February Challenge: Fantastic February

Although I’m failing most epically in the January Jam Jar Challenge, I’m all in for Kathy @ Books and Munches February challenge.  February means fantasy and paranormal and that sounds perfect to me!  You can see all the details here.

Since I’m struggling so badly with the January challenge (I’m 10% into one book, 20% into another and… *sigh*), I thought I’d go easy on myself and keep my list short and sweet.  I’m sticking to mostly paranormal cozy mysteries and one urban fantasy.

1. Heir of the Dog by Hailey Edwards

2. Witch Slapped by Dakota Cassidy

3. Quit Your Witchin’ by Dakota Cassidy

4. Then There Were Nun by Dakota Cassidy

5. Hit and Nun by Dakota Cassidy

I chose the first because I read Dog with a Bone and Dog Days of Summer (book one and a short story) and really enjoyed them.  The whole premise of the series is interesting and a little different.  Also, the author’s writing style is easy and light even when the story isn’t.

The last four I chose because I’m a sucker for Dakota Cassidy.  I’ve been a fan for a long time and love her writing style and sense of humor.  Her books are always fast, enjoyable reads and I thought they’d be perfect for February’s challenge.  Never mind the fact that they’ve been languishing on my Kindle for far longer than they deserve.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge Jan 9, 2019

wednesdaybloggingchallenge

The Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.  This week’s topic is: Books that Need a Prequel.

Okay, so I’ve been thinking about this and have pretty much come up dry.  I think that, because I read so many series, that most of my questions and curiosities are answered by the time a few books have been published.  However, there are a few that I’m still wondering about.

The Hunger Games and Divergent.

I’m lumping these two together for the same reason.  While later books in the series go into some detail about how Tris and Katniss wound up in these dysfunctional, dystopian societies, it wasn’t enough for me. I love history and I would have given my big toe for a historical sort of prequel that told me exactly how all this happened, and not in just one info dump either.

Harry Potter

I know that J. K. Rowling is attempting to give us some kind of prequel, but what I want is a Marauders prequel.  Give me James and Lilly and Sirius and even Snape.  I think it’d be interesting to see what Hogwarts was like before Voldemort.

The Hollows series by Kim Harrison

How did Cincinnati wind up like this?  What exactly was The Turn?  I haven’t completely finished the series yet, I think I have one or two books left, but I’m really interested in how this all came to be.  This is similar to my first comment, however the world that Rachel Morgan lives in isn’t dystopian just… different.  And hey, if I could have a sidekick like Jenks, I’d be all over it.

Those are all I can come up with today, but I’m sure there are more.  What about you?  What books do you wish there was a prequel for?

Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

cover146090-mediumSeeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Jessica Farris appears to be like any other struggling young woman trying to make it in the Big Apple.  However, like all of us, she has her secrets and she tells her lies.  So, when she makes a split second decision to do the unthinkable – pretend to be someone else so that she can earn some quick money in a psychological survey – her life is turned upside down.  Will she make the right choices or will she fail the test?

As soon as Jessica enters the study, things get weird.  At first, it all seems normal, just answering questions on a computer anonymously.  But then, she’s invited to join an expansion of the study and that’s when it gets real.

From the very beginning, An Anonymous Girl draws you in.  The prologue alone was enough to make me sit up and take notice, not something that happens very often with a novel of any kind.  Having studied psychology at one time, the questions posed and the manipulations used fascinated me.  The deception and manipulations are implemented so well that half the time Jessica doesn’t know if she’s telling the truth or misremembering.  And neither does the reader.  That is the thing that propelled me to the end.

I read and loved the authors’ previous novel, The Wife Between Us.  It was an intense ride that left you wondering right up until the very end.  An Anonymous Girl delivers the same psychological punch, keeping you guessing right until the last page.

4.5/5

*Thank you to Netgalley, the authors, and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Short-a-Thon Update & January Jam Jar Picks

I posted my Short-a-Thon list here a couple of weeks ago and, since today is the last day of the mini-challenge, I thought it was time to update.

What I read:

Vampire Knight Vol 13 by Matsuri Hino

Castle Mango Vol 1 by Muku Orgura

The Innocent by Avi Arad

We Were There Vol 1 by Yuki Obata

The Record of a Fallen Vampire Vol 2 by Kyo Shirodaira

Yeah, so they were all manga, but still – that’s five books I got out of the pile!  Plus, I also read Vampire Knight Vol 14 because it was on the shelf at the library and I couldn’t resist.  Also finished The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis. It was a library book that needed to be returned, so I finished it first (it was short).

Now, as far as the January Jam Jar goes, my potential TBR is listed here.  Since I have cats and using an actual jam jar would mean I’d either have  broken jar or bits of paper with random book titles scattered from here to eternity (or, likely, both), I went with a digital approach.  I have my books listed and numbered in a spreadsheet and used Random.org to pick five numbers.  My numbers were: 19, 1, 8, 4, and 13.  That means my first five books for the year are:

19. In Europe’s Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond

1. I Invited Her In

8. Why Kill the Innocent

4. Hot Texas Sunrise

13. Murder on the Orient Express

This is a good mix for me and has the bonus of including two of the ARCs I need to read.  Wish me luck!

What’s on your list for January?

Review: Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert

40242604

One hard-nosed military police officer.

One overly enthusiastic elf.

One poorly timed snowstorm.

Is it a recipe for disaster? Or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for holiday romance?

Teddy MacNally loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. When he plays an elf for his charity’s events, he never expects to be paired with a Scrooge masquerading as Santa Claus. His new mission: make the holiday-hating soldier believe he was born to say ho-ho-ho.

Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki doesn’t do Santa, but he’s army to his blood. When his CO asks an unusual favor, Nick of course obliges. The elf to his Kris Kringle? Tempting. Too tempting—Nick’s only in town for another month, and Teddy’s too young, too cheerful and too nice for a one-night stand.

The slow, sexy make-out sessions while Teddy and Nick are alone and snowbound, though, feel like anything but a quick hookup. As a stress-free holiday fling turns into Christmas all year round, Teddy can’t imagine his life without Nick. And Nick’s days on the base may be coming to a close, but he doesn’t plan on leaving anything, or anyone, behind. 

I’m going to come right out and say this: Christmas books are not my thing.  Honestly, Christmas isn’t exactly my thing, either.  However, since this was one of the books I received in my first Box Not to Miss from Fresh Fiction, I thought I’d give it a try.  There was an added bonus of the box arriving early in December, which helped.  I really am happy I picked this one up first because it was so much better than I could have hoped for.

Teddy is sweet, sympathetic, and the kind of guy we all need in our lives.  No matter what happens, he tackles it with positivity.  He’s written so well, too, that you don’t get that annoying happy-go-lucky kind of feeling from him either.  You know it’s not a put on and that he’s simply a happy kind of guy.  All is not always perfect in Teddy’s life and, just because he’s positive about things working out, he’s not saccharine-sweet about it either.

Nick, on the other hand, isn’t quite so positive about his future, even if he is heading into it with eyes wide open.  It’s obvious from the get-go what kind of man he is – dependable, stubborn, and kind-hearted, everything Teddy wants and needs in a boyfriend.  Nick’s hangup with the age gap annoyed me at times because there was no middle ground with him.  Now, I have to admit, I was worried about this at first, too.  At first blush, you think Teddy is much younger than he is, but once I discovered he’s in his late 20’s, I relaxed a bit.  There’s still a large age gap – 17 or so years – they’re at least both well into adulthood. It took Nick way too long to even consider having a relationship with Teddy, despite their combustible chemistry.

In addition to the print book, I borrowed the audio from my local library via Hoopla Digital, so that I could get through it faster.  I loved the narrator, he had such a soothing voice.  When he drops into the lower register for Nick’s voice, I swear, my knees got weak.  However, because the narrator had this naturally borderline-deep voice, when he tries to move into a higher register to do Teddy’s voice, it came off almost as a parody.  That said, Teddy’s ‘voice’ was the only issue I had with the audio version.  A good narrator is everything and this gentleman was great.

Better Not Pout was exactly the right book for me this Christmas.  I tend to have a bad case of anxiety combined with the blues around the holidays.  However, having this book by my side helped me greatly.  Even though their relationship wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows, it was full of hope and joy, which is precisely what I needed to be reading.  I highly recommend this to anyone, any time of the year.

4/5

Review: We Were There Volume 1

3156000

Nanami Takahashi falls for Motoharu Yano, the most popular, carefree boy in class. For Nanami, it’s first love, but Yano is still grieving the death of his girlfriend who died the year before.

Nanami starts high school with high hopes of making lots of friends. She develops a crush on the enigmatic Yano, but he may have too many secrets for her to handle.

Nanami – or Nana for short – is a sweet and kind-hearted girl who finds herself being roped into all kinds of things.  Partly becuase she’s a good person and partly becuase she’ can’t tell the other person to do it themselves.  Which I can relate too all too well some days.  I know a lot of people might be annoyed by Nana, but I love her character, even when I wish she could tell Yano to stuff it.

Yano, on the other hand, starts out to be quite aggravating.  He’s still pretty obnoxious by the end of this first volume, but you’re starting to get some insight into why.  I’m anxious to get into the next volume to find out what the real story is with Yano.  I have this feeling that he’s using his jerkiness as a defense mechanism and that there might be more to his girlfriend’s death than we know.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how wonderful the artwork is in this manga.  It’s very light and muted, which is a nice change from the last few manga I’ve read (Vampire Knight, The Innocent).  All in all, this is a very enjoyable story with interesting characters and pleasant graphics.  I need to hit the bookstore soon and see if I can acquire myself the next few volumes soon.

5/5

January Challenge: Jam Jar

I’m more than a little behind in getting this posted but… I’m here?

Kathy at Books and Munches has a great way to start the new year off – with a jam jar challenge!  You can read the rules here and, if you’re interested, come join us!  It’s a great way to get through some of those books languishing on your TBR.

ARC’s:

I Invited Her In
Stroke of Luck
Little Darlings
Hot Texas Sunrise
Luck of the Draw
Unbroken Cowboy

(Yes, there is a distinct theme here… how’d you guess?)

Physical Pile:

Dodging and Burning
Why Kill the Innocent
The Perfect Mother
The Real Michael Swann
The Killer Inside Me
Cloche and Dagger
Murder on the Orient Express
Every Dead Thing
The Woman in Cabin 10
Grace Under Pressure
The Imperial Presidency
State of the Onion
In Europe’s Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond
Murder Beyond the Grave
The Banker’s Wife
Little Fires Everywhere
Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey
The Black Ice

I’m definitely not going to get through all of these in one month, but it’s a good place to start.

Happy reading!