Recent Reviews...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Spotlight on Perfectly Summer by Robin Daniels!

Perfectly Summer (Perfect #3) by Robin Daniels
Genre: Young Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: November 28, 2017
Publisher: Bluefields Publishing

Summer vacation is Levi London’s favorite time of the year. Each summer, he and his brothers are shipped off to Florida to stay with their grandparents. For ten weeks everything is perfect. He has freedom, fun, and Summer West—the cute and spunky girl across the street—for whom he’s planned to confess his giant crush. Right before the London boys are scheduled to leave, a scandalous family situation causes their mom to accompany them on vacation. Not only does Levi’s fun quotient promise to take a nose dive, but all the drama has him feeling less than his normal happy self. Summer decides that Levi needs a distraction, in the form of a prank war. But he gets more than he bargains for when his older brother Lucas is both better at pranking and determined to date Summer too. Levi is a peacekeeper, but he isn’t sure he can mediate his family’s struggles or strike the right balance between mischief and romance. Especially when Lucas keeps reminding him that all is fair in love and war.

“So, your birthday is coming up soon. The big 1-6. We need to do something epic. I’m thinking a huge party…” I trailed off, knowing she’d shoot me down. There’s only one thing she’s ever wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. That was to go on her first date.
Summer’s parents only had one formal rule—that I knew of, at least. No dating until you’re sixteen. I was surprised the first time I heard it, because her parents never seemed to care that I was always in her bedroom. I mean, we didn’t shut the door or do anything dodgy, but still. Hunter broke that rule all the time, but Summer had stayed obedient. She’d yet to go on an official date. I think the reason she didn’t push it the way Hunter did was because she was scared and a little na├»ve. But, regardless of the reason, the waiting had built up a lot of anticipation for her sixteenth birthday.
“You know me better than that by now.” Summer smiled. “I don’t want a party.”
I winked at her. “I know you don’t. The real question is, who do you want to take you on your very first date?” I tried to play it off like I didn’t care, but I already knew the answer. “Let me guess, you want me to pull some strings so my dopey older brother will ask you out?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, that’s never going to happen.” She waved me off, then got quiet, like she was nervous. Summer looked down at the stuffed animal she was holding. “Actually, I was hoping you’d take me on my first date.”
“Me?” I was beyond surprised.
Summer grinned and said, “Yes, you. Who else would I want to take me?”
Something exploded in my chest, and my body got warm and tingly. I’d been out on plenty of dates, kissed my share of girls, too. But the thought of doing either of those things with Summer made my emotions do a happy dance. She wanted me to take her on her first date. Maybe by default because she didn’t think Lucas was an option, but I’d take it. This would be the perfect opportunity to show her why Lucas sucked and I should be the man of her dreams.
“I’d be honored,” I replied coolly, trying to hide how giddy I was. I didn’t want to look like a desperate chump. “Do you have anything specific that you want to do?”
“Nope. I trust you to make it amazing and unforgettable.”
“Geez, no pressure or anything.”
Summer laughed. “Of course not. No pressure at all. I’ve only got a full page reserved for the event in my scrapbook.”
“Do you really?”
“What do you think?” she countered, but I couldn’t tell if she was being serious or not. Forget one page. Honestly, I could see her making a whole “first date scrapbook”.
“I’m invoking my right to plead the Fifth Amendment on this matter.”
“I think you’re smarter than Lucas gives you credit for,” she replied.

Check out my review of books in this series!

Robin Daniels is a wife, mother of five and avid consumer of books. She loves reading SO much that she was actually grounded from it as a twelve year old. No Joking! Her mom caught her reading when she was supposed to be cleaning, which was a common occurrence. At that point mom took the books and instructed her to go watch TV or play outside like a normal kid.

Robin is a sucker for home design shows and magazines, watches way too much Netflix and has a very codependent relationship with with a certain diet soda who’s brand shall not be named. (Though anyone with a similar problem could probably guess which one.)

To learn more about Robin Daniels and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Instagram, & Facebook.

Book Review! After the Game by Abbi Glines

After the Game (The Field Party #3) by Abbi Glines 
Genre: Young/New Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: August 22, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Two years ago, Riley Young fled from Lawton, Alabama. After accusing the oldest Lawton son, Rhett, of rape, everyone called her a liar and she had no option but to leave. Now she’s back, but she’s not at Lawton High finishing up her senior year. She’s at home raising the little girl that no one believed was Rhett’s.

Rhett is off at college living the life he was afraid he’d lose with Riley’s accusation, so Riley agrees to move back to Lawton so she and her parents could take care of her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. But the town still hasn’t forgotten their hate for her, and she hasn’t forgotten the way they turned on her when she needed them most.

When town golden boy Brady Higgens finds Riley and her daughter, Bryony, stranded on the side of the road in a storm, he pulls over and gives them a ride. Not because he cares about Riley, of course, but because of the kid.

But after the simple car ride, he begins to question everything he thought he knew. Could Brady believe Riley and risk losing everything?

After the Game is the Third book in the Field Party series by Abbi Glines. We know the rumors about Riley, now we get her real story. She's one strong woman. Not many would come back stronger like she did. Her character offers hope to readers who have survived her situation. She's amazing. Brady's not so bad either. These characters need each other. I was so drawn into their world, the drama, and the town. The writing flows so well that it seems like your actually watching it all unfold in your mind. And in true Abbi Glines fashion, the romance isn't as simple as we'd all hope for these guys. Well... it is in some ways, but it isn't. Does that make sense? No? Well, too bad you'll have to read the book to find out more.

After the Game I’m Some Hungwy CHAPTER 1 

The crash from the kitchen jerked me out of my dreams and into reality. Something was burning and Bryony wasn’t in bed beside me. Her sweet blond curls and big blue eyes were what normally met me when I opened my eyes.

Jumping up, I ran through the already open door of my bedroom and sprinted toward the kitchen. A million things ran through my mind as I went the short distance. Bryony never got out of bed without me. Another crash happened just as I turned the corner into the kitchen.

My grandmamma was standing at the sink with a frantic look on her face. The pot on the floor had been full of uncooked oats and milk, which were now splattered on the tile floor. Smoke was coming from the toaster behind her, and I moved quickly to jerk the plug out of the wall before things got worse.

“Momma,” Bryony’s sweet voice called out from behind me.

Spinning around, needing to see her face and know she was okay, I almost slipped on the milk under my feet.

The wild curls of her hair were sticking up everywhere as she stared up at me with wide eyes and a frown. “I’m some hungwy,” she said.

I reached down to pick her up before she stepped into the mess on the floor and cradled her against me. Holding her was enough reassurance to calm me down.

“Grandmamma was trying to fix you something, I see,” I said, looking toward my grandmother, who was now looking down at the spilled breakfast at her feet.

“I don’t know,” Grandmamma said. Her voice sounded lost, like she wasn’t sure what she was saying or why she was standing there. This was normal for her. Some days were better. Others were not. Today was not going to be a good day.

“I’ll put Bryony in her high chair and get her some cereal, and then I’ll clean this up. What do you want me to fix you, Grandmamma?” I asked her.

She turned her gaze to mine, and the confusion there always made me sad. The woman who had taught me to make biscuits and sang me songs while playing the pots and pans like drums was no longer there. She was lost inside her head.

“I don’t know,” she said, which were words I heard often.

I moved over to put Bryony in her high chair before going to take my grandmamma’s arm and move her away from the slippery mess. Most mornings I woke up earlier than my grandmother. Today I had overslept. My mom normally woke me up before she left for work, but today she either had tried and failed or had forgotten.

“I’m some hungwy,” Bryony said again. That was her way of telling me she wanted food, and now. If she’d woken up and found Grandmamma in the kitchen, she would have told her the same thing. For a moment, Grandmamma had known that meant she needed to feed her. But that brief memory left and she had dropped a pot. A dish was also broken on the floor with what looked like applesauce on it. Then, of course, the burned toast.

“Okay,” I told her and reached for a box of cereal to place some on her tray. “Eat this and let Mommy clean up the mess.”

Bryony picked up a piece of the round oat cereal and put it in her mouth.

“I broke a plate.” Grandmamma’s voice was full of concern.

“It’s okay. Accidents happen. I’m going to clean this up, then I’ll make you some of your favorite steel-cut oats with brown sugar and apple slices. Okay?” I assured her with a smile.

She frowned. “That’s my favorite?”

It was like dealing with another child. We hadn’t been back in Lawton, Alabama, long, but the time we had been back hadn’t been easy. Watching someone you love so much live lost in their own head was heartbreaking. Alzheimer’s was a terrible disease.

“Gandma hungwry,” Bryony told me.

I turned my attention to my daughter and smiled. “Yes, she is. It’s

breakfast time.”

“Sandra will be upset about her plate. She loved those plates. I’ll need to go into town and buy her a new one at Miller’s. Least I can do.”

To anyone else, those words might have sounded sane. Logical. But they were anything but. For starters, Sandra was my grandmamma’s sister who had passed away from cancer when I was three years old. And Miller’s hadn’t been open for business since 1985. The only reason I knew this was because Grandmamma had sent me to fetch something at Miller’s when we first moved back and I’d started out the door when Momma stopped me and explained. Grandmamma was living in the past. Roy Miller had passed away of a heart attack in ’85, and his family had closed the store and moved out of Lawton.

Instead of reminding her of all this, though, I had found just going along with it was easier. If I told her Sandra was dead or that Miller’s was closed, she’d go into a fit of hysteria. That was what she knew and remembered today. So I ignored her comment and cleaned up the floor before getting a pot of oats on the stove cooking properly, then disposed of the burned toast out the back door.

“Do you know where I put Lyla’s applesauce? She needs to eat some this morning. I made it fresh yesterday from the apples I got at Miller’s.”

Lyla was my mother. That was another thing that Grandmamma confused. She often thought Bryony was my mother when she was a baby. Again lost in the past.

“I’ll get her some applesauce. You just sit there and relax. I’ll get you some juice. Watch the pretty birds outside. They’re eating the birdseed we put out yesterday.” That got her attention, and she began watching out the large bay window for the birds.

Mom only worked until noon today at the hospital. I would be able to take Bryony out for a walk and to the park after lunch. I needed to get them fed and start the morning chores so we would have plenty of time later to go play. The sun was shining and the warm days were behind us. The cool autumn air was perfect for being outside. And Bryony loved to pick up the different-colored leaves on the ground. She called them her “cowection.”

Here's my review of the previous books in this series!

Check out  more of my reviews of other books by Abbi Glines!

Abbi Glines is a #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Rosemary Beach, Sea Breeze, Vincent Boys, and Existence series. She has a new YA series coming out in the fall of 2015 titled The Field Party Series . She never cooks unless baking during the Christmas holiday counts. She believes in ghosts and has a habit of asking people if their house is haunted before she goes in it. She drinks afternoon tea because she wants to be British but alas she was born in Alabama. When asked how many books she has written she has to stop and count on her fingers. When she’s not locked away writing, she is reading, shopping (major shoe and purse addiction), sneaking off to the movies alone, and listening to the drama in her teenagers lives while making mental notes on the good stuff to use later. Don’t judge.

You can connect with Abbi online in several different ways. She uses social media to procrastinate.

To learn more about Abbi Glines and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebook, and Twitter.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Do You Like to Drink Tea While You Read?

One thing that seems to go hand in hand with reading, is drinking tea. Hot Tea, Cold Tea, Gourmet Tea... Book readers seem to like their tea any way you brew it. 

I recently got the opportunity to try some different teas from a company that's new to me called Adagio Teas.
They are doing something pretty cool that attracted me from the start. They've started a line of Fandom Teas. Twilight Fans. Harry Potter Fans. Even some TV shows & movies have their own blends. There are so may different fandoms to choose from, and if you don't see what your looking for, you can easily create it yourself. The loose tea comes in fun little tins and everything.

The Stars Hollow blend was the first thing I threw in my cart. I'm a huge fan of the Gilmore Girls. I seriously think they hid a camera in my house in high school or something, because they act way too much like my mom and I.

This one was tasty and smells amazing. I'm a fan of chai in general, and I guess I can add Honeybush Pumpkin Chai to the list of likes. I love Iced Chai, and while I haven't tried this one on ice yet, I bet it would be great chilled with a little milk. I'm already looking forward to trying it that way. Yum!

Expectro Petronum was my favorite of the flavors so far. It smelled like a Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie and tasted like a tea version of the cookie. The heat from the tea and the coolness from the mint with hints of chocolate contrasted themselves nicely. And the smell? Heavenly.

Have you seen the tins? I love the tins for The Jane Austen Mafia and Expectro Petronum the best so far. There are some other tins that I really liked too. Eye of the Tiger and Leia Organa Solo, among so many others. The artwork on the tins was what pulled everything together and added some fun and whimsy to the teas. 
 BeerButter was plain fun. I found a tip on the Adagio Teas website in the comments section for this particular flavor that recommended chilling it and adding milk. So, that's what I did, and I recommend it too.
Keep in mind when you try this one, it's not Butter Beer. It's tea, so it's not going to taste like butter beer, but if butter beer had a tea version of itself... this is it.
I decided to be brave and create a What's Beyond Forks? blend too. Am I an expert tea creater? Umm... no. Thankfully, you don't have to be to create your own blends. Like the others, this one smelled wonderful. In fact, I'm thinking of getting one of those simmering potpourri pots. We had one in the house growing up, and they smelled the house up nicely. This blend would be perfect for simmering.  

One more thing, and I think this is the thing I like the most about this company so far. When you create your own blend, you can opt to donate 5% of the earnings to the charity of your choice. For my What's Beyond Forks Tea Time blend, I chose: Pets of the Homeless.

I enjoyed these teas quite a bit. They tasted delicious. I think there's a flavor for every preference, especially when you have the option of creating your own blend. Do you have a hard to buy for Twi-Fan or Potterhead in your life? These teas with the lovely tins are a wonderful gift idea and just in time for Chrismas!

This selection of herbal teas was kindly provided to me by Adagio Teas for review. The opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Release Day Blitz! Nectar of the Gods by Mary Bernsen, Plus Author Guest Post

Nectar of the Gods (Beyond the Gods #1) by Mary Bernsen
Genre: Adult Fiction (Mythology/Fantasy Romance)
Date Published: November 28, 2017
Publisher: CTP Pulse

Ambrosia has spent her life preparing for the day she would avenge her mother’s death. Working undercover as a prostitute, she draws in the man who took her mother’s life. Not realizing who Ambrosia is, the man admits to her that her mother is actually still alive—and he’s on a quest to finish what he started twenty-three years ago. Desperate to find the mother she’s never met, Ambrosia convinces him to let her help. It’s a partnership of necessity and founded in deception, but Ambrosia is faced with an uncomfortable truth: this man is not the monster she has always envisioned him to be. Worse yet, she finds herself drawn to him…craving his touch. How can she reconcile these intense feelings for the man who shattered her life?

The first novel in the exciting new Beyond the Gods series, Nectar of the Gods is a fantasy romance steeped in Greek Mythology and full of passion that will leave you breathless.

For the first time in ages, I woke up alone. One might think a woman who had spent months sharing her bed with countless strangers would be relieved at the change. I was troubled to find that I was suffocated by the empty space next to me. I only let myself linger in the sheets for a moment before I needed to get away from the feeling of emptiness.
But the disheartening dark cloud chased me as I wrapped myself up in the sheets and paced the room. Catching a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror hiding in the corner was sobering. My eyes were glassy and hazed. My spirit was missing from them and had been replaced by throbbing red lines left behind by my night of tearful realization.
My newfound weakness was disgusting and terrifying at once. I tried to think back, to find the point where I had first become so desperately lonely. There was a time when I’d been completely indifferent to any company. The love of a man was the last thing I’d wanted, and I had guarded myself fiercely against it. I had always preferred to be alone.
Well, I supposed that was not completely true. When I was a child, I’d longed for the company of others to play with. I dreamed of escaping the prison of lessons and studies. Instead of learning to sharpen swords, I wished with all of my heart for another person my age to play pirates with using pretend ones.
I mourned for the confident, complete woman I had lost so suddenly. When had I become this lost, dejected little girl all over again?
I pointed a critical stare at my reflection. From the day I’d met Perseus, I had seen the savage destruction love had left him with. It was the kind of pain a shield couldn't protect against. Almost all the men who frequented the tavern wore the same shattered mask, and now, without a choice at all, I wore it, too. 

Top 5 Under-Used Paranormal Creatures

Vampires, zombies, werewolves; yes, we love them.  So much so that a simple search on Amazon will leave you with literally thousands of choices. You’ll never, ever run out.  I’m guilty of the fetish myself (I actually have a shifter romance coming out in April, so obviously I’ve been bitten!), but even I can only read so many love stories about fanged spawns falling for the hapless mortal female before I start rolling my eyes.  That’s when I start looking for variety.  There’s an entire spectrum of paranormal elements/creatures that tend to be left out, especially among romances, and I get super excited when I come across a book featuring one of these misfits.  Here are some of my favorites:

5) Gargoyles. Yep, these guys are made of stone, but do their hearts have to be? I don’t think so.

4) Jin (a.k.a.: djinn or genies)  Okay, how is the romance writing community not all over this?  A magical guy can give his love interest anything she desires.  Anything.  So much potential.

3) Harpies
These violent half-breeds of the Greek underworld weren’t always depicted as hideous monsters.  Maybe it’s time to bring back the original version: stunning but deadly.

2) Other shifters
I know, I know, we were going to stay away from the whole shifter thing.  But, there’s an entire animal kingdom just ripe for the picking.  Why do we have to be so stuck on werewolves and bears?  What about… I don’t know, bees?  Less sexy, but I bet it’d be interesting!

1) Ogres/Trolls Yep.  Shrek was one of my all-time favorite movies, simply because of its originality.  I love ogres; there’s something about their predatory nature that I think would work fantastically well in a romance.

Mary Bernsen is a southwest Florida native currently living in North Port with her two beautiful children and a third, much larger child that she affectionately calls husband. She is the Amazon Best Selling Author of Healing The Bayou, The Ganga Shift, and Beyond the Gods series.

She also writes young adult romances under her pseudonym, M.E. Rhines.

To learn more about Mary Bernsen and her books, visit her blog.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Teaser Tuesday! Haven by Mary Lindsey

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share  doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week is from Haven by Mary Lindsey

“For the first time since seeing the vision of his death, a jolt of panic and remorse flared, causing his skin to prickle and his heart to race. Moving here had given him purpose and a reason to live, just in time to die. Fate was a heartless bitch."

"We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed."

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.

(Former title: Hide from Me.) 

Do you have a blog? Post a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in the comments.

No blog? Post a Teaser in the comments anyway!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Playing Catch Up! Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

Playing Catch Up has really been helping me through my ever growing TBR list. I'd like to welcome all other blogs to participate too! If you do, be sure to post your links in the comments section. I'd love to see your Playing Catch Up Reviews, and I'm sure others would too!! *wink*

Want to know more about Playing Catch Up? I'll tell you all about it here!

Lady Renegade (Rebel Belle #3) by Rachel Hawkins
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal/Fantasy Romance)
Date Published: April 5, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Just as Harper Price starts coming to terms with her role as David Stark’s battle-ready Paladin, protector, and girlfriend—her world goes crazy all over again.

Overwhelmed by his Oracle powers, David flees Pine Grove and starts turning teenage girls into Paladins—and these young ladies seem to think that Harper is the enemy David needs protecting from.  Ordinarily, Harper would be able to fight off any Paladin who comes her way, but her powers have been dwindling since David left town…which means her life is on the line yet again.

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins brings the fun once again in the finale of this pitch-perfect romantic paranormal comedy series.

Lady Renegades is the third and final book in the Rebel Belle series by Rachel Hawkins. I didn't enjoy this one as much as the last two. It was draggy in parts, yet the ending happened very quickly. Don't get me wrong, it was still good, but it lost a little something somewhere in between Rebel Belle and now. Part of the draw of Rebel Belle was the wit and snark between Harper and David, and they are apart for the majority of this book. So, we had  very few of those fun interactions. Without those moments, Harper wasn't herself either. I felt like it was missing almost everything that initially drew me in. To me, Rebel Belle was still the best in this trilogy, and it makes me want to check out the other series by this author.

Check out my review of the other books in this trilogy!

Rachel Hawkins is the author of Rebel Belle and the New York Times bestselling series Hex Hall. Born in Virginia and raised in Alabama, Rachel taught high school English for three years before becoming a full-time writer.

To learn more about Rachel Hawkins and her books, visit her blog.You can also find her on GoodreadsTumblr, and Twitter.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Book Review! The Songs in Our Hearts by Chantal Gadoury

The Songs in Our Hearts by Chantal Gadoury
Genre: Young Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published:  September 19, 2017
Publisher: 48fourteen Publishing

High school junior Charlie Blake has never seen anyone quite like Micah Jacobs in her small town of Grand Lakes. With his carefree spirit, rough-around-the-edges personality, and handsome grin, Charlie is transfixed.

But Charlie's been burned before with her first crush, at the hands of an ex-friend and a cruel joke. Because of those scars, Charlie keeps her guard up when it comes to boys. But a class project - that may or may not involve kissing for the camera! - forces her to not only confront Micah, but her true feelings. 

While prepping for the assignment, Charlie finds herself in Micah's car accompanied by the music of Journey, Elvis, The Cars, and Peter Gabriel. Between slushies, burning rafts, pizza, and great music, Charlie and Micah bond as she learns the importance of letting go of the past and opening herself to new people. 

When their project comes to an end, Charlie wonders if she should finally confess everything she's been denying before she loses the chance. When words fail, will the songs in her heart be enough?

The Songs in Our Hearts by Chantal Gadoury was such a delightful story. Charlie was completely relatable. I could see a lot of my high school self in her. As appealing as Micah seemed, even I didn't trust him at first. I kept expecting a joke to be exposed. So, I guess some of that high school insecurity is still in me too. I loved how their friendship grew. It was a beautiful thing. Charlie's relationship with her brother was pretty cute too. If you could hand pick a brother, he'd be it. There is a lot of heart within the pages of this book. The fear of rejection, excitement of first love, learning not to care what others think... I think it's a book our teenage selves can all relate to in some way.

This was such an enjoyable story, that was super hard to walk away from when things like work and sleep got in the way. I snooped the author's website and Facebook page, and it looks like there will be a sequel! Yay!

The Song in Our Hearts by Chantal Gadoury was kindly provided to me by the author for review. The opinions are my own.

Check out my review of another book by this author!

Chantal Gadoury is a young author who is originally from the countryside of Muncy, PA. Chantal likes anything Disney, plays a mean game of Disney trivia, enjoys painting and has a interest in British History. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues that love of writing today. As a recent college graduate from Susquehanna University, with a degree in Creative Writing, writing novels is a dream come true.

To learn more about Chantal Gadoury and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.