Friday, January 22, 2021

Friday Memes: Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

 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.

Beginning:
Elsie hadn't meant to burn down the workhouse.
Friday 56: 
Elsie straightened. "I have to be home in the morning. But I can come back the day after." Hopefully the squire's work would hold out and Ogden wouldn't notice her absence. Three employers...How would she make this work?
This week I am spotlighting a recent arrival on TBR Mountain -- Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg. I really enjoyed her Paper Magician series and decided to give this new series a try. Here is the description from Amazon:

A world of enchanted injustice needs a disenchanting woman in an all-new fantasy series by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician.

The orphaned Elsie Camden learned as a girl that there were two kinds of wizards in the world: those who pay for the power to cast spells and those, like her, born with the ability to break them. But as an unlicensed magic user, her gift is a crime. Commissioned by an underground group known as the Cowls, Elsie uses her spellbreaking to push back against the aristocrats and help the common man. She always did love the tale of Robin Hood.

Elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey is one elusive spell away from his mastership when he catches Elsie breaking an enchantment. To protect her secret, Elsie strikes a bargain. She’ll help Bacchus fix unruly spells around his estate if he doesn’t turn her in. Working together, Elsie’s trust in—and fondness for—the handsome stranger grows. So does her trepidation about the rise in the murders of wizards and the theft of the spellbooks their bodies leave behind.

For a rogue spellbreaker like Elsie, there’s so much to learn about her powers, her family, the intriguing Bacchus, and the untold dangers shadowing every step of a journey she’s destined to complete. But will she uncover the mystery before it’s too late to save everything she loves?

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Book Review: Widow's Island Novellas 5 & 6 by Melinda Leigh and Kendra Elliot

Below the Bones

Author:
Kendra Elliot
Series: Widow's Island Novella (Book 5)
Publication: Montlake (October 27, 2020)

Description: A former FBI special agent must come out of retirement to solve a murder in the fifth novella in the Widow’s Island series from Wall Street Journal bestselling author Kendra Elliot.

Former FBI special agent Cate Wilde is a new bakery and bookstore owner—and retirement is now complete with a doctor boyfriend. Although she struggles with PTSD, the sweet life she’s living is a far cry from the gruesome work she left behind six months ago.

But when skeletal remains turn up on Widow’s Island—and the MO of the killer is too familiar to Cate—the dream comes to an abrupt end. What if the case she solved eight years ago isn’t as closed as she thought? Her hometown needs her, and despite her mental health and her boyfriend’s protests, she has no choice but to return to her dangerous past life.

Soon Cate is in a desperate race to stop a cold-blooded murderer from killing again, once and for all…only this time, she’ll have so much more to lose.

My Thoughts: This mystery, with ties back to an earlier case, lets Cate Wilde finally find closure and realize that her career as an FBI agent was yesterday's dream job. Now, she's happy as a bookstore and bakery owner on Widow's Island. She does have a few pangs when some bodies are discovered that bring back on earlier case. 

Her FBI boss isn't sure she should quit and tries to pull her back in. So does a former boyfriend who's also an FBI agent. But Cate is happy with her doctor boyfriend and happy not to be in tense situations like she found herself in as an agent.

She does use her investigative skills to figure out who is copying the murders. The first murderer was found and convicted and is now in prison. Somehow, he's still fixated on Cate and seems to know too much about her current life. 

The story packed a lot of activities into its short length. I liked that Cate and Henry affirmed their relationship and that Cate found closure. 

Favorite Quote:
She'd left the FBI last winter and moved back to the island, her childhood home. Now she owned a bakery and a bookstore.

A much quieter, less stressful life.

But sometimes a little dull.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

A Broken Bone

Author:
Melinda Leigh
Series: Widow's Island Novella (Book 6)
Publication: Montlake (November 3, 2020)

Description: The mysterious death of a local teen leads to a hunt for a killer in the sixth Widow’s Island novella by #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh.

On Widow’s Island, the secrets are dark…and everybody has one. So when Deputy Tessa Black responds to a call about an explosion in a quiet neighborhood, she gets more than she bargained for: the body of a teen who went missing weeks ago.

Until recently, Gavin was living in a reputable foster home. But now that he is found dead—Tessa can’t help but wonder if sinister forces are at play. Who would want to hurt him, and why?

With the help of her partner, Park Ranger Logan Wilde, Tessa tries desperately to decipher what happened to Gavin before another life is cut short. Someone on Widow’s Island knows the explosive truth. Will Tessa find the answers she needs before someone else turns up dead?

My Thoughts: Tessa Black responds to a suspected explosion and finds a dead body covered in debris. She also finds that someone has been squatting in the abandoned and derelict house. She soon learns that the body belongs to a teen named Gavin who was in foster care on the island. It had been assumed that he had run away since he had done so previously.

Now Tessa and her boyfriend Forest Ranger Logan Wilde become involved in the investigation to find out who murdered Gavin. Tessa is already under a lot of pressure since she gave up her job as a police detective in Seattle to come home and care for her mother who has dementia. She also has a minor half-sister who needs her care. She feels guilty that she stopped looking for Gavin too soon.

Their investigation leads to the foster home where Gavin was living where they encounter allegations of abuse by the foster father which leads to removing the other three boys from the home. But something isn't sitting right with Tessa about the allegations and the truth is found once she and Logan manage to catch up with the squatter.

I liked the action in the story and liked the way Tessa's relationship with Logan is growing.

Favorite Quote:
"What--or who--was our squatter afraid of?" Tessa asked.

"There aren't any dangerous animals on the island. Humans are the most dangerous species here."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Book Review: Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery

Chasing Perfect

Author: Susan Mallery
Series: Fool's Gold (Book 1)
Publication: HQN; Reissue edition (July 21, 2020)

Description: Welcome to Fool’s Gold, California, a charming community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. There’s lots to do and plenty of people to meet, especially women. Because there’s just one tiny problem in Fool’s Gold: the men don’t seem to stick around. Maybe it’s the lure of big-city life, or maybe it’s plain old bad luck, but regardless of the reason, the problem has to be fixed, fast. And Charity Jones may be just the city planner to do it.

Charity’s nomadic childhood has left her itching to settle down, and she immediately falls in love with all the storybook town has to offer—everything, that is, except its sexiest and most famous resident, former world-class cyclist Josh Golden. With her long list of romantic disasters, she’s not about to take a chance on another bad boy, even if everyone else thinks he’s perfect just the way he is. But maybe that’s just what he needs—someone who knows the value of his flaws. Someone who knows that he’s just chasing perfect

My Thoughts: Charity Jones is looking for a home when she comes to Fool's Gold, California, as its city planner. After a childhood with a mother who was always sure that the next man and the next place would be better, Charity longs for roots. She falls in love with the town and the people she meets including local boy-made good Josh Golden.

Josh had a career as a world-class cyclist before giving up the sport and coming home. An accident in a race has shaken his confidence. Josh also had a difficult childhood. He was abandoned by his mother at a local hotel when he was ten and still recovering from a serious accident that had him in pain and on crutches. He was adopted by the town and aided in his recovery. He has always felt that it was some lack in him that caused his mother to abandon him.

While Fool's Gold looks perfect, there are a couple of problems. First of all, it has a severe shortage of men and one of Charity's jobs in to lure business to the city - especially if those businesses employ lots of men. Second, somehow $750,000 that was supposedly sent to the city by the State government has gone missing. No one really suspects Robert, the city financial officer and one of the few single men in town, of the crime but answers need to be found soon.

I liked the setting and look forward to reading more stories set in Fool's Gold. I liked both Charity and Josh very much and was rooting for their romance. I could understand why they were reluctant to share their goals for their futures with each other since both were more intrinsic than overt. The story had a nice blend of characters from the matchmaking mayor to the barracuda television reporter who really wanted to rekindle her relationship with Josh. I liked that the attraction was instant between Charity and Josh and that both of them were reluctant to pursue it until they got to know each other. I loved the happily-ever-after ending. 

Favorite Quote:
Pia laughed. "I'm not sure I'm the marrying kind. I don't even know if I want kids. I'm still at the keeping-a-plant alive stage of my life. Next, I'll consider getting a pet."

"At least you have a plan."
I traded for this one from Paperback Book Swap December 5, 2013. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Old Bones by Aaron Elkins

Old Bones

Author:
Aaron Elkins
Narrator: Joel Richards
Series: The Gideon Oliver Mysteries (Book 4)
Publication: Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller (April 1, 2014)
Length: 218 p.; 8 hours and 29 minutes

Description: "With the roar of thunder and the speed of a galloping horse comes the tide to Mont St. Michel,” goes the old nursery song. So when the aged patriarch of the du Rocher family falls victim to the perilous tide, even the old man’s family accepts the verdict of accidental drowning.

But too quickly, this “accident” is followed by a bizarre discovery in the ancient du Rocher chateau: a human skeleton, wrapped in butcher paper, beneath the old stone flooring. Professor Gideon Oliver, lecturing on forensic anthropology at nearby St. Malo, is asked to examine the bones. He quickly demonstrates why he is known as the “Skeleton Detective,” providing the police with forensic details that lead them to conclude that these are the remains of a Nazi officer believed to have been murdered in the area during the Occupation. Or are they? Gideon himself has his doubts. Then, when another of the current du Rochers dies—this time via cyanide poisoning—his doubts solidify into a single certainty: Someone wants old secrets to stay buried . . . and is perfectly willing to eradicate the meddlesome American to make that happen.

My Thoughts: Gideon Oliver is lecturing on forensic anthropology at a law enforcement convention in France when he is called in by one of the participants to look at some bones recently found in the cellar of the Du Rocher home. Gideon has been there before since he's acquainted with one of the Du Rocher relatives who is also a college professor in California.

Gideon finds himself in the middle of a mystery and a family squabble for the inheritance of the recently deceased Du Rocher who found himself caught by the tides at Mont St. Michel. Events and divisions hark back to the Occupation and questions about loyalty. 

History suggests that the bones belong to a German officer murdered by members of the Resistance including some Du Rochers. But Gideon isn't convinced. He has quite a different theory. More questions arise when another member of the family - a much hated one - is murdered by drinking wine laced with cyanide.

This story was written in 1987 but felt even older to me. I think it was that the plot centered on events that happened during World War II and that many of the current family were involved in those events. Also the family rivalry and sniping at one another felt old-fashioned to me. This is the fourth in the series of eighteen books and the first that I have read which means that this was my introduction to Gideon. I found him to be an interesting character and would like to read more books in the series to learn more about him.

I chose the audiobook version since it was an Audible Daily Deal and sounded interesting. I enjoyed Joel Richard's narration. The pacing was excellent and the characters were vocally distinct. 

Favorite Quote:
"Well, my Uncle Beau Will'm," Ben said, slipping into an East Texas drawl, "that is, my Uncle Beau as was married to my mother's sister Essie, he said ain't no problem at all keepin' peace in the family, just so long's you don't ever make the mistake of tryin' to get 'em all together."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, January 18, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Jan. 18, 2021)

 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.

Other Than Reading... 

There wasn't much other than reading this week. I'm in between sports seasons. I did watch a couple of football games just to have the TV on. My team is finished for the year. I will be watching the Green Bay game later today even though they are bitter rivals to my Minnesota Vikings. 

I lowered the review stack quite a bit this week by finishing all the February 9 releases. The next couple are not releasing until Feb. 23. I even put one March release on this week's plan. I've been trying to alternate audiobooks with print books just to have some variety. If my reading follows the plan I'll only have two more books to read to finish my February calendar with scheduled review posts.

I added quite a few to TBR mountain but many were not totally new to me. I've read the Stillhouse Lake series by Rachel Caine as review books and decided to buy my own Kindle copies and audiobooks for a repeat reading. It is the same with the Carousel Tides series by Sharon Lee. I read them but now want to listen to the audiobooks. I also bought the short story collections set in that world which will be new reads for me. 

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
  • Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano (Review; Feb. 2) - Nice contemporary mystery with more than a dash of humor. My review will be posted on January 28.
  • Rafael by Laurell K. Hamilton (Review; Feb. 9) - The latest urban fantasy from this prolific author has all her usual elements but is much shorter than her usual which was a good thing. Great story still. My review will be posted on Feb. 4.
  • Bitter Falls by Rachel Caine (Mine; Audiobook) - I missed this one when it was published but wanted to do a combo read/listen before I tackled the last in the series which is on my review stack. Excellent thriller. My review will be posted on Feb. 9.
  • The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa (Review; Feb. 9) - This return to the world of the Iron Fey is told from Puck's point of view and was excellent. Great characters, descriptions and worldbuilding. My review will be posted on Feb. 3.
  • Hide in Place by Emilya Naymark (Review; Feb. 9) - Great thriller about a woman who is a retired police officer and who needs to search for her kidnapped son. Lots of information about why she left the force which is part of the reason her son was kidnapped. My review will be posted on Feb. 2.
  • A Lady's Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett (Review; Feb. 9) - This historical romance/mystery was filled with interesting characters, a great romance, and an intriguing mystery plot along with great period details. My review will be posted on Feb. 6.
Currently
  • The Awakening by Nora Roberts - I bought the hardcover on release but wanted to listen as I read so bought the audiobook this week. This begins a new fantasy series for the author.
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Bought for Kindle
Bought Audiobooks
Review Books
What was your week like?


Saturday, January 16, 2021

ARC Review: No Holding Back by Lori Foster

No Holding Back

Author:
Lori Foster
Series: The McKenzies of Ridge Trail (Book 1)
Publication: HQN; Original edition (January 26, 2021)

Description: Not needing him won’t stop her from wanting him…

Trucker Sterling (Star) Parson is no stranger to the challenges a woman faces, both in her industry and in life. But she can take care of herself. She’s never needed—or wanted—a man around…until she meets Cade McKenzie. The take-charge bar owner sets off all kinds of alarm bells for Sterling, but he also sets her heart racing.

Cade’s lived in Ridge Trail long enough to know trouble when he sees it, and the moment Sterling—Star—walks into his bar, he knows trouble’s come to call. Secrets run deep in the small town and Cade can tell Star’s got as many as he does, leaving him itching to uncover every last one. But finding common ground will mean trusting one another, further feeding an intense attraction that’s growing impossible to resist.

My Thoughts: Sterling Parsons is a trucker who has a habit of rescuing trafficked women when she finds them along her route. She was abducted herself when she was a junior in high school but managed to kill the man who was the first to buy her and escape. 

Cade McKenzie is a bar owner and bar tender in the bar Sterling uses as a refuge. He is a former Army Ranger who invalided out because of damaged knees from all the parachute jumps. He secretly works with his family to shut down trafficking since his stepmother was abducted, trafficked, and committed suicide after being rescued. His father is quite wealthy and quite determined on his vigilante course of action. Cade has a younger half-brother and half-sister who are also involved in the family business.

When Sterling gets into a situation where she is way over her head, Cade is determined to get her out of it and protect her. Her attempt to rescue trafficked women has led her to the man who originally trafficked her and who Cade's family has been investigating for quite a while.

Cade and Sterling fall in love though Sterling finds it hard to trust anyone and Cade has trust issues of his own. The love scenes were nicely hot and the action scenes tense. Fans of romantic suspense will enjoy this first of a new trilogy. My guess is Cade's brother and sister will also find love before the trilogy is finished. 

Favorite Quote:
Lord, the man was put together fine. Add in a lean jaw, a strong but straight nose, and those cool blue eyes fringed by dark lashes and she assumed he broke hearts on a daily basis.

Not her heart. She wasn't susceptible to that kind of stuff. She could take in the exceptional view and stay detached. She could.

Only...this time she had to really concentrate to make it true.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Friday Memes: No Holding Back by Lori Foster

 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.

Beginning:
Shivers racked her body as she watched him drink. Curled in the corner, waiting, dreading the inevitable--even breathing was difficult with so much fear crowing in around her. She wanted to cry but knew it wouldn't help. She wanted to let in the hysteria, but she hadn't quite accepted her fate...not yet. 
Friday 56: 
He tossed her that crooked smile and, leaning in, kissed her without drawing her close. "Use whatever you need in the bathroom. Toothbrush, lotion, shampoo and conditioner. Make yourself at home, okay? I'll fold down the bed."
This week I'm spotlighting No Holding Back by Lori Foster. This romantic suspense title begins a new series by this prolific author. Here is the description from Amazon:
Not needing him won’t stop her from wanting him…

Trucker Sterling (Star) Parson is no stranger to the challenges a woman faces, both in her industry and in life. But she can take care of herself. She’s never needed—or wanted—a man around…until she meets Cade McKenzie. The take-charge bar owner sets off all kinds of alarm bells for Sterling, but he also sets her heart racing.
Cade’s lived in Ridge Trail long enough to know trouble when he sees it, and the moment Sterling—Star—walks into his bar, he knows trouble’s come to call. Secrets run deep in the small town and Cade can tell Star’s got as many as he does, leaving him itching to uncover every last one. But finding common ground will mean trusting one another, further feeding an intense attraction that’s growing impossible to resist.