Aliens and Ice Cream

Happy Sunday everyone! Start the week with a new book, Aliens and Ice Cream by Michael James,

Aliens.

They’re everywhere. 

If you go outside, they’ll kill you. 
If you try to run, they’ll kill you. 

Ice cream probably won’t help.

On an entirely normal summer day, the sky rips apart and aliens pour from the wound. Black, featureless pods, they are horrifying in their efficiency, killing anything that steps foot outside. Inexplicably, they don’t attack anyone indoors. 

No one knows where they came from, what they want and when—or if—they’ll go away. Matt Cutler wanted to spend Sunday with his family. Now, he’s trapped in a tree fort outside his house with his neighbor, Heather Keene, and his little sister Abby. 

They can’t go outside. 

They’re running out of water. 

If dehydration doesn’t kill them, the aliens will. 

But Matt thinks he’s figured out a way to save everyone… if the aliens don’t kill him first.

Irish Reads

Ireland is a colorful country with a history and culture that’s reflected in its art. The book are no different, and I just wanted to throw out a few of my favorite works by Irish authors. Some you’ve probably read, a few have movie deals, and others are hidden gems from the Emerald Isle.

The Wanderings of Oisín by W.B. Yeats is technically a book of poems. While I’m not a poetry expert, or normally even a fan, I really enjoy how he fleshed out Irish legends and think he did a marvelous job. For the full effect of his work, look up “The Stolen Child.” You’ll see what I mean.

You’ve probably seen Brooklyn, starting fabulous Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, but Brooklyn was a book first by Irish author Colm Tóibín. It’s a very moving piece of fiction about a young woman named Ellis who leaves Ireland for America and ends up straddling two worlds. It’s a book about tough decisions that belongs on any bookshelf.

Here’s another book turned movie where the book is better, in my opinion. PS. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern is about a widow named Holly, living in Dublin and grieving the premature loss of her husband. He left her a stack of letters to help her through life without him. It’s a tear-jerker for sure!

Seventeen year old Maggie was a steerage passenger on the Titanic who woke up in New York. She decides to never return to her native Ireland, or speak of her journey again. But secrets never stay that way forever in The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor.

How Many Miles to Babylon by Jennifer Johnston explores class differences in Ireland before the onset of WWI. An aristocrat and one of his laborers begin a friendship that follows them into the trenches. It’s a historical fiction of the highest caliber.

The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill is a novel that fits perfectly in the historical thriller section of any personal library. A mysterious death in Northern Ireland brings two women together, intertwining their lives for decades.

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes is a romantic comedy suitable for anyone who wants a light read. After visiting a psychic, Lucy thinks there might be love on the horizon, but life’s never that easy.

Here’s a dark comedy that takes place in Cork. There’s a wild cast of character in The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney that are brought together by an accidental crime that has unintended consequences.

That’s it for my short list! Have you read any of these books, or do you have any others to add? Let me know in the comments!

Hang Your Heart on Christmas

It may not be Christmas anymore, but New Jersey is still completely freezing, meaning that books with a winter feel get first dibs on my list. This lovely Friday, I have the sweet audiobook Hang Your Heart on Christmas, written by Heather Blanton, Narrated by Meghan Kelly.

Genre: Sweet Western Romance

Heat Level: ❤️

Story Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Dent wasn’t always a stone cold killer. Granted, a steady shot and a way with a noose has made him one of the best US Marshall’s in the west, but with each dead outlaw, he loses more of himself. And until he finds the man who killed his father so many years before, he won’t hand in his badge or hang up his guns.

Amy just moved to Evergreen, Wyoming to be the sleepy town’s new school teacher. She fled her home for her new post with a few scars that left her scared of men, the dark, and the unknown. She was promised the quiet life, and intends to heal with the help of her adorable students and a new place.

They’re so different, they immediately butt heads. Any thinks Dent is surly and abrasive. Dent thinks Amy is dull and too bookish. But you know what they say about opposites attracting. And when the towns new mayor and a mystery from the past invades Evergreen, the marshall and the teacher might have to join forces.

I thought this book was adorable. The romance was sweet with a nice, slow burn that really built up over time. It allowed me to get invested in Dent and Amy as characters without the “insta-love” some stories have. They had their own identities outside of the romance, which I loved. It wasn’t just a man and a woman, it was two individuals with complicated feelings and pasts that weren’t just slapped on a page.

The action in the book, which I won’t go into so I don’t spoil anything, also added a nice layer. Sometimes with sweet romances, it’s easy for me to get bored. But with murder, crime, and mysteries to keep things spicy, I was fully invested. The one thing I felt was missing, was the Christmas. They were carving pumpkins, not decorating for the holidays, so I would have liked to see more Christmas from a book with it in its title.

Finally, how is it that Meghan Kelly seems to get more talented with every book? Really, I was impressed with the first, but it’s like she keeps surprising me with the range of her voice. I think by the next one, I’ll be able to identify each character by tone alone! Between the light accents and the inflections unique to each character, she does a lovely job.

Blinded

Today I have another book/audiobook for you. Blinded, Elkridge Series: Book #1, written by Lyz Kelley and narrated by Meghan Kelly.

  • Genre: Contemporary Romance and Suspense
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️
  • Story Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers
  • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

A terrible accident as a teen robbed Mara of her parents and her sight. Now she lives above her flower shop with her trusty seeing eye dog, often visited by her older brother, who now has a life and family of his own. It’s taken years for her to be completely independent and she still mourns the life she once dreamed of–romance, a family, maybe even a musical career. And when a blast from the past shakes things up, her dreams threaten to turn into nightmares.

Joey left his small town as soon as high school graduation was over, and never looked back, building a life in Seattle as a detective. But when his older brother is found dead, and the deputies at a loss for what happened, he takes a week off work to bury his sibling and search for clues. When he steps into the local flower shop to buy something for his mom, he finds Mara right where he left her so many years ago.

He thought she got married and had no idea the accident left her blind. She never thought he’d come back into their small town. Joey’s flight leaves soon and Mara isn’t interested in having her heart broken again. But some bonds are unbreakable.

Mara’s blindness was a topic that could have gone very well or very poorly. I was pleased to see that Kelley created a character that wasn’t defined by her blindness, but it was just one layer in a very complex young woman with strength and passion. The small “tells” were there as well, like Mara’s wording to her seeing eye dog and the way she spoke of her therapy after the crash. The author did a lovely job of not just sticking the word “blind” in a book, which is very important when it comes to embracing characters in literature.

The mystery aspect was strong as well, a true “who done it” that makes you think as you listen. I appreciated that the crime plot line wasn’t cut and dry, tied with a pretty bow after an hour like a TV cop show.

Meghan Kelly was already a pro when I came across her work, but she’s really outdone herself with Blinded. From a kid nephew to an old, angry Italian man, everyone has a distinct voice that never wavers. She gave this thrilling contemporary romance with and edge a life.

The Winters

It’s been a while since I legitimately sat up all night reading a book and had a “book hangover” the next day. The Winters by Lisa Gabriele is a retelling of the classic Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

  • Genre: Romantic Suspense and Mystery
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

We open with our heroine, a woman without a name. She has one, or course, but doesn’t share it with us. She works in the Cayman Islands at a boat charting business, which is where she first meets the older, richer, handsome, widowed Max Winters.

She knows it’s not allowed, and she knows she shouldn’t, but she falls in love with Max. When it comes time for him to return home to Long Island, he offers her a plane ticket and a ring. She’s warned against it, but for once in her life, someone cares about her, so she packs a bag and leaves her life behind to live at the opulent, secluded, Asherly house.

Max’s teenage daughter, the spoiled, rebellious Dani is seemingly the biggest obstacle. Winning her over is an uphill battle and the teen is hell bent on seeing “the second Mrs. Winters” gone. Then there is the figurative ghost of the first Mrs. Winters, the lovely Rebekah. She’s everywhere in the mansion and she’s left a pair of impossibly expensive designer shoes to fill. But as our narrator settles into life at Asherly, she realizes the Winters women are not the only thing out to get her.

Where to start? Well, I always enjoyed the original Rebecca and I also love a good retelling. I liked the choice to keep the narrators name hidden. It added another layer of mystery as I read and I was hoping to learn what it was with every flip of the page. It was interesting how the author managed to keep her nameless, yet a real person.

This book is a slow build, but Gabriele’s prose is lovely. I wish the ending was more drawn out, but only because it was so good. A lot of things were revealed in the final act, yet I still have one big, glaring question that I’ll never have answers to. Still, I recommend this book to those wanting a mysterious, romantic suspense that makes you think.

What Happens in the Highlands

I have a Valentine’s Day treat! My contemporary romance romance, What Happens in the Highlands, is now available for preorder!
Match made in heaven or maid of dishonor?
Tight-laced Rose Hensel arrives in Scotland for her best friend’s wedding with a plan—to be the greatest maid of honor ever, let loose for the first time in years, and find out what Scottish guys really wear under their kilts. After meeting the best man, she thinks she found the man who checks all the boxes for a no-strings-attached romp among the heather.
Lachlan Calder-Mackinnon knows how to show a girl a good time. Gourmet dinners in castle ruins, picnics among rolling hills, and a seaside escape create some unforgettable dates. But as the fling begins to morph into something more, an unexpected wedding guest threatens to ruin Rose and Lachlan’s new romance.
With a plane ticket in one hand and her broken heart in the other, Rose prepares to head home to reality. However, she’s about to learn that what happens in the Highlands doesn’t always stay there. 

Preorder your ebook copy now at:

  • Amazon by clicking HERE
  • Barnes and Noble by clicking HERE
  • Kobo by clicking HERE

One Wicked Kiss

The US has been having some crazy snow storms lately, which means between work, I’ve been reading and listening to books like crazy! I’ve also been adding more sweet romances to my collection, so I have books to recommend to fans of all heat spectrums.

Today, I want to talk about the short, sweet audiobook One Wicked Kiss by Dawn Brewer, narrated by Megan Green. This book is the perfect thing to top off a snow day.

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Story Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers
  • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Natalia Benson’s father may have been a nobleman, but as his illegitimate daughter, she’s treated as no better than a maid. And when he tells her she’s to be married to an evil man who frightens her, she flees the only home she’s ever known. But a snowstorm derails her escape and she’s left not only to the elements, but to the kindness of strangers.

Lucas, the Earl of Darcy, and his friends are looking for a place to seek shelter from the storm when he rescues a young woman from a snowdrift and vows to see her to safety. One of his companions seems to recognize the girl, but the young woman is vague in her responses. Still, he’s drawn to her unlike any other and will do anything to keep her from harm.

This book is a teaser, a small taste of Luke and Natalia’s story. It ends on a cliffhanger that leaves you with many questions. Like who exactly was Natalia’s mother? Where are her family? Does her father look for her? Will Lucas accept her and her past? Who knows. Have the next book on deck!

Megan Green has the perfect accent for these historical pieces. Her cantor is on point and every character has the own voice without sounding ridiculous. I really recommend any of her pieces and have listened to several that I’ve enjoyed, such as Rescued by a Sea Nymph.

Overall, I recommend this sweet romance to anyone who wants a light listen as a backdrop to a snow day.

Apparent Power

A dormant gene awakens in a quarter of the world’s population and the effects are apocalyptic. With an even rarer gene, the life of Valerie Russell turns into a shocking race against time. When the human body begins to require more electricity than needed to keep a heart beating, cars lose power, phones no longer function, and planes fall from the sky. Stranded in southern Colorado, a hundred miles from home–and from her two-year-old son– Valerie must find it within herself to trek the distance with the help of a questionable assembly of ex-military friends of the family.

But the awakening has a different effect on Valerie. While others absorb electricity, Valerie’s abilities are not as limited, making her the key to unlocking a worldwide genocide of those who were not affected. As she evades the rising totalitarian government, Valerie is also faced with a moral choice: risk failure and attempt to save the masses from the regime’s deadly plot or run and preserve only the lives of her family.

How does a mother make such an impossible choice?

Order your copy of this science fiction thriller HERE

Dacia M Arnold is an author of adult dystopian and dark fiction. She enjoys writing main characters who are otherwise normal people with extraordinary abilities.

To say Dacia is an author and a mother would only be scratching the surface. She is an avid karaoke singer, master crafter and a thrift-ster. She is also a ten-year Army veteran and served two tours of combat as a medic.

From a young age, her imagination lent itself to short stories and poems. Dacia moved every three years since she was born, as with most military families, which allowed her to reinvent herself with new friends. Like most girls, her father is her hero, and later in life, she followed her father’s boot prints by joining the military. Dacia spent fifteen months working in Baghdad Emergency room. There she lay witness to both horrors and miracles.

While she was away for her second deployment, Dacia lost her best friend to domestic violence. After her friend’s passing, Dacia served as a victim advocate until her time in the military ended. Now, to help others, she speaks out often in social media platforms to encourage victims of their own strength and informs them of options to get help.

Dacia blogs about being a writer, a mom of two and the struggles therein. She sometimes incorporates life with her railroad conductor husband in Denver, Colorado and a few diy projects. When in rare form, she will share stories about her time in the military, her medical experiences, short fiction stories, and very rarely a poem.

Dacia’s first full length novel incorporates almost every aspect of her life. APPARENT POWER is an award-winning story following a mother on a journey to find her son before a rising, post-apocalyptic government does. The main character will stop at nothing to ensure her son’s safety.

SHIFTING POWER, Book 2 in the DiaZem Trilogy, is in the works to be released in the fall of 2019.

The Forsaken

I will never stop saying that Echoes from the Past by Irina Shapiro deserves to be on the big screen, as an HBO special or a Netflix series, really put out there. Especially since after the book three, I almost thought Quinn was ready for the quiet life. But oh no. Shapiro has thrown our fav clairvoyant archeologist for another loop in The Forsaken.

As always, I’ll try to keep this spoiler free, but if you still won’t take my advice and get this series, it’s on you if I slip up.

  • Genre: Historical/Time Travel
  • Story Rating: 100/6 Glass Slippers
  • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

In 2014 Quinn’s mother in law comes upon a grisly discovery beneath the kitchen of her ancestral home. Quinn and Gabe go to her aid and unearth skeletal remains, a sword, and a rosary that Quinn can’t wait to get her hands on. The mystery is made more pressing since whoever was found under the floor was somehow connected to Gabe’s family. But as Quinn learns time and time again in her own life, some familial secrets are best left undisturbed.

In 1462, Lady Kate has just been forced from the priory to go home to her parents. She’s grieving the loss of her brothers from the last battle of the War of the Roses and fears her father will marry her off, something her mother always warned would be the worst thing to ever happen to her. But she comes upon some wounded knights, and although she never took her vows to become a nun, seeing them safe is her Christian duty. While she sees her nursing as nothing more than a necessity, one of the knights is making his own plans, plans that will change her life forever.

Where to begin…I guess I can start with Quinn’s tale, our favorite psychic who often dives into the past. Over the course of the other few books, I’ve gotten attached to her and wish that she could just live her life in peace instead of constantly picking through the rubble of of other peoples mistakes to find answers. She’s been betrayed over and over in a series of events that leaves me both wanting more and just wishing Quinn could finally settle down into the simple life she’s trying to build. And as far as her biggest problem, the person I blame for it all? Well I hope the chart below makes things clear.

The War of the Roses is the beginning of one of my favorite times in history. Bloody, wrought with scandals, and focused on a cast of real people placed in almost otherworldly situations, Shapiro touches on that in her book. She slips slivers of historical events into conversations and passing news from riders to intertwines Kate’s life with real events and keeps the reader, or in my case the listener, gently reminded of what’s going on in the wider world.

When it comes to narration, Wendy Wolfson consistently knocks it out of the park. Her silky smooth voice can highlight the southern drawl of a business man, the low brow accent of a 15th century stable boy, and the gentle tones of a well born lady pining for her knight in shining armor. It’s always a pleasure to listen to her read a story so wonderful.

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this book to lovers of historical, romances, dramas, general fiction, reading, history, air, basically everyone. Lovers of the Outlander series and works by Philippa Gregory will be particularly enthralled, but I really mean it when I say all readers should give this series a try.

One Night One Secret

I haven’t been much of a fantasy reader lately, outside the usual classics like The Hobbit and a few mermaid romances. And I haven’t read anything with a werewolf as the muscular hottie since high school when Twilight came out. But when one of my fav narrators, Meghan Kelly came to me with One Night One Secret by Hollie Hutchins, I decided to give it a shot.

    • Genre: Second Chance Fantasy Romance
      Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
      Story Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers
      Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

    Susie was a wild child and a single night of passion with a stranger left her pregnant. Several years later, her son Jason is suffering from mystery illnesses and the only explanation she can think of is that there’s something in his father’s past that could answer everything. The only problem? Jason’s father was a shifter, a werewolf that snuck into the human world for a night. She needs to find him, but doesn’t know his name, only the tattoo on his chest. But when she crosses into the shifter world in hopes of tracking him down, she’s blindfolded and taken deeper into their realm, deeper into the darkness.

    Aelnoth is the new lord of his werewolf pack in the shifter world. He loves his people, but not all of their customs. One in particular is the enslavement of the humans who stumble into their realm. He wants to bridge the gap between their worlds, but when he goes to the slave market to make a forced appearance, a red haired human with fire in her soul begs to be bought. He can’t see her sold into sex slavery to be a breeder, so he casts a bid of his own.

    As Susie tries to find her son’s father and Aelnoth tries to keep his pack out of danger, two worlds collide in a dangerous way.

    I’m a mom, so as I was reading, I could really empathize with what Susie was going through. Sure, my kids dad is my husband and I never needed to go on a dangerous quest to find him, but you know how it is. I could really respect Susie going to great lengths to find answers. While she’s not a werewolf, she’s definitely a protective mama who knows how to get what she wants.

    I really enjoy a well planned fantasy world and wanted to know more about the shifter realm! It’s just a really interesting concept to have it within the human world, in the open instead of hidden away. Where is it? Is the history taught in schools? How doesn’t the government know more about it? Why has It been allowed to kidnap and enslave humans who are dumb enough to stumble over the border? I have some serious questions that beg answers…or some sort of companion novel to really flesh it out!

    I believe the book deserves an updated cover to reflect the story. Susie’s not pregnant in the book and there’s no love triangle or multiple partners as hinted at in the cover. I’d love to see something dark and sexy. Like Susie in the woods with a wolf creeping behind her or she and Aelnoth facing off against their foes. A good story needs an equally strong cover!

    Meghan Kelly did wonderful work, as always. Her range is perfect and her ability to go from sweet romance to erotica is impressive. She also has a voice that is very easy on the ears. I’ve listened to a few of the books she’s given voice to and can’t find fault with her even tone and character inflections. At this point, I’d listen to her read a dictionary.