Friday, October 18, 2019

Sugar & Spice: A Destination of Heart Romance Book 4 by Lisa Swinton

She’s sugar. He’s spice. Can the dance of passion bring these two together during a romantic mix-up in Spain?

Sweet and shy Clara takes a leap of faith and lands in Spain to pursue her dream of becoming a travel writer. While there, she runs into a woman who could be her visual twin—and her personality opposite with a fiery persona and penchant for drama. Isabella is a Flamenco dancer for a troop that’s facing financial ruin. When she leaves them high and dry, they beg Clara to take her place. She agrees, believing the experience will make for a great travel article.

Spicy Teyo becomes Clara’s Flamenco mentor, teaching her to embody everything that is passionate about the dance. When things heat up between Clara and Teyo during tourist-filled days and dancing nights, Clara knows her heart’s in trouble. With no sign of Isabella’s return, she feels obligated to continue the switch, even if it means letting the press think Teyo and Isabella are dating.

But when Clara learns that Teyo once held a flame for Isabella, she wonders if he's truly in love with her or the woman she pretends to be—and how will she know the difference? If she can't figure it out before Isabella returns, her whirlwind romance in Spain may leave her head spinning and her heart on the dance floor.

First, I the couple on the cover of this book.  I love her dress (those swirls make me happy!) and I love how the cover represents the book so well.  💙

Clara is really the sweetest.  A bit naive as well, but I love how Clara's sweetness captures all around her.  People cannot help but be drawn in.  I love how Teyo tries so hard to protect Clara.  They meet under very unusual circumstances but they build a solid foundation of friendship and trust as the book progresses.

The dancing was awesome.  It was my favorite part of the book because that was where the passion and connection came in.  I could envision the dancing in my mind and I loved it!  Teyo and Clara visited many places on their tour and sometimes the descriptions of these places got a little long and drawn out but other than that, I really enjoyed this book!  The ending was dreamy. This is a fun series and I'm always looking forward to the next book.  While this is a series, each book can easily stand on it's own.

This book is just $.99 right now (!!) AND it's also on Kindle Unlimited if you have that.  

Content: kissing, mild peril, mention of intimate relations outside of marriage

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Smarter Than a Monster: A Survival Guide by Brandon Mull, Mike Walton (Illustrations)

Page Count: 32
Juvenile Fiction / Social Themes / Manners & Etiquette
Ages 4 to 8, Grades 1 to 3
Cover Illustration by Mike Walton
Book Design: © Shadow Mountain

No monster wants you to read this book. The more you know about monsters, the more you will know how to defeat them.

Little kids have big fears, which they often imagine to be scary creatures, like monsters. But this book helps explain how knowing "Monster Facts" can help kids outwit them.

Want to avoid monsters?

Fact: Monsters love dirt and grime, so when faced with two kids, the monster will choose the dirty one every time.

And if toys and clothes are all over the floor, you may get ambushed by a mess-loving monster.

Survival Tip: Take baths and keep your room clean.

Smarter Than a Monster
will arm young readers with practical advice in this innovative and imaginative parenting tool that teaches common sense and positive and healthy habits.

This book is the cutest!  I absolutely adore it.  Of course, as a parent, this book encourages kids to do everything you want them to do- brush their teeth, clean their rooms, sleep in their own beds, take a bath, etc..  I can really get behind a book like that!   Yes, this book is filled with monsters, but they are more cute than frightening (as you can tell from the cover of this book).  The illustrations are bright, engaging and fun.  Youngsters will love looking at them.  I love looking at them!  The best kind of book is one that adults and children can enjoy reading together.  This book is perfect because adults will be just as entertained as the children.  I was laughing out loud in a couple places.  I really, really love this book!

-I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:

Brandon Mull is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Fablehaven, Beyonders, and Five Kingdoms series. A kinetic thinker, Brandon enjoys bouncy balls, squeezable stress toys, and popping bubble wrap. He lives in Utah in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his four children and a dog named Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Brandon loves meeting his readers and hearing about their experiences with his books.
Follow the author on Instagram @writerbrandon and Facebook @authorbrandonmull

About the Illustrator:

Mike Walton has been a professional illustrator for more than twenty years. He earned his B.A. in Illustration from art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. He’s worked in animation, comic books, web comics, trading cards, and all manner of media throughout his career. Smarter Than a Monster is his debut children’s book. He currently resides in Southern California and considers himself a nerd who loves visiting Disneyland attending the San Diego Comic Con. 


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Mistaken Reality by Traci Hunter Abramson + Win This Book!

Hadley Baker can’t believe her boyfriend finally invited her on a fancy hotel dinner date only to break up with her in public. Even more unbelievable is the moment FBI Agent JD Byers finds her crying in the women’s restroom and demands she evacuate. Seconds after JD ushers Hadley outside, an explosion shatters the building. Could her life be any more disastrous?

JD didn’t anticipate seeing Hadley, the beautiful schoolteacher, again after he saved her from the hotel attack. But soon after her ex-boyfriend became a lead suspect of the hotel bombing, the man turned up dead—and now it seems that Hadley herself is a target. Determined to keep her safe, JD shelters Hadley as they join forces to put together the pieces of the perplexing case. When they discover the horrifying truth behind her ex-boyfriend’s nefarious work, Hadley realizes her life is far from the only one being threatened. Countless others are in danger, and she and JD may hold the key to saving them.

This book was exactly what I was hoping for when I started reading.  Fast paced, exciting and full of wonderful characters.  I have been reading and loving Traci Hunter Abramson's books for a looooooong time now.  Every time I see she has a new book coming out it is cause for celebration!  

The story starts off with a bang.  Literally- because a bomb goes off.  From there the story expands and expands to include more people in many locations.  Once it has stretched out fully, it begins to come back in as all the players in the game start to converge in one place and all the puzzle pieces start to come together.  The story gains momentum and intensity as it goes and I LOVE that.

JD is everything you could want in a lead man.  He is strong, smart and he takes his job as an FBI agent seriously.  He protects people.  I appreciated that he was attentive and kind as well.  Those make for the best kind of heroes in my opinion.  Hadley seemed like a normal, every day kind of gal.  She teaches school, cares about her students and exudes kindness.  I liked her.  While this story focuses on Hadley and JD, there is a whole cast of people from previous books who also play key roles in making everything happen.  I would say that this book and it's characters will mean more to you if you have read previous books by this author. 

I loved this book.  Simple as that.  This is romantic suspense at it's best. 💙

 Content:  some violence, peril, kissing, human trafficking, death, some of the characters are Christian (specifically LDS) so there are some mentions of religious things although nothing preachy.

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Secrets and Suitors by Joanna Barker + Book Giveaway!

Reluctantly returning to London for yet another Season, shy Nora Hamilton has nearly given up hope that she will ever find the love match she longs for. After all, the one man she does harbor feelings for—her closest friend, James—has made it perfectly clear he views her as just that: a friend. With James traveling half a world away and Nora's father pressuring her to marry for wealth and status, Nora is forced to set aside her desire for love and accept the future she has always dreaded.
Until James returns unexpectedly and Nora's feelings once again rush unbearably close to the surface. Determined to save what is left of their friendship, Nora ignores her own heart and allows herself to be swept up in the London Season, soon finding herself the object of two very different gentlemen's affections. Though she should be thrilled, both men come with a glaring fault: neither is the one man who holds her heart.

But there is much more at stake than heartbreak. When long-kept secrets are laid bare, Nora must face the fears that have plagued her all her life and decide what true love is worth.

How sweet was this book?!  I really fell in love with both Nora and James (through Nora's eyes).  Nora's family is so important to her and that is the motivating factor for most of her decisions and filled the majority of this story line.  Difficult circumstances and bring out the best and the worst in people and this book does an excellent job of highlighting that.  Nora finds herself on a bumpy road, trying to navigate her family's expectations and desires, her third London season and her conflicting feelings for the different men in her life.  Poor Nora and her tender heart, trying to do the right thing all the time, but getting knocked down repeatedly.  She was so easy to root for and I found myself silently cheering when she spoke up, defended, acted and followed her heart.  I love when I feel invested in a story, it's characters and it's outcome!  I loved this one.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Joanna Barker was born and raised in northern California. She discovered her love for historical fiction after visiting England as an eleven-year-old, and subsequently read every Jane Austen book she could get her hands on. After graduating Brigham Young University with a degree in English, she worked as an acquisitions editor before devoting herself full-time to writing. She enjoys music, chocolate, and reading everything from romance to science fiction. She lives in Utah and is just a little crazy about her husband and two wild-but-loveable boys.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley by Kelly Miller

What will the master of Pemberley do when confronted with the mercurial whims of an all-powerful angel?
Fitzwilliam Darcy’s well-ordered life is about to become a chaotic nightmare. A man of fortune, property, and social prominence, he has everything he could desire. Blissfully married to his wife, Elizabeth, they have a two-year-old son. With so much to live for, Darcy is shaken by a near-fatal riding accident. After a miraculous escape, he is visited by an otherworldly being: an angel of death named Graham. Threatening dire consequences, Graham compels Darcy to guide him on a sojourn in the world of mortals.

Darcy immediately questions the angel’s motives when he demands to be a guest at Pemberley. Can he trust Graham’s assurance that no harm will come to his wife and child? And why does Graham insist on spending time with Elizabeth? How can Darcy possibly protect his family from an angel with power over life and death?

In this romantic fantasy, the beloved couple from Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice must contend with both human and unearthly challenges. Are the fates against them? Or will their extraordinary love conquer all?

 * Amazon * Goodreads

As I began this book all I could think about was that movie, Meet Joe Black.  Have you seen it?  I re-watched it recently so maybe it's fresh on my mind.  This book seems a LOT like that movie but in a different setting.  I think that kind of put me off in the beginning because I want things to feel original.  The other thing I had a hard time with is really just a personal thing and not about the writing specifically.  I have now learned that I don't really like people re-writing, adding on to, or changing my Austen stories.  Good to know, right?  

This book maybe wasn't a great fit for me personally, but the writing itself was good- it felt in keeping with the time and place.  If you DO love your Austen stories and specifically Pride and Prejudice, added on to, you will probably really enjoy this story.  3/5 stars

Content:  kissing, references to a couple engaging in intimate relations outside of marriage with no details.  Innuendo between a married couple, some references to intimate relations.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Snowflakes and Sparks (Old Pine Cove, #1) by Sophie-Leigh Robbins

One small town. One hot neighbor. One second chance at love.

The best fake snow decorations in L.A.? Done by me.

About to get a promotion? Also me.

Sent to a sleepy small town right before Christmas to save a bookstore? Unfortunately, me again.

Old Pine Cove was the one place on earth I had sworn I’d never return to. Then my boss asked me to manage one of our bookstores there. I wanted to tell her no way, but that would definitely lower my chances of being promoted once I returned to L.A. So I sucked it up. Besides, it was only supposed to be temporary. What could possibly go wrong?

Gosh, how naïve of me.

Alex Denverton opening the door with that smoldering look of his, that’s what went wrong. It had been ten years since I crashed his truck and made a run for it. And now he was back in my life. How was I supposed to focus on work knowing he was right next door? And why did I ever agree to organize the annual Winter Walk with him?

One thing was certain, though. If I wanted to have a magical Christmas, I couldn’t ask Santa to make it happen. It was up to me to decide: go big or go home.

This is a sweet story of love and second chances.  The classic small town Christmas setting was just as you might imagine it with tradition and busybodies all wrapped up in candy canes and hot chocolate.  Oh!  And don't forget the snow globes!  It's what this town is known for.

I liked Suzie.  She has my dream job of working in a bookstore!  Her worst nightmare comes true when she has to return to the small town she ran from, humiliated, all those years ago.  Poor Suzie.  But, then she gets there and the boy seems to hold no grudges, and only one old lady in the town even cares.  Not so bad after all. 

The story, for me, lacked emotion.  I felt like the characters were likable but nothing really drew me into them.  Alex especially was tepid at best.  The sparks were lacking but the sweetness wasn't.  The story was sweet all the way around.

3/5 stars

Content:  mild swearing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Master of the Phantom Isle (Dragonwatch #3) by Brandon Mull

Cursed by the Key of Forgetting, Seth has lost all memory of his past—his relationships, his experiences, and who he really is. For now he will align with his new mentor, Ronodin, the dark unicorn, who takes him to the Phantom Isle, the secret gateway to the Under Realm. Though Seth is not formally a prisoner, Ronodin wants to use him and his shadow charmer powers for his own dark ends.

Kendra is frantic to find her missing brother, but the quest will take her and her companions, including Warren, Tanu, and Vanessa, far from Wyrmroost to Crescent Lagoon—a recently fallen dragon sanctuary made up of many islands and underwater domains. Its caretaker has regained a foothold on one of the islands. If Kendra and her friends can save that sanctuary, they might uncover the answers they need to rescue Seth.

With each sanctuary the dragons overthrow, Celebrant, the Dragon King, comes closer to the dawn of a new Age of Dragons. With the forces of darkness on the march, can Kendra and her allies gather enough power to win the epic dragon war?

Dragonwatch, Master of the Phantom Isle doesn’t miss a beat, picking up right where the last book left off.  The dragons are still at it, seeking domination, and it’s hard to imagine a greater threat.  Though in this adventure a greater threat does reveals itself.  Can Kendra stand against this dark threat without the help of Seth?

For Seth, life is hard when dealing with memory loss and the choices one makes under those circumstances gets to the heart of the character.  It is fun exploring Seth’s character more in depth when past choices can no longer influence the present ones.  The true desires of Seth’s heart manifest themselves.

The book takes the reader to tropical places with beaches and palm trees but it’s certainly no vacation with peril everywhere ranging from plants that want to eat you, to the undead and a raging triclops.  Yet in the midst of all the trials Kendra is still willing to give her all for her brother.

From underwater adventures, to deep and dark places from your worst nightmares, this book provides another fun read from Brandon Mull. 
There are even a few surprise twists! This is a great series and adds another prized addition to the Fablehaven / Dragonwatch series.  I look forward to reading the series again; Master of the Phantom Isle gets an A+.
This is a series you must read in order as each book builds on the previous book.

Content:  peril, mild violence

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.  

About the Author:

Brandon Mull is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Fablehaven, Beyonders, and Five Kingdoms series. A kinetic thinker, Brandon enjoys bouncy balls, squeezable stress toys, and popping bubble wrap. He lives in Utah in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his four children and a dog named Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Brandon loves meeting his readers and hearing about their experiences with his books.  Follow the author on Instagram @writerbrandon and Facebook @authorbrandonmull