Tag Archives: books: !2017

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal al-Sharif

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s AwakeningARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 5*

One-Sentence Summary: Growing up as a woman in Saudi Arabia

Review: This book gave a fascinating insight into what of the most paradoxical countries in the world – on the one hand there are Saudis competing who can drive the most expensive car and buying into all kinds of Western ideals, on the other hand they won’t even recognise women as being their own person and not in need of a male “guardian” to speak for them.

I have no shame in admitting that I didn’t know too much about Saudi Arabia. What I knew was a balance of the stereotyping I hear in the media and a friend trying to tell me it’s not as oppressive there as the media makes out any more. I think the media got it right for once!

One of the most fascinating things for me was learning that Saudi Arabia went the opposite way to nearly every other country out there: instead of becoming more open and less oppressive in the mid-end 90’s, it actually became more dictatorial and it was the younger generation that forced religious extremism on their parents.

Manal al-Sharif gives a very honest description of what she went through as a child from regular beatings from her father to female circumcision. Her change from religious extremism to fighting for women’s rights was really fascinating to read. Hardly any of us can fathom how anyone could get imprisoned for the crime of being a woman driver. A real eye-opener and reinforced the belief that even if could travel there (which I can’t), I wouldn’t want to.

Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5) by @SarahMorgan_

Holiday in the Hamptons  (From Manhattan with Love #5)“Long story. Come to think of it, everything in my life is a long story. I don’t seem to manage the short, simple version. Forget novellas, I’m War and Peace meets Game of Thrones, without the dragons and dead people.”

ARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 4.5*

Trope: Reconciliation Romance

Chemistry: Simmering

One-Sentence Summary: Broken hearts learn to heal at the beach

Review: Ahhh this was everything I hoped it would be ever since we first met Fliss in New York, Actually.

Seth and Fliss gave me all the FEELS and the build-up and UST between them was borderline overwhelming. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of their story so that’s all I’m going to say about their relationship for now.

Other things I loved was the beach setting and the relationships between Fliss and Grandma and Fliss and Harriet (hope we get to enjoy more of that in the next book) – I love the contrast between Fliss the impulsive feisty one and Harriet the quiet reliable one. I thought it was a nice idea bringing back Chase/Matilda from the novella that started the whole series and cameo appearances from the three heroines from the first trilogy in the series.

If all that wasn’t enough to win me over then the abundance of cute dogs sure did.

I am looking forward to Harriet’s story but can’t help but feel that the series has peaked with this book as writing reconciliation romances definitely seems to be Morgan’s forte.

Last Breath (Detective Erika Foster #4) by @RobertBryndza

Last Breath (Detective Erika Foster, #4)ARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 4*

One-Sentence Summary: A serial killer is targeting young girls and Erika must stop him

Review: One of my favourite crime authors is back with the latest book in his fantastic crime series and it is everything you’ve come to expect from an Erika Foster novel: the detective forces herself on a case and will stop at nothing to solve it.

I love her relationships with Moss and Peterson and they were at the forefront of this novel just as much as her battles with her superior officers.

Like I’ve said before, the fact that most of the story takes place in familiar locations to me of South East London and Kent is a real added bonus and Bryndza’s descriptions certainly make me feel like I’m right there with the characters.

Now we’re four books in, I can’t help but wonder when the case that killed Erika’s husband is going to come back to haunt her ….

‘It’s your bed… I’m not used to sleeping on such a soft bed,’ she said, tipping her head back and enjoying the release on her tense shoulders.
‘Erika, that’s a really expensive memory foam mattress.’
There was a knock at the door and Moss entered, just as Erika said: ‘Well, it’s not hard enough for me…’
‘Sorry, is this a bad time?’ said Moss, looking between them. Peterson dropped his hands.
‘No, we were… It’s fine,’ said Erika, sifting through the papers in front of her.
‘And we were talking about my mattress, my mattress not being hard…’ said Peterson, moving back around the desk.
‘It’s memory foam. The mattress. Very soft,’ added Erika. There was an awkward pause.
‘Thank God for that,’ grinned Moss. ‘Although I do have a friend who’s tried Viagra, and he says it’s changed his life… Another friend thinks laughter is the best medicine, but I suppose that’s not very helpful when it’s things going soft.’
‘A soft mattress is very good for you,’ said Peterson, a little defensively. Erika and Moss started to laugh. ‘It is!’
‘Come on, I’m only teasing,’ said Moss, giving Peterson a nudge.
‘Idiot.’ He grinned. Erika was pleased they’d had the opportunity to laugh, even for a moment. It had broken the tension.

Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology by Various

Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology (Chicago Rebels, #.5; Station Seventeen, #1.5)ARC received from: the authors

Rating: 2.5*

Review:

The rating reflects the average rating for the anthology as a whole. Individual ratings given below.

This book almost defeated me but I was determined to get through it all so I could give it a fair review, even if it meant speed-reading and skimming a few of the stories which really didn’t work for me.

Overall, this anthology is worth buying just for the 4* reads given that a percentage of the profits are going to charity and you never know, you might discover a new favourite author.

Kimberly Kincaid – Deep Check
4*
Love this author and the firehouse series.

Katie Kenyhercz – Bear Naked
4*
An interesting introduction for me to the native American world and the juggling of cultures

Desiree Holt – Body Check
1*
No consistency with the absence of the “Keeper of the Cup” and a hotshot hockey guy thinks he can get his old love back now that he is injured and finally has time for her? Ugh.

Angi Morgan – Breakaway Brook
1*
Paranormal super powers in a contemporary romance? No thanks.

Kim Golden – Under A Midnight Sun
1*
I am sensing a repetitive theme here ….. cocky hockey guys who, once they’ve won the cup, think they can go back to their hometown and reunite with an ex-girlfriend.

Kate Meader – In Skates Trouble
4*
This was what I really tried this anthology for and it didn’t disappoint!
I am really looking forward to Harper’s book, the first full length novel in a new series from one of my favourite contemporary romance authors!

Misty D. Waters – Checking Yes
1*
I’m pretty sure I read this before in this anthology ….. hockey star abandoned his childhood sweetheart when he went off to play hockey and now he wants her back …. This one just has additional family and Southern drama thrown in for good measure.

Robin Kaye – Penalty Box Blues
2*
The hockey star who can’t even remember the girl who used to tutor him every day

Robin Covington – Free Agent
2.5*
I’m usually not a fan of 1st Person POV but I enjoyed this one more than I expected to

Avery Flynn – Blade
4*
Interesting set-up with two old acquaintances having to work together to stop the cup being stolen

Susan Scott Shelley – Making His Move
3*
Coffee addict hooks up with a sweet girl from his childhood whilst spending more time with his sporty family.

Christi Barth – Check My Heart
4*
Really liked the background of she being his brother’s hospice nurse and loved the chemistry between these two

Heather Long – Blocked
3*
Hockey star helps pop princess avoid the press.

Andie J.Christopher – Full Contact
3*
A virginity story with a difference. Really weird to see Eddie turned into some kind of bad guy though

Lena Hart – Courage
2*
Not really interested in a story about a marriage in trouble especially when the guy is so self-involved

Nana Malone – Ransom (The Player)
3*
A story around the size of a hockey player’s dick and the geeky classmate he lusted for from afar.

Virginia Nelson – Caged
1*
A desperate small town girl tries very hard to get a hockey star to realise he’s in love with her by making him a plastic trophy

Xio Axelrod – The Warm Up
3*
Flirtation on the cancer ward.

Hot for the Fireman (Boston Heat #1) by Gina L. Maxwell

Hot for the FiremanARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 4.5*

Trope: Firefighter

Chemistry: Off the charts Scorchio

One-Sentence Summary: Firefighter Versus Therapist

Review: It’s been awhile since I’ve read a romance that gave me all sorts of tingly feels but this one certainly did it!

I loved the set up of Erik and Olivia meeting each other and not knowing that they were going to have to work together in “real life”. Erik’s persistence at getting her to go out with him was nicely mirrored in the latter half with Olivia refusing to give up on him.

Whilst I spent the first half wondering when Erik’s PTSD, the whole reason for them meeting, would come into play when it finally did, it did so in a big way. It felt so raw and real and I really felt for him.

Erik’s condition keeps him off work for the duration of the book so for those of you looking forward to a book full of sexy firefighting action, you may be a little disappointed but I am sure Maxwell has plenty of time to explore that side of things in the rest of the series

One of my favourite things about the book was undoubtedly the introduction of Dozer and Angie. I am guessing their book is up next and I, for one, absolutely can’t wait to read it. I love a good reconciliation romance.

PS. Loved the shout-out to Kate Meader’s awesome Chicago firefighting series!

Nothing Stays Buried (Monkeewrench #8) by P.J. Tracy

Nothing Stays Buried (Monkeewrench, #8)In retrospect, she probably could have been more tactful, but that was another thing she considered a deplorable waste of time.

ARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 5*

One-Sentence Summary: The Monkeewrench crew Versus a Cartel serial killer

Review: The Monkeewrench series is without a doubt my favourite crime series out there and P.J. Tracy never disappoints.

This plot in this book revolves around Magozzi and Gino’s hunt for a serial killer targeting female joggers and leaves a calling card next to the bodies. At the same time, the Monkeewrench crew are looking into a missing person’s case as a favour to a sheriff out in the country. Needless to say, it soon becomes apparent that their cases are linked leading to a manhunt out in the middle of nowhere.

In addition to the serial killer manhunt, Tracy throws in a tornado to amp up the action and I was riveted by the last quarter of the book which read like something out of Twister the film crossed with Criminal Minds the TV show.

As ever though whilst the whodunnit element is interesting, what really makes this series the best is that the mother-and-daughter writing team have created such a fantastic family in Magozzi & Gino and the Monkeewrench gang that it is an absolute pleasure coming back to them time-after-time. There are also a number of secondary characters in this book, like Walt and Jacob, that you warm to and you’re on tenterhooks hoping and praying that the serial killer’s latest victim will be found alive.

It saddens me to hear that P.J. has passed away. I only hope that Traci will continue writing this series in her memory.

“Lesson number one—don’t ever argue with a pregnant woman, or she’ll take a pound of flesh, and it’s not the flesh a man wants to lose.”
Magozzi crawled out from under the crib. “That’s kind of a generous weight estimate, isn’t it?”
Gino smirked. “Speak for yourself.”

New York, Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4) by Sarah Morgan

New York, Actually (From Manhattan with Love, #4)ARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 3*

Chemistry: Low Boil

One-Sentence Summary: “Must Love Dogs” with secrets

Review: This was a bit of a schizophrenic read for me:

+ I love dogs
– I frown upon dogs being used as props

+ Using a dog as a Meet Cute is cute
– Using someone else’s dog to stalk a woman is frankly scary

+ Dogs are cute
– Molly have erotic thoughts whilst watching Daniel stroke a dog made me want to throw up
Molly watched, transfixed, as those long, strong fingers caressed her dog. Her pulse sped forward. Her insides tumbled and turned. And still she stared at those hands, watching as he seduced her dog with easy, comfortable strokes

+ I like New York
– The first few chapters with the repetitious stalking in Central Park made me want to stop reading

+ I loved it when Molly turned up at Daniel’s office to call him on his lie
– There were just so many lies/hidden truths between them

+ I LOVED Daniel’s sisters and Molly’s gay best friends
– I liked Daniel/Molly

+ I love Sarah Morgan
– This book didn’t completely win me over

Overall, what I took away from this book was that it was a bridge to Fliss and Harriet’s stories that I am really looking forward to, especially Seth/Fliss’s.

Echoes in Death (In Death #44) by J.D. Robb

Echoes in Death (In Death, #44)Eve angled her head. “Good. That’s good. Either way. If Mira’s right, we’re looking for a schmuck with an Edison thing.”
“Edison? Like Thomas?”
“Who’s Edison Thomas?”
“I mean Thomas Edison. The inventor?” Peabody explained. “The lightbulb?”
“No, for Christ’s sake, this isn’t about lightbulbs. Like the sicko guy who married his own mother, then whined about it.”
After a moment’s confusion, Peabody’s own lightbulb went off. “That’s Oedipus. I’m pretty sure that’s Oedipus.”
“Edison, Oedipus, platypus. Whatever.”

ARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 4.5*

One-Sentence Summary: Dallas hunts a serial killer targeting rich married couples

Review: 44 books into this series and J.D.Robb is nothing but consistent in her greatness.

For those trying out this series for the first time, you will enter a world that despite being set in the future and having all the benefits of superior technology (Autochefs, gliders, droids …), there are still some things which have never changed from the present day: humans still kill each other and human detectives are still needed to solve these crimes. Dallas and her tightknit team, including her billionaire husband Roarke, will always make sure justice is served.

For those who are familiar with Eve and Roarke then whilst the case does not involve or directly affect Dallas or her small circle of family and friends, it hits a little too close to home given what she went through as a child and it is interesting watching her try to solve the case whilst keeping those memories at bay.

As ever some of Dallas’s banter with Peabody and Roarke is one of my favourite things about the book, as is the ever faithful cat Galahad.

I think it’s fair to say that this is an all round welcome addition to this solid series.

“I thought we’d dive right in to The Avengers rather than take you through the individual vids establishing the characters.”
“Superheroes.”
“Exactly.” He went to her, took her hand. “Ironman, for instance.”
“Like Cal Ripken, Jr.?”
“Sorry?”
“Ha – got you on one. Cal Ripken, Iron Man Ripken – late-twentieth-century baseball player, Baltimore. Third base, shortstop. Still holds the record for most consecutive games played.”
“You often amaze me,” he said as they started out.
“Well, it’s baseball. Ironman, but not like Ripken.” Her eyes narrowed. “Is this porn?”
He laughed. “It isn’t, no.”
“Ironman sounds suspicious to me. What are the others?”
“There’s Thor, the Hulk,” he began.
“Sounds like porn.”

A Millionaire at Midnight by Naima Simone

A Millionaire at Midnight“The prince slid the glass slipper on Cinderella’s foot, and of course it was a perfect fit. So then he carried Cinderella to his waiting carriage and his castle where they wed. But the prince ended up being a cheating asshat, and Cinderella, who really wasn’t all that sweet in the first place, moved out, taking the prince for half his kingdom and his entire fleet of carriages. Which served him right because he should’ve kept his dick in his damn pants in the first place. The End.”

ARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 4*

Trope: Fake Relationship

Chemistry: Simmering

One-Sentence Summary: Bachelor auction prize -> Boss -> Fake fiance

Review: This was my first introduction to Naima Simone and what an introduction it was!

I loved Morgan, the sassy heroine who always seemed to have a quick-witted reply on the top of her tongue and Alexander the hero with a love of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings was broodingly delicious.

Mentions of fandoms like Criminal Minds and Gilmore Girls made me smile. The only thing that I didn’t really like was the overly sugary sweet ending – scrap gooey baby stuff I say!

If like me you haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading the previous books in the series then do not fear as I am pleased to say that you don’t need to in order to enjoy this one.

“So you’re trying to convince us you don’t care about Cynthia and Troy?” Angela scoffed.
Morgan shrugged. “Sorry to disappoint you. Sure, I was upset for a minute. I mean, I’d just sent in the check to have the Backstreet Boys perform at our reception.” Again, she lifted a shoulder. “But what’re you going to do? Besides, this city is full of CEOs and millionaires. Where there’s one, there’s another, and most are ready and willing to get laid… and agree to have Nick Carter sing “As Long as You Love Me” for our first dance. As a matter of fact, there are ten of those ready and willing men here tonight. What can I say? We can’t all marry for love like you did, Angela.” Cocking her head to the side, she pointedly glanced in the direction of Angela’s husband, who resembled Hugh Hefner’s older brother. “Can we?”

Crossing Hearts (Cross Creek #1) by @KimberlyKincaid

Crossing HeartsARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 5*

Trope: Reconciliation romance

Chemistry: Simmering

One-Sentence Summary: Small town reconciliation romance

Review: When I first saw a that there was a new release for Kimberly Kincaid I was filled with a mix of emotions – excitement and then disappointment that it wasn’t a new addition in her Rescue Squad series and then excitement again as I realised that hopefully this means that she has two series on the go and therefore multiple books for me to look forward to this year!

Well, this new venture into the world of small town living and farming definitely did not disappoint. This is a reconciliation romance at heart but it was nicely paced and the two characters didn’t just fall into bed and pick up where they left off immediately. Additionally, the addition of Emerson’s illness added a unique layer absent from most romance – can the hot sexy guy really be perfect enough to be willing to commit to someone with a debilitating illness (*spoiler alert* Yes he can!).

Add in some family drama on both sides (Emerson trying to avoid her controlling parents and Hunter trying to referee his two brothers) and you’ve got all the makings of a perfect small town romance.

Now I’m eager to get my paws on Eli and Owen’s stories and more importantly find out what the hell is going on between those two brothers!