Dragon Shifter, Paranormal Romance, Review Books, Urban Fantasy, Werewolf shifters

Sentinel of Darkness (Darkness #8) by Katie Reus



Title: Sentinel by Darkness by Katie Reus
Series: Darkness, Book 8
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Format: e-ARC (251 pages)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Blurb: She thought she’d put her past behind her…

Local artist Keva might be human, but she knows about the things that go bump in the night. Years ago, a dragon shifter saved her from certain death. Ever since, she’s lived in his clan’s territory and put her life back together. But the feeling of security is only an illusion, because her past has come back to haunt her. A past with claws and fangs, demanding blood.

He’ll do whatever it takes to defend his mate…

Dagen has finally met his mate—except he insults her the first time they meet. He’s not too proud to grovel to get back into her good graces. But when a threat from her past emerges, he realizes that he’ll do anything to keep her safe. Even if it means dying—or losing her forever.


I loved this one! This story was written in a way that was endearing and heartwarming. Katie Reus delivers another winner in this awesome dragon shifter series.

Dagen Hunter was everything! He was a protective male without being bossy. He was attentive and considerate and he COMMUNICATED very clearly. Wow. He actually shared what he was thinking and what he wanted with the object of his affection. Imagine that, an alpha male who growls and talks too!

“You make it hard to breathe…I don’t think you realize what you mean to me Keva.”

Keva Sheehan, a jewelry maker, lived in the Conall’s (dragon) territory after surviving an attack by her ex-boyfriend, a wolf shifter. While on business meeting for his alpha Conall, Dagen runs into Keva and immediately scents her as his mate. His dilemma became how to communicate to a skittish human that she was his mate despite her history of being brutalized by a werewolf shifter.

What I loved about the heroine was that she drew strength from her past of being abused. Keva had prepared mentally and physically for how she would react and defend herself if confronted by an attacker. She showed courage in the midst of her fear knowing that shifters are much stronger than humans. Dagen was just so cute and sweet. He showed that a dragon can be an alpha male without dictating or being aggressive. His honesty seemed almost childlike and made the trust develop quickly. He protected his mate and took care of her, and he gave her room to draw her own conclusions. Keva seemed to draw strength from his supportive stance and her confidence grew as the dragons subtly protected her and extended friendship her by letting her know things about their clan. Many of the past characters made appearances and Keva found camaraderie amongst even the most ancient of dragons. This story was cohesive and had a steady flow. It was everything I love about paranormal romances without being overly heavy. One of the best stories I’ve read all year.

*I voluntarily read this advanced reading copy gotten from Netgalley. All opinions are my own honest opinions.

Autobiography/Memoirs, Nonfiction, Review Books

The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jennifer Lewis


Title: The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jennifer Lewis
Narrated by: Jenifer Lewis
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Format: Audiobook (10 hours and 47 mins)
Genre: Autobiography, Memoir
The “Mega Diva” and legendary star of Black-ish looks back on her memorable journey to fame and the unforgettable life lessons she learned along the way.

Jenifer Lewis keeps it real in this provocative and touching memoir by a mid-western girl with a dream whose journey from poverty to Hollywood will move, shock, and inspire readers.

Told in the audacious voice her fans adore, Jenifer describes a road to fame made treacherous by dysfunction and undiagnosed mental illness, including a sex addiction. Yet, supported by loving friends and strengthened by “inner soldiers,” Jenifer never stopped entertaining and creating.

We watch as Jenifer develops icon status stemming from a series of legendary screen roles as the sassy, yet loveable, mama or auntie. And we watch as her emotional disturbances, culminating in a breakdown while filming The Temptations movie, launch her on a continuing search for answers, love, and healing.

Written with no-holds-barred honesty and illustrated with sixteen-pages of color photos, this gripping memoir is filled with insights gained through a unique life that offers a universal message: “Love yourself so that love will not be a stranger when it comes.”

From her first taste of applause at five years old to landing on Broadway within eleven days of graduation and ultimately achieving success in movies, television and global concert halls, Jenifer reveals her outrageous life story with lots of humor, a few regrets and most importantly, unbridled joy. Candid, warm and wonderfully inspiring, The Mother of Black Hollywood intimately reveals the heart of a woman who lives life to the fullest.

Enjoyment: ♥♥♥♥½
Narration by Jenifer Lewis: ♥♥♥♥½
Plot: ♥♥♥♥
Writing: ♥♥♥♥
I listened to this story and was fascinated. It was dramatic, over the top and loud just like the actress. Jenifer Lewis has lived an eventful life thus far. I found this audiobook more succinct, more dramatic and more in depth than many of the memoirs I’ve read of late.
I loved that she told her own story and controlled the narrative in a way that introduced her to the audience so we get a rounded picture of her life in front of and behind the Hollywood persona.

She is so bold and blunt, saying it like she feels and making no apologies. The Hollywood Diva takes the reader through her childhood, relationships, her abuse and her struggle with mental illness. I only knew what I’ve read on blogs and in magazines so it’s always interesting to hear the private musings of a celebrity. I love her brutal honesty, I love that she is able to reflect and admit mistakes she made in relationships and understand how her attitude affected others around her. After listening to her book, I think there is a little bit of her actual personality in EVERY character I’ve seen her play. She clearly loves what she does because it comes across loud and clear. The world of entertainment is her first love. I hope she continues to do what she loves.

Review Books, Romantic Suspense, Suspense & Thriller

Hidden (Deep Ops, #1) by Rebecca Zanetti


Title: Hidden by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Deep Ops, Book 1
Narrated By:
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Format: Kindle edition (advance reading copy)
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Romantic Suspense
BLURB: Hide. That’s all Pippa can do to escape the terror chasing her. But now that she’s off the grid in a safe house, she finds plenty of interesting things to watch through the window. Like her new neighbor, with his startling green eyes, killer smile, and sexy bad-boy tattoo . . .

Run. Malcolm West is fleeing the hell he unleashed in his last assignment as an undercover cop. A backwoods bungalow sounds like the perfect place to start over. Until he discovers he’s been set up . . .

Fight. Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to bring them together. No matter how much he resents that, and his own driving needs, Malcolm will have to dig deep and let loose the banished killer inside himself, or Pippa’s fears could come true faster than the flip of a bolt in a lock . . .

A very good start to a new series. The first half gave me goosebumps as it was very suspenseful almost like the beginning of a scary movie. The second half of the novel was definitely more of a romantic suspense story. I definitely on board for this new series.

Pippa Smith was on the run and appeared to have severe anxiety issues while Detective Malcolm West was drowning in alcohol as a coping mechanism for his PTSD. When Malcolm was asked to take a new undercover assignment investigating a terrorist threat involves the cult Pippa used to belong to, Malcolm is forced to cozy up to the reclusive woman. But Pippa is suspicious of everyone especially law enforcement so Malcolm has his work cut out for him.
It became really clear that Pippa and Malcolm were yearning for a connection to someone or something. They both wanted to be free of their past and also sleep well at night. They both have been looking over the shoulder for so long that peace is a luxury they dare not wish for. How can he get her to share her past when he won’t come clean about his own secrets?

I enjoyed Malcolm and Pippa getting to a place where they had someone to trust and finding love. It was really fast for people with trust issues but I’ll chalk it up to them being starved for human contact. I enjoyed this story as it had just enough romance to keep me going but I was really curious about that serial killer.

This series is a departure from what Rebecca Zanetti’s normal narratives but it definitely had her signature style especially with the sex scenes. I think her last four books have all featured a spanking scene but I am not sure Pippa and Malcolm had achieved that level of comfort after just a week of knowing each other. Especially for a woman who is in counseling and possible on medication for her panic attacks. I would have liked more development and discussion about Pippa’s anxiety and Malcolm’s PTSD. However, the author laid down a foundation for an off the books Homeland Security Department task force ~ The Requisition Force. I think it’s going to be really good as each member gets their own story. Each task member has a compelling backstory and I am really looking forward to hearing it, especially the dog Roscoe.

*I voluntarily read this advanced reading copy gotten from Netgalley. All opinions are my own honest opinions.

 

Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Review Books

Ryan’s Bed by Tijan


Title: Ryan’s Bed by Tijan
Narrated By: Thérèse Plummer
Release Date: January 14, 2018
Format: Audiobook (9hrs and 1 min)
Genre: New Adult, Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Blurb: I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.

I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed–her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…

I didn’t. I didn’t jump out. I didn’t get embarrassed.

I relaxed. And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.

I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.

The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.

He became my sanctuary.

Because–four hours earlier–my twin sister killed herself.
I didn’t like this title. It didn’t reflect what this story was about. This book was sad yet hopeful look at a family’s struggle to cope with the unimaginable. I hate that publishers are trying so hard to sell books that they use sexy titles/covers that misrepresent the actual content of their work. But the narrator Therese Plummer had just the right voice. It was a mixture of pain, detachment, anger, hope, etc. I heard all of that in her voice and I couldn’t stop listening.

MacKenzie found her twin sister Willow in their bathroom in a pool of her own blood the day before their eighteenth birthday. It was a shocking beginning and the book follows MacKenzie and her family as they deal (or don’t deal) with the grief of suicide.

This book was done well because the process felt real, it felt slow, it felt like they would never be okay sometimes and then other times I thought they had turned a corner. It was painful to read so my heart goes out families who have to deal with a suicide.

I am no therapist but I was uncomfortable with the way MacKenzie latched on Ryan like a life-support jacket. In addition, her parents were so consumed with their own guilt that they knowingly turned a blind eye to her sneaking out to spend the night in a bed of a boy they barely knew. I know that grief can pull families apart or bond them closer together but in this case, the MacKenzie’s parents abandoned her emotionally and physically. They pawned her off to the care of a business acquaintance and that was deeply disturbing to me. Instead of structure and perhaps more family interaction, each person retreated into their own corners like a boxer after the bell.

3.5 star.
I liked Ryan and how gently he treated MacKenzie. He listened, he held her and he comforted her every time she needed him.

He was rock solid, he was intuitive and compassionate. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I got to know him outside MacKenzie’s pain. Maybe this story was meant to be snap shot in time because the characters were not developed that well. Not the main characters nor the supporting characters. There was underlying bullying at school. It felt like the adults were on vacation. The epilogue really exposed the fact that there was so much more going on under the surface and author didn’t really dig below. It was a good glimpse of a family’s grief but I wanted much more.

The two lessons I took from this story was to consistently listen to and talk with our loved ones. Don’t put labels on them like “the smart one” “the strong one” etc but to really see them and have meaningful interactions. It’s true that people will only share what they want, but if we establish trust, they may just let us into the vulnerable parts of their hearts.

Contemporary Romance, Review Books, Romantic Suspense

Confess (Sin City Salvation, Book 1) by A. Zavarelli


Title: Confess
Series: Sin City Salvation #1
Author: A. Zavarelli
Genre: Dark Romance
Release Date:
Lucian
A life free from sin.
For seventeen years, I have lived and breathed those words. But there is no balm to the war inside my soul.
Until her.
The mysterious beauty too lethal to taste. She’s a thief, a con, the essence of everything I loathe. Still, she lures me in with her lying eyes.
In the dark of night, she came to confess her sins, and in the light of morning, I plotted to steal her away.
She will be my ruination. My damnation. My biggest regret.
So help me, God.
**
Gypsy
A word of advice? Don’t show me your vulnerabilities because I will find a way to exploit them. I learned the hard way to take what I want from life with no regrets.
Until him.
He’s one of the most hated men in America. A soulless criminal attorney. A recluse. And as of five minutes ago, my new husband.
He wants to keep my secrets and collect my tears, but he should know that a wild animal can’t be domesticated.
I don’t know how to love men. I only know how to leave them.
With everything I want. 

What a ride! I couldn’t put this book down. I didn’t know where the author was going with this couple but I enjoyed the journey.

It seemed like a simple and predictable story but the plot and characters were quite complex.

Gypsy Blue was a con-artist who was trying her best to carve out a life with her sister Birdie, while they were on the run.

Her heists and scams put her in the cross-hairs of famed defense attorney Lucian West and now it was time for the blackmailer to become the blackmailed.

Gypsy didn’t like having a taste of her own medicine and it was a constant battle of wills. Unfortunately for her, she was dealing with a man of iron will and he held all the cards, including evidence that could land her prison.

Gypsy now had to learn how to deal with her life as someone else’s puppet. Meanwhile, Lucian got to know Gypsy and saw there was more than meets the eye.

This book was about the healing and redemption of two broken souls that had to learn to trust people again. They had different traumatic events to overcome, but as they became vulnerable to each other, tender moments led to their bonding. These two were endearing and it rugged at my heart strings.

I wish I had just a little bit more on the “why” of the betrayal that occurred. It was glossed over and didn’t quite make sense. That’s why I couldn’t give it a five-star. It was a pretty big plot twist with an un believable motive. The ending was just heartwarming and i felt at peace in the ending.

This one is another winner from A. Zavarelli 💕

I walked into my office and found the tall, leggy brunette waiting for me. She wasn’t the only one either. Beside her, Ace played around on his phone while Birdie flipped through a magazine.

I wasn’t surprised to see her this soon. In all honesty, I’d expected her to show up at my door last night, demanding to have Ace removed from her presence. But it appeared as though they survived the night, just barely.

“May I have a word with you?” Gypsy asked.

“You may,” I told her as I checked my watch. “In thirty minutes. When my lunch is finished.”

Her eyes narrowed, and she planted her hands on her hips as she stood. “You must be joking.”

“I don’t joke,” I responded flatly.

She stalked forward, stopping only when she’d breached the narrow distance that few people ever dared to try with me. She was reverting to her baser skills of seduction, but I doubted she even realized it. The instinct came naturally to her, often rewarding her with whatever she wanted, and admittedly, it might have worked on me too once.

She smelled of coconut oil and sunshine, and it encouraged a vivid image of her lying out on the beach. I could almost bet that if I were to touch her skin, it would be warm too. So warm that it would be easy to get lost in. She probably counted on it, but I was prepared to let Gypsy know from the start how this game would be played. There were only one set of rules, and they were mine.

“Do you want me to throw a fit?” she threatened as her eyes darted around my office. “Because I will.”

Now that was funny. My lips tilted despite my resolve to remain dry as toast.

“Do you think it would be the first time someone threw a fit in here?” I asked her. “I’m sorry to tell you sweetheart, but it wouldn’t.”
“It would probably be the first time someone accused you of holding them hostage in front of your employees.”

I turned and gestured for her to go ahead.

“Be my guest.”

Her lips tightened, and she clamped down on her jaw. After watching her for so long, these unintelligent threats from her were a disappointment. Of course, she wouldn’t make a scene because she had more to lose than I did.

“Thirty minutes,” I repeated. “I’ll have my secretary call for you when I’m finished.”

I walked into my office and shut the door behind me.
A. Zavarelli is a book junkie, cat lover, and traveler when plagued by intense cases of wanderlust. She likes all things chocolate, books that come with warnings, and putting her characters through hell. 
Her tales have been known to flirt with darkness and sometimes court it unabashedly altogether. Revenge themes and tortured souls are her favorites to write and this gives her an excuse to watch bizarre and twisted documentaries in her spare time.
She is slightly obsessed with Theo James and funny animal memes. If you don’t mind these things, you should add her on facebook.
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Blogger Themes

Book Tag: What’s On My Bookshelf?


Passed by this tag on Bookish Wisp.  I wasn’t tagged by Justine but I liked the game and her answers so I want to play too 😀

Rules:
1. Link back to the original creator, Naty @ Naty’s Bookshelf
2. Also link back to the person who tagged you!
3. Name one book for each category. Try not to repeat books to make this more fun!
4. Tag at least 5 people.

*Click on the cover to read my review, though a couple lack reviews from me if I read them long time before I started blogging*

A Book You Got as a Gift

I won this book on Goodreads and I enjoyed this chick-lit since I am iffy about office romances. But the characters grew and learned to take risks in their lives.

A Childhood Book

Best Friends (Sweet Valley Twins #1) by Francine Pascal
Anastasia Krupnik (Anastasia Krupnik #1) by Lois Lowry

I couldn’t choose between these two. Sweet Valley Twins was my first real series that I stayed with for years even moving onto Sweet Valley High.
Anastasia Krupnik was a series that cracked me up the more than Ramona Beezus. It even fueled by desire to visit Russia which we eventually did in High School.I can’t wait for my daughter to get to these two series.

A Magical Book

Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstriker #1) by Rachel Aaron

A couple of goodreads friends kept recommending this book but I wasn’t interested because I have a bias against ugly book covers. Plus, the blurb didn’t really stir interest. Then I entered Bingo reading challenge where I needed a Dragon book and this particular book was the audible deal of the day for $4.95. I decided what the heck! Let’s just say I finished all four audiobooks that same month. It wasn’t my usual style but I found the plot creative, different and the interpersonal relationships intriguing. So while this book was magical in the sense that it was a complete surprise and delight. Oh yeah, it does have magic in it too.

A Romantic Book

Then Came You (Gamblers #1) by Lisa Kleypas

According to Goodreads, This is the most read author on my bookshelf. Historical romance is my go-to genre and this book was one of the first audiobooks that I listened to. It not only introduced me to Lisa Kleypas but to the narrator Rosalyn Landor. Both are now at the top of my favorites list. But this story was everything I love in Historical Romances.

A Steamy Book

Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #4) by J.R. Ward
Pleasure Unbound (Demonica #1) by Larissa Ione

Books with vampires are almost always going to be steamy. The plot, character development and steamy factor were all 5-stars. Top notch writing makes these two some of my favorite series.

An Old Book

Blues Dancing by Diane McKinney-Whetstone

When I read this book in high school, it was one of the first narratives that implied that women needed to stand on their own two feet or risk always falling down. The heroine was always depending on the men in her life to take care of her, tell her what to do and rescue her. She was only able to really take control and go after what she really wanted when she took time to figure out what SHE wanted. She was a weak woman and she had to grow. I loved that message.

A Book That Makes You Happy and/or Laugh

The Gravity of Us by Brittainy Cherry

This story pushed all of my mommy buttons and just made me smile, shed a tear, chuckle etc. I love stories where babies force people to grow up and become better men/women. Brittainy Cherry is among my list of angst writers like Mia Sheridan, Colleen Hoover etc. She is an auto-buy author now.

A Book That Makes You Emotional

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

I have lost family members to cancer and this insidious disease is devastating. I loved this story and read it right after my aunt lost her battle. I cried a lot and thinking about Gus and Hazel makes me emotional because of the innocence at that age. The movie wasn’t done well in my opinion. Plus I couldn’t get over the fact that the actors played siblings in the Divergent movie that came out RIGHT BEFORE this one. So when they were interacting romantically, it grossed me out. I kept thinking “why is Tris kissing her brother Caleb?” It ruined it for me.

A Book Whose Ending You Dislike

Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth
Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver

I read these books back in 2013 and I am still seething about them. You can read my reviews to truly see what I mean. But the author let me down with the ending. I don’t think I have read another book by Lauren Oliver. I did try book 1 in Veronica Roth’s new series but I don’t trust her enough to follow the series.

A Book You Wish Had Illustrations

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I could visualize this one in my head and it was raw. I would have loved to see faces and the anguish etc that went along with this story that left visceral reactions in those who read it.

A Book or Genre That You Love Reading When It’s Raining

Destiny’s Embrace (Destiny #1) by Beverly Jenkins

 

I wish to tag any and all who want to join in and have fun, but especially the following bloggers:
Susan at Susanlovesbooks
Jennifer at jennifertarheelreader
Lady B at Literary Everything
Justine at Bookish Wisps
Carla at Carla loves to Read
Sophie at Beware of the Reader

What books are on your bookshelf? Have you read any books from my list? If not I totally recommend them.

Blogger Themes, Contemporary Romance, Review Books

I Have Never (First Comes Love #2) by Camilla Isley


Title:I Have Never by Camilla Isley
Series: First Comes Love #2
Narrated By: Audra Cook
Release Date: July 13th, 2017
Format: Audiobook (5 hrs and 38 mins)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit
Blurb: Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more like a girl with a list – a list of dos and don’ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right. But when Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she’s had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?

Never lie
Never pick a fight
Never make a scene
Never make the first move
Never make impulsive decisions
Never mix business and pleasure

With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she’d thought.

This audiobook was easy to follow and was a fun listen until I got the end. It was a happy ending but it reinforced that office romances can never remain secret and can make the workplace tense when there is a disharmony.


Blair Walker was a girl who followed all of society rules of how a refined lady should behave. Living by that good girl code led her to losing her dreams to another who was willing to use all in her arsenal to get what she wanted. So Blair decided that she will throw out her list and just live without those constraints.
Life as a rebel led her to entrepreneur Richard Stratton, who was looking for someone to help him grow his online business. Their professional relationship thrived and was smooth until they developed an attraction. That’s when things got awkward. Should they risk it or play it safe?

I liked them together, but I am not a fan of office romances. They have a tendency to get messy when people have fights and/or break up. These sort of relationships are bad for business and it gets co-workers caught in the middle. There is workplace gossip as well as a resentment if there is a perception of favoritism.

I really liked the new Blair until she threw a couple of unprofessional fits at end of the book because of her feelings for her boss Richard. I was embarrassed for her and for Richard. The new Blair was empowered, likable and interesting. Her journey showed development and maturity even though she was likable even with the list too. Both Blair and Richard were fundamentally good people with a great work ethic.

Their relationship worked out in the end but I didn’t like her doing the opposite of what her list would have told her to do. The list wasn’t bad, I think she just needed to learn not to be so rigid. That is what life is about, having some flexibility in some things and being steadfast in others. Both Blair and Richard came to learn that in order to find true happiness, they had to be honest and true to themselves.

If you want an enjoyable and easy read, then I recommend this office romance to satisfy that need.