January 18, 2018

Review: Year One by Nora Roberts

Year One by Nora Roberts (Dec. 5, 2017)
Length: 432 pages
Genre: Adult Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher. Thank you! This did NOT affect my honest review.
Purchase: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
My Rating:

Goodreads Summary: It began on New Year’s Eve. The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated. Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most. As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive. In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain. The end has come. The beginning comes next.

My Review

Year One in Three Words: Dark. Different. Surprising.

Year One gave me some serious The Stand and Walking Dead vibes. This was not a bad thing since I love both. It's a different book than Nora Roberts' many others, but you can still hear her voice in the writing.

This was my first read of 2018 and I was not disappointed. I am thrilled to say that Nora Roberts can write any genre. Some may be disappointed that this novel doesn't focus on romance, but I was very appreciative of its new style and story. It was a breath of fresh air. Just for the record, there is still a little romance in this book.

Year One has an amazing cast of characters. At the beginning it was a small challenge to follow who everyone was, but once the story got going I had no problems identifying the different characters. Although I loved all of them, I think Jonah the paramedic and Max the witch and fearless leader were my favorite characters. Roberts did a great job at showing each character growing and adapting to the challenges that they had to face when a plague hit the world.

In a post-apocalyptic novel readers expect to be able to visualize and feel what the characters are going through to better understand them and their world. I had no problem doing this while reading Year One. Roberts created a scary world of survival and chaos that was also filled with hope. I could see the looted stores, the quite in the streets, the madness, and everything in-between.Would I survive this world? Maybe, if I had some help. It's pretty bleak. I found this novel to be a good addition to the post-apocalyptic genre with its interesting end of the world plague that isn't fully explained by the end of the book. I am ready for book two.

The Bottom Line: Give Year One a try! It's dark and wonderful at the same time. I became lost in this story.

January 15, 2018

Tour Review & Giveaway: Deadly Sweet by Lola Dodge

Deadly Sweet (#1) by Lola Dodge (Jan. 16, 2018)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Ink Monster LLC
Source: I received a copy of this book as part of a tour for Xpresso Book Tours. Thank you!
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
My Rating:
Synopsis: For fans of Hex Hall, The Magicians, Practical Magic, and Food Wars! Anise Wise loves three things: baking, potion making, and reading her spellbooks in blissful silence. She might not be the most powerful witch, but enchantment is a rare skill, and her ability to bake with magic is even rarer. Too bad one wants witchcraft on their campus. Anise’s dream of attending pastry school crumbles with rejection letter after rejection letter. Desperate to escape her dead-end future, Anise contacts the long-lost relative she’s not supposed to know about. Great Aunt Agatha owns the only magic bakery in the US, and she suddenly needs a new apprentice. Anise is so excited she books it to New Mexico without thinking to ask what happened to the last girl. The Spellwork Syndicate rules the local witches in Taos, but as “accidents” turn into full-out attacks on Anise’s life, their promises to keep her safe are less and less reassuring. Her cranky bodyguard is doing his best, but it’s hard to fight back when she has no idea who’s the enemy. Or why she became their target. If Anise can’t find and stop whoever wants her dead, she’ll be more toasted than a crème brûlée. Who knew baking cakes could be so life or death?

My Review

Deadly Sweet in Three Words: Magical. Fun. Food.

Deadly Sweet is full of food and magic. My two favorite things.

Anise is a baker and a witch. She can bake feelings into her cakes and cookies. How cool is that? Witches are looked down upon in every day life so she must hide who she is, thus making it harder and harder to live the life she wants. Then one day she discovers that she has an aunt who owns her own magical bakery in a magic town. When she gets accepted as her apprentice things only get crazier.

The author does a nice job with the world building, although a couple of questions go left unanswered I think they will be revealed in later books. My favorite parts of this story were the baking and the magic. I was always hungry for a cupcake or cookie while reading this book. So be prepared. The descriptions were that good. I also really like that the main character isn't some chosen one off to save the world or anything. When Anise meets her aunt she has to go back to learning the basics of cooking to become better. She not only must attend magic baking classes and try to make new friends, but due to a threat on her life, she has to try to stay alive in the process. I loved her interesting friends with different magical abilities.

There were a couple nit picky things that bothered me while reading, but nothing big. I wasn't a big fan of the romance and was hoping for something else entirely. I was also very confused about why her shield bodyguard slept all the time and that was all he did. Boring and weird. Perhaps there is a reason behind it that will be brought up in book two. Although I adored Anise and she felt very realistic, I could use with a little less discussion of her clothing choices every time she did something. These were just tiny personal things that bothered me. Overall, this book was a lot of fun to read!

The Bottom Line: Magic, a crazy cat, and delicious sounding baked goods makes this book worth reading. Give it a try!

The Author

Lola Dodge is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University–and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on anime and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.


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January 12, 2018

Five on Friday: Current Television Show Obsessions

I am not sure where this idea originated from since it is so widely used on the internet, but thank you to whoever did start this fun meme. Anyway, I decided it may be a fun feature to do on the blog so I thought I would give it a whirl, but I have no idea how often I will participate. This week I have decided to focus on the television shows I just can't stop watching.

My Current Television Show Obsessions

Chicago Fire


Chicago Fire has me hooked. The characters, the intense first responder scenes, and everything about this show just makes me smile. After two months of binge watching all previous seasons of Chicago Fire I am now all caught up.

The Magicians

I didn't think I would like this show, but season two is better than ever and season three is just around the corner. I can't get enough of Elliot and Margot's snark. This show is like a mashup of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia with a whole lot of sarcasm and poking fun at the genre.

Peaky Blinders

Season four is on Netflix and I can't wait to start it! Cillian Murphy is one amazing actor. Don't let the weird name (it is explained in the first episode) keep you from watching this gem. It's an added bonus that it is a BBC show.


I just finished the most current and last season of Broadchurch. I really am going to miss Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller's (Olivia Colman) awesome detective skills. This is a dark show with an amazing cast. Although the crimes are sad and all too real, it is still worth watching.

American Housewife

Although I found the beginning episodes back in season one to be too dumb and unfunny for my tastes, I was proved wrong. Although it still can be pretty dumb, it can also be hilarious, clever, and relatable. I am really enjoying this show.

Do you watch any of these shows? What is your current television show obsession?

January 9, 2018

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: You Won't Know I'm Gone by Kristen Orlando

You Won’t Know I’m Gone (#2) by Kristen Orlando (Jan. 16, 2018)
Length: 320 pages
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Young Adult
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: I received a free eARC of this book as part of the Xpresso Book Tours. Thank you! This did NOT affect my honest review.
Purchase: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo
My Rating:
Synopsis: Reagan has to prove herself to an elite group of special agents—and avenge her mother’s death—in the second book in the Black Angel Chronicles from the author of You Don’t Know My Name. Going rogue in an effort to rescue her kidnapped parents has cost Reagan Hillis her automatic ticket to the Training Academy. But becoming a Black Angel is the only way Reagan will be able to exact revenge on her mother’s merciless killer, Santino Torres. When Reagan is given a chance to prove that she’s worthy of training to be a Black Angel, she also gets the first chance she’s ever had to be her true self. No aliases. No disguises. But when her friend Luke joins her at the Black Angels training compound, Reagan finds herself once again torn between the person she was and the person she wants to be. Reagan has to prove that she’s as good as her parents trained her to be, because she’ll never find Torres without the Black Angels’ help.

My Review

Warning: My review does contain spoilers for the first book. My advice, go read the first book now!

You Won't Know I'm Gone in Three Words: Exciting. Tragic. Cool.

You Won't Know I'm Gone is a well written young adult novel about a young spy in training who must try to deal with her grief and not loose herself to revenge in the process. You Won't Know I'm Gone is a strong sequel to You Don't Know My Name. Fans of the first book will not need to worry about second book syndrome with this one.

Reagan will do anything to get into the Black Angel Training Academy, but first she must pass the qualifiers. She is weak after grieving her mother and has no choice but to get her butt in gear if she wants to get one of the coveted seats to the academy. Reagan is a strong young woman trying to find her way while making a wonderfully strong group of allies. The supporting characters in this novel are just as interesting as Reagan and I almost wish they would have had more page time.

Although some may find the beginning of this novel a little slow, I couldn't put the book down from the very beginning. This book throws all the emotions at you. You will love it. My favorite scenes are the training sequences the recruits have to go through. I don't think I would have passed a single one! 

The Bottom Line: Read this series. You will not be disappointed. 

About the Author

Writing is one of the great loves of Kristen Orlando’s life and she has been lucky enough to make it her living, first as a television producer, then as a marketer and now as a novelist. Kristen graduated with a B.A. in English literature from Kenyon College. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with the other great love of her life, Michael. You Don’t Know My Name is her debut novel.


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January 6, 2018

Review: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody (Nov. 28, 2017)
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: I received an eARC from the publisher through Edelweiss. Thank you! This did NOT affect my honest review.
Purchase: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating:
Goodreads Summary: Over the course of one chaotic night stranded at the Denver airport, Ryn confronts her shattered past thanks to the charm of romance, the uniqueness of strangers, and the magic of ordinary places in this stunning novel from the author of Boys of Summer. Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year. She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died. But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her. And his name is Xander. When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brialliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head. Ryn can’t move on. But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start.

My Review

The Chaos of Standing Still in Three Words: Mournful. Meaningful. Humorful.

A must read for all. This heartbreaking story of the loss of a best friend will pull at your heart strings from start to finish.

The Chaos of Standing Still features Ryn, a teenage girl trying to come to terms with her best friend's death, and Xander, a unique and charming guy who is working through his own stuff. While a blizzard brews outside, both are stranded at the Denver International Airport for the night. With the help of Xander's outgoing, fun, kind, and unique personality, Ryn starts to figure out life after a horrible loss.

Every character is complex and interesting. The setting is rich with description and I was easily transported into the airport with the horde of frustrated stranded travelers. Jessica Brody knows how to tell a story that will grip you from page one.

The Bottom Line: Worth a purchase but to save money you can always get a free copy from the library. Either way, you don't want to miss out on this one!

January 1, 2018

My First Read of 2018

 Hosted by Book Journey

I love putting thought into what my first book of the year will be. I want to start off the new year with a bang! This year I picked my first audibook and print book of 2018!

My First Book of the Year

I am a Nora Roberts fan and I heard this one is like no book she has ever written before! I can't wait to give it a try. Fingers crossed that it is as good as her other books.

First audiobook of the Year

When choosing an audiobook I either pick ones that have good reviews, a narrator I know, or one that I have been meaning to read for a while but never made time for. This one is the latter. Hopefully I enjoy it!

What will be your first book of 2018?

December 27, 2017

Let's Chat: My Sick Day Essentials

It's that time of year when avoiding a cold is hard to do. I share with you the items that help me be a little less miserable while I'm sick.

1. Comfy clothes, especially if you have any that can put a small smile on your face when you are feeling down, is your first sick day essential. The hoodie pictured is from here.

2. A good book can help pass the time while you are stuck in bed. I recommend An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson because it is a quick fantasy read with a great romance, but any book will do.

3. Some cheesy movies will not only help pass the time, but perhaps make you smile or fall asleep. I like watching romantic comedies or Disney movies.

4. You can't go without a good blanket when you are sick. Sleep is essential to feeling better so having a comfortable blanket is important.

5. Puffs plus lotion is my go-to tissue when I am sick. The lotion really makes it softer and helps me avoid a really sore nose.

6. When sick one must drink water, water, and more water!

7. I find that a humidifier is key to help you sleep when you are feeling under the weather. I love the one pictured that you can find here.

8. Chicken Noodle Soup is the perfect food to consume while you are sick since it is said that it can help ease cold symptoms.

9. The tea in my photo, Traditional Medicinals: Throat Coat, will soothe any sore throat out there. A co-worker gave it to me about a year ago and I have sworn by it ever since.

10. Although research still has no concrete answer as to whether a vitamin c and zinc boost can stop a cold, they do think it may help cut is short. I tried emergen-c for the first time this year and I don't know if it was a mental thing or not, but I swear it helped. It doesn't hurt to try.

11. DayQuil and Nyquil have always been my medicine of choice when I have a bad cold.

12. Having someone to take care of you. Although he quarantines me into the bedroom while I am sick, my husband makes sure I have all of my essentials on hand, cooks me chicken noodle soup when I get hungry, and will take care of the dog so I don't have to. I am forever grateful for him.

What do you swear by when you are sick?

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