Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: Shadows on Snow

Shadows on Snow Shadows on Snow by Starla Huchton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I was a child, my godmother told me stories before I fell asleep every night. She once said stories are more than the sum of their parts - they are whispers from ancient powers that dwell within the earth, travelling from ear to ear until they reach their intended destination. They are calls to action, meant to send the chosen on journeys of great importance. Truth may be lost through retellings, but when the person they are meant for hears the story, no matter how diluted, they will know this truth as certain as they know the air they breathe.

I found this book quite by accident, and I have to tell you that I am ABSOLUTELY overjoyed that I did!

I love fairy tales. I grew up on them, they fed my little creative soul and (probably to the detriment of them and several British television programs *I'm looking at YOU BBC*) have spoiled me for every potentially regular love affair. I think I will forever be looking for my Prince Charming, ever since first hearing Snow White and Cinderella, or maybe it would be better understood by any Doctor Who fans as I'm looking for my Rory Williams. This is a story WORTHY of the Ponds!

Have you ever seen a gender bent fairy tale that meets every criteria of a KICK ASS heroine and a kind, gentle, and genuinely good person for the hero? No, me neither, at least not until I found Shadows on Snow! The seven Princesses of Bern (I see what you did there Starla Huchton!) decided to be kick ass protectors and do something, ANYTHING, when they learned that the dastardly King Alder had wed Prince Leopold's mother and was trying to take over yet ANOTHER kingdom through the vile act of murder. Raelynn and her sisters decide that this is the time, they will fight back and not let another Queen fall victim to his treachery. Rae is an absolutely amazing Princess Charming. She is a kick ass female worthy of being in leagues with Amy Pond herself!!!!

"Know this. I killed two before putting arrows into a third that day. If you so much as speak ill of Prince Leopold, I'll have your tongues as trophies."

You bet sister, you are fucking AWESOME! In fact, every last one of the Princesses of Bern meet the fucking AWESOME criteria for me. I want to know if they turn up anywhere else in their own tales... Maybe they could have love after all too? Just a thought... I'd love to hear about when the girls were younger and what their lives were like in Bern before King Alder was around to torment them.

If you remember Snow White at all, *SPOILER ALERT*, you know that the Prince wakes Snow from the sleeping curse with True Love's kiss. I don't think any true love's kiss could be quite so dramatic as this one:

"Whatever power I have, let me give it that he might live."

My words drifted in the silence of the throne room. Slowly, I lowered my lips to his, pouring every hope, every desire, every plea within my heart into a single kiss. I would give it all - body, breath and soul - to see his smile one last time.

A gasp. An explosion of color. A vortex of power so strong that I clung to him for fear I might be ripped away from the one I'd sworn to protect. I refused to relinquish my hold. Nothing would take him from me. Nothing.

If you love fairy tales, if you love Snow White and you love KICK ASS women characters... Read this book. Read this book and then pick up the next volume in the Flipped Fairytales Series. You will not be disappointed if you do. Best money you will spend - by far. / - Just to make it easier for you to get!!!!

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Review: My Love Is Blue

My Love Is Blue My Love Is Blue by Rosemary Danielis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the darkness his hand finds mine. A sense of calm chases away my panic. "We're together, that's all that matters," it whispers. I stop my struggle, feeling the last bits of air leave my lungs. My legs lose all strength to keep me upright. I let myself fall.

It feels so good to give up.

I received my copy of this eBook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sweet mother of all that's holy!!!! This book, this book pulls and pulls on feelings. One moment you are squashed under the despair and the next you are screaming wanting Emma to realize that she is loved, that she will always be loved, and that she will be loved again all she has to do is climb out of the drugged fog that Ophelia has kept her under.

What happens between Grayson and Emma is beautiful. The language is that of someone who understands art, colour, creativity and someone who also understands depression. This story resonated with me, I've had my own struggles with anxiety and depression and I could feel where Emma was coming from throughout this book. I knew what it was like to lose track of time, to be in that haze that days pass and your brain is so fogged with loss and unable to let go that you don't realize that months have passed. To see the end of this story, to see Grayson and Emma be able to come together... That was truly beautiful!

Holy descriptive, Batman! I don't think, if you don't have some kind of appreciation of colour, that you will be as easy to lose yourself in Emma's speech. She's an artist, a painter, and every shade has it's proper name. If I hadn't spent so many years in a creative arts program, I would probably have been looking up every other colour because I would want to know just what colour red she was talking about. I recommend a good colour dictionary or a website where you can search them out by name as reference if you are as visual as I am, wanting to be able to picture everything in your minds eye. If you aren't all that concerned, then have at it!

This story was not only about finding yourself after the death of your significant other by suicide, but about finding new love and coming back to the land of the living after being struck with your own grief and depression. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who has had some experience with depression, it does make it easier to relate to the character. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review: Between Heaven and Earth

Between Heaven and Earth Between Heaven and Earth by Michele Paige Holmes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Could you imagine holding on so tight the one you love lives their life trapped in some kind of hell between Heaven and Earth when all their soul longs to do is move on?

I received my copy of this eBook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Pearl hesitated a moment before responding. "I can help him, though not in the way that you desire me to."

"What do you mean?" Cassie asked, not at all liking the sound of that. She wanted Devon to wake up and begin to be himself again. What other way was there to help him?

"He is trapped," Pearl swept her arm gently over the bed. "Your husband is not dead, yet he is not among the living either."

Cassie felt her throat thicken as she nodded. "I know. He needs to wake up. Can you help him?" Her hope of a moment ago was fading fast, and in its place a new trepidation moved in. Something about this doctor, or nurse or whatever she was, seemed off.

"I am only a human being," Pearl said, "and a healer of hearts, not minds. Devon wants to be released from the prison his body has become. He wishes to be free."

It's a lot to handle when faced with the vibrant man who was overjoyed on his honeymoon with Cassie in the first chapter to see that this is what waited for him so many years down the road.

Cassie's life, since the moment Devon was shot has changed dramatically but it also hasn't really changed at all. Devon was shot and she found out that she was pregnant, within close succession. While he spent a while in a coma, when he woke it wasn't really waking; Devon remained in a persistent vegetative state. Cassie has been forced to go on, not wanting to change too much in her life because she wanted Devon to recognize what he was coming back to when he woke up. This meant living in an apartment that was way too small for herself and six year old Noah, justifying this to most because the rent was cheap and she was a single mother (by appearances) to others. She tries to fill all these roles, that she can't possibly despite her lack of trying. She's come to the point in her life where she needs more, she's lived as no one could dream for six years and now she needs more. It comes to her in a shove of a boy on the opposing team at a soccer match to young Noah causing him to lose his two front teeth and his nerve at going back out on the field.

Austin came with a younger brother and a father, all needing the influence of a woman in their life since the death of their matriarch Jenna. What originally began as a mission to make amends for his son's rash behaviour quickly changes to a friendship, and then an attraction between Matt and Cassie. They watch each other's children. Noah gets the role of "father" that he needs from Matt, while Austin and Asher get the role of mother that were lacking from Cassie. The two feel an undeniable attraction to each other that just continues to grow. Matt notices it first, but Cassie is aware of it. Hell, her mother is aware of it too!

They've been playing soccer, rather like a family, for quite a while. The boys being the best of friends. For Halloween they even all went trick or treating together at the Care Centre where Devon lives. I thought my heart was going to rip in two when Matt talked about Cassie to Devon, talked about how great a woman she is. He clearly loves her so very much, he was like a one man cheerleading squad, but he still managed to say that Devon should wake and start taking part in life for Cassie and Noah, because he knew that was what she wanted. He wanted to see her happy, even if it wasn't with him.

Things continue along, and when Cassie's mother decides to take a cruise over Thanksgiving, leaving Cassie and Noah alone for the holidays Matt makes a rash decision - one that throws everything into a tail spin in the end.

"Cassie, I know you're in there." Matt's voice.

She placed a hand on the arm of the loveseat and leaned on it a second while her pounding heart slowed. What did Matt think he was doing, scaring her half to death, coming over at - she glanced at the clock on the stove - six a.m. Cassie slid the chain lock and flung open the door.

"What are you doing here?" she demanded in a voice snarly enough to match the morning tangles in her hair.

A lazy smile spread across Matt's face as he took in her dishevelled appearance. "Kidnapping you." He held up a pair of kids' plastic handcuffs and a bandana. "Though with that hair, you're the scary one." He pushed past her into the apartment. "Come on, boys. You know what to do."

Thinking he was offering them a great respite over their three day holiday, Matt kidnaps Noah and Cassie and takes them with him to his parents house. Oh, I know, I know. Cassie went through the same tumult of emotions I did! This mini vacation... it's what brings everything to a head.

By the midst of the weekend, Cassie has overheard a conversation between Matt and his parents where they discuss the relationship that he and Cassie have forged and that in the end, when her husband wakes up, the only one that will be hurt is him. They'd grown even closer over the weekend, they'd been that close to sharing a kiss. Their teasing in front of his family was that of a couple, not that of two friends, and after some soul searching on the beach, Cassie makes the heartbreaking decision to go back home to Auburn and to be more focused than ever on Devon and his recovery. It would be an end to a relationship with Matt because they couldn't trust themselves. Full stop.

The one that made it the worst was a phone call on Christmas Eve, where she thought she'd hung up the phone and the words had just slipped out in a sigh.

"I love you, Matt. I shouldn't, but I do."

Matt tortured himself with it, listening to the message over and over again. I think I would have done the same...

To see the two of them finally come together in the end was beautiful. The sadness of Devon wasn't really as sad as most would think. She'd truly been expecting that moment for so many years that in all honesty it was really a relief. She set him free, and then in turn was able to move on with her life herself while there was still time to be with Matt and his children.

Five stars and two enthusiastic thumbs up for this next instalment in the Power of the Matchmaker series. Read it and love it! I know you will!

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Review: Always You

Always You Always You by Ruth Roberts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was so hopeful at the sounds and start of this one...

I received my copy of this eBook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Zack had gone to get some punch and was taking longer than she expected. She decided to go looking for him. She quickly found him, kissing her stepsister. She must have made a startled sound because Zack turned to look at her, and the color drained from his face. "It's not what you think, Diana," he said.

She didn't want to hear anymore. She lifted her dress and ran away from him as fast as she could. The last thing she saw was the satisfied grin on Liz's face. Her perfect night had ended in heartache.

The things that happen to us as teens seem to colour and stick with us throughout our lives. Diana had a mother than abandoned her, a father that worked too much and then fell hard for a woman with a daughter that was the same age. When Liz and her mother came to live with them, Diana had these beautiful dreams of a sister - someone that could be her confidante and friend, someone to share the world with and her home with so that she would never be alone. She'd gone out of her way to make this new stepsister welcome, but in the end she got the wicked stepsister from fairy stories. Liz had wanted nothing to do with her, in fact she only wanted to make Diana suffer.

By the time the girls had grown, the rift was so large that they only saw each other on random family gatherings despite living in the same city. That they shared a younger sister and each a father and mother was beyond the point. Diana wanted nothing to do with Liz, but Liz was beginning to see the error of her selfish ways. When the death of their parents brings these young women back to Magnolia Falls to raise their half sibling in their family home together, I was completely unprepared for what happened!

I've ranked this as 3 stars, it's somewhere between 3 and 4, though, but it falls closer to the "round down" option to me than the "round up." The rating is based on the ending, because the pacing didn't seem at all right to me. I found the ending, where Diana went to get Zack back too abrupt - and there wasn't anything to hold up as an epilogue of sorts to show how she held up. As Liz and Diana's love stories were happening concurrently, I can sort of understand how that would happen, but I think it didn't do them justice.

I enjoyed all of this story - I really did - but I found the rush at the end to solve the heart ache of the women just too fast to be believed. I also kind of felt that there was a little too much going on - I was more interested in Logan and Liz many times than I was in the goings on of Diana and Zack. Poor little Jessica seemed like an afterthought, and she also seemed like being five or six was too young to have a lawyer for a sister and a supermodel.

I may give the next a shot, only just to see if there is something to show what happens to Zack and Diana as well as how Liz wins back Logan.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Review: Convergence

Convergence Convergence by Michelle Grey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received my copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review.

He walked in ahead of Tori to check the house and as he went from room to room, he battled the insane urge to pull her into his arms and forget everything behind them and everything between them until there was nothing but her.

Ok, so the ENTIRE book is not walking sex, but there is TONS of UST and when they do finally come together, this is exactly how I felt... DEAR HEAVENS THAT WAS HOT!

Convergence delivered in so many ways that thriller romances tend to fail. Tori Whitlock was a well rounded, wounded heroine drinking her way through life and chasing tornadoes with abandon when a serial killer targeting OU graduates of the meteorology program decides that she should be his next victim of choice. Jack Mathis is the FBI agent assigned to protect her and take down the killer, if he can keep his hands off her and stand by protocol during his stay. This is the third book in a series, though I believe it reads well as a standalone as I haven't read any of the other's in the series. I want to read the first two now though, if they provide even half the heart and heat of this book!

Both Tori and Jack are broken in some way, shape, or form. Both have battled alcoholism (though Tori's is much more present day than Jack's battle, and much more serious). Both have lost people they loved dearly. Both broke me and I was overjoyed to see them become something more than just the UST and a the one nighters of Tori's old habits.

Jack is what I think of when I think of the macho FBI/CIA/Cop/Secret Agent type - rugged and strong, selfless to the point of recklessness where he must to anything to safeguard a damsel in distress - even if that damsel is tough as nails in her own right! He's tough, but he's righteous and good with a strong heart and sense of self.

"Yes, it is. And you need to learn how to hold a grudge."

He raised an eyebrow. "Is that so?"

"Absolutely. You're too nice for your own good."

"And you're the most perplexing woman I've ever met."

"But never boring, right?"

Tori is sassy, headstrong and independent though almost to a fault. She's got those deep seated childhood issues where she feels like she was the imperfect child, her parents should have "stopped at one" because she couldn't compete with her sister Vanessa. As she lost them during a tornado (a little a la Twister but I love that movie so we'll go with it), she feels like she should have died too, instead of her sister Vanessa. Losing that rock that loved her so well when her whole turns to shit, Tori turns to the bottle. It isn't until the end that you learn when (and how) she learned that alcohol should drown her sorrows or why she chases the storms. I loved seeing the complexity of her character and the growth that she went through in the story.

Finding a romance that fits this bill, that's hard to find but when you do, stick with it!

FIVE STARS and two hearty thumbs up from me - you should check this one out and let me know if you like it!

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