Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday Post #34


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

I seem to be having so blog issues, there's something going on the left of the blog and I'm trying to solve the problem.  Hopefully soon. :(

I'm back up in Northern California, and the it's been hot during the day, but it cools way down in the evening.  We went wine tasting yesterday and I was out all day so I'm posting late.  We drove this trip and so we'll be back in the car this afternoon for the drive home.  It seemed like there was more traffic coming up now that the kids are out of school so I hope our drive isn't too bad on the way home.  



Hydrangeas at one of the wineries.  They were so big and beautiful!

Read:
(Click on cover for Goodreads link:)

I love Maisey Yates' cowboy romances and Cowboy to the Core was another win for me. The Monkeewrench series continues to be great fun.  The Sixth Idea is book 7 in the series and while I didn't care for the narration,  (different narrator from the previous books) the story was good! Justified was awesome! Unrequited love, enemies-to-lovers troupe, danger and suspense!  I can't wait for the next one!

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:
(Click on cover for Goodreads link:)


I got an audio copy from the library of The Vanishing Season after reading Lark's review of book two.  I've never read anything by Natasha Anders, but Nothing But This sounds really good.

Watched:

Nothing much other than The Big Bang Theory.

How was your week?


Friday, June 28, 2019

Review: Justified by Jay Crownover


Publication Date: June 25th 2019 by Forever
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About the book:

The New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series delivers a romance about a rugged Texas sheriff who must protect the woman who was once his sworn enemy...

Case Lawton comes from a family of criminals. So as the sheriff of Loveless, Texas, he's determined to do everything by the book--until he's called to Aspen Barlow's office after a so-called break-in. The last thing he wants to do is help the woman who cost him custody of his son. But Aspen isn't the heartless lawyer Case remembers, and he starts to question his long-held grudge...

Aspen is scared for her life, and Case is her last hope for protection. But to get him on her side, she'll have to reveal the painful truth from all those years ago. Now, as they work together to track down a dangerous criminal, Case and Aspen learn to trust each other. And as the threats escalate, it becomes clear there's a thin line between love and hate... because there's nothing Case wouldn't do to keep her safe.

My Thoughts:
Jay Crownover writes the best heroes, especially the ones that start off as kind of a jerk, rough around the edges, but have a big heart.  Case Lawton, the Sheriff of Loveless is exactly that type of guy.  When we’re introduced to Aspen and Case, he’s a full-on jerk to her, he thinks she’s a heartless lawyer after she represented his ex-wife in their divorce and custody battle. There’s a whole backstory as to why Aspen cooperated, it’s a good reason, but Case doesn’t know the details.  There’s a whole unrequited love situation too, as Aspen fell hard for Case upon moving to Loveless as a teenager and he was one of the only students who took an interest and didn’t treat her like the new “weird girl”.  Because of that, the animosity he carries toward her hurts all that much more.  I was all on Aspen’s side, indignant for her when Case treated her with open disdain in the beginning.

Aspen and Case must work together when her office is trashed, and it becomes apparent her life is in danger.  As much as Case dislikes Aspen in the beginning, she’s a citizen of Loveless and as Sheriff, Case is dedicated to keeping his people safe. Forced to “be in each other’s pocket” as they’re faced with so many threats the animosity between them starts to melt away.  There was definite chemistry and desire, even when they were snipping and snapping at each other.  I was eager to have all the details about the divorce to come to light so that the attraction Case felt for Aspen wasn’t an unwanted development, and things finally do come to light. 

I loved Justified! Aspen and Case together were electric, and when they let go it was wicked hot! You know how some books it takes a while to warm to the story? Definitely not a problem here! I was glued to the story, engaged from page one. Trying to figure out where the threat was coming from, and on edge from the dangers presented made for an exciting read.  Aspen and Case’s story wraps up satisfyingly, but there’s another romance to come with Case’s sister Kody and his good friend, Hill Gamble, a Texas Ranger.  A storm is a-brewing between those two, and I can’t wait!


4 Suns



Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Review: Cowboy to the Core by Maisey Yates


Publication Date: June 18th 2019 by HQN
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About the book:

Gold Valley’s wildest cowboy has finally met his match…

Jamie Dodge is confident she knows everything there is to know about cowboys. She grew up surrounded by them, after all. But somehow her new boss, champion saddle bronc rider Gabe Dalton’s brand of cowboy charm has her interested in all kinds of things she never has been before.

There are a million reasons Gabe should ignore his attraction to Jamie. He needs her horse-training skills on his family’s ranch…and the Dodge brothers would happily hurt him for touching her. Forget kissing her. He’d be a dead man. But Jamie’s tough-talking attitude masks an innocence that tempts him past the breaking point…and soothes the restlessness that’s dogged Gabe his whole life. Has this cowboy finally found a place he wants to call home?

My Thoughts:
Jamie Dodge and Gabe Dalton come from two prominent rancher families in Golden Valley, both rancher royalty in their own way.  Jamie is the youngest of the Dodge children, and only girl. Through the series, glimpses of Jamie show her to be a tough, feisty sister, not willing to show vulnerability.  Her mother died just days after giving birth to her, and she’d swear that you can’t miss what you never had. And yet, I felt Jamie’s loss along with her as her long ignored feelings surface. Especially, since working with Gabe Dalton brings out emotions she never thought she’d feel. There’s a bit of a snarky dance between Gabe and Jamie until it’s impossible to deny their mutual desire and attraction. Oh, their sexy times sizzled!

Gabe Dalton battles his own issues from the past.  His father was a habitual philanderer making his parent’s marriage a mess of full of constant up and downs.  Gabe fears he’s programmed to follow in his father’s footsteps if he attempts a serious relationship. However, his feelings for Jamie are anything but casual.

I was wrapped up in Jamie and Gabe’s story from page one!  I felt their emotions like they were my own; from their sadness and indignation, to their passion and lust. My only niggle is that things wrapped up a little maybe a little too easily and quickly for my tastes, and yet it was pretty low on drama, so I shouldn’t complain since over-the-top drama drives me nuts.  It’s always easy to sink in and want to tune out the world when I pick up one of Maisey Yates’ romances. And now I can’t wait to pick up the next book, which is centers on another Dalton, Gabe’s brother Jacob!

4 Suns



Saturday, June 22, 2019

Sunday Post #33


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

This week has been hot with temps in the 90s. I'm worked my normal schedule, off on Friday and we drove out to visit with my husband's parents who are staying on the beach here in California. We're out here for the weekend and about to pour a glass of wine and sit on the beach.



Read:
(Click on cover for Goodreads link:

These were all wins for me, especially Hope and Other Punchlines.  The audio was fantastic. Sorry to say goodbye to Mercy Kilpatrick but I guess A Merciful Promise was the last book in the series. 


Received/Purchased/Library Lend:
(Click on cover for Goodreads link:)


I lost all hope, but finally I was approved for Sapphire Flames this last week!!! *throws confetti* I'm so thrilled and I want to start it soon.  The Sixth Idea is number 7 in the Monkeewrench series. I just finished 6 a couple of days ago. Love the series! 

Watched:

Nothing. I've been too busy to turn the TV on. 

How was your week?


Friday, June 21, 2019

Review & Giveaway: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin


Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Publication Date: June 4th 2019 by Berkley
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About the book:

A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

My Thoughts:
Finding love wasn’t a priority to Ayesha, she was focused on settling into her teaching job while pursuing her poetry writing/performing, her true passion, on the side. Upon meeting Khalid, Ayesha initially pegs him as a stiff, judgmental type of Muslim, not a man she’d have any sort of romantic interest in.  Khalid judges Ayesha as a Muslim with loose morals.  However, as circumstances throw them together, they find their initial impressions might have been off, and their admiration for each other grows.

While it took me a little bit to get into the story since I felt much of the beginning was an introduction into the culture, and I think there was a lot going on plot wise, I did enjoy the story.  I think any fan of Pride and Prejudice will be able to draw pleasing comparisons to the original beloved story. I loved Ayesha’s character just as I did Elizabeth’s, both viewed as independent, spirited women for their situation, and I was glad they didn’t just cow to their expected roles in life.  Both lived life as they thought they should, no matter the accepted norms around them. Khalid was judgmental and rigid at first, but he grew on me as his view on life expanded.  Hafsa was the “Lydia” of the story and just as selfish, and irritating.  Ayesha was a lot more forgiving of her behavior than I think I would’ve been. Khalid’s mom was something else, the dreaded “Catherine de Bourgh” of the story.

Ayesha at Last is a sweet, funny re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, one of the few re-tellings I’ve actually enjoyed.

4 Suns



Berkley has generously provided A Paperback Copy of Ayesha at Last to giveaway to one reader.  The giveaway is open to US Residents only.  Fill out the rafflecopter below for a chance to win. Good luck! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review, Giveaway & Excerpt: A Merciful Promise by Kendra Elliot


Publication Date: June 18th 2019 by Montlake Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barrnes & Noble

About the book:

The job: infiltrate a militia amassing illegal firearms in an isolated forest community. FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick is the ideal candidate. She knows Oregon. She’s near the compound. And having been raised among survivalists, Mercy understands the mind-set of fanatics. Lay low, follow rules, do nothing to sound an alarm, and relinquish all contact with the outside world. She’s ready to blend in.

As Mercy disappears into the winter hills, something just as foreboding emerges. Mercy’s fiancĂ©, Eagle’s Nest police chief Truman Daly, is faced with a puzzling series of murders—three men dumped in random locations after execution-style shootings.

Now, for Mercy, trapped in a culture where suspicion is second nature, and betrayal is punishable to the extreme, there is no way out. No way to call for help. And as plans for a catastrophic terrorist event escalate, there may be no way to stop them. Even if Mercy dies trying.

My Thoughts:
I loved the idea of a female FBI Agent slash closet Prepper out there solving cases.  Mercy was ousted from her family at eighteen when her views clashed with her father’s but she’s back in her hometown, after fifteen years, to solve a case.  That’s how the first book introduces us to Mercy’s world and how she and Truman Daly, Eagle Nest’s Police Chief, meet and start their romance.  Each book has centered on its own mystery which wraps up, but Mercy’s personal relationships with her family and with Truman were continuing arc throughout the series.  I was captivated by both aspects, as well as intrigued by the whole Prepper concept.  I like the idea of being self-sufficient and being able to survive if the world as we know it collapses. 

This was probably the most nerve-wracking cases Mercy has taken on, and I was on the edge of my seat for her chapters, seriously worried about how it’d all work out!  Being undercover in an isolated militia group with no outside contact and without backup easily available was a dangerous situation for sure!  I felt for Truman, Kaylie and Owen as Mercy’s fate is unknown to them.  Truman had his own murder case to solve: a naked man killed execution style.  Britta Vale, from the last book, figures into this story as well as Detective Bolton, and I wonder if there might be a spinoff featuring the two of them in the future? 

I came to the Mercy Kilpatrick series when five books were already out and binge read them, one right after the other, the series is that good! Didn’t know this was the last book in the Mercy Kilpatrick series and I’m really sad, but I will say the series ended on a lovely high note and I see potential for a spinoff or two. I’m crossing my fingers that’ll happen!

4 Suns



Excerpt:

“What does Jeff want?” FBI special agent Eddie Peterson asked Mercy as they simultaneously tried to pass through the conference room doorway. Eddie stepped back, a laptop under one arm and two books under the other as he precariously gripped a cup of coffee by its lid.

Mercy darted through before he lost control of the coffee. “I don’t know, but he told me to clear my afternoon.”

Eddie frowned as he set the cup on the conference table. “He didn’t tell me that. I’ve got three meetings.”

Mercy shrugged. It was part of her job to change direction on a dime, and Jeff’s vague message had perked up what had promised to be a dull day of paperwork. Mercy had been a special agent with the FBI’s Bend, Oregon, field office for nearly a year after spending five years at the big Portland office. Including her and Eddie, Bend had five agents, in contrast to the hundred agents in Portland.

But Bend was close to her heart. She’d been raised thirty minutes away in the tiny town of Eagle’s Nest, and until she arrived in Bend on a case last September, she hadn’t visited in fifteen years. After that case she left behind Portland’s hustle and bustle for the stunning vistas of the Cascade mountain range to Bend’s west and the wide-open plains to its east.

Her boss, Jeff Garrison, entered the room with two official-looking strangers close behind him. Instinct told Mercy they weren’t FBI—but something about them felt very governmental, and she noticed instantly they were discreetly armed. The woman was tall, dark, and elegant—she could have been a model twenty years earlier, and her gaze zoomed in on Mercy, studying her from head to toe. After the moment of intense scrutiny, she gave Mercy a warm smile. Whatever evaluation she had performed, Mercy had passed.

The male looked as if he could be Eddie’s brother. Young, hair too long, a bit of scruff. He wore jeans and a light jacket.

Jeff made introductions. Carleen Aguirre was the resident agent in charge from the Portland ATF office, and the man was ATF special agent Neal Gorman. As they took their seats, Neal frowned at Mercy, studying her in the same fashion that Carleen had. Mercy returned his stare as Jeff shut the door.

“Nothing said in here leaves this office,” Jeff announced, looking directly at Eddie and Mercy.

Mercy hid a small spark of irritation; she and Eddie weren’t gossips. She lifted a brow and gave Jeff her best side-eye, wondering if she should be offended or immensely curious. She decided on immensely curious and gave the ATF agents the same deep scrutiny she’d received.

Carleen grinned and leaned forward, resting her arms on the table, her dark gaze holding Mercy’s. “One of our agents is undercover in a militia-slash-conspiracy-theorists-slash-illegal-arms-buying group outside of Ukiah.”

Mercy blinked. “That’s a mouthful.”

“Where’s Ukiah?” asked Eddie.

“About thirty miles south of Pendleton. It’s a tiny town. About two hundred people,” answered Neal.

Mercy followed a road map in her head. “That’s a good four hours northeast from here.”

Neal nodded. “Just west of the Umatilla National Forest. If you’re looking for a good place to escape society, this is it. No one will bug you here.”

“But clearly something about this extensively labeled group bugged you enough to embed an agent,” Eddie stated.

“They call their compound America’s Preserve. The group has approximately forty people living in an abandoned campground,” Carleen told him. “The camp is the type of place churches rent for retreats. It has several cabins with bunk beds and a large hall with a kitchen for meetings, but it hadn’t been used in twenty years until this group took up residence about a year ago. The property is owned by a Ukiah resident who gave them permission to move in.” Carleen grimaced. “The ATF doesn’t want to reveal our interest, so no one has talked to the owner, but the general word in Ukiah is that the group is repairing the buildings in exchange for living there.”

“And you embedded an agent because of the illegal-arms-buying aspect,” said Mercy.

Both agents nodded. And didn’t expand.

Mercy waited, but neither Carleen nor Neal jumped in to fill the silence.

But Eddie did. “What do you need from us?”

Carleen took a deep breath. “We need Mercy. Tomorrow a second agent was to join our undercover agent and pose as his girlfriend, but she came down with shingles.” She turned pleading eyes on Mercy.

Sweat started under her arms, and her pulse pounded in her ears.

They want me undercover in an illegal-arms-buying militia?

Last winter she’d gotten uncomfortably close to a budding militia outside of town and nearly paid for it with her life. It wasn’t something she cared to do again.

Jeff met her gaze. He knew how dangerous her last experience had been. His eyes were sympathetic, but he sat silent, allowing the agents to ask.

“Get someone else,” Mercy forced out. “It doesn’t have to be me.”


About the author:
Kendra Elliot has landed on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list multiple times and is the award-winning author of the Bone Secrets and Callahan & McLane series, as well as the Mercy Kilpatrick novels: A Merciful Death, A Merciful Truth, and A Merciful Secret. Kendra is a three-time winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award, an International Thriller Writers finalist, and an RT Award finalist. She has always been a voracious reader, cutting her teeth on classic female heroines such as Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Laura Ingalls. She was born, raised, and still lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her husband and three daughters, but she looks forward to the day she can live in flip-flops. Visit her at www.kendraelliot.com.

Connect with Kendra Elliot:

The lovely people of Montlake Romance are giving away a copy of A Merciful Promise and a $25 Amazon Giftcard! Awesome, right? Fill in the rafflecopter for a chance to win.

Monday, June 17, 2019

2019 Audiobook Challenge: Mid-Year Check In


Hot Listens and Caffeinated Reviewer are hosting their 7th annual Audiobook Challenge and I'm posting my mid-year check in. 

I was aiming for the Marathoner 50+ books and it looks like I'll have no problem since I've just hit 40 books.  I listen to books back and forth to work and it's at hour each way, and listen to books while running or doing chores, but I didn't realize I listened to this many!

Here are a few of my favorites so far this year:

5 Stars:



4.5 Stars:




Saturday, June 15, 2019

Sunday Post #32


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

I'm back up in Northern California and it's been a weekend full of fun kid activities. When went to the park and had fun on the swings and slides. My arms are killing me because I picked up and rode down the slides with my 14 month old granddaughter about a million times, lol.  Today we went to another park with a big petting zoo: cows, goats, chickens, and bunnies. Plus a few roosters cock-a-doodling away.  There was even a the merry-go-round. Lots of fun!




Read:
(Click on cover for Goodreads link:)


I enjoyed Darkness Returns, but would've liked it better had I read previous books in the series.  You'd Be Mine was a delight! Country Music tour with the headliners falling in love. I listened to the audio book and enjoyed the duel narrators.

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:
(Click on cover for Goodreads link:)


Hope and Other Punchlines is a library audio book and I'm enjoying it a lot. After that brutal cliffhanger in Archangel's Prophecy I can't wait to dive into Archangel's War! Love Lorelei James romances and her Blacktop Cowboys series. How to Love a Duke in Ten Days was offered to me and I do love a good historical romance. 

Watched:


Loved Captain Marvel! Now I need to catch up with the other movies in the superhero realm.

How was your week?