Thursday, December 31, 2015

Review: Splinter the Silence by Val McDermid

Splinter the Silence (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, Book #9)
by Val McDermid
Release Date: December 1st 2015
2015 Atlantic Monthly Press
Ebook Edition; 416 Pages
ISBN: 978-0802124081
Genre: Fiction / Murder / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

Is it violence if it’s virtual? The outspoken women targeted by the increasingly cruel internet trolls and bullies would probably say so. For some of them, the torrents of bile and vicious threats prove too much. They begin to silence themselves in a series of high-profile suicides.

Or do they? Tony Hill isn’t convinced. But he’s the only one. Former cop Carol Jordan is too busy messing up her life to care. Until she gets an unexpected second chance. Now it’s game on, and the stakes have never been higher.

My Thoughts
Splinter the Silence continues the story of Carol Jordan after her retirement from the police force, her continuing relationship with Tony Hill, how she coped with said retirement, the effects of her drinking, and the mystery came in as a belated last thought, but was still intriguing and definitely important considering some of the online things happening today.  But it all seems to work just fine together, and I was just happy to finally know how things were going to work out after the last novel. This one made me quite happy at the turn of events, loved how some of the other characters were finally given a chance to develop, and the mystery was just there to give everyone something to do.  

First of all, the big mystery.  As Carol Jordan and her team was being reassembled, they happened across a death that shouldn't have been suspicious, but raised concerns in Tony's eyes.  A victim on vicious online bullies and trolls, an outspoken woman against certain men's issues committed suicide for no apparent reason.  As the group begins to look into the death, several more cases are unearthed with very similar circumstances, raising the interest of both Tony and Carol, who are nonbelievers when it comes to coincidences.  What I really liked about the investigation is the author's way of looking into the misconception that people feel that because they are writing 'anonymously' they can abuse and bully online and it is not a crime.  The misuse of online technology is so pervasive, yet people continue to feel that abusive comments and hateful comments are okay as long as they are anonymously online and it just angers me to no end.  I'm glad this author chose to address the issue as a serious crime and treat it as such.  For me, it makes me sick to see some of the comments after a news article or a blog post and I have long ago stopped reading them.  Most people are basically decent, but it's the awful ones that make you wonder about humanity, and they can be written by anyone you know, which is the scary part.  The author showed some of the pain the women felt after having spoken their minds, most of which was highly researched by these women, and written with care and thought.  The idea by the trolls was to make other women scared to speak their own minds and to hide, giving the trolls the power.  

What I really enjoyed in this novel though, was the development of the characters, especially Stacey, and the relationship between Tony and Carol (Finally!!)  I wondered when the author would deal with Carol's drinking problem and I thought it was handled quite well.  For those of you familiar with this series, the problem hasn't yet been resolved and will probably continue with some repercussions for quite a while, something I'm actually glad to see.  I can't say too much more, spoiler, but when you read it, you will understand.   The drinking problem did open up a way to develop Tony and Carol's relationship (yeah) and the two of them were a bit different as they traveled different waters from what they were used to.  I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops, but I don't anticipate it will necessarily be all sugar and roses.  I was pleasantly surprised by Stacey as it was nice to see a softer side to her as she developed a new relationship.  She's usually so prickly and hard-core, but things weren't necessarily easy for her during this time either, and with someone who has such computer skills available to her, I would be afraid for my life if I didn't toe a line in a relationship with her.  Enough said, you must read the book to find out more.  Interesting storyline, but easy to pick out and figure out what would happen.  Didn't figure on the ending though.  Loved it!!

Splinter the Silence was one of those books where I wasn't overly interested in the mystery this time as I was more concerned about what was going to happen to those characters I have been following for quite a while, and the last book had a bit of a twist I wasn't necessarily expecting.  This one was more along the lines of what I hoped for, so I was quite happy about that, but as always, the author had a few twists and turns up her sleeve, some of which were easy to figure out, some I didn't.   I am really curious as to what kinds of cases Carol Jordan will receive in her new position, but the possibilities are endless.  Looking forward to a new team, news scenarios, new relationships!! Another great entry into the Carol Jordan & Tony Hill series.  
Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review: Thread and Gone by Lea Wait

Thread and Gone (Mainely Needlepoint, Book #3)
by Lea Wait
Release Date: December 29th 2015
2015 Kensington
Ebook Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-1617730092
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

When a priceless antique is stolen, murder unravels the peaceful seaside town of Haven Harbor, Maine. . .

Angie Curtis and her fellow Mainely Needlepointers know how to enjoy their holidays. But nothing grabs their attention like tying up loose threads. So when Mary Clough drops in on the group's Fourth of July supper with a question about an antique needlepoint she's discovered in her family attic, Angie and her ravelers are happy to look into the matter.

Angie's best guess is that the mystery piece may have been stitched by Mary, Queen of Scots, famous not just for losing her head, but also for her needlepointing. If Angie's right, the piece would be extremely valuable. For safekeeping, Angie turns the piece over to her family lawyer, who places it in a safe in her office. But when the lawyer is found dead with the safe open and ransacked, the real mystery begins. . .

My Thoughts
Thread and Gone is the third installment in the Mainely Needlepoint series and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The characters were quite interesting, and I definitely loved reading the history of Mary, Queen of Scots, most of which I already knew, but liked how the threads were woven into the story, no pun intended.  
As always, I love the setting of these books; I would be quite happy to visit this area and explore some of the actual places that are mentioned as they sound quite interesting.  I like how the cultural aspects of the town and the day-to-day matters are included as you really get an understanding of how much tradition matters to people and personally, I don't see anything wrong with that.  I would love to live in a house that my family has owned for several centuries, with papers holding many secrets within them, and I never could understand it when people just didn't show any interest in such things and are quite willing to thrown things like that into the dump; it makes me want to cringe.  I guess that's the historian side to me though.  

I found the history of Mary, Queen of Scots, to be quite neatly woven into the story, and for those who are not familiar with the story, it would be quite interesting.  I liked it, but am already familiar with her story and some of her needlepoint history having visited Holyrood Palace a number of years ago, so I paid more attention to the mystery rather than to the history, I am afraid.  I do have to admit however, that the story of the needlepoint and how it came to Maine was neat; I would have liked to have known more about the type of threads they used and other stitching patterns as I did find that interesting, having done some needlepoint myself.  That was one of the parts I did find a bit lacking in this story though, and really missed the whole group getting together to share their needlepoint ideas; I just like it when they all get together as it rounds out the story quite nicely.

One of the characters I was not crazy about was Rob and couldn't see the attraction to him by Mary, the girl who was searching for provenance for the needlepoint she found in her parents' house.  Being more interested in money and worth, he was ready to sell anything in Mary's house to finance his business and pay for their wedding.  I really thought Mary needed to grow a backbone and stand up to Rob; I am curious as to how long their marriage will last as the other young marriage in this book was already in trouble.  Perhaps the author is sending a message to her readers?  The other thing that really made me wonder about was the author's continuous commentary on Angie's drinking habits; it just made me wonder if this was a set-up for future novels, and perhaps the author was going to tackle problem drinking later on.  To be honest, I found this to be more interesting than the mystery, which just kind of ended, after being extremely disjointed.  I was a somewhat disappointed in the ending as it was rather abrupt and didn't seem to flow with the rest of the novel.  

Thread and Gone is one of those novels that I enjoyed for the historical aspect and for the character building rather than the mystery, which I found to be rather abrupt and disappointing.  The research was definitely interesting, and even history buffs with a good knowledge of Mary, Queen of Scots, would find it fascinating to trace the trail of the needlepoint.  I like how the author included more characters in this one, and I hope they will be included in future novels, as many stories were started here that do need to be completed, or continued.  Other than the research however, I didn't find the mystery to be intriguing and found the conclusion to be rather abrupt, which didn't flow with the other aspects of the novel.  Despite all this, I enjoyed the first two novels quite a bit, and look forward to the next novel in this series as I am curious as to what trouble Angie will discover next.   
Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Review: Medicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois by Sophie Perinot

Medicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois
by Sophie Perinot
Release Date: December 1st 2015
2015 Thomas Dunne Books
Ebook Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250072092
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from HFVBT

4 / 5 Stars

Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

My Thoughts
Medicis Daughter is quite an enjoyable novel as it features the daughter of Catherine de Medici, Marguerite de Valois, a historical figure who has not typically been in the limelight.  While I have read countless fiction novels and non-fiction novels about Catherine de Medici, her daughter has usually been just a secondary figure to the religious events of the time and to the life of the Queen and court.  It was quite refreshing to view court life from the perspective of Catherine's daughter and to see things as a daughter of France might have seen them, one whose worth to her mother and brothers may have been the political advantage she brought to the throne through marriage.

I really like how Marguerite was portrayed in this novel as historical references to her are not always king, often believing in the rhetoric of the political times, especially a time period that didn't really value strong, dominant women unless they were kings and queens, and sometimes not even then.  Like the author, I have often wondered what France would have been like if Marguerite had been able to inherit the throne instead of Henri de Navarre, but rules in France did not permit females to inherit. In the novel, Marguerite developed from a naive, carefree young girl to one that was twisted by her family's greed, ambition, and inter-fighting, often having to take sides or act as peacemaker.  Growing up with the belief that her mother didn't care for her like she did her sons, Marguerite turned to Henri, her brother, and developed a very close relationship with him, one that eventually became warped by his own ambition and jealousy.  Even an element of incest was indicated between the two, although I really liked how the author portrayed the relationship rather than the history books; it seems much more plausible, considering the strict Catholic rules under which they grew up.  Having spent so much time in the corrupt French court, there are certainly aspect to Marguerite's personality that are not likeable; she gave no thought to giving her friend to another man because she didn't want him herself, and the flirting and other goings-on definitely gave the court its licentious reputation around the world, of which she was a part.  I don't think you can survive a court such as this, being the political figure she was, without learning a thing or two, especially things that are not especially moralistic or nice.  This is what made her so interesting though.  At times you wanted to hug her because of her mother's rejection, and then you just want to smack her because she could be downright cruel.

The one person I did like, and have always liked, is Henri de Navarre.  He is quite refreshing in a novel full of people whose values and morals were quite unrestricted.  But then, life in a French court was definitely very different than anything we would be familiar with today.  Watching Henri de Navarre struggle with the consequences of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre was gut-wrenching and I have to credit the author with the way she handled this aspect of history; seen through Marguerite's eyes made it that much more horrible, and to be honest, I'm not sure if I'd ever seen it explained in such a personal way.  I couldn't flip through the pages fast enough and felt the horror of it all as well as Marguerite's pain when she realized who could have been behind it all.  Characters I had grown to like throughout the novel were seen in quite a different light after these events and this is definitely due to the author's skilled writing.  

Medicis Daughter was a rather gripping and emotional fictional story about the life of Marguerite de Valois and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Marguerite developed from a rather naive girl of twelve when she joined the French court to a woman who could manipulate and connive with the best of them, but is a worthy heroine in her own right.  Despite the fact she is one of the most exalted woman in the land, she was still subject to the whims of her royal family, and bound by the edicts of her birth; furthermore, she came into her own during a time of great religious disunity in her country, taking a stand against her family that would have long-standing consequences for her and make her one of the most disliked people in France in the coming years.  I was glad the author focused on her strengths and how she stood up to her family in the end rather than on her love-life.  I am really hoping the author continues Marguerite's story as there is so much more to tell about this remarkable woman.   

Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: Dark Turns by Cate Holahan

Dark Turns
by Cate Holahan
Release Date: November 15th 2015
2015 Crooked Lane Books
Hardcover Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1629531939
Genre: Fiction / Murder / Suspense
Source: Review copy from Meryl Moss Media

3.5 / 5 Stars

Nia Washington is an incredibly talented ballerina. She fought her way up from the streets and was nearing the pinnacle of her profession when an injury and a broken heart derailed her career. Taking a temporary job at an elite boarding school was supposed to give her time to nurse both body and soul. It was supposed to be a safe place to launch a triumphant comeback. It is anything but.

Shortly after she arrives at the beautiful lakeside campus, she discovers the body of a murdered student, and her life takes a truly dark turn. It’s not long before she is drawn into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless killer. And Nia isn't the only target. She must use all of her street smarts to protect her dancers, save a wrongfully accused student, and rescue the man she loves.

My Thoughts 
Dark Turns is one of those books over which I had mixed feelings; undecided as to whether this was a young adult thriller or whether I was reading a fiction novel, albeit with some suspenseful elements thrown in, about Nia's return to professional ballet.  What I did like about this novel in particular, was the character flaws of the characters as it added a depth to the novel which might have otherwise been lacking.  For some reason, I am particularly attracted to characters who are flawed, but who grow and learn from their mistakes and their actions.

What I really did enjoy in this novel was the dancing and the infighting amongst the students and even the staff members.  Being familiar with a competitive environment myself, I well understand the competitive nature these young ballerinas would have and the drive they would need to get to the top; many of them were in their audition year and everything counted, including the roles they won in their showcases.  That drive unfortunately, can also lend itself to mischief if one doesn't get what one wants, and this is clearly the case in this novel.  I found Aubrey's personality to be quite interesting in this novel, as she definitely had the drive and the ambition to make it to the top.  When her plans were slightly derailed by a fiercely competitive and talented newcomer, I couldn't wait to see what she would do.  To be honest, I was a bit disappointed as I think I expected, and wanted, her to be even worse throughout the novel than she was as it would have brought some much needed drama to the set, so to speak.  I was also disappointed in the author when it came to Aubrey as I don't think she really explained her history as well as she could have, which would have made the ending a bit more palatable.

I enjoyed some aspects of Nia's character, but I thought she was a bit shallow and selfish, constantly thinking about herself and her professional career.  I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing, to think about your future prospects as a ballerina, especially when you have trained for years to get what you want and become injured.  My problem with Nia is her shallowness and her disregard for others, at times.  Let me explain.  When a student comes to her with a problem, Nia betrays her confidence with no thought, leaving her to own devices and pretty much dealing with the situation herself.  Where are the therapists and nutritionists to help a student clearly dealing with an eating disorder?  Nia really gives no further thought to this student and some of the emotional things she is going through other than how it may affect her dancing and how she looks when dancing.  While I realize this may be a rather good technique employed by the author to show us some of the things that are wrong in the dance world, it certainly didn't endear me to Nia.  And when she begins a love affair with another RA, disregarding fraternization rules, it clearly shows lack of respect for school rules and a contract she has signed.  But Nia's needs are more important than the school's; this bothered me quite a bit.  I also didn't like her new fling as I thought he was a bit creepy.  

Dark Turns certainly had some interesting moments, and I definitely liked a lot of the ballet scenes, the competitive atmosphere, but I felt the suspense and mystery to the story were a bit lacking, and certainly predictable.  Nia was a bit naive and a bit self-centered, risking her relationship with others due to her own behaviour.  Let's get real here, she was an RA and an instructor at a prestigious dance school, and some of the ways she behaved would not really be tolerated.  To be honest, I wonder if I would have liked this book more if it had been more about the dance world, and the competitiveness, rather than being passed off as a thriller.  There were so many aspects in this book that were worthy of exploration and were glossed over, which is a shame, as I think it would have brought this book to a much higher level, and brought it's own form of suspense with it.  I really hope the author continues to write about this world as she is so very knowledgeable and there is so much to explore. 

Book Spotlight & Excerpt: Rath's Deception by Piers Platt

Title: Rath’s Deception
Author: Piers Platt
Publisher: Piers Platt
Pages: 350
Genre: Sci Fi/Thriller

On the cut-throat streets of Tarkis, orphaned teens like Rath end up jailed … or dead. So when the shadowy Janus Group offers Rath a chance to earn riches beyond his wildest dreams, he seizes it. But the Janus Group is as ruthless as the elite assassins it controls. Rath will have to survive their grueling, off-world training, and fulfill all fifty kills in his contract before a single cent comes his way. And ending so many lives comes with a price Rath can’t anticipate. It’ll certainly cost him what’s left of his innocence. It may well cost him his life.
  • Rath’s Deception is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About the Author

Piers Platt is the New York Times bestselling author of "Combat and Other Shenanigans," a memoir of his year-long deployment to Iraq as a tank and scout platoon leader. Piers grew up in Boston, but spent most of his childhood in various boarding schools, including getting trained as a classical singer at a choir school for boys. He joined the Army in 2002, and spent four years on active duty.

When he's not writing or spending time with his lovely wife and daughter, Piers works as a strategy consultant in New York city.

His latest book is the sci fi/thriller, Rath’s Deception.

For More Information

Book Excerpt:
A light flickered on the edge of Rath’s peripheral vision: his internal heads-up display had an incoming message.

Rath felt a bead of sweat form at his brow. He smiled at another group of guests and offered them his tray of canapés, simultaneously advancing through screens in his heads-up display to find a photo of Sorgens in order to identify him.
Okay, got it.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Review: Lone Star by Paullina Simons

Lone Star
by Paullina Simons
Release Date: November 24th 2015
2015 William Morrow Paperbacks
Softcover Edition; 576 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062098153
Genre: Fiction / Literary Fiction
Source: Review copy from TLC Book Tours

3.5 / 5 Stars

Chloe is just weeks away from heading off to college and starting a new life far from her home in Maine when she embarks on a great European adventure with her boyfriend and two best friends. Their destination is Barcelona, but first they must detour through the historic cities of Eastern Europe to keep an old family promise.

Here, in this fledgling post-Communist world, Chloe meets a charming American vagabond named Johnny, who carries a guitar, an easy smile—and a lifetime of secrets. From Treblinka to Trieste, from Karnikava to Krakow, from Vilnius to Venice, the unlikely band of friends and lovers traverse the old world on a train trip that becomes a treacherous journey into Europe’s and Johnny’s darkest past—a journey that jeopardizes Chloe’s plans for the future and all she ever thought she wanted.

But the lifelong bonds Chloe and her friends share are about to be put to the ultimate test—and whether or not they reach Barcelona, they can only be certain that their lives will never be the same again.

My Thoughts
Lone Star is one of those books that I think is packaged a bit erroneously.  While touted as a so-called "love story", I think it is more to do with Chloe's coming-of-age story and learning to be honest with herself as well as those around her; it is a story about a young woman coming to terms with some of her issues and realizing who she is as a woman and what she wants.

First of all, I didn't have a problem with the slow start to the story as I think it was necessary fodder to the rest of the plot; it was important to set up the relationships of the four young people before they headed to Europe in order to understand the slow break-up of said relationships over the course of two weeks.  And while I couldn't wait until the Europe part of the book, I figured there must be a reason for the beginning, and there was; the reader just had to be patient.  I wasn't overly crazy about any of the teenagers before they left for Europe as I found them to be somewhat immature and a bit spoiled, even Blake who I was fondest of right from the beginning.  No one had ever traveled anywhere outside of their area and here they were, embarking on a two-week trip to Europe by themselves.  And because none of them could afford it, Chloe's grandmother offered to pay for the trip, with some stipulations, some of them I found to be quite interesting, especially as it required them to visit some concentration camps and to visit family.  I remember thinking this could get quite interesting, as some of the areas would definitely not be what they were used to.

And while I enjoyed the author's descriptions of Eastern Europe, I definitely could have done without the whining over the food and the sleeping arrangements, and the trains, and the buses, and so on.  I have traveled quite extensively and one of my policies has always been to try local food and to explore the culture of wherever I am, and I have instilled this into my children.  As I don't eat McDonald's here in Canada, I would definitely not eat it in Poland.  So the whining by Mason and Hannah over the food drove my crazy and I was constantly thinking, just eat the stuff and quit complaining and acting so spoiled.  I get that many of the things were culture shock and lack of traveling experience, but it was annoying nevertheless.  I did love the fact however, that Blake took the time to read up on the places he was visiting and learned some historical and culture facts and was willing to share them with the others, who showed little interest, and knowledge.  Really?  You're visiting a foreign country, and don't know anything about it?  Because this is something I would have done (okay, I'm a history geek and I teach history), I took to Blake enormously.  And to be on Auschwitz's doorway, and have no interest in visiting?  That I don't relate to, at all.

When Chloe met Johnny Rainbow, I figured he would be the catalyst that helped with the disintegration of the relationships, but that was not how things were played out.  Personally, I didn't care for Johnny and couldn't see the attraction Chloe felt for him.  I actually thought he was the most annoying character in the book and I couldn't see why someone would fall for someone with obvious tracks in his arms and who had spent time in jail.  Chloe was incredibly naive and how she survived traveling by herself in Europe was a miracle.  While Johnny was a charmer, he was devious and a liar and a cheat and I didn't like him.  Only Blake could see right through him, and I was definitely on his side in this case.  However, Chloe falls for him, hook, line, sinker, and chose to ignore the obvious signs of a drug abuser and a criminal.  Her affair with him was actually my least favourite part of the book simply because I didn't like him; I also couldn't believe she would ditch her friends in Europe and chase after this guy by herself.  Who does that?  I especially liked the scene where the characters are honest with each other for the first time, and finally disclose their secrets to each other; I thought it was refreshing to hear their real thoughts and emotions for the first time.  It's too bad the author didn't explore this a bit more, rather than explore the affair with Johnny, as I would have enjoyed that more.  I was glad to find out what happened to them all after Europe though, as it was nice to have closure. 

Lone Star definitely had some interesting moments and Ms. Simons is a fantastic writer; I truly enjoyed the dialogues between the characters as they are full of emotion and feeling, and her descriptive language is truly unique and fascinating to read; it makes you feel like you were right there in the middle of the scene.  It did take me awhile to realize the connection between this book and her The Bronze Horseman Trilogy, although I'm not sure why as I have read the trilogy, but it was only the periphery of the story.  I wasn't overly crazy about many of the characters as I thought they were whiny and selfish, although it was nice to have a relatively happy ending to this story and to know the characters came out alright in the end.  I don't think Chloe deserved Blake as she didn't treat him very well, and I definitely didn't understand her pining away for a man she'd known for several days, especially one I didn't think was all that likable. I do wonder if I would have liked Johnny more if I had known a bit more about his story and why he took the path that he did; unfortunately, the only Johnny I really knew about was the criminal Johnny and I didn't find him particularly endearing.   The undercurrents to the story were very subtle and I think you would have had to read the trilogy I mentioned in order to catch them.  They didn't go into the detail needed that would have given a bit more depth to the story and made it clearer to those who haven't read the trilogy.  This was definitely not my favourite Paullina Simons book, but as always, I am looking forward to seeing what she does next. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Review: The Lost Codex by Alan Jacobson

The Lost Codex (OPSIG Team Black, Book #3)
by Alan Jacobson
Release Date: November 3rd 2015
2015 Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller
Ebook Edition; 428 Pages
ISBN: 978-1504003636
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

In 930 CE, a revered group of scholars pen the first sanctioned Bible, planting the seed from which other major religions will grow. But in 1953, half the manuscript goes missing while being transported from Syria. Around the same time, in the foothills of the Dead Sea, an ancient scroll is discovered—and promptly stolen. Six decades later, both parchments stand at the heart of a geopolitical battle between foreign governments and radical extremists, threatening the lives of millions. With the American homeland under siege, the president turns to a team of uniquely trained covert operatives including FBI profiler Karen Vail, Special Forces veteran Hector DeSantos, and FBI terrorism expert Aaron Uziel. Their mission: Find the stolen documents and capture—or kill—those responsible for unleashing a coordinated and unprecedented attack on US soil. 

My Thoughts
The Lost Codex is the third novel in the OPSIG series that features Special Forces veteran Hector DeSantos.  Many characters from other novels typically show up throughout the novels so it was a treat to have Karen Vail on board as a member of the team as I love the wit and sarcasm that she peppers throughout the situations that arise, both to herself and to others; it definitely helps relieve the overall tension, and she's a lot of fun, even when being bad-ass. I was also glad to see FBI Agent Aaron Uziel back for the ride as well.

First of all, the author's research abilities always astound me and I've always thought he must have experience in this field, either as an agent or something else in order to know so much.  Having done research with the FBI's Behavioural Analysis Unit as was as doing numerous seminars with the FBI, his knowledge is astounding, and this is one of the things I admire about these books, including this one.  And knowing that a lot of what I've read is factual, information from the Notes at the back of the book, makes me feel a lot better as it made the events that much more terrifying as you realize they could happen.  And unfortunately, so many situations in this book really hit home, especially with the situation in Paris and with ISIS and other terrorist organizations.  There were many times when I couldn't believe how the themes paralleled actual events making it a bit eerie.  

This novel definitely has all the makings of a great novel.  Although the novel was well-written and there were some great plot elements, I just found that when all of these elements were put together, they just did not live up to their promise.  There were times when the author did fall back on predictable patterns of behaviour rather than taking a risk and I was a bit disappointed by that.  For example, I thought the Codex would play a greater role than it did, given the title of the book, but except for a few minor points, it was relegated to background information only.  There just wasn't enough information about it to make it even remotely interesting, and unfortunately, the plot denigrated into good guys killing the bad guys using a variety of different weapons and techniques that got kind of boring and repetitive.  I also didn't feel like the author used any of the characters appropriately, kind of downgrading their importance to shoot-outs, often relegating them to background characters, Karen's being the worst, I think.  Her comments got to the point where they sounded churlish and unprofessional, almost like she was feeling what I was feeling.  That being said however, there were some great moments in this novel, ones that did keep me flipping through the pages, but there were also moments when I was looking forward to the end of the novel too.  

The Lost Codex is one of those books that had some great moments in it, had some great characters, but unfortunately, the whole didn't quite work that well when put together.  While I have some knowledge of the Israeli/Palestinian issue, it was interesting to learn a bit more in this novel and to delve into more sensitive issues, those issues really paralleling some of the ones happening in our world today which is kind of scary. The novel is definitely worth reading for the discussions on terrorism alone as they're quite interesting and they do make you think. The blend of fiction and technology was quite seamless as well, and I also enjoyed that aspect.  I was disappointed in the minor role the Lost Codex played in this novel as I enjoy historical mysteries and would have loved it to have been much bigger than it was.  Overall, I did enjoy many moments in this novel and will continue to read future novels by this author.
Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things by Martina McAtee

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (Dead Things, Book #1)
by Martina McAtee
Release Date: August 31st 2015
2015 Martina McAtee
Ebook Edition; 520 Pages
ISBN: 978-0692498729
ASIN: B012KW638S
Genre: Fiction / YA / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from Pump Up Your Book

4.5 / 5 Stars

17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.

They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.

As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.

My Thoughts
Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things was a pleasant surprise as the story line is definitely something I was not expecting; although I am a huge paranormal fan, some of the offerings lately have really turned me away from the genre, so it was great to read something that was fun and not quite so formulaic.  This one had quite a few paranormal elements in it, so it was interesting to see how the author blended everything together and created a pretty good story to go with all of the different elements.  

First of all, I liked the variety of characters that permeated this book, from the werewolves to the reapers to the zombies to the witches, never really knowing exactly which ones to trust.  Since the story was told through different POVs, you get a sense of how these characters are feeling about the  situation thrust upon them as well as how they feel about each other.  Switching back and forth between the various characters was quite seamless and several times I had to look at the title to know which character was describing the setting and the situation as I couldn't always tell.  I liked how the characters developed and you got to know them really well through the differing story lines; it was like watching a huge family with members constantly getting in each others' way and business, but it was also funny at times too.  I definitely liked the interactions between the various members, watching how their various paranormal abilities created complications and arguments and dilemmas amongst them as well.  Ember is one of those characters over whom I felt quite protective, right from the beginning, liking her strength and her rebelliousness as well as her vulnerability due to her miserable early years.  Perhaps the fact that she is drawn to cemeteries like I am also helped?  I think the only thing I didn't like about her was her relationship with Mace.  I'm just not sure why she would be attracted to someone who tells her he kills people for fun and wants to steal her soul.  Is she just attracted to the bad boys? There were times when I would have liked to take her aside and go, "Hello?" Tristin also got on my nerves at times, as she could be quite nasty to people, especially to Quinn. You reap what you sow. I can't believe I just wrote that.

The story itself flowed rather quickly and smoothly.  The chapters were short, switching POVs quite often, allowing the pace of the novel to move along and I never really got bored; there was really too much going on.  The story centered around the reapers, but I don't feel that Kai's abilities were explored to their fullest, which was a bit disappointing, but perhaps more will be forthcoming in future novels. I was a bit disappointed in Ember at times, being this supposedly really powerful supernatural, who just does what people tell her to do and doesn't really stand up for herself, but perhaps character development in the future will allow her to grow and be more willful as it can get a bit annoying after a while.  

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things was an enjoyable foray into a supernatural world filled with reapers, werewolves, witches, faeries, wizards, and so on.  I thought the book was more light-hearted than some I have read, but there were also some darker elements included.  The author was able to do this by keeping the interactions amongst the characters relatively friendly and family-oriented so they seemed like they were one big, crazy family.  That is not to say that darker elements were not prevalent in this book, as they definitely were, but the novel was kept from going too dark because of these lighter elements, and I rather liked that.  The themes of family, loyalty, betrayal, trust, and secrecy were prevalent however, if you delved deeply enough.  I liked the characters and thought the overall development was pretty good, although I would have liked a bit more depth and strength to Ember's character as she did come across as a bit irritatingly wimpy at times.  Overall, the world created in this novel was fun, and I am definitely looking forward to another novel in this series.  And by the way, I thought the cover to this one was amazing.
Friday, November 27, 2015

Giveaway & Excerpt: Dragon Storm by Katie MacAlister

Dragon Storm
by Katie MacAlister
Release Date: November 24th 2015
Paperback; 336 Pages
2015 Forever 
ISBN: 978-1455559237

According to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he's now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep-until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon's dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman . . .

Bee isn't sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he's grown to love with fierce intensity.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell

Depraved Heart (Kay Scarpetta, Book #23)
by Patricia Cornwell
Release Date: October 27th 2015
2015 William Morrow
Softcover (ARC) Edition; 480 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062325402
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Dr. Kay Scarpetta is working a suspicious death scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts when an emergency alert sounds on her phone. A video link lands in her text messages and seems to be from her computer genius niece Lucy. But how can it be? It’s clearly a surveillance film of Lucy taken almost twenty years ago.

As Scarpetta watches she begins to learn frightening secrets about her niece, whom she has loved and raised like a daughter. That film clip and then others sent soon after raise dangerous legal implications that increasingly isolate Scarpetta and leave her confused, worried, and not knowing where to turn. She doesn’t know whom she can tell – not her FBI husband Benton Wesley or her investigative partner Pete Marino. Not even Lucy.

My Thoughts
Depraved Heart is the latest novel in the long-running Scarpetta series and most of the action pretty much occurs in a one-day period.  And while I enjoyed quite a bit of this story, I really do feel that this story line has been going on for much too long and it is time to end it, and give readers a new mystery and a new entanglement to solve, one that hopefully doesn't go on for the next five books.  

One of the concepts which fascinated me in this novel was "data fiction"; the idea that we are so dependent on technology that we are no longer capable of judging for ourselves what's true, what's accurate and what isn't.  It's a scary concept and the more I thought about it, the more disturbed I was.  All you have to do is think about how videos are edited and changed in order to manipulate us into believing what others want us to believe, and when you see the actual footage of the incident, you're shocked at what truly happened. Now imagine that everything around us was like this and people were being manipulated into believing something was true, how do you know when the software was lying or was deliberately misleading you? Nothing would be admissible in court anymore.  

The book takes place in a very short amount of time, and most of it is Kay dealing with a suspicious death, a series of video links landing in her text messages seeming to be from her niece Lucy, flashbacks to her incident two months ago, and then a missing police officer.  While I found it interesting to see how everything finally linked up together, and I liked how Ms. Cornwell led Kay around by the nose, having her mistrust everyone around her, I still thought the plot was a bit cumbersome and Kay's reminiscences eventually got on my nerves.  I just wanted to get on with the story.  

While I usually tend to enjoy the characterization in these novels, the last few have left me feeling a bit disappointed and this one was really no different.  Unfortunately, there was little focus on the development on the characters, although it was different to see Kay being a bit nicer towards Marino, and frankly, Lucy was a bit annoying.  I do think the author missed a really great opportunity to devote some time to PTSD, and explore Kay's day-to-day challenges as she copes with the incident and strives forward in her life.  And I'm also getting tired of the dishonesty in Kay and Benton's relationship; the author mentions over and over again about legal ramifications of this and that, but in reality, these two people don't seem to have a really solid relationship amidst the lies and the secrecy. 

Depraved Heart is part of a series that I keep coming back to over and over again, and to be honest, I am not sure why.  At the beginning, the stories were interesting and well-developed, but now they seem to have meandered off track and seem to be focused on repetitive ideas and plots that are becoming less and less interesting.  I am not a big fan of the way the main characters relate to each other within their relationships although I can imagine the jobs they do are very difficult when so many secrets abound.  But lately, the relationships seem to be more destructive than communicative and I am leery about reading about mistrust, secrets, and lies, over and over again.  There was definitely a lot to like in this novel, and some of the ideas were quite interesting, including the way Kay discovers clues available in everything that exists around her (I definitely liked the forensics part of this novel), but I am tired of reading about the same thing over and over again.  And unfortunately, folks, the way the novel ended, we have not seen the last of Carrie yet.  I, for one, am ready to read about someone new, someone that doesn't involve Lucy, and move on. 
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Spotlight and Giveaway: They All Fall Down by A.K. Mason

02_They All Fall Down
Publication Date: September 12, 2015  
Paperback; 433 Pages
Genre: Contemporary/Women's Fiction

For her entire life, Alexandra Kramer has been checking a series of boxes. Trapped by the expectations of everyone else around her, she’s made good grades, married the right guy, and secured a place at the prestigious Harvard Business School. But in the chaos of the 2008 financial crisis, Alex suddenly finds herself running into the fire, instead of seeking a safe haven from the flames. Ditching her Ivy League plans, she becomes dedicated to showing she has what it takes in the high-stakes, fast-paced boys’ club of Wall Street trading, as she forges her own path for the first time in her life. As these volatile changes drive her husband Jamie into his own crisis, Alex is forced to examine the choices she’s made—as she’s torn between her traditional role as wife, and the exciting, Wild West appeal of the trading floor. When her two worlds suddenly collide, it becomes clear the institutions she once believed in so strongly are more flawed than she ever imagined—and when everything comes crumbling down, it’s up to Alex to decide for herself what’s worthy of putting back together.


*Kindle eBook on Sale for $.99, now through November 9th!

About the Author

03_A.K. Mason
A. K. Mason is a graduate of Harvard College, who deferred her acceptance to Harvard Business School on three different occasions in favor of working on Wall Street. As a bond trader from 2007 to 2013, she experienced the financial crisis first-hand, and was on the trading desk as Lehman Brothers underwent bankruptcy. In 2013, Mason earned her MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and left Wall Street to build a fitness technology and media business. She currently resides in Washington, DC, with her family.



To win a $50 Amazon Gift Card please enter using the GLEAM form below.

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open internationally. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


04_They All Fall Down_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL
Monday, November 9, 2015

Cowboys and Christmas Blog Tour: Shanna Hatfield


Welcome to the 2nd annual

Cowboys and Christmas

Blog Tour!

Raising funds and awareness for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

Ring in the Holidays with a Helping Hand

JCCF logoNovember 1 through Dec. 24, 10 percent of the net proceeds from all Shanna Hatfield book sales will be donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period. Every book purchased during this promotional period adds to the donation total. Don't forget to add books to your Christmas lists!

USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Animals as Characters

     Animals are so fun to incorporate into stories. They have such unique personalities, and they can get away with a lot of shenanigans.
     That’s why I get such a kick out of adding animals into my sweet romances.
     In my new release, The Christmas Vow (Hardman Holidays, Book 4), Adam Guthry returns home to bury his best friend and his past, never expecting to fall in love with Tia Devereux, the woman who destroyed his heart.
Tia and her four-year-old son Toby come to Hardman for her grandmother’s funeral and stay. She’s a widow trying to create a new life for her son, so she moves into her grandmother’s empty house.
A white cat named Crabby keeps watch over them. Although he likes children, he’s not fond of adults, until Adam comes along.
However, Crabby keeps Adam in line when it comes to Tia.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Review: 84 Ribbons by Paddy Eger

84 Ribbons (Ballet Trilogy #1)
by Paddy Eger
Release Date: March 15, 2014
2014 Tendril Press
Softcover Edition; 360 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9858933-2-3
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from author

3.5 / 5 Stars

Seventeen year old Marta Selbryth realizes her dream of becoming a professional dancer when the Intermountain Ballet Company in Billings, Montana invites her to join their 1957 season. As Marta's new life unfolds, she must learn to face not only the successes of dancing in the corps de ballet, but the challenges and setbacks that might crush the dream she's had for so long.

Marta spends her free time practicing when she's not spending time with her new friends Lynne and Bartley, her fellow corps dancers. Their time together becomes an important lifeline through their first year.

Shortly after Christmas, everything changes for Marta, Bartley and Steve. Significant events permanently influence their lives. Each must deal with exhilaration and heartbreak as well as frustration and changes that test their ability to cope.

My Thoughts
84 Ribbons is one of those books that had great and enjoyable moments in it, but it also had moments in it that I thought kind of plodded along and didn't necessarily endear me to the main character.

If you like dance, or anything to do with ballet, you will definitely enjoy the descriptions of Marta's dance classes and her performances.  Marta came to Intermountain Ballet Company with a huge goal: once she earned 84 ribbons, she would be ready to earn solos in the company.  Unfortunately for Marta, being inexperienced and somewhat immature, she got off on the wrong foot with Madame right from the beginning and had to work extremely hard to make up for her actions.  Personally, I thought she deserved what she got.  Despite her age, and she would have turned eighteen very soon, she should have known better than to do what she did; and whining about her treatment afterwards didn't really endear me to Marta as it just made her seem that much more immature, treating the incident as if it was Madame's fault.  Personally, it drives me crazy when people don't take ownership for their actions.  Yes, she eventually tried to fix the situation, but really, as a professional dancer, it shouldn't have happened in the first place - professionalism.

I liked how the author described the difficulty of the training, and how much responsibility was put on the dancers during this time period right down to purchasing their shoes and their stockings, all on a pittance of a salary.  It was definitely a difficult world if one wished to pursue this career and while I love going to the ballet, I don't envy the girls this life.  

Personally, I found Lynne to be the more interesting of the characters in this novel and wished the story had been about her as I found Marta to be a bit boring.  To be honest, she was kind of annoying and immature; throwing in all those issues about food certainly didn't help endear me to her, as all I wanted to do was shake her while with Bartley, I was much more sympathetic. I also found some of the dialogue to be a bit stilted, making me feel like I was at a scheduled practice than reading a novel.  It didn't happen all the time, but enough that it began to bother me a little bit.  I really have no explanation for this except for the way the characters were written and perceived.  

One of the things I had a problem with right from the beginning was the historical setting.  I knew that it was set in the 1950s, yet there was little in the book that really featured this decade and set it apart from today.  I really wished more time period information had been build into the story to make it seem more authentic as I was jolted time and again by little reminders that I was not in the 2000s.  This very rarely happens so I do attribute this to the writing and descriptive style used in this book. 

84 Ribbons had some great moments in it: the ballet descriptions, the practices, the performances, the ballet world itself and the author genuinely knew her way around this world.  I would have liked to have read more about the ballet world though, as halfway through the book, Marta breaks her foot and the rest of the story is about how Marta deals with the injury; and this is where I began to somewhat lose interest as it was more about her lack of eating, how many diet pills she she take today, and so on. And while I understand her conflicting feelings toward Steve, I am really confused as to why he hung around so long as she didn't really treat him all that well in the beginning.  Plucky guy, I guess.  I definitely enjoyed the ideas in this book, liked most of the characters, would have liked Marta a bit better if she was less whiny and more mature,  and thought the descriptions about the ballet world were fascinating.  I would recommend this to anyone who likes ballet, and perhaps you may have a different perspective that I did on the characterization and setting.   I am however, looking forward to Letters to Follow, Lynne's story when she travels to Paris on a dancer's exchange.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

The Lake House
by Kate Morton
Release Date: October 20, 2015
2015 Atria Books
Ebook Edition; 512 Pages
ISBN: 978-1451649321
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from HFVBT

4 / 5 Stars

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.

My Thoughts
The Lake House is one of those books that had almost everything in it that I enjoy in certain mystery novels: the abandoned house, the missing child, secrets, tragedy, guilt, mistakes, and of course, the big mystery that hadn't been solved for seventy years.   While I'm not sure if I enjoyed it as much as some of her other books, the story was still intriguing, if a bit too pat, and the twists and turns actually made me second-guess myself a couple of times as to what actually happened to Theo.

I didn't mind the alternating viewpoints, jumping back and forth between the 1930s and 2003.  While most of the chapters were written from Sadie and Alice's POV, it was nice once in a while to hear from Eleanor, Peter, and Anthony.  In fact, I would have liked a bit more information on Anthony as I teach history and am fascinated by the accounts of PTSD from WWI, although it was called Shell Shock during this time period, and would have liked to learn more about his thoughts and feelings.  I am also surprised that Eleanor was able to keep his medical condition a secret from his family as Alice was pretty sharp and seemed to know a lot about what was happening around her; it doesn't seem to fit her character that she wouldn't have known a bit about it, curious person that she was, and I didn't quite buy it.  Alice was one of my favourite characters in this novel; I just loved her sarcasm and her personality.  She grew up feeling quite guilty, thinking she knew what had happened to Theo and it's always hard when you discover you are wrong all along; having your illusions shattered is never an easy thing, for anyone.  

While the story is quite interesting, with quite a few twists and turns, it still has that familiar ring to it as if you had already read it before.  There was nothing really revelatory in this novel, and to be honest, most of it was quite easy to pick out what happened; there was only one event that I misread completely and I was completely happy to do so as I love being misdirected by an author.  Although the novel did have that comforting feel of having been done before, I still enjoyed it quite a bit and thought the characters were quite interesting.  Because the POVs do jump around quite a bit, you don't get a real sense of a character's development, but I liked how everything intertwined and connected.  That being said however, while I liked the ending, I did think it was a bit too easily concluded and too pat.  I think I would have liked something a bit more dramatic, not necessarily tragic, but something a bit less coincidental?  

The Lake House is an enjoyable mystery with characters I really liked.  The psychological aspect to the story surprised me a bit and I wish a bit more time had been spent on those issues in here as they were quite interesting; the guilt, the remorse, the feelings of being trapped in something by yourself and by others, the impact of secrets on people's psyches, the strength of family bonds, the role of sight and memory, and the trauma (PTSD). As always, I loved the setting of the old house and the secrets that it held; it's always a good way to get my attention.  Even though I felt the ending was too coincidental and rushed, and Sadie's own investigation was too easily solved, I do feel like this is the beginning of a new series, something to do with Sadie and private investigations?  If so, I'm totally on board with that and can't wait to see what comes next.
Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Devious Dr. Jekyll by Viola Carr

Title: The Devious Dr. Jekyll
Author: Viola Carr
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy/Steampunk
Format: Ebook/Paperback/Audible

Dr. Eliza Jekyll, heroine of the electrifying The Diabolical Miss Hyde—an edgy steampunk retelling of the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—investigates a bizarre murder case in an alternate Victorian London while battling her treacherous secret half: Lizzie Hyde.

Solving the infamous Chopper case has helped crime scene physician Dr. Eliza Jekyll establish her fledgling career in the chauvinistic world of Victorian law enforcement. But the scrutiny that comes with her newfound fame is unwelcome for a woman with a diabolical secret. And there is the mercurial Royal Society agent and wolf man Remy Lafayette. Does he want to marry her, eat her, or burn her at the stake? Though Eliza is uncertain about Remy, her dark and jealous shadow self, Lizzie, wants to steal the magnetic and persistent agent, and usurp Eliza’s life.

It’s impossible to push Remy away when he tempts her with the one thing she can’t resist: a bizarre crime. The search for a bloodthirsty ritual torturer dubbed the Pentacle Killer draws them into a terrifying world of spies, art thieves, and evil alchemy, where the price of immortality is madness—or damnation—and only Lizzie’s dark ingenuity can help Eliza survive.

As Eliza and Remy race to thwart a foul conspiracy involving the sorcerous French, they must also overcome a sinister enemy who is all too close: the vengeful Lizzie, determined to dispose of Eliza for good.

Author Information

Viola Carr was born in Australia, but wandered into darkest London one foggy October evening and never found her way out. She now devours countless history books and dictates fantastical novels by gaslight, accompanied by classical music and the snoring of her slumbering cat. She loves history, and pops down to London’s many historical sites whenever she gets the chance.  She likes steampunk, and thought it would be cool to investigate wacky crimes with crazy gadgets…just so long as her heroine was the creator of said wacky gadgets: a tinkerer, edgy, with a dash of mad scientist. Readers can follow her on twitter at @viola_carr  and online at

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Falling into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath

In the first in a dazzling new series, New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath introduces the Hellions of Havisham-three charismatic rogues destined to lose their hearts…

After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady’s desires-and draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair.

A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime’s pleasure…?

LORRAINE HEATH always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals and computer code, but something was always missing. After reading a romance novel, she not only became hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA’s RITA® and a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Her novels have appeared on the USA Today and New York Times best-seller lists.

“Heath’s first Hellions of Havisham Victorian romance is wonderfully entertaining….Heath adeptly juggles numerous new and familiar characters as she sweeps fans of her Regency novels into the Victorian era.”—Publishers Weekly

“With her usual flair for richly nuanced characters and elegant writing, RITA® Award-winning Heath launches her new Hellions of Havisham historical series with a tale that simply sizzles with sensuality.”—Booklist

“She dazzles with fascinating characters and a naughty plotline, but most of all she mesmerizes with the depth of emotion in this highly sensual story.”—RT Book Reviews, **4.5 Stars, Top Pick!**

“Falling into Bed with a Duke is a great start to Lorraine Heath’s new series, and book two can’t appear fast enough.” –All About Romance, Desert Island Keeper Review

“FALLING INTO BED WITH A DUKE is a passionate Victorian romance that leaves the reader sighing in happiness…” –Fresh Fiction


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