, yeah, there's that," she admitted. "That's definitely a problem. But, ya know . . . sadly not the first time."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Book Review: Dark in Death by J. D. Robb

Dark in Death
Author: J. D. Robb
Series: In Death (Book 46)
Publication: St. Martin's Press (January 30, 2018)

Description: Lieutenant Eve Dallas returns in Dark in Death, by J.D. Robb, the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense, and takes on a case of death imitating art…

It was a stab in the dark.

On a chilly February night, during a screening of Psycho in midtown, someone sunk an ice pick into the back of Chanel Rylan’s neck, then disappeared quietly into the crowds of drunks and tourists in Times Square. To Chanel’s best friend, who had just slipped out of the theater for a moment to take a call, it felt as unreal as the ancient black-and-white movie up on the screen. But Chanel’s blood ran red, and her death was anything but fictional.

Then, as Eve Dallas puzzles over a homicide that seems carefully planned and yet oddly personal, she receives a tip from an unexpected source: an author of police thrillers who recognizes the crime—from the pages of her own book. Dallas doesn’t think it’s coincidence, since a recent strangulation of a sex worker resembles a scene from her writing as well. Cops look for patterns of behavior: similar weapons, similar MOs. But this killer seems to find inspiration in someone else’s imagination, and if the theory holds, this may be only the second of a long-running series.

The good news is that Eve and her billionaire husband Roarke have an excuse to curl up in front of the fireplace with their cat, Galahad, reading mystery stories for research. The bad news is that time is running out before the next victim plays an unwitting role in a murderer’s deranged private drama—and only Eve can put a stop to a creative impulse gone horribly, destructively wrong.

My Thoughts: On a snowy February evening, Eve is the first one home and is just settling in by the fire with a glass of wine when she is called out. A young actress has been murdered while watching an old movie with a friend. Eve, Peabody and McNabb all converge on the theater to begin their investigation of the death of Chantal Rylan. But thing aren't adding up. Chantal doesn't have any enemies. She was pretty and popular, friendly and kind. There are no jealous lovers. No jealous rivals for parts. But the crime isn't random. It was too carefully planned and too well executed.

Then Eve's friend reporter Nadine brings in a lead in the person of author Blaine DeLano who has written a series of books whose crimes are seemingly being acted out by the killer. Chantal's death is from the second book. Eve finds that her guys recently investigated the death of a young sex worker whose death mirrored the crime in DeLano's first book. Eve hasn't read the books. She's more of a vid girl. But Roarke has them all in his wonderful home library since he's one of the minority who still reads print books.

Some research leads Eve to a deranged fan of DeLano's work who goes crazy after DeLano sends back the fan's opus unread. The fan is determined to rewrite DeLano's books so that evil triumphs. Eve and her people need to do investigating to discover the identity of the fan and to track the fan down before the crime in the third book becomes real. The third crime takes Eve deep into the club scene with drugs and rock and roll. Nadine's new boyfriend is a famous musician. Well, famous to everyone but Eve whose narrow focus doesn't include rock stars.

I love this series. I like the relationships Eve has built through this series. I love her relationship with Roarke which is one of the most wonderful in all romantic suspense books. They complete each other and make each other a better, stronger person. I like the dialog which is crisp and witty. Despite being at book 46, this series is still fresh and engaging. I can't wait for the next episode.

Favorite Quote:
"I'll wager you haven't eaten."

"You'd win that bet. It has to be Italian. The last interviews were in an Italian restaurant and it smelled like heaven coated in red sauce."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

ARC Review: Deadly Secret by Tara Thomas

Deadly Secret
Author: Tara Thomas
Series: Sons of Broad (Book 2)
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (March 27, 2018)

Description: In this next novel in the thrilling romantic suspense Sons of Broad series from Tara Thomas comes a novel of deadly games and uninhibited passion. In the sultry streets of Charleston, one family, ruled by its powerful, take-no-prisoners sons, has risen to the top. But a ruthless serial killer is out to destroy them…and everyone they hold close…

As a lawyer and aspiring Congresswoman, Bea likes to keep things professional. But she’s hired to investigate past dark secrets embedded in the Benedict business empire―and as secret wife to Knox Benedict, the job is about to become even more personal…

Knox is the moral backbone of the Benedict family, but even a modern-day saint can have a mysterious side. He’s out to win back his estranged secret wife―but getting close to her again could destroy them both…

As Bea and Knox dig up the truth, Bea falls deeper and deeper into danger. Someone close by is watching her―and waiting to kill. Can Knox save the woman he loves from the enemy out to destroy them? And can their marriage survive the deadliest secret of all?

My Thoughts: This second book in the Sons of Broad series is the story of the romance between Knox and Bea. They are secretly married and Bea is being pressured to stay away from him. It seems like Bea is getting to close to finding the secret The Gentleman is trying to hide.

Bea is suffering from panic attacks as a result of an attack on her. She is also being shadowed by someone who is constantly trying to frighten her. She can't keep away from Knox though. He is the one she calls when she wakes from her nightmares. After the villains try to kill her by setting her father's house on fire, she moves with Knox to Benedict house where there should be stronger security. Unknown to her or to anyone else, one of the guards has been compromised which bring the danger into a place that should be safe.

As Bea and Know continue to go through papers that Tilly's mother saved, they uncover a family secret and come closer to figuring out who The Gentleman is and why he wants all the Benedicts dead.

We also find out more about Jade in this episode but the revelation was telegraphed even in the previous book and didn't come as a surprise to me. I am still wondering who The Gentleman is and, hopefully, all will be revealed in the next book which should also be about oldest brother Kipling's romantic fate.

Favorite Quote:
Someone else might have described it as being watched. Jade was being hunted. Watched was much too mild of a term to describe what he was currently doing to her. There was no doubt in her mind, she was being hunted. She was the prey. He was the lion.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

First Paragraph/Teaser Tuesday: Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. In 2018, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach is taking over this meme.

Here's mine:
"Do you see what I see?"

What normal person doesn't look up at that? Not that I'm entirely normal, but at least Griffin's question snaps me from unpleasant thoughts of giant metallic birds, Cyclopes, fire, and blood.
Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
My ire grows, swelling along with my magic. He chose the wrong Magoi to cross. I am descended from gods. I have ichor in my veins. Olympian power. He's a threat to me, to my family, to all the people I love. I'm about to lose control all over him, and frankly, I don't give a damn.
This week I am spotlighting Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet. This is the third in the Kingmaker Chronicles. Here is the description from Amazon:

Without Griffin—and apparently a few meddling Gods—to push me along, I’d still be telling fortunes at the circus, lying about my past, ignoring my future, and living as far away from my tyrant mother as humanly possible.

True understanding thuds into place. Hope isn’t just an abstract concept; it’s me. Flesh and blood me. Griffin knew it all along. Probably everyone did. I’m an idea in human form.

I have the power of the Gods at my fingertips.
The only thing ever stopping me has been me.

Monday, March 19, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (March 19, 2018)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup. YA and middle grade reviews will still be posted on  Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

Other Than Reading... 

It was a quiet weather week here in Duluth. The temperatures hovered in the 40s, the skies were blue, and some snow melted. There isn't even any snow in the near forecast. I couldn't be happier with these early signs of Spring. season is just days away. I will admit I've been watching lots of Spring Training games on MLB network but I can't wait until I can watch my Atlanta Braves play.

I did do my banking this week. It is wonderful to go to my online banking account and see "Paid in Full" next to my mortgage.

I'm working away at my April releases from my review stack which wasn't really helped when I added two more to the April stack this week. My May stack already has 18 review books on it. I would like to start lowering that stack soon.

Read Last Week
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black - entertaining YA which starts a trilogy from my TBR mountain. Review will be posted on April 4.
  • Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton - great conclusion to a fantasy trilogy. My review will be posted on April 11.
  • Lake Silence by Anne Bishop - another re-read of my new favorite book.
  • Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian - beginning of new YA fantasy trilogy. My review will be posted on April 13.
  • Save Me by Tiffany Snow - final book in a romantic suspense quartet. My review will be posted on April 17.
  • The Explorers: The Reckless Rescue by Adrienne Kress - middle grade adventure that is the 2nd book in a series. My review will be posted on April 18.
Tried but wasn't feeling. I threw them back onto TBR mountain for another day.
The Viridian Convict by Sam York (May 1) is a review book I just accepted from a publisher I haven't read before.

Next Week
Reviews Posted

On Inside of a Dog:
On Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

New Review Copies
What was your week like?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

ARC Review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Publication: Berkley (March 20, 2018)

Description: Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. . . .

My Thoughts: THE BROKEN GIRLS was an amazing mystery filled with secrets. Fiona Sheridan is a freelance journalist living in Vermont. The year is 2014 and she is still haunted by the death of her older sister in 1994. Her sister's boyfriend and local golden boy Tom Christopher was convicted of the murder but Fiona still has questions and spends a lot of time at the site where her sister Deb was found - the playing fields of long-closed boarding school Idlewild which was where troublesome girls were sent.

When Fiona learns that Idlewild Hall was purchased and is going to be restored as a new boarding school, she decides to write a story about it. Idlewild Hall has always had rumors of being haunted and even the local kids were afraid to explore it. When a body is found during the restoration, Fiona becomes even more determined. First, to find out who the girl was and then to learn the secrets buried at Idlewild Hall.

The story is told in two main sections. One section tells the story of four girls who were roommates in 1950 and what happens when one of them goes missing. The girls were throw-aways from their families. Katie was raped at thirteen which embarrassed her family enough to send her away. She is smart, beautiful and a magnet for trouble. Roberta went mute after she saw her Army veteran uncle about to commit suicide. Both situations, Roberta's issues and the uncle's attempted suicide were also embarrassing. CeCe is the illegitimate daughter of a rich powerful man and his housekeeper who was sent to Idlewild Hall after her mother tried to kill her. Sonia is a orphan and a survivor of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp.

The second section takes place in 2014 when Fiona begins her investigation. She's dating the son of the retired police chief but his family is against the relationship. Cops and journalists aren't supposed to be that close. The former police chief is a firm member of the good old boys club that is known for doing favors for friends rather than following the letter of the law.

I really enjoyed this story. I liked the way the two time periods (or three if you count 1994 when Fiona's sister Deb was murdered) were all interwoven. The book was filled with secrets that were gradually revealed. The characters were all engaging. The ghost that haunted Idlewild Hall and showed people their worst moments added a wonderful creepiness to the whole story.

I highly recommend this book.

Favorite Quote:
Sonia's chair jerked: Katie, kicking it from the desk behind. Sonia had never seen a girl who got bored as fast, or as dangerously, as Katie. Roberta had the ability to be still, and CeCe rarely got bored at all, but behind Katie's tilted, dark-lashed eyes lurked a restless intelligence that sometimes looked for trouble.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.