Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Review: A Ghostly Undertaking

A Ghostly Undertaking (Ghostly Southern Mysteries, #1)Author: Tonya Kappes
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Witness
Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries # 1

Another day. Another funeral. Another ghost. Another average day in the life of young funeral home director, Emma Lee Raines. After a perilous run-in with a plastic Santa Claus, Emma Lee, co-owner of Eternal Slumber Funeral Home in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, sees the ghost of town gossip Ruthie Sue Payne, who is proving to be a real pain, more so in death than while living. Recently deceased, Ruthie reveals to Emma Lee that her demise wasn't caused by accidentally falling down the steps at the Sleepy Hollow Inn as everyone believes—she was pushed...murdered. In order for the ghost to cross over—and for Emma Lee to be rid of Ruthie for good—she must find a desperate killer...or risk being haunted forever.

Another day. Another funeral. Another ghost.

Well, the funeral thing was common. The ghost thing…that was new, making Sleepy Hollow anything but sleepy.

We’d barely made it into the vestibule before Ruthie was right in my face. “Emma Lee, I did not fall down those stairs. Someone pushed me. Don’t you understand? I was murdered!”

Emma Lee is not your ordinary, average girl. Well, first of all she is known around town and often refers to herself as “funeral girl” because her family owns the local funeral home, but even more than that it is her unique supernatural ability that makes Emma the most special; she can see and talk to the dead. Emma Lee makes it her duty to help the ghosts who come to her cross over, and often times that means solving their murders. But how amazing is it that at least she has the ghost there to help and lead her to clues? I loved this first book and cannot wait to read the rest in the series! Emma Lee is smart, original, and best of all, southern! I love this mix in a heroine any day.

This book was such a joy to read and I was finished with it in no time. The story is filled with southern charm and often made me laugh out loud. The characters are easy to like and remember and Emma Lee just puts the cherry on top of the pie! She seemed a little timid in this book, but I am hoping that her character gets more comfortable with her surroundings in later books and in turn becomes more feisty and courageous! The whole little town of Sleepy Hollow was a joy to read and I must admit that at first I did not want the setting to mostly be the funeral home that Emma works at, but it played into the plot nicely and really put a twist on things! If you love cozy mysteries, you should pick this one up because it is unlike any you have read before!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Witness in exchange for my honest review***

Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: A Woman Unknown

A Woman UnknownAuthor: Frances Brody
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Series: Kate Shackleton # 4

THE WOMAN UNKNOWN: Deirdre Fitzpatrick is married to a man who wants to know where she really goes when supposedly taking care of her sick mother and calls on the expertise of Kate Shackleton, amateur sleuth extraordinaire to investigate. THE GENTLEMAN: Everett Runcie is a banker facing ruin and disgrace. His American heiress wife will no longer pay for his mistakes, or tolerate his infidelity, and is seeking a divorce. THE MURDER: When a chambermaid enters Runcie's hotel room, she is shocked to find that he is alone, and dead. Suddenly Kate is thrown into the depths of an altogether more sinister investigation. Can she uncover the truth of her most complex, and personal, case to date?

My name is Kate Shackleton. I am a private investigator, drawn to the work almost accidentally through trying to discover what happened to my husband, Gerald, last seen towards the end of the Great War.

It was against my better judgment, but looking from Fitzpatrick to Sykes, I decided that it would not hurt to take a closer look at this young woman who aroused such strong emotions.

Deirdre flung herself from the bed and across the room. No one must see her, in bed with a dead man.

Kate Shackleton is a private investigator exploring Yorkshire in the 1920’s. First of all, the 20’s is my true era; I should have been a flapper! In this installment to the series, a man is found dead in the Metropole Hotel in Leeds and Kate is called in by his widow to investigate his death. Kate is working side by side with Marcus Charles, who is sent in from Scotland Yard to investigate. Marcus is none too thrilled by working with Kate, but her charm eventually wears him down. Kate is in head over heels because in this novel she is working on two cases at once. She is also working with the husband of Deirdre Fitzpatrick to uncover the truth as to why she disappears for days at a time. There is definitely enough going on in this story to keep readers involved and occupied!

This era is brought vividly to life through Brody’s writing and world building. I am already a huge fan of the 20’s, as I said, but writing done this well only makes me love and appreciate it more. Kate’s character was interesting because of her station; I felt that as a widow she was able to get away with more during this time than a spinster or young, unmarried woman would have been able to get away with. I love the series and all that I learn from it; books that allow me to learn while being entertained are always the best!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Minotaur Books in exchange for my honest review***

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: Promposal

PromposalAuthor: Rhonda Helms
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Prom should be one of the most memorable nights of your life. But for Camilla and Joshua, some elaborate promposals are getting in the way. Will they be able to land their dream dates in time for the dance?

Promposal (n.) an often very public proposal, in which one person asks another person to the prom, eliciting joy or mortification.

Camilla can’t help hoping her secret crush, Benjamin, might randomly surprise her out of the blue with a promposal. But when she’s asked to prom by an irritating casual acquaintance who’s wearing a fancy tux and standing in front of a news crew; she’s forced to say yes. However, all hope is not lost, as a timely school project gives Camilla a chance to get closer to Benjamin...and it seems like the chemistry between them is crackling. Is she reading into something that isn’t there, or will she get her dream guy just in time for prom?

Joshua has been secretly in love with his best friend Ethan since middle school. Just as he decides to bite the bullet and ask Ethan if he’d go to prom with him, even if just as friends, he gets a shocking surprise: Ethan asks Joshua for help crafting the perfect promposal for another guy. Now Joshua has to suppress his love and try to fake enthusiasm as he watches his dreams fall apart...unless he can make Ethan see that love has been right in front of his eyes the whole time.

The road to the perfect promposal isn’t easy to navigate. But one thing’s certain, prom season is going to be memorable.

Social norms are a challenging thing for us to face.

I was met with swooning girls, snorting guys.

I stood there in the doorway for a couple of minutes, trying to smile, trying to pretend that I wasn’t making what felt like the biggest sacrifice of my life.

Promposal is a short, cute novel about best friends, Camilla and Joshua, who hope that they will be able to attend their high school prom with the people of their dreams. Camilla receives a huge promposal full of flowers, music, and the attention of what seems like everyone in their school. However, there is only one problem, she does not want to go with this boy, but wants to go with her crush, Benjamin instead. Then we have Joshua who has a crush on their other BFF, Ethan, but Joshua is let down when Ethan asks Josh to help him put together a promposal for another guy in their class. I think so many people can relate to these two teens and their awkward high school years. They both must learn to be brave and communicate their feelings to the ones they want to attend prom with!

What sold me the most about this book was the alternating chapters. We get to see things from Camilla’s perspective as well as from Joshua’s. Their voices are so different and it interesting to see them handle the same topics, just in different ways. I would have loved to have had Ethan’s point of view as well, just because he was a part of their group and was so close to both of them. This book was a nice little escape for me and took me no time at all to finish. I am a high school teacher, so the term “promposal” only became familiar to me in the past few years. Students go above and beyond to make these special, and I love that this was included in a book! Props to Rhonda Helms!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Simon Pulse in exchange for my honest review***

Book Review: Paper Hearts

Paper HeartsAuthor: Courtney Walsh
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Tyndale

Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she's poured everything into dreams of expansion . . . and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park's tradition of stamping mail with the city's romantic postmark. When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn't come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail's new landlord, and he's threatening to end her lease to expand his practice. As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail's doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?

Jacob wouldn’t have used spinster to describe the woman he’d just met. She seemed passionate and maybe a little bit spunky with her wavy, dark hair that was only slightly out of control.

Yes, Abigail Pressman might prove to be their most difficult case yet. Hard to match – and more stubborn than most – because Gigi suspected that their new target had no idea that she even wanted to fall in love at all.

Who needs a man when you have shelves of beautiful books and dreams of growth and success?
This sweet little contemporary romance was just what I needed to end out this cold, chilling month. Abigail Pressman is quite cynical and untrusting when it comes to love and marriage. However, in a town called Loves Park, Colorado, where everything revolves around love and romance, being a single 30 year old woman with no hopes of marriage or prospects does not make for an easy life. Abigail is more concerned with her bookstore; she wants more than anything to expand the store, but doing this means coming up with a large sum of money that she doesn’t possess. Here is where we meet our male lead, Dr. Jacob Willoughby. He swoops in unexpectedly and buys the building that Abigail hoped to move her bookstore into, so of course you see how our hero and heroine meet!

The romance is adorable and provides enough angst to keep you hanging on until the very end. Walsh writes characters that are relatable; they don’t go head over heels stumbling in love, but just like normal people they must learn to get past their own feelings of negativity and learn to rely on one another and on God. Abigail was my favorite, hands down. She is hesitant and charming and proves that there is nothing wrong with being single and focusing on your career, dreams, and goals. She was an inspiration to me even though I am married just because I know how much of an inspiration she will be for other readers!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Tyndale in exchange for my honest review***

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Review: Dearest

DearestAuthor: Alethea Kontis
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Series: Woodcutter Sisters # 3

“A fabulous fairy-tale mashup that deserves hordes of avid readers. Absolutely delectable.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review of award-winning series debut Enchanted

Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday’s palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he’s her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday’s unique magic somehow break the spell?

And so, gracelessly and in her nightgown, Friday plummeted from the sky tower.

Storms like this meant magic, and lots of it.

Behind her lids the darkness turned to clouds of deepest indigo.

I believe that Alethea Kontis has magic within her. No one with an imagination this big and beautiful to create a world and characters like these can be normal. Her writing, her world, her characters, it is all just so wonderful and I am just beside myself with amazement at how the series continues to get better and better. She has said that she will write a book for each of the sisters, so this means there will be seven books in total! I have not met many book lovers that do not love fairy tale themed stories, and this series is just another fairy tale themed series to add to your to be read list. The books can be read as standalones, but I think they should be read as series just because they are so amazing!

I love the Woodcutter sisters. What I love even more about these books, is that in each one you get an inside look at most of the sisters without having yet read each of their stories. I love watching the sisters interact with one another and then being able to spend one on one time with a few of them. Alethea has a tough job; she has to write seven sisters and make them all differently unique, and let me be the first to say that so far she has accomplished this tremendously. I cannot wait for the next adventure with the Woodcutter sisters!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for my honest review***

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde

The Diabolical Miss Hyde: An Electric Empire NovelAuthor: Viola Carr
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Series: Electric Empire # 1

Magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy retelling of the classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the infamous Henry

In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching "the Chopper" could make Eliza's career--or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father's forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.

When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she's a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London's luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own.

Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free . . .

I like to stand out. I flick through my dresses, frowning. The red, the scarlet, the crimson, the ruby, the cherry, the claret, or the rose?

Prison screws, coppers, jurymen, snouts. Everyone’s for sale. And it seems His Honor is too.

And as the weak winter sun slipped below the rooflines, relinquishing her bedroom to darkness, she tilted her head and gulped her bitter elixir down.

This book was absolutely incredible! I am blown away with how much I enjoyed the writing, the characters, and even the bloody depictions of death, as this is usually not my thing. I cannot wait for more from this author and for the other books in this series to be released. I love a good Jekyll & Hyde story, and here we are given Dr. Jekyll’s daughter herself, Dr. Eliza Jekyll. And before you ask, Eliza has the same tendency, “the Hyde situation”, that her father dealt with before his death. Her alternate side being Lizzie Hyde; Lizzie is brazen, callous, and pretty much everything that Eliza is not, but this makes her all the more fun to read about! Carr does an extraordinary job of making Eliza and Lizzie two very different people, but allows readers to love and adore each of them just the same.

I am usually not of fan of these Jack the Ripper type murders, but this book seemed different from the start, so I decided to give it a try. It does become dark and gory at times, but I feel that it is never over the top. The descriptions are quite vivid but they need to be in order to fully appreciate and immerse oneself into the storyline. The characters are just as fascinating as the murder scenes. Carr writes characters that will send goosebumps down your spine, but after all there is a reason that we become so easily fascinated with Hannibal Lector types; they scare the daylights out of us. Hollywood has benefited from this tactic for years; Carr just does it in a much more suitable manner! I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in this series!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Harper Voyager in exchange for my honest review***

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Book Review: Love By The Book

Love by the Book: A NovelAuthor: Melissa Pimentel
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Books

A hilarious and refreshingly honest foray into modern dating, Age, Sex, Location is Bridget Jones's Diary for HBO's Girls generation.

An American living in London, Lauren is intelligent, beautiful and loves to party. So why can't she convince a man she isn't after something more serious than scrambled eggs and goodbye in the morning?

Determined to snare some regular male affection, she embarks on a project: each month she will follow the rules of a different dating guide - from refusing to pay the bill to chatting up every man in her path - and will switch seamlessly to the next book at the end of each month. 

Lauren's love life is about to get scientific.

And just like that, I had my first test subject.

She always knew just what to say to make me feel brave.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a man make a fuss over you.

Lauren Cunningham is in her twenties, a bit unlucky in love, and is currently living in London and looking to have a bit of fun. Lauren, having had enough of love and all of its bitter sentiments, decides to start experimenting with a different dating guide each month to help her meet guys and hopefully help her make her relationships last a bit longer. Following these dating guides leads Lauren into some comical and quite unpredictable situations. She tries her best not to get too attached to these men and at least one of these dates is sure to give you a good laugh. Lauren wants these dates to seem like a scientific study, so she doesn’t use their real names but rather gives them hysterical code names. She is so witty and fun to follow!

This is a chick lit that truly deserves a moment in the spotlight. It was such a light and fun read and completely made me forget the real world around me for a while. This book was compared to Bridget Jones’ Diary, and I would say that this comparison is as about as accurate as they come. Lauren’s modern dating disasters are sure to resonate with more than just single women; Lauren’s characters and her shaky love life are a reminder that nothing about love or dating is easy. Lauren not only reminded me of Bridget Jones but a little of Carrie Bradshaw as well, especially with all the dating advice. Either way you look at it, this was an amazing story that was fun from the front cover all the way to the final page.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Penguin Books in exchange for my honest review***

Friday, February 13, 2015

Book Review: Where Rivers Part

Where Rivers Part (Texas Gold, #2)Author: Kellie Coates Gilbert
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Revell
Series: Texas Gold # 2

Following in her estranged father's footsteps, Dr. Juliet Ryan has devoted her scientific acumen to corporate America, providing safe drinking water for millions--and affording her plenty of perks along the way. Then, without warning, a fast-moving disaster sweeps Juliet into a whirlpool of corporate scandal and puts lives at risk. As she scrambles to find answers, Juliet must face her deepest wounds and join forces with her father to expose a far-reaching conspiracy. Underneath it all, she struggles to forgive those who betrayed her trust--not least of all her own father.

Some things she would never forgive.

Just as a hint of light showed up on the dark horizon, the two weather fronts collided and rain fell from the thunderous sky, as if heaven too might be overwrought with emotion.

Time stilled while Juliet held her sobbing father.

The second book in a series that is filled with fast-paced action, adventure, and a bit of mystery is sure to please as well. Dr. Juliet Ryan wants to make a name for herself in the food and beverage industry, and with a prestigious degree from a prestigious university, she has every advantage to do that. However, when a powerful scandal breaks out, Dr. Ryan is thrown right into the middle of it and must enlist the help of her estranged father in order to get to the bottom of the catastrophe. The author, Kellie Coates Gilbert, clearly knows her way around Texas and writes San Antonio with such perfection and pizzazz. Reading the author’s note and finding out her inspiration for writing this novel, I felt even more invested in the story and wanted to learn more about the author. A truly phenomenal writer.  

Dr. Ryan can be a tough character to like at times while reading. She struggles with forgiveness and has had issues in the past with her father, so she has things in her life that are left with unresolved feelings. She can seem hard at times, but it allows her character to appear all the more real. This book has some intense scenes and brings up issues that happen all around us. Those issues deal with relationships that she has like parental relationships, friendships, and even business relationships. She really had to struggle to get past some of her resentment. She was inspirational and her story was powerful and I am sure will provide many readers with some real, raw emotions.

*** A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Revell in exchange for my honest review***

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Book Review: For Keeps

For Keeps (Love to the Rescue, #2)Author: Rachel Lacey
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Forever
Series: Love to the Rescue # 2

Merry Atwater would do just about anything to save her dog rescue - even if it means working with the most stubborn man on the planet. It's hard to avoid the sparks that fly with TJ Jameson, the ruggedly sexy cowboy in charge of the children's camp where she's just taken an animal therapy job. But commitment is not Merry's style, and TJ clearly wants more than just a roll in the hay.

TJ Jameson isn't looking for anything complicated-just a peaceful life on his family's ranch with a wife and kids. "No-strings" Merry Atwater doesn't fit that bill, no matter how irresistible she is. But when he sees how Merry gets through to his autistic nephew and the other kids at Camp Blue Sky, TJ's a goner. If he doesn't give in to the now, he might just lose his shot at forever . . .

Merry Atwater was about to do something she hadn’t done in almost a decade. She closed her eyes, clasped her hands together, and prayed. As in, to God.

He crushed his mouth against her one more time, then swept her off her feet and carried her through the pouring rain toward the house.

Her father hadn’t raised a quitter. She wasn’t going down without a fight.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I am definitely in a loving state of mind, so therefore I have wanted to read sweet, adorable romance novels. Rachel Lacey has been a favorite author of mine for quite some time. I absolutely adored the first book in her series and this one was just as charming and cozy. I am such an animal lover, and just recently lost my dog of nine years, so this book did its job in making me feel comforted and allowing me to read about other people who love and value the relationship with their pets just as much as me. Not only one of the main characters, but both of the main characters have a fond admiration for rescuing animals, and for that reason I was able to fall in love with both of them very quickly.

Both of the main characters, Merry and T.J., were written as any character should be, with fears and vulnerabilities. Their work lives, home lives, and families played a part in the story and this is what made it all seem real to me. They change and develop as characters and we learn more and more about them as the story progresses. I could never decide which character I liked better; their feelings for each other were apparent and I wanted every problem to be resolved in both of their lives. I hope to see Merry’s friend, Olivia, show up in the next installment of this series!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Forever in exchange for my honest review***

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Book Review: Rebound

Rebound (Boomerang, #2)Author: Noelle August
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Series: Boomerang # 2

At Boomerang, one night can change everything . . .

Adam Blackwood has it all. At twenty-three he's fabulously wealthy, Ryan Gosling-hot, and at the top of his game in the business world. His life is perfect until a scandal from his past resurfaces and threatens to knock the tech wunderkind down and throw his company, Boomerang--a hook-up site for millennials--into chaos.

Alison Quick, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a business tycoon--and the ex-girlfriend of Boomerang's former intern, Ethan--has a problem of her own. After nearly flunking out in her senior year of college, she has one chance to redeem herself to her father by proving that she deserves a place in his corporate empire. That means spearheading her father's plan to sink big money into Adam's company and launch it into the stratosphere--provided Adam has no skeletons in his closet.

When the two meet, their sizzling chemistry makes it tough to keep things strictly professional. But when Alison discovers Adam's secret, she knows she should bring it right to her father, who'll leverage it for his own gain and use it to ruin Adam. The only problem: she's falling for Adam--hard.

Will earning her father's approval come at the price of losing her first real love? Or can Adam and Alison leave behind past mistakes and conquer the world--together?

Some nights call for a Catwoman costume.

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

But a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

What a better way to prepare for Valentine’s Day than by cuddling up with mushy gushy romance novels, especially ones as charming and fast-paced as this one. The first book in the series grabbed my attention last summer and I was all too eager to get my hands on this one as well. A lot of readers were probably wary of Allison’s character, especially after what she did to Ethan in the first book, but I was actually very excited to read about her backstory and hopefully find some redeeming qualities in her. I thought that I would struggle to like her character, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it took me no time at all to love her and all her flaws. Her story was just as fun as the story in the first book, and I found myself laughing out loud right from the very first page when we find out that Allison has literally been sewn in to her Catwoman costume for Halloween!

The chemistry between Adam and Allison is quite intriguing. Allison’s father is looking to invest in Adam’s company, Boomerang. However, the two of them do not realize who the other is when they end up passionately entwined before being conveniently interrupted. Watching them wrestle with their feelings with one another while trying to further their entrepreneurial skills will have any reader on edge. I was all for them ending up together. They were put in many compromising situations together but we all know that love always comes out on top! Be sure to pick this one up before Valentine’s Day!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at William Morrow in exchange for my honest review***