Tag: Holly’s Reviews

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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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: 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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Throwback Thursday Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah McLean

Posted April 15, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah McLeanReviewer: Holly
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3) by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #3
Also in this series: Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2), Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3), Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1)
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: April 26th 2011
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

She lives for passion.
Bold, impulsive, and a magnet for trouble, Juliana Fiori is no simpering English miss. She refuses to play by society's rules: she speaks her mind, cares nothing for the approval of the ton, and can throw a punch with remarkable accuracy. Her scandalous nature makes her a favorite subject of London's most practiced gossips . . . and precisely the kind of woman The Duke of Leighton wants far far away from him.
He swears by reputation.
Scandal is the last thing Simon Pearson has room for in his well-ordered world. The Duke of Disdain is too focused on keeping his title untainted and his secrets unknown. But when he discovers Juliana hiding in his carriage late one evening—risking everything he holds dear—he swears to teach the reckless beauty a lesson in propriety. She has other plans, however; she wants two weeks to prove that even an unflappable duke is not above passion.

This review was originally posted on April 27, 2011.

I was somewhat disappointed with the 2nd book in this series, Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, but this was much more on par with MacLean’s first release, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. I really enjoyed it. The characters came across well and the storyline was lively and fun.

Juliana has been feeling like an outcast since she left Italy to live with her brothers in England. The English are so reserved, so passionless. She longs for the day when she can leave and go back to Italy. Except..she can’t quite get over this small attraction she has to Simon Pearson, The Duke of Leighton. She shouldn’t be interested in him, he’s haughty and cold..except when he’s not. She wants to break through that icy exterior to find the heat beneath.

Simon is in a desperate rush to save his family reputation. Thanks to a reckless act by his sister, he must marry as quickly as possible – to someone with unimpeachable character. The frustrating Juliana Fiori is about as far as he can get from propriety. But when she stows-away in his carriage he has a hard time resisting temptation. Especially once she throws down a challenge – daring him to unleash the passion inside him. But Juliana doesn’t understand what’s at stake – passion could ruin his entire family.

Simon and Juliana have been dancing around each other since the first book. It seemed there was more to him than The Duke of Disdain, but he proved us wrong in the second book with his actions toward his sister. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this novel. While there were times I wanted to kosh him over the head with a chamberpot, I eventually came to love him just as much as Juliana did. The weight of his responsibilities sat very heavily on him, which made him a more likable character.

With Juliana, I was worried she’d be one of the harebrained women who acted first and thought later..but that wasn’t really the case. Yes, she wanted passion, but she wasn’t reckless. And most of the scandals she found herself wrapped up in – or almost scandals – were not of her making. Her attraction to Simon frustrated her, but she wasn’t afraid to confront him about it. I think that’s what I loved best about her..she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, or tell others what she wanted. Simon might have been a stick-in-the-mud, but Juliana called him on it.

They had chemistry in spades, but as we all know, chemistry isn’t enough. I think MacLean did a good job of showcasing that for us here. Yes, they were attracted to each other, but duty and honor played a large part in their actions. So did friendship and mutual respect. They really came to rely on one another, which was touching.

I’m disappointed that MacLean didn’t tie up all the loose ends. Since this is to be the end of the series I expected everything would be cleared up. Why did she bother to introduce Juliana’s mother into the story if she was going to leave it unresolved?

Despite a few issues, overall this was a fun, sexy read. I found the story engrossing and the characters flawed but lovable.

4.5 out of 5

Love By Numbers

four-half-stars


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