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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

Paperback, 416 pages
Published March 14th 2013 by Sphere (first published January 1st 2013)

Goodreads synopsis:
Life is sweet in this heartwarming tale of a little chocolate shop in Paris, by the bestselling author of Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams and Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe.

Mouth-watering recipes inside!

As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.

It's a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime — to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.

With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate — and herself — than she ever dreamed.


2.5 Stars

This book is by the same author as Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe. 

I should have realized before I even touched this ARC that I might not like this book. I guess this would be considered women’s fiction. But I feel like it is more just following along as someone lives their life. Sure there was an exciting part at the beginning where Anna loses her three middle toes and rediscovers her French teacher while in the hospital but I couldn’t relate to any of it. I felt like a rat in a cage and wanted to shout, “stop the world, I want to get off!”

I am sure there is a place for a book like this. I mean, this one has had three cover changes already so there must be a market for it. I am just afraid that market is not me.

If  you love women’s fiction go ahead and check this out. It may be your new favorite. For me, I will have to take a pass.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Double Blind (Dangerous Eight Book 2) by Sloane Savage

Double Blind 
(Dangerous Eight Book 2)

Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Published February 9th 2019 by Wild Fey LLC

Goodreads synopsis:
When Kat’s blind date turns out to be an undercover FBI agent, her humdrum life takes a decidedly more exciting turn. First, she’s mistaken for a hooker and then she survives being shot at—twice. Now her boss has been murdered, her roommate has been kidnapped, and a contract killer wants her dead. 

Once upon a time, FBI Special Agent Scott Bishop was quickly moving up the career ladder at the bureau. Then his career took a sharp detour into no-man’s land. In an effort to get back on track, he takes a temporary undercover assignment, working to expose a money laundering operation run by the elusive Cameron Greyson. 

Unfortunately, nothing about this case is simple. Bishop’s field supervisor drops the ball, and an assassin beats them to the punch. Greyson is dead, Bishop’s cover is blown, and Kat, caught in the middle of a crazy situation, is in danger. 

Bishop must keep Kat safe—regardless of whether she wants his help or not. In the end, will she be willing to take a chance on Mr. Dangerous? Will he be willing to sacrifice his career for the woman he loves?


4.5 Stars

This is the second book in the Dangerous Eight romantic suspense series by Sloane Savage.

Kat thought she was going on a blind date. Then she runs into her own doppelganger in the bathroom. Somehow she and her twin end up with each other’s date. That means that FBI Special Agent Scott Bishop is wooing the wrong woman. They spend the night together and while Scott thinks he is there to milk a call girl for information Kat knows no such thing. She overhears him on the phone saying he paid her the money and that is when reality dawns on her. She escapes the room and heads home crushed. When Kat goes back to the martini bar where she suspected she lost an earring, she finds the hostess dead behind her station. And everything just gets weirder from there.

Kat is over her head. At work she spies Mr. Sexy coming off the elevator and then spies him again. But there can’t be two of them, can there? Then her doppelganger comes out of her boss’s office. She has killed him. Now the only difference between her and the shooter is the gal’s now pink hair.

The action in this is crazy. Just when I think it might wrap up, they dive in for more. The characters are really good in this series and you feel like you are watching a tv show unfold before your eyes.

The entire plot line is mega complex and a bit of a mind-bender at times but you can follow it all the way to the conclusion. For a while I was beginning to wonder if there would be a way out for them both but luckily this isn’t real life. There are a lot of alphabet agencies in this which makes it more convoluted on top of the complex structure. Plus having the FBI and CIA is just cool, right?

I loved every minute of reading this but wished there had been more of the Dangerous Eight guys in scenes. Those were my favorite parts.

If romantic suspense is your thing, you will love this. Check it out.

Highly recommended.

Flight Risk (Dangerous Eight #1) by Sloane Savage

Flight Risk

Kindle Edition, 234 pages
Published August 2018

Goodreads synopsis:
When Haden Smith's well-connected boyfriend had her father killed, she knew her only way out was to run. Since then, she’s survived by staying on the move and trusting no one. Four years later and hundreds of miles away from her old life, a night out with work friends sets off a chain reaction no one could have expected. For just one night, she let herself forget the rules—and now she’s dealing with deadly consequences. 

Night Club owner and ex-Army Ranger Christopher Drake is in pain. It's been months since his girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver, turning his world upside down. When, at his friends’ urging, he finally opens himself up to the possibility of meeting someone new, he encounters Haden--the only girl in his club who's not impressed by this sexy bad boy. 

But even though Haden’s secrets threaten their growing attraction, Drake isn't without resources. Her fear ignites a spark in him that no amount of reason will subdue, and he’s convinced that he and his friends can help her escape her pursuers and stop running for good. 

With both the Ortega drug cartel and the Russian Mafia after her, Haden will do anything to survive, but is she willing to risk it all to let Drake help?


4.5 Stars

This is the first book in the Dangerous Eight romantic suspense series by Sloane Savage.

Haden Smith is on the run. Her former boyfriend has ties to the Russians and a drug cartel plus his father is the notorious Butcher of Malta. When she tries to leave him, he torments her to the point he even has her father killed in order to make her stay by his side. She grab all her money, finds a way to have several fake IDs created and books it out of town and into the wind. The ex-boyfriend never stops looking for Haden.

Four years later she is still on the run. She finds herself in a club owned by Christopher Drake. He’s an ex-Ranger and still reeling from the death of his girlfriend whom he thought was “the one.” Now the two see each other and decide to step off the cliff into something new. When her ID comes up as fake, she has already left the club. Drake decides to go after her. He doesn’t want her getting away. What if she was “the one?”

This brings Drake and a lot of his ex-Ranger buddies, Vincent, Alex and Scott into a race to keep Haden safe from the drug cartel and the Russians who are targeting her.

This book was really exciting and the pulse pounding action never stopped. It took a while into the book until Haden felt safe enough to trust Drake and his Ranger buddies. Her distrust really went to her detriment when she caused a lot of her own misery by her actions. She did a lot of overthinking which I think could be a problem after four years on the run.

This story gave us a good overview of a lot of the Dangerous Eight Rangers. Book two will feature the FBI guy Scott and book three will be about Alex, the tech guy. I assume Vincent, mountain man/high society guy, will be book four. One can only hope. Vincent was the most intriguing of the guys featured in this book in my opinion.

Great story. I already read book two so now we wait for book three. Check out this series if you love romantic suspense. It is definitely a guilty pleasure read.

Pride, Prejudice and Poison by Elizabeth Blake

Pride, Prejudice and Poison

Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: August 13th 2019 by Crooked Lane Books

Goodreads synopsis:
Perfect for fans of Laura Levine and Stephanie Barron, Elizabeth Blake’s Jane Austen Society mystery debut is a mirthfully morbid merger of manners and murder.

In this Austen-tatious debut, antiquarian bookstore proprietor Erin Coleridge uses her sense and sensibility to deduce who killed the president of the local Jane Austen Society.

Erin Coleridge’s used bookstore in Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, England is a meeting place for the villagers and, in particular, for the local Jane Austen Society. At the Society’s monthly meeting, matters come to a head between the old guard and its young turks. After the meeting breaks for tea, persuasion gives way to murder—with extreme prejudice—when president Sylvia Pemberthy falls dead to the floor. Poisoned? Presumably…but by whom? And was Sylvia the only target?

Handsome—but shy—Detective Inspector Peter Hemming and charismatic Sergeant Rashid Jarral arrive at the scene. The long suspect list includes Sylvia’s lover Kurt Becker and his tightly wound wife Suzanne. Or, perhaps, the killer was Sylvia’s own cuckolded husband, Jerome. Among the many Society members who may have had her in their sights is dashing Jonathan Alder, who was heard having a royal battle of words with the late president the night before.

Then, when Jonathan Alder narrowly avoids becoming the next victim, Farnsworth (the town’s “cat lady”) persuades a seriously time-crunched Erin to help DI Hadley. But the killer is more devious than anyone imagines.


5 Stars

This is the first book in the A Jane Austen Society Mystery by Elizabeth Blake.

I have to admit first off that I am not a Jane Austen fan. But I fell in love with this book anyway. Practically every character quotes some person from a Jane Austen novel throughout the course of this book. It was pretty fun listening to the quips. Some of the comparisons between Austen character and people were lost on me since I didn’t know the backstory well enough but I managed to muddle through despite that fact.

This book is centered around the Jane Austen Society of which Erin Coleridge is a member. She is the owner of the local bookstore and closet sleuth on the side. Okay, maybe not closet sleuth. Everyone knows how Erin wants to get to the bottom of a mystery. So when the president of the Society winds up dead, Erin is on the case! So are two detectives from York: DI Peter Hemming and DS Rashid Jarral. This is their first case together and methinks this won’t be their last.

There are quite as gaggle of suspects but no one really believes any of them would stoop to such an act. When Erin’s snooping is recognized by the bad guy, she becomes a target as well. During the course of the investigation DI Hemming and Erin find a growing attachment to each other that neither of them move forward with much to my dismay. When Erin kisses Jonathan Adler early in the book I wonder what I may be missing because it is obvious she and DI Hemming are meant for each other.

The farther I read the more I fell in love with this little hamlet and its residents. And I look forward to more books in this series because seriously there needs to be more than a mere goodbye between Erin and DI Hemming!

Highly recommended.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron

Careful What You Wish For

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: August 6th 2019 by William Morrow

Goodreads synopsis:
From the New York Times bestselling author of There Was an Old Woman comes a novel about a professional organizer with a deadly problem she may not be able to clean up.

Emily Harlow is a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives; she’s married to man who can’t drive past a yard sale without stopping. He’s filled their basement, attic, and garage with his finds.

Like other professionals who make a living decluttering peoples’ lives, Emily has devised a set of ironclad rules. When working with couples, she makes clear that the client is only allowed to declutter his or her own stuff. That stipulation has kept Emily’s own marriage together these past few years. She’d love nothing better than to toss out all her husband’s crap. He says he’s a collector. Emily knows better—he’s a hoarder. The larger his “collection” becomes, the deeper the distance grows between Emily and the man she married.

Luckily, Emily’s got two new clients to distract herself: an elderly widow whose husband left behind a storage unit she didn’t know existed, and a young wife whose husband won’t allow her stuff into their house. Emily’s initial meeting with the young wife takes a detour when, after too much wine, the women end up fantasizing about how much more pleasant life would be without their collecting spouses.

But the next day Emily finds herself in a mess that might be too big for her to clean up. Careful what you wish for, the old adage says . . . now Emily might lose her freedom, her marriage . . . and possibly her life.


4.5 Stars

Emily Harlow is a professional organizer with a husband who is a closet hoarder. She can declutter other people’s lives but not her own. Her rule is that you have to only declutter your own stuff. So she is stuck with a half messy/half perfect house and it doesn’t always spark joy.

She and her best friend, Becca own a decluttering business together. Two new clients come on Emily’ radar. One is an older woman who found a storage unit her dead husband had kept from her. And a recommendation from Emilly’s husband’s attorney colleague, Ryan, brings Quinn into her life as well. Quinn’s husband has a big collection of things that Emily is sure her own husband Frank would love. But Quinn’s husband won’t let her put her own stuff in the house so she is wanting Emily to help her sort through it and discard the things she no longer needs. 

The two of them get to talking and while drinking a bit of prosciutto Quinn wonders out loud what it would be like if both of their husbands were no longer in the picture. Not long later Quinn’s husband’s car is found abandoned and Quinn wonders if Emily did something to him considering their earlier conversation. Dun dun dun!!

This book was mega creepy. And I marveled at how easily it was to manipulate Emily. When Emily’s mother was brought into the picture to look at all the supposed “borrowed” things in Mrs. Murphy’s storage unit, I felt like the tide had turned and having her there lent support to Emily in her time of need.

I went back and forth about who I thought had done it. The college sweater Emily recognized that was in Quinn’s possesion was the fist inkling of an idea that really panned out for me in the end. Quite a complex mystery. And I have no idea how they almost pulled it off. This was a nail-biter for sure! I almost wish there were more books in this series but it seems to be a standalone.

Great book. Highly recommended.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

I Don't Want To Be An Empath Anymore by Ora North

I Don't Want To Be An Empath Anymore: 
How To Reclaim Your Power Over Emotional Overwhelm, Build Better Boundaries, And Create A Life Of Grace And Ease

Kindle Edition, 108 pages
Published December 12th 2017 by Difference Press

Goodreads synopsis:
A guide for the empath who is tired of being an empath.

Feeling everything so deeply all the time can seem more like a curse than a gift for the jaded empath. When all of the emotions of daily life are piling on, it can confuse you, erode your confidence, and destroy your relationships. I Don't Want To Be An Empath Anymore will teach you how to reclaim your power over emotions and find your empathic life filled with grace and ease.

Ora North is a healer and empath who has been working with other empaths to discover a process to heal the wounds of being a highly sensitive being. In this book, you'll learn:

- Why "love and light" aren't getting you what you really need
- The weird truth about those feelings that make you feel like crap
- What are your feelings vs. their feelings?
- How to build boundaries for better and easier relationships
- Tools and tricks to cleanse and protect your own energy
- How to use your intuition to make your empathy work for you instead of against you

If you're tired of waiting for things to get better, and you're ready to step into an easier life as an empath, don't wait any longer. Dive into this book. It's time to turn your curse into the gift it was always meant to be.


3 Stars

I think this book is wrongly titled. It should be “How to Reclaim Your Empathic Power.” It is not really about NOT wanting to be an empath. It is about how to go from a no controlled empathic state to one where you have regained the mastery and focus by using your sensitivity as a source of power.

All the exercises are great as long as you take the time and do them. This might be better as a workbook since it is such a short read. Everything I read went along with all I have ever heard about being an empath. There weren’t the new cool revelations about how to master being an empath. This is the tried and true stuff you need to remain sane as a sensitive in a non-sensitive world.

This hit the middle of the grade for me since I wasn’t blown away. Wish it had been longer. But a good read.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

The Jumpgate by Robert Stadnik

The Jumpgate (Exodus #6)

Kindle Edition
Published August 1, 2019 by Amazon Digital Services

Goodreads synopsis:
After being trapped within the solar system for nearly a century, humanity is finally free to explore the galaxy. But questions still remain about the aliens that oppressed the human race. Where are they from? Why did they come to the Milky Way galaxy? The opportunity to uncover those answers finally presents itself. But is anyone brave enough to go through...the jumpgate.

This novel is part of the exodus universe.


4 Stars

There are a number of books before this one in the Exodus universe. There is a huge backstory about a starship named PHOENIX that is barely hinted at in this book but we get enough of a gist to know that some serious crap went down making the crew of this ship not the most favorite of the TERRA people. Earth Security people began taking over key positions in TERRA after the PHOENIX starship returned victorious from its last mission. This has put a wedge between the PHOENIX crew and TERRA.

They have been fixing up the starships in order to do a better check of space in order to keep humanity safe. The SOLARA is the youngest ship. It has thus far had 25 years of service and had to be completely retrofitted in order to contain the alien tech integrated in the systems due to the upgrade.

Commander Jacob Diego used to serve on PHOENIX and now prefers working on a capital vessel due to personal reasons that aren’t immediately told to the reader. He is coming in as the XO Executive officer. Sort of like the second in command to the Captain. I would consider him to be the main character/protagonist of this multi-person story.

Captain Dewis is old school. He doesn’t want the new holographic technology recommended by the chief engineer Lieut. Jonas Walters. He is going into this knowing that he will never have command of another ship considering his age. And he wants to go out in a blaze of glory.

David Block, also from PHOENIX, works in the area of communications. He is estranged from his family due to the animosity toward the PHOENIX crew leading to his father being laid off. There are a lot of hard feelings there and David tries to cope by staying away from the other crew members. The only person he can tolerate is the lone alien on the ship named Fotell. She is a Senfo and not exactly the most popular member of the crew even though she appears sweet and full of light.

When the SOLARA is nearing completion of its retrofit, a Jumpgate is discovered. It’s like a stargate from the movie and tv show STARGATE and STARGATE SG-1. It has the odd symbols and everything scattered on the pieces of the metal-like structure. The SOLARA is given the order to investigate the jumpgate but not go through. Captain Dewis, looking for glory and not in the interest of his crew orders them through the jumpgate and into a situation which just might reveal a new enemy to the Milky Way galaxy.

There are a lot of people in this book and a heck of a lot going on. It would probably be best to start from the beginning at book one of the Exodus universe in order to keep it all straight. I am still a little iffy on a few terms like TERRA. I didn’t have a good grasp of backstory but the more you dive into the story the more it makes sense.

Even with all that is going on, I thought the resolution of the story wrapped up too quickly. Considering the Jakoby was this new big threat, they seemed to defeat them pretty easily.

I thought this book could have been added to and made into a another book with this same crew so we all could get used to who everyone was. But I figure that is not to be. I did enjoy this book and look forward to reading up on more of this universe’s backstory.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Whisper Park Lane by Darren Swart

Whisper Park Lane

Kindle Edition
Published June 26th 2019 by The Wild Rose Press, Inc

Goodreads synopsis:
Dr. Cheryl Blumenthal is hired as Hospital Director for a rural North Carolina hospital. As she transitions from her role as doctor to administrator, she is shocked to find the hospital is in financial ruin. The situation worsens when she discovers embezzlement that may lead to members of her own staff. 

She dives into uncovering who is behind the scheme. A death threat forces her to face the chilling prospect that the secret may be worth killing for. As she races to find answers she can't help but wonder if she will become a casualty before she discovers the truth. Can she save the hospital and herself?


4.5 Stars

When I picked this up, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I wasn’t sure if it was romance or thriller or what. What I uncovered was a sweet novel with lots of heart.

The beginning of this book was hard to get through. Not because it was hard to read but because this young boy who was a great piano player had injured his hand and the doctor immediately wanted to cut off his hand because of the injury. Once I forced myself past that part, the book was a breeze to read.

Cheryl Blumenthal tries to do the right thing and save this young piano player’s hand but is rewarded by being fired. A few days later a board member of the hospital recommends her to become the new hospital director. The hospital is losing money and Cheryl finds herself loaded down in egos and over spending. This book follows Cheryl as she rediscovers her own past and marries it with making the hospital bloom with a new energy and purpose.

There is a lot going on in this book besides uncovering the corruption in the hospital ranks that is bleeding the hospital dry.  Cheryl rediscovers love with an old boyfriend who comes in to replace a resigning doctor. I did feel this situation was a bit of insta-love since they both came to that conclusion so quickly after years apart. But who am I to argue when the rest of the book is so heart-warming.

Definitely check this one out.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell

State of Lies

Paperback, 368 pages
Expected publication: August 13th 2019 by Thomas Nelson (first published August 2019)

Goodreads synopsis:
One woman is forced to question everything she knows in this domestic suspense novel from award-winning author Siri Mitchell.

Georgie Brennan may be a world-class quantum physicist, but she grapples with life as a single mother after her husband is killed. When she receives a message from beyond the grave, it leads her to question the details of her husband’s death.

As she follows the clues he left behind, her discoveries increasingly implicate those closest to her. When her father is nominated as the new United States Secretary of Defense, she must uncover the truth before his confirmation hearing—even as the same people who killed her husband are now after her. Nothing is at is seems. Lies are truth; enemies are friends. Even her child is at risk. As every possibility but one disappears, Georgie may find herself to be the antithesis of everything she’s thought herself to be.


5 Stars

OMG! This was a great read! UNPUTDOWNABLE!

Siri Mitchell is known for her ChickLit/Contemporary Romance novels but has struck out in a new genre with this new release. And might I say… she is KILLING IT! I think she has found her writing niche for sure.  I am always happy when an author ventures out into a new writing area and then owns it like she has been doing it all her life. So exciting!

This book is centered around the political intrigue of Washington DC and feature a main character named Georgia Ann Brennan, quantum physicist. Georgia Ann thought life was great. She had everything she ever wanted. One gorgeous husband. Check. One extra cute kid. Check. One father who has been nominated to become the next Secretary of Defense. Check. When Georgia whispers this fact to her husband one night, her whole world began to change. Her husband was killed in a supposed car accident. And while she tried  to deal with the tragedy and not fall apart, Georgia began to realize there was something fishy going on. The more she investigated what her husband had been working on prior to his death the bigger the conspiracy became and the more danger she found herself and her son in.

This novel is thrilling, I feel like this could be any of us. All the lies and secrets are so overwhelming it could break a normal person. This has the perfect amount of build up and suspense. It goes from Georgia being an unaffected woman to one nearly drowning in lies. I think Sean’s time in the military and previous experience with protecting his sister really served him in dealing with the all the fallout and consequences. 

Another reviewer said this was Christian fiction. But I didn’t notice any overtly religious themes in this novel. It will stand up against any of the popular thrillers out there. I was glued to the page and marveled how anyone could come out of this situation unscathed. I am definitely adding Siri Mitchell to my must read list. I am a believer!

Highly recommended.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.