The Kingmaker Chronicles Trilogy By Amanda Bouchet – Recommended Book Review

I have another favorite fantasy series! The world-building, magical concepts, and story started in A Promise Of Fire hooked me early and kept me there. The main character, Cat, hasn’t had an easy life, which means she is particularly unprepared for meeting Griffin, a man with a mission. A man who knows too much about her hidden abilities. There’s a good dose of romance, which I enjoyed. Griffin is one of the good guys, determined to make the world a better place. He’s a likeable character. Another highlight for me was the role played in the story by various Greek gods. All of that was good, but it was the monster battles that glued me to the page. Bouchet writes great magic battle scenes.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Promise Of Fire gets a solid 5/5 stars.

I love when a series continues from where the last book left off the way this one did. Cat is rapidly maturing into the leader she needs to be and has lost the touches of what seemed like annoying personality traits in book 1; her home environment left a whole lot to be desired and her reasons for leaving would turn anyone’s hair white. To expect her to be an adjusted young woman after that is asking too much. Her character growth arc was awesome to watch.

Book two offered more imaginative monsters, battles, and well-crafted action scenes. I loved the relationships between all the characters and the twisty surprises. There was also some satisfaction that a couple of my premonitions proved to be true, which is interesting because if that happens too often a book might be called predictable. It definitely was not, and I was excited to read the final book in the series.

Breath Of Fire gets five/five glowing stars.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was anticipating reading the boss battle that was inevitable from the first book, which was always a concern because the boss is the heroine’s mother. The way that battle went down was wonderfully unpredictable. The outcome, better than my expectations.

Sharing a little bitty spoiler about a certain portion of the book that made me know for sure that Cat and Griffin get a happy ever after is tempting, but I just can’t do it. The point is, Bouchet didn’t tell me they will be happy together forever, I believe they will. Their bond has been thoroughly tested.

My emotional investment was 100% tripled, which is so hard to achieve. I’m kind of a tough critic. I read a lot of books that never get reviewed here because I only want to highlight the best books I read. Like this entire series.

If you’re into action, romance, Greek gods, and fantasy, I highly recommend this series.

And more good news, I hear there will be a spin-off novella featuring the Beta-team. I cannot wait. Thinking about it steals my breath.

Heart On Fire gets five/five glowing stars.

The Kingmaker Chronicles series gets 5/5 glowing stars. Hurry up and release that novella, Mrs. Bouchet! I mean, pretty please?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CHECK OUT AMANDA BOUCHET HERE

Have you read any of this trilogy? All of it? I’d love to chat about it.

As always, thanks for reading with me!

Gina

I’ve got more weekend reading to offer you. It’s Owl Vs. Animal Charmers, a short story featuring Lucy and Stan from Desert Sunrise. Get it delivered to your inbox by joining my newsletter here.

The Mood Cure: The 4-Step Program To Take Charge Of Your Emotions Today By Julia Ross, M.A. – Recommended Book Reviews

I was introduced to Ross’s work when I was working toward my nutrition degree and was assigned the task of finding a popular book about approaches to diet and write a paper about it. I chose The Diet Cure, Ross’s first book. Years later my dear friend, a talented NLP practitioner and Theta healer named Jillian O’Hara, recommended The Mood Cure based on her own experiences with it.. I remembered how impressive The Diet Cure was and added The Mood Cure to my TBR tower.

There are six pages of notes written in my book journal from while I was reading this book. I’ve added notes to handouts I give to clients directly quoting Ross’s work. This book is worth reading if you or someone you care for is trying to balance their moods, even if I didn’t agree with every point Ross made. For example, I thought a deeper analysis of liver function was needed before implementing amino acid therapy and I don’t depend on animal-sourced protein the way she does. Protein is definitely a key, but I believe that it can be plant-based if you eat complete proteins or combine them, like beans and rice. I’ve seen too much animal protein create new problems.

Everyone in a position of helping others with nutrition should read this book.

This review is of the ebook edition, published in 2002.

Highlights of the book are:

Evaluation of symptoms including a deeper dive into remedies.

A timeline for when you should see improvement from the remedy.

Specifics about supplementing with amino acids.

How low-calorie diets and skipped meals can quickly reduce vital serotonin-making supplies.

Informative charts. I saw the same charts in the paperback version and they were much easier to read there than in the ebook version.

Non-meat sources of tryptophan.

Which nutrients you need to take in for consistent neurotransmitter function.

Information about light therapy.

Chapter 13 is an exceptional approach to chronic pain and can improve daily life with simple changes.

Ross backs her information with research.

Amazing bibliography, including my introduction to 7 Weeks to Sobriety by Joan Matthews-Larson, which is easily the best book I’ve read on nutritional approaches to alcohol and substance dependency.

Recipes!

Is this book a substitute for a qualified nutrition professional? Simply put, no. We all need a trained professional to guide us through the entirety of making changes in a way that will lead to lasting results.

Reading this book will empower any reader in understanding how moods can be balanced, and that is golden.

Be sure to check out the great resources on Julia Ross’ website.

Thanks for reading,

Gina

Recommended Book Review – Newsletter Ninja: How To Become An Author Mailing List Expert By Tammi Labrecque (2018)

This book is required reading if you’re trying to build a newsletter.

Newsletter Ninja was recommended to me by Amy Tasukada, maven of Japanese-Influenced Gay Fiction. Amy knows her stuff, and she’s so nice you’d never guess how much she enjoys thinking of gritty gangster plots for her Yakuza Path series. *Shrugs.* That’s writers for you. Click on this link to see an example of what Amy learned and uses to grow her newsletter.

What makes Newsletter Ninja valuable is how entertaining it is, while being packed full of actionable information. Since I started following Labreque’s advice, I have gained more readers and sold more books. That’s what it’s all about.

I’ve been blogging, publishing, and had a newsletter for years, and it is this book and Amy Tasukada’s presentation that are why I’m seeing growth. No matter what stage you are in, this book will help you get to the next one.

I took 17 pages of notes when I read the book. I’ve reread those notes before sending out a newsletter because the passion Labreque describes comes through in her writing. She’s a heck of a writer.

Check out her Newsletter Ninja website for a taste and to see what she’s got going on there.

Here’s an insider tip of my own that helps me think about what to write in each newsletter – what am I talking to my family, friends, students, and colleagues about? How am I talking about it? That’s golden for me. Get conversational with your newsletter subs and let them get to know you, so they will want you to get to know them.

Speaking of newsletters…

*This post is not sponsored.

School Bites By Jade Lee – Recommended Book Review

Blurb


Middle school teacher Toni Freedman deals with a dangerous population: the pre-adolescents from Crimson City’s newly created Wolftown.

When the school becomes a battleground, the only one keeping his cool is the sexy principal John Wang. Together John and Toni battle wolf-haters, ED students, and a sexual chemistry with an added kick.

Review

I’m reaching back into my old book journals so great stories like School Bites, which I originally read in the Shards of Crimson anthology, don’t get lost.

School Bites is an urban fantasy short story that fit into the Crimson City series (Crimson City #7b), which I think fantasy fans should check out for the variety of good stories that were told through it.

This is a very sexy book with a romance between Toni and John that centers around Toni adjusting to a new life which includes a relationship with her boss. All signs point to workplace drama right there, but frankly, Toni and John have a lot more to worry about. I admire that Toni made what I thought was an admirable step when she had an opportunity to maintain status quo for herself, but chooses to be there for her students. I admire teachers who stick up for their students.

Likable characters always sway me and this is solid storytelling by Jade Lee.

I haven’t read the other title in Sexy Bites, MY SEXY KICK-ASS MAGIC SHOES. If you have, please tell me what you thought of it.

Thank you for reading,

Gina

Tuesdays With Morrie By Mitch Albom – Recommended Book Review

I’m not usually pushy about book recommendations, but today I will be, because if you haven’t read this treasure of a book from 1997, you really, really, should.

My review is of the 1997 print version.

Reading this book bathed me in good feelings, and the awareness that Morrie Schwartz and I have solid life principles in common. What mattered most to Morrie in life are the same things that matter most to me – people, relationships, contentedness, and joy.

Tuesdays With Morrie was written by Morrie Schwartz’s student, Mitch Albom. Albom’s intent was to raise money to help with Schwartz’s medical bills. We learn this in the afterward, after we’ve been thoroughly steeped in how much Albom and others benefited from knowing Morrie Schwartz.

Morrie Schwartz taught far more than the classes listed on student’s schedules. He and other professors of their time used their position to better their student’s lives and inspired them to be good humans. He taught them the value of silence and illuminated how much we can learn from it.

If I’m even a percentage of the teacher he was, it’s in part because I read this book.

Click here to visit the books page of Mitch Albom’s website. He has interesting goodies over there.

This is an iconic book, so I’m betting at least some of you have read it. If so, please share your thoughts about it with me.

Thanks for reading!

Gina

Connections In Death By J.D. Robb – Recommended Book Review

48 books and going strong!

I’ll start with the official blurb.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER (February 2019)

Lieutenant Eve Dallas fights to save the innocent—and serve justice to the guilty—on the streets of New York in Connections in Death, the gritty and gripping new In Death novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author J.D. Robb.

Homicide cop Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke, are building a brand-new school and youth shelter. They know that the hard life can lead kids toward dangerous crossroads—and with this new project, they hope to nudge a few more of them onto the right path. For expert help, they hire child psychologist Dr. Rochelle Pickering—whose own brother pulled himself out of a spiral of addiction and crime with Rochelle’s support.

Lyle is living with Rochelle while he gets his life together, and he’s thrilled to hear about his sister’s new job offer. But within hours, triumph is followed by tragedy. Returning from a celebratory dinner with her boyfriend, she finds Lyle dead with a syringe in his lap, and Eve’s investigation confirms that this wasn’t just another OD. After all his work to get clean, Lyle’s been pumped full of poison—and a neighbor with a peephole reports seeing a scruffy, pink-haired girl fleeing the scene.

Now Eve and Roarke must venture into the gang territory where Lyle used to run, and the ugly underground world of tattoo parlors and strip joints where everyone has taken a wrong turn somewhere. They both believe in giving people a second chance. Maybe even a third or fourth. But as far as they’re concerned, whoever gave the order on Lyle Pickering’s murder has run out of chances…

My Review

Starting a new In Death book always feels like going home to visit family you see twice a year – because that has been the release schedule for the past few years and when you’ve been reading the same series for a decade a new release is like a family reunion.

I read the new release as soon as I can, which is usually through the library. I put in a request for the ebook and the hardcover on release day and wait to see which one comes up first. This year it has been the hardcover. If I was set on reading the ebook version through the library I would wait another four or five months.

This review is of the hardcover version.

I classify In Death books as being either character driven or case driven. Connections In Death is case driven. There is a healthy amount of main character Eve Dallas’ drool-worthy husband, Roarke, in the story, and a gathering where we get to party with most of the series beloved characters.

If you’re new to the series I think you should know that all of the books have graphic scenes in them, either in the bedroom, at the crime scene, in the morgue, and at times in the field. You should also know that the series takes place in the future and the technology is part of the charm.

The pacing of this book was addictive and before I knew it I finished the book in a few sittings. This was our bright-eyed Dallas, tugging on every lead, seeing information no one else could. That’s why she’s the lieutenant.

The action sequences are easy to follow and we had a few in this one. There’s solid motive for Pickering’s staged OD, a satisfying investigation, and a perfect conclusion. If there’s one trick I think Robb missed, it would be that I would liked to have seen Dr. Rochelle Pickering after the case is solved. It’s a tiny thing compared to how the city they live in is enriched by what Eve Dallas and her team accomplished in the course of the investigation.

Connections In Death gets a solid five out of five stars from me. If you like futuristic homicide mysteries, give this series a try. Then we can talk about who we think the candy thief is. I have a couple of theories, like that it has to be someone in homicide.

Here’s a link to J.D. Robb’s website where you can find buy links and more goodies.

Are you an In Death fan?

Thanks for reading!

Gina

Recommended Book Review: Polaris Rising By Jessie Mihalik

Sci-fi is one of my pet genres that doesn’t get stroked nearly as much as I’d like because I get seduced by tairens, dragons, fairies, and other fantasy characters much more often. I’m glad that didn’t happen this time because I would have missed out on a five-star book.

I found The Consortium Rebellion series through an annual literacy fundraiser called Buns & Roses. Each table is hosted by an author, whom we get to have tea and chat with. This is my second year attending.

When the list of authors hits my inbox I read their bios and look at their book offerings. You know I was thrilled to see sci-fi on the list, from a new-to-me author, and that the book had good ratings on Amazon and members of one of my Goodreads book clubs recommended it.

I dove in.

Polaris Rising started as a book I read for Buns & Roses and turned into so much more when it delivered excellent world building that hasn’t been done to where you wonder if you’ve already read the book and interesting characters who captured my attention.

Space travel is common in Polaris Rising and humans dominate the universe. The main character, Ada, is a daughter of a ruling family in the consortium, who flees an arranged marriage and has to stay ahead of everyone trying to drag her back to her father and the man she gave up her position and security to avoid. She’s empowered, smart, and sassy. Totally fun to read. Her knowledge of spaceships is impressive and was a major reason I was invested in the story.

Plus, there’s a romance! Marcus Loch is one of those rough-around-the-edges heroes you want to tame, but not all the way.

Mihalik gave me a slow-burn romance that I loved and which enhanced the rest of the story. There are sexy times, in good proportion to what the main characters are going through.

The book is excellent, even if there are some questions I didn’t feel were answered. I can’t go into them without spoilers, but I can say that having those questions unanswered didn’t take me out of the story or lower my rating.

Meeting Mihalik was a big highlight at Buns & Roses. She was as much fun to hang out with as she was to read.

Buy links and more can be found on Jessie Mihalik’s website.

What about you? Are you into sci-fi with a perfect amount of romance?

Thanks for reading,

Gina

*This review is not sponsored in any way.

Immoral By Brian Freeman (Jonathan Stride, #1, 2005) – Recommended Book Review

In case you thought I read romance exclusively, I thought I should show you one of my favorite thriller authors and his stunning debut, Immoral. This book was recommended to me by my book buddy, Lynn. She has amazing taste.

It took a few pages for me to adjust to Freeman’s writing voice. That was before I spent every spare moment with this book. And stole time from the rest of my life to read. The book clearly lived up to the buzz I heard about it.

The most gripping part for me was the trial. I would cover the opposite page as I read so I wouldn’t have even a tiny hint at what was coming next.

I’ll give fair warning that this story is not for the faint of heart. It is gritty and disturbing. The twisty tale is told in circles that lead back to the place where it will blindside Stride the hardest.

Falling a little bit in love with Stride was inevitable for me, just like the blurbs said I would. He’s flawed, determined, and passionate. Maybe that’s his charm?

It’s amazing how a kind author like Freeman can craft gut-wrenching tales like this one. Lucky for me, he keeps doing it. There are currently eleven books in the Jonathan Stride series.

Blurb

In a riveting debut thriller that has drawn comparisons to masters of the genre like Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly, Brian Freeman weaves obsession, sex, and revenge into a story that grips the reader with vivid characters and shocking plot twists from the first page to the last.

Lieutenant Jonathan Stride is suffering from an ugly case of déjà vu. For the second time in a year, a beautiful teenage girl has disappeared off the streets of Duluth, Minnesota—gone without a trace, like a bitter gust off Lake Superior. The two victims couldn’t be more different.  First it was Kerry McGrath, bubbly, sweet sixteen.  And now Rachel Deese, strange, sexually charged, a wild child.  The media hounds Stride to catch a serial killer, and as the search carries him from the icy stillness of the northern woods to the erotic heat of Las Vegas, he must decide which facts are real and which are illusions.  And Stride finds his own life changed forever by the secrets he uncovers.  Secrets that stretch across time in a web of lies, death, and illicit desire.  Secrets that are chillingly…immoral.

Click here to go to the Immoral page on Brian Freeman’s website.

Do you have reading plans for the weekend?

Thanks for the time we spend together!

Gina


Recommended Book Review: Invitation To Scandal (Lady Quin’s Houseparty Book 1) By Legne Hardt

I have a new (book) boyfriend. It’s shameful, really, because he’s married. I don’t think I want his wife to find out about my crush, either, because she’s unpredictable and not afraid of a scandal. She’ll cause one if it’s what needs to happen. He’s pretty dishy, though, so I might have to risk it.

The couple I’m referring to are Allan and Rosamund in Invitation To Scandal.

This book stands out for a few reasons that I think are admirable.

  1. It’s a debut novel! This author has done the work of learning how to tell a story, how to build characters, and how to delight a reader.
  2. I was grabbed from the beginning and was never let go or let down. There aren’t many books I can say that about. This book seduced me and I loved every moment of it. This is exactly the experience I’m looking for when I read.
  3. Historical is a genre I grew up with, but have been pulled away from by fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal. The last historical I gave five stars to was My Highland Lord by Tarah Scott in 2014.
  4. My favorite moment in this book is when Rosamund realizes she’s in love with my crush, er, her husband.
  5. The character of Allan. Yummy, yum, yum, yum. He’s intelligent, handsome, sexy, manly, and a good man.
  6. Learning about the Georgian era has been an unexpected bonus. As you see from number three, I’m typically drawn to highland lairds.
  7. There are a lot of other interesting character’s stories told in the book, which means I can continue reading the series to see what happens with the characters I connected to most.
  8. It is naughty!

Blurb

Revenge. Scandal. And falling in love…

Rosamund was only waiting on her childhood sweetheart to make his proposal, for her future to begin. When instead he announces his betrothal to another, she turns to a man quite beneath her for comfort, and is surprised to find herself content with Mr. Allan Barre. Some hurts cannot be healed however, and when the new Lady Quin includes Mr. and Mrs. Barre in her first houseparty, Rosamund is determined to have her revenge.

She’ll make sure the prim Lady Quin’s houseparty is wracked by scandal. And enjoy herself doing it, for Allan has introduced her to the pleasures of passion. But will those pleasures be made greater by love, or will Rosamund’s temper destroy her happiness?

Invitation to Scandal is the first book in Lady Quin’s Houseparty. A naughty little romp, it follows Rosamund and Allan through the first challenge of their married life and introduces the setting of the most exciting houseparty Wiltshire has ever seen. Set in the Georgian era and filled with amorous adventures, it will whet your appetite for this collection of tantalizing tales.

Invitation to Scandal is a complete story on its own, but it does mention characters found in the rest of the series.

Find Invitation To Scandal on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Are you familiar with this series? I’d love to chat about it.

Thanks for reading,

Gina

A Halloween Party by Tina Nykulak Ruiz – New Release & Book Review

My Review

I love Halloween, parties, and reading to my granddaughter, so it was a good bet that I would like this story. The character names gave the adults a chuckle as I read the story aloud to my granddaughter. We all loved the illustrations. The story premise was easy to relate to and what happens at the Halloween party was a lot of fun to read about.

Highly recommended. Nykulak-Ruiz is one of our favorite children’s book authors.

New Release Info

Illustrations by Ishika Sharma.

Every character has a name with a double meaning. Such as: Mr. Noah Lott, Mrs. Faye Ding, Mrs. Frieda Livery, Upton O’Goode, Adam Zapel, and Ella Vader, to name but a few.

Here’s a hint to help you solve the puzzle, Ed Zortails is his name really heads or is it tails? You’ll have to buy the book to find out.

Solving the double meaning of the words will be delightful for children and adults alike. On the off chance someone can’t unravel a name, Tina supplied a cheat sheet at the back of the book.

As with all of her children’s stories, there’s a moral at the end.

BUY LINK

Tina Nykulak Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children’s stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz wrote twenty-seven books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor’s office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor’s Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It’s usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary’s New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Do you have a favorite Halloween story?

Thanks for reading!

Gina