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Aftermath
by Kelley Armstrong
Genres: Thriller
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Rating:

Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there's no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn't a victim; he was a shooter.

Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don't heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend--Skye.

Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can't resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.

I adore Kelley Armstrong but to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have picked up Aftermath. The subject matter is upsetting to me, but I received a copy in the mail and decided to try it. I am really glad that I did. While relevant, it takes a look at the families affected by school shooting and shares the friendship between a shooter’s sister and the brother of a victim. Armstrong added a suspenseful thread and sweet romance to the story making it a worthy read.

I went into Aftermath fully expecting to be upset and in desperate need of truffles. While we catch glimpses of the high school shooting the story took on a suspense thriller aspect that made me more comfortable. Armstrong starts the story with the events that occurred the morning of the shooting then fast forwards three years.

The story is told from dual POVS giving us the voice of Skye Gilchrist whose brother Luka was shot and killed three years previously when he and his high school buddies went on a shooting rampage. Skye’s grandmother whisked her away after the shooting, and her life has been anything but smooth. Her mother isn’t well, her Dad altogether dropped out of the picture, and Gran has been her rock. When Gran suffers a stroke, Skye is forced to return home and live with her single aunt. Aftermath shares the first few months of her return with some flashbacks and glimpses into her life before and what went down.

The second perspective comes from Jesse Mandal, whose brother was one of the victims. He was also best friends with Skye and had started thinking of her as something more. Jesse hasn’t done well the past three years. His grades have slipped and was expelled from his former high school for fighting. The only positive in his life is track, and even that is tainted.

Kelley Armstrong fleshed out these likable, funny, sad, snarky, confused characters allowing the reader to experience all of their emotions, fears, and struggles.  Mia, Skye’s Aunt, pushed her to return home and is one of those type people who believe in facing the problem head-on. She did allow Skye to choose which local high school to attend. I couldn’t imagine going back to the same high school. Of course, the rumor mill in high school is stronger than ever, and everyone knows who she is. Skye is tough though, or at least her defenses are strong. Her first day was horrible and made worse when she discovers Jesse also attends this school.

The suspense, thriller, mystery thread was a surprise and one I enjoyed. Incidents occur which freak Skye out and place her in danger. It was done in such a way to unnerve her but have those in power suspect that maybe Skye herself has done this to seek attention. Thankfully she reconnects with Jesse, and the two begin to investigate. The mystery was well developed with plenty of twists.

Secondary characters added to the story. I was so glad that the parental figures were level-headed, realistic and present. They made mistakes as most parents do, but listened and were supportive. Armstrong gave us a mix of students, and while some fell into cliche roles, and became suspects, she also showed some positivity too.

I absolutely loved the dynamics of Skye and Jesse’s friendship and seeing it rekindle. We get a nice slow-burning, deliciously awkward romance that made me smile and remember that first love feeling.

Aftermath ended up delivering a surprising suspense thriller in this coming of age novel with characters you’ll relate to and identify with.

Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong surprised me as it turned out to be a suspense thriller. A coming of age novel set against a tragedy with characters you'll relate to and identify with. #NewRelease #YA
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About Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. All efforts to make her produce “normal” stories failed. Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She’s the author of the NYT-bestselling “Women of the Otherworld” paranormal suspense series and “Darkest Powers” young adult urban fantasy trilogy, as well as the Nadia Stafford crime series. Armstrong lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.

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Storm Front
by Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #1
Narrator: James Marsters
Length: 8 hours and 1 minute
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchase
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Narrator Rating: 3.5
Rating:

My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. I'm a wizard. I work out of an office in midtown Chicago. As far as I know, I'm the only openly practicing professional wizard in the country. You can find me in the yellow pages, under Wizards. Believe it or not, I'm the only one there.

With rent past due and a decent meal becoming an issue of some importance, Harry needs work, and soon. A call from a distraught wife, and another from Lt Murphy of the Chicago PD Special Investigation Unit makes Harry believe things are looking up, but they are about to get worse, much worse. Someone is harnessing immense supernatural forces to commit a series of grisly murders. Someone has violated the first law of magic: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Tracking that someone takes Harry into the dangerous underbelly of Chicago, from mobsters

I own most of the Dresden Files, some in hardcover thanks to a fantastic yard sale, and others for Kindle and Audible. Yep, I REALLY wanted to read them but for some reason, I never started.  2018 seems to be the year for all things urban fantasy. At least it’s my current genre mood, so I decided to jump in during Take Control and went with the audio edition. Storm Front by Jim Butcher introduced the world and the wizard, Harry Dresden, as he solved a murder mystery that everyone thinks he committed.

I feel like the last urban fantasy fan standing to have finally begun this series, but I am also delighted to have so many books lined up and waiting for me.

Five Reasons to Grab Storm Front

  • Harry Dresden is a cat-loving wizard for hire. He isn’t overly confident, is vulnerable like a human and tends to risk helping people even to his own detriment. He takes odd cases but most of his bills are paid assisting the Chicago Police Department as a consultant.
  • While Storm Front is far from perfect, Butcher sets the world up, introducing the White Council (they oversee Wizards)  and Harry himself. I love the potential I see here and understand why this character and world are fan favorites.
  • Harry has two cases. The first is for a missing husband, a job he normally doesn’t take but he’s persuaded. The second case involves a double murder that is dark and sadistic. The Police have called him in to assist and things get intense when it looks like the deeds were performed by a wizard.
  • The supernatural realm, magic, and creatures are very cool! Giant creepy crawlers, circles, golems and more can be found within.
  • The book is laced with humor and I found myself laughing aloud. It offset the gore, suspense, and struggles our hero faced.
  • Harry is complex, flawed, quick to anger and talks to himself and his cat named Mister. I adored the man. He isn’t polished, doesn’t date often and has an authenticity about him. The fact that he acts like an old dime store novel PI was delightful.

I’ve only been listening to audiobooks since, January of 2013, so it was interesting to listen to an audio produced in 2002. Oh my how we have changed! James Marsters is the perfect voice for the gruff wizard but I was taken aback by the noises on the track. Swallowing, breathing and an adjusting office chair. At least I think it was a chair. I jumped off and listened to a later one and yep, either Marsters learned to control his breathing and swallowing or technology is brilly because all of those sounds were absent. Of course, Marsters is now the voice of Harry, so I will continue my adventures in audio.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher shares and exciting world with a gritty, awkward and delightful protagonist. Have you met Harry Dresden? #urban #audio
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About Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher is the author of the Dresden Files, the Codex Alera, and a new steampunk series, the Cinder Spires. His resume includes a laundry list of skills which were useful a couple of centuries ago, and he plays guitar quite badly. An avid gamer, he plays tabletop games in varying systems, a variety of video games on PC and console, and LARPs whenever he can make time for it. Jim currently resides mostly inside his own head, but his head can generally be found in his home town of Independence, Missouri. Jim goes by the moniker Longshot in a number of online locales. He came by this name in the early 1990′s when he decided he would become a published author. Usually only 3 in 1000 who make such an attempt actually manage to become published; of those, only 1 in 10 make enough money to call it a living. The sale of a second series was the breakthrough that let him beat the long odds against attaining a career as a novelist.

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

This was a weird week in which I seemed to get very little reading or listening down. I worked on making Caffeinated Reviewer GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant. Our temps hit the mid to upper 80’s, so the Royals and I spent afternoons outdoors. We got a new kitchen set, computer chairs and a desk for my hubby’s office (BD present from me). So we spent the weekend assembling them. I did watch the Royal Wedding and thought it was all lovely.  Other than that it was pretty quiet. How was your week? Did anything exciting happen?  Stay Caffeinated!

 Last Week on the Blog
 This Week on the Blog
  • Storm Front By Jim Butcher (audio review)
  • Aftermath By Kelley Armstrong (review)
  • The Unblessed Dead By Rhiannon Frater (review)
  • Down Among The Sticks And Bones By Seanan McGuire (audio review)
  • An Occasionally Grim Fairy Tale By Ann M Noser (review)
Around the Blogosphere
On the Blog
New Arrivals to the Caffeinated Cafe′

*all images linked to Amazon/Goodreads

A special thank you to HarperAudio, Avon Romance, Harper Voyager, Random House, Harlequin Mira and Tantor Media

Totally Random

Link Up your edition of the Sunday Post

Before you link up: Please be sure your weekly post includes a link back to Caffeinated Reviewer and the Sunday Post

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Magic for Nothing
by Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #6
Narrator: Emily Bauer
Length: 12 hours and 41 minutes
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchase
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Rating:

Improbable, adjective:
1. Not very likely to happen; not probable.
2. Probably not a very good idea anyway.
3. See also “bad plan.”

As the youngest of the three Price children, Antimony is used to people not expecting much from her. She’s been happy playing roller derby and hanging out with her cousins, leaving the globe-trotting to her older siblings while she stays at home and tries to decide what she wants to do with her life. She always knew that one day, things would have to change. She didn’t think they’d change so fast.

Annie’s expectations keep getting shattered. She didn’t expect Verity to declare war on the Covenant of St. George on live television. She didn’t expect the Covenant to take her sister’s threat seriously. And she definitely didn’t expect to be packed off to London to infiltrate the Covenant from the inside…but as the only Price in her generation without a strong resemblance to the rest of the family, she’s the perfect choice to play spy. They need to know what’s coming. Their lives may depend on it.

But Annie has some secrets of her own, like the fact that she’s started setting things on fire when she touches them, and has no idea how to control it. Now she’s headed halfway around the world, into the den of the enemy, where blowing her cover could get her killed. She’s pretty sure things can’t get much worse.

Antimony Price is about to learn just how wrong it’s possible for one cryptozoologist to be.

In Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire, it is the youngest Price sibling’s story! An undercover operation and a gig at the Circus made for a daring adventure. A shifter monkey and a ruthless cousin added interests and intrigue.

After the mind-blowing ending of Chaos Chronography, Antimony, the youngest Price sister, who incidentally looks nothing like her siblings, is tasked with traveling to London to infiltrate the Covenant! Can she convince them of her cover story? Can she and one lone Aslin mouse discover what the Covenant knows about the Price family and if they are planning an all-out war? Eeep!

McGuire hooked me from the beginning as narrator Emily Bauer took on new voices and new creatures. Antimony (Annie) is twenty-two and a roller-derby loving young woman who is still living at home. She hasn’t quite decided what she wants to do in life but throughout Magic for Nothing, we witness her come into her own, through growth and sacrifice.

Being inside the Covenant of St. George was just as creepy as I hoped. From their thorough investigation and testing of Annie, we learn quite a lot. She has one lone Aslin mouse with her. Wait until you see what this young mouse uncovers, aside from a full inventory of their cheese.

Thanks to Annie’s unusual skill set with knife throwing and trapeze work the Covenant sends Annie back to America to infiltrate and spy on a traveling circus. Here things get interesting and deadly. As always, McGuire delivers an intense suspense thread while fleshing out new characters and showcases different types of cryptids. Explosions, death-defying tricks and Covenant operatives await you.

The books typically have a romantic thread and Annie develops feelings for one of the performers. Holy Weirdness peeps! Now ya’ll know her extended family is filled with cryptids, ghosts, talking mice and more, but most of the Price family are married to HUMANS. I am not saying more but the movie Jumanji came to mind as I listened. LOL

The ending of Magic for Nothing sets up the next book, Tricks for Free and as soon as the Take Control TBR Pile challenge ends I am diving in! (Update. Devoured it. Love it. Review to follow)

Explosions, death-defying tricks, and Covenant operatives await you in Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire #audio #urban
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About Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire is a native Californian, which has resulted in her being exceedingly laid-back about venomous wildlife, and terrified of weather. When not writing urban fantasy (as herself) and science fiction thrillers (as Mira Grant), she likes to watch way too many horror movies, wander around in swamps, record albums of original music, and harass her cats. Seanan is the author of the October Daye, InCryptid, and Indexing series of urban fantasies; the Newsflesh trilogy; the Parasitology duology; and the “Velveteen vs.” superhero shorts. Her cats, Lilly, Alice, and Thomas, are plotting world domination even as we speak, but are easily distracted by feathers on sticks, so mankind is probably safe. For now.

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Unleashing Magick
by Debbie Cassidy
Series: The Witch Blood Chronicles #4
Narrator: Zehra Jane Naqvi
Length: 5 hours and 28 minutes
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Rating:
Heat Level:

When it comes to war the only guarantee is death...

The cosmic gods are about to strike, humanity is on the verge of losing its free will, and Carmella Hunter and her friends are the last line of defense.

The task of being an anchor between the witches and the skein is draining Carmella by the hour, but she isn’t one to sit by and let her friends do the work. With the clock ticking toward the eclipse, Carmella is determined to wrestle a plan B into place. With the dragon demi-god and his asura at her side, Carmella will be making some huge leaps of faith.

When the eclipse arrives, Carmella plans to be ready, but even the best-laid plans can get derailed, and Carmella is about to learn that when it comes to war the only guarantee is death.

An urban fantasy world filled with adrenaline pumping action, pulse-pounding romance, super hot djinn and sexy dragon demi-gods. Don't miss this epic conclusion to The Witch Blood Chronicles

Unleashing Magick by Debbie Cassidy is the fourth and final novel in the Witch Blood Chronicles. Narrated by Zehra Jane Naqvi Cassidy delivered an intense final installment as Carmella and her friend’s face of a Cosmic God.

Remember my frustration with book three and Carmella’s wavering and self-doubt? In the final installment, we see her come into her own as she chooses her mate and faces death and fights to protect Earth from a takeover.

The last book ended with a major cliffhanger, and this novel picks up shortly thereafter. Carmella is the anchor between the witches and the skein. All of this to stop the Cosmic God, Malachi. The anchor is draining her, and Malachi has begun visiting her dreams. With her motley crew of friends, Vritra, the Demi-God and the Asura to aid her she devises a plan, but first, she needs to get in touch with the lord of the underworld.

After the love triangle emerged and Carmella’s weak assertion that she had chosen, I prayed.  I loved how the romantic thread came together. It was compelling, heated, humorous and so Carmella.  Never, piss of a human witch who is also half dragon. While the books in this series are short, Cassidy serves the full course from character development to world-building. She had me almost in tears as Carmella prepared to do whatever it took to save the world. The final scenes were climatic with action, twists and the supernatural fighting side-by-side.

Zehra Jane Naqvi finished out the series on audio. She became the voice of these characters for me. Her pacing, tone and different vocals all added to the story. I look forward to listening to more books narrated by her.

If you are looking for an urban fantasy story with  Hindu based beliefs, gods, and supernatural elements you’ll love Unleashing Magick and the Witch Blood Chronicles. The series wrapped up nicely, although truth be told I wouldn’t mind revisiting this world.

Unleashing Magick by Debbie Cassidy offered an intense final as our heroine and friends face down a cosmic god. #audio #urban
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About Debbie Cassidy

Debbie Cassidy lives in England, Bedfordshire, with her three kids and very supportive husband. Coffee and chocolate biscuits are her writing fuels of choice, and she is still working on getting that perfect tower of solitude built in her back garden. Obsessed with building new worlds and reading about them, she spends her spare time daydreaming and conversing with the characters in her head – in a totally non psychotic way of course. She writes High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy and Science Fiction.

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The Glory of the Empress
by Sean Danker
Series: Evagardian #3
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Rating:

From the author of Admiral and Free Space comes an exciting military science fiction novel about an eclectic mix of Evagardian soldiers on a mission to test a new weapon, but instead find something much more dangerous.

The war between Evagardian Empire and the Commonwealth is at its peak.

The Evagardians have developed a weapon that could change everything, but they can't use it until it's been fully tested. Targeting unsuspecting pirates in a newly annexed system, far from the worst of the fightingsean is supposed to be a safe way to determine if the weapon is ready for live combat.

Everything about the mission is unconventional; the crew of twelve has been pulled from every corner of the Imperial Service, but it should still be an easy tour. After all, a few pirates can't possibly threaten Evagard's elite, especially when they're armed with the most powerful technology in the Imperium.

But it's an unproven system aboard an experimental ship, and there are worse things than pirates waiting in the Demenis System. Far from the front lines, the crew of the Lydia Bennett is about to start a war of their own, and they're a long way from home.

Please welcome Sophia Rose to the blog today as she shares The Glory of the Empress by Sean Danker, the third book in the riveting science fiction series, Evagardian. I loved book one, so I am excited to see what Sophia has to say. Enjoy!

Sophia Rose’s Review

For this third venture in the Evagardian tales, we seem to be off to follow a separate thread from the first one that was running in The Admiral and Free Space. There is the sensation that it is all connected without a clear line holding them together. I get the tingling feeling that the series is just getting rolling and what a wild, intensely thrilling, and an intriguing story it is set out there among the stars many years into our future.

So, yes, The Glory of the Empress is the third installment of the Evagardian series. It might seem like it would be okay standalone because it introduces a new set of players into the game, but no, I wouldn’t advise it. I really think the two earlier books along with this one are leading up to something big.

The Glory of the Empress opens with twelve strangers recruited from throughout the Evagardian Military brought together to serve aboard the latest cutting-edge technology in warships. Half came from seemingly unrelated fields. They barely get time to introduce themselves before they’re in the thick of things.

The story narration is from one perspective all the way through. He is wry, observant, and intuitive. For someone who has no combat experience, he does well with each new encounter that is challenging and an edge of your seat thrilling. It wasn’t long before I was asking myself, like with the first book, just who is this man and was he really only an immigration analyst before this. Oh, and there was a mysterious event in his past involving his boss that may or may not be taken at face value.

Okay, speaking of face value, I felt this story was so layered. There are the ongoing sci-fi space battle action plot and a few alien creature moments that got my spine tingling that could be just exactly what it is, but there are layers beneath like someone is orchestrating moves on a chess board way ahead. It’s an interesting feeling.

The reader gets to know to a certain extent the players aboard Lydia Bennett (love this little P&P Easter Egg), but there are three main players Commander Mao, the fighter pilot, and the analyst turned bridge team and support staff for the fighter pilot. Then there are the pirates and some refugees to toss into the mix when the crew of the Lydia Bennett learns quickly that their mission is only the tip of the iceberg out in this remote section of space. They’re up against a cunning defector who helped develop and knows all the innovations and strategies for making war with the Lydia Bennett and her tech.

In the end, there are a series of climactic scenes that had me holding my breath and swiping pages fast enough to leave a jet trail on my Kindle. Those who want fantastic sci-fi action and an impressive series building itself toward an even bigger end should not hesitate to pick these books up. Fair warning, there might be some addiction involved if you discover they are to your taste.

The Glory of the Empress by Sean Danker offered an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thrill ride where nothing is as it seems. #scifi #mustread series.
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About Sean Danker

Sean Danker hates everything, especially author bios. He works in Public Affairs in the United States Air Force.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate. Associate Reviewer for Delighted Reader blog.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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Come As You Are
by Lauren Blakely
Narrator: Sebastian York, Andi Arndt
Length: 7 hours and 29 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: Author
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Rating:
Heat Level:

I couldn’t have scripted a more perfect night.

For one fantastic evening, at a masquerade party in the heart of Manhattan, I’m not the millionaire everyone wants a piece of. Fine—multimillionaire. But who’s counting all those commas? Not me, and not the most intriguing woman I've ever met, who happens to like dancing, witty banter, and hot, passionate up-against-the-wall sex as much as I do.

There's no need for names or business cards. And that’s why I’m eager to get to know her more, since my mystery woman seems to like me for me, rather than for my huge…bank account.

Everything’s coming up aces. Until the next day when things get a little complicated. (Newsflash — a lot complicated.)

***

He's charming, brilliant, an incredible lover, and right now I want to stab fate in the eyeballs.

I've had one goal I've been working toward, and lo and behold, my mystery man is the very person who stands between me and my dream job. A job I desperately need since my hard-knock life has nothing in common with his star-kissed one.

But it’s time to put that fairytale night behind me, and focus on learning what makes him tick. Too bad it turns out his quirks are my quirks, and his love affair with New York matches mine.

And as we spend our days together, I discover something else that feels like a cruel twist of fate — I’m falling for this naughty prince charming, and that’s not an ending I can write to our story.

Come As You Are by Lauren Blakely was beautiful with plenty of adorkable feels! Told from dual perspectives and narrated by Sebastian York and Andi Arndt I lost serious sleep listening until well after 2 am in search of happily ever after.

Coffee Dates with Come As You Are

  • First Date: Blakely has this addictive way of pulling you in and wrapping you up in the character’s story.  I adored the setup for this story.  A successful entrepreneur, Flynn Parker, is slightly jaded when it comes to dating and love. The truth is he doesn’t know if a woman is interested in him or his money. Sabrina Granger is a newspaper reporter who has recently been laid off and worries about what the future holds for her and her brother. As fate would have it the two attend a masquerade party and the two strike up a conversation keeping their identities a secret. The night ends with a very sexy, masked encounter. He walks away with her phone number but not her name.  Ooh la, la I was completely hooked and knew things were about to get complicated good.
  • Second Date: I loved the chemistry between Flynn and Sabrina. The playfulness and heat felt genuine, but all that comes to a screeching halt when the masks come off. Sabrina’s dream job is on the line as well as her brother’s future., Neither Flynn nor Sabrina will cross the line professionally. The two begin meeting as Sabrina interviews Flynn for her piece.  That underlying chemistry is still there, and it created tension. I loved seeing them together and learning about each as they shared life stories and such. It is classic opposites attract as these two come from different backgrounds but I loved seeing them discover the other. Their meetings took place all over the city as Sabrina firmly believes interviews should be conducted outside of an office setting as it allows the subject to relax. She is passionate about what she does but worries that her growing feelings for Flynn will color her piece.
  • Third Date: Will Flynn and Sabrina get to eat their cake or forever dream about what could have been? Ugh, this answer, despite feeling comfortable in Blakley’s hands kept me up listening until after 2 am. I needed to know. A possibility of blackmail, ethical questions and responsibilities tugged at these characters just as equally as the urge to kiss the other did. I adored both characters. Blakley added a few twists and surprises that all felt genuine and in line with the story. I laughed, bit my lip and swooned all the way to the end of these coffee dates.

Sebastian York and Andi Arndt narrated Come As You Are and they only enhanced an already great love story. These two are well paired and they captured the characters, the heat and the story as in unfolded.

If you are looking for a feel-good romance, filled with heat, adorkableness and all the feels, then Come As You Are is the perfect romance to grab.

This audiobook includes the bonus novella Most Irresistible Guy, which is only available in audio in this edition of Come as You Are.

Come As You Are by Lauren Blakely narrated by Sebastian York and Andi Arndt was a sweet, sexy, heartwarming tale that left me bleary-eyed in the morning. #audio #mustlisten
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About Lauren Blakely

Since self-publishing her debut romance novel CAUGHT UP IN US three years ago, Lauren Blakely has sold more than 1 million books. She is known for her sexy contemporary romance style that’s full of heat, heart and humor. A devout fan of cake and canines, Lauren has plotted entire novels while walking her four-legged friends. She lives in California with her family. With nine New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller List more than three dozen times. Her bestselling series include Sinful Nights, Seductive Nights, No Regrets, Caught Up in Love, and Fighting Fire. She recently released BIG ROCK, a sexy standalone romantic comedy that became an instant New York Times Bestseller. In the late spring, she’ll release MISTER O, another standalone romantic comedy.

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Hooked On You
by Kate Meader
Series: Chicago Rebels #3
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Rating:
Heat Level:

The steamy Chicago Rebels series returns with this racy and sassy tale of embittered hearts, second chances, and going for the goal—on and off the ice.

Violet Vasquez never met her biological father, so learning he left his beloved hockey franchise—the Chicago Rebels—to her is, well, unexpected. Flat broke and close to homeless, Violet is determined to make the most of this sudden opportunity. Except dear old dad set conditions that require she takes part in actually running the team with the half-sisters she barely knows. Working with these two strangers and overseeing a band of hockey-playing lugs is not on her agenda…until she lays eyes on the Rebels captain and knows she has to have him.

Bren St. James has been labeled a lot of things: the Puck Prince, Lord of the Ice, Hell’s Highlander...but it’s the latest tag that’s making headlines: washed-up alcoholic has-been. This season, getting his life back on track and winning the Cup are his only goals. With no time for relationships—except the fractured ones he needs to rebuild with his beautiful daughters—he’s finding it increasingly hard to ignore sexy, all-up-in-his-beard Violet Vasquez. And when he finds himself in need of a nanny just as the playoffs are starting, he’s faced with a temptation he could so easily get hooked on.

For two lost souls, there’s more on the line than just making the best of a bad situation… there might also be a shot at the biggest prize of all: love.

Hooked On You by Kate Meader is the third and final book in the Chicago Rebels series featuring three estranged sisters who own a Chicago hockey team. To keep it, they must work together and have a winning season. Along the way, they find family, friendship, and love.  In Hooked On You, sassy, flirtatious and unapologetic, Violet Vasquez, goes head to head with team captain, Bren St. James.

Caffeinated Dates with Hooked on You

  • First Date: Throughout the series, we have witnessed a sizzling, snarky chemistry between Vi and Bren. As the book opens we get a glance at their first encounter. She is finally ready for a little fun after healing from cancer. He is at the low point in his life and has just come out of rehab. I enjoy haters to lovers scenario, where the hate comes from undeniable attraction and I was all in. Fast forward to present day. The season is almost over, and the Chicago Rebels are in the playoffs. A situation with Bren’s daughters arises and I love how this team, staff, and management rallied around Bren to help him keep his head in the game while putting family first. The story touches on addiction, fears, and support.
  • Second Date: As the team helps Bren, it leads to opportunities for Bren and Vi to interact. I loved the banter, snark and sexual tension these moments created. Bren’s daughters served as the catalyst for the two to spend even more time together and I loved the setup Meader created. It allowed the two to really get to know each other. Vi comes off as all fun and games, but she is really grounded and her inner strength is to be admired. This doesn’t mean she isn’t without flaws. I loved watching the heat between these two become combustible as my Kindle sizzled with the wickedly hot scenes.
  • Third Date: The conflict or drama comes from an outside source in Hooked On You and it all felt very realistic especially in the professional sports world. I really enjoyed Bren’s girls in this story from talks of slugs to their own struggles. It added depth and believability to the story. While I didn’t doubt that Meader would deliver all the feels and a swoon-worthy HEA, it wasn’t an easy road but the character growth, the developing relationship, and bonds made it all worth it. I laughed, swooned and devoured the final one-third of this story.

Those looking for a touching series with heat, loveable characters and sexy accents should grab the Chicago Rebel series. Kate Meader has become a favorite here at Caffeinated and I cannot wait to see what she brings us next.

I loved watching the heat between these two become combustible as my Kindle sizzled with the wickedly hot scenes. Hooked on You by Kate Meader #mustread #romance
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About Kate Meader

Kate writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines who can match their men quip for quip. Her latest series, Hot in Chicago, features firefighting foster siblings. With tattoos.

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

So I need glasses to read and use the computer. All last summer when reading outside I wore 2 sets of glasses, my readers, and sunglasses. I hated it.  On off, on off. Ugh!  Not to mention how goofy I looked wearing 2 sets. I had no idea they made bifocal reader sunglasses and flipped when I found out! I ordered a pair and they arrived this week. First…wow. I bow to all of you who wear bifocals. This shit is trippy! It took me a few days of blur and adjusting but I am in porch reading heaven!  Mr. Caffeinated turned fifty-five this week and there was cake! All around it was a good week. I hope yours was the same. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms. Stay Caffeinated!

 Last Week on the Blog
 This Week on the Blog
  • Hooked on You by Kate Meader  (review)
  • Come As You Are By Lauren Blakely (audio review)
  • The Glory Of The Empress By Sean Danker (guest review)
  • Unleashing Magick By Debbie Cassidy (audio review)
  • Magic For Nothing By Seanan McGuire (audio review)
Around the Blogosphere
New Arrivals to the Caffeinated Cafe′

*all images linked to Amazon

A special thank you to HarperAudio, Canongate Books, Gallery Books, Entangled Teen

Totally Random

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Digging In
by Loretta Nyhan
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Length: 7 hours and 17 minutes
Genres: Chick-Lit
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Rating:

In author Loretta Nyhan’s warm, witty, and wonderful novel, a widow discovers an unexpected chance to start over—right in her own backyard.

Paige Moresco found her true love in eighth grade—and lost him two years ago. Since his death, she’s been sleepwalking through life, barely holding on for the sake of her teenage son. Her house is a wreck, the grass is overrun with weeds, and she’s at risk of losing her job. As Paige stares at her neglected lawn, she knows she’s hit rock bottom. So she does something entirely unexpected: she begins to dig.

As the hole gets bigger, Paige decides to turn her entire yard into a vegetable garden. The neighbors in her tidy gated community are more than a little alarmed. Paige knows nothing about gardening, and she’s boldly flouting neighborhood-association bylaws. But with the help of new friends, a charming local cop, and the transformative power of the soil, Paige starts to see potential in the chaos of her life. Something big is beginning to take root—both in her garden and in herself.

Digging In: A Novel by Loretta Nyhan is perfect for fans of The Garden Of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman. Digging In is a rich story filled with gardening, neighbors, new friendships and healing. Narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal I quickly became caught up in this heartwarming and captivating story that mirrors the author’s own journey after the unthinkable happens.

I was slightly worried I would need truffles for this story. I’ve been married thirty years and cannot even begin to fathom life without my mate. While Nyhan did make me tear up she also had me rooting for Paige Moresco, her son Trey, and the secondary characters we met along the way. I laughed, got angry, cheered and smiled as Paige began her journey by digging holes in her backyard and upsetting the balance in her suburban community. Her curmudgeonly neighbor added humor, frustrations and a bit of a mystery. A local police officer called in over complaints about Paige’s backyard offers something a little more.

The writing is wonderful with a flow that pulls the reader in and holds them captive. This translated beautifully into audio. Mary Robinette Kowal captured Paige, the tone, and emotions of the story.

Paige’s husband passed two years ago and she and her senior high school son, Trey are simply moving through their days and not really living. When her boss shakes things up at the advertising company where she has been employed for the past seventeen years it sets her already fragile world spinning. One night after a little too much win she begins digging up her backyard. She has no purpose other than she likes the feel of the earth in her fingers, but slowly through work, strangers, and need we witness Paige transform along with her backyard.

One of my favorite quotes from the book that applies to so much more than gardening:

“That’s the beauty of a garden,” she said. “Some stuff works, some stuff doesn’t, and some stuff you think isn’t working ends up producing the following year. Keeps you living in a constant state of suspense, so whatever comes, you’re grateful for it.“

Digging In is the type of story that stays with you, offers life lessons and makes you appreciate all the little things each day brings. It’s the perfect book for listening while you garden or packing along for a day at the beach. Just add wine and chocolate.

Digging In by Loretta Nyhan offered a rich story filled with gardening, neighbors, new friendships and healing. Narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal I became caught up in this heartwarming and captivating story #iloveaudio
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About Loretta Nyhan

Loretta Nyhan lives in the Chicago area with her family. DIGGING IN is her fifth novel. Previous titles include ALL THE GOOD PARTS, I’LL BE SEEING YOU, EMPIRE GIRLS, and her novel for young adults, THE WITCH COLLECTOR.

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