Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday {27} Wild Things: A Shifters Unbound Novella by Jennifer Ashley

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Okay, so I’m a complete and utter fan of Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series, so yeah I’m totally excited about Mason’s story.




Title: Wild Things
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Publisher: JA / AG Publishing
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Wolf Shifter Mason McNaughton is tired of the crazy feral living in his house, endangering him, his brothers, and his sweet auntie Cora. Ferals are Shifters who’ve reverted to the wild stage, forgetting all about the joys of pizza and satellite TV. Not to mention, Mason is sick of waking up to the feral’s rampages in the bedroom next to his. The feral has been given sanctuary, so Mason can’t throw him out—the only thing to do is to find a way to cure him. 
The problem is, Shifter healers—elusive, Goddess-touched Shifters who have the healing gift—are few and far between. Mason volunteers to go in search of one, and is sent to a psychic in New Orleans who might have an idea of where to start looking.


Mason doesn’t believe in psychics, but Jasmine, the psychic in question, seems to at least put on a good show. Jasmine believes in Shifters all right, but she vowed to never have anything to do with them again.


The easiest way to get rid of the growly Lupine, Mason, is to help him, but Jasmine never dreams what that help will drag her into.


What are you lovelies waiting on?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Loving Her Crazy by Kira Archer

Iris Clayton is supposed to be on a tropical island, soaking up the sun and a few dozen mojitos. Instead, she’s snowbound in Chicago overnight, holding out hope the morning flight isn’t cancelled. Good thing there’s a hot cowboy to keep her company. And it doesn’t hurt that Mr. Tall, Calm, and Sun-Streaked can make her tremble with one sultry look from under his well-worn hat. 

Montana rancher Nash Wallace sucks at ice skating, has no clue what a selfie is, and may be a tad averse to breaking and entering, but being with Iris makes him want to bend a few rules. Or, hell, throw them out the window altogether. She’s fun, spontaneously crazy, and can rock a Muppet fur coat like no one’s business. He’s falling hard and fast, but wanting to spend his life with someone after one night is insane.  

Except, nothing has ever felt so right, and neither of them wants the night to end… 

Series: | Publisher: Entangled: Lovestruck | Release Date: January 18, 2016 | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5 

Challenges Read For: Pick Your Own Genre: Contemporary
When a snowstorm strands two strangers in Chicago, they decide to spend a fun, passion-filled night exploring the city and each other.
Honestly, that sentence pretty much sums up the book. Iris is funny and adventurous. She definitely knows how to push boundaries and she has fun doing it. Nash was her complete opposite. He’s a serious rancher that plays by the rules so it was fun watching Iris bring out his wild side.
While this book wasn’t horrid, I found it to be a tad bit boring in spots and had a hard time getting into it at the start, which surprised me considering how much I loved the second book in this series. I spent most of the time questioning the believability of the plot—a snowstorm was so severe it canceled their flights but they decided it was fine enough to go trampling through the city during the middle of the night. If the snowstorm cancelled their flights, why would these things even be open? Also, how did they not freeze to death tramping around in frigid weather.
Their sex scenes in the book also had me rolling my eyes. The first time was in a planetarium and the second was on a Ferris wheel.
As this book took place in just one night, their relationship went from instant lust to instant love. And while it was obvious they were attracted to each other, I would have liked to have seen a bit more development.
Overall, if you’re looking for a fluffy instant lust to love book that’s reminiscent of a cheesy romantic comedy film, this is the book for you.   
Crazy Love Series

Driving Her Crazy #1
Loving Her Crazy  #3

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Between a Vamp and a Hard Place by Jessica Sims

Lindsey Hughes loves antiques and couldn’t be happier to make a living in the estate sale business. But when her assistant accidentally buys an entire estate without her approval, Lindsey is forced to clean up the mess herself.

Lindsey travels to the newly purchased, age-old house in Venice, Italy, and soon discovers more than she (never) bargained for. While digging through the hoarder’s trove that fills every floor, she finds a secret staircase behind a wall that leads to a strange coffin…with an even stranger inhabitant.

Vampire Rand FitzWulf has been in his coffin for 600 years. But now that he’s awake, he’s ravenous, and there’s a delicious-smelling woman with a rare blood type in his basement. Luckily, Lindsey has more to offer than blood: she agrees to travel throughout Europe with Rand to help him get revenge on the one who turned him. But as the unlikely pair grows closer, will the billionaire vampire be overtaken by his thirst for blood—or his thirst for love?

Title: | Series: | Author: | Publisher: Pocket Books |  Genre: Paranormal Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5

Okay, so there’s a few things that need to be cleared up first. Between A Vamp And A Hard Place is not part of the Midnight Liaisons series, this is a standalone book that has completely different characters and world building. If you’re a fan of the Midnight Liaisons series, try to go into this book with an open mind because, while it’s PNR, it’s very different. Also, it should be noted that Rand is not a billionaire like it says in the blurb.
What’s an antiques dealer to do when she inadvertently releases a vampire from his coffin? 
Here’s what’s going on: When Lindsey’s business partner and best friend throws caution to the wind and purchases an estate in Venice, Lindsey never expected to find a secret room containing a coffin with a vampire inside of it. Rand has been a vampire since the crusades, now he’s awoke in a new time and place to find himself drawn to the woman who freed him. As they travel throughout Europe searching for his vampire brothers, they find themselves forming an unexpected bond. Although when Rand’s sire, the Dragon, decides he’s had enough of Rand playing the part of a good vampire, he takes action. Now Rand must decide if he wants to stay with Lindsey or free himself—and the world—from the Dragon.
So, I’m a bit on the fence about this one. I enjoyed it, but parts of the plot and the actions of the characters, especially Lindsey and her friend Gemma, had me scratching my head.
I had a bit of trouble with Lindsey. I liked her but there was also part of her that just bothered the hob nobs out of me. I liked the fact that she deals with antiques. I liked her willingness to help Rand. Although she was kind of a control freak and there were times, especially towards the end, that Lindsey suddenly became this character that was too stupid to live. She thought she and Gemma could vanquish a highly power vampire on their own. I mean, seriously?!?!? When that happens, you can’t help but to root for the evil vampire.
Rand was very likable. He was a crusader-turned-vampire-warlord yet he had a conscience, which became a problem with his sire. He was very much a fish-out-of-water and it was interesting watching him try to figure out the present day. He was also willing to die to rid the world of the Dragon.  As this book was told from Lindsey’s POV, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see what was going on in Rand’s head.
The chemistry between Rand and Lindsey wasn’t entirely believable and I had to wonder if Rand would have become attached to anybody that had released him from his coffin. And while there was attraction, the chemistry was lacking.
The plot started a bit slow and seemed a little off kilter at times. I think it had to do with the scene changes not going smoothly. One minute it felt like I was reading a paranormal suspense, the next it was like the book suddenly turned into erotica before switching back over to a paranormal read. This book almost felt like she was combining her writing style as Jessica Clare with her writing style as Jessica Sims. It was a little clumsy—and I would have liked to have seen it smoothed out a bit—but in the end it worked.
There is a mystery woven in the book that deals with the identity of the ‘Dragon’ and, honestly, I had it figured out from the moment the ‘Dragon’ was mentioned on page 36 yet I continued to read to see the outcome—even if it did fall a bit flat for me.
The world building in this one was great. Sims takes well-known vampire lore, adds to it, and makes it her own. And she makes it believable. The only thing that I questioned was Rand’s reaction.
Overall, this one wasn’t a bad read. It was occasionally slow in spots, a tad bit off kilter, slightly predictable, and Lindsey could have made smarter decisions but I continued to read it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Duchess of Northumberland Little Book of Poisons, Potions, and Aphrodisiacs

From the creator of the world-famous Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle


Combining the fascinating archive of the first Duchess of Northumberland with the expertise of Jane, the present Duchess and the creator of the famous Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle, this illustrated gift book tells the story of the poison found within the plants that grow wild across Britain's countryside and the medicinal potions that derive from them. Based on the information gleaned from the Poison Garden and the Household Books of the first Duchess of Northumberland, the reader will learn the secrets, past and present, of the poisonous and curative properties of these plants and the more unusual varieties that have been cultivated and planted for centuries. Beautifully illustrated, this is the ideal gift for those with an interest in the wild plants of Britain and for those with an interest in poison and potions.

Publisher: The History Press | Genre: Nonfiction| Source: Gift | Rating: 4 Cups

I’ve always been fascinated with the Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle so I was very pleased to receive this lovely little book as a Christmas present.
The cover is simply gorgeous and while it is a smaller book—it’s a tad smaller than a mass market paperback—it’s hardback and would be brilliant sitting out on display. Although what I loved about this book was the content. The current Duchess of Northumberland, Jane Percy, has shifted through the castle’s historical records starting with Edith Beale’s Book of Recipes from 1576 and ending with 18th and 19th Century Recipes Collected By The 7th Duchess. Each recipe in the book is still in its original dialect, which I absolutely loved.
The recipes range from how To Purge The Heade Of Melancholie to How To Compose A Love Letter. Each recipe is entertaining and insightful.


Recipe For A Bath

Take rose leaves, Mallowes, Lavender, Alacampana seeth all these in water till they be tender and then put in milke. So let the patient sitte in as hote as he maye suffer it and after goe to a warme Bedde and sweate.


To Cure Giddines

A garland made of pennyroyal and worne above the heade is of great store against the swimming Paynes and giddy tourninges of the heade.

Overall, this is a great little book. If you’re an author—or aspiring author—of historical fiction, or history lover, I strongly suggest purchasing this book. My only complaint about this book is that the sketches are all in purple and have a cartoonish look rather than being actual renderings of the plants.

 About the Author: 

Jane Percy, the current and 12th Duchess of Northumberland has long researched poison gardens. She is responsible for creating the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens which is a complex of formal gardens adjacent to the 14th-century old Alnwick Castle in England.
It opened in 2004 to worldwide acclaim. The Poison Garden is the culmination of her life's goal to teach children and adults alike the curative and lethal properties of poisonous plants.
Alnwick Castle has been used as a setting in many films and TV series. Amongst others: Harry Potter (I,II, VI) & Robin Hood (2010).

Have you visited the Poison Gardens?
Or checked out this book?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rebel Love by Jodi Linton

She wants revenge...

The Dirty Sinners Motorcycle Club is Em Connors’s only family, but she’s ready to risk everything—both her club and her life—for vengeance. Ten months ago, she was brutally attacked and her lover gunned down by a rival gang member. Now, she’s using her position as the Dirty Sinners president to track down the truth and exact her revenge.

He’ll risk it all...

With his partner murdered by a local motorcycle gang, Houston police officer Cade Jackson jumps at the chance to go back undercover and bring down the woman the department calls the Motorcycle Princess. But the sexy-as-hell leader awakens a hunger in Cade. Dark desires run deep—and he intends on teaching Em exactly how dirty he can be. But when his cover is blown, Cade must choose to uphold the law or protect the woman he’s grown to going rogue.

Series: Dirty Sinners MC #1 | Publisher: Entangled: Ignite| Release Date: January 4, 2016 | Genre: Contemporary Romance/mystery | Source: Publisher | Rating: 3 Cups

Challenges Read For: Pick Your Own Genre: Contemporary  
Rebel Love sounded amazing from the blurb.  An undercover cop infiltrating a motorcycle gang whose president is a female? Yes, please! This one truly had potential to be a 5-cup-I-can’t-put-this-down read. Sadly, it fell a bit short.
Here’s what’s going on. When Cade’s partner is murdered, his assignment is to infiltrate the Dirty Sinners MC and uncover his murderer. He never expected to lust after the MCs sexy female president. Em is out for revenge and she’s determined to make her lover’s killer pay for what he did but the hot new mechanic she’s just hired is complicating things. Although when Cade’s cover is blown, they both have some major decisions to make as the search for the killer continues.
So, I really wanted to like this one and it wasn’t exactly horrible, but it left me wanting so much more because it had amazing potential.
Cade was a very interesting alpha hero. He’s been working as an undercover biker for so long it feels as though he’s straddling the line between good guy and bad boy and I’m not really sure he knows which way he wants to go. He’s carrying guilt for not picking up when his partner called for backup, so he wants to try to get to the bottom of Wes’s murder yet what he feels for Em is starting to cloud his judgement.
I expected so much more from Em considering that she was a female MC president. I was looking for a tough cookie, someone who could make hard decisions, someone a bit grittier. She was a strong heroine just not the type of heroine I would be expecting to run an MC. Leather pants and black tank tops does not a biker chick make, I was hoping for a bit more of that biker chick attitude. Although that was probably because she never really wanted the job, all she wanted to do was to be an art student until her lover was murdered and she decided to get her revenge.
Cade and Ems relationship seemed a bit odd to me. While there was sexual tension, they just never seemed to connect to me—I think it had to do Em and the fact that she was constantly thinking about her murdered lover.
The plot was a little weird for me. Seeing as Cade was undercover investigating a murder, I was expecting to see more of a mystery/suspense aspect but the plot mainly felt like a lot of sex with a little mystery and MC stuff thrown in.
I was hoping that the mystery/suspense aspect would have been a bit prevalent and harder to figure out. I had the murderer pegged from the start, so the big reveal fell a bit flat for me.
When reading an MC book, I want that gritty MC lifestyle to shine through and while there was a bit of club business going on, it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Overall, this novel had potential but fell flat. Rather than allowing the mystery/suspense/MC or, really even the romance, to drive the plot it was fueled by sex and longing. So, if you want a hot and steamy read with little focus on the plot pick this one up.

What do you look for in a MC romance?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sherlock: The Mind Palace A Coloring Book Adventure by Mike Collins

The first official coloring book from the hit BBC series, filled with more than fifty intricate scenes and cast images from the show

The game is on . . .

Sherlock: The Mind Palace is a unique celebration of the rich visual landscape of the BBC series Sherlock, featuring more than fifty intricate pieces of artwork by artist Mike Collins. Recreate classic scenes, add color to intricate interiors, and illuminate the fascinating world of Sherlock with the power of your imagination.

A vital clue from each episode is hidden within the original black and white illustrations, and only by completing the scene can they be found. Fill Sherlock’s world with color and find the secrets hidden within The Mind Palace.

Publisher: Harper Design: An Imprint of Harper Collins |Source: Gift | Rating: 3.5 Cups 
I’ve completely jumped on the coloring books for adults bandwagon, so when I received this little lovely as a Christmas gift, I was over the moon. Not only was it a coloring book, it was a Sherlock coloring book—my inner Sherlockian rejoiced!

I like this coloring book because it’s a Sherlock coloring book. Each image is taken from the series and there are 9 hidden clues for the colorist to seek out. So there’s a bit of sleuthing to be done as the clues are not necessarily hidden in the images from the episodes they come from.

One of the things that I like is the fact that this is a square coloring book. I find that the square books are easier to deal with and I generally enjoy the images more. The paper is smooth and a lovely crisp white that allows the color you are using to stay true. While it’s a nice quality paper, it’s a tad bit thinner than I was expecting. It’s not as thin as printer paper but it’s not as heavy as a cardstock. And the pages are printed on both sides. I’ve used Staedtler pencils and pens on the pages, but I wouldn’t venture into watercolors or markers as they would likely bleed through. 
Shading lines
You’re probably wondering why I gave this book a 3.5 rating. Well, my lovelies, this is why. Some of the line art is very, very heavy. Some of the images seem hastily drawn and not completely finished. Another thing, and this was the major factor in why I gave it a 3.5 rating, was the fact that rather than allowing the colorist to decide where to shade the picture, the illustrator decided to add shading lines. There are so many shading lines that some of the pictures look distorted and I’m dreading coloring them.

The last thing that had caused me to lower the rating was that some of the images span across both pages making it nearly impossible to color then entire image. And, more often than not, it’s a vital part of the image, such as a face, that is cut off.
Overall, I really enjoyed that this was a Sherlock coloring book yet it would have been better—and easier to color—if the images would have been done a bit differently.
Have you tried this coloring book?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (BBC) DVD Review


The episode opens with a quick rehash of how Watson and Holmes met then ‘the games afoot’ when Lestrade arrives with the case of The Abominable Bride, a woman—in a wedding dress—who killed herself  (in the same fashion as Moriarty) then rises from the dead and murders her husband. A few months later Lestrade returns to 221B Baker Street with the disturbing news that the Abominable Bride has returned and murdered several men in their homes and, of course, Sherlock is intrigued enough to want to solve the case.

Series: Sherlock: A Special | Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman | Studio: BBC | Run Time: 90 minutes | Release Date: January 12, 2014 | Genre: Mystery| Source: BBC | Rating: 3.5

I’m such a fan of Sherlock Holmes, both the original creation of Arthur Conan Doyle and the modern day version brought to life by Benedict Cumberbatch, so I was thrilled when I discovered that the BBC would be releasing a special that would send this modern day Sherlock back to Victorian London.
Warning Spoilers Ahead
Please skip the following paragraph if you do not want to read them.
The show was going brilliantly until the second half, in which the viewer discovers that the case is actually taking place in Sherlock’s ‘Mind Palace’—thanks to him taking a cocktail of drugs— and Sherlock is trying to work out if his nemesis, Moriarty, faked his death.
End of Spoilers
From this point on, the show weaves in and out of the past and the present as Sherlock resolves to solve the case of the Abominable Bride. Thrown in the mix is, oddly enough, the subject of feminism. And when the show ends, while the mystery is resolved, there is still a possibility that Sherlock’s modern day world is askew.

While I enjoyed this special—yes, fellow Sherlock fans, a special is all that we will be getting this year *le sigh*—and the fact it’s mostly set in Victorian times, I was a bit disappointed with the second half. It was an interesting approach, but, at times, it felt a bit jumbled and rushed.
Where the previous shows in the series are based mainly off a single Sherlock Holmes story, The Abominable Bride takes pieces from several Sherlock Holmes stories and creates a unique tale of its own.

The title The Abominable Bride as well as the name ‘Ricoletti’ comes from a rather small reference from The Adventures of the Musgrave Ritual. The orange pips that Lord Carmichael receives shortly before he dies comes from The Five Orange Pips, which is one of only two Holmes stories where the client dies after seeking Holmes’ help. The oddly chosen attire for the secret sect of feminist—which, is sure to raise eyebrows— also stems from The Five Orange Pips.
Another thing that will catch die-hard Sherlockians off guard—and leave some wondering about Sherlock’s reality— in this special is that Sherlock actually says, “elementary, my dear Watson”. While, for some strange reason, that has become a catchphrase associated with Sherlock, it was actually only uttered once in The Adventure of the Crooked Man and not in that order.
Overall, while this special may have left some viewers wondering if they fell down a rabbit hole, and, while I wasn’t thoroughly 100 % impressed, I still found this special and the breadcrumbs it left intriguing. I’m eager to see where the brilliant minds behind Sherlock are going to go with this in the new season, which will probably air in 2017.

Are you a fan of the TV series?
Did you watch the special?

Photos courtesy of the BBC

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday {26}: The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne


Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
So, I have to admit, it was the cover that drew me in but it was the blurb caught my eye. And, honestly, who can resist a series called ‘Victorian Rebels’? Certainly not me! I’m  off to order book one while waiting on book two to come out.

Title: The Hunter
Series: Victorian Rebels #2
Author: Kerrigan Byrne
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: February 2, 2016
They're rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the proper Victorian-era ladies who love them, a hint of danger only makes their hearts beat faster... 
A scandalous proposal.
As one of London't most elite hunters, Christopher Argent never misses his mark and always gets his man. But when his latest target turns out to be a woman—the popular, and stunningly beautiful, actress Millie LeCour—it turns his whole world upside-down. Overwhelmed by the heat that simmers between them, Christopher can't complete his mission. On the contrary, he'll do anything to save Millie's life—even if it means risking his own...
A dangerous passion...
When she learns what Christopher was hired to do, Millie is torn between the fear in her heart and the fire in her soul. Putting herself in this dangerous man's arms may be her only path to safety—but giving in to her desire may be the deadliest mistake she's ever made. With both of their lives in jeopardy, Millie and Christopher must learn to trust the real feelings they're hiding—to find the true love they're looking for...

What are you lovelies waiting on?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delany

As the owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, Merry Wilkinson knows how to decorate homes for the holidays. That’s why she thinks her float in the semi-annual Santa Claus parade is a shoe-in for best in show. But when the tractor pulling Merry’s float is sabotaged, she has to face facts: there’s a Scrooge in Christmas Town.
Merry isn’t ready to point fingers, especially with a journalist in town writing a puff piece about Rudolph’s Christmas spirit. But when she stumbles upon the reporter’s body on a late night dog walk—and police suspect he was poisoned by a gingerbread cookie crafted by her best friend, Vicky—Merry will have to put down the jingle bells and figure out who’s really been grinching about town, before Vicky ends up on Santa’s naughty list…
Series: A Year Round Christmas Mystery #1 | Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime | Genre: Cozy Mystery | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4 Cups

I’m always looking for a good cozy mystery that will draw me in an keep me guessing until the very end and Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen was exactly what I was looking for.
Here’s what’s going on. When a freelance journalist covering Rudolph’s Christmas spirit dies after eating a poisoned gingerbread cookie, Merry Wilkinson, owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, is out to prove her best friend, Vicky who owns the bakery, wasn’t the perpetrator. Merry starts wondering if perhaps the killer followed the journalist to New York until strange events start occurring around town threatening to destroy the image of America’s Christmas town.  Now Merry’s on a mission to track down the killer and save Rudolph.
Merry was such an easy character to like—which was good given that this book was told from her POV. She left town and followed her dreams but ultimately returned to her hometown and started a business selling handcrafted gifts and Christmas decorations. She definitely has the Christmas spirit and she loves her little Christmas town so when someone is out to destroy Rudolph, Merry takes it upon herself to stop them.
Like most cozy mysteries, this book does have the start of a love triangle for Merry. There’s Russ—he’s a Rudolph newbie and reporter for the newspaper. Then there’s Allen—he’s a woodworker who also is a toymaker, he and Merry dated in high school. I really want to see Merry end up with Allen, they just seem right for each other. My only problem with this was that I wanted Merry to speak up about what she wanted. It was obvious she wanted Allen but she was willing to allow Russ to pull her away from spending time with him.
The mystery was brilliant and kept me guessing until the end. Although once the killer was revealed, I was surprised I hadn’t put the pieces together.
As this is the start of a new series, parts of the book were a tad bit slow as the author filled in the reader about the town and it’s residents. While it slowed down the pace, it didn’t shift my focus away from the plot.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this start to a new series. With cozies, I want to be pulled in by the setting, the characters, and the mystery and I have to say I was. There’s a bevy of charming and unique residents of Rudolph that truly brings this book to life and, I have to say, I’m eager to read the next book in the series.

Are you a fan of cozy mysteries?