Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Linkups - Stalking Jack the Ripper


It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Off the book topic - What is your favorite scary movie?

My Answer:
I don't really watch a lot of horror movies because they seem to be really gore-y which I don't love.  I do love a good scary movie though.  Two of my favorites are probably The Blair Witch Project (though I haven't seen it in years - I should rewatch it) and The Conjuring.

This week's book is Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco.  I've been wanting to read it since it came out last year but just never got around to it.  I decided it looked like the perfect Halloween reading!  I also love a good Jack the Ripper mystery so that makes this even more appealing.  I haven't gotten very far in this one but so far I like what I'm reading.

The Beginning:
I placed my thumb and forefinger on the icy flesh, spreading it taut above the breastbone as Uncle had showed me.

My Thoughts:
I don't feel that this Uncle guy is a particularly kindly uncle.  There's something a little creepy about the sentence.

The 56:
The murderer truly must be a madman if he thought what he was doing was helpful or righteous.  And that thought was more terrifying than any other.

My Thoughts:
I can see how fighting a murderer who thinks he's on the side of the right would be especially difficult. 

So what do you think ?  Keep reading?  What spooky reads to you have going this Halloween season?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Lona Chang - A Super Hero Detective Story Blog Tour Review

About Lona Chang

• Paperback 
• Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC (August 30, 2017)

 When one of the world's greatest superheroes dies in her arms, Lona Chang takes it upon herself to investigate his murder. Armed only with a power she barely understands and a mysterious coded book, Lona begins a quest for answers that leads her down a dark rabbit hole of secrets—secrets the ancient organization known as the Guild is determined to keep hidden at all costs. Meanwhile, when a new threat descends upon Arc City, Lona's soulmate (and freshly minted superhero) Awesome Jones defies the Guild, dons the cape and cowl of his father and finds a group of unlikely allies. But can Awesome trust them—or himself? He'll have to fight his own demons first if he has any hope of defending the town–and the people–he loves. As tensions rise between the Guild, Lona, Awesome, his allies and Arc City's criminal underground, Lona realizes that life, and the answers to its questions, are never as simple as they seem in comic books.

Purchase Links

Amazon

My Thoughts:  I wasn't quite sure just what exactly a super hero detective story was but this was pretty fun!  This is a straight up detective story in the middle of a world with super heroes, politics, and lots of secrets.   It did take me several pages to get really pulled into the flow of the writing and the story itself.  Part of the issue may have been that I didn't read the first book in the series.  While the story itself is stand alone the world and the relationships are fairly complex.  If you enjoy mysteries and super heroes this is a series you really need to read! 

About AshleyRose Sullivan

Originally from Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their many imaginary friends. Her work has been published in places like The Rumpus, Barrelhouse, and Monkey Bicycle and her novels, Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale and Silver Tongue are available from Seventh Star Press. She can be found at ashleyrosesullivan.com.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Duke of Desire - Historical Romance Review

Duke of Desire (Maiden Lane Romance) by Elizabeth Hoyt (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source:  NetGalley

Description:  Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping. Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos. When one of the masked-and nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him . . . only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.

A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS

Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them. Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans. But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER . . . AND DESIRE

Much to Raphael's irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involves herself in his life-and bed. Soon he's drawn both to her quick wit and her fiery passion. But when Iris discovers that Raphael's past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters. Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael's own demons?

Genre: Romance - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been wanting to try Hoyt's Maiden Lane series for awhile because of a number of really glowing reviews so when this book came up on NetGalley I couldn't resist.

My Impression:  This was my very first book by Elizabeth Hoyt and while I had read lots of great reviews for her books I really didn't know what to expect.  While I love historical romance there can sometimes be a sameness about them.  Not all authors stand out but Hoyt is one of the ones who does.  Her writing and the world she has created in this book - and I'm assuming the series as a whole - is like no other.

This is not a love match and really Iris and Raphael barely even know each other but the marriage is necessary for Iris's survival.  I loved that while Iris doesn't blindly follow everything that Raphael tells her she also isn't so insistent on having her own way that she falls into the dreaded To Stupid To Live territory.  Raphael reminded me a bit of a classic historical romance hero.  He's such an alpha male that he's almost a stereotype and he has the whole tortured hero thing down.  However, his baggage is seriously real and he also has a softer sweeter side and is willing to actually listen and converse with her.  While he is fiercely protective of Iris (for good reason) they also develop an emotional connection that was really lovely to watch.

My main issue was the Lords of Chaos.  They are most definitely villains but I struggled with their level of debauchery and cruelty.  While the scenes aren't particularly graphic there is mention of sexual assault as well as sexual abuse on children which kept me from fully enjoying the novel as much as I would have without that.

While I did struggle with an issue in the plot of this particular book I'm in love with Hoyt's vivid characters and writing style.  This is a world I'm already looking forward to visiting again.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  I already have a novella by Hoyt ready to go.

Would I Recommend this Book?  With reservations.  I love the couple and their connection but the level of darkness was a little difficult for me.  Just go in prepared.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

SMP - Holiday Romance Release Blitz + Review of Deck the Halls


It's that time of year again!  The time when all the wonderful holiday romances are coming out!  St. Martin's Press has so many great ones that I'm having a hard time choosing!

There's something for everyone here from historical to cowboy to small town contemporary.  I loved the first book in Emma Douglas' Cloud Bay series so A Season of You is high up on my list.  In fact there's a little something for everyone here - historical, cowboy, Scottish, and your small town contemporary.

But when I really had to make the decision of just what my first holiday romance would be the choice was obvious - Deck the Halls by Donna Alward (Amazon Link).

Alward is one of my go-to contemporary authors and the Darling, VT series has been a favorite.  And since the beginning there has been George.  We meet him as a homeless man and see his gradual transformation as he begins to get on his feet throughout the series.  But George is haunted by something and closely guarded by his secrets and I desperately wanted to know what they were.  So when I saw that George is front and center in this new novella I couldn't resist!

It was wonderful to get to know George better in this novella.  Hearing his story was heartbreaking and I enjoyed getting a better understanding of how he ended up in Darling.  It was impossible not to sympathize with Amy, the sister of George's old friend and Army buddy.   I can't imagine losing someone so close and not knowing what really happened.  I thought as friends they helped each other begin to heal.

The connection between them developed pretty quickly but I was okay with that because there was a previous connection and I think George felt obligated to answer her questions and seemed ready to take the next step.  While I believed in the connection between the two I had a hard time believing that either were really ready for romance.  They are both lovely people and I fully believe they needed each other but a full romance just didn't quite feel right.

However, I was able to ignore that issue and just really enjoy this holiday read.  After three books getting glances of George's story this was a Christmas gift from Alward to Darling, VT readers.

Next up, will probably be Hope at Christmas by Nancy Naigle (Amazon Link).  I've been wanting to read Nancy Naigle's books forever and this involves a bookstore and all kinds of holiday-goodness.  I can't wait!  What holiday reads are coming up for you?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks: Audio Books

While it took me a little while to get into audio books I can now admit that I'm fully in love.  They're a fantastic way to get a little extra reading in and they make tasks that I've found incredibly tedious so much more pleasant.  I thought I'd share some of my favorites and not so favorites over the past few years.

Audio Book Wins

1.  In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware read by Imogen Church - I think I would have enjoyed reading both this book and Ware's 2nd book, The Woman in Cabin 10 but Church's narration really took this book up to another level.  I know I can't have been holding my breath for the entire thing but it felt like it!  

2.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows read by Paul Boehmer, Susan Duerden, Rosalyn Landor, John Lee, and Juliet Mills - This was the first book I listened to that had multiple narrators and it was absolutely wonderful.  This book is told in a series of letters and the different voices brought it completely to life.  

3.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming read by David Tennant - I think I would have enjoyed this book in print because the story is such fun but Tennant's reading made it spectacular.  The man could probably read me a grocery list and I would sit at rapt attention but throw in an adventure story written by the creator of James Bond and it's pure magic.

4.  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline read by Wil Wheaton - I don't think I would have gotten through this one if it wasn't for Wheaton's narration.  I'm glad I did because I ended up really enjoying it.

5.  Bossypants by Tina Fey - I actually read this one first and was kind of meh on it.  I mean it was funny but it wasn't as funny as I wanted it to be.  Then I saw the audio copy was available at my library's digital site and so on a whim I gave it a try.  It was 100 times better in audio.  There were parts were I laughed until I cried. 

Audio Book Losses

1.  Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty read by Cassandra Campbell - Cassandra Campbell is one of my favorite narrators and when I saw she was reading this Middle Grade fiction that was high on my TBR list I was really excited.   Except I didn't end up really liking it.  While I love Campbell's voice something about it just didn't work for me with this story.  I'd like to continue the series but I think I'll be reading instead of listening.

2.  Faithful by Alice Hoffman read by Amber Tamblyn - I didn't dislike the audio and I really loved the book but it took me a little while to get into and I think part of my problem was with Tamblyn's narration.  While I think her voice was perfect for the main character her pacing was very slow.  Once I increased my speed to 1.25 I ended up loving the book much better.

3.  Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon  read by Bahni Turpin and Robbie Daymond - Now part of the problem here is that this book didn't really work for me (I know, I know, please don't throw anything at me) but I did have some issues with the narration that didn't help.  I love Bahni Turpin's voice but found it too old for the teenage main character.  As well it drove me crazy that Daymond's voice was used in the IMs but Turpin did a male voice when the boy talked in conversation.  This drove me crazy!  

Now I know plenty of people who loved all three of these in audio book format so I know this is purely personal preference.  Are you an audio book lover?  Any books or narrators work for you or really don't?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

This Week in Reading - October 15


It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Now that You Mention it by Kristan Higgins - I loved her last book that was more women's fiction than romance so I'm really looking forward to this one!  (Publisher)

Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt - I've never read Hoyt before but this novella looks to cute to pass up.  Plus, there's mistaken identity in a bookstore so that sounds pretty great.  (NetGalley)

Deja Moo by Kristen Weiss - Even if I hadn't read and enjoyed the 2 previous books in this cozy mystery series about a paranormal museum I would not have been able to resist this title! (NetGalley)

No Place Like You by Emma Douglas - I really enjoyed the first book in the Cloud Bay series and I'm excited to read this one which features a best friend's brother romance.  (Publisher)

Cowboy's Legacy by B.J. Daniels - I haven't read a cowboy romance in awhile and I enjoyed the last book I read by Daniels so I couldn't resist.  (Blog Tour)

Bel, Book and Scandal by Maggie McConnon - I read the first book in this cozy mystery series around a quirky family that runs a wedding destination manor house.  This involves a mystery from the main character's past that was referenced in the first book and I'm super excited!  (Publisher)

Currently:

Reading:  The Betrayed by Heather Graham and Lona Chang by AshleyRose Sullivan

Listening:  I just finished The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan (LOVE!) and am now listening to How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell and read by David Tennant!

Watching:  Not a huge amount but my oldest and my sister-in-law talked me into watching The Voice and I'm enjoying it.  I like that they're not mean - even to the ones who don't get on the show.  

Off the Blog:

Disney was amazing!  We went to Legoland and then all the Disney World parks.  We went to Mickey's Halloween party, hung out with Storm Troopers, Chipmunks, and all kinds of other characters.  We rode all the rides and walked almost 50 miles.  It was so much fun that I hated to leave but it's good to be home in my own bed and I'm already planning my next trip. 

This weekend I'm in south Mississippi visiting my grandparents but after that I'm looking forward to being home for awhile and getting out Halloween decorations and getting back into the regular routine.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Audio Book Wins and Losses
Tuesday:  SMP Holiday Romance Release Blits w/ review of Deck the Halls
Wednesday: TBD
Thursday: Lorna Chang - Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with current book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Comfort Food Diaries - Foodie Nonfiction Review

The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart by Emily Nunn (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: One life-changing night, still reeling from her beloved brother's sudden death a few weeks earlier, Emily Nunn was dumped by her handsome architect fiancĂ© and evicted from the apartment they shared, losing in the same moment all sense of family, home, and financial security. After a few glasses of wine, heartbroken and lost, Emily—an avid cook and professional food writer—poured her heart out on Facebook. The next morning she woke up with a terrible hangover and a feeling she’d made a terrible mistake—only to discover she had more friends than she knew, many of whom invited her to come visit and cook with them while she put her life back together. Thus began the Comfort Food Tour.
Searching for a way forward, Emily travels the country, cooking and staying with relatives and friends, among them renowned chefs Mark Bittman and Ina Garten. She also travels back to revisit scenes from her dysfunctional Southern upbringing, dominated by her dramatic, unpredictable mother and her silent, disengaged father. Her wonderfully idiosyncratic aunts and uncles and cousins come to life in these pages, all part of the rich Southern story in which past and present are indistinguishable, food is a source of connection and identity, and a good story is often preferred to a not-so-pleasant truth. But truth, pleasant or not, is what Emily Nunn craves, and with it comes an acceptance of the losses she has endured, and a sense of hope for the future.

Genre: Nonfiction - Foodie

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm a sucker for a good project memoir - especially when it involves food!

My Impression:  The book starts just as Emily's life is starting to crumble.  She thought she had built the perfect cozy nest but within the first few pages the cracks are very obvious and that was before she brought up her issues with addiction.  As readers we see her at what must have been her lowest point - struggling to not just fix a broken heart but to rewrite her entire outlook on life.  A random Facebook post kick starts that journey though it takes a little while and a lot of soul searching for her to really get started. 

Not that it takes awhile to get into the food portion of the book.  Right from the beginning Nunn is describing food so clearly and so beautifully that that all I want to do is grab a fork and dive in to Ezra Pound Cake, or pizza with Toni's Tomato Sauce.  Her descriptions make things that I don't even like sound appealing - I've never once craved a Country Ham biscuit but I'm beginning to reconsider that after several of her mentions!

Once her Comfort Food Tour really got going the food descriptions really increased (seriously - do not read this book hungry!) and the book got a bit happier though no less introspective.  I was really intrigued by the question of just what is comfort food.  It's a term we hear bandied about quite a bit but everyone's interpretation is so personal that it takes a little soul searching to really figure out your answer.  I've been thinking about it since I started the books and am still not quite sure I've really defined mine!

This is a book about self-discovery, healing, and most of all food.  Nunn's writing is incredibly honest but not overly dramatic and within the first few pages she felt like a friend.  Just be careful not to read while hungry or you might go dashing out in search of a country ham biscuit!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I really enjoyed her writing style and this book.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  If you like project type books or enjoyed the book Stir by Jessica Fechtor I think you'd enjoy this one.