Tag: Self-Published

Review: Magic Tests & Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

Posted June 8, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Magic Tests & Magic Stars by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Rowena
Magic Tests by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #5.3
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 32
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

A short story in the Kate Daniels universe. Kate recruits her teenage ward, Julie, to search out a missing student whose location spell has her hidden somewhere on campus…

I’m doing a complete read of the Kate Daniels and I have fallen hard for every one of these books. When we first meet Julie, she’s this scared little girl who just lost her Mom and is on her own. I was super thrilled when Kate took her in and with each passing book, seeing Julie grow more and more comfortable in herself and in her place in Kate’s life (she’s got a long way to go but I see progress and that’s great!) makes me love her all the more.

This was a fun short story featuring Julie and it was a lot of fun seeing her personality away from Kate. She’s really growing into her own person and I really like seeing it. Julie is smart and she reminds me so much of Kate that I smiled my way through this entire story. When she slides that Lennart name into her interrogation with the dragon, I laughed out loud. She showed that she can hang with the big dawgs in this book and I cannot wait to continue watching her grow into her own. I’m a big Derek and Julie fan (sorry Ascanio) so I welcome any and every story featuring Julie front and center. More, please!

Grade: 4 out of 5

Review: Magic Tests & Magic Stars by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Rowena
Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #8.5, Gray Wolf #1
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks
Publisher: NYLA
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 84
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

From award-winning author, Ilona Andrews, an original novella, set in the New York Times #1 bestselling Kate Daniels World and featuring fan-favorites, Derek, and Curran and Kate’s very independent ward, Julie.

Scarred, solitary Derek Gaunt has separated from his Pack, and is truly a lone wolf. With no family he answers to no one; but is fiercely loyal to a chosen few. So, when several of those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through the magic-drenched streets of Atlanta.

Never one to be left on the sidelines, equally determined—some might say stubborn—Julie Lennart-Olsen soon joins in his pursuit; and what began as revenge turns into a race to save the city. Their search pits them against powers they never imagined and magic so old, it predates history. It may cost Derek his life, but there are things for which even he would risk everything.

Man, I’ve been looking forward to this story ever since I found out about it. Derek has been one of my favorite characters in this series from the jump. I ugly cried over him in Magic Strikes and I have loved him more and more with each passing book. Derek is Kate’s ride or die and seeing him go through it over the course of this series really hit me in my feels. He’s one of the good ones and I’m absolutely thrilled that we might be getting more books featuring him (we are, right? I mean this is the first book in the Gray Wolf series so I just kind of assumed). I really enjoyed the little bit that we got of Derek at center stage in this story and my hopes are sky high that Derek and Julie are going to become a thing.

This story has Derek on a mission to track down some bad guys that popped up on Curran’s radar and his mission puts him in Julie’s path, who plants herself right in the middle of Derek’s mission and seeing them work together to figure out what’s going on and then put their plan of attack into action…together was just great. They’re a great pair and I so want more books featuring them. Ilona Andrews does such a great job with making readers fall in love with their characters and readers will definitely fall in love with Derek and Julie. Derek’s protective streak and Julie’s fierce loyalty where Derek is concerned (and her undercover love for him) make for a fantastic story and I’m so here for more. I definitely recommend this short if you need just a little more Derek and Julie. You won’t regret it.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Kate Daniels

four-stars


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Joint Review: His Bride for the Taking by Tessa Dare

Posted June 2, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: His Bride for the Taking by Tessa DareReviewer: Ames and Rowena
His Bride for the Taking by Tessa Dare
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 89
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars

*This novella was originally published in Rogues Rush In: a Regency Duet (2018), by Tessa Dare and Christi Caldwell

It’s the first rule of friendship among gentlemen: Don’t even think about touching your best friend’s sister.

Sebastian, Lord Byrne, has never been one for rules. He’s thought about touching Mary Clayton—a lot—and struggled to resist temptation. But when Mary’s bridegroom leaves her waiting the altar, only Sebastian can save her from ruin. By marrying her himself.

In eleven years, he’s never laid a finger on his best friend’s sister. Now he’s going to take her with both hands. To have, to hold…and to love.

Rowena: His Bride for the Taking is a novella by Tessa Dare that was originally published in the Rogues Rush In anthology. It’s a brother’s best friend’s romance and it was such a sweet romance that I wasn’t even mad that it was so short.

So, Sebastian made a promise to his best friend Henry Clayton long ago. Henry’s sister Mary is off-limits but when Henry died, Sebastian promised that he would take care of Mary. It’s been hard to keep his hands off of Mary because he’s always been a little bit in love with her but when she needs him to step up for her, he doesn’t hesitate.

Mary Clayton is all alone in the world. Her father and brother are both long gone, her brother’s title having gone to a distant cousin, and the only person that is really around for her is her brother’s best friend Sebastian Ives. When Mary is stood up at the altar, Sebastian steps up for her, and things really take off from there.

I really enjoyed this short read. I thought the romance was light, and it was fun and I felt the chemistry between Sebastian and Mary. This was another winner for me.

What did you think, Ames?

Ames: It was definitely a winner. For being so short there was a lot of story! I am kind of slumping due to all the craziness happening in the world and this was the perfect little tidbit to keep my reading momentum going. I usually shy away from novellas but I’m glad you chose this one.

I liked the friends-to-lovers plot. I liked that Sebastian was a wee bit younger than Mary. She was her own independent woman but Sebastian proved he was someone she could count on, and he recognized that she was her own woman.

And the humor! That scene, with the ‘Swedish’ bed and the discussion around putting it together and directions. That had me laughing, thinking about putting Ikea furniture together. haha

Rowena: Ha, yes. When they were putting the bed together, fighting about putting the bed together, and talking about “surplus”, I couldn’t stop laughing. Tessa Dare is really good at bringing the humor and for such a short story, she packed it real nicely into this one.

I hear you about the reading slump. 2020 has really kicked my ass so I’m happy to finally be reading again and the quality of this one made me super happy. I liked that both Sebastian and Mary had a history together and that they genuinely cared about each other so it made everything we find out, everything going on make sense.

What did you think about Mary’s little shenanigans?

Ames: Ok, usually I wouldn’t like shenanigans like Mary’s, but her and Sebastian were so good together, I didn’t mind. I mean, she didn’t keep it a secret forever right? And he wanted her. I think if this had a been a full length novel, I would not have cared for her actions. I don’t know, I’m not explaining myself well. But Mary didn’t act out of malice, so it was ok.

What did you think?

Rowena: Same. I think because by the time they were married and already well into the first couple days of their marriage, we know that Sebastian was madly in love with Mary but had that not been the case, I think I would have been more mad. I also liked that we got to see Sebastian run the gamut of emotions over her actions and it wasn’t slipped under the rug. They dealt with it and they moved on from it and I respected that.

I really liked both Sebastian and Mary. Their shared love for Henry (Mary’s brother) was sweet and their friendship was even sweeter. I loved that they bickered and they laughed with each other and I really liked that they were both in love with each other from the jump. Gah, what a sweet story.

This was such a short romance but it really packed a wallop of a story and I was here for all of it. I would have liked a longer story but I didn’t feel like it really suffered without it. This is one of the better novellas that I’ve read and I’d give it 4.25 out of 5 stars. What about you?

Ames: I’m giving this one a 4.25 out of 5 as well. It was a feel good story in these dark times. The humor was spot on and the characters were great. I felt their chemistry and loved their back-story.

Final Grades

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Devious Lies by Piper S. Huntington

Posted May 7, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Devious Lies by Piper S. HuntingtonReviewer: Rowena
Devious LiesNarrator: Sebastian York
Series: Cruel Crowns #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: December 15, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 15 hours, 46 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
one-star
Series Rating: one-star

From USA Today bestselling author Parker S. Huntington comes an enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn romance full of revenge and a dash of fate.

“She could enjoy her pretty, perfect world a little longer. Soon enough, everything she owned would be mine.”

I had a plan to escape the friend zone.

Step one: sneak into Reed’s room.
Step two: sleep with him.

But when the lights turned on, it wasn’t familiar blue eyes I saw. These were dark, angry, and full of demons. And they belonged to Reed’s much older brother.

Four years later, Nash Prescott is no longer the help’s angry son.I’m no longer the town’s prized princess.

At twenty-two, I’m broke, in need of a job. At thirty-two, he’s a billionaire, in need of revenge.

Who cares if my family ruined his? Who cares if he looks at me with pure loathing? Who cares if every task he assigns me is designed to torture?

I need the money. Simple as that.

I’ll suffer his cruelty in silence, knowing there’s one thing he wants more than revenge…Me.

Note: This is a 145,000-word standalone in the Cruel Crown world. Welcome to Eastridge. Enter if you dare.

So, I read this book for book club a couple of months ago and I’m finally getting around to reviewing it. It took me quite a while to get this book read because it drove me right up the wall. From beginning to end, I wanted to smack the shit out of everyone in this book. From the heroine’s parents (except her Dad) to the heroine and the hero and the hero’s brother and the heroine’s boss and just…EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THIS BOOK.

So this book follows Emery Winthrop from being part of a family that was on top and seeing her now that her family has fallen from grace and are now in the poor house. Emery has always had a thing for her best friend, Reid. Reid’s parents work for Emery’s parents and Reid’s family live in a house on Emery’s family property so they’re basically the help and live in the helps quarters. When Emery finally decides to make her move on Reid, she creeps into his house after he announces that he broke up with his girlfriend (for real this time) and she seduces him. Only it’s not Reid that she seduces and sleeps with, it’s Reid’s older brother Nash. By the time they realize their mistake, it’s too late and the deed is already done so they both swear they will forget it and move on with their lives.

Fast forward, years later and Emery’s all grown up but she’s penniless, homeless and trying to figure things out. Her parents were found out to be some major criminals that were stealing from people, losing the company that they had and all of the money from their clients and employees as well. Emery is living with a lot of guilt because once the news broke about what her family’s company did, the stress on the employees that lost their entire life savings was too much for them. So Emery is in her early twenties and she’s trying to make things right as much as she could. She takes a job working at Nash’s company because of course the tables have turned and the rich folks are now poor and the poor folks are now rich.

Nash grew up to be a cold son of a bitch. He holds the Winthrop family responsible for his father’s death and he won’t ever let Emery forget it. He built a name for himself and his company is now bigger than the Winthrop company ever was. He’s known all over the place as a kind and generous business but he’s ruthless and I hated his stupid ass. He was mean to the wrong people, mad about the wrong thing and he was a terrible boss. I would have gone to jail for knocking this motherfucker out at the way that he thought he could talk to people that worked for him. He was a tyrant that I couldn’t stand from beginning to end and even when he calms his ass down, I never warmed up to his character and I couldn’t understand why Emery fell for him.

The romance between Emery and Nash was super annoying because Nash was such a douche. Emery wasn’t the best heroine either but she was at least trying to be a good person even though she knew that she wasn’t. She did a lot of stupid things that I wanted to wring her neck over and ultimately, she was very young and dumb but she wasn’t a mean person. At every turn, Nash tore Emery down and I just didn’t see anything worth redeeming from him.

Overall, this book was a hot mess for me and I didn’t enjoy much of it. I’m sure this kind of book has an audience that enjoys books with problematic characters and behaviors but that audience ain’t me. I put this book down so many different times that it took me twice as long as normal to finish. I’m glad that I had a doctor’s appointment not too long after I finished because I was sure that my blood pressure was never going to be the same. All is well though, my blood pressure is great and is probably the only thing that my doctor was happy about, haha. Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. I wasn’t a fan and I couldn’t wait to finish the book so that I can be done with it and know what the hell I’m bitching about at book club. I seem to be the only person that bitches about books at book club. Everyone else is always warm toward every book we read but not me. I think the last time I enjoyed a book club book was when I chose the book or when I chose the book for my friends. I think my book club friends need to step up their book club choice game because this book? This book ain’t the move so save yourself and stay away.

Grade: 1 out of 5

one-star


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Sunday Spotlight: Getting Schooled by Emma Chase

Posted April 12, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 6 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. 🙂

This week’s Sunday Spotlight is another comfort read. Sometimes a girl just wants to read about two adults. Getting Schooled by Emma Chase is that book. There isn’t a lot of angst or drama here, just two people reconnecting with each other and learning each other as adults.

Sunday Spotlight: Getting Schooled by Emma ChaseGetting Schooled by Emma Chase
Series: Getting Some #1
Also in this series: Getting Schooled (Getting Some, #1), Getting Schooled (Getting Some, #1), Getting Played , Getting Played
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 300
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

Head of the class...

Garrett Daniels has this whole life thing figured out.

The cocky, charismatic former high school star quarterback is an idolized football coach and "cool" teacher in the hometown where he's not just a golden boy—he's platinum. He has good friends, a great house on the lake, and the best damn sidekick a man could ask for: Snoopy, the albino beagle.

Then...Callie Carpenter comes home.

And knocks him right on his tight end zone.

Back to school...

Callie has a pretty sweet life herself...on the other side of the country. But circumstances—that she'd prefer to never speak of again—have brought her back home, helping out her parents and substitute teaching at her old high school.

Now she's facing bickering, raging hormones, constant gossip, awkward weirdness, and drama galore...and that's just the teachers.

Just like old times...

When Garrett offers to show his former high school sweetheart the secrets of his winning teacher ways, Callie jumps at the chance—and then has to stop herself from jumping him.

Good friends are all they can ever be.

Or...these teachers just might end up getting schooled—hard—by love.

Favorite Quotes

Garett and Callie were high school sweethearts who broke up in college and ended up on opposite sides of the country from each other. When Callie ends up back home for an extended period of time, they reconnect.

I like Tara — but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t bullshit her. A man gets to a point in his life when he realizes that honesty —even if it’s not what someone wants to hear — is just simpler.

I love how honest Garrett is. With himself and everyone else. He doesn’t play games or try to b.s. anyone.

You never forget your first. Isn’t that what they say? Callie was my first and for a long time, I thought she’d be my only.

He and Callie both have to deal with some residual feelings….

It’s a strange sensation standing in front of someone you’ve loved deeply—someone who, once upon a time, you couldn’t imagine not seeing, not talking to every day. Someone who used to be the center of your whole world . . . that you just don’t know anymore.

..but honestly this book is more about them getting to know each other now.

I want to know him, inside and out, all over again. And he feels the same way. Garrett wants this version of me as much as he always did—maybe even more. I heard it in his whispered words and felt it in his kiss.

The hi-jinx that happen because of their students are hilarious.

DJ adds, “I can sprint home in ten, do the deed, and be back here in fifteen.”

Apparently, DJ shits as fast as he runs – there’s something I could’ve gone my whole damn life without knowing.

I squeeze the bridge of my nose. “And why are you telling me this?”

“We wanted to make sure you were good with it,” Wilson says. “In case things go south and we get pinched. We didn’t want you to be pissed.”

Now that’s respect. Yes, technically they should be able to take a shit without my blessing, but still, as a coach — I’m touched.

There are also some touching moments throughout. I like how both Garrett and Callie connect with their students.

I lean forward and lower my voice. “The truth is, when it comes to guys and girls, men and women? We need them, more than they will ever, ever, need us.” I’ve passed on a lot of life lessons to these boys, but this may be the most important of them all.

In short, there’s a lot of humor here, but also a really sweet romance.

“You were always my girl, Callie, even after you weren’t anymore. Do you know what I mean?” I nod. “Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.”

I love this book.

“As for what I want . . . I want you, Callie. For as long as you’re here, for as long as you’ll let me have you. I want all of you.”

Getting Some

Giveaway Alert

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

Sunday Spotlight: April 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Emma Chase

New York Times bestselling author Emma Chase writes contemporary romance novels known for their clever banter, emotion, and sexy, swoon-worthy moments. Her books have been translated in over twenty languages around the world.

Emma lives in New Jersey with her amazing husband, two spirited children, and two adorable but badly behaved dogs. She has a long-standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.


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Review: Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews

Posted April 7, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sweep with Me by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #4.5
Also in this series: Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1), Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1), Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2), One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3), Clean Sweep, Sweep of the Blade
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 10, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 140
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A charming, short novella in the Innkeeper Chronicles, from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ilona Andrews.

Thank you for joining us at Gertrude Hunt, the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, during the Treaty Stay. As you know, we are honor-bound to accept all guests during this oldest of innkeeper holidays and we are expecting a dangerous guest. Or several. But have no fear. Your safety and comfort is our first priority. The inn and your hosts, Dina Demille and Sean Evans, will defend you at all costs. [But we hope we don’t have to.]

Every winter, Innkeepers look forward to celebrating their own special holiday, which commemorates the ancient treaty that united the very first Inns and established the rules that protect them, their intergalactic guests, and the very unaware/oblivious people of [planet] Earth. By tradition, the Innkeepers welcomed three guests: a warrior, a sage, and a pilgrim, but during the holiday, Innkeepers must open their doors to anyone who seeks lodging. Anyone.

All Dina hopes is that the guests and conduct themselves in a polite manner. But what’s a holiday without at least one disaster?

Sweep with Me is a novella set in Gertrude Hunt, a magical intergalactic Inn, featuring Sean and Dina. It takes place a very short time after the events of One Fell Sweep.

After Dina almost died trying to protect Gertrude Hunt, she and Sean are in desperate need of some down time. Unfortunately for them, this is the one time of year they’re unable to refuse a guest at the Inn. Now they have angry intellectual space-chickens debating the meaning of life, a soulless killer on a pilgrimage and the leader of an off-planet world with murky intentions requesting the Inn set up a meeting with a ruthless business man. Sean and Dina do their best to keep their guests safe from harm and from each other.

I love the Innkeeper Chronicles. I was very happy to visit Dina and Sean at Gertrude Hunt. This novella was a lot of fun. This world is so well drawn I feel like I’m there with them every time I open a book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Innkeeper Chronicles

four-stars


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