Wednesday, May 16, 2018

REVIEW: Wonderment In Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Wonderment In Death (In Death #41.5)
Author: J.D. Robb
Publisher: Jove
Publication Date: September, 2015
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: Someone is hosting dangerous tea parties in 2061 New York...

Thing aren't what they seem when Lieutenant Eve Dallas investigates what appears to be a routine murder/suicide. When friends of Darlene and Marcus Fitzwilliams insist Darlene would never hurt her brother, Eve digs deeper.

Eve learns that Darlene sought help from sensitivities, psychics, and doctors of paranormal studies in an attempt to contact her dead parents. After clues mimicking Alice in Wonderland repeatedly turns up, the case gets curiouser and curiouser...

Racing against the clock, Eve must travel down the rabbit hole to stop a madman's murderous tea party.

My Thoughts: To be honest, I only read the Eve Dallas story, though it’s part of an anthology featuring stories with variations of an Alice in Wonderland theme. Wonderment In Death brings Eve and the Scooby gang together to investigate an apparent murder/suicide committed by Darlene Fitzwilliams when she stabs her brother in the heart and then throws herself off his balcony. As the investigation progresses, Eve discovers that Darlene has been seeking the services of a medium who promises her contact with her dead parents...for a bunch of money in cash withdrawals. Eve’s spidey sense goes into high gear as she meticulously narrows her search to find the culprit.

My Final Verdict: I loved the story and enjoyed the Alice in Wonderland theme. The villain’s identity wasn’t a deep mystery, but the enjoyment was more with the way the author creates the world in which Eve lives. The mini novellas satisfy the craving the reader has for more interaction with Eve and the gang while waiting for the next full-length novel. Unlike other novellas that are part of a series, these stay true to the previous storylines and character development and flow seamlessly towards the next story.

My craving wasn’t satisfied after finishing Wonderment, so I had to immediately start the next story in the series. That is the downside to the novella…less everything, but it is easily remedied by jumping into the next story. In fact, I highly recommend doing just that…you know, just to make sure you get your fill of Eve and the gang. This is such an enjoyable series and I get such enjoyment from seeing these characters develop and grow and live. They feel like friends and family as time goes on and what more could a reader ask for?


Monday, April 30, 2018

REVIEW: Party Girl by Rachel Hollis

Title: Party Girl
Author: Rachel Hollis
Publisher: Chic Publishing
Publication Date: February, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN | Audible

Description: Landon Brinkley is making her dreams come true. After years of poring over glossy photos of celebrity parties in People and US Weekly, she’s landed her Holy Grail: an internship with the fabulous Selah Smith, event planner to the Hollywood elite.

Moving from small town Texas to Los Angeles, Landon finds herself in a world in which spending a million dollars on an event – even for kids’ birthdays – is de rigueur. The thrill of working on A-list parties and celeb weddings is enough to get her through the 75-hour workweeks, the nightmare of a multi-day film festival, and abuse at the hands of a mercurial boss. LA is full of opportunity for fame, fortune and even love. But confronted with the seamy realities of the business, she is forced to make a choice: do whatever it takes to get ahead, or stay true to herself.

A roman a clef in the vein of The Devil Wears Prada, PARTY GIRL draws on the author’s real life experience for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the celebrity-obsessed world of event planning. From the party habits of America’s favorite underage singer to the worst Bridezilla of all (the kind that graces the cover of your favorite magazine), PARTY GIRL reveals the ugly side of Hollywood’s prettiest parties.

My Thoughts: First time reading this author’s work and I really enjoyed her voice and writing style. I immediately felt a connection to Landon and empathized with her as she realized that her dream job was turning into a complete nightmare. From day one, Landon is treated with disdain, sarcasm and outright dislike by those around her. I admired her tenacity and courage to stick it out and show the haters she is made of stronger stuff. I also liked the supporting characters. Happily, Max and Jin get their own stories so I am excited to see what happens with them down the road.

An excellent sign of talent is when an author creates characters that draw a huge emotional response from the reader. I had such a reaction with Selah Smith. Everything about this character made me want to gouge out her eyes, pull her hair and then slap her into next Tuesday. She is truly despicable and pathetic. She treats her employees abominably and the level of schmooze she displays to her clients was nauseating. There are a few moments in this story that I was worried that Landon would not be able to hold her own against Selah. I loved that Landon is a fighter and isn’t willing to compromise her principles and values to play the game.

My Final Verdict: What The Devil Wears Prada does for publishing and fashion, Party Girl does for party and event planning. It looks really glittery and glamorous on the outside, but the inside can surprise you with the level of brutality and hostility that goes on behind the scenes. Readers of books that enjoy an interesting backdrop in their story that breathes so much life into the book, it’s almost like it’s a character, will enjoy Party Girl.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Party Girl from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

REVIEW: What Might Have Been by Matt Dunn

Title: What Might Have Been
Author: Matt Dunn
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August, 2014
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN.com | Audible

Description: A year ago, Evan and Sarah shared one incredible night. Then Evan's music—the thing that brought them together—suddenly tore them apart.

Since then, Evan's not been able to forget about her. And try as she might, Sarah can't seem to get over him either.

With time running out, Evan's got one last chance to convince her that the two of them were meant to be. But is one night enough for Sarah to make a decision about the rest of her life— even if it was the best night of her life? And if she doesn't believe in love at first sight, how can Evan persuade her that what they had will last?

My Thoughts: Good story about two people coming together by chance and finding their way back together by fate. When Evan and Sarah first meet, they feel an immediate connection and attraction. Sarah has a lot of insecurity about relationships because of her past so when she finds out about a once in a lifetime opportunity for Evan and his musical career, she pushes him to take the opportunity which splits them apart.

Fast forward one year later and Evan is back with just days left before Sarah marries another man. He is convinced she is the one for him, but he doesn’t have much time to convince her of the same. Most of this story seems to be Evan following Sarah around like a lost puppy trying to talk to her and Sarah being upset that he’s there.

I felt more empathy for Evan than I did for Sarah. I thought she was running away from her feelings and hiding from the past. In her determination to protect herself from being hurt, she was actually putting herself into situations that would cause her the most pain. I also didn’t like that she seemed angry at Evan for leaving, though she was the one who pushed him to go. After certain events are revealed, it made sense why she was so angry but I couldn’t understand why she blamed Evan. Sometimes things happen without rhyme or reason and we just have to muddle through them and make the best of the situation.

My Final Verdict: Though the story was enjoyable, I just didn’t feel as connected to Sarah as I wanted to and was frustrated often with her behavior. I thought Evan was well written and very likable. Sarah’s roommate, Grace, was also a character I liked. Fans of women’s fiction will find the story entertaining. I like the author’s writing style and voice and am curious about his other works.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of What Might Have Been from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, February 05, 2018

REVIEW: Bad Bridesmaid by Portia MacIntosh

Title: Bad Bridesmaid
Author: Portia MacIntosh
Publisher: Carina (Harlequin UK)
Publication Date: August, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | BN.com

Description: “My wedding is ruined and my marriage is going to fail. And it’s all your fault!”

LA rom-com writer Mia Valentina has it all; money, success, a tanned and toned body, golden blonde hair and a string of sexy lovers. She’s almost forgotten her previous self: plain old Mia Harrison. Until a wedding invitation arrives requesting (demanding!) her presence as chief bridesmaid at her younger sister Belle’s upcoming nuptials.

Mia’s barely been back in England before she’s accidentally injured the groom, unintentionally ‘cursed’ the wedding and been caught in a compromising position with her sister’s soon to be brother-in-law!

With the wedding of the year going dangerously off the rails, Mia has no time to waste – especially with sexy fireman and best man Leo on hand to help… Will she use all of her expert romance knowledge to save the day or will she just walk away? No one ever said a bad girl had to turn good…

My Thoughts: With Bad Bridesmaid, new to me author Portia MacIntosh introduces a character that inspires such dislike and contempt from her family, I couldn’t help but empathize with her. I asked myself several times why she didn’t tell the entire lot to bugger off and go back to the States. Everyone from her sister, to her mother, to her Aunt seems less than pleased with Mia’s presence. It’s a complete mystery why they wanted her at the wedding in the first place!

Mia is a woman who has pulled herself out of her own rut of obesity and obscurity. The ugly duckling who transformed into the swan. She now has a successful business writing rom-com films, though she, herself, is very cynical about love and romance.

Now, that being said, she is not completely blameless in some of the shenanigans that occur. She even orchestrates a few of them, but she lives her life without malice or deliberate intent to hurt anyone, so I found myself quick to forgive her and laugh out loud at some of the antics she gets herself into.

My Final Verdict: All in all, this was a really good story about family, second chances, forgiveness and fun. The story flowed at a good pace. I felt the characters were easy to relate to, though I didn’t care for all of them, they were well-written. I hope to read more from this author as she has a wonderful sense of humor that translates well in her stories.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Bad Bridesmaid from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, January 15, 2018

REVIEW: The Christmas Cake Cafe by Sue Watson

Title: The Christmas Cake Cafe
Author: Sue Watson
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: October, 2016
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Description: Heart-warming and hilarious, a story that will make you laugh, cry and bring a smile to your face. Get ready for another deliciously amazing Christmas treat from Sue Watson….

As the Prosecco chills and Bing Crosby croons, Jen Barker just knows that her long-term boyfriend is about to propose. But instead of a diamond ring nestled in her champagne flute, Jen finds cold flat rejection. Her once perfect life and dreams of a husband and family seem even further from reach.

A working holiday to the Swiss Alps with her younger sister Jody might not be the Christmas Jen had it mind, but it offers her the chance to recharge her batteries and recover from heartbreak.

When Jen meets handsome ski instructor Jon Zutter her hopes for a happy-ever-after seem within her grasp again. Jon is kind and gorgeous and as they bond over Sachetorte at the picturesque Cake Café, Jen thinks he might just be her perfect man. But a relationship with him comes with a catch – and there are some things even cake can’t fix.

As the snow falls and Christmas approaches, could this be the place that restores Jen Barker’s faith in love?

My Thoughts: I really enjoy this author’s voice, especially the Christmas-themed stories. Sue Watson has a wonderful way of capturing the spirit of the holiday season within the pages of her books so vividly, as a reader, I feel transported into the story. I can almost feel the icy sting on my cheeks of the swirling snow, the melting chocolate on my tongue and the scent of apples and cinnamon baking in a cozy bakery. I want to live in Sue Watson’s books.

The Christmas Cake Café introduces us to Jen Barker, a middle-aged woman who has spent too much time and energy on her loser boyfriend who breaks her heart just when she thought he would propose. Thank God for Jen’s sister, Jody, who practically forces Jen to come to the Swiss Alps with her and some friends for a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas working holiday. Here in the perfect Christmas backdrop, Jen can find herself again and begin to dream of a happily-ever-after.

Jen meets Jon, a local ski instructor, who seems to show up during some of Jen’s less than appealing moments, especially when forced to wear clothing she had to borrow because her own luggage has gone MIA. I liked Jon, though. He is kind, sweet and attentive and manages to keep his surprise and bewilderment about Jen to himself. I especially liked that he has his own relationship baggage of his own to carry but doesn’t let it derail him from his own path.

Likable characters and a smooth flowing storyline are essential to me as a reader. The characters are easy to relate to and bond with. I really liked them all and cared about what happens to them. The story flows from moment to moment in a leisurely and smooth pattern. It was very easy to lose myself in the story and forget where I was.

My Final Verdict: I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the scenery and highly recommend it for anyone looking to add some Christmas cheer to their reading pile.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Christmas Cake Café from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

REVIEW: Life Is Sweet by Elizabeth Bass

Title: Life Is Sweet
Author: Elizabeth Bass
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: September, 2014
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Description: Becca Hudson has come a long way since she was a tween starring in the sitcom Me Minus You, but as far as she’s concerned, she finally has her act together. She’s relocated to Leesburg, Virginia, owns a successful bakery, and has a great set of friends—even a friendly ex-husband.

She ignores “Whatever Happened To?” speculation and the occasional overly obsessed fan, and flatly turns down a lucrative offer to appear on a reality show called Celebrities in Peril: Child Star Edition. She has an uncomfortable relationship with her Hollywood past, preferring to think of herself as more than a 1990s trivia question. Then one day a mysterious man appears and stirs up her past—all of it—in ways she never imagined...

My Thoughts: Life Is Sweet by new to me author, Elizabeth Bass was an enjoyable story about a former Hollywood child star who is trying to leave the past behind her and live a life without the glitz, glamor and tabloids that follow celebrities. No matter how hard Becca tries to lead a quiet life, her past seems to follow her.

Becca agrees to compete on a reality show to raise money to help an elderly homeless man Becca has befriended. The author does a good job of creating characters that are easy for the reader to relate to and a story that flows smoothly, leaving the reader wanting more with the turning of each page.

My Final Verdict: I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a sweet story of love, acceptance, forgiveness and moving on.

Disclaimer: I received the above mentioned book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Friday, August 25, 2017

REVIEW: Jack and Jill Went Downhill by R.J. Gould

Title: Jack and Jill Went Downhill
Author: R.J. Gould
Publisher: R.J. Gould
Publication Date: May, 2016
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Description: Jack and Jill meet on Freshers Big Party Night at university and for both of them it’s love at first sight. Despite their backgrounds, personalities and interests being poles apart, the relationship flourishes during their university years. It’s not quite as comfortable when their studies are over and they start work, Jack in the City and Jill as a teacher.

Way back when they first met, they’d shared the joke that their names were those of the nursery rhyme. Down the line, they fail to recognize that their lives are matching the plot – Jack falls down and Jill comes tumbling after.

Their relationship is on the rocks. Can it survive?

My Thoughts: An entertaining story by new to me author R.J. Gould about love found, love lost and love rediscovered. Jack and Jill meet at university and immediately fall head over heels for each other in what appears to be a solid relationship, despite their different backgrounds and personalities. As they finish university and begin their lives together, the reality of adult life of bills and responsibilities sets in and begins to fracture the relationship as they both make decisions that further damage the relationship beyond repair.

I enjoyed this story and liked both Jack and Jill immensely, flaws and all. Surprisingly, I never felt myself taking one side over the other. I thought these characters were written very realistically and easy to relate to. The plot kept me engaged throughout the entire story; my curiosity was quite high about what would happen and whether or not this couple could make their way back to one another. The road getting there was quite bumpy for them both and not without a few tumbles and falls.

My Final Verdict: Readers who enjoy the chick-lit genre overall will enjoy this offering by Mr. Gould. Witty and funny with several twists that keeps the story engaging and interesting.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Jack and Jill Went Downhill from the author in exchange for an honest review.


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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at sharalsbooks@yahoo.com Happy Reading! :o)