Category Archives: Reading Challenges

Book Review: ‘Heart of Stone’ by Willa Blair

Title: Heart of Stone (Highland Talents Prequel)

Published: 26th August 2016

Author: Willa Blair

Facebook: www.facebook.com/willablair

Twitter: @willablair

 

Synopsis:

Bound home after two years away, Gavan MacNabb comes across a lass and her deerhound in a moonlit circle of standing stones. Little does he know that the garland of bluebells she weaves and the spell she sings will change the course of his life.

Marsali Murray doesn’t really believe the old wives’ tale that making a chain of bluebells by the standing stones under a waxing moon will bring true love, but she’s desperate to try anything to escape the boring, everlasting sameness of her life. Anything except marrying a man her father chooses for her. When her deerhound, Corrie, insists on following Gavan, Marsali decides that’s the excuse she needs to have the adventure she craves. She’ll go where he goes, whether he is the man promised by her spell—or not.
Gavan has already seen much of the world denied to Marsali. He’s ready to settle down. She is eager to spread her wings. Can they find what they need with each other?

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A Scottish Highlander historical romance.

Marsali longs to find her true love, hopefully before her father sells her off to the highest bidder for political gain. An old tale she’s told tells of a spell that once cast will bring forth her true love. One that involves stringing bluebells together and singing a song in the middle of a sacred circle of stones. She knows its a long shot so is shocked when a man appears before her, a very handsome one to boot. Though at the end of the day maybe she should just listen to her deerhound Corrie – the fearsome beast she is lol – she seems to know who she should be with.

Gavan is on his way home when he gets drawn towards a voice singing on the wind. It’s like he feels a pull towards the voice and when he finds the one it came from a pull towards her as well. He might want her but holds back for fear of scaring her. Then he takes note that she is in the middle of nowhere by herself with only a deerhound to protect her. Said fearsome deerhound that all but bounces over to him to say hello. Good old Corrie, she knew who he was to her master even before they did. He almost wants to scare her into seeing how dangerous the situation could be but settles on offering to escort her home instead. She might insist she is fine but she secretly wishes for him to force her to be led by him spell or no spell. She may have cast it but how much faith should she have in it anyway? More than she does it seems as they meet again by chance. You can see the pull is there but not acted upon, mainly due to him leaving the next day. Thinking she has lost her chance it seems fate, or should that be Corrie, has other plans as she rushes off to follow him hours after leaving. Marsali might have longed for adventure and she is about to get it when she follows her faithful hound.

Danger is along the path she travels so its good she has a Scottish Highlander to come to her rescue. To keep her safe becomes his first priority and it seems the closest place to do that would be his home. But there awaits a long lost love, one he had hoped would wait for him. Though does he still want his past or maybe now a new future. He thinks to give Marsali time for her adventurous nature to wear off so she will go home on her own choosing but really he wants her to stay, even if he won’t say it. She longs for him to see her as his love as she has quickly come to see him as hers. They fit together no matter where they are. I mean come on even the hound knows they are meant to be. But with past lovers, family ties and hope being tested it’s a wonder if love can concur at all.

Nice short, sweet, clean, adventurous Scottish highlander romance to chill out with on a chilly evening. Would be interesting to see how others in their families get on with their own stories. Lots more tales I hope.

4 out of 5 stars

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Filed under Historical Romance, Reading Challenges, Reading Nook Blog Posts

Book Review: ‘Autumn Glimmer’ by Stacey Joy Netzel

Title: Autumn Glimmer (Romancing Wisconsin #6.5)

Published: 12th October 2015

Author: Stacey Joy Netzel

Facebook: www.facebook.com/StaceyJoyNetzelAuthor

Twitter: @StaceyJoyNetzel

 

Synopsis:

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Shea Riley walks out on her two-year relationship with Keller Maxwell in hopes of shocking him into realizing love can’t be taken for granted. Her glimmer of hope begins to fade as weeks pass without a word from him.

Problem is, she still loves him—and she’s pregnant with his child. She knows he deserves to know he’s going to be a father, but how will she ever know he truly loves her if they don’t fix their relationship before he knows about the baby?

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book with a colour in the title. Well autumn isn’t really a colour by itself but you can choose autumn colours so I’m going to count it.

This might be book 6 in the series but it can be read as standalone as focuses on their story alone and not a larger picture with lots of other multiple characters. Though you do get a glimpse into what Shea’s brother Nash is getting up to with his on/off girlfriend Josie, which is a fun side note.

Shea is feeling very under appreciated by her boyfriend Keller. Feeling more like a maid than his girlfriend from the moment she moved in. She needs him to wake up to what he has before he loses it. Her plan being to make a stand and leave to shock him into realising that what they have is worth something. Seems like a sound plan but like she says he really doesn’t listen so has no clue to what the reason could be to why she is leaving. He’s just hoping she will come back after having some time to cool off. She wants to know that he wants her for her more than ever because she has something she needs to tell him. Soon their two will be a three, well she’s hoping anyway.

Keller really has no clue why Shea left and all his brother/old wingman Dalton can come up with is that he is better off without her. Clearly saying that so he can get his wingman back. A night out with him might have better results than he expected though when he gets some much needed advice. Has he lost his chance by waiting too long though?

A short sweet romance showing the pitfalls of relationships when people stop appreciating each other. It’s just the start of their story and here’s hoping it continues with a few less bumps along the way. Well other than the one she’s growing! Nicely written short story that intrigues you enough to want to check out the rest of the series.

4 out of 5 stars

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Book Review: ‘Uncharted’ by Chris Almeida and Cecilia Aubrey

Title: Uncharted (Countermeasure: Bytes of Life #1)

Published: 24th April 2013

Authors: Chris Almeida and Cecilia Aubrey

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Authors.ChrisAlmeida.CeciliaAubrey

Twitter: @calmeidacaubrey

 

Synopsis:

The suspense driven Countermeasure Series combines full-length novels and Bytes of Life short stories about sexy, technologically inclined men and women. The series is filled with heart-stopping danger and enough twists and turns to make a hair-raising “roller coaster” seem tame. In the series, Trevor Bauer, a tough as nails NSA geek, and his even more tenacious love interest, Cassandra James, are on a quest for clues in the mysterious disappearance of Trevor’s parents. Joined by fate, their search drops them into the mysterious and violent world of data espionage, one that tests their love as they sweep the world with romance, sex, and ingenuity to find answers that will have the power to change their lives forever.

In the short prequel to Countermeasure, love is the utmost cardinal emotion and shines brightly as Conor and Maeve Brennan struggle with a life changing decision. In this glimpse into the hearts of the Brennans, you will see the strength of a love unlike any other–a love that transcends right and wrong. A love that remains unchallenged to this day.

NOTE: Countermeasure: Bytes of Life is a tie-in series to the Countermeasure Series novels. This new series of shorts gives the readers glimpses into the day-to-day life of the Countermeasure characters.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book with two authors. A quick read to get you interested in the rest of the series.

An intriguing prequel giving you a glimpse into the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Peter’s parents Maeve and Conor Brennan. It doesn’t give too much away about the ‘why’ they are leaving, just that they are. A sailing trip like they do yearly but this one with an ulterior motive. To find out what the true motive is you will have to check out the series.

You can clearly see the love they have for each other, and their son, and willingness to do what they must when times are at there worst. Which seems to be right from the start, though we never find out why. It has the ability to grip you, even with only being short. Leaves you wanting more, which is a good pull towards the series. Are they doing what they are doing to protect their son, themselves or maybe both?

Well-written short read that makes you wonder what, or rather whom, they could be running from and whether they will ever be able to come back.

3 out of 5 stars

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Reading Challenges, Reading Nook Blog Posts

Book Review: ‘The Sugar Baby Club’ by Teresa Lo

 

Published: 22nd March 2017

Author: Teresa Lo

Facebook: www.facebook.com/teresalowriter

Twitter: @teresalo_tweets

 

Synopsis:

Sick of “hanging out” and hookup culture, college freshman Jasmine Lewis decides to try out a new kind of dating—sugar dating. After watching a documentary about sugar daddies, she and her roommate Kita Okoye sign up for Searching Sweet Sugar, a sugar dating site that promises to change young girls’ lives for the better. After meeting a few salt daddies, terrible men who abuse the system, Jasmine and Kita land the sugar daddies of their dreams, men who shower them with money, Louis Vuitton, and vacations. Their newfound, glamorous lifestyle attracts the attention of girls in their residence hall, and soon, Jasmine and Kita find themselves running a make shift dating agency from their dorm room.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2017 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book with a beautiful cover. The cover is very creative and fun. When college guys just don’t cut it these girls start to look for something a bit more high-end. Sugar dating seems to be the way to go but that doesn’t mean a few salts don’t get in there too.

The story starts with Jasmine and Kita after a bit of a disappointing night out that ends with them being taken in by police after being found clearly tipsy back on campus. Bad to worse when Kita’s father starts pushing his weight around. Her dream of studying in Paris for a year being pushed right out the window when he refuses to pay anymore. Though really I think he was just waiting for her to mess up so she wouldn’t get to go. Dreams crushed she knows there’s no way to get the 40k needed but it seems Jasmine might have found a way. Mainly after she sees a website called Searching Sweet Sugar. Explaining just how much money and gifts they could get while being treated like a princess. An idea is born were they will sign up to see just what they could get. The sugar daddies range in ages from 20s to 60s and their wages increasing with age. Jasmine decides Paris seems like a good idea too as her prospects at school with art are failing. They have a year to make 80k. What could possibly go wrong?

Seems to get a good sugar daddy you have to go through a few salts. Those guys you just want to stay clear of but lessons need to be learned. A few weeks in and they seem to be doing ok with the treats they’ve been given – cash, shoes, diamond bracelets and a holiday to paradise. Trip not in vain it seems when a local guy gives them some sleepy powder that might just come in handy if they really don’t want to go there with a daddy. Its not long though before they seem to get attached to certain daddies – Jasmine with Matthew who wants a fairytale romance vibe and Kita with Tyson an artist in the making – but is that really wise when feelings get involved?

Britney’s soon to follow in with the fun that can be had but she may be feeling a little closer to Jasmine than her sugar daddies. Seems once word gets out more and more want to join them. Soon the Sugar Baby Club is born. Jasmine and Kita plan on helping the girls weed out the salts for a cut of what the girls might make. Got to get that Paris fund growing! With very strict campus policies though they don’t seem as clued in one what could go down if they get caught. What could possibly go wrong when these girls put their heads together?

Amusing comical read following these girls through the trials of sugar dating. Some fail some pass but all seem to get what they want out of it in the end. That goes for both parties too.

Side note: Eggs are funny for payback for whatever the reason so people should watch out.


4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Humour, Reading Challenges, Reading Nook Blog Posts

Book Review: ‘A Different Kind of Lovely’ by Petra March

Title: A Different Kind of Lovely: A Novel

Published: 23rd May 2017

Author: Petra March

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorPetraMarch

 

Synopsis:

A man with a damaged soul fell in love with a ballerina with a broken body.”

When Neal Medwin glimpses Mina Automne for the first time, he’s a man whose soul is darkened with memories of a painful past, whereas Mina is a vibrant, strong, young woman. She’s a determined ballerina who’s carefully planning and painting her life.
Neal steps into her existence and threatens to shatter Mina’s plans with an impossible request.

Mina can’t help the fragile man who’s invading her home, even though their parents used to be close friends and she knows of Neal’s hurtful background. She allows him to linger within her lovely and artistic world, however, hoping he might find some peace and solace.

Slowly, their conflict turns into friendship, and eventually into love, until a terrible discovery ruins Mina’s projects and forces her to let go of all her dreams, and of her sweet, damaged man.

Neal is unable to fight for Mina and for the unripe love they share, because he’s not ready to leave his past behind. He’s not strong enough – not yet.

(Ages 18+)

Publisher’s Note: This stand-alone Novel is a spinoff of Petra March’s award winning series, A Touch of Cinnamon.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2017 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book about dancing or dancers. Another beautifully descriptive novel written by Petra March, one that takes the reader on a journey through a wealth of emotions from start to finish. A little repetitive at times but a good read all the same.

After the death of David everyone connected with him – family and friends alike – have all found it hard to move on passed their grief. All grieve in very different ways but all slowly need to find another/new reason to move forward and not live in the nightmares of the past. Something that Neal is slowly starting to learn after meeting Mina.

Neal is a broken soul of a man still struggling – like the rest of his family – with the sudden death of his brother David years before. His coping mechanism is to just shut down all his emotions, put on a mask and take care of his parents and sister. They call, ask him to do something, and its like he is powerless to refuse them. The latest task his mother sends him on is to purchase the cottage David stayed at before he died. One of the roads that lead to it being the one the accident happened on. A weird way to grieve on the anniversary but its what they do, buy something new to help push away their emotions. He thinks he’s just going to have a look as he thinks they are already selling but he gets a shock when the owner very much says she is not.

Mina is a ballet dancer with a passion to perform and live life to the full with her dream but it all comes crashing down when her body starts to betray her. Neal first spots her in a field dancing. Gliding across the land and through the air like a butterfly caught on the wind, soon to be his Butterfly. She caught his attention and drew him to her swiftly. When he follows her to the cottage and she finds out he wants to buy it it’s a push and pull feeling she has to deal with. He intrigues her so she wants him to stay but at the same time angers her with his intensions to buy her home making her want him to go. Seems their parents were friends once upon a time and hers thought to sell when they asked to buy without letting her know, even though the cottage is hers. Her dream being to build a dance studio out on the land and teach, after she has had a career with her ballet that is.

Seems to be heart and head, or should that be body and mind, are feeling very conflicted about what they are doing. Chemistry is a bit of a slow build between them as they try to get a feel for the other. The cottage and Mina’s memories of David help Neal to start to open up to his own. She knows his pain, can see it clearly in his face as his mask is slowly falling away. The cottage and Neal’s subconscious might hold nightmares to start with but soon they will turn around with the presence of Mina. Just as she can see his pain he can see hers, though hers might be more physical. They need each other to hold onto and build something new from their broken souls but his need to help his family pulls them apart. Can they find their way back to each other to help heal their pain, both physical and mental?

Cameos with Eagan and Brina give the story a rounder depth as it’s showing how others have come through the other side of their grief. Felia, Neal’s sister, needed to find her own way through it, which Neal is slowly figuring out. To move on you have to face the past and until they do that they will be stuck in a dark loop repeating their mistakes. Push past it and they will finally be happy again, just like David would have wanted.

To get a proper feel for the story and how certain characters may show their emotions, or lack their of by keeping them locked up, I would recommend reading the other books in the series. This can be read as a stand-alone but I feel you would benefit from reading the others. Plus they are good anyway, so why not.

4 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from the author for my honest review.

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Reading Challenges, Reading Nook Blog Posts