Book Review and Blog Tour:  Here for the Drama, by Kate Bromley

Image belongs to Harlequin,

TitleHere for the Drama  
Author:   Kate Bromley
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Becoming a famous playwright is all Winnie ever dreamed about. For now, though, she’ll have to settle for assisting the celebrated, sharp-witted feminist playwright Juliette Brassard. When an experimental theater company in London, England, decides to stage Juliette’s most renowned play, The Lights of Trafalgar, Winnie and Juliette pack their bags and hop across the pond.

But the trip goes sideways faster than you can say “tea and crumpets.” Juliette stubbornly butts heads with the play’s director and Winnie is left stage-managing their relationship. Meanwhile, Winnie’s own work seems to have stalled, and though Juliette keeps promising to read it, she always has some vague reason why she can’t. Then, Juliette’s nephew, Liam, enters stage left. He’s handsome, he’s smart, he is devastatingly British…and his family ties to Juliette pose a serious problem, forcing Winnie to keep their burgeoning relationship on the down-low. What could go wrong?

Balancing a production seemingly headed for disaster, a secret romance and the sweetest, most rambunctious rescue dog, will Winnie save the play, make her own dreams come true and find love along the way—or will the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune get the best of her?

Winnie’s dramatics made me laugh so many times while reading this! Normally, people who go looking for drama get on my nerves, but her heart was in the right place, so I actually enjoyed her antics. The repartee between her and Liam was spot-on, and I couldn’t wait to see where their banter went next. Juliette was a bit much for me, and I don’t know how Winnie put up with her. Even the secondary characters in this novel—like Oscar—were a delight. This is a great vacation read—or work day escape.

Kate Bromley lives in New York City. Here for the Drama is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Ending Forever, by Nicholas Conley

Image belongs to the author.

Title:    Ending Forever
Author:  Nicholas Conley
Genre:   Science Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Axel Rivers can’t get his head above water. Throughout his life, he’s worn many hats — orphan, musician, veteran, husband, father—but a year ago, a horrific event he now calls The Bad Day tore down everything he’d built. Grief-stricken, unemployed, and drowning in debt, Axel needs cash, however he can find it.

Enter Kindred Eternal Solutions. Founded by the world’s six wealthiest trillionaires and billionaires, Kindred promises to create eternal life through mastering the science of human resurrection. With the technology still being developed, Kindred seeks paid volunteers to undergo tests that will kill and resurrect their body—again and again—in exchange for a check.

Axel signs up willingly, but when he undergoes the procedure—and comes back, over and over—what will he find on the other side of death?

I can’t imagine agreeing to being killed and brought back…especially ten times. Sounds horrific, even without all the things Axel encounters. This was an intriguing read. Vivid descriptions and an intriguing premise, which are the norm for Conley’s writing. I enjoyed how Axel grew and changed throughout the story, finding his own strength and the will to go on. If you’re looking for something fresh to read, give this a try.

Nicholas Conley lives in New Hampshire. Ending Forever is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Girls in Queens, by Christine Kandic Torres

Image belongs to HarperVia.

Title:   The Girls in Queens
Author: Christine Kandic Torres  
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Best friends growing up along Clement Moore Avenue in Queens, Brisma and Kelly will do anything for each other. They keep each other’s secrets, from their mother’s hidden heartbreaks to warding off the unwanted advances of creepy neighbors. Their exclusive world shifts when they begin high school and Brisma falls deeply in love with Brian, the local baseball legend. Always the wallflower to the vibrant and alluring Kelly, Brisma is secretly thrilled to be chosen by the popular athlete, to finally have someone that belongs to her alone. But as she, Brian, and Kelly fall into the roles that have been set before them, they ignite a bonfire of unrealized hopes and dreams, smoldering embers that finally find some oxygen to burn.

Years later, Brisma and Kelly haven’t spoken to Brian, ever since a backyard party that went wrong, but their beloved Los Mets are on a historic run for the playoffs and the three friends–no longer children–are reunited. Brisma finds herself once again drawn to her first love. But when Brian is accused of sexual assault, the two friends must make a choice. At first, both rush to support and defend him. But while Kelly remains Brian’s staunch defender, Brisma begins to have doubts as old memories of their relationship surface. As Brisma and Kelly face off in a battle for what they each believe they are owed, these two lifelong friends must decide if their shared past is enough to sustain their future.

This was not an easy read, although it wasn’t too time-consuming. Brisma and Kelly’s friendship was sometimes hard to read, as the way Kelly treated Brisma was at times harsh and ugly. The culture of the neighborhood they grew up in was terrible:  hurtful, angry, and full of pain, but those things affected each girl differently. Their relationship with men was also a challenge to read about, but I enjoyed Brisma’s growth thoroughly, even when I wanted to throw the book across the room a few times.

Christine Kandic Torres was born and raised in Queens. The Girls in Queens is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of HarperVia in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Queen’s Council #2: Feather and Flame, by Livia Blackburne

Image belongs to Disney.

Title:   The Queen’s Council #2: Feather and Flame
Author:   Livia Blackburne
Genre:   YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

The war is over. Now a renowned hero, Mulan spends her days in her home village, training a militia of female warriors. The peace is a welcome one, and she knows it must be protected.

 When Shang arrives with an invitation to the Imperil City, Mulan’s relatively peaceful life is upended once more. The aging emperor decrees that Mulan will be his heir to the throne. Such unimagined power and responsibility terrifies her, but who can say no to the Emperor?

 As Mulan ascends into the halls of power, it becomes clear that not everyone is on her side. Her ministers undermine her, and the Huns sense a weakness in the throne. When hints of treachery appear even amongst those she considers friends, Mulan has no idea whom she can trust.

 But the Queen’s Council helps Mulan uncover her true destiny. With renewed strength and the wisdom of those that came before her, Mulan will own her power, save her country, and prove once again that, crown or helmet, she was always meant to lead.

I really enjoyed this! The Disney Mulan cartoon is my absolute favorite, and I kept seeing those characters in my mind throughout the entire book. I loved how Mulan’s confidence developed, showcasing her strength. She wasn’t afraid to find help from unexpected sources, and she wasn’t so committed to what she thinks is correct that she ignores anything that doesn’t agree with it. I loved the mix of action and romance, and found this a compelling story.

Livia Blackburne is a bestselling author. Feather and Flame is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Disney in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:   Breaking Time, by Sasha Alsberg

Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

TitleBreaking Time  
Author:    Sasha Alsberg
Genre:    Fantasy
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

When a mysterious Scotsman appears out of nowhere in the middle of the road, Klara thinks the biggest problem is whether she hit him with her car. But, as impossible as it sounds, Callum has stepped out of another time, and it’s just the beginning of a deadly adventure.

Klara will soon learn that she is the last Pillar of Time—an anchor point in the timeline of the world and a hiding place for a rogue goddess’s magic. Callum is fated to protect her at all costs. A dark force is hunting for the Pillars, to claim the power of the goddess—and Klara and Callum are the only two standing in the way. Thrown together by fate, the two have to learn to trust one another and work together…but they’ll need to protect their hearts from one another if they’re going to survive.

This was a decent read. Nothing too unique, but nothing completely cookie cutter, either. I enjoyed Klara’s personality and I liked Callum, but sometimes his dialogue sounded like he was from the 1500s—appropriate—and sometimes it sounded like he was the boy next door—not appropriate at all and threw me out of the story. A quick read, but one I never really felt like the stakes were very high in—despite the supposed consequences of the plot.

Sasha Alsberg lives in Massachusetts. Breaking Time is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Blue Diamond, by Leonard Goldberg

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books.

TitleThe Blue Diamond    
Author: Leonard Goldberg
Genre: Historical fiction  
Rating: 4 out of 5

During a critical stage in World War One, the Governor-General of South Africa journeys to London for a meeting of The Imperial War Conference. Days prior to the conference, the Governor-General is scheduled to have an audience at Buckingham Palace at which time a most precious blue diamond will be presented to King Edward as a symbolic gesture of the colonies’ resolute and never-ending allegiance to England.

The flawless blue diamond, with its magnificent luster, weighs nearly 3000 carats which renders it one of the world’s largest and most valuable gems. On the Governor-General’s arrival, he is ensconced at the fashionable Windsor Hotel under the tightest security, with his entire entourage and formidable security team occupying the entire penthouse floor. All entrances and exits are locked down and closely guarded, and no one is allowed entrance after 6 PM.

Despite the extreme precautions, the famous diamond is stolen from the Governor-General’s suite in the middle of the night, with no clues left behind. With Scotland Yard baffled, Joanna and the Watsons are called in to investigate the theft and it becomes clear that the crime is not simply the work of a master thief, but one that could greatly aid the Germans and turn the tide of war in their favor. Time is of the essence and the blue diamond must be recovered before it begins its travels which could cause irreparable damage to the allied war plans.

I enjoyed this read, although, as always, I feel a bit slow when reading (or watching, for that matter) a Sherlock adventure of any sort. I also enjoy locked room mysteries, and this more or less fits the bill. There was enough action to keep me interested, and enough time with all the characters that my brain didn’t go numb from all the introspection and deductions going on. This is the second book I’ve read in this series, and I do recommend it.

Leonard Goldberg is from Charleston. The Blue Diamond is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons, by Kate Khavari

Image belongs to Dreamscape Media.

TitleA Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons (audio version)   
Author:  Kate Khavari
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery  
Rating:  4.5 out 5.0

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon, she doesn’t expect Mrs. Henry, one of the professors’ wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.

Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by enigmatic Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?

I enjoyed listening to this audio book! I enjoyed the interactions between Saffron and Alexander a lot, and there was a lot of humorous moments. The mystery was well-done and there was a lot going on that the author juggled and wove together to keep the action always moving. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Kate Khavari Lives in the DFW area. A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Dreamscape Media in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:   The Limitless Sky, by Christina Kilbourne

Image belongs to Dundurn Press.

TitleThe Limitless Sky
Author: Christina Kilbourne
Genre:  Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Trapped in a life she didn’t choose, Rook struggles to find meaning in her appointed role as an apprentice Keeper of ArHK. Even though her mam soothes her with legends of the Outside and her da assures her there are many interesting facts to discover in the Archives, Rook sees only endless years of tracking useless information. Then one day Rook discovers historic footage of the Chosen Ones arriving in ArHK, and she begins to realize her mam’s legends are more than bedtime stories. That’s when Rook begins her perilous and heartbreaking search for the limitless sky.

Gage is also trapped. Living on the frontier line with his family, his is a life of endless moving and constant danger. As he works with the other Scouts, Gage searches for the Ship of Knowledge to help his society regain the wonders of the long distant past, when machines transported people across the land, illnesses could be cured, and human structures rose high into the sky.

Will Rook and Gage escape the traps and perils that await them in order to save each other’s worlds? If they don’t, it could very well be the end of humanity.

The setting and culture in this story were fascinating to me. It was a little unsettling to read about national monuments as archeological artifacts, so that was an interesting aspect. I actually enjoyed Gage’s POV a bit more than Rook’s, because her culture and mindset just felt so foreign to me, but the author did a good job fleshing it out and making it come to life. I thought the ending was a little abrupt and kind of left the reader hanging, but I’d still recommend this.

Christina Kilbourne is from Canada. The Limitless Sky is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Dundurn Press in exchange for an honest review.)