Exclusive cover reveal and excerpt: ‘Shadow Warrior’ by Christine Feehan | Happy Ever After

I cannot wait to read this new book from the Shadow series! Click the link to see the cover reveal and an exclusive excerpt from USA today.

HEA unveils the cover and shares an excerpt from paranormal romantic suspense Shadow Warrior (Shadow Riders #4) by Christine Feehan, arriving June 4, 2019. About the book: Danger inspires fierce pa…

Source: Exclusive cover reveal and excerpt: ‘Shadow Warrior’ by Christine Feehan | Happy Ever After

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Becoming (Michelle Obama)

becoming

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments.

Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

—                         —                         —

I listened to the audiobook, which is read by Michelle Obama herself.

I have always been a fan of Michelle and Barack and family. I liked that they appeared to stand above many political pundits, as evidenced by Michelle’s “when they go low, we go high” slogan. I was also a fan of her political and social movements, championing health and fitness for children.

Listening to this book made me feel closer to her. That is a weird idea, considering that we have never met, but I felt like I gained a much deeper understanding of her as an individual – not just FLOTUS – and appreciated what I learned. She comes across as more of the high-achieving girl next door, rather than as the “elite” I always pictured her as.

She is relateable.

She is the epitome of the American Dream.

I am a Canadian citizen. I agreed with a lot of the policies and values that were championed by the Obamas but I think I was granted some emotional distance from the political drama that always seems to unfold in the USA, by nature of my geographical distance. I remember thinking about the insane and unrealistic expectations everyone seemed to have of Barack Obama when he was first elected. He was optimistic and a talented politician, but he was still just one man who was forced to work within the same political machine as each of his predecessors and successors.

Becoming obviously tells Michelle’s personal history, as well as chronicling many of the key points in her journey through the White House. It is very informative. It also put certain things into perspective.

I am white. Michelle is black. I am Canadian. She is American. I grew up in a small town, she grew up in the inner city of Chicago. We are a lot alike though.

History that seems to have occurred so long ago – like Jim Crow laws – isn’t so long ago when you think of them in terms of generations. To have grown up knowing people who were oppressed by those laws. To know that their grandparents – your great great grandparents – were slaves…. that is a heady realization. It makes you realize that those periods of history weren’t so long ago after all. I have greater awareness for the lingering affects of this history today.

As I mentioned, I was easily able to relate to Michelle at times. I never would have imagined that she was burned out by school. That she trained to get a prestigious degree in a career that she quickly discovered she had no love for. To feel burdened down by school debt, expectations, and difficulty conceiving. I was extremely emotional listening to her talk about her Dad’s death. And incredibly impressed over her career trajectory, and professional self-confidence.

One thing I learned about her husband is that President Obama always had to have something to attain and reach for. I couldn’t help but wonder, when you have held the highest office in the country for 8 years, what else is left to do afterwards?

On a more technical note, I did find that the recording of the book dragged. The narrative itself was great, but I sped up the playback to 1.5x, very unusual for me. Most of the word count is devoted to Michelle aged 5-30, with less than I expected devoted to the Obama Family’s time in the White House.

I particularly loved the stories related to her experiences with Queen E.

One lingering question I still have, silly though it may be, is how much freedom does the first family have to redecorate the private residence? Like, did Sasha have a pretty pink bedroom when they first moved in and she was still a young girl? If I ever had a chance to meet Mrs Obama, that would definitely be a question I asked!

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xx

 

Hidden (Deep Ops #1)

deep

Hide. That’s all Pippa can do to escape the terror chasing her. But now that she’s off the grid in a safe house, she finds plenty of interesting things to watch through the window. Like her new neighbor, with his startling green eyes, killer smile, and sexy bad-boy tattoo . . .

Run. Malcolm West is fleeing the hell he unleashed in his last assignment as an undercover cop. A backwoods bungalow sounds like the perfect place to start over. Until he discovers he’s been set up . . .

Fight. Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to bring them together. No matter how much he resents that, and his own driving needs, Malcolm will have to dig deep and let loose the banished killer inside himself, or Pippa’s fears could come true faster than the flip of a bolt in a lock .

—                         —                         —

Hidden is a great new romantic suspense novel from Rebecca Zanetti. It is the premiere of the Deep Ops series, and there are two more books coming up in a couple of months. I love it when an author doesn’t keep fans waiting for long periods of time!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting. Zanetti introduces quite a few secondary characters and arching plot points that are clearly meant to carry the series through more than just the first book. I like when this happens in a series. To me, “community” within a book is what sets a series apart from standalones!

Most of the characters are a little whacky. You can tell that the world has chewed them up and spit them out and they are more than a little out of sync with society because of it. But it also leads to some interesting situations and wildly amusing anecdotes in the midst of a serious and fast-paced plot.

Even the dog is crazy!

West came up on the other side in case the dog made a move on Nari. What was it with the tie? It was blue with a red crisscross design on it. Pretty boring…

Force handed the tie to Roscoe. Snarling and growling, the dog took it over to the corner, where he started ripping it apart.

Tension permeated the room. Adrenaline flowed freely.

Forced eyed his calming dog. “I thought we were doing better with that. Hmmm. Okay”.

Suffice it to say, no one wore argyle again.

There is a lot of action in the Hidden, from shootouts and knife fights to bombs and abduction. This quote is from the start of one of my favourite scenes.

Strong arms banded around her waist from behind, and a hand clapped over her mouth. Her body seized. It took a second for her brain to catch up with reality.

She tried to scream and the large, male hand muffled the sound. The man lifted her right off her feet and turned, forcing her past the archway in the opposite direction from her car. Panic burst through her, and she started to struggle, fighting against him with all her strength.

I would highly recommend this book to readers of romantic suspense!

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Pieces of her (Karin Slaughter)

pieces

Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person – and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

—                       —                       —

This was another audiobook I could not put down. I listened to it in just three sittings, and still wish that there was more. I listened while I worked, commuted, snuggled the cat, cooked, folded laundry … nothing was more important than finishing this story.

I am a huge fan of Karin Slaughter. I only started reading her work around a year ago, but I have quickly fallen in love with her style, and her stories have drawn me further into the thriller genre. I will devour any book she puts out.

Pieces of Her switches perspectives and time periods, between the 1980s and 2018. I was thoroughly engrossed and emotionally invested in Slaughter’s characters. This book was heavily reliant on a fast-paced plot to drive the story. There was much less graphic violence than the other standalones this author has published, and I would easily recommend it to someone new to her, or to the genre.

There were a few points in the book that brought out some light-hearted humour to balance out the heavy tone predominant throughout the chapters. I liked the author’s references to pop-culture references. When Andi first is on the run, she can’t think straight and so falls back on tv and movies as her aliases. Hence, her proclamation that she came from the town of Mystic Falls.

I will definitely be picking up the next audiobook as soon as Karin Slaughter released a new book!

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xx

Breaking Meredith (Disciples #4)

meredith

For five years – one thousand, nine hundred and twenty-two nights to be exact – I’ve watched her from afar…

Protecting her. Keeping her safe from the world.

And stalking her every move.

What started as a favor for her brother has grown into something so much more.

A full-blown obsession.

I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, unless I get my Meredith fix.

Claiming her could start a war, and might very well result in my death.

But she’s mine, she’s always been mine.

She just doesn’t know it yet.

—                         —                         —

What to say, what to say, what to say. Breaking Meredith is not what I expected.

Meredith is Lucifer’s estranged step-sister, who has been living in Europe since before the series began. She isn’t painted in the best light. Meredith was previously painted as a superficial socialite which is not true at all. However, she is also depicted as a super smart individual who is actually pretty airheaded and powerless through the entire story.

The anti-hero, Simon, was also unexpected. He has a serious serial killer vibe going on in past books. Super intelligent, emotionally detached, and the biggest germaphobe in the world. He reminds me of a stronger, better looking version of the Lord Varys from Game of Thrones. They even share the same nickname, “The Spider”.

Well, our Spider loves to torture enemies and is into some rough lovin’ as well. I fully expected him to be a sadist, or at least have sadistic traits in the bedroom, but he doesn’t. This would have stepped the darkness up a level in the series, which is marketed as dark romance, so I was disappointed that this expectation of mine was unmet.

Overall, this was my least favourite book in the series so far. I hope that the author will write another one at some point though. The series didn’t feel finished, especially with James single out there, but I haven’t found any evidence online that the author is working on another at this point.

Them: why we hate each other – and how to heal

them

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing American Adult, an intimate and urgent assessment of the existential crisis facing our nation.

Something is wrong. We all know it.

American life expectancy is declining for a third straight year. Birth rates are dropping. Nearly half of us think the other political party isn’t just wrong; they’re evil. We’re the richest country in history, but we’ve never been more pessimistic. What’s causing the despair?

In Them, bestselling author and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, our crisis isn’t really about politics. It’s that we’re so lonely we can’t see straight—and it bubbles out as anger.

Local communities are collapsing. Across the nation, little leagues are disappearing, Rotary clubs are dwindling, and in all likelihood, we don’t know the neighbour two doors down. Work isn’t what we’d hoped: less certainty, few lifelong coworkers, shallow purpose. Stable families and enduring friendships—life’s fundamental pillars—are in statistical free-fall.

As traditional tribes of place evaporate, we rally against common enemies so we can feel part of on a team. No institutions command widespread public trust, enabling foreign intelligence agencies to use technology to pick the scabs on our toxic divisions. We’re in danger of half of us believing different facts than the other half, and the digital revolution throws gas on the fire.

There’s a path forward—but reversing our decline requires something radical: a rediscovery of real places and real human-to-human relationships. Even as technology nudges us to become rootless, Sasse shows how only a recovery of rootedness can heal our lonely souls.

America wants you to be happy, but more urgently, America needs you to love your neighbour. Fixing what’s wrong with the country depends on you rebuilding right where you’re planted.

—                          —                          —

I listened to this audiobook on the recommendation of a social media influencer I follow, Angie Braniff from This Gathered Nest. Although Sasse is an American Senator writing from an American point of view, I found it very interesting and his arguments are easily applicable to most other countries, including here in Canada.

Sasse self-describes as the second or third most conservative Republican in the Senate. There are limited points that I agree with Republicans on so it was particularly interesting for me to read a book by someone from whom my political ideology differs so greatly.

I was surprised though, by how much we did agree on points in Them. Sasse has authored books in the past and his experience is on display. His points were eloquent, factual and well-written. His use of quotes helped to structure and support his arguments, but were not so plentiful as to take over the narrative.

I appreciated his takes on community, technology and economic environment, and the relationships these factors have with social policy and politics.

I find it disheartening to witness so much vitriol and divisiveness on every online platform, as well as in interpersonal dialogue. His argument that the collapse of positive community structures has led to the development of anti-tribes is easily understood and something I wholeheartedly believe is true.

I highly recommend Them to anyone interested in politics, building stronger communities, or just wondering what the hell happened.

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xx

Buying Beth (Disciples #3)

beth

I thought he bought me to save me… but he’s keeping me for himself.

It was a girl’s night out gone wrong. Like some awful horror movie, my friends and I were grabbed in a dark parking lot and shoved into the back of a van.

Coming from powerful families, we thought we were untouchable.

We thought wrong.

Our captors trapped us, violated us, and put us up for sale on the black market.

Johnathan was sent to buy me so his boss, Lucifer, could have leverage over my father.

He was supposed to save me, protect me, and return me.

Not claim me and keep me for himself.

—                         —                         —

For dark and sinister mobsters, these guys can’t help but fall in love with a damsel and sign up for the instant family!

Jonathan goes undercover for Lucifer’s crime organization as a human trafficker, in place to purchase sex slaves for his boss. In reality, he is helping to shut down a ring that thinks they can operate in Lucifer’s city without his approval. But lets just go with Jonathan is the good guy here.

He buys Beth and a little boy while undercover, but instead of letting them go when the traffickers have been killed, he decides to keep them. Thomas is only six and has no family to be returned to, and Beth instantly becomes the apple of Johnnie’s eye. Add in her politically powerful and highly abusive father, and there is no way that Jonathan is letting either of those two out of his sight.

Jonathan is big and scary and romantic. Beth wasn’t a bimbo which was an improvement over the heroine in the first romance story. If you like dark (ish) romance, mafia heroes and single-mother love stories, this is one for you.

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xx

Stealing Amy (Disciples #2)

stealing

They grabbed the wrong girl.

They thought I was his wife, not the woman he’s obsessed with.

Ivan Romanov is one of the Russian mafia’s biggest financial backers.

And he’s been destroying my life piece by piece just to get me in his bed.

I never wanted to be in this situation.

Stalked.
Cornered.
Desperate.

I was doomed. About to be forced by a powerful man who was willing to take what I didn’t want to give.

Then he came, a demon in the dark. A dark voice that told me to be a good girl if I want to live…

—                          —                          —

Stealing Amy is the second book in the Disciples mafia series. Poor Amy happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, with someone who is very much the wrong guy for her. She gets picked up by Andrew, a made man in Lucifer’s employ, along with their target, her date.

Given that Amy is currently classified as collateral damage, and that Andrew clearly wants to “keep” her, she is under orders to return to Andrew’s house and stay with him. Although, they pick up her five year old daughter along the way.

Stealing Amy has a lot of similarities to Keeping Lily in that sense.

In both cases, the man falls instantly in love and decides to keep the woman he is convinced is for him.

I have a feeling that this will be a repeating trend throughout the story.

The relationship between Andrew and little Abigail is adorable though. He clearly has limited experience with little girls, but will do anything to protect the little Princess and make sure she is on team Andrew in the war to win over her mother’s love and affection.

This is an interesting and enjoyable single mother /  mafia romance that you will be able to read in a couple of hours.

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xx

Only Work, No Play

only

After two years of taking care of her heartbroken father, Evie needs a new start. Leaving the States and following her sister to Australia to work as the personal assistant of rugby star Xavier – The Beast – Stevens seems like the right kind of distraction.
Tall, muscled and devilishly handsome, Xavier is the lov’ em and leav’ em kind of guy. He never forgets a girl’s name because he never bothers to remember it in the first place.
Evie soon realizes that being Xavier’s assistant is a 24/7 job; the man seems unwilling to even set an alarm for himself.
As she watches him move from one woman to the next, Evie is glad that her heart is safe from his attention. After all, she’s a far cry from the size zero models he usually takes to his bed.
But soon being around Xavier doesn’t feel like a job, and seeing him walk around his apartment half naked all the time isn’t helping either. Evie knows that giving in to her attraction will lead to heartbreak, but when Xavier starts treating her as more than just his assistant, resisting his charms seems like an impossible task.

—                        —                        —

I have read nearly all of Cora Reilly’s romance novels, but this was the first time reading one that was not a mafia romance story. Only Work, No play is a sports romance novel that is set in Australia!!! As if I didn’t want to travel there badly enough already, lol.

Xavier is a pretty decent guy in private. He is the star of the best rugby team in Australia, and flaunts his wealth, privilege and star status in public, and in the bedroom.  But I could relate to him anyway. Xavier is a very private man, who plays up to the media as a rugby star in order to benefit the team and control the media’s prying into his life, to some extent. He gives money to non-profits privately, is an insanely loyal friend, a fantastic brother and would do anything for his family.

Evie is incredibly self-conscious about her weight and size, as most of us women are. She is especially so because she is surrounded by professional athletes every day, both at work and at home. I was glad to see another plus size lead character in a romance novel. And even happier that Xavier was not attracted to her despite her weight or because of her weight. He couldn’t have cared less about her physical looks, because they fell in love over a shared sense of humour, shared (nerd!) interests and an abundance of snark.

I did feel like this book finished rather abruptly. The majority of the time the author was bringing the hero and heroine together and once there relationship had become established as a girlfriend-boyfriend one for a couple of months, the story ended. Even in the epilogue, they are still a new couple of less than one year. A lot of romance novels end that way so I don’t know why it bothered me so much, but it did this time around. Regardless, Only Work, No play is absolutely a book I know I will read again.

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xx

 

My Secret Valentine (2018)

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A young woman takes advice from the notes that are left by a mysterious “Handyman” when a sales rep arrives with plans to buy her family’s winery.

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My secret Valentine is a 2018 Hallmark film set around – you guessed it Valentine’s Day. It stars Lacey Chabert (as Chloe) and Andrew Walker (as Seth).

I watched this movie for the first time and fell in love so I of course had to share it. Its a short, sweet movie with romance, family and good friends, and just a little cheese. I enjoyed my evening in on the couch, snuggling, eating chocolate and watching romance unfold. There were definitely a couple of moments when I could be Chloe!

Watch the trailer here! I promise, the acting is better than than the trailer makes it out to be.

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xx