Book Review: Ship of Fools: A Geek Girl Rom Com (Fandom Hearts Book 6) by Cathy Yardley

Ship of Fools: A Geek Girl Rom Com (Fandom Hearts Book 6) by Cathy Yardley

A Romantic Comedy published by RYW Publishing (07/30/19)

Summary:

Previously on Fandom Hearts…. Cressida left the safety of the bookstore to hunt for real live treasure with an almost-stranger. States away, she is having an emergency agoraphobic attack. Rachel has the means to get to Cressida quickly, by borrowing her ex-high school sweetheart’s family plane. Rachel only hesitates a moment before making the call. Ten years later, Ren breaking up with her, still hurts.

Ren never got over Rachel. He was pressured to break up with her so that he could focus on his schooling and career path that would eventually lead to him taking over the family business. Rachel’s phone call out of the blue brings up all sorts of nostalgia for Rachel and their relationship. Is she still the same woman he broke up with ten years ago? He has to find out and pleads for a date with Rachel.

Rachel feels obligated to thank Ren in person for helping Cressida, but she is also curious whether he’s grown as a person. Is he still putting family obligations and career aspirations first in his life or does he have room for a new relationship?

Keywords:

Friendship, Romance, Sisters, Family, Trust, Book Shop, Risk, Fear, Workaholic, Family Business, Private Car, Rich, Old Flame, Family Obligation

My Review:

I absolutely adore the Fandom Hearts Series. I love reading about the characters and how their lives intersect. I love how I get to know more about each of the main characters as they star in their own novels and as we read about them in all the other books. Ship of Fools has been my least favorite of the series. It lacked the wow factor of the other novels. I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. The Frost sisters did not let me down, but the romance between Rachel and Ren just wasn’t satisfying in the same way as all the other sisters’ romances were. The happy ending a bit bittersweet and left me wanting.

I wonder in what direction the Fandom Hearts books will go after this latest installment. All Frost sisters have found relationships outside of each other and they are moving on with their lives. I really would like more of Cressida’s story in the future. Cressida is my favorite character because she is the most vulnerable and most unique.

This novel was published by RYW Publishing on 07/30/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Cathy Yardley’s Website

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Book Review: The Kitchen Brigade by Laurie Boris

The Kitchen Brigade by Laurie Boris

A Contemporary Women’s Dystopian Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (01/10/19)

Summary:

In a not-so-distant future Russia occupies America. Travel is limited. Employment is limited. Freedom is limited. Valerie grew up privileged as the daughter of the secretary of state but is now forced to cook for the army in this occupied-America. With her culinary background she impresses a Russian general and is given the ‘opportunity’ to work in his mansion. Christened “Three” she works with a head chef and four other chefs in the kitchen during the day. This opportunity involves being led to her work space in handcuffs every day, bullied and belittled by the guards and the guests at times, and forced to work for the same men who killed her father and are destroying her country’s freedoms. She knows she will not do nothing, will not work demurely, will not stand idly by if an opportunity presents itself.

Keywords:

Social Sci-fi, Cooking, Kitchen, Servitude, Occupied America, Passion, Friendship, Loyalty, Courage, Despair, Russia, Violence, Oppression, Tension

My Review:

Though supplies may be scarce, the kitchen brigade bring life and love to the dishes they prepare. Head Chef Svetlana says some very poignant remarks about cooking and food throughout the novel. It is their love of food and their passion for cooking that bring life to the kitchen and hope to their hearts. It is this passion that seems to lead them in other areas of their lives and gives them the willingness to stand up for what they believe in and the need to act when they can.

I enjoyed all the characters very much. Head Chef Svetlana seemed so complex when viewed from both her point of view and from Valerie’s point of view combined. Who is Svetlana really and what side does she work for? Valerie is very courageous, even in the beginning she does not yield instantly to her fate. Yet, she does not fight when there is no reason. She is industrious and clever. Two seemed the most complex character with the least explanation or backstory and I really enjoyed this slight ambiguity. In the height of chaos, what would she do? She is the loose cannon that could crumble Svetlana’s plans and yet Svetlana loves Two like a daughter. I adored Four so much! She was so cool. Each of the women in the employ of Svetlana in the kitchen were full of personality.

I enjoyed the details of running the kitchen, including food preparation, wine pairing, cleaning, herb gardening, and more.

This book had great suspension and tension throughout. The ending came suddenly and some of the action I couldn’t quite picture but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 01/10/19 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Laurie Boris’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Dangerous Territory: a Keltin Moore Adventure (The Adventures of Keltin Moore Book 3) by Lindsay Schopfer

Dangerous Territory: a Keltin Moore Adventure (The Adventures of Keltin Moore Book 3) by Lindsay Schopfer

A Steampunk Science Fantasy Novel published through Amazon Digital Services (06/01/19)

Summary:

Keltin Moore is a beast hunter starting his own beast hunting company with two of his faithful companions: Bor’ve’tai the Loopi and Jaylocke the Weycliff Wayfarer. Their first job takes Bor’ve’tai and Jaylocke away together to hunt a smoke beast while Keltin holds down the office by himself. Not even a day later Keltin is tasked with an emergency beast hunting job and a secret assignment. Without being able to wait for his companions, he is off north to Krendaria once again.

Keywords:

Fighting, Hunting, Prey, Beasts, Determination, Heroics, Strategy, Politics, Discrimination, Hate, Farming, Working Together, Survival, Thoughtfulness, Injury, Escape, Stealth

My Review:

Keltin Moore’s world is much like stepping into the fictional wardrobe of Narnia with all sorts of creatures, most of them unfriendly. The Beast Hunter’s monsters are varied in form, function, and appearance. I really enjoyed the imaginative world building of the monsters themselves and the weaponry made to defeat them. The author gives the reader the perfect amount of description for both amidst the action of the hunt scenes.

Much like with the other Keltin Moore book I read, the start of the novel builds the world slowly, re-introducing the reader to Keltin and the new problem he must solve. Keltin himself has grown into an entrepreneur yet he remains humble. I really enjoyed his embarrassment and the way he would normalize himself anytime he was being described overly heroically. If I had an Uncle in a fantasy novel, I would like him to be Keltin.

This book reminded of the narrative ease of the Tarzan novels and once the main plot was revealed, I was hooked into the story and didn’t put the book down.

This novel was published through Amazon Digital Services 06/01/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 3.75

Links for more information:

Author Website:  www.lindsayschopfer.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lindsay-Schopfer/e/B007EF3MQS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindsaySchopfer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lindsayschopfer

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7078379.Lindsay_Schopfer

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/lindsayschopfer?ty=h

Book Review: Love Songs, Detours, Et Cetera (Senior Year Sweethearts Book 1) by Starla Huchton

Love Songs, Detours, Et Cetera (Senior Year Sweethearts Book 1) by Starla Huchton

An Contemporary YA Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (04/14/19)

Summary:

On the first day of her senior year of high school in the small town of Highland, Iowa, Trina gets to school before any of the other students so she can volunteer and help the teachers. Trina bumps into the most popular and best looking boy on that first day. Is it her imagination or is he trying to follow her around school? Trina has one best friend in the entire school and everyone else either ignores her or makes fun of her and her mom. Why would Ethan give her the time of day?

Keywords:

Romance, Love, Friendship, High School, Sewing, Costumes, Musical, Alternative Lifestyle, Family, Best Friends, Senior Year, Volunteer

My Review:

Starla has a way with building amazing characters. I felt like I was Trina. She blends into the background and does her own thing but isn’t afraid to voice her opinion and stand up for herself. Trina drives an old car and has dreams of going places, specifically leaving her small town. Though I’ve never really been in a small town, I felt like I understood entirely the feeling of being unique and standing out in Highland, Iowa. I loved Trina’s interactions with her mom, with her best friend, and with Ethan. Trina’s voice was distinct and she knew what she liked, who she liked, and what she wanted.

The dialogue was clever and realistic and mesmerizing. I couldn’t get enough of it.

The romance was perfectly developed and I loved being inside Trina’s head with her nerves and her anxieties throughout it all. I especially loved Ethan’s reactions to Trina’s anxiety.

Ethan was also well developed as a character. He had a robust life outside of his interest in Trina. He had his own wants and dreams as well as his own faults and problems. I really enjoyed the complication of Emmaline, Ethan’s younger sister in the story as well.

The details of costume building and theater were super fun and I really liked how at this particular high school the theater nerd was the most popular kid in school.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 04/14/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: SPIN by K.J. Farnham

SPIN by K.J. Farnham

A Young Adult Novel published by K J Farnham Publishing LLC (04/11/19)

Summary:

Jenna Kemp likes to run and hang out with her three best friends at the local park. She is your average teenager, but she is also hiding a huge secret. She has succeeded in pushing down her secrets so deep that she can live her daily life in peace, but those secrets will slowly bubble to the surface. Jenna will try anything to numb the pain, from nighttime pain meds to weed and alcohol. Her friends don’t understand why she is spinning out of control until the day Jenna doesn’t come home one night and her years of secrets begin to unravel.

Keywords:

Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, Teenagers, Drugs, Alcohol, Parties, Friendship, Love, Missing Teenager, Diary, Teen Angst, Anger, Emotions, Family, Runner, High School, Blame, Guilt, Shame

My Review:

Spin was incredibly riveting. I was entirely engrossed in the book from the first chapter. What happened to Jenna? What will happen to Jenna? I had to find out and I was not disappointed in the ending. The plot was incredibly well paced and Farnham breaks up the narrative into two time periods: before Jenna’s disappearance and after Jenna’s disappearance. Slowly the days count up and down until they finally meet in the end with the exciting conclusion that answers all the questions.

Jenna Kemp was incredibly well written. Her diary entries seemed a little too polished for a teenager going through emotional torture and turmoil, but her actions and thoughts were very realistic. Her friends’ reactions and thoughts were also incredibly realistic. Their guilt after Jenna’s disappearance is so heartfelt. The emotions that Farnham describes are so authentic that I felt like Keely, Dustin, Delaney, and Leighton could be real people.

The interactions with the police felt real. The interactions between Jenna’s parents and her were also incredibly well written. I loved getting all the different perspectives. Each character had a unique personality and connection to Jenna.

Jenna herself was complex. From the outside she appears like a troubled and rebellious teenager. When you get inside her head and see what she writes in her diary entries, you see her for the adult that she truly is and the baggage that is slowing her down, overwhelming her at times, and growing heavier and heavier through her repeated exposures to her childhood sexual trauma.

The writing style is incredibly polished and this book is the best one of Farnham’s to date. I’m very excited for what she writes next.

This novel was published by K J Farnham Publishing LLC on 04/11/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

K.J. Farnham’s Website

Book Review: The Triskaidek (Camp Fae Book 1) by Basil Sprig

The Triskaidek (Camp Fae Book 1) by Basil Sprig

A Coming of Age YA Fantasy Novel published by CreateSpace (06/13/10)

Summary:

“Fairy magic makes things work in predictable ways, but you can’t always find the line between what is magic and what is just nature.”

On the thirteenth day of the thirteenth month of her thirteenth year, Alley is swept up in the magic of her Thirteenth. Then a magical creature shows up on her doorstep. Then her mom finds her a camp to go to for the summer: Camp Fae. Coincidence or are they related to her Thirteenth?

Keywords:

Magic, Sunbird, Elements, Learning, Fairy, Fae, Summer Camp, Leader, Escape, Evil, Power, Time Travel, Mission, Friends, Friendship, Betrayal, Helping, Together, Crafts

My Review:

Triskaidek is a cute yet full-bodied story with complex characters, a rich magical world, and an overarching plot.

I loved how well-developed all the magic details were in this story. I liked the specificity for learning different types of magic, even though Alley didn’t always follow the recipes. I loved how there are two approaches to magic – through hard work and dedication to the recipes and history and knowledge and then the intuitive type. Some fairies are naturally talented (intuitive) for certain magic, like invisibility, and others have to work and work for years and years on a type of magic in order to learn it (flying). The magic is also quite organic and the fairies are left to learn on their own time in their own way to earn ‘badges.’ To earn a badge is to show proficiency in a specific type of magic (like Flying 1).

I enjoyed all the characters, especially Alley. She is clever but magically ‘clumsy’ since she is new to doing magic. She doesn’t always realize or know the consequences of using her magic prior to intuitively using her magic! This results in problems for Alley and the entire camp. Not only that, but Alley must earn badges even though following a recipe for doing magic doesn’t come naturally to her and she must figure out how to do the mission the Sunbird gave her before going to Camp Fae. I would have liked to see more of Alley’s flaws, but I really liked her point of view.

Anyone who read and loved the Harry Potter series, will definitely enjoy The Triskaidek.

This novel was published by CreateSpace  on 06/13/2010 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: The Pirate’s Booty (Inventor-in-Training #1) by D.M. Darroch

The Pirate’s Booty (Inventor-in-Training #1) by D.M. Darroch

A Middle Grade Action-Adventure-Time Travel Novel published by Sleepy Cat Press (04/19/15)

Summary:

“Angus Clark was an inventor in training. He had a business card to prove it.”

Angus Clark thinks of himself as an inventor-in-training. His newest creation is the Insect Incinerator. His first tests have zapped some cones out of existence. Excited for the implications of his invention, Angus races back to the garage (his lab), but drops his invention and accidentally zaps himself out of his own dimension. Now Angus has to figure out a way to fix the Incinerator and get back to his own house, but he’s out on the water aboard the pirate vessel The Fearsome Flea and everyone seems to think his name is BP. What happened and how did he get there? Also, why is Ivy (a goody goody from school) in this dimension with him? Angus will have to use his inventiveness, along with the help of new friends to solve the multi-dimension problem.

Keywords:

Time Travel, Alternate Dimension, Science, Technology, Invention, Messy, Pirate, Parrot, Problem Solving, Teamwork, Humor, Misadventure, Building, Boat, Motor, Ship

My Review:

This was one of the most exciting middle grade novels I have read in a while. Angus has created quite a problem for himself and must figure out a way to fix it, but along the way meets some interesting characters with their own problems. I really enjoyed how all their problems tied together so that the solution will help to solve all the problems.

I admired Angus and his ability to solve problems. He wasn’t able to fix everything the first time and he wasn’t able to fix everything by himself. This book dealt with problem solving and coming up with creative solutions, sometimes together. I adored the way Angus and the Captain played with toys to figure out the mechanics of a motor. They went about it very logically, tallying the results across several dimensions and using that research to make something else that was the best it could be. Angus isn’t an inventor-in-training, he is without a doubt, a real inventor. The whole time he is positive despite the potential direness of the situation.

I very much enjoyed the parallel story of BP, who Angus bumped out of the pirate ship and transported into his place among the suburbs. BP, a pirate, has to learn a few lessons of his own before Angus has figured out how to put everyone back in their rightful places. Except, in the end, not everyone is in their rightful place and the story must go on! I look forward to reading more adventures with Angus and Ivy.

This novel was published by Sleepy Cat Press on 04/19/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

D.M. Darroch’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: The Devil You Know by Starla Huchton and S.A. Huchton

The Devil You Know by Starla Huchton and S.A. Huchton

An Urban Fantasy Romance Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (01/29/17)

Summary:

Demons live among us. They shop at the grocery store and work at the local coffee shop. Kendra has been able to see them her whole life. And she’s never told anybody. What good could come of it? She’s used to horns, decaying flesh, and blue skin but when she first meets Nick, she’s caught off guard and she almost can’t keep her secret to herself. His appeal is more than just his good looks, his demon ability makes it hard for her to stay grounded and away from him. She knows she has to stay away from him. But he keeps showing up in her life and she is one debt short of keeping all her secrets safe.

Keywords:

Paranormal, Demons, Devils Romance, Romantic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Demon World, Affect, Abilities, Jealousy, Business Deal, Partnership, Friendship, Emotion

My Review:

I’ve almost read everything Starla and S.A. Huchton have ever published. I will continue to read everything Huchton publishes. She is an amazing storyteller and has a gift with words, plot, characters, and style. She could fictionalize the dictionary and make it intriguing.

The Devil You Know has both paranormal and urban fantasy elements, two key book characteristics I typically don’t like, but I loved this book. The characters may have been demons (not all of them), but they were alive with approachable human characteristics. The world was set in a typical city, but in a world where there were different types of demons with different characteristics. Huchton gives us just a little bit of the fantasy world in which demons live, but firmly grounds it in a contemporary and familiar world.

The two main characters: Nick and Kendra are both complex and misunderstood. Both will come to new realizations after meeting the other. They both learn and grow throughout the novel. I loved how Kendra was able to change her opinion of Nick as he opened up to her the longer they were together. I guess growing up knowing you are the only one who can see 8-foot tall demons with horns and blue skin would make you more open-minded to other things, but I was pleased with how Kendra dealt with and stood her ground with Nick and the other demons.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 01/29/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Savage Beauty by Casey L. Bond

Savage Beauty by Casey L. Bond

A YA Fairy Tale Retelling Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (02/02/18)

Summary:

“Luna was unapologetically who she was; darkness illuminated in pale light, kindness cloaked in snark, cold at times, but with a warmth bubbling beneath the frosted surface.”

Aura and Luna are bound by dark magic. They are half fae twins. Luna is princess of the night, gaining power by the moon, and has power over air and fire. Aura is princess of the day, and has power over the elements of water and earth. It is a curse that comes with great power.

Luna doesn’t want to hurt others, but Aura seems to go out of her way to kill everyone that gets too close to Luna, including Prince William. Luna will have her revenge and is convinced that she must break their bond and kill her sister. Her plan is to wait until she is awake with power, create a spell to sever the bond, and rid the kingdom of the evil Aura. Luna will do anything for that spell, until William’s younger brother, the Prince Phillip wanders onto her land.

Keywords:

Witches, Fae, Sorcery, Fairy Tale Retelling, Destruction, Roses, Poison, Evil, Sisters, Moon, Guilt, Prince, Hunt, Spells, Broom, Familiar, Cat, Curse, Murder, Power, Love

My Review:

This book was slow to start but well worth reading to the end.

After reading both Savage Beauty and Riches to Rags, I know I will enjoy the other fairy tale retellings by Casey Bond.

Savage Beauty is a unique fairy tale which is very loosely based on Sleeping Beauty. This book was highly creative and imaginative, but also logical due to the background and world building. Unlike the overly imaginative Alice in Wonderland, Savage Beauty is highly creative within the set of rules that Bond has crafted in this world.

I loved having both Aura and Luna’s perspectives. After falling in love with Luna, much like William and Philip, I found it interesting to see Aura’s perspective. It was quite satisfying and confusing. How could a murderer downplay her acts? How could Aura excuse her behavior? And yet, she felt genuine when we were inside her head.

Even Philip felt like more than just the love interest. There was some depth to his character, though not as much as Luna. Luna is the fantasy character I’ve always wanted to read about. She is tormented and stubborn and hell bent on revenge. She is also sweet and caring and regretful of any actions she takes that cause hurt upon others.

Though I almost set this book down from the first chapter, I’m glad I kept reading and absolutely loved the ending.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 02/02/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Riches to Rags by Casey L. Bond

Riches to Rags by Casey L. Bond

A YA Fairy Tale Retelling Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (10/31/17)

Summary:

“You are brave when you should be terrified, kind when you should be bitter, humble when you could be prideful, and your spirit, instead of being crushed beneath circumstance, somehow managed to rise above it all and remain joyful.”

Ella Carina’s favorite pastime is sitting in her window seat and gazing at the people outside as they go about their daily lives. She despairs that she’ll be stuck in the castle until her father forces her to marry an older man from Galder for political reasons. At 14, she expects to wait until after her older sister is married, but her father decides to marry both Carina and Ivy on the same day in a few weeks. With her future set, Carina is about to lose what little freedom she does have. The very next day the next kingdom over attacks the castle and she is swept away, her life as she knows it is over. But perhaps living in hiding as a farmer will give her the simpler life she has always dreamed about.

Keywords:

Fairy Tale, Retelling, Cinderella, Love, Innocent, Envy, Prince, King, Kingdom, Power, Escape, Hiding, Poor, Dreams, Castle, Tyrant, Family, Friendship, Fighting

My Review:

I love a good fairy tale retelling. Riches to Rags was an excellent fairy tale adaptation. I absolutely love Bond’s writing style and the flow of her stories.

I thought Carina grew so much from the beginning of the novel to the end. Bond does an amazing job of showing Carina’s growth and change as a character. Bond also creates so much conflict, terror, and circumstances outside of Carina’s control, that I wondered how she would survive. Carina’s true character, her grit, and her good nature shows true as she lives and works with the farmers. She is grateful to be alive to be placed with such a loving family. Carina is a much more active character than she has reason to be. Bond gives Carina the perseverance to create a good and happy life for herself, despite the circumstances that brutally took her away from her life in the castle as a princess.

As soon as you fall in love with Carina and her new romance with the blacksmith’s son and wonder how she will overcome the animosity from her new sister, a new conflict arises. This book had so much packed into it and I very much enjoyed reading it. I look forward to reading Casey Bond’s other fairy tale adaptations.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 10/31/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter