Showing posts with label adult. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adult. Show all posts

Book Review: Come On, Get Lucky by Jacqueline Rohrbach

Come On, Get Lucky
 
by Jacqueline Rohrbach is a paranormal romance with a mystery to solve. Grant is looking for love, but there’s one big problem—himself. Due to Grant’s massive size, not to mention the fact he’s also a werewolf, all the eligible bachelors steer clear of him, preferring men who are a little less ginormous and a lot less monstrous. Only Lee, Grant’s best friend and vampire extraordinaire, sees him as a gentle giant who longs to give awesome backrubs, cupcakes, and endless affection to his lifelong mate. Lee is tired of the same old song and dance of dating and then breaking up. The only steady presence in his life has been Grant, a tried-and-true friend who always knows what to say and the right spot to scratch. So, when Grant finally breaks up with his flighty boyfriend, Lee sees an opportunity to let his carefully guarded heart out of its box and try for something real and lasting. There’s a problem, though: Lee has always forbidden romance between friends, an order he’s drilled into Grant’s head over and over again. That means Lee might need to throw their friendship to the fire. To find passion, they’ll have to become enemies. To find love, they’ll have to get lucky.

Come On, Get Lucky is a book with a lot going on. Lee and Grant are good friends, and neither has had much luck in the love department. From the description of the book I thought Grant's size was going to be mentioned more in the story, but I found that his werewolf nature tended to get much more attention than his size. The friends to more aspect between Lee and Grant was both charming and frustrating. Grant was trying so hard to be good, and the set up by Lee that is mentioned in the blurb is much more of a question in the actual story of whether his efforts were on purpose or just kind of happening. I would have liked some more of the story clearly from Lee's point of view and maybe a conversation or two between the two that could have moved things along much quicker romantically but still left plenty of room for the drama and danger aspects of the story. I really liked the side stories about the rabbit and 'stalker'. I found that the dichotomy of the vampire and werewolf fighting over and caring for a bunny sweet and fun. I also found how both were so distracted that they missed the clues about how something more sinister than someone unhappy to be turned down was happening until the stakes were raised. There were some serious twists and turns, and I was always curious about just what would happen next. 

Come On, Get Lucky is a good book, with a lot going on. I just might be looking for the author's backlist for more good reads.

Book Review: Pirate's Persuasion (Sentinels of Savannah) by Lisa Kessler

Pirate's Persuasion by Lisa Kessler is the fourth book in the Sentinels of Savannah series. I have not read the previous books, but each is able to be read on its own, although the previous knowledge returning readers have of the character and world-building would definitely make for a more satisfying read. 

Immortal pirate Drake Cole has a reputation in Savannah for his custom woodworking and historical restorations, but his work has grown into an obsession. He's become a stranger to his crew since the Sea Dog sank in 1795. None of them know his painful secret. A young stowaway went down with the ship, one that Drake swore a blood oath to protect. The ghost of a young boy, lost at sea over two hundred years ago, leads local medium, Heather Storrey right to Drake’s door. He saved her life before, and now she has a chance to return the favor, but how can she protect him from a curse that no one can see? A dark coven possesses the figurehead from the Flying Dutchman, and if Heather and the immortal Sea Dog crew don't locate the relic soon, Drake may be lost to them forever. Heather has seen the passionate man behind the veil of guilt, and she's determined to free him from his self-imposed prison, and persuade this pirate to love again.

Pirate's Persuasion is a solid story. Despite not having read the previous books I was able to get a full understanding of Drake and Heather, and how they each struggled with their relationship. I liked seeing their story, and I thought the variety of emotional scars they both come into the story with made their happiness so much more engaging. I was able to catch up on the larger story line about the rest of the pirate crew and the paranormal setup in Savannah, but I think returning readers will really enjoy seeing that story line come to a head and play out. I thought the danger level was good, the dose of deception and darkness was good, and the heat level was on point. I really liked that I got to see the story through the eyes of several characters, it gave me a much better understanding of the bigger picture. However, I think because I missed out on the previous books that I was not quite as invested in the story as returning readers might be. I was intrigued by the characters, and would like to read more about many of the secondary characters- and just might go bad to start this series from the beginning. 

Pirate's Persuasion was a well written romance, with a solid dose of suspense and danger. I think fans of the series will enjoy it much more than newcomers without investment in the larger story line and cast of characters.

Early Book Review: Witch Hunt by Cate Conte

Witch Hunt is the first book in a new series by Cate Conte and is currently scheduled for release on June 30 2020. Violet Mooney owns The Full Moon crystal shop in quaint North Harbor, Connecticut. Still grieving her beloved grandmother’s recent unexpected death, she takes comfort in her fat orange cat Monty and her work. Not everyone in town is thrilled with her business, however. When disagreeable town councilwoman Carla Fernandez picks a fight over Violet’s "voodoo shop," the two have a very public confrontation. Of course, when Carla turns up dead, Violet gets little sympathy from the police as suspect #1. But the shock of two policemen showing up at her door pales in comparison to the sudden appearance of her estranged mother Fiona and a surprise sister, Zoe. What Fiona reveals will rock her world and her sense of self—and reawaken her long-dormant mysterious power. 

Witch Hunt is a story with a whole lot going on. Violet is still mourning the loss of her grandmother and just trying to get through life. Her best friend and neighbor is acting strange, her boyfriend is being distant, and the queen of the town council is harping on many of them about their businesses. Once said council member is found murdered everything gets even more complicated. It seems everyone has secrets, including Violet's family. A magical heritage and new dangers are added to the list of problems to be faced, and the stakes keep rising. I thought Carla's murder and the surrounding mystery was well done, and while I had some suspicions as things unraveled, it was an interesting ride to the reveal. The story line about Violet's family and witches in the world was good, but felt like it could have been its own book rather than a layer over the first murder. I felt like the witchy reveal, and the problems that it could bring, will include more murder and mystery in the next volume- but I already have a suspect in mind for several possible issues that might arise. I really enjoyed several aspects of the story, and the writing style was nice. I just think there was too much going on layered over each other for what I was in the mood for when I picked up this title. 

Witch Hunt is a well written mystery with many layers to unravel. 

Book Review: The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook: 60 Sweet and Savory Recipes for Your Oven and Mini Donut Maker by Sara Mellas

The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook: 60 Sweet and Savory Recipes for Your Oven and Mini Donut Maker by Sara Mellas is newly published cookbook. Who doesn’t love a good donut? From sugared or sprinkled to frosted or filled, donuts are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and sweeten your day. The best part is you don’t need to fuss with frying to whip up these fun, flavorful treats at home. Theses donuts can be made in an oven or donut maker, providing plenty of tried-and-true tricks and tasty recipes for beautifully baked donuts, donut holes, mini donuts, and more. From sweet staples, such as Old-Fashioned Cake Donuts to creative savory bakes like Jalapeno-Cheddar Cornbread Donuts, this donut cookbook serves you dozens of delightfully simple recipes to match every craving, along with perfectly paired frostings, glazes, and toppings.

The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook is a cookbook for every donut lover, particularly those of use that do not want to fry. Spending the last twelve weeks or so home with my family I have made all of my tried and true recipes, ran out of flour and yeast, and resupplied while looking for new things to try. This book was well timed, and inspired me to make some donuts. I am lucky enough to have a donut pan, and plenty of other pans, and was happy to find some new things for my weekend baking. I thought the introduction, including the basic techniques and supply lists were nicely done, and as a fellow New Englander the explanation behind writing the book resonated with me. I thought the recipes were easy to follow, well labeled, and detailed. I like the variants and options were also included, because I love to fiddle with recipes and find these suggestions helpful both in deciding if my idea will work and if the author already came up with something even better. There are several recipes that really caught my eye, some I was ready to try right away and others needed a shopping trip to complete so had to wait a bit. I was impressed that there were gluten free, vegan, and boozy recipes. The classics went over the best in my house, like the chocolate cake and pumpkin donuts- but the glazed blueberry and several filled donuts were also well received. 

The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook is a great resource for bakers that want to try their hand at donuts, without frying anything. Frequent bakers might want to add this to their cookbook collection, dabbles might want to borrow it from the library for the first look through to decide if they will use it often enough- I have a feeling I will be needed a paper copy.

Book Review: Zombies of the World: A Field Guide to the Undead by Ross Payton

Zombies of the World: A Field Guide to the Undead by Ross Payton is a humorous reference book. Zombies have plagued humanity's nightmares for centuries, but fortunately, the scientific community has created this detailed and completely serious guide to the undead which reveals the undead to be a valuable part of our ecosystem and the key to new discoveries in medicine and technology. Zombies of the World uses captivating illustrations to document how evolution has led to a wide variety of species. Few outside the scientific community even realize that creatures like the Egyptian Mummy (Mortifera mumia aegyptus) are actually zombies. Some species are even harmless to humans. The Dancing Zombie (Mortifera immortalis choreographicus) only seeks to thrill humans with elaborate dance routines. Discover how our history has been affected by the undead and what we can learn from “scientific” research. 

Zombies of the World is an interesting take on zombie lore. Written as a non fiction book it is the story of zombie evolution, classification, and explanation. I think the illustrations were very well done, and a perfect pairing to the text. I like that the history and science possibilities are heavily featured. The approach is rather like the mermaid mockumentory from a few years back, that might have some readers wondering if there is truth in the book rather than fiction. I also enjoyed the dry humor that is inherent in this style of writing, but it might fall flat for those looking for a more obvious humor. The descriptions of the zombie varieties were my favorite part of the book, and the section I think are the most universally appealing. I rather liked the approach, but think that it is best suited to serious zombie fans.

Early Book Review: New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fermented Breads; With Recipes for Birote, Bagels, Pan de Coco, Beignets, and More by Bryan Ford

New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fermented Breads; With Recipes for Birote, Bagels, Pan de Coco, Beignets, and More by Bryan Ford is currently scheduled for release on June 16 2020. Learn how to make a sourdough starter, basic breads, as well as other innovative baked goods from start to finish with Instagram star Bryan Ford's (@artisanbryan) nontraditional approach to home baking. With less emphasis on perfecting crumb structure or obsessive temperature monitoring, Ford focuses on the tips and techniques he's developed in his own practice, inspired by his Honduran roots and New Orleans upbringing, to ensure your success and a good return on your time and effort. Ford's recipes include step-by-step instructions and photographs of all of the mixing, shaping, and baking techniques you'll need to know, with special attention paid to developing flavor as well as your own instincts.

New World Sourdough offers readers exactly what the title promises, an accessible guide to sourdough and recipes to use the starter. The descriptions and instructions are well written and easy to follow, and the photographs of the dough and finished product are very well done. I am still not a fan of the ingredients list being off to the side rather than at the top of the recipe, but it worked better for me here than it has in other cookbooks. I like the approachable style of this book, and it has made me a little more comfortable with my attempts at sourdough, which was feeling a bit too much work after some less than successful attempts while home  maintaining social distance from the rest of the world. There are a few recipe that on my list of things to try out soon, and we will see if they turn out nearly as well as I hope.

Book Review: Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert

Conventionally Yours 
by Annabeth Albert is the first book in the True Colors series. Charming, charismatic, and effortlessly popular, Conrad Stewart seems to have it all, but in reality he's scrambling to keep his life from tumbling out of control. Brilliant, guarded, and endlessly driven, Alden Roth may as well be the poster boy for perfection but even he can't help but feel a little broken inside. When these mortal enemies are stuck together on a cross-country road trip to the biggest fan convention of their lives, their infamous rivalry takes a backseat as an unexpected connection is forged. Yet each has a reason why they have to win the upcoming Odyssey gaming tournament and neither is willing to let emotion get in the way—even if it means giving up their one chance at something truly magical.

Conventionally Yours is a slow burn, frienemies to more romance. I really enjoyed the slow  reveal of the characters and their individual problems. The getting to know the characters as they really got to know each other was paced very well. Unraveling their fears and problems was intense and I felt for both of them as I took the road trip with them. I found the exploration of new adults facing very different crisis in their lives coming together and getting to better understand each other, and themselves hit me right in the feels. Conrad is always trying to hide his difficulties behind a happy face, not wanting anyone to see what he is going through while Alden just wants to find his place and be accepted as he is without being obsessed with labels. I enjoyed their banter and how well they balanced each other, and I could relate to much of the fear each had about the future and just figuring out who and what they want from it. I thought the neurodiversity and family problems in the book were handled very well, and acknowledged how varied experiences can be, and how people on all sides of the circumstances can react, for good or ill. 

Conventionally Yours is an engaging read with realistic characters. I enjoyed the read and will continue to read anything I find by this author.

Book Review: Honeymoon Alone by Nicole Macaulay

Honeymoon Alone by Nicole Macaulay is a contemporary romance. When irrepressibly romantic Lucy Gray is ditched at said wedding by her date in front of her whole family, the promises of a psychic seem better than her pity-riddled reality. The psychic’s advice seems insightful: stop ignoring fate’s signs – fate will lead you to love. But when “fate” leads Lucy to London, she finds herself tangled in a web of lies. In a story about finding independence and taking chances, Lucy learns that leaving everything up to fate can be dangerous – and jeopardize her chances at happily ever after.

Honeymoon Alone is a story that caught my attention right at the begin. Lucy is sweet, reliable, and tired. Everyone expects her to do what they need and while they care about her they never seem to think about what she wants, only what they think is best for her. I could very much relate to her position and emotional state. She takes a chance, takes an impromptu trip, and comedy, romance, and a dash of danger are the result. I like that all of the conflicts and bumbles felt completely natural, and rather like things that would happen to me. I like how the characters were all well developed an d that the story does not frame Lucy as incomplete without romance, but that it would simple not be unwelcome. In much of the book romance takes a back seat to figuring out just what was going on and enjoying Lucy's discovery of London. For those looking for steam, there is none of that here- nothing more than some kisses- but the journey is very much worth the read.

Honeymoon Alone as much a story about Lucy finding herself and figuring out what she wants. I enjoyed the story and am glad I requested it from NetGalley. 

Book Review: In His Kiss (Unrequited) by Ava Alise

In His Kiss is the first book in the Unrequited series by Ava Alise. "This was a mistake" were the words that sunk my entire world. Jordan should have been my first, he was already my everything. My best friend, my secret crush. We were closer than siblings. Our family's weaved together an intricate pattern of lines never meant to be crossed, until that night. We had a bit too much to drink and the heated way he stared at me made me feel that we could finally be something more. Things got a little out of hand and once the kissing started I didn't want it to stop. The time felt right and I gathered courage and told him how I felt. If only I knew how awkward things would be the next morning.

In His Kiss 
is a book that had me almost constantly holding my breath waiting for something horrible to happen- and each time the the issue was less horrible than I expected. It is emotionally charged and draining, but in the best way. Xia and Jordan have been best friends forever, and each crushing on the other almost as long. When things heat up the insecurities and family struggles they each have are the first barriers to their happiness, but not the last. I do love that they talk to each other, even if they delay it too often. There is just so much going on for all the characters, and one of the twists I considered right away- but some of the moments were really unexpected. Their friends and family are also well developed, and have so much going on in their own stories. I will admit that there were moments that I found Xia and her reactions to be immature, but this is also about college age characters and their is self-awareness about maturity levels that really balanced out those moments of annoyance.  I am invested in this circle of individuals, and am very much looking forward to the next book, which the afterward promised me. 

In His Kiss is an intense read with a happy ending. I enjoyed the read and look forward to more.

Early Book Review: Procrastibaking: 100 Recipes for Getting Nothing Done in the Most Delicious Way Possible by Erin Gardner

Procrastibaking: 100 Recipes for Getting Nothing Done in the Most Delicious Way Possible by Erin Gardner is currently scheduled for release on June 1 2020. Sometimes you need to take a mini vacation from the demands of daily life, and the kitchen is the best space for it. How can you return those emails when there’s dough on your hands? It would be counterproductive to handle clean laundry after dipping chocolates all afternoon, right? Whether you’re avoiding work, the news, or just trying to keep your hands busy, baking offers the perfect escape.

The digital galley for Procrastibaking landed in my hands at the perfect time- as my family were stuck working and learning from home and not going much of anywhere. When better to turn math lessons into treats, or delay dealing with a problem that really should not belong to you than by producing edibles in the kitchen? I enjoyed testing and planning to try out some of these 100 recipes. Some call for an hour, some call for a weekend, and all end in something yummy to eat. I still have several of the recipes bookmarked for further testing. I enjoyed the small asides that were between the recipes. Sadly some of the suggestions, like running down to the store for the perfect fruit or gourmet chocolate were not a good idea when I was reading the book I still enjoyed the sentiment- and could spend that time to see if I could order the same things online for delivery. As a whole; the recipes were easy to follow, the tone of the writing was fun and conversational, and I really enjoyed this book.
Procrastibaking is a fun and well written collection of recipes to try, regardless of if you should really be doing something else.

Early Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol. 1 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol. 1 by Tatsuya Endo is a manga currently scheduled for release on June 2 2020. Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head! Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!
Spy x Family is a fun and entertaining read. I liked seeing the lone wolf spy trying to make his next mission a success, even when it means bring a child and wife into the fold. He keeps his goal under his hat, but when the little girl you adopt is a telepath that does not do much good. Watching him struggle with what do with a child is very entertaining, and when his attempt at gaining a wife only ramps up the humor and complications. The characters each have their own issues, on top of their secrets, and it was an interesting and entertaining read. My only complaint is one I have with many manga that I enjoy, the story had just reach a point of everything coming together and high interest and I really need to know where the story goes from here. 

Book Review: Abandoned Industrial Places: Factories, Laboratories, Mills and Mines that the World Left Behind by David Ross

Abandoned Industrial Places: Factories, Laboratories, Mills and Mines that the World Left Behind by David Ross explores the discarded detritus of our modern mechanized age. Discover the grand Ore Dock in Marquette, USA, squatting isolated in the waters of Lake Superior; or the abandoned Caspian Sea oil rigs and drilling gear in Azerbaijan; or the enormous, gaping pit of the Mirny diamond mine in Sakha Republic, Russia; or the wall of latticed steel towers of the Duga radar in Chernobyl, Ukraine; or the Domino Sugar Refinery, Brooklyn, New York – formerly the world’s largest sugar refinery when built in 1882; or the still contaminated Fisher Body Plant 21 in Detroit, USA, a place where General Motors created some of their great marques for almost a hundred years. Filled with more than 200 memorable photographs from every part of the planet, Abandoned Industrial Places provides a strange and often spooky insight into the life and workings of industries long since ceased.
Abandoned Industrial Places is a beautiful book. I grew up splitting my time between a small greenhouse and a small manufacturing company (my family was very busy). Because of that industrial locations and machinery are special to me, and I have always seen a special kind of beauty in it while others just saw grease and metal. I thought the pictures were nicely varied, in industry and location. The colors of the buildings, machinery, and in some cases nature reclaiming space were attention grabbing. Some were bold, others muted, but they were well balanced. I really enjoyed studying the photographs and thinking about the impact the rise and fall of each of these locations had on their communities and the individuals that worked there- and how many small moments have been forgotten over the years.

Abandoned Industrial Places is a fascinating look at locations that have been abandoned over the years. Some images are beautiful, others are haunting, but they are all thought provoking. 

Book Review: Coffee Girl (Coffee) by Sophie Sinclair

Coffee Girl is the first book in a contemporary romance series by Sophie Sinclair. Mackenzie “Kiki” Forbes finds herself in a pickle. Either become her snarky sister’s nanny, or move halfway across the country to work as assistant-to-the-stylist of a country music star. Neither job sounds ideal, although bedazzling cowboy boots may be a hell of a lot more interesting than ironing her brother-in-law’s underwear. But life on the road as the errand coffee girl for a sold-out tour leaves much to be desired. That is, until Kiki meets her sinfully sexy new boss’s boss. Tatum Reed’s career is flying high. He’s up for country music’s Entertainer of the Year and he’s headed out on a nationwide sold-out tour. So why does he feel like it’s all about to implode? His superstar ex-girlfriend seems determined to make his life difficult, his opening act is a handful, and the new girl on his tour, the feisty brunette, is quickly getting under his skin. In this crazy world of show business Tatum needs to learn who he can trust, but that doesn’t come easily, because the one person who holds all the cards may just throw them down and walk away.

Coffee Girl is a book that captured my attention pretty quickly. It started off great, Kiki and her reactions were both sweet and snarky in turn. Her situation, and reactions, were well done and relatable. I liked Tatum too. He is smart and funny, and despite talking a good game he was sweet and just as vulnerable as Kiki. I liked the set up, and how they handled it. The cast of secondary characters were very well done, and I was engaged in their well-being. I will admit that I shared some of the annoyance as the secondary characters with Kiki's self doubt. and that there were a few moments that I felt like the pacing stumbled. However, I think the characters and the crisis of the romance were very well planned- and I really liked how respect for each other and the bonds of friendship were important aspects of the story.  

Coffee Girl is a solid romance that balances laughs, angst, and heat.

Early Book Review: Northeast Medicinal Plants: Identify, Harvest, and Use 111 Wild Herbs for Health and Wellness by Liz Neves

Northeast Medicinal Plants: Identify, Harvest, and Use 111 Wild Herbs for Health and Wellness by Liz Neves is currently scheduled for release on May 26 2020. It is a guide to finding, identifying, harvesting, and using 111 of the region’s most powerful wild plants. Readers will learn how to safely and ethically forage, and how to use wild plants in herbal medicines including teas, tinctures, and salves. Plant profiles include clear, color photographs, identification tips, medicinal uses and herbal preparations, and harvesting suggestions. Lists of what to forage for each season makes the guide useful year-round. Thorough, comprehensive, and safe, this is a must-have for foragers, naturalists, and herbalists in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Northeast Medicinal Plants is a well organized and detailed guide. I like that the book takes the time to explain some of the most important, and sometimes ignored, factors of identifying and gathering plants, like making sure you have permission before harvesting from private property. The explanations of the use, preparation, and  the aspects of the plants that aid in identification. Even though I have made my own tinctures and grown my own ingredients in the past I found the information to be laid out in an accessible manner that lends itself to being referred back to as desired. I liked that the basics never read in a condescending tone, which sometimes happens when someone tries to talk about things that are second nature to them but might be new to others. I also liked that the importance of understand the nature of each plant is stressed, as some as very poisonous, some have very useful roots but problematic leaves or stems, and so on. The details about the individual plants and their use to be well done and comprehensive, and I learned quite a bit about some of my favorite, and least favorite, plants that can be found in my backyard and surrounding areas. I also really enjoyed that Neves included and comprehensive list of references and resources, as dedicated readers and wildcraft enthusiast can further expand their understanding and possibly lend a hand with conservation. I also found the photography to be very well done and worth enjoying in its own right.

Northeast Medicinal Plants is a valuable resource for anyone that is interested in the wild herbs of the area, and how to use them. I think it would be a good addition to public libraries and for the personal libraries of those that are interested in the subject matter.

Book Review: Gut Feeling by Victoria Browne

Gut Feeling by Victoria Browne is a contemporary romance. Ashleigh Lands has given up the chance for a new life in America with her family, choosing to stay in London with her boyfriend, Lee Preston. When Lee cheats on her and quickly becomes an ex-boyfriend, Ashleigh loses herself in work and alcohol. Five months later, however, she’s ready for change and decides to reach for a new, empowered self. When window glazier Dave Croft shows up for a job at the dental practice where Ashleigh works, the two hit it off immediately. Ashleigh is elated—has her luck in love finally changed? Can she trust her gut feeling?

Gut Feeling left me with mixed feelings. I like that Ashleigh and Dave are each working towards being better people and opening themselves to each other, and that they both have issues to resolve. I liked the supportive friends and some of the intrigue brought on by the friends, ex's, and siblings. However, I quickly got annoyed with Ashleigh and her constant second guessing herself and putting herself down and equating having a man in her life as success. I understood some of it, and related to some of it. I hate conflict and confrontation too, but there are times when it is the best option for everyone involved- and the soon you do it the better.  They do have heart to heart talks, but the majority of the worries that they each have do not get around to talking about. There were several times that I almost put the book down, but I still have trouble doing that.
Gut Feeling is a romance with plenty on introspection and good secondary characters.

Early Book Review: Finding Mr. Right Next Door (Firefighters of Station 1) by Sarah Ballance

Finding Mr. Right Next Door is the second book in the Firefighters of Station 1 series by Sarah Ballance and currently scheduled for release on May 11 2020. You can read each book as a stand alone, but there a few spoilers if you read out of order.

For Lexi Dean, burning down her kitchen was disaster enough. Agreeing to move in next door with her totally off-limits best friend, Matt Freeman, until her house is livable again? They’ve always been close, but this is ridiculous. If she’s not bumping into him at the refrigerator, he’s at the front door giving her date the third degree. And slipping between his borrowed sheets? That’s about as distracting as listening to his shower run, because suddenly all she can think about is rivulets of water cascading down is spectacular body—the one he seems to be going out of his way to make sure she notices. Not that it matters. He can flaunt his firefighter abs around her all he wants. They already share everything—their jobs, their friends, their backyard, even their dog—and that means only one thing: Lexi is not going to risk losing any of it by dipping a single toe in the temptation that is Matt Freeman. Lexi may not know how to handle a fire extinguisher, but this is one fire that just might burn them both if they’re not careful.

Finding Mr. Right Next Door is a contemporary romance that I have mixed feelings about. I felt bad for Lexi on occasion, her friends seem to tease her constantly and self esteem and having an uncomfortable conversation seem beyond her. Matt is painted as almost too perfect, aside from his worries about losing Lexi's friendship. There are some funny moments, some heat, and lots of me shaking my head. I liked the secondary characters and thought some of the book was very well written. However, despite a few attempts at talking it out that were shot down and avoided, I was so annoyed with the fact that two people that had supposedly been best friends forever could not just sit down and talk. I get the fear of wrecking a friendship with a romantic relationship, but how can you even have a friendship if you are not willing to talk to each other?

Finding Mr. Right Next Door is a friends to more romance that will appeal to fans of the author and series.

Early Book Review: To Kill a Mocking Girl (Bookbinding Mystery) by Harper Kincaid

To Kill a Mocking Girl is the first book in the Bookbinding Mystery series by Harper Kincaid. It is currently scheduled for release on May 12 2020. I planned to be following this series to see where it goes from here. However, the author's behavior and bios on social media has them now on my do not buy list. Sadly I had read and reviewed the book via netgalley before seeing it and still will post my honest review as it was written prior to the RWA implosion and everything that came to light during the winter holidays.

Quinn Victoria Caine is back in her quirky town of Vienna, Virginia, starting her new life as a bookbinder in her family-owned, charm-for-days bookshop, Prose & Scones. With her trusty German Shepherd RBG-'Ruff Barker' Ginsburg by her side, what can go wrong? Okay, sure, bumping into her ex, Scott, or her former high school nemesis, Tricia, is a drag. It certainly doesn't help they have acquired the new hobby of shoving their recent engagement in her face every chance they get. But that doesn't mean Quinn wanted to find Tricia dead in the road. So why does half the town think she may have done it? Quinn is determined to find Tricia's killer, even if it means partnering with her cousin-turned-nun, Sister Daria, and Detective Aiden Harrington, her older brother's too-movie-star-handsome-for-his-own good, best friend. They believe she's innocent, but of course that doesn't influence the police, who peg her as their prime suspect. But there is no way Quinn is going to stop now. Vienna is her town and-for better or worse-Tricia was one of their own. Someone may have killed the mocking girl, but no one's going to stop the notorious QVC.

To Kill a Mocking Girl is a well paced and engaging read. I like that Kincaid did not go for a massive information dump in the beginning of the book, rather revealed Quinn's family and the quirks of the town in a more organic manner. I liked Quinn's character- she is smart and capable with a touch of vulnerability. I really liked her collection of knowledge and how deeply she cares about the people around her and doing the right thing. I also enjoyed Quinn's extended family and individuals she crossed paths with regularly. Although it did feel like the author was trying to drop in mentions and bits to be recognized as diversity, without actually giving any  real depth to the characters or backstories that were used. It had no bearing on the characters or the story- so it felt more like she was trying to check of boxes or show of how 'progressive' she could be. That nagged at me a bit, and I think the story might have been better served by not making that play or by actually taking further steps with that information actually mattering. The mystery elements were well done, although I will say that the hints dropped in the story led me to guess two of the details before the big reveal, but I did miss the who which is always a nice surprise. I liked that there was a good deal of character development for Quinn and those closest to her. The details about the secondary characters are often what keeps me invested in a story, and in a series. 

To Kill a Mocking Girl is a solid start to a mystery series with a nice balance of danger, humor, obscure facts, and romance. 

Early Book Review: A Secret for a Secret (All In) by Helena Hunting

A Secret for a Secret is the third book in the All In series by Helena Hunting. Each book can be enjoyed as part of the series or on its own. It is currently scheduled for release on May  12 2020. 

My name is Ryan Kingston, and I’m a rule follower. I’ve never been in a fistfight. I always obey the speed limit. I don’t get drunk, and I definitely don’t pick up random women at bars. Except the night I found out that my whole existence has been a lie. I got drunk. And picked up a stranger. Her name was Queenie, and she was everything I’m not: reckless, impulsive, and chaotic. We did shots and traded secrets. And ended up naked at my place. She left me a thank-you note in the morning and her panties as a parting gift. But no way to contact her. Six weeks later I’m sitting in the first official team meeting of the season, and there she is. I neglected to mention that I’m the goalie for Seattle’s NHL team. And Queenie? Turns out she’s the general manager’s daughter.
A Secret for a Secret is a sports romance with humor, heat, and heart. Ryan looks and acts like a boy scout, but his family life and history is not as perfect as anyone looking at him would suspect. Queenie feels like she is an utter mess, and has little faith in herself. When a one night stand has to change into a working relationship the battle really starts. I liked watching them come together, and get to know themselves and each other better. I could understand both of their frustrations, self doubt, and concern for each other. I did see a couple of the twists coming, but just enough so that I wanted to warn the characters to spare them the confrontations and additional angst.  As a fan of the author I loved getting to see past characters come into play. 
A Secret for a Secret is another great book from Hunting. Fans will need to add this to their collection. 

Early Book Review: Rascal by Jean-Luc Deglin

Rascal by Jean-Luc Deglin is a graphic novel about a mysterious mewling package arriving in the mail. One busy young woman's life changes forever. Rascal lives up to his name, filling every day with wild adventures and long naps: brave expeditions into closets, fierce battles with curtains, and wrestling with slumbering giants... Sometimes she's tempted to throw him out the window. He's lucky he's cute.
Rascal is a cute book about a reluctant cat owner and the mischief that more pet owners can identify with. Rascal is a cute cat, and the illustrations are nice. The black cat is well paired with the tones used on each page. Cats are a blend of sweetness and trouble, killing machines that can endear themselves to even the most reluctant guardians and make us their caretakers, cooks, and maids. I think those of us that already have cats in their lives, and those that wish they did, will enjoy and see something of themselves in the story. 

Early Book Review: Heiress for Hire (Duke's Heiress) by Madeline Hunter

Heiress for Hire is the first book in the Duke's Heiress series by Madeline Hunter. It is scheduled for release on April 28 2020.

Minerva Hepplewhite has learned the hard way how to take care of herself. When an intruder breaks into her home, she doesn’t swoon or simper. Instead she wallops the rogue over the head and ties him up—only to realize he is Chase Radnor, the man who nearly got her convicted of her late husband’s murder. Now he’s insisting that Minerva has inherited a fortune from his uncle, a wealthy Duke. Chase can’t decide whether Minerva is a wronged woman or a femme fatale.  Since the scandal surrounding her husband’s death, she has set up a discreet detective business to rival Chase’s own. She may be the perfect person to help him uncover the truth about his uncle’s demise. But as proximity gives way to mutual seduction, Chase realizes he craves a much deeper alliance.

Heiress for Hire is a book that might be a romance, which is well done, but I often was more invested in the mystery than the romance. I liked Minerva, she was still compassionate and sweet despite what she has been through in the past. She is smart and I enjoyed getting to know her and her found family. Chase was a little harder to get to know, his mysteries were revealed more slowly, but he was a well written character. I think their individual lives and their coming together were very well done, and I liked the importance put on consent. I liked that an old mystery was solved, even if I expected that outcome before it was revealed, but I would have liked a little more closure on the larger mystery. I waiting for some big reveal, but we did get many smaller pieces to the puzzle and veiled conclusions. I suspect there will be more as the series continues, but I am not sure if I will be continuing.

Heiress for Hire is a historical romance with complex characters and an underlying mystery or two.