Friday, July 28, 2017

Outlander Series Reading Challenge Check-In Post #5



Hello Lovelies! So, we’ve made it to out 5th check-in and our 7th month of the Outlander Reading Challenge Check-In! Give yourselves a pat on the back and a dram of whatever strikes your fancy.
 
I want to say ‘thank you’ to those who have joined in! As of today, we’re up to 169 members in the Facebook group. If you haven’t joined the Facebook group, please do so. It’s great place to interact with others joining in.
 
I also want to say congrats to those of you who have finished reading the series. It’s also a bittersweet moment.
 
A few people have had questions about what counts in this challenge, so here’s a quick list.
 
 
Ø Books must be read in 2017
 
Ø Re-reads count
 
Ø All formats (print, digital, or audio) count
 
Ø Any Outlander-related book counts (the big ones, the shorts, the additional material such as the companion books, graphic novel, behind-the-scenes book, and the cookbook)
 
Ø Yes, the Lord John books count.
 
 
I’m still plowing through volume one of the Outlander Companion.
 
Okay, so I gave up on listening to Outlander and went back to the book for my re-reading. Davina Porter just isn’t my cuppa tea. I’m still plowing through the first companion book.
 
I’ve finally posted my review of Virgins. I’m still a little disappointed with it because I wanted so much more than what I got out of it. I was hoping to learn more about Jamie’s time fighting in France.
 
And since there’s been some confusion about what Seven Stones to Stand or Fall is, I’ve added a post about it. You can check it out here.



So, talk to me, lovelies. What are you reading? Did any of you go to Comic Con? If so, how was it? 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

July DNF Roundup

Douglas Ashton is the cold and unfeeling owner of the gothic Victorian Mansion, Sommersgate House. Julia Fairfax is his stubborn American sister-in-law. After tragedy strikes, Douglas and Julia are forced to live together at Sommersgate and raise their newly orphaned nieces and nephew.
 
Douglas has no desire to raise his dead sister's children, nor does he want the distraction of the tempting Julia living under his roof. Julia is struggling with grief and trying to make a go in a new country without much help from impossibly handsome, but even more impossibly remote Douglas. Not to mention, she has to deal with the active hostility of Douglas's frosty, Attila-the-Hun-in-a-skirt mother, Monique. Douglas decides the best way to give the children what they need, get his mother to behave, and give himself what he wants is to marry Julia. When he tells her (yes, tells her) she will be his wife, Julia thinks Douglas is (probably) insane. And anyway, she's decided if she ever has another husband (since the last one wasn't so great), he was going to be short, balding, have a paunch, and worship the ground she walks on (none of these characteristics define Douglas in the slightest).
 
One more thing, Sommersgate House is haunted by the ghosts of the man who built the house and the woman who was the love of his life. They both died mysteriously at Sommersgate months after it was finished. When they did, a curse settled on the house, making it seem strangely alive. And the only way for the beautiful but frightening house to rid itself of this curse is for its owner to find true love.
 
Okay, so I’m not DNFing the actual book. I’m DNFing the audio version because it was downright painful to listen to. I wasn’t impressed with Abby Craden’s narration of Penmort Castle but it was bearable. Sadly, this time, it was like nails down a chalkboard. While the story sounds amazing—I need to pick up a print or e-copy—I think I need to bid farewell to the audiobooks


It happens. The dreaded DNF. You know you’ve had one or two, or ten. Rather than posting them individually, I decided to do a monthly roundup of the books I’ve DNF’d. 
 
 
What type of narrator do you enjoy listening to?
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Comeback Cowboy by Sara Richardson



A WOMAN NEVER FORGETS HER FIRST COWBOY . . . As a single mother, Naomi Sullivan is used to doing things on her own. She's finally saved enough from working at the Cortez Ranch to buy a lovely home for her and her little girl. Life is going as planned. But when her high school sweetheart comes riding back to town, this self-sufficient woman feels something she hasn't felt in years: red-hot, unbridled need for the handsome cowboy who left her behind.

Lucas Cortez doesn't plan on being in town long. Yet when he sees Naomi again-the gorgeous girl he never stopped loving-he's tempted to hang up his hat and stay awhile. He's already charmed his way into her daughter's heart, but he'll need more than sweet talk and roses to convince Naomi to give them a second chance-especially when she's hiding a secret that could change their lives forever . . .


Series: Rocky Mountain Riders #2 | Publisher: Forever | Release Date: June 26, 2017 | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5 Cups
She’s sassy, he’s stubborn and I was totally cheering them on.
 
Here’s what’s going on. Lucas willingly went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit and rather than coming home after he was released, he stayed away. Although now that he’s temporarily back in town, he can’t help but want to stay and rekindle things with the woman he still loves. Lucas may have broken her heart but when Naomi sees him again, she knows he still has her heart. Although it’s not just her heart she has to worry about, it’s her daughters as well. But she’s willing to fight to give their relationship another try. The hard part is convincing Lucas to stay.
 
Lucas and Naomi were so great together. They were high school sweethearts and, even though he broke her heart, the love they had was still there, they just needed to figure out somethings. Naomi needed to figure out how to let a man into her life when it’s just been her and her daughter and Lucas was worried that the stigma of the crime he took the blame for would harm Naomi and Gracie. And rather than jumping back into a relationship, they took their time.
 
This one lack conflict between Lucas and Naomi but it worked. The internal conflict that Lucas was struggling with was enough and I didn’t miss the conflict between them. And there was a ton of outside drama going on, so there was a lot of things happening at one. While the added drama worked, I could have done without the who’s the daddy drama. It sort of felt out of place.
 
One thing that sort of bugged me was the fact that when Gracie asked where Lucas had been all these years, Naomi wouldn’t let Lucas tell her the truth. I think it’s always better to be honest about things rather than trying to shield your kid because in the end, it just makes things worse.
 
So, this one was the second book in the series and works well as a standalone. I didn’t miss anything having not read the first book but, seeing as I had so much fun with this one, I’m eager to read the first one.
 
Overall, I liked this one. I enjoyed spending time with the Cortez family and the women who love them. And I found a new-to-me author who I’m eager to check out.


 
 
Rocky Mountain Riders Series

Hometown Cowboy
Comeback Cowboy
Renegade Cowboy (coming late 2017)

 

 
 
 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Here’s What’s Going on with Seven Stones to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon




I was super excited when I found out that Seven Stones to Stand or Fall was coming out and hit the pre-order button as soon as Amazon offered it. When it finally arrived, I was thrilled—happy Snoopy dance thrilled! Seriously, I do love a hardcover book.

Although while I’ve been over the moon about it, I’ve been noticing a lot of questions in our Outlander Reading Challenge group about what this book is, so I thought I’d take a minute or two and write up a blog post to breakdown what this book is. Keep in mind this isn’t a review as the only book I’ve read in it thus far is Virgins, it’s just a what’s what about the book.

The following short stories and novella are listed as they appear in Seven Stone to Stand or Fall.
The Custom of the Army (Lord John Grey 2.75) London, 1759. After a high society electric-eel party leads to a duel that ends badly, Lord John Grey feels the need to lie low for a while. Conveniently, before starting his new commission in His Majesty’s army, Lord John receives an urgent summons. An old friend from the military, Charlie Carruthers, is facing court-martial in Canada, and has called upon Lord John to serve as his character witness. Grey voyages to the New World—a land rife with savages (many of them on his own side) and cleft by war—where he soon finds that he must defend not only his friend’s life but his own.
 
The Space Between (Outlander 7.5)— Joan MacKimmie is on her way to Paris to take up her vocation as a nun. Yet her decision is less a matter of faith than fear, for Joan is plagued by mysterious voices that speak of the future, and by visions that mark those about to die. The sanctuary of the nunnery promises respite from these unwanted visitations . . . or so she prays. Her chaperone is Michael Murray, a young widower who, though he still mourns the death of his wife, finds himself powerfully drawn to his charge. But when the time-traveling Comte St. Germain learns of Joan’s presence in Paris, and of her link to Claire Fraser—La Dame Blanche—Murray is drawn into a battle whose stakes are not merely the life but the very soul of the Scotswoman who, without even trying, has won his heart.
 
The Plague of Zombies (Lord John Grey #3.5)— Lord John Grey, a lieutenant-colonel in His Majesty’s army, arrives in Jamaica with orders to quash a slave rebellion brewing in the mountains. But a much deadlier threat lies close at hand. The governor of the island is being menaced by zombies, according to a servant. Lord John has no idea what a zombie is, but it doesn’t sound good. It sounds even worse when hands smelling of grave dirt come out of the darkness to take him by the throat. Between murder in the governor’s mansion and plantations burning in the mountains, Lord John will need the wisdom of serpents and the luck of the devil to keep the island from exploding.
 
A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows (Outlander 8.5)— Orphaned during World War II, Roger believed that his mother died during the London Blitz, and that his father, an RAF pilot, was killed in combat. But in An Echo in the Bone, Roger discovers that this may not be the whole story. Now, in “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows,” readers finally learn the truth.
 
Virgins (Outlander 0.5) Read My Review Mourning the death of his father and gravely injured at the hands of the English, Jamie Fraser finds himself running with a band of mercenaries in the French countryside, where he reconnects with his old friend Ian Murray. Both are nursing wounds; both have good reason to stay out of Scotland; and both are still virgins, despite several opportunities to remedy that deplorable situation with ladies of easy virtue. But Jamie’s love life becomes infinitely more complicated—and dangerous—when fate brings the young men into the service of Dr. Hasdi, a Jewish gentleman who hires them to escort two priceless treasures to Paris. One is an old Torah; the other is the doctor’s beautiful daughter, Rebekah, destined for an arranged marriage. Both Jamie and Ian are instantly drawn to the bride-to-be—but they might be more cautious if they had any idea who they’re truly dealing with.
 
The following novellas are brand-new and only in Seven Stones to Stand or Fall.
 
A Fugitive Green (Lord John Grey 0.5) is the story of Lord John’s elder brother, Hal, and a seventeen-year-old rare book dealer with a sideline in theft, forgery, and blackmail.
 
Besieged (Lord John Grey 3.5) Lord John learns that his mother is in Havana—and that the British Navy is on their way to lay siege to the city.


Here is the order the novellas/shorts (in red) found in Seven Stones to Stand or Fall (fit into the Outlander and Lord John Timeline.


Virgins—Outlander novella featuring Jamie Fraser
The Exile—Outlander graphic novel
Outlander—novel
Dragonfly in Amber—novel
A Fugitive Green—Lord John Grey novella (Jamie Fraser appears) only in Seven Stones to Stand of Fall.
Voyager—novel
Lord John and the Hellfire Club—novella found in Lord John and the Hand of Devils
Lord John and the Private Matter—novel
Lord John and the Succubus—novella found in Lord John and the Hand of Devils
Lord John and the Brother of the Blade—novel
Lord John and the Haunted Solider—novella found in Lord John and the Hand of Devils
The Custom of the Army—Lord John Grey novella
The Scottish Prisoner—Lord John Grey novel (Jamie Fraser appears)
A Plague of Zombies—Lord John Grey novella
Drums of Autumn—novel
The Fiery Cross—novel
A Breath of Snow and Ashes—novel
An Echo in the Bone—novel
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood—novel
A Leaf in the Wind of All Hallows—Outlander novella
The Space Between—Outlander novella
Besieged—Lord John Grey novella—only in Seven Stones to Stand or Fall



 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Kiss My Boots by Harper Sloan + Giveaway



Quinn Davis prefers to live her life quietly. She’s the stereotypical tomboy with two overprotective big brothers who have always looked out for her. Of course, it doesn’t help that her heart has already been hardened when it comes to devilishly handsome cowboys with silver tongues. That is, until Tate Montgomery comes riding back into town. Their first meeting, however, is far from something out of a fairy tale and only further convinces Quinn that men aren’t worth her time.

Growing up, the one time Tate ever truly felt at home was during the long, sweltering summer months he spent at his gram and paw’s farm in Pine Oak, Texas. Now, Tate has returned to his childhood sanctuary seeking a fresh start—but if he’s being entirely honest, he’s not just back for the Wranglers and Stetsons. During those summers, Quinn was a friend turned young love who Tate lost when life threw him a curveball and he cut all ties to his past, but all it takes is one glance at the raven-haired beauty, who he did his best to forget, for him to realize just how much he’s been missing…

Can two people who have stopped believing in love take a chance to find it in each other again? Or will the pain of the past prove too great a hurdle to conquer?

Series: Coming Home Series #2| Publisher: Pocket Books|Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source:  Publisher| Rating: 3.5 Cups

Fun, sexy, and full of feels, Kiss My Boots had me hooked.
 
Here’s what’s going on. Nine years ago, Tate broke Quinn’s heart when he walked out of her life without an explanation. Now, he’s back for good and he needs to make Quinn understand why he walked away and make her believe he still loves her. There’s no denying that Quinn’s still in love with Tate but she needs to figure out if she can trust him.
 
I love a good reunion romance and this one had all the right ingredients that had me turning the page. Although this one started out a bit slow for me as Quinn went back and forth trying to figure out if she wanted to let Tate back into life but once Quinn and Tate starting sharing the page, the pace picked up and I couldn’t put it down.
 
Quinn’s carrying around a lot of hurt and some abandonment issues. She knows she needs to make peace with the past but it’s easier said than done but she’s willing to try because she knows she’ll never love another man. Tate had a good reason for leaving but he still feels like the worst person in the world for having done it. He has a lot to prove to Quinn and her brothers and he’s willing to do whatever it takes.
 
I liked how real the romance felt. There was a lot of healing that needed to happen and some soul searching that needed to take place and rather than just jumping back into a relationship, Tate waited until Quinn figured things out.
 
While I enjoyed the book, I’m such a fan of Harper Sloan’s unique voice, I had a few problems.The first being the way Tate treated Ella, the woman he was sleeping with in Georgia. Even though it was a causal relationship to him, she developed feelings for him and he could have handled it with a bit more tact. The second was the conflict. The majority of the conflict was Quinn’s internal conflict. A few outside sources were thrown in, the call from Tate’s father and Ella arriving out of the blue but they weren’t even a blip on the radar.
 
Overall, I enjoyed this one and can’t wait to dive into the rest of the series.  

 About the Author: Harper Sloan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Corps Security and Hope Town series. She started writing as a way to unwind when the house went to sleep at night. Harper lives in Georgia with her family.
 
Social Media:



 
 
We are giving away one review copy of Book 1, Lost Rider! Be sure to check out all participating sites on the blog tour for more Giveaways. Please note, you can only win one giveaway and must have a U.S. address. Giveaway ends: August 1st
 

 
 
 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Virgins by Diana Gabaldon



Mourning the death of his father and gravely injured at the hands of the English, Jamie Fraser finds himself running with a band of mercenaries in the French countryside, where he reconnects with his old friend Ian Murray. Both are nursing wounds; both have good reason to stay out of Scotland; and both are still virgins, despite several opportunities to remedy that deplorable situation with ladies of easy virtue. But Jamie’s love life becomes infinitely more complicated—and dangerous—when fate brings the young men into the service of Dr. Hasdi, a Jewish gentleman who hires them to escort two priceless treasures to Paris. One is an old Torah; the other is the doctor’s beautiful daughter, Rebekah, destined for an arranged marriage. Both Jamie and Ian are instantly drawn to the bride-to-be—but they might be more cautious if they had any idea who they’re truly dealing with.


Series: Outlander 0.5 | Publisher: Dell | Genre: Historical Fiction | Source:  Purchased| Rating: 3 Cups

Challenges Read For: Outlander Series Challenge
Of course I *had* to read this because, hello, it’s Jamie Fraser and I just can’t get enough.
 
Here’s what’s going on. Wanting to get an injured Jamie away from the hands of the Redcoats, particularly Black Jack Randall who flogged Jamie, Murtagh delivers him into the care of Ian Murray, his friend and fellow Scot, who is currently a mercenary in France. Now Jamie and Ian are given the job of transporting a religious scroll and the doctor’s granddaughter to Paris, but things soon go awry when both the scroll and the woman come up missing.
 
Have you ever had a book that both pleased and disappointed you? Well, that was Virgins for me. When I first started this book, it was on audio and I thought that maybe I wasn’t connecting with the narrator because I could not get past the first chapter so, I scrapped the audiobook, pick up a print copy, and still had the same problem. Eventually I managed to get into the story, but it took me a bit to get into it.
 
I think I was expecting too much from this book. While I was able to learn a bit more about Jamie and Ian and their bond of friendship, I still didn’t get the answers I was searching for. I was expecting to get information about their time spent fighting in France but, sadly, I didn’t.
 
Overall, this one was enjoyable but lacking. Given that Jamie’s take on things is rarely given, I wanted more and was disappointed that I didn’t get it.


 

Are you a Jamie Fraser fan?
 
 

 
 
 

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Knocked Up Plan by Lauren Blakely



This single gal has had enough of the games, the BS and the endless chase. I know what I want most, and it’s not true love. It’s a bun in the oven,and I’m not afraid to hit up my sex-on-a-stick co-worker to do the job. Ryder is gorgeous, witty and wild -- and he’s also a notorious commitment-phobe. That makes him the perfect candidate to make a deposit in the bank of me. I won’t fall for him, he won’t fall for me, and there’s no way baby will make three. Right?

****

There are four words every guy wants to hear on the first date -- “your place or mine?”

When my hot-as-sin co-worker makes me a no-strings-attached offer that involves her place, my place, any place -- as well as any position -- I can’t refuse. Besides, I’ve got my reasons to take her up on her deal even with her one BIG condition.

There’s no way I’ll want more from one woman than any position, any where, any night? Except . . . what if I do?

 
Publisher: Lauren Blakely | Genre: Contemporary Romance| Source: Author | Rating: 4 Cups

This one was fun, flirty, and so hot. The perfect Summer read.
 
Here’s what’s going on. Nicole has finally figured out what she wants: A baby without the hassle of falling in love with a man but a random donor from a sperm bank just isn’t going to cut it. Instead, she asks her fun and sexy colleague Ryder to be her donor. Ryder’s willing to agree with the plan but he has one condition: they do it the old fashioned way. They’ve both agreed that this was a no-strings attached agreement, they even have a contract to prove it, but somewhere along the line Ryder has started to fall and Nicole’s right there with him but she needs to figure out if he’s falling for her or just their baby.
 
I had so much fun with this one. Nicole and Ryder were great together they had chemistry and attraction and were just plain fun. And the sex scenes were sizzling.
 
They did have a few things they needed to figure out. She’s never been in love so she has to figure out if she’s feeling something other than overwhelming attraction for Ryder. And he’s been deeply hurt by his ex-wife so he needs to figure out if he’s going to be able to love again, trust again, and not let the past interfere with his present. So, there’s a lot of healing going on.
 
My only problem with this one was that, even though there were two epilogues, I felt the ending was too rushed. I would have liked to have had more of Ryder and Nicole.
 
Over all, I enjoyed this one. It was my first Lauren Blakely book and I was hooked from the start.

 
 
 What was the last new-to-you author you read?
 

 
 
 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Winning His Heart by Lara Van Hulzen



Michael St. Claire, a widower and single father, fears his heart could never make room for another. Between raising his young daughter Annalise and rebuilding his dreams as a race car driver, love isn’t on his mind… Until feisty Franchesca shows up and changes everything.

With her mom’s health failing, Franchesca needs extra income. An offer from Mike St. Claire to be his daughter’s nanny is an offer she can’t refuse. She has always dreamed of making it on Broadway and living in New York, but her immediate attraction to Mike challenges all she thought she wanted.

Mike can’t deny his feelings for Franchesca, even with the risk of losing his heart again. But he doesn’t want to stand in the way of Franchesca’s dreams. Will his past and what she wants in the future tear them apart?

Series: | Publisher: Tule Publishing | Release Date:  June 26, 2017| Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 2 Cups

Here’s what’s going on. When Michael rescues Franchesca from the side of the road after her car breaks down then proceeds to be her knight in shining armor by offering her the job as his daughter’s nanny, Franchesca finds herself falling hard for the widower. And Michael feels the same but he’s afraid to let himself love again. And there’s also Franchesca’s dream to be actress to considers, especially after his father uses his connections to land her an auction for a Broadway play.

 

So, this one was a quick read. It was cute but it left me feeling a little meh.

 

Mike and Franchesca were both going through things. They both needed a little rescuing and some time figuring things out. He’s figuring out how to raise an adorable little girl all on his own and struggling with whether or not to get back into the racing scene. Franchesca’s dealing with a mother suffering from dementia and trying to figure out if she still wants to follow her dreams of being an actress.

 

They had a nice friendship going on but I just didn’t see much of an actual romance. Rather than showing a developing relationship, they mostly just talked about being together. I would have liked to have seen an actual relationship and some chemistry.

 

This one really suffered due to lack of dialogue. Pages went by before someone actually said something to another person. So, not only did I find parts of it boring, I didn’t feel any connection between the characters.

 

Then there was the conflict. I understood some of it and it was valid but the majority of it was one-sided and made Michael come off as a jerk. And this was another case of keeping things zipped up rather than talking about things.

 
Overall, this one wasn’t my favorite. It was the second book in the series (they all work as standalones) but I’m not sure this series is for me.

 
The Marietta St.Claires Series

Recipe for Romance

Winning his Heart