Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: Wrong Bed, Right Roommate by Rebecca Brooks

Wrong Bed, Right Roommate by Rebecca Brooks
Series: Accidental Love, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781640636941
Release Date: January 14, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

It’s not every day you wake up to a stranger getting into your bed.
Only, he isn’t a stranger at all, he’s my best friend’s hot older brother…and apparently my new roommate.
Having him in my space, driving me crazy, isn’t a problem at all. Nope.
All I need to do is keep control of the situation…


But that’s easier said than done.
Shawn Lassiter is the kind of distraction I don’t need.
First he accidentally gets into my bed, half-naked, the night before my first day at my new job.
Hello, muscles and tattoos!
Then he’s there, in nothing but a towel, making me coffee in the morning.
It’s more than any girl can resist. Right?
But Shawn is off-limits, even if his eyes are saying differently.

Years ago, back when I still had my crush, he destroyed friendships with his reckless playboy antics.
There’s no way I’m touching those perfectly formed abs now. I don't care how nice and responsible he's acting.
I don’t want a boyfriend anyway. That’s what my trusty vibrator is for.
I’m the smart girl—the glasses-wearing, book-reading workaholic. I can totally do this.
After all, it’s only for two and a half months.
I'll be on my best behavior…even if Shawn isn't.

Falling for your best friend’s sibling is one of my favorite romance tropes, which is why I couldn’t resist picking up Wrong Bed, Right Roommate. Rebecca Brooks has kicked off her Accidental Love series with a sexy forbidden romance.

I have the greatest affection for tightly-wound heroines and Jessie definitely fits the bill. She’s driven, obsessively organized, and determined to be successful now that she’s got her chance to get her foot in the door of New York publishing. Jessie does need to learn to loosen up a bit, and that’s where Shawn comes in. Shawn is Jessie’s opposite in most ways and I admit I had a harder time connecting with him. He has been selfish in the past and has treated the women in his life as fairly disposable, but he recognizes his behavior and is determined to turn his life around which I did like. Shawn also has a tendency to be so laid-back that he can be fairly irresponsible, to the point where I had trouble believing the ending of this story. I don’t want to say too much and spoil the book, but while there was some genuine growth in Shawn’s character, at times his progress didn’t feel earned. Perhaps a bit more time spent with him might have made him feel a bit more believable by the end.

Lust and close quarters are the kick Jessie and Shawn need to “break the rules” and fall into bed. Their romance was solid and there was some nice emotional development, but it felt a bit flat to me. There wasn’t anything particularly new or fresh about the romance to make it stand out, nor were the dialogue or the chemistry between the leads exciting enough to make me simply sit back and enjoy watching beloved tropes play out. I’ve adored Ms. Brooks’s books in the past and I know she can pack and emotional punch, but Jessie and Shawn just fell a bit short of the mark. All the elements were there and the story was good, but I did finish Wrong Bed, Right Roommate feeling like I wanted a bit more.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Review: Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish

Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish
Series: Kincaid Strange, Book 2
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780345815903
Ebook Source: Publisher
Audiobook Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner, is back in the freshly imagined and hugely entertaining second installment of Kristi Charish’s urban fantasy series.

Kincaid Strange cannot catch a break. After dealing with a spate of paranormal murders, there’s barely time to recuperate--let alone sleep in--before there’s a new problem in Kincaid’s world of paranormal activity. When her roommate, Nathan Cade--the ghost of a grunge-rocker with a pathological lack of self-control--comes home bound to a dead body, it’s up to Kincaid to figure out how to free him. Ideally before her new mentor, Gideon, a powerful sorcerer’s ghost, discovers that Nate is trapped in the body he’d coveted for himself.

When Aaron, a Seattle cop on the afterlife beat--and Kincaid’s ex--calls her in to help out with a cold case, she takes the chance to mend fences with the police department. The problem: they want to interview Nate’s ghost, which she can’t produce. Then people from Nate’s past start showing up dead, and what’s killing them doesn't seem to be human. And the way it’s killing them is especially brutal.

Nate’s hiding something, but he’s Kincaid’s friend and she wants to help him. But she also wants to stay alive…

Kincaid Strange, the best voodoo practitioner in the Pacific Northwest, has not been having a good time lately. After solving a series of murders that left her physically and emotionally worn out, all she wants is to get back to doing normal séances and zombie raisings. But before you can say “feral zombie,” Kincaid is up to her ears in problems again. She’s in debt to a sorcerer’s ghost, her roommate and best friend, Nathan Cade – ghost of a grunge rock star – is trapped in a zombie’s body, and now her Seattle cop ex wants Kincaid to look into a murder involving people from Nate’s past. It’s more than your average practitioner could take… But Kincaid Strange is anything but average.

Return to Kristi Charish’s fantastical and fascinating world of zombies, ghosts, and ghouls in Lipstick Voodoo. I loved Kincaid’s first outing - The Voodoo Killings - and couldn’t wait to see what happened next for the kickass voodoo practitioner.

Kincaid continues to be a great protagonist. She’s strong but flawed, smart but doesn’t know everything, and when her back’s against the wall, she’ll continue to fight, especially if someone she cares about is in danger. This time around, her irresponsible but loveable roommate, Nate, has gotten her into hot water. Nate is trapped in a zombie body and the clock is ticking for her to figure out how to get him out before Nate burns out. Nate has a fun personality and it’s easy to see why Kincaid adores him, but that doesn’t mean she’s blind to his flaws. Nate’s impulsive nature has gotten him into deep trouble and he’s got secrets Kincaid will have to suss out when supernatural murders strike and it’s clear there’s a connection to him. I loved watching how Kincaid’s mind worked as she unraveled the rapidly multiplying mysteries.

Lipstick Voodoo also brings the return of other fascinating characters. From the powerful zombie Lee Ling to the surprisingly interesting Mork to Gideon Lawrence, a sometimes-terrifying sorcerer’s ghost, there are a wealth of complex secondary characters that round out this story extremely well. I loved delving deeper into Gideon’s character in particular; he’s powerful, dangerous, intriguing, and I very much want to learn more about him. He and Kincaid have an interesting relationship and his insights into Kincaid’s character add to the story.

Lipstick Voodoo is a twisting blend of paranormal mystery, action, and the emotional struggle of a woman caught between the living and the dead. There’s a lot going on in this book, but Ms. Charish deftly weaves all the threads together to create a wonderful, engaging story. If you haven’t read The Voodoo Killings I highly recommend doing so before diving into this book (unless you don’t mind huge spoilers). I finished Lipstick Voodoo a well-satisfied reader, but I cannot wait to see what Ms. Charish has in store for Kincaid next!


FTC Disclosure: I received the ebook edition of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and purchased the audiobook edition. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Best Books of 2018

2019 is here and with it comes a bunch of highly anticipated reads. But before I fully dive into the new year looking for some new favorite books, it’s time to take a look back at the best books of 2018. I read 117 books last year, including a few re-reads that I fell in love with all over again. I tried 26 new (to me) authors and discovered some wonderful authors whose backlists I cannot wait to dive into (Lauren Blakely is now an autobuy author for me). And finally, I participated in my ninth A to Z Reading Challenge, a fun challenge that usually leads me to at least a couple of books I might not have moved to the top of my TBR pile otherwise.

I read a number of excellent books last year, but below are my favorite reads of 2018 – my top ten new reads, two bonus children’s books that I thought deserved their own category, and my favorite re-reads.


Top Ten Books of 2018
Top Children’s Books of 2018
Top Re-Reads of 2018


My Top Ten Books of 2018

Note: My picks weren’t all published in 2018, but all were new-to-me reads for the year.
Also note: The books are alphabetized by author as I love them all equally.


1. Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely
My Review | Purchase Link






2. Smoke and Iron (The Great Library, Book 4) by Rachel Caine
My Review | Purchase Link




3. Heroine’s Journey (Heroine Complex, Book 3) by Sarah Kuhn
My Review | Purchase Link






4. The Chateau (The Original Sinners, Book 9) by Tiffany Reisz
My Review | Purchase Link






5. Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz
My Mini Review | Purchase Link







6. Picture Perfect Cowboy (The Original Sinners, Book 10) by Tiffany Reisz
My Review | Purchase Link






7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, Book 7) by J.K. Rowling
Purchase Link






8. Rainy Day Friends (Wildstone, Book 2) by Jill Shalvis
My Review | Purchase Link






9. Ocean Light (Psy-Changeling Trinity, Book 2) by Nalini Singh
My Review | Purchase Link






10. Royally Wed (The Royals, Book 3) by Teri Wilson
My Review | Purchase Link










Top Children’s Books of 2018


1. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Marlon Bundo and Jill Twiss
My Mini Review | Purchase Link




2. The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster's Guide to Life by Sesame Workshop
My Mini Review | Purchase Link











My Top Re-Reads of 2018


1. Aidan & Ethan (Seeking Redemption, Book 1) by Cameron Dane
Purchase Link




2. Purity in Death (In Death, Book 15) by J.D. Robb
Purchase Link





3. Angels Fall by Nora Roberts
Purchase Link






4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, Book 2) by J.K. Rowling
Purchase Link

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 A to Z Reading Challenge

I've had a blast doing this challenge for the past few years and I can't resist another go 'round. I've discovered a few now-favorite books I might not have otherwise noticed because of this challenge :)

Challenge details:
- Duration: January 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019
- Read 26 books which titles begin with the letters of the alphabet.
- You may ignore articles like A, An and The at the beginning of the title.
- For the letter X, any book title with the letter X in it is acceptable if you can't find one that begins with X.
- You can sign up anytime.
- Please only list books you have read. You can read them in any order.
- A book only counts once, so you can include a re-read the first time you read it.

My List:
A
B
C
D
E
F
Getting Schooled by Emma Chase – 1/13/19
H
I
Judgment in Death by J.D. Robb – 1/5/19
K
Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish – 1/11/19
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z

2019 New (to me) Author Challenge

I've done this challenge for the past nine years and discovered some great new-to-me authors along the way (not hard to believe since I've read 563 new (to me) authors from 2010 to 2018). A few of my favorite authors that I've "discovered" over the past few years are Jenn Bennett, Lauren Blakely, Kerrigan Byrne, Chanel Cleeton, C.C. Galloway, Larissa Ione, Heather McCollum, Lilah Pace, Stacy Reid, Tiffany Reisz, Cherise Sinclair, Dee Tenorio, and Elia Winters.


The Challenge: Read 20 or more books this year by authors you’ve never read before.
Dates: January 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019

My list:

1. Author: Emma Chase
Title: Getting Schooled (Getting Some, Book 1)

Books I've Read in 2019

For the past nine years I've kept track of the books I read. I read so much that everything tends to blend together in my mental library. It's always fun at the end of the year to look back and see what I've read, loved, and want to re-read (and - on the rare occasion - want to avoid). Plus, it's great to share and compare lists with other book bloggers :)

This list is only of books and novellas I've read and finished (though if I read an entire anthology, I list only the anthology title). The books are listed in the order I read them.

There are sure to be many wonderful stories on the list, but the ones with a ** by them are ones I highly recommend.

1. Judgment in Death (In Death, Book 11) by J.D. Robb (re-read) **
2. Lipstick Voodoo (Kincaid Strange, Book 2) by Kristi Charish
3. Getting Schooled (Getting Some, Book 1) by Emma Chase **

Monday, December 31, 2018

Review: Untouchable by Jayne Ann Krentz

Untouchable by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Cutler, Sutter & Salinas, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9780399585296
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Quinton Zane is back.

Jack Lancaster, consultant to the FBI, has always been drawn to the coldest of cold cases, the kind that law enforcement either considers unsolvable or else has chalked up to accidents or suicides. As a survivor of a fire, he finds himself uniquely compelled by arson cases. His almost preternatural ability to get inside the killer's head has garnered him a reputation in some circles--and complicated his personal life. The more cases Jack solves, the closer he slips into the darkness. His only solace is Winter Meadows, a meditation therapist. After particularly grisly cases, Winter can lead Jack back to peace.

But as long as Quinton Zane is alive, Jack will not be at peace for long. Having solidified his position as the power behind the throne of his biological family's hedge fund, Zane sets out to get rid of Anson Salinas's foster sons, starting with Jack.

Foster brothers Jack Lancaster, Max Cutler, and Cabot Sutter were all raised in a cult until one hellish night when cult leader Quinton Zane burned down the compound, leaving them orphans. Supposedly Zane died years ago, but Jack, Max, Cabot, and their rescuer/foster father, Anson Salinas, know better. After years of chasing shadows, the man behind their trauma is within their grasp…if they can survive his machinations. Because Zane is tired of hiding, and with a fortune on the line he needs to eliminate the threat the four men who know too much about him present. And he’s going to start with Jack…

Untouchable is an entertaining read that brings the hunt for Quinton Zane to a satisfying conclusion. Jack and Winter are more cerebral characters which gives them and their romance a slightly different dynamic. They’re an interesting pair: a focused hunter haunted by the past who works cold cases and a skilled hypnotist with ghosts of her own. I loved watching how Jack’s mind worked through cases and he definitely fascinated me. Winter is the only person who can bring him back when he goes too far into his own head and her skills are interesting in their own right. They fit one another well, they have solid (if understated) chemistry, and there’s definitely passion. Yet while I liked them together, I won’t deny that there was a certain ineffable spark that was missing, thus making the love story feel a bit by-the-numbers. I’ll be honest and say that this didn’t bother me overmuch, but I do think it’s worth mentioning because other readers may not be as content.

As one might expect from the final book in the trilogy, the resolution of the Quinton Zane plotline shifts the balance more toward suspense. Zane has been the bogeyman of the series; the charismatic, pyromaniac cult leader who is a brilliant con man capable of eluding capture for decades. The problem with having such a powerful villain is that they work better as a shadowy, unseen figure than they do as a main antagonist. There’s so much buildup in When All the Girls Have Gone and Promise Not to Tell that there’s no way one human man could deliver when he ultimately appears (at least if you want him to be plausibly defeated by the heroes and heroines). For me, Zane was the weak point in Untouchable and I wished some of the much-touted charisma and cleverness had shown to make him a stronger villain. That being said, the action scenes were still exciting and the hunt itself was entertaining. Jayne Ann Krentz knows how to keep the pages turning and the story engaging, so I can forgive some of the weaker points in the story because I enjoyed it, flaws and all.

Untouchable is the third book in the Cutler, Sutter & Salinas series but it can be read as a standalone. I enjoyed revisiting beloved characters and I got a kick out seeing Jack and Winter in towns from other Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick books (who doesn’t love a good Easter egg?). So while Untouchable has its flaws, it was still a solid read and a satisfying end to the Cutler, Sutter & Salinas trilogy.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.