Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hidden Star by Nora Roberts

She couldn't remember a thing, not even who she was. But it was clear Bailey James was in trouble. Big trouble. And she desperately needed private eye Cade Parris to help her find out just what kind. Surely she wasn't a criminal--but then what on earth was she doing with a bag full of cash and a stunning blue diamond as big as a baby's fist?

Series: Stars of Mithra, #1 | Publisher: Brilliance Audio | Narrator: Scott Merriman | Length: 6 hrs and 39 mins | Genre: Romantic Suspense | Source: Purchased  Ratings 3.5 Cups

Challenges Read For: Reading Through Nora Roberts

I hadn’t heard of the Stars of Mithra series until Quinn over @ Quinn’s Book Nook (if you haven’t checked out her blog, you should do so) reviewed the first book in the series. I was fascinated by the fact Bailey, the heroine, had amnesia so I decided to use up some of my Audible credits and picked up the first book in the series. Plus, it fits in perfectly with my Reading Through Nora Roberts Challenge. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed, so a big thank you goes out to Quinn for bringing this series to my attention.
So, here’s what’s going on: When a woman stumbles into Cade’s office with a bag of cash, a loaded gun, a massive blue diamond, and amnesia Cade doesn’t hesitate before accepting her case. There’s something about Bailey that Cade’s drawn to and now they must work together to prove she’s not a criminal. As pieces of Bailey’s past start coming together, they soon find themselves falling for each other.
Cade is right up there with my top ten favorite heroes. He’s the black sheep of a wealthy family and rather than doing what his family wanted, he decided to become a private eye. He’s kind, caring, willing to go above and beyond to help Bailey out, and he’s just an overall nice guy.
I struggled with Bailey. Okay, so the cards are stacked against her given that she has the makings of a jewel thief (loaded gun, bag of cash, a massive blue diamond that’s priceless) and doesn’t remember who she is or how they came into her possession but did she really need to go all woe-is-me all the time? If she had three explanations put in front of her, two being reasonable and the third being the worst case scenario, she’s pick the worst one every single time. Throughout most of the book, she had the whole woman-in-jeopardy thing going on, but there were a few moments when she let her inner warrior out and I did enjoy seeing her get angry and confront Cade.
The romance, because it was so quick to develop, probably won’t work for everyone but it worked for this book and I found that it worked for me. Even though it started quickly, I was rooting for Cade and Bailey and really enjoyed watching them fall for each other.
So the mystery wasn’t as prevalent as I thought it would be—the plot focused more on the romance—but I didn’t really mind. I was provided with enough mystery and information that made it interesting and set up the next book.
While I liked the characters and enjoyed the plot, some of my favorite moments were the ones when they were talking about gemstones and equipment jewelers would use. Designing jewelry and playing around with gemstones is a hobby of mine so it’s always nice to see that come up in books.
This was my first time listening to Scott Merriman narrate and I found I really enjoyed him. His male narrations each had a personality of their own and his female narrations didn’t come off a whiney.
Overall, I really enjoyed one. It is some of her earlier work and it was a bit dated with talk of Bailey pretending to design jewelry for Princess Diana, but the writing was solid.  

Stars of Mithra Series 
1-Hidden Star
2- Captive Star
3- Secret Star  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Nearest Thing to Heaven by Lynnette Austin

Sophie London hates Texas. The longhorns freak her out and the wide-open spaces are more unnerving than a Chicago alleyway at night. But Sophie wouldn't miss her cousin's wedding for the world-even if it means returning to Maverick Junction . . . and to the dangerously irresistible Ty Rawlins.


 A single father of rambunctious triplet boys, Ty knows trouble when he sees it-and Sophie's got it written all over her. Yet he's never been able to stop thinking about her, even after their one brief meeting. Maybe fate is giving him a second chance. But if Ty wants Sophie to swap her stilettos for cowgirl boots, they'll each have to face the past-together.


Series: Maverick Junction #2 | Publisher: Forever |Genre: Contemporary Romance| Source: Publisher | Rating: 5 Cups

This book was my first 5-cup read in a long time and here’s why.
Meet Ty and Sophie. He’s a widower raising triplet boys on his own. He’s a good father but he’s a broken man and he’s holding on to a lot of hurt and anger that he can’t figure out how to let go of. She’s a city girl who owns her own greeting card company. There’s a touch of whimsy to Sophie, which Ty and his sons need in their life. Although there’s also something in her past that’s causing problems for her future.
I really liked Sophie and I could relate to her. She believes in the power of crystals and fairies, not in the totally out there in left field way but more in the whimsical way. She’s an artist and it was fun watching the way she incorporated different parts of herself into her work. She’s also a city girl so watching her figure out life in Texas was interesting.
I really wanted to wrap Ty in my arms and never let him go. He was damaged, wounded, and holding on to so much hurt and anger but he didn’t want pity. He knew that Sophie sparked something inside him, but he had a hard time figuring out how to handle these new feelings. Although, no matter what happened, his boys came first.
Ty and Sophie were so good for each other. They were both a little stubborn and neither really wanted to face the past but they pushed each other forward and helped each other heal and face what they needed to in order to move forward.
They had so much chemistry it was bubbling off the pages. The romance took a bit longer to figure out and I liked that. Ty’s still working through some things so he makes a few blunders along way but he was man enough to own up to them. Sophie had something that she needed to deal with as well, and I’m normally not a fan of people keeping secrets, Sophie keeping this one actually made sense to me.
Romances with kids can be tricky to pull off but I found the ‘triple threat’ as Sophie called the boys to add to the story. They were darling boys in need of a mother and it was fun watching Sophie learn how to tell the identical boys apart and really showed that she was growing closer to them. And they added a bit of comic relief when things because a bit too much.
This was the second book in the Maverick Junction series but it read brilliantly as a standalone. Sure, I want to go back and read book one, but it wasn’t a necessary read to understand this book.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. Everything in it worked and I the characters truly stood out. 

Maverick Junction Series
1-Somebody Like You
2-Nearest Thing to Heaven
3-Can't Stop Lovin' You

Friday, January 27, 2017

Outlander Series Reading Challenge Check-In Post #1

Congratulations, Lovelies! We’ve made it to our very first 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! We’ve had a massive turnout…so far (as of the 26th) we’re up to 148 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. If you keep track of your reading on GoodReads, there’s also a GoodReads group.


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.

My progress so far: I’m getting ready to tackle Virgins in e-book form (sadly, the print copy I ordered is still floating around somewhere in the postal system). I tried the audiobook but ended up stopping in the middle of the first chapter because the narrator didn’t thrill me. I mean, he was good, don’t get me wrong, but he wasn’t Jamie.


I’ve also been playing around with the Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook by Theresa Carle-Sanders. So far I’ve tried to two recipes: Gypsy Stew (taken from chapter 34 of  Outlander) and Black Jack Randal’s Dark Chocolate Lavender Fudge. Both recipes were so delicious, I can’t wait to try the others.

Okay, lovelies, so it’s time to report on your progress. What have you read? What are you currently reading? If you’re re-reading the books have you picked up anything new? First time readers, what’s your impression?

Giveaway Time!
One lucky participant will win a Just Call Me “Sassenach” necklace made by me. To enter, you must leave a comment with your progress update.
Winner will be announced in the Facebook group on January 31st.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Bad Boys of Romance 2017 Reading Challenge Goal Post

Bad boys…I do so love them. So when I discovered that the ladies over @ Delighted Reader are hosting The Bad Boys of Romance Reading Challenge, I had to join in.

Here’s the breakdown:

Ø The minimum goal is 5 books.
Ø The books have to feature a bad boy hero:
Ø Rock stars, MC members, streetfighters, assassins, mafia, loners, geeks, etc.
Ø Only romance series are accepted. Any sub-genre of romance accepted.
Ø Sign-ups are open Now— November 30, 2017.


Ø Level One – 5-9 books – Capturing the Bad Boy
Ø Level Two – 10-15 books – Engaged to the Bad Boy
Ø Level Three – 15 books or more – Taking the Bad Boy to the Alter
My Goal: Level Two 10-15 books Engaged to the Bad Boy. I’m going to aim for ten books.
1- Hooked by Christina Phillips (Review)
2- Dare to Run by Jen McLaughlin (Review)
3- Dare to Stay by Jen McLaughlin (Review)
4- Dare to Lie by Jen McLaughlin (Review)
5- One Taste of Angel by Violetta Rand (Review)

2017 Blogger Shame Challenge Goal Post

Blogger Shame 2016
Blogger Shame…Yep, I still have it. It’s the curse of bloggers everywhere. lol Thankfully, Anna @ herding cats & burning soup is, once again, hosting her Blogger Shame Challenge. Any review book (any format, any length) over 4 months past due counts.


Have it too and what to join? Sign up HERE

Goal: I’m aiming for 12—one book per month. I feel as though my blog schedule can handle one overdue review book a month. If I manage more, yay! If not, I’m okay with carving 12 books of my TBR mountain.

1. Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason (Review)
2. Grant by Jennifer Ashley (Review)
3. The Cowboy and the Kid by Anne McAllister (Review)
4. The Spring at Moss Hill by Carla Neggers (Review)
5. Size Matters by Alison Bliss (Review)


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts

Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out - with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except, apparently, Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro....


As the former manager of a D.C. hotel, Hope is used to excitement and glamour, but that doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate the joys of small-town living. She’s where she wants to be - except for in her love life. Her only interaction with the opposite sex has been sparring with the infuriating Ryder, who always seems to get under her skin. Still, no one can deny the electricity that crackles between them…a spark that ignited with a New Year’s Eve kiss.


While the inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope’s experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome - and embarrassing - appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder’s emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him…


Series:  Inn BoonsBoro #3| Publisher: Brilliance Audio | Narrator: MacLeod Andrews | Length: 10 hrs and 14 mins | Genre: | Source: Publisher | Ratings 4.5 Cups

Challenges Read For: Reading Through Nora Roberts

I’m a bit sad to bid Inns BoonsBoro adieu but this trilogy definitely ended on high note.
Here’s what’s going on. Hope has finally settled into the swing of small-town living and managing the inn when her ex-boyfriend shows. Deciding to put her ex in his place, Hope enlists Ryder to pretend he’s her boyfriend. Now realizing that there’s more than just a spark between them, Ryder is ready to claim Hope as his own.
So, Ryder is definitely my favorite of the Montgomery boys. He’s surly, broody, and ready to start a fight but he’s dependable, loyal, and there when someone needs him. He’s not this perfect hero, he’s realistically flawed and still has somethings to figure out but he was my kind of hero.  
I liked Hope as well. She has problems trusting because of her ex-boyfriend but little by little she lowered her guard around Ryder. I also like how easy she adapted to small-town living. She’s also not afraid to let her feelings be known.
The romance was so fun in this one. There’s so much chemistry between Ryder and Hope, I’m surprised my Kindle didn’t burst into flames. They also had this tension between them and I was never really sure if they were going to kill each other or tear their clothes off.
While I loved the interaction between Ryder, Hope, and the secondary characters, Lizzie, the ghost stole the show. Her story was finally revealed and I loved how she and the man she loved ended up being connected to Ryder and Hope.
Once again, MacLeod Andrews brought the book to life. I really enjoyed the way he portrayed Ryder—it was so different from the other two. The same problems I had—the women and children sounding whiney—were still there.
Overall, this one was brilliant. I wanted to devour it but I also sort of wanted to stretch it out since it was the last book in the trilogy and I wasn’t ready for it to end.

Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy
3-The Perfect Hope 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high-security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down she knows she's not crazy and doesn't belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree, she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

Using her trusting friend, Bale, as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly everything isn't what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid - her true home - with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she's sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything...including Snow's return to the world she once knew.

This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.

Series: Stealing Snow  #1| Publisher: Audible Studios | Narrator: Bailey Carr  | Length: 10 hrs and 25 mins | Genre: Fantasy | Source: Publisher | Ratings: DNF

So, Stealing Snow, *shudders*. This became my first DNF of 2017. I tried, I really tried to finish this one but it just wasn’t going to happen.
I knew, going in, that this was a YA fantasy book, but I had heard so many reviewers raving about how it was more adult than YA, I have to say, it’s nowhere near adult. Snow is a whiney, woe-is-me teenager from the start and it only gets worse as the book progresses. I couldn’t find one thing that I liked about her and her obsession with Bale, the boy she supposedly fell in love with at the mental institution, became annoying. And, like a teen, Snow fell for every guy she came in contact with and soon threw herself into a love triangle.  *cue eye roll*
The world building sort of left me scratching my head. In the beginning, when Snow arrived in Algid, it was great and I really got an amazing picture of this fantasy world with its snow beast, river witches, and fantastical creatures then a new chapter started and the world building evaporated and never really returned.
It felt like this book went on forever but the plot went nowhere. I kept waiting for something to happen but nothing really did. It was the same thing over and over again just in a different location. Nothing evolved and I just couldn’t take Snow whining one more minute.
Okay, so the narrator was like nails down a chalkboard. Her narration of Snow was breathy and urgent while her narration of others was shrill.
Overall, I just couldn’t force myself to finish this one.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Something to Stitch About…Stitching Goals for 2017

I have so many embroidery and cross-stitch projects that I’ve bought then just stashed in my sewing boxes and bags that it’s starting to get ridiculous. So, I decided that one of my goals for 2017 would be to tackle some of my stitching projects and so Something to Stitch About was born.


I’m going to be realistic with my goal and aim for 5 finished stitching projects by the end of the year. If I manage more, that will be great but 5 seems reasonable.

Projects I want to finish


o   Wolf Mum and her pups--Finished on January 20th
o   Life is Sweet Apron--Finished on January 27th
o   Frosty Memories Lap Quilt
o   Beauty and the Beast Pillowcases
o   Magpie cross-stitch


My Projects and Progress


Here’s what I’m currently working on….A wolf mum and her pups. I’ve been working on this one for nearly 2 years…

I finished the Wolf Mum and her Pups on January 20th. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Now, I need to decide if I want to make it into a pillow or a wall hanging.

Do you embroider or cross-stitch?
Do you have projects you need to catch up on?  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts

Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family’s construction business with an iron fist - and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers give him grief for his compulsive list making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn’t plan for was Avery MacTavish....  

Avery’s popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation - and a newfound appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery’s thoughts. But the attraction she’s feeling for him now is far from innocent.  

As Avery and Owen cautiously take their relationship to another level, the opening of the inn gives the whole town of BoonsBoro a reason to celebrate. But Owen’s hard work has only begun. Getting Avery to let down her guard is going to take longer than he expected - and so will getting her to realize that her first boyfriend is going to be her last…. 

Series: Inn BoonsBoro #2 | Publisher: Brilliance Audio | Narrator: MacLeod Andrews  | Length: 10 hrs and 40 mins | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher | Ratings: 4 Cups

Challenges Read For: Reading Through Nora Roberts

So this is the second book in the Inn BoonsBoro trilogy and I was thrilled to be back in the world of the Montgomery brothers. While I enjoyed Avery and Owen, this book felt a little lackluster to me.
Here’s what’s going on. Owen and Avery have been friends since childhood, now they’ve finally stopped fighting their attraction and decided to see where things will lead. Although, due to things that happened in her past, Avery is hesitant to fully allow her feelings for Owen to surface and Owen will stop at nothing to convince her they’re meant to be together.
Owen and Avery was such a fun couple. He lives by schedules and lists and she’s more of a spur of the moment type so they had that opposites attract thing going on and I loved watching that play out.
I really liked Owen. He’s was a solid, dependable guy who loves his family and will do anything he can for them. Plus, I’m a total sucker for organized guys. I struggled with Avery. I completely understood where she was coming from but the way she handled things didn’t gel with me and I ended up not liking her at times. I also found her to act a bit immature and annoying, especially when she was with Hope
There was still quite a bit of information thrown in about the inn. While it wasn’t as annoying or distracting as it was in book one—I guess I knew what was coming with inn descriptions this time—I still felt that it could have been carved down so more time could have been given to the characters.
Okay, so this is probably going to sound a little silly, but my favorite thing about this book was Lizzie, the ghost. More of her story was revealed and I found her to be interesting.
This was my second time listening to MacLeod Andrews narrate. While I knew what to expect with his narration style, I still found that his female and child narrations came off as whiney. I do enjoy his male narrations although I would have liked to have seen more of a distinction between Owen and Beckett. Out of his narrations for all three Montgomery brothers, Ryder is the only one that had a different narration style.

Overall, this one wasn’t a bad book, I thoroughly enjoyed Owen and Avery, but it was lackluster and left me wanting more.

 Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy
2-The Last Boyfriend
3-The Perfect Hope

Monday, January 2, 2017

Sign Up: 2017 Outlander Series Reading Challenge

Are you addicted to the television series but haven’t read the books? Or have you had the books sitting on your shelf but haven’t picked them up yet? Maybe you want a chance to re-read the series. Well, here’s your chance! Dust off those copies and join the 2017 Outlander Series Reading Challenge.


Here’s what you need to know. 

Timeframe: January 9th, 2017—December 31st, 2017
Goal—To read through the Outlander Series and the shorts.
What Counts
Ø Books must be read in 2017
Ø Re-reads count
Ø All formats (print, digital, or audio) count
Who can join? Anyone.
Ø Bloggers, set up a challenge post and link it below.
Ø Not a blogger? It’s okay, just set up an Outlander Series Reading Challenge shelf on GoodReads.
Ø Make sure you join the Facebook group, because fun mini-challenges and giveaways will be posted there. You’ll also have the chance to meet and interact with other Outlander fans who are participating in the challenge.  
Check In Posts: Will be the last Friday of each month with the exception of November.
January 27 | February 24 | March 31 | April 28 | May 26 | June 30 | July 28 | August 25 | September 29 | October 27 | November  30 (Thursday)| December  29 (Final Check In Post)

Check In Giveaways will be random, so please check the blog every month.

Bloggers, grab the button to let others know you’re joining in
grab button for 2017 Outlander Reading Challenge
<div class="2017-outlander-reading-challenge-button" style="width: 260px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="http://simplyangelarenee.blogspot.com/2017/01/sign-up-2017-outlander-series-reading.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> <img src="http://i1031.photobucket.com/albums/y373/angelasimmons86/small%20button_zpszgjgwry7.png" alt="2017 Outlander Reading Challenge" width="260" height="200" /> </a> </div>

Nonbloggers, please leave a comment letting me know you’re joining in.

Add your link

Sunday, January 1, 2017

My Favorite Books of 2016


I have to say, I’m not too upset about bidding 2016 adieu. It was one of those years I gladly pushed out the door. Although, even with the lows of the year, there were still some pretty neat thing about 2016. Like getting out an exploring my area—I didn’t check out as many places as I would have liked, but it was a start—and wearing a corset—seriously I applaud the women through history who wore these things and survived! 
2016 was a weird reading year. I had a lot of DNF’s this year and some were from authors whose work I normally love. I also expanded my genres adding in some thrillers, contemporary literature, and getting back into non-fiction, gothic romance, and cozy mysteries.  Out of all the books I read and reviewed, only one earned a 5-Cup rating.
Here are my favorites from 2016
Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart 5 Cups Audiobook
Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson
Edge by Tiffinie Helmer 
Cozy Mystery
Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman
Death and the Redheaded Woman by Loretta Ross
All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris
Teetotaled by Maia Chance
A Scone to Die for by H.Y. Hanna
Contemporary Literature
The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
Finding Fraser by KC Dyer
Contemporary Romance
Happy Ever After in Christmas by Debbie Mason
Waking up with A Billionaire by Katie Lane
Run to You by Rachel Lacey
The Next Always by Nora Roberts
I Only Have Eyes For You by Bella Andre
A Christmas Bride by Hope Ramsay
A Texas Cowboy's Christmas by Cathy Gillen Thacker
Gothic Romance
House of Glass by Jen Christie
Paranormal Romance
Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper
White Tiger by Jennifer Ashley

What books topped your 2016 list?