Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May in Review

Hello, my Lovelies!


I cannot believe today is the last day of May. It went by insanely fast. Thanks to Anna over @ herding cats and burning soup and her brilliant idea to host a mini blog ahead, I’ve actually managed to get caught up on my blog posts, which I desperately needed to do. I didn’t get as many posts up this month as I would have liked, but thankfully the next few months are sorted out. I just have a review or two to add along the way.
Here’s what happened in May:
Mini Blog Ahead My Goals and Progress—My goal was to have 15 scheduled posts in 15 days, so I was very pleased that I ended with 26 scheduled posts.
May Book Reviews—I enjoyed revisiting the town of Copper Ridge in Take Me, Cowboy. Finding Fraser carried me to Scotland as Emma chased down her own Jamie Fraser. Reawakened— Once Upon A Time companion—was rather boring as it recapped the boned of the first season.
May Audiobook Reviews—I’m very pleased to say that I’ve discovered The Haunted Guesthouse Mysteries, a brilliant new-to-me cozy mystery series with a paranormal twist. They’ve been a joy to listen to.
May Coloring Book Reviews—These have to be two of my favorite coloring books.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Take Me, Cowboy by Maisey Yates

She's just one of the boys, but with a new business in Copper Ridge, Anna Brown needs to change that. Her brothers bet she can't land a date for a fancy charity event. So Anna turns to her best friend—the hottest bachelor in town—for advice.

Rancher Chase McCormack wants in on that gala. If Anna takes him, he promises to turn her into a lady. But the makeover reveals what he's long suspected—Anna's irresistible! Is his best friend prepared to be taken—heart, body and soul—by her very own cowboy?

Series: Copper Ridge #3 | Publisher: Harlequin Desire | Release Date: April 5, 2016 | Genre: Contemporary Romance| Source: MLM Media | Rating: 3.5 Cups

Challenges Read For: Pick Your Own Genre: Contemporary
So, this was a super sweet, super cute, super short friends-to-lovers romance that sort of reminded me of a naughtier version of My Fair Lady.
Here’s what’s going on: Anna’s brothers bet her that she can’t get a date for the local charity event. She’s determined to prove them wrong as well as attend the event to prove to the community just how far she has come.
Chase, Anna’s best friend, has the solution. Since he wants an in to the gala to drum up business, he offers to be Anna’s date and teach her how to be a lady. What neither was expecting was to develop feelings for the other.
I’m a massive fan of the Copper Ridge series and it’s nice meeting new residents of the town. So I was eager to read this one.
I really liked Anna. She’s a big machine mechanic, she loves old movies, and she’s made something of herself. Chase was a bit harder to like. He’s content with one-night stands and he’s not really into settling down. Honestly, he’s a bit of a man whore.
So, there’s a whole lot of awkward going on here as they transition from friends to lovers. Some of it’s a bit cringe-worthy but I ended up liking them together, once Chase got his act together.
Overall, this was a cute story, other than the friends-to-love part, not much happened.

Copper Ridge

Shoulda Been A Cowboy: A Copper Ridge Novella
Bad News Cowboy
A Copper Ridge Christmas—Novella
Hometown Heartbreaker—Novella
Take Me, Cowboy
One Night Charmer

Friday, May 27, 2016

Audiobook Round Up {Finding Fraser} {The Tudor Vendetta}

I met Jamie Fraser when I was 19 years old. He was tall, redheaded, and, at our first meeting at least, a virgin. I fell in love hard, fast, and completely. He knew how to ride a horse, wield a sword, and stitch a wound. He was, in fact, the perfect man.


That he was fictional hardly entered into it.


At 29 Emma Sheridan's life is a disaster, and she's tired of waiting for the perfect boyfriend to step from the pages of her favorite book. There's only one place to look, and it means selling everything and leaving her world behind. With the aid of an unexpected collection of allies, can Emma face down a naked fishmonger, a randy gnome, a perfidious thief, and even her own abdominal muscles on the journey to find her Fraser?


Publisher: Tantor Audio | Narrator: Romy Nordlinger | Length: 11 hrs and 47 mins |Source: Gift | Ratings: Story-4.5 Cups Performance- ½ Cup
I received this as a gift from a book group friend who shares my love of Outlander. I had received a review copy of the book (see my review) but she was eager to know what I thought about the audiobook version, so I turned it while I was doing a spot of cleaning.

My first thought was thank goodness I had read the book and not listened to it. If I had actually listened to the book, I don’t think I would have actually enjoyed the book. I couldn’t enjoy the way Romy Nordlinger narrated the book. Honestly, I found her annoying. Nails down on a chalkboard kind of annoying. Her voice was high-pitched and nasally. Oh, and the accents were atrocious. What annoyed me the most was the way she presented the book; she turned a charming, lively little story into a dull, lifeless group of words.
Honestly, I ended up skipping several chapters in this one because there was no what I was going to be able to listen to almost 12 hours of this.
Overall: skip the audiobook and read the book.

Upon the death of Mary I (Bloody Mary), Elizabeth I takes the throne, and Brendan Prescott is called to aid the young queen amid a realm plunged into chaos and a court rife with conspiracy.
London, 1558. Queen Mary is dead, and 25-year-old Elizabeth ascends the throne. Summoned to court from exile abroad, Elizabeth's intimate spy, Brendan Prescott, is reunited with the young queen, as well as his beloved Kate, scheming William Cecil, and archrival Robert Dudley. A poison attempt on Elizabeth soon overshadows her coronation, but before Brendan can investigate, Elizabeth summons him in private to dispatch him on a far more confidential mission: to find her favored lady in waiting, Lady Parry, who has disappeared during a visit to her family manor in Yorkshire.
Upon his arrival at the desolate seaside manor where Lady Parry was last seen, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery in Vaughan Hall, the more he learns that, in his zeal to uncover the truth, he could be precipitating Elizabeth's destruction.
From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the deadly underworld of London, Brendan must race against time to unravel a vendetta that will strike at the very core of his world - a vendetta that could expose a buried past and betray everything he has fought for, including his loyalty to his queen.
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.| Narrator: Steve West | Length: 9 hours and 50 minutes | Ratings: DNF

Normally, I’m a massive read-it-in-one-sitting fan of Gortner’s work so I happily accepted this audiobook. So, I fixed me a hot cuppa tea, grabbed my cross stitch, and turned on the book.
It started out pretty good. The narrator was engaging, the plot held a nice air of mystery with a bit of romance. I was able to get a good sense of the Elizabethan court as well as the intrigue and danger that lurked. As the book progressed, I realized I was starting to lose interest. I tried to pick up where I left off a few days later but realized I couldn’t get back into it. Perhaps I was expecting the plot to remain more in the mystery genre and it kind of veered off into a full romance.  After a few more failed attempts at getting back into the story, I finally just gave up.

What do you look for in an audiobook?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Official Outlander Coloring Book

The perfect gift for fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels and the Starz original series, this spectacular adult coloring book features forty-five all-new illustrations!




 From the lush green of the Scottish Highlands to the military red of a British soldier’s coat or the vibrant hues of a tartan kilt, the colorful world of Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser is now yours to explore. Featuring gorgeous natural landscapes, detailed drawings of Claire’s medicinal herbs, depictions of the books’ most beloved scenes and characters, and intricately rendered clothing, weapons, and armor straight out of eighteenth-century Scotland, these exquisite black-and-white images—from renowned illustrators Juan Alarcón, Yvonne Gilbert, Craig Phillips, Jon Proctor, Tomislav Tomić, and Rebecca Zomchek—are designed to dazzle and inspire. Fans of the series, as well as lovers of history and art, can party like it’s 1743.

Publisher: Bantam Source: Purchased

It’s official, I’m completely addicted to Outlander, so when this coloring book was released last year, I knew I had to have it.

First, let me start by saying that I love the size. It’s a 9inch by 9inch square and, for me, I seem to like the square coloring books a bit better. It seems the images are always a bit crisper and more detailed in the square books.

I love how this is composed of images from six different illustrators. Rather than just having one standard format, this book contains vastly different illustrations. While I liked each of them a few, unfortunately, do have shading lines. And I’m not overly fond of shading lines.

The images vary from very complex illustrations such as Claire in a garden that will probably take days to finish to large images of broaches and candlesticks that only took an hour to finish.  
The paper that it’s printed on is a nice, crisp white that allows the true color to show. It’s very smooth, yet all coloring mediums seems to work well on it. The weight is nice also as it’s a medium cardstock. I haven’t had any problems with the colors bleeding through, although I do place a piece of paper behind the image I’m coloring just to make sure nothing transfers to the page behind it.

I’ve had fun experimenting with the different mediums I’ve used in this one. So far, I’ve used colored pencils, felt-tipped pens, fine-liners and watercolor pencils. Each medium goes on smoothly and works brilliantly. And the paper is heavy enough that when using watercolors it doesn’t curl up. Although I do want to mention that if you do use watercolors, it’s best to work slowly. Do a bit here and there and allow it time to dry before moving on to the next one. Also, allow the page to dry before closing the book. I’ve found it best to work on a flat surface, just because, while the page does grab the water, it’s not rigid enough to hold the watercolors if it’s vertical.
What I really like about this book is that rather than having images on the both sides, this contains an image on one side and a quotation from Outlander (the book) on the back.

Overall, I absolutely love this coloring book. It’s basically a very condensed version of Outlander. Fans of both the book and television series will be delighted. I really hope that they release other coloring books to correspond with the other books in the series.   


If you color, what mediums do you enjoy using?  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday {43}: The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz

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


Betrayal, revenge, a family scandal and a 150–year–old mystery? Yes, Please! This one just sounds captivating.
Title: The Bourbon Thief
Author: Tiffany Reisz
Publisher:  Mira
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Betrayal, revenge and a family scandal that bore a 150–year–old mystery
When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it's to discover he's been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it's property of the Maddox family who owned and operated Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War, until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.
In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.
 About the Author:

What are you lovelies waiting for?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Audiobook Review: An Uninvited Ghost by E.J. Copperman Narrated by Amanda Ronconi

Alison and her resident gumshoe ghost are on their next case when the deceased Scott MacFarlane floats in worried that he accidentally killed a prominent local woman. Turns out she's still alive...that is, of course, until she's murdered - in Alison's house. Now, between the demands of her guests and the arrival of a reality television crew, Alison must find the killer before she sees reality from the other side.


Series: Haunted Guest House #2 | Publisher:  Berkley | Audiobook Publisher: Audible | Narrator:  Amanda Ronconi| Length: 9 Hours 31 Minutes | Genre: Cozy Mystery| Source: Audible| Ratings: Performance: 4  Cups  Story: 3.5 Cups 

Another amazing book in the Haunted Guesthouse Series.
Here’s what’s going on. Alison’s guesthouse is finally up and, thanks to Paul (one of her resident ghost), she now has her private investigators license. If Paul and Maxi agree to help Alison put on a show for the senior tour group Edward Rance has booked, she has agreed to help Paul on cases since neither he nor Maxie can leave the house.
Their first case comes in the form of Scott MacFarlane, a ghost who believes that he may have inadvertently murdered an elderly lady named Arlice Crosby. Luckily, Arlice is alive although she’s soon murdered during one of Alison’s séances that’s being put on for the tour group. Now Alison and her group of family and friends, both living and dead, must figure out who murdered Arlice.
And to make matters more confusing, her guests include contestants of a reality show that’s being filmed in her house.
So, this one was such an interesting cozy mystery and, like the first book in the series, this one pulled me in and it held my attention all the way through.
Alison is now running her guesthouse so she’s dealing with her resident ghosts as well as living guests. She’s also just received her P.I. license and has agreed to help Paul take on cases of other ghosts. To make matters trickier, Alison has also agreed to allow a reality show to film in her guesthouse. She’s not as frantic as she was in the first book and she’s more accepting of the ghosts, which I enjoyed.
In addition to the regular lovable cast of characters, Alison’s intuitive and charming daughter, her Pollyanna-type mother, her two best friends—one who amusingly refuses to acknowledge the ghosts, Paul and Maxie there is also a group of new characters. We have the senior tour group that Edward Rance has booked and the young, and somewhat annoying cast of the reality show Down the Shore. They really shake things up and make things interesting.
What I enjoyed most about this one was the mystery. Someone wanted Arlice dead. They were hoping that Scott, the ghost, would accomplish this but when he failed, they realized they had to have someone else do the job. I was never really sure who the murderer was until the end then it actually made sense.
Like in the previous book, Detective Macaloney allows Alison to work with her on the case and actually steers Alison in certain directions. It’s refreshing to find a detective in a cozy that’s actually interested in working with and not against the main character.
So, there’s an inkling of a romance between Trent, the producer of Down the Shore, and Alison. There’s a lot of flirting but it never really goes anywhere. And I was a bit disappointed that they never touched on what happened with Ned Barnes, Melissa’s history teacher and Alison’s love interest in book one.
Once again, Amanda Ronconi was brilliant. I especially loved the Scottish accent she used when reading Scott MacFarlane. And the book seemed to fly by.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I never would have guessed the murderer and that nice. Although I never really felt onboard with the whole reality show thing thrown it. It wasn’t bad, and it did add to the show, but, at times, it just seemed annoying.

Haunted Guesthouse Series

The Thrill of the Haunt
Inspector Spector
Ghost in the Wind

Monday, May 23, 2016

Finding Fraser by KC Dyer

I met Jamie Fraser when I was nineteen years old. He was tall, red-headed, and at our first meeting at least, a virgin. He was, in fact, the perfect man.
     That he was fictional hardly entered into it...

On the cusp of thirty, Emma Sheridan is desperately in need of a change. After a string of failed relationships, she can admit that no man has ever lived up to her idea of perfection: the Scottish fictional star of romantic fantasies the world over—James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.

Her ideal man might be ripped from the pages of a book, but Emma hopes that by making one life-altering decision she might be able to turn fiction into fact. After selling all her worldly possessions, Emma takes off for Scotland with nothing but her burgeoning travel blog to confide in.

But as she scours the country’s rolling green hills and crumbling castles, Emma discovers that in searching for her own Jamie Fraser, she just might find herself.

Publisher: Berkley | Release Date: May 3, 2016 | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4.5 Cups

Challenges Read For: Pick Your Own Genre: Contemporary  

This is such an awesome book but I think I should probably start with a reader beware warning. This book is not actually about Jamie Fraser or Outlander. It’s about girl obsessed with finding her own Jamie Fraser and the adventure that search takes her on. Knowing that beforehand changed how I approached the book. If I would have went into this book thinking it was Outlander-driven, I would have had a different approach.
So, here’s what’s going on: When her latest relationship ends and she gets fired from her job, Emma Sheridan decides to sell off her belongings, grab her well-read copy of Outlander, and hop a plane to Scotland in search of her own Jamie Fraser. Traveling on her own and recording her journey via her travel blog, Emma soon discovers herself while searching for her own Fraser.
While I didn’t have a hard time getting into this book, I had a hard time connecting with Emma at the start. At times, she was a bit senseless, too trusting, and rather naïve. It was as though she couldn’t see what was right in front of her and I found myself wanting to shake her and tell her to open her eyes. Thankfully, while searching for a Fraser to call her own, Emma starts to discover who is. As I started to realize who Emma was, I started to understand her and she grew on me.
When she first started her journey, she was determined to stick to the map of Claire’s journey in her copy of Outlander yet after a string of mishaps she finally realizes that it’s not possible and it was nice seeing Emma take control and do her own thing. I really enjoyed watching her adventures in Scotland. Of course, there are times that she questioned her search, but she never questioned going to Scotland.
I just have to add that, as someone who had chickenpox in her twenties, I completely understood and sympathized with Emma’s ‘Month of Darkness’.  
The secondary characters that Emma meets along the way are quirky, lovable, and charming. They added flair and truly brought this book to life.
While romance is at the core, Finding Fraser is more women’s fiction. It’s about finding yourself, becoming comfortable in your own skin, and seeing what’s right in front of you. I truly enjoyed watching Emma grow.
The pacing of this book was brilliant and I read it in two sittings. I didn’t want to put it down but I had appointments that I had to keep.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It was witty, comedic, and I enjoyed watching Emma discover herself. You don’t have to be an Outlander fan, or even know who Jamie and Claire are, to enjoy this book. I believe it will appeal to book-lovers, bloggers, those who love Scotland, and anyone who has ever fallen in love with a fictional character.
Although fans of Outlander will enjoy catching the hidden references in the book.

Are you an Outlander fan?
What fictional character are you in love with?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Audiobook Review: Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman Narrated by Amanda Ronconi

Welcome to the first Haunted Guest House mystery - the getaway every reader can afford.


Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She's returned to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to transform a Victorian fixer-upper into a charming-and profitable guest house. One small problem: the house is haunted, and the two ghosts insist Alison must find out who killed them.


Series: Haunted Guest House #1 | Publisher:  Berkley | Audiobook Publisher: Audible | Narrator:  Amanda Ronconi| Length: 10 Hours 3 Minutes | Genre: Cozy Mystery| Source: Purchased| Ratings: Performance: 4  Cups  Story: 4. 5 Cups 

A friend of mine, who knows I adore cozy mysteries, gifted me with this audiobook and I was over the moon. Not only is it a cozy mystery, Amanda Ronconi—one of my favorite narrators—narrates it.


So, here’s what’s going on. After her divorce, Alison Kerby—with her nine-year-old in tow, moves back to her hometown to open a guesthouse on the Jersey Shore. Sure, the Victorian is in need of repairs, but Alison has it handled. What she doesn’t have handled is the fact her house is haunted by two ghosts who needs Alison’s help solving the mystery of who murdered them.


All Alison wants to do is get her guesthouse up and running, but when threats are launched at her and her daughter over the possibility a historical deed is hidden somewhere on her property , to save herself and her daughter, Alison must figure out who murdered her resident ghosts.


I simply loved this book. Normally I find the first book in a cozy mystery series a bit slow and boring, sometimes dragging, as the author introduces the characters and the setting. However, Night of the Living Deed (love the name, by the way), is so engaging and fluid it was hard to believe this was the start of a cozy mystery series.


The characters are delightful. Alison is single mom starting over after a divorce. She’s determined to get her guesthouse up and running but she’s also determined to do all the repairs herself. Living in a Victorian where everything seems to need to be repaired and no repair goes right, I have to admire the fact she has the ability and wants to do the repairs on her own.


Melissa, or Liss as she’s often called, is a very well-rounded nine-year-old. I would almost say she’s too smart and adept to be like life yet I know an eight-year-old that could be her twin. Loretta, Alison’s mother, was enjoyable and slightly over the top but that just added to her charm. There’s also Jeannie, Alison’s best friend who seems to be living in denial about the ghosts and Jeannie’s husband Tony.


The resident ghosts are brilliant. Maxie Malone, the former owner of the, is slightly annoying but I ended up liking her.  I’m kind of wondering if it was the way the narrator portrayed her, slightly whiney almost teenagerish, that made her a bit harder to handle. She’s been through a lot. She bought her first house, had someone threaten her, and ended up dying because of it. I could understand why she was a bit standoffish, but some of it was over the top. The other ghost is Paul Harrison, the private detective that Alison hired to get to the bottom of who was threatening her. I really liked Paul, even in death he’s still eager to be a detective so it was interesting to see how he persuaded Alison to look into their deaths.


The mystery aspect as well as the actual detective work was engaging and it kept me guessing until the very end. It starts with Alison discovering the ghost and them asking for help with their murder to Alison becoming a target herself. Alison really gets hands on and I like when the main character of a cozy actually investigates. And, for once, the detective on the case, Detective Macaloney, is actually receptive of Alison’s help. Macaloney might not like it at times, but she agrees that Alison’s normally right.


Thrown into the mix is a love interest for Alison in the form of Ned Barnes, Melissa’s history teacher. I was never really sure if Ned was truly interested in Alison or if he was interesting in her house and the historical deed that was possibly hidden there. It was interesting to watch unfold but it never developed into anything, which was a shame because I would have liked to have seen this aspect have a bit more closure.


Amanda Ronconi truly brings the characters to life. I’ve always enjoyed her style of narration and the same is true with this book. I would have liked to have seen Maxie less annoying, but other than that, she did an amazing job brining the characters to life and showing off their unique personalities.


Overall, this was a brilliant start to the series. It kept me engaged and on my toes. It was very fluid and I enjoyed watching Alison and her friends and family deal with the fact that ghosts are indeed real. I would have liked to have seen the love interest aspect developed a bit more, but this was still an enjoyable read.  

Haunted Guesthouse Series

The Thrill of the Haunt
Inspector Spector
Ghost in the Wind