Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

cinandgunFrom Amazon:

Kidnapped by a ruthless early 19th-century woman pirate and ordered to serve exquisite Sunday dinners or forfeit his life, renowned chef Owen Wedgwood transforms meager shipboard supplies into sumptuous meals while the pirate queen pushes her exhausted crew to track down a deadly privateer. (historical fiction).

Amazon Rating: 4.7 our 5 Stars!!

My Musings:

One thing I have missed since I moved back to my hometown is that I had to leave my book club and all my awesome book club friends. So a few months back I reached out in my new neighborhood hoping that there would be others like me who wanted to meet, drink wine and discuss books and guess what … I found myself a new book club filled with awesome ladies who share my love of reading. Score! Well this month our book was Cinnamon and Gunpowder, a book that a lady had heard about on NPR. From the description you’ll see that it is a pirate book and even more odd … a male captive and a female pirate …. definitely a different spin on an old formula. I was a intrigued to say the least.

When I started this book I had the print version and just couldn’t get into it. Even though it is written not that long ago, the story takes place a couple hundred years ago (which I normally love) but the words are older, more proper and so adjective heavy that my mind just wandered as I struggled to focus on the pages. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad or anything and it has an interesting story line but still with all of that I couldn’t get into it and I was frustrated. Well to be fair I was also super busy and had a deadline on a blanket I had promised to make for a friend so my mind was all over the place and time was limited. All of this equals me going to Audible and buying the audio version and I am so happy I did because the audio book was way better and much more engaging. I credit a lot of that to the narrator who was able to inject life and excitement into the words that had bogged me down in the print version and brought the whole story to life!

So while I was going about my busy day to day I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the adventures of Mad Mabbot and Wedge on the high seas. It was an adventure book filled with odd bits of humor and daring. The twists and turns of the plots were ones that were never really obvious and the prose was eloquent in its own way. I found myself drawn to the characters that I initially had zero interest in and the character development was so strong that they seemed to live.  All those annoying adjectives in print all of a sudden were like gems! By the time that I reached the end I was so invested and emotionally tied up that I was bereft to say goodbye.

The story is ultimately about Owen a well known and celebrated chef employed by a wealthy, powerful man in England and his journey. Owen comes off as accomplished and confident but he locked into a prison of his circumstances and a terrifying encounter with the most feared and hunted pirate in the world, who imprisons him …. ironically frees him in ways readers will never expect.

Mad Mabbot was a fantastic female lead. Unapologetically ruthless, witty and kind  … in her warped way will leave readers wondering what her motives are and if the stories of her escapades could be true? She breaks the mold of her station in a time when females were second class and largely silent. She is a refreshing read. Not to leave out Mr. Apples who tugged at my heart in his big, tough, knitting way… he was sweet.

After I finished this story I remembered why I love book clubs so much and no its not just the wine, although that is a hell of a perk! I love that we rotate picking books and it forces me to experience something new. I can 100% guarantee I would have never picked this book on my own and if they hadn’t been counting on me, I may never have finished but I am so thankful I did and it makes me excited to see what new book adventures these ladies will find.

Happy Reading

Amy

 

 

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr!!

MY Crazy Book Addiction

All the Light we Cannot See

As an avid reader I have sometimes found myself reading a story where I ended up becoming emotionally attached. Sometimes I will even find myself altering my points of view or strongly held beliefs.  There has even been a time or two where I couldn’t stand the protagonist and the antagonist was the one I was rooting for (ahem…. New Moon). So with all of those previous little altering situations… I was still shocked on how this book affected me.  For the first time ever I found myself sympathizing with a character that was of all things… a WWII German soldier.  I mean these guys were the super bad guys. Unspeakable, never dress up as a joke as them… type of bad guys. They were a plague on humanity, a void in the vastness of our history.  And yet in this story at least I was saddened. The reader really sees how the…

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The Good Widow by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke


From Amazon:

Amazon Charts bestselling authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke make their suspense debut in this twisty, emotional thriller.

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…

My Musings..

It has been quite a long time since I have had the time and motivation to indulge in a good book … my favorite idea of a good time. Life gets in the way and sometimes there is just no time. Anyway, this past week I was recovering from putting in a 60 hour week and besides getting myself a way overdue manicure and pedicure, I decided to treat myself to a book. So it was off to Amazon to explore and I came across The Good Widow and the first thing that caught me was the cover. It looked so intriguing but slightly scary, so I just went with it. Oh it doesn’t hurt that I checked it out for free on Kindle Unlimited… a cheapo at heart, that’s me!

So after I downloaded the book to my “aged to perfection” Kindle – I dove right in and didn’t really surface until it was over. This book sucked me in. Maybe it was the story or the writing, I am not sure but it kept me engaged. I have said it many times but it bears repeating, I don’t give spoilers so you won’t find those here but I’ll be crafty and give you my thoughts anyway.

My initial feeling was that it was a great idea – husband is cheating, goes on a clandestine vacation with his mistress and they tragically die…. deep stuff and room for a really great story of loss, betrayal and moving on……. that is what I was prepared for. I liked the intro into the characters, how it sort of drops us right into the story, very little build up, more of reminiscing to show us how they got to where they were.  The story is told from two perspectives, going back and forth between the wife, Jacks and the mistress, Dylan. This was a surprise, I had thought it would have been from Jacks’ perspective considering she is still alive. But this worked when if you had asked me before reading I would have said would have been an unnecessary distraction. As a married woman myself, Dylan was the insta-villian and James … well I wanted to both shake and cry for him. Very confusing for me to feel! It was uncomfortable when I started to sympathize with Dylan and I found myself grudgingly liking her? Maybe liking is too strong at least at first but some of her horns and scales started to melt away as the story played out. Jacks’ sister Beth has a large presence in the book and I couldn’t stand her … until the end. It wasn’t anything she did specifically to redeem herself in my eyes but all of a sudden she was wise and I got her. Sort of like a child growing up to realize mom and dad are not complete idiots after all, that was me about Beth. The other main character was Nick, Dylan’s jilted fiance. I liked him but there was just something ….. I couldn’t describe it but it was a feeling of waiting for something. Nick Nick Nick … you confused me and because of that I was chomping at the bit to dig deeper into his character.

As for the writing, I have never read a book authored by two people. I kind of stay away from those because it doesn’t make sense to me how two people could write a book that is consistent and has a good flow but the these ladies did an good job. Makes me wonder how many great books I have passed up? Like I said, readers get thrown right into the story and almost immediately your heartstrings are getting pulled. I vacillated between wanting to cry for Jacks, anger towards James and Dylan, grief and hope for Nick and then BAM!! Twists and turns, twists and turns! I pride myself on being a book critic and like to think I am not so easily fooled but 1 point to these ladies, 0 points to me. They got me and got me good. Looking back if I screw up my brain and look at it in the abstract, the clues were there .. maybe.

The ending itself, while it did surprise me was a bit too rushed for me. That is one thing I took away from the story. I feel like it could have gone deeper. So much happens and it is so quick that I felt like I was going a 100 mph and then hit a wall and was like ” that’s it?” There were also slow parts that were unnecessarily dragged out and the idea of them going to Maui to re-live the doomed lovers fateful trip was a bit beyond my ability to suspend my disbelief but all that considered it was a good book.

So I would give The Good Widow a 3 and 1/2 star rating. It was a good book, great idea and thrilling read but I wanted, no needed more there at the end. Oh and the title … still don’t get that. One more thing to leave me scratching my head. I think I’ll explore more from these authors and maybe, just maybe give other dual author books a chance.

Till next time … Happy Reading!

~ Amy

Bound By Darkness by Valerie Twombly!

Bound by Darkness

From Amazon:

He mated to protect her. She used him for revenge. As their worlds collide, their feelings for each other grow. But, when his dark secret is revealed, it may be more than she can forgive.

Lyzander has done many distasteful things in his life. One in particular has haunted him for the past twenty years. Now, the little girl he sheltered from the ones who killed her family has become his savior. When she seeks to avenge the murder of her loved ones, he finds himself saving her all over again.

Kelana has an agenda, and if mating with the angel warrior Lyzander will bring her closer to completing her mission, then she will gladly take him to her bed. When her father discovers the abomination he created is still alive, he proves more powerful than she imagined and it will take everything at her disposal to survive.

My Musings …..

I am always so excited to get the chance to dive back into the Eternally Mated world that Valerie has created. The characters just pull at me and the stories sucks me in. This book was no different. I flew through this book! I could not get enough, of course I was mourning that I finished it so soon and have to wait for the next one! Oh the anticipation!!!

There was much to love about this book but the main for me were the main characters. Lyzander was so fantastic, I adored him and his description… whew!!! Kelana owned her role and jumped off the pages! She was a tremendous female lead character. Together they sizzled and their passion resonated. I loved how their lives intersected, the path these two have had to walk and then together … well I cheered them, I cried for them and I couldn’t get enough! This story had everything for me that I am looking for in a paranormal romance. This book plot was unique and threw me more than once which was great. The emotion was high and had me completely enthralled. This book in short was a fantastic addition to the series. Kelana is on a mission, she is so tough and assured but deep inside are terrible wounds and Lyzander is so compassionate and strong but he is haunted and when truths are revealed .. well it was a moment let me tell you. The writing really hit me on this one and it is probably what stays with me the most, the writing because you feel these characters. There is no corny one liners, in fact the witty banter between the characters was completely entertaining and had me rolling in places but it is emotion that just comes off the page and grabs you. I have read many books and so often authors tend to just “tell” you things but fail to make you “feel” but Valerie is able to bring her characters to life in a masterful way.

I for one am very eager to read the next one. There are so many great characters and different ways that this series can move forward, so many turns that have yet to be taken. I am excited for the journey!

Happy Reading!

~Amy

 

 

Brighter Than the Sun by Maya Banks!

Brigher

From Amazon:

Searing action and passion ignite the latest New York Times bestselling KGI novel from the author of Darkest Before Dawn.

The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.
Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering.
Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t…

As the last unattached member of the Kelly clan, Joe is more than ready to risk life and limb on any mission he’s assigned to, but when it comes to love, he’ll keep his distance. He’s content to watch his brothers become thoroughly domesticated.

Zoe’s had nothing but heartbreak in her life, and she’s determined to start over with a completely new identity, thanks to her college friend, Rusty Kelly. But it’s the gorgeous smile and tender words of Joe Kelly that begin to weaken her resolve to never risk her heart again. And Joe will have to put everything on the line to save Zoe, when secrets of her past resurface—and threaten to tear them apart…

My Musings …

So I think I bought this book when it initially came out and then set it down for a few months only to pick it back up a few weeks ago. Admission right off … I really enjoy Maya’s books. She has several different series and each one is their own, some are hot enough to melt the pages and then others are way more tame in the sexy column but are heavy on the action and suspense. She is a special author in my opinion, just about something for every type of romance book lover. This series, her KGI books is a romantic suspense series with lots of action, emotion and high octane danger. I enjoy this series, it is nicely paced and continues on from character to character without losing the original threads. Readers become emotionally invested in the worlds that Maya creates and you just want to keep reading more! Following a family and group of friends from book to book is something I really enjoy as I always want to know what happens next.. I am more into what happens AFTER their happily ever after.

Brighter Than the Sun has been a long time coming in my opinion. We finally, finally have the last Kelly son’s story. He took is dear old sweet time in coming to heel but finally has and I think Maya did him justice. Honestly it was a good read but for some reason I had a hard time committing to reading it. I guess it really didn’t hook me, it was just a nice sit down and read story for me nothing that had me freaking out if my family interrupted me or scanning calls so I didn’t have to put it down. Although once I finally picked it back up (if I am hooked I rarely am able to put a book down and become distracted fyi) I was able to read it. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind when I originally tried to read it? Who knows because once I did, I enjoyed it. Did I love it? Did it blow my mind, no not really. There were elements that sort of made me eye roll like Zoe, she is the perfect victim and her inner monologue and insistence that she wasn’t good enough got on my nerves because there were points where I was like, no you are not good enough for Joe, or shut up Zoe! For real those moments were bad but not enough bring down the whole of the book. Joe himself was great. I love his commitment to this family but I would have liked to see a bit more resistance in falling for Zoe, his was a case of insta-love but it was really cute and sweet to see.

However, all of that aside what made me enjoy this book the most was Rusty. That girl is kickass and I cannot wait for her book. Maya said that she would get a book and guess what … it will be the last in the series, some three books away! Oh the wait … the struggle will be real! She was amazing and how she stood up to her brothers? Epic! I can’t give anything away but this book really allowed her to come through and shine. She was great! I loved seeing the previous characters and have a chance to catch up on them as well and the new KGI members … one had me cracking up and the other .. well you’ll see.

I think that if you are a KGI fan you will enjoy this book and you have got to read it. Like all of her books, everything has a purpose and feeds into something else, so this is not one to miss but if you are new to the series … start at the beginning. If you want the full effect of this series .. and I deeply want you to, this is not a great place to start.

So happy reading and on to the next adventure!

~Amy

The Chosen by J.R. Ward!

The Chosen

From Amazon:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A scorching forbidden love threatens to tear a rift through the Black Dagger Brotherhood in J. R. Ward’s newest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, convicted of treason against the Blind King, is facing a brutal interrogation and torturous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yet after a life marked by cruelty and evil deeds, he accepts his soldier’s fate, his sole regret the loss of a sacred female who was never his: the Chosen Layla.

Layla alone knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life. But revealing his sacrifice and his hidden heritage will expose them both and destroy everything Layla holds dear—even her role of mother to her precious young. Torn between love and loyalty, she must summon the courage to stand up against the only family she has for the only man she will ever love. Yet even if Xcor is somehow granted a reprieve, he and Layla would have to confront a graver challenge: bridging the chasm that divides their worlds without paving the way for a future of even greater war, desolation, and death.

As a dangerous old enemy returns to Caldwell, and the identity of a new deity is revealed, nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone.

My Musings ..

Okay first I deeply apologize for the ridiculous length of time it took me to post this review. In truth I finished it within 24 hours of its release …. like April 7th and today is like May 8th or something … completely unacceptable! I am sorry. Okay so yada yada I got busy, started a new job and other very unimportant excuses but here I am finally, better late than never!

You all know I really enjoyed it right? I mean seriously, I am getting to be a broken record on her books. I think it would take another Phury book or BS shellan turning into a ghost to make me say … eh … nope not a fan. The Chosen had just about all of the elements that makes me love The Black Daggar Brotherhood but it didn’t quite blow me away. I mean I absolutely loved Xcor! Hands down he was fantastic and way better of a character than I had imagined. He was so vulnerable and dare I say maybe almost another Zhadist? Sort of? He was such a kind soul, not at all what I was expecting, the perfect balance to Layla. Speaking of which … I have hands down despised that chosen since she flounced onto the scene but in this book, she blew me away! She was terrific! I mean damn, a total bad-ass female and it was a great pleasure to read her scenes. Her and Xcor were my favs and considering that my main men Qhuinn and V were so prominent and I am not drooling and singing their praises says something. Both of my boys pissed me off! Seriously!!! I won’t spoil it and yes, I still carry my torch for my book guys but they disappointed me and that is probably right there why I finished this book feeling a bit deflated. The ending worked but for me it felt rushed and not enough. Something was missing, I just can’t pin point it. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great book and the series is still very much going strong but there is a nagging feeling in my gut that I don’t like. Maybe that is by design? I wouldn’t put it past JR Ward for a second, she can get evil like that.

The next one up is Assail and to say I am underwhelmed by that is an understatement but I have walked down that path before, many times and ended up loving the book so I’ll hold my peace for now. (Brandy aren’t you proud???) Poor girl has to hear me complain when I don’t necessarily agree with the next book.

So yes I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t put it down. I loved the action, I loved all of the emotion and there was a lot of it and I loved the dynamics. Lots of brotherhood moments and Lassiter was just amazing! Why oh why couldn’t his book be next??? Oops that is right, I am holding my peace. *pssst…. Lassiter would be better than Assail, just sayin*

This book would rank a good 4 out of 5 for me despite the asshats we all know and love, this was an epic story for Layla and Xcor and was well deserved. They finally have thier story and they have more than earned it. Oh and one last thing, the king is a complete rock star. I really loved him in this book!

Happy Reading!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker

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Amazon Synopsis:

Dear Luke,
First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…

Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.

The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep.

My Musings …

I stumbled upon this book while blithely searching through what had to be millions of Kindle Unlimited books, a very tedious job but it was this cover that grabbed me. This genre was a dramatic departure from what I have been reading lately and I figured my blog could use some new content. Okay I’ll admit, the hubby suggested I mix up my genres a bit so there you go… he can have a smidgen of credit. 🙂

Not only do I not regularly read books on loss and moving on but I don’t normally want to. I mean I completely expected this one to just be very depressing and with all of my family sadness these last few months, I was like nah probably not going to enjoy but in the spirit of trying something new, I checked it out. Note: I really miss my book club. Those ladies always made sure I broke out of my comfy normal reading zone. I need to keep up with them. Maybe be a virtual member? Anyway I was once again very much wrong. In fact, I not only enjoyed it, I was deeply moved by the story and inspired to find others stories like it. This was truly a beautiful read and one that I think will stick with me. It would make a great movie too!

Luke was such a relate-able and real character, the writing was so clear and detailed that you feel his emotions. Surprisingly you don’t get bogged down in his grief, no you cheer for him and tag along as he navigates not only moving on as a single dad but goes on a quest for lack of better term to discover old secrets and finally as he learns to move on. It was moving. I absolutely loved Annie as well. She was such a strong and at the same time vulnerable character and for most of the book had me sort of off kilter. I loved her. Finally, Natalie herself was probably the only character that inspired sadness in me. We hear her voice through her letters, a stroke of brilliance that made the reader feel her grief and pain of passing and leaving behind her family but also allowed us to appreciate her strength. She was a character that I admired and as a mother myself, wow at times it was hard to read her words. Again, another fantastic character.

While I did pick up on “the secret” about midway through and found a couple of the twists somewhat predictable in places, it did not detract for the story. It was amazing. The ending, which I of course will not give away, was spot on and fit the story. It made me stop and reflect, always a nice way to end a great read.

I would rate this book a solid 4/5 stars. It was a wonderful read that flowed very well, was completely engaging and had me emotionally hooked.

Happy Reading!

Amy