Review: By Proxy by Katy Regnery

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This charming romance novel revolves around Jenny, a small town Montana girl from a close-knit family, and Sam, a work-hard-play-hard corporate guy who lives in Chicago but has Montana family ties.

Jenny and Sam agree to help their loved ones get married from afar by standing in for them by proxy. While they wait for their courtroom appointment, they have a few days to get to know each other. I’ll let you read for yourself how THAT goes. There’s quite a bit of personal growth, family loyalty, snowy fun, and new love in there … and a happily ever after, too.

The first few chapters were a little awkward to read. But the awkward writing mimicked the discomfort of Sam and Jenny as they felt each other out and determined how their feelings were going to play out. The writing became smoother and more natural as Jenny and Sam became more comfortable with each other.

I indeed sighed at Sam’s romantic moments, clenched my fists with Jenny when she was frustrated, and felt my shoulders tense when another guy tried to make a move on Jenny. Katy Regnery sparked more interest with snippets of Swedish… little phrases that I am going to practice so I can use them when the right moment presents itself. And I had fun strolling with the loving couple, talking Glogg and enjoying the Christmassy atmosphere.

I totally loved that By Proxy didn’t try to be flashy or dramatic, but it still made me laugh and cry. Real tears, people! I felt for these characters. And I’m all in for the next book in this Heart of Montana series.

–Calliope

Buy it Now By Proxy

Review: Red Hill, by Jamie McGuire

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Let me start out by saying two things. First, I love Jamie McGuire’s writing. Beautiful Disaster has been in my top 5 books, since I read it. Absolutely LOVED that book! And second, and the most important, I hate zombie books. I really do. Hate, hate, hate. Can you see my dilemma? I wasn’t sure I wanted to read Red Hill, when she first told the world about it. But I kept going back to my first point, I really do like her writing. What’s a girl to do?? I was gonna wait til October 1st, when it comes out, and see what others said first. I don’t like gore, so I needed a warning. But then I was approved for an ARC, so that basically made my decision for me. I started it the very day it showed up. And I’m so glad I did.

It starts out on the cusp of a total world outbreak. You see glimpses of Scarlet and her two daughters, Daniel and his daughter Zoe and Miranda with her sister and both their boyfriends.

When the world finally ends, you watch them all travel to get to Red Hill. They meet all different kinds of people. The way everyone seemed to help each other, was very reassuring. If any world collapse happened, I’d hope people would be like this. It was quite a bumpy ride. I totally loved figuring out how their lives all intertwined. At one point, I chastised myself when I realized who a character was, in the big picture.

It was written from many POVs, but it wasn’t confusing. That was probably why I missed characters until they’re basically slapping me in the face. I love how all the character intertwined with each other. At one point I was cheering for one who showed up in the end. I thought this person was dead. I was sure of it. So glad I was wrong.

I wondered how Ms. McGuire would be able to swing a love story in the midst of zombies, without it being like Warm Bodies: A Novel. But she succeeded. The story spans over several months, which is the right amount of time for love to blossom.

And plenty of time for loss also. I did find myself tearing up at a few places, cuz I was attached to these characters. I was crossing my fingers that pain wouldn’t touch them. But, life is pain, and no is immune to it.

Let me just say, the pain that Scarlet was going through, I don’t know how she did it. I doubt I’d be able to stand like her.

The gore wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It’s there, and it’s descriptive, but I’m just glad I was reading it and not watching it. I don’t think I could have handled seeing some of those on the big screen.

All in all, this was a good book. I’m glad I took a chance and read it. Who knew zombies and love went so well together.

I received this ARC for an honest review.

~Melpomene.

Buy it now Red Hill

Review: Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery

20130919-205920.jpg You know what happens four days from today? Christmas on 4th Street is released, and all you Susan Mallery fans (and Christmas romance fans) become happy campers!

You know what will make you even happier? Diving in to Noelle and Gabriel’s story. (Nice Christmassy character names, Ms. Mallery.)

Noelle’s three best friends are planning a triple wedding during the Fool’s Gold Christmas festival. One best friend’s fiancé has a cute doctor brother that comes to town for the wedding. I’m sure you can see where this is going… Kissing, dinners, getting caught in a remote cabin during a snowstorm … the usual.

A few things struck me as unique in this romantic tale. First, Noelle was the most optimistic person I’ve ever met in a book. I wasn’t annoyed, I was reflective. If Noelle could traverse tragedy and come out of it smiling, I should be able to do the same in my pretty smooth-going life. Second, Gabriel’s relationship with his dad was explored nicely. Mallery didn’t gloss over it; she showed me how Gabriel’s dad had so much influence over his emotional development that he totally needed his dad to nudge him into going and growing that extra step. And third, the dialogue was fresh and bold. These characters tell it like it is, with tact, but directly. I like that in real-life people, and I appreciate it in book characters.

I got my coffee and shopping fix on 4th Street in Fool’s Gold … and let my tears of joy fall at the big wedding. Mallery wrote just the right balance of Christmas, friends and family, wedding planning, and new love.

Don’t miss it.

–Calliope

Buy it Now Christmas on 4th Street

Review: Just One Year, by Gayle Forman

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I remember when I was approved for this ARC. I was so excited!! That is until I realized that it could only be read on my Fire and not my Kindle. Then I wasn’t so excited. But since it was number two in a series, I decided to read number one and see if I could find the motivation to read it. Well….I fell in love with Just One Day, so I knew I would love Just One Year. I was not wrong. So I fired up my Fire and prepared myself. I read this in one sitting, I was so engrossed in the story, I couldn’t put it down. I was determined to see Willem and Allyson connect.

This book is from Willem’s point of view. But it was different from the usual male POV, since we didn’t see him, for most of the first book. Most books, when they do the male POV, you kinda already know the story and it seems familiar. This one, however, was completely different.

Near misses, is the theme of this book. I was dying the whole time. I kept yelling commands to Willem, but he wasn’t listening. Telling him to stay where he is, or turn here, was proving darn near impossible. He just wasn’t listening!!!

Seeing him interact with his friends was very sweet. Seeing how much he has lost, wasn’t. I wanted to reach in a hug him. But I loved seeing him like this, looking for a home, that no longer exists, while trying find his Lulu.

Watching his heart break, was breaking mine. But watching his get put back together, made me cry harder. It seems like he never was able to feel loved. Even though he was, he just never knew it.

This was a story about discovering yourself and finding love among the accidents of life.

I can’t wait til this is released, in October, and y’all can join in the love. This was truly an amazing story!

I received this ARC for an honest review.
~Melpomene

Buy it now Just One Year

And don’t forget to grab Just One Day

Review: No One’s Angel by Kelly Walker

18109730 Angel and Arion met while playing video games online and struck up a close friendship immediately. When Angel virtually disappears Arion is crushed and has his heart broken. When a bedraggled Angel shows up on his doorstep he is overjoyed at seeing her again and hopes to kindle a true relationship with her.

But Angel is terrified of something and is determined to keep that to herself. She won’t allow herself to get to close to Arion or let him into her world because she’s scared he’ll be affected by those she’s trying to keep in her past.

I really enjoyed this book for a few different reasons. The novelty of a romance set up like this, with a meet cute happening online was very current and I thought it was well done. It wasn’t the typical meet online type story since it was through gaming. I thought the romance between Angel and Arion felt realistic. There was also a lot of mystery and action tied into Angel’s past catching up to her.

I thought this was a nice YA/NA book that fans of the genre will enjoy.

3.5 stars

~Clio

Review: So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

So Tough to Tame will be published September 24.
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Here’s a peek at what you’re in for:

So Tough to Tame might be the steamiest romance novel I’ve ever read.

Charlie (Charlotte) and Walker always had a little classroom crush on each other. And now as adults they can do something about it. They flirt like crazy, tease a little here and there, build a friendship, and then jump in to a sizzling physical relationship.

They each have secrets that scare them away from an emotional relationship. But Charlie and Walker lean on each other, find solace in each other, and make each other laugh.

They respect each other as equals, even though Walker is a hot cowboy with a swagger that takes a woman’s breath away, and Charlie has always been known as the straight-laced studious type. Charlie and Walker don’t even realize that despite all the talk about sex being the only thing they have in common, they’re falling in love. After some ups and downs there’s a satisfying happily ever after.

Besides enjoying the romantic element of this novel, the great writing, fun characters, and suspenseful plot had me on the edge of my seat!

–Calliope

Buy it now So Tough to Tame

Review: The Untamed Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

imageLady Louisa Scranton’s father, an earl, died in shame. He had swindled investors out of their money. Louisa is looking to marry well to help her overcome the scandal.

The Bishop of Hargate was one of her father’s investors. He tries to blackmail her into marrying by promising that the debt owed against him will be forgiven. Before Louisa can give him an answer, Hargate falls dead at her feet.

Sent to investigate investigate the crime is Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows. Lloyd is the half-brother of the four infamous MacKenzie men. Louisa’s older sister married Lord Mac MacKenzie. Louisa and Lloyd shared a passionate over Christmas that neither can stop thinking about.

Hargate was poisoned. All evidence suggests that Louisa had the motive and opportunity to murder the bishop. Lloyd knows she is innocent and goes to lengths to protect her. He even re-stages the crime scene so that it appears that the killer might have quickly entered and left. By doing this, it also allows Lloyd time to discover the real killer.

All of the Mackenzies appear in this novella. They are a loving and boisterous group. They either are trying to help Lloyd with the case or trying to play matchmaker to Louisa and Lloyd. Daniel Mackenzie does both. His appearance made me want his book NOW.

The only dis-satisfaction I had was with the mystery. Much of the detecting by Lloyd and others was done off-stage. There were no real clues to track. It was all told at the end how Lloyd discovered who the killer was.

If you have not read the MacKenzie series, I would not recommend starting with this novella. Start with the first book so that you can understand the family dynamics. You can also see where it all started for Lloyd and Louisa.

4/5 stars

~Thalia

Buy It Now The Untamed Mackenzie (Mackenzies Series)

Buy Book 1 The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies Series)

Review: Once We Were by Kat Zhang

16109664 This is the captivating sequel to What’s Left of Me that I reviewed and gave 5 stars to a few weeks ago. This releases today! Once We Were picks up shortly after the conclusion of What’s Left of Me. Addie and Eva escaped the governmental institution and find themselves in league with a group of underground hybrids who are all on the lam. They immediately want to be part of the resistance and to make a difference.

However they discover there is a lot of waiting around to be done. During all of the waiting the girls learn how to withdraw and to give each other much needed private time. Eva uses that time to get closer to Ryan and learn how to maneuver around all that comes with hybrids dating each other.

“But the thing is, sharing hands doesn’t mean sharing goals. Sharing eyes doesn’t mean sharing visions. And sharing a heart doesn’t mean sharing the things we love.”

Meanwhile their new found friends are taking part in the resistance in ways both big and small. Eva feels a desparation to get things going immediately and to make a drastic impact. This causes her to convince Addie to make some questionable choices.

There are a lot of differences between this and the first book. For the first 50% or so there was not a ton of action, which I honestly liked. This part of the book was more focused on the relationships between Addie, Eva and the rest of their hybrid group. I really loved seeing the girls trying to figure out how to date and how to determine who gets control of the body and when.

When the action does get started it was definitely exciting and while I knew something was going on – I couldn’t quite figure out what that was, which I liked.

While I did love this book, I didn’t love it as much as the first one. I think it’s mostly because the novelty of hybrids had worn off for me. I still can’t wait to see what is going to happen next for both the resistance and those hybrids that are under the government’s control.

4 Stars

~Clio

Buy the first one if you haven’t already! (It’s only $2.99 right now) What’s Left of Me: The Hybrid Chronicles, Book One

Buy it Now Once We Were: The Hybrid Chronicles, Book 2

Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

17332556 This book releases tomorrow! First of all how amazingly beautiful is this cover?? I judged this book by its’ cover immediately and was so excited to get to read and review it.

I’ve never read any of Sherry Thomas’s other books, but I’ve heard good things about them so I was even more excited to read this after I heard those.

This is a wonderful story of magical worlds, Royalty and a young girl. Iolanthe Seabourne discovers at the outset of the book that she is supposed to be the greatest elemental mage of her time. Which really shocks the crap out of her considering she’s pretty average in most things.

After she summons lightening to fix a ruined elixer her whole world changes and she finds herself on the run from those who want to harm her. Iolanthe finds that she has an ally of sorts in Prince Titus of Elberon and hesitates to put her faith and trust in him.

But Titus has his own agenda as well. Together they have to face their foes.

I love the magic elements in the book, the author did a wonderful job of world building. The setting for the majority of the book is at an all boys school, which is different since Iolanthe is female. Titus had thought he prepared for every contingency but he hadn’t thought of the possibility of a female that he would have to help. I enjoyed seeing how they worked through this and it was humorous to see the boys at the school and the issues that came with that.

But my favorite part of the book is a spoiler. I won’t spoil it but the way Iolanthe and Titus train is pretty different and those scenes were my favorite.

Oh, also this is going to be a trilogy but there was NO shocking cliffhanger that so many trilogies have. I want to read the next book but only because this one was so great.

Seriously, go get this book. You won’t be disappointed!

4.5 stars.

~ Clio

Buy it Now The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy)

Feedback Wanted!!

936386_10200242490248306_709002509_nWe muses were talking about what we look for in reviews. I read tons of reviews – on Goodreads, and on other review blogs mainly.  Many times if it’s a person/blog I trust I will buy based on those reviews so I really value reviews. Same with the other muses. But we realized that we also read reviews for certain books looking for spoilers. That’s right – big, fat spoilers.

Now traditionally I don’t read spoiler reviews because I like to go into a book pretty blind. But there are books that I’m very iffy about and if I can find a spoiler review I’ll read it to determine if the book is worth my times. Other times there are books that I am dying to read but haven’t been able to for one reason or another – it’s not out yet, haven’t purchased it yet, too many books, etc. Those times I look at spoiler reviews to alleviate my book anxiety and it helps me read the books at a more normal pace when I do get them instead of racing through them to find out what happens.

So all of that to say…we are going to start a new feature called Spoiler Saturday. Starting in October we will be posting a spoiler review every Saturday. It will have clear marks that it is a spoiler so no worries that you could stumble upon it unknowingly!

We’d like to know from our readers what books YOU would like to see spoiler reviews of. Either books that are already out, upcoming releases, pretty much anything. Let us know here, on Facebook or on twitter so we can try to give you those spoiler reviews you want!

~ Clio (and Daisy clearly wanting your opinions!)