Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

Forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway is in her late thirties. She lives happily alone with her cats in a remote area near Norfolk, land that was sacred to its Iron Age inhabitants—not quite earth, not quite sea. But her routine is harshly upended when a child’s bones are found on a desolate beach. Detective Chief Inspector Nelson calls Ruth for help, believing the bones to be the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing a decade ago and whose abductor taunts him with bizarre letters referencing ritual sacrifice, Shakespeare, and the Bible. Then a second girl goes missing and Nelson receives a new letter—exactly like the ones about Lucy.

Is it the same killer? Or a copycat murderer, linked in some way to the site near Ruth’s remote home?
Series: Ruth Galloway Mystery #1 | Publisher:  Mariner | Genre: Mystery | Source:  Publisher | Rating: 4 Cups
Challenges Read For:  -  2019 Try Something New
What the Sand gets, the Sand keeps forever.
—The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins


This was quite the pleasant surprise. Elly Griffiths has been on my to-read for years. I’ve heard so many people raving about writing so when I was offered a book club box by the publisher, I couldn’t refuse and I’m so glad that I didn’t.
Forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway is brought in to aid DCI Harry Nelson when it’s discovered that an ancient druidic sacrifice could shed light on the case of two missing little girls. In the remote saltmarshes of Norfolk, Ruth’s home and a place where present New Age Druids are still connected to the rituals of the past, Ruth and Harry are left with a string of strange letters they must decode that will hopefully shed light on the girls’ whereabouts.  As the investigation proceeds and Ruth’s put in danger, she realizes no one can be trusted.
I enjoyed the characters. Each one added something different and unique to the story and they all had a particular connection to the site where the henge was discovered.
Ruth is almost obsessed with her job to the point it almost consumes her, yet it’s not a bad trait—I mean, if I were able to poke around in the past it would consume me too—it’s made her the interesting woman she’s become. Like most scholars, she’s a little awkward in social situations and it takes her awhile to find her footing when around others yet she’s not afraid to say what she’s thinking. She’s also a little self-conscious about her weight, which I believe comes from the fact her mother’s rather critical about everything she does. She has a circle of friends she made on a dig ten years ago and she’s rather protective of those she’s let in.
I found Ruth to be interesting—she’s the type of person I could see myself being friends with. There’s also a realness to Ruth and I like it when characters feel as though they could step into the real world.
DCI Harry Nelson is a bit hard to read. There’s a brashness to him yet there’s also this gentler side that pops up unexpectedly. He’s work-driven and that’s a good thing but, at the same time, it makes him appear cold. There’s two side to him, a professional side and a personal side and, at times, I feel as though he discontent with his personal like. It’s almost as if he’s searching for an out but doesn’t want to rock the boat and I’m hoping that as the series progresses he figures it out. He’s also a bit unsure at all the archeological stuff Ruth drops on him yet he knows her information is vital to solving the case.
I found that I liked Harry. There’s something about him that makes me want to know more. Although were this a different genre, I’m not sure he would be my favorite, if that makes sense. Hopefully the next few books will clear a few things up.
There’s something between Ruth and Harry. It was obvious from the start but I can’t put my finger on what it is—I’m not sure they really know, either. They just seem to be muddling through figuring out and handling things as they come along. Although in the midst of the unknown, there’s a trust between the two. They know they can count on each other. At times it natural and at other times, it’s awkward, but it’s a solid trust that I think will grow throughout the series.
The atmosphere and the remote setting of the saltmarshes sent shivers down my spine, as did the talk of the past ritualistic sacrifices. Given the land was already steeped in an almost dark history added just another layer of mystery. There was so much to sort through and so many different outcomes, that I was shocked who the killer turned out to be yet not surprised because he was on the top of my suspect list. I enjoyed weeding through the clues and the letters and seeing how each peg fit in their proper hole.
While this does deal with ritual sacrifices, bones, and a few not so much gory but gruesome things it wasn’t over the top or overly explained. Although it’s always a bit harrowing when children are the victims in thriller/mysteries.
This book’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t want to spoil anything but there’s an event that happens in this book that, had it been in a romance book would have ruined the book for me, yet in this book it didn’t really bother me. I’m not a fan of it—I’m not condoning it—, but seeing as this is a thriller/mystery book I overlooked it.
While I didn’t really have issues with this book, there were a few things that I would have like an explanation about considering they were top events. I feel like that would have rounded out this book more evenly. It wouldn’t change the outcome, I just would have liked to have known why.
Overall, the mystery/thriller aspect blew me away. I’m always up for a bit of British Crime Drama, a bit of history, and bit of archeology so given that the three were combined in this book, I was thrilled. If you’re a newbie to the archeology scene, fear not, everything is explained without confusion and without bogging down the book. And I was pleasantly surprised with some of the friendships that were made within the book.

Ruth Galloway Mystery Series
The Crossing Places
The Janus Stone
The House at Sea’s End
A Room Full of Bones
A Dying Fall
The Outcast Dead
The Ghost Fields
The Woman in Blue
The Chalk Pit
The Dark Angel
The Stone Circle

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Cowboy Rebel by Carolyn Brown

Ever since losing his best friend in a motorcycle accident, Taggart Baker wants to make every moment count. No dare is too dangerous, no adventure too crazy for this cowboy. But after one bad brush with the law, he realizes it's time to ditch his hooligan friends and grow up. Now he's running his own ranch next to the Longhorn Canyon spread in Texas. Still, no one would ever call him tame.  

Nikki Grady has worked too hard for her RN license just to throw it away for some reckless cowboy who shows up in her emergency room after a barroom brawl. But she can't help being drawn to Tag's sense of humor and those crystal blue eyes. The more time they spend together, the more she sees his good heart. But just as Tag seems ready to settle down for good, his troubled past comes calling-and this time he won't be able to walk away so easily.

Series: Longhorn Canyon #4 | Publisher: Forever | Release Date: May 28, 2019  | Genre: Contemporary Romance  | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4.5 Cups
Challenges Read For:  - Bad  Literary Pickers  - Black Coffee
I do like a bad boy! I had such a good time with this book. Picking up a Carolyn Brown book is like visiting with a dear friend, you know you’re going to walk away smiling. Her plots are fresh and realistic, her characters are sassy and beautifully flawed, and the romance is endearingly sweet.
Here’s what’s going on. Tag’s been living his life in the fast lane but now that he co-owns a ranch, he’s starting to put down roots and it doesn’t hurt that Nikki’s caught his eye. Nikki knows she should stay away from Tag, but there’s something about the sexy cowboy that sets her heart aflutter. When Tag’s past finally catches up with him and puts Nikki in danger, he wonders how she’ll ever forgive him.
I’ve really been enjoying this series. I know I’ve missed a few and need to remedy this ASAP, but the ones I’ve read I’ve loved and this one is no exception.
Tag’s been a rebel most of his life. He’s content with pushing well past the boundaries, having a revolving door of women, and living everyday as though it were his last. Although now that he has purchased a ranch with his twin brother, Hud, Tag’s starting to realize there’s more to life than being the wild one. And now that Nikki has captured his interest he’s trying to figure out how to navigate between his wild side and the side that wants to settle down with her.  I found Tag to be rather entertaining and, I can’t deny it, I might have fallen for him just a tad because he reminds me of a guy I used to date.  
Nikki’s lived a very cautions and very independent life. Having been hurt in the past, she’s not sure is she’s willing to act on her feelings for someone who throws caution to the wind like Tag does. Yet there’s a part of Nikki that’s already fallen head over heels for Tag and the sense of family he brings. I can relate to Nikki’s fear. I’ve been in her shoes regarding falling for someone as reckless as Tag so I get where she’s coming from and why she’s hesitant.  
I felt like the romance in this one was relatable. They were both cautious —Nikki due to her fears and Tag because he wasn’t sure he wanted to drag her into his past. There was an undeniable chemistry yet they were slow to act on it. They also took their time to grow and figure out who they were before acting on their attraction.
There was a bit of danger in this one and I really enjoyed the way Nikki handled herself. She’s such a determined and feisty little thing; I don’t think I’d want to go against her. Tag was great through all of it—determined and regretful. This event really made him rethink his life choices.
The secondary characters are such a zany bunch and they bring so much fun and joy that you can’t help but to treasure each of them.
One of my favorite things when reading a book by Carolyn Brown is seeing when one of her character’s goes to Wal-Mart. I have no idea why, but I just like to hunt for this event in each of her books.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with a Carolyn Brown book. They pick you up when you’re down and leave you with a big smile on your face.

Includes the bonus novella A Wedding on Lavender Hill by Annie Rains: When an event planner is asked to create the perfect wedding in just three days, she must turn to the last person she wants to ask for help -- the infuriating owner of the house on the hilltop.

Longhorn Canyon Series
Cowboy Bold
Cowboy Brave
Cowboy Rebel

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Mine by Courtney Cole

Tessa was prepared for the hurricane. Lindsey was the storm she didn’t see coming.

When Tessa Taylor unlocked her husband Ethan’s iPad to discover nude photos from a twenty-six-year-old bombshell named Lindsey, her seemingly perfect life came to a screeching halt.

With a hurricane barreling toward Florida and Ethan stuck on a business trip, Tessa finds herself imprisoned in her own home with a choice to make: Does she ride out the storm until she can confront Ethan in person, or does she take matters into her own hands?

Increasingly restless and desperate for revenge, Tessa resolves to act. And when she lures Lindsey over a few hours later, there’s no turning back.

What ensues is a battle of wills between two well-matched opponents, blinded by love for the same man but driven by demons of their own. Like storm-ravaged Florida, neither woman will be the same when the skies clear.

Publisher: Gallery  | Release Date: 5/28/2019 | Genre: Psychological Thriller  | Source: Publisher | Rating: 5
Challenges Read For:  - 2019 Try Something New 
Let your tea grow cold and ignore the phone, once you pick up Mine you’ll not want to put it down until the last page has been read.

I scroll through the thread and find several pictures of a young, fit, and naked woman. And the texts…from him to her, which is paired with this iPad.
  The room spins as reality sinks in.
  This can’t be read. But I’m starting at the words, at the proof, and my stomach heaves.
  My husband is having an affair.

Atmospheric and thrilling, Mine is a riveting tale of what happens when a happily married woman discovers her husband of twenty years is having an affair with a younger woman and the rash decision to exact revenge that will ultimately change all of their lives.

  I try to imagine the look on her face when she sees me instead of my husband. Will she be furious? Will she be afraid?
  She should be.
  I can’t stop the odd smile that my mouth contorts into, and for a moment, I’m scared of myself.
  What have I just done?
  What am I going to do?
  Lightening cracks outside, and I see it flash in the small gap at the bottom of the shutters. All hell is breaking loose out there.
  In here, too.
  Like a predator, I creep out of the bedroom and wait in the shadows until the door opens a few minutes later.

When Tessa opens her husband’s iPad in the middle of a hurricane and discovers he’s been having an affair with a younger woman she lets her desire for revenge guide her. Acting before thinking—and pretending to be her husband—, she invites Lindsey over. Now Tessa has Lindsey right where she wants her but Lindsey’s not giving up without a fight. As the storm rages on and emotions are running high, both women are determined to claim Ethan as their own.

  The woman opening my front door thought she could steal my life.
  What gives her the right?
  I sharpen my claws against the wall.
  What made her think she could?
  Poised at the edge of the foyer, I hear her high heels tap across my stone floor.
  What part did my husband play?
  My heart quickens, and my rage flows freely in my veins.
  Why wasn’t I enough?
  Answers are within my grasp. I feel them within my fingers, and I will get every last one of them.
 What will I do to her?
There was such a rawness to this book that I couldn’t help but to feel invested. I was eager to see how this would playout and if they would be able to dig deep and figure out what they wanted.

I found myself feeling sorry Tessa. She had been a loyal, faithful wife and she didn’t see her own personal storm barreling down on her and, when she discovered it, there was so much hurt and anger she wasn’t sure what to do with it. Lindsey’s not a likable character. She’s selfish, manipulative, and just not a very good person. Yet I found myself feeling sorry for her at times because of how bloody na├»ve she was.


Overall, I was blown away with how much emotion was in this book. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say this should be one everyone’s to-read list.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Falling for the Billionaire Wolf and His Baby by Sasha Summers

When Jessa Talbot’s boss offered her a promotion, she agreed—no questions asked. Her family needed the money, but fighting the attraction she feels for her brooding employer is tough. Worse, she instantly bonds with his infant son she’s caring for. But this is a temporary solution and she can’t get attached to either of them.

Finnegan Dean is cursed. He’s a nicely dressed monster, the wolf inside always looking for a way out. But there are two things he and his wolf agree on. They must protect baby Oscar and Jessa—his mate. While the wolf hungers to seal their bond, Finn fights the instinct. After all, if he really cares for her, he’d never doom her to the life he lives.
Series: Blood Moon Brotherhood #1 | Publisher: Amara/Entangled Publishing | Genre: Paranormal Romance  | Source:  Purchased | Rating: 3.5 Cups

Challenges Read For:  - Bad Boys of Romance Literary Pickers  Fireplace - 2019 Try Something New- New-to-me Author
I picked this one (and the other two books in the series) up during the sale Entangled was having and I have to say, I don’t regret it. I did have a slight problem with it—but still no regrets.
Here’s what’s going on. When Finn discovers he has a newborn son he decides his best employee, Jessa, is perfect for the job. Although he wasn’t expecting his wolf to want her as his mate. When Jessa accepted the job, she had no idea what Finn was but now she’s fallen for Oscar as well as Finn and there’s no way she can walk away from them. And now that trouble is closing in on his son and his nanny, Finn’s determined to do what it takes to protect them.
I had a fun time with this book. There’s danger, action, chemistry, humor, romance, and passion lurking around every corner making this an interesting read.
Finn was my favorite. He’s 100% alpha in everything that he does but he’s constantly engaging in an inner war with his wolf. He’s determined to keep that side of him bottled up and he can’t really find inner peace. That inner struggle made him rather endearing. There’s also this softer side of Finn when he’s around Jessa and his son that I enjoyed.
Jessa is a tough cookie—I don’t think I’d want to go up against her. She’s raised her siblings so she used to looking after others and it made her a natural when it came to looking after Oscar. She’s also very determined and not afraid to stand up to Finn.
Finn and Jessa were amazing together. The chemistry was bursting off the pages and they had this great connection. While the fated mate thing wasn’t mentioned, their relationship had that vibe but it wasn’t an insta-lust/love. They were slow to start and I liked that.
The suspense and actions bits of this book were brilliant. Each time something happened, I found myself wrapped up in the plot and speeding through the pages. I also liked how the backstory of the drama was included without bogging the book down.  
The way Finn was turned into a werewolf was so different from any shifter book that I’ve read and I have to give the author kudos for thinking outside the box. While I would have liked to have had more regarding the ‘Others’, I still found the paranormal world that she built to be interesting.
Now for the problem I had. While Finn and Jenna’s romance was tied up in a nice bow, there’s still a major issue regarding Finn and Jenna that needs to be addressed. I’m pretty sure this will be one of the plot arcs of the series but it still gave this book that cliffhanger feel. If the entire series would have been Finn and Jenna’s story, I would have been fine with this major event carrying over to the next book or two, but it’s not. The following books focus on two different couples meaning this issue is probably not going to get a lot of page time and I find that irritating. I would have much rather had Finn and Jenna’s entire story tied up, not just their romance given how much focus was on this particular thing.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. Finn and Jenna were great and the secondary characters made me eager to start the next book. I still have an issue with their story not being completely resolved.

Blood Moon Brotherhood  Series

Falling for the Billionaire Wolf and His Baby
Rescued by the Wolf
Protecting the Wolf’ Mate

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Do or Die Cowboy by June Faver

Putting it all on the line for love...

 Cowboy musician Tyler Garrett has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put aside his rough-and-tumble rancher's lifestyle and realize his dream. He's on the road to Dallas to record a demo when that dream gets kicked sideways by a beautiful woman on the run.  

Leah Benson will do whatever it takes to keep her daughter safe. But when her dangerous past catches up with her, she needs a hero—and luckily for her, Tyler Garrett was born and bred for the role.

 Series: Dark Horse Cowboys #1 | Publisher:  Casablanca|  Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 1 Cup

Challenges Read For:  Blogger Shame Literary Pickers  Handcuffs - 2019 Try Something New
Rather than joining his brothers in the family ranch business, Tyler’s decided to follow his dreams and become a country music star yet his plans get temporarily put on hold when he meets Leah and her daughter. Leah’s on the run and determined to keep her daughter safe, which is why she’s picked up her life and moved in with her grandmother. When a chance encounter brings Tyler into her life, she’s grateful but afraid she’s holding him back from his dream.
Have you ever read a book where it seems like everything is just a tad bit over played? Well, that’s what I was dealing with here and I really should have saved myself the time and walked away from it.
Leah’s come from a horrible situation that injured her daughter, yet a day and a half after meeting Tyler she’s head over heels for him thinking, ‘No fair! This man is making me fall in love with him. He’s going to break my heart when he leaves.’ A day and a half, lady, it’s only been a day and a half!!! Seriously?!?!? What the heck? This doesn’t seem like the actions a woman would take if she was on the run from a dangerous man. And she seems perfectly fine with leaving her daughter in the care of a man she’s only known for a few days.
Then there’s Tyler—he has daddy issues. He, more or less, thinks his father is a horrible person for trying to persuade him to stick around and help out at the ranch rather than supporting his dreams to be on some country music version of American Idol. While he plays the role of the good guy when he’s with Leah and her family, he’s act like a selfish wanker when he’s in Dallas doing his music stuff.
The relationship was too much insta-love for me to get behind. I didn’t really see any growth or chemistry between the two.
There’s a bit a suspense part with a local trouble making family trying to get Leah’s grandmother to give up her land. It just seemed a bit over the top and repetitive.
Overall, this one wasn’t for me. It was cheesy, repetitive, and the character’s actions didn’t really mesh with their backstories. I don’t think this author is for me.

Dark Horse Cowboys Series

Do or Die Cowboy

Hot Target Cowboy

When to Call a Cowboy

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday #73: A Rogue by Night by Kelly Bowen

Book: A Rogue by Night
Series: The Devils of Dover #3
Author: Kelly Bowen
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: 5/20/2019

Why it’s my WoW: You had me at smuggler and mysterious crime boss. This has been on my to read list since the last book came out. I just love the whole idea of a aristocrat turned smuggler.

Baron. Physician. Smuggler. Sir Harland Hayward is living a double life as an aristocrat by day and a criminal by night. As a doctor, Harland has the perfect cover to appear in odd places in the dead of night, a cover he uses to his advantage to bring in all sorts of illicit cargo from across the English Channel. He's chosen this life to save his family from financial ruin, but he draws the line at taking advantage of the honest and trustworthy Katherine Wright.

Katherine has returned to Dover to find that her family is working for a mysterious new crime boss. Growing up in a family of smugglers, she knows it's only a matter of time before they are caught—and killed. So after her brother is shot, she convinces her family to move away and start over. After they honor their last contract, of course. With her injured brother and elderly father unable to work, Katherine reluctantly steps back into the life she had left behind. And straight into the path of the merciless Harland Hayward. 
What are you waiting on?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Unzipped by Lauren Blakely

Picture this - I’m ready to win back the love of my life, and I’m going big this time. We’re talking boom box, sing her name in the rain, let the whole damn neighborhood know I'm good and ready this time around. After all, if you're going to grand gesture the ever-loving hell out of a second chance, you need to pull out all the stops.

There’s only one little problem.  

My college girlfriend isn't the one who shows up when I play my "I'll do anything to win you back" tune.  

The woman who flings open the second-floor window tells me my ex doesn’t live here anymore. But she'll help me win her back. Anything for romance, anything for a guy so willing to go big for love. And that's what I want at first. Until I get to know my new “romance coach” and discover she’s funny, clever, and keeps me on my toes. And boy, do I ever need that.

Now I don't want to win anyone else’s heart. I want the woman who's been helping me all along.
 Trouble is - she thinks I'm in love with someone else, and when we take off on a road trip, everything I think I know about women is about to be unzipped and turned inside out.

Publisher: Audible | Narrators: Joe Arden and Andi Arndt | Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins Genre: Contemporary Romance  | Source: Publisher  | Rating: 4 Cups
Challenges Read For:  - Literary Pickers : Phone/device charger

What happens when you ‘Say Anything’ the wrong woman?


Here’s what’s going on. Tom (Kyler) is determined to win his college girlfriend back and decides to go full “Lloyd Dobler” (if you don’t know who that is watch Say Anything, the John Cusack romcom made in 1989) but he accidentally gets the wrong window and the wrong woman. Finley’s determined to save her television show and she’s been waiting for inspiration to strike so when Tom shows up it was like a gift from the gods of creativity. She’s even more thrilled when he agrees to let her use his mission to win back his girlfriend as fodder for her show. Although something has gone wrong with their plan and soon they’re falling for each other. The only thing left to do is admit it.

I’ve been devouring a ton of Lauren Blakely books as of late and they’ve been a bit hit and miss. Thankfully, Unzipped was a hit. This was such a fun book.


Tom’s a great guy. He’s kind, caring, and has his act together. Although he’s got a bit of learning to do about the dos and don’ts of dating. Finley’s been having a bit of an internal struggle about her television show. The show’s teetering, and she’s afraid her late mother was right about needing to find a new career. Although when she meets Tom, he makes her realize just how important it is to follow her dreams.


Finley and Tom was such a great couple. They had amazing chemistry and I enjoyed that they got to know each other before jumping in to a relationship. The only problem I had was the way Finley shut down after getting bad news and how Tom just let her go without speaking up and telling her how he really felt.


I really enjoyed Joe Arden’s narration. He just makes you take notice of what he’s saying. This time I struggled a bit with Andi Arndt’s narration. She just seemed a bit whiney and dramatic in this one than the others she’s narrated.

Overall, this was fun one chocked full of movie quotes and fun characters.