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Great Voice!

Sweet Confections (Indulgence Row #1) - Danyelle Ferguson

This is my first novel by Danyelle Ferguson. I was immediately drawn into the strong voice of the work. It was fun, upbeat and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the back and forth between Rachel and Graydon. 

 

The suspense part was even better. I didn't immediately know who the culprit was, and I love that!

 

I give Sweet Confections a 4.5 because I loved every minute of it and highly recommend it. It's a wonderfully fun read with a good mystery as well. 

 

1-5 scale and what it means:

1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad

2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing

3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive

3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love

4: Solid mind candy / worth reading

4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read

5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Opted Out

Shattered Palms - Toby Neal

I've read other books by Toby Neal with this character and loved them. This one however didn't keep my interest. Not completely sure why though. I made it 52% through before I called it quits.

 

The writing is clean, there's a good murder mystery to solve, and there are the characters I've enjoyed in the past. Perhaps it's because I felt the part about the endangered birds was being pounded into me every other page? I also wanted to throttle the main female character Lei. 

 

She bails on her own wedding just hours before out of her personal fear, goes to the suspects house alone and almost dies. I kept wanting to yell at her for being such an idiot. I've never felt that way about her before. Yes, she has issues. Always has, but come on! I didn't even care about solving the murder. I just wanted Lei to get her head on straight and marry the one man that has been there for her through all kinds of stuff. 

 

Anyway, I might try to finish this at some time. 

 

I'll give it a 3.5 because I've enjoyed this author in the past.

Note to my LDS friends, Toby Neal usually has sex scenes that I skip.  

 

1-5 scale and what it means:

1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad

2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing

3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive

3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love

4: Solid mind candy / worth reading

4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read

5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

I'll Take A Good Dose of Suspense, Please

Royal Target - Traci Hunter Abramson

Sure, you could call this a romance, but the real ride of the story is the suspense. That's what I love about Traci Hunter Abramson. That, and she writes about characters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or Mormons) in a non-awkward way. 

 

Let me explain. Some of her characters are members of this church (as am I), but she's not preachy. Even though this is my faith, it's always weird for me when people try to defend our faith through their writing. Abramson doesn't do that. Her characters are members and it affects the choices they make, but it isn't the spotlighted part of the story. 

 

Okay, on to this story in particular. I love that Janessa is a misfit CIA of sorts. Or at least she thinks so. She's been moved from assignment to assignment thinking it's because of her 'mishaps.' She even mentions that her Chinese (she's a linguist) gets her in trouble, hinting at one of those times. In reality, she's a very capable and skilled agent. The fact she's good at what she does lands her an assignment that will change her life.

 

Garrett is an all around good guy with fears of his own. He loves his family and will do anything to keep them safe. Including a fake engagement to a CIA agent. As time progresses he finds himself wishing it wasn't so pretend, and that Janessa would stop building walls between them.

 

I kept trying to guess who was behind the bombings and threats to the royal family until the very end. Turns out only two of the four suspects I had in mind was correct. Thanks goodness, because if it had been one of them I would have cried. No spoilers coming your way here!

 

This book had great tension and conflict through out on the external and internal sides. The writing was smooth and easy to read. In fact, I kept reading until my eyes blurred, popped some eyedrops and finished the book!

 

I give Royal Target by Traci Hunter Abramson a 5 because I read it in one day.

 

1-5 scale and what it means:

1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad

2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing

3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive

3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love

4: Solid mind candy / worth reading

4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read

5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

 

 

Not So Reality TV Meets Romance

Home Matters (A Ripple Effect Romance Novella Book 1) - Julie N. Ford

It seems I haven't read in forever although it's probably only been a month or two. I was ready for something short to get me back into things. Over the weekend my daughter and I attended a writer's conference and picked up lots of new books by the other authors. 

 

When I saw the cover of this book I knew I had to read it. I'm addicted to HGTV and DIY Network, plus hubby and I are currently renovating our home. Throw in a sweet and clean romance and I'm all in!

 

I loved that the conflict that keeps our protags apart is something realistic. Not some over the top device because they "just can't get together yet." I could relate to Olivia. She's had her life planned out forever. She knows what her goals and expectations are, and she doesn't shift gears quickly. That's how I am. I need time to get used to a new idea. Figure out how that changes things and decide if I'm willing to do that. This is the core of what keeps her from accepting Pete too soon.

 

At first I thought Pete was "all in" way too easily, but that was explained well as the book progressed. Olivia looks like his dead fiance. Enough said.

 

Spoiler Alert (sort of):

I loved what Pete says to convince Olivia that he loves her for her and not because she reminds him of the previous girl he loved. Truly sigh worthy!

 

There was a typo or two--but that's me getting nit-picky so I have something to critique here. Oh, and I really wish Olivia had stuck it to William a lot worse than she did. And that I got to see it. :)

 

All in all I really enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting. I give Home Matters a solid 4!

 

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Cute Marriage of Convenience Story

The Wedding Wager - Regina Duke

This seems to be the "in" thing right now. Rich person needs to marry for some reason, finds someone who needs money to pay off bills of some sort and they fall in love for real. In that regard, you could say there were no surprises here, but Regina Duke still tells a lovely story. 

 

At least in this one Megan and Kevin both have reservations that make the crazy situation a bit more believable. And I appreciated Duke's "fade to black" approach to taking things beyond kissing. 

Quick easy read.

Opposing the Cowboy - Margo Bond Collins

I'm behind on reviews, so this will be short. 

 

This was a fun book to read. Good tension, nice story. I would have given a 4 star rating but had to skip several pages about 70% into the book. It's frustrating because I love romance, but so many writers feel they have to put a sex scene in. And of course, as soon as the couple has sex something happens to make them angry at each other and split them up. 

 

*sigh*

Super cute!

Prejudice Meets Pride (Meet Your Match, book 1) (Volume 1) - Stephen Hawking

Okay, I love all things Pride and Prejudice as it is, but the modern versions aren't all the same quality. This book holds its own.

 

It is sweet, cute, heart-wrenching even at times. 

 

I liked that Anderson didn't try and perfectly mimic the pattern of Jane Austen's pride and prejudice. This story has its own plot line but the emotional journey is the same as Austen's work. 

 

Emma is a soft hearted hard working aunt. She's given up her artistic dreams to take care of her niece, but she had no idea how hard it would be. And how frustrating with her good looking neighbor judging her. 

 

Kevin's on track for a great future. It may not be the one his mother wanted for him, but he's a great pediatrician. Everything is going the way he wants, until the dump next door gets a new tenant. How is it that every time he tries to help his pretty neighbor she yells at him? He just wants to do the right thing. 

 

I love the natural progression of their friendship. On top of all that, this is clean! As soon as I finished reading, I took the kindle up to my 16 year old daughter who is also a huge Austen fan. Being able to share a story with her bumps this up to 5 stars. 

 

 

A Romance Blitz

I'm about to take a much needed break from moving and remodeling to read several romance novels. This is for two reasons:

 

1. I'm about to write my first straight up romance novella with a group of fantastic writers for a collection. This is research of a sort.

2. Romance often doesn't require a lot of thought. There's nothing wrong with that. People read romance because it has a certain level of predictability. The "happily ever after" being the most important part of that.

 

So, hold onto your hats, here we go!

Couldn't get into it

The Watcher's Keep (The Triadine Saga, #1) - Timothy Bond

Since I'm not reading, let me take this book off my "reading" list. 

 

I tried. I really did, but I just couldn't get into it. Maybe there were too many characters. Too much jumping around in the beginning. Whatever it was I couldn't settle into the story. After multiple attempts I had to say my time would be better spent somewhere else. 

 

There wasn't anything wrong with the writing, it just wasn't for me. 

Reading has screeched to a halt.

*sigh* I miss reading, but life is crazy right now. However, I did download three new books this morning in the hopes of reading again soon.

 

My big thing is that as a writer, when I get 30 minutes I need to be writing. I've started a new project completely new for me with several other amazing authors. Plus, I've got sequels to finish in my own series. 

 

Hopefully, I'll get more reviews up in the next month though. It's a pretty good bet because when I get overwhelmed I curl up with a book!

Quick Easy Read

Hurricane Coltrain - Taya Okerlund

This isn't my normal type of book. In fact, I probably wouldn't have picked it up if not for the review swap request. So, up front, the author gave me a free copy to read and review honestly.

 

This YA book is really about finding out where you fit in the world. What makes you happy and whether or not you care what others think. It's a coming of age story in a not so standard setting.

 

The Good:

Okerlund did a wonderful job with her character development. Merrill is moody and quirky in all the right ways. He's accepted that his mom's reputation affects his social standing in every way. At first he tries to do his best anyway, but he gets a lot more interesting when he decides to throw in with his mom and hang everyone else. The best part about Merrill deciding to help his mom's cause it that it's very natural. His personality is already suited to helping others. 

 

Robbie is everything I expected him to be without feeling cliche. That's an accomplishment. He felt real. His problems were heart breaking and I wanted to slap a few people on his behalf. My favorite line in the book is where Robbie talks about still being in prison. Being an artistic person myself, I could relate to that. 

 

The Bad:

There really wasn't a lot to mention here. The writing is clean. There were a few spots I was pulled out of the story by explanations. However, I'm of a mixed opinion about those places in the story. Okerlund references aspects of Mormonism and the polygamist FLDS. She takes a moment to explain the words she uses, which I think will be helpful to people not familiar with either religion, but they also felt like author intrusion. 

 

The only other spot for me was something at the end. A few things come to light (trying not to spoil anything here) but one of them isn't clear. I'd like to know if the man who turns out to be Merrill's dad was also the guy on the Deadbeatparentportal. It wasn't clear and could go either way.

 

All in all I was surprised by the book. As I said, not my normal thing. There were no murders, aliens, explosions or romance. But, the story was well told and I enjoyed it. I give Hurricane Coltrane a solid 4. 

 

1-5 scale and what it means:

1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad

2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing

3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive

3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love

4: Solid mind candy / worth reading

4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read

5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

June Reading Report

It's really too bad I can't write reviews for the books I read this month. I've read two books by authors I know in critique exchanges and have two more on my computer. That's four brand new (and really awesome!) books that no one else knows about yet. 

 

One was a YA paranormal mystery romance. If it doesn't get picked up by some savvy agent I'll be surprised. It was sweet, haunting and completely different from anything else I've read. 

 

The other book was also YA but contemporary. There was a lot of heartache and secrets in there as well. That book did really well in an online contest and several agents are now reading it. *Fingers Crossed*!

 

I have about 50 pages of a fantasy and then a complete paranormal novel waiting for me to just open and read. Hopefully I'll get them both finished next week. 

 

Really, being a writer with writer friends is the best! It's just hard not getting to share all the awesomeness right away.

Part 2 of the Glassford Girl

Glassford Girl: Part 2 (The Emily Heart Time Jumper Series) (Volume 2) - Jay J. Falconer

Poor Emily! She breaks one rule--Don't get involved--and everything falls to pieces. Soon she's letting her ability to see into people, who they really are inside, allow her to fall in love. That's another rule down the drain--no boys!

 

Derek is still a mystery, but he's a good guy inside. We just don't know yet what kind of horrors from his past put him on the street. It's just too bad that one kiss is enough to send Emily forward in time again. 

 

In fact, since the beginning of the series I believe Emily has lived maybe a week, but we've had at least a year and a half normal time pass. If she doesn't get things under control soon he'll be way too old for her. 

 

This installment has some twist and turns, the last chapter especially is quite the ride. It seems those who experimented on her are about to catch up. She's also started hearing the voice of her mother. There are so many questions I can't wait to find the answers to. The least of which is--Will poor Emily get to stay in one place for an entire day, much less a week?

 

Loved the story progression, the only down side is still the occasional language. 

Compelling Story, but Strong Language

Glassford Girl (Emily Heart Time Jumper Series) (Volume 1) - Jay J. Falconer

I paid for this book and so was a bit more invested in reading all of it. If I'd grabbed it for free I would have stopped reading around page two because of the strong language. Although I understand the gang members really would use this kind of language, I don't care to read it. 

 

However, as I said, I paid money for it and kept reading. Other than the language, the story is compelling and well written. Emily is a strong character. She's learned to survive in her crazy and unpredictable world. She's got her list of rules and her post jump checklist. It's all very logical, and then she goes total teenager and starts breaking her own rules. :)

 

I enjoyed the fact that she doesn't exactly know how she does what she does. Just that "they" changed her. The time jumping makes sense too. She can only jump forward, can't control it (yet), and the jumps seem to correlate to the amount of energy (or adrenaline) expended right before. Everything is explained in a way that makes sense.

 

All in all I give this 4 stars.

Quick Classic Reread

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

I haven't read this since I read it aloud to my daughters as a bedtime story. Yeah, I used to be an awesome mom. They heard the entire Little House series, this book and The Little Princess before I stopped reading at night. 

 

Anyway, I love all the talk about gardens and the magic of life waking in the spring and running its course. The only problem I have with this book is it just ends. I want to know what happened next!

Sweet, Clean Romance

Summer in Snow Valley (Snow Valley Romance Anthologies Book 2) - Kimberley Montpetit, Lucy McConnell, Cindy Roland Anderson, Diana Taylor Hart, Jeanette Evans Lewis, Cami Checketts

I'm going to review each story briefly and then touch on the collection as a whole at the end.

Catching Caytie by Amazon Top Seller Cindy Roland Anderson

This one has the best meet cute (is that what it's called?) out of all of them. You know, the moment our two future love birds meet? She runs a red light and almost takes out Jace's truck! Along the way to liking each other, Caytie also helps Kellen. If they do another Snow Valley set, I want his story!
I give this one a solid 4.

Tin Foil Tiaras by Amazon Top Seller Jeanette Lewis

Sweet insecure Cameron! Pageant queen wanna-be who things she's not thin enough, pretty enough, talented enough. Instead she's going to do everything she can to push Annalisa to the crown. Or is she? Kyle is very distracting, and when he finally gives his reasons for not wanting his sister to win Cameron knows she has to look at things differently. I loved this story for this real look at how pushy moms can miss what's the most important.
I give this one a 4.5.

A Touch of Love by Amazon Top Seller Cami Checketts

This one was my favorite. And not because I know Cami and not the other authors. What I loved about this story was the fact Annie isn't your run of the mill romance heroine. She's so real it hurts! Of all the romance novels I've read, only one other woman wasn't perfect (she was in a wheelchair). None of us are perfect, and even though we read to escape, it was really refreshing to met Annie. To struggle with her as she tried to express herself. To fall in love with Luke right beside her because of his patience. Annie's insecurity and attempts to give up what she needs for someone she thinks needs it more is heart-wrenching and warming at the same time.
I give this one a 4.5!

First Love by Amazon Top Seller Taylor Hart

Ah. This might be my other favorite. I'm a sucker for second chances and this one really packs a punch. If you've read Christmas in Snow Valley, you know that Janet was battling cancer in that set. She's got a new lease on life, but she knows how tenuous it can be. Can she risk handing her heart back to the boy she's always loved when he walked away so long ago? Especially when she still feels broken?
I give this one a 4.5!

Romancing Rebecca by Amazon Top Seller, Kimberley Montpetit

Ha! This one was confusing at first. So many firefighters! Who could be the real love interest? This is a bit of a spoiler (sorry!) but I love that history wins out in the end. ;) When it's right, it's right. Becca just has to give it a chance and let some of her preconceived notions go.
This one is fun. I give it a solid 4.

Love in Light and Shadow by Amazon Top Seller Lucy McConnell

This story made me smile all the way through. One of my favorite scenes is when Chet's sister tells him not to talk about all the boring trivia he knows. She has no idea that Mercedes loves that! Chet is just sweet in all the ways he tries to avoid Mercedes. Here's two people immediately drawn to each other like magnets, but Mercedes is afraid he'll be like all the others, and Chet is too humble to even chase her.
I give this one a solid 4 for the steamy cowboy who brings art back to Mercedes life.

As a collection, I have to say I love Snow Valley! It was easy to fall right in since I read the Christmas set three or four times. When the characters from those stories drifted "across the screen" I felt like I was seeing old friends while making these new ones.

I give the whole set a solid 5 to show my support for well-written, CLEAN romance! It's got steam without things I feel best left behind closed doors.

Plus, I'm a sucker for sweet stories that tug on the heartstrings and make me smile like I'm experiencing that first love sensation.

My rating scale for book reviews
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25507757-summer-in-snow-valley?from_search=true&search_version=service