Caroline’s Top Reads 2014

Hi readers, it’s that time of year again when Tina and myself have lots of fun going through our reviews of the past year and choose our favourites to share with you! And, wow, there are so many it is difficult to narrow them down!Australian xmas card (2)

This is the end of our second full year and we cannot thank you all enough for following us and sharing our posts. We have made so many friends, be they authors, bloggers, agents, publishers and more, it has been overwhelming. We have received our first Christmas card from Australia (pictured), which was an absolute pleasure to receive. It’s amazing to see the sun and summer holiday reminders when the usual card for us is full of snow, log fires and dark evenings.

We hope that you have had a great year and are looking forward to the festive season. We are looking forward to sharing it with you. And I hope that you enjoy us sharing our favourite reads. Tina’s Top Reads will also be coming your way very soon. And here are mine!

Please click on the titles for my full review and much more info!

Contemporary Romance

Books of this genre and some contemporary rom-coms have been a big hit for me this year, and Helena Fairfax’s The Silk Romance was an absolute pleasure to read. It was written so beautifully, powerfully and thoughtfully, and certainly a read you will not forget! It is a Cinderella-type story that is highly intense and completely grips the reader. I have also likened it to some high-profile romance movies in my review as some aspects are similar and captivating!

TheLoveofMarisol_WP2014The Love of Marisol by Christos Toulouras is a short story of love and loss, but with the possibility of finding new love after. It is, again, very powerful and emotive, beginning as quite a dark and realistic read (although fiction). Taking only around an hour to read, it was one of my favourite reading hours of the year!

Contemporary Rom-Coms

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda's Story)As well as the serious side of romance, it is always uplifting and refreshing to read some fun reads, even though they still hold a serious undertone. The book that enlightened me in this manner is C.J. Pinard’s Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story) (Duty & Desire #3). It is my favourite book of the Duty & Desire series. It is a light-hearted, fun and cheeky read. And I love how C.J. Pinard follows both Miranda’s career, as well as her romances, and at the same time the reader sees a different side to the friendship that Miranda has with Cara.

An Autumn CrushWanting to read a seasonal book at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson. It was a Bridget Jones style read, with plenty of humour and a real feel-good and refreshing feel that really captured the time of year. And with some sombre storylines for some characters it has an awful lot going on, but is still relaxing and fun to read.

Historical Romance

Summer in RyeLucy Oliver’s novella Summer in Rye is an incredibly intense short story, with power and the ability to grip the reader. Following a new governess to children that have been badly affected by smallpox, and a master that is tyrannical, Eva only has one choice: to turn to the master’s brother, who was once engaged to her. Passion reignites between these two, but after he lied before, can Eva really accept him back?

Paranormal

Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter #1.5)To top off my favourite paranormal reads is Tim O’Rourke’s Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter #1.5). Last year the first of the series, Vampire Seeker, was one of my favourites, and again this series has really thrilled me. It has everything from vamps, shifters, action/adventure and time travel! The romance and passion is also very intense, making for a very HOT read! This is a series not to be missed, and I cannot wait to review Vampire Watchmen (Samantha Carter #2) in the new year!

And, not always a huge fan of short stories, this year has certainly changed my point of view. I used to think that to create great characters that full novels would be more fulfilling. However, there are a number of short stories in my top reads this year and a certain series of short stories really blew my mind – Alisa Woods’ True Alpha series. There are six shifter stories, which follow Mia and shifter Lucas, their attraction and heat for each other! Yet, the dilemma is that Lucas lost his last mate, and being to close to another is just not an option. But, when rival shifters kidnap Mia, Lucas has to face his true feelings. Each story is complete with action, heat and intensity. Shifter fans will LOVE this series. Here are the links to each review:-

Desired (True Alpha #1)

Guarded (True Alpha #2)

Hunted (True Alpha #3)

Captured (True Alpha #4)

Sacrificed (True Alpha #5)

Claimed (True Alpha #6)

I am also hoping to review another short A True Alpha Christmas over the coming days before the big day. And, in the new year Alisa Woods will be releasing her Dark Alpha short story series!

Soul RebelNow, for my second entry of author C.J. Pinard we have Soul Rebel. This is my favourite novel of C.J.’s. With plenty of action, suspense and romance it really does have it all. The characters and storyline are brilliant. Nolan loses his soul during a kiss with a female succubus in a nightclub and he only has 7 days to claim his soul back! Time constraints cause the tension and really make the pace quick. Plus there are many surprises which make it an exciting read.

Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #1)Recommended for the younger adult (15yrs+) Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal trilogy #1) by Pat Spence is an enchanting and fairytale-like read with supernatural mystery and horror. It is highly recommended to fans of the Twilight saga, but without the vamps. It follows the idea of eternal youth, ancient links and an attraction between Emily (17) and the handsome Theo. It is highly emotive, with a great eerie atmosphere as the reader gets sucked in to the mystery. Blue Moon is a fantastic beginning to this trilogy.

Horror

Moonshine (The Moon Trilogy, #3)This year saw the final instalment of Tim O’Rourke’s Moon trilogy, Moonshine (The Moon trilogy, #3). A paranormal horror series that has it all; action and adventure, vamps, weres, heart-warming moments and plenty of surprises. The running theme through the trilogy is whether or not vamps and weres can exist in peace together. Or, will they both have to try and annihilate each other? Will the love of Winnie be enough to hold it all together? (Clicking on the links for books 2 and 3 may spoil the storyline for those who haven’t read book one.)

Moonlight (The Moon Trilogy #1)

Moonbeam (The Moon Trilogy #2)

Crime Thriller

COLD CALL BOOK COVER - with blood SAFE COPYCold Call by Colin Llewelyn Chapman, was an instant like for me. After being likened to author Martina Cole, Luther (BBC tv series) and with a pinch of Fifty Shades, Cold Call proved to be a gritty, well-planned read that follows both the suspect and the police with their investigation into the deaths of several women from seedy backgrounds. This is another read with surprises along the way that will keep you gripped until the end.

21 Hours - Dustin Stevens_1Dustin Stevens’ 21 Hours is full of action and suspense as an uncle and ex-con is attempting to save his two year old niece after she has been kidnapped. Being an ex-con he is not entirely trusted by the authorities, but he is so desperate that he will do anything! I have likened it to some action movies, such as Lethal Weapon, Commando, Ransom and Con Air as there are some elements of these in the book and especially in they way it left me feeling after I had read it. It is also another read that is quick-paced, partly due to the time that it is believed that the young girl has left!

Ooh, and now for some Festive Contemporary reads

As an added treat, and because they were brilliant reads, I thought I would share the following two festive reads:

CANDY CAIN by C.L. Scholey - Click Image to CloseC.L. Scholey’s Candy Cain is a short 55 page read that is festive, hot and full of suspense. After being snowed in during a blizzard and left on a desolate road, with only the stranger that she dislikes after briefly bumping into him earlier, the only way they can keep warm is by body heat! Hmm, I wonder where this will lead and what the outcome will be for them? There are also heart-warming moments and an underlying storyline about helping those in need.

All I Want for ChristmasAnd finally, a full-length story with a Christmas build-up, new friendships and a new romance in Amy Silver’s All I Want for Christmas. Beginning from the fourteenth of December, the story is written with each chapter being a new day in the lead up to the big day, when there are plans at The Honey Pot café for people of the neighbourhood to meet for a party of food and friendship for the lonely.

I have read many more great reads that I cannot possibly add due to the amount I have here. Crossing many genres, I always hope that there are reads in here to suit many, and I feel that there is a great mix of both published and indie authors.

I hope that you enjoy our posts and would like to thank each and everyone of you for following and supporting us. I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and an absolutely brilliant New Year!

Caroline Barker 🙂

If you would like to check our Top Reads of 2013 to recap on our previous year, you can do so here:-

Caroline’s Top Reads 2013

Tina’s To Reads 2013

 

 

Review Round-Up November 2014

Hi readers, Tina and myself hope that you enjoyed your Halloween, and here in the UK Bonfire Night. There have been some fantastic fireworks displays this year in and around Tamworth where we reside. We are now concentrating on enjoying the autumn/fall weather, watching the leaves as they fall from the trees and spending most of our time snuggled up on the sofa with a book or our laptops preparing for our best reads of 2014 and of course, Christmas!!

Below you will find our latest reviews over the last month covering the horror genre, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, erotica, fantasy adventure and crime thriller.

As always, we hope that there is something for everybody and that you all enjoy visiting our blog.

Keep on reading!

Caroline & Tina 🙂

(Please click on titles for review)

23358060Distant Love by Layla Merritt, erotic contemporary romance (reviewed by Tina)

Kate Braxton has fallen into the role most women do by putting someone else’s needs above her own. In reality, she lives day to day unable to overcome the scars of her past to allow herself to move on with her life. Her divorce and a new job just might open the door to a brighter future for her.

Brayden Bennett is sexy and successful in the marketing firm he works for, but has been used and discarded by women, leaving him hurt and guarded. The beautiful new hire in Atlanta captures his attention in ways he didn’t think possible and he can’t help but wonder if she holds the key to his caged heart.

Kate is taking care of her ill father in Atlanta and Brayden’s son ties him to Chicago. Can they dare to dream of a future together? Can Kate survive the freak accidents that keep occurring, or will their relationship end in tragedy before they can figure out a way to be together?

Claimed (True Alpha 6)Claimed (True Alpha #6) (short story) by Alisa Woods, paranormal romance (reviewed by Caroline Barker)

New Adult Paranormal Romance serial – LAST IN SERIES

Shifters live in the shadows of Seattle, just under the skin of the alpha male, dot-com entrepreneurs who are building a new Silicon Valley in the Emerald City.

Mia has found her way free of the dark wolves, but what price will her friends pay? And will she finally be able to find a place among their packs?

Claimed (True Alpha 6) is 65 pages or 16,000 words. It’s the final of six episodes in the True Alpha serial.

Adult content. Ages 18+.

Amethyst's incredible journeyAmethyst’s Incredible Journey by Lisa Bland, fantasy adventure (reviewed by Caroline)

Fantasy adventure

For ages 11yrs+

Synopsis: Amethyst is a witch with extremely evil and powerful parents. Amethyst is terrified that if she don’t stop her parents soon it will be too late, and they will gain control of Golden Dragon City and the Fountain of Magic. Amethyst knows that she has only got until her next birthday to stop them!.Amethyst has to travel through different realms to collect the blood red rubies that she needs to stop them.

After the HazeAfter the Haze by Gary Richardson, horror (reviewed by Caroline)

Synopsis: The haze ravaged everything. Human life as we know it is over. Those who survived the haze awoke to find themselves in a new nightmare, as the dead returned with the insatiable desire to hunt down and feed on the remaining humans. Yvonne thought she had escaped her nightmare. Safely aboard the HMS Lancaster, Martin, Mike and herself believed they had found salvation with their military saviours. Things change when a devastating realisation is made. Humans no longer control the Earth. With this in mind, Yvonne has no choice but to assist in the operation to take back control of the UK and bring together all the survivors, but she soon learns that there are bigger threats to mankind than the living dead…

22436820Afraid to Hope (Secrets and Seduction #3) by M.J. Nightingale, erotic contemporary romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Louisa Sears is ready to start over. Escaping her small town where prejudice, long memories, and old fashioned values haunt her, Louisa embarks on her dream of finding love, and a man who can warm up her bed at night. Pregnant at sixteen, divorced from an abusive husband at twenty, and raising a daughter alone, Louisa is now ready to live. She wants what every woman wants. A rock hard man, who knows how to love. Will Florida be the place where her dreams come true?

Jay Russell is battle scarred. A past filled with horrors from childhood, the war in Iraq, and the most devastating event of his life that occurred when he returned home, he is definitely not looking for love. When he first meets Louisa Sears, the bombshell with the fantastic body, he wants one thing, and one thing only, her body underneath him. The hot little ticket that walks by his t-shirt shop, meets all his requirements for a night of passion.

The scars in them run deep though, and they both have secrets. Can two people so deeply wounded by the past learn to trust each other enough to share those secrets? And if they do, will they be able to get past them and learn to hope again?

That Risen Snow: A Scary Tale of Snow White & Zombies (Scary Tales, #1)That Risen Snow: A Tale of Snow White & Zombies (The Scary Tales #1) by Rob E. Boley, horror/humour (reviewed by Caroline)

BLURB: The zombie sequel to Snow White begins where the classic fairy tale ends, with the Prince’s kiss waking Snow from her cursed slumber. Snow wakes up, but she doesn’t wake up right.

Now a deranged zombie, Snow infects both the Prince and the seven dwarfs’ leader. That leaves the young dwarf Grouchy, who is secretly in love with Snow, to find a cure for her malicious curse. So begins an epic journey that pits the lovesick Grouchy against dwarf-hating human soldiers, Snow’s ever-growing zombie horde, and his own bad temper. But when Grouchy and his motley crew of survivors escape Snow’s clutches and seek refuge in a nearby human village, he soon finds that her affliction has spread faster and further then he ever could have imagined. Snow is hell-bent on spreading her horrid curse across the land, and it’s up to Grouchy to stop her before it’s too late.

So begins THE SCARY TALES, a dark fantasy series featuring mash-ups of traditional fairy tale characters and classic horror monsters.

TheNewGovernessLargeFINALThe New Governess/Awakening (The Erotic Adventures of Belinda #1 & 2) by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross, gothic erotica (reviewed by Tina)

The New Governess blurb: When Belinda Moorland leaves her old life behind to become the new governess to a wealthy businessman’s children, she finds herself in a dazzling – and allegedly haunted – house called Ravencrest Manor. Her beautiful new home comes with an assortment of unusual staff members, including a handsome English butler surrounded by secrets, an icy power-mad housekeeper with a chip on her shoulder and a whip in her hand, and – most attractive of all to Belinda – her mysterious new employer, Mr. Eric Manning.

After just one night in Ravencrest, Belinda realizes that the staff, as strange they are, have nothing on the other residents of the house – the ones who only come out at night… the ones who enter and dictate her dreams, twisting them into dark, carnal visions of her deepest desires… and her greatest fears.

The erotic adventures of Belinda have begun…

awakeningfinalAwakening blurb: In The New Governess, Belinda Moorland became governess to the children of handsome and mysterious millionaire, Eric Manning. She met several interesting employees at Ravencrest Manor, including the mischievous butler, Grant, and the frightening house administrator, Mrs. Heller. During her first night, Belinda was also greeted – and groped – by other inhabitants of the house; ones who are more phantom than flesh.

Now, in Awakening, we find out more about Grant Phister, the wicked Mrs. Heller, and some of the other inhabitants of the house, both living and dead. There are more secrets than ever waiting within the walls of Ravencrest, but Belinda has one final requirement to meet before she can get down to work: She must pass her physical examination – and it will prove to be far more intimate than anything in her wildest dreams – or her darkest nightmares. Will she get through her first day at Ravencrest intact?

The erotic adventures of Belinda continue…

TheLoveofMarisol_WP2014The Love of Marisol by Christos Toulouras, contemporary emotional romance (reviewed by Caroline)

 Synopsis: When Leo’s marriage ends, he falls into the depths of depression. He decides to escape the loss and the heartbreak with a trip to the other side of the world – Lima, Peru. In some ways, his journey becomes an unexpected salvation as his passions are reignited by the local food and people, the climate and the beautiful and alluring Marisol. The Love of Marisol is a poignant and passionate journey of heartbreak, loss but most of all self-discovery… it reminds us that at the end of one love story, there is always the possibility of a new one…

17562987 (2)Windhaven by Charlotte Boyett-Compo, dark erotic fantasy romance (reviewed by Tina)

Synopsis: “Open your mouth even once, tell anyone about us, give them a name, and we’ll come for you, Sammy. There will be nowhere you can hide that we won’t find you.”Samiel Brell is being held against his will in the WindHaven Mental Hospital. His life there is a brutal nightmare from which he can not wake. The only anchor he has in this dark world is nurse Katelyn Tarnes who sees beyond the psychotic, self-destructive patient to the lost, lonely man desperately needing her help…and pleading for her love.

The CabinetmakerThe Cabinetmaker by Alan Jones, crime drama/thriller (reviewed by Caroline Barker)

Synopsis: The Cabinetmaker, Alan Jones’ first novel, tells of one man’s fight for justice when the law fails him. Set in Glasgow from the late nineteen-seventies through to the current day, a cabinetmaker’s only son is brutally murdered by a gang of thugs, who walk free after a bungled prosecution.

It’s young Glasgow detective John McDaid’s first murder case. He forms an unlikely friendship with the cabinetmaker, united by a determination to see the killers punished, their passion for amateur football, and by John’s introduction to a lifelong obsession with fine furniture.

This is the story of their friendship, the cabinetmaker’s quest for justice, and the detective’s search for the truth.

This unusual crime thriller contains some Glasgow slang and a moderate amount of strong language.

 

 

**REVIEW** The Love of Marisol by Christos Toulouras

TheLoveofMarisol_WP2014

The Love of Marisol is a beautiful short story that publishers, Wattle Publishing, brought to our attention. It is a short story of love, loss and the possibility of a new love, that will truly eat away at you.

Synopsis: When Leo’s marriage ends, he falls into the depths of depression. He decides to escape the loss and the heartbreak with a trip to the other side of the world – Lima, Peru. In some ways, his journey becomes an unexpected salvation as his passions are reignited by the local food and people, the climate and the beautiful and alluring Marisol. The Love of Marisol is a poignant and passionate journey of heartbreak, loss but most of all self-discovery… it reminds us that at the end of one love story, there is always the possibility of a new one…

REVIEW

The Love of Marisol is a profoundly emotive read, exploring the effects of romance, love and divorce on the main character, Leo. Initially, Leo is in great pain and has a deep sense of loss that leaves him feeling empty and lonely, and even small, in this big wide world.

Leo is hurt so much that he feels he will never love again or experience love again. And, another factor for Leo is his 3yr old son. This has a detrimental effect on his thoughts even more, as he knows that his ex-wife will one day meet a new love and over time this new love may also be living with her and his son. His son will have a new father figure and where will that leave Leo?

The beautiful description, from the author of these emotions and reactions that Leo has, really pulls the reader in. It is a story many can relate to and it is written very much in a realistic tone, almost biographical, where the main character opens his mind, questions his thoughts and others’ actions of love and their views.

Not only this, but The Love of Marisol is also an adventurous, travelling story. Leo questions why he is travelling but knows no matter where he goes the heavy feeling and slow, short breathing will follow him. He is taking a trip to Lima to meet with his cousin. Although the reader senses how lost he is, he knows he needs to get up and do something, go somewhere, and this might be just what he needs.

During his stay in Peru, Leo speaks with his cousin, Dom, meets Dom’s friends and beautiful women. He hears Dom’s, and his friend’s, stories of their love experiences. All of the opinions and experiences make him ponder over his situation. But it is the beautiful, Marisol, that helps him to open his mind and begin contemplating other possibilities for his future, than the dark, lonely path he believed he would take a few days ago.

The reader is left contemplating many of the views expressed by Leo and the people he encounters. Who is right? Is it different for everyone? Reading this narrative certainly made me dig deep to seek my true feelings and beliefs on love, as well as the long-lasting relationships we have.

The Love of Marisol is extremely touching, beautifully written, and realistic. It will reach out to your soul and make you explore your thoughts, remind you of past loves and experiences. It may even open your heart!

A copy of The Love of Marisol was provided by Wattle Publishing for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

The Love of Marisol by Christos Toulouras is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

 

For November: A Crime Thriller or an Emotional Adventurous Romance Novel?

Hi readers, we are already thinking ahead into November, and once we have all been zombied out, witched out and spooked out over Halloween we are thinking maybe you would like to relax a little with either a crime thriller or an adventurous and emotional romantic journey!

We have two reviews scheduled for next month that just may be what you are looking for. Two great reads from Wattle Publishing: crime thriller, Entropy, by Robert Raker and contemporary romance, The Love of Marisol by Christos Toulouras! Please scroll down for blurbs and author bios.

Happy reading!

Caroline & Tina 🙂

Entropy_WP2014Book title:  Entropy
Author:  Robert Raker

RRP:   PB: £8.99 | Kindle & eBook: £5.99

Synopsis:

When a series of child abductions and murders disrupt the life of an economically blighted community, the consequences have far-reaching implications. The brutal crimes take a different toll on a disparate group of individuals; the scuba diver who retrieves the children’s bodies; the disfigured cellist who thinks he knows who’s responsible; the undercover federal agent; and the mother of one of the victim’s.
United in a situation not of their choosing, they are forced to take a deep, introspective look into their intersected, yet isolated lives.

Author biography:
Robert Raker graduated with a degree in Journalism from the University of Pittsburgh. He currently resides in Philadelphia where he enjoys art, music, literature and live theater. He is currently working on his next novel.

Link to retailers: http://wattlepublishing.com/catalogue/entropy/

Twitter:  @RobertRaker1
Facebook:  Entropy by Robert Raker

TheLoveofMarisol_WP2014Book title:  The Love of Marisol
Author:  Christos Toulouras

RRP:   PB: £6.99 | Kindle & eBook: £5.99

Synopsis:

When Leo’s marriage ends, he falls into the depths of depression. He decides to escape the loss and the heartbreak with a trip to the other side of the world – Lima, Peru. In some ways, his journey becomes an unexpected salvation as his passions are reignited by the local food and people, the climate and the beautiful and alluring Marisol. The Love of Marisol is a poignant and passionate journey of heartbreak, loss but most of all self-discovery… it reminds us that at the end of one love story, there is always the possibility of a new one…

Author bio:
Christos Toulouras was born in Cyprus. He has lived in South Africa and Cyprus. He studied Tourist administration in Thessaloniki. He continued his studies in the UK at Leicester University where he received his MBA. He currently lives in Cyprus.

Link to retailers: http://wattlepublishing.com/catalogue/love-marisol/

Twitter:  @wattlepub
Facebook:  Wattle Publishing