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ILLUMICRATE April 2019 – Your Majesty & Descendant of the Crane | #unboxing #bookbox

So, by now everyone has received and cooed over their April Illumicrate boxes – I cannot see how you couldn’t when this box was AWESOME! Every single item in this box was perfect and Descendant of the Crane, the book fo the month, was one of the best reads of this year.

But let me show you some pictures, so you can see that for yourselves….

Now let me talk a little bit about Descendant of the Crane by Joan He because I am so full of feelings after finishing this gorgeous book. Needless to say, this was a 5 stars read for me, but what surprised me with this novel is the beauty of the writing, the unexpected twists and turns that kept on coming and the characters that feel alive in their goals and motivation against the backdrop of political instability. Hesina rises to the throne as queen and requests an investigation under her father’s murder, but things are never as they seem and this book is a journey of finding and losing oneself. The mystery, intrigue and magic blends beautifully under the penmanship of Joan He. This book was perfect for our Illumicrate Readalong on goodreads.

We need more of this world, we need more of Joan’s writing because I am a human addicted on her words.

What did you guys think of this box? Have you read Descendant of the Crane? Thoughts?

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Untamed Billionaire’s Innocent Bride by Caitlin Crews | #BookReview

Happy weekend, book dragons! What are you currently reading? I made a return to romance, because ya girl is kinda addicted to Mills and Boon… and discovered this little jem. The title is kind of corny, however the novel was surprisingly good.

“Dedicated personal assistant Lauren Clarke always does as she’s asked. Her latest task? To prevent a media scandal, she needs to find reclusive Dominik James – her boss’s estranged brother – and convince him to marry her! But in Hungary’s darkest forests she discovers more than just an untamed billionaire…Dominik’s brooding masculinity awakens Lauren’s long-dormant desire. Once they’ve exchanged their convenient ‘I do’s’, will innocent Lauren accept that their hunger can’t be denied…?”


Genre: Romance
Year Of Publication: 20/05/2019
Publisher: Mills&Boon
My rating: 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review copy via Netgalley – Thank you Mills&boon

I adored the chemistry between this two, there is no denying that sparks are flying whenever these two are on the page. Lauren absolutely rocked my world in her high heels and no-nonsense attitude and I had a lot of respect for her, being able to stand up like that for herself. Yes, she wasn’t perfect, bending to her boss’s wishes and whims, but she wore her flaws like an armor. The image of Lauren striding through the forest in her tall heels, ignoring the pain because she does not believe in flat shoes will forever be etched in my mind, and I wish I’d be a little more like her (unfortunately I like my flats because being comfortable is my thing).

Now Dominik is just like the big bad wolf come alive from the fairy tales and she’s his little Red Riding Hood. He’s got all the attributes of my favorite heartthrob: tall, dark and handsome, but his wit and attitude are a great added bonus. Dominik is not the usual type of billionaire, he’s living a simple life in the forest, away from people until Lauren arrives at his doorstep and he is too tempted of her to resist the offer.

I lapped this story up with so much hunger it’s unreal. I swore myself a long time ago that no more reading until late at night on a work night… well, that went out of the window because I couldn’t and didn’t want to put it down.

By no means it’s not a perfect book, I wished for the ending to be a bit more different, I wanted Dominik to be more active since he demanded so much of her, but in the end I was still happy, especially after reading that epilogue. I also reallllly loved the Red Riding Hood references and the dark vibes.

If you are a fan of romance, totally recommend this one!

Xoxo
Jane

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From The Shadows by G. R. Halliday | #BookReview

Good morning readers! How are you this fabulous Monday? I am back with a review of FROM THE SHADOWS by G.R.Halliday, the newest, hottest crime procedural in town! Set in the Scottish Highlands, this novel is the first book in the DI Monica Kennedy series. I am having it from good sources that the sequel is being worked on and I am very excited; this review is coming out a bit later because I was convinced that I had published it… obviously not…

Genre: Crime/Thriller
Year Of Publication: April 2019
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Pages: 432
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you Harvill Secker for sending me an ARC of this novel for review.

Sixteen-year-old Robert arrives home late. Without a word to his dad, he goes up to his bedroom. Robert is never seen alive again.

A body is soon found on the coast of the Scottish Highlands. Detective Inspector Monica Kennedy stands by the victim in this starkly beautiful and remote landscape. Instinct tells her the case won’t begin and end with this one death.”

From the Shadows is Halliday’s debut novel, but I was impressed how well it was executed and it did not feel like his first ever novel. The novel is following different key characters, including the killer, and although I am not generally a fan of multiple POVs, it was so well done I really enjoyed it. The set-up for this novel is perfect with it’s dark and atmospheric vibes which draw you in – I felt chilled to my bones.

DI Monica Kennedy is senior investigator on the murder case of a 16 year old boy who after disappearing from his home is found mutilated and tortured on a remote location in the Highlands. When another body is found fitting the same MO, the situation escalates and Monica has to find out the truth behind these murders and stop the killer from striking again.

I really liked Monica and it was easy to empathize with her, even if at times there was a little too much “underlining” of some of her flaws. Monica is a lone mother with a 4 year child, but also a professional trying to be the best at her job and keep the people safe. She has a past herself, but then everyone around her seems to be keeping secrets and she eventually unites forces with Bach, the social worker of another missing teenager who’s body was never found. Bach has his own demons to fight, but his passion for saving these kids is the motivator which keeps him going.

Halliday has a talent for writing good characters and knows how to set the scene for maximum impact. From the shadows is a brilliant debut tot what it seems to be an amazing new crime series.

Have you read From the shadows? What did you think?
Xoxo
Jane

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#BookReview: Toffee by Sarah Crossan | 𝘎𝘳𝘪𝘱𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘶𝘭, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘶𝘯𝘢𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘥. @KidsBloomsbury

I am not who I say I am.
Marla isn’t who she thinks she is.

I am a girl trying to forget.
Marla is a woman trying to remember.

Genre: Poetry
Year Of Publication: 2 May 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 416
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you Bloomsbury for gifting me this copy! Opinions my own, as always!

Alison ran away from home and takes shelter in the shed of an abandoned house, but the house isn’t empty. In this house is where Marla lives, and elderly woman suffering with dementia and then they meet she confuses Alison with her friend Toffee. So Alison becomes Toffee, but who is Alison anymore…?

@Jane_Kelsey

The only way I can describe Toffee is to compare it with a piece of classical music, the pacing slowly building up to a crescendo of emotions, not letting the reader go until the last page. A riveting story about the dark aspects of being human and the power of friendship.

𝘎𝘳𝘪𝘱𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘶𝘭, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘶𝘯𝘢𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘥.

What Sarah has achieved is more than mere good poetry or making the reader cry, she opened up a difficult conversation about loneliness, domestic abuse, but also of the hope that one can find strength in the most unexpected places.

Toffee is one the most empowering pieces of literature that I have read in the recent years and hands down on my top 10 books of 2019.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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STARFISH: a rockstar romance by Lisa M. Becker | #bookreview

Happy Friday, book-dragons! It’s been a long time since I have been around, but I’ve struggle to type with one hand as I injured my right hand in a foolish accident. I am back now so going to kick off my return with a book review to one of my favorite romances of 2019: Starfish: a rockstar romance by Lisa M. Becker.

*Thanks to Lisa for sending me a copy for review consideration – opinions my own [like always]*

Genre: romance
Year Of Publication: 21.05.2019
Pages: 359
My rating: 5 stars

“Ambitious graduate Marin Collins accepts a four-month internship at a prestigious public relations firm to work on a tech account, but her plans are derailed when she’s assigned to go on the road with touring rock band Kings Quarters, hailed by Rolling Stone as the next big thing. Enter Brad Osterhauser, the reluctant rock star who would rather be coding computer games than penning Grammy-nominated songs.

Traveling by bus, city to city with a group of practical joking bandmates and a greedy manager, Marin and Brad forge a friendship and forbidden romance over a shared love of Seinfeld episodes, stolen moments and Red Vines.

But when Marin’s accused of betraying her company and the band, will Brad come to her defense or believe she was disloyal to him for the sake of her career?”
[goodreads blurb]

You guys, I have loved this book SOOOO MUCH! It is hands down one of my favorite romance novels of this year. The plot, the characters, the execution were so well done that I was left satisfied at the end. One of my big gripes when reading a romance is not enough angst, but boy! this novel did not have an issue with that at all!

Marin and Brad had a beautiful story arc as a couple, but also individually as we can see them grow and develop as individuals too. Their romance is not rushed at all and I enjoyed greatly reading about their budding friendship and what follows; they were sooooo sweet! Although the story obviously focuses on the main characters we also get to know the others, connect with them and understand them better; it is so refreshing for the “extras” to not be cookie-cut characters just for the sake of the protagonists to have someone else to talk to. Props also to Marin’s best friend – she wasn’t just a crutch to support the main character, she was funny, adorable and a really good friend. Marin and Grace’s relationship was absolute #SQUADGOALS! And this is what I wanted & needed!

“This body is a temple,” replies Jase, holding his arms out and shrugging his shoulder. “Temple of doom, maybe,” fumes Oliver.

Lisa Becker, Starfish: A Rock Star Romance

I did not know what to expect in terms of the writing style as it can be a hit or miss with romance, however I found myself drawn in and unable to put it down! Lisa has a talent to draw the reader in and captivate them with good characters and interesting plot. The plot was well done and I experienced a lot of emotions whilst reading this novel.

I totally recommend this novel, I had a lot of fun reading it and Lisa is one of them authors that I will keep my eyes out for!

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IMPLANT by Ray Clark | #booktour #LoveBooksGroup

Hello bookworms! It is finally my stop for the blog tour for IMPLANT by Ray Clark and I am so excited to share my thoughts with you! I had a delay in posting due to technical errors: basically my windows decided to do the longest update in history and couldn’t write it up until now, cutting in close as always, isn’t it?!

“Bramfield, near Leeds, a sleepy little market town nestled on the borders of West and North Yorkshire.Detectives Stewart Gardener and Sean Reilly discover the naked corpse of Alex Wilson, nailed to the wall of a cellar in his uncle’s hardware store. His lips are sewn together and his body bears only one mark, a fresh scar near his abdomen.Within forty-eight hours, their investigation results in dead ends, more victims, no suspects and very little in the way of solid evidence.Gardener and Reilly have a problem and a question on their hands: are the residents of Bramfield prepared for one of history’s most sadistic killers, The Tooth Fairy?” [goodreads blurb]

Suspenseful edge-of-your-seat crime thriller!

I loved Implant so much! From the get-go I was thrown into the story on a chase to find the killer of these chilling murders. Nothing is ever what it seems and twists and turns await the reader at every corner and I LOVED IT. I really felt a connection with the detectives so I was even more invested in the story as they try to find The Tooth Fairy  – no, not that Tooth fairy, but the killer who has been dubbed as such. I’ll tell you now, some of the scenes chilled me to the bone and I am used to things like that.

There was a great amount of banter between the detectives which is totally realistic and the relationship between Gardener and Reilly was very tight, I could tell that there were also old friends and a great support network for each other.

Because I am a veteran at this, I did see some twists and turns coming and what was about to happen at times, however I still really loved this novel and I couldn’t recommend it any more! The writing was great, the characters were fun, and good murders and I love a fast paced crime thriller so this was up my street. As you read IMPLANT, you can see the lever of care and research that went into it and it shines into the storytelling. Ray is definitely an author that I will be adding to my “watchlist”.

A short version of the full waiting room chapter book read from Ray Clark’s third book in the IMP series, Implant

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Summer Escape with the Tycoon (Destination Brides #1) by Donna Alward | #bookreview @MillsandBoon

So… it’s been quiet here in a few days as I fractured my right hand and writing is not easy, but I cannot help myself as I absolutely loved Summer Escape with the Tycoon which I read mostly whilst I was waiting in A&E (pointlessly because it would’ve been 5h+ to be seen), and finished it whilst I was waiting in Urgent Care the following day.

Genre: Romance
Year Of Publication: 16 May 2019
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Pages: 192
My rating: 4.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“In this Destination Brides story, bidding on a Canadian adventure vacation results in the trip of a lifetime for divorce lawyer Molly Quinn in more ways than one… Paired up with gorgeous tycoon Eric Chambault, they’re pushed out of their comfort zones and closer together, until Molly can’t resist embarking on a fling. But as their vacation comes to an end, will their summer romance work in the real world?” [Goodreads]


Molly is a divorce lawyer and for the first time in her life takes an unexpected adventure break in Canada and that’s where she meets -again – Eric, a rich businessman that recently divorced. Although the characters sat at opposite ends, the chemistry between them felt real and it sparkled. Both Molly and Eric felt like real humans with real problems trying to figure out life and where to go from there. The characters grew a lot through the story and I really liked that there was no silly miscommunication trope happening and discussed like adults and it made the angst even more potent as real feelings were in the way, and old perceptions.

This book was written with maturity and I was glued until the end, needing to know how it all ended. It was easy to relate to the characters and I felt an emotional connection to both of them. The backdrop of the story was beautiful as well, transporting me to places I have never been.

I will happily read more from this author and recommend it to the Romance enthusiasts! Not one to miss!!

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Never Sit If You Can Dance: Lessons from My Mother by Jo Giese | #BookReview

There have been a lot of reading out of my comfort zone this year, and I do not seem to tire. I feel quite lucky that I get to experiment with myself and push myself to read things that I normally wouldn’t read and discover gems along the way and Never sit if you can dance is one of them.

Genre: Non-Fiction
Year Of Publication: 23/04/2019
Publisher: She Writes Press
Pages: 144
My rating: 5 stars

“Jo’s mother, Babe, liked to drink, dance, and stay up very late. When the husband she adored went on sales calls, she waited for him in the parking lot, embroidering pillowcases. Jo grew up thinking that the last thing she wanted was to be like her mother. Then it dawned on her that her own happiness was derived in large part from lessons Babe had taught her. Her mother might have had tomato aspic and stewed rhubarb in her fridge, while Jo had organic kale and almond milk in hers, but in more important ways they were much closer in spirit than Jo had once thought.” [Goodreads Blurb]

Never sit if you can dance took me emotionally hostage and I found myself sinking into the memories of Jo and her awesome mother Babe. I was not expecting the depth of the emotion pouring from these pages so I was caught unawares. These lessons were beautifully written to encapsulate the essence of Babe’s life and the things she lived by.

Through Babe’s life lessons, we learn more about Jo and Babe’s life in an up-beat, friendly style even when things got tough. I couldn’t put it down and devoured it in two reading sessions and the ending almost left me in tears with the strength of my emotions. After finishing reading this I started thinking what I can do different, what I can do to live more in the moment, to express myself . It is difficult to express how I ended up feeling sad and uplisted at the same time.

Xoxo
Jane

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The Shoot Corpses, Don’t They by Stuart McLean ♥ | #LoveBooksTours

Happy Sunday! What are you guys up to this weekend? Anything fun? I finished reading The Shoot Corpses, Don’t They by Stuart McLean so I am putting the proverbial pen and paper to good use and write my thoughts on it.

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Noir
Year Of Publication: 13/04/2018
Pages: 302
My rating: 3.5 stars

Pat O’Hare is the only (living) private detective in Farrelton, a crime-ridden city still recovering from the ravages of an undead uprising. Pat is hired to find the missing granddaughter of a rich industrialist. But, what starts out as simple enough job turns into a fight for survival as he finds himself pulled into a deadly mystery where nobody can be trusted. Helped only by a trigger happy ex-cop and a washed up boxer with a pathological fear of trees, Pat has to use every trick in the book just to stay alive.
Caught between corrupt police, gun-wielding hitmen and a ruthless crime lord, Pat soon learns that the zombies are not the most dangerous creatures in town.

The Shoot Corpses, Don’t They by Stuart McLean features zombies and detectives which the perfect mesh-up in my opinion. Anyone who knows me can vouch for my love of zombies. The characters are funny and witty even with the zombs within touching distance. I really enjoyed reading about a world where the living are going on with their lives even with zombies.

The zombies adds an interesting backdrop to this detective noir setting and I am so here for it. There characters were hilarious, the twist and turn in this mystery/thriller novel kept on coming and I kept on turning the page because I needed to know and this novel kept me chucking all the way to the end.

Buy Link https://amzn.to/2W3k06H

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Author bio:

Stuart McLean (aka CS McLean) is a writer currently living in St Albans. He studied Chemistry at the University of Hertfordshire – although, this was back in the days when the Premiership was still called Division One and Hatfield was still a Polytechnic.
He was shortlisted for the first Margery Allingham short story competition, and was twice shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland short story competition.
Stuart was a finalist in the 2016 Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect competition, in which he pitched his brand of zombie noir to a largely bewildered group of panellists. He was also chosen as one of the 2018 Bloody Scotland Crime in the Spotlight authors, a platform to highlight new and emerging crime writers.When not writing, Stuart likes to play various musical instruments, all very badly; guitar, ukulele, trumpet and harmonica. But, not at the same time.