Delay of Game

Delay of GameTitle: Delay of Game
Author: Catherine Gayle
Series: Portland Storm #4
Also in this series: Breakaway, On the Fly, Light the Lamp
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Sports Fiction
Pages: 270
Published by Night Shift Publishing on 2014-08-16
Format: eARC
Source: author

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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From the back cover...

With her father’s health in question, Sara Thomas is focused on reducing his anxiety. That’s no small feat considering his high-stress job, not to mention her own distractions. Everyone knows Sara’s single; no one knows she’s pregnant. There’s never a good time to unexpectedly get knocked up, but now is definitely not it. Regardless, she doesn’t want anyone to know—especially not her father—until she has a game plan in place. But when Jonny, one of her father’s players, seeks vigilante justice on the ice, everything gets tossed out the window.

Cam Johnson’s role as a fourth-line winger with the NHL’s Portland Storm entails more than scoring goals. He has to ensure other teams don’t take liberties with the Storm’s star players. The way Cam sees it, that’s the most important aspect of his job. His teammates call him Jonny; opposing fans call him a goon; the media calls him an enforcer. The title’s unimportant. Cam will always fight for his team—even if he has to break the rules. He’s used to taking penalties, but he never meant for anyone else to suffer from his choices.

When Cam’s actions cause Sara’s worst fears to be realized, he blames himself. He’s screwed everything up; now he has to set things right. Mutual attraction leads to lust, and suddenly Cam is taking penalties at every turn…at least where Sara is concerned. He’s got to think on his feet or he’ll end up with a Delay of Game.

My Review

I have loved this series since the very first book!  Hockey and romance and real issues… what’s not to love?!  Cam is a fabulous romantic hero, strong and powerful, yet a big softie at heart.  Sara is a great character, totally devoted to her father and carrying a bit of baggage of her own.

I love that the author brings the whole hockey “family” from book to book, just focusing on a new couple each time.  This one was interesting because it brought together two people we already knew from the other books.  For me, this book was the most intense emotionally.  There is some real sadness and heartache in the midst of a beautiful story, and it really resonated within me.

That is one of my favorite things about the books in this series, that the author doesn’t shy away from real subjects and real emotions.  Not everything is blissful in Romance Land; there is heartache and pain and loss right along with the love.  I can’t stand a romance where things come to pass too easily.  That doesn’t feel real.  That isn’t something that I can relate to because real love and relationships, life, is messy.  These books have all of this.

I have a hard time deciding which of the series is my favorite.  Each one brings a new part of the story of the Portland Storms family.  This one was emotionally hard for me to read but the story was beautiful!

My Recommendation

The others in the series should be read in order to fully appreciate the story.  But this is a fabulous addition to the story!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.6

About Catherine Gayle

Catherine Gayle is a bestselling author of Regency-set historical romance and contemporary hockey romance with a New Adult feel. She’s a transplanted Texan living in North Carolina with two extremely spoiled felines. In her spare time, she watches way too much hockey and reality TV, plans fun things to do for the Nephew Monster’s next visit, and performs experiments in the kitchen which are rarely toxic.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Winter People

The Winter PeopleTitle: The Winter People
Author: Rebekah L. Purdy
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC on 2014-09-02
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Salome Montgomery fears winter—the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn't forgotten their warning to "stay away." For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the "special gifts" that must be left at the back of the property.
 


Salome discovers she’s a key player in a world she’s tried for years to avoid. At the center of this world is the strange and beautiful Nevin, who she finds trespassing on her family’s property. Cursed with dark secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, his interactions with Salome take her life in a new direction. A direction where she'll have to decide between her longtime crush Colton, who could cure her fear of winter. Or Nevin who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness that swirls in the snowy backdrop. An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.

My Review

The Winter People was such an absorbing read!  There was no end to the magic and the mystery, all wrapped in a little bit of romance and teenage angst and family drama!

There was so much misdirection in the story.  One moment, I was sure I knew who filled what role… the bad guy, the good guy.  And then a little bit more of the secrets would be revealed and I wasn’t sure that I was right.  Salome was at the center of it all, a teenage girl who suffered a traumatic near drowning as a little girl, leaving her terrified of winter and snow.

I loved Salome, our main character.  She was surrounded by people that knew more about what was happening to her than they were telling her and it was frustrating for her.   So much was riding on her and her ability to break a curse, with little to no information as to how to do that.  As if that weren’t enough, there were suddenly three new guys in her life, all of them with secrets of their own.  There was Colton, the boy she had crushed on forever.  And Nevin, the otherworldly attractive guy she met in the woods and then there was Gareth, another ridiculously gorgeous guy who becomes her knight and shining armor.  But there are so many secrets with all of them, making her wonder who she can really trust.

My Recommendation

The plot is riddled with secrets and misdirection and it built the anticipation beautifully.  I couldn’t put this book down and I loved every minute of it!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.8

About Rebekah L. Purdy

I was born and raised in Michigan (just look for the giant mitten on the map—it’ll likely throw a snowball at you). I spent most of my time in Michigan, but while in the army got to call KS, SC, MO, and CA home for awhile as well.

As a kid my family moved around a lot. Try spending both your freshman and senior years at new schools (yeah, loads of fun). I could’ve changed my name to “new girl”.

I love writing for teens because those are the years I remember falling in love with most of my favorite books. Some of the authors I couldn’t put down were L.J. Smith, Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Richie Tankersley Cusick, Joan Lowery Nixon, Lois Duncan, amongst several others.

My husband and I have a large family. There are six kids total! So we have LOTS of fun on vacations (although hours on the road, cooped up in the Expedition is kind of stressful—although we pass the time with MAD LIBS and hoping no one gets carsick).

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Strange and Ever After

Strange and Ever AfterTitle: Strange and Ever After
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #3
Also in this series: Something Strange and Deadly, A Dawn Most Wicked, A Darkness Strange and Lovely
Genre(s): Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Historical Fiction, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Published by HarperTeen on 2014-07-22
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

My Review

As the last book in this trilogy, Strange and Ever After neatly wrapped all of the loose ends with a conclusion that was largely satisfying, although unexpected.  The pace was picked up in this book, with all kinds of twists and turns that took the story into new and uncharted territory.

The book begins in Paris, but soon Eleanor, Ollie, and the Spirit Hunters find themselves in Marseille and finally Egypt.  The book opens with sad news for Eleanor from Allison, who has come to France from Philadelphia.  She quickly attaches  herself to the group, despite Eleanor’s every effort to leave her behind.  Eleanor is feeling very alone at the moment, estranged from not only Allison, but from Ollie and the Spirit Hunters, too.  Ollie no longer trusts her and the Hunters are still completely against Eleanor’s use of her abilities.  It has made her rather irritable and tired of having to constantly justify and explain herself.

While the romance was definitely kicked up a notch between Daniel and Eleanor, the relationship between Eleanor and Ollie was also a big focus of the story.  His anger is almost palpable and he is downright exasperating.  But as the story unfolds, we start to really understand him and why he is the way he is.  By the end, after distrusting him for most of the series, I grew to love his character.

I think the only criticism I really have was the unexpected turn of events for a particular character.  There is always loss in a novel, especially a concluding novel, but there are some losses that are more heart wrenching then others and that create a bittersweet and beautiful ending, more than a HEA.

My Recommendation

This a great series and I am sad to see it end!  The steampunk theme is a big part of it and I love the mix of that and zombies!  Unique and fun!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.6

About Susan Dennard

I am a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. I used to be a marine biologist, but now I write novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (I really like swoon-worthy rogues).

I live in the Midwest with my husband and two dogs (Asimov and Princess Leia), and you can learn more about my crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on my blog or twitter.

My debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY is now available from HarperTeen along with the prequel, A DAWN MOST WICKED, and the sequel A DARKNESS STRANGE & LOVELY.

Look for STRANGE & EVER AFTER in summer 2014 and TRUTHWITCH in fall 2015!

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

A Darkness Strange and Lovely

A Darkness Strange and LovelyTitle: A Darkness Strange and Lovely
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #2
Also in this series: Something Strange and Deadly, A Dawn Most Wicked, Strange and Ever After
Genre(s): Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Historical Fiction, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Published by HarperTeen on 2013-07-23
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Darkness has come to the City of Light...

With her brother dead and her mother on the verge of insanity, Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor begins to hear the vicious barking of hounds and see images of haunting yellow eyes, she fears the worst—that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are coming for her.

To escape and search out the Spirit-Hunters, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. Though friendly, Oliver entices Eleanor with necromancy and black magic, yet as long as she can resist his powerful temptation, she'll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over the city...and there's a whole new evil lurking. With the body count rising, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there's a price for this darkness strange and lovely...and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

In this spellbinding sequel to Something Strange and Deadly, Susan Dennard delivers a thrilling mix of intrigue, romance, and revenge, all set against the wonderfully enchanting backdrop of nineteenth-century Paris.

My Review

This is the second full-length novel in the Something Strange and Deadly series.  The Spirit Hunters have left Philadelphia and Eleanor is thrust into a new life without anyone but herself to depend on.  So much has changed for her, and yet Eleanor proves herself to be as strong as ever as she faces it all alone.  There are some other new characters in this book, ones that I hope come back to play bigger roles in the next book.

While this was a good read, I didn’t absolutely love it as much as I had anticipated after the first book.  Some time has passed since the end of the first book and the beginning of this one.  A lot has happened in that time with Eleanor and her mother and that time clearly changed a lot for Eleanor.  I almost feel as if a lot of that time was a series of defining moments for her, moments that we as readers missed, missing some development and change to Eleanor’s character.

Because of that missing time, I felt like I didn’t really know Eleanor any more, at least not as well as in the first book.  So much about her has changed.  She is as headstrong as ever, which I love about her, but she is very different.  Her relationship with Ollie, a new character that was initially close to her brother, was a bit odd.  There were a lot of inferences and innuendos there that made you wonder about the nature of his relationship with her brother, but it was part of the mystery of his character that was never clearly explained.  He blew hot and cold with Eleanor, often seemingly expecting her to know things about the world of magic that she couldn’t possibly know, blaming her when she acted in ways he didn’t like.

This is a book about choices and being torn.  Ollie is from the world of her brother, who lived his life in ways that went against everything Eleanor believed in, that the Spirit Hunters believed in.  The Spirit Hunters viewed that world as dark and evil and eschewed everything that came from that side of magic.  Eleanor’s feelings for Daniel are as strong as ever, despite his rejection.  And the Daniel she sees again in Paris isn’t the Daniel she fell in love with.  It is a new world for her and one in which she is torn.

That conflict between who she is and who the Hunters want her to be is a big one.  I think that the Hunter’s reactions to her were a part of why this book lost a little of the glow for me.  There was so much self-righteousness on their parts, the feeling that their way was the only way.  While I understand their feelings, I hated that they refused to consider Eleanor’s reasons and the circumstances behind her choices.  They dismissed her without ever listening to her and that drove me insane!

My Recommendation

All in all, this was a good read, despite a bit of disconnection with Eleanor.  It definitely moved the story forward and added so many new layers to the ongoing saga with the Dead!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.2

About Susan Dennard

I am a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. I used to be a marine biologist, but now I write novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (I really like swoon-worthy rogues).

I live in the Midwest with my husband and two dogs (Asimov and Princess Leia), and you can learn more about my crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on my blog or twitter.

My debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY is now available from HarperTeen along with the prequel, A DAWN MOST WICKED, and the sequel A DARKNESS STRANGE & LOVELY.

Look for STRANGE & EVER AFTER in summer 2014 and TRUTHWITCH in fall 2015!

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

A Dawn Most Wicked

A Dawn Most WickedTitle: A Dawn Most Wicked
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #.5
Also in this series: Something Strange and Deadly, A Darkness Strange and Lovely, Strange and Ever After
Genre(s): Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Historical Fiction, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 111
Published by HarperTeen on 2013-06-04
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Daniel Sheridan is an engineer’s apprentice on a haunted Mississippi steamer known as the Sadie Queen. His best friend–the apprentice pilot, Cassidy Cochran–also happens to be the girl he’s pining for … and the captain’s daughter. But when it looks like the Sadie Queen might get taken off the river, Daniel and Cassidy have to do whatever they can to stop the ghosts that plague the ship.

Fortunately, there happens to be a Creole gentleman on board by the name of Joseph Boyer–and he just might be able to help them …

My Review

This is a short novella centered around Daniel Sheridan, a bit of a prequel that tells us a little bit about his past.  We meet his first love, Cass, and we learn how he came to be a part of the Spirit Hunters.

In Something Strange and Deadly, it is clear that Daniel has a bit of a “bad boy” past.  He hasn’t always lived on the straight and narrow, but we never learned much about how or why his life went down this path.  In A Dawn Most Wicked, we finally learn his secrets and his life before Eleanor.  In this novella, Daniel has already traveled down the path to crime, but he is now hiding in plain sight, working as an engineer on the Sadie Queen, a steamer on the Mississippi River.  He is secretly in love with the captain’s daughter Cassidy, his best friend.  But her father is a sadist and he has plans for his daughter that do not include a lowly engineer.

The Sadie Queen is on the verge of being decommissioned, fallen from its former glory after is has mysteriously become haunted.  Within weeks, not a single passenger remains, no new bookings made.  The captain has decided to challenge a rival captain to a race, hoping that a win will keep its owner from shutting her down.  In a chance meeting, Daniel meets Joseph Boyer and thus his life with the Spirt Hunters begins.

This is a short read, only about 100+ pages, but it is a great one!  We learn so much about Daniel and his past, the things lead him to where he is in Something Strange and Deadly.  A whole other side to Daniel is revealed, making his character more easily understand.  More than that, we learn a lot about Joseph himself, as well as Jie.  This is a great addition to the series!

My Recommendation

While the main series is easily enjoyable without reading this book, I definitely recommend reading it.  It adds so many layers to Daniel’s character.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.6

About Susan Dennard

I am a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. I used to be a marine biologist, but now I write novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (I really like swoon-worthy rogues).

I live in the Midwest with my husband and two dogs (Asimov and Princess Leia), and you can learn more about my crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on my blog or twitter.

My debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY is now available from HarperTeen along with the prequel, A DAWN MOST WICKED, and the sequel A DARKNESS STRANGE & LOVELY.

Look for STRANGE & EVER AFTER in summer 2014 and TRUTHWITCH in fall 2015!

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: