Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Whiskey and Gumdrops by Jean Oram

From Goodreads:
Mandy Mattson has always believed that what you want isn't what you need. But never in her life has she been more wrong.

As a small town waitress, Mandy has never felt as though she deserves the love of her best friend Frankie. But when she sees an ex-lover marry her rival she realizes her life is adding up to a big fat nothing and realizes she needs to make a change. With every path in her new life leading back to Frankie, will she finally be able to reconcile that the one thing she's always wanted is the very thing she needs?

My Take:
Okay, I have mixed feelings about this one. First, I was so glad to finally find a clean romance that still had some steam to it. So, right there is enough for me to write a positive review. I liked the characters more as the story went on, especially Frankie.

The downside is Mandy sort of drove me nuts. She is so adamantly against Frankie as more than her best friend that it's infuriating. Maybe this is because I married my best friend, and I couldn't relate to her fear of losing that friendship if the romance fizzled. She also can't accept help to save her life. There were also a few typos, but not enough for me to be completely thrown out of the story.

The good thing is that Mandy learned. She finally grew up and learned that it's okay to accept help and that maybe friendship is the best foundation for the best kind of love. In the end, I liked Oram's style enough that I picked up some short stories and book 2 in the Blueberry Springs series. I've always liked moving into a town and hanging out for a while. ;)

I give Whiskey and Gumdrops a solid 4. Thank you for a clean read!

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Predator Girl by S.B. Roozenboom





I've been striking out on a lot of books lately. If I can't give it at least a 3.5 I won't review it, and most of the books that have been falling into my hands have not been ones I could finish. Hopefully soon I'll have more clean romances that are fresh enough in my mind to give you a decent review. Until then, here is another one from a few years back.

This review is originally from September 2012. 
From Goodreads:  
Strange and unusual beasts that few people are aware of roam our world. Jared Ferlyn is one of these few—a Finder, born with the gift for detecting and tracking paranormal beings. Tagging these Otherworlders for the government, he’s had his share of keeping fey, nightlings and other creatures from human sight. But when a strange new girl comes to town, Jared is unable to classify her despite his training and experience. Tracking her, he is pulled into a dangerous environment that not even a Finder is prepared for.

My take:
I wish I had written this review closer to when I read it, but summer was crazy. So, here is a quick thought from memory. The story bounces between the two main characters Jared and Ilume. Both are likable and believable. There are lots of unexpected twists to keep the reader happy, and yet the style is somewhere between Twilight and Shiver which lends a comfortable feel.  

I give Predator Girl by S. B. Roozenboom a solid 4.



1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Monday, June 13, 2016

Between by Cyndi Teffi

Originally read and reviewed August 2011. Since it's been a while, I can't remember if I had to skip any scenes.

From Goodreads:

It just figures that the love of Lindsey Water's life isn't alive at all, but the grim reaper, complete with a dimpled smile and Scottish accent.

After transporting souls to heaven for the last 300 years, Aiden MacRae has all but given up on finding the one whose love will redeem him and allow him entry through the pearly gates.

Torn between her growing attraction to Aiden and heaven's siren song, Lindsey must learn the hard way whether love really can transcend all boundaries.


My Take

This was a fun light read. I read it on my Kindle in a few hours. I think my brain was ready for a romance, and this is just what the doctor ordered. One of the things I enjoyed about this read was the good Christian values without being beat up by them. They were there, but not the point of the book. 

My one beef is that we were thrown into the story so quickly. Bam! Lindsey is dead and instead of freaking out "OMG! I'm dead!" she is "Wow, he's really hot in that kilt. I wonder if he's wearing anything under it?" I would have liked a little more reflection on the life and people she was leaving behind before starting the romance. 

Having said that, the romance was super sweet with just the right amount of heat. I loved that Lindsey was the aggressive one and Aiden had to keep trying to protect her "innocence". Oh, and just when I was getting bored of the dating "between" earth and heaven, Tefft throws in a twist that I never saw coming. 

And it broke my heart! I cried for both of them and couldn't stop reading until the twist was unraveled. 

I give Between a 4--solid and steamy mind candy. I think there might have been one scene I had to skip.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3:  I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Friday, June 10, 2016

Of Love and Magic

Originally Read and Reviewed February 2015



Amazon * B&N * KoboiTunes

I'll put my notes in italics below the Goodreads blurb.

From Goodreads:
Five intriguing romances wrapped in love and magic

Angel in a Black Fedora, by Sherry Gammon

Ciel Björk died a tragic death...but she got over it. Now she works as an undercover angel, answering people's prayers. She's sent to the sleepy little town of Port Fare, New York to help turn Chloe's dreams into a reality. As secrets are revealed, Ciel soon learns that things are not as simple as they seem.

This was an okay story, but it was hard to get into. Probably me? There was nothing wrong, I just didn't get the perfect girl in the fedora. Yes, she's an angel, but ?? Chloe is so tunnel visioned on this perfect guy that she never sees the love that's in front of her. I did like the twist at the end. You assume you know who's prayer Ciel is there to answer, but like the blurb says, nothing is as simple as it seems. I give this story a 3.5

A Wish in Her Hand, by Amberlee Day

Professor Miri Keeler's life is perfect, and she knows just the sort of man she wants to share it with. When she meets a genie who's willing to grant her a favor, she uses her wish to get the attention of her crush, poet Jamison Arbor. But has the genie's magic missed its target? Miri suddenly has the attention of not only Jamison, but also of Alex, an attractive maintenance man. How will she know which is the right match for her, or what's real and what's magic?

I liked this story better than the first, but here is another woman with a set idea of who Mr. Perfect is. Luckily, she at least gives another guy a chance while she's waiting for Mr. Right. I give this story a 3.5

Reality Ever After, by Cami Checketts

Pregnant at eighteen, Sydney Richland's happily ever after is in serious peril. Her grandmother's ghost can work miracles, but she also might ruin Sydney's chances with the man of her dreams.

This might have been my favorite because it was different. It wasn't all hearts and roses. There is real heartache and real choices to be made. I love when stories hurt because life hurts. I give this one a 4 

Prom Diaries, by Taylor Hart

Sixteen-year-old Lacy O'Donnell discovers her best friend has cast a spell, putting everyone in a time loop, forcing them to relive the same four days before prom over and over. The good thing--Lacy doesn't remember the loop. The bad thing--Drake Davis, the guy she's been stalking, does. Only true love's kiss can break the spell, but true love's kiss has to happen at a precise moment. It's not exact science...it's exact magic.

This one felt like Twilight emotionally. Two people that have to be kept apart for the greater good until the exact right moment. It did have a nice twist at the end though. I give this one a 3.5.

What If Wish, by Lucy McConnell

Morana is doomed to a life cataloging spells deep below the palace unless she can make her magic bloom. If her deepest wish comes true, it would open up all sorts of possibilities. The whispers that she was a fluke of nature would hush. The King would stop stalking her. Her parents would no longer live under a cloud of shame. And, Adam could look at her as more than a friend. Despite the promises magic holds, Morana will quickly learn that the thing she wishes for most, could quickly be her undoing.

This is the beginning of a larger story. It's more of a traditional fairy story, meaning it has fairies. :) I did enjoy the way McConnell built the world--when and how magic blooms. I also loved the romance part. It's bittersweet and although it's a typical romance trope it didn't feel stale. I give this one a 4. 


All in all this was a nice read. It didn't suck me in though, so I'm going to give it a 3.5 for Like, not Love.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Girl Who Heard Demons by Janette Rallison

From Goodreads:
Shy Adelle Hansen hears demons, but she’s determined to make friends at her new high school by keeping her ability secret.

When she overhears supernatural voices celebrating the impending death of the school quarterback, Levi Anderson, she knows she has to do something to prevent it. However, the demons aren’t the ones plotting; they’re just celebrating the chaos, and Adelle must contend with earthly forces as well if she wants to preserve Levi’s life.

Handsome, popular Levi doesn't appreciate Adelle’s self-appointed role of guardian angel. As Adelle battles to keep him safe, she’ll have to protect her heart, too. Can she do both?

My Take:
I have to admit I've had this one o my kind for a while. I think I picked it up for free by voting for it on Kindle Scout. Anyway, the only downside I can think of for this story is the fact the cover didn't seem to match the story. When I scrolled past it on my carousel, the cover didn't suck me in. I couldn't remember what the story was about so I kept scrolling.

However, when I finally opened it, the first sentence caught my attention.

"The demons came again during the night."

Ralston introduces us to Adelle quickly. The fact she is more afraid of the possibility of robbers than the whisperings of demons is interesting to say the least. I immediately had a good feel for her personality, and soon learned to feel for the direction her life had been moving.

Contrary to what you may be thinking, Adelle is quite spiritual. Even though she doesn't understand why she can hear demons, and why her efforts to help others overcome the constant destructive voices only makes her life miserable, she keeps her faith in good. Her hope that she can make a difference is what keeps her speaking up even though she knows its safer to keep quiet.

Here's another great line--"Maybe I wasn't the weird girl because of demons. Maybe I was just hopelessly awkward."

Levi might be a little on the arrogant side, but deep down he's a good guy. He's working through his own issues--a growing concern about this father and the secrets he keeps. He tries to shrug it off, but the more time he spends with Adelle the harder that becomes.

The romance is cute and different enough to feel fresh. They are drawn to each other but still try to keep things on the friend level. At least that's what they keep telling themselves they should do. Adele doesn't want a relationship with someone who thinks she's crazy. Levi just can't decide. Is she crazy or a savant? He's much more comfortable thinking she's a brilliant modern-day Sherlock Holmes than the fact she might actually hear demons taunting people.

I loved the paranormal aspect, the suspense, and the romance elements. I give this a 4.5

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Monday, June 6, 2016

Cowboy with a Cause by Carla Cassidy

From Goodreads:
I'd apologize for kissing you, but I'm not all that sorry...

Dancer Melanie Brooks had escaped small-town Oklahoma, giving up the country for Broadway's bright lights. Yet after her mother's funeral called her back, her own health issues forced her to stay. Now her tenant, too-hot-for-his-own-good Adam Benson, is giving her a reason to dance again. But has a killer set his sights on her, too?

Adam knows a little something about fresh starts. As for his beautiful neighbor, he doesn't see a wheelchair he sees a woman who understands. But as the heat grows between them, he can't avoid the feeling that more than her big-city past haunts her and that danger has been lurking, waiting to strikes.

My Take:
I'm a sucker for cowboys, don't know why, but I am. I even devoured Louis L'Amour books in high school. Anyway, Adam had all the hero factor he needed to make this story work. Melanie's health issues came on very fast, and at times (just the beginning) I wondered if they could come on that fast, but in the end I didn't even care. The chemistry between her and Adam was wonderful. (I later learned from the author that this disease often does happen very quickly.)

My favorite part of the story though was the suspense. How creepy to know someone is watching you, judging you--and then deciding that you don't get to live. I loved that Adam brought out Melanie's own strength. He was the hero by helping her realize that she could save herself. That's something girls don't get a lot of these days--you can be beautiful, feminine and strong as nails.

(Note: It's been several months since I read this so I can't remember how many scenes there were. I think there was at least one I had to skip.)

I really enjoyed this story. I give it a 4.5 for the creep factor of the suspense.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Friday, June 3, 2016

Treasure Me by Christine Nolfi

From Goodreads:
Petty thief Birdie Kaminsky has arrived in Liberty, Ohio to steal a treasure hidden since the Civil War. She’s in possession of a charming clue passed down in her family for generations: Liberty safeguards the cherished heart.

The beautiful thief wants to go straight. She secretly admires the clue’s author, freedwoman Justice Postell, who left South Carolina at the dawn of the Civil War and carried untold riches on her journey north. As Birdie searches for the treasure, she begins to believe a questionable part of the story: a tale of love between Justice and Lucas Postell, the French plantation owner who was Birdie’s ancestor.

If the stories are true, Justice bore a child with Lucas. Some of those black relatives might still live in town. Birdie can’t help but wonder if she’s found one—Liberty’s feisty matriarch, Theodora Hendricks, who packs a pistol and heartwarming stories about Justice. Birdie doesn’t know that an investigative reporter will trip her up—as will her conscience when she begins to wonder if it’s possible to start a new life with stolen riches. Yet with each new clue she unearths, Birdie discovers a family history more precious than gems, a tradition of love richer than she’d imagined.

My Take:
Note: I read this and wrote the original review back in 2012.

This was a fun holiday read. I started it Thanksgiving evening and finished it when I woke at three am with indigestion. Nolfi does a great job juggling lots of threads. At first I felt there were too many, but they all come together so nicely in the end that I forgave her.

Whats more, the characters are great. Birdie has a strong and distinctive personality that I couldn't help but like. She seems rough around the edges out of necessity, but Nolfi gives these great glimpses of the tender-hearted and often lonely woman. You hurt for her childhood and the circumstances that make it so hard for her to become more than she is.

I loved the witty dialogue. Passages like this had me chuckling out loud and kept me reading.

“Couldn’t you drag yourself out of bed?” Finney barked. “It’s after ten o’clock.”

Birdie rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She’d woken in a bad mood, with the memory of kissing Hugh settled on her chest like a two-ton safe. A long shower and the prospect of locating more clues hadn’t raised her spirits.

“I’m here, I’m dressed like a prostitute. What more do you want?” She yanked down the ruffled hem of her waitress uniform but the skirt rode up. Growling with frustration she added, “I shouldn’t have to wear this thing. Delia’s uniform fits her. Why am I stuck with clothes sized for a Playboy bunny?”

“I’m not buying a new uniform until I’m sure you’ll stay for more than a few weeks. Will you?”

“Hell, no.”

“Then you’re stuck with the whore suit.”

The story is full of great characters, heartache, laughs, bitterness and hope. Some of the threads are predictable, but the characters are so unique I didn't even care. And the journey to the end was fresh and well worth it.

I give Treasure Me by Christine Nolfi a solid 4.
Note for my cautious readers: Hugh is addicted to women so his mind is often in the gutter. I also don't remember if there were any scenes.

 1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Independent One by Cami Checketts

From Goodreads:
Haley Turnbow escapes to the tropical Isla del Sol for an ideal vacation with her five-year old. She doesn’t plan on the resident ghost stalking her and the island’s fine-looking owner drawing her in with his confident, fun personality.

Cal Johnson is king of his own island, happy and busy. A beautiful mom and her wild little boy flip his world upside down. He falls in love with both of them knowing they’re going to leave at the end of their vacation and he might not recover from the loss. Can these two independent adults trust their hearts or is it not worth the risk?

My Take:
Let's start with a big stupid grin.

Okay, first off, I fell in love with Taz from the first time I saw him. I mean, come on, a little boy with the nickname Tasmanian Devil is going to bring a lot of excitement to a story. Haley is a strong woman doing the best she can as a single mom. She doesn't let a past incident make her bitter, simply cautious. Yet it's clear she has so much love to give.

Cal has been looking for someone like Haley. Sweet, fun, strong while still needing him as well. Luck would have them meet right when he's ready to settle down.

Perhaps one of the things I enjoyed about this book was the suspense subplot. It isn't huge, but it's just enough to add extra depth to the characters, setting, and story.

I really didn't find anything to complain about. I give this one a solid 4.5.

 1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure