Book Review: Take Me Home, Finding Home – Book #1

Author: Rachel Branton
Book Name: Take Me Home
Release Date: September 17, 2017
Series: Finding Home
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Family Life
Overall SPA: 3.5 Stars
3.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: What if everything you ever thought was true about your past, wasn’t true at all?

Liana Winn has always felt like an outsider in her family. As a child she was adopted by relatives after her parents’ plane accident in India, but now that she is as an adult, her disjointed memories—and nightmares—of the past continue to make it impossible for her to bridge the wide gulf she still feels with her adoptive family. She is plagued by questions about her parents’ deaths and wonders if that event is the reason for her inability to form deep personal relationships. Although her adoptive brother Christian has become her greatest friend and supporter, she even has difficulty bonding with him. Needing someone means love, and losing those you love hurts too much.

When Liana meets successful businessman, Austin Walker, who has risen above his own difficult childhood on a Wyoming farm, she’s certain their business will not extend to friendship. Yet she cannot deny their powerful connection and the feeling of hope he offers for romance.

But the ghosts of the past will not rest for Liana, and while searching for answers, she makes a shocking discovery that just might mean the end of everything she’s ever believed.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 3/5 Stars
Believability: 3.5/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 3.5/5 Stars

This has all the critical pieces of a heartfelt, emotional story. I was intrigued by Liana’s backstory and wanted to know why she held herself at a distance from people. I did struggle a bit to understand her coldness and forced distance toward her adopted family, mostly because of her age when she was adopted by them didn’t quite seem to fit with that kind of an extreme emotional reaction. As you move through the story, you see a bit more behind the why, but for me it never quite felt like a solid fit.

While this is classified as a romance, it isn’t the main focus of the story. That part is sweet, if a little light and fast in the founding of that relationship.

I was not a fan of Karyn’s character earlier in the book as she felt much, much younger and much more immature than her presented 20 year age, not to mention incredibly self centered. Even if I take into consideration the historical time frame of the mid/late 60s, that level of immaturity didn’t seem to make sense and it didn’t do much to garner any sympathy. Even some of the entries from later in her life, while a bit better, didn’t improve my opinion of her.

Between that and how cold and almost aggressively distant Liana’s character came across early on, the overall emotional impact of the story was brought down a bit for me. Overall, this was a good and interesting story, but it felt as though there were places that were missing tiny pieces that would smooth it all together.

 

*I received a copy of this book from the Author. Opinions stated are honest and my own.

 

On My TBR – October 2019 Edition

The end of September got interesting for me. Between getting into the groove of the new schedule with BG’s dance, managing my Amazon ad, and getting an influx of ARCs, several indie requests and all the books I picked up that I wanted to read, I’ve kind of felt a little swamped. For the first time ever, I’ve had to create a list of all the books I have obligations for and the dates so I don’t miss out on any. Feels kind of weird when you are mood reader.

Anyway, my TBR this month will reflect that list in its current state.


Anxiously Awaited October Releases:
Heartsong
Heartsong

Heartsong (Green Creek Book #3)
Genre: Fantasy, Urban
Release Date: October 22

Shattered Bonds
Shattered Bonds

Shattered Bonds (Jane Yellowrock Book #13)
Genre: Fantasy, Urban
Release Date: October 29

 

 


NetGalley ARCs:
Traces of Her
Traces of Her

Traces of Her
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Release Date: October 25
*The only book I didn’t get to in September, in part because of the late pub date.

 

The Empy Nest
The Empy Nest

The Empty Nest
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller
Release Date: November 1

 

 

The Other Daughter
The Other Daughter

The Other Daughter
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: November 5

 

 


Library:
Lost You
Lost You

Lost You
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller

 

 

 

Things You Save in a Fire
Things You Save in a Fire

Things You Save In A Fire
Genre: Romance

 

 

 

The Missing Years
The Missing Years

The Missing Years
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

 

 

 

Archangel's War
Archangel’s War

Archangel’s War (Guild Hunter Book #12)
Genre: Fantasy, Urban

 

 

 

Stolen Things
Stolen Things

Stolen Things
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

 


KU/Open Reads (No Due Date)
Blood Echo
Blood Echo

Blood Echo (Burning Girl Book #2)
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/SciFi

 

 

Book Review: If Only I Could Tell You – Hannah Beckerman

Author: Hannah Beckerman
Book Name: If Only I Could Tell You
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life
Overall SPA: 2.5
2.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Audrey knows that life is filled with ups and downs, but she can’t help feeling like she’s been dealt more than her fair share as she’s watched her family come undone over the years. Her dream as a mother had been for her daughters, Jess and Lily, to be as close as only sisters can be. But now as adults, they no longer speak to each other, and Audrey’s two teenage granddaughters have never met. Even more upsetting is the fact that Audrey has no idea how to fix her family as she wonders if they will ever be whole again.

If only Audrey had known three decades ago that a secret could have the power to split her family in two, but ironically, also keep them linked. And when hostilities threaten to spiral out of control, a devastating choice that was made so many years ago is about to be revealed, testing once and for all Audrey and those she loves.

Is it too late for one broken family to heal and find their way back to each other…?

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 2.5/5 Stars
Believability: 3/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 2.5/5 Stars

This was a pretty heavy read. I wasn’t a huge fan of how heavy and how much focus was spent on the more negative aspects of how people can break apart when faced with grief. While plausible from the perspective that everyone deals with grief differently, I’m struck that I’ve found yet another book in which none of the characters deal with that grief in even remotely healthy ways. I struggled to care about the characters because of that. There is very little in the way of uplifting through this because of that focus.

The story is very well written and can wrench some strong emotions from a reader with some of the subject matter that gets presented here. It just leans too heavily on the negative side of the emotional spectrum for me.

 

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. Opinions stated are honest and my own.

 

Sunshine Blogger Award

I’m kind of weird about these things and tend to just not do them if I’m nominated or tagged. I’m stepping out of that weirdness for a moment to participate in this one. If you are interested in all the reasons why I’m so weird about it, that is posted below the award piece. I will note, that the very, very few times I’ve done something like this, I rarely play by the rules. This won’t be an exception.

WHAT IS THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

RULES:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions. (This is the rule I’m breaking)
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post/or on your blog.

I was first nominated for this by Nen & Jen. At the time, I declined to participate (see weird me). When Sascha also nominated me, I decided to just get over myself and do this one. Thank you for thinking of me!

 

Nen & Jen Questions:
  • What was the last book you strongly disliked?
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

My review is here and there are a few too many reasons to list.

 

 

 

  • How does your star rating system work for your reviews (if you use one)?

My system is maybe a little complex, but I go into details here.

  • What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Thin crust ham or Canadian bacon and mushrooms with light sauce is usually one of my favorites, but so few of my family members also like it, I rarely get it.

  • Would you rather read a great plot with mediocre characters, or a boring plot with amazing characters?

I really am not a fan of either. I need both to really enjoy a book, though bad characters are a peeve.

  • How many books are you currently reading, and which one is your favorite so far?

I’m in between as I just finished a book. I also never read more than one at a time.

  • What was the last book review you posted?
Brave the Tempest
Brave the Tempest

Brave the Tempest

 

 

 

 

  • Do you prefer MG, YA, NA, or adult books?

Adult

  • Is there a popular author you’re NOT interested in reading anything by? (Elaborate if you’re comfortable doing so!)

Honestly, there are probably quite a few, but nothing specific comes to mind.

  • What marginalized rep would you most strongly like to see more of in books?

Nothing comes to mind.

  • Do you listen to music while reading?

I used to, but I can’t anymore because if music is on, I’m either trying to sing along or I want to get up and dance and I can’t do those things and read at the same time.

  • Do you prefer book twitter or bookstagram?

I’m only on Twitter. There are only so many places I’m willing to dedicate my time that I’m not reading to. Adding another would cut into that time.

 

Sascha’s Questions:
  • Required reading in school. So many books we didn’t want to read. Was there one you actually enjoyed?

The one that seems to stick with me most was Lord of the Flies. Probably because we did a mock trial after reading the book. I actually enjoyed most of the books required, just not the work of analyzing and answering the questions. Honestly, there were a lot of books that I wanted to read that were only presented in the AP level classes and I wasn’t on that track thanks to a petty teacher that wouldn’t approve my advancement even though I had the grades. I’ve still not read those books.

  • Is there a scene from a book that has stuck with you? Why?

I don’t remember the author or the name of the book, but it was one of the first ebooks I read, so I wasn’t really paying attention to progress like I would have in a print book. No clue how close I was to the end. The book was tagged as a romance, but it ended with the main male love interest dying in a car crash. You literally finish the book at the moment he died and there were a mountain of strings left unfinished. It pissed me off to no end because that is NOT how a romance should ever end. I spent probably 5 minutes flipping between pages thinking that there was something wrong with the copy I got and that pages were missing, or that I’d hit something wrong and advanced too far. Nope. It really ended that way. It made me mad enough to not even consider picking up the next book.

  • Is there any movie that you’ve liked more than the book it was based on?

I don’t do a lot of both, but probably The Last of the Mohicans. I’m convinced it is because I watched the movie first.

  • What book would you recommend to….anyone?

Any book that is on my favorites list.

  • Do you have a bookish guilty pleasure?

None that I can think of.

  • Is there a hyped book that you hated?
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

I wouldn’t say exactly that I hated it, but I really wasn’t a fan.

I’d list the book I mention above with the scene, but I’ve managed to block out the name of it. Apparently I disliked it that much.

 

 

  • Stuck on a desert island…what 4 authors’ books would you bring?

I can only answer this because you gave me 4 authors and not just 4 books. If forced to pick only 4, I end up dying while I stood around trying to decide.

Anne Bishop, Faith Hunter (with all her pen names, just because it gives me genre choices), Michelle Sagara (West), and… dang… I thought that would be easier. Nope. Maybe G.A. Aiken/Shelly Laurenston (I get to keep them both since it is again pen names) to add the humor variety to the mix even though they are all still fantasy.

  • If you’re a writer (or secretly want to be a writer—I won’t tell 😉 ) who would you most like to write like?

I honestly can’t say. There are things I admire, like the ability to create stunningly vivid worlds or to lay down gut busting irreverent humor that I’d love to be able to do, but I never really felt like I wanted to write like anyone in particular. I’m not sure I could give you an author to compare with how I wrote.

  • What’s your favorite setting for reading?

The quiet of my house while everyone is at school or work, snuggled on my couch under a blanket. It is even better in the winter when the decorations are up and the fire is blazing.

  • Ebooks, audiobooks, hard copies. Do you favor just one?

I prefer the versatility and ease of ebooks.

  • Do you have a favorite book quote? If not, a favorite scene? If not, a favorite character? If not, a favorite anything book related? 😉

Again, the favorites thing…  How about I give you 2 (and only because I remember them)?

“…feline buttholitis of the face.”N. R. Walker’s Upside Down

“Titus! Come on up, dude. We have beer.” – Faith Hunter’s Dark Queen This is only because of who said it in the book and the situation it was said in. It was kind of epic.

Nominees:

This is me breaking the rules. I’m not nominating anyone, but if anyone wants to grab any of the questions, please feel free. Tag me if you do as I’d love to see your answers.

Reasons I’m weird:

I’m not completely sure why I’m so weird about awards and tags (because yes, this applies to those too), but there are a few reasons I can articulate.

Often I feel like I just don’t really have anything to say to fit whatever it is, usually because questions fall into lines like “What is your favorite [fill in blank]” and I just am not a favorites person, especially if I’m forced to only pick one or two of something. Another part of it is that, as much as I may write about stuff here, I avoid some things because it just feels weirdly private. Or it feels like I’d bore readers to tears because I’m really not that interesting.

Then there is the whole tagging of other people thing. Sometimes it feels kind of like the whole mess surrounding picking teams or being invited to join certain clubs and being the one on the outside or picked last. I understand, intellectually, that that isn’t the thing here, but it touches on some of those emotions and I don’t want to make others feel that way. It also tends to push against my introvert tendencies and participating in things like this means stepping out of my comfort zone.

I don’t think these kinds of awards or tags are bad. Not at all. I find it fun to read a lot of these. They just tend to make me feel uncomfortable when I get tagged or nominated, because I just don’t know what to do with it most of the time, even though I do appreciate when someone thinks of me when they are participating.

Last Of The Rose Of Sharons

Not just the last this year, but quite possibly the last from this bush as it doesn’t look like it is going to survive. It was doing amazingly well for years, but this year a large piece of it died back. Hubby trimmed it  and it looked like the rest of the bush was going to snap out of it, now the whole thing looks like it is barely hanging in there. It breaks my heart as that bush is huge and has been the one to hang on with so many other plants in my yard didn’t make it through.

Just Realized…

I have lived in this house longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere else. A little over 15 years. This beats the last record that, if I remember correctly, was about 14 years.

Not that this is any particular day that would have triggered this, just something that popped up in the book I just started that made me think about this fact. Just one of those “Huh. Wow!” moments that is kind of cool. It’s a little mind breaking that there is a pretty high probability that I’ll be here (happily so) for many, many years to come.

I can only imagine all the family memories that will continue to seep into these walls as the years go by. Walls that have only ever experienced the memories of this family. Just some really nice warm thoughts on a really dreary, rainy day.

 

Almost Bloom

I have one of my mums just now starting to show some color and petals. I have 2 or 3 different colors (I honestly can’t remember if one is different or not) and this is the only one that is starting to put on color, so I have a little ways to go before I get some actual flowers.

I’m hoping that the storm we had blow through here last night didn’t do too much damage. I’m not certain I’ve ever been in a storm that kept dropping hail for that length of time before. It would start, hail for a few minutes, then drop off to nothing or almost nothing. Within 10 minutes or less, we’d get another round. And we aren’t talking little pebble or pea sized hail, either. This pattern kept repeating for almost 2 hours. It was a little freaky to say the least.

Hail With Size Scale Reference
Hail With Size Scale Reference

We also got a ton of amazing lightning. I took advantage of the opportunity and attempted to get a decent shot, trying out what worked well the last time by doing a video. Turns out, I’m an idiot. I had managed to capture this incredibly amazing mass of bolts. It was stunning to watch. I saw it show up on my camera screen so I knew I managed to get it. I got to edit it out of the video only to realize I didn’t have it completely focused, probably because I was shooting through the glass door and it was rain coated. I could have cried. I had this epic, probably damn near one in a million shot and I was out of focus. *sigh* It looks okay when I keep it REALLY small.

Very Blurry Web Of Lightning Bolts
Very Blurry Web Of Lightning Bolts

Patchy Clouds

These were from the other night. Some of my favorite types of sky photos are ones like this where there is this really deep contrast between the clouds and the sky. These took it one step further than just an amazing color of blue with the typical white clouds because this was late evening, probably about an hour or so before sunset. This added some dramatic shadows on the clouds making them look kind of angry, but they were still the small slightly fluffy types.

Patchy Clouds
Patchy Clouds

Book Review: Brave The Tempest, Cassandra Palmer – Book #9

Author: Karen Chance
Book Name: Brave The Tempest
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Series: Cassandra Palmer
Order: #9
Genre: Fantasy/Urban/Romance
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
4 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Cassie Palmer has been chief seer of the supernatural world for a little over four months. In that time, she’s battled two gods, fallen in love with two men, and confronted the two sides of her own nature, both god and human. So it’s not surprising that she currently finds herself facing two adversaries, although they have a single purpose: to wipe out the supernatural community’s newest fighting force, leaving it vulnerable to enemies in this world and beyond.

To prevent catastrophe, the vamps, mages, and demons will have to do the one thing they’ve never managed before and come together as allies. Cassie has the difficult task of keeping the uneasy coalition intact, and of persuading her own two opposing forces, a powerful mage with a secret and a master vampire with a growing obsession, to fight at her side. She just hopes they can do it without tearing each other apart

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4.5/5 Stars
Series Continuity/Expectations: 4/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 3.5/5 Stars

This book showed me that I still love this world. There is so much to enjoy about it and it is incredibly well built. The common theme seen in previous books, the one where Cassie is constantly knocked down and isn’t even back on her feet to take a breath before she gets knocked right back down again, is, thankfully, not as prevalent throughout this book.

Sadly, in it’s place is a massive amount of rehashing the events in all the previous books. It isn’t all at once, more sprinkled throughout the book, but it is way more than was probably needed for the majority of readers since you simply cannot read these as standalone and not be utterly lost. Mentioning a previous event in another book is one thing, going into a lot of those details made this feel bloated.

For the first half of this book (maybe a little less), you spend a lot of time with Cassie either “remembering” some of those events or doing an awful lot of navel gazing. On one hand, this is a bit refreshing because the reader isn’t being constantly batted around by the events, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like you are actually getting anywhere.

If you look back at Cassie from the first books in the series and compare them to the Cassie in this book and you don’t see much growth or change. Granted, all 9 of these books happen over an incredibly short period of time, but SO MUCH has happened, you think that how she reacts to all the stuff thrown at her would have progressed at least a little. That lack of growth has become really frustrating for me.

There is a point, later in this book, where you think this is finally getting addressed and you are going to get to see some progress with it. Then, in classic Cassie Palmer style, things start to get knock down, attempt to stand, but get knocked down again before you can get your balance and you lose that forward progress.

As I mentioned before, I still really love this world. I enjoy most of the characters, but the overall progress in the last few books feels like running in place a bit and it is frustrating. Yes, there is some change, but it feels sort of like a lateral move rather than a forward one.

 

Other areas of note (not included in the SPA rating):

Cover: 2/5 Stars

Why does it feel like the covers for these books have regressed the age of Cassie with each new release? I get that she might be on the young side (mid 20’s maybe?), but she isn’t a teenager. Please don’t make her look like one. This one seems to be the least fitting cover in the series.

 

Book Review: Fast Women – Jennifer Crusie

Author: Jennifer Crusie
Book Name: Fast Women
Release Date: May 1, 2001
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Mystery/Humor
Overall SPA: 3.5 Stars
3.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: When a down-on-her-luck divorcée meets a determined-to-dominate detective, they find out that falling in love can be murder. . . .

Nell Dysart’s in trouble. Weighed down by an inexplicable divorce and a loss of appetite for everything, Nell is sleepwalking through life until her best friend finagles a job for her with a shabby little detective agency that has lots of potential and a boss who looks easy to manage.

Gabe McKenna isn’t doing too well, either. His detective agency is wasting time on a blackmail case, his partner has decided he hates watching cheating spouses for money, and his ex-wife has just dumped him . . . again. The only thing that’s going his way is that his new secretary looks efficient, boring, and biddable.

But looks can be deceiving, and soon Nell and Gabe are squaring off over embezzlement, business cards, vandalism, dognapping, blackmail, Chinese food, unprofessional sex, and really ugly office furniture, all of which turn out to be the least of their problems. Because soon, there are murders. And shortly after that, Nell and Gabe start falling in love. . . .

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 3/5 Stars
Believability: 3.5/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 3.5/5 Stars

I picked this one up based on a recommendation for something on the funny side of things (thank you nananoyez!). The first 1/3 or so of this absolutely did it’s job with that and was exactly what I was looking for. Nell’s breakdown was just absolutely epic and I loved every second of it.

After that point, things start to level out and you get less of that humor and a bit more serious as the story begins to focus more on the relationships and the background mystery. I wasn’t a huge fan of how Nell and Gabe treated each other for the bulk of the story, so the romance part of this fell a little flat for me. There is a whole lot of toxic going on there and with every relationship in this book, but since this is more than just a romance, I was able to look past that enough to still enjoy the rest of the story.

The mystery part was decent if a little over the top. I’m not certain if I missed pieces or there just weren’t any hidden indications for the reader to be able to figure it out along the way, but the end and wrap up was a bit of a surprise.

The time frame of this story is around the early 2000s, so just a heads up to anyone that hasn’t read this that there are a few points with some dated references that tripped me up a few times because for some reason I expected this to be set in the current decade. It didn’t impact how I felt about the story, it just threw me a bit.

In all, the humor threaded throughout this story is what makes the book in my opinion. Since that was exactly what I was looking for, this hit the spot.

 

 

Book Review: One Night Gone – Tara Laskowski

Author: Tara Laskowski
Book Name: One Night Gone
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Mystery/Supsense
Overall SPA: 2.5 Stars
2.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: It was the perfect place to disappear…

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all…

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 2.5/5 Stars
Blurb: 2.5/5 Stars
Peeve Factor: 2/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 2.5/5 Stars

While this was an ARC for me, I was kind of floored by the extreme problems I ran into with the formatting in my Kindle copy. It was so bad at times, I very nearly could not read it and came close to not finishing it because of this issue. Being continually ripped away from the story by the distraction of that problematic formatting made it difficult for me to really get into the story and it has colored, to some degree, my perception of the book because of that inability.

Looking past that, I didn’t feel like this was a good fit for me.

The blurb for this, while technically representative, I felt was a bit misleading as it makes you think you are in for a really suspense filled story. Instead you get a lot of daily minutiae from the perspectives of the two main characters that doesn’t do anything to add to the suspense of the story. This made parts of this feel as if they were dragging.

I didn’t feel as though Maureen’s character came across as sympathetic. If anything, she was opportunistic and cold, making it hard to care about her story. While Allison’s character comes across as more sympathetic, she continually made frustratingly obvious bad choices with regards to believing what she was told. For a character coming off a betrayal, you’d think she wouldn’t have been quite so immediately or blindly trusting with people she didn’t know.

The piece that dropped my opinion of this the most was how this ended. You do get an interesting twist, but it was twisted and then revealed in a way that annoys me when it comes to the mystery genre (the Scooby Doo reveal). This is absolutely a personal taste thing, so I can see how others would really enjoy how this wraps up.

Overall, the writing was good, but I struggled with the relatability of the characters and the overly dramatic ending that happens all at once after a slow development of the story. I just don’t think this was a good story fit for me.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Book Review: Hellion, 415 Ink- Book #3

Author: Rhys Ford
Book Name: Hellion
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Series: 415 Ink
Order: #3
Genre: Romance/LGBTQIA
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
4 Stars

 

 

Blurb: From the moment SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls meets Ivo Rogers, he knew the tattoo artist was going to bring chaos to his neat orderly life. A hellion down to the bone, Ivo is someone Ruan not only doesn’t understand but isn’t even sure he needs to. Everything about Ivo is vibrant, brash, cocky and arrogant and Ruan wants no part of him.

Or at least that’s the lie he tells himself when he damps down his desire for the social wild child life tosses into his path.

For Ivo Rogers, his life revolves around two things; his family and 415 Ink, the tattoo shop he co-owns with his four brothers. His family might be stitched together by their battle scars from growing up in foster care but their brotherhood was tight—and strong enough to hold Ivo together during the times when he fell apart.

Now Ivo faces a new challenge when he falls for a cop with an old-school mentality on what a man looks and acts like. Ruan is the promise of a life Ivo thought he’d never have but their thunderous clashes threaten any chance of a relationship. Being the family’s hellion makes it easy to be misunderstood yet Ivo has faith Ruan will not only embrace who he is but love him as well.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4/5 Stars
Believability: 4/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 4/5 Stars

From the beginning of this series, I have thought that Ivo was going to be the most interesting character to read about. Now that I’ve read this, I still think he is probably my favorite (at least so far), but he is still very much on par with all the other great characters in this series so that is only by a narrow margin.

Ivo broke my heart in a couple of places through this. I counted probably a half dozen lines that poked really hard at some of my soft, raw spots. Especially the concept of feeling as though it was so easy to be thrown away.

Even with all that, I don’t think this was my favorite of the series because I think I expected or wanted something a bit more from his book. It’s probably just that I wanted more overall and I’m not quite ready to see less of Ivo yet.

Amazon Book Ad Progress

I want to start this by saying that I am by no means an expert. This is only what I’ve learned about Amazon ads from a very narrow perspective and the results from that experience.

I have been running my add for about 20 days now. I’ve learned quite a bit, but I think I still have a long way to go before I feel like I have a solid feel for how it all works. I’ve honestly been pleased even though there have been a few mixed results with it.

The type of campaign I chose was a manual targeted campaign by genre as a sponsored product. You can also do one that targets keywords or you can allow Amazon to run the direction with automatic targeting. There are a couple of different options for placement. You can be a sponsored product or you can choose to show up on lockscreens. These settings cannot be changed (that I’ve found) once you’ve begun your campaign.

Ads are based on bids for a per click price. There are lots of different options for setting this up and I won’t go into that here, but these are things that you can change at any time throughout the life of the ad.

I initially attempted to target two different genres, neither of which were what I would have said my main genre was (not sure why I missed my main one when I set it up, but… ), but one wasn’t one that is a breakdown of genres in the menu list, but something you often see related to rankings. This is something I’ve never fully understood about Amazon, but it has been where I saw every bit of my success. I would normally say my main genre is Family Life Fiction as this is the menu option when searching for books. What I tripped across when setting up my ad was Women’s Domestic Life Fiction, which isn’t in that breakdown list, but is one of my ranking categories. The most significant difference from what I could see between these two with regards to my ad was the fact that the top of the bid price range for the WDLF genre was less than half that of the FLF genre.

There is a lot to figure out with regards to bid price, how that translates into cost per click and, what isn’t something your ad metrics track, the percentage of those clicks that translate into a sale. The biggest problem I seem to have run into is trying to find the sweet spot of a price per click result that at least broke even to the amount I made per book sale. The metrics in your ad only shows you total dollars sold and total orders, so you have to do some work outside of your reporting to figure all this out (and thankfully I’m married to a math geek to help me with all that) because orders also does not equal number of books. If someone bought 5 books, it only shows as one order, so this throws things off. Every single one of these pieces vary depending on how much you make per book, which may be different for an ebook than it is for a paperback.

I still don’t completely understand the purpose of the bid range, but I did see that if I had my bid price at the high end, if not just over the max, I got a lot of impressions, clicks and at least an order per day. That is awesome to an extent. The problem is that per click price plus the number of clicks ended up being more than what I made on those orders. Some days. If I dropped my bid price to the lower end or even the recommended price, I got very little to no clicks. When you have such a low dollar profit, those click prices need to be really low, so finding a target that works for your book and has a low range are critical.

Overall so far, I’ve spent more on the ad than I’ve earned. If I’m seeing the numbers correctly, all of my sales have been because of the ad. But, the amount earned vs. spent is only one obvious part to this. Ads do other things that impact your book. When you are selling, it improves your ranking which improves your chances of being seen organically outside of your ad. It also gets you more readers that will potentially review your book (I haven’t seen this happen yet, but not everyone gobbles a book up as quickly as I do).

It also gets you reads through Kindle Unlimited and those reads do not show in your ad metrics at all so you have no clue how many of them are because someone saw your ad. These reads do get you additional payment and are quite possibly because of your add which would skew your spent vs. earned ratio. The way KU pays out, you may not know for a month or so how much you made from those reads, especially if you are new to KU.

Because this was mostly a test run, I didn’t exactly expect to see a lot of tangible results. I’m calling this a win even if I spent more than I earned at this point. I think, since launching this ad, I’ve more than tripled the number of sales I’d gotten since I released my book and that is a win all it’s own. I’ve seen nearly 4,000 page reads through KU. Again, I see this as a huge win even if I have zero clue if this number is high or low or average. It is more than zero, so… win. I have learned how to run an Amazon ad and what and how to tweak things along the way.

There are other cons to the Amazon ads. You can only access these ads if you are enrolled in Kindle Select (from everything I’ve seen). KU reads not showing as part of the ad metrics. The ad metrics aren’t live and the data could be off by 12 hours, give or take. Needing to monitor the bid pricing because these do fluctuate often and sometimes by a wide margin which is a big part of why these numbers not being live are problematic. Paperback sales tend to show up in ad metrics before sales metrics, but ebooks show up in sales before in the ad metrics, so this can throw your numbers off.

Everyone has to decide what works for them and what doesn’t. Someone in a different genre may find they have a completely different experience. There was recently a discussion on Twitter about this and several others had mention their success with a keyword campaign. I’m thinking that may be my next test if I can manage to get a bit closer to the break even point with this ad.