Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Teeny Tiny Reviews - Netgalley Edition

It is no surprise to some of you that I am stuck in this place of catching up on Netgalley reviews. For the hardcore reader, is there ever such a thing as too many books? And that is why some of us then need this Netgalley Challenge. Some need it multiple years in a row.

I am making a serious effort to improve on reviewing these novels as soon as possible, but I am definitely backlogged. This post is dedicated to three novels that I read quite some time ago but didn't have the opportunity to post reviews yet. These may be tiny reviews, but hope they have impact, because each of these three books were memorable in their own, unique way.

Robin used to be a party girl… until she got black out drunk and woke up in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend. Now she’s faced with being THAT girl, and couldn’t be more disgusted with herself. She can’t even tell her friends the reason for her sudden sobriety and she avoids everyone until she meets Phoenix—quiet, tattooed, and different in every way that’s good and oh, so bad…

Phoenix is two days out of jail when he meets Robin at his cousin’s house, and he knows that he has no business talking to her, but he’s drawn to her quiet demeanor, sweet smile, and artistic talent. She doesn’t care that he’s done time, or that he only has five bucks to his name, and she supports his goal to be a tattoo artist.

But Phoenix knows Robin has a secret, and that it’s a na├»ve dream to believe that his record won’t catch up with them at some point. Though neither is prepared for the explosive result when the past collides with the present… 

 Purchase Links: Amazon/BookDepository/Kobo

I love this series and Erin McCarthy's writing. And this installment of the True Believers series is no exception. Another 'broken' boy and girl finding each other, finding love and starting the difficult process of healing. Ya I am a sucker for sweet, tender bad boys. And though in real life, someone losing their shit over me would probably set off a lot of red flags and sirens in my brain... in the pages of a book it's romantic folks! I allow myself to regress from this independent, strong woman that I am to someone more prehistoric who is ok with being dragged through a cave by the hair, while my mate beats his hairy chest. It also helps that McCarthy's writing is pretty great, and she builds her characters so well that I can emotionally invest in these fictional characters and their stories. I can't help it... I will continue to be a sucker for her books and very likely will continue reading on.

The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
The Devil will come, and Faustus must be damned.

These enigmatic lines from Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus may hold the key to a shocking, centuries-old truth in the thrilling new novel by internationally best-selling author Glenn Cooper.
Elisabetta Celestino, a brilliant young archaeologist at work in Rome’s ancient catacombs, has discovered a unique pattern of astrological symbols on an underground wall. She feels sure that evidence of a previously unknown pre-Christian sect lies in an adjacent chamber where the untombed skeletons bear a strange anomaly, and is devastated when the Vatican refuses to support her excavation project.
Ten years later, a cave-in damages the vault, and a shocking discovery is made. Following a violent and traumatic event, Elisabetta has left has left archaeology behind for the serenity of prayer and teaching, but the young nun unexpectedly finds herself in a race to solve the secret of the catacomb and prevent an apocalyptic event that threatens not only the Vatican but the future of mankind.
Moving between present-day Europe, 1st-century Rome, and Elizabethan England, The Devil Will Come is an exhilarating tale of a battle between good and evil that has been fought in the shadows through the centuries and across continents—and that both sides are willing to kill to keep secret.

 Purchase Links: Amazon/BookDepository/Kobo

If you love Dan Brown, this author ranks up there for me. This novel was cinematic and action packed from beginning to end. Glenn Cooper is very talented at bringing characters and the plot to life in my mind, which made reading this very entertaining for the most part. The one thing about novels in this genre is that usually, the adrenaline filled scenes are so high action, that when it's time for info dumps, I tend to skim. I know that they are necessary to make these adventures and quests more plausible and believable, but I just want to get to the next action scene, close call, etc!  But I did enjoy this story, and its main characters. Cooper certainly has grabbed my attention and his books are finding their place in my to read list.

The One Man She Can't Have
Matt Dean was born to fight . . . and kill. A member of a secret black-ops military unit, he and his brothers were genetically engineered by the government to be the perfect soldiers with an expiration date. Now, with time running out, he's gone rogue in a relentless quest for the one person who can save them. His mission leads him to Charmed, Idaho . . . and to a beautiful woman with eyes like emeralds and a body made for pleasure.

The One Woman He Can't Resist

Laney Jacobs knows the mysterious, handsome stranger is trouble from the moment he walks into her bar, looking for a job. She's spent years running from her own past-the last thing she needs is a romantic entanglement. But Matt's strong arms offer her protection and his gentle touch promises passion unlike anything she's ever known. As lethal forces surround them, revealing explosive secrets about Matt's past and putting everything-and everyone-he holds dear in danger, can he save them all before time runs out?

 Purchase Links: Amazon/BookDepository/Kobo 
Genetically modified sexy soldiers.
Ya, you read that right.
Sounds panty wetting amazing... except that unfortunately for these swoon-worthy specimens their lives have a serious expiry date. Tick tock! It's a race for survival, and love definitely gives you a reason to want to live!
Man, I think I ate this up pretty quick. High on the sexy meter. Supreme Alpha male hero, and the heroine is no wilting flower, which I like. A plot that is hard to resist - our hero on a quest to save his and his brothers' lives, finding love in the process. Gimme Gimme. Another bonus: not as predictable as I thought it would be which gets a big thumbs up for me.
Will definitely make time to continue the series. Highly recommend if you are looking for some great action with a swoon worthy romance.
Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review - Incanta Soul-Catcher, by Avie Adams

Darkness rules her life. A pitiless man wants her body. A Daemon craves her heart.

Cytriah is a talented soul-catcher – her songs can enslave souls in dead bodies.
It’s not a gift, or a curse. It’s what’s expected of girls born on Daemon-controlled Malvaar Island, where failure is punishable with the worst any woman can fear. Whilst Cytriah strives to join the elite of soul-catchers, a chilling secret from her past rips her life apart. Trapped between dangerous men and thrust into a struggle to survive, she’s left with one choice: to pact with a Daemon.

It is forbidden.

And it may bring her something far worse than death…

I have to admit that when I first started this novel, I became skeptical that I would get into it. The scenery is strange, the terminology alien, and what was happening in the first scene odd. I struggled a little with the imagery, but because there was immediate conflict, I was intrigued to continue on into this alien landscape and odd cast of characters. 

It did not take long to become completely invested in Cytriah's story. 

Malvaar island is a harsh place, and it was clear that most of the people living in this place had fairly harsh, dog-eat-dog lives.  'Friends' betray each other without a blink of an eye if it is to their advantage, lives destroyed if there is disobedience, questioning or if you so much as breathe a thought that things are not as they seem. Extreme risks are taken to save their skin from abusive, horrible fates, exactly the kind of scary place Cytriah finds herself very early on in the story.

Surprisingly, my most favorite part of this novel was Cytriah and Amond's relationship. In starting this story, never did I think that I would actually come to really like Amond, nevermind the turn their relationship took. The build up in sexual tension between the two was flawless, and perfectly executed. I found myself holding my breath a few times during scenes between these two, the tension and emotion was so tangible, the consequences of discovery so harsh.

I was itching for a great fantasy novel this year, and I got it with Incanta. This dark novel quickly became one of my favorite novels of the year, and I can honestly say that I am still surprised by that! I am very much looking forward to continuing this series. 

As of the date of this review, this novel is FREE on Amazon. If you are looking for something original, dark and intriguing, do give this series a try. 

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Review - The Rules, by Stacey Kade

1. Never trust anyone.
2. Remember they are always searching.
3. Don’t get involved.
4. Keep your head down.
5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…


I liked it.
I mean... I liked it...
But as I sit here and try to write a review on this novel... I am a little blank... Because I am struggling to remember details about this novel. 
Probably why this one only got 3 stars from me. Which is not a bad rating.. but also doesn't indicate that this one was a home run either.
It was enjoyable. I looked forward to picking it up to read the next few chapters. But it is already getting lost in the memory banks of my memory reserved for the stories I have read over the few decades that I have been alive and reading. I am getting details confused with other books that I have read.  It is taking me a while to recall scenes and characters from this book.
So as cool as this story sounds, and as cool as it was while reading it... well... it's also a little forgettable.  I can't explain it. I even feel a little sorry about the fact that I can't quite put my finger on it either... Except to say that I do recall that I wished there was more depth to Ariane's (the alien/human hybrid) story and the program that created her. Or even something more original to her powers than some "Carrie" like outbursts. Instead it just felt like your usual YA forbidden girl/boy romance, with a twist that the girl in this case, wasn't completely human. It was a little predictable, and too focused on high school drama than I wished - I thought it had potential to go a different route completely. Overall, I think the plot lacked the level of depth I had envisioned this would have.

Despite all of this, it was a fast summer read, and it had a good pace. There was enough to invest in the characters and plot to keep me interested enough to keep reading, and even looking forward to picking up the book. But I should probably add it to my list now or I will likely forget.

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Let's Chat - Why are my 5 Star Reviews Rare?

5 Star Reviews.

For some reviewers, they may seem to come easy.

For me... not so much.

Before exploring as to why I am a University Professor when grading 5 stars - meaning.... I generally don't - let me lay out for you my definition of a 5 star review as per Lily.


My mind is, basically, imploding while and after I read your book.

Your story is so mindblowing, that I have a hard time going to sleep because I want to keep reading it.

 I am having an ugly cry when it ends because I wish it hadn't ended. 

I can't stop thinking about it for days, weeks... sometimes months and even YEARS. My friends threaten to block me if I don't stop raving about your book and practically want to force your book upon them.  I may even buy it and gift it to them whether they want it or not!

Now some people may say that maybe I need to choose my books better. Don't I know what I like?? Well, I really enjoy a wide diverse range of books... picking one up that I think I will like is never a challenge. Trust me when I say, I have too many books on my list to purposely choose any that I know I would NOT enjoy.  I am just not that kind of reader or reviewer.  But not that many have totally wowed me.

Another challenge is that in this age of explosive self publishing (which I think is also great, don't get me wrong. I have come across some amazing novels from self published authors), poor editing will automatically annoy me. Unfortunately, there are many self publishing authors that don't put their books through a good editor and maybe that is a cost thing, but it will make your ratings suffer. I have dropped a few books over poor editing unfortunately.

Here are some of my 5 star reviews - new and oldies, but trust me, these blew me away:

Angelfall, by Susan Ee

Prime example of a novel that flew under the radar for a while and just blew up on Goodreads. It was so amazing, I gifted a copy to one lucky winner.

The Walled City, by Ryan Graudin

A Netgalley novel that I took too long to read. Man, what a trip this one was. I was in a drought of amazing reading material too, and getting frustrated that I was not scoring any truly amazing novels when I picked this one up. I think I missed a couple of meals while getting through this novel.

Mine to Take, by Cynthia Eden

Hey, I am guilty of picking up some steamy novels once in a while. Another Netgalley jewel that was waiting for me patiently. This short novel was eaten up in one sitting. No fillers necessary, this was the perfect length because the author was amazing at building character and plot.

I have a few months left in the year and am hopeful I will discover another novel worthy of that elusive 5 star rating. 

Do you find it easy to find those 5 star reads? What are some of your 5 star worthy novels? What about them made them 5 stars for you? Let us know in the comments. Always looking for recommendations!

Happy Reading!

 This post was linked to the following 2017 Challenge. To join in, or read some other discussion posts, click on the below banner.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Book Cover of the Month - August

We are back with the Book Cover of the Month for August!  There were a lot of great options this month as usual.  Lets see who picks what.  Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

This actually wasn't very difficult for me this month.  I was instantly drawn to this book...

It's the glittery, shimmery look that drew me in.  The colours are very simple and plain but the lighting and shimmer effect brought my eye to it instantly.  I also really like the font.  This one didn't make it on my to read list, but it definitely made me look.

I almost picked the same one as Erin! But the moment I saw the cover below, it was a done deal!

My inner child had a nerdgasm the moment I saw this! How cool is this cover?? From the colors, to the peek of a great fantasy world in the background, an ominous red figure front and center. Love the title. Love the short little description in the front. 

This book cover of the month feature is not helping me with my to read list..... 

Two great covers this month. Any covers that have totally grabbed your attention to a particular book? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Reading everyone.  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review - Iscariot by Tosca Lee

In Jesus, Judas believes he has found the One—a miracle-worker. The promised Messiah and future king of the Jews, destined to overthrow Roman rule. Galvanized, Judas joins the Nazarene’s followers, ready to enact the change he has waited for all his life.

But Judas’ vision of a nation free from Roman rule is crushed by the inexplicable actions of the Nazarene himself, who will not bow to social or religious convention—who seems in the end to even turn against his own people. At last, Judas must confront the fact that the master he loves is not the liberator he hoped for, but a man bent on a drastically different agenda.

Iscariot is the story of Judas—from his tumultuous childhood and tenuous entry into a career and family life as a devout Jew, to a man known to the world as the betrayer of Jesus. But even more, it is a singular and surprising view into the life of Jesus himself that forces us all to reexamine everything we thought we knew about the most famous—and infamous—religious icons in history.

Judas Iscariot is probably one of the most hated characters in Roman Catholicism. On the other hand, if not for his betrayal, our belief system may look very different today.... Such is the conflict with reading about the lead up to Jesus' crucifixion, and looking at it from a couple of perspectives. So go ahead, challenge my thoughts on Judas. A novel devoted to an interpretation of his story? Bring it! 

So... after finishing this novel, what were my thoughts? 

Thought provoking? Absolutely.

Inspiring? Sure

Challenging? 100%

Furthermore, I was surprised by the character of Jesus in this novel. For all of his miracles, compassion and touching emotion, there were moments when he appeared utterly mad and at others, someone in need of some serious depression medication. I certainly could relate to the ensuing doubts on the minds of those that observed this behavior and wondered if they were following a madman.

Trying not to spoil anything for any potential readers, Judas' 'betrayal' was quite believable, and it did make me wonder at the possibility of whether there were true elements to this story... after all, there were many that wanted to take Jesus down, and I wouldn't put it past these men to take advantage of someone like Judas to make this kind of plan happen. 

Judas' life story was very interesting and captivating. I don't really know if there is any fact interwoven with fiction as I am not sure how much information on the real Judas actually exists... but it was certainly was a sad story of someone who had a very hard life, and wandered through it looking for a place to belong and something to believe in. 

It is, of course quite clear, that there is no happy ending to this story. That being said, I found the ending a little vague compared to the rest of the novel, and wished there was more exploration of Judas' mind leading up to his impending death. I just felt like something substantial was lacking and I was left with a bit of a disastified feeling. But as with Havah, I enjoyed this novel well enough and looked forward to picking it up where I had last left off. 

Very easy 3 star rating, and though it may not seem like I was not wowed by this novel, rest assured that I thoroughly enjoyed it and will continue on to enjoy other novels by this same author.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review - Havah by Tosca Lee

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Tosca Lee shares the “passionate and riveting story of the Bible’s first woman and her remarkable journey after being cast from paradise” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Created, not born. Her name is Eve. Myth and legend shroud her in mystery. Now hear her story.

She knew this earth when it was perfect—as she was perfect, a creature without flaw. Created by God in a manner like no other, Eve lived in utter peace as the world’s first woman, until she made a choice, one mistake for which all of humanity would suffer. But what did it feel like to be the first person to sin and experience exile; to see innocence crumble so vividly; and to witness a new strange, darker world emerge in its place?

From paradise to exile, from immortality to the death of Adam, experience the epic dawn of mankind through the eyes and heart of Eve—the woman first known as Havah.

I love historical novels... and I don't mean pirates, westerns or civil wars. Ancient history though, gimme gimme gimme. Most of all, imaginative retellings, or interpretative fiction of biblical figures and times. I just love to eat those up.

So glad that I had the opportunity to read this novel by Tosca Lee, and also Iscariot which I will review soon also. My only regret here is that it took me so long to get to this book and discover such a talented author.

This is not the first biblical novel I have read, and I truly enjoy Tosca Lee's writing style. Rich and descriptive, both characters and the world around them was brought to life in my mind. From the beautiful world both Adam and Even inhabited, and their connection with all living things, to the temptation of the serpent and ensuing expulsion and chaos. The severed connection that they both suffered, not only from God, but all the animals that they loved and frolicked with literally saddened me. Some of the imagery painted in this book was gruesome and disturbing and adequately depicted the devastation of losing that connection.

Now Adam and Eve are out in the world, aware of their nakedness, ashamed, afraid, and trying to figure out their place in the strange cold, frightening world they are now in. This book explores their survival, their growing resentment and love for one another, the joy of having their children, and the anguish of looking on as some grew greedy and reckless. It was definitely different as their children grew up and began to look at each other with interest, formed couples, went on to have their own children. But how else would the world have populated when there was only one man and one woman? 

I found that the novel did drag on in areas, and felt a little repetitive at times. It also felt like the story was longer than it needed to be, but overall, I definitely enjoyed reading this novel and Lee's portrayal of not only these two characters, but also some of their children who had their own important roles and stories, not only in this book but the Bible as well. She offered some very interesting perspectives that really made me reflect.

I was very glad that I had Iscariot to read next and definitely plan on adding more of her novels to my list. Definitely recommend this author!

Happy Reading!


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