Tuesday, March 21, 2017

REVIEW: The Extraordinary Life Of Lara Craft (Not Croft) by Lola Salt

Title: The Extraordinary Life of Lara Craft (Not Croft)
Author: Lola Salt
Publisher: Alula Press
Publication Date: January, 2013
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy the Book: Amazon

Description: From bestselling authors Becky Wicks (Before He Was Famous, Before He Was Gone) and Sarah Alderson (Hunting Lila, Fated, Come Back to Me) comes a new romance with a difference...

After losing her job and her boyfriend on the same day, Lara's beginning to wonder if her life can possibly get any worse. Then along comes Jamie, a childhood friend, offering her a job delivering mysterious packages to random destinations around the world. Suddenly, things are looking up.

Lara packs her bags and sets off on an epic adventure, meeting billionaire Arabic Princes in Dubai, rugged cowboys in Australia, a sparkling wannabe vampire in LA, a love guru with sex on the brain in Bali and Angelina Jolie's bodyguards in a hostage situation that can only be resolved with some very special eggs. But though trouble always seems to find Lara, it seems love is rather more elusive.

Pack your bags. The adventure's about to begin!

My Thoughts: I loved this book, snorted out loud and laughed myself silly all the way through it. Lara was an interesting character who manages to land on her feet after losing her job and her boyfriend on the same day. She reconnects with a childhood friend on a blind date and, through him, lands a job as a courier hand-delivering packages all over the world. The places she travels to are exotic and exciting. The people she meets are interesting, strange, bizarre and entertaining. With each delivery, Lara finds herself experiencing new sights, sounds and adventures, some a lot of fun, some downright scary and some completely insane.

I really loved Lara and her approach to this new life. She demonstrates a spirit of adventure and an open mind, which, in her situation, is a necessity and something I greatly admire. Lara was easy to relate to and connect with. I loved that she is receptive to change and not afraid to experience new things. Along the way, she realizes who she is and the importance of home, friends and family.

The secondary characters all bring their own entertainment and charm to the story, though I liked some more than others. I thought the ending was a tad rushed, but all the loose ends got tied up nicely, so it didn’t take away any of my enjoyment. I highly recommend this book for the entertaining and hysterically funny adventures Lara goes on and the interesting people who cross her path.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Extraordinary Life Of Lara Craft (Not Croft) from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

REVIEW: The Collector by Nora Roberts

Title: The Collector
Author: Nora Roberts
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April, 2014
Genre: Romantic Suspense / Thriller
Buy The Book: Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble

Description: From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a novel of a woman who needs nothing, a man who sees everything, and the web of deceit, greed, and danger that brings them together—and could tear them apart . . .

When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one. . . .

Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her. But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession. . . .

My Thoughts: I enjoyed the story though it dragged for me in the last quarter of the book. I became impatient for it to get wrapped up with bringing the villains to justice, though I did enjoy the spunk and feisty attitude Lila demonstrates when faced with a choice to fight back or surrender. I normally enjoy this author’s writing and though this book is not completely horrible, if you are looking for more suspense and action, I recommend The Witness.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

REVIEW: All's Fair In Love And Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

Title: All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes
Author: Betsy St. Amant
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: August, 2014
Genre: Inspirational Romance
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Description: She's written a recipe for her future, but does it include love?

Katherine 'Kat' Varland is a small town girl, born and raised---and every day, her dreams of owning her own bakery get further away. She has no money, and the cupcake shop she bakes for, Sweetie Pies, seems to get smaller and smaller. Kat might be the sweetheart of Bayou Bend, Louisiana, but she longs to make a name for herself where she can flourish as Kat---not as the girl baking someone else's recipes.

As head coach for the Bayou Bend championship high school football team, Lucas Brannen is used to winning---everything except his best friend's heart. He finally gathers the courage to make a gesture and show Kat his feelings by signing her up for the popular reality TV show Cupcake Combat. But his plan backfires after he realizes the cash prize for the winner also includes a one-year baking contract at one of New York City's most famous pastry houses.

The situation grows sticky when Kat enlists Lucas's help as her baking assistant for the show. Lucas is torn between helping Kat live her dream and selfishly wanting to keep her in town. His plan has always been a dozen acres of land and a farmhouse in Bayou Bend---but Kat is blinded by the stars in her eyes.

Will Lucas and Kat risk their chance at love in order to achieve their individual dreams? Or will they find that sometimes the most delicious happily-ever-afters begin and end in the same place?

My Thoughts: Kat Varland and Lucas Brannen are best friends and have secretly been in love with each other for a long time. Kat works in her Aunt’s bakery, but longs to branch out on her own. Lucas is the high-school football coach who wants to plant roots in Bayou Bend with Kat at his side. Lucas signs Kat up for a televised cupcake competition as a gesture of his feelings for her, not realizing that an opportunity for Kat to realize her dream may mean the destruction of his.

Unlike most romance novels where the protagonists meet, get to know one another and then fall in love, Kat and Lucas have known each other for most of their lives and are already in love with each other, but have not shared their feelings with the other. On many levels, I found this to be very frustrating because the lack of communication creates the “big misunderstanding” plot that I completely loathe. Fortunately, the author uses this plot device to build on the frustration Kat and Lucas are feeling, drawing their uncertainties and insecurities into the light, which really worked for me. I enjoy meeting characters that I can bond with and feel a deep connection to. Kat and Lucas come across as regular people trying to live good Christian lives while pursuing their dreams. They are both stubborn, trying to control the direction of their lives instead of putting it in God’s hands from the beginning.

I thought Lucas signing Kat up for the cupcake competition was a little controlling at first, but enjoyed seeing his frustration when his plan didn’t play out the way he anticipated. It was a sweet gesture and he is full of sweet gestures throughout the entire story, but struggles with his feelings and his reluctance to tell Kat how he feels.

Kat is very insecure about her ability to make her dream of running a cupcake business a reality. She feels trapped in her tiny hometown and without any support from her family feels isolated. Lucas is her best friend and the only person who believes in her. She is reluctant to tell Lucas how she really feels about him because she is afraid he will reject her and she will lose her best friend. Though she is initially angry and terrified of competing on the reality TV show, I enjoyed seeing Kat transform into someone who begins to believe in herself and her abilities.

My Final Verdict: An enjoyable story of two people struggling to maintain control of their lives and their struggle to make their dreams a reality. I recommend All’s Fair In Love And Cupcakes for fans of the chick-lit, contemporary romance and inspirational romance genres as well as anyone who enjoys a sweet story that will make you smile and cheer on these characters to their happy ending.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

REVIEW: Secrets Of A Shoe Addict by Beth Harbison

Title: Secrets Of A Shoe Addict (Shoe Addict #2)
Author: Beth Harbison
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: June, 2008
Genre: Chick-Lit
Buy The Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Description: Every woman has a secret. The question is: How far will she go to make sure it stays secret?

Abbey Walsh never wanted anyone to find out about her shady past. After all, she’s the wife of a minister now, living an exemplary life. That is, until someone shows up from her past with blackmail in mind . . .

Tiffany Vanderslice Dreyer never dreamed that she’d find herself up to her new designer sunglasses in credit card debt from one mad moment of a shopping spree. She’s an upstanding wife and mother with the perfect marriage . . . right?

Loreen Murphy hadn’t meant to hire a male prostitute in Las Vegas. It was all just a big, stupid, and expensive misunderstanding. . . .

Abbey, Tiffany, and Loreen are each in need of thousands of dollars and fast. Tiffany’s sister, Sandra, has the perfect idea. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s legal, and it’s the secret that kept her shoe addiction alive. It’s the perfect plan. . . .

My Thoughts: Though technically a sequel, this story introduces us to three friends who each get into financial trouble while in Vegas. To resolve their financial crises, they become phone sex operators. I thought the book was enjoyable and contained many laugh out loud moments. There wasn’t much connection to shoe addiction, but the story was entertaining.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Additions To The TBR Pile In February

Title: Adventures Of A Vegan Vamp by Cate Lawley
Description: Dead? Someday, sure. But undead and vegan? That's not how this girl envisioned her future.

Waking up thin is one thing. But waking up gaunt, hangry,and undead makes for a very bad day. That's only the beginning. Mallory's killer better hide, because she's just discovered blood, meat, and dairy don't agree with her--and a future with no cheese is grim indeed. She's out to find her killer...and maybe a vegan cheese that doesn't melt her nose hairs.

Find out how Mallory quashes a killer hunger while hunting a vicious vampire!

Title: Echoes In Death by J.D. Robb
Description: This chilling new suspense novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author J.D. Robb is the perfect entry point into the compelling In Death police procedural series featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas.

As NY Lt. Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke are driving home, a young woman—dazed, naked, and bloody—suddenly stumbles out in front of their car. Roarke slams on the brakes and Eve springs into action.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for her husband Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil”...

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked, this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

Title: Ghostly Paws by Leighann Dobbs
Description: Middle age can be murder ...

At least that’s how it seems to former crime journalist, Wilhelmina Chance, whose near-fatal accident has given her a strange side effect ... she sees ghosts.

After a messy divorce sends her fleeing back to her hometown of Mystic Notch, nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Willa finds herself haunted by the tenacious ghost of the town librarian who insists Willa solve her murder.

Luckily, she has lots of help, including a quirky cast of small-town characters, the cat she’s inherited from her grandmother, and her best friend, Pepper, who claims her herbal teas can work magic.

But just when Willa thinks she’s discovered who the killer is, she finds out that things are not what they seem in Mystic Notch, and the case takes a strange turn that has Willa adding even some of her long-time friends to her suspect list.

Can Willa find the real killer in time to keep the magical balance in Mystic Notch on the side of good, or will evil prevail?

Title: Just The Three Of Us by Lori Schafer
Description: Meet Kathy, a thirty-seven-year-old drifter who’s constantly on the move: to new towns, new jobs, and new relationships. Imagine her surprise when she’s befriended by lifelong friends Sam and Ted, attractive young men who, though ten years her junior, are far more settled than she thinks she’ll ever be. Cheer them on as their three-way friendship succumbs to passion, then passion to romance, and romance to… well, surely it couldn’t be love. Could it?

With a Heat Level of 4+, dialogue that will make you laugh out loud, and a plot to tickle your most sentimental of spots, Just the Three of Us promises an entertaining read for fans of romance looking for a unique take on love and sexuality.

Title: Self Helpless by Rachel Hall
Description: Jenny Peterson is a single, self-help junkie looking for her soul mate. But despite being an expert in self-improvement, her life still seems to be stuck in a rut. Her designer clothing rental business, even with its well-heeled Orange County clientele, is mysteriously losing money. And although it goes against every fiber in her moral makeup, the one guy she pines for happens to be her best friend’s husband. But are her fortunes about to change? A super-cute mystery guy has just recommended a new book, and from the moment she opens the pages of A Better Life, her world is turned upside down in ways that not even Dr Phil could have predicted.

Title: The Rosewood Whistle by Pat McDermott
Description: Surrounded by Ireland’s music and myths, a widowed American writer meets a tour guide leery of love…

On her own at the end of a long and difficult marriage, Gemma Pentrandolfo still hears the critical voice of her husband taunting her from his grave. To foster her independence, she schedules a summer vacation in County Mayo intending to write her first book, and she’s counting on Ireland for inspiration. An idea presents itself when she tours Achill Island with a silver-tongued tour guide whose good looks prompt her to write more than her high-minded novel: she transcribes her years of longing in a steamy fantasy no one is meant to see.

Years have passed since an accident claimed the self-absorbed wife who scorned Ben Connigan and his music. Since then, the former tin whistle ace has avoided marriage, though he never lacked for female companionship before he traded his high-tech career for the slow-paced life of a hometown tour guide. Ben has accepted the end of his run of discreet affairs, until he takes Gemma touring. Her passion for Ireland impresses him. Her love of Irish music soon compels him to dust off his whistles. Knowing she’ll leave at the end of the summer, he sees no harm in keeping her company—until he dares to dream of spending the rest of his life with her.

But he knows it can’t be, not while the ghosts of their partners still haunt them. Not unless the music and myths of Ireland can help them find their way…

Title: Unfinished Business by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson
Description: In UNFINISHED BUSINESS AN ANGELA PANTHER NOVEL, #1 AMAZON bestselling author Carolyn Ridder Aspenson introduces her now trademark blend of witty dialog and hilarious banter in the first book of her hilarious and heartwarming paranormal chick lit, cozy mystery, Angela Panther series.

When Angela Panther's mother Fran Richter wakes her up in the middle of the night ranting about stolen Hershey Bars, Angela thinks her mother's got a screw loose. And then it hits her. Her mother is dead. Just a few hours before, Angela watched as the funeral home staff nearly dropped her mother's body off the gurney while sliding her into the hearse. So maybe she's the one that's nuttier than a fruitcake?

But Fran keeps popping in and with a volcano full of drama already brewing at home—crazy or not—Angela's grateful for her mother's presence.

It's the other ghosts Angela can do without.

Seems Fran's return opened a portal between Angela and the other side and ghosts are hitting up the reluctant psychic medium for help. From the naked British guy juggling balls in the coffee shop parking lot to the woman desperately trying to save her sick child, Angela must find a way to balance her own life with the unfinished business of the dead.

Title: Witch by Tim O’Rourke
Description: Twenty-year-old Sydney Hart has always made mistakes and when she meets Michael Grayson, she soon comes to wonder if she hasn’t made the biggest mistake of her life. That one moment of passion between them causes Sydney’s world to spiral rapidly out of control.

Suffering from nightmares, Sydney soon realises her life and the people closest to her aren’t who or what she believed them to be. Fearing she has been cursed, Sydney attempts to unravel the dark secrets that surround her, and is desperate to discover why a dying man called her ‘Witch’.

A racy, paranormal romance with a chilling twist.

Monday, February 27, 2017

REVIEW: Guilt By Degrees by Marcia Clark

Title: Guilt By Degrees (Rachel Knight #2)
Author: Marcia Clark
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Publication Date: January, 2012
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Buy The Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Description: Someone has been watching D.A. Rachel Knight--someone who's Rachel's equal in brains, but with more malicious intentions. It began when a near-impossible case fell into Rachel's lap, the suspect-less homicide of a homeless man. In the face of courthouse backbiting and a gauzy web of clues, Rachel is determined to deliver justice. She's got back-up: tough-as-nails Detective Bailey Keller. As Rachel and Bailey stir things up, they're shocked to uncover a connection with the vicious murder of an LAPD cop a year earlier. Something tells Rachel someone knows the truth, someone who'd kill to keep it secret.

Harrowing, smart, and riotously entertaining, GUILT BY DEGREES is a thrilling ride through the world of LA courts with the unforgettable Rachel Knight.

My Thoughts: Guilt By Degrees is the second book in the Rachel Knight series by former L.A. district attorney Marcia Clark. I found this book just as enjoyable as the first book. This story reunites tenacious D.A. Rachel Knight with Detective Bailey Keller on a case that spins a web of deceit and intrigue, revealing dark and sinister layers as they proceed in the investigation.

While awaiting her turn in court, Rachel witnesses a fellow prosecutor drop the ball on his case of a murdered homeless man so badly that she feels compelled to refile it, which is just the tip of the iceberg. When Rachel discovers a connection to the murder of a police officer, the investigation quickly escalates into an intense and frightening ride into the seedy side of L.A. as Rachel and Bailey try to draw out the killer.

This book was a fast read and I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions between Rachel and Bailey. Ms. Clark does a fantastic job with the character development, building the personalities of all of the characters on a personal level, which gives the reader a real sense of knowing the characters and feeling empathy for them. I especially liked that Rachel finally shares some of her past history with Bailey, Toni and Drew and I am excited to see what happens next between Rachel and Graden.

My Final Verdict: I highly recommend Guilt By Degrees, but make sure you read the series in order. This series offers action, suspense, mystery, romance and humor. I look forward to joining Rachel and Bailey on their next adventure.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Guilt By Degrees from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

REVIEW: Etiquette And Espionage by Gail Carriger

Title: Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School, #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Hachette, Little, Brown & Company
Publication Date: February, 2013
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Steampunk
Buy The Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Description: Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

My Thoughts: Sophronia Temminnick is not your average, run of the mill, fourteen-year-old girl. She has no interest in fashion or boys and could care less about balls, performing the perfect curtsy or dancing. She would much rather dismantle items and climb down dumbwaiters and give her mother as much gray hair as she possibly can. At her wit’s end, Sophronia’s mother sends her off to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, in the hopes that someone will be able to turn her erstwhile tomboy of a youngest daughter into a lady. Neither Sophronia or her mother realize that this finishing school will teach Sophronia to be a lady, but will also teach her espionage, weapons and how to effectively poison just about anyone.

Etiquette and Espionage is the first book in the Finishing School series and introduces several unique and interesting characters. I really liked Sophronia and felt a lot of empathy for her. She has a quick wit and a strong mind and doesn’t hesitate to stretch the rules, or outright break them, to serve the greater good. Sophronia’s friends, Dimity, Vieve and Soap, were also interesting characters that hopefully will make appearances throughout the series. I also enjoyed the paranormal aspect of this story with characters Professor Braithwope, a vampire and Captain Niall, a werewolf who wears a top hat, even in wolf form. I especially liked Sophronia’s mechanical sausage dog, Bumbersnoot, who consumes coal and emits steam.

My Final Verdict: I enjoyed Etiquette and Espionage for the interesting storyline and tongue in cheek humor with the historical setting and steampunk surroundings. I am curious to see how Sophronia and her friends evolve into ladies and spies.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Etiquette and Espionage from the publisher 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)