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Lightning Review: Hauntings and Humbug: A Steampunk Christmas Carol by Melanie Karsak

Posted May 5, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Lightning Review: Hauntings and Humbug: A Steampunk Christmas Carol by Melanie KarsakReviewer: Holly
Hauntings and Humbug: A Steampunk Christmas Carol by Melanie Karsak

Publication Date: February 2nd 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 77
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars

Humbug! This Christmas, Ebony Scrooge will learn the true meaning of the holiday season.

It’s Christmas Eve in Victorian London, and Ebony Scrooge is hard at work tinkering weapons of mass destruction and avoiding all things Christmas. When the spirit of her deceased partner, Jacqueline Marley, warns Ebony that she will be visited by three ghosts, Ebony writes the visitation off as a dream. But on this Christmas Eve, the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future must try to pull off a miracle, restoring Ebony’s heart before it’s too late.

Hauntings and Humbug is a retelling of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, set in New York Times bestselling author Melanie’s Karsak’s steampunk universe.

Set in Victorian London, Hauntings and Humbug is a Steampunk retelling of A Christmas Carol. I really enjoyed Ebony Scrooge and the way her backstory unfolded. The secondary characters were well-drawn and I thought Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future were interesting.

This was an emotional retelling of A Christmas Carol. I enjoyed Ebony Scrooge and the people in her life.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Lightning Review: Goblins and Snowflakes by Melanie Karsak

Posted May 3, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Lightning Review: Goblins and Snowflakes by Melanie KarsakReviewer: Holly
Goblins and Snowflakes by Melanie Karsak
Series: Steampunk Fairy Tales #5

Publication Date: November 13th 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 111
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Never bargain with goblin men.

Scarlette Rossetti thought her stay at Strawberry Hill Castle during the Christmas holiday would pass by uneventfully. She couldn't have been more wrong. Enticed by the delights of the nearby village of Twickenham, Scarlette's life would change in unimaginable ways.

She never expected to be drawn magnetically to The Two Sisters Doll Shop and Toy Emporium.

Scarlette didn't guess that tinkering clockwork gnomes could have supernatural consequences.

And she didn't know that one should never, ever, bargain with goblin men.

But during the Christmas season, magic is always brewing.

Charles Dickens meets Supernatural in this magical retelling of The Elves and The Shoemaker. Dive into New York Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak's award-winning fairy tale world set in gaslamp England.

Scarlette Rossetti is visiting her uncle for Christmas and secretly helping some dollmakers in the village, when she starts seeing a traveling caravan in the woods. She doesn’t think much of it until she realizes she’s the only one who can see them. They offer her the thing she most desires, in exchange for a bargain. Even though she knows she should resist, the temptation proves too much. Now she must figure out how to outsmart the tricky goblins before it’s too late..

This was a quick, cute story. I liked Scarlette and her giving nature, not to mention how clever she was. The romance came on quick, but I enjoyed it for all that.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Steampunk Fairy Tales

four-stars


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Review: Come to Me Softly by A.L. Jackson

Posted April 28, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Come to Me Softly by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Come to Me SoftlySeries: Closer to You #2
Also in this series: Come to Me Quietly
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Come to Me Quietly comes a scorching new adult romance in the Closer to You series.

A second chance at life…A second chance at love…

Jared Holt never thought he deserved either—until he found both in the arms of Aly Moore. Aly has loved Jared for as long as she can remember, and she’s more than ready for the future they’re making together. But Jared can’t help remembering his own family. And he’ll never forgive himself for what happened to them. How can he allow himself the very happiness he once destroyed?

To live a life worthy of Aly, Jared knows he has to stop running and finally put his past to rest. But when he decides to face his demons head on, he encounters more than he bargained for: a dangerous mix of jealousy, lies, and dishonest intentions. When those intentions threaten Aly, Jared loses all control, giving into the rage that earned him his bad boy reputation years before. And he’ll fight to protect her no matter what it costs…even if he destroys himself in the process.

This is the second book in the Closer to You series. Toward the end of Come to Me Quietly, Jared leaves Aly. And the very end of the book, he knows that he can’t live without Aly. He knows he’s not good enough nor does he think he deserves happiness after the accident that destroyed his life when he was sixteen. Jared has been doing his penance for killing his mother. Having someone good like Aly in his life has changed him. He still doesn’t think he deserves happiness, but now he knows that he can’t live without her.

Aly is devastated when Jared leaves her. View Spoiler » Now he’s back and he has an almost fanatical need to make her happy and to be sure that she never regrets taking a chance on him. Jared feels like he’s dishonoring his mother’s memory by being happy. It was so heart wrenching to read about Jared’s internal struggle. Jared just about broke my heart in this book.

Aly is sure that Jared needs professional help though he is having none of that. Jared is sure that all he needs in his life is Aly. He has his demons and being with her silences them. He wants nothing to do with therapy. Until he realizes that he could love the only family he has left. Aly and Christopher are all he has. Aly begs him to get help but he refuses. So she does the impossible. She asks him to leave. Holy hell, that was devastating. I could see these characters so clearly and they were on an emotional level that I don’t find very often. These two were born for each other. After Jared once again leaves Aly, he knows he has to decide which direction to go in his life; in both their lives.

I really struggled with reading this book. Not because this wasn’t a good book. Just like the first book, this one was amazing. It was just so emotional. There were times when I would have to put the book down after ten minutes or so because my heart felt like it couldn’t handle anything more. Jared and Aly’s story is a beautiful but tragic tale. The love each other deeply, but this book drives home the fact that sometimes love isn’t enough.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Closer to You

four-stars


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Review: Heart on a Leash by Alanna Martin

Posted April 26, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Heart on a Leash by Alanna MartinReviewer: Holly
Heart on a Leash by Alanna Martin
Series: Hearts of Alaska #1
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

A pack of rescue huskies inspires love and romance in a coastal Alaskan town fractured by feuding families—but can young pups really teach frozen hearts new tricks?

Taylor Lipin has made it her life's mission to leave her hometown and its ridiculous, century-old feud with the Porters behind. But when her sister needs help running the family inn, Taylor agrees to return to Helen, Alaska on a temporary, definitely not longer than two weeks, basis. Or so she thinks, until she's quite literally swept off her feet and into enemy territory by three happy huskies and their drool-worthy owner, Dr. Josh Krane.

Though Josh didn't grow up in Helen with the rest of his Porter cousins, he's heard the stories: Porters rescue huskies. The Lipins are cat people. Keep to your pack. But Taylor is too tempting to give up—plus, his dogs love her.

As Taylor and Josh grow closer, tensions in the town escalate and the need for secrecy starts taking a toll. Soon they'll need to decide whether their newfound love is just a summer fling or if they've found their forever home.

I adopted a husky puppy a few months ago, so the cover and blurb immediately caught my attention. I was a little sad the puppies didn’t play a larger part in the story (they were present, but I thought they’d have more on page time or play a larger role), but they were still cute and made this a fun read.

Taylor Lipin left home for college and never looked back. She’s happy living in California – until her sister calls to tell her their parents are getting a divorce and she needs to come back home to help out with the family Inn. Taylor has no intention of agreeing, but an unexpected layoff means she has no good reason to refuse. She’s determined to find another job ASAP, so she doesn’t have to deal with her crazy town and a wacky family feud between her family and another in town. Of course she never planned for a hot romance with Dr. Josh Krane…

Josh moved to Helen, Alaska after medical school to take part in a loan forgiveness program – if he works in Helen for 5 years a major part of his student debt will be forgiven. He didn’t expect to love it, but the town has grown on him. Sure, they have some weird quirks – like that strange family feud – but overall the town is charming. It becomes even better when Taylor moves back. Josh is immediately smitten, but their families are on opposite sides of the feud and no one is happy about them being together.

I liked both Taylor and Josh. I thought their romance was cute. They had really fun, witty banter that made for an easy read. But I had two major issues with this story.

1) Taylor is allergic to dogs and Josh has 3 very fluffy huskies. She mentioned, several times, needing to take her allergy meds to be comfortable around them. I love dogs and I completely understand why she’d want to spend time with them. But spending a few hours with them is not the same as living with them full time. I realize it’s a fictional story, but I kept thinking about how uncomfortable it would be to live your every day life like that. If she and Josh end up married, she’s going to take allergy meds every day for the rest of her life just to be comfortable in her own house? I don’t know, that seemed like a stretch.

2) The family feud was ridiculous. It wasn’t just an argument between two families that was out of control. It was a multi-generational thing that included violence. I expected something kind of light-hearted based on the cover/blurb, but it was very toxic and awful. I was very dissatisfied with the lack of resolution on that score. Breaking and entering, vandalism, smear campaigns against Taylor and Josh both from members of their families…it was horrible. Having that as the mail conflict really took away from the romance and my overall enjoyment.

I enjoyed parts of this story and thought there were some really cute elements, but the family feud thing really made it hard to get through. I don’t know if I’ll continue the series.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Hunter’s Moon by Melanie Karsak

Posted April 21, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Hunter’s Moon by Melanie KarsakReviewer: Holly
Shield Maiden Under the Hunter's Moon by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Road to Valhalla #2
Also in this series: Shield Maiden Under the Howling Moon
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: May 21, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 460
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When the gods play in mortals’ lives, the only certain outcome is uncertainty. Especially when that god is Loki.

In the course of a night, I found out my entire life was a lie. Now, Yrsa, Eydis, and I will set off to recover Tyrfing. I must leave Dalr—and the dream I’d shared with Hofund—behind. Eydis is sure the gods have plans for me. I hope she’s right. For on the distant island of Bolmsö, the last of my father’s line is besieged by enemies, and only the blood of a berserker can make things right again.

Hervor has been treated poorly by her grandfather the jarl her entire life. Now she has finally learned the truth of her parentage and sets off to seek Tyrfing, a dwarven blade that will prove her lineage. Masquerading as Hervarth, a young male, she and Yrsa, her mother-not-mother, travel to the island of Bolmso, where Hervor meets her family and tries to earn her place with them. There she learns what it means to be a family, and how healthy a clan can be under the right kind of leadership.

The first 1/4 or so of this book was pretty slow for me. I had a hard time staying focused on the story. Around the 30% mark things picked up, but there was still a lot of unnecessary filler in the novel. I really enjoyed the people of Bolmso, the wolves, the magic of the Isle and the way the Gods talk to Hervor. As a whole, I enjoyed the story and I really like Hervor. I did have a hard time with how she was determined to find the sword no matter what. Even when warned against it, she was set on her course and that was that. Still, I like her. I was glad to see her change and grow under her grandfather. I was also happy to see Leif and Hofund return.

I am enjoying Hervor’s journey, and I can’t wait to see where things go next.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

The Road to Valhalla

four-stars


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