Five Stars, High Violence, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Language, Moderate Romance, Nichole Van, Three Stars

Give me a Break

Weekly Reading Round Up

With all the changes and life adjustments happening… this week I needed something familiar. I needed something that would make me smile and make my heart happy. Nichole Van‘s House of Oak Series might just get the label of ‘my favorite series ever’. It’s high praise, but well deserved. And I read them all this week, and loved them all over again. We’ve already given you our effusive praise for this series here. house-of-oak-series-by-nichole-van-L-m199uJ

However I realized in re-reading that post that I hadn’t mentioned my most favorite book in that series, which is Clandestine (book 3).

I love Marc and Kit’s story. It makes me laugh out loud. Modern pop culture references in a regency era setting make for some fantastic moments. I remember the first time I read it, I just about dropped my phone with the twist she throws in. Intelligent, witty, emotional writing was exactly what I needed this week. I could read this series again and again and be delighted every time.

***** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

Aeva the Wild by Claire Marion 41hog8XXkSL

I (Aimee) had never read anything set in the viking era and it intrigued me. I should have processed however, the reality of how vulgar the vikings were into my decision to pick this book up. It is very violent, including sexual violence. And though there wasn’t a ton of language for most of the book, it oddly picked up in the last twenty percent of the book. So while the author was fantastic and the plot was very well done, the ratings are a lot higher than I’m comfortable with.

***Moderate Language, High Violence, Moderate Romance (The consensual romance was moderate. The sexual violence is categorized under the High Violence)

 

His Lady in Hiding by Jen Geigle Johnson41+midp8xiL._SY346_

You can find our blog tour review on this great book here.

 

 

3 1/2 Stars, Five Stars, Four Stars, High Violence, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Nichole Van

Empathy

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Weekly Reading Round Up

Romancing the Rake (Brotherhood of the Black Tartan book 2) by Nichole Van512MgKu-MUL

Confession, I (Nikki) get book hangover from Nichole Van’s books. Every. Single. Time. After finishing one of her books I can’t start another for a couple days, (which is kind of a big deal in my life). Even if I try to start another one I can’t get into it until I flush the fabulousness of Nichole Van’s writing out of my system. Not that whatever I pick isn’t also fabulous, but… book hangover. Her characters are not only layered, but uniquely engaging with specific quirks that you love. Rafe and Sophie were fascinating studies in human nature. Nichole Van is an expert at hooks. She keeps you reading well past your “one more chapter” and gives you so many leads (in a good way) that you’re never really sure of the outcome until you’re reading it. My most favorite thing about this book was how it showcased the author’s ability to get you to feel empathy, not just compassion or sympathy, but true empathy for the characters. I feel like’s it’s an understatement to say it gave me all the feels.

***** Low Language, Low Violence (though physical violence is low, just a heads up the book deals kind of heavily with emotional abuse, but it’s handled very well) Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Lost Shadow (Neverwood Chronicles Book 3) by Chanda Hahn 51ijCvA+nrL

I (Aimee) loved the pace of this book. It was exciting and the author kept the suspense up.  There were a few times when I was so mad at the character for being stupid, I had to put the book down and walk away. Sometimes I can’t decide if that’s a good thing because I’m super invested in the characters or a bad thing because it pulled me out of the story. I wasn’t sure if she wasn’t going to be able to close up all the loops because there was so much happening that something I had a hard time following it all, but she wrapped it all up at the end and even had a “whoa, I did not see that coming” kind of ending.

*** (and a 1/2) Low Language, High Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

I (Melanie) had a thing for quarterbacks and Maggie Dallen this week apparently. I read:

The Quarterback and the Ballerina (The Ballerina Academy book 1) by Maggie Dallen 51MDGPg1UGLand Anne-Marie Meyer

and

Dating the Quarterback (The Bet Duet Book 2) by Maggie Dallen517nAIhDdGL

 

Both books were quick fun reads with characters that had depth and well written growth. Both were super cute.

****Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Annette K. Larsen, Esther Hatch, Five Stars, Four Stars, Heather B. Moore, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Romance, Nichole Van, Rachael Anderson, Uncategorized

Fanciful

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Weekly Reading Round-up

A Note of Change (Timeless Victorian Collection book 5)

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Waiting for the Post by Esther Hatch –  A fun and lighthearted second chance romance with just the right amount of angst.

A Ring of Gold by Nichole Van – I love her writing. Sometimes while reading you connect with a character, or the plot. On rare occasions you find a writer whose writing, her words, her characters, her humor, her descriptions; the whole story speaks to your soul. Nichole Van’s writing is like that for me every single time. This one was no different.

A Rose by Any Other Name by Annette Lyon – A  cute cinderella story with sweet tender moments. I felt like the descriptions were a little wordy for me, but the romance was really well developed for a novella.

**** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

PowerPlayHeather B Moore51ZsIjNEAJL

I’m more drawn to romances that are both sweet and realistic and this story was both. Sometimes when reading a romance the adults, don’t actually act like adults. I loved these characters and I loved their dynamic! Though I know next to nothing about hockey…it made me want to go to a hockey game.

**** low language, moderate romance, low violence, low religion

 

A Foolish HeartMartha Keyes50390637._SY475_

This story was absolutely delightful. As a fan A Midsummer’s Night Dream I was interested to see how she would tweak it. I loved all the subtle nods to the original and found it fascinating how she twined in the different original characters. I especially appreciated Mercy’s character development. Her grown maturity was well written. The author created really great tension and some awesome scene shifts. As a whole it was highly entertaining; a some how fanciful and yet realistic regency. (released March 3rd, pre-order now!)

***** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

All That Stands Between UsAnnette K. Larsen 51gPBtupRLL._SY346_

A more healthy Romeo and Juliet with a Happily Ever After. My favorite thing about Annette Larsen’s writing is the emotion. As I read her stories I always feel every tug and pull of the character’s heart as if it was my own. All her stories are beautiful and this one was no different. I always come away feeling more.

**** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

The Solicitor’s Son –  Rachael Anderson51-249QIswL

All her covers are beautiful I could just live in them. I love the familial relationships she always builds so well, they were so invested in her happiness. Rachael Anderson is a great story teller and this one is Super adorable!

****low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

Five Stars, Four Stars, Heather B. Moore, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Nichole Van, Timeless Romance Anthologies

Learn to Fly

For some unlucky reason I keep picking up books that  I’ve read before, not realizing until the second or third page that I’ve already read it. I understand the purpose of re-releasing a book that was part of an anthology, or needs a new cover. Same book, different title or cover can make a difference in sales for an author. As a reader it can be a little disappointing to get all excited about a new book only to find out it’s not a new book.

On the other hand, I LOVE it when I find a novella or short story that I enjoyed has been rewritten as a full length novel. I love seeing new details and getting in deeper with characters I came to love the first time around.

I found that to be true in both Seeing Miss Heartstone by Nichole Van. Which was originally published as “An Invisible Heiress”, in the Spring in Hyde Park (Timeless Regency Collection Book 3).  As well as Let’s Begin Again by Heather B. Moore. Which was originally published as “Every Occasion” in the Valentine’s Day Collection (A Timeless Romance Anthology Book 19).

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Miss Belle Heartstone—heiress and savvy businesswoman—needs a husband. Immediately. As in, yesterday would not have been soon enough. Her mother’s attempts at matchmaking have been disastrous. So Belle decides to solve the problem her way—survey the market and purchase the best groom available. 

Colin Radcliffe, Marquess of Blake—debt-ridden and penniless—needs a large infusion of cash. Desperately. Preferably cash that does not come with a wife attached. It is no surprise, then, when he receives Miss Heartstone’s brazen proposal—her cash, his title, their marriage—that he politely declines. 

But before he leaves her, Blake suggests something truly radical: Maybe before finding a husband, Belle should find herself. 
His simple words send them both on an unexpected journey, spanning continents and years, entwining their lives in ways neither could have foreseen. Can two lonely souls move past societal expectations and forge a unique life together?

I absolutely adored this story when I read it the first time in Spring in Hyde Park. Nichole Van’s characters are always well written and fascinating to read; either in a novella or a novel. Seeing in more depth the transformation Belle takes just made me love her character even more.

This was also true with my favorite detail added to the longer novel. I loved getting to see more of Blake’s response to Belle’s identity. His response was not only true to character, but written so emotionally well that I felt his conflict for myself.

I was pulled in instantly the first time around, but can’t imagine not having the beautiful details that were added to the full length novel. It’s a new favorite and fully deserving of the recent Whitney Award Finalist announcement.

Let's Begin Again (Pine Valley Book 7) by [Moore, Heather B.]

When Maurie Ledbetter moves back to her hometown to open her dream shop, she calls a local construction crew for help. Former teenage crush Grant Shelton shows up on her front porch, answering the call for the construction job. Seeing Grant again brings back Maurie’s memories of her troubled childhood, and she doesn’t know if spending time around Grant is the best way to move on. But when she discovers Grant has gone through difficulties of his own, Maurie realizes that he might be the key to her own healing.

I was excited about a new Pine Valley novel, and like I said, a little disappointed when I found out I’ve already read it. I remembered liking the story in the timeless anthology so I kept reading and I’m glad I did.

The story of Maurie and Grant was even better fleshed out. Heather Moore did a great job of balancing the drama of their past with the sweetness of their current relationship. The pain of they’d both experienced was written honestly and up front which gave a great depth to the overall story.

Novella’s are awesome to give you a little taste of the story, but nothing beats the story depth and character development you can get from a full length novel. Part of me wants to write the authors of some of my favorite novella’s and say, please do more with this, I love it!

Five Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Nichole Van

Endings…I both love, and hate them

Confession, I have a love/hate relationship with endings. There are times I stay up much too late, just so I can get to the end of the book. Then again, that’s the end, there’s no more. Dealing with no more when you’ve been immersed in the loveliness of a story can be a little jarring. Book hang-over, it’s real my friends.

It is due to this love/hate thing I have with endings that I was both eager for Nichole Van‘s A Madness Most Discreet, and a little apprehensive. I was well aware that this was going to be the end of the Brother Maledetti’s stories and wasn’t sure if I was quite ready to cope with an ending. The thought of getting into Tennyson’s head however, was too tempting to not devour the idea, the first chance I got.

A Madness Most Discreet (Brothers Maledetti Book 4) by [Van, Nichole]

They call him the Prophet, the man who can foretell the future. A modern-day oracle. And Olivia Hawking desperately needs his help. She tracks him down in Italy, begging for his assistance. She has a life-or-death problem that only a bonafide psychic can solve. But Tennyson is slowly fracturing from within, the weight of the D’Angelo curse destroying him. 

Olivia and Tennyson join forces, each searching for answers. But their understanding of the D’Angelo curse keeps changing, and Time is not on their side. Even as they fall in love, Tennyson and Olivia realize they are in a race against the clock. Will they find answers in time to save themselves? 

The characters that Nichole creates in all her novels, are written with such unique personalities, their voices coming through clearly as she shifts from one perspective to the next. Not only is each character’s voice individual, Nichole creates beautiful pairs, two halves of the same whole. It’s a intriguing balance to watch unfold with each of her novels, Tennyson and Olivia were no exception. Two messes, two broken yet singular characters who compliment each others weaknesses and bring life to an already compelling story.

Tennyson’s dark madness and Olivia’s light fumblings made for not just a great relationship, but great reading. The pairing of the darkness of their situation with the lightness of their “three stooges bungling” scenes was fabulous writing.

Nichole’s stories are awash with emotion. Tennyson’s mental stability and Olivia’s insecurities were not just story elements, but part of the whole and Nichole draws you in with those emotions. Emotions you feel all the way to the end. A wonderful ending that came with a few surprises, and all the tender scenes a lover of endings could want. Nichole’s Epligoue wraps up each of the brothers, leaving me feeling happily contented that I got to enjoy such a well written journey. –N.C.

PS- If you are having a hard time with the official ending of this series, don’t worry, you could always read the adorable beginning.

Lovers and Madmen (Brothers Maledetti Book 0) by [Van, Nichole]

“Florence, Italy. Summer, 1982.

Judith Campbell prides herself on her level head. She’s a scientist with a ten-year plan, a well-managed bank account, and a clear understanding of what she wants out of life. Currently, that means a summer of fun touring Europe with her friends. She intends to see some amazing scenery, flirt with a cute guy or two, and return home ready to settle down for good. Falling madly in love with an Italian playboy is definitely not on her life goals to-do list. But then her eyes meet those of Cesare D’Angelo across a crowded piazza.

Cesare is everything Judith never knew she wanted. Handsome and charismatic, he challenges her assumptions and forces her to rethink her logical approach to everything. Case in point–Judith finds herself falling for him, hard and fast. Definitely not her most carefully thought-out decision. But Cesare keeps devastating secrets that will challenge Judith’s very understanding of reality. And soon Judith finds herself facing the most difficult decision of all–

Would you still chose to love someone even if your time together would be brief? Would you accept a relationship, knowing that only heartbreak and grief awaited you in the end?”

 

 

Five Stars, Low Language, Low Violence, Moderate Romance, Nichole Van

Modern Day Renaissance Woman

I don’t think I could adequately tell you how much I love the Brother’s Maledetti series (which is currently on sale on Amazon!- links below), between that series which we’ve posted about here.  And the House of Oak series which we posted about here. We are huge Nichole Van fans. And have you seen her photography?! She’s like a modern day renaissance woman. If you’re not following her on Instagram you really should, which you can do through the giveaway at the bottom of this post.

“An ancient curse, fractured at the birth of three brothers.
Two strangers helplessly drawn to each other.
A love story two hundred years in the making.

Claire Raythorn arrives in Florence, Italy, shattered, alone, and anxious to rebuild her life—preferably one without men. But she soon finds herself hunted and haunted— literally—when a mysterious stalker dressed like Mr. Darcy from BBC central casting appears in her photos. And only her photos. Who is this man? And what does his ghostly presence mean?

Dante D’Angelo simply wants to safeguard his brothers, despite the family curse that hounds his vision. But then Claire Raythorn walks into his life, untouched somehow by his curse. Soon, everything Dante thought he knew about himself starts to unravel, dragging Claire down with him.”

“Branwell D’Angelo . . . 
Six years ago, I fell in love with Lucy—my brother’s girlfriend. Stupid of me, I know, but sometimes the heart doesn’t listen to reason. 
Six years, I’ve lived on the sidelines. Seeing him love her, be with her, bask in her sunshine . 
I watched her break his heart and then cleaned up the shattered pieces of him she left behind. 
She’s the one woman I can’t have but still the only one my soul wants. 

When tragedy strikes Lucy Snow on a visit to Italy, she can’t bring herself to call any of the D’Angelo brothers for help. There are consequences for falling in love with your ex-boyfriend’s brother. But Lucy desperately needs Branwell’s paranormal skills and his gift of Sight. And if seeing him will negate at least three years of therapy? Well, it’s a price she is willing to pay. “

“Chiara doesn’t like Jack. Jack doesn’t like Chiara. The story should end there. 
Except . . . maybe Chiara finds herself daydreaming far too often about Jack. And maybe Jack finds Chiara aggravating in an adorable sorta way. Maybe Jack and Chiara find themselves falling in love. The problem, of course, remains.  Jack is a ghost.
And Chiara is not. 

But tackling the problem of Jack’s ghostliness is not straightforward. Soon, Jack and Chiara find themselves embroiled in a mystery which creates more questions about the D’Angelo brothers’ gifts of Second Sight.”

 

 

Author Nichole Van

Nichole Van is a writer, photographer, designer and generally disorganized crazy person. Though originally from Utah, she currently lives on the coast of Scotland with three similarly crazy children and one sane, very patient husband who puts up with all of them. In her free time, she enjoys long walks along the Scottish lochs and braes. She does not, however, enjoy haggis.

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway Details
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 3/9/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Enter Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Five Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Nichole Van

I’ve just had an apostrophe

So we’re trying something new today. I confess I’m not sure how it’ll go, but we’re trying it anyway. One of the unique things about our blog is that you get book recommendations from three different points of view. If you’ve noticed the initials at the end of each of our blog posts, those indicate which one of us wrote that particular review. Even though we’re sisters, we’re all three very different. Sometimes however we read and love the same thing! So today we’re giving you what two of us thought about Nichole Van‘s Lightning Struck in the form of a kind of conversation we had then typed here for your enjoyment. Maybe if we become techies we’ll do a video in the future.

Lightning Struck (Brothers Maledetti Book 3) by [Van, Nichole]

“Chiara doesn’t like Jack. Jack doesn’t like Chiara. The story should end there. 
Except . . . maybe Chiara finds herself daydreaming far too often about Jack. And maybe Jack finds Chiara aggravating in an adorable sorta way. Maybe Jack and Chiara find themselves falling in love. The problem, of course, remains.  Jack is a ghost.
And Chiara is not. 

But tackling the problem of Jack’s ghostliness is not straightforward. Soon, Jack and Chiara find themselves embroiled in a mystery which creates more questions about the D’Angelo brothers’ gifts of Second Sight.”

NC – This book was phenomenal, to start with, let’s talk about her amazing ability to convey the feelings of a ghost. I confess I’ve never been a ghost, and don’t know if I could channel that kind of understanding. His yearnings for human contact, his sense of purposelessness, and endless.

MV- That reminds me of one of the quotes you highlighted, “…our eyes couldn’t keep silent.” Even with two characters who couldn’t touch she was able to create chemistry.

NC- I loved how she gave the two main characters empathy in their loss. Him with, well everything, and her with her father. Chiara says, “Loss could describe me, but loss didn’t have to define me.”

MV- It will change you, make you better or worse. It can make you a lot of things, but it doesn’t have to define your life.

NC- All these examples are proof that Nichole Van does a really good job of connecting a reader to a character’s emotions. And yet it’s not just that.

MV- She pulls things out like, “Seeking help doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re smart.”

NC- And you’re invested in the story not just emotionally but intellectually as well. The best writers involve more than one faculty, pulling on all your senses.

MV- Not in the way where it’s too hard, or too deep.

NC- It doesn’t make you work to the point of making your head hurt. Like pulling in the lightning. The symbolism was beautiful. The way she used it throughout the book and then flipped it on you at the end was masterfully done.

MV- Like the dreams, I kept wondering where she was going with it, and then she used them to pull Chiara even more into the story and the “curse” and her father, I loved it.

NC- Also how she used the crazy ancestor, whose name I’ll have to go look up, but starting with him, was a great foreshadowing. The chapter anchored you in to needing to know what happens next. But it was also a great subliminal message, whether she meant it or not. It’s often the over looked, or the dismissed “crazies” that hold the greatest answers.

MV- Her writing is always full of little gems of wisdom. Entertainment in the best form, engaging, touching, and uplifting.

NC- She ended with one. “We would live happily ever after, Chiara and I. Why did I know that? Because we were both committed to becoming our best, most-whole selves.” That’s what love is about. Twenty-Five years down the road chemistry and passion will not be what has held you together, but being committed to being your best self, will be.

MV – Not being the best you your partner wants, but your best self.

NC- It was brilliant of Nichole to start with the tension and friction of the characters in the beginning. Showing how much they annoyed each other, than used those things to draw the characters together and help them see that’s exactly what they each needed and then to end with that thought, was a beautiful narrative arc.

MV- So Five stars from me

NC- and me, definitely a must read. Can’t wait for Tennyson’s story!

Five Stars, Low Language, Low Violence, Moderate Romance, Nichole Van

Soul Mates

I don’t believe in soul mates. I know how can a romantic like myself confess to not believe in “the one”. It’s almost a paradox. I do believe that there are people out there that bring out your best self and can make you you’re most happy. However, I see it as more of a choice we make than cosmic fate.

Nichole Van wrote a series entitled “House of Oak”. The last book of the series is entitled Outshine and came out in April of this year.

The premise of the series is this, “Time is a vast cosmic sea, where each life exists as rippling circles on its surface, past and future being eternally present. And occasionally, one expanding ring tangles with that of another, linking two lives together even though separated by centuries.” …which seemed a little too mystic soul mates hokey to me, but I gave the first book a try. Loved it!

The series didn’t change my opinion on soul mates, but I adored all the books, and I’ll tell you why.

Nichole has a very intelligent voice in her writing. A mature intellectual voice that has you believing that time portals and cosmic circles are in fact, just that, actuality. She writes her characters thoughts and dialogue with such wit and humor that it throws the mystical back at you. You realize half way through their debate that you’re defending things you didn’t think were real. That is writing at it’s best.

Most of the series takes shifts between the present day and the 1800’s. You would assume that such a jump would get confusing, but Nichole shifts so effortlessly between the two time periods in dialect, sense and setting that you feel the inner shift yourself as the characters travel through time. In addition each character is portrayed so uniquely that even their varying responses to suddenly finding themselves in a new era are fascinating. They reflect in detail the personalities she’s prescribed to them.

Though we have differing opinions of the whole soul mate thing, I had to appreciate the way she wrote the romance. She uses this line in Divine (book 2), “After all this time, she finally saw the person he had always been.” It resonated with me. I don’t believe that love changes us fundamentally. If you are with someone hoping to change them, good luck with that. Love doesn’t change, it both softens and amplifies. Love strips away masks and sets us free to be our best selves. Each relationship in this series was a stunning portrait of this.

The other theme running through her series that left an impression on me is the idea that Happily Ever after isn’t a state of never ending bliss. “Joy and pain are just two sides of the same coin” is an oft repeated line in all the books. You  see exquisite joy and tremendous sorrow and deeply feel them all.

A series that surprised me, touched me, had me laughing out loud and even eventually come to have compassion for and fall in love with the pompous jerk is a must read. –N.C.

PS- You can read about Miss Belle Heartstone (from Refine -book 3) in the Timeless Regency Collection Spring in Hyde Park.