Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Picky Eater

The Picky Eater
Written by Betsy Parkinson
Illustrated by Shane Clester

Piper is a picky eater--with her particular palate, she prefers provisions that start with "P." What will she do when her parents persist in presenting her with uninviting options?

This colorful book makes a situation many families face humorous, giving families an opportunity to talk about being willing to try new foods. The illustrations are appealing, and my picky eater was eager to read this book with me.

I read a copy via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

3.5 stars.

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Place for Pluto

A Place for Pluto
Written by Stef Wade
Illustrated by Melanie Demmer

When Pluto is told that he is no longer a planet, he doesn't know what to think. He must belong with someone--but as he talks to comets, asteroids, and meteoroids, he finds he doesn't fit with them, either. Surely, there must be a group for Pluto!

My kids and I loved this book! We love reading books about outer space, and this one, with awesome illustrations and fun text, personifying Pluto and other objects in space, was a lot of fun to read. Information at the end of the book helps to explain why Pluto was reclassified. A great choice for families or classrooms and space lovers.

I read a copy from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

4.5 stars.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Caught by Surprise

Caught by Surprise
by Jen Turano
Apart from the Crowd #3

After running into her childhood friend Gilbert Cavendish, Temperance Flowerdew has decided to throw off the meek, quiet, wallflower persona she adopted after her parents' death and loss of their fortune forced her into the station of unwanted familial obligation in the household of her relations. She quickly finds it a good thing that she has returned to her spirited self, as she is abducted off the streets on New York, stuffed into a coffin in a Pullman car, and taken to Chicago. While she manages to free herself of her captors, that's only the beginning of her adventures. She soon crosses paths with Gilbert, who was sent to Chicago to rescue the damsel in distress--only to find that the damsel he thought he was finding, Temperance's cousin Clementine--isn't there and that Clementine herself may have had a hand in the abduction gone awry.
When a society matron sees Gilbert and Temperance together, straight-laced, rule-loving Gilbert knows they must do the proper thing and wed--and he finds himself becoming more and more interested in marrying his friend. Free-spirited Temperance, however, rejects him time and again, insisting that the gossip will blow over and that they're not suited for each other. Back in New York, besides trying to convince Temperance to accept his suit, Gilbert also finds himself trying to protect her and himself as they are embroiled in mystery and mayhem that go far beyond a kidnapping attempt. As Gilbert throws aside some of his lists and rules and stuffiness, and even as he uses them, Temperance comes to see that maybe their differences aren't that great--and maybe those differences actually balance each other out.

Okay, how can you not love a book that has such gems as these:
"I don't think anyone in their right mind would consider what you've gone about as being even remotely close to a marriage proposal."

"You think she'd change her mind about marrying me if I got her a puppy?"
"How did you get that solution out of what I just said?"

"One would have thought you'd become less contrary with age, not more."
"I spent three years not being contrary at all. I'm simply trying to make up for lost time."

"And that right there," Gilbert began, "is why I'm thankful my mother never had any other children, especially daughters. They seem to turn scary as they age."

"I'm going to see to it that you acquire the love of your life, and I'll hear no argument about that from you, if you please."

"You [...] sit around talking about unmentionables?"
He nodded. "We also talk about romantic gestures."
"You've apparently not picked up many pointers about those."

Seriously, there are SO many spots where you'll be laughing so hard (actually, if you're the type to snort with laughter, I would advise reading this book in complete isolation in order to prevent anyone thinking you're crazy).
This book was just tons of fun to read. There's never a dull moment; it moves quickly and is highly entertaining. I liked seeing the mystery element unfold nearly as much as I liked the romance (which is saying something because I don't do mysteries). My one quibble is that the characters, while they all have their distinct quirks and traits, tended to sound alike sometimes. All in all, though, this was so much fun to read, and I'm eagerly looking forward to more of Jen Turano's books.

I recommend reading this series in order so you can get a proper introduction to all the characters. There is a delightful cast of characters, and you don't want to miss out on any of them.

I read an ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

4.5 stars.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Cover Reveal! Night at the Opera by Stacy Henrie

Cover Reveal! Night at the Opera by Stacy Henrie

Isn't this a gorgeous cover?! As stunning as it is, the description is even better! I can't wait to read this one!

Release date Oct 16th.

Goodreads Summary:

From USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie, comes NIGHT AT THE OPERA, an American Heiress Novel.

NIGHT AT THE OPERA - Book 1 (1908)
When American heiress Gwen Barton aids an injured gentleman in an opera box in London, she shares a kiss with the stranger that changes her life. More determined than ever to be herself, in spite of the limp she’s sustained since childhood, she will marry for love and not a title. She also resolves to learn the identity of the man she helped—and kissed. Surely he can’t be the irritating Avery Winfield, though. But as circumstances continue to throw Gwen and Avery together, she begins to wonder if there is more to this man than she first thought.

While most of London only knows him as the nephew of a duke, Avery Winfield is actually working for the Secret Service Bureau to ferret out German spies from among the ton. It’s a profession that gives him purpose and a reason to remain a bachelor. But the more he interacts with Gwen Barton, an heiress from America, the more he begins to question his plans and neglected faith. Then he learns Gwen is the young lady from the opera box who helped him. Now his most important mission may have nothing to do with saving Britain from danger and everything to do with risking his heart for the woman he met that night at the opera.

More American Heiress books:
Beneath an Italian Sky (April 2019)
Among Sand and Sunshine (October 2019)

Pre-order link:  http://a.co/eih2Kxz 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Nyxia Unleashed

Nyxia Unleashed
By Scott Reintgen

Emmett and his crewmates, the Genesis, arrive on Eden, where they begin Babel's mission for them--to mine Nyxia--and meet the planet's native inhabitants, the Imago. Having been lied to by Babel again and again, the Genesis crew goes in prepared for more deception--and they find it. They also come to realize that the Imago people haven't exactly been upfront with Babel, either, and Emmett and company will soon need to figure out what the truth is and try to figure out a way to get home.

Holy.freaking.cow. Fast pace? Yes. Twists, twists, and more twists? Yes. Awesome themes and discussion points? Yes. Same great cast of characters and some new additions? Yes. Pretty much everything you could want in a teen sci-fi? Yes. This was a thrilling read, with one heck of a cliffhanger ending. I'm dying here waiting for the third book! 5 stars.

I read an ARC via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Veins of Gold--Review and Giveaway

Veins of Gold
By Charlie N. Holmberg

When Gentry's father leaves their home in Utah to head to California to look for gold, Gentry is determined to keep their home and care for her brother and sister, but with strange natural disasters and very limited funds, Gentry doesn't know how they'll manage. As she desperately hopes for word from her father, Gentry encounters a mysterious stranger, Winn, who explains that gold being torn from the earth is what is causing the disasters, opening Gentry's eyes to a world she didn't know existed.

This is very different from what I normally read (I'm more of a realistic fiction reader or a fantasy-where-the-entire-world-is-created reader); the realistic setting of Utah in the 1800s paired with the fantasy element of magic was admittedly a little bit jarring for me. I say that only as an explanation for other readers who might be like me; I think if I'd paid more attention to that from the get-go and prepared for it mentally, rather than expecting more of a traditional historical romance, it wouldn't have been jarring at all. I think it was very well-written and had an interesting plot and great characters. 4 stars.

I read an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Goodreads Summary:
Desperate to save her siblings from poverty, a young woman discovers magic fueled by gold . . . and a love for the man who wields it. Abandoned by their father for the gold rush, Gentry and her siblings labor to survive alone in the inhospitable west. When bizarre natural disasters begin wreaking havoc on the land, Gentry discovers a world of magic. Desperate for help, she accepts aid from a mysterious stranger. Winn not only sees the magic, but controls its hunger by feeding it gold—the very thing Gentry’s father left to acquire. But the earth’s unrest only grows worse, and Gentry’s fear leads her to a terrible choice: marry a wealthy man she does not love, or trust in Winn’s unpredictable power to save her family.

Charlie’s links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7801879.Charlie_N_Holmberg

Purchase links:
Ebook: http://a.co/5zd2GNh

July 16th: Book Geek Reviews

Rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 9, 2018

Calico Ball

Calico Ball (Timeless Western Collection #1)

The Keeper of the Western Door by Carla Kelly Mary Blue Eye, a Seneca Indian, has come west with Victoria Masterson after Victoria’s wedding. Although the girls grew up together back east, Mary finds that Victoria, influenced by others at the army fort where her husband is stationed, views Mary merely as a servant, not a friend. As such, Mary finds herself “volunteered” to make calico dresses for a calico ball to benefit victims of the Chicago fire. The only good thing about her overwhelming task is that she gets to spend time with Sergeant Blade, the one person on the reservation who seems to not only understand but also appreciate her.

I liked the message of the novella—namely that there are those close to home who could use help, not just those far away. I liked the plot as well, and I liked both Sarge and Mary. I didn’t totally love the writing style; I think it’s just a personal preference. I have a good friend who loves Carla Kelly’s stories but I haven’t had that experience with one of her stories yet. Again, I think that could just be personal preference regarding writing styles. So, three stars for this one from me, but I know there are lots of people who will really enjoy it.

A Convenient Arrangement by Sarah M. Eden
 When Patrick Quinn’s mail-order bride arrives, he’s surprised by her diminutive size but pleased that she seems to be a hard worker. He’ll do his tasks, she’ll do hers, and things should work out just fine. His bride, Mirabella Smith, throws herself into work around the ranch, trying to appreciate all the good about it. She knows that she agreed to what is essentially a business relationship with Patrick, but she can’t help but long for more. When the women of the town organize a calico ball, Mirabelle hopes to have one her dreams—dancing, for the first time—come true.

I love Sarah Eden. She has such a great sense of humor—as evidenced by the opening paragraph to this story: “Before leaving for the annual cattle drive, Patrick Quinn sent telegrams to several Topeka establishments, placing orders for a whet stone, a cast-iron stove, four pairs of heavy work trousers, and a wife. He was really only particular about the trousers.” You know when you’re laughing out loud so early in a story that hints at good things to come, and there were plenty of good things to come. Mirabelle is awesome—feisty and strong and funny. Sarah Eden is also terrific at writing snappy dialogue, and this story did not disappoint. I loved the conversations. At the same time, there’s depth to the story, to the emotions of the characters. This was just such a fun story to read. Five stars!

Isabella's Calico Groom by Kristin Holt
The first time he saw Isabella Pattison, Henry Merritt was captivated—but that only lasted until her realized she was a dentist and therefore the competition. Needing every patient he can get, Henry doesn’t appreciate the defection of some of his patients to Dr. Pattison, and with his past experiences pushing him away from female professionals and toward women who would be fully invested in building a home and family, he has avoided ever talking to Dr. Pattison. However, when the mayor decides to hold a calico ball to celebrate Wyoming’s statehood and assigns the town’s professionals to organize it, Henry finds himself assigned to work with Isabella. When she catches him preparing for a trip to provide free dental care for orphans and widows in a local mining settlement, Isabella invites herself along. Finally forced to be near Isabella, Henry finds himself drawn to her more than ever.

This is the third of Kristin Holt’s novellas about professional women in Evanston, Wyoming, and like its predecessors, it gave an interesting look into the life of a female professional and into a profession in general. It was also enjoyable to read about Henry and Isabella’s developing feelings for each other. Four stars.

I’m really excited about the launch of a Western line of Timeless Romance Anthologies! This was a fun start to the line, and I can’t wait for more!

I read an arc from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

River to Redemption

River to Redemption
by Ann H. Gabhart

When cholera sweeps the country in 1833, Springfield, Kentucky doesn't escape its grasp. Adria Starr's parents and brother die. The orphaned girl stays temporarily with Louis Sanderson, a slave who, after his owner gave him the keys to his hotel before fleeing the town, could have lit out for freedom in the north but instead stayed, carrying for the sick and burying the dead. When the danger has passed, Louis has buried 55 people--including the local schoolteacher. Looking for a home for Adria, Louis asks the teacher's widow, Ruth, to take the girl in. Ruth moves into Adria's home and cares for her as best she can. Twelve years late, Adria is nineteen and well on her way to becoming an abolitionist. Although there are those in town who think that she should be happy to marry the son of a well-off family, Adria can't commit herself to that life when there's more burning in her heart. When Louis's owner passes away and she learns that his sons intend to sell him off, Adria is horrified. With Ruth's help as well as the help of the new minister--who connects with Ruth in a way no one since her late husband has--Adria just might be able to repay the man she owes so much.

Wow! This book did not play out how I thought from the first couple of chapters--I thought we'd see a lot more romance in Adria's life, but that's not what happened. Adria's story was more about finding her purpose in life, while Ruth's was about opening her heart again. I loved the message about "pray believing"--but also the true-to-life examples of when prayers both were and weren't answered the way the person praying had hoped. Louis's rock-solid faith was inspiring, but the more up-and-down (not inconsistent, just shaken sometimes) faith of others was also touching and I enjoyed seeing their struggles. This was a really enjoyable book. I'm hoping there's a sequel!

4.5 stars.

I read an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Hope of Azure Springs

The Hope of Azure Springs
by Rachel Fordham

Caleb Reynolds, sheriff of Hope Springs, is determined to bring to justice the men who shot a woman, Em Cooper, and murdered her guardian. As he works with Em to try to determine who committed the heinous crimes, Caleb finds himself not only wanting to solve the mystery and serve justice but also to find out more about Em and how a woman is malnourished, lived in a barn, and has nothing to her name, can be so strong and determined and kind. Different from anyone he knows, Em brings peace and healing to him, even as he is trying to help her. Em was sent on an orphan train seven years ago--and separated from her sisters. Now nineteen and free from her guardian, Em has her first chance to hope for the future--and her first chance to find her sister. She needs to heal first, and as a local family cares for her and the local sheriff becomes her friend, Em also finds that maybe she is as unwanted and unloved as she has long believed.

This book was really, really good. I loved seeing the building friendship between Caleb and Em. I also liked watching Caleb learning to see Em's true beauty and worth. It was refreshing to read a story where the heroine isn't an obvious beauty. The ending was really, really beautiful--the final chapter and the epilogue just really tugged at my heart. Great book from Rachel Fordham.

4.5 stars.

I read a copy from the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Kiss of the Spindle

Kiss of the Spindle
by Nancy Campbell Allen

Dr. Isla Cooper has spent her life trying to help others--from her little sister (who didn't appreciate her guidance) to predatory shifters, due to their transformation into animals at the full moon, has led many to be wary of them. Isla, certain that shifters aren't necessarily dangerous, had made it her life's work to counsel and work with shifters who want to live peaceful lives. Now, however, it's time for her to help herself--because if she doesn't find the cure to the curse her misguided sister purchased and used on her, it will become permanent. For now, Isla falls into a death-like sleep each night from midnight until six; soon, though, the curse will become permanent. She must find Malette, the witch who produced the curse, in order to find the cure--even if that means blackmailing her way onto Daniel Pickett's airship in order to make it Malette's last known destination. Her journey becomes more complicated when she finds that Daniel's other passengers include three shifters whom he is helping to the feel the country--and Nigel Crowe, a government worker who hates shapeshifters and with whom Isla has crossed paths many times. As Daniel and Isla work to keep Nigel from discovering (or, at least, proving) the shifters's secrets, attraction surges between them, giving Isla even more motivation to break the curse so she can get back to fully living.

If the idea of a steampunk Sleeping Beauty story seems strange to you, don't be put off. I'm not a huge steampunk fan--but I loved this book (as well as the first book in the series--which you should read because it's awesome, too, but you don't have to read first, as the books are stand-alones). There's a great balance with the steampunk elements, the plot, and the characters, which makes it a great read even if steampunk isn't particularly appealing. Isla and Daniel were great characters, as were supporting characters. The chemistry between them is great (but it's a clean read, so no worries), and there's awesome dialogue and some really awesome quips. The plot is great--it's so interesting and moves quickly. This book was just a ton of fun to read.

5 stars.

I read a copy of #KissOfTheSpindle from the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.