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Tag: "Romance"

Blog Tour: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

[ 6 ] January 30, 2014

Big Girl PantiesPlease join Stephanie Evanovich, author of Big Girl Panties, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Amanda Schafer

Widow Holly Brennan finds comfort in food…and since her husband’s emotionally draining death, she’s been feeling quite comfortable! So when she meets Logan Montgomery on a flight back from Canada, Holly immediately starts realizing she’s in a completely different league than the handsome and sexy man sitting beside her. At the end of their flight, Logan tells her he would be happy to help her out and get her back into shape. Oh, didn’t I mention that he is a personal trainer to the big sports stars?? Well, he is and he shocked even himself when he offered to help Holly! Holly decides to pull up her Big Girl Panties and get down to business with losing weight and fighting her urges to eat emotionally.

Slowly over time, Holly’s body begins to morph into this beautiful and curvy woman that turns heads wherever they go, but Logan insists – to himself and to their friends, Chase and Amanda – that they are friends and friends only. Holly leans on him and he comforts her as she continues through her grieving process. What he doesn’t realize is that Holly has fallen in love with him. Everyone sees it but him. Finally after a stern talk from Chase, Logan finally sees what’s right in front of him and decides to follow Chase’s advice and show Holly who is in charge. That rapidly backfires on him and he realizes just how *different* Chase and Amanda’s relationship is! However, what happens in the gym stays in the gym as far as Holly and Logan are concerned!

Chase and Amanda Walker are a famous couple, but not only because Chase is a well-known baseball star. They were caught on tape engaging in a spanking episode that was clearly not about punishment. All eyes turn to them and they are criticized publicly for what they both enjoy in their (healthy?) relationship. However, Chase and Logan have been best friends since college and Amanda takes Holly under her wing and they become best friends as well. While their…ahem…preferences might be different, Amanda and Holly have one thing in common: they both love the men in their lives. So when Holly finds out that Logan made a disparaging comment about her body, she confronts him during a party at Chase and Amanda’s house. Does Logan lose Holly forever because of one little thing he said?

Stephanie Evanovich truly has a knack for writing Chick-Lit! This book was one of those that just draws you in; once I got reading I couldn’t stop…each chapter would make me want to read “just one more” and I found myself reading until the wee hours of the morning! When I saw Big Girl Panties I knew I’d want to read it simply because it reminded me of a friend who is always telling people to “Pull up your big girl panties and deal with it!” The story could have worked as a stand-alone novel, but I see now that there’s another book coming out soon about Chase and Amanda. I’m a bit skeptical because it seems to go back to their pre-marriage time…so it makes me think that perhaps it should have been written first. However, I’m intrigued and can’t wait to see what’s next.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Primitive by Mark Nykanen

[ 1 ] January 24, 2014

51ufFUJJ73LReviewed by Claudia Robinson

Primitive, by Mark Nykanen has one mission, one goal – inform the public about its abuse and consequent destruction of our planet. Using Sonya Adams, an aging model, intimately familiar with fame, fortune and luxury and her activist daughter, Darcy to tell the tale, Mark takes his readers on a journey that will instill one of two emotions upon completion – guilt or denial.

Sonya takes a modeling assignment that results in her kidnapping at the hands of a neo-primitive cult. Abducted and brought to their ‘slice of heaven’, called Terra Firma, she (her fame) is used by the cult to gain media and world attention. Humans are destroying the earth, raping, pillaging and killing it. By keeping Sonya prisoner and broadcasting daily updates of her plight along with their urgent ‘save the world’ message, the cult hopes to portray the earth’s demise to millions and disclose the government’s role in it.

While outraged at her situation, Sonya eventually finds her loyalties in question. Exposed to a purer and simpler way of life, despite the extreme measures used by the cult, she begins to understand the severity of humankind’s actions and her role in it all. Torn between wanting to be rescued, seeing her daughter again to make amends, and delving deeper in to Terra Firma’s secrets, Sonya alternates between gaining and losing cult member trust.

Meanwhile, her daughter Darcy is on a mission to save her mother. With the aide of some ‘connected’ friends, Darcy faces her own demons and dangers while hiding from the very people her mother is waiting to rescue her. Who is the bad guy? Who can be trusted?

The story reads like a fable, and while the pace varied, starting off slow, tentative and cliché, (I think writing from a female perspective proved harder for the author than he may have anticipated) Mark manages to pull it together in the end, gifting his readers with a sexy, entertaining and provocative tale of hope, redemption and the true essence of humanity, in all it’s forms.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Claudia lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband and two children.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Bell Bridge Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Finding Cloud 9 by Aryah B

[ 1 ] January 24, 2014

5274656Reviewed by Kathie Smith

Olivia Jensen, age 21, couldn’t have a more perfect life–she is definitely on her way to Finding Cloud 9. Everything she wants just seems to walk into her life at the perfect moment–a fact Olivia never questions and author Aryah B never explains. From her career to her high school crush, everything comes up roses for Olivia.

To begin with, she lands her dream job months before completing her university degree. Other hopeful candidates for the prestigious design company to the stars, Saddle, suffer an eight month waiting list just to get an internship. But not Olivia. She inexplicably breezes past the waiting list and internship and is shown straight to a swank, roomy office on the first day of her perfect part-time job.

The best perk of this amazing job is her coworker Alex. He has the office beside her and they often work together on projects for the firm. He is a talented, hard-working designer and an all-around nice guy, but he is utterly oblivious to Olivia’s interest in him. It is okay, though. All she has to do is tell him and her love life becomes more than she could have ever dreamed of.

Then there is Justin, an ex-crush from high school she frequently bumps into at the university. She finally gave up on him years ago with the realization that he wants to play the field and has no interest in a relationship. The random meetings are one thing because she can handle his smug overconfidence for brief periods of time, but a strange coincidence plants him firmly into the middle of her life.

Olivia’s grandfather is a strong influence and the source of much guidance in her life. He shows up at her house unannounced but always welcome. They have a bond so strong that he is able to be there for her even though he died when she was a young child. No, he doesn’t have anything to do with making these amazing things fall into place for her, but he never misses a chance to remind her to stay away from Justin.

There is the typical twist that threatens everything which does provide a small, albeit short-lived, bit of curiosity, but the rest of the book is predictable. It would be a good read for a teenager who is just starting to be interested in romance novels because it is so easy-going and doesn’t have a major tragedy or any inappropriate love scenes. Finding Cloud 9 can be summed up as an overly-optimistic book version of a romantic comedy.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Kathie is a writer, wife, mother and volunteer living in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Her passion for the written word is fulfilled by creating her own fictional work, freelancing, acting as an adviser to another author, and reading with her six year old daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Aryah B. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Copperhead by Tina Connolly

[ 0 ] January 22, 2014

ConnollyReviewed by Sara Drake

Copperhead is the sequel to Ironskin (read our review), a book I truly enjoined, which featured the story of Jane and the fey. This book picks up from the point of view of Helen, Jane’s sister. In the first book, Helen comes across as a materialistic, slightly stupid young woman. I had some hesitation about reading a book centering on her, as part of what I loved about Ironskin had been the retelling of Jane Eyre.

Ms. Connolly did a marvelous job shifting points of view and bringing Helen alive as a vibrant multi-dimensional main character. Rich women (and a few men) have had surgery to make themselves beautiful. Only, there’s a cost. The fey, the enemy from the last big war, can take over the bodies of anyone who has had the surgery. Jane’s discovered the way to reverse the surgery but she’s having trouble getting women to agree to it. However, Helen has a plan–which goes horribly wrong. When Jane disappears, Helen must find a way to save the day using her brains and charm.

The secondary characters in this book are even better than the previous book. I found them all fascinating and delightful. Ms. Connolly does beautifully developing her characters. Helen’s journey of self discovery is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. She faces each challenge, learning her own strength along the way.

The plots moves quickly building to a well done climax that had me cheering. Best of all, Ms. Connolly does not leave the reader with a cliff hanger – a refreshing change for the mid book of a trilogy. I don’t need cliffhangers to pick up the next book in a series. I just need quality writing. I appreciate an author that trusts their talent enough not to rely on the old cliff hanger to keep readers.

Ms. Connolly did a better job at world building in this novel. The fey and the dwarven both got fleshed out more, making it easier to understand the world itself. Best of all, Helen’s society gained the detail to make it feel real and more interesting. I enjoyed getting to spend some time with the dwarven and seeing how their culture worked. In fact, I really hope to see more of them in the next book; they intrigued me.

I’ve read several authors that managed a wonderful debut novel and then fell flat on their next book. Ms. Connolly’s second book outdid her first, showing consistent strengths and improvements of weaknesses. She has made a fan out of me and I hope to see her publish many more books in the future. I recommend both this book and its predecessor to anyone looking for a fresh historical fantasy.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Sara Drake has been an avid reader since a young age. She has both a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and a Master’s in History.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Tor Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Memory of Lost Senses by Judith Kinghorn

[ 0 ] January 17, 2014

18079580Reviewed by Colleen Turner

Cora, the Countess de Chevalier de Saint Leger Lawson, swore decades ago that she would never return to England, the land of her birth. Having left England behind as a child to accompany her aunt to Rome so they could start a new life, Cora has lived the glamorous, somewhat mysterious life of an expatriate traveling throughout Europe, dividing her time primarily between France and Italy: she has been the muse of artists; she has loved deeply and lost much; she has molded her own life into the story she wanted it to be. It is only when Cora’s last surviving relative, her grandson Jack, loses his mother in 1911 that she decides to finally go back to England. Having always kept her private life private, Cora hopes to finally tell Jack the true story of his family, something she has never told anyone and, now reaching the end of her life, has trouble at times remembering herself.

Upon her arrival in the small English village of Bramley, Cora soon finds that her reputation precedes her. The village gossips have written her life to be even more scintillating than the truth and enchant one young woman, Cecily Chadwick, into hoping to learn more about the many adventures of this fascinating woman. But Cora’s companion, Sylvia, a successful writer who has known Cora since her early days in Rome and who is quite possessive of Cora and her story, is quick to discourage Cora from interacting with Cecily and begins filling in the holes of what she already knows about Cora herself under the guise of writing Cora’s memoirs.

Cora has long lived secure within the various versions of her life floating about, most only hinting at the truth. But as the ghosts of her past continue to get closer the longer she lives in Bramley, as a sweet new love between Jack and Cecily begins before her eyes, reminding her of a love she had so long ago, as Sylvia’s insistent questions open up new pathways in Cora’s memories and as the walls she has put up within her mind begin to crumble with age, Cora will have to face the facts of her life – horrendous as some parts are – head on before it is too late to let that truth be known.

The Memory of Lost Senses is a compelling story dealing with the many ways our memory of events can be altered over time from what really happened and how we use these various mental safeguards to survive. As the story unfolds it becomes quite apparent that Cora’s history holds some devastating secrets and the tiny hints dropped about as Cora fights to keep her story from completely unraveling are delicious. Sylvia’s fabrication of the past, which she continually states is to protect Cora, shows how someone can consciously alter what they remember in order to protect themselves and justify their actions. The idea that our minds can also subconsciously hide traumatic memories from our conscious mind for survival is engrossing. This ends up not only being something Cora struggles with but Jack as well after he is involved in a horrible accident during WWI and ends up losing his memory of most of his past. I have long been fascinated with the coping mechanisms of the mind and The Memory of Lost Senses deals with so many of them.

The Memory of Lost Senses has so much to offer any reader. Combining what is discussed above with a look at history from the perspectives of a compelling, well traveled woman coming to the end of her life, a young, modern woman just beginning hers as the world around her continues to change and a young man thrust into war without fully realizing what that involves, it is a look at history unlike any other I have read before. Judith Kinghorn has become a writer I can’t get enough of.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by NAL. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Neverwas by Kelly Moore, Larkin Reed & Tucker Reed

[ 2 ] January 16, 2014

9780545434188_p0_v2_s260x420Reviewed by Amanda Farmer

I was very excited to read Neverwas, the second installment in the Amber House Trilogy when it was offered to me. If you haven’t read Amber House, don’t be alarmed–you will not be lost at all. The authors do a great job of recanting the first book in the series.

Neverwas is the continuing story about Sarah and her family moving into Amber House, which has been her family’s home for several generations. Amber House has its own memories of every occupant that has ever stayed or lived there, the good and the bad. In Amber House Sarah chooses to save her brother Sam and Aunt Maggie. In Neverwas Sarah must choose to do it again but this time hope it doesn’t alter the time line more than it already has.

Sarah remembers a time line that no one else does. She realizes that in this current time George Washington was never president and that the colonies are still separated by segregation and racism, and women are viewed as lesser than men. She wants to go back to the time she remembers where everyone was equal and happier.

Sarah finds that Amber House is trying to tell her something important with echoes of the past, a past she remembers. With the help of her good friend, Jackson (who sees the future), they manage to decipher the house’s clues to fix this time line, or do they? We will just have to wait for the next installment.

As I was reading Neverwas, I found it to be a quick and easy read. Unfortunately, it was a little too similar to Amber House. I was expecting and wanting more or at least something different from the first one. I didn’t find this story to be bad but not great either. I didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters. Although I did find myself curious about the point in Sarah’s past when she altered the time and created this new separate time line.

I recommend this story to those who haven’t read Amber House or to those who just want to continue the story.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Amanda loves spending time at home with her husband and their dog, Oreo. She loves reading, playing puzzle games, beading and watching movies. When she’s not reading, she’s working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Arthur A. Levine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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