Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Breathless by Kelly Martin (5 stars)

About Breathless
(Heartless #3)

There's good. 

There's evil. 

Then there's her. 

When Gracen Sullivan stabbed Hart Blackwell, she thought it was over. She thought the world was safe--safe from her. Stuck in the Abyss, watching as the evil inside her body takes over, she has to find some way to stop it. 

Hart Blackwell expected to wake up in Hell. Instead, he woke up in his grave. With the world falling apart, he has to put the bad history with his brother in the past or there will be no future. 

Armageddon has been set in motion. Enemies will have to work together or everything will end in fire and brimstone. 

The Abomination is here. And she must be stopped no matter the consequences.

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Unique and captivating only begins to describe the Heartless series. Gracen and Hart are two characters whose destinies are intertwined. Their decisions could have devastating ramifications for all of humanity.

That love got in the way only makes the story that much sweeter.

In Breathless, we learn more about Hart and his brother while also getting further perspective from Gracen, as she discovers details about herself and her role in what happens to the world. 

Nothing is ever quite what it seems, and twists and turns abound. Far be it from me to give anything away, because it's too entertaining to read the book and find out for yourself. For those emotionally raw from the last book, this will continue to tear at your heart... especially since we get an even more intimate view of Gracen and Hart than ever before.

I highly recommend this series, like shout-it-from-the-rooftops recommend. If you love intriguing plot twists and awesome characters, look no further.

Rating: 5 stars

I adore this series. Check out my reviews of books 1 and 2: Heartless (#1) and Soulless (#2).

About the Author

Kelly Martin is the bestselling author of contemporary, historical, and YA romance. She has been married for over ten years and has three rowdy, angelic daughters. When Kelly isn't writing, she loves watching horror gamers on YouTube, even though she is a huge wimp, and drinking white chocolate mochas.

You can find her at...
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KellyMartinA...
Twitter: https://twitter.com/martieKay
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/KMbooks/
Tumblr: http://martiekay.tumblr.com/

Note: I was the Editor on this book through Indie Books Gone Wild. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Remember My Beauties by Lynne Hugo (4.5 stars)

About Remember My Beauties

Paperback: 194 pages 
Publisher: Switchgrass Books; 1 edition (April 18, 2016)

Imagine a hawk’s view of the magnificent bluegrass pastures of Kentucky horse country. Circle around the remnants of a breeding farm, four beautiful horses grazing just beyond the paddock. Inside the ramshackle house, a family is falling apart.

Hack, the patriarch breeder and trainer, is aged and blind, and his wife, Louetta, is confined by rheumatoid arthritis. Their daughter, Jewel, struggles to care for them and the horses while dealing with her own home and job—not to mention her lackluster second husband, Eddie, and Carley, her drug-addicted daughter. Many days, Jewel is only sure she loves the horses. But she holds it all together. Until her brother, Cal, shows up again. Jewel already has reason to hate Cal, and when he meets up with Carley, he throws the family into crisis—and gives Jewel reason to pick up a gun.

Every family has heartbreaks, failures, a black sheep or two. And some families end in tatters. But some stumble on the secret of survival: if the leader breaks down, others step up and step in. In this lyrical novel, when the inept, the addict, and the ex-con join to weave the family story back together, either the barn will burn to the ground or something bigger than any of them will emerge, shining with hope. Remember My Beauties grows large and wide as it reveals what may save us.

For more information on this and other Switchgrass titles, be sure to visit their website HERE.

“In vibrant prose, Lynne Hugo tells a gritty, psychologically astute story of three generations in turmoil and the power of nature to heal even the most troubled hearts. Her characters are brave, flawed, real—at times disturbingly so—but she never gives up on any of them, and by the end of this inspiring novel, I shared her empathetic vision. A spare, commanding novel by a master storyteller.”—Patry Francis, author of The Orphans of Race Point

“A character in Remember My Beauties is fond of saying, ‘Lotsa ways to be blind,’ but this wonderful novel also shows us there are many ways to see—many ways to see love, for instance, or family or forgiveness. I’ll be remembering the beauty of this novel for a long time to come.”—Katrina Kittle, author of The Blessings of the Animals

“Lynne Hugo’s writing is beautiful and evocative, earthy and strong. The characters, the setting, and the way she handles tough issues with honesty, grit, and understanding all make for a wonderful read.”—Laura Harrington, author of Alice Bliss

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Normally I summarize the book and then detail my feelings about it. but since the summary above is as beautifully written as the story, I figured I'd jump right into my review. 

I expected great things from this novel since I really enjoyed Lynne Hugo's A Matter of Mercy (see review here) and appreciated her ability to portray very emotional material. And I was not disappointed. 

Remember My Beauties is heartbreaking but life affirming. The reader is transported into the trenches of this family's life--drug through their disappointments, failures, and struggles--and then brought full circle back to the beauty of life and hope.

At times, I'd cringe while reading, broken by my emotional reaction to these characters' lives. When Jewel, the one family member who is managing to hold the rest of the family together, breaks, it paves the path for the others to pick up the pieces and see what they can put back together. A glimmer of hope begins and, along with it, a belief that life has taken a turn. 

Gritty, emotional, and beautifully written, Remember My Beauties is a story that will stay with you. I highly recommend it.

Oh, and if you love horses, you'll connect with this story even more!

Rating: 4.5 stars

About Lynne Hugo

Lynne HugoLynne Hugo has published ten previous books, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her memoir, Where the Trail Grows Faint, won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize in 2004, and her sixth novel, A Matter of Mercy, was awarded an Independent Publisher silver medal for best regional fiction in 2014. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she lives in Ohio with her husband and their yellow Labrador retriever.

Connect with Lynne 

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
Please visit other stops on Remember My Beauties blog tour page.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Lost Kin by Steve Anderson (3.5 stars)

About Lost Kin

Hardcover: 328 pages 
Publisher: Yucca Publishing (March 29, 2016)

Occupied Munich, 1946: Irina, a Cossack refugee, confesses to murdering a GI, but American captain Harry Kaspar doesn’t buy it. When Harry scours the devastated city for the truth, he finds his long-lost German brother, Max, who returned to Hitler’s Germany before the war.

Max has a questionable past, and he needs Harry for the cause that could redeem him: rescuing Irina’s stranded clan of Cossacks who have been disowned by the Allies and are now being hunted by Soviet death squads—the cold-blooded upshot of a callous postwar policy.

As a harsh winter brews, the Soviets close in, and the Cold War looms, Harry and Max desperately plan for a risky, last-ditch rescue on a remote stretch of the German-Czech border. A mysterious visitor from Max’s darkest days shadows them. Everyone is a suspect, including Harry’s lover, Sabine, and Munich detective Hartmut Dietz—both of whom have pledged to help. But before the Kaspar brothers can save the innocent victims of peace, grave secrets and the deep contempt sown during the war threaten to damn them all.

Lost Kin (Yucca Publishing; April 2016; 978-1-63158-081-9) is a stand-alone continuation of Steve Anderson’s novel Liberated, featuring the same compelling protagonist, American captain Harry Kaspar. Author Steve Anderson has two bestselling e-books, Double-Edged Sword and Sitting Ducks. With Anderson’s background as a Fulbright fellow in Munich, Lost Kin is a historically accurate, page-turning novel set just after World War II that will appeal to war history readers as well as war fiction readers.

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I'm a huge fan of World War II era books, as I'm captivated by the emotional intensity of the period. So many families were torn apart thanks to the cruel tyranny of a madman. However, most of the World War II books I've read have centered on the conflict during the war, not the devastating recovery afterward. 

Fate brings Harry to Irina, a refugee, who connects him to his brother, Max. A cat and mouse game begins. So many people are left without a purpose, while others will stop at nothing to thrust hatred in new directions. 

There's a delicate balance of describing the time period and story development in any historical novel. Too much background, and the story lags. Too much straight story, and the emotional connection can get lost. At times, I struggled with long sections of info dump when what I really wanted was action. Then, a long thread of intense drama would follow where I couldn't put the book down. I particularly connected to the relationship between the brothers, which was at times poignantly distant and other times entertaining in its bantering. 

Still, I felt I was missing something, as if I were dropped into the middle of a story without crucial background. Finally, in the last half of the book, I seemed to find the story's rhythm, and along with it, a strong desire to discover its conclusion. And, although beautifully written, there were several distracting grammatical and punctuation errors, which hopefully were cleaned up prior to publication.

Overall, Lost Kin is an intriguing story set during a fascinating time in our world's history.

Rating: 3.5 stars

About Steve Anderson 

A1KxLEk6FOL._UX250_Steve Anderson was a Fulbright fellow in Munich, Germany. His research on the early US occupation in 1945 inspired him to write several novels centered on World War II and its aftermath. 

Anderson has a master’s in history and has worked in advertising, public relations, and journalism. He lives with his wife, René, in Portland, Oregon. 

Connect with Steve 
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
Please visit other stops on the Lost Kin blog tour page.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Drops of Sunshine (Spellbound YA Anthology) by Tricia Copeland (4.5 stars)

About Drops of Sunshine
by Tricia Copeland
(a story within Spellbound)

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. -Buddha 

Working as lifeguard at a camp for the blind seems like the perfect escape for Nina. But a few perceptive kids can hear her thoughts. Can embracing her truth help her heal and reveal possibilities she never imagined? 

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Although I'm just reviewing one novella, Drops of Sunshine, within the collection, Spellbound made up of five complete never-before-seen YA novellas.

If Drops of Sunshine is any indication, this should be a stellar YA Anthology read. I picked up my copy on pre-order and plan to read more, so keep an eye peeled for more reviews.

In Drops, Nina is working at a camp for the blind, wanting a little escape from her life and all the changes. Then, she starts to notice strange abilities amongst the campers. Innocent, sweet kids seem to have a lot of insight into her family life--very personal issues she hasn't shared with anyone.

At first, she's not sure what to do about these odd happenings. But she quickly gains insight into her own life through some very special children. 

Novellas are always tough to judge, because if it's good, I want more. So it says a lot about Drops that I really wanted more story. Pick up a copy and dive in... a sweet summer read!

Rating: 4.5 stars

About the Author

Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia but now lives outside the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado with her husband, three kids, and multiple four legged and finned friends. An avid runner and paranormal fan, she also enjoys hiking, trivia, and Scrabble. 

You can connect with Tricia and other readers on FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest, and on her website, www.triciacopeland.com.

Note: I was the Editor on this novella through Indie Books Gone Wild. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Deception Island by Brynn Kelly (4 stars)

About Deception Island

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (May 31, 2016)

A stolen boy 
A haunted soldier 
A cornered con woman… 

Rafe Angelito thought he was done with the demons from his past—until his son is kidnapped. Blackmailed into abducting an American heiress, the legionnaire soon finds himself trapped in paradise with a fiery, daring beauty who’s nothing he expects…and everything he desires. But when he uncovers her own dark secret, Rafe realizes he’s made a critical mistake—one that could cost him everything.
Playing body double for a spoiled socialite was supposed to be Holly Ryan’s ticket to freedom. But when she’s snatched off her yacht by a tall, dark and dangerous stranger, the not-quite-reformed con artist will make a desperate play to turn her captor from enemy to ally, by any means necessary.

Yet as scorching days melt into sultry nights, Holly is drawn to the mysterious capitaine, with his unexpected sense of honor and his searing touch. When they’re double-crossed, they’ll have to risk trusting each other in ways they never imagined…because in this deadly game of deception, it’s their lives—and hearts—on the line.

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Rafe and Holly are thrown together by crazy circumstances. Rafe is desperate to save his son from a madman. To do so, he's being forced to kidnap and kill a Senator's daughter. Except things aren't as they seem. Holly has a convoluted past--one she's trying to overcome by putting her life in peril.

Thus begins a fast-paced cat and mouse game where the two must work together if they have any hope of coming out alive. 

From the very first word, you are thrown into this story, and the action doesn't let up. Two desperate people must learn to trust each other to save themselves and Rafe's son from a man with nothing to lose. Along the way, they find themselves drawn to each other.

Trust is an issue, but desire and attraction are not, as Rafe and Holly bond. Desperate and intense situations explode into a strong connection between them, one of passion and need. Both will have to let their guard down in order to survive. 

(And if you like a strong, kick-butt female character like I do, you'll connect with Holly right away.)

Interesting characters, heart-pounding action, scorching heat... these prove to be a great story-telling combination and a fast read. Once you start, you won't be able to put it down. 

Rating: 4 stars

About Brynn Kelly

As a journalist Brynn Kelly once spent her days chasing stranger-than-fiction news reports. Now she spends them writing larger-than-life novels, in a happy bubble of fiendish plots and delicious words. Brynn has a journalism degree and has won several prestigious writing and journalism awards, including the Valerie Parv Award and Pacific Hearts Award. Her debut novel Deception Island was a Golden Heart finalist. She’s also a bestselling non-fiction author in her native New Zealand.

Connect with Brynn

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
Please visit other stops on Deception Island blog tour page.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Earthborn by PM Hernandez (5 stars)

About Earthborn

ADELAIDE BECKER—social outcast and sarcastic know-it-all—enjoys her quiet life until a giant alien crash-lands into it. He claims she’s half alien like him—an Earthborn—and he’s there to save her from the coming invasion. Being half little green man isn’t enough to convince Addy to go along with her supposed savior, but when her mother’s safety is threatened, she takes off on a journey that leads her to discover the other, more exotic side of her family and the power she holds deep within. 

BROCK GRIGNI thinks this will be like any other Earthborn collection. His job is simple—bring his fellow Earthborn back to the compound and save them from the threat of becoming breeding slaves at the hands of aliens from their home planet, Ayezh. He isn’t prepared for Addy—beautiful, smart-mouthed, and his complete opposite in every way. When he learns that everything he trusts is a lie, he has nothing left to hold onto except Addy. 

Together, Addy and Brock must struggle with the challenges and choices before them. Stay and fight, or run and hide? They know the Ayezhni—their ancestors and aliens from a planet in distress—are on their way and will make a collection of their own. Addy feels compelled to help her fellow Earthborn, but can she do that and keep her loved ones safe at the same time?

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Addy goes from a quiet, loner life to hanging out with aliens. Not just hanging out... being targeted. Others are there to protect her, but telling the difference could prove difficult. In a rush of revelations and realizations, she's on the run, trusting her life--and her mother's--to people she's known for a few days. People who aren't human.

I've said it time and time again, but memorable reads are all about good, relatable characters, and this book is brimming with them. Addy is both vulnerable and strong while being tenacious and thoughtful. Brock... can you see me fanning myself? He's a hottie with a heart. A perfect combination. 

Together they need to find answers and take into account that their journey involves more than just them... it has long-reaching effects for their families and all of mankind.

And for sci-fi lovers... this is just the beginning of what I predict to be fascinating sci-fi coolness. I can't wait for more in the series. A great read.

Rating: 5 stars

About the Author

Paulette (PM) Hernandez is a young adult paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy author. She is a self-proclaimed nerd. She wears a lot of black, not because she’s cool but because she’s fashion-challenged. She has been known to fangirl all over the freaking place.

Connect with Paulette

Note: I was the Editor on this book through Indie Books Gone Wild. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Because I Love You by Tori Rigby (5 stars)

About Because I Love You

Published by: Blaze Publishing
Publication date: May 17th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.
Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.

Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she’s forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.

Andi Hamilton is facing a teenage pregnancy, complicated by the father wanting nothing to do with her, much less a baby. Out of fear and need, she finds comfort in the arms of her ex-boyfriend, Neil. 

Will she decide to keep the baby? Will she and Neil beat the odds?

As the mom to three girls, this story really hit home with me. Andi's a well-meaning and pretty straight-laced young woman, but it only takes one mistake to forever change her life. This leaves Andi with a huge decision--what to do about her pregnancy. Her journey to a decision is beautiful, captivating, heart-breaking, and life-affirming. What it isn't is easy.

During such a gut-wrenching time, she begins to fall in love, and not with the Baby Daddy. Nothing about her decision-making process is easy, and she doesn't take a moment of it lightly. And I loved that her mother was part of the journey. Too often we see overly-preachy parents in these situations. 

I adored Because I Love You. It’s an intense emotional journey, and I was sad to say goodbye to these characters. A truly great read.

Rating: 5 stars

About Tori Rigby

Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay at home mom, Tori Rigby grew up with her nose in a book and her fingers on piano keys, always awaiting the day she’d take her own adventure. 

Now, she goes on multiple journeys through her contemporary and historical romances. She longs to live in the Scottish Highlands, and her favorite place in history is Medieval England—she’d even give up her Internet and running water to go back in time! Tori also writes high-concept genre fiction as Vicki Leigh, and when she isn’t writing, she’s kicking butt in krav maga or attending classes to learn how to catch bad guys. 
Note: I served as the Proofreader on this book through Indie Books Gone Wild. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.