Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews

The Con Code by Shana Silver

Book details

I received an ARC copy of this book from Xpresso Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review. The views expressed herein are my own.

About the book

The Con Code is the story of Fiona Sprangler, who is on a quest to find her mother, who has left clues to her daughter as messages in the many cons she carried out in her day. Fiona assembles a motley crew of people to accompany her on this quest and the journey is pretty interesting.

Why I picked this book

I’ve been in very frequent reading slumps in the past few months, binge watching stuff instead. This one really sounded like it could get me out of that slump and in between the pages of a book.

What I liked about this book

This book has a lot going for it. If you are a fan of White Collar, you might enjoy this one. Its got great characters, very thoughtfully sketched to make them caricaturish. Fiona, especially, has a charm about her that is hard to not fall for. There’s a sincerity in the way her character has been sketched and it shows.

I’ve been working on compiling a list of novels that will kick one out of their reading slump and this one is definitely making to that list. This one is also making it to the list of books I will recommend to new readers. This one ticks all the boxes, and how!

Then there’s some amazing writing that involves a good use of vocabulary and metaphors and phrases. The episodes of the heists are well-written and can keep one on the edge of their seat for longer than is healthy.

What I disliked about this book

The only thing that may not sit well (and I am pretty undecided about it too) is that the cons are done to prove a point and, in a roundabout way (or maybe not), glorified. And as a writer, I really cannot think of how to educate my audience of this without taking away from my story or inserting elements of pseudo goodness that I am not convinced of. But I guess that’s becoming too critical of a well-woven story.

My rating

📚📚📚📚/5

Posted in Excerpt

Excerpt: Calla (Pixieland Diaries #2) by Christina Baeur

Calla

Book 2 in the Pixieland Diaries

By Christina Bauer

Opening Excerpt

Day Seventy-One

Dear Diary,

Today I drop some diabolic retaliation harmless prankster fun on my new royal subjects, the summer elves.

Trust me, they totally have it coming.

Why the revenge? Yesterday I held my first formal court as Queen of the Summer Realm. It should’ve been a bunch of long chats with all my elfy nobles.

Only no one showed up.

We are not amused.

Time to get tricksy.

Today marks my second formal court… as well as my mega payback prank. While I write this, I sit upon a throne of red flowers. The shade goes perfectly with my pink hair, matching wings and violet eyes. And let’s not forget my ermine cloak; it adds a splash of white to the look. Clutch.

Yet appearances come second to my dazzling plan for the morning. Although my subjects been avoiding me for weeks, that will end once the court doors reopen in just a few minutes.

I’ve so got this.

Sighing, I soak in the beauty of this moment. A huge atrium towers around me. Sunlight pours in through the open ceiling. The walls and tiles are painted gold. A pile of tiny purple bags sit in the middle of the floor.

Hello, elf bait.

Those packets hold fairy dust, which is powerful magic that any fae wants. My prank lies in how these bags also contain… wait for it… a freezing spell. Grab one and you can’t leave the room until I say so.

My scheme is so brilliant, I can’t stand it.

There will also be plenty of witnesses for my glorious success. My parents, Poppa and Muti, wait nearby. So does my best friend and major crush, Prince Dare of the Winter Elves. Let’s not forget my buddy Bilge, the hobgoblin, and his piggy familiar, Oinky. Two summer elf guards—I call them Blond and Blonder—hang out by the back wall.

Speaking of the guards, they look expectantly in my direction. The moment has come to set aside my journal—it magically shrinks into a locket that hangs about my neck—and get ready for the fun to begin.

Prank on.

– Calla

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews

Book review: Jagger by Amanda McKinney

Book details

I received the ARC copy of this book from Giselle of Xpresso Book Tours. Thank you, Giselle! However, please do note that the review is purely my opinion of the book. This is the first book in the authors’ Steele Shadow Investigations series. This is also my first book by this author.

About the book

The blurb on Goodreads is as below:

Secrets, lies, deceit… A former Navy SEAL turned homicide detective has met his match in this new *standalone* addition to the number #1 Bestselling Steele Shadows Series…

He found her covered in blood.
She promises she’s innocent.
The question is… Can he trust her?

Feared just as much on the streets as at a crime scene, Homicide Detective Max Jagger has dedicated his life to one thing — speaking for the dead. Everyone and everything else be damned, including his own demons. During one of the most oppressive heat waves to hit the small, southern town of Berry Springs, the former Navy SEAL is called to a scene where a real estate heiress is found standing over a dead body, holding the murder weapon. The local cops immediately dub it a slam-dunk case, but if Jagg has learned anything from his days running special ops, it’s that nothing is as it seems… including this suspect.

Despite her name, Sunny Harper is as beguiling as a fallen angel. Clever, cunning, completely unwilling to cooperate, and, perhaps his least favorite quality—mind-numbingly intoxicating. When evidence from the scene suggests an accomplice, Jagg begins to believe that Sunny is both innocent and in danger, despite the towns’ uproar to lock her up. Torn between his growing feelings for his suspect, he takes Sunny to a secluded lake house where he discovers there’s much more behind those enchanting green eyes… including secrets that could take them both under.

With his career on the line and the clock ticking, Jagg must decide if he can trust Sunny… before they both get burned.

Why I picked this book

It’s been a while I read an alpha-male oriented book. That and the very intriguing blurb!

What I liked about this book

The fact that it is well-written and held my attention for a good part despite the things I did not like (coming up in the section after this). There’re some really good lines in here, like the one quoted below:

Because something has to be responsible, right? Something, or someone, has to be blamed and held accountable. Evil gives us something tangible to focus our anger on, and therefore, we accept its place on earth.

What particularly stood out for me is how the author uses one character’s PoV to establish the sketch of another character. I quite liked this use of having chapters dedicated to individual character PoVs. Case in point, the first chapter from Darby’s PoV actually helped me understand the layer’s in Max Jagger’s character far better than the chapters from his own PoV.

This one’s a mystery and the attention stays on that. It is peppered with just the right amount of romance, according to me. If you ask me, I’d say the author has given equal attention to the mystery and the romance. (I’ve never considered erotica to be equivalent to romance; there’s just enough here as much was needed.) All of this considered, I can safely say that the author writes really well.

What I disliked about this book

That it lacks coherence in some places. First, I didn’t understand the need of the whole Wiccan angle in the story. It does nothing to propel the story forward, and works as well as any other back story would have.

Next up, is Max Jagger’s obsession with connecting every crime to the Black Bandit, without an obvious evidence of the same. His reasoning: the crimes happen too close to each other w.r.t the number of days. In my opinion, not a strong enough reason. At times the descriptions, especially the monologues go to a lot of places making focusing and remembering details a little tough. Too much text so sometimes something that should surprise don’t. I think this is also why the big reveal does not feel big enough; it sort of feels flat. I don’t know what was missing, but something definitely was. Basically, there’s so much guesswork going on, that I spent a lot of my time just connecting the dots, but eventually giving up.

My verdict

Read this if you are looking for some good writing. Try reading this if you are looking for an edge of the seat thriller, because it is that for a good part of the story. Don’t read this if you are looking for more romance-erotica and less thriller (saying this because several people on Goodreads say they expected more romance and were disappointed).

My rating

📚📚📚/5

Posted in Book Blitz

Book blitz: Asherah by Rubina Ramesh



ASHERAH: THE WARRIOR PRINCESS
A FANTASY ROMANCE
(The Goddesses Trilogy Book 1)
by
Rubina Ramesh


Print Length: 257 pages
Publication Date: May 21, 2020
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
Genre: Romance, Fantasy


Blurb

Bound by duty…Longing for love.

Asherah…
Warrior Princess Asherah’s mission is to destroy the cruel godling, Sandor, who was feared both by men and gods. She is forced to seek the help of the ancient God and her husband, Lord El, whom she married at a young age. But there she falls in love with Lord El’s stable hand, Hanish.

Hanish…
Hanish knows his limits. He knew falling in love with Asherah was forbidden.

The Love…
They’re both bound by duty – one to her kingdom and the other to his master – and so they try their best to fight the growing attraction between them.

Will this forbidden love ever reach fruition? When Asherah discovers the truth about Sandor, will it sabotage her love for Hanish? Or will the truth about her marriage to Lord El destroy her forever?

Caught between three men, Asherah has to travel to her past to know her present. Will her heart finally recognize her true love? Grab a copy of Asherah now to find out.

Grab your copy @

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk |  Amazon.in

Read the Excerpt





Blog Tour by The Book Club of DESTINED by Rubina Ramesh

Rubina Ramesh is an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer and marketer. She is the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. Her first literary work was published in her school magazine. It gave her immense pride to see her own name at the bottom of the article. She was about 8 years old at that time. She then went to complete her MBA and after her marriage to her childhood friend, her travel saga started. From The Netherlands to the British Isles she lived her life like an adventure. After a short stint in Malaysia, she finally settled down in the desert state of USA, Arizona. Living with her DH and two human kids and one doggie kid, Rubina has finally started living the life she had always dreamed about – that of a writer.

Click here to check out all the titles by the author…

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Posted in Cover Reveals

Cover reveal: Relentless Stranger by Inger Iversen

Relentless Stranger
Inger Iversen
Publication date: TBA
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

He ain’t no hero. But he’s not throwing a half-starved kid to the wolves…

Eddie Houston wears the Blackwater Renegades MC “Nomad” rocker, serving as the club’s eyes and ears out west. Otherwise, the ex-convict turned junkyard picker and bouncer keeps to himself. He owes nobody, and he likes it that way.

When a scruffy, half-starved kid with defiant blue eyes and an attitude to match is left on his doorstep, Eddie knows for sure “Lucky” ain’t his. And he ain’t no do-gooder. But the girl needs help, and his MC brothers will know what to do. Besides, while he’s visiting the club, he’s likely to find a hot woman to break his long, cold, dry spell.

A dangerous biker’s arms could be the safest place for her heart…

Vivi Sinclair, new hire at Blackwater, Kentucky’s battered women’s shelter, has come to the MC’s party looking for a little adventure on the edge. The rough-around-the-edges biker at the bar is just what she needs, and soon the night is headed for a red-hot climax.

But when Lucky is kidnapped, Vivi has seconds to make a choice. Stay safely behind, or jump in Wes’s truck and help him get the girl back. So begins a wild ride where Vivi has to decide where the greatest danger lies – the kidnappers, or the hardcore biker with blood in his eye.

Add to Goodreads


Author Bio:

Inger Iversen is an American author residing in Virginia. She lives for bringing her fictional characters from darkness to light through self-discovery and passion. From her emotionally gripping, new adult Few Are Angels series that builds in intensity and intrigue to a finale you won’t see coming, to her international bestselling interracial romance dubbed “one of the most emotionally gripping” books of the summer, Inger breathes life into her fiction through her enthusiasm and devotion to writing. Her influences range from life experiences and daydreams, Inger spends her time in the writing cave and fantasizing of the day she can figure out how to Weird Science her characters to life.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bookbub / Newsletter


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Posted in Cover Reveals

Cover reveal: Unwritten by Alicia J. Novo

Unwritten
Alicia J. Novo
Publication date: November 14th 2020
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Books whisper to Beatrix Alba. But they aren’t the reason she has never fit in. Bullied at home and school, she keeps a secret—a power of violence and darkness.

When the spell that keeps her hidden fails, she’s catapulted into the Zweeshen, a realm where all tales live, and her dream of meeting her favorite characters comes true. But wishes are tricky, and behind its wonder and whimsy, the Zweeshen is under attack. A character is burning bookworlds in pursuit of a weapon to rule both stories and storytellers. To succeed, he needs a riddle in Beatrix’s possession.

Now he’s hunting her down.

Joining forces with William, a cursed conjurer, Beatrix must face an enemy who knows her every weakness in a realm where witches play with time, Egyptian gods roam, and Regency heroines lead covert operations. And with her darkness as the only weapon, she may have to sacrifice everything to save a world that rejects her.

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Author Bio:

Alicia has a weak spot for happy endings and transformative journeys. She spent her teenage years
in Argentina and Europe, speaks several languages and loves to travel.

An eclectic reader, she grew up on a diet ranging from Lucy M. Montgomery and Jane Austen to Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Raymond Chandler, Hermann Hesse, Jorge Luis Borges, and many classics. She’s never been cured of reading a bit of everything and is as likely to geek out about Mr. Darcy as Dr. Who.

She is a history and astronomy aficionado, who walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, completed her Masters in the Netherlands and worked for Google in Ireland. She decided to become a writer at six but took a full, winding road here. Along the way, she learned if there’s one thing that cuts across cultures, one unifying thread that pulls everyone together, it’s a good story.

A big-city girl, she now lives in the Midwest, where she occasionally picks apples and pretends witches exist.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


GIVEAWAY!
Sign up at alicianovo.com or Instagram @authoraliciajnovo for the chance to win a copy of UNWRITTEN and a box of goodies including a mug, bag, enamel pin, bookmark, character postcard and more!


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Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews

Hungry Hearts by Julie Hoag

Book details

I received the ARC copy of this book from Giselle of Xpresso Book Tours. The book released on the 21st of January, 2020 and is available as an ebook on Amazon. This is also my entry for the May prompt of the Reading With Muffy monthly reading challenge: Read a book that spreads awareness on Mental Health.

About the book

The blurb, as on Goodreads, is as below:

When an amateur chef attempts to use food as his love language, Landra, who struggles with anorexia, finds his approach off-putting. In fact, she finds Brian to be rather annoying.

Undeterred, Brian snags Landra in a friendship that eventually grows into something else, as she finally trusts him enough to sample some of his homemade gourmet treats.

But things have not evolved to the level Brian would like, and soon he realizes Landra’s issue isn’t only with the food he makes. She into the football team’s hottest player. But Brian isn’t about to get one-upped by a jock. He decides to ask Landra out at the same time that Landra manages to snag a date with the football star.As if dating isn’t hard enough, Landra must battle her anorexic impulses and self-esteem issues if she is to find the boy of her heart. When the voices of self-doubt and shame drown everything else out, Landra will need to give herself permission to be happy. And Brian? Well, he will have to find a way to Landra’s heart, even if it isn’t through her stomach.

Why I picked this book

Two reasons:

  • It is a story built around food
  • I thought it fit the prompt for May for the Reading With Muffy monthly reading challenge, because Landra, even though does not have a mental health issue spelled out, her anorexia and self-esteem issues are deeply connected to her Mom’s passing away.

What I liked about this book

The food. Every mention of every thing that Brian cooks for Landra is so tempting, it is that well-written. I’ll definitely give the author a plus one for coming up with a combination of dishes that are healthy and then some that are sin personified (quite obvious, given that Julie has authored a recipe book that has a very tempting cover).

Hungry Hearts is also a quick read that does not seem too rushed. This is my first read by this author, and I’ve liked it enough to contemplate more of her work in the future. The cover’s very on point too—my mental image of Brian was 100% on point with the male model on the cover! What I’d like even more is to know this story from Brian’s perspective; as a reader, I think that a narrative from that perspective has a lot of potential.

What I disliked about this book

The narrative only scratched on the surface of most things, like Landra’s imaginary Mom, her acceptance of her father’s girlfriend and her daughters, and her anorexia—and how she does manage to overcome it (somewhat) with Brian’s help. I would have liked the narrative to delve a little deeper into these issues (I am totally for narratives that touch on a subject enough to make you aware about an issue without making you all teary-eyed).

My rating

📚📚📚.5/5

Posted in Book Reviews

Book review: The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan

The paperback edition for this one was a part of a haul from a books by weight sale in Mumbai (where I bought 8 pre-loved books for 400 bucks!).

About the book

The Summer Seaside Kitchenis the story of Flora, a paralegal, who has a hopeless crush on her boss, Joel. Her ticket to impressing him is the one thing that she does not want to do: to go and stay home, which is the Scottish village of Mure and a place that Flora never wants to return to. She’s been away from family for the longest time for the most embarrassing reasons that all village folk know about. This is Flora’s story of how she wades her way through all of it to make all of her dreams come true. You can read the Goodreads blurb here.

Summers and mangoes are synonyms!

Why I picked this book

I picked it up because: great cover, the blurb said it is about food, and Jenny Colgan is an oft-recommended author for fans of Sophie Kinsella.

What I liked about this book

The warm, homely feeling that stories set in a countryside or in a village in a picturesque land tend to give you. I am a sucker for stories that revolve around quaint homes and cafes and generally places where everybody knows everybody and there is a lot of good food involved. There’s also some good writing and absolute truth bombs in there like this one:

That was the thing about dancing and heartache: it made you hungrier than you think.

But what nailed it for me, right at the beginning, is the tone the author sets: like she is telling you a story. The feeling stayed with me right through the book, and is one of the best things about the book. Flora is sweet and real; several times, I wanted to give her a high five! The story is part funny, part emotional, and is just the roller coaster you’d want on a summer afternoon.

What I disliked about this book

The story slows down towards the end, so if you picked this up to get out of a slump, it might put you back into one. The happily-ever-after makes up for it though.

My rating

📚📚📚.5/5

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews

Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

Book details

I received this book as an ARC from the very sweet Debdatta Sahay of DD Reviews. If you’d like to read this book, it is available under the Kindle Unlimited program.

About the book

Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj, a true-blue romance, is the story of Alisha who is on the wrong side (?!) of thirty and single. She meets two guys: Vivaan and Arjun. Vivaan is younger than her and not married before. Alisha is divorced. Arjun is older than her and widowed. Vivaan is not perfect for her. Arjun is. So says the society. Catch 22, Alisha loves Vivaan and not Arjun.   Read the full blurb on Goodreads.

Why I picked this book

Because Shilpa Suraj wrote it. She is one of the most talented authors I know, one of the authors I am totally in awe of their storytelling skills. Shilpa Suraj is one of those few authors that keep my faith alive in Indian romance writers.

What I liked about this book

Everything. That’s really all, because it has a great story, great characters, pretty much everything that is needed to keep a reader invested in the story and make it worth their time. What takes the cake though is the squiggle. The feeling finally has a name, something that was long overdue (long overdue is an intentional use of the phrase and not a grammar error, please note). Alisha’s post-divorce trauma, her struggle to not be too hard on herself, her guilt when she ends up doing that, her efforts to make sure everyone around her is happy, are not idealistic caricatures, but a very honest representation of what a women who’s worth is judged by her age and marital status feels.

Was it really that simple? The right guy would come along and she would feel something? Something other than this frozen numbness that never left her no matter what?

Shilpa does an excellent portrayal of how complicated love and marriage can be, how they are connected on a level deeper than society sometimes comprehends. It is honest, everything that every character goes through and thinks about is very real and not an exaggeration.

Oh, and a bonus point for that Oxford Comma in the title of the book!

What I disliked about this book

Nothing. Not one thing. I might dislike it, though, if Arjun did not get a romance of his own. (Shilpa, I hope you are reading this!)

My rating

📚📚📚📚📚/5, obviously!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book review: Burden of Truth by Robin James

Book details

Downloaded from the Kindle store, under their Kindle Unlimited program (which is gold, by the way)

About the book

Featuring my newly white-painted toes

Burden of Truth by Robin James is the first book in the Cass Leary Legal Thriller series. Cass Leary leaves a high-paying job in Chicago to escape from a Trauma she refuses to indulge in and divulge to anybody. Just as she is making herself at home in her hometown of Delphi in Michigan, she finds herself defending a teenager accused of killing the local school’s favorite basketball coach.

As Cass builds up her defense, she uncovers secrets that some of the townsfolk have chosen to overlook, while the rest have just been unaware in their blind devotion to the coach. The revelations impact not just Aubrey, the teenager’s future, also Cass’ own family in a way she never thought possible.

Goodreads blurb

Why I picked this book

  • Because reading slumps are a menace that pop up very frequently in my life and thrillers are the perfect antidote.
  • Because the March prompt for The Muffy Tales’ Reading Challenge was to read a book about a woman, written by a woman, and had a woman on its cover. This one really fell into my lap.
  • Because I was in the mood to hoard books but did not want to spend money on paperbacks. The KU subscription really lets me hoard to my heart’s content without paying more than the bare minimum for a plan.

What I liked about this book

Burden of Truth is very reminiscent of John Grisham’s A Time to Kill in terms of the plot and its treatment of it. However, Robin James does justice to her audience by writing a story that is a page turner in every sense of the word and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

She weaves a watertight plot, and even though it gets a little predictable in a few places, she manages to still surprise/shock you. The revelations that happen on the journey to unraveling the big secret are equally well done.

Great writing, good pace, and good timing when it comes to the revelations makes this one one of my proud finds from the KU catalogue.

What I disliked about this book

It gets a little predictable in some places, but Robin James’ writing skills save the day.

The one jarring thing that stood for me was when Cass really ignored or didn’t see the obvious and I was overcome by this urge to shake some sense in her. Sometimes, her questions liked context or were very abrupt, making the narrative feel jumpy. At points like these I was a little worried that the plot would dwindle, but thankfully, that didn’t happen.

There are also inconsistencies in the narrative; for example, a character is said to be in a bun, but a minute later she is fiddling with her ponytail.

My rating

📚📚📚📚.5/5