Sunday, December 08, 2019

Bookish Mewsings: Sweep of the Blade/Taken/Warcross

Sweep of the Blade (Innkeeper Chronicles, #4) by Ilona Andrews
NYLA, 2019 
Science Fiction/Fantasy; 322 pgs
The hot wind flung brown dust into Maud's face. ~ Opening of Sweep of the Blade
This is my favorite urban fantasy/science fiction mash up series. I admit though I was a little leery about this one given the focus of the novel is on Dina’s sister, Maud DeMille, and not on Dina and here inn, both character and setting I have come to love. Maud is a great character in her own right, however, and I ended up loving Sweep of the Blade just as much as I have the other books in the series.

Maud wants nothing to do with the vampires after her husband betrayed his clan and had him, his wife, and daughter, Helen, banished to a desolate planet. She never meant to fall for the striking vampire Arland, Marshal of the House of Kahr. She does not know what to say when he asks for her hand in marriage. She does not trust the vampires and wants to protect her daughter. She also knows her daughter could benefit from further training given her nature, being human and vampire. What kind of life would her daughter have on earth, unable to interact with the human population? Maud agrees to go with him, but not to marry him, not ready yet to commit. Marrying a vampire of such high status from a respected House would bring its own complications, especially for a human. She knows this all too well.

As it is, the situation in the House of Kahr is not as perfect as it first may seem. Two warring Houses have come together for a wedding with the House of Kahr hosting and playing peacekeeper, intending to bring peace between their Houses. Something seems off though. And now someone is trying to kill Maud.

Action-packed, Sweep the Blade is a fast-paced novel that had me turning pages as fast as I could. Arland has played a regular character throughout the series, and you can read about his and Maud’s meeting in One Fell Sweep The world building in this series continues to impress me, and it was interesting to get a look into the political and hierarchy of the series’ vampires. Arland was a bit of an arse early on in the series, but he has grown as a character, and I really like him for Maud and Helen. He sees Maud as an equal and treats Helen as if she were his own. Maud shows off a different side in Sweep of the Blade. Readers already knew she is a gifted fighter. She is also an amazing diplomat. I continue to enjoy this series quite a bit.


The Taken (Celestial Blues, #1) by Vicki Pettersson
Harper Voyager, 2012
Crime Fiction/Fantasy; 417 pgs
Here's the thing. ~ Opening of The Taken
I have had this book on my TBR shelf for quite a while now, and there it sat until a friend asked me to join in an online book reading and discussion about the book. Truth be told, I didn’t participate in the discussion, but I did read the book.

There is a lot mystery and romance all wrapped up in this urban fantasy novel. The Taken opens with the murder of a photographic journalist, Nicole Rockwell, and the angel who is supposed to guide her into the Everlast. Things do not quite go the way they are supposed to, and said angel, Griffin Shaw, is forced back into his human skin. In order to regain his place in the Everlast, he is tasked with escorting investigative journalist, Katherine "Kit" Craig there after her own death. You can imagine that didn’t quite go as planned either. Kit not only doesn’t die, but she teams up with Grif to find out who is behind the murder of her best friend Nicole, and also agrees to help Grif look into who may have killed his wife all those years ago. She, of course, has no idea he is a fallen angel or that Evie was his wife. At least not right away. And even when he tells her, she thinks he is crazy. 

I had no idea what a rockabilly was before reading the The Taken. Rockabilly is one of the earliest forms of rock-n-roll from the 1950’s, and there are a group of people in contemporary times who have taken to that way of life. They dress in the 1950’s styles, and walk the talk of that time period. Kit is one of those women. It makes it much easier for Grif to slide right into the scene then, given he is straight out of the 1950’s. It was his era. I admit I was a little taken aback at how quickly Kit accepts Grif into her life particularly given how he entered it. But he is a good guy with good intentions, so I was able to overlook that. Somewhat.

I had not been expecting the novel to go down such a dark path in terms of the mystery. It left me with a hopeless feeling the more Grif and Kit uncovered. Even if they were able to get to the bottom of the mystery itself, the filth would remain and crop up in other ways (how is that for a vague spoiler?). I even wondered if perhaps this book should have come with a trigger warning.

I did like this one despite how it may seem, and plan to read further in the series. I liked both Grif and Kit quite a bit, and Vicki Pettersson knows how to pull in a reader and keep her hooked. I especially liked the fantasy aspects of the novel, which were often on the subtle side except for when they weren’t. I am curious to know the direction Pettersson will take the series next.


Warcross (Warcross, #1) by Marie Lu 
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2017
Science Fiction; 336 pgs
It's too damn cold of a day to be out on a hunt. ~ Opening of Warcross
This was my one audiobook of the year. I try to incorporate audiobooks into my life, but obviously I have not been too successful. Warcross is the first in a duology about a teenage bounty hunter with amazing hacking skills who hacks into the International Warcross Championships. It is not just a game. It is a way of life, connecting people through virtual reality. For some, it is an escape. For others, it is a way to make money, which is what Emeka Chen is hoping to do. Through a glitch, she is discovered and comes to the attention of the game’s creator, Hideo Tanaka. Instead of arresting her as she expected, he asks for her help, offering her money to find out who an even greater threat to his games is, someone who appears to have a more sinister plan for the games in mind.

This book was so much fun! It had a Ready Player One and Hunger Games feel to it, but is very much its own book. I loved Emeka’s character and being able to experience the world through her voice. I am sure the narrator deserves some credit for that as well. Nancy Wu did a great job setting the tone for the novel. Emeka is such an interesting character, as is Hideo. I only wish I could have gotten to know some of the minor characters a bit more. I have never really gotten into online games the way my husband has, but I can see the draw of a game like Warcross, especially given how much it crosses over into the people’s real lives. It seems impossible to avoid, really. Warcross is a combination of science fiction, mystery, and romance, which I cannot resist. I am looking forward to reading the next book, Wildcard. Maybe it will be my one audio for next year (although I will try to aim for more)!


Have you read any of these novels? If so, what did you think? If you have not, do any of them sound like something you might enjoy?


© 2019, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Bookish Mewsings: Wild Hunger and Wicked Hour by Chloe Neill



Along with my (not so) mini reviews, I am linking to both Book Beginnings, a meme in which readers share the first sentence of a book they are reading, hosted by Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader and Friday 56 hosted by Freda of Freda's Voice, in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading.


I hope you all are enjoying your week, and that my American readers had a nice Thanksgiving! I am still playing catch up. This week I am featuring the first two books in Chloe Neill's Heirs of Chicagoland series, which I read recently.

I have not had much of an opportunity to read as of late, sadly. I had hoped the quiet of the holiday week would allow for some reading time, but it wasn't as much as I would have liked. I have been getting some much needed cleaning and straightening done, and Mouse and I went into my office on Wednesday to deliver the fundraiser products my coworkers were kind enough to buy. We are in the final stretch before The Nutcracker performances, which will be next weekend. We have three more dress rehearsals before that, and picture day is this Sunday.



Wild Hunger (Heirs of Chicagoland, #1) by Chloe Neill
Berkley, 2018
Science Fiction; 352 pgs
Source: NetGalley

Book Beginnings:
"Noooooo! A little girl's voice echoed through the hallway. The cry was followed by footsteps, more yelling, and a petulant squeal. 
Friday 56 (excerpt from 56%):
"We don't have anything," Connor said. "We have a pin, some speculation"--he glanced up, gaz settling on my face--"and a bruise. None of that is going to free Riley. None of it is going to convince the Ombudsman that he's got the wrong man, especially if the other option is creating a supernatural war."
My thoughts:
I am sure I have the first book of the Chicagoland Vampires series on my TBR pile somewhere. I was in the mood for vampires this Halloween season and starting with the first book in Chloe Neill’s Heirs to Chicagoland series seemed a more promising start  since I won’t have far to go to catch up, with only two books in the series out so far. Although this book stands well on its own, I would not have minded having the background the original series offers, especially in regards to many of the past characters referenced. Something to look forward to, at least!

Elisa Sullivan is the first and only vampire born to vampire parents. She had left Chicago to strike out on her own, attending school in Paris, France with the well-respected Dumas House of Vampires, where no one cares whose daughter she is—or what she is. It’s also where she has been able to keep her inner demon at bay—a secret she’s managed to keep from everyone so far, with the exception of her childhood friend, Connor Keene, son of the king of the werewolves. And so it is with a little bit excitement and nervousness, she returns home to Chicago where peace talks hosted by her parents’ House are being held. The hope is to bring peace between the European Vampires. But when a diplomat is murdered, all bets are off. A shapeshifter is accused of the crime, but Elisa does not believe he could have done it. Joining up with a childhood friend, Connor Keene, and her best friend,  Lulu Bell, she sets out to prove his innocence and find out who wants to foil the peace talks.

It has been awhile since I last read a vampire novel like this. I have drifted more toward shapeshifters, witches, and fae urban fantasy—although there are plenty of all of those in this one as well. The world building in this novel is detailed and well done. I imagine it helps that this new series has roots in an already established one. I enjoyed my first foray into it through this novel, however. Elisa is still very young, but is strong and skilled when it comes to fighting. She is also very smart and insightful. She knows when to play the diplomat and when to strike. At least most of the time. I am really curious to know the direction Neill will take Elisa’s best friend. Maybe it is because I am a sucker for anything witch-y—but I really like Lulu Bell’s character and am guessing her non-magic stance won’t last. The romance between Connor and Elisa takes a while to get off the ground, which worked well for both of their characters given the circumstances. I imagine they will have a difficult time of it given the politics of their species, in future books. Wild Hunger is high in intensity and action-packed. It was a lot of fun to read.


Wicked Hour (Heirs of Chicagoland, #2) by Chloe Neill
Berkley, 2019
Fantasy; 352 pgs
Source: NetGalley

Book Beginnings:
While the humans slept, monsters raved.
Friday 56 (excerpt from 56%):
"You are in my territory." Ronan's voice was low and dangerous. His eyes silvered, and his fangs descended, ad magic rose in the air, peppery and hot. I braced myself against the coming blow--and prepared to meet it.
My thoughts:
Not long after I finished reading the first book in the series, I decided to read up the second. Wicked Hour picks up soon after the previous book leaves off. Elisa, the vampire born to vampire parents, finds herself at loose ends. She isn’t sure what her place is and exactly what she wants to do. For the time being, she is working with the Ombudsman’s office, but even that is not proving to be very satisfying. She is not sure what to make of shifter Connor Keene’s offer to accompany him to a private pack celebration. Is it personal or business? Probably a little of both. Connor wants Elisa there for her insight and to have someone extra he can trust on his side. Not to mention, it is an opportunity to start introducing his love interest to the pack he one day hopes to lead.

Upon arrival in Minnesota, it becomes clear that the situation there is somewhat volatile. The elders and the younger shapeshifters are on uneasy ground, one wanting to hold on to tradition and the other seeking change with the times. In addition, there appears to be a monster in the woods that is preying on the shifters.

I thoroughly enjoyed Wicked Hour and another visit into Neill’s world, this time in the north forest among the shapeshifters. Politics can be contentious at best, and it was interesting to delve more into pack politics, as well as get to know an outside faction of vampires. Connor and Elisa’s relationship continues to heat up in this second installment, but they are still taking in somewhat slow, feeling each other out. A lot takes place in Wicked Hour. Like the book before, it is high in action, and we see some familiar characters return. By the end, the reader gets an idea of what direction the series will take from here, and I am eager to find out what Elisa and Connor get up to next.

Have you given this series a try yet? If so, what did you think? Does it sound like something you might like? 


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!

© 2019, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Bookish Mewsings: Off the Grid and Out of Time by Monica McCarty

I was first introduced to Monica McCarty’s Highlander series by a friend, and so when I first came across the Lost Platoon series (it feels like a trilogy, but I could be wrong), I thought I would give it a try.

It was a mission that went terribly wrong. A Navy SEAL team disappears without a trace on a top secret mission to Russia. Not everyone survived, but those who do have gone into hiding and are believed to be dead. Someone is a traitor. Someone gave them away, and until they know who, the surviving SEALs plan to stay hidden until they uncover who would betray them and why. You can find my review of the first book in the series, Going Dark, here.


Off the Grid (The Lost Platoon, #2) by Monica McCarty
Berkley, 2018
Romance/Thriller; 384 pgs
Source: NetGalley
"Travel the world," they'd said. ~ Opening of Off the Grid 
Brittany Blake isn’t buying the story the government is feeding the public about the disappearance of her brother. Putting her investigative reporter skills to use, she launches her own investigation which leads her to her brother’s best friend, John Donovan, one of the surviving SEAL team members in hiding. John tries his best to throw her off the track and get her off the story—because he knows she will become a target—but perhaps she is just what the team needs to set a trap . . .

Brittany is a tenacious and focused woman on her own mission, and I enjoyed getting to know her. I could appreciate her reluctance to trust John, even though I knew he was a good guy. He may be smoking hot, but he has a reputation with the ladies and he isn’t being completely honest with her about what happened to her brother, not at first. Not to mention that John broke her heart once before. John himself comes with his own baggage, not wanting to commit because of past experiences. He and Brittany have something special though and both of them can only fight it for so long.

This really is a series that needs to be read in order. The events in each book play on each other. In addition to Brittany and John's story, readers get to see more into another budding-second-chance love story, which carried over from the first book and will continue into the third. There is plenty of suspense as Brittany and John and the others in their group get closer to the truth of what happened to the SEALs team in Russia. I definitely had my suspicions as I read this book. Full of tension and steamy romance, Off the Grid was a fun read.


Out of Time (The Lost Platoon, #3) by Monica McCarty
Berkley, 2018
Romance/Thriller; 384 pgs
Source: NetGalley
"What are we going to do now, sir?" ~ Opening of Out of Time
So much of what we find out about the lost platoon in the first and second book comes to a head—and what seems like a conclusion—in this third book of the series, Out of Time. And what a fitting title!

His men put a lot of trust into Lieutenant Commander Scott Taylor when he asked them to scatter across the globe and remain in hiding until they had answers to who betrayed them. He was crushed when he heard the woman he had been dating was killed in a car accident not long after she had alerted them to the betrayal. What he doesn’t want to believe, however, is that she could be behind that very betrayal, but all the evidence points in her direction.

Natalie Andersson, born Natalya Petrova, was adopted and raised by a loving American family. I admit it was a bit of a stretch for me to buy how she could be a Russian spy given her background, but for the sake of the story, I went along with it. And to be fair to her, she did what she could to sabotage the Russians’ efforts to use her without risking the lives of those she loved. That took some moxie. Now, Natalie has taken a new name and made a new life for herself, praying neither the Russians nor the Americans find out she is alive. Scott, furious and hurt, however, shows up on her doorstep demanding answers.

The love and hate relationship between Natalie and Scott runs parallel to that of Kate and Colt, whose story readers have been getting piecemeal throughout the series. Kate is probably one of my favorite characters in the series—high-powered and knows how to get things done. Colt is a hot head, and frankly, it’s no wonder Kate divorced him all those years ago. His insecurities got the better of him, and he wasn’t the best husband to her. He grows as a character throughout this series, especially in these last two books. I think of all the romance threads in the series, theirs was the one I was most drawn to.

Out of Time was action packed and high in emotion and suspense, much like its predecessors. While the romance is front and foremost in a series like this, I liked that the mystery aspect remained strong as well. It was never far in the background when it was not front and center. My suspicions from the last book proved correct.

Overall, I enjoyed this series, and, while I would not give any of these books five paw ratings, they were fun and hit the spot.


© 2019, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Bookish Mewsings: Vox by Christina Dalcher & Gossamer Mage by Along With Fun Friday Memes



Along with my (not so) mini reviews, I am linking to both Book Beginnings, a meme in which readers share the first sentence of a book they are reading, hosted by Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader and Friday 56 hosted by Freda of Freda's Voice, in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading.


This week I am posting two reviews again in my continuing effort to get caught up with posting my reviews before I go on break near the end of the year. I had not realized how far behind I was!



Vox by Christina Dalcher
Berkley, 2018
Science Fiction; 336 pgs
Source: NetGalley

Book Beginnings:
If anyone told me I could bring down the president, and the Pure Movement, and that incompetent little shit Morgan LeBron in a week's time, I wouldn't believe them. 
Friday 56 (excerpt from 56%):
Cheek to the ground, I can see the locked lab door only ten feet away, and I scramble to my feet. A cold hand, heavy as a meat hook, grips my arm and pulls.
"I'm fine," I croak. Or I think I do.

My thoughts:
It may have been the comparison to The Handmaid’s Tale or perhaps the current political climate in the United States that first interested me in Christina Dalcher’s Vox. I knew I had to read it. Set in a not so far future, women in the US are now required to wear bracelets that send debilitating shocks to the wearer if they go over their 100 word a day allotment. Dr. Jean McClellan had a successful career before, but women are no longer allowed to work nor are girls taught to read or write. I spent a lot of this book angry. Angry at the government and religious extremists. Angry at men like Jean's husband who was complicit in what how his wife and daughter were forced to live. Angry at all the people who sat by and let this happen.

Jean is given an opportunity to regain her voice because the government needs her specialized skills, and she hopes to use that opportunity to give her daughter the gift of words via bartering—at least for a short time. As a mother of a daughter myself, I felt Jean’s frustration and grief that her daughter was not given the same rights as her sons, and was learning that her place was in the background, to do as she was told and not use her voice. I felt Jean’s anguish as she watched her oldest son embrace this new Pure Movement. And I could understand how her relationship with her husband changed given how their life was before and how they live now. Jean is flawed, and I did not always agree with her choices, but there was much about her I could relate to. This book is full of emotion—sadness and rage and fear. It was hard to feel any sense of hope, at least initially.

This novel is part social commentary and part thriller. The first part of the novel introduces the reader to the characters and world they live in, along with their struggles and relationships with one another. As the novel progresses, however, the novel takes a turn into thriller territory, which added a different flavor to the novel than I initially expected. Suddenly there is hope for the future. Throughout, Vox was tense and thought provoking. While it did not rise to Atwood’s The Handmaid Tale level (is there a book out there that can, at least for me?), I liked Vox overall.

Have you read Vox? If so, what did you think? If you haven't, does it sound like something you would want to read? 


The Gossamer Mage by Julie E. Czerneda
DAW, 2019
Fantasy; 416 pgs
Source: NetGalley

Book Beginnings:
The world was not always thus.
Friday 56 (excerpt from 56%):
Nothing about Kait explained The Lady's continued distance from such a fair and true daughter. Darkest thought? For he'd plenty. The Hag bided Her time, intending to unleash Kait as Her Designate at the school, to end them all in order to deal with the evil in the urns.

My thoughts:
The novel is set in a region where magic is controlled by the Deathless Goddess, in which the price of writing magic is years off one’s life. If a mistake is made, a gossamer is made, a magical creature with a will of its own. Maleonarial is considered one of the most powerful of the Deathless Goddess’s Mage Scribes. He long ago sought isolation and had fallen out of favor. When she seeks him out through her accolades, however, he is drawn back into the life he tried to put behind him. Only, this time, he is determined to find a way to destroy the Deathless Goddess and break the hold she has on her people. But first, he must find out who or what is threatening Tananen. He finds an unusual ally in one of the Deathless Goddess’s accolades, Kaitealyon, a Daughter called to serve the Goddess. Kaitealyon and the other Daughters sense something is gravely wrong. The voice of the Goddess seems to have been silenced and something sinister is afoot. She is tasked with finding out what it could be and saving the Deathless Goddess. Maleonarial may be the only one who can actually stop it.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I found the first portion of the book difficult to follow. Perhaps it was the writing style or the mythical feel to it (although that isn’t something that always bothers me, depending on the book). It got better when the author focused more on the individual characters. And while Mal’s character is one I quickly became fascinated by, it was not until Kait was introduced that I truly was able to get into the story and began to enjoy the book more. Once that happened, it was harder to put the book down. She has a son she loves dearly, but had to leave behind because of her calling to be a Daughter. Her devotion to him is one I think most mothers would be able to relate to. I know I could.

The world Julie E. Czerneda created in The Gossamer Mage was interesting, and I liked that we get an opportunity to see if from the two different viewpoints, one of the Mage and the other of the Daughter, especially given their differing feelings about the Deathless Goddess. I really liked Kait's and Mal’s characters. They both have sacrificed so much and have good intentions. The author delves deep into their psyches and motivations as they journey together in search of answers. It was hard not to feel the connection with both of them.

I am glad I stuck with The Gossamer Mage despite my struggle with the first part of the book. While not a page turner, I did enjoy it once I finally got into it. I have one of the author’s Science Fiction novels on my TBR shelf, and I am curious what I will think of that when I get to it.

Have you read The Gossamer Mage? If so, what did you think? If you haven't, does it sound like something you might like? 


Every Friday Coffee Addicted Writer from Coffee Addicted Writer poses a question which participants respond on their own blogs within the week (Friday through Thursday). They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.

Name one book that makes you feel thankful and happy.

I am grateful for books in general, and the authors that share their stories with us. I am also grateful for
  • The magic that is created when letters and words come together to form a story 
  • Complex characters, beautiful writing, settings that come to life, and entertaining and twisty plots
  • Happy endings and those that are not
  • Books that spark my child's interest in reading
  • Books that hold me captive and stay with me even when I have to set them down
  • Stories that melt my heart--or break it 
  • Those books that draw out my emotions, whether tears, laughter, even anger, and everything in between 
  • Books that open our hearts and minds
  • Books that make me think and dream and make me want to be a better person
  • Stories that help me escape for awhile and forget life's stresses
  • The lessons I have learned through books as well as new perspectives
  • The places I have traveled within the pages, giving me a window into other worlds, real and imagined 
  • The variety of books out there, and that there is something for just about everyone, even those we may not agree on
I could probably go on, but I think you get the idea. I am thankful and happy any time I finish a book that sweeps me off my feet and leaves me feeling that my time was well spent. It's all of the above. I could name so many! One I just finished is Sarah Morgan's A Wedding in December. Such a beautiful and romantic story about two sisters and their mother--and the men in their lives. Or there was The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, which combines two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and fantasy. It was so much more than I imagined and left me wanting more (in a good way). But then there is How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee, which broke my heart just as it filled it with love. And there are so many more! How do I choose just one?!

I will share with you the first book that came to mind though as I pondered this week's question. I will go with that one, although it feels unfair to stop there.


Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus - I was under it's spell from the first word.

What about you? Is there one book that makes you feel both thankful and happy? What types of books fit into that category? 


Everyone has a favorite and then we also have something we dislike. Like a coin, there are two sides to every question. Each week, Carrie at The Butterfly Reads and Laura from Blue Eye Books ask participants to list what they like and don't like about that week's topic.


This week's topic is Book you read in a day/Book you DNFed


I took an interest in Don Quixote earlier this year because my husband was playing the part of the errant knight in the ballet this past summer. Alas, I did not finish it. It was a struggle to get as far as I did, and frankly, I just could not get into it.



Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Gone are the days I could sit and read at my leisure for hours at a time or long into the night like I once did. I am sure there have been one or two in recent years. Maybe a novella if I was lucky enough to set aside a decent chunk of reading time or a book of poetry. My memory fails me--at least when it comes to the books I read for me. So, I am going with the obvious. The last book I read in a day. Because I read a lot of these types of books in a day.


Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler


What was the last book you read in a day and the last book you were unable to finish? 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!

© 2019, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Bookish Mewsings: On His Watch, Hold Your Breath & Fan the Flames in the Search & Rescue Series by Katie Ruggle

I have long wanted to give Katie Ruggle’s romantic suspense novels a try, and dove into the first three books of her Search and Rescue series. I had not realized I had the first book in my TBR pile already, and so jumped into the second book in the series first. I followed it up with the first book and then the prequel to the series. While each of the books can be read a standalone, there is an over-arching mystery that runs through the series, and so it might be a good idea to read this series in order.

The series is set in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and each one features a different couple. Although I am not a fan of snow, I do love the mountains and Colorado has a special place in my heart. It makes the perfect setting for this series—close knit community and isolated.


On His Watch (Search and Rescue, #0.5) by Katie Ruggle
Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2016
Romance/Suspense; 100 pgs
Source: Purchased

This novella kicks off Katie Ruggle’s Seach and Rescue series by introducing readers to Derek Warner and Artemis Rey. While on a school field trip, two girls go missing. Ice rescue diver Derek is teamed up with a former girlfriend, Artemis, a teacher, to search the area for the girls. Both Artie and Derek clearly never stopped loving each other, despite going their separate ways. Being thrust together under such tense circumstances, the two are forced to not only work together but also are forced to face their feelings for one another—and finally talk about what happened in the past. Derek and Artie have good chemistry even though they seem like the least likely couple on the surface, and I enjoyed reading their story. I admit I was most interested in seeing how Lou and Callum met—I had come to really like them both in Hold Your Breath. Derek has a great sense of humor and I really liked his character. This one was much more romance heavy than Fan the Flames, but there was some action and a mystery to solve just the same.


Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle (Search and Rescue, #1) by Katie Ruggle
Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2016
Romance/Suspense; 386 pgs
Source: NetGalley

Even reading Fan the Flames I knew I was going to have to read Lou and Callum’s story. I loved Lou right away. It is probably my favorite in the series so far. Callum is a man of few words and Lou is, well, she is rarely at a loss for words. Callum Cook is the captain of the ice and rescue dive team and is a bit of a perfectionist. Louise “Lou” Sparks is new to town, trying to get a fresh start and break free from her controlling parents and ex-boyfriend. She joins the dive team as a volunteer, and on a routine training assignment, comes across a body. Determined to find out who the person was, Lou turns to Callum for help. And they step right into trouble. I loved Lou and Callum as a couple and individually. I only wish Ruggle would have let us into Callum’s past a little more. High in action with lots of sparks (no pun intended) between the two leads, this was a fun and entertaining novel.


Fan the Flames (Search and Rescue, #2) by Katie Ruggle
Sourcebooks Casablanca; 2016
Romance/Suspense; 450 pgs
Source: Purchased

Rory Sorenson was raised by survivalist parents and is a very private person. She owns a gun shop which is frequented by the local motorcycle clubs. While she may sometimes make an under the table sale, she is always careful of who she sells too. When someone attempts to break into her well-secured shop, childhood friend Ian Walsh jumps into help. Ian Walsh walks a fine line between the good and the bad guys. He feels a strong sense of loyalty the motorcycle club and its members who have long been there for him. While at the same time, he feels the pull of his new family of firefighters, who always have his back in a pinch. Soon he finds himself accused of murdering one of his MC brothers and trying to save Rory who is being targeted by not only his own but another motorcycle club.

When I began reading Fan the Flames I wondered what I had gotten into. I am not a huge fan of the bad boy romance trope, but I soon was swept up in the story. It is a slow burn romance and action packed with a lot of tense moments. I like it when the female lead can hold her own alongside the alpha hero of the story—and Rory definitely did that. Rory and Ian both have a lot of baggage—their pasts have left deep scars and trust does not come easy for either of them. I appreciated that Katie Ruggle did not gloss over this over the course of the novel.

Overall: I need to find time to jump back into this series because I am enjoying it and am looking forward to seeing how the over-arching mystery plays out. The body found under the ice may now have an identity, but who would want him dead and why? The mystery definitely takes a backseat to the romance in each of these books, but it is never completely out of mind.

Have you read this series or another by Katie Ruggle? What did you think? Does this sound like something you would give a try? Do you enjoy romantic suspense? 


© 2019, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Bookish Mewsings Double Header: Read and Gone & Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook



Along with my mini reviews, I am linking to both Book Beginnings, a meme in which readers share the first sentence of a book they are reading, hosted by Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader and Friday 56 hosted by Freda of Freda's Voice, in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading.

At the moment I am finishing up Sarah Morgan's A Wedding in December and will soon be starting my November TBR Poll Winner, The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor. I need a little something different from all the holiday romances I have been reading as of late, and so am looking forward to it. 

In an effort to catch up with review posts, I thought I would share two of my recent reads, which seem very fitting for the upcoming winter season. If you have not already, I recommend you give the Haunted Library series a try!


Read and Gone (The Haunted Library Mysteries #2) by Allison Brook
Crooked Lane Books, 2018
Crime Fiction/Cozy; 320 pgs
Source: NetGalley

Book Beginnings:
I glanced around my cottage at the thirty or so guests laughing and chatting, and grinned.
Friday 56 (excerpt from 56%):
Dina cackled. "Here we sit in a pizza parlor, the daughters of two thieves."
"I grew ashamed and embarrassed, knowing my father was a thief," I said. "Jim was away most of the time, and I missed him a lot. Now I'm glad he wasn't around." 
My thoughts:
Head of Programs and Events at the public library, Carrie Singleton, is settling nicely into her new cottage and life in Clover Ridge. On the night of her birthday and house warming party, she is awakened in the wee hours of the morning by her father who has a favor to ask. Carrie hasn’t seen him in years, and his visit now is less than welcome. He was in and out of her life when she was growing up, stealing and serving time in prison. Now he wants her to talk to his former partner in crime about getting his share of gems they had stolen together. Carrie, of course, says no immediately. Then the body of the jeweler her dad had asked her to speak to is discovered—with her dad caught at the scene of the murder. Carrie believes her dad is innocent of the murder.

Despite everything he’s done in the past, Carrie feels protective towards her dad. When it comes to him, her decisions are not always the brightest. His presence in her life threatens the perfect life she’s created, including getting in the way of her fairly new romantic relationship. I felt like I got to see a different side to Carrie in Read and Gone. Family can bring out the best and worst of us. And with a personal stake in this particular case, Carrie isn’t always at her best. Still, with the help of Evelyn, the librarian ghost, and her cat Smokey Joe, Carrie is able to keep her head enough to ask the right questions to get closer to the truth.

I raced through Read and Gone just as I had the first book in the series. There is just something about the way Allison Brook writes that has me wanting to read her books every chance I get—and even when I’m not supposed to. The reader gets to know more of the Clover Ridge residents, as well as more about Carrie’s past. The mystery was strong—at times intense—and I enjoyed seeing more of Carrie’s love interest in this second book of the series. I am really enjoying this series so far.



Buried in the Stacks (The Haunted Library Mysteries #3) by Allison Brook
Crooked Lane Books, 2019
Crime Fiction/Cozy; 316 pgs
Source: NetGalley

Book Beginnings:
"The blue-cheese burger and fries are calling to me, but I'm going with a small salad, no bread," Angela said, looking up from the lunch menu with a sigh.

Friday 56 (excerpt from 56%):
My hand shook as I opened the door. I stood outside the staff room, too dazed to move.
My thoughts:
With winter coming and temperatures dropping, the homeless residents of Clover Ridge are taking shelter in the library, much the consternation of some of the town’s more fortunate residents. Carrie wants to do what she can to help the homeless and joins the committee of volunteers seeking to renovate an old house the homeless residents can use during the day when the shelter is closed. Only, the more Carrie learns about the plans for Haven House, the more she questions the motives behind those involved with getting it off the ground. Could it be a cover for an illegal operation? And what about the alleged accident and later death of a not-so-well-liked librarian? Could the two be tied together or was it just a freak accident? Librarian Carrie, with the help of the library’s ghost Evelyn, and the library cat Smoky Joe are ready to take on another case—or will Carrie be in way over her head this time?

Carrie continues in her role as Head of Programs and Events at the public library, and is proving she is more than well suited for the job. I wish my library had half the programs the Clover Ridge library has. This is the third book in the Haunted Library series, and I continue to enjoy the series. Carrie puts herself in danger’s way more than once during her investigation, despite the warnings from both her boyfriend and the police chief, making me want to shake a little more sense in her. She should know better, but she’s a bit impatient when it comes to waiting for the police to do their job. Besides, there isn’t much they can do without evidence.

On a personal note, Carrie and her boyfriend are still feeling out their relationship. Carrie seems to have difficulty with trust, which is understandable given her past. I found it ironic that some of her concerns about her boyfriend’s occupation are the same concerns he voices about her amateur sleuthing—at least he has the excuse of being trained and doing his job professionally.

While the outcome and twists in this particular installment were not always surprising, Buried in the Stacks was still an entertaining read, and I enjoyed seeing how everything played out. The author gives us a glimpse of what is to come in the series at the end of this novel, and I am looking forward to seeing what trouble Carrie finds herself in next!

Does this sound like a series you would be interested in trying? (You can find my review of the first book in the series Death Overdue here.)


 I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!


© 2019, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

My November TBR List Poll Winner!

Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:

My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 




I hope you all had a good week. Bad news seemed to come the way of many of my friends this past week, and my heart goes out to them. Whether you lost a loved one, are struggling with an illness, are having financial difficulty, or just are not feeling good, know that I am thinking of you and sending you hugs.

Thank you to everyone who voted in my November TBR List Poll! I had to call in a tie breaker because it was a three way tie there in the end! As much as I would love to read all three books this month, I have a feeling that will not be possible.


The two finalists earned 6 votes (I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon and Heresy by Melissa Lenhardt) each and the winner, Hazel Gaynor's The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter took the poll with 7 votes.

“They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.
1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart.
1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love. [Goodreads Summary]

Thank you for voting! What are you reading right now? I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy Reading!


© 2019, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Weekly Mews: Book Crazy / October Wrap-Up / Vote For My November Read!

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. I am also linking The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz where participants discuss what they are reading and other bookish topics. I am linking up to Nicole of Feed Your Addiction's Monthly Wrap-Up Post, where any book bloggers who write monthly wrap-up posts can link up and visit other bloggers to see what they have been reading.   I am linking to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Team Tynga's Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently. 


New to the Shelves:

I kind of went crazy when I received an invitation from Amazon to spend $45 on e-books and earn $30 in e-book credits. I put to use an Amazon gift card I had been saving for a rainy day, and so it worked out perfectly--no money out of my pocket! Several of these are early books in series I have the second, third or fourth book in already, and others have been on my wish list awhile now. One I got for my husband.


An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose #1) by Charlaine Harris
White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht
The Spectral City (Spectral City #1) by Leanna Renee Hieber
Spectacle (#1) by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Mouse loves a good yard sale, and so when a friend of ours held one this past weekend, we thought it would be a great time for a visit. Wouldn't you know it, Mouse and I both gravitated mostly toward the books. We ended up bringing home two for each of us.


The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich


What I Am Reading: I am in the middle of Jenn McKinlay's The Christmas Keeper, set in North Carolina. I imagine I will be finishing it this weekend. I am not yet sure what I will be reading next, but I had better choose quick!

What I Am Watching: We have jumped on the Masked Singer bandwagon, and watched the first season and just started the current season. Mouse has especially gotten into it. I finished season 14 of Supernatural and now have several months to wait until the final season comes out on Netflix (it's airing now on network television). A coworker and I were talking about television shows recently, and it put me in the mood to re-watch The Vampire Diaries. I stopped watching the show before it officially ended, but decided to start from the beginning instead of trying to figure out where I had left off.

Earlier this month, we went to see a local theater's production of The Addams Family Musical. One of the singers/dancers who had performed with Mouse and my husband this past summer was in it, and we joined up with a handful of our dance studio friends to show our support. It was a great show, and we all had a good time. This past weekend we went into Hollywood to the Pantages Theatre to see the musical Anastasia, which we all enjoyed. It's such a beautiful theater and the cast did an awesome job. It's similar in story line to the animated movie that came out years ago--only with a few added songs and a different villain.


Off the Blog: October is a bit of a blur; it went by so fast. We were very busy all month. School. Work. Dance. Girl Scouts (we made wind chimes out of twigs, strings and little metal pieces found around the house--they turned out really well). Mouse spent the entire month counting down to Halloween, one of her favorite holidays. She certainly got to celebrate all week long! With the dance studio's Halloween party, her class party, trick-or-treating around our neighborhood, and her school's Fall Festival (which was technically in November--just this Friday), we had our fill of Halloween.

With the Santa Ana winds came fire and the city and county firefighters and other first responders have been working extra hard to put out fires here in the city and and in neighboring communities, help with evacuations and doing what they can to keep damage and loss of life to a minimal.  Other parts of the state have been engulfed in flames as well.  We are all so grateful for the first responders, especially the firefighters, and also the volunteers who have been working on the Frontline and behind the scenes.

 My little cuddle kitty. Sometimes, at least.

Several of our trick-or-treaters complimented us on our cute cat.
Nina may not be very affectionate, but she's also not shy. 

 Mouse's decorated pumpkin for the school pumpkin pageant
Is it a bat? No! It's a cat!

Mouse and her dad's carved pumpkin
(thank goodness for stencils)


Here is what I finished reading in October:
  • Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece (Haunted Craft Fair, #1) by Rose Pressey (Paranormal Cozy Mystery)
  • Silverlicious by Victoria Kann (Children's)
  • Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper (Children's)
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (Children's)
  • Possum Magic by Mem Fox & Julie Vivas (Children's)
  • A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams (Children's)
  • Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine & Kadir Nelson (Children's)
  • Ivy + Bean and the Ghost That Had to Go (#2) by Annie Barrows & Sophie Blackall (Children's)
  • Me With You by Kristy Dempsey & Christopher Denise (Children's)
  • Wild Hunger (Heirs of the Chicagoland Vampires, #1)) by Chloe Neill (Urban Fantasy)
  • Death Overdue (Haunted Library, #1) by Allison Brook (Paranormal Cozy Mystery)
  • Read and Gone (Haunted Library, #2) by Allison Brook (Paranormal Cozy Mystery)
  • Amelia Bedelia Tries Her Luck by Herman Parish & Lynn Avril (Children's)
  • Ivy + Bean Break the Fossil Record (#3) by Annie Barrows & Sophie Blackall (Children's)
  • I Am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer (Children's)
  • Buried in the Stacks (Haunted Library, #3) by Allison Brook (Paranormal Cozy Mystery)
  • Wicked Hour (Heirs of the Chicagoland Vampires, #2) by Chloe Neill (Urban Fantasy)
  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler (Children's)
  • Coming Home For Christmas (Haven Point, #10) by RaeAnne Thayne (Holiday Romance)
  • One Wish by Jodi Thomas (Historical Holiday Romance)
I may not have been around the blogging community much this past month, but I did manage to get in a bit more reading than I usually do. I enjoyed all of my reading again in October--I seem to be on a roll. If I had to pick a favorite, however, I definitely would go with RaeAnne Thayne's Coming Home For Christmas. I just love RaeAnne's books, and this one really touched my heart.

Tell me what you have been up to! What are you reading, listening to and watching? How was your October? Do you have anything planned for this month?


Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:

My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 




I have been in the mood for a good historical fiction novel, and these three particularly caught my eye on my TBR shelf. They all feature stand out female characters, which in and of itself appeals to me.  Gaynor's book because I love all things Hazel Gaynor--and lighthouses! Although I do not read much in the way of Old West fiction, the idea of a book focusing on an all female gang is too good to pass up. Then of course, Lawhon's novel appeals to me especially because I recently say the musical Anastasia on stage, and have always had a particular interest in that period in history.


I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
Russia, July 17, 1918 Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920 A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened.  [Goodreads Summary]

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor
“They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”

1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart.

1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love. [Goodreads Summary]

Heresy by Melissa Lenhardt
They were the first and only all-female gang in the American West. Though the newspapers refuse to give them credit, their exploits don't go unnoticed. Now, they've got a rival male gang on their trail and an old score to settle.

Margaret Parker and Hattie LaCour never intended to turn outlaw.

After being run off their ranch by a greedy cattleman, their family is left destitute. As women alone they have few choices: marriage, lying on their backs for money, or holding a gun. For Margaret and Hattie the choice is simple. With their small makeshift family, the gang pulls off a series of heists across the West.

Though the newspapers refuse to give the female gang credit, their exploits don't go unnoticed. Pinkertons are on their trail, a rival male gang is determined to destroy them, and secrets among the group threaten to tear them apart. Now, Margaret and Hattie must find a way to protect their family, finish one last job, and avoid the hangman's noose. [Goodreads Summary]




Thank you for voting! I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy Reading!


© 2019, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.