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Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish

Kincaid Strange is back.  She’s made a deal with the devil (or is he?) and her best friend is a zombie.  How could things get any “Stranger?”

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title:  Lipstick Voodoo
Author:  Kristi Charish
Series:  Kincaid Strange #2
Publish Date:  January 8, 2019, by Penguin Random House
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
NarratorSusannah Jones
Source:  Author provided ARC/audiobook purchased

Publisher’s Description: Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner, is back in the freshly imagined and hugely entertaining second installment of Kristi Charish’s urban fantasy series.

Kincaid Strange cannot catch a break. After dealing with a spate of paranormal murders, there’s barely time to recuperate—let alone sleep in—before there’s a new problem in Kincaid’s world of paranormal activity. When her roommate, Nathan Cade—the ghost of a grunge-rocker with a pathological lack of self-control—comes home bound to a dead body, it’s up to Kincaid to figure out how to free him, ideally before her new mentor, Gideon, a powerful sorcerer’s ghost, discovers that Nate is trapped in the body he’d coveted for himself.

When Aaron, a Seattle cop on the afterlife beat—and Kincaid’s ex—calls her in to help out with a cold case, she takes the chance to mend fences with the police department. The problem: they want to interview Nate’s ghost, which she can’t produce. Then people from Nate’s past start showing up dead, and what’s killing them doesn’t seem to be human. And the way it’s killing them is especially brutal.

Nate’s hiding something, but he’s Kincaid’s friend and she wants to help him. But she also wants to stay alive…

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

The reason I butted heads with most women?  There is only so much I’m able to feed into the circle of bullshit. I think it is disruptive, not for Sarah and Lee—I figure they’re more like me in that regard—but for the ones who rely on group validation. Those kinds of friendships require an awful lot of bullshit, and people don’t like other people pointing out their bullshit, especially when that person ends up being me.

This is a book with zombies, ghosts, and a whole lot of Otherside. There is no graphic gore, no sex, and a conclusion to the book that is satisfying. It was a good ending—not “happy,” but a good, satisfying ending.

I love Kristi Charish’s writing. She first caught me with Kincaid Strange and then encouraged me with Adventures of Owl series. Now, I’m back into Kincaid’s world. I am not hard to please as a reader. If I’m entertained and the writing took me on a ride, then I’m happy. I’m over the moon with this book. I forgot how much I missed Kincaid and Nathan.

What a mess they have found themselves. Nathan is bound in a body making him an accidental zombie. The body was supposed to go to a centuries-old sorcerer’s ghost so he could make himself a zombie. Crap. Tick off a sorcerer and Kincaid might as well write off her right to life.

That’s just the beginning. Yes, that’s right. Just the beginning. Kincaid is out of work because of the police captain’s penchant for non-believing. He is making it his personal goal to wreak havoc on Kincaid’s life because he believes she is fake.

So, lets count it off. 1. Kincaid is in debt with a seriously deranged and evil sorcerer’s ghost. 2. Said ghost is gonna want his debt paid whether it be by her life or whatever he deems. 3. She hasn’t told said ghost that her best friend “accidentally” inhabits the body that was supposed to go to said ghost, which may or may not cause him a gigantic psychopathic break which could result in everybody getting dead. 4. Kincaid has to pay the bills, so she takes on a cold case on the possible promise of a job in the future. 5. The cold case is really quite hot. Oh crap. Kincaid has a LOT on her plate.

I loved this book. It kept me in suspense with no guessing how things would turn out. The situation Kincaid was in just kept getting messier and messier until all of a sudden it became clear. Charish’s narration from Kincaid’s point of view was great. I felt like I was sitting right there with Kincaid as she went through the ups and downs. The race was a close one. Too close to call but this book was a blockbuster for sure. 5 stars all day and all night. Good book – you won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and head’s up:  Voodoo Shanghai, Kincaid Strange #3, will be out next year, same time, same station.  Can’t wait!!

Invested Ivana says…

Lipstick Voodo is as much of an enjoyably wild ride as it’s predecessor! The mystery is so well-crafted in both of the books, and the characters are relatable and likable. The sorcerer’s character defied expectations by being more rational and likable than I expected after the first book–which makes me wonder if he’s putting on an act. I guess we’ll see in future books.

The first scene in the book, which depicts an ordinary job for zombie-whisperer Kincaid Strange, is very well written and touching. It gives the reader a good sense of Kincaid’s relationship with the dead as well as what her typical work is like. This contrasts wildly with the extraordinary experiences that serve as the main plot of the book.

The Kincaid Strange series is an excellent example of urban fantasy at its finest, and I can’t wait to see what further adventures await.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try The Adventures of Owl by Kristi Charish or Eric Carter series by Stephen Blackmoore.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

 

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How the Dukes Stole Christmas Anthology

I know it’s past Christmas, but this was a really fun anthology.  Each are historical.  The last one is in America.  Each has a captivating story and happy endings.

Title:  How the Dukes Stole Christmas
Authors:  Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Joanna Shupe
Publish Date:  October 3, 2018
Narrators:  Justine Eyre 
Source:  purchased by reviewer in audio and print

Publisher’s Description:  

“Meet Me in Mayfair” by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless–and unexpectedly handsome–Thorndale himself. Now the duke’s holding her future in his hands…and he’s not letting go.

“The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm–the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can’t resist the woman he never stopped loving…or the future that had once been in reach. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay…but if ever there were a time for miracles, it’s Christmas…

“Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister’s family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss … until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.

“Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe
Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker’s weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column’s author, can’t even boil water. When the paper’s owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing–especially when Duke’s attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love?



Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

The first story, “Meet Me in Mayfair” was my favorite.  I truly thought she had no chance of turning her plight into a Christmas miracle, but…there you go.  It’s Christmas.  Anyway, I’d never read author Tessa Dare before I read The Duchess Deal and I found I liked her as a writer.  This anthology was a bit of an investment since I bought both print and audio versions.  They were both very good.  Also, it was a short but complete story.

The second book, “The Duke of Christmas Present“, was also a fun read.  I related to it as kind of a Ebenezer Scrooge type story except instead of ghosts, there were people who came and visited.  It was so good, I read it once and then listened to it once.  I am positive that I’ll be going back to that story to read/listen to it again.   The Duke was/is a stubborn, stubborn man but through all of the years, the Miss still loved him.  I so wanted to smack him up side the head.  I swear that Lady Mosby was going to as well, but that would not be ladylike.  It was a good story.  A complete story.

The third story, “Heiress Alone”, was not exactly my kind of story, though it was good enough.  I like a little longer “get to know you” period for my characters before they hop in the sack, but I guess they do things differently in Scotland.  Anyway, it was a good story, albeit a sad one.  The heroine was left behind by her family.  Kind of like Kevin in Home Alone except with a Laird rescuing her against the bad guys instead of her saving herself.

The last story took place in New York City.  It was a historical that took place in the late 1800’s early 1900’s.  It was not a practical story.  I know, I know.  These aren’t supposed to be practical.  The heroine took a great personal risk over something that had failure written all over it and then highlighted a multitude of times, but she did it anyway.  This story is for some, but not for me.  I kind of just slapped my forehead and muttered, “Duh, woman.  You are an idiot.”

All in all, I enjoyed this book with it’s various adventures.  I also enjoyed it because it’s easy to stop in between books because life intrudes.  During Christmas, who doesn’t need a break?

 

 

 

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SEAL Strong by Cat Johnson

Second Chance love story.  Love ’em.  Grief and blame tear them apart but the Lt. Commander never gives up on love.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title:  SEAL Strong
Author:  Cat Johnson
Series:  Silver SEALS #.05
Publish Date:  January 15, 2019
Genre: Military romance
Source:  ARC received from author

Publisher’s Description:  A Second Chance Romance

The only easy day was yesterday, and no one knows that better than Lieutenant Commander Silas Branson.

He may have taken several kicks to the gut but once a Seal always a Seal. He’s never backed down from a hard fight and he doesn’t intend to start now.

Silas lost the love of his life years ago but now he’s back to fight for what’s his.

Maggie was his woman. Despite their difficult past, as far as he is concerned, she is still his woman.

When her life is threatened he moves heaven and hell to protect her and the future he knows they can build together.

Don’t miss the Bone Frog Command’s origin story, the kick-off title to the Silver SEALs series, featuring standalone titles by the Suspense Sisters – Becky McGraw, Donna Michaels, Sharon Hamilton, Geri Foster, Kris Michaels, Abbie Zanders, Trish Loye, Caitlyn O’Leary, KaLyn Cooper, Maryann Jordan, Desiree Holt, J.M. Madden.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

The sirens, the smoke, the screams…Dante himself could have written the scene playing out in front of Silas when they arrived on the outskirts of the area that had been hit the hardest.

 

Wow. This is NOT a sweet (a romance that has no dark tendencies) romance. As the quote above reveals a trip to the “front lines” for our hero, if sweet is what you want, you might not choose this book.  However, I’m not always keen on sweet romances tending to lean more toward the more dark and realistic.

This is a short book, 150 pages. It was a nice afternoon read and it felt like a complete novel.  I didn’t feel slighted or feel like I missed out on key scenes.  Neither hero or heroine made a fool out of themselves.  There are sex scenes, but between husband and wife. There was grief involved in their story, but only enough revealed to be sure it was understood where the character’s feelings were coming from.  Of course there is a HEA, but I wouldn’t be reading it if there wasn’t.

I most likely would not have caught this series if it weren’t for Kris Michaels.  She is one of my favorite authors and is writing for this series.  What ever should I do while waiting for her book in the series to be released? Read the others of course!!  Here is the complete list of the series and release dates.

SEAL Strong by Cat Johnson

SEAL Love’s Legacy by Sharon Hamilton  to be released February 5, 2019

SEAL Together by Maryann Jordan  to be released February 26, 2019

SEAL of Fortune by Becky McGraw  to be released March 19, 2019

SEAL in Charge by Donna Michaels to be released April 9, 2019

SEAL in a Storm by KaLyn Cooper  to be released April 30, 2019

SEAL Forever by Kris Michaels  to be released May 21, 2019

SEAL Out of Water by Abbie Zanders  to be released June 11, 2019

Sign, SEAL and Deliver by Geri Foster  to be released June 25, 2019

SEAL Hard by J.M. Madden  to be released July 16, 2019

SEAL Undercover by Desiree Holt   to be released August 6, 2019

SEAL for Hire by Trish Loye  to be released August 27, 2019

SEAL at Sunrise by Caitlyn O’Leary  to be released September 17, 2019

 

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

 

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Nell’s Gossip and Book Hunt 1/6/19

Welcome to my Sunday book hunt and author gossip.  Keep coming back for updates on book releases and news from favorite authors.

Back with new releases again… they keep writin’ them, we keep readin’ them.

One of my fave authors, Kris Michaels, is a member of the writers that developed Silver SEALS series which is the focus series today.  Her book, SEAL Forever, will be released in June of 2019.  The following is the prequel and kick off to the Silver SEALS series.  Check out after the description for the excerpt of the story.  Remember that these books can be read as stand alone but will be more enjoyable together.  I’m positive they were developed especially for me – Happy Ever After and no cliffhangers.  Rock on!!

Title SEAL Strong
Author: Cat Johnson
SeriesSilver SEALS #.05
Release date: January 15, 2019
DescriptionA Second Chance Romance

The only easy day was yesterday, and no one knows that better than Lieutenant Commander Silas Branson.

He may have taken several kicks to the gut but once a Seal always a Seal. He’s never backed down from a hard fight and he doesn’t intend to start now.

Silas lost the love of his life years ago but now he’s back to fight for what’s his.

Maggie was his woman. Despite their difficult past, as far as he is concerned, she is still his woman.

When her life is threatened he moves heaven and hell to protect her and the future he knows they can build together.

Don’t miss the Bone Frog Command’s origin story, the kick-off title to the Silver SEALs series, featuring standalone titles by the Suspense Sisters – Becky McGraw, Donna Michaels, Sharon Hamilton, Geri Foster, Kris Michaels, Abbie Zanders, Trish Loye, Caitlyn O’Leary, KaLyn Cooper, Maryann Jordan, Desiree Holt, J.M. Madden.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

“Hey.”

Just when he thought he couldn’t feel any lower, her voice behind him had Silas tensing.

This restaurant had been their favorite place to come together. He should have known there’d be a risk he could run into her here.

Drawing in a bracing breath, he turned his head and saw her. Maggie. His ex-wife.

“Hey,” he said for lack of anything better.

Her brows drew low in a frown. “I heard the team deployed. Are you on leave?”

She was still friendly with the other wives. It made sense she’d know. What didn’t make sense is that she cared. Her responsibility ended with his signature on the divorce papers. His beer braced between his two hands as he faced the bar again, he snorted. “Permanent leave.”

“What?” Her voice rose high with surprise.

Silas sighed and turned to face her fully. As much as he didn’t want to have this conversation at all, and especially not with the woman who’d caused the gaping hole that still existed in his heart, he had to answer her.

“I’ve been medically retired.”

“What happened?” Her eyes widened as she visibly swept his body with her gaze.

If she was looking for bullet holes or missing limbs, she wouldn’t find any.

“I blew out my back. Apparently for good.”

She hissed in a breath. “Si, I’m so sorry.”

He believed her. It still didn’t help. “Me too.”

“Hey, I was just going to grab my take-out order. Nothing much. Just pizza and a salad. If you wanted to join me . . .”

He lifted a brow. Was this a pity date? With his ex-wife? Lovely.

Right now, he didn’t care. He realized he hadn’t bothered to eat all day and the thought of pizza, combined with the aroma of it cooking that permeated the air in the restaurant, brought his hunger to the forefront.

And the dead last thing he wanted to do was go back to his new home—a studio apartment rental in town. He obviously didn’t qualify for a room in the barracks on base any longer.

Jobless. Homeless. But at least he had his retirement and disability pay. Thank God for that.

Might as well spend it on something he’d enjoy. “You have any beer in the house?” he asked.

She cringed. “No. Sorry.”

“No worries.” He lifted one hand and signaled the bartender. “Can I buy a six-pack to go? And then you can close out my tab.”

“Sure thing, boss.”

Boss. Not anymore.

He’d been a Lieutenant Commander in one of the finest, most highly trained elite fighting forces in the US military. He was rapidly slipping into a new role—that of sad broken drunk slumped over a bar.

And now he was going to hang out with his ex-wife. His pity party was complete.

Pizza to fill the empty hungry hole in his gut and lots of beer to numb his mind actually helped a bit. So did being back in his old easy chair in the living room.

The familiar surrounding soothed him. Even if it wasn’t his living room any longer it was sure as hell better than that cold depressing room he was renting.

Christ, his life sucked. He glanced up and found Maggie watching him.

“You okay?” she asked.

He lifted one shoulder. “Eh. I just miss it.”

“See, I don’t understand that.”

“What don’t you understand?” he asked.

“How you can miss it. The war. The horrors that you saw. That you faced. I don’t understand it. Maybe I never will.” Shaking her head, she visibly gave up with the flick of her wrist.

Her being so quick to abandon trying to understand made him want to explain. “War and everything that comes with it—all of that, everything you mentioned—is horrible. But it’s an excellent teacher. It made me a better man. I’ve never been in better shape than when I was active duty, mentally and physically. But more, wading through all that destruction taught me appreciation for everything else in life.”

A man could only appreciate what he had once he’d seen what it looked like to have nothing.

Maybe that’s why he so desperately wanted to go back. More than the camaraderie, maybe he needed to see that even with as low as he’d fallen after the loss of his son and the break-up of his marriage, he still had more to be thankful for than every one of those people he’d seen in Aleppo.

Right now he needed the reminder that things could be worse. There he felt like he had a purpose. Here all he felt was . . . lost.

She nodded, giving him hope that maybe she might get it, just little bit. Though why he cared if she did, he didn’t know.

“So, what now?” she asked. “What next?”

He let out a short laugh. “Now, I finish this six-pack and then call an Uber.”

She rolled her eyes indulgently. “I meant for work.”

Things had been easier when they were joking. This topic was too serious, but he knew he couldn’t get away with not answering so he lifted a shoulder and opted for the truth. “I honestly don’t know.”

He could probably survive on his retirement pay.

It wouldn’t be a great life, he wouldn’t be living extravagantly, but he could cover the necessities, like rent and food.

What more did he really need? He’d never needed much in the way of material things. His truck was his biggest and pretty much his only indulgence for himself.

The one thing he really wanted most didn’t cost a cent. 

Peace. In his mind. In his soul.

That was also the one thing he couldn’t get no matter how hard he tried, or how much he had.

Money aside, he needed to get a job if only to occupy his mind. All this thinking was going to kill him for sure.

“What if I got you an interview?” Maggie said.

His brows shot high. “An interview where? To do what?”

“Where do you think? DHS, of course. Remember, where I work?” She smirked.

Maybe he was running a little slow from the beer but there were too many reasons why what she said made no sense.

First and foremost, he wasn’t a politician, or a man who was used to riding a desk pushing papers for a living, and that was who mainly filled the ranks of the Department of Homeland Security.

Second, why would the woman who had gone to such great lengths to end their marriage, and get him out of her life, try to get him a job working where she worked?

“That’s crazy.” If his frown didn’t tell her what he thought of her idea, his words hopefully would.

“No, it’s not. Why would you say that?”

“You work as a liaison for the Office of Public Affairs,” he pointed out, not seeing the connection or the point of this whole discussion.

What the hell could he do for them? He could lead a team of warriors. He could follow orders from his superiors, but he wasn’t exactly a people person.

Especially not at the moment while he wallowed in this retirement-induced depression.

“I work as a liaison to the Navy Special Warfare Command for the OPA so don’t act like there is no connection between what you used to do and what I still do. But what I was thinking—if you’d open your mind for a second and consider it—is that my boss has connections with all the agency heads. You could easily be a valuable addition in any number of them. You have experience in a lot of the areas DHS works within.”

“Oh, really? And what areas are those?” he asked.

Close quarters battle? Sharpshooting? Basic underwater demolition? Those were his areas of expertise and they’d have zero value to DHS.

She folded her arms, challenging him. “Do you even know all the different agencies DHS oversees?”

“Yes.”

She cocked a brow high, obviously not believing him.

“I have a basic idea,” he added.

Okay, maybe he didn’t know quite as much about the DHS as he let on, but he wasn’t going to admit that to her. He could Google it later and find out.

Mostly he figured DHS fit in somewhere along with the other government departments. No matter what their official purpose, the end result was usually to make his job in the teams harder.

“You know, you used to come home and complain about how this or that person or this agency or division or whatever didn’t get it. How they couldn’t get it because they’ve never been there where you’ve been or seen the things you saw.” Maggie pinned him with a stare.

He couldn’t deny the truth of her words. “And?”

“Don’t you want an opportunity to change things?”

The dare was clear in her question. She was baiting him. Knowing he usually couldn’t resist a challenge.

He let out a snort. “Is this some kind of ‘the best way to make change is from within’ speech?”

She smiled. “Yes. Is it working?”

His lips twitched. “Maybe.” Silas shook his head. “But it doesn’t matter anyway because there is no way in hell they’d hire me.”

Maggie cocked a brow high. “We’ll see.”

Her confidence stirred something inside him. Something he wished would stay sleeping. A warmth in his cold hard heart. A glow of an ember that with a little encouragement would easily flame up into a full-blown inferno.

Fuck.

The dead last thing he needed right now was to feel the warm and fuzzies toward his ex-wife.

Time to go.     

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I Gave Up the Struggle by Nell Justice

We all have books that we try, but for one reason or another we struggled mightily to finish or just gave up.  Here’s my 2018 list.

This is not to say the books aren’t good, because they probably are.  To someone else.  Maybe I wasn’t in the mood at the time.  Maybe I didn’t understand what the author was trying to say.  A couple of these authors I absolutely adore, but the story just didn’t hold me. If you recognize a title and don’t agree with my opinion, remember – it’s just an opinion.  Also, these are in no specific order.

#1  The Visconti Devils by Rita Demitra  (slow read)

#2  Unexpectedly Mated by Milly Taiden  (no plot – just sex)

#3  First Noelle by Delia Latham  (like a soap opera dream sequence-far too sweet)

#4  Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff (“I can’t HANDLE THE TRUTH!!”)

#5  Beneath the Blood Red Moon by Heather Graham (not my style)

#6  Christmas Brides by Cheryl Bolen (narrator turned me off)

#7  Lover Uncloaked by Tina Folsom (didn’t take to it)

#8  Western Widows by Vanessa Vale (weird and made me uncomfortable)

#9  Legacy of the Demon by Diana Rowland (series losing it’s spunk)

#10 Reaper’s Touch by Eleri Stone (I tried really hard but couldn’t click)

#11  Wild Hunger by Chloe Neill (not the same as Chicagoland Vampires)

#12  The Fifth Ward First Watch by Dale Lucas (very slow start)

 

 

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