Tag: Ballantine Books

Guest Review: Always by Sarah Jio

Posted May 22, 2017 by Tina R in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Always by Sarah JioReviewer: Tina
Always by Sarah Jio
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 7th 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 288
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Goodreads
four-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March comes a gripping, poignant novel about the kind of love that never lets go, and the heart's capacity to remember.
While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.
When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt "right." But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants.
Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she's willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

Wow! What a beautiful story! I read this book awhile ago and totally forgot to write a review, but the story is still fresh in my mind. Always by Sarah Jio is such an unforgettable story that will definitely touch the reader’s heart. I found myself glued to the couch, wanting to know what was going to happen next.

Always is presented in past and present fashion that I have always liked. I feel this adds depth to the story by bringing the past to the front while still continuing on with the present. I really enjoyed the story line, and the characters were well-written and believable. My only complaint is that I wish the book would’ve been longer!

Sarah Jio fans know that her books stick in your head for a long time after you have devoured them. They embrace the reader and sweep you into the story every time! Always is definitely another favorite to add to my collection, and I highly recommend it to my bookish friends.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an advanced copy of Always in return for my honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

four-stars

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Guest Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Posted May 16, 2017 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth UnderdownReviewer: Tina
The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: April 25th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 304
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Goodreads
three-half-stars

'VIVID AND TERRIFYING' Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six...

1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.
But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women's names.
To what lengths will Matthew's obsession drive him?And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?
'A richly told and utterly compelling tale, with shades of Hilary Mantel' Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat
'Anyone who liked Cecilia Ekback's Wolf Winter is going to love this' Natasha Pulley, author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
'Beth Underdown grips us from the outset and won't let go...at once a feminist parable and an old-fashioned, check-twice-under-the-bed thriller' Patrick Gale, author of Notes from an Exhibition
'A tense, surprising and elegantly-crafted novel' Ian McGuire, author of The North Water
'Beth Underdown cleverly creates a compelling atmosphere of dread and claustrophobia... Even from the distance of nearly four hundred years, her Matthew Hopkins is a genuinely frightening monster' Kate Riordan

To begin with, I don’t really read a whole lot of historical fiction. But there is something about the subject of witches that catches my attention. Call it some sort of fascination if you will, but I don’t actually know. I just know that the subject is intriguing and the cover really drew me to the book, so I submitted my request to receive a review copy. \

When I got the copy of The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown in the mail I was actually surprised. Especially since it is not really typical of what I read. (Whether this has any leverage on the books you are chosen to receive I have no idea…) The first thing I noticed it that the cover is awesome! If I would have saw it on the shelf in a bookstore, I would’ve picked it up immediately as something about it just makes me want to know more. And then of course, the subject matter….witches. Who doesn’t remember sitting in school and listening to the teacher tell us about the horrible things that happened to people (mostly women) who were accused of being witches? Like I said, it is just a topic that pulls me in.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is a well-written and carefully researched book. It is a mixture of so many genres. We have historical fiction based on a real story, there is mystery and suspense, and even a little horror mixed in with the depiction of what happened to all the people accused of witchcraft. A little something for every reading taste to be sure.

I found the book a little tough to get through in the beginning. For me it was a little slow in places, although the book is packed with vivid description and emotion and has an interesting storyline. I still would recommend this book, as it did hold my interest and the writing was vivid and well presented.

I would like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. I think the author did an awesome job keeping the subject matter interesting and for providing such vivid description. I would actually have rated it 3.5 to 3.75 stars if the rating system here would’ve let me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

three-half-stars

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Review: The Chosen by J.R. Ward

Posted April 10, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Chosen by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
The Chosen by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #15
Also in this series: Lover Mine, Lover Unleashed, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast, Lover Enshrined
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: April 4th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 544
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

A scorching forbidden love threatens to tear a rift through the Black Dagger Brotherhood in J. R. Ward’s newest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, convicted of treason against the Blind King, is facing a brutal interrogation and torturous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yet after a life marked by cruelty and evil deeds, he accepts his soldier’s fate, his sole regret the loss of a sacred female who was never his: the Chosen Layla.

Layla alone knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life. But revealing his sacrifice and his hidden heritage will expose them both and destroy everything Layla holds dear—even her role of mother to her precious young. Torn between love and loyalty, she must summon the courage to stand up against the only family she has for the only man she will ever love. Yet even if Xcor is somehow granted a reprieve, he and Layla would have to confront a graver challenge: bridging the chasm that divides their worlds without paving the way for a future of even greater war, desolation, and death.

As a dangerous old enemy returns to Caldwell, and the identity of a new deity is revealed, nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone.

With so many secondary characters, it is hard to review this book. I’m going to give it my best shot without rambling, so stick with me.

The Chosen started off where The Beast left off. The Brotherhood still hold Xcor captive and they’re waiting for him to wake up to do whatever they need to do with him. Tohr wants to kill him, but he can’t. The Band of Bastards are in the wind. Layla had the twins. Throe wants to overthrow Wrath and be the King of the race. The Scribe Virgin is no more.

If you were worried about Layla being a boring heroine (which I was), you needn’t have worried. She was fierce. From the beginning of the book, all Layla could think about was that she betrayed Wrath and the Brotherhood. She never put her love for Xcor above her duty to her King or her love her her children. She didn’t have her head in the clouds. She knew that she and Xcor had no future. Love isn’t all it took. Love by itself doesn’t solve everything after all. She had children to consider. What she didn’t consider what the Qhinn would go off the deep end when he found out that she was seeing Xcor. And boy, did he ever.

Qhinn was incredibly sweet at first. He didn’t know about Layla’s betrayal and thought she had postpartum depression. He was extremely worried about her. That changed in a heartbeat when he found out what she did. Then he turned into a psycho. No joke. He was a maniac. I can’t even describe what an asshole he turned into. I wanted to throat punch him. He deserved it. The way he treated Layla, Blay, and even his own daughter deserved a throat punch or three.

Xcor and Layla realized that they had no future, so every moment they spent together was like their last. Layla wouldn’t let Xcor hide from her. Xcor was so used to hiding himself. His childhood was heartbreaking all because of a birth defect that he had no control over. Xcor was ready for Layla to turn away from him at any time, but she never did. The time they spent together was even more special because any moment could be the last. It was just sad.

Wrath was intense. So freaking intense. It doesn’t matter that he’s blind, you don’t cross the guy. Which Tohr and Qhinn did. They put their vengeance before their King and they got told. Both of them. I can understand (a little), that Tohr would go against Wrath. Kind of. A little. But Qhinn? He’s just been recently inducted into the Brotherhood. That he would go against Wrath? No. Wrath isn’t having any of that. This book totally makes me want to reread Dark Lover.

V and Jane. I never liked them together. V and Butch all the way. Jane is too absorbed in her career. And V needs someone that is a little absorbed in him, I believe. Not overly absorbed, but a little. Right? Yeah. Well, V is looking to cheat. That’s right. V and Jane are on totally separate pages here and V is considering cheating on his mate. Who does that? I appreciate that JRW doesn’t just end a book with a HEA the end period. But cheating? That’s harsh. V is so damaged so seeing him so torn up over this was some good reading.

The end was a little too pat for me. I mean, really. If you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Come on. The scene with the four of them and the babies? Seriously. After all that angst? Please. Gag me. The thing with Lassiter? The only way it could have happened. Tohr and Autumn? Sigh. I love those two. Qhinn and Blay? Blay deserves better. The only redeeming moment for Qhinn in this book was when Blay called and Qhinn dropped his vengeance and went after him. Overall, I was happy with this book.

Assail and Sola’s book is next.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

four-stars

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Sunday Spotlight: The Chosen by J.R. Ward

Posted April 9, 2017 by Casee in Features | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

The Black Dagger Brotherhood is a series that I just can’t quit, much to my dismay. It’s like crack and I’m an addict. There’s just something about it these guys that keep me coming back for more.

The Chosen by J.R. Ward
Series: The Black Dagger Brotherhood
Also in this series: Dark Lover, Lover Eternal, Lover Awakened, Lover Revealed, Lover Unbound, Lover Enshrined, Lover Avenged, Lover Mine, Lover Unleashed, Lover Reborn, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast
Genres: Paranormal
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Ballantine Books

A scorching forbidden love threatens to tear a rift through the Black Dagger Brotherhood in J. R. Ward’s newest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, convicted of treason against the Blind King, is facing a brutal interrogation and torturous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yet after a life marked by cruelty and evil deeds, he accepts his soldier’s fate, his sole regret the loss of a sacred female who was never his: the Chosen Layla.

Layla alone knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life. But revealing his sacrifice and his hidden heritage will expose them both and destroy everything Layla holds dear—even her role of mother to her precious young. Torn between love and loyalty, she must summon the courage to stand up against the only family she has for the only man she will ever love. Yet even if Xcor is somehow granted a reprieve, he and Layla would have to confront a graver challenge: bridging the chasm that divides their worlds without paving the way for a future of even greater war, desolation, and death.

As a dangerous old enemy returns to Caldwell, and the identity of a new deity is revealed, nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO || iBOOKS

Memorable Quotes

I thought Layla was going to be like Cormia. Boring. She turned out to be quite fierce. When it comes to her young, don’t mess with her.

Her voice, when she spoke, was as deadly as a dagger blade. “I do not recommend you try to prevent me from seeing my son and daughter.”

Qhuinn bared his own fangs. “Watch me.”

Her body curled into a springing crouch, and the hiss she let out was that of a viper. Except she didn’t spring at him to claw his face to ribbons.

She up and dematerialized.

And there was only one place she was going to.

“Oh, hell no,” he shouted at the cold, uncaring winter landscape. “You want war, you’re going to fucking get it!”

Xcor turned out to be one fine hero. He always put Layla first. When he was dying, all he wanted was her happiness.

“No, no, this is a joyous night. I have wanted to speak my truth for so long, but it was never right. First because I denied it, then because I fought it and sent you away from me. Now that I am departing this mortal coil, though, I am free–but more importantly, so are you. There was no good ending to us, Layla, my love. There will be a good ending for you, however. You shall be forgiven by the Brotherhood, for they are right and just, and they know I am the evil, and you are not. You shall go on and be the mahmen you are meant to be, and you shall find a male worthy of you, I promise. I am but an obstacle in your destiny, something to be surmounted and left behind. You will go on, my love, and I will watch over you.”

And V? Oh, he has problems. Big problems.

And yet V stayed where he was, asking on the snow-covered roof, shifting his weight back and forth whenever his legs got tired, stretching his back from time to time.

The reason he didn’t leave and nothing to do with that woman.

No, he stayed for the same reason he had gone out.

When you were contemplating cheating on your mate, it was not easy on the conscience. And not something you wanted to do in the home you shared with her.

Black Dagger Brotherhood Series

Giveaway: We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

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Are you addicted to this series? A rabid fangirl? We won’t judge!

About the Author

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM

J.R. Ward is the author of over twenty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, The Black Dagger Brotherhood. There are more than 15 million copies of Ward’s novels in print worldwide and they have been published in 25 different countries around the world.

After graduating from law school, Ward began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. She lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. Writing has always been her passion and her idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot.

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Guest Review: House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

Posted November 30, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: House of Echoes by Brendan DuffyReviewer: Tina
House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: April 14th 2015
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Suspense
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

In this enthralling and atmospheric thriller, one young family’s dream of a better life is about to become a nightmare.

Ben and Caroline Tierney and their two young boys are hoping to start over. Ben has hit a dead end with his new novel, Caroline has lost her banking job, and eight-year-old Charlie is being bullied at his Manhattan school.

When Ben inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, in a remote corner of upstate New York, the Tierneys believe it’s just the break they need, and they leave behind all they know to restore a sprawling estate. But as Ben uncovers Swannhaven’s chilling secrets and Charlie ventures deeper into the surrounding forest, strange things begin to happen. The Tierneys realize that their new home isn’t the fresh start they needed . . . and that the village’s haunting saga is far from over.

House of Echoes is a novel that shows how sometimes the ties that bind us are the only things that can keep us whole.

There is no way that House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy can be a debut book! I had to get that out of the way from the gate! This book is so well-written and is bursting with a dark & creepy, tension-filled vibe that causes the reader to assume that the author has been writing forever.

The setting for this book is right out of a Gothic horror story. It has all the elements that you can expect will scare the crap out of you! When I first read the summary about the troubled family with the dilapidated old mansion in the middle of nowhere I immediately said “Sign me up!!” This book is exactly what a reader like me searches for!

Mr Duffy knows exactly what it takes to keep us reading. He has that powerful skill of building the suspense and keeping the reader on the edge of our seat. The characters are so realistic that I almost felt like I was spying on an unsuspecting neighbor as I was reading! This is a truly unsettling story and I think any person who loves a good thriller will devour this one!

I would like to thank the author for this incredible book, and also NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review it. I have actually bought 2 copies of this book since reviewing it and have given them as gifts. And as any fellow reader knows, this is the biggest compliment you can give to an author. Grab House of Echoes today. It is a perfect read for a a cold and gloomy Autumn day!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

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