Sunday, 10 January 2016

Unsung (Country Roads #5) by Shannon Richard: ★★★★

25318018Unsung (Country Roads #5) by Shannon Richard 
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: ARC


Synopsis: One Night In Nashville

Harper Laurence has been jilted on her way to the altar. Desperate for some time away from her friends and family, Harper takes off for Nashville—only to meet a hot, scruffy, tattooed stranger. A man she liked a little too much, and who left her the teeniest bit . . . well, pregnant.

Liam James is an up-and-coming country musician, who just found his muse. Ever since their weekend together, Liam hasn't been able to forget the curvy, vivacious woman who left him wanting more, even as she inspired some of the greatest songs he's ever written. He's determined to convince Harper that he's the guy for her . . . and that the best love songs can never be unsung.

I normally run in the opposite direction when I read in a blurb that the hot love interest is a musician, usually a "rock star", as it just seems to translate to "narcissistic sweaty douche-bag" in my head. But having read this author before I knew that wouldn't be the case here. Richard actually writes incredibly sweet male characters, sassy-cool females, and hot (but not porno-gross) love scenes. (How's that for a sweeping summation of someone's work?).

This was no exception to those assumptions, though, I'm pleased to say, and I actually enjoyed the fact he was a singer/songwriter (and that Harper had no clue who he was!). The song he writes and sings for her becomes a pivotal part of the story.

The way the story is told is quite fun too. We sort of start in the middle at a tense moment, then circle back to the beginning and so all you can think while reading is - what's going to happen to lead us back to that opening scene?! Griping stuff!

As I've come to expect with this author, she knows how to write romance just the way I like it - sensual love scenes, sweet dialogue, and some heart-stopping moments that kept me flipping pages well into the night.

All in all, a really great read and a highly recommended contemporary romance series!

4 Stars ★★★★  A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by:

Queen of the Deep by Kay Kenyon: ★★★★

24309446Queen of the Deep by Kay Kenyon
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: ARC


Synopsis: On the streets of New York, Jane Gray meets an intriguing man who claims to be the impossible: an imaginary playmate from her childhood: Prince Starling. Determined to know the truth, Jane tracks him into another realm.

This is the world of the Palazzo, a magical ship which is both a colossal steam vessel and a Renaissance kingdom. Ruling over its denizens--both human and otherwise--is an exotic and dangerous queen. Jane must find her way home, but the path is hopelessly lost.

Promising romance, the enigmatic Prince Starling and big-hearted crime lord Niccolo vie for Jane's heart. But she has her eye on the pilot house. Who--or what--guides the Palazzo, and what is the urgent secret of its endless voyage? As a shocking destination looms into view, Jane must choose both a lover and a ship's course, one that may avoid the end of all things.

What a thoroughly imaginative concept!

I'd never read anything by this author before Queen of the Deep, but a quick read of some of her other book's reviews informs me that worldbuilding is certainly not an area she struggles with. The brain that came up with this particular idea must have a few extra corners, nooks and crannies that normal brains don't have, that's for damn sure.

Not only does main character Jane travel to another realm, a realm not fully understood by even its own denizens, but the fantastic use of elements from our own world (though a few centuries out of date) mixed in with some wholly original elements, make for a truly unforgettable stage.

I tend to find that authors whose books show me something new and different, and those with the most expansive worldbuilding, stick in my mind the longest. But what's equally essential is good characterisation, and Queen of the Deep definitely has that. I was particularly pleased by the story arc of two of the secondary male characters, and that they both took me nicely by surprise!

Even though I mostly loved this book and certainly applaud the originality of it, some of it I just found plain odd, hence the 4 stars over 5. But I imagine people who like their fantasy books a bit "out there" à la Terry Pratchett, would absolutely lap it up

Also, it's worth noting that although the YA vibe is strong on the cover, it's not a YA or even NA book, but adult contemporary fantasy (with a teensy splash of romance).

All in all, a memorable stand alone fantasy read I would definitely recommend.

4 Stars ★★★★  A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by:

Sidekick Returns by Auralee Wallace ★★★★★

27852830Sidekick Returns
by Auralee Wallace
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Copy: ARC


Synopsis: Bremy St James is back in a brand new adventure, mixing chaos, humour, sex, and superheroes in this fresh, funny, flirty series. It’s the superhero romance you didn’t know you needed…

Fresh off thwarting the crime of the century, Bremy St. James is back and more determined than ever to fight by the side of the city’s top superhero, Dark Ryder. There’s just one problem: Dark Ryder’s disappeared.

To make matters worse, Bremy’s evil billionaire father, Atticus, is taking her lack of family loyalty very personally, and Bremy’s last tie to her old life, her reason behind her choices—her sister—is distancing herself as well.

Sidekick Returns follows former spoilt rich girl socialite turned wannabe superhero sidekick, Bremmy St James, as she stumbles admirably, if humourously, through her new and dangerous life. That of noble crime-fighting badass - complete with mask and catsuit.

It had been a while since I'd read the first book in the series, Sidekick, so I was slightly fuzzy on the details going into this sequel; I just knew I'd enjoyed it. As soon as I went back to look at the phenomenal cover of book one, with its amazing "glum superhero" depiction, it brought a smile back to my face.

Heading into this book, it wasn't long before all the good things came crashing back to me. Firstly, there's Bremmy, of course. An irresistibly quirky, self-doubting and irreverent lead character. She is absolutely hilarious, and the best thing about the series for me. Her narration is nothing short of joyful. I'm sure I must have read the whole book smiling. In this respect, I'd say this series would be perfect for fans of Darynda Jones, Molly Harper and other such hilarious literary ladies.

Then, of course, there's super-hot, slightly nerdy journalist, Pierce, as the potential love interest. We were treated to some very interesting developments (not all good) in that department.

Also, there's the developing story arc from book one. You may recall, if you read book one and haven't read eleventy-nine million other books since then, like me, that Bremmy has a wheelchair-bound twin sister and a maniacally evil scientist father with far too much money and power for anyone's safety. Some clever twists and excellent writing has kept this area just as fresh and exciting as book one, if not more so.

And finally, there's Bremmy's mentor and inspiration, Dark Ryder. An actual superhero and everything Bremmy wishes she could be. While desperately trying to regain her attention, and point-blank refusing to believe she might be avoiding her on purpose, she stumbles upon something that's going to test her sidekick "skills" to the limit.

A thoroughly enjoyable read. Can't wait for more.

5 Stars ★★★★★  A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by:

Monday, 23 November 2015

Splintered Souls (Flames of Time #1) by Erica Lucke Dean: ★★★

25873786Splintered Souls (Flames of Time #1)
by Erica Lucke Dean
Rating: ★★★
Review Copy: ARC


Synopsis: When Ava Flynn walks away from a scholarship to Georgetown and moves into her grandmother’s abandoned summer home in coastal Maine, she steps into the center of a centuries-old curse. On her first night, she notices a mysterious leather-clad stranger looking up at her third-story window. For weeks, everywhere she goes, Ava catches more glimpses of him, but she can never get close enough to find out who he is.

Over three hundred years ago, Lady Catherine Fairchild risked everything to protect her unborn child, sending a ripple through time that would change Ava’s future. As the mystery unravels, the horrifying consequences of Lady Catherine’s choices drag Ava deeper into a world she never knew existed, trapping her in a conflict that’s been raging since before she was born. A winner-take-all battle for her soul.

Gah and dognammit!

I admit to making an ASS out of U and Me here by assuming this would be a little standalone mystery - perhaps a nice ghost story/haunted house jobbie, or that's what I'd guessed from the blurb, anyway. And it certainly was a mystery, with breadcrumb after breadcrumb laid out, and even when we got answers, they felt uncertain and unsafe. So, needless to say, when the book ended in a horrendous, massive and quite literal cliffhanger, I turned the air around me blue for a good five minutes, because I really was ready for it to be wrapped up and done with.

As a mystery with some fairly clever twists and big reveals, it's going to be very hard for me to say much about the actual story, but in terms of tone, this was quite a young-feeling YA, and would perhaps be perfect for the Twilight, Vampire Diaries, etc., crowd (minus the vamps), as it comes complete with all YA the requisites; new kid at school, love triangle, lots of angsty angst.

I probably wouldn't be tempted to read the next one as I wasn't invested enough, but do bear in mind I'm am not really the target audience here.

3 Stars ★★★  A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by: