Fatal Burn (Northwest #2) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: March, 2006

Format: Audio/Audible

Three years ago, Shannon Flannery was accused of murdering her wife-beater husband Ryan Carlyle, who was found burnt beyond recognition after a forest fire. At the time, many people believed that Ryan was the Stealth Torcher, a serial arsonist who lit many fires in the area, and suspected that Shannon had gotten back at her husband by beating fire with fire. The suspicions about Ryan’s ‘occupation’ seemed confirmed when the fires stopped following his death. However, although Shannon was acquitted for the murder, she still faced much public speculation over the case, especially from those who believed that she had gotten away with murder.
Now, believing that the worst is finally behind her, Shannon is attempting to get on with life. She has just bought a new property, where she hopes to expand her search-dog training facility.
But then strange things start to happen that make her question her safety, as well as the safety of those that she loves. Fragments of her past come back to haunt her, and mysterious fires begin to crop up, leading Shannon to suspect that somebody is out to get her. Then Travis Settler, an ex-Special Forces agent, arrives on the scene. His teenage daughter Dani has been kidnapped, and he believes that Shannon’s dark past has something to do with her abduction.
With the body count slowly rising, Shannon and Travis have to learn to trust one another, and uncover the dark secrets of the fire-loving serial killer before he seeks his ultimate revenge.

Review –

This novel takes readers into the often-unexplored world of arsonists, and the emotions that they feel when lighting or witnessing a fire. While many people, myself included, cannot fathom the reasons that some people may have for lighting fires that do nothing but cause destruction and chaos, this novel allows readers to view just how some people respond to flames, and makes readers aware of the power that many arsonists experience when dealing with this deadly element.
I am in no way suggesting that all arsonists are murderers, as many do not think of the consequences of their actions. I am simply saying that this novel is a good study of the way that firebugs may react to flame.

The author keeps readers guessing, as she continually introduces new plot twists and scenarios. Travis Settler’s relationship with Shannon adds a bit of romantic spark to the story, and Dani Settler’s determination to survive at the hands of her kidnapper is inspiring, especially considering her age.

This book will keep you guessing and the suspense will burn up the pages (excuse the pun) if reading and heat your ear if listening.

Five stars!

The Queen of Nothing(Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black

Book Description:

Published: July 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.

Review –

If someone were to ask me to sum up my experience of reading The Queen of Nothing I would phrase it as an easy read. Now, if the same question was asked for any of the previous books then I would happily explain it in great detail. I enjoyed the conclusion to this story I have loved so much and wouldn’t have it end any other way. But there was still something missing that wasn’t missing in the past installments.

Holly Black is a brilliant story-teller but I think the downfall is the fact that it was so short. If we got even a hundred more pages, I really believe this could’ve been the best book in the series.

Overall, I enjoyed The Queen of Nothing. Like I said, it was an easy read and I was happy to be reunited with characters I have grown to love, despite their flaws. There is a fair share of action and political intrigue to please readers. Most will be happily satisfied with Jude and Cardan’s ending, too! I’ll always recommend this series to anyone who needs some epic fantasy storytelling in their life!

 

 

 

A Boy Called Christmas(Christmas #1) by Matt Haig

Book Description:

Published: November 16, 2015

Format: Audio

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

Are you still reading?

Good.

Then let us begin . . .

A Boy Called Christmas is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, more snow, and an eleven-year-old boy called Nikolas, who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.

Review –

Eleven-year-old Nikolas—nicknamed “Christmas”, because he was born on Christmas Day,—has received only one toy in his life: a doll carved out of a turnip. But he’s happy with his turnip doll, because it came from his parents, who love him.

But his mother has died, and his father, Joel is an impoverished woodcutter. Desperate for money, Joel joins a group of men on a quest to prove the existence of elves, leaving Nikolas with his ill-tempered aunt, Carlotta. Nikolas runs away to find his father, but trudging months through the woods, he faces starvation, freezing, and hopelessness. Then he comes across a reindeer with an arrow stuck in his leg. Nikolas helps him and names him Blitzen, and they continue their journey to the elf village together. Unfortunately, once located, the elves do not offer a warm welcome but instead lock Nikolas in the tower. It’s there that Nikolas discovers, with the help of a drimwick, or hope spell, that he’s become more than just the simple boy he used to be. 

In many ways it’s a coming of age story for Nikolas who has had a hard life and learns who he truly is and what the value of family and love really mean. It’s a story of unlikely friendships between a poor boy, a mouse, a reindeer named Blitzen and a village of downtrodden elves who are struggling to find their Christmas Spirit. But perhaps most importantly it’s a story about the unexpected and impossibility of life and the true meaning of Christmas and the Christmas Spirit. It’s heart warming and a fantastic read.

One feature I particularly loved about this book was the cameos made by well known Christmas figures (i.e. the reindeer etc) and the way we get little glimpses at how today’s much loved traditions came to be what they are. For example, How Father Christmas’ name came to be, where the idea for presents delivered by Santa came from and where the suit itself came from. This feature of the book actually made me take a step back and reevaluate everything I took for granted about Christmas and question it’s origins and it’s made this Christmas in turn all that much more special.

This book came into my possession over two years ago and I don’t know why I let it sit on the shelf for so long. I had the audio and narrator did a fantastic job, but I hear that the book has excellent illustrations and that it would make a great read-aloud.

 

 

 

Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Gerber

Book Description:

Published: May 7, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

Review –

“Picking up just after the end of Legendary (2018), Garber continues to build the world of Caraval with a final installment, this time focusing equally on both Dragna sisters’ perspectives.

After they released their long-missing mother from the Deck of Destiny, Scarlett and Donatella hoped to rebuild their relationship and gain a new sense of family. However, Legend also released the rest of the Fates, and, much to their dismay, the Fallen Star—essentially the ur-Fate—is only gaining in power. As the Fates begin to throw Valenda into chaos and disarray, the sisters must decide whom him to trust, whom to love, and how to set themselves free. Scar’s and Tella’s passionate will-they-or-won’t-they relationships with love interests are still (at times, inexplicably) compelling, taking up a good half of the plot and balancing out the large-scale power games with more domestic ones. Much like the previous two, this third book in the series is overwritten, with overly convenient worldbuilding that struggles nearly as much as the overwrought prose and convoluted plot. While those who aren’t Garber’s fans are unlikely to pick up this volume, new (or forgetful) readers will find the text repetitious enough to be able to follow along.” Kirkus Review

I was disappointed with this final book of the Caraval series. I loved the other two, but for me, this one fell flat. It’s true that the sisters had their hands full with fighting the Fates, keeping their romances alive and surviving to love another day, so I don’t know why I felt like there should have been more.

The thing I COULDN’T get enough of was the vivid imagery and the lush fantasy with which the author filled all three books in the series. Her descriptions are colorful and majestic.

 

 

 

 

Cake (Cake #1) by J. Bengtsson

Book Description:

Published: May 14, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Jake McKallister might have been a rock star, but he was no ordinary one. Surviving an unspeakable crime as a young teen had shaped him into a guarded workaholic, and he now lived his life trying to forget. If it hadn’t been for music and the redemption he found through it, he might not have survived. Career success came easily for him. Personal connections did not.

When outspoken, vivacious college student Casey Caldwell was paired with the famously reserved rockstar for a friend’s wedding, she was prepared for the worst. What could they possibly have in common? She was a bubbly talker; he was a reclusive loner. His life was filled with music; she couldn’t carry a tune. She’d enjoyed a happy childhood; his was a well-publicized nightmare.

Yet despite their obvious differences, Jake and Casey found each other, and her light balanced out his darkness. Would their love be strong enough to survive the weight of his tragic past?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a *full-length* standalone romance. Cake is a love story at heart but does deal with a sensitive topic and may not be for all.
Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of eighteen.

Review –

I’ve had this book in my Audible library for a very long time but never got around to listening to it until now.

I thought ‘what in the world does CAKE have to do with a Rock Star themed contemporary romance?’ Is that the name of the band? But, no, CAKE is an acronym of the names of the two main characters.

I don’t  read rock star romances too often,(they are my favorite) but this book was delightful. Now it might not be for everyone especially if you are expecting a steamy read. Because this book has only one or two bedroom scenes and they aren’t too detailed (the sex is mostly implied) but I found the chemistry between these two just wonderful. And their fun bantering from the beginning just draws you in immediately. Seeing Casey go on tour with Jake for the summer and then seeing their relationship take on a great test with facing Jake’s past and seeing that these two work together and that they don’t give up on each other was heart-warming and heart wrenching at the same time. There is conflicts of course, but NOT in the relationship. I love that the minute that they are “together”, they never stop fighting for each other and keep working on their relationship and making sure it’s as strong as ever.

There are some hints of darkness though when dealing with Jake’s past and seeing him work through this was really hard to see because Jake is so talented and kind and down to earth and he has really gone through hell and back and is still fighting for his sanity and his past does haunt his intimate relationship with Casey. But Casey….she is a fighter, she never stops loving him or standing by him. She is very true to Jake and is willing to stay by his side through the good and the bad times and I LOVE this aspect to the romance. They go on an incredible journey and it definitely was written so well and tugged at my heartstrings.

Fantastic read!

 

Drunk Dial by Penelope Ward

Book Description:

Published: August 21, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

t seemed like a good idea at the time. Look up Landon Roderick, that boy from childhood whom I’d never been able to forget—even though he so easily forgot about me—and call him.

Then again, anything sounds like a good idea when you’ve had a little too much wine before bed, right? It was supposed to be just a quick, meaningless, prank call. Instead, I went off on him—unloading thirteen years of pent-up emotions.

I didn’t think he’d call me back.

I certainly could never have anticipated the weeks of sexually tense phone conversations that followed as I got to know the man he’d become.

Turned out, Landon had never really forgotten me, either. That special connection we had was still there. I opened up to him, but there were also things about me he didn’t know. And he had his own secrets.

ver the countless hours we talked on the phone, I wondered what would happen if we actually saw each other. One night, I did something impulsive again. Only this time, I went to the airport and booked a ticket to California. We were about to find out if one phone call could bring two lost souls together or if my drunk dial really was all just a big mistake.

Review –

I absolutely loved Drunk Dial! I listened to the audio version of this book and the narration was amazing. I didn’t want to stop listening once I started.

After the first drunk call, Landon and Rana soon make calls to each other regularly and what starts out as witty banter between the two, soon turns into an undeniable connection. Their attraction towards each other develops, so much so that neither can ignore it and love blossoms. There are a few massive problems that stand in the way; not only does Landon live in California and Rana live in Michigan, but they are both harbouring BIG secrets. They need to own up to these secrets in order to continue their relationship and the undeniable love they have for each other. Will they both be able to accept each other’s past, to make a life together in the future?

Once again Penelope Ward has created another swoony hero for her readers to fall in love with. There was really nothing not to love about Landon. He was sweet and sexy with plenty of ink and piercings to make you have hot flushes whilst reading. What I especially loved about him was, yes, he has made some mistakes in the past but, he doesn’t shy away from them. Landon owns his past and has learnt from his mistakes in order to make something of his life.

Drunk Dial is a sweet friends to lovers story with just the right mix of emotion and humor to keep you fully invested from start to finish. If you are on a search for your next BBF, then I strenuously suggest you meet Landon, he will melt your heart and make you fall in love.

Five stars!

Corrupt (Devil’s Night #1) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: November 17, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

Erika

I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession.

His name is Michael Crist.

My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me.

But I noticed him.

I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away.

Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore.

Because he’s finally noticed me.

Michael

Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika.

My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.

Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college.

In my city.

Unprotected.

The opportunity is too good to be true as well as the timing. Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out.

We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.

***Corrupt can be read as a stand-alone. No cliffhanger.

Review –

This is the first book in the Devil’s Night series by Penelope Douglas.  Each book focuses on a different man from the main group of friends. The story takes place in the same world as stand alone Punk 57(whose main character is cousins with a character from the Devil’s Night series). You could read this as a stand alone too because there is no cliffhanger and it’s currently available on kindle unlimited.

The book revolves around the events of one night, three years prior and the revenge planned in the present. There is a lot of going back and forth in the timeline.

Four former students who used to be considered “kings” of the school come back on Devil’s Night (the night before Halloween) to whip the basketball team into shape. They do this by showing the current team how to haze, drink, and screw their way into a brotherhood that can hopefully perform on the court. After helping out their old school team, they then proceed to relive their youth by spending the rest of Devil’s Night pulling off some pranks that include sex with an underage girl, arson, and vandalism. They do all this while dragging along a sixteen-year-old girl and basically daring her to participate while constantly treating her to verbal abuse and veiled and not so veiled threats of rape etc. yet she stays. 

Something goes terribly wrong and the videos of their adventures (yes, they record everything) fall into the wrong hands and three of the four end up going to jail for three long years. They think the girl betrayed them so they spend those three years planning an elaborate revenge that will result in her being at the mercy of all four boys to be used by them in every way imaginable. Do they confront the girl, ummm…no. They just assume and plan. The fact that they did everything they were accused of meant nothing, they were just mad they got caught.

It’s dark, uncomfortable, twisted, creepy, exciting, intense, thrilling, and still very sexy.  This wasn’t a romance story that’s just set within a suspense plot, the romance itself was suspenseful and nerve wracking

This is one where I feel like TRIGGER WARNINGS are important but really the whole thing could be triggering so I don’t even know how piece it apart.  Consent is on the shakiest ground here and there are multiple nonconsensual interactions where the main female  character is clearly saying NO and being harassed or attacked and an almost rape scene situation.  Pretty much all of this behavior is meant to add to the scary suspense of the story and it definitely works, making you question just how far these characters are going to go and if you can handle it.

It had a HEA but it is a f***ed up story meant to push your limits – I’d be getting restraining orders and therapy after this sh*t if it happened to me, but again, what a ride. Also if you’re not into sex scenes in public places and mfm threesomes, steer clear!

Five stars!

 

Until You (Fall Away #1.5) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: February 18, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

Have you ever been so angry that hitting things felt good? Or so numb that you actually felt high? The past few years have been like that for me. Traveling between fury and indifference with no stops in between.

Some people hate me for it, while others are scared of me. But none of them can hurt me, because I don’t care about anything or anyone.

Except Tatum.

I love her so much that I hate her. We used to be friends, but I found out that I couldn’t trust her or anyone else.

So I hurt her. I pushed her away.

But I still need her. The sight of her centers me, and I can pool all of my anger into her. Engaging her, challenging her, bullying her…they are my food, my air, and the last part of me that feels anything human.

But she left. She went to France for a year, and came back a different girl.

Now, when I push, she pushes back.

Review –

If you’re expecting Until You to just be a retelling of Bully in Jared’s POV, well, you’re in for a lovely surprise. Until You has so much more than what happens in Bully, and the timeline is longer. We get more of the year that Tate left for Europe (when Jared is totally moping about how Tate won’t be there for him to bully), more flashbacks of Jared and Tate’s childhood , and  more of what happens after the end of Bully. And Penelope Douglas writes this all with Jared’s no nonsense, totally badass POV. 

What is it with boys who are totally hot but complete jerks? And WHY do I still keep on loving them? Maybe it’s the sweet side that they show only to the women they love, or maybe it’s the whole redemption thing, but whatever reason it is, I can’t stop reading about them! And Jared is probably my all-time favorite jerk. He’s the jerk of my dreams. The lovable jerk. Sometimes he takes it too far, but whenever that happens, we know that he feels guilty (even though he tries to be badass and not show it). 

We get to see how devastated Jared felt when he came home from his father’s, and how he kept spiraling downward, and pushing Tate away. But then, when Tate comes back, everything changes for him. It’s not so easy to bully her or to bottle up his feelings for her. Because no matter how many times Jared tries to push Tate away, she is always in his heart. And when he’s finally done with the bullying… He turns on the charm because he knows Tate can’t resist him, just like he can’t resist her, and the two of them together are explosive.

Jared’s lantern tattoo!!  The sweetest thing I’ve ever read. Until You is perfect. Reading from Jared’s POV about how much he loves Tate, and how he tries to redeem himself is just the best thing ever. Penelope Douglas is a goddess for creating one of my favorite book boyfriends.

Fantastic read!

Too Much by Ella Miles

Book Description:

Published: April 6, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

A romance that starts at the end, and ends at the beginning.

He’s not coming.
He promised.
He swore.
He said he would always be here for me.
Except this time, when I really need him to be here, he isn’t.
He isn’t fucking here.

Quinn met Hunter five years ago at age eighteen. It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, it was the complete opposite. But they did make a promise that day. If times ever got shitty again, all either of them had to do was text each other for help. For five years, they had always been there for each other until…they weren’t.

A standalone, new adult romance, contemporary romance.

Review –

This was the most confusingest book I have read. I never understood what was going on between the characters one minute they were together and the next they could never be together. And one minute Quinn had Ava and the next she didn’t. It wasn’t until the very end that I understood how all the characters were connected. My brain was literally discombobulated.

The idea of going backwards in their relationship before giving them a HEA was aggravating and I didn’t like it. I think it would’ve been good to have some of the flashbacks, but to also have more from the present to counteract it. The book was entirely about their past with just a few short parts about their present, and I just didn’t feel like it was enough.

There is a bit of “soap opera” drama and I felt the end was rushed. Nuff said.

 

Bully (Fall Away #1) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: October 18, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.

I’m not going to let him bully me anymore.

Review –

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of “enemy to lover” themed books and this one is up there on my list of favorites.

Tate and Jared grew up living next door to each other. They were as thick as thieves all throughout childhood, but the sweet, generous and loveable boy Tate once called her best friend disappeared overnight, leaving in his stead a guy who made it his daily job to intimidate her, to make her feel insignificant and unwanted, and to isolate her from her peers. No explanation was ever offered, leaving her confused and hurt, and even after countless rumours, pranks, cruel jokes that made the last two years of her life hell, she never stopped missing her best friend. By not understanding his behaviour, she never stopped searching for that kid she once loved in his eyes somewhere, reluctantly hanging on to a memory of him that no longer existed, regardless of all the tears and pain he had willingly caused her.

After a year of studying abroad, she returns to her hometown for the last year of high school, with a new attitude in tow, telling herself that she would not let Jared’s actions affect her again, but her bully is as determined as ever to toy with her. And to make her feel every bit of hatred he feels for her. Until Tate finally fights back

Two years of torment have shaped Tate into the kind of person she most probably would have never become had she not endured such emotional suffering for so long. Her patience has worn thin, she has developed a short fuse when it comes to people putting her down or mistreating her, and when it comes to Jared, she has simply had enough. And so the tables are turned and she goes out of her way to make him feel as insignificant as he has made her feel for so long. And knowing exactly which buttons to press to make him hurt the most ends up turning her into a cruel adversary.

But when Tate finally gets to Jared, his walls start crumbling down and what is left behind them is an angry little boy who is so blinded by his own pain that he hurts the one who represents his greatest weakness in life, the only person he has ever loved, allowing him to fool himself into believing that her pain would take away the pain that is ravaging him from the inside out. And what Tate discovers ends up putting a whole different light on the last three years of her young life.

This book might have started as a very vivid example of the kind of issues many teens unfortunately go through nowadays, our hearts breaking for our heroine and all she has had to endure, but it ultimately turns into a heart-warming romance that was always at the core of these characters’ connection. They could hurt each other so deeply because they knew each other so well, and every action had a reason, a source, a trigger, even though it was difficult for me, as a reader, to swallow some of those reasons at times and find in them a valid justification for such cruel and continued emotional and verbal abuse. As much as I understood the hero, there were times I wished I understood him even more, and for his triggers to have been explained in a more thorough way.

This is a story about the kind of scars we are left with after years of maltreatment, the kind of emotional baggage we carry well after things are said and done, affecting our relationships, our ability to trust those around us, and ourselves. It’s a book that moved me, angered me, made me do the occasional fist pump here and there, and it owned me cover to cover. With a refreshing and captivating writing style, the author pulled me into a world I never wanted to escape, becoming hopelessly invested in these characters, in their stories, and after turning that last page, only too eager to jump immediately onto the next book in the series, which i’m listening to now.

“I love you more than myself, more than my own family, for Christ’s sake. I don’t want to take another step in this world without you next to me.” Jared

Five stars!!!