She's the one they've been waiting for...

Origin #1

by Scarlett Dawn (GoodReads Author)

Kindle ed, 218 pages
Pub Mar 21, 2017,
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
New York Times bestselling author, Scarlett Dawn, has created a fresh and magical new adventure for romance and paranormal lovers alike. Shifters rule the world through corporations after the humans all but destroyed Earth. It's too bad humans are still oblivious. They have no clue terrifying beasts run their broken world.

And then along came a human. A beautiful and klutzy human.

She's the trigger the shifters have been waiting for...
But beware of the soul-sucking darkness soon to follow.

My Disclaimer:  I was provided this book free from the author's newsletter. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
Poppy is an amazing character. She's strong and resourceful. She's definitely kick-ass. She's sexy and she's out of control. Her father wants her to do his thing and get married to the man of his choice, but she wants no part of it. In going her own way, she ends up with the guys on the other side. These guys are kick-ass themselves. And it all starts with some really hot sex with a really hot guy who happens to be her father's number one enemy.

Poppy wants to join their group, but she wants to do it her way. She does and she really earns her place. So, while she's out of control, she's not wild. She thinks before she jumps. Once she's on the inside, she starts finding out the secrets and things get a little weird. As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" 

But when you play with the big boys, you have to be ready for some surprises. Poppy handles them pretty well and she's well accepted since she's been expected. To give you more would be to spoil it, so I'm going to stop here and just say, read it for yourself. It's action and heat and humor with a bunch of really great characters. The potential for the series is quite interesting and I'm looking forward to having time to read the next book, Transcend.

A Tough Case to Crack
Nuts About Nuts Mystery #1
by Cindy Bell (GoodReads Authur)
Kindle edition, 284 pages, Sep 6, 2016

GoodReads Summary:  
Kerri Gale is getting ready for the grand opening of her nut shop, ‘Nuts about Nuts’, in the small town of Cascade Grove. She is new to the area and is enjoying setting up home with her Yorkshire Terrier, Cashew, and spending time with her new friend, Natalie. 

But when possible evidence from the murder of the previous shop owner is found in the shop, Kerri finds herself right in the middle of a murder investigation. A handsome reporter, Steve, is writing an article about the murder, but can Kerri rely on him? Then her grandfather, who she hasn’t seen in ages, turns up out of the blue and is being very secretive. During the chaos, Kerri has to try to juggle everything so she can find the murderer and her shop can open on time.

Can she trust Steve or is he just using her for a story? Can she trust her grandfather or is his sudden arrival, not a coincidence? Will Kerri solve the murder? Or is Natalie right and ghosts are to blame?

Recipes for Toasted Pecan Cookies and Maple Nut Pie are included!

My Disclaimer:  I received this book for free from the author's newsletter. This is my honest review, for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:
The writing is good throughout the story, which is fast paced. It's a quick read. There is no sex and the violence is really minor.

Kerri Gale is just trying to open a store to sell nuts. One thing after another happens to keep her from doing that. And things seem to have the help of the local police. Then her grandfather shows up, whom she hasn't seen in years. And he claims to be a spy. Well, would you believe it? No, it didn't seem believable to me, either.

There are lots of characters to help her figure this all out, other than her grandfather. There's Natalie, her assistant. Harry, the helpful handyman, Chris, the late owner's brother, Steve, the reporter, Chief Higgins, and Detective Meyers. But you never really get a feel for any of these characters because everyone is so busy dashing from here to there that there's no time to get to know them.

What do I remember about the book? I remember Kerri has a Yorkie called Cashew and she talks to a chatty squirrel several times. I also remember that the local Chief of Police was covering things up, like the former owner of the shop's death. I just didn't get a real feel for the people in the story. It was entertaining, but it didn't stay with me.

The premise is good and was what appealed to me. As does the cover art. I really like the colorful cover chosen for this book. It's been popular with other reviewers but just didn't take with me. Try it to see if this popular writer is one for you. 

by Jamie K. Schmidt (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, expected pub Jul 25, 2017

GoodReads Summary:  
Terri Cooke wishes she could give Mick Wentworth a piece of her mind. The infuriating stud muffin walks into her coffee shop every morning expecting his regular order at 8:57 on the dot, without ever acknowledging Terri’s presence—except for staring at her cleavage. And yet she can’t deny that Mick Wentworth has an animal magnetism that’s stronger and richer than any espresso . . . which explains why Terri says yes when he suddenly, inexplicably asks her out.

After the morning coffee run, Mick’s day is all downhill from there. His family’s marketing firm is dysfunctional in more ways than one, so to save the business, Mick desperately needs to impress their newest client. When he learns that Terri’s a fan of their trendy product, he tries to get inside her head. It doesn’t hurt that she’s the barista he’s been lusting after for the past five months. But as things heat up with Terri, Mick finds that a little steam is just the jolt he needs to turn his whole life around.

My Disclaimer:  The author's rep offered me the opportunity to read and review the book and NetGalley provided me with an eARC. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
I've read and reviewed Ms. Schmidt before and I must say, she does have a way with romance and love scenes. She seems to like the bad boys. Previously, I read her biker boys. This time it's a rich guy who seems to be a little bit of a bad boy down inside. Mick seems to have a sense of humor and a mischievous side to him when he gets going with Terri. Both characters are pretty well written. I did have some trouble understanding Terri's actions around the office sometimes, though. And the family temper tantrum that was playing out in the office was a total nightmare. I've never seen anything like that in an office situation.

The relationship between Terri and her brother was well done. She stood by him and took care of him. She made what sacrifices she felt she needed to so that she was able to be there for him through his illness. He was her only family and he was important in her life. She made work and relationships work around him. I respected her for that.

Mick was trying to keep the family business going because his grandfather had been important to him in his life and the business had been important to his grandfather. He ruthlessly sacrificed everyone else in his family to keep the business going well. But his family were just using the business. None of them were really trying to do any good for the business. They just wanted money and prestige.

These two characters come together and seem to go into their own space and time with just a look. And it happens every time. When they finally touched, my tablet almost melted. But there is humor throughout it as well. 

Who's got the condoms? Anyone have a condom? At least they both have a sense of humor and inventiveness!

Like your romance hot and steamy with a side of laughter? Take a peak in Stud. It's got it all. Jamie K. Schmidt writes a fabulous love scene! And have a cup of coffee with this just for the fun of it...

Release date July 25, 2017

Maybe he could grow up and be a Thomas Magnum, P.I.!

Port Starbird
Storm Ketchum Adventures #1
by Garrett Dennis (GoodReads Author)
Kindle ed, 364 pages
Mar 3, 2014, by TBD

GoodReads Summary:  
In this quirky low-key murder mystery/adventure, Storm Ketchum, a damaged emigre to the coastal town of Avon on North Carolina's Outer Banks, likes to mind his own business and isn't any kind of detective - until he's forced to become one by extraordinary circumstances. On the verge of losing his modest waterfront home to an unscrupulous developer, Ketch stumbles onto the scene of a crime that might expose the perpetrator of an unsolved murder and enable him to save not only his own home but also the similarly threatened bohemian boatyard community he's inexorably drawn into. And in case Plan A fails, he's hard at work on a Plan B that's both laudable and pitiable - if he can't stop them from seizing his property and ruining what's left of his historic town, he's hell-bent on turning the event into a unique political statement that won't soon be forgotten. Together with his loyal dog, a salty charter boat captain, the sketchy denizens of the boatyard, and an alluring scuba diving instructor who may or may not have a hidden agenda, Ketch struggles to make sense of his new reality, while trying to save some of the things that really matter along the way.

My Disclaimer:  I received this ebook free on BookBub. This is my honest review for which I am not receiving any compensation. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My review:  
It was just 364 pages. Something I should have been able to read in half a day with no trouble. But here I was on the third day just barely finishing it off. This book was so full of information that the pace of the book was slowed down so that it flowed like the waves of the ocean. There'd be action and then there'd be something like the information Ketch gave when he took Jack for his walk on the beach. He looked at the different colors of the sand to see how long before the tide would be back in and the height of the periwinkles on the sawgrass. He also provides law information and other types of info depending on when and what he needs as the story goes on. He shares whatever he has to Google.

Ketch is a really great character. He's smart, considerate, good looking, and lucky. He's got a new girlfriend, some good buddies, and a crime scene to keep him busy. He's a really interesting character but I decided he was just a touch naive about life. Pick up a copy of this fascinating book and see if you agree with me. I'll probably have to try another one of these to see how life goes on at Port Starbird after the storm.

Maycroft Mystery Book #1

Sharpe Shooter
Maycroft Mystery #1, Cozy Suburbs Mystery Series
by Lisa B. Thomas
ebook, 203 pages
Mar 19, 2015, Cozy Stuff and Such, LLC

GoodReads Summary:  
Burned-out high school teacher Deena Sharpe is ready for a change. She has no idea a fifty-year-old murder case is about to turn her life upside down. 

The Perry County Sheriff’s office has found a skeleton in the closet…literally. When they identify the man’s body fifty years after his disappearance, his family turns to Deena to uncover the truth about his murder. The clock begins ticking when she discovers a mysterious writer is about to implicate the victim in his latest conspiracy theory book. She must channel her inner super-sleuth to solve the puzzle and protect her family name. With the help of her off-beat brother and others from the cozy town of Maycroft, Texas, Deena takes on a quest that leads to more questions than answers. 

Sharpe Shooter is the first book in the Maycroft Mystery Series. With antique shopping, car chases, and ghosts in the night, the story will keep you guessing as you follow Deena on her quest for the truth. 

If you like a clean, cozy mystery, buy Sharpe Shooter today!
*Sharpe Shooter is loosely based on a true story. Matthew is the main character’s second cousin, although she refers to him as her “uncle.”

My Disclaimer:  I received a discounted price on this book through BookBub. Here is my honest review of the book for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
Deena's mood dives when her retirement is requested at the end of the school year by the principal when she won't feature his daughter on a four-page spread in the yearbook. And that's when we meet her. She's cleaning out her classroom on the last day and grumbling to herself about it all. My impression just then? I was really hoping it went up from there really fast. But it didn't and there was a very good reason for it. Deena had to wallow in her own misery for a bit before things could get better.

When the editor for the local paper says there's no opening for her and suggests she does some writing online, she's disgruntled. She's been a journalism teacher for many years. What does she need to do online writing for? Just because he has all those 20-somethings working for him. Is she too old? Out of style? Out of step?

Housecleaning at the Police Station turns up a John Doe, who turns out to be Deena's Uncle Matthew, who disappeared in the 60s. The family asks Deena to investigate it so that they're sure to get the whole story. Someone else is investigating it, too. Does he want just a story or something else? He's being strangely elusive and secretive.

As Deena moves through the investigation and learns things about different people in her life, she learns things about herself as well. The way she sees people changes and the way she sees herself changes a bit each time, too.

So while this is a cozy mystery, this is also a story about a woman who gets a second chance to set herself on the right track in life. I strongly recommend this to those of you who like second chance stories as well as cozies.

Sharpe Edge is Book #2 in the series.

Have you ever seen a nun fly?

Death at the Cafe
A Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery (Prequel) #0.5
by Alison Golden (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 179 pages 
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, Oct 24, 2015
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
A brand new female vicar. An accident-prone nun. Two friends. Two killings.
Annabelle and Mary are best friends. But when one gets framed for murder, can the other one save her?

Assigned to St. Clement's Church in an inner-city borough just outside Hackney in London, Reverend Annabelle Dixon brings an enthusiasm and drive to her clerical position that baffles her mentor, Father John, but which soon gains her fans and admiration. Annabelle is not your typical vicar, but her strengths prove to serve her, and those around her, very well.

When Annabelle plans to meet her longtime friend, Sister Mary, a Catholic nun visiting from West Africa, at a local café, little does she know that she will soon find herself embroiled in a mystery of deadly design. Their meeting place is awash with horror, with Sister Mary standing in the middle, shaking, her hand over her mouth and a dead woman at her feet.

Armed only with a note, a disappearing dart, vague hints, and a love of cake, this quick-thinking, quick-footed holy woman must gather the clues, pacify a detective, and find the real perpetrator before both she and her friend wind up in jail.

Part Sherlock, part Father Dowling, Annabelle is a new kind of detective – one who sees the truth in the most unlikely places. If you love solving puzzles, then this suspense-filled, endearing, cozy mystery is just for you. Enjoy following our amateur sleuth as she careers around London. It will have you guessing until the very end!

Included in this book are recipes for:
– Cherishable Cherry Blossom Cupcakes
– Cherubic Chocolate Caramel Bars
– Jubilicious Jam Turnovers
– Teresa's Surprise Cake 

My Disclaimer:  I received this book free through the author's newsletter on the basis of a "read and review". This is my honest review for which I am not receiving any compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
Annabelle and Mary were raised together in London's East End. One grew up slim and fair and became a Catholic nun in Africa with the nickname the Accidental Nun. The other grew up to be a large woman with dark hair and became an Anglican minister who people thought was just the woman for the job once they got to know her. So when Annabelle found a crowd around where she was supposed to be meeting Mary, she wasn't surprised. She simply wondered what had happened this time.

Knowing this was a prequel to an already existing series, I felt this was a pretty good introduction to the main character. The book gives you some of the actual information about Annabelle's childhood as well as letting you see her in action in the city where she grew up. It demonstrates her character quite well, I think. And with the way it ends, I'm curious now to see how that works out, too. For the woman who chose to get off the bus and walk because it would be faster, I have to wonder how she will do in the countryside. But that's what she has always wanted and that's where the Archbishop finally lets her go. So, I have Book #1, Murder at the Mansion, waiting patiently for my attention.

If you're a fan of cozy mysteries and aren't sensitive about the church connection or perhaps like the church connection, this series is for you. I strongly recommend trying the prequel, Death at the Cafe whether you've read any of Ms. Golden's other work or not. It's fun and funny if you let it be. Match yourself against Reverend Annabelle and see if you solve the mystery before she does. 

Book #1 in the series is Murder at the Mansion

Caution: One step may take you farther than you think!

The Grimoire Saga Book #1
by S.M. Boyce (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 402 pages,
Pub 2014, Acorn Valley Press, first pub Oct 1, 2011
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things: Ourea.

Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother's recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With nothing to do, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book's untamed power. Discovered by Ourea's royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict - a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn't trust anyone... but she's being hunted and can't survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn't know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.

For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.

Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.

Disclaimer:  I was offered this book free on a "read and review" basis by InstaFreebie. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
I gave this 5-stars! I don't do that very often anymore. But this book is great! This is a series that I'm looking forward to reading this summer. Right now there are four books in this series plus other related books of the same world.

The story starts out with Kara just hiking along and trying to clear her mind of recent events and sadness. Her mother had died not long ago and she and her Dad were having a hard time with that. She's very familiar with the area having hiked it for many years. The weather starts to turn nasty and she's looking for some shelter when she takes one step too far. And she's in another world. She's in Ourea where things are very different. For one thing, they don't have humans. For another, they have magic and now she's got it. In fact, she's got the big one. The one that everyone else wants to have or to control or to destroy.

I think what struck me, in the beginning, was how calm she was about it. She didn't really freak out about it too much. She sees this ghost that gives her a necklace and she doesn't immediately scream and run the other way, which is what I'd do. But she's the heroine of the book, and I'm just the reviewer. She has to be pretty level-headed and brave to survive this place. She has no one she can completely trust to be on her side, not even the ghost, who is the guy who had her job before she came along. She can't trust him because he keeps secrets from her. So does Braedon, but she can't figure out why or what. But the ghost trusts him, and she accepts it.

But she does get a superpower, too. Though like all such things, it has a downside as well as an upside. She can touch someone and see their most influential memory. Not their favorite or worst, but their most influential one. The one that made the most difference in their life, the reason they are the way they are now. She sees Braedon's memory as well as the ghost's memory. And Braedon buys her a lovely pair of gloves so that she won't accidentally touch someone and get their memories when she shouldn't.

Kara isn't liked along the way, but these people aren't nice and they don't like other people. So, in spite of the fact that Kara tries to be nice and helpful, she doesn't make a lot of friends. Just one or two in some surprising places. She's very clever, but she seems to blurt out the worst things at the worst possible moments. I guess that comes with having a ghost whispering to you in your head about things that really should have been discussed in private before the crucial time.

She does find some time for romance in all this, of course. There have to be some benefits when a girl goes out to save the world. So, while I schedule in time to start reading the next book, you pick up this one and get started reading. You'll love it just as much as I did!

Book #2 of the Grimoire Sage is Treason

Once the flames die down, then it gets really hot!

Elemental Hearts #1
by Jayelle Morgan (GoodReads Author)
Kindle ed, 282 pages
Sep 15, 2016, self-pub
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
Depending on an Elemental Warrior is the key to her survival...and maybe more. Brooke Simmonds moved to the isolated mountain town of Topaz Ridge for three things: A position as senior designer at the local paper, money in the bank, and complete independence. The day she gets everything she's been working towards, her life goes up in flames. Literally. Her rescue is a haze of pain and smoke, but she remembers him, the handsome stranger that carried her out of the blaze. Are her memories clouded by smoke inhalation, or did she really see him manipulating the flames to save her?

He'll either lose his control or his heart. Or both. Levi takes an instant liking to Brooke, whose smile makes him burn hotter than the fire inside him. When her apartment building bursts into flames, he springs to the rescue. As one of the elite Elemental Warriors sent here to fight the forces of Chaos, he's got the power to do it. His control, however, is...unpredictable. He gets her to safety, but not before revealing himself for what he is.

My Disclaimer:  The author offered this book to me in exchange for a read and review. Once I'd read the first book, I had to have the second one and purchased it on Amazon. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
I reviewed Ice Hot last week, and that was the prequel to this series. Ice Hot was really quite innocent compared to Burn. Burn lives up to its title in a couple of ways. It's a really hot guy in the starring role. He plays with fire, literally. And when he and his lady get together, the whole world seems to go up in fire. 

Have you ever wondered how authors come up with the combination of words that make up the stuff we love to read so much? I kept stopping and thinking about that in this book and the next one. How did Jayelle know that these were just the right words to create that picture in my head? I've always wanted to be an author, but I just can't put words together like that. Plus, I don't have any stories in my head. Ms. Morgan doesn't have either of those problems. She can put words together in such a way that you feel the heat, all of it! And this book certainly has its share of heat.

This series reminds me some of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward with the hot, powerful ancient warriors and their women. Hhmmm, do you suppose Ms. Morgan can come up with a few more of these delicious warriors? I strongly recommend Burn, book one in the Elemental Hearts series to any of you who like strong, magically talented warrior-types who also seem to have a sensitive side and just want to fight, make love and peace.

Elemental Hearts #2
by Jayelle Morgan (GoodReads Author)
Kindle ed, 309 pages
May 16, 2017, self-pub
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
He gave her a night she would never forget…And a child too.

A year ago, Emory met the handsome, mysterious Ajax and threw her good-girl nature aside for one night of passion. She was fine accepting the consequences for her actions, and loves her son more than life itself. She never thought she’d see Ajax again, but now she desperately needs to find him. There’s something wrong with their baby…

She’s the only woman who’s ever taken his breath away.

Ajax never forgot Emory after their one night of passion. But he couldn’t keep her, because she is perfectly, completely human. And he’s not. But when she walks back into his life, it’s for the last reason he expects. Emory says the baby is his, but there’s just one problem: He’s sterile. All elite Elemental Warriors are. Which means she’s playing some kind of dangerous game, and he needs to know what it is.

When Chaos rears its ugly head, he’ll have to choose between protecting his new family and protecting his secret. One choice will take away everything that is important to him as a Warrior. The other could take away everything that is important to him as a man.
Can Emory find something meaningful with the extraordinary father of her child? Or will he sacrifice them in his mission to save the world?

*Warning! This book contains adult language and situations; lots of them, because it's Ajax. So don't read if the F word or steamy love scenes bother you!*

My Review:  
Well, Ms. Morgan found another story in her head and plenty of words to tell it really well. This book had plenty of those moments that had me thinking about where authors find those words to combine to create just the right feeling or mental image. I could picture Ajax with the serum on the ends of his hair! And I was laughing! 

The moment that stayed with me out of the whole book was the closeness created when Emory was lying in bed and Ajax brought Jackson back to bed in his clean diaper and pjs and tucked him in next to her and climbed in so the baby was cuddled between the two of them. The way Jayelle wrote it, I was able to see it and almost feel it. I was such a strong visual image for me that it has stayed with me still. Yet she can do fighting with knives cutting into flesh with the best of them. I like it that the Elementals heal quickly, though. Only Micah ever needed medical attention. Emory stitched him up while he held Jackson and sang his rumbly earth song to him.

Another thing Ms. Morgan is really good at is conversation. She writes it the way people speak. It's not stilted or awkward. It flows and stumbles just the way it does coming out of your mouth. Cuss words and all. LOL! It's not excessive, it's just the way it is in life. Some people do it more than others, some not at all.

I think I liked Rise even more than Burn. Maybe it was the baby aspect of it. These big strong guys dealing with the baby was pretty cool. Each one went gooey! 

Now, I'm waiting for Micah's story. There's also Walker, the boss. I'm sure he has a story. And there are other bases for sources. If we all buy and read enough of her books, I'm sure we could convince Ms. Morgan to keep on writing these stories. I'll bet she's got lots more in her head! So, go get your copies of Burn and Rise today and write your own reviews so more people will hear about her books!

Long Awaited Second Book in Book of Icons is Here!

The Hidden Icon
Book of Icons #1
by Jillian Kuhlmann (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 240 pages
Pub Aug 30, 2015, Diversion Books (first pub Sep 17, 2013)
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
Sometimes the heart is the darkest place of all.

Gentle and perceptive, Eiren is a storyteller. She also has a gift: she can sense the emotions and thoughts of those around her. Her power stems from an incredible darkness that exists within, one that brands Eiren as an icon, the mortal incarnation of Theba, the goddess of destruction.

To save her family, Eiren surrenders to the enemy that has warred with her kingdom her entire life, unwittingly embracing that darkness and her own surprising capacity for fury and vengeance. As the icon of Theba, her captors expect her to restore their shattered kingdom at the expense of her own. As the woman Eiren, she is led by her heart to more unexpected places still: to murder, betrayal, and to the arms of another icon, the masked and enigmatic Gannet, whose secrets are not his to tell.

To know the truth of why she was taken from her home, Eiren must become one of the monsters from her stories, whether she wants to or not.

Disclaimer:  I was provided an eARC for each of these books by Diversion Books and NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews, for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

First response:  (Before I realized it was a duology) I am getting really tired of books that aren't complete within themselves. Cliffhangers are so not fun! And this book was breathtaking until then...

My Review:  
Jillian Kuhlmann is amazing! Well, her book is. This dark, dystopian world isn't my usual, but I seem to end up here more often lately. It's a scary place. And Ms. Kuhlmann makes you bleed in it. As Eiren tries to squeeze through the sentient cave, you feel the rocks tear the fabric of her clothes and you feel the blood drip down her skin. You feel her fear that she won't ever get out of that spot alive. That the cave will never let her go.

Watching her goddess' life opera explode with the attack of the assassins and as she flees for her life, you wonder with her how many of the icons are behind it. And who. And when she asks, "Did you know?", you hold your breath with her until he answers.

I loved this book! I didn't want it to end, I just wanted answers. For that you have to read book #2, The Dread Goddess. 

The Dread Goddess
Book of Icons #2
by Jillian Kuhlmann (GoodReads Author)
ebook edition, 300 pages
expected pub May 30, 2017, Diversion Books
Available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
In the rival kingdoms of Ambar and Aleyn, gods walk among mortals in the form of human icons, carrying out their whims and waging untold chaos. 

Having decimated the city of Jhosch, Aleynian icon Eiren flees to the wilderness of the Ambarian north. She finds solace in a distant sanctuary, trying to make peace with the knowledge that she embodies Theba, the goddess of destruction. 

Soon, though, there is more devastation on the horizon: an imposter has declared herself the Dread Goddess in Eiren's place and rallied the Ambarian army to destroy Aleyn. Traveling to cut them off and save her family's kingdom, Eiren works to uncover the secrets of her past and keep Theba in check--all while consumed by memories of Gannet, the Ambarian icon she left behind. 

Eiren's journey takes her back to the haunted ruins of Re'Kether, an ancient city at the heart of a kingdom their warring peoples once shared. Now she must reconcile who she knows she is--a gentle-souled storyteller--with the monstrous Dread Goddess who dwells within.

My Review:  
This is the continuation of Eiren's story to find peace for herself and her people. She learns so much in this second half. So much about Gannet, the man, the icon. And about herself and the selves inside herself now that she is an icon. She comes to understand her magic and how to use it to help her people. She learns that both sides are her people now. She comes to understand many things in her fight to come to terms with the powers inside her and what having these powers will demand of her in the times ahead. 

This is a duology, but there is a certain feeling I got when I was done with this second book that it's not over. There is plenty of material to work with and go on. The sign of a really good book, it leaves you wanting more.

I strongly recommend these two books to anyone who likes a good story. This is a great story. Mystery, magic, romance, conflict, betrayal. It's all in there.

Short Review for a Short Story

An Elemental Hearts Short Story
by Jayelle Morgan
Self-pub, 2016

Author's Summary:  This is a short story, 10,800 words. It's a stand-alone with HEA and no cliffhanger! It takes place in the same world as the Elemental Hearts series but follows Warriors and other Elementals at a different base. This story was previously published in the Love is ... Winter Romance anthology.

Disclaimer: The author requested a "read and review" and provided me with a copy of her story. This is my review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:
This was a cute story. The couple was really sweet together. It's a school situation, but these are not children. These are adults aliens who need to learn how to act on earth among humans. They have to learn how to interact with humans under all situations. She's the sex ed teacher and a virgin. She's also really pretty and single. He's the student and not a virgin. He's also really hot and single. She wants the experience and she wants it with him...

The rest you can probably figure out on your own. There is a series that this goes with. The premise and world making were quite good. I haven't read any of the rest of the series, but I think it might be worth taking a look. They are an alien race that comes to earth to fight Chaos and save humans. 

A cozy sci-fi? Gotta check it out! Book #1 of the Elemental Hearts series is BURN
Look for my review here on May 29th!

Their Relationship Is HOT!

a Wulfkin Legacy novella 0.5
by T.F. Walsh (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 100 pages,
Crimson Romance, Jan 4, 2016

Amazon Summary:  
The wulfkin have rules. Although Daciana knows what they are, she can't help but be attracted to Inspector Connell Lonescu, a forbidden human.

When given the opportunity to take part in a one-year independence ritual, Daciana leaps at the chance to venture into the human world. That joy is short-lived when the bear cubs she's assigned to protect go missing. In desperation, she reaches out to the police, but what she never expected was to be instantly attracted to the brooding, yet wonderfully seductive Connell.

Inspector Lonescu trusts no one, including the sinfully sexy Daciana. When she comes to him with wild claims and a suspicious story, he has no reason to believe her, but yet, he can't help but be intoxicated by her. Something about her is pulling him to her, but allowing that to continue will mean he'll have to let go of his mistrust and open himself up for something more.

Is Daciana ready to risk it all to be with a man she'd been warned to stay away from? Can Connell find the cubs and ensure that Daciana will not have to return home in disgrace?

Cloaked in Fur
A Wulfkin Legacy novel #1
by T.F. Walsh (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 234 pages
Crimson Romance, Aug 5, 2013

GoodReads Summary:  
Cloaked in Fur sees rebellious Daciana cast into a life-threatening adventure against her will to uncover who is killing her friends before the predator sets its sights on her.

She'll do whatever it takes to stop the creature responsible. The police and her boyfriend, Inspector Connell Lonescu, are starting to question her involvement in the murders, which endangers her pack's secret existence. But when her alpha kidnaps Connell, revealing the awful truth about the creature and its connection to the pack, Daciana must choose between saving the man she loves and saving her pack family from certain death.

If you love shifter romances, don't miss this steamy, action-packed read!

Warning: Bloodthirsty werewolves, sexy shifters, and edge-of-your-seat adventure in this paranormal romance.

Disclaimer:  The novella was provided to me by InstaFreebie in exchange for an honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. The novel I purchased at full price after reading the novella. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
While these two books can stand on their own, I am reviewing them as one because their stories blend seamlessly. I won't belabor the details of the story since you have the summary of that above for each of the books. 

Ms. Walsh came up with a wonderful storyline for the novella that was fresh and new. She writes very well, too. In spite of the fact that Daciana could have been discovered at any moment, I was laughing at her trying to get dressed in her office before anyone walked in one her. I could picture the whole scene either watching it or actually doing it. She doesn't just tell you what's happening, she shows you. Such a difference in the enjoyment of a book. Thank heavens she didn't linger at the kill sites. But she made it possible to hear the "click" when Daci and the inspector first locked eyes.

They make a great couple. Inspector Connell Lonescu. He's recently divorced, losing his best friend in the process. Daciana, a moon wulf, changing on the full moon. But their relationship is HOT! And once they resolved some of the problems they seemed to be buried in, they actually got time to fall in love. That should stand them in good stead as they deal with the load of troubles coming their way in the future! 

The novella had its own crime and began their relationship. The first novel rounds out their relationship and has its own crisis. Plus, the pack has problems. It seems to set up Daciana as being in charge of the pack at the end of book one. But a female in charge and with a human boyfriend, how will the pack react? I don't have book two, yet, so I don't know. I did happen to pick up another novella, Cloaked in Christmas, for future reading.

This is a series I strongly recommend to any of you who enjoy paranormal. The writing is great and the stories so far seem fresher. And the relationships steamy!

Is your boyfriend over 200 years old? Way over 200?

Never Again
Book of Origins #1
by Alyse Nennig (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 336 pages
Pub Dec 25, 2016, self-pub
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
All vampires were once human. Who says they can't be again?

Carrying invisible wounds from a tragic childhood, Hannah Jacobs doesn't allow herself to fall in love - until she meets John Trott. Sexy as hell, charming, and sensitive, she immediately finds herself drawn to him and, within days, giving him her heart. Twice broken, John effortlessly makes her heart whole again, except Hannah's buried fear threatens to shatter it once more as dangerous circumstances reveal dark secrets.

One is a vampire and the other a vampire hunter, making a relationship impossible as they’ve been labeled natural enemies throughout history. A witch's journal, however, tells a much different tale. Centuries old it holds a dark and troubled past with a cure and prophecy, giving Hannah and John a future.

But, it's one they'll never see…if she has a shattered heart.

Disclaimer:  The author requested a "read and review" and provided me with a Kindle edition of her book, Never Again. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
I always wonder how authors arrive at the title for their books. I didn't have to wonder for long with this title, and it seemed to echo in my head the whole time I read the book.

The voice changes throughout the story as we get each character's point of view. There's some vampire violence and there's some hot vampire sex. The writing is a bit stilted at the beginning, but it smooths out and flows much better as the book goes on. There doesn't seem to be a lot of description, so not a lot of visuals here. This is paranormal with dystopian shadows. 

The story itself is entirely engaging. Both of the main characters were well developed with really great family histories. John was keeping secrets because of what he was. Hannah thought she was keeping secrets, but there were so many more secrets that had been kept from her. Some of the secondary characters had some good development as well and interacted really well. How could you not love Price? I'm sure Ms. Nennig will have to find a love interest for him in the future. Chris seemed like a character I'd like to know more about, too. Hopefully, we'll see her in the next book. 

I think this is an author and a series with great potential. I recommend this book to the paranormal lovers out there. This just came out in December last year, so now we just have to give Alyse time to write Book of Origins #2.

What do you need in a marriage?

Emerald Coast
by Anita Hughes (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 304 pages, also in paperback
expected pub Aug 1, 2017, St. Martin's Griffin

GoodReads Summary:
Lily Bristol arrives at a luxurious resort in Sardinia for the grand opening of her newest home furnishing store on the Emerald Coast. She’s a successful businesswoman with an international chain of stores from San Francisco to Milan. Thirty-two and newly divorced, she’s ready to handle things on her own. At least until her private butler, Enzo, escorts her to a beautiful suite where she notices a suspiciously familiar pair of men’s slippers and shaving kit.

Lily is horrified. Her ex-husband Oliver moved out of their restored Connecticut farmhouse six months ago, but they booked this trip when they were trying to save their marriage and never canceled the reservation. Oliver, a food critic for the New York Times, is here covering Sardinia’s hottest new restaurant. The only other available room is the adjoining suite; and worse, Oliver isn’t alone. He’s brought a twenty-something named Angela with him.

Lily is determined to make do and enlists Enzo to find her a suitable man. But it’s not as easy to find new love as they both expected. When Lily and Oliver find themselves alone on a very important night, they turn to each other. Sparks begin to fly, but can they be together without breaking each other’s hearts?

Set on the glamorous Italian island, Emerald Coast is a touching and humorous story about marriage and the difficulty of finding love and happiness at the same time.

Disclaimer:  Because I had reviewed Ms. Hughes' book, White Sand, Blue Sea, I was offered the chance to review, this book, Emerald Coast. I was provided an eARC by St. Martin's Griffin and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
Oliver and Lily Bristol are now divorced after many years of marriage. Freshly divorced and attempting to be single. But can they stand to see each other that way? And do they know how to function as single people again? Do they really want to? I'm not sure either one of them knows what they really want right now. And being written in the third person, we got to hear how everyone was feeling.

Ms. Hughes does a great job of portraying the insecurities such a couple would feel running into each other in a romantic vacation spot such as this and trying not to look alone or lonely. What does it take to be a couple? Is it happiness? Is it love? It's up to these two to decide before they make too many more mistakes.

The author also paints a beautiful picture of the surroundings so that you feel you are there with Lily and Oliver at their lush locations and backdrops. There were some slow spots where things seemed to drag down a bit, but for the most part, the plot moved along well. I thoroughly enjoyed Oliver and Lily like I would a pair of good friends who were having relationship problems and were sharing their problems with me. Sometimes I wanted to hug them and sometimes I wanted to shake them. At the end, I sort of just wanted to put them over my knee and spank them!

If you read and enjoyed the first book I reviewed, White Sand, Blue Sea back in November, then I'm sure you'll also enjoy this book. This one has a bit more action but is just as good. Readers of women's lit and controversial romances will really enjoy this. I strongly recommend it to you.

How well do you know your history? Could you be your own ancestor?

Circle of Time

Debra Shiveley Welch (GoodReads Author)

Kindle edition, 173 pages
Red Road Books, Sep 26, 2016
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
When 21-year-old Bridget Littleton decides to borrow her father's yacht and sail off of the tip of Florida toward Bermuda, she discovers that the legends about the Bermuda Triangle are true.

After seeing a face in the ocean waves, her next memory is of spinning water and blackness. She awakens in the town of Bristol England in the year 1532.

Rumors of her beauty reach the court, and soon Bridget, known as Bridge, finds herself in the court of Henry VIII and Lady in Waiting to none other than Anne Boleyn.

Will she get out alive? Will she accidentally change the course of history, or is she indeed a part of the history she has studied since she was a little girl?

Disclaimer:  I was provided an eARC of this book by Red Road Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
Can you imagine what it would be like for someone who had studied the Tudor history all her life to suddenly find herself there and then? Suspend reality for the moment, of course. It would seem like a dream come true, I would think. My daughter would absolutely love it!

Ms. Welch created a wonderful character in Bridge. She was sensible and down to earth. If she had been flighty or silly, she wouldn't have been able to do it. She had to be able to blend in with the ways of the day and pick up on things she may not have known. She had to really know her history and understand how politics of the time impacted the life of everyone. When things were invented and what she'd have to do without. How to speak. She had to be able to keep herself healthy without being taken for a witch. She had to think ahead to be able to keep her family out of trouble with things like the Plague and wars and such. I felt the author did a superb job of all this.

The story was well-paced and well integrated into real history. I liked the ending as it gave closure to the situation. I'd love to see the author do a series of this type of stories with young women going back in time in various times and places.

Debut Novel by Rebecca Crunden

A Touch of Death
The Outlands Pentalogy series #1
by Rebecca Crunden (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, pub Feb 24, 2017, 270 pages
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favorite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears. A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him. Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

Disclaimer:  I purchased this book at a reduced price on Amazon. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
This is not my typical read. I like fun books. There was nothing fun about this. This was dark and scary. Even though Kitty had done nothing wrong, she was being hunted the same as the released criminal she was with. Nate was trying to save her after his brother was gone. Thom was the good one. He was all that was good and she loved Thom.

But society and the King didn't care who she loved, now. She was with a criminal. That made her a criminal, too. So she was hunted, beaten, tortured. She was scared and on the run with a man she didn't trust and didn't like.

In the beginning, it was all so dark and scary and confusing. It took me a while to figure out what was going on and who was who. There were no good and bad guys because anyone you trusted today could turn you in tomorrow. Trusting could get you killed or worse. I think I held my breath the whole time I was reading this book!

A fan of really dark and scary futuristic dystopian stuff? Crack this one then. As I said, this isn't my usual read, but I may have to read the second book whenever it comes out just because I need to see these two safe and know what happens between them.