WHAT IT'S ABOUT Keep your head down. Don't draw attention. Above all, don't make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa livesWHAT IT'S ABOUT Keep your head down. Don't draw attention. Above all, don't make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa lives by. It's just part of being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living too close to his more-than-slightly paranoid successor.
Ailsa isn’t the only one affected by the new king's insecurities. The mages backed her father. Now the new king's repressive policies drive the mages out of the kingdom--and with them the magic that her desert country desperately needs to survive. Ailsa sets out to study magic so she can help keep Far Terra green.
Her plans are nearly upset when her oldest friend, Crown Prince Savyon, proposes. Marrying him would mean giving up her magic. Her family history proves that the barons will never accept a mage as queen. A year of training won’t make her a mage—unless she has insanely powerful magic. And there’s been no sign of that. But at least she’ll know what she’d be giving up before she makes a decision.
A magic-tinted kiss from Jathan, her cheerfully annoying study partner, makes her question what she really feels for Savyon. She and Jathan could do great things together--except that he never wants to go near the desert.
Are magic and love forever mutually exclusive for Ailsa?
MY TAKE I love the interesting worlds Mansfield creates. In this one, both the magic system and the political one were intriguing. The idea of a king abdicating his throne for his wife--not like the real British king who did it because his wife was a divorcee--because she's a mage was interesting. But seeing how the anti-magic culture in that area impacted the ex-king and his family was a fascinating study. As the opening of the back cover copy said "Keep your head down. Don't draw attention," hinted at, it would be hard. Fascinating too is the conflict when those in power need the mages yet fear them. Good stuff to think about.
I wasn't sure where the story was going to go. I really liked Prince Sav, and I was worried about where that romance was headed. Without saying to much, I saw pretty quickly what Mansfield meant to go with it, and it worked for me. When it finally happened--and how it happened--made me laugh a little. It was a fun read.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
Another fun installment in the DiCarlo brides series. this one was a little bit different than its predecessors, if only in the fact that I don't remeAnother fun installment in the DiCarlo brides series. this one was a little bit different than its predecessors, if only in the fact that I don't remember Jonquil reviewing a letter from her father like the other sisters did in each of their stories.
Jonquil is such a feisty character in some ways. She did well to stand up and speak for herself when facing off some of the gals who were after Gage, but at other times her insecurities and doubts held her back.
Gage's storyline made me a little crazy, but for personal reasons. I hate when people try to manipulate you emotionally. Poor gauge. he seemed to be surrounded by people who were trying to use emotional blackmail on him. There were times when I wanted to just shake him and make him speak the truth instead of letting them work him like they did.
While I had the mystery figured out early on, it didn't play out quite like I had imagined, so there was a nice twist with that. Still, without spoiling, I will just say that sometimes life is sad.
I did not like Jonquil's sister, Angela, even at the end, so the next book should be interesting since Angela is the main character....more
I finished listening to the audiobook. As the author, we have information in our heads about how dialogue goes or characters speak. Tristan Hunt captuI finished listening to the audiobook. As the author, we have information in our heads about how dialogue goes or characters speak. Tristan Hunt captured this so well. If anyone ever wondered what they sound like to me, listen to the audiobook. :)...more
I listened to the audiobook. The group cast did a phenomenal job of bringing the characters to life. I've long been a fan of Horatio Hornblower and ShI listened to the audiobook. The group cast did a phenomenal job of bringing the characters to life. I've long been a fan of Horatio Hornblower and Sharpe's Rifles as well as Master and Commander. I have enjoyed the Napoleon era sea tales. I had to keep reminding myself that Black Sam took place nearly a hundred years earlier.
The story begins with a big storm at sea and then flashes back to show how Sam got into that situation. Because I was listening, one challenge I had was keeping track of the timing of everything. It only really became a problem toward the end. I'm not going to spoil anything but it made the ending a little disjointed. Someday, I would like to go back and read section in the book where I got confused. Nonetheless, it was a satisfactory ending. I would listen to it again.
The story touches on some of the terrible things that people have done to each other in our history, and continue to do today. it does so in a way that makes it readable for people of all ages.
I received a copy of the audio book in exchange for an honest review....more
WHAT IT'S ABOUT While Kanvar searches for his grandfather, Kumar Raza faces a savage Great White dragon that attacks his village. With no armor and onlWHAT IT'S ABOUT While Kanvar searches for his grandfather, Kumar Raza faces a savage Great White dragon that attacks his village. With no armor and only a fishing spear, Raza fights the white dragon but is mortally wounded in the battle. Raza's youngest son, Denali, must find a way to save his father and bring him safely out of the frozen wasteland. Lost in a blizzard, hunted by a pack of wolves, followed by a Great White dragon hatchling, Denali must use all his wit and skill to survive.
MY TAKE Another hit by Shelley. I listened to the audiobook, and Tren Sparks does a wonderful job again bringing the characters to life, especially the dragons. This is a continuation of the tale begun in Blue Dragon and White Dragon is just as action packed as the first book. It's filled with on-the-edge-of-your-seat action as Kanvar goes in search of his grandfather.
It's such a deliciously twisted family. I'm not into Game of Thrones kind of awfulness, greed and viciousness for its own sake. The characters in the Dragonbound series have understandable reasons--mostly--for how they act, although they are certainly still flawed. The bad reputation the Naga (those who bond with dragons and become linked with them) have is justly earned. Their mind-control power is something easy to abuse, and their arrogance has not diminished.
I give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, rounded up. The story has a good resolution with some healing for the family, though it seemed to happen a little too quickly in the end. Some things that have been festering that long take a long time to heal. But the baby white dragon was precious.
I received an audiobook in exchange for an honest review....more
WHAT IT'S ABOUT What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn’t remember your name? A nursing facility is everyoWHAT IT'S ABOUT What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn’t remember your name? A nursing facility is everyone's solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband, Jack, can't bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams, and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving, complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But, on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.
MY TAKE I'll rate this 4 1/2 and round it up to 5 stars.
This is a gentle, tender story of an elderly couple facing the monster that is Alzheimers. The book is filled with flashbacks that are interspersed with the current day story, when Jack is finally faced with the reality that he cannot continue to care for his beloved wife by himself--it's literally killing him.
Through those flashbacks, the reader is able to see the woman Sara had been and understand why Jack worked so hard to convince himself that he could cling to their old way of life. But Alzheimers is a terrible disease that steals away not just the memories of the loved one with it but the person they used to be, all while letting slip in little glimmers of that loved one. Just to enough to tease that she was really still in there. Somewhere.
It's a scary tale for me because my husband's father and several of his aunts and uncle have had Alzheimers. I could be in Jack's position some day. I learned a lot from the story, things I didn't know before, but the "education" I received helped me to understand the disease better. Now I can only pray I won't have to use it first hand.
I received a copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review....more
Not a fan of the star rating system, but I will give this one 4.5 stars.
It is an amazing, complex story that blends nano technology with dragons andNot a fan of the star rating system, but I will give this one 4.5 stars.
It is an amazing, complex story that blends nano technology with dragons and elves and dwarves and alternate universes, all mixed up with YA angst. The alternate universe is interesting and the characters fun.
The only part I struggled with was the number of different (and seemingly unrelated) points of view that were presented right from the beginning. It took too long (for me) to bring them all together. That being said, when they do finally do it, it's worth the wait. Epic, even.
I'm really hoping this is only the first in a series because I want more....more
WHAT IT'S ABOUT This anthology has seven stories by seven different authors. They all have a clean romance and they all relate in some way to the titleWHAT IT'S ABOUT This anthology has seven stories by seven different authors. They all have a clean romance and they all relate in some way to the title theme of hidden identities.
MY TAKE I had a chance to read an ARC of all NINE (yes, 9) novelettes. I love that they all include a clean romance. I'm going to gift a copy to my 15-year-old granddaughter who, like me, should love the fun variety of stories and locations. Each has its own unique play with the theme of hidden identities--anywhere from the famous author incognito to the cancer survivor to the NSA worker having to go into a version of the witness protection program. The authors range from the established (like Tristi Pinkston with 30 books under her belt) all the way down to Kaye P. Clark whose first published work is in the story.
It's hard to say which I enjoyed the most as there were elements about each story that grabbed me. One even made me cry. You can probably guess which one. Maybe. Excellent reading choice. I'm finding that I like anthologies because they give me a chance to read a shorter work by a variety of authors. Some of these I've read before; some I have not read. I will now.
Here's a brief blurb on each:
THE BEST OF ME by Paige Timothy Becky is a cancer survivor who has been blogging about her journey. She's shocked to find that Josh, her one-time love and now-famous oncologist, is the main speaker at the symposium she’s been asked to attend. Has fate given them a second chance at a future together, or just a shot at miserably ever after?
SECOND-HAND HEARTS by Jo Noelle When Elena sees Chase for the first time, his turquoise eyes and tousled blond hair convince her that she might believe in insta-love. Just in time, her brain takes over, reminding her that her business is in trouble, making the future uncertain—not a good time for love. But being with Chase is as easy as following her heart, until she finds he has a secret big enough to break it.
FIRST LOVE, SECOND CHOICE by Lindzee Armstrong When wedding planner Keslee gets asked on a date by her long-lost high school crush, Bryce, everything should be perfect. But Bryce mistakes Keslee for her deceased twin sister, Jadyn. And she doesn’t correct him. Now they’re unexpectedly working together. Keslee knows the charade can’t last much longer, and fears she’ll lose Bryce forever when she tells him the truth.
HACKED by Stephanie Connelley Worlton NSA data analyst Samantha Perry never knew being an introverted computer geek could get dangerous until she digs a little too deep into a greedy blackhat’s business, forcing her to change her identity and relocate. She risks everything to try to close the case, but may end up putting a nail in her own casket. And if she doesn’t, Seth, her hot new neighbor, just might.
TO LOVE AND PROTECT by Ruth Roberts First Son Daxon Hayward has refused a secret service detail since the day his father was elected President. This time the threat against Daxon is very real, and his father plants an undercover agent to protect him, Lorelei Davis who is capable and beautiful. She’s received her assignment: Protect the First Son, don’t let him know she is an agent, and don’t fall in love.
CLOSING TIME by Candice N. Toone Chef Will Morrison can’t help himself after watching Kelsey sit alone at a table waiting for a blind date. When he steps in to save her from being stood up, he expects to exchange dull first-date pleasantries, but finds himself drawn in by her quick wit and spunk. Will hears himself confirming plans for a second date only to realize that she still believes he’s someone else.
SINK OR SWIM by Laura D. Bastian Shelly can’t believe she’s fallen for another cheater. The last few weeks at the gym swimming next to Brandon had almost convinced her she could date again. Brandon’s excited to be back home with a career that can finally hold a candle to his twin brother’s success. When Shelly suddenly turns cold, Brandon can’t help wondering if it has something to do with his brother.
WRITE AND WRONG by Kaye P. Clark Jon Patterson is burned out. After publishing a series of blockbuster novels under his pen name, he’s hit a brick wall. He escapes to a rural town in Idaho where he meets Abby, the local librarian. She ignites his imagination and quickens his heart. Without the pressure of his pen name, Jon is free to be himself. But will he lose Abby when she learns his secret?
UNDERCOVER LOVER by James C. Duckett Agent Johnny Anderson is struggling with an investigation that could make or break his career. However, it’s love at first sight when beautiful and witty Hannah moves into the neighborhood. Will Johnny lose Hannah when she finds out his cover story is a façade? As things get hotter between them, his love for her might endanger her life.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Billionaire CEO Luke Ryder doesn’t want to hire his best friend, Brooke, as his matchmaker. Not when he’s been in love with her for eigWHAT IT'S ABOUT Billionaire CEO Luke Ryder doesn’t want to hire his best friend, Brooke, as his matchmaker. Not when he’s been in love with her for eight years. Too bad she doesn’t see him as relationship material and is engaged to another man. If the matchmaking company she works for closes, Brooke is out of a job, and Luke is out a best friend. There will be nothing stopping her from moving to Italy with her fiancé. And Luke isn’t about to let that happen.
Brooke’s dream career may be crumbling, and she will do anything to keep Toujour in the black. Even recruit Luke, America’s favorite bachelor, as her next client. Surely his perfect smile and swollen bank account will send clients swarming to their doors. But when matching up Luke works a little too well, Brooke wonders if she’s with the right man. Maybe she should finally forget Luke’s playboy image and admit he’s changed. All Brooke has to decide is if she’s willing to risk her heart.
MY TAKE Having just finished the prequel to this book, Meet Miss Match, it was fun to see what happened next to Brooke and Luke. To be honest, it was a little painful. I loved the friendship they'd developed in the prequel, and to know that eight years later it hadn't gone beyond that--while not unexpected--was disappointing. They're so good together!
I felt bad for Brooke as she continued to carry her lack of trust in guys because of her father's repeated infidelity. And it was unfortunate that Luke played right into it with his own careless behavior. Brooke was wrong not to see deeper into her "best" friend, but Luke was stupid to keep playing the role of a player. Since he knew how much she hated that in a guy, it was kind of self-defeating of him to take that path.
4 1/2 stars raised to 5
I never felt the chemistry that Brooke imagined she had with Antonio, and I wanted to smack her up side the head several times. She did the very thing so many women do who have cheater fathers--she got involved with a cheater. Ugh While it bugged me, it was realistic for a lot of women.
While I felt for Luke's grief over losing his father, his decision to seek solace in getting drunk because it really bugged me. Yes, I know different people deal with grief differently. It just seemed so self-destructive. Once again, different strokes for different folks. But it was so far out from my own response that I couldn't relate to it.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago.WHAT IT'S ABOUT Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.
Then her mother is arrested.
The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.
Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble...
Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.
MY TAKE I have a real love/hate relationship with this book (I listened to the audiobook. The premise was interesting, and the characterizations pulled me in. The reader was a good fit and her almost little girl voice fit the quiet, self-effacing Phaet. Bao had me almost to the end, and that's where she lost me.
We go through Phaet through all her military training and she manages to take the top spot and get the rank of a captain. She's also supposed to be a genius. Then, when she and Wes are facing off with the evil general in the end and running for their lives, Phaet becomes the weak link, both physically (she and Wes had been running and training together for weeks but in that ending it was like she was a brand new, inexperienced, and untrained girl again). Why show all of that and then not use it?
I am not a fan of cliffhangers. Ever. If a book is the first book in a series, I prefer to have completion for the first book's arc but know there's more work to do done. This book kind of ended on a cliffhanger but without the dire feelings you'd have with a cliffhanger. I found it unsatisfying.
I realize reading is a subjective thing and others were probably not bugged by some of the things I was. I've got friends who LOVE cliffhangers. I'm irritated because I want to find out what happens to Wes and Phaet, but I don't know that I'll read the next book if she's going to leave me hanging like this again....more