Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: Mercy Kill by Lori Armstrong

Mercy Kill
Author: Lori Armstrong
Series: Mercy Gunderson
Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (January 11, 2011)

Description: Former Black Ops army sniper Mercy Gunderson isn't adjusting well to the laid-back rhythm of civilian life on her family’s ranch in South Dakota. To fill her time, Mercy accepts a temporary bartending gig at a local watering hole. Yet her attempts to settle in back home are tested when Titan Oil, a Canadian company proposing to run an underground pipeline through Eagle River County, sends Jason Hawley, Mercy’s former army buddy, to the area to convince ranchers to get behind the project.

While local business owners support the pipeline, Hawley’s presence riles the landowners, and Mercy is torn. After ugly threats and multiple altercations escalate tensions in the county, Mercy discovers Hawley’s brutally mutilated body in the bar parking lot. When it appears Sheriff Dawson cares more about campaigning for reelection than investigating the case, Mercy vows to find Jason Hawley’s killer—even if she has to run against Dawson for sheriff to ensure justice is served.

But Mercy soon learns her former military pal had plenty of secrets. Her search for the truth brings unwanted exposure to the county’s dark side and risks deadly repercussions for the entire community.

My Thoughts: Mercy Gunderson is out of the service where she was a sniper in a covert ops team. She is back home in South Dakota and trying to figure out her next steps. She bartending and knows that isn't what she wants for her future. She also knows that running the ranch she and her sister inherited isn't it.

Mercy has gotten over the hard drinking she did when she first got home but she is still plagued with the nightmares and flashbacks that bring her military service back to her. She is also having a secret affair with the County Sheriff Mason Dawson.

When an old army buddy shows up working for the oil company that wants to lay a pipeline through the area, Mercy is torn between her old memories of the man who literally saved her life and her hatred for the idea of the pipeline. When the buddy is found dead outside the bar where Mercy works, she wants to know who killed him. When Dawson doesn't seem to be investigating, Mercy gets involved by deciding to run for sheriff opposite him.

The story is filled with action, old friends, drug dealing, and conspiracy theories and Mercy trying to make sense of it all. The story also shows a strong love for the South Dakota landscape and lifestyle. This is the second book in the series and I really have to read the first one to find out what I missed.

Mercy is a great character. She is a loner, probably suffering from PTSD, and in the middle of a life crisis. But she is also smart, loyal, and honorable. It was great to get to know her.

Favorite Quote:
Probably everyone in the whole damn county was whispering about the crazy Gunderson woman.

Probably they were right.
This one is from my TBR mountain. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ARC Review: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

The Book of Life
Author: Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy (Book 3)
Publication: Viking Adult (July 15, 2014)

Description: The highly anticipated finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

My Thoughts: Make time when you decide to read this "chunkster" because, once you begin, you won't want to put it down before reaching the satisfying conclusion.

THE BOOK OF LIFE is the third book in the All Souls Trilogy and follows the adventures of Matthew and Diana as they return from the Sixteenth Century and deal with impending parenthood, creature politics, and de Clairmont politics too.

I was just about defeated by the start of this book because in the first few pages no less than eighteen people were mentioned by name. It has been quite a while since I read the first books in this trilogy and had no context for most of the names. However, I kept on and quickly got back up to speed.

I like the combination of magic and genetics that are interwoven in this series. I like that Diana is a history professor and a witch who has an unusual kind of witchcraft. I like that Matthew is a scientist, poet, vampire, and assassin. I like the strong love that binds the two of them together. I especially loved the way the two of them built and supported each other's strengths.

This is a richly detailed story with strong, well-rounded characters who face real problems. While this ending wraps up the loose ends of the series, romance lover that I am is left wishing for a story about Gallowglass that gives him his own happy ending. Are you listening, Ms. Harkness?

Favorite Quote:
"So let me get this straight. Matthew's Bad Seed is engaged in some down-home genetics research involving a hereditary condition, a kidnapped witch, and some half-baked ideas about eugenics." Chris folded his arms over his chest. There were a few details missing, but he had sized up the situation in no time at all. "You left some important plot twists our of the fairy tale you told me yesterday, Diana."
I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: Invincible by Diana Palmer

Invincible
Author: Diana Palmer
Publication: Harlequin HQN (July 29, 2014)

Description: He's everything she fears…

and everything she wants

Mercenary by name and by nature, Carson is a Lakota Sioux who stays to himself and never keeps women around long enough for anything emotional to develop. But working with his friend Cash Grier on a complex murder investigation provides Carson with another kind of fun—shocking Cash's sweet-but-traditional secretary, Carlie Blair, with tales of his latest conquests.

Then Carlie lands in deep trouble. She saw something she shouldn't have, and now the face of a criminal is stored permanently in her photographic memory…and Carlie is the key piece of evidence that could implicate a popular politician in the murder case.

Her only protection is Carson—the man she once despised. But when she learns that Carson is more than just a tough guy, Carlie realizes she's endangered herself further. Because now her only chance to live means losing her heart to the most dangerous kind of man….

My Thoughts: INVINCIBLE was a typical Diana Palmer romance. It was a little repetitious, had a host of characters who all dropped hints about their backstories, and had a romance between the innocent, poor young woman and the cynical older man.

Carlie Blair has spent in life in Comanche Wells, Texas, a suburb of Jacobsville - the town where everyone is apparently a former mercenary. She works for the police chief as a secretary. She has a major crush on Carson who, besides being a mercenary, happens to be Lakota Sioux - giving plenty of opportunity for Palmer to give tidbits about Lakota history and culture. Everyone knows, and tells Carlie, that Carson is too much for her - too cynical, too much like a wolf to ever settle down. Carlie agrees but that doesn't stop her from falling in love with him.

Someone is trying to kill Carlie which unites the mercenaries, government agents, and law enforcement personnel in trying to protect her. Of course, they could also be trying to kill her father - former government covert agent now turned Methodist minister.

The plot of this one is quite convoluted and apparently begun in an earlier book by the author. All the guys on the good side are trying to find evidence to bring down Senator Matthew Helm who is a criminal who used underhanded, and illegal, tactics to gain his political position.

The romance had the usual Palmer tensions. Carlie was a woman of faith who held to old-fashioned values regarding intimacy; Carson was known for the constant parade of beautiful women who came and went in his life. She had faith; he had long since lost his. She had difficulties in her past that could have broken her, but she healed. He had difficulties in his past that he hadn't yet come to terms with. One thing that I particularly notice about Palmer romances is how friendless the female lead is. While everyone in town seems to respect and look out for her, she doesn't have any close female friends. On the other hand, the hero has a whole network of men who are close to him.

This was a good romance for those who like suspense in their books too.

Favorite Quote:
She crossed her arms with a sigh. "You can't run away from the past," she said gently. "It's portable. No matter how far you go, it travels with you. Until you come to grips with it, face what you're running from, you'll never be satisfied."
I got this ARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Mercy Kill by Lori Armstrong

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • 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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
When Kit McIntyre ambled in, the phrase "cowboys and biker and dickheads, oh my" flitted into my head. Ol' White Hair stopped to schmooze with the drunken bunco ladies before bellying up to the bar. "Hey, Mercy. Where's Muskrat?"
This week my teaser comes from Mercy Kill by Lori Armstrong. This book has been on my TBR mountain since February of 2012. Here is the description:
Former Black Ops army sniper Mercy Gunderson isn’t adjusting well to the laid-back rhythm of civilian life on her family’s ranch in South Dakota. To fill her time, Mercy accepts a temporary bartending gig at a local watering hole. Yet her attempts to settle in back home are tested when Titan Oil, a Canadian company proposing to run an underground pipeline through Eagle River County, sends Jason Hawley, Mercy’s former army buddy, to the area to convince ranchers to get behind the project.

While local business owners support the pipeline, Hawley’s presence riles the landowners, and Mercy is torn. After ugly threats and multiple altercations escalate tensions in the county, Mercy discovers Hawley’s brutally mutilated body in the bar parking lot. When it appears Sheriff Dawson cares more about campaigning for reelection than investigating the case, Mercy vows to find Jason Hawley’s killer—even if she has to run against Dawson for sheriff to ensure justice is served.

But Mercy soon learns her former military pal had plenty of secrets. Her search for the truth brings unwanted exposure to the county’s dark side and risks deadly repercussions for the entire community.

Monday, July 21, 2014

2 Quick Reviews: For Her Spy Only by Robyn DeHart & Love's Justice by Joan Avery

I recently got these two books from Entangled Publishing. Both are being released on July 21

For Her Spy Only
Author: Robyn DeHart
Publication: Entangled Scandalous (July 21, 2014

Description: England, 1814

When Winifred is rescued from her snow-stranded carriage by the notorious and reclusive Alistair, Marquess of Coventry, she is instantly drawn to him. Jilted by her betrothed and socially ruined by untrue rumors, Winifred is tired of paying for crimes she didn't commit and decides to play the seductress London society claims she is. Thinking a night of passion shouldn't leave any lasting effects, she instead finds her heart marked forever.

Six years later, Alistair is working for the Regent as a spy. A search for Napoleon's English supporters leads him to the beguiling Winifred, recently widowed with a young son. He hasn't forgotten how the unconventional beauty warmed his bed, and the heat between them rekindles immediately. The spymaster is determined to uncover all of plucky Winifred's secrets. Especially the one regarding her son...

My Thoughts: This was a novella. It told a very nice story in the hidden baby trope. Winifred is traveling and has carriage issues. She is rescued by the reclusive Marquess of Coventry. Since she has had a reputation irreparably damaged by her ex-fiance, and, since she finds the Marquess attractive, she invites him to "ravish" her. The man isn't a fool; he agrees.

Fast forward six years, Winifred is the widow of an elderly mapmaker who married her when she found herself pregnant. The Marquess, who is a government agent who breaks codes, needs the maps to solve a cipher. He wants to resume the affair; she is afraid he will find out about his son.

Of special interest is the both the father and the son have/had a learning disability that keeps/kept them from speaking. Winifred's son has his mother's loving support; the Marquess did not have the same support. In fact, his first wife killed herself when she found herself pregnant, fearing the baby would be like the father.

There is a happy ending since Winifred has always loved the Marquess despite his differences. The story had a fast-moving plot, engaging characters, and crisp dialogue. Fans of historical romance will enjoy this one.

Love's Justice
Author: Joan Avery
Publication: Entangled Scandalous (July 21, 2014

Description: London, 1879

American heiress Victoria Wentworth has spent her life blithely ignoring her father's wishes... until he enters her into an unwanted marriage contract with a despicable man. She has two choices: marry the bounder or fight the archaic English laws in court. Her only hope is Hugh Worth, the Earl Montgomery and Lord Chancellor of the Exchequer: her judge and jury. Society paints him as stern and subdued, yet fair. Society didn't warn her that beneath his somber facade beats a passionate heart and soul.

Hugh finds himself irresistibly, inexplicably, drawn to the spirited American, despite himself and his better judgment. As the inconvenient heiress takes on the fight against the very foundation of his life and career, another battle wages in his once cold heart. Everything about her is inappropriate, illogical, and unexpected. Yet, she is a woman he could admire. A woman of intelligence and beliefs that challenge the existing world.

But she is forbidden.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this romance that was as much about women's rights as it was a romance. Victoria Wentworth is a beautiful American heiress whose father has betrothed her to a dissolute and disgusting English aristocrat - Lord Stanford. A proponent of women's rights, Victoria refuses to marry him leading the jilted fiance to sue her. If she loses, she will be penniless.

The hero of the romance is Hugh Worth, Earl Montgomery and Lord Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is the judge in the case. Since they are of the same social class, Hugh, Victoria, and Lord Stanford keep meeting socially. Hugh is attracted to Victoria but any relationship would be a huge conflict of interest. He also knows Lord Stanford and dislikes him. Victoria is also attracted to Hugh and repelled by Stanford. Stanford has ample opportunities to demonstrate his villainy through the story including an attempted rape.

What was particularly interesting to me in this story was that it focused on three different women's relationships. Victoria has a friend who married a British aristocrat. The friend is satisfied with the relationship but doesn't know that her husband is addicted to gambling and has gambled away the money she brought to the marriage. The second relationship is between Lord and Lady Percy who are happy in their marriage. Finally, Victoria's relationship with Lord Stanford. The book clearly demonstrated the injustice when a woman was little more than property to a man.

I liked Hugh as a character. He was conflicted about any sort of relationship with Victoria. He had a difficult childhood as the son of an abusive father who ruined his family's reputation. Hugh has been determined to restore the family's reputation but his relationship with Victoria could jeopardize that.

Both romances were engaging and entertaining. I recommend them.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 21, 2014)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

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.

This was a wonderful, quiet reading week. I didn't have to go anywhere or do anything and could spend all the time I wanted reading. Next week looks pretty much the same.

Read Last Week
Two from my TBR mountain
Darkness Unbound by Keri Arthur begins a new Dark Angels series. The characters are the next generation of the characters in the Riley Jensen urban fantasy series. I enjoyed the main character and thought the plot line was interesting. Much as I wanted to, I did not add the other six books to my TBR mountain (yet) but I did put them on my Amazon wishlist. My review will be posted on August 13.

On the other hand, Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews finished their Edge series. This one is the story of Charlotte de Ney and Richard Mar. It is an action-packed urban fantasy and romance. I liked the characters and was glad to see that favorite characters from earlier books in the series had parts in this book. My review will be posted on August 15.
The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton is from my TBR mountain. It is a YA fantasy that creates an alternate United States of Asgard and where Norse gods walk around and interact with humans. This is an adventure and a romance and was very entertaining. I ordered the sequel and can't wait to find out what happens next. My review will be posted on August 16.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness is a review book that I just got this week. It was released on July 15. It is the conclusion of the All Souls trilogy and was a wonderful story. My review will be posted on July 23. 
Memory Zero by Keri Arthur was a review book that I received from NetGalley. It is an urban fantasy story that is the first book of a trilogy. This is a re-release. I first read this one in 2004 or 2005. It is an enjoyable beginning to a series with interesting characters and interesting world building. My review will be posted on August 21.

Hidden by Sophie Jordan is the concluding book in the Firelight trilogy. I liked this one because some the the characters were dragons. I also liked the romance. I think this one will appeal to anyone who likes adventure. My review will be posted on August 21.
I decided to throw away my schedule and read the two books that I got from Amazon Vine. 

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs is the seventeenth book in the Temperance Brennan series and was an excellent thriller. I was enthralled by the plot and really liked the characters too. My review will be posted here on September 18. (You can read what I thought on Amazon, LibraryThing, or GoodReads now though.)

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews begins a new urban fantasy series and was another hit for me. I couldn't put this one down! It is told by Nevada Baylor who is private investigator in Houston who gets involved with the magical Houses that control the city. It is also the beginning stages of a romance between her and one of the most powerful Primes in the city. My review for this one won't be posted here until October 23. (You can read what I thought on Amazon, LibraryThing, or GoodReads now though.)
Feral by Holly Schindler was from my review stack. This YA book was a very creepy psychological thriller perfect for readers who want to send shivers up their spines. My review will be posted on August 23.

Currently
I pulled Mercy Burns by Keri Arthur from my TBR mountain. This urban fantasy has been sitting there since April 21, 2011.

Next Week

On the YA side, I am beginning to read the seventeen books on my review stack that are being released in September. These four are all being released Sept. 2.
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
 Starry Night by Isabel Gillies
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes
Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
Most of my adult choices for the week are still coming from my TBR mountain.

The President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth has been on the stack since Sept. 9, 2011.

Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay has been on the stack since March 2, 2012.

No Limits by Lori Foster is my lone review book. It will be released on Aug. 26 but my review will be posted as part of the blog tour on Sept. 11.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (July 20, 2014)

Tynga of Team Tynga's Reviews has a meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. Visit her site to check out the linky and see what everyone gets. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow.

Here is what I got this week.
I fed my Kindle with a couple of daily deals this week.

And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake by Elizabeth Boyle was a daily deal on Friday. It sounded like a fun historical romance.

Known Devil by Justin Gustainis was a daily deal on Thursday. I have more books in this urban fantasy series. 

I got a print copy of Killer Ambition by Marcia Clark because it was less expensive than the Kindle version. I read the first book in this series and enjoyed it. This is actually book 3. I'm still waiting for book 2 to arrive.
Earlier in the week Mercedes Lackey's Diana Tregarde series was the daily deal. I have three of these books in print and enjoyed them. I decided to buy them and the fourth book which I haven't yet read for my Kindle.

Jinx High by Mercedes Lackey (Book 3)
Children of the Night by Mercedes Lackey (Book 1)
Burning Water by Mercedes Lackey (Book 2)
Magic 101 by Mercedes Lackey (Book 0.5)
I also got one book for my review stack this week. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness is the conclusion to the All Souls trilogy. I got the eARC the day the book was released. I have already read it. My review will be posted on July 23. 

What did you add to your stack this week?