Standalone Sunday (6/25/17): Under Locke by Mariana Zapata 

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!
Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick this week is: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata. 

BLURB
: He was my boss, my brother’s friend, a widow, an ex-felon, and a man I’d seen casually with a handful of women. But he was everything that gripped me, both the good and the bad. Worst case scenario: If things turned awkward between us, I could go somewhere else. I’d gotten over epic heartbreak before; one more wouldn’t kill me.
After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly… even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude and impatient, and he doesn’t know how to tell time. And the last thing they ever expected was each other.
Narrated by: Callie Dalton
Length: 16 hrs and 5 mins

ADD TO GOODREADS 

I’m currently listening to this audiobook because I loved The Wall of Winnipeg and Wait For It by the same author. Zapata takes her time with character development so that the friendship, attraction and subsequent love story never feels rushed. I am anticipating a satisfying story today.

Have you read or listened to this book? Did you enjoy it? What about this author, have you tried her before?

#audiobookmonth #standalonesunday 

Standalone Sunday (5/28/17): The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick this week is: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. 

BLURB:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

ADD TO GOODREADS 

I’m currently watching the made-for-tv series on Hulu because my husband listened to this audiobook narrated by Claire Danes.

I chose this book because I’ve been captivated by this intense dystopian series and its been hard trying to avoid spoilers from the Love of my Life who is so eager to share his book knowledge.   We have this same issue (him attempting to share spoilers) with The Walking Dead and the Game of Thrones tv shows. The GoT is series I’ve vowed that I will not start the audiobooks until the author finishes the series. I’m not convinced there will be an end to the series due to author’s snail paced writing schedule.

Anyway, the Handmaid’s Tale is painful as a woman to watch as the women were reduced to homemakers and breeders. I’m afraid to see the season finale next week, but I will start the audiobook then.

Have you read or listened to this book? Are you watching the Hulu original series? What do/did you think about it?

Goodreads Monday (5/22/17): An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To participate, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners and add your own links! 

My choice today is An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League #1) by Alyssa Cole.

BLURB: As the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .

Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.

Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.

Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . 

ADD TO GOODREADS 

Isn’t that cover beautiful? Alyssa Cole is an author I met at RT 16 in Las Vegas. She was so nice that I told myself when I see an audiobook by her, I’ll snag it. That I’ve done and I can’t wait to listen to it.  This choice is a historical fiction which I enjoy and it is also a series. I will add a review as soon as I’m done. Have you read anything by Alyssa Cole?

What are you reading today from your Goodreads TBR shelf? 

Standalone Sunday (5/21/17): Wait for It by Mariana Zapata

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick this week is: Wait For It by Mariana Zapata

  

BLURB: If anyone ever said being an adult was easy, they hadn’t been one long enough.

Diana Casillas can admit it: she doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing half the time. How she’s made it through the last two years of her life without killing anyone is nothing short of a miracle. Being a grown-up wasn’t supposed to be so hard.

With a new house, two little boys she inherited the most painful possible way, a giant dog, a job she usually loves, more than enough family, and friends, she has almost everything she could ever ask for.

Except for a boyfriend.
Or a husband.

But who needs either one of those?

Kindle Edition: 670 pages

Audiobook
: 15hrs, 52 mins

Published:
December 7th 2016 by Amazon Digital Services LLC

ADD TO GOODREADS 

I’m currently listening to this audiobook narrated by Callie Dalton. I chose this book because I read The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by the same author a week and a half ago and loved that book. So I purchased this book. I plan to also get the Audiobooks Under Locke and Kulti by Mariana Zapata. This author’s writing was that gripping and entertaining to me.

Have you read or listened to this book or any book by Mariana Zapata? Did you enjoy it? Happy First Day of the Week!

If Not for You (New Beginnings #3) by Debbie Macomber

Series:
Narrator: Khristine Hvam.
Source: Netgalley

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

Title: If Not for You by Debbie Macomber
Series: New Beginnings #3
Release Date: March 21st 2017
Format: e-ARC (432 pages) • Audiobook: 10 hrs and 46 mins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published By: Ballantine Books
Purchase Links:  Amazon US Audible

If not for her loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme might never have taken charge of her life and moved from her native Chicago to Portland, Oregon, where she’s reconnected with her spirited Aunt Sunshine and found a job as a high school music teacher. If not for her friend Nichole, Beth would never have met Sam Carney, although first impressions have left Beth with serious doubts. Sam is everything Beth is not—and her parents’ worst nightmare: a tattooed auto mechanic who’s rough around the edges. Reserved and smart as a whip, Beth isn’t exactly Sam’s usual beer-drinking, pool-playing type of woman, either.

But if not for an awkward setup one evening, Beth might never have left early and been involved in a car crash. And if not for Sam—who witnessed the terrifying ordeal, rushed to her aid, and stayed with her until help arrived—Beth might have been all alone, or worse. Yet as events play out, Sam feels compelled to check on Beth almost daily at the hospital—even bringing his guitar to play songs to lift her spirits. Soon their unlikely friendship evolves into an intense attraction that surprises them both.

Before long, Beth’s strong-willed mother, Ellie, blows into town spouting harsh opinions, especially about Sam, and reopening old wounds with Sunshine. When shocking secrets from Sam’s past are revealed, Beth struggles to reconcile her feelings. But when Beth goes a step too far, she risks losing the man and the life she’s come to love.

three-half-stars

This book was in the usual Debbie Macomber style. A nice contemporary romance with ordinary and relatable characters. While you may not love the characters, they typically remind me of people I know. It’s like watching a Saturday afternoon show on Lifetime. In fact, this one would make a good movie.

Beth Prudhomme and Sam Carney were set up on a blind date by mutual friends (Nichole and Rocco from Book 2: A Girl’s Guide to Moving On) and that first dinner was a disaster. Both of them came to the date with preconceived notions, so nothing really clicked for them. One the way home, Beth got into a car accident and Sam was one of the first people on the scene. Beth’s misfortune paved a way for Sam to connect with her in a new way. As Beth recovered, Sam came to visit and keep her company in the hospital. They began looking
forward to spending time together.

I thought it was sweet that Sam kept coming to check on Beth, but I had issues with both of them. How could a grown twenty-five year old teacher be so completely under the mother’s thumb? Beth seemed to be a sixteen-year old girl at times where Sam had the jaded attitude made him seem really old. Sam had a painful experience with a woman, so he swore off love and relationships. Yet, he went to visit Beth every chance he got because he just wanted…what exactly did he expect?
Each character seemed to be the opposite of their counterpart. Beth as sweet and flexible, Sam was gruff and inflexible. Beth’s mom Ellie was pushy and judgmental while Beth’s dad seemed like he took things lighter and respected the autonomy of others.

I liked Sam but didn’t feel like his past gave him a pass to be so mean and unforgiving. I had a harder time liking Beth because she was pretty weak as a heroine, yet nosy as hell with other people’s issues. Her mother was annoying and rude. I am glad Beth’s dad was in the story to balance out the mother’s prickly personality. It’s obvious that Beth wouldn’t even live on her own if not for her dad.
I liked the side story of the Aunt Sunshine, which ended well after 30 years. I also had issues with their communication or lack thereof, but it did end well, so I had to be content with that.

Overall, the story was a pleasant read and I look forward to reading more books in this series.

Ezi

Release Day Blitz: Lethal Lies (Blood Brothers #2) by Rebecca Zanetti

Series:
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)

Title: LETHAL LIES
Author: Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Blood Brothers, #2
On Sale: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Trade Paperback: $14.99 USD
eBook: $5.99 USD

Add to Goodreads

“4 1/2 stars! Top pick! This is a true thriller that will keep readers frantically flipping the pages as death and danger come at the protagonists from several directions. Zanetti’s brilliance at storytelling is on full display…When it comes to high-octane thrillers, they don’t get better than Zanetti!” —RT Book Reviews on LETHAL LIES

“Zanetti’s stories are always woven with vivid detail and a breakneck pace. As a reader, there’s really no time to draw a peaceful breath until the story ends. Lethal Lies is another winner.” –Heroes & Heartbreakers on LETHAL LIES

“Zanetti balances the adventure and menace of Zara and Ryker’s lives with a relatable romance. The result is a story that’s sexy and emotional, and filled with a rich look at love in all its forms.” —The Washington Post on DEADLY SILENCE

“Budget your time, readers, because this is one that’s hard to put down.” — Heroes & Heartbreakers on DEADLY SILENCE

A deadly secret can’t stay buried forever . . .

Revenge. It’s the only thing that will help Anya Best sleep at night. The serial killer who murdered her sister is on the loose, and Anya will stop at nothing to put him behind bars—even use herself as bait to lure him out of hiding. But she can’t do this alone.

Private investigator Heath Jones’s job is to bring bastards to justice. This time it’s personal. He knew the Copper Killer’s latest victim so when her sister asks for his help, he’s all in. But when Anya uses the media to taunt the killer, she exposes Heath’s identity, putting them both in jeopardy. Now, secrets buried long ago are coming to light and the forces determined to destroy him are watching Heath’s every move, waiting to exact their own revenge. And they’ll use anything and anyone to get to Heath.

BUY THE BOOK HERE

Amazon US    Barnes & Noble Books-A-Million   Google Play   iBooks IndieBound   Kobo   Target

**Pick up the print edition for exclusive bonus content!**

THE BLOOD BROTHERS SERIES

DEADLY SILENCE, #1
LETHAL LIES, #2
TWISTED TRUTHS, #3

The Blood Brothers Series: Series Page on Goodreads

Follow  Online: Website  Facebook   Twitter   InstagramPinterest

CLICK on RAFFLECOPTER for a GIVEAWAY

 

About Rebecca Zanetti

Rebecca Zanetti wrote her first story when she was six – a romance between a princess and neighboring prince. The princess fell out of her castle and the prince rescued her. A happily ever after was had by all.

This theme of romance has been carried through Rebecca’s works until present time. While today’s heroine may have a medical degree, black belt in Karate and her own 401K, she’s still after that happy ending. And today’s prince may have fangs and wear a black hat, but hey, a modern princess likes a guy who bites.

Growing up amid the glorious backdrops and winter wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest has given Rebecca fantastic scenery and adventures to weave into her stories. She resides there with her husband, children and extended family who inspire her every day.

Nico (Ruin & Revenge #1) by Sarah Castille

Series:
Narrator: Aiden Snow
Source: Tantor Audio

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

Title: Nico by Sarah Castille
Series: Ruin & Revenge #1
Release Date: December 27, 2016
Format: Audiobook (11 hrs 19 mins)
Genre: Romance, Mafia Romance
Published By: Tantor Audio

In , Las Vegas Mafia boss Nico Toscani is used to getting what he wants, whether it is having the City of Sin under his rule or a beautiful woman in his bed. But when he meets his match in the gorgeous, headstrong Mia Cordano, the daughter of a rival crime lord, all bets are off . . . Sexy computer hacker Mia struggles to break free of her ruthless father’s Mafia ties . . . but she can’t resist the powerful and seductive Nico, who will stop at nothing to possess her. With their families locked in a brutal war for control of the city, Mia and Nico enter into a forbidden game. Will they surrender to the passion that burns between them and risk tearing apart their families? Or will Nico be forced to betray the only woman who sets his blood on fire?

four-half-stars

This story was well developed, well written and completely engrossing. The narrator, Aiden Snow, nailed the voices of the main characters with an authentic Italian accent. His voice was a perfect complement to the entertaining writing of Sarah Castille.

Mia Cordano is a mafia princess but she wants nothing to do with the life. Mia’s father is obsessed with power and he has lined up a marriage for his daughter that will gain him an alliance with more power. Mia attempts to rebel against her father’s decree and begins making a life as a hacker. When it’s clear that Mia can’t escape her father’s arranged marriage, Mia find a champion in Nico Toscano. Nico is a Capo who wants revenge against his Uncle and all those who had a hand in the murder of his parents. Marrying Mia will create an alliance between the Toscano and the Cordano family. When Mia and Nico sneak off and marry subverting Don Cordano’s plan, the Cordanos vow revenge. Now Nico and Mia have to navigate the treacherous mafia world while fighting a growing attraction to each other. In the end, will love win over family loyalty and revenge?

I really enjoyed Mia as a heroine because she did not relish the role of being a mafia princess nor did she glamorize it in her head. She had a good grasp on what she wanted out of life as well as a husband even though she was forced to marry Nico Toscano to escape a worse fate.
The evolution of Mia and Nico’s relationship was gratifying to witness. She had a good sense of herself and so did Nico, who was looking for his place in the mob world. I like that Nico and Mia’s relationship wasn’t instantaneous, instead the author slowly developed their relationship. It added authenticity to the love they eventually found.

This book is one of the best written mafia romances I’ve read in a long time. The characters and the plot were commendably developed and the entire listening experience was so enjoyable. There was action, suspense, sex, love and drama. The only thing missing for me was a little more emotional angst given the environment the main characters existed in. Still, I found this book to be in the top echelon of mafia romances and I am anticipating an awesome series.

Ezi

The Perfect Play (Play by Play, #1) by Jaci Burton

Series:
Narrator: Lucy Malone
Source: Tantor Audio

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

Title: The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton
Series: Play by Play, #1
Release Date: March 4, 2013
Format: Audiobook (8 hrs and 36 mins)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Published By: Tantor Media
Purchase Links: Tantor Audio Amazon US

 

The last thing event planner Tara Lincoln needs is the jet-set lifestyle of a football pro like Mick Riley, even though their steamy and passionate one-night stand proved that Mick is an all-star—both on the field and in the bedroom.

Tara played the game of love once and lost big, and she doesn’t intend to put herself out there again, especially with a certified heartbreaker. But when Mick sets his mind to win, nothing will stop him. And he has the perfect play in mind to catch this sultry vixen.
two-half-stars

Aside from this book being uninteresting, I was baffled that two grown-ups were having such simple misunderstandings when they can just text or call each other.

Tara Lincoln was an event planner who was trying to make a name in San Francisco when she landed a huge contract to plan a preseason party for a professional football team. There she met a nice guy Mick Riley and they ended up in bed together. She later finds out that Mick is a quarterback for the professional football team, but they didn’t really discuss this “thing” being anything more. And that was part of the problem for me. There was very little or unclear communication about anything other than sex and career aspirations. Tara and Mick were good at having sex but discussing life and how to have adult relationships, they were quite juvenile in their actions.

Well, mostly Tara was the annoying character as she was full of assumptions and didn’t give Mick a chance to explain himself. She was just one of those heroines you want to slap. I liked Mick but their relationship seemed so shallow that I wasn’t sure why he would even want to put up with her drama.

The characters were not developed that well and the writing was so inconsistent for me. The narration made the story worse that I considered quitting on the audiobook several times and just reading the paperback. Honestly, this book was forgettable because there are plenty of better done sports romances with single parents finding love. I will try book 2 before I decide on this series but I will likely not listen to the audio because the narrator’s tone grated my nerves.

Ezi

Snared (Elemental Assassin #16) by Jennifer Estep

Series:
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Source: Netgalley

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

Title: Snared by Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin #16
Release Date: April 25th 2017
Format: e-ARC (400)
Genre: Paranormal Romance; Urban Fantasy
Published By: Pocket Books
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & NobleSna

If you don’t know Gin “the Spider” Blanco, you don’t know dangerous female heroines.

Irony 101—The Spider herself snared in someone else’s web…

Another week, another few clues trickling in about the Circle, the mysterious group that supposedly runs the city’s underworld. Gathering intel on my hidden enemies is a painstaking process, but a more immediate mystery has popped up on my radar: a missing girl.

My search for the girl begins on the mean streets of Ashland, but with all the killers and crooks in this city, I’m not holding out much hope that she’s still alive.

A series of clues leads me down an increasingly dark, dangerous path, and I realize that the missing girl is really just the first thread in this web of evil. As an assassin, I’m used to facing down the worst of the worst, but nothing prepares me for this new, terrifying enemy—one who strikes from the shadows and is determined to make me the next victim.

four-half-stars

This installment was one of my favorites in the series. It continues this new mystery of Gin’s mother Eira Snow and her involvement with the Circle. I love this series and I love the characters. Each book holds my interest because they are action-packed and the mystery Gin Blanco has to solve always keeps me thoroughly entertained.

Book 16 started immediately as Gin was spying on Hugh Tucker in her attempts to unravel the clues left behind by Fletcher Lane. Even while eavesdropping, Gin and Finn can’t figure out the identity of the leader of “The Circle”. But they are getting close. First, the gang has to help Jade Jamison, a local mob boss, because the Lipstick killer kidnapped Jade’s little sister Elissa, the little sister of Jade.

What I love about this author is the way she weaves a story using the past simultaneously with the present. I feel as though Fletcher is alive because he is so instrumental in all of Gin’s escapades. Either that or Fletcher was one hell of a sage because he was light years ahead of his time when it came to predicting what his protege would need in the future. Finn seemed to be much better emotionally than the last couple of books after the betrayal by his mother Deidra Shaw. He was back to trading witty repartee with Gin. I found myself chuckling a lot in this book. The snarky delivery by the Spider makes her one of my favorite heroines. She’s sassy and smart-alecky but she always gets the job done.

This book was definitely top 3 best installments in this series. If you love the past books, this one is the same but continuing this slow revelation about the Circle. I’m hoping the leader of the The Circle is as fierce as the legendary fire elemental, Mab Monroe, because no other villain has measures up. I’m looking for a crime lord who will make the Ashland quake in their boots.
Ezi

Audiobook Review: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Narrator: Georgia Maguire

Title: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Release Date: February 11th, 2016
Format: Georgia Maguire (8 hrs and 23 mins)
Genre: Suspense, Thrillers, Mystery
Published By: St. Martin’s Press
Purchase Links: GoodreadsAmazon US

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

three-half-stars

I usually avoid these books but this was one was intriguing. It was a Goodreads choice award book so I wanted to see what the fuss was. I just want to say that “I like George Clooney but hate Jack!”

Jack Apple was a lawyer who specialized in divorce cases with battered spouses. He has never lost a case and has made a name as a champion for abused spouses. In his home life, he has been known to expect perfection from himself as well as his wife. When I heard the word “perfect” over and over in the beginning dinner party, I knew this perfect marriage was a sham. It was a matter of figuring out Jack’s motives. I liked Grace, Millie and the caretaker. They were genuinely good people unlike Millie’s self centered parents.

I have to say that I don’t believe “friends” and “coworkers” can be that oblivious. Especially highly educated people like attorneys who make their living ferreting out facades. So Esther’s appearance gave me life. Esther saw and heard the “unspoken” truths. She read between the lines and I knew the jig was soon to be up for Jack.

The writing flowed well and the plot kept my attention the entire time. The narrator’s voice captures the tones so well that it did give me chills. The voice for Grace conveyed helplessness and Jack’s felt creepy. I wouldn’t mind seeing this book adapted for a movie. I just wonder if the house was in Jack’s name, the cars, money etc. what was found in his personal effects, computers, room after he was dealt with? People like him leave journals souvenirs of their conquests. That what I wanted to see in the epilogue.

Ezi