Book Review

Book Review: One Christmas In Winter (Winter, Montana #1) by Bell Renshaw

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Christian contemporary romance + holiday novella
Length: 152 pages
Author: Bell Renshaw
Publisher: Pine Mountain Publishing
Release Date: November 30th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Reba Farwell is finally getting a chance to live out her dreams. Sent to Winter, Montana to direct filming for a crucial, on-location shoot, she knows the next two weeks will make or break her career. And she could definitely use a break. As if that isn’t enough, she’s got a secret that none of her crew knows. All she’s asking for is two weeks of small town, Christmas beauty and a little bit of on-camera sizzle.

Five years ago, Hoyt Bradley’s heart and future shattered in one fell swoop that landed him back in Winter. Thankfully, making lemonade—or his father’s famous lemon meringue pie— out of lemons is what he does best. Running Bentley’s Diner has filled the gaps left in the wake of his heartbreak, even if it hasn’t healed him completely. Not wanting to relive memories of his rocky start in the film industry, Hoyt does his best to steer clear of the dreaded film crew, but Winter has a way of bringing people together.

After one fateful delivery and a score of icy bad luck, Reba finds herself in a bind and at the mercy of what Winter can offer. Will she pull the film together in time to salvage her name as a director? Or will the sparks flying off-camera create more of a distraction than she knows how to handle?

Come visit Winter, Montana in this Christmas Novella where the Christmas lights are always on and the snow falls most frequently when loved ones share a kiss.

A CHARMING NOVELLA.

This is one of the few novellas I can think of in recent memory that I truly had a good time reading. It was sweet and I was easily smitten with Hoyt and the entire town of Winter, Montana.

I think this book was able to get a lot fit into a small amount of pages. I felt the characters were well developed and the plot worked well to provide a charming meet-cute and other meetings. The plot focuses around acting/movie making and what I loved was that there wasn’t any actual scenes from the movie depicted. I feel like that always takes up unnecessary space so it was a nice breather to focus on the characters rather than the movie filling up the plot.

The romance between Reba and Hoyt was simple and sweet. There wasn’t a ton of nonsensical drama and they actually had some really cute moments together. The Christmas/winter vibes really added a cozy touch to them. Going sledding, walking through a tiny town down Main street. So precious.

If you’re looking for something holiday related, clean and sweet, definitely a good pick.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance novella + holiday
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: falling from a ladder
  • Trigger warnings: cyber-bullying used to manipulate someone

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Book Review

Book Review: The Traitor Queen (The Bridge Kingdom #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy romance
Length: 470 pages
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Self-published
Expected Release Date: February 27th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter.

And it is bait she fully intends to take.

Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father’s clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared. But not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she’s trying to free – the husband she betrayed.

With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who – and what – she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or herself.

WHAT A CONCLUSION.

Ooooooooh my goodness. I’ve never listened to an audio book faster y’all. I downed this book so fast. I have been waiting for this and IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. I can continue to be Danielle Jensen’s unofficial spokeswoman for this series. BECAUSE I LOVE IT THAT MUCH.

You could literally hear my thoughts as Lara rounded up her sisters to go save Aren. AND IT WAS A THRILL RIDE. Oh those women danced their way into the harem and took what they came for. There was me on the sidelines cheering them on because I live for action like that. I’m getting all amped up just writing this review.

I had a lot of questions going into this book. All were answered in the best ways. My heart is soaring that I got a conclusion that actually wraps up the lines it needs too. BUT, it definitely leaves open some lines for spin-off books. The side characters in TTQ are a song on their own. I found myself smitten with so many of them. Siblings, family members, generals of armies; they all played distinct and proficient rolls.

This romance was still sizzling. I loved the build-up. I knew things had to work out, yet time and again I was led to believe otherwise. That’s how invested I was. Jensen’s writing is captivating and the audio version is one of the best books I’ve listened too. Aren and Lara kept me waiting, and waiting, and then BAM. Room set aflame, y’all. Room set aflame.

The stress levels I felt listening to Lara and Aren try to work things out between them, deciding if they wanted/could be with each other, trying to save a kingdom and kill a king, was on another level. I could keep rambling about how much I love this duology. The Bridge Kingdom is still my favorite, but this was a conclusion that delivered.

AND DON’T EVEN TALK TO ME ABOUT THAT ENDING. I truly gasped and almost started sobbing right then and there. Jensen knows how to tug on those heart strings and beg for a happy ending.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses; one detailed love scene
  • Violence: sharks, swords, poison, physical, torture, captivity

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Book Review

Book Review: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: February 25th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

ANOTHER FAVORITE.

Mmmmm. One of those finish in a day books here. I am smitten by Levenseller’s writing and I will continue to read every book she publishes because DANG. I loved this character driven writing with broken and flawed humans.

This is a romance. While her previous books were more one plot line with a sub-plot romance, The Shadows Between Us is alllll romance. AND I AM ALLLLL HERE FOR IT.

Our unlikable heroine Alessandra really got down with her bad side. While at first I wasn’t so sure about her, I loved her character by the end. She somehow stuck to her ideals, but became more open and trusting at the same time. It was a great combination. Alessandra learned how to have a friendship, a relationship, and how to take down some bad guys trying to ruin all the fun.

Kallias. Oooooo yes. I love him too. He is the sultry YA hero that we all love. A bit distant, strong, amiable, and honestly just trying to do right by his kingdom. I got so excited every time Kallias and Alessandra had some page time together because the sparks were flying. I really felt the chemistry between them and thought the development was good for the length of the book. There were plenty of quiet moments, swoon moments, ooo la la moments that all mashed together to give me a quick darker romance that I adored.

Yes, it’s only 336 pages and that is it’s only downfall. While to me, it didn’t phase me much (I still gave it 5 stars), I can see the dilemma. A lot of the sub-plot lines weren’t as long as I thought they would be. Things kept getting wrapped up in neat bows without some angsty drag out. If the book would have been longer and given more depth to all of these characters and stories I think it would have only made it better.

I did love the side characters. I loved Alessandra’s friends. They would make me smile and I appreciated the way they approached difficult subjects and accepted and loved each other for their differences. Girl power goes a long way for me in a book, so this was a nice touch.

What I can’t believe is how I didn’t figure out the final twist. I gathered most of the intel as the story went on. Yet, all of a sudden Alessandra’s storming the palace to save the King and I’m like oh it’s them, OH WAIT, IT’S THEM! Beautiful blindside. Great conclusion. Smitten with fluffy endings. Love it all.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy romance
  • Language: very little light
  • Romance: kisses; multiple discussions of sleeping partners and nights together; one little detailed fade to black scene
  • Violence: pit fights, physical, swords, thieving, poison, guns

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Book Review

Book Review: The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga #2) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Sci-fi fantasy
Length: 487 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Release Date: July 11th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Cvareh returns home to his sky world of Nova with the genius crafter Arianna as his temperamental guest. The mercurial inventor possesses all the Xin family needs to turn the tides of a centuries-old power struggle, but the secrets she harbors must be earned with trust — hard to come by for Ari, especially when it comes to Dragons. On Nova, Ari finds herself closer to exacting vengeance against the traitor who killed everything — and everyone – she once loved. But before Ari can complete her campaign of revenge, the Crimson Court exposes her shadowed past and reveals something even more dangerous sparking between her and Cvareh.

While Nova is embroiled in blood sport and political games, the rebels on Loom prepare for an all-out assault on their Dragon oppressors. Florence unexpectedly finds herself at the forefront of change, as her unique blend of skills — and quick-shooting accuracy — makes her a force to be reckoned with. For the future of her world, she vows vengeance against the Dragons.

Before the rebellion can rise, though, the Guilds must fall.

TOO LONG.

That’s what I felt after I finished this book (and skimmed the last 100 pages). This 500 page book could have been a lot smaller and I think I would have stayed intrigued longer.

Things started out well. I was completely invested in what was happening. The romance brewing. The political back stabbing. All good things. Just dragged out.

I am sooooo here for the romance between Cvareh and Arianna (when am I not?). I was splendidly happy that things actually progressed in the book! We’ve got a relationship going now and that means one heck of a finale awaits me.

The multiple POVs help bring everything to life. They switch often and the chapters are fairly short. I liked being kept in the loop with what was happening on Loom and Nova through Cvareh, Arianna, Florence, Yveun, and Petra. This gave me a lot of angles from the protagonists and antagonists.

ACTION. So much action happens. I felt like every other page someone was getting shot, dragon claws were being dragged across someone’s throat, or locations were getting blown up. All of the politics between the two rival families on Loom are definitely interesting, and keep you on your toes. I was surprised with who died and who survived by the end, because I did NOT see that coming. The traitor that still walks the halls is sure in for the biggest implosion.

I’m not sure when I’ll pick up book three (I do still intend to read it). This slog-fest really took it out of me and I plan to wait a bit to get to it. While I did enjoy the story and the tangled web being woven, there’s almost too much happening to keep my focus in any particular place.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs, one detailed love scene (that spans for about a chapter)
  • Violence: dragons fighting (and it’s bloody), poison, physical, swords, guns, explosions; very descriptive and violent

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