book review

The Missing Baby Star: A Review

Hollywood Hearsay 1: The Missing Baby Star

By Barbara Morgenroth

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It’s 1933. America is in the Great Depression. Prohibition is still the law of the land.
When hard news reporter, Caro James, reveals the secret life of a politician in New York City, much to her dismay, The New York Sentinel newspaper sets out to teach her a lesson about the rules of journalism. They send her to Los Angles to write fluff pieces on the film industry.

The contact in Hollywood who is supposed to guide her for the week of punishment, is the handsome and unpredictable movie director, Sugar McLaughlin. Now, with a young, beautiful starlet missing for two weeks and in great danger, Caro and Sugar must find June Fowler before she is lost forever. When the one person who knows what happened to June is murdered, Caro and Sugar can’t help but think they’ve reached a dead end. As Sugar knows, every story has an Act III and Caro is in for the ride of her life as they race to find the starlet.

Available on Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Hearsay-Missing-Baby-Star-ebook/dp/B074D3FJG6/

My Review: When New York City reporter Caro James is sent to Los Angeles to cover the glitz and glam of Hollywood, she braces herself for an unpleasant week. As a reporter of serious news, she doesn’t relish the idea of writing articles about starlets and hairstyle tips. When she comes upon a story involving a possible missing actress, she suddenly finds that a week in Hollywood isn’t quite long enough – not if she’s going to get to the bottom of a mystery and help uncover the truth about the missing Baby Star. With Sugar McLaughlin by her side, she bravely navigates the glamorous world of Hollywood (and the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles) while maintaining her sense of humor and passion for finding the truth.

The Missing Baby Star is a historical mystery set in Great Depression-era Hollywood. With a fast-paced plot, atmospheric setting, and clever dialogue, this story is a page-turner. Caro is a witty, quick-thinking reporter who makes smart, logical decisions. Her Hollywood contact, Sugar McLaughlin, a highly respected director, has great chemistry with Caro. Their clever banter is one of the great highlights of this book. It’s rare to find a book that makes you laugh and grip the edge of your seat, all in the same chapter.

Overall, this story is a fine gem. It’s well-written with brilliantly-crafted characters. I certainly hope the author plans to write additional books featuring Caro and Sugar. The Missing Baby Star is a winner!

My Rating:

5 star

 

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Categories: authors to watch, book review, historical fiction, murder mystery, mystery | Tags: , ,

Goddess of Night: Book Review

Goddess of Night (Amaranthine Book 9) by Joleene Naylor

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A war four-thousand years in the making.

In the mists of time, Lilith sealed her immortal lover away. Awakened, Samael has only one plan: revenge.

Linked to Samael and caught in the middle, Katelina watched as Lilith took both her best friend Sarah and a child vampire hostage. Now, it’s up to her and Jorick to get them back. Joined by a group more foe than friend, they search for the ancient vampiress, never dreaming the fight will come to them.

A horrific attack leaves Katelina’s hometown in ruins. Sightings say Sarah may have escaped, but with her mother in a coma, should Katelina go? Or should she stay? Will more destruction follow when Samael catches Lilith’s scent?

The final installment of the Amaranthine series raises the stakes. No longer the weak, terrified woman she was, Katelina will have to step up or lose everything she’s ever cared about.

Get a copy on Amazon or Smashwords.

My Review: What an amazing end to the Amaranthine saga. I’m just blown away by what Joleene Naylor has done with this series. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – this vampire series does NOT sparkle. The Amaranthine series is definitely for grownups. Raw, sometimes violent, sexy, and filled with twists and turns, the series as a whole is absolutely incredible. Goddess of Night is certainly no exception.

In this book, our heroine Katelina proves she is no longer a frightened human who is being shoved kicking and screaming from one bad situation to the next. She has taken control of her destiny and her life. She plunges headfirst into an all-out war between ancient vampires of unimaginable powers. What I love about Katelina is that even though she has become a strong fighter and a fearsome immortal, she still carries with her some of her human vulnerabilities. When it comes to relationships, she still sometimes makes decisions based on emotion instead of logic. I love the fact that, despite her enormous evolution as a character throughout this series, she is still Katelina. Of course, I have my favorite secondary characters, but among those who really stood out to me in this book were Micah (love him in this book!), Oren, Torina, and Zander.

For those who are familiar with this series, there are some serious shockers in Goddess of Night. Lives are lost, while others are changed beyond recognition. A huge betrayal leaves Katelina reeling. I finished reading this book two days ago, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I even dreamed about it last night! Needless to say, I am more in love with the Amaranthine world than ever. Please, if you haven’t read this series, do yourself a favor and get started right now.

My Rating: 5 stars!!!

5 stars

Read my other reviews of Amaranthine Books:

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Versions of the Self: A Review

Today is the second day of National Poetry Writing Month, and to honor poetry and poets, I am going to review Versions of the Self by Christy Birmingham.

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Imagine a shift to the way you see the world that arises through poetic narration.

Imagine the world, at its base level, is a collection of selves. These selves collide, disperse, intermingle, and share themselves in lines of free verse. Such is the premise of Versions of the Self, poetry that assumes multiple types of selves exist and relate in ways that alter them. Each of the eight chapters looks at a different type of self, including the singular “I” and romantic interactions. These unique 80 poems definitely color themselves outside of the lines.

Available on Amazon

My Review: Versions of the Self is a collection of poetry that inspires and enthralls. Each thought-provoking piece is one to be savored. A variety of topics are explored, from nature (Painted Mountains) to simple pleasures (A Sundae Type of Day), from love to heartbreak. Ultimately, this collection is about relationships in all its forms. Christy Birmingham delves deep into the bonds of family (Tender Hands) and friendship, and she also examines the many ways love can go wrong (and right). But the most important relationship she writes about is the relationship we have with ourselves, or more specifically, with the many versions of ourselves that reside within us.

I have so many favorites within the pages of this book. In “Equality and Vision,” Christy honors women from our past, present, and future. Beautifully and delicately woven, “Introspection and Suffocation” resonated with me for many reasons. “Beauty, In Pursuit” examines our society’s relationship with trends and obsession with outer beauty. I could go on and on.

If you love poetry, or if you are interested in branching out and reading more poetry, I would highly recommend this book.

My Rating:  5 star

About the Author: Christy Birmingham is a freelance writer in Victoria, BC, who has a BA in Psychology and has taken professional writing courses at the University of Victoria. She is the author of Pathways to Illumination (Redmund Productions, 2013), her first poetry book. Her work also appears in the Poetry Institute of Canada’s From the Cerulean Sea: An Anthology of Verse (2013) and the literary journals The Claremont Review and Tipton Poetry Journal.

Connect with Christy Birmingham:

Poetic Parfait (Website)  |  Amazon  |  Twitter

 

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The Wanted Lawman: Book Review

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The Wanted Lawman by A.C. Smith

Deputy Jesse Morgan has a dark past and will do almost anything to keep his secrets safe—especially from his fellow lawmen. After all, he’s a wanted man.

But when he’s tasked with helping the sheriff’s sister in law, Cecilia Drake, move to town, the simple task becomes more than he bargained for. The feisty reporter captivates his attention but leaves him feeling betrayed when he discovers his picture published in the local paper—with his name.

Jesse fears it will bring the wrath of the law, or worse, his old gang upon his head. For the last ten years, they have been looking for him and want to settle their score in blood. The safest bet is to get out of town and keep running, just like he’s always done. But he loves St. Elmo, and more than that, he’s fallen for Cecilia. Hard. When a bounty hunter comes sniffing around town, it kicks off a chain of events that could jeopardize the lives of everyone he loves.

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MU1SUQP/

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My Review:  Jesse is lawman with a secret in his past. It’s a secret that has shaped his present and prevents him from planning his future. He never knows when everything might come crashing down around him, so he lives his life always wondering when his good luck might run out. When he meets Cecilia, the feisty sister-in-law of his sheriff, it sets off a series of events that make it impossible for him to continue on the path he’s on. For the first time, he is thinking in terms of the future and the kind of life he could have if he were able to settle down. Unfortunately, his past is dangerously close, putting him and those he cares about in danger.

The Wanted Lawman is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s a historical romance, but so much more. Romance is at the heart of the story, but it’s also a novel about friendship, loyalty, and facing your inner demons. Because of Jesse’s past and the trauma that has shaped who he has become, there are times when he can be ruthless and even dishonest. Though he comes across as cocky to some, there is an underlying insecurity that comes from more than just his fear of being caught. He’s an extremely complex and endearing character who evolves tremendously throughout the story.

Cecilia is a determined, independent heroine who is strong-willed but still vulnerable. She isn’t afraid to show her emotions, nor is she afraid to fight for the people she loves. She drives Jesse crazy – in more ways than one. He finds her infuriating, but infatuating at the same time.

In addition to the two amazing main characters in this book, there are also many secondary characters I absolutely fell in love with, particularly Tracker. He provides much needed comic relief throughout the story, but he also gives us a unique glimpse into Jesse’s character that we otherwise would not see. Tracker and Jesse have a friendship that endures despite challenges that would normally destroy a relationship.

This is the type of story romance lovers will swoon over, but history buffs will love this book too. The story is very well-researched and full of rich descriptions that bring the past and the Colorado landscape to life. Filled with action, adventure, and passion, The Wanted Lawman is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend to book lovers of all kinds.

My Rating:

5 star

Categories: authors to watch, book feature, book review, books, historical fiction, historical romance, new release | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: One Woman’s Island

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One Woman’s Island (Bequia Perspectives Book 2) by Susan M. Toy

Running away from Canada, Mariana hopes to forget a failed marriage and the death of her husband by embarking on a whole new life. She moves lock, stock, and two cats to the small Caribbean island of Bequia. But the move brings more than she could have imagined. New friends ask her to help solve a recent murder in the expat community. And then there’s the problem of her neighbours, a young woman and her children. Seemingly abandoned by family and friends, Mariana believes they need her help! By becoming involved, Mariana is carried along from wanting to simply “live with the locals” to being overwhelmed by their culture, one so vastly different to what she had left behind in Canada that she doesn’t know who among her expat friends she can turn to for advice. So she carries on regardless and discovers that Bequia isn’t exactly the tropical paradise it had promised to be.

One Woman’s Island is the second novel in the Bequia Perspectives series that picks up again a few months in time after the first novel, Island in the Clouds.

Available on Amazon

My Review:

Recently widowed, Mariana escapes to Bequia for a much-needed retreat. Almost immediately, she is swept up into the lives and dramas of those around her—locals and expatriates. Mysteries abound, from the theft of her personal belongings to the unexplained, sudden deaths of expatriates. Fascinated by her neighbors, she vows to help them, but will this prove to be more of a challenge than she expected?

One Woman’s Island provides a candid look into the small island of Bequia. Mariana and the diverse cast of characters in this book provide a glimpse into a world where expats and locals interact in a very unique way. The hired help often call the shots and while there is interaction between the two groups, there is an unspoken set of rules in the way the locals and expats interact. Mariana, like many expats who have come before her, sets out to help her neighbors, but some of her more experienced friends warn her of the pitfalls of crossing that line. Her North American perspective of right and wrong isn’t necessarily an appropriate guide on Bequia. Western standards and moral codes don’t always apply.

I don’t always agree with the steps Mariana takes on her journey toward self-discovery. She can be stubborn and headstrong, but this is what makes it a good story. The author allows her main character to make mistakes and to face some of her misconceptions head-on. It’s worth mentioning that some of the greatest insights in this book come from secondary characters, and from those whom you’d least expect to carry such wisdom.

This book is definitely worth reading. Thought-provoking and well-written, One Woman’s Island was a captivating and enjoyable read from beginning to end.

My Rating:

5 star

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Book Review: Brothers of Darkness

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Patrick’s Story: Brothers of Darkness (Amaranthine Prequel)

By Joleene Naylor

The prequel to Shades of Gray tells the story of Patrick and Michael, how they got tangled into Claudius’ web, and their valiant fight to escape.

When Patrick’s missing brother Michael returns, he brings with him a world of darkness. Turned into a vampire against his will, Michael is the coven’s whipping boy. When Patrick tries to help, he’s claimed as a slave who spends his weekends preparing victims, scooping ashes, and falling prey to the vampire’s twisted desires.

There’s only so much hell he can take, and when vampires from a warring coven offer sanctuary in exchange for cooperation, Patrick quickly agrees. What he expected to be a few months drags out into a long smear of nightmares, and though he fights for hope and freedom, the cost of victory may be more than he bargained for.

My Review: This book is a must read for Amaranthine fans. Having read the series, I knew how this prequel would end, so it was painful falling in love with Patrick when I already knew his fate. This story is brutal, violent, and gory, but so important to the overall Amaranthine story. Having read it, I can’t imagine the series existing without this essential piece of the puzzle. Not only does this book give insight into Patrick’s characters and how Katelina is eventually dragged into the vampire world, it also gives valuable insight into Katelina’s and Jorick’s character. We truly see a side of these characters we never could have imagined. I so glad the author decided to write this book.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. (I’d give it more if I could!)

Buy on Amazon. Or, start reading the series free by downloading Shades of Gray.

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Unwrapping a Marriage: Book Review

unwrapping a marriage

Unwrapping a Marriage

By Reana Malori & Michel Prince

**A collaboration from two of your favorite Multicultural / Interracial Authors. Just in time for the holiday season.**

What do you do when the love that once set you free, feels like it’s holding you prisoner?

Sterling and Elizabeth Jackson have built a life most would envy. A beautiful home, two wonderful children and a very comfortable lifestyle. Yet something is tearing them apart. With divorce looming, they are trying to make it through the holiday season for their family.

With clashing schedules, demands from employers and two busy kids, the former lovers have managed to stay out of each other’s orbit, at least for a while. But Fate, or maybe their well-meaning family, has set them up on a collision course.

Past memories bubble up to the surface and there’s nothing to stem the flow. What once was amazing has turned hurtful and full of pain. But is that the real story? Is it too late for a couple who once lived and breathed for each other to find their way back?

There’s a thin line between love and hate. Will Sterling and Elizabeth be able to mend a love that seems broken and lost, or will the final pull on the holiday ribbon unwrap their last chance to save their marriage.

Available on Amazon September 13, 2016, just in time for the holidays!

Note: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: With their marriage unraveling at the seams, Beth and Sterling are trying to hold it together until after the holidays. Overworked and facing daily temptations from an attractive client, Sterling is frustrated by his wife’s animosity. Stressed from trying to juggle a demanding job, two kids, and scouting responsibilities, Beth is too tired and busy to deal with her husband. Past resentments and a years of miscommunication have pushed this couple apart, and neither of them believe that even a Christmas miracle could heal the rift between them.

Anyone who has been married with children can probably relate to huge portions of this story. The authors bring to life the raw emotion and pain of a marriage in distress. I’ve been there, struggling to raise children while working full time and participating in numerous activities with my kids. It’s exhausting in a way I can’t explain, but the authors of this book have perfectly described how it feels to have so much on your plate and to feel the other partner isn’t doing their fair share. This story is also filled with hope and sexual expectation. It’s about love, family, and devotion. It’s also realistic. When a marriage is in crisis, there is no quick fix. Unwrapping a Marriage is real, passionate, and heartbreaking in a way that will bring tears to your eyes. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

My Rating:

5 stars

Pre-order a copy of Unwrapping a Marriage on Amazon.

 

Categories: authors to watch, book feature, book review, contemporary romance, holiday book, interracial romance, multicultural romance, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Abomination: Book Review

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Abomination

(Pathfinders Book 1)

By Jane Dougherty

As the end of the world begins, Carla and Tully hurtle through a wormhole five years forward in time, only to find they haven’t missed the Apocalypse after all.

Carla and Tully are picnicking in the quad of their international high school in central Paris when the end of the world begins. They are sucked into a wormhole that spits them out five years later to find that the world is a freezing desolation but still hanging on, waiting for something even worse to finish it off. The something worse turns out to be the Burnt Man and his horsemen. Taken prisoner by the Flay Tribe to their lair in the ruins of a shopping mall, Tully is forced to become a warrior, while Carla joins the other girls as a kitchen slave and comfort woman.

Tully might like the idea of playing soldiers, but Carla knows what is waiting for the girls when the food runs out, and it isn’t pleasant. The supermarket holy man’s vision of the return of the Burnt Man and his demon friends drags Tully back to reality. When the four fiends are reunited, the Apocalypse will really begin. Carla and Tully don’t plan on being there when that happens.

But in this post-Abomination world where only the young and brutal have survived, where food and fuel are running out and the climate is plunging into another final ice age, there is nowhere to run—except down another wormhole, with no idea of what might be waiting for them at the other end.

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My Review:

Carla and Tully are there to witness the beginning of the world’s end. When they are sucked into a wormhole that transports them five years into the future, they are stunned to discover a new and horrible version of the world they once knew. A world where violence is a way of life, where strange and terrifying creatures stalk the surviving humans, and where women are treated as lesser beings. They are forced to join a brutal tribe and shoved into the roles befitting their genders. As the story progresses, we learn more about the last five years and how the world they now inhabit came to be. We also learn the worst is yet to come.

Fast-paced and well-written, Abomination is a very strong start to the Pathfinders series. Jane Dougherty has created a desolate, post-apocalyptic world where the worst of human behavior thrives. We meet characters who are courageous, who love and care for others in spite of starvation, fear, and the daily threat of violence. These characters are beautifully drawn and complex. The story also has its share of twists and surprises.

I would recommend this book to teens age 13 and up. Adults will also enjoy the story. I sure did! Fans of dystopian tales and those who enjoy a thought-provoking adventure will love this book. I’m looking forward to book 2.

My Rating:

5 stars

Buy the book:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Finch Books

Watch for book 2 in the series coming soon!!!!

Devastation

 

 

Categories: authors to watch, book feature, book of the day, book review, books, dystopian, dystopian fantasy, young adult, young adult adventure | Tags: , , , , , ,

Masque of the Vampire: A Review

Masque of the Vampire

Amaranthine Book 8

By Joleene Naylor

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The eighth book in the Amaranthine series plunges back into darkness, steeped in superstitions and death, where vampires are once again vicious creatures of the night.

After three months away, Katelina and Jorick return home. But, so does Sarah, Katelina’s best friend everyone thought was dead. How did she survive being tortured – and killed – by vampires?

Though Sarah’s not eager to share the details, Katelina knows it’s the kind of story that leaves scars. She almost welcomes the distraction when they’re sent to guard an exclusive vampire party – until Sarah claims she’s being stalked. Who among the ancient guests would be interested in them?

Then they find a dead child with a missing heart, just like the murders in the Heartless killings. Is the serial killer a vampire – and a guest at the party? Could it have anything to do with their stalker, or is it simply too much evil in one place? When everyone seems suspicious, it’s hard to tell who the culprit is.

My Review:

Holy crap! Joleene Naylor is a genius. An evil genius who wrote an amazing, gripping, fabulous book, but isn’t releasing the next book until 2017. No!!! I have to know what happens next.

Masque of the Vampire takes us on a journey to Canada where Jorick (who is once again working as an Executioner, much to Katelina’s annoyance) has been assigned as security detail to a massive vampire party. A mass congregation of vampires, some of whom are at odds with one another, and all of whom have their own agendas… What could possibly go wrong? From dead bodies, to bizarre ancient rituals, to creepy twins, to daytime stalkers, this book is incredible.

Katelina has certainly evolved in this book. She’s more confident. She’s a fighter. And Jorick respects this. Yes, he’s still the protective Jorick we all know and love, but he has come to realize that Katelina wants equality in their relationship, and he is making a real effort to respect her independence. There are some new characters in this book as well.. Some creepy. Some secretive. All are complex. And worth the read.

I love the Amaranthine world this author has created. And, trust me. It’s an entire WORLD. The author has taken us all around the globe and with every journey, our knowledge of vampire culture expands. Ancient myths and folklore. Complex rules and laws. Vampire organizations. Old vendettas and grudges. It’s all here, right within the pages of these books. I can’t recommend this series enough. It is absolutely phenomenal in every way possible.

My Rating:

5 stars

Buy the Book:

Amazon  |  Smashwords  |  Barnes & Noble

Categories: authors to watch, book review, books, paranormal, vampires | Tags: , , , , , ,

A Man Called Ove: Book Review

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ove is a grumpy old man. What you see is what you get. Or maybe not. There’s so much more to Ove, and as this story moves back and forth from past to present, the real Ove is unveiled. This is a man who has suffered loss, experienced love, and has a very unique sense of right and wrong. Beneath his grumpy exterior, he’s a pretty awesome guy.

A co-worker recommended this book. She positively raved about it. I’m so glad I bought it. It’s one of those books I don’t think I’ll ever forget. This is one I’m sure I’ll re-read anytime I need a pick-me-up. Excellent, excellent book.

View all my reviews

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