Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells

Dirty Magic
Author: Jaye Wells
Series: Prospero's War
Publication: Orbit (January 21, 2014)

Description: MAGIC IS A DRUG. CAREFUL HOW YOU USE IT.

The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there's a new blend out there that's as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she's brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.

Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier - on the same day she swore she'd given up dirty magic for good. Kate Prospero's about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never say never.

My Thoughts: Kate Prospero is a cop who has sworn off magic. She grew up in a magical coven learning to cook magic but, when her magic killed someone she loved, she swore off. She has spent the last ten years raising her younger brother who has now become 16 and also become curious about magic.

Kate wants to get a spot on the Magical Enforcement Agency task force so that she will have some financial security for herself and her brother. Also, she is interested in getting dirty magic off the streets. She wasn't happy to learn that her former boyfriend is involved in the case. There is a new drug in town called Gray Wolf which gives the user immunity to defensive magic and a craving for human flesh. It is a combination of alchemical magic and blood magic which is why her ex is a suspect. He is one of the few who could do the alchemical magic.

I enjoyed Kate as she tried to reconcile her past with her future. I liked her relationship with her brother which is definitely being tested in this story. I liked watching her try to fit in with the other MEA agents and liked seeing her interact with the old boyfriend. I liked the world building and will be looking for more books in this series.

I think urban fantasy fans will like this one.

Favorite Quote:
Magic is a tool. If I am unable to use it responsibly, I will not use magic at all. I am responsible for my own actions, and I pledge to act with compassion for myself and others, always.
I bought this Kindle Daily Deal. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Memes: Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This week I am spotlighting a recent addition to my TBR mountain. I got Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells recently when it was a Kindle Daily Deal. Here is the description from Amazon:
MAGIC IS A DRUG. CAREFUL HOW YOU USE IT.

The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there's a new blend out there that's as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she's brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.

Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier - on the same day she swore she'd given up dirty magic for good. Kate Prospero's about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never. say never.
Beginning:
It was just another fucked-up night in the Cauldron.
Friday 56: 
Harry shrugged. "Figured you'd be more likely to agree if I said I was him."
"You were correct. Why is he out there while you're in here?"

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review: Innocent Prey by Maggie Shayne

Innocent Prey
Author: Maggie Shayne
Series: A Brown and de Luca Novel (Book 3)
Publication: Harlequin MIRA (September 30, 2014)

Description: To save innocent lives, they'll have to risk their own. 

Self-help superstar Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown have finally given in to their overwhelming attraction to each other, but neither of them is ready to let physical passion turn into full-blown romance, so they carefully maintain an emotional distance. Then a judge's daughter disappears, and Mason has a terrible sense that it's connected to the most recent case they solved together: the abduction of Rachel's assistant.

The discovery of a string of missing women—all young, all troubled—seems like a promising lead. But there's no clear connection between the missing girls and the high-profile young woman Mason is trying to find. He realizes that once again he'll have to rely on his own well-honed instincts and Rachel's uncanny capacity to see through people's lies in order to catch a predator and rescue his captives. But can they do it before Rachel becomes his next victim?

My Thoughts: Rachel agrees to help Mason when a judge's blind 20-year-old daughter is kidnapped. The judge asks the chief to investigate quietly which seemed suspicious to Mason and Rachel too. Rachel doesn't want to admit to being psychic but she has all the hallmarks. Apparently her new senses weren't only because she got a serial killer's corneas.

Rachel uses her insight into people to help Mason who has his own cop instincts. They are sleeping together but are still resisting having a more complete relationship. But both of them are becoming unsatisfied with this arrangement. Both of them want more.

While they are busy trying to track down the judge's daughter, they soon realize that this connects to Amy's kidnapping at Thanksgiving. It is also connected to other disappearances of young girls who age out of foster care and then disappear.

As usual, Rachel puts herself in danger to help solve the case and Mason arrives in the nick of time to save her. I liked these characters and really enjoy each new adventure. It is nice seeing Rachel come to realize that she really does believe all the self-help, positive-thinking stuff she writes. I love her relationship with her aged, over-weight and blind bulldog Myrtle. I also like her growing relationship with Mason's nephews Jeremy and Josh.

This series has been growing stronger with each book. I can't wait to see what happens next for Mason and Rachel.

Favorite Quote:
And then he turned the car around, and we were off and running.  And I thought to myself that it wouldn't be so bad to help him out with another case. It really wouldn't. At least I'd get to spend some time with him in the upright and unlocked position.

This could be fun.

Right. Fun. Like, you know, jury duty. Or a smallpox outbreak. Or seeing murders in your sleep. Fun.
I bought this one for my Kindle. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review: Dream of Danger by Maggie Shayne

Dream of Danger
Author: Maggie Shayne
Series: A Brown and DeLuca Novel (Book 1.5)
Publication: Harlequin MIRA (November 1, 2013)

Description: She didn't want to need him.

Murder brought self-help guru Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown together. Their shared secrets drove them apart. But now they're together again in this riveting novella that begins where New York Times bestselling author Maggie Shayne's Sleep with the Lights On ended.

She may have been blind for twenty years, but Rachel's always had an uncanny gift for seeing through people—and she distrusts her assistant's new boyfriend at first sight. Amy isn't interested in Rachel's misgivings, though. She's too eager to celebrate Thanksgiving by introducing her family to the new man in her life.

Then Amy doesn't show up for the holiday….

Desperate to find her missing friend, Rachel has no choice but to turn to Mason. Their investigation into Amy's disappearance takes them ever deeper into danger—and reignites the attraction that they've both sworn to resist. Now it's a race against time as these reluctant partners fight to stave off passion and save a life.

My Thoughts: This novella fits into the series after SLEEP WITH THE LIGHTS ON and before WAKE TO DARKNESS.  Rachel's assistant Amy disappears on the way to Thanksgiving Dinner with her family. Her plans had been to take her new boyfriend home with her. Rachel never liked the guy; she feels that something isn't right about him. So, she snaps a picture of his car showing his license plate when he takes off with her.

When Amy's mother calls the next morning to say that Amy didn't arrive, Rachel's first call is to Mason who drops everything to help her. They quickly learn that Rachel was right about the boyfriend. He was married and cheating on his wife. He says that he told Amy about it the night before and she - very angrily - broke up with him.

Mason and Rachel decide to retrace her steps and soon find her abandoned car. I like the relationship between Mason and Rachel. Neither one is in a place where they feel comfortable starting a relationship but the chemistry between them is hot. I also like Rachel's relationship with her blind bulldog Myrtle. She may talk tough but Rachel has a heart of marshmallow for the dog.

This was a nice bridge between the first two books in this series as it has Rachel show her affection for Amy and lets the tension build even more between Mason and Rachel.

Favorite Quote:
How do you write sunshine and rainbows when you're wishing you could poke someone in the windpipe with an acrylic nail?
I bought this one for my Kindle. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Innocent Prey by Maggie Shayne

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
"I'm gonna need another girl," he said to the person on the phone.

And that was the last thing she ever heard.
My teaser this week comes from Innocent Prey by Maggie Shayne. This is the third book in the Brown and DeLuca romantic suspense series. I got the first two books from the Amazon Vine program and got hooked. Here is the description from Amazon:
To save innocent lives, they'll have to risk their own. 

Self-help superstar Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown have finally given in to their overwhelming attraction to each other, but neither of them is ready to let physical passion turn into full-blown romance, so they carefully maintain an emotional distance. Then a judge's daughter disappears, and Mason has a terrible sense that it's connected to the most recent case they solved together: the abduction of Rachel's assistant.

The discovery of a string of missing women—all young, all troubled—seems like a promising lead. But there's no clear connection between the missing girls and the high-profile young woman Mason is trying to find. He realizes that once again he'll have to rely on his own well-honed instincts and Rachel's uncanny capacity to see through people's lies in order to catch a predator and rescue his captives. But can they do it before Rachel becomes his next victim?

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Jan. 26, 2015)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Last week was as busy as I thought it was going to be. I managed to get everything done. I still have to print report cards for two classes which is my task for Monday afternoon. I know what my Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade and Fourth Grade students are doing for the first two weeks of the new semester. I need to concentrate on plans for my Sixth Graders because I only know what they are doing for the first two days. That is also a task for Monday afternoon. 

My schedule flip-flops now that the second semester is beginning. I will start my day at the High School and finish it at the Elementary. I hope I remember where to go when I get in the car on Monday morning! It is hard to believe that our school year is already half over.  

Read Last Week
The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin was a fun urban fantasy novel. I really like the main characters voice. The story was also action-packed. My review will be posted on Feb. 28.

The Memory Key by Liana Liu was an excellent science fiction story that was also part mystery. I enjoyed this one too. It will be released on March 3. My review will be posted on Feb. 26.
Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells is the second book in the Prospero's War series and is an urban fantasy. I enjoyed this one even more than I enjoyed the first one. The characters are nicely complex and the plot was engaging and action-packed. My review will be posted on March 5 for this one.

How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews was a gritty contemporary about the rise and fall of a young man. It was a combination of prose and poetry and had over 300 very short chapters that each spotlighted one brief moment. It was very intriguing. My review for this March 3 release will be posted on Feb. 28.

Currently
Next up on my YA review stack is The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski. I enjoyed The Winner's Curse and look forward to reading this one too.

Next Week
The next three on my YA review stack are Lost Boy by Tim Green which will be released on March 3, Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman which will be released on March 10, and Boys Don't Knit by T. S. Easton which will be released on March 24.
The first adult book I plan to read this week is Trace of Magic by Diana Pharaoh Francis.

After that, I am not sure. I have a couple of books arriving on my Kindle this week - Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost and The Dragon Conspiracy by Lisa Shearin - which are both urban fantasy. Reading them would help toward my goal of reading books as I buy them. I would like to end 2015 with very few unread 2015 additions unlike 2014 when I added 621 books to my stack and still have 328 unread.

Of course, that policy won't help me whittle down TBR mountain very fast. Not counting review books, I have 2080 unread books on the mountain right now.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
Did you take part in the National Readathon on Saturday? I managed to read for a couple of hours during the readathon hours and a few hours after it was over.

What was your week like? Leave me a link and I'll come visit.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (Jan. 25, 2015)

Tynga of Team Tynga's Reviews has a meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. Visit her site to check out the linky and see what everyone gets. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow. 

I added three books to my stack this week.
Teacher Beware by Charlotte Raine was free for my Kindle. I saw this book on Twitter and thought it might be an interesting romantic suspense title.

The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg was a Kindle Daily Deal this week. Of course, The Paper Magician is still sitting unread on my Kindle. At least, when I find the time, I will have both books in the series.
First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan is a review book that I got from Meryl Moss Media. It sounded like an interesting contemporary romance. I am set to be on the blog tour on March 19 for this Feb. 24 release.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Book Review: Bring on the Heat by Katie Rose

Bring on the Heat
Author: Katie Rose
Series: The Boys of Summer (Book 1)
Publication: Loveswept (August 26, 2014)

Description: In Katie Rose’s irresistible battle of wits, a case of mistaken identity lands a female fan in bed with a sexy superstar—and in major-league trouble.

House-sitting for a rich and famous friend has its perks, and Darcy Hamel isn’t shy about enjoying them. Especially when it means scoring a ticket to an exclusive fashion show hosted by the New Jersey Sonics. An avid baseball fan, Darcy has always dreamed of meeting the team—especially the starting pitcher whose body is as hot as his fastball. But there’s a catch. The gala is by invitation only. To get behind the velvet rope, mild-mannered Darcy will have to pose as party girl Lydia Logan.

Schmoozing is one of the downsides of fame, but Chase Westbrook knows how to liven up even the dullest event. And nothing spices a night up more than a beautiful socialite with a naughty reputation. What Chase doesn’t expect is a hint of sweetness beneath her sultry fa├žade. Flirtation turns to seduction and leaves him aching for more. Chase just doesn’t know who the real Lydia is: the spoiled tease crying foul over some missing diamonds or the alluring woman making a play for his heart.

My Thoughts: This is the romance between Darcy Hamilton, house sitter, and Chase Westbrook, major league pitcher. Darcy is a big baseball fan. So when she is offered the chance to attend a fund raiser and meet the team by using her employer's invitation, she jumps at it. Her employer Lydia Logan tells her to borrow appropriate clothing from her closet. Darcy never expects to be mistaken for Lydia but, once she is, she has a hard time clearing things up. She meets Chase at the party and his is attracted to her - or is he attracted to Lydia?

Darcy has too much to drink and goes home with Chase but passes out before the have sex. When she awakens early the next morning, her first impulse is to go home but she forgets the diamond earrings that she borrowed from Lydia. She has to keep up the impersonation long enough to get Lydia's earrings back.

Chase, meanwhile, wants to stay close to Lydia because her grandfather has an interest in the Yankees and they are the team that he wants to play for. Being with the Yankees would meet his father's criteria for success.

Both characters have ulterior motives but they also get to know each other and fall in love. This was a nice romance. Fans of sports romances will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
Darcy waved at the air, ignoring the glances she got from an elderly gentleman as she made her way back to the table. She'd gone to the ladies' room, where she'd ditched the Spanx, unwilling to be uncomfortable one more minute. The hell with her tummy.
I bought this one for me Kindle. You can buy your copy here

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Memes: Bring on the Heat by Katie Rose

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This week I am spotlighting Bring on the Heat by Katie Rose. This is the first book in the Boys of Summer spicy romance series. I am a big fan of sports romances and couldn't resist when I saw that this book was only $.99 (although it's back to $2.99 now). Here is the description from Amazon:
In Katie Rose’s irresistible battle of wits, a case of mistaken identity lands a female fan in bed with a sexy superstar—and in major-league trouble.

House-sitting for a rich and famous friend has its perks, and Darcy Hamel isn’t shy about enjoying them. Especially when it means scoring a ticket to an exclusive fashion show hosted by the New Jersey Sonics. An avid baseball fan, Darcy has always dreamed of meeting the team—especially the starting pitcher whose body is as hot as his fastball. But there’s a catch. The gala is by invitation only. To get behind the velvet rope, mild-mannered Darcy will have to pose as party girl Lydia Logan.

Schmoozing is one of the downsides of fame, but Chase Westbrook knows how to liven up even the dullest event. And nothing spices a night up more than a beautiful socialite with a naughty reputation. What Chase doesn’t expect is a hint of sweetness beneath her sultry fa├žade. Flirtation turns to seduction and leaves him aching for more. Chase just doesn’t know who the real Lydia is: the spoiled tease crying foul over some missing diamonds or the alluring woman making a play for his heart.
Beginning:
Darcy Hamilton pulled up to the Moorestown estate in her 2005 blue Honda Civic. The car was good on gas, but appeared a little battered in the luxurious cul-de-sac lined with million-dollar homes and BMWs.
Friday 56: 
The car arrived far too quickly, and Chase reluctantly let her go as he leaned forward and opened the door. "Whew," he said, grinning at her in admiration. "I knew you were gorgeous, but goddamn."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review: Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz

Trust No One
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Publication: Putnam Adult (January 6, 2015)

Description: It’s no coincidence when Grace Elland finds a vodka bottle next to the lifeless body of her boss, motivational speaker Sprague Witherspoon. The bottle is a terrifying—and deliberate—reminder of the horrors of her past.

Grace retreats to her hometown to regroup and tries to put everything she’s learned about positive thinking into practice—a process that is seriously challenged on the world’s worst blind date.

Awkward doesn’t begin to describe her evening with venture-capitalist Julius Arkwright. She has nothing in common with a man who lives to make money, but the intense former Marine does have some skills that Grace can use—and he’s the perfect man to help her when it becomes clear she is being stalked.

As Witherspoon’s financial empire continues to crumble around them, taking a deadly toll, Julius will help Grace step into her past to uncover a devious plan to destroy not only Grace, but everyone around her…

My Thoughts: The story begins with Grace Elland discovering the body of her employer. He was murdered and a bottle of vodka was left at his side. The vodka triggers memories of when Grace was sixteen and she killed a man who had murdered his wife and was about to murder a young boy and her. Grace still suffers from nightmares. After losing her job, she moves to her old family home in Cloud Lake. She meets Julius Arkwright when her best friend and her husband set them up on a blind date. Julius is a very successful venture capitalist.

Julius and Grace become close when they begin to investigate the stalker that Grace has attracted. I loved the Grace was a positive thinking sort of person. I also loved that she was a master marketer who was largely responsible for her boss's success as a motivational speaker. Julius is a much more cynical person. While Grace is constantly coming up with motivational slogans, Julius has only two rules: Trust No One and Everyone has a Hidden Agenda.

This story was filled with romance and danger. I enjoyed both the suspense and the growing relationship between Julius and Grace.

Favorite Quote:
She gave him a cold smile. "Sprague Witherspoon said that one of my assets was that I think outside the box."

"There's thinking outside the box and there's failing to be able to find the box in the first place. You can't appreciate the new model until you understand the old one and why it isn't working anymore."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
The note pinned to the front of the dead man's silk pajamas was a one-sentence email printed out from a computer: Make Today a Great Day the Witherspoon Way.
This week my teaser comes from Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz. This is the latest book from one of my favorite authors. Here is the description from Amazon:
It’s no coincidence when Grace Elland finds a vodka bottle next to the lifeless body of her boss, motivational speaker Sprague Witherspoon. The bottle is a terrifying—and deliberate—reminder of the horrors of her past.

Grace retreats to her hometown to regroup and tries to put everything she’s learned about positive thinking into practice—a process that is seriously challenged on the world’s worst blind date.

Awkward doesn’t begin to describe her evening with venture-capitalist Julius Arkwright. She has nothing in common with a man who lives to make money, but the intense former Marine does have some skills that Grace can use—and he’s the perfect man to help her when it becomes clear she is being stalked.

As Witherspoon’s financial empire continues to crumble around them, taking a deadly toll, Julius will help Grace step into her past to uncover a devious plan to destroy not only Grace, but everyone around her… 

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Jan. 19, 2015)


It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Last week was a nice quiet one. The weather let us go to school every day. In fact, it sort of warmed up - for values of warm in Minnesota in January. We had almost thirty degrees over the weekend. I am hoping for good weather this coming week too since I have my rescheduled annual physical on Tuesday. 

This week is the last week of the first semester which means grades for 12 classes. Monday, I also have a Continuing Education Committee meeting which will mean about four hours of record-keeping for me to fit in this week. I am the chairman of the committee which helps teachers maintain their Minnesota teaching licenses. Tuesday, I leave work early for my doctor's appointment. Wednesday, I volunteered to be one of the judges at our district spelling bee. Thursday is an early release day for students but we teachers will spend the afternoon at a workshop about bullying. Friday is the day I have to finish up grades and get ready for my second semester classes which begin on Monday. I am already tired just thinking about all I have to get done this week.

I have listed some books I want to read down below but don't know if I will have any reading time at all this week. 

Read Last Week
The Secret Cipher by Whitaker Ringwald was an exciting middle grade mystery with magical elements. The story is told mainly from the two main characters' points of view. Both are engaging characters who couldn't be more different. My review will be posted on February 21.

Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder returns the focus on Yelena and Valek and finds both of them are deep in intrigues both personal and political. Since Yelena and Valek are separated for most of this story, I appreciated that the chapters were divided with each of them being viewpoint characters. Janco also got some chapters as viewpoint character. My review will be posted on February 21.
Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci was an interesting science fiction story. It is the sequel to TIN STAR. My review will be posted on February 18.

No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss was a very interesting contemporary story about a family that is homeless because the parents sold everything and gave it to a preacher who was saying the world was ending. But it didn't end. My review will be posted on February 19.
Vampires Never Cry Wolf by Sara Humphreys was a paranormal romance from my review stack. I thought the pacing was off. All the action and romance was crammed into the last third of the book. My review will be posted on February 26.

Currently
I am reading The Memory Key by Liana Liu. This is the story of a future US when all are implanted with memory keys because of a disease that is like a contagious Alzheimer's. The main character's key is malfunctioning which leads her to questions about whether or not the key is able to erase or re-write memories. I am liking it so far.
Next Week

I am entering a stretch when all my YA choices will be review books. My calendar is full, until the middle of July, of books I have accepted for review. I need to just keep reading them in the order that they are slotted in on my calendar. Here are the next three YA books on my stack.
How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews (March 3)
Lost Boy by Tim Green (March 3)
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (March 3)
 
In contrast, I have very few adult books on my review stack and am able to finally dive into some of the books that are on my TBR mountain. For this week, I have chosen some new arrivals to see if I can have one month when I read everything I buy. Here are three I am going to try to read.
The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin
Trace of Magic by Diana Pharaoh Francis
Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
Wish me luck as I try to survive one of the busiest weeks I can remember. Leave a link and I'll try to stop and see how your week went. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (Jan. 18, 2015)

Tynga of Team Tynga's Reviews has a meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. Visit her site to check out the linky and see what everyone gets. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow. 
I added only one book this week. I got a finished copy of Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish for my Kindle. I had an eARC for review but I discard all eARCs after I finish them.  

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book Review: Bastion by Mercedes Lackey

Bastion
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Valdemar: Collegium Chronicles (Book 5)
Publication: DAW Hardcover; First Edition edition (October 1, 2013)

Description: Mags returns to the Collegium, but there are mixed feelings--his included--about him actually remaining there. No one doubts that he is and should be a Herald, but he is afraid that his mere presence is going to incite more danger right in the heart of Valdemar. The heads of the Collegia are afraid that coming back to his known haunt is going to give him less protection than if he went into hiding. Everyone decides that going elsewhere is the solution for now. So since he is going elsewhere--why not return to the place he was found in the first place and look for clues? And those who are closest to him, and might provide secondary targets, are going along. With Herald Jadrek, Herald Kylan (the Weaponsmaster's chosen successor), and his friends Bear, Lena, and Amily, they head for the Bastion, the hidden spot in the hills that had once been the headquarters of a powerful band of raiders that had held him and his parents prisoner. But what they find is not what anyone expected.

My Thoughts: BASTION ends the five-book story arc that tells Mags story. From abused mine slave to Herald of Valdemar is quite a journey and it was fascinating watching him grow up and come into his own. Throughout the whole series we have watched Mags search for his history. In this episode we finally find out about his people.

Mags has escaped from the people who kidnapped him but he is afraid that he brought trouble back with him to the Collegium in Valdemar. He is very worried about Amily, the young woman he loves, and his friends becoming targets. He did gain a promise from his kidnappers to stop trying to assassinate the Crown that Mags is sworn to protect.

So a plot is hatched. Mags will go out on circuit with a mentor as most young heralds do and along the way he will "die." His friends will also get out of town for various reasons of their own. They will meet up and hope to elude the assassins. The will be patrolling the north of Valdemar including the Bastion which used to be a bandit hide-out. The same bandits who killed his parents. Mags is hoping to find some clues about them.

He and his mentor weren't expecting to find an area that was hostile to heralds and many problems to solve. Nor was he expecting to find the family that he had wondered about for years. His cousin Bey is a fascinating character who tries to convince Mags to come "home" with him and be part of the assassin's guild that Bey hopes to take over.

This story had romance as Mags and Amily finally get together. It had danger as Mags and company had to fight off assassins who also wanted to take Mags home with them. It was a nice conclusion to a story arc.

Favorite Quote:
:That I've had t'grow up?: he replied, feeling just a trifle irritated.

:That is exactly what I'm saying: came the reply. :Trust me, no one likes being forced to grow up. It's damned unpleasant. You learn you're never safe. You learn that people you depend on to protect you might not be able to. Not even me. You learn all sorts of things you would really rather not have known. I hated it. You hate it. Everyone hates it.:
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Memes: Bastion by Mercedes Lackey

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


I decided to end the year (I'm reading late in December but posting later on) by trying to finish up some series books that have been on my TBR mountain for a while. I chose Bastion by Mercedes Lackey which is the fifth book in the Valdemar: Collegium Chronicles. Here is the description of this book that has been on the stack since October 1, 2013:
Mags returns to the Collegium, but there are mixed feelings--his included--about him actually remaining there. No one doubts that he is and should be a Herald, but he is afraid that his mere presence is going to incite more danger right in the heart of Valdemar. The heads of the Collegia are afraid that coming back to his known haunt is going to give him less protection than if he went into hiding. Everyone decides that going elsewhere is the solution for now. So since he is going elsewhere--why not return to the place he was found in the first place and look for clues? And those who are closest to him, and might provide secondary targets, are going along. With Herald Jadrek, Herald Kylan (the Weaponsmaster's chosen successor), and his friends Bear, Lena, and Amily, they head for the Bastion, the hidden spot in the hills that had once been the headquarters of a powerful band of raiders that had held him and his parents prisoner. But what they find is not what anyone expected.
Beginning:
There it was, a city on a low, gentle hill, walls shining in the sunlight, houses clustered up against the outer and inner walls like chicks snuggling up to a gray hen.
Friday 56:
"There ain't a word for that," he said, when Seneson asked him for what seemed extremely odd to him, the word for games.

"Are you saying they don't have a word they use for that concept, or that they doen't have a word in their own language?" Seneson asked, looking up from his notes.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review: Too Hot to Handle by Katie Rose

Too Hot to Handle
Author: Katie Rose
Series: The Boys of Summer (Book 2)
Publication: Loveswept (January 27, 2015)

Description: Katie Rose’s Boys of Summer series returns for a delicious double-header—with the story of total opposites who are drawn to each other like moths to a flame.

Nikki Case is no fan of baseball. Her ex gambled away a fortune on the sport, and now her PR firm has tasked her with cleaning up the league’s most notorious bad boys. The New Jersey Sonics are known for wild womanizing and booze-fueled brawls, so Nikki expects the worst. Her first stop in the battle to win hearts and minds is star hitter Jake Baldwin—a legendary ladies man so smokin’ he threatens to melt her tough-girl armor.

Although his teammates prank her without mercy, Jake admires the way Nikki gives as good as she gets. She may be the queen of frost, but there’s kindling beneath those sultry curves—and he’s just the man to ignite it. But when a PR nightmare lands the Sonics in headlines across the country, Nikki is ready to walk. Only then does Jake realize how important she is to the Sonics’ success—and that winning the love of a good woman is no game.

My Thoughts: The New Jersey Sonics have a bad reputation as a baseball team. They are known as hotheads and brawlers. So management hires a new gun - Nikki Case - to do PR and clean up their image. Nikki is building her career in PR after divorcing her gambling husband and finally cleaning up his debts. She doesn't know or care much about baseball but she likes the challenge.

Jake Baldwin is the team leader and star shortstop on the team. He is also a serial dater and avoids any hint of commitment. After Nikki makes some changes that really irritate the team, they make a bet that Jake can't get Nikki to fall in love with him. The stakes are a jersey number and a bigger locker. Jake lets his ego take over when he takes the bet. He certainly isn't expecting to be the one to fall for Nikki.

But Jake and Nikki are attracted to each other despite knowing that it isn't a good idea. Nikki's sister advises a no-strings affair and cautions Nikki to protect her heart. Nikki has every intention of doing so until she see that real Jake underneath the playboy exterior and can't resist him. Jake, in turn, is fascinated with the smart, funny, competent and confident woman that Nikki is. He finally comes to understand why he has been so reluctant to commit to any woman.

Of course, no romance can run smoothly. Besides the practical jokes the team plays on Nikki, any smart reader will know that the bet is going to sneak up and bite them. The writing was great and both main characters were interesting and well-rounded people. The sex scenes were spicy.

Fans of sports romance won't want to miss the Boys of Summer series.

Favorite Quote:
His eyes searched hers and saw they had softened. "You need to understand something. What happened tonight doesn't mean they don't like you. Men see the world differently than women. to you this was hurtful; to them it was just part of the game. In some ways, it's almost a compliment. They see you as an adversary, but an equal. Little by little you're wearing down their defenses." He helped himself to a bite of the pizza. "This is incredible."
Nikki nodded and for the first time really grinned. "Let's order another one."
I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.