Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Blog Tour Review: Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas


Jordan has nowhere else to go when her boyfriend offers to let her move in with him and his dad. Working a dead-end job, with her relationship sputtering, she jumps at the opportunity, expecting to help out around the house in exchange.  What she doesn’t anticipate is for her heart to race every time Pike pulls into the driveway, or to burn when their eyes meet over the breakfast table. He’s kind and listens to her and protects her in a way no man ever has before. Her sister once told her there are no good men, and if you find one, he's probably unavailable. Only Pike isn't the unavailable one…she is.

As the days go by, Pike’s finding it anything but simple to have his son’s girlfriend living in his house. He can’t stop thinking about her and holding his breath every time they cross paths. It feels like she’s becoming a part of him. Except he knows they’re not free to give in to this. How could they when he’s her boyfriend’s father?

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

 Buy Links

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | BAM

Add to Goodreads

What I thought about Birthday Girl

 In Birthday Girl, Jordan is a young woman with lots of responsibilities.  She takes care of herself and her boyfriend Cole, goes to school, works late and still somehow manages to maintain a happy disposition.  In spite of her sister's encouragement to work at the local strip club to make more money, she prefers to handle things on her own.

Her life isn't the greatest, but she manages. But when she meets a mysterious man at the movies one night, she realizes she might not be as happy as she thinks she is with Cole.  There's only one problem-- that mysterious, sexy man is Cole's father, Pike.  Things get even more interesting when circumstances force Cole and Jordan to move in with Pike.

There's plenty of forced proximity and ample yearning going on here.  Jordan and Pike work very hard to push their feelings for each other away, thinking that it's wrong for them to be together.  There's a 20 year age difference, Pike's estranged son is involved, and they both know it's probably not a good idea --- but....

I really, really liked this story.  I could not put it down. There was a chance this could get icky with the age difference, but that did not happen.  Jordan's maturity shines through and the age difference really doesn't matter here.  It was so easy to want Pike and Jordan to be together, because their chemistry shines through right from the start.  It's terrific, really, how well this romance worked for me, as I haven't been all that thrilled with my romance reading and Birthday Girl really turned that around for me.  I just loved this story and these characters.  The sexual tension is top-notch and I adored the dual POVs from Pike and Jordan.  It really made the story sing.

If you are in the mood for a forbidden love type of romance, Birthday Girl just might do it for you.  It did for me. It made me believe in romance reading again, and I truly loved that about this story.  

About the Author

Penelope Douglas is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Their books have been translated into twenty languages and include The Fall Away Series, The Hellbent Series, The Devil’s Night Series, and the stand-alones, Misconduct, Punk 57, Birthday Girl, Credence, and Tryst Six Venom. They live in New England with their husband and daughter.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Release Day Review: The Witches of Bone Hill by Ava Morgyn

(St. Martin’s Griffin, September 26, 2023, $18.00)

Ava Morgyn's The Witches of Bone Hill is a spellbinding, romantic novel about family secrets and two young women who discover they're Nordic witches.


Cordelia Bone's meticulously crafted life and career in Dallas are crashing down around her thanks to a philandering husband with criminal debts.

When her older, carefree sister, Eustace—a cannabis grower in Boulder, calls to inform her the great aunt they never met has died and they must travel to a small town in Connecticut to deal with the estate, she sees an opportunity to unload the house and save herself.

But once there, the sisters learn they are getting much more than they bargained for. The Victorian mansion they stand to inherit is bound in a dynasty trust controlled by their late aunt's aging attorney who insists they inhabit the house and retain it but keeps them in the dark about the peculiar rituals of their ancestors. Not to mention a sexy, tattooed groundskeeper with a shrouded past who refuses to leave the carriage house and a crypt full of dead relatives looming at the property line.

As both women grapple with their current predicament, they come face to face with a haunting family secret, the truth of what happened to their mother, and the enemy that's been stalking them from the shadows for generations. In a twisting torrent of terror and blood, the sisters must uncover the power within them to heal their fractured relationship, reverse their mysteriously declining health, and claim the lineage they wanted to escape but now must embrace if they are to survive at Bone Hill.


Buy Links


Macmillan | Amazon | Barnes & Noble




Add to Goodreads





What I thought about The Witches of Bone Hill


Cordelia Bone is having some trouble -- she's getting divorced and there are lots of bills to pay.  When she finds out she's inherited a large estate with her sister Eustace, that just might be her ticket out of her money troubles.

Only it isn't that simple.  The sisters are forced to live in the Victorian mansion in Connecticut to fulfill the requirements of the will and in the process they learn all about their history.  There's juicy secrets galore here. Witches as the title might suggest and all that comes with what witches do. And there's the yummy caretaker to add a little bit of romance to the mix.  


The synopsis was certainly interesting and this is the time of year for some good scary stories.  There's a bit of horror in this one too to make it extra creepy.  I liked that about it, although I could have done without the animal cruelty. 

I also enjoyed the mythology used in this story, along with the relationship between Cordelia and her sister.  Although there were slow spots and most of the real action happened at the end, I thought the Witches of Bone Hill delivered a suspenseful story of witches with a dash of horror. It's a solid debut in adult fiction.

Trigger Warnings: Sudden death, mutilation, hauntings, animal cruelty, sexual content, drug use, language.





AVA MORGYN grew up falling in love with all the wrong characters in all the wrong stories, then studied English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University. She is a lover of witchcraft, tarot, and powerful women with bad reputations, and she currently resides in Houston with her family, surrounded by antiques and dog hair. When not at her laptop spinning darkly hypnotic tales, she writes for her blog on child loss, hunts for vintage treasures, and reads the darkest books she can find. She is the author of YA novels Resurrection Girls and The Salt in Our Blood.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Review: Hemlock Island by Kelley Armstrong

 St. Martin's Press • Hardcover & eBook •
September 2023 • ISBN: 978-1250284198

Hemlock Island

Laney Kilpatrick has been renting her vacation home to strangers. The invasion of privacy gives her panic attacks, but it’s the only way she can keep her beloved Hemlock Island, the only thing she owns after a pandemic-fueled divorce. But broken belongings and campfires that nearly burn down the house have escalated to bloody bones, hex circles, and now, terrified renters who’ve fled after finding blood and nail marks all over the guest room closet, as though someone tried to claw their way out…and failed.

When Laney shows up to investigate with her teenaged niece in tow, she discovers that her ex, Kit, has also been informed and is there with Jayla, his sister and her former best friend. Then Sadie, another old high school friend, charters over with her brother, who’s now a cop.

There are tensions and secrets, whispers in the woods, and before long, the discovery of a hand poking up from the earth. Then the body that goes with it… But by that time, someone has taken off with their one and only means off the island, and they’re trapped with someone—or something—that doesn’t want them leaving the island alive.

Buy Links

Amazon  | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 

Apple Books | Google 

Add to Goodreads

What I thought about Hemlock Island

In Hemlock Island by Kelley Armstrong, Laney Kilpatrick, the owner of a secluded island getaway, is called back to her island home when her rental tenants find some crazy stuff happening. By crazy, I mean blood-in-a-closet and other strange occurrences.

With her is her sister's daughter, who Laney is now raising, Laney's ex-husband Kit and his sister Jayla, and another former friend named Sadie and her brother Garrett. It's clear from the start that there are secrets among this group and I have to say I was surprised when the truth finally comes out.

As more strange things continue to happen, each incident escalating until it's clear they are stranded on the island and someone is after them all. And there's a chance that "someone" is actually not human, when some of the bodies react in ways they shouldn't. I'm not a big reader of the horror genre and I did like where this story took me as a reader, since it wasn't my typical read.

The truth of it all isn't revealed until the final pages, and I did like how this story wrapped up. I was engaged with these people on the island, even though they aren't all very likable and they did stupid stuff like walk around the island in the dark. I still wanted to know to know what was going on. Hemlock Island is a nice twist on the forced=proximity with a killer on the loose story. This is a quick and engaging read that might make you think twice about secluded vacation spots!  

About the Author

Kelley Armstrong believes experience is the best teacher, though she’s been told this shouldn’t apply to writing her murder scenes. To craft her books, she has studied aikido, archery and fencing. She sucks at all of them. She has also crawled through very shallow cave systems and climbed half a mountain before chickening out. She is however an expert coffee drinker and a true connoisseur of chocolate-chip cookies.

Kelley Armstrong's social handles: 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Release Day Review: Hott Shot (Hott Springs Eternal #1) by Serena Bell

Beauty salon… and the Beast

Quinn: Working at the family wedding resort wasn’t exactly on my Bingo card. But it’s the only way for my siblings and me to get our grandfather’s inheritance, so here I am, staffing the Hott Spot Spa and Salon front desk. It’s an absurd gig for a man who makes Oscar the Grouch look like a people-person.

Still, I’m a hard worker. I’ve made a fortune off my scientific discoveries, and if I can engineer groundbreaking drugs, I can do anything, right? Not according to Sonya Rossi, the spa’s smoking hot and relentlessly perky manager. My grumpy approach is testing even sunshine-y Sonya’s patience. Meanwhile, I’m not sure whether I want to rain on her parade—or kiss the smile off her face.

Then the universe throws another curveball, putting us under the same roof. The closer Sonya gets, the more I like it—and her. I want to get to know her better and let her see the side of me I never show people. Until now, I’ve only believed in what I can touch, sense, and prove. I definitely don’t believe in love… but Sonya's making me wish I could.

A spicy, grumpy-sunshine, opposites attract, under-one-roof, forced proximity standalone romantic comedy set in the beloved small town of Rush Creek.

Buy Links

Amazon | Kobo | Apple | NookAll the Links

Add to Goodreads

What I thought about Hott Shot

Serena Bell returns to Rush Creek with Hott Shot with a fish out of water story about how a last will and testament can just make a huge difference in lives.

When Grampa lays out his conditions in his will, his first "gotcha" is that scientist Quinn Hott must work the front desk as a receptionist at the Hott Shot Spa and Salon. This is not the ideal job for Quinn, who would rather deal with his own businesses. But Grampa has a plan, and part of the plan is to put Quinn in this situation.  I can't wait to see what he has for the other siblings!

This is pure rom-com with lots of fun and feel good moments. I really enjoyed this light-hearted romance. Did I mention there is also forced proximity? Spa manager Sonya has her hands full with Mr. Grumpy receptionist, and to make matters worse, they are sharing a cabin!  

So not only does Quinn have to get used to being a receptionist instead of scientist at his BioTech company, he has to deal with his growing attraction for Sonya.  There's plenty of juicy banter and smoldering attraction here and I loved it.

This is a great start to a new series and I can't wait for more!  An entertaining contemporary romance. 

Author Bio

USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes contemporary romance with heat, heart, and humor. A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and you can often find her scribbling in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.

Serena’s books have earned many honors, including an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Apple Books Best Book of the Month, and Amazon Best Book of the Year for Romance.

When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also of how often she changes her hobbies and how passionately she embraces the new ones. These days, it’s stand-up paddle boarding, board-gaming, meditation, and long walks with good friends.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook Page / Facebook Group

/ Instagram / Twitter / Newsletter

Friday, September 15, 2023

Review: Scattershot : Life, Music, Elton, and Me by Bernie Taupin

 An evocative, clear-eyed, and revealing memoir by Bernie Taupin, the lyrical master and long-time collaborator of Elton John

“I loved writing, I loved chronicling life and every moment I was cogent, sober, or blitzed, I was forever feeding off my surroundings, making copious notes as ammunition for future compositions. . . . The thing is good, bad, or indifferent I never stopped writing, it was as addictive as any drug.”

This is the memoir music fans have been waiting for. Half of one of the greatest creative partnerships in popular music, Bernie Taupin is the man who wrote the lyrics for Elton John, who conceived the ideas that spawned countless hits, and sold millions and millions of records. Together, they were a duo, a unit, an immovable object. Their extraordinary, half-century-and-counting creative relationship has been chronicled in biopics (like 2019's Rocketman) and even John's own autobiography, Me. But Taupin, a famously private person, has kept his own account of their adventures close to his chest, until now.

Written with honesty and candor, Scattershot allows the reader to witness  events unfolding from Taupin's singular perspective, sometimes front and center, sometimes from the edge, yet always described vibrantly, with an infectious energy that only a vivid songwriter's prose could offer. From his childhood in the East Midlands of England whose imagination was sparked and forever informed by the distinctly American mythopoetics of country music and cowboy culture, to the glittering, star-studded fishbowl of ’70s and ’80s Beverly Hills, Scattershot is simultaneously a Tom Jones­-like picaresque journey across a landscape of unforgettable characters, as well as a striking, first-hand account of a creative era like no other and one man’s experience at the core of it.

An exciting, multi-decade whirlwind told in a non-linear yet grounded narrative, Scattershot whizzes around the world as we ride shotgun with Bernie on his extraordinary life. We visit Los Angeles with him and Elton on the cusp of global fame. We spend time with him in Australia almost in residency at an infamous rock 'n' roll hotel in an endless blizzard of drugs. And we spend late, late night hours with John Lennon, with Bob Marley, and hanging with Frank Sinatra. And beyond the world of popular music, we witness memorable encounters with writers like Graham Greene, painters like Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, and scores of notable misfits, miscreants, eccentrics, and geniuses, known and unknown. Even if they're not famous in their own right, they are stars on the page, and we discover how they inspired the indelible lyrics to songs such as “Tiny Dancer,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Bennie and The Jets,” and so many more.

Unique and utterly compelling, Scattershot will transport the reader across the decades and around the globe, along the way meeting some of the greatest creative minds of the 20th century, and into the vivid imaginings of one of music's most legendary lyricists. 

Buy Links

What I thought about Scattershot

The music of Elton John and the words of Bernie Taupin were my lifeline during adolescence and I heard the same from my friends when I told them I was reading this memoir. Their music spawned an interest in songwriting and its process in me, so when I saw this title, I couldn't wait to read it. I though it would touch upon the songwriting aspects of this dynamic duo. Sadly (for me) it wasn't about that at all.

This is more of a personal tale and an acknowledgement of influences. I did like learning about his deep interest and love for Americana and the American west. This was interesting and I could see these influences thinking back to these early albums (which I do own and may need to give a re-listen to after reading this book). I also found his discussion of his art refreshing and was compelled to google some images.

But far too often the book became a copious list of celebrity name dropping with some adjective, simile and metaphor laden words that pushed me to skim through these sections. Honestly, I lost track of all of the people he partied with, worked with, and even married, so that part of the book was less interesting to me, aside from the discussion of how some of these folks influenced his lyrics. It was a bit jarring to read those lyrics I loved were written in ten minutes in some cases, but there were few, if any details about their songwriting in this memoir and that was a disappointment.

That being said, I did slog through to the end on this one, gobbling up the little bits and pieces of what interested me and skimming over the pages that didn't. It was clear there is a deep loving relationship between BT and EJ, Their songs will always be timeless to me, and best of all, this memoir didn't change that for me.  



Friday, September 8, 2023

Blog Tour Review: 5 Big Stars for Darius (Black Dagger Brotherhood #0) by J. R. Ward


Darius, son of Marklon, isn’t looking for love the night destiny comes to claim him. He’s also not interested in crashing his new car. But when a human woman runs out into the road and he must swerve to avoid killing her...everything goes off course.

Disillusioned by his King’s lack of leadership and the losses in the war against the Lessening Society, Darius finds purpose in protecting a woman he cannot make his own. Love finds a way, however—until the truth of what he is comes out and she leaves him in horror.

Unbeknownst to them both, Anne is carrying his young, a female who is destined to be Queen—and after a tragic reunion, he vows to protect their daughter. Resigned to perpetual sadness, he is determined to serve the memory of his beloved no matter the cost...unless by some miracle, fate sees fit to once again bring them together.

Buy Links

Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble 

BAM | Kobo | Google

Add to Goodreads

What I thought about Darius

I couldn't wait to get my hands on this title! This print release was very much anticipated by this reader as a long-time BDB fan. Darius's story is the one we've all been waiting for. I'll admit I had to re-read Dark Lover the minute I finished Darius's story.

Disillusioned by the war between the vampires and lessers and Wrath's refusal to rule, Darius finds solace in fast cars.  When he crashes his newly owned vehicle, he realizes that there was a woman in the road.  He stays with her even though it's risky for him and gets her to the hospital. Anne has her own problems as she is running from an abusive boyfriend. She finds Darius to be kind, friendly and quite attractive.  

There's a definite spark between these two, with Darius becoming protective of her from the start. They start a lovely affair until it all crashes and burns when she finds out in the worst way just how different Darius is from the other humans she knows. My heart broke for Darius here more than once as he is rejected by the woman he believes to be his mate.

And she splits without them knowing that she's carrying Darius's child and the future Queen.

There's so much about this book that I absolutely loved.  It reminded me so much of when I first found this series -- the focus is on the love story between these two characters.  While the lessers do have a role to play and make an appearance, the story is rich with the emotions of love, and the heartbreak of loss.  I needed a few tissues while reading this. Darius is a wonderful male of worth and I'm forever grateful to J.R.Ward for giving us his story.  It's absolutely lovely and a perfect reminder of why this series gets so much love from readers.

I adored every word of this book.  It's a quick read because you won't want to put this down. It's also perfectly timed to give us Darius's story as another closure to this wonderful series as readers wait for the "next generation." Darius is a "must-read" for existing fans and readers of this series, and a great way to start this wonderful series if you haven't read it. 

About the Author


Photo Credit: Andrew Hyslop

Jessica Ward is a pseudonym for the #1 New York Times bestselling author who writes as J.R. Ward and has over 20 million copies in print. She enjoys spending time in the Adirondacks and lives in the south with her family and her dogs.


Release Day Review: The Five Year Lie by Sarina Bowen

Bestselling romance author Sarina Bowen’s debut thriller, about one woman’s search for the truth after receiving a text from her deceased ex...