Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fairytale Come Alive (Ghosts and Reincarnation #4) by Kristen Ashley

Crikey! I can't stop crying! What a beautiful, unusual, hard fought and well deserved happily ever after!

Story Description... In Isabella Austin Evangelista’s life miracles never happen… she knows she’s destined to be the princess who’s stuck in the middle of a fairytale where there will be no happily ever after.

Once upon a time, Prentice Cameron loved Isabella Austin until he discovered she was a spoiled, rich girl who spent her summers toying with his heart.

Life led Prentice to his own fairytale, the love of the full-of-life Fiona Sawyer. That being so, that fairytale was torn away when Fiona died of a brain tumor leaving Prentice with a house to keep clean, piles of laundry to be done, a business to run and two children who were getting tired of takeaway.

But Isabella comes back to Prentice’s tiny fishing town and she sweeps into his children’s lives like a beautiful, well-dressed fairy godmother who bakes exquisite chocolate cakes and gives the perfect manicure to six year old girls. Then Prentice finds out Isabella’s soul destroying secrets, secrets that explain why she left him so many years ago.

Fiona, stuck in her village and forced to haunt her family and watch Prentice and Isabella’s crazy dance, finds the impossible happening. She’s cheering for Bella and Prentice to rekindle their love. Then she finds out why she’s caught in her heartbreaking haunting and discovers she must embrace her magic and keep Bella safe or Bella’s fairytale will never come true.

My thoughts...

I really am too torn-up, emotionally, to write a coherent review, so I'll just leave you with my rambling thoughts -

~I have never cried so hard from tears that are both tragic and beautiful.

~I have never loved a first wife as much as I love the second wife, but Fee ... I am in love with Fiona, and equally as in love with Elle.

~I've never read a story that made me want to believe, desperately, in reincarnation. I want this because Fiona is incredible and I want her to somehow - anyhow - have a life not cut short. A life filled with love and laughter and passion and Every. Single. Good. Thing that life has to offer.

~I adore Jason and Sally, so much. So very much. And Prentice, there are no words to describe my love and respect and admiration for this man.

~I'm not sure I'll ever recover from this story. I'm not sure I'll ever want to.  


Monday, March 23, 2015

The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries by Neil deGrasse Tyson (Narrator)

Neil deGrasse Tyson is absolutely brilliant narrating this set of lectures in Audible's The Great Courses series. His excitement for these unsolved mysteries is apparent and that made me even more fascinated by what I was learning. It was nice to be able listen to a single lecture, then not have to recap when I started listening again because these lectures are topic-unrelated to each other.

Overall, my favorite part of The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries, is getting the behind the scenes scoop on how some of our greatest discoveries were made, and why some of our most thought provoking questions remain unanswered.

This is a must listen for anyone who finds themselves looking at the world around them and wondering...

Blurb...

Everything we now know about the universe - from the behavior of quarks to the birth of galaxies - has come from people who've been willing to ponder the unanswerable. And with the advent of modern science, great minds have turned to testing and experimentation rather than mere thought as a way of grappling with some of the universe's most vexing dilemmas.

So what is our latest picture of some of the most inexplicable features of the universe? What still remains to be uncovered and explored by today's scientists?

"We know a lot about the universe. But there's even more that we don't know," says astrophysicist and professor Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, an award-winning lecturer, and one of the world's foremost experts on the secrets of the universe. This course, which has been honored with a 2013 Telly Award for Outstanding Educational Program, features six self-contained lectures that transport you on a marvelous journey to the frontiers of the known (and unknown) universe and introduce you to tantalizing questions being addressed by the world's top scientists. Engaging and fascinating, this lecture series is a wonderful entrée to scientific pursuits that lie at the very heart of the history and nature of our universe.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Soaring (Magdalene #2) by Kristen Ashley Blog Tour Excerpt and Giveaway!





Welcome to my blog...


It's my turn to gush on and on about this amazing story, and to give you an excerpt of the beauty that's about to come - albeit not easily - to Micky and Amy!  First up, my review. Then a bit further down, the excerpt. And then, last but certainly not least - an awesome Rafflecopter Giveaway!!!

So, without further ado, I give you.....

My Review...

"I had to pull myself together and start anew." 

By now, anyone who knows me knows I adore Kristen Ashley's stories. It's not just the stories themselves, but also the way she tells them. She's got a unique "voice", a voice I can't help but love, making Soaring another HUGE winner!

Blurb...

American heiress Amelia Hathaway needs to start anew.

Her husband cheated on her, and when everything she wanted in life slipped through her fingers, she fell apart. When she did, she took another heart wrenching hit as she lost the respect of her children.

When her ex took her family from California to live in the small town of Magdalene in Maine, Amelia decided it was time to sort herself out. In order to do that and win her children back, she moves to Cliff Blue, an architectural masterpiece on the rocky coast of Magdalene.

Her boxes aren’t even unpacked when she meets Mickey Donovan, a man who lives across the street, a man so beautiful Amelia takes one look at Mickey and knows she wants everything from him.

The problem is, she finds out swiftly that he’s friendly, he’s kind, but he doesn’t want everything back.

Amelia struggles to right past wrongs in her life at the same time find out who she wants to be. She also struggles with her attraction to the handsome firefighter who lives across the street.

But Amelia will face a surprise when her friendly neighbor becomes not-so-friendly. As Amelia and Mickey go head to head, Amelia must focus on winning back the hearts of her children.

She soon discovers she also must focus on winning the heart of a handsome firefighter who understands down to his soul the beautiful heiress who lives across the street is used to a life he cannot provide.

My thoughts...

The Magdalene series is Contemporary Romance at it's best, and it's stories like Soaring that make it so.

Mickey is the kind of hero I adore, and I make no apologies about it. He's rough, gruff, crass (but not as crass as the Colorado Mountain men). He's caring, giving, and sexy as all get out, and yep, despite his attempt to protect his kids from further hurt so acting an ass - or maybe because of it - I adore him.

Amy is a great heroine, and my heart broke for her as she struggled to make right her wrongs. She had done things that, had I been reading her story while she did them, would have put me off big time. But she recognized those lapses in judgement for what they were - a shattered dream she was mourning the loss of. She set about making things right, and making things right, she did! She's loving, generous, compassionate... she's the perfect 'other half' that Mickey had been missing -

- And that was all either of them needed.

Now for a Most Sighworthy Excerpt...

Soaring
By Kristen Ashley
Release date March 16, 2015: ebook and print

 “Hello, Boston Stone,” I greeted because I had no idea what else to say.
“You are?” he asked as I put the bags to the ground and touched the button on the trunk that would open it keyless.
As it glided open, I opened my mouth, doing it uncertain if I’d share my name or continue to try to brush him off, but I didn’t have the chance to decide.
I heard the word, “Babe,” growled from behind me.
I turned and saw Mickey stalking our way.
Not sauntering.
Not simply walking.
Stalking.
And he didn’t look happy.
“Mickey,” I called tentatively as a greeting, uncertain at his demeanor.
I hadn’t seen him since he hadn’t seen me (I hoped) at the movies.
He was in his firefighter-not-fighting-a-fire uniform of blue khakis and tee. His eyes were moving up and down my body. He still was unbelievably beautiful (that uniform…seriously).
He didn’t greet me back.
When he stopped, his gaze cut to Boston Stone and it went flinty.
“You need somethin’?” he asked incomprehensibly inhospitably.
“I was just helping this lovely lady with her groceries,” Stone responded.
“I got it,” Mickey stated flatly and then he got it. As in, he carefully pulled me back, grabbed the bags I was perfectly capable of picking up myself and placed them in my trunk.
He then went for the bag Stone was carrying, caught hold, but Stone didn’t let go.
“I can put it in the trunk myself, Donovan,” Stone clipped.
So they knew each other.
“As I said, I got it, Stone,” Mickey clipped back.
Yes, they knew each other.
The handles flattened as they both kept hold and pulled.
“Please!” I exclaimed. “We already had a wine incident. The sidewalk of Magdalene has been anointed with one red, let’s not anoint Cross Street with four.”
Mickey instantly let go and stepped back, running into me but he didn’t apologize or move away.
He stayed close, the back of his left side touching the front of my right.
It was at that point I noticed Mickey gave off a lot of heat.
Stone put the bag in my trunk, shut it and turned slowly to Mickey and me.
But he had eyes on Mickey.
“Are you two seeing each other?”
“That’s your business how?” Mickey asked as reply.
“It’s my business because, if you’re not, I’d like to request you leave so I can ask her to dinner,” Stone returned.
My head jerked as my body locked in shock.
“That’s not gonna happen,” Mickey growled.
My body stayed locked in shock but that didn’t mean my eyes didn’t fly to Mickey’s stony-faced profile in more shock.
“So you are seeing each other,” Stone remarked.
“Again, not your business,” Mickey bit out.
Stone’s expression turned shrewd. “And that’s something that would lead me to believe that the beautiful woman standing behind you is free to go to dinner with me.”
“You forget English?” Mickey asked. “I already answered that too.”
I butted in, “I think I can speak for myself, Mickey.”
He moved nothing but his head (though his torso shifted an inch) so he could look down at me.
His eyes were communicating again.
This time they were communicating the fact that he really didn’t like Boston Stone.
Considering what I knew of Mickey, this would be something that, along with my own natural aversion to Mr. Stone, would have made me decline the man’s invitation.
Unfortunately, Mickey added words to his look so this didn’t happen.
“You’re not goin’ out with this guy.”
Was he being serious?
He couldn’t tell me what to do. He wasn’t my father, my brother or my lover.
Heck, he barely knew me!
All he knew about me was that he didn’t want me. I was his…“attractive” neighbor who he now did not even walk over to beg recipes from (okay, so Aisling didn’t know of any other recipes I had, but whatever).
He didn’t even return my email!
And he was off with beautiful, statuesque redheads, smiling at them, taking them to movies.
He couldn’t tell me who I could and could not see.
“I’m not?” I snapped.
“No,” he turned fully to me, an ominous fully. “You are not,” he enunciated each word clearly.
“Sorry?” I asked sarcastically. “When did you become my big brother?”
He was still enunciating clearly, and dangerously, when he stated, “I absolutely am not your big brother.”
“No, you’re not,” I retorted, tossing my hair, which I hoped was shining in the sun. And with my hair toss, I further hoped my fabulous highlights caught the rays and gleamed. “You’re my neighbor. And if I want to go out with someone, you can’t say boo to the contrary.”
“This guy is an asshole,” he bit off, jerking his thumb at Boston Stone.
I felt my eyes get big and I got up on my toes, leaning into him, hissing, “That’s insufferably rude, Mickey Donovan.”
“It isn’t rude if it’s the truth.”
“You may think so but you don’t say it in front of the man in question.”
“You do if he’s as big of an asshole as this asshole is,” Mickey shot back.
My eyes got wider and I leaned closer. “Stop being nasty!” I demanded.
“You been in town, what?” he asked then answered with another question he didn’t expect a reply to. “A coupla months? I lived here my whole life and trust me, I’m savin’ you from a load of misery, this guy gets interested in you,” he returned.
I rocked down to my stilettos. “I am a big girl, Mickey. All grown up and everything. I do think I can make such decisions for myself.”
“You do, and they’re not what I’m tellin’ you to do, you’d be wrong.”
I glared at him.
Then I pushed right past him, hand lifted and got in the space of Boston Stone.
“Boston,” I said as he took my hand, grinning arrogantly and more than a little obnoxiously at me. “A belated nice to meet you. I’m Amelia Hathaway.”
His hand tightened in mine as he murmured, “Amelia.”
I pulled my hand from his, asking, “Do you know Cliff Blue?”
“Of course,” he replied, inclining his head in a pompous way that actually was kind of creepy.
“I live there,” I announced, doing another hair toss and powering beyond the creepy. “And I have plans this evening but I’m free tomorrow. Are you?”
“I wasn’t,” he replied. “But I’ll be making a phone call and I will be.”
“Excellent,” I decreed. “Seven?” I went on to ask.
“I’d be delighted,” he said softly, his eyes dancing with humor and I could see that too was relatively malicious.
I didn’t care.
I’d go out with him once, just to stick it to Mickey.
Then I’d be done with Boston Stone.
And anyway, I had about seven new outfits that would be perfect for a date and I knew this even though I hadn’t been on a date in two decades.
“I’ll see you then,” I said.
“You will, Amelia.” He dipped his chin to me. “Looking forward to it.”
“And me,” I replied.
He gave me another arrogant grin then transferred it to Mickey.
“Donovan,” he murmured.
Mickey didn’t reply.
Stone looked back to me. “Until tomorrow, Amelia.”
“Yes, Boston. And please, feel free to call me Amy.”
Mickey grunted.
Boston smiled before he turned and sauntered away.
I whirled on Mickey and tipped my head to the side. “See? All grown up and able to make decisions for myself.”
“What I see is a pattern here,” he retorted unpleasantly.
“Oh?” I asked with mock interest. “Do tell.”
Then Mickey told.
“First time I laid eyes on you, your ex was up in your face, cursing at you, threatening you, shouting right at you and acting like a total fucking dick. It’s obvious he’s rich and up his own ass and didn’t give a shit you were alone, and because of that, you probably felt unsafe. It was just as obvious you were lettin’ him use you as his punching bag. Even if no woman deserves the way he was speakin’ to you, he just kept right on punching. Now, you know that guy you just made a date with is a total asshole and you made that date anyway. So that’s your pattern. You open yourself up for assholes to shit all over you. And if that’s the way you like it, baby, then no way in fuck I’m gonna get in there to show you there’s another way.”
Before I could retort, he turned on his boot and prowled away.

And Finally, an Awesome Rafflecopter Giveaway...


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Back in the Game (Stardust, Texas #1) by Lori Wilde

Back in the Game is the first book in Lori Wilde’s newest series, Stardust, Texas. It’s one of those stories that has all the makings of a perfect read, except for… well, I’ll cover that in a bit.

Blurb…

Wanted: ghostwriter. Must be female, a baseball fan, and have a great pair of legs.

Ex-pitcher Rowdy Blanton never saw a woman he couldn't conquer or a team he couldn't beat. And now that he's off the field he's ready to tell all about when he played the field. So he chooses Breeanne Carlyle to do the job—she's got the requirements, but more important, there's something about her that makes him want to be a better man.

Convinced there's more to Rowdy than a good fastball, a wicked smile, and a tight pair of pants, Breeanne can't help but be tempted. After all, it's boring always being the good girl, and Rowdy dares her to be just a little bad. The stakes are high, but win or lose, this time Breeanne's breaking all the rules playing the game of love.

My thoughts…

Okay, so… I absolutely loved this story (almost) start to finish. The writing is great, the characters are awesome, and the happily ever after is just the way I like it – slow, hot, and well deserved. The way things were going I was sure I was looking at a perfect read, but it didn’t turn out that way for me – and I’ll give spoiler free details in a minute. The thing is, I’ve come to expect great stories from Ms. Wilde. I’ve adored every one of her stories I’ve read, and was more than a little excited to begin this new series. Were my expectations too high? Maybe – but an author of her talents can do better than the “I saw that coming” twist we got.

Here’s my spoiler free beef – There are some poignant moments as Rowdy shares his difficult past with Breeanne, trusting her to keep the secrets. Breeanne is an honorable woman, but apparently not too bright – or so it would seem given the way she totally blows something this extremely sensitive. I feel as though Ms. Wilde came up with an easy out – an eyerollingly convenient happening to propel the story to its inevitable conclusion. The minute a certain character was introduced along with the situation she was introduced in to, I knew she was up to no good and had a feeling how things would pan out. But all was quiet for awhile which had me breathing a premature sigh of relief, and then “it” happens. Too fast, too easy, too coincidental and too, too convenient… and I was disappointed that the author chose this way to move a situation.

Am I sounding vague? Good. No spoilers, as I said, but this is a pet peeve of mine and took Back in the Game from an almost guaranteed winner down to an  ‘oh, I wish she hadn’t gone there’ read. Maybe I'm being unfair, given how much I enjoyed the majority of the story... I don't know. But I was expecting a great ending where justice is served and scumbags fall... and we get that, but it didn't feel very triumphant.

The bottom line...

No question this is a highly rated book, so I guess I’m the only person who felt let down – but I’m being honest in sharing my thoughts. And so sure am I that this is just a momentary lapse in the brilliance that is Ms. Wilde’s storytelling that I’ve already begun book two, Rules of the Game, and have very high hopes for it!

An ARC was provided by Avon Books. In appreciation, I’m giving them an honest review.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Unleashing (Call of Crows #1) by Shelly Laurenston

I’ll start by saying that never have I enjoyed Norse and Viking lore more than I have while reading The Unleashing. As Ms. Laurenston states in her opening letter to the readers:
"I have taken some liberties with these gods and their histories. As I did my research, I found multiple interpretations of individual gods and their backstories, so I really had no choice. I would pick the one I liked best and then put my own twist on it."
And I am sooooooo glad she did because the world she’s created is an exciting, sexy, entertaining place to be!

Blurb…

Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty… and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

My thoughts...

While reading The Unleashing I was, at times, reminded of Kristen Ashley’s Rock Chicks – that crazy group of women who love and support one another despite their differences – or maybe because those differences are quirky in a ‘can’t help but love you, bless your heart’ kind of way. I was also reminded of Sandra Hill’s Vangel world, loaded with humor and sexy men and women who are more than they appear. But that said, Shelly Laurenston’s Call of Crows is like nothing I’ve ever read.

Witches and demons and gods and goddesses - and humans who want to be any or all of those things – and the grab for power that’s to be expected when you put them all together are what make up this story. But fear not! There are also beings amongst us who are in place to keep the balance and make sure no one has more of that power than they can be trusted with, and they are who made this such an entertaining story! It’s is sexy and funny and has so many twists and turns that I was constantly wondering what might happen next.

Worth mentioning…

Because there has been some misinformation floating about regarding this series, Ms. Laurenston also shared this in her note to her readers:
"Well, this is it. The first book in my new series, Call of the Crows, and right off the bat, I want you to understand this is not a rewrite of an old book nor is it a fleshing out of an old book. The Unleashing is a brand-new book and series, with brand-new characters, brand-new locale, and brand-new trouble. Although my book Hunting Season, which has been out since 2005, was the start of this idea (introducing the two main Viking Clans at the heart of this series, the Crows and the Ravens), The Unleashing is me taking the whole thing to the next level, and it’s a definite stand-alone."
The bottom line…

The Unleashing is just fun reading, no question about it. Kera and Vig are all kinds of awesome and make a perfect couple. The entire cast of characters is made up of great people who have stories of their own needing to be told, and I can’t wait to see what’s coming up next in the Call of Crows world!

An ARC was generously provided by Kensington Publishing Corp via Netgalley. To show my appreciation I’m giving them an honest review.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Worth the Risk (The McKinney Brothers #2) by Claudia Connor

You know, the billionaire playboy / struggling naïve woman trope doesn’t usually go over well with me…but wow. WOW! There’s just something about the way Claudia Connor tells a story that grabs my heart from the start and doesn’t let go!

Blurb…

When a McKinney brother falls in love, powerful emotion and overwhelming desire are never far behind.

Two hearts locked away . . . Hannah Walker spends her days coaching children through injury and trauma, one therapeutic horseback ride at a time. She knows all too well how violence can change a child and leave scars that never heal. It’s easy for her to relate to the kids; what isn’t easy is the thought of facing her own harrowing past.

Millionaire playboy Stephen McKinney could use a little coaching himself. Five years ago he encountered his most horrible nightmare—and the nightmare won. No matter what he achieves, nothing can make up for that awful night . . . or so he believes.

Both desperate for a second chance . . . Stephen is used to getting what he wants. And he wants Hannah. So when she turns him down, he’s intrigued. What he doesn’t know is that her secrets will lead him to a place he never wanted to go again . . . to a side of himself he’s tried to forget . . . a side that would scare Hannah away from ever loving him. Now his only chance to win her trust is to bare his soul, risking everything he tried so hard to protect.

My thoughts…

Worth the Risk is the second book in the McKinney Brothers series and every bit as wonderful as the first. I wasn’t too sure about the billionaire playboy angle…falling for a woman who is so far from his usual type it isn’t even funny. But Stephen is a great guy who’s struggling with a tragic loss, and when Hannah crosses his path, he knows… there’s something about her that draws him in and he can’t deny the need to be with her.

Hannah has a tragic past of her own… horrific, in fact. But it’s that experience – and the almost stifling protectiveness of her brothers – that has made her an amazing woman… the perfect woman for Stephen.

Honestly, start to finish this is a poignant story about letting go of the past so you can hold on to the one person in the world who can free you from your demons. It’s at times heartbreaking, and at times uplifting. At times laugh out loud funny, and at times had me in tears. Worth the Risk has everything I love in contemporary romance, including some burn up the pages sexiness. Hannah and Stephen’s romance is beautiful, and is one of the most hard fought and deserved happily ever afters I’ve read.

The bottom line…

The short and sweet of it - I absolutely loved this story! Loved it! Every deeply poignant, deliciously sexy, beautifully romantic bit of it!

An ARC was provided by Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept. To show my appreciation I’m giving them an honest review.   

Monday, March 2, 2015

Kisses, She Wrote (Prince Catchers #1.5) by Katharine Ashe

“Let the fantasy begin.” 

Oh, how I love this story! And what a surprise, that, because I absolutely loathed Charles Camlann Westfall, the Earl of Bedwyr, in I Married the Duke and could not, for the life of me, understand how this vile man could be deserving of his own story. Well, I was wrong about him, and I am so glad I was!!

Blurb...

Handsome as sin and scandalously rakish, Cam Westfall, the Earl of Bedwyr, is every young lady's wickedest dream. Shy wallflower Princess Jacqueline of Sensaire knows this better than anyone, because her dreams are full of the breathtaking earl's kisses. And not only her dreams—her diary, too.

But when Cam discovers the maiden's not-so-maidenly diary, will her wildest Christmas wishes be fulfilled in its pages . . . or in his arms?

My thoughts...

I agree with other reviewers who said that this novella doesn't read like a novella. We had learned enough about both characters in I Married the Duke that the author didn't need to waste pages on their back-story and history. Instead, we get to dive right in to Cam and Jacqueline's tale and I loved every word of it.

Ms. Ashe really outdid herself with the beautiful prose and poetry. At the start I thought I'd be bored with it but, in truth, it took my breath away. This storytelling is sheer brilliance and I'm so very glad I didn't pass it over!

An ARC was provided by Avon Books. In appreciation I'm giving them an honest review.