Publisher: Self

The Bromantic Comedies by Erin Mallon | Mini Audiobook Review

Posted February 18, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Bromantic Comedies by Erin Mallon | Mini Audiobook ReviewThe Bromantic Comedies by Erin Mallon
Published by Self on January 27, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Humor
Length: 1 hour and 22 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Author
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0.5 Stars

A paintball battleground. A wrestling mat for sleep-deprived new daddies. A feminine product aisle in the local drugstore. These are some of the places where men connect...at least in The Bromantic Comedies.

A compilation of humorous and heartfelt plays exploring what it means to be "masculine" in a world where men are supposed to be tough.

I love listening to audiobooks, and Erin Mallon is one of my favorite narrators so I was very excited to be offered an audiobook copy to review! And the narrators who perform these plays? I LOVE them all, too: Joe Arden, Jason Clarke, Shane East, Lance Greenfield, Teddy Hamilton, and PJ Ochlan. Unfortunately, this really didn’t work for me and I ended up not finishing it. I don’t usually write DNF reviews, but I took notes during each individual play and figure I wouldn’t let them go to waste. And honestly, I don’t think finishing this would have changed my overall opinion anyway. So here we go!

1. Invasion At Man Camp (narrated by Joe Arden and Jason Clarke) – I actually found this to be offensive and sacrilegious. There were some fun sound effects from the paintball range and the narrators were good. As a religious person, however, the satire made me very uncomfortable. 

2. Domesticated (narrated by Lance Greenfield and PJ Ochlan) – This story is narrated by a recently neutered cat and a fish. Toby the cat is very unhappy that he was neutered, and is bitter and grumpy about it. The fish, named Bubble Eye, prefers to be happy and only discuss the good things in life. He’s so unbelievably positive! I love fish, and this one definitely sounded like a fish to me. His fish-breeding owner recently gave him the opportunity to go on a procreation date (filled with lots of nudges) with a cute lady fish from a few apartments over, and he describes it in detail in the hopes of making his friend feel like a man again. “You’re going to be an uncle!,” he says to his cat bro. Then the cat tells the story of how he snuck out to get together with a feral lady cat… which led to his snippity, snip, snip demise. The fish… he just kept cracking me up. He loves West Side Story. lol. And Toby… so dramatic! I just wish the ending has been different… This story wasn’t bad, but it was… ridiculous. lol.
 
3. Baby Fight Club (Shane East and Teddy Hamilton) – I love Shane East. His voice is all I need in my life. But this story… it’s awful! Teddy’s character doesn’t think babies should breastfeed because no man would be ok with another man doing to his wife’s boobs what a baby does to them. That’s really, really gross. I think it’s really wrong to sexualize breastfeeding like that, even as a joke. Shane’s character seems like a nice guy and Teddy’s is just corrupting him! Leave Shane alone! Teddy’s character clearly hates babies. He thinks the baby is performing sexual acts with its mother. That giving birth and breastfeeding are just a series of orgasms. “A big pleasure fest for her.” I’m just so disturbed. I couldn’t even finish this play.
 
That’s where things ended for me. I stopped play #3 and that was that. This was clearly not my kind of humor. I love to laugh and I love funny books so much, but when the humor becomes uncomfortable and offensive it’s not funny anymore. I have always loved Erin Mallon as a narrator, and I don’t want my review to cause any hurt feelings, but I was asked to write an unbiased review and so that’s what I’ve done. I would not recommend this.

 

0.5 Stars

Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec & Andi Arndt | Mini Book Review

Posted February 11, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 4 Comments

Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec & Andi Arndt | Mini Book ReviewHeidi's Guide to Four Letter Words by Andi Arndt, Tara Sivec
Published by Self on December 3, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 197
Source: Gift
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5 Stars

Cowritten by USA Today best-selling author Tara Sivec and award-winning narrator Andi Arndt, a hysterically funny, heartfelt romance about starting over and taking chances.

Nothing good ever comes from drinking a box of wine alone. So when I decided to entertain my drunken self by setting up some hand-me-down podcasting equipment and reading the steamy parts from romance novels, I never thought anyone would actually listen. The fact that I admitted my huge crush on my sexy next door neighbor made the whole thing even more mortifying. But sometimes life surprises you, and that’s how my podcast, Heidi’s Discount Erotica, was born.

Now I, Heidi Larsen, a sweet former kindergarten teacher in Waconia, Minnesota, lead a scandalous double life reading erotic novels to the listening world. And with each episode, I find myself embracing my new alter ego more and more. Now I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin and do things I never would have dreamed of - like kissing my neighbor.

Look out, Waconia, because Heidi’s on the loose! She’s in your ears, in your hearts, and down your pants...wait, that didn’t sound as good as it did in my head. Well, you get the picture, don’tcha know!


This was hilarious. Andi Arndt is my favorite audiobook narrator, so when I found out that she’d written a book with Tara Sivec I was immediately interested. I wish I’d listened to it, because I’m sure it would have been even better with Andi’s fun voices and tones she brings to her characters but oh well. Anyway, I loved Heidi. She’s a former kindergarten teacher, so all her outfits are what I can only imagine resemble what Ms. Frizzle wore in The Magic School Bus. She decided teaching isn’t for her, and quit her job. Now she’s working at a company that records and produces audiobooks of erotic novels. She meets a celebrity narrator and his cute wife, and they all become fast friends. I loved this friendship, even though I am really struggling to remember their names at this moment. They are very aware of her crush on her hot neighbor named Brent, and help her gain confidence and provide advice for how to navigate this situation and nab the man of her dreams.

Heidi is a little awkward. She’d rather hide in the bushes than confront Brent, and I understand and empathize with this so much. Love is a battlefield. Her work sends her home with a bunch of erotic novels because yay perks of the job, so she starts reading them in the hopes of learning a thing or two about the game of love. And THEN she gets really brave and takes home some recording equipment and then accidentally gets super drunk and starts a podcast. A podcast wherein she gushes about Brent and also reads steamy scenes from those novels. Because why not?? But she can’t read half the words because she’s so embarrassed, so she substitutes other words in and I was laughing so hard. I loved watching her gain confidence and listeners. I loved Brent and his appreciation for Heidi’s quirkiness. I even loved Heidi’s hilarious mom who loves to feed people and says about 14,000 words before she gets to her point. It was all just so much fun and so funny. I’m definitely interested in reading more from Tara Sivec and Andi Arndt! I hope they partner together more in the future.

5 Stars

Flirtasaurus by Erin Mallon | Book Review

Posted February 4, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Flirtasaurus by Erin Mallon | Book ReviewFlirtasaurus by Erin Mallon
Series: Natural History #1
Narrator: Erin Mallon
Published by Self on July 15, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 213
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
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2 Stars

My name is Calliope and "I bone for a living." Kidding. I am studying to be a paleontologist though. It's the only thing I've ever wanted to be, and I have finally landed the perfect museum internship to make all of my dino-loving dreams come true.

Trouble is, everyone wants me to be a gentle, loving sort of creature, but I'm more of the T-Rex type by nature - the kind who is determined to stomp and tear her way through any obstacle in order to get what she wants.

But when a sexy, rumbly-voiced astronomer plummets into my orbit and threatens to break open my hard little heart, my career and my whole way of looking at the world is suddenly on the line.

The dinosaurs didn't see their asteroid coming.

And I sure as hell wasn't prepared for mine.


Erin Mallon has become one of my favorite audiobook narrators, so when I saw that she had written and narrated her own romantic comedy that included dinosaurs (one of my favorite things) I knew I had to give it a listen! While is was a little over the top and cringey, I was entertained. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. The meet cute at the very beginning of the book was really fun. Calliope is stuck in an elevator at the museum on the first day of her new internship, and she “meets” a guy by yelling at him for help through the elevator door. He decides to wait with her and chat until someone arrives to help her, but then they separated when the fire alarm goes off. She can’t hear his name or where she’s supposed to meet him after she gets out of the building, and that’s that. They miss meeting. Luckily, they both work there so it’s very likely they will stumble across each other soon. What a cute way to begin a story!

2. Calliope… is a very annoyingly neurotic character. She had her moments where I really liked her (like when she communicated her love of dinosaurs and science), but for the most part I pretty much couldn’t stand her. She clearly feels that she is better than everyone in the world. She’s so easily offended and goes off on these long, ranty dialogues without even realizing what she’s saying and who might be hearing her. She’s quick to tell people off when she assumes she knows what they mean. Sometimes she was right but took her rant too far, and sometimes she was wrong and had to backpedal and apologize for her behavior. She’s quick to open her mouth and insert her foot at the worst times, and gets herself into trouble frequently. She just doesn’t come off as a strong, educated, professional woman and that bothered me because female scientists already don’t get enough respect. I wish she had fit the role of a respectable one instead of just further perpetuating antiquated ideas about women in science.

3. Ralph is great! He’s really sweet and caring and I love his quiet, strong personality. I hated the voice style choice for him in the narration, though. He sounded incredibly whiny, and my face actually scrunched up listening to him sometimes.

4. There’s a couple side characters that I liked. Otto is an elderly man who hangs out at the museum sketching the creatures on exhibit. He’s a sweet, funny guy that gave me quirky grandpa vibes. Mabel is an entomologist on staff there, and she’s… so odd that you can’t help but find her to be endearing. I can’t even begin to be able to describe her, though. You kind of have to read her to believe her. She’s one of a kind, but sweet at her core.

5. The humor tries way too hard. I was literally cringing. There’s a scene involving psychedelic drugs and clumsy fooling around near a dinosaur skeleton and Calliope is convinced that that dinosaur is winking at her and cheering her on as she fumbles around before grasping Ralph’s *ahem* anatomy with both hands and pretending to swing from it like Tarzan. George of the Jungle scream and all. I’m sorry, but that was just too much for me. People are not really like this.

6. I’m sure that this book was written with an audiobook in mind because there is so. much. dialogue. I was fine listening (well, except for the fact that Ralph sounded very unappealing), but I think reading it would have been exhausting. I can see that it might be hard to tell who is speaking at times because it sounded like I was listening to a movie instead of a book. 

7. I think I like Erin Mallon as a narrator more than an author, and I feel really bad about that because she seems super nice.

All in all, this was fluffy, mindless entertainment. I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it if I were reading it, but it was fun to listen to while I was doing other things. It’s cringey, but I’m already interested in listening to the next book, Lovebug, because it’s about Mabel, so… I don’t know what that says about me and my opinions right now. LOL. I just have to know how that works out for her because she’s so… unique!

2 Stars

Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey | Book Review

Posted January 21, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey | Book ReviewHotshot Doc by R.S. Grey
Published by Self on December 6, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 372
Format: eBook
Source: Gift
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5 Stars

Dr. Russell has a bad reputation around our hospital. The scrub techs say he’s cold-blooded, the nurses say he’s too cocky for his own good, and the residents say he’s the best surgeon in the world—really, just a swell guy!—on the off chance he’s within earshot.

I try to avoid him and his temper at all costs. It’s just as easy to admire his sexy, grip-it-while-he’s-ravishing-you hair and chiseled jaw from a healthy distance, preferably from the other end of the hallway…half-hidden behind a plant.

Unfortunately, my plan crumbles when my trusty ol’ boss decides to swap his white coat for a Hawaiian shirt. His retirement leaves me with two terrible options: switch specialties and spend months retraining, or take an open position as Dr. Russell’s surgical assistant.

That means I have to stand near him in the OR for hours on end and anticipate his every need without letting his biting words and bad attitude intimidate me. Oh, and as if that’s not difficult enough, my silly crush on him—the one I’ve tried to stomp on until it disappears—might just be reciprocated.

It’s fine.
I’m fine.

I take my job seriously. There will be no smoldering bedroom eyes across the operating table, no angry almost-kisses in the supply closet. (Well, no more of those.)

What’s the phrase? An apple a day keeps the doctor away?
Maybe I should go for a whole damn bushel.


I know we’re only three weeks into 2021, but I think it’s safe for me to say that Hotshot Doc is going to be one of my favorite reads of the year! I didn’t know how much I loved medical romances until I was about a quarter of the way through this book. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Yes, so medical romances. Who knew? I mean, I should have known. I love so many of the medical shows on TV, so why wouldn’t I love to read a love story that takes place in the middle of a hospital with high medical stakes? This was just so, so good. 

2. Dr. Matt Russell is the broodiest, grumpiest, coldest hero I’ve read about in a long time. I really didn’t think I’d ever fall for him because he’s just such a jerk, but it’s all a front! It’s a facade! This guy… as I was reading I pictured him as Neal Caffrey but bigger. Dr. Russell is like 6’2″, broad, ripped (because you have to be strong enough to stand and operate for hours, you know), dark hair, blue eyes, wears a suit… So my dream, basically. And even though he’s so insufferable, I kept catching these little glimmers of a caring and completely selfless man. And he loves children! He loves his job, which is essentially providing better quality of life for his young patients. I really can’t find anything wrong with him, although his interpersonal skills leave much to be desired.

3. Bailey is Dr. Russell’s perfect match. She can hold her own and talk back and takes no crap. She’s also so sweet and happy and caring, so she’s the perfect one to wiggle under his skin and make him think. She is determined to break his shell and be his friend, and he’s just not having it. It takes a lot of confidence to put up with that kind of treatment and not give up, and I loved that about her. She’s also very selfless and became the guardian of her little sister after their parents died. And she’s hilarious.

4. On the surface, Bailey and Matt are like night and day, but they work so well together and I loved the “I can’t stand you, but you’re who I want to be with” tension between the two of them. They have really great chemistry, and I flew through the pages as quickly as I could.

5. Speaking of Bailey’s sister, her name is Josie and she’s a young teen. I don’t think I have ever loved a kid in a book more. She is so, so funny. She sees and hears everything, and she really loves her sister. Her relationship with Matt is so cute. One night, he stays over at their place because the weather is bad and he can’t drive home. He sleeps on the couch, and Josie is so concerned that he’s going to have to go to bed without a book to read that she forces The Hunger Games on him. Because how on earth can one go to sleep without reading first?! I like this girl.

6. The romance is very swoony. It’s a bit forbidden because they’re co-workers, and then there’s some “hands off, Josie is in the other room”, so all these obstacles really build up the tension between them. They’re so good together!

7. The ending felt a little rushed. I needed more information on a number of different topics, so it was not the most satisfying. But there were no loose ends, so that’s good.

8. I want all of R.S. Grey’s book now. 

9. I also want more medical romances, so help a girl out. 

All in all, this was so much fun! It was funny and serious and heartwarming and there was even some Christmas in it, so I’m a happy girl. I wish I’d gotten a longer epilogue with more details, though. Regardless, though, I wholeheartedly recommend this book!

5 Stars

A McMillan Christmas by Bethany Claire | Book Review

Posted December 7, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

A McMillan Christmas by Bethany Claire | Book ReviewA McMillan Christmas by Bethany Claire
Series: Morna's Legacy #7.5
Narrator: Lily Collingwood
Published by Self on December 14, 2016
Genres: Holiday - Christmas, Romance, Time Travel
Length: 3 hours 10 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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5 Stars

Morna’s magic returns in this new Holiday story sure to warm your heart and make you believe in the miracle of love.

A Time For Second Chances

When the worst snowstorm of the century hits the Scottish Highlands just in time for the Christmas holiday, Harper knows she must seek shelter from the storm. With her grandparents’ home still hours away and the roads growing more hazardous by the minute, she is left with no choice but to take refuge in the one place she swore to never return— McMillan Castle—the home of the only man to ever break her heart.

Christmas only serves to remind Kamden McMillan of all that he’s lost. As he settles in for yet another holiday spent alone, he is stunned when his ex-girlfriend breaks into his home to escape the snow. With the storm projected to last for days, Kamden sees this time alone with her as a chance to make things right.

Just as they begin to get reacquainted, Morna’s meddling magic sends them back in time, and both are forced to reconsider what they thought they knew about the other. Will returning to the year their relationship ended allow Kamden and Harper to mend the hurt between them? Or has history already sealed their fate?


I saw this little story on Hoopla while I was looking for a short Christmas read, and thought it would be a great way to check out Bethany Claire’s writing. I’ve been interested in the Morna’s Legacy time travel series for quite some time now, and this was a very magical and festive introduction that I really enjoyed. I love it when a snowstorm plays matchmaker, and that’s what happens here. Harper is on her way to spend Christmas with her grandparents, when this snowstorm forces her to quit her drive early and seek shelter at the McMillan Castle, which is supposed to be empty right now. Harper used to work there and knows where the secret key is stashed. So she lets herself in and comes face to face with Kamden, the man who broke her heart. Forced proximity makes hearts soften, apparently. Morna’s magic (which I’m thinking pops up a lot to make people fall in love) sends Kamden and Harper back in time to the year they broke up to see if a little clarity can help mend those hearts and bring these two lovebirds back together.

I loved this, and I think I would have loved it even more if I’d read the other books in the series leading up to this one. The time travel aspects and Morna and some of the characters might have been less of a mystery to me. Still, though, I really enjoyed what I got and am eager to jump into this series now. The writing was really well done, and I enjoyed listening to this narrator. I also liked the strong message of forgiveness. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a magical Christmas story set in the snowy Scottish Highlands.

5 Stars

Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision | Audiobook Review

Posted June 21, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 2 Comments

Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision | Audiobook ReviewOver Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision
Series: Lady Pirates #1
Published by Self on March 20, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 239
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Author
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3.5 Stars

The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board.

That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.

Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans...

To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.

Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.

She just isn’t sure that she won’t.


I love stories set on the high seas, particularly when pirates are involved, but I usually gravitate towards romantic stories with male pirates because I have a major crush on bad-boy pirate types, apparently. lol. I’ve never read a book with female pirates before, but I really enjoyed this one!

First off, the narration was amazing. Victoria Boulton’s performance really drew me in and had me hooked from early on. She did not read too quickly or too slowly, and her British accent brought each character to life.

I loved the setting of the Lady Luck, and reading about all the ins and outs of life aboard the ship. The crew is made up entirely of women, who live by a very strict code of honor. No men are allowed on board, no children can be kidnapped and forced into service, no crew member is allowed to steal from the rest of the crew, etc. And unlike Captain Barbosa, these rules are not merely guidelines. They take these rules very seriously, and I quite liked reading about a bunch of pirates who at least have some morals.

The story itself was not particularly unique, but I still enjoyed this adventure on the high seas. The crew is on the hunt for the holy grail of all treasure: a map that will lead them to any treasure they wish. There are obstacles along the way, and two of those obstacles come in the form of two brothers who Grace saves from the Mordgris–the sea monsters who took her mother from her. Grace breaks a cardinal rule and brings them aboard the ship. As it turns out, the older brother, Leo, can help them find his map. The little brother, John, endears himself to the crew, so they decide both boys can stay. For now. I liked Grace, John, and Leo, but didn’t feel much for the rest of the characters. They all felt like typical pirates to me, with no real unique traits that made them stand out to me.

This was my first book by Jennifer Ellision, and I really enjoy her writing style and creativity. While the story kind of follows the normal pirate adventure formula, she’s added some elements that set it apart. I’m super intrigued by the Mordgris. I want to know more about them and their origins and purpose. What are they really about? Who are they? They play a big part in Grace’s life quest and are the real reason she wants this magical map. She hopes, against all odds, to find her mother. I loved reading about her determination, and the fact that she believes that family is more important than all the riches in the world. I’m really eager to see how things work out for her and to learn more about this world and the map. There’s so much to look forward to with the next book! And beware, this book ends on a major cliffhanger and you’re going to want more story ASAP!

3.5 Stars

Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison | Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted February 14, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison | Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison | Book Review (+ Giveaway)Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison
Series: Secrets of Itlantis #1
Published by Self on February 2, 2014
Pages: 260
Format: eBook
Source: Author
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5 Stars

Aemi lives in a village carved from stones and surrounded by sea. She wins spear-throwing competitions in disguise and earns slaps from her spoiled mistress by talking back. She hates being a slave. She survives by remembering her mother's tales of home, a paradise called Perilous.

Aemi intends to find it.

But then, black ships rise from the sea in the night. Aemi is captured and taken to Itlantis, an underwater world of cities and gardens encased in glass, dazzling technology. and a centuries-long war.

She is determined to escape, even if it means conspiring with fellow prisoner Nol, who fills her with equal parts anger and desire. Even if it means impersonating her mistress. Even if it means fleeing into the territory of the Dron, the bloodthirsty barbarians of the deep.

But when Aemi witnesses firsthand an attack by the Dron, she realizes not all is as it seems below the sea.

And Perilous might be closer than she thinks.


I love everything Kate has written, so I was very eager and excited to read Of Sea and Stone. I’m happy to report that I’m still a Kate Avery Ellison fangirl, and absolutely loved Of Sea and Stone! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I love the world of Itlantis. It’s beautiful! There are different underwater cities spread across the ocean, each one special in its own way. Aemi has been captured from her village at the surface and taken to the city of Celestrus. This city has, what I can only describe to be, glass spheres that are suspended in the water. Each sphere is a library dedicated to each of the different cities of Itlantis. You can see sea life swimming by and light from the surface dancing. The libraries are filled with books, foliage, sculpture, fountains, and walkways. I’d LOVE to visit!

2. Kate’s writing is so beautiful. She describes things as if you were right there! I kept wanting to highlight all the descriptive passages because I loved them so much.

3. I really liked Aemi. She’s strong, versatile, brave, smart, and level-headed. She takes her kidnapping very well. Haha. She adapts well to her new home, but she’s got plans to escape. She’s assertive and makes people fall for her, whether it be in love or in friendship.

4. Nol is pretty swoony. In the beginning he was a very cocky, jerky guy who Aemi loved to hate. But they are the only survivors (that we know of) from their village, so they learn to work together. And I loved watching him grow from such a jerk to such a caring, selfless person.

5. There’s a little mystery, a little romance, and even some action! It’s the perfect blend of everything I love.

6. Holy cliffhanger. I can’t WAIT to buy the second book!

All in all, Of Sea and Stone pulled me out of a deep reading slump. I loved everything about it, and I love Kate’s storytelling and writing style. This is a wonderful fantasy/dystopia, and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone!


About Kate Avery Ellison

I’m the author of the Frost Chronicles, an Amazon bestselling series and source material for the adventure app game Frost by Delight Games, as well as numerous other fantasy and science fiction novels. I love putting a dash of mystery in everything I write, an ode to a childhood spent reading Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes. I can’t resist adding a good twist in the story wherever I can.

I wish I could live in a place where it’s always October, but until that’s possible, I make my home in humid Atlanta with my husband, children, and two spoiled cats.

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5 Stars

Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book Review

Posted September 21, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book ReviewHeart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves
Series: Kate and Ian #1
Published by Self on August 25, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 277
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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4 Stars

When Kate Watts abandoned her law career to open a food pantry in Northeast Minneapolis, she never dreamed it would be this difficult. Facing the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away, she is grateful for the anonymous donations that begin appearing at the end of each month. Determined to identify and thank her secret benefactor, she launches a plan and catches Ian —a charismatic hacker with a Robin Hood complex—in the act.

Ian intrigues Kate in a way no man ever has. But after learning he’s snooped around on her personal computer, she demands retribution. Impressed with her tolerance and captivated by her spirit, he complies and begins to slowly charm his way past her defenses. Time spent with Ian is never boring, and Kate soon finds herself falling for the mysterious hacker.

But Ian has enemies and they’re growing restless. In the hacking world, exploiting a target’s weakness is paramount, and no price is too high to stop an attack. And when Kate learns exactly how much Ian has paid, she’ll discover just how strong her love is for the man who has hacked his way into her heart.


There’s never been a question about my love for Tracey Garvis-Graves’s books. I will always read anything she writes because she grabs you immediately, immerses you in a story with wonderful characters, and leaves you wishing she would write you a book every week. Heart-Shaped Hack is another title I’m adding to my list of reasons to love Tracey. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Tracey likes to be unique. Every book she has ever written has never been written before. She keeps throwing in elements that make the story fresh, and I love that. Our main guy, Ian, is a computer hacker philanthropist. He’s basically Robin Hood. Can’t say I’ve ever read a book about a guy like him, and I’m pretty sure that if I did I would not like it as much.

2. Ian’s snark is probably my favorite thing about the entire book. He is blunt and cocky and has absolutely no filter. Everything in his life is gray. There’s no black or white, wrong or right. Everything is just Ian. He dissolves boundaries and can charm his way into anything. He finds Kate several times because he hacks into her credit card history to discover where she is. And then he goes there. And then he tells her how he found her. And he’s so charming and sexy that it doesn’t even matter that he’s spying on her! As much as he likes her, he turns their relationship into something SHE has to work for. Not only did he capture her heart against her will, he made her pursue him! This guy is something. And the master of the swoons.

3. Kate reminds me of myself. She’s following her dreams and living a relatively simple, quiet, almost cautious life. She cares a lot about helping others and making a difference in the world. I liked that Ian bugged the crap out of her in the beginning. She rolled her eyes at him and threw his cockiness back in his face countless numbers of times, and the banter that ensued had me giggling and turning the pages as quickly as I could.

4. Ian challenges Kate to break down walls and take risks, and Kate challenges Ian to be open and caring. These two are great together!

5. A hacker’s life is a dangerous life, and Ian’s attachments to Kate (and his desire to stay in one place for too long) bring with them a scary situation that nobody anticipated. I loved the mystery and the danger surrounding this part of the story, even though my heart is a little worse for wear as a result.

6. I feel like this book was really well researched! Garvis-Graves does a great job of portraying the life of a hacker.

7. The writing style is, as always with Tracey, amazing! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. She knows how to grab you immediately and never let go. And, even though I read an ARC, I did not find one typo or grammatical error. I noticed the same thing when I read her self-published On the Island back in the day. Tracey pays attention to every detail, and that’s why her stories are perfect. She’s just that good!

8. There were more sexytimes than I’m used to with her books, but I can kind of see why that was necessary for these particular characters. I wish there had been a little less, though, because I was blushing way too much!!

I can’t wait for the sequel, White-Hot Hack, which I know I’ll be bugging Tracey about over the next few months. I’m excited to see where Ian and Kate go from here! I still stand by my bold proclamation that I will read anything Tracey ever writes. Definitely give this book a shot if you like words.

4 Stars

Monarch by Belle Whittington | Mini Book Review + Giveaway

Posted October 20, 2014 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult Fiction / 1 Comment

Monarch by Belle Whittington | Mini Book Review + GiveawayMonarch by Belle Whittington
Series: Cicada #3
Published by Self on October 1, 2014
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 493
Format: eBook
Source: Author
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4 Stars

Blair Reynolds was born to rule. Worlds, that is. Destined to reign over an ancient intergalactic race, it may seem her fate is written in the stars. But she’s willing to risk it all for another chance to spend forever with her true love – even if it means traveling through time and space to the other side of the universe.

As far as Ash is concerned, Blair's happily-ever-after involves him, not the mere mortal with whom she seems so infatuated. She was bequeathed to him by her father, and Ash will go to any lengths to keep Blair and her true love apart.

And Ash isn’t the only one.

Deep in the jungles of Brazil, where tribal drums call to Blair and her true love, other forces carry out dangerous secret plans.

However, Blair has secrets of her own … secrets so lethal she dares not even remember them.

Secrets so painful they could ruin everything.

Because some secrets kill.


I really loved Cicada (my review) and Firefly (my review) and was on the blog tours for both of those books, so I was very excited to be given the opportunity to be on the last blog tour for this last book in the trilogy. I’m feeling nostalgic! Monarch is a bit of a hard book to review, just because I feel like the things I loved about this book are the same things I loved about the first two. Plus, I don’t want to give anything away!

Monarch is probably the most exciting book in the trilogy, as things are getting real and intense. Decisions and sacrifices have to be made. Blair is discovering herself more and more (and getting more comfortable with who she is), and learning about how all the various, seemingly unrelated puzzle pieces in her life fit together into one big revelation of a puzzle. I love how Belle pieced all these details together. I had a lot of “ah ha!” moments. I also had a lot of “YES! I KNEW it!” moments. It was exciting to finally be in the know, as the first two books were mysterious and left me with a lot of questions.

In Monarch Blair, Andrew, and Everett leave their home, possibly forever, and travel to Brazil. The tribal drums are calling her, and it’s time for Blair to return to her alien people as their queen. She ditches Andrew and Everett at a bus station, fearing their safety, and takes to the jungles alone. Did she really think they would not search for her, though? Blair soon learns she is being hunted. She is forced to awaken her Royal Guard from a centuries-long slumber, and the fight between sides and loyalties begins. Blair must choose between her true love from her human life, her true love from her alien life, and the man who was promised her hand in marriage by her father. She also has to figure out how to survive it all.

I was so happy to see Andrew again. I love her big brother, and his loyalty to her. I was happy to see swoony Everett again. He’s not as nerdy as he once was! We don’t see as much of them as we do Blair, though. We spend a lot of time with her hiding out in the jungle and remembering things from her former life. She makes a lot of discoveries about herself and who she used to be. She learns more about who Ash really is. This is a very enlightening experience for Blair and the reader, but I found things to move a bit slowly at times. Because she was alone we did not get much dialog for a while, and I missed that interaction. Things did pick up, though, and then it was non-stop action and suspense. I loved watching everything unfold. I LOVE Blair’s Royal Guard. Each member has this incredible loyalty and amazing personality. Xi is my favorite, and I saw his as almost a father figure for Blair.

I’ve always loved Belle’s writing, and I still do. She paints such immaculate pictures with her words, and made the jungle come alive in my mind’s eye. She wrote such detailed descriptions of the Royal Guard and what they look like and their apparel. She brought everyone’s emotions to life and I felt their loyalty and love for one another. I felt the aching love between Blair and Everett as well. Theirs is a very special and unique love story. I have become so invested in all of these characters, even the ones I just met in this book. That’s the sign of a truly wonderful author. I loved how the story wrapped up, and am sad to see it end at the same time. I hope Belle continues to write more!

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4 Stars

Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book Review

Posted September 9, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves | Book ReviewEvery Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis Graves
Published by Self on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 360
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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5 Stars

Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.


I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. I will read anything Tracey writes, and I was extremely excited when I heard she was writing a romantic suspense novel! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I think I’ve mentioned this point in every review I’ve written for Tracey’s books, but I just love her characters. She is so good at writing about people you can find common ground with. I’ve never been in Daisy’s position. I’m not a single mom, I did not go through a nasty divorce, nobody in my family has been murdered, and I have never been as alone as she has. But I could still identify with her feelings of inadequacy, her worry that she had failed, her concerns for the future, and her desire to tear down the walls she has built around herself.

Likewise, I have never been in Brook’s situation. I’ve never had to give up a career to move home and take care of my parents, I do not have an immediate family member battling a tragic disease, and I never tried my hardest to get out of the town I grew up in. But I identified with his deep love for his family, his worries that he was not strong enough to go through things that were thrown his way, and his fears for the future as well. Tracey writes characters you become invested in and care about. You can tell these people are real to her, and she cares for them too. We learn so much about both Daisy’s and Brooks’s pasts, and I think that is just one of the many reasons readers will care about them.

2. I really enjoyed the realistic timeline of Daisy and Brooks’s relationship. It began as a simple reporter/victim relationship, but turned into Brooks worrying about her safety, into Brooks caring about her happiness, into Daisy recognizing how nice it is to have him around, into friendship, until it finally blossomed into something that seemed sweet and meaningful. Everything developed out of a mutual, supportive friendship and genuine need of one another. You feel like they have a chance.

3. I also enjoyed how Daisy and Brooks handled their feelings. Regardless of how they felt about each other, their families came first. Daisy was constantly putting the needs of Elliot ahead of her own, and Brooks did everything in his power to help his dad and comfort his mom through her illness. It was so refreshing to read about a mature, adult relationship that was both give and take on both ends. They both have so much at stake, so they proceed with caution rather than lustful feelings. And they both have to make a lot of difficult decisions.

4. I learned a lot about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and I appreciated that Tracey used her book to raise awareness for a disease that does not get a lot of recognition, especially in books where cancer is usually the culprit. She treats the disease with sensitivity, and the emotions she conveys really send a message about what this disease does to a person and their family. For me, it was much more effective the reading medical jargon.

5. The mystery aspect of the story was very intriguing, and I was constantly trying to figure out the reasoning behind Daisy’s grandmother’s murder. Again, it was real. This could happen to me! And that made things even creepier. The suspense was a little less than I was hoping for, but definitely enough to keep me flipping pages as fast as I could. The climax is a doozy.

6. The romance, while slow-burning, is so romantic and wonderful. I’m going to say flat-out that Brooks is a guy who will make you swoon. He’s the perfectly flawed hero that leaves you hopeful that there’s someone like him out there for you.

7. Tracey’s writing is flawless. She has me hanging on her every word every time. She never forgets to write you, the reader, right in to her stories, leaving a part of you there when it’s all over.

Basically, Tracey has done it again! I always worry that someday she will write something I won’t love, but it has not happened yet and I’m pretty sure it never will. I wholeheartedly recommend that you go and get yourself a copy of Every Time I Think of You. It has a little something for everyone, and it will leave you even more excited for what she has in store for us next!

5 Stars