Entangled, Reviews, Thoughts

Best of 2017! @entangledpub @HarlequinBooks @nanamalone @Cathlanigan @katee_robert @karenrock5 @stephiewalls @MimiJeanRomance @minxmalone @MsMonicaMurphy @Regina_Kyle1 @RadioRico @evacharles37 @TotallyTabetha @CaraBristol @RachelBrimble @scarscoromance @PatriciaEimer @booksby_sarah @rebecca_norinne @christina_elle1

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So I’ve done it for the second time in a row.  I know.  But I just couldn’t help it this year.  What’s surprising is what IS NOT on the list.  I didn’t read a lot of romantic suspense (at least for the blog) and only 3 books made the list.  A lot rom-com’s made the list.  I needed to laugh this year and I did…a lot!  Some New Adult books made it, too.  Some debut authors, new to me authors and personal favorites.  Another surprise is that a paranormal didn’t make the list at all.

I don’t want to get preachy this year but I’m not sure what is going to happen.  I’ll still be blogging and reviewing.  But I probably won’t be reviewing as much as I did.  Working as a substitute teacher is a full-time job for me now.  I work pretty much every day now and I love it.  Baseball season for Thad and Brian is going to start next month and let’s not forget that we are going on a 7-day cruise during our Spring Break.  We can.not.wait either.  Cozumel, Jamacia, and the Grand Caymans here we come.  If you can believe this, it will be our first family vacation EVER.  No family, no friends.  Just the 3 of us.

I did accomplish some things that most bloggers already knew how to do.  I’m old and a bit slow when it comes to being on trend.  This blog will be 10 years old in October and I couldn’t be prouder of what I’ve done, the authors that have been on and the friendships that I have made just blogging.  That said, here goes to what I’ve learned:

  1.  Goodreads – I was challenged last year in Monica Murphy’s group to sign up for the Reading Challenge.  I signed up to read only 50 books and ended up reading 87 books.  This year my goal is 75 books.
  2.   Hashtags – Still learning this but I’m getting more retweets because of them.  And followers.
  3.   Instagram/Pinterest – Still learning but I’m doing some Instagram only posts.  It’s been fun and interesting all at the same time.
  4.   Learning to say no to me.  One of the hardest things a blogger/reviewer can learn.  I’m not Wonder Woman and I have a life outside of the publishing world.  I intend to keep it that way.
  5.   No matter what I say or do, I’ll never be an author’s assistant, work for a publisher, or make a buck writing.  Yes, after too many “no’s”, being laughed at and then told no way in hell, I decided to just forget about it.
  6.   In reference to #5, this is also why I won’t be blogging as much as I have in the past.  I feel like, at times, that my blog is just a joke to some.  To me, it’s not.  You try to do this for almost 10 years.  Sure, I don’t have a posse of reviewers, authors beating down my door, networking at conventions/conferences but I think I do alright.
  7.   Its okay to review a book and post to Amazon, Goodreads, etc. and NOT the blog.  I’ve been doing that a lot lately and I love it.  No pressure to post to the blog because of scheduling.

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And I’m loving using Gifs!

Here are my top 20 books for 2017 in no particular order.

  1.  Ethan’s Daughter by Rachel Brimble.  I know, she makes my list every year but this book is bittersweet.  It’s the second to last book of her excellent Templeton Cove series.  And yes, I have read book #8 and I cried a bit.  I can’t believe the series is over but I know that my English Rose won’t leave me hanging when it comes to her books.  But I will however still be in the corner trying to process it all.  (Contemporary, Harlequin, romance, series, sensual)
  2. Claimed by the Cyborg (Cy-Ops #5)  by Cara Bristol.  As I said in my review, why are you NOT reading this series?  It has alpha men, strong heroines, just enough sexy times and action/adventure.  Ms. Bristol doesn’t dumb down the sci-fi to her readers and the plots are relatable.  (Romance, series, spicy, action/adventure, Sci-Fi)
  3. OH Henry (OHellNo series #2) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff.  I will admit that New Adult is finally growing on me.  The books that I have read last year are relatable, funny as hell, sexy and the characters just make sense.  I’ve told yall a million times.  My teens and 20’s were a blast.  Maybe too much of a blast but my life isn’t angsty like most books in this genre.  Ms. Pamfiloff just nails it with this series.  I can’t wait to see what she has in store with book 3.  (Contemporary, New Adult, series, romance, funny, spicy)
  4. Why the Earl is After the Girl (Ways of Love #1) by Tabetha Waite.  Debut author.  Took a chance.  Glad that I did.  Loved this book.  I have read the second book in the series and waiting impatiently for the 3rd one.  You really need to check her out.  (Historical, romance, series, debut author, sensual)
  5. Mr. Dirty (a London Billionaire standalone) by Nana Malone.  Ms. Malone is fast becoming an auto-buy author for me.  She writes funny, sexy as hell, fast-paced books about characters that you really care about.  Plus, there is depth to the story and characters.  (Contemporary, romance, spicy, series)
  6.  His Baby Dilemma (Indian Shores novel) by Catherine Lanigan.  This is one author to watch out for.  She writes for Harlequin Heartwarming and I just can’t get enough of her writing.  Her characters come to life for me and this book, in particular, is her best yet.  Yes, its sweet but trust me, you don’t miss the sexy times.  (Contemporary, romance, Harlequin, series, sweet)
  7. Nudes (Exposed #1) by Sarah Robinson.  Her book Not A Hero made my list last year and she didn’t disappoint me again.  Brilliant writing, engaging characters, and a plot that is on topic.  (Contemporary, series, romance, spicy)
  8. Girl Crush by Stephie Walls.  This book.  It was my favorite rom-com of the year.  I never laughed so hard at someone trying to bat for the same team because men just suck.  This one has stayed with me for a long time.  (Contemporary, romance, romantic comedy, spicy)
  9. Force & Enforce (The Force Duet) by Minx Malone and Nana Malone.  The only romantic suspense book to make the list this year.  I just so love this writing duo.  The Shameless duet was superb and my review of Deep is Monday.  Even though the books are duets, it centers around a security agency and the guys are just too hot, dirty talking, take no prisoners alphas.  Of course, the women are kick ass, too.  (Romantic Suspense, series, spicy)
  10. His Fake Alien Fiancee (Out of this World #2) by Patricia Eimer.  I challenged myself to read some sci-fi last year and let me tell I’m glad that I read this one.  It’s relatable, it happens on earth and our heroine is just flat out funnier than hell.  It read more like a rom-com but the sci-fi is there in spades.  If you are looking for a hilarious sci-fi romance, pick this one up.  You won’t be disappointed.  I will tell you that I haven’t picked up the other books in the series.  I know, I suck.  (Sci-Fi, Romance, series, spicy, comedy)
  11. Christmas at Cade Ranch (Rocky Mountain Cowboys #1) by Karen Rock.  Another Harlequin Heartwarming by one of my all-time favorite authors.  Ms. Rock never disappoints and this series is no different.  And yes, I’ve read the second book in the series.  This series deals with real issues that most people face every day.  Plus, it has cowboys.  (Harlequin, contemporary, romance, series, sweet)
  12. Ruck Me (a Dublin Rugby romance #2) by Rebecca Norinne.  A new author to me and it’s a New Adult.  OH.MY.GOSH.  Ireland, the accent, Rugby.  I was a goner before I even read a page.  This one deals with more real-life issues that people at this age experience and she doesn’t gloss over it.  It could be considered over angsty but I fell in love with the characters and couldn’t stop reading.  I’ve read the first book in the series and it was just as good.  Now I need #3.  Did I mention Ireland?  Pubs?  Rugby? (Contemporary, romance, New Adult, series, spicy)
  13. Leather Pants (Happy Pants Cafe #2) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff.  *swoon* This book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and I’m glad.  Ms. Mimi doesn’t disappoint with her contemporaries and this series is perfection.  You will definitely fall in love with Mr. Leather Pants.  (Contemporary, romance, series, spicy)
  14. Forever (a Friends Novel #3) by Monica Murphy.  #CuddlewithTuttle  This series has all the feels of what a Young Adult novel should be.  Angsty, a swoon-worthy hero and heroine, the friends that you want to slap and I really felt like I was back in high school.  Ms. Murphy just nails it with this book.  She must have snuck into a high school and took notes, like Cameron Crowe because a lot of what she wrote, I experience as a substitute teacher at our high school.  (Contemporary, romance, series, Young Adult)
  15. The Billionaire in Her Bed by Regina Kyle.  An Indulgence title that didn’t disappoint.  In fact, I kinda wish it were longer.  Ms. Kyle writes about a topic that is so newsworthy, relatable and being able to find the family that you were looking for.  Yes, these book is about rich people or the fact that come from money but she writes it in such a way, that money isn’t the issue.  This was my first book from Ms. Kyle and won’t be my last.  (Contemporary, spicy, romance)
  16. Meadow Shores series books 1-4 by Eva Charles.  Why are you NOT reading this series?  It’s about grown-ups.  Yes, real grown-ups and how they relate to their jobs, their families and ultimately, their love partner.  One book sticks out to me and that’s Petite Madeleine.  Drew and Cassie’s story is a second chance romance that just hits all the buttons for me.  But of course, all the books hit the button but this one…it just stuck.  Oh and Ms. Charles is redoing the covers.  (Contemporary, romance, series, spicy)
  17. Reckless Need (Hearts Temptation novel) by Scarlett Scott.  A spicy, well written historical that I just couldn’t put down.  This one dealt with a submissive man and a woman that just might be what he needs.  Yes, they are married, but their secrets almost consume them.  I loved the interaction between the other couples, too.  (Historical, spicy, series, romance, BDSM elements)
  18. In Walked Trouble (Under Covers @3) by Christina Elle.  Run. Don’t walk to get this book. Ms. Elle will surprise you with your dialogue, humor, action, pacing, and characters that you will become invested in that you will laugh and at times cry for them. Perfection in my book.  And it’s only her SECOND BOOK.  And the grandmas.  Too much.  (Romantic Suspense, comedy, military, series, spicy)
  19. Blame it on the Bet (a Whiskey Sisters novel) by L.E. Rico.  Hennesey, Bailey, Walker, and Jamieson walked into a bar.  Oh wait, they own the bar and seriously, those are their names.  This book has all the feels for me.  It’s character driven, the priest is hilarious, there are cats in costumes and Hennessey and Bryan are just too loveable but stubborn to ignore.  I can’t wait to find out about the other sisters.  (Contemporary, romance, series, sweet)
  20. Undercover Attraction (the O’Malley’s #5) by Katee Robert.  *thud*  This series.  Mafia and I don’t read mafia romances.  But there is something about the O’Malley’s that I just can’t get enough of at this point.  This is a must-read for anyone that loves action-packed, hard loving, dirty talking men and the women that somewhat tame them.  And the covers are totally lickable.  Just saying.  (Romantic Suspense, spicy as hell, series)

So there you have it.  I read more than 20 books but those are my top picks for last year.  I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings me to read.

If you are looking for me on Amazon, my reviewer name is Brian’s Mom.  I know, not original but it works.  On Goodreads, it is Harlie Williams.

 

Excerpt, Giveaways, New Release, Reviews

#Review o Power Struggle (a Detective Madison Knight book, #8) by Carolyn Arnold w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @Carolyn_Arnold

POWER STRUGGLE

by Carolyn Arnold

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GENRE: Suspense/Mystery

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BLURB:

One hit man who’s back for revenge.

One detective who’s not going down without a fight.

It’s been ten months since Detective Madison Knight almost died at the hands of Russian Mafia hit man Constantine Romanov. She hasn’t seen hide nor hair of him since he escaped police custody and fled to Russia soon after his arrest, except now her latest murder investigation gives her reason to believe he’s back in town. Seeing as the victim is the man who killed her grandfather, her perspective may be a little skewed, but with the MO smacking of Constantine and the victim’s connections to the mob, she finds it hard to be objective. Still, she’s doing her best to consider all the evidence.

When she receives a threatening letter from Constantine, however, her suspicions are confirmed. And he’s made it abundantly clear that not only does he plan to finish what he started but he has her family and loved ones in the crosshairs, too. Madison vows to do whatever it takes to save them, but as the hours race by, the body count rises. And the stakes only get higher when Madison’s sister, Chelsea, goes missing.

Now, Madison’s only play is to take Chelsea’s disappearance for what it really means: Constantine is calling Madison out for one final showdown. And they won’t both survive…

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Excerpt Three:

This was really happening. Constantine was back for her and her family. Her first thought went to Troy but was followed quickly with images of her sister and her nieces. Her parents lived in Florida and should at least be safely out of his reach, but the rest of them? She fumbled as she tried to get her phone out of her coat pocket.

God, who should she call first? She needed to make sure everyone was safe—right now. Maybe if she called Troy and then the station, she could have officers go by her sister’s, to her nieces’ school and the youngest one’s daycare, to her brother-in-law’s office, and after that, she could make a call to the local Florida cops to check in on her parents, just in case.

She pressed the speed dial for Troy and let her gaze continue to skitter over the parking lot for any sign of Constantine. She was too exposed and vulnerable standing there, and tremors shot through her. But if he was just going to pull a trigger, why the taunting note? She had a horrible feeling a single bullet wouldn’t inflict enough torture for Constantine’s liking.

Troy’s phone continued ringing in her ear.

“Pick up!” she cried out.

Two women were walking toward her with quizzical expressions on their faces. Madison made eye contact with one of them.

“Are you okay?” the woman asked.

Madison bit down on her bottom lip and ran a hand through her hair. She nodded. “I’ll be fine. Thanks.”

The one who’d asked how she was shrugged and bugged out her eyes at her friend as if Madison was crazy. They kept walking toward a sedan parked two down from Madison’s Mazda and got in.

“You’ve reached the voice mail of—”

Madison hung up, gripping her phone tightly. Why wasn’t he answering?

Troy had the day off. He was planning to go into the station later for her meeting with Winston and the police chief, but otherwise, he could be anywhere. If Constantine knew where to find her this morning, he’d likely tailed her from Troy’s house.

She got into her car and tugged on her seat belt.

Maybe Troy was just busy, or his phone was on mute, or…

She tried him again, and it rang to voice mail once more.

This time she left a message. “Troy, it’s me. Call me back the second you get this,” she rushed out. “Constantine’s back.”

She ended the call and thrust the key into the ignition, ready to tear out of the lot, but there was one more number she could try to reach him. It was primarily reserved for his boss in case a call came in requiring Troy’s SWAT team since he was on call 24-7, even on his days off.

She tried that number. It went to voice mail, too.

She pressed her phone to her forehead.

Please don’t tell me he’s…

Madison put the car into gear, and her phone rang. She answered quickly. “Troy?”

“You got the T part right, but this is—”

“Terry, something’s happened,” she blurted out, panic shredding her insides. She pushed the button on the kiosk to lift the barricade at the parking lot’s exit.

“What is it?” Terry sounded nauseated, as if he’d already been struck with bad news. “Are you all right? Where are you?”

“I’m fine, but—” She checked her mirrors. Constantine could be watching her right now.

“Maddy?” Terry prompted. “You’re scaring me.”

She pulled out onto the street. “Constantine’s back.” She swallowed the mouthful of bile that had risen in her throat. The sour taste hit her tongue, but it was nothing compared to the unsettled and knotted ball in the pit of her stomach, nor the one in her chest. What if he had… No, she couldn’t even finish the thought. She just had to get to Troy. She floored it through a yellow light.

So I’m back with a review of a mystery/thriller w/romantic elements and to say that I’m hooked on Madison Knight would be an understatement.  This is the first book that I’ve read by Ms. Arnold and it will not be my last. To say that my pulse pounded in my throat, my anxiety hit the roof and I could not put this book down until the very end.  Yep, this is that book.  True, I read a lot of romantic suspense, mysteries, mystery/thrillers but I got much more than that in this book.

Madison Knight is a detective in a major crimes division (LOVE the show Major Crimes) and is the only female.  Her boyfriend, Troy is part of the S.W.A.T. team and they have their ups and downs in regards to their relationship.  She has confidence issues that need to be dealt with in regards to Troy and let’s not forget that she also has to deal with a mother that still can’t accept the fact that she’s a cop.  To say that Madison has some things outside her job would be a lie.  But that’s what makes Madison so human and real to me.  I felt like I knew her.  And yet, I didn’t know her.

But what really got me about this book is how real and authentic to felt.  I watch a lot of cop shows on television and no one can match my love for Jack Ryan/Tom Clancy but Ms. Arnold has written one of the best female cops that I’ve ever read.  And yes, I love Eve Dallas and her yummy Roarke but I connected with Madison on a more personal level.  She cares too much for her family and after everything that she has been dealt with Constantine, it is still raw for her.  I liked how Ms. Arnold didn’t shy away from the effects of how Madison is dealing with it.  Most authors wouldn’t go that far but Ms. Arnold does and its brilliant.

I swear this book near lets up.  I didn’t take a break until I absolutely had to go the bathroom.  That’s how involved I was with it and I never wanted it to end.  That said, it did and it totally blew me away.  I have got the first book in the series to read and I can’t wait to see how it all began for Madison.  Madison is just one of those characters that will stay with you after you finish.  Not to mention the story itself.  Ms. Arnold writes a fast-paced, taunt, thrill ride that you will not forget.  Just remember not to drink anything so you can read right through.


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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:

Website – http://carolynarnold.net/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Carolyn_Arnold

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolynArnold

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Carolyn Arnold will award a print copy of IN THE LINE OF DUTY to a randomly drawn commenter. (US, Canada, UK only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

New Release, Release Day, Reviews, Teaser Excerpts

Happy Book Birthday & ARC #Review of Mr. Dirty (a London Billionaire standalone) by Nana Malone! @givemebooksblog @nanamalone

Title: Mr. Dirty
Series: A London Billionaire Standalone
Author: Nana Malone
Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance
Release Date: December 13, 2017
Blurb

*This is a standalone novel with a HEA!

I have a dirty mouth. That’s the truth. Women love it. And I have no plans on changing. Why would I?I like my life. The women, the partying, the fun.

Until I meet my new neighbour.

She’s messing with my good thing. She’s annoying, and persistent, and a pain in the…well you get the idea. She’s also gorgeous, and smart…and completely immune to me.

And now she needs my help with a little Ex payback and I’m more than happy to lend my expertise. Now all I have to do is keep from falling for her in the process. How hard can that be?

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
 
Oh.My.God.  This is such a fun book.  And dirty.  And emotional.  And smart.  Yes, smart.  Ms. Malone is one of my go-to authors and she doesn’t disappoint in this offering in her London Billionaires series.  I read Mr. Big but don’t worry, you don’t need to read it to enjoy this one.  When I say smart, its written more in the tone and voice of Nathan and I loved it.  I really enjoy the male POV and besides the alternative chapters, most authors won’t tackle it but Ms. Malone does and she does it brilliantly.
Nathan is the manwhore that you fall in love with from the start.  The opening of the book sets the tone for him but he is so much more than just having a different bedmate every other night.  He really cares for Sophie.  From the very beginning.  The “lessons” that he decides that she needs is just a ruse to get to know her and yes, sleep with her but in the end, that’s not what happens.  I also loved that even with all the issues that he has with his dad, he can talk to his stepmother.  The scenes near the end of the book with her just about broke me.  What grown man, billionaire talks to his mom about falling in love?  Nathan does and it is beautiful.  Plus, he buys a theater.
Sophie is the complete opposite of Nathan but that’s why the relationship works.  The complete each other and in ways they didn’t even know.  But what’s even better about Sophie is that she didn’t want to fall in love with Nathan, but she did and when they black moment came up, it was her, not him, that had to realize that she never let him explain.  She just reacted and walked.  In most books, it’s the other way around but Ms. Malone just knows to twist it just a bit and her…she just knows.  And that’s why I love Ms. Malone.
Ms. Malone writes a fast-paced book.  Nothing ever lags and I appreciate that in more ways than I can ever express.  Her writing is tight, fluid, and emotional.  Manwhore or not, you will fall in love with Nathan.  And Sophie.  I will warn you though that it is written in British English.  *sigh*  All the slang is there and at times, I really felt like I was in London.  Plus, the romance between Nathan and Sophie is relatable, emotional, funny, dirty and just plain fun.  He might be a billionaire but he’s just a regular guy falling in love and hating the pain that goes with it.  Sophie is just a lady that wants to be loved and not forgotten in the process.  *sigh*
One of the best books that I’ve read this year and you won’t be disappointed.
Also Available
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Author Bio
USA Today bestselling author Nana Malone’s love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense novel she “borrowed” from her cousin.
It was a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana, and Nana was a precocious thirteen. She’s been in love with kick-butt heroines ever since. With her overactive imagination constantly channeling her inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before she started creating her own characters.
While she waits for her chance at a job as a ninja assassin, Nana works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as brazen and kick-butt as she thinks she is.
Author Links