Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review: Sway

Sway Sway by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the 6th book in a series, but can definitely be read as a standalone story. If you enjoy romance, realistically flawed characters, and a nice HEA - this is the book for you!

While the characters are familiar to me from the previous books, meeting them fresh isn't necessarily a bad thing. I have some particularly strong baggage around some of the characters, who I still want to throttle, but I still liked "catching up" with everyone again, from a different perspective. This story is about Gideon and Sarah. Gideon is the QB of the football team we've heard about in previous books. He's a bit of a loner and manages to remove himself from most team activities except where it counts. As a team, they're all good, but are aiming to be great.

Sarah is a women in transition. She's reassessing her path in life when she meets up with some of the Keeping Score gang. They hook her up with some contacts on the west coast and she ends up relocating. Not before the event that tips her life slightly out of balance, though. At an engagement party for mutual friends, she meets Gideon, the silent hottie. One thing leads to another and, much to both their surprise, they end up in a "no-strings" hookup situation. They are both clear about not wanting more but... you know what ends up happening.

Does it take a while? Of course! These two fight against this natural relationship they slowly creep towards, no matter how much everyone around them can see the changes. I love that it isn't just one or the other in this case, though, and they almost team up to sabotage their collective happiness. In the end, however, we get some really good HEA (even for the tree!) and I put the book down with a smile on my face. These books are such a joy to read that I will read them all until there are no more left!

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Monday, October 28, 2019

Review: White Hot

White Hot White Hot by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love these books. I'm so sad that I waited so long to read them, because they are just so fun and amazingly addictive. Give me more please!

We re-join Nevada, still trying to act like her and Rogan aren't meant to be together (sigh). Her grandmother and sisters are clearly on the reader's side, so that was a nice touch. She and Augustine still have a tenuous relationship, where her mother might still shoot him, but it appears to be gaining some professional trust. This leads to Cornelius showing up as a client referral. He is a bright spot in this story, along with his daughter. I genuinely laughed out loud like a crazy person while listening to the audiobook portion where his powers are spectacularly used for the first time. True genius.

So, the larger story (and why it's called "white hot" I guess) is about tracked down some mysterious murderers who are using ice to assassinate (sometimes). Nevada ends up roped in by way of Cornelius, but Rogan shows up all on his own. There is the typical insane action sequences, lots of familiar faces from the previous book, and (YESSSS) some resolution. Are all the bad guys caught and locked up by the end? No, silly. But we do get some good, solid, Nevada/Rogan awesomeness. I love this entire magical world and would read just about anything that is set in it.

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Review: The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - Or Hurt - How You Lead

The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - Or Hurt - How You Lead The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - Or Hurt - How You Lead by Carol Kinsey Goman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Continuing with my trend of alternating with "fun" books and "work" books, I grabbed this one on the recommendation of a course instructor a few months back to work on some leadership skills.

In general, this book blends a scientific approach with cultural norms to give you a playbook for interacting in global corporate companies without overwhelming you. I found it pretty fascinating, since my background is in science and I'm definitely interested in excelling at my global company. Sure, some of the things she says may seem like common sense, but it is still a learning experience to hear it spelled out so clearly.

As someone who likes to travel a lot of pleasure, too, these types of interactive norms discussed can be applied to more than just your professional life. I will definitely be applying some of the principles she discussed in my day-to-day life to see if there is a change in perception and behavior. I would recommend this book to someone in the corporate world - specifically interacting globally also.

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Review: A Wicked Hunger

A Wicked Hunger A Wicked Hunger by Kiersten Fay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book threw you head first into a world where vampires are a separately governed race that everyone knows about, and most are terrified of (or want to be and/or be with).

We join Cora on what may be the worst day of her life. She used to be homeless, having been orphaned at a young age, before meeting her husband. What she thought may be (or become) a marriage of love ended up being more one of some strange convenience. She can't really see what value she is adding to his life, but wants more, which is what leads her to surprise him on a business trip. Things quickly go out of control, leading to him being killed and her being taken into protective custody. Turns out - her husband had a lot of secrets. She's got some, too.

Mason is the vampire cop-type-person assigned to watch Cora to see if she is in on her husband's illegal business. He, naturally, falls in love with her, so jumps at the chance to safeguard her from the bad guys. While on the run, there is a lot of sexual tension, some sexy times, a lot of emotional baggage, and that's even before they get to the safe house! Once there, even more gets revealed, and then there's oodles of drama brought in by Knox, a vampire sibling of Mason's.

I'm struggling to review this one because the book ends very abruptly. Just when I thought I might be rooting for the always in trouble Cora, we had reached the end. Nothing was actually resolved and I feel... a little lost. Overall, I like the idea the world presented to me, but the characters were getting on my last nerve. Hopefully things resolve quickly at the start of book two, because I feel like there is a lot still to come for Cora and her boys.

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Friday, October 25, 2019

Review: Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity

Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity by Felicia Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book really shook up my stagnant mind and helped me to re-accept my inner creative wild child. It was filled with the quirky humor I’ve come to associate with Felicia Day, while still having some really solid advice and guidance.

First, I probably wouldn’t recommend this via kindle. I’m a kindle lover and audiobooker, but I think that paper is probably the way to go here. There’s lots of drawing and writing involved, so it will just slow you down if you’re digital. It starts simply enough, with some creative exercises, but gets really deep fast. It’s amazing how opening one door can lead to so many others. My primary field is not super creative, but my husband is photographer, so I immediately bought the book for him to check out, too! It applies to everyone, so there’s no real age group or demographic I could see this targeting (unless it’s just me – is it me?).

If you’re looking for something to truly shake you up – this is the book! It’s fun, weird, and super creative. I’m tired of the boring helpful books and am happy to have discovered this one!

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Review: Reaper

Reaper Reaper by Larissa Ione
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, I was unprepared for this book. I started it, just assuming that I’d be in for your typical short read in this rather developed universe. This was not your typical read.

So much happens and I’m not willing to spoil you to discuss it, but just be prepared for *a lot* of shocking developments, changes to the world, changes to people we care about, and some super dark surprises. I’m… happy, I guess? There’s resolution to a lot of things that get initiated in the first few chapters of this book, but this has set my head spinning.

We join Azagoth, still living with his pregnant mate, still trapped in his realm, but determined to be a better person for her. Then… all the things happen. So much badness, so much change, all orchestrated by the “big bad” that was created previously. As usual, heaven isn’t really much help to him, but it was still nice to get visits from *all* the familiar faces from just about every book previous. This was like the greatest hits of the series, which would be great and fun, if some major things didn’t happen that shook me up.

Ultimately, there are a lot of battles (some super “epic”) with so much damage and destruction that I was cringing but eagerly flipping pages. As with most books that have so very many changes, it was difficult at times to continue. Azagoth has been through so much, and he heads in a bit of a different direction I this book, that I was simultaneously rooting for him and rooting for people to stop him. I think this is a necessary book, but tough to finish.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Release Blitz: Reaper by Larissa Ione

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"Reaper is . . . Epic. Thrilling. Amazing. No one can suck me into a story like Larissa Ione." -- Donna Grant, New York Times bestselling author”

For love, he’ll watch the world burn.

For revenge, he’ll light the match.

New York Times bestselling author Larissa Ione returns to her fan favorite Demonica Series with REAPER, available now!

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He is the Keeper of Souls. Judge, jury, and executioner. He is death personified.

He is the Grim Reaper.

A fallen angel who commands the respect of both Heaven and Hell, Azagoth has presided over his own underworld realm for thousands of years. As the overlord of evil souls, he maintains balance crucial to the existence of life on Earth and beyond. But as all the realms gear up for the prophesied End of Days, the ties that bind him to Sheoul-gra have begun to chafe.

Now, with his beloved mate and unborn child the target of an ancient enemy, Azagoth will stop at nothing to save them, even if it means breaking blood oaths and shattering age-old alliances.

Even if it means destroying himself and setting the world on fire…

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Download your copy today!



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Lilliana woke to someone tap dancing on her bladder. Groaning, she rolled over and bumped into Azagoth. Pleasantly surprised that he was still in bed, she ignored her need to pee and curled up against him. She’d missed this so much while she was gone. “Good morning,” he murmured, his husky voice even more gravelly than usual. “Morning.” She snuggled into his shoulder. “I’m surprised you’re not working.” He yawned. “You wore me out last night.” Smiling against his skin, she trailed her fingers along the hard ridges and deep valleys of his abs. “I wanted to show you how grateful I was that you threw me a baby shower.” And she’d done it without getting too active. Eidolon couldn’t begrudge her one orgasm, right? “Mmm.” He pressed a kiss into her hair. “You must have been very grateful.” She slid her hand under the sheet and meandered her way to the curve of his hip. She might be a million months into her pregnancy, but her sex drive didn’t care in the least. “I’m still grateful.” He hissed as her knuckles brushed his shaft. “Not complaining.” It truly had been sweet of him to gather together the denizens of Sheoul-gra for a big celebration of food, drink, and games in the traditions of people from the human, demon, and angelic cultures. She’d suffered two more bouts of intense nausea and some cramps, but they’d passed quickly. What hadn’t passed was Azagoth’s concern. Which was probably why he was still in bed with her. It was cute the way he hovered. Annoying at times, but cute. “I just want you to know that you’re my life,” he said. “Without you, I’m a monster.” “And what are you with me?” He gave her a rare, boyish grin, made even more playful by his mop of bedhead. “A happy monster.” “I’m very happy about the happy.” She rubbed her eyes and yawned. “Things are good, Lil,” he said. “I never thought much about being a partner, let alone a parent, but I want to do these things with you.” He settled his hand on her belly and smiled with wonder. “This will be my first child born without a predetermined future. He or she can be anything. Do anything.” “Incredible, isn’t it?” She pushed up on one elbow and leaned in to kiss his chest. She’d kissed every inch of him last night. Maybe she’d lick every inch of him this morning. “And our baby will be born to parents who love each other.” Determined to show him how much she loved him, she kissed her way lower. Her lips whispered over his nipple, but before she could taste him, a cramp wrenched her insides. She sucked in a harsh breath, her hand going to her belly. “What is it?” Azagoth jackknifed up, his expression dark with worry. “Is it the baby?” Fierce heat swelled beneath the surface of her skin as her abdomen tightened. “I think it might be Braxton Hicks,” she said between panting breaths. “What?” “Cara had them.” Closing her eyes to stop the room from spinning, she eased back onto her pillow. “They’re like practice contractions.” She didn’t remember Cara complaining about being hot and sweating buckets, though. Another cramp streaked through her, and she moaned. Cara had said they were painful, as if someone were squeezing her intestines. This was more like someone was driving a red-hot blade through them. “You’re white as a ghost, Lilli.” Something’s wrong. No, nothing was wrong. She was being paranoid. Azagoth rested his palm on her forehead, testing her temperature. “Are these Hicks things supposed to be like this?” She heard the panic in his voice but not the words. Her ears were buzzing. Her head was pounding. And, suddenly, a wave of agony wrapped around her and squeezed so hard she screamed. Vaguely, she heard Azagoth call out her name as a warm gush spread between her thighs. “Lilliana? Lilliana!” His voice droned in and out as the room began to tilt. There was shouting. More pain. Her thoughts fragmented. And then, finally…nothing.

About Larissa Ione

Air Force veteran Larissa Ione traded in a career in meteorology to pursue her passion of writing. She has since published dozens of books, hit several bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today, and has been nominated for a RITA award. She now spends her days in pajamas with her computer, strong coffee, and supernatural worlds. She believes in celebrating everything, and would never be caught without a bottle of Champagne chilling in the fridge…just in case. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her retired U.S. Coast Guard husband, her son, a rescue cat named Vegas, and her very own hellhounds, a King Shepherd named Hexe and a Belgian Malinois named Duvel.

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Review: Junkyard Dog

Junkyard Dog Junkyard Dog by Katja Desjarlais
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book feels like a later installment in the series where I skipped the first few books – that’s how developed the world is. We join what feels like a story already in progress, which only grabbed me even more.

Alex is part of a group of mythological beings. You gotta get over that real quick, because there is so much more to this story. Charlotte is a park ranger with a super tough chick background. She’s more than capable, but still has a soft spot for lost animals. After another sighting of a huge black dog pops up, she sets up camp to “lure” this dog to safety. She’s certainly fearless, because it’s Alex in his shifted form that she ends up “catching.” The sizzle between these two (as humans, not human/dog pairing) is off the charts hot and awesome.

What should have been a simple hunt for Alex ends up being complicated by the murderous intentions of his target and his attraction to Charlotte. Did I mention that the side characters in this story are also great? They totally are, and left me wanting even more. Charlotte’s partner in particular was a highlight of this tale. I hope this isn’t the last we see from him. So while this story starts and ends Charlotte and Alex’s tale, I’m optimistic that we’ll get some closure from the other brothers at some point in the near future.

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Review: The Weaver

The Weaver The Weaver by Heather Kindt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was definitely a unique tale, and managed to weave (ha!) together a contemporary YA romance, historical fiction, and even some elements of horror/fantasy. As the start of a series, this does not disappoint!

Laney is a bit of a recluse. She keeps to herself, writing her secret novel and studying, but makes an exception for her childhood friend and longtime crush. Things take a bit of a turn when a character from her book ends up attacking her. Her college life, which seemed relatively normal, only gets weirder and weirder as some more familiar faces begin to pop up. A simple crush turns into a love triangle, which then turns into a race against a murderous fictional character. The face is quick and this book was completely addictive.

While I guess you could read this book and stop here, this is clearly not meant as a standalone. This book sets up the characters (both fictional and “real”), the world, the magic, and starts the story. I can’t wait to see where this world takes me in future installments. I’m desperate to know more about what goes on here, what other powers are roaming around in this universe, and ultimately where Laney will end up.

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Review: Burn for Me

Burn for Me Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know, I’m doing this in a weird order. I dove in at book 4, but now I’m swinging back around to start at the beginning (even though I kind of know where things end up). That being said, I still really enjoyed this book.

Nevada is the eldest kid of very… interesting family. They live in this universe where magic powers are relatively commonplace and everyone is dealing with their challenges/skills in different ways. A sort of class system has set up with primes (the heaviest magical hitters) are at the top and everyone else falls in line. Nevada’s family has become beholden to one such family, due to some debts they collected when her father fought against cancer. She’s carrying the weight of this and all their other burdens when she accepts an un-winnable case – find a fire-magic prime and bring him to his family before the police catch him.

As if that wasn’t tough enough, she ends up butting heads with a notoriously crazy “mad Rogan.” Oh, and he’s super-hot, super powerful, and super arrogant. These two, obviously, have some amazing sexual attraction that will take us through this 3 book story arc. Fair warning – this is not a book that resolves everything all in one book. In fact, there’s a pretty good cliffhanger which guarantees you will read the next one (which I will). It was neat to see all these characters must younger than I saw them in book 4, so I think whatever order you join is still OK.

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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Review: Stockings and Spells

Stockings and Spells Stockings and Spells by Nancy Warren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I blindly picked up this audiobook while between series based solely on the cover and title. I'm new to this "Vampire Knitting Club," but was also intrigued by that. I guess vampires can do anything, also knitting.

I met Lucy at the start of this book, so I'm not really sure of all she's gone through up to this point. She now owns a knitting store, inherited from her grandmother who is now a vampire. I'm sure there's a story there. Her grandmother is around (though hidden) with her group of vampires, including one possible love interest for Lucy in the form of an older vampire book appraiser (he's a vampire, who is also a book appraiser, I should say). Another love interest for Lucy is in the form of a cop, who she encounters several times before ultimately needing him for the mystery part of the book.

This book is not my typical read, because there really isn't any romance. Instead, we get a mystery in the form of an attempted murder, possible book authorship theft, and some other related crimes. I liked the characters, the mystery, and was even motivated to think about trying knitting (I won't). this book was quick, entertaining, but probably won't get me to continue with the series in lieu of others. For a book series with "Vampire" in the name, there was pretty much no supernatural elements, other than fast knitting.

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Review: Enchantress Under Fire

Enchantress Under Fire Enchantress Under Fire by A.C. Spahn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so sad to see this series come to an end! More, please? I'm not ready to say goodbye to this world, all the characters, and the unique magical quirkiness! That being said, this was a fabulous ending to a wonderful story. If you are reading this and have not yet read book 1 - go back and do that! You would be doing yourself a disservice by starting at the end of this fantastic journey.

We join Adrienne as she embarks on what will undoubtedly be her most dangerous mission. At the end of the previous book, we learned she was going off on her own to infiltrate Geralt's cult and rescue her boyfriend. Seems silly, but she's desperate for enchanters, and Geralt holds all those cards. This story starts quickly and just doesn't let up on the terror and anxiety. Sure, it takes some time for her to gain some trust and allies, but there is a constant worry that she will be found out and sacrificed, killing way too many people in the process.

Don't worry - we get lots of familiar faces, even though Adrienne was insistent she do this on her own. I wouldn't mind some spin off books, though, to get even more of our friendly PU members (hint-hint). There are so many twists and turns to get to the big showdown that I wouldn't know where to start with a spoiler-free review. Things I can promise? Magic - more awesome magic. Big showdown - the one you want. Happy endings? Of course! These endings, however, come in the most unexpected way (that I was shocked and happily surprised by). This world is still one of my favorites, and I'm so happy I got to see it all play out.

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Review: Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership by John C. Maxwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book as part of a leadership program I was undertaking. It was a suggestion from one of the program organizers and it sounded like something that could help me develop better question skills. I've been trying to work on coaching, so I made sure to listen to this pretty regularly as an audiobook.

I knew nothing about John Maxwell when I started. By the end, now, I know a lot more. He's the narrator of the audiobook, which I enjoyed, and he seems genuine in his mission to help leaders develop. Some of his stories revolve around religion, but it never seemed to be preachy or judgement filled for those who do not pray or follow any religious affiliation. The narrative flow of the book largely follows a list of questions people ask (him, his staff, his team, his fans, etc.). I found it very motivation, uplifting, and engaging. I'm not one for reading tons of self-help books, but this one definitely helped me.

There was a lot of focus on self leadership, and that also grabbed my attention strongly. I'm a leader with nobody directly reporting to me, so I was happy to see that you can still continue on your leadership path with or without employees. Influence is key in a lot of these messages, too, which may be my next focus in learning development. All in all, this book got my wheels turning, which was my ultimate goal.

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