Friday, July 13, 2018

Review: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

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Series: Veronica Speedwell Book #1
Format: ebook
Rating: 4.5 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Penguin/NAL

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

London, 1887. After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Review

I got this from the library after hearing an interview with Deanna Raybourn on the Smart Bitches podcast. Mystery isn't a typical genre for me, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. I really enjoyed it, but can't quite give it 5 stars for some reason.

My favorite thing is the writing style. Veronica reminds me of Alexia Taribotti from the Parasol Protectorate series. She's kind of a snob, but still likable. Snob may be a little harsh. Veronica is very intelligent and independent and thinks she knows what is best in every situation. She has a pretty subtle wit that often made me smile.

The mystery was interesting and kept me guessing. I'm curious to see what mysteries and stories happen in the next books.

There is a budding romance-at least I think and hope. It'll probably be very drawn out, but I'm along for the ride. 

I really enjoy the dynamic between Stoker and Veronica. Stoker is an interesting character who I want to know more about. I think I see things about him Veronica doesn't but who knows. I guess I'll find out as I keep reading the series.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: Tight Quarters by Annabeth Albert

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Series: Out of Uniform Book #6
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 Stars
How I Got It: NetGalley
Genre: Romance, M/M
Publisher: Carina Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Petty Officer Bacon, a navy SEAL and ace sharpshooter, has been on the front lines of more than his fair share of dangerous ops. Yet when a minor injury relegates him to the beta team, he’s tasked with what may be his riskiest assignment yet: the silver fox journalist he’s babysitting is the hottest, most charismatic man he’s ever encountered.

Award-winning journalist Spencer Bryant may have been named one of Pride magazine’s most eligible bachelors of the year, but he’s not looking to change his relationship status. He’s a consummate professional who won’t risk his ethics or impeccable reputation by getting involved with a source. Even a sexy-as-hell military man. But while Spencer can resist his physical attraction to Bacon, he has less control over his emotions—especially when the mission goes sideways and the two men are trapped alone.

Getting out of the jungle alive turns out to be easy compared to facing the truth about their feelings for one another back in the real world. And whether or not they can build a future is a different story altogether. 

Review

***I received this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review***

This is my third Annabeth Albert book. I do enjoy her stories and do casually like military romances. But they do feel a little redundant. All of the ones I've read had 1 character that was in some kind of denial and there is a good amount of angst surrounding that.

In addition to being a M/M military romance, there's a fairly substantial age difference between Spencer and Bacon. And it was almost a non-issue which I liked. Both of their families and friends were supportive. There was more tension from Spencer's job as a reporter. This was realistic considering the importance of secrecy in the military, but sometimes the drama felt a little overwrought.

Bacon's passion for the military is probably one of my favorite things. When writing a LGBTQ+ story it would be easy to trash the military and service(wo)men. Ms. Albert shows some intolerance but also explores the complexity of a changing world. Bacon's desire to be a lifer and love for his team was very beautiful and jumped off the page.

I will read more Annabeth Albert books because I trust her as an author. However, I may try a different series to hopefully avoid some of these redundant storylines/romances.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, July 9, 2018

Review: And the Good News Is by Dana Perino

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Stand Alone
Format: Audio Book/Hardcover
Rating: 5 Stars
How I Got It: Library/Own
Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir
Publisher: Hachette/Tweleve

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Thoughtful, inspiring and often surprising, AND THE GOOD NEWS IS... traces Dana's unlikely journey through politics, the White House, and television. She has an uncanny ability for knowing what to say and how best to say it. AND THE GOOD NEWS IS... blends a candid self-portrait with advice for allowing your own grace, optimism, smarts and personality to shine through, emphasizing that dignity and civility are choices that only we can make for ourselves. A recurring theme in AND THE GOOD NEWS IS...is that planning has never worked for Dana; every time she has made a plan, something unexpected-and often better-has happened.

Review

I own the physical copy of this, but listened to the audio book. I just prefer to listen to my non-fiction. I would've prefered Dana Perino actually read it, but the narrator.

This book does address politics, but it is more than that. I believe Dana's story and outlook on life transcend politics. She has a strong work ethic and a positive outlook on life. You can tell how much she cares about people when reading through her stories.

I almost cried hearing about the lose of her dog, Henry. I was shopping in Michael's and barely kept it together. And I couldn't stop smiling when she was telling the story of how she met and fell in love with her husband, Peter. Their story is cute and like a freaking romance novel.

Anyone could take something of value from this book, but I would particularly recommend it to young women. She addresses the struggles of being a professional woman, being happy, and maintaining healthy and happy relationships. Now, I have to read/listen to her other book.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, July 6, 2018

June Wrap-Up (2018)

June was another slower month (for reading) which I expected. I ended up finishing 8 books. I also started 2 but didn't get far enough to even consider them DNFs.

My month was very busy between work and personal/family things. I was out of town for a week for a work seminar. The seminar was very productive, but also exhausting. I had my dance recital which was so much fun. In less fun news, I had to take my mom to several doctors' appointments. She starts chemo in July. I have to take her to her first session, but then she should be strong enough to drive herself. She is doing well, but is fed up being poked and prodded.

Life may be crazy, but I think I'm starting to figure out a workable schedule/routine. This will hopefully free up some more reading time, too. I have a ton of NetGalley books to get reviewed so I'm going to have to get to reading.

Here are the books I read in June and their ratings:

As Long as You Love Me-4 Stars
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Infini-5 Stars
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Risk of Rogues-3 Stars
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When He was Wicked-4 Stars
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Lone Star Princess-2 Stars
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And the Good News Is-5 Stars
26453658

It's in His Kiss-3.5 Stars
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Tight Quarters-3 Stars
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Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Review: It's in His Kiss by Julia Quinn

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Series: The Bridgertons Book #7
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 384
Rating: 3.5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

MEET OUR HERO...

Gareth St. Clair is in a bind. His father, who detests him, is determined to beggar the St. Clair estates and ruin his inheritance. Gareth's sole bequest is an old family diary, which may or may not contain the secrets of his past... and the key to his future. The problem is—it's written in Italian, of which Gareth speaks not a word.

MEET OUR HEROINE...

All the ton agreed: there was no one quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton. She's fiendishly smart, devilishly outspoken, and according to Gareth, probably best in small doses. But there's something about her—something charming and vexing—that grabs him and won't quite let go...

MEET POOR MR. MOZART...

Or don't. But rest assured, he's spinning in his grave when Gareth and Hyacinth cross paths at the annual—and annually discordant—Smythe-Smith musicale. To Hyacinth, Gareth's every word seems a dare, and she offers to translate his diary, even though her Italian is slightly less than perfect. But as they delve into the mysterious text, they discover that the answers they seek lie not in the diary, but in each other... and that there is nothing as simple—or as complicated—as a single, perfect kiss.

Review

This is a solid, interesting story but it didn't particularly capture me. Part of that is probably because of Hyacinth. She is a lot to take in so sometimes it can be a little too much.

Gareth is a solid hero. He has some brooding angst that stems from his childhood and relationship with his dad. But he is funny and very sweet to people like his grandmother. Like I said, Hyacinth is a big personality even by Bridgerton standards. She knows who she is and won't censor herself for "society" or anyone.

These two have fast chemistry, but it isn't explored too quickly. Ms. Quinn gives you that build up of sexual tension that helps make a good romance. I liked the banter between Hyacinth and Gareth. It is smart without being biting or cruel.

There is a mystery (no death or murder) element to the story. It's a big driving force for bringing the couple together. It's an interesting mystery and I like that it isn't connected to something gruesome.

I think I've said this before, but I am liking this reread of the Bridgertons series. It's especially been nice for the later books like this one which I had only read once before.

Thanks for reading! 
Holly

Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: Lone Star Princess by Lenora Worth

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Series: Castles of Dallas Book #2
Format: Ebook
Rating: 2 Stars
How I Got It: NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Tule Publishing

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Annabelle Castle is a rebel without a cause…until her stepsister, the head of the glamorous Castle Department store, offers her the chance of a lifetime. Too bad the opportunity to finally play a role in the Castle’s future comes with strings attached—the man who gets under her skin.

Former cop Johnny Darrow is head of security for the Texas-based Castles. He excels at his job and nothing gets to him…except Annabelle. Even as he dragged Annabelle out of many public relations disasters with the paparazzi, he knew there was so much more to her than the headline-grabbing, rich girl. Now that she’s matured and determined to turn over a new leaf, he finds her irresistible. She’s smart, creative, and makes him feel things he hasn’t after a personal tragedy.

When Johnny’s assigned a job as Annabelle’s bodyguard, he must push his feelings aside. Can Johnny keep his focus to protect Annabelle or will his feelings for her put everything at risk?

Review

***I received this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review***

I had such high hopes for this book. I have a soft spot for books set in Texas (no idea why) and the cover is super cute. Throughout the whole story I felt like I was missing something. Maybe if I read the first book I would be less confused.

Annabelle and Johnny are likable enough, but a little flat. Johnny especially felt a little difficult to understand. I knew I was supposed to think he had romantic feelings for Annabelle, but I struggled to see it. And his constant pushing her away never really made sense. There is a referenced backstory between them, but it wasn't explained/explored enough.

The world of visual merchandising was interesting. And you can see Annabelle's passion for it. I also liked how Ms. Worth used fashion to show of Annabelle's personality. It felt weird when Johnny would talk about her clothes, but it mostly worked.

In the end, I think this book could use 10-15K more words to flush out the characters and romance. It has a lot of potential and I would consider reading another Lenora Worth book in the future.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, June 29, 2018

Review: When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn

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Series: The Bridgertons Book #6
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 368
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

In every life there is a turning point. A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one's life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London's most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton. 

After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca's surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer—the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin. 

But that was then... Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love... until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets... 

Review

This was actually my first Julia Quinn book ever and this is my first time re-reading it. It is an unrequited love story, but it does work for me. 

In this one, the hero is the one who has been secretly in love with the heroine. He can get a little angsty, but it never feels like too much. There's an added layer of tension because Francesca is married to Michael's cousin. I think this marriage is what ends up making the romance so believable. Michael loves his cousin so he is around a lot. It causes them to build a strong friendship. This can then act as a foundation for their romance.

Francesca is different from a lot the other Bridgertons, but she is still one of them. She's a lot more calm then her siblings. And I liked reading her relationship with her mom-they both were widowed young. Michael is also a nice character to read. He's very in touch with his emotions/feelings.

Julia Quinn also includes some interesting medical situations. She's done this a few times in her books and I always enjoy the added elements. She briefly went to medical school and her husband is involved in the field of medicine.

This may be my new favorite Bridgerton novel. I'm glad I decided to re-read this series, just because I got to read it again.

Thanks for reading!
Holly