Another weekend is behind me, but also a couple of good books! Recently I’ve been revisiting a few old series by listening to their audiobooks. Isn’t it nice when a narrated book is just as good as the voice inside your own head?
This post originated over on Book Date, so thanks for the idea and letting me continue on the discussion about what books I am reading.
The Hollows is one of my all time favorite paranormal series. After reading the surprise addition to this series earlier this year I decided to start it all over again by listening to the audiobook. Boy, was this one well done, and the book is still superb!
I’ve had this book for a couple months and have finally gotten the chance to pick it up and start it. I really just started this book, but expect it to be just as good as all of the previous novels. I can’t wait to dig in!
Scarlet St. Claire has spent her whole life flying under the radar from her father and the kids at school. While doing exactly that, camping out in the woods behind the Winstons home, she comes to the attention of none other than Billy Winston, the boy that Scarlet has hated her whole life. What she doesn’t realize is that this boy that’s she’s run from may actually be the answer to her salvation. Beard with Me is the story of Scarlet and Billy, love found and love lost.
To say that I had been eagerly anticipating this novel would be an understatement. However, when the author, Penny Reid put out a statement saying that some people may not be happy with this story I paused on reading it. What did she mean people might not be happy? I hate second guessing my reading choices, so I waited until the follow up came out to read both novels back to back. Hence my late review.
Scarlet St. Claire is the daughter of Razor, the head of the local motorcycle club, and the bane of her existence. He is one seriously bad hombre and for some reason he is fixated on Scarlet, so she tries to remain as scarce as possible. This is tough for a 14 year old girl, and occasionally when she needs money she has to bite the bullet and deal with dear old dad. After one such incident Billy stumbles upon her campsite behind his house as she’s singing very loudly with headphones on. Captivated he decides to help her instead of reject her as he’s done numerous times before. Never having been helped by anyone who didn’t want something in return, Scarlet tentatively accepts his help and through those moments she and Billy fall madly in love.
This is not a light hearted Penny Reid novel, so now I kind of understand why some people may have rejected Beard With Me at first. I think if I didn’t have Beard Necessities to immediately read at the end of this novel, I would’ve had a hard time bearing the burden of this ending. It was a perfect set up for the next piece of their story.
Beard Necessities is the story of Billy and Claire (aka Scarlet). Misunderstandings, miscommunications, and broken hearts have kept these two apart for almost 20 years. I know what you’re thinking. Claire? Yes, Claire! She has been in almost every single one of the Winston’s novels. The reader knew there was some kind of back story between she and Billy because it was hinted at and in this novel we finally are told the whole story.
This novel takes place in Tuscany where the whole family is together. Unbeknownst to Billy and Claire, their lives are about to be managed. Thrown together at every circumstance (some of them are quite clever and funny) Billy and Claire finally overcome their bitterness and mistrust and dare to dream that they could find their happily every after.
Beard Necessities when paired with Beard With Me is the epitomy of a knockout punch. We are given the heart break of the first novel and see them struggle so much with all of their past beliefs about each other. Most of which were complete misunderstandings. Billy, when he finally realizes he has a chance to be with Claire/Scarlet is so tender. I think this story must be the most tender and beautiful of all the books in this series. Maybe it’s because I got so invested in these characters? I don’t know, but Penny Reid deserves an award for how full of love these characters are for each other. It was sad and beautiful all at once.
I believe this author said in that note I was talking about before that if you can’t handle it you can skip Beard with Me and just read Beard Necessities. I hope I got that message wrong because I think you really need to read Beard With Me first so you can feel as much heart ache as these characters do so you can be fully invested in their happily ever after in Beard Necessities. Without that first story, I think BN might have felt a little flat. Anyway, I’m glad I read them the way I did so I can only say to you how effective it was and how much I adored the conclusion to their story.
A fantasy set in a world of rebellion and distrust, Amani is isolated as punishment for her rebel activity. Torn from the boy she loves, having angered her princess, Amani is unsure if she’ll survive another day. She’s surprised when the princess Maram asks her to stand in as proctor during her wedding ceremony to Amani’s love, Idris. This sets in motion a chain of events that gives Amani hope that she may have a future, her rebels could take back their planet, and she could be joined with the boy she loves. Court of Lions is the sequel to Mirage an epic fantasy that has hints of Middle Eastern flavor that colors this world in a vibrant brocade of texture and life.
After Amani’s political schemes almost cause her end in Mirage, we see a more subtle Amani in Court of Lions. When standing in as Maram, Amani developed relationships for her princess that Maram did not have the skills to do herself. At the same time she skillfully gave Maram courage to lead with strength and empathy, something her people hadn’t seen since being almost demolished by the conquering Vath. I liked the strength of these two characters. These were women who held power with empathy, not with threat. It was an interesting dichotomy as they were also preparing to go to war.
Once again, I felt the love story between Amani and Idris was underwhelming. She was such an interesting character and Idris? He was just a nice guy. More interestingly, In Court of Lions, Maram is given her own love interest in the mysterious Aghraas ( I hope I spelled that correctly!). Aghraas, another strong woman, this time in warrior form, brought out a softer side of the kind of haughty princess. I thought their relationship more interesting than Amani and Idris’ and looked forward to their scenes because they gave Maram the depth her character needed to finally shine.
Even though Court of Lions had some great characters, this world they lived in was even more fascinating. You can tell by the cover of this novel, but the author definitely gave this story an Arabian Nights flare with bejeweled clothing, bright colors, and the transport on horseback. I loved it. The contrast between a conquering people who were technologically advanced in spaceships and a people who got around via horseback was kind of cool. I tried not to get caught up in a thought of ‘could this really happen’ because that would’ve spoiled the mood. Instead I let the tea steep, laid back on my silken pillows and read this fun novel and, well, enjoyed the ride. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Head cook, Kat Holloway, can’t resist helping those in need and when she finds out some children have gone missing from London’s Foundling Hospital she decides to investigate. As a single mother whose daughter is growing up with another family, Kat is aware of how quickly her daughters circumstances could change. Helped by her friends she quickly delves into the mystery and despairs over finding the children unharmed.
This series takes us downstairs from the society folk Kat serves and gives us a behind the scenes look at what the lower levels of society in Victorian London may face. Each novel in the series ensnares the reader in the mystery while captivating our minds and hearts with the strength of Kat’s character as well as those of the staff and friends around her. What could be a simple tale ends up having many layers and gives depth to these simple people who are just trying to work to survive a harsh landscape. Kat Holloway navigates these various levels of society never forgetting her circumstances and how a wrong word can affect she and her daughters survival. Murder in the East End laid bare the fine line she walks as well as the emotional balance she strikes between her friendship and love, no matter the level of society those people reside in.
What did I think of Murder in the East End? I enjoyed not only the resolution to the mystery but also how Kat’s relationship with Daniel moved to the next step emotionally. After being betrayed by her husband Kat is very careful with her feelings but Murder in the East End revealed secrets that allowed Kat to give Daniel her trust, and hopefully her heart will follow. I’ll admit to being fascinated with the Victorian era as well. Society is filled with rules and yet below stairs their lives are much more base. The contrast between the two makes the division between classes even more apparent which makes novels riveting reading. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of the ARC from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.
August has always been a month I love. When I was younger I anticipated the start of school and loved the thought of being with my friends after a couple of months off. As an adult I have always planned an August vacation although this year I will be spending any days off at home reading instead of traveling. This past weekend I took Friday off and spent time reading a much anticipated book that I was fortunate enough to receive in advance of its release date at the end of the month. I read from sun up to sun down. It was a fabulous way to spend a nice summer day.
This post originated over on Book Date, so thanks for the idea and letting me continue on the discussion about what books I am reading.
Catalina’s story continues! It was better than I’d hoped!
The sequel to Mirage, Court of Lions mixes fantasy with moroccan tapestry. This author has created a really interesting new world that captured my attention for the first page. I’m liking this novel just as much as the first.
I don’t usually pick the same genre back to back but these choices are working for me! What book have you chosen to start your week with?
Bridget and Will are best friends and members of the musical group Forsyth Trio. Everyone always thinks they’re married because they are genuinely affectionate and can finish each others sentences. They’ve never been anything more than friends which is just what they want. This summer Will is staying in the city and Bridget is going out to her house in Connecticut. She has big plans to spend it with her boyfriend Sterling, hoping for some quiet and the possibility of an engagement. Sterling has other plans, breaking up with her via email. What was going to be a quiet summer turns into a houseful when her two kids show up unexpectedly and Will comes for a visit and falls in love with the local landscape artist. This charming novel by Amy Poeppel navigates the lives of her characters with love, humor, and a little bit of drama.
Musical Chairs was such a wonderful surprise! I love Bridget’s tongue in cheek humor and fortitude to keep going despite things not going as she’d thought they would. She’s surrounded by this menagerie of friends and family who don’t have perfect lives but despite their ups and downs they support each other.
There were quite a few different plots running simultaneously but the main one revolved around the original members of the Forsyth’s Trio and what happened just as they dissolved their partnership in the band. Gavin went on to become a well renowned violinist while Bridget and Will kept up the Trio with a revolving door of violinists, their friendship being the binding factor in why they stayed together. As the book goes on we find that there may have been more involved with Gavin’s leaving than was spoken of at the time. This adds conflict to Will and Bridgets relationship, something thats new and uncomfortable for them to face.
Bridget seemed like she was an awesome mom, a great friend, and an understanding and patient daughter. I wish I was a little bit more like her! She saw the world so clearly and with the exception of the hiccup with Sterling, she lived life exactly as she wanted. Her relationship with Will felt so true. A book about the relationship between a man and a woman who were not sexually interested in each other was so refreshing! When I pick up a book I just want to get lost in it, and not regret the time spent on reading it. Musical Chairs was a book that I can easily say I read with zero regrets. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for my honest review and it was honest!
I am usually more invested by the third book in a series because your hero/heroine have been slowly introduced through the first couple of books. This was definitely the case for Lead, since some of the previous drama for the band Stage Dive, centered on our hero Jimmy, the lead singer. We knew he’d been through rehab because we went through the emotional roller coaster with his brother’s story in Lick, the first novel in the series. For some reason though, I hadn’t been really interested in Jimmy’s story. Not until I started reading and got to know our heroine, Lena.
Lena was hired as a companion for Jimmy to keep him sober and on the path of resistance. She has a take charge, no nonsense persona, and I took to her instantly. In fact, I actually saw a little bit of myself in Lena and loved her awesomeness (go me!). What fell a little flat for me was how enamored she was of Jimmy. She wasn’t a big fan of the band, like Anne was in Play, but somehow she loved the hard rock a$$hole that Jimmy really was. Sure, he had that inner gooeyness, but honestly he had some serious issues! It’s hard for me to imagine falling for a guy that has been dependent on alcohol since he was 12. It’s a sad story, for sure, but one that was hard for me to engage myself in.
I did really like that actual story though. How hard Jimmy fought for his sobriety. How she stood by him and helped him feel better about himself. I think this says something more about me, actually, than it does about the actual book. This was a good solid love story, but not one that I wanted to live myself. That was the difference maker between it being good and great in my eyes. I do totally like this author and her style of writing. Kylie Scott gives her characters depth, and she did such a great job of it in this novel even though I couldn’t dive off that stage with Jimmy. So, even though this was a solid story in my book, I didn’t love the romance aspect of it.
I will totally read the next novel in the series though. Kylie Scott has won my admiration and she’s on my auto buy list because of her skills in character development.
If you love rock star romances, you’ll probably love this book. It’s a tortured look at addiction, which is harder for some people to read about (me) than others. I loved the heroine in this book and definitely think she deserved the love and admiration of the hero she wanted in love. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Nell, now a rookie for PsyLED, is called out to the home of a famous country music star where she and her team find the dead and rapidly decomposing bodies of the star and a few members of her staff. What looks to be an aggressive form of magic turns the situation dangerous not only to them but to the general public. Nell and her team need to quickly solve this mystery but local law enforcement prejudices make investigating difficult and her team becomes the center of a magical fire storm.
A few months have passed since the previous novel Circle of the Moon has ended and it seems that Nell’s life has moved forward rapidly. Her sister, Mud, is still living with her and going to school in town, but now her other sister Esther has also come to live with them. Esther’s advanced pregnancy has made her true nature come out and her husband divorced her in front of the church, ending his support and opening her up to abuse by their elders. Nell has always wanted to provide a safe haven for the women in her family but the bickering between her sisters has caused a lot of tension in the house, something that she’s trying to find the energy to resolve. Another relationship that has changed is with her boyfriend Occam. Now, completely enmeshed in their love for each other, that added emotional bond creates an interesting dynamic in their working relationship. I loved how Occam has helped Nell stay true to herself but to also evolve past the strictures of her upbringing. He may be an alpha male but he keeps to his promise of letting her make her own decisions and I loved how that dichotomy amped up the tension in his reactions to her doing her job.
Living in Nashville, I’ve always loved the East Tennessee setting for this series. I can hear the accents I’m reading on these pages because I’ve heard them spoken in my daily life. Throw in our murder victim’s occupation as a country singer and I knew I was going to enjoy how Faith Hunter would add in that paranormal twist. The magical phenomenon when combined with this murder’s “ick” factor really made me hold my breath through a great portion on this novel. This one is not for the faint of heart, folks, but the emotional tale underlying the mystery really makes up for the sticky subject matter.
If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy and you haven’t read a Faith Hunter novel I’d have to say, ‘where have you been!’ Followed quickly by pick up the first book in this series! You don’t have to read the Jane Yellowrock series first, but I know you’ll want to after the first couple of books. These characters stand on their own, but there are a couple that you’ll want to find out more about and you’ll find those answers in the very lengthy Jane Yellowrock books. Spells for the Dead is a wonderful story on all it’s own but my feelings for it are enhanced by the fact that I’ve read the other books in the series and I’ve witnessed the journey of this fascinating woman named Nell. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest results and they were honest.
I know, it’s so cliché to say this but wow, is it approaching August already? I feel like I just did this post for July. I haven’t even read all of those books yet. Oh well, let’s add to the TBR. LOL. Let’s get to it!
#5 MOST ANTICIPATED
Well, I always so there just aren’t enough gladiator novels out there to read, don’t I? I don’t? Well, I should! This book by the always fabulous Sara Raasch sounds fabulous! Why didn’t I know this one was coming out?
Ash is descended from a long line of gladiators, and she knows the brutal nature of war firsthand. But after her mother dies in an arena, she vows to avenge her by overthrowing her fire god, whose temper has stripped her country of its resources.
Madoc grew up fighting on the streets to pay his family’s taxes. But he hides a dangerous secret: he doesn’t have the earth god’s powers like his opponents. His elemental gift is something else—something that hasn’t been seen in centuries.
When an attempted revenge plot goes dangerously wrong, Ash inadvertently throws the fire and earth gods into a conflict that can only be settled by deadly, lavish gladiator games, throwing Madoc in Ash’s path. She realizes that his powers are the weapon her rebellion needs—but Madoc won’t jeopardize his family, regardless of how intrigued he is by the beautiful warrior.
But when the gods force Madoc’s hand, he and Ash uncover an ancient war that will threaten more than one immortal—it will unravel the world.
I read the first book in this series, Mirage, and found it to be a really interesting mix of fantasy and fairy tale. I can’t wait to see where Somaiya Daud takes this second novel.
On a planet on the brink of revolution, Amani has been forced into isolation. She’s been torn from the boy she loves and has given up contact with her fellow rebels to protect her family. In taking risks for the rebel cause, Amani may have lost Maram’s trust forever. But the princess is more complex than she seems, and now Amani is once more at her capricious nature. One wrong move could see her executed for high treason.
On the eve of Maram’s marriage to Idris comes an unexpected proposal: in exchange for taking her place in the festivities, Maram will keep Amani’s rebel associations a secret. Alone and desperate, Amani is thrust into the center of the court, navigating the dangerous factions on the princess’s behalf. But the court is not what she expects. As a risky plan grows in her mind, and with the rebels poised to make their stand, Amani begins to believe her world might have a future. But every choice she makes comes with a cost. Can Amani risk the ones she loves the most for a war she’s not sure she can win?
I admit, I’m a sucker for YA contemporary novels. This synopsis sounds like the perfect mix of romance and old hollywood glamour. I mean, what are we going to find out about her famous grandmother?
Following in the footsteps of her überfamous grandma, eighteen-year-old Evie Jones is poised to be Hollywood’s next big star. That is until a close friend’s betrayal leads to her being blacklisted . . .
Fortunately, Evie knows just the thing to save her floundering career: a public appearance with America’s most beloved actress—her grandma Gigi, aka the Evelyn Conaway. The only problem? Gigi is a recluse who’s been out of the limelight for almost twenty years. Days before Evie plans to present her grandma with an honorary award in front of Hollywood’s elite, Gigi does the unthinkable: she disappears.
With time running out and her comeback on the line, Evie reluctantly enlists the help of the last person to see Gigi before she vanished: Milo Williams, a cute musician Evie isn’t sure she can trust. As Evie and Milo conduct a wild manhunt across New York City, romance and adventure abound while Evie makes some surprising discoveries about her grandma—and herself.
Ummm, Hunger Games meets Caravale? Sounds kind of cool! I was lucky to get an ARC for this one.
In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.
As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.
The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost
The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told
The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide
Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.
Another Hidden Legacy novel continuing Catalina’s story. Ilona Andrews is always a must buy for me, and I’ve done that with this novel, the audiobook, and even got an ARC this last week! I’m feeling extreme amounts of joy about this one. Really!
As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.
The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.
I know we all have different tastes in books and seriously there are a TON of great books coming out in August if you haven’t take a look at the list. Here’s the link where I usually find mine.
Vada Carsewell’s music knowledge serves her well working at the Loud Lizard and writing her reviews of bands on their music blog. What she really wants is to get into Berkeley’s music program and become a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. Luke Greenly, podcaster and son of an aging punk rocker, doesn’t factor into her life until they get paired up on an assignment at school and she finds out they share a love for lyrics and music trivia. When his brother releases one of Luke’s songs on their podcast, and it goes viral, she can’t help but dream that the song is about her, but is it?
When I read this author’s debut novel, You’d Be Mine, I knew I was going to keep an eye out for her next release. I wrote in that review about “my love for the poetry in her lyrics” and she again captures those same emotions with her lyrics in More Than Maybe. However, More Than Maybe has a completely different tone and got to the heart of the love story sooner which made me love it just a tad bit more.
What can I say about these characters? I can’t help but start with their names. Vada Carsewell and Luke Greenly sound like they should be the hero’s in a Cassandra Clare novel wielding magical swords, instead of magical lyrics. Despite those otherworldly names, I found these characters very down to earth. Vada’s vast knowledge of music and lyrics was fascinating to a woman (me) who can’t remember the titles of her favorite songs. I loved how she and Luke used song titles and lyrics to hint at their emotions and level up the tension to their romance. Luke’s shy charm and interest in composing rather than performing only made him an even more perfect fit for Vada. They were a very easy pair to fall for and from their first text exchange I was all in.
The title ‘More Than Maybe‘ coincidentally was exactly how I felt as I settled into this novel. I had medium expectations from having read Erin Hahn’s first novel and some hesitations over whether she could follow up such a great debut with another hit. My hope for a ‘More Than Maybe’ story quickly changed as I got caught up in this music themed YA novel. Maybe this author should re-title the book ‘Better Than Good’? Or Much Greater Than Average? Just kidding, the title is more than apropos for what happens in the story, but my feelings upon finishing it were “Much Greater Than Expected” and I was very pleased with that discovery. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️
I received a copy of this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!