Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

Title: The Bronze Horseman
Series: The Bronze Horseman #1
Author: Paullina Simons
Publisher: William Morrow

The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler's armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.

Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander's impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.

“We've had a minute, Tatiana thought. We had our minutes on the bus. And at Kirov. We had our minutes in Lugo. And in the Summer Garden. Breathless minutes, we had. What we want, she thought, keeping herself from welling up, is eternity.” 

I hate it when this happens. I've looked forward to reading The Bronze Horseman for so long. My book friend sent it to me one Christmas (it's autographed!) and it has been on my shelf ever since. I kept on thinking, I'm going to read it soon. Well, I finally did it and I can only say that for the most part, I wanted to throw the book against the wall.

The setting is WWII. Tatiana lives in the Soviet Union, more specifically, Leningrad. She lives with her parents, grandparents and her siblings and they share a small area in one building. Tatiana shares one room with her sister Dasha. One day, Dasha comes home full of happiness, she has met a soldier and she knows he's the one. Later on, the news is grave. The Germans are invading Russia. Tatiana is given money to purchase food but instead, she decides to read (she's alone at home while everyone else is working). Much later, she leaves her home but instead of going directly to buy food, she decides to eat an ice cream.  Here is where she meets a soldier by the name of Alexander. He's tall and handsome with a beautiful smile. When they strike up a conversation, Tatiana can't help but feel something for this stranger. She has never been in love and has never felt this way before towards the opposite sex. Much later, Tatiana realizes there's no food left anywhere but Alexander saves the day by helping her buy food from where the soldiers have their choice. Then, he offers to help her carry it home with the help of another soldier, by the name of Dimitri. This is where Tatiana realizes her feelings for this man can't go any further. You see, the soldier is the man Dasha has fallen for.

From this, you get the idea. Nothing is easy for this couple. Tatiana doesn't want to hurt her sister's feelings so sacrificing her own happiness is a given. Alexander wants Tatiana but he has no problems staying with Dasha while pursuing Tatiana behind her back and this is the main reason why Alexander rubbed me the wrong way. He couldn't stay away from the sisters. It nagged me that he was having sex with Dasha or left to be with Dasha alone just in the next room while Tatiana was fighting Dimitri's advances day after day.

By the end of the book, I had no sympathy for Alexander. He was nothing but abusive. He was dominating, possessive (he was jealous of little old ladies who took some of Tatiana's time), controlling, violent (hitting the wall next to Tatiana's face) and selfish.  And let's not forget, he had no qualms about sleeping with Dasha while making Tatiana miserable.

Then, there's Tatiana who deserves the Nobel prize for the best doormat. She let her family, Dimitri, Alexander and complete strangers abuse her. She had the martyr thing down. She was able to sacrifice everything including food (in a starving Russia) without thinking it twice.

The only thing that kept me reading was the setting. I did enjoy getting the perspective from someone from the Soviet Union during the German invasion.

Cliffhanger: No

2/5 Fangs

Sublime Karma by Peyton Garver

Author: Peyton Garver
Pub. Date: May 28, 2017
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing 
Pages: 302
Formats: Paperback eBook
Find it: AmazonB&NTBDGoodreads

When Brie's stepfather moves the family for what he calls a new beginning, it's not the new beginning the beautiful, yet guarded, senior would have hoped for. Brie is instantly targeted by jealous girls at her new school, and the only available seat on her bus is next to the school's star wide receiver, Jake, who for some reason, finds her offensive. After a humiliating article and picture of Brie is posted in the online school journal, a demon she thought she'd overcome resurfaces, and her life unravels. A newly compassionate Jake has finally taken an interest in her, but can Brie learn to trust her heart, or will she miss out on the best thing that ever happened to her?

Jake has his own secrets and has built his own walls, but eventually his curiosity about the new girl gets the best of him. Unfortunately, now there is competition: the captain of her cross-country team. Jake's romantic histories with the girl next door and the school's queen bee, adds tension to a simmering tempest when all he wants is Brie. Is he strong enough to help the one he loves weave sense into her crumbling new reality while overcoming his own tainted past? This is an edgy YA with issues of bullying, self harm, and attempted suicide...with an HEA ending.  

The bus snaked its way through the country roads and then to the lavish development that backed up to the woods behind his house. Upperclassmen from this neighborhood had their own cars. This bus collected the underclassmen: those few who weren’t chauffeured, as minions of the privileged.

Jake leaned back in his seat and folded his arms across his chest, not looking at the kids coming down the aisle. None dared to ask if they could sit in the empty space next to him. They’d sit three to a seat rather than make that request. Just the way he wanted it.
The over-filled bus pulled to a stop midway down Belmont Circle. New stop? Jake looked out his window at the estate with a circular drive. Huh. It finally sold. He watched as a single figure headed toward the bus. What, so now they get door-to-door service? He rolled his eyes.
Seconds later, she stood in the aisle waiting. From his seat, his eyes skimmed up passed her faded jeans and plain, loose sweater, and his breath caught in his throat. Her long blond hair was pulled to the side in a loose braid. Her face? Ethereal. But then, his flustered gaze became an annoyed glare.
Her bleak gray eyes seemed to look right through him before they darted to the space next to him. Did she even register his indignation? She must have. Yet, she stood there in the aisle twisting the loose adjustment strap on her backpack tightly around her fingers.
“May I sit here?” her meek voice broke the silence that had fallen around them.
Noticing the hush of conversation, Jake’s eyes skimmed the crowded bus. There was no doubt he and this new girl had an audience. Not something he relished.
His eyes swept back to her. He could tell she was nervous. He heard it in her quavering voice and saw it in the way she avoided his eyes. He could just say no. But so long as she was standing, the bus wouldn’t budge.

As a child, Peyton called places like Livorno, Italy; Orléans, France; and Augsburg, Germany home. She has since settled in Maryland, where she earned her degree in education at Towson State University, married her sweetheart of two years, and became an instant mother to three spirited young boys before adding another son to the brood. And, with their yellow lab George, it's no stretch to say she's outnumbered.

When not writing, Peyton is a full time teacher. Inspired by the individual spirits, heartaches, and triumphs of her students, Peyton has developed characters who resemble real world teens dealing with real issues: relationships, jealousy, bullying, and depression. Her newest novel, Sublime Karma, is a contemporary
story filled with emotion, depth, wit, and suspense. Sublime Karma was published in the fall of 2016 by Soulmate Publishing.

When asked if she actually involves her students in her stories, Peyton answered that her stories are completely fictional, but then admitted to an activity in which she does involve them. "One quirky, fun thing I like to do with students who have read my book is develop a dream cast for my characters. That all started when a group of girls were arguing over which actor they thought best fit the character Four in Veronica Roth's novel Divergent. They then turned their efforts to my manuscript.  I've since added those dream casts to my website."

When she's not teaching or writing, Peyton enjoys traveling. The Caribbean Islands have become a favorite vacation getaway for Peyton and her husband. "Nothing is better than sitting on a beach, in front of the crystal clear sea, enveloped in the warmth of the tropical sun with a frosty piña colada and a good book that I just can't put down."

1 winner will receive TWO signed a finished copies of SUBLJME KARMA 1 for them and one for the high school of the winner's choice to be dedicated in their name and a $10 Amazon Gift Card, US Only.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Other Brother by Meghan Quinn


I got the call. The dreaded call every child fears. My dad wasn’t well, and the man who had always been my everything needed me. There was only one thing to do; pack up and head back to my hometown. I had finally made my dream life in the city with the great job and loving boyfriend. But was there really a choice not to go? I found a wonderful job, a quaint house to rent, my boyfriend was working on joining me in Binghamton, and my favorite pizza place was only miles away. Life was good. Until I met my neighbor. It's been three years since I'd seen Aaron Walters, and my God is he all kinds of sexy gorgeous. Figures. He was supposed to be my forever, the man I grew old with, but he had different plans. How can a man who ripped my heart apart still trip me up? How can he make me still want him now more than ever? I’m tempted, I’m drawn toward him, I’m completely and utterly unaware that I’m dating his biological brother. Now two men own my heart. The question is, which brother will I choose? 



Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped. Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking. Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze! 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Beautiful Maids All in a Row by Jennifer Harlow

Title: Beautiful Maids All in a Row 
Series: Iris Ballard #1
Author: Jennifer Harlow
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: October 11, 2016

Dr. Iris Ballard’s glory days are behind her, so when Luke Hudson, her former FBI partner and onetime lover, asks for help constructing a psychological profile of an elusive serial killer who murders single mothers and dumps their bodies in the woods, Iris turns him away. She just wants to be left alone with her infomercials, her German Shepherd, and her vodka. That is, until she gets a peek at the case files.

The media has dubbed him “the Woodsman.” But after Iris learns the sickening details held back from the press, and as she sets foot onto the scene of his latest crime, she assembles a portrait of a more complicated, enigmatic, meticulous man. Control is his motivation. He thrives on it. Soon he even tries to manipulate the investigation by contacting Iris, hoping to rattle the woman he considers an intellectual equal.

The game is on. Iris thinks she has a read on her target, enough to push his buttons, to make him lose control. But when the Woodsman gains the upper hand, Iris faces the most painful reckoning of all—with her own violent past.

Wow! This is the way an FBI thriller is supposed to be written. 

There are so many things I liked about Beautiful Maids in a Row. The main character Iris Ballard is a mess at the beginning of the story. She was a profiler for the FBI and has helped captured many high profile cases until one monster got too close. Two years ago, she lost her husband and herself. She has not been living. Instead, she spends her time on a job she couldn't care less, popping pills, drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes. She's suffering from guilt, survivor's guilt plus PTSD. She lives away from everyone, with a high-tech alarm system and a German Shepherd for the company. It's not until her ex-partner Luke Hudson comes asking for help with a case that Iris begins to live again.

Luke is in charge of an FBI investigation. A serial killer is on the loose. The victims are all light-eyed, brown hair, single mothers. They are abducted in the open and then their bodies are found in the water in the woods. Luke needs help and he knows no one is better at this than Iris. He also has some personal reasons for wanting Iris back. They had been friends and once they were more than that. 

Of course, I can't forget the monster who is raping and murdering these women. He has a voice and it's twisted and depraved. I was at 27% when I realized who it was. To my surprise, it was revealed not too long after, who he was. It made this suspense even more interesting. Iris has to battle with a very intelligent man. Someone who thinks involving her in his game elevates the stakes. 

I'm very pleased with the turn of events. I liked Iris from the very beginning. She was damaged but who wouldn't be after what she has gone through? She was smart and cocky at times but she could also feel shame and was immersed in guilt. She was self-destructing slowly until Luke came knocking. 

Luke was easy on the eyes but I wasn't sure about him until I got to know him better. Then, I jumped on the Luke bandwagon. There is a point when I almost backtracked in my opinion of him but he proved himself quite deserving of Iris. 

I would recommend this book to any suspense lover. It was a thrilling ride!

Cliffhanger: No

4.5 Fangs

The Devil's Triangle
by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison

Title: The Devil's Triangle 
Series: A Brit in the FBI, #4 
Authors: Catherine Coulter and  J.T. Ellison
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release Date: August 29, 2017

From New York Times bestselling authors Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison comes the highly anticipated thriller in their Brit in the FBI series, featuring special agents Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine in their new roles as heads of the Covert Eyes team—but will their first case be their last when the Fox, the enigmatic and dangerous thief, reappears?

“He who controls the weather, will control the world. He who controls time, will never be around.” —Thomas Frey

FBI Special Agents Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine are the government’s Covert Eyes—leading a top-notch handpicked team of agents to tackle crimes and criminals both international and deadly. But their first case threatens their fledgling team when the Fox calls from Venice asking for help.

Kitsune has stolen an incredible artifact from the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, and now the client wants her dead. She has a warning for Nick and Mike: she’s overheard talk that a devastating Gobi desert sandstorm that’s killed thousands in Beijing isn’t a natural phenomenon, rather is produced by man. The Covert Eyes team heads to Venice, Italy, to find out the truth.

From New York to Venice and from Rome to the Bermuda Triangle, Nicholas and Mike and their team are in a race against time, and nature herself, to stop an obsessed family from devastating Washington, DC.

First, I should say I'm new to this series so I know I missed a lot of what these characters have gone through to get them to this point. Saying that I thought it was just ok. 

The novel begins when we meet the "Fox", a famous thief. Her real name is Kitsune and she has been hired to steal Moses' staff from the Topkapi museum. She's good at what she does so after stealing it she requires payment and this is where things go wrong. She almost dies in the process and later on, she discovers her husband Grant has been taken by her client. 

Kitsune turns for help to the people she knows already. She asks Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine for help. These two are part of an elite FBI team, The Covert Eyes. Nicholas and Mike can't say no because they soon will learn that someone is able to control the weather and might be responsible for the storm in the Gobi desert. Mike and Nicholas get closer to the real culprits Cassandra and Ajax, a pair of evil twins who are after the Ark of the Covenant when a threat is issued to Washington DC.

I'm not sure if the series is full of paranormal events but this one has a little bit of it. It took me by surprise, I just wasn't expecting it. Maybe that's why I was not too engaged with the story. I was hoping for more police procedure and the thrill of the chase than expecting a Justice League episode. 

Now, to the things I liked. Kitsune. She was great. Love that she is pretty much Neal Caffrey from White Collar but with a darker side. She was smart and resourceful. I didn't view her as an enemy or a bad person but she wasn't good either. She has all these shades of gray which made her very interesting to me.

The two FBI agents, Nicholas and Michaela were also good. I enjoyed their banter and they had good chemistry.

Overall, The Devil's Triangle was a fast-paced novel with enough action. If you like some paranormal thrown into it, then this one is for you.

Cliffhanger: No

2.75/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Pocket Books in exchange for an honest review.