Monday, October 18, 2021

Review: Jane Austen Investigates: The Burglar's Ball by Julia Golding

About the Book
Nancy Drew. Enola Holmes. Sally Lockhart. Move over girls, it’s Jane's time!

Join young budding detective Jane Austen in her second investigation to uncover a devious diamond thief at the glitziest, most scandalous ball of the year! Inspired by Sense and Sensibility.

‘No one who had ever seen Jane Austen in her infancy would suppose her to be born to solve crimes. From her early love of sugar plums, and cleverness in hiding her expeditions into the pantry, her mother declared her far more likely to commit them. However, as Jane would counter, there was no better person to identify the culprit than the thief turned thief-catcher.’

When the headmistress invites her past favourite pupil to attend their end of term ball, Cassandra brings her younger sister, Jane, along too. Cassandra plunges into the feverish excitement of preparing for the biggest event of the year – the dresses, the dances and the boys expected from the neighbouring school.

Feeling rather excluded, sharp-witted Jane unearths the reason for the fuss – the headteacher wants to impress a rich family returned from India as the school is at risk of going bankrupt. Jane also befriends the dancing master’s assistant, a former slave, called Brandon, who is as quick to notice things as she. At the ball, a diamond necklace is stolen from a locked room and they are propelled into a race to uncover the burglar and save Brandon from gaol.

With the ever-present Austen spirit, Jane with notebook in hand, boldly overcomes the obstacles to finding the truth.

Perfect for readers aged 9-109, and for fans of Katherine Woodfine and Lucy Worsley.


MY THOUGHTS

This was a delightfully fun mystery! I loved the first book in this series, so I was ecstatic to have a new mystery to solve alongside young Jane.

This time, Jane's trying to catch a thief who stole a diamond necklace at the summer ball at her old school. The mystery was perplexing and kept me guessing. I had strong suspicions about who the culprit might be, but there were plenty of viable suspects that had me questioning my initial thoughts, plus a surprising twist or two, added to the mix.

This witty and fun mystery is sure to appeal to readers of all ages. I had such a great time reading it and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries.

I received an early copy of this book and voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and comments are my honest opinion.

FOUR STARS

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Book Beginnings + Friday 56: Operation Grendel by Daniel Schwabauer

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading. Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice and asks you to grab a book (any book), turn to page 56 or 56% in your ereader and share a non-spoilery sentence or two.

This week I'm featuring Operation Grendel by Daniel Schwabauer, a really great military sci-fi. This isn't one of my normal genres, but I really enjoyed it. 

About the Book
It’s the war story he’s dreamed of. But the battle may cost him his mind.

Military journalist Raymin Dahl thinks he’s finally getting the story of a lifetime. Secret peace talks on a remote tropical moon are about to surrender five colonized worlds—and six hundred million civilians—to a ruthless enemy.

But when his commanding officer, Captain Ansell Sterling, is fatally wounded before the negotiations can begin, Dahl can no longer just report on the mission. He’s ordered to complete it. With help from the AI embedded in Sterling’s comms bracelet, Dahl must impersonate his commander—a Marine Corps hero and psychological operations expert.

However, Sterling’s AI may be luring him to surrender more than he realizes. And the mission Corporal Dahl thinks he’s running isn't the only operation underway.

Book Beginnings
Like every journalist, I lie for a living.

Friday 56
In my mind Ivy stood next to my recliner with her hands folded. I couldn't actually see her, of course, but I could feel her there, waiting.

What have you been reading lately?

Review: Scales and Sensibility (Regency Dragons) by Stephanie Burgis

About the Book
Sensible, practical Elinor Tregarth really did plan to be the model poor relation when she moved into Hathergill Hall. She certainly never meant to kidnap her awful cousin Penelope's pet dragon. She never expected to fall in love with the shameless - but surprisingly sweet - fortune hunter who came to court Penelope. And she never dreamed that she would have to enter into an outrageous magical charade to save her younger sisters' futures.

However, even the most brilliant scholars of 1817 England still haven't ferreted out all the lurking secrets of rediscovered dragonkind...and even the most sensible of heroines can still make a reckless wish or two when she's pushed. Now Elinor will have to find out just how rash and resourceful she can be when she sets aside all common sense. Maybe, just maybe, she'll even be impractical enough to win her own true love and a happily ever after...with the unpredictable and dangerous "help" of the magical creature who has adopted her.

A frothy Regency rom-com full of pet dragons and magical misadventures, Scales and Sensibility is a full-length novel and the first in a new series of standalone romantic comedies.


MY THOUGHTS

I had so much fun reading this book! It had me laughing, and completely engaged, from the very first line. The world-building was fantastic. I mean, come on, the Regency era with dragons? How cool is that? I was totally invested and couldn't read fast enough.

Elinor, the practical young lady, and Sir Jessamyn, the always nervous and easily frightened but lovable dragon, were the perfect pair. They were both so likable and easy to root for. Elinor found herself in quite a predicament, but I thought she handled things as well as she could. I don't think I would've done as well if I found myself in that situation. Though I did wonder how in the world she was gonna get out of the mess. I will say it was fun watching her try.

Benedict had a real charm about him. I liked him instantly. It was obvious from the moment he first walked onto the page what a good guy he was. He was in a rough spot moneywise, and while I didn't exactly like what he was doing to try to remedy that, I understood his great desire to provide for the people he cared about, and marrying a wealthy young lady was a common thing to do back in that time. But, really, could he have picked a more detestable lady than Penelope to try to woo? My goodness, she was an absolute terror! I was hoping he'd come to his senses about her quickly.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. If you're a fan of historical fantasy, it's a must read! I'm very much looking forward to reading about Elinor's sisters in future books.

I received an advanced copy of this book and voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and comments are my honest opinion.

4.5 STARS

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Can't Wait Wednesday: Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights and discusses the books we're excited about that we've yet to read. Generally, they're books that are yet to be released. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm featuring Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep releasing November 1.

About the Book
Even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.

Enchanting Regency-Era Gothic Romance Intertwined with Inspiration from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Travel writer Amelia Balfour’s dream of touring Egypt is halted when she receives news of a revolutionary new surgery for her grotesquely disfigured brother. This could change everything, and it does. . .in the worst possible way.

Surgeon Graham Lambert has suspicions about the doctor he’s gone into practice with, but he can’t stop him from operating on Amelia’s brother. Will he be too late to prevent the man’s death? Or to reveal his true feelings for Amelia before she sails to Cairo?


What upcoming release are you eagerly awaiting?

Monday, October 11, 2021

Review: Dance With The Sword (Bluebeard's Secret #2) by Sarah K.L. Wilson

About the Book
A GRIM BETRAYAL. A DYING KING. A HUSBAND WHO WON'T LET HER GO.

With the heart of the Wittenhame still ringing from Izolda's actions and her new husband shocked at her betrayal, the future seems very grim indeed.

If Izolda had been asked if she wanted to be rescued from her would-be bridegroom and returned to her home and family, she would have eagerly agreed to go, but now that she is back in the mortal world, she is quickly discovering that home, family and even the inclinations of her own heart are not what she expected.
Worse yet, Izolda has unwittingly become a pawn in a deadly dance between two Wittenbrand, snatched from the claws of one of them only to be stolen back by the other.

With her bodiless friend Grosbeak along for the ride and the great game of crowns and thrones still being played out across the nations, will Izolda's endless common sense still be enough to rescue her from disaster? Or will she fall prey to the terrible ambitions of her enemies?

DANCE WITH THE SWORD is the second book in the Bluebeard's Secret series following the eerie and romantic story of FLY WITH THE ARROW.

Warning: There are four books in this series. Read at your own risk.


MY THOUGHTS

What a fantastic sequel to Fly with the Arrow. This picks up right where the last one left off. And, let me tell ya, the fast pace hardly lets up. I couldn't stop myself from racing through the pages. Filled with a constant sense of danger, a slow-building romance, and surprises at every turn, Dance with the Sword is just as good, if not better, than the first one.

With the way the first book ended, I was worried that we wouldn't see much of Bluebeard, Grosbeak, or really any of the Wittenbrand. But thank goodness that wasn't the case. To my delight, they were featured very prominently, even more so this go-around. I felt like we really got to know Bluebeard better and, I've gotta say, I can't get enough of him. He's such an intriguing guy. So multi-layered. I was excited that we got to experience the Game in such depth, too. It was brutal but captivating.

Now, about that ending! I just thought the previous book's ending was a doozy, but this one tops it! My goodness, what a cliffhanger! I'm so anxious to find out what happens next!

4.5 STARS

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Book Beginnings + Friday 56: Scales and Sensibility (Regency Dragons) by Stephanie Burgis

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading. Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice and asks you to grab a book (any book), turn to page 56 or 56% in your ereader and share a non-spoilery sentence or two.

This week I'm featuring Scales and Sensibility (Regency Dragons) by Stephanie Burgis. I LOVED it! It's such a fun historical fantasy. 

About the Book
Sensible, practical Elinor Tregarth really did plan to be the model poor relation when she moved into Hathergill Hall. She certainly never meant to kidnap her awful cousin Penelope's pet dragon. She never expected to fall in love with the shameless - but surprisingly sweet - fortune hunter who came to court Penelope. And she never dreamed that she would have to enter into an outrageous magical charade to save her younger sisters' futures.

However, even the most brilliant scholars of 1817 England still haven't ferreted out all the lurking secrets of rediscovered dragonkind...and even the most sensible of heroines can still make a reckless wish or two when she's pushed. Now Elinor will have to find out just how rash and resourceful she can be when she sets aside all common sense. Maybe, just maybe, she'll even be impractical enough to win her own true love and a happily ever after...with the unpredictable and dangerous "help" of the magical creature who has adopted her.

A frothy Regency rom-com full of pet dragons and magical misadventures, Scales and Sensibility is a full-length novel and the first in a new series of standalone romantic comedies.

Book Beginnings
It was a truth universally acknowledged that any young lady without a dragon was doomed to social failure. But it was becoming increasingly obvious to everyone in Hathergill Hall that for Penelope Hathergill, actually having a dragon would guarantee disaster.

Friday 56
"I beg your pardon?" Penelope's voice soared upwards. "Are you actually trying to claim that my dragon's behavior was my fault?"

What have you been reading lately?

Review: The Way We Are (Gaining Love) by by Tanya Eavenson

About the Book
To Gain a Bodyguard - Book One

Undercover ICE agent Madi Reynolds has spent years infiltrating a human-trafficking ring, but when her life is threatened, she is forced to walk away and advised to leave the country. Undeterred, she continues her plan to attend her brother’s Christmas wedding, with her partner assigned as her bodyguard. But after seeing Brice care for her niece, she finds it's more than her life that needs protecting. Is there really any defense for the heart?

War Veteran and ICE agent Brice Johnson has been defending his country and American lives for as long as he can remember. Now, he faces the biggest assignment of his life--protect the woman he loves. He's never been one to run from a fight, but when an old flame butts in expecting a second chance with Madi, and crippling visions of war call out to him, he begins to wonder if surrender is an option after all.

To Gain a Bodyguard - Book Two

Undercover ICE agent, Brice Johnson, fell in love with his partner, but the fight to control his PTSD drove him to leave her and his assignment.

Deep undercover, ICE agent Madi Reynolds’ identity is blown, and she is involved in a hit-and-run meant to kill. Lucky to be alive after her vehicle was forced off the mountain, she finds herself in a wheelchair and facing an unknown future.

Even though the men responsible were tracked down and brought to justice, Brice’s gut tells him Madi is still not safe. Details of the investigation aren’t adding up. In secret, Brice moves to Helen, Georgia, across the street from Madi. But how long can he stay in the shadows when seeing her struggle day in and day out bombards him with memories of their happier days.

Unable to forgive himself for Madi’s accident, Brice vows to protect her, but is it enough? Is he enough?


MY THOUGHTS

The Way We Are was a heartfelt, faith-filled romance featuring likable characters and a moving, inspirational story.

I can't even tell you how excited I was for this book. I loved Madi and Brice in To Gain a Bodyguard, but wanted more of their story. The Way We Are delivers that. It includes the original story and adds part two, which I loved just as much, maybe even more, than the first.

Book one featured Madi and Brice coming together. Book two finds them, a little while later, falling apart, no longer together and yet still drawn to each other. My heart broke for them and their struggles. I was rooting so hard for them. They're such a great pair and deserved all the happiness in the world.

If you're a fan of contemporary romance, I highly recommend The Way We Are.

FIVE STARS