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Juniper Grove

Blog of author Jaidis Shaw!

Book Review: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

One Was Lost - Natalie D. Richards

While on a field trip, a group of students are thrown into a crisis when large amounts of rain cause a river to flood and wash out a bridge. The students are forced apart - four students and a teacher on one bank while the other teacher and two students remain on the other side. With night approaching the students must set up camp and wait out the rain. As easy as that may seem, the students wake up the next day in a daze, the teacher is severely ill, and someone has been in their camp and destroyed their belongings. Accusations are quick to fly and the students are left not knowing what to do or who to trust.


After reading the blurb for this book I was really intrigued. I love suspense thrillers and I knew the story could have great potential. The story starts with the students already in the woods on their field trip and I really enjoyed that. I was thrust into the characters' lives and the environment that they are enduring. I felt a connection with them and felt bad at their current situation. Once the mysterious character enters the picture - destroying belongings, writing words on their wrists, cutting hair, etc - I was urged to keep reading so I could see how the story ended. Without giving away spoilers, it was immediately clear to me that certain characters (whether active or just mentioned in passing) either were or were not guilty of being involved. I think the author got so wrapped up in trying to create confusion on who was involved that some parts had too many details. It really slowed the story down for me.


Overall, the story was intriguing and I finished the book in two sittings. I was able to guess the antagonist about midway through, which was a little disappointing, but their motive was a surprise to me. I also liked the message that the author was trying to send, or at least the one that I took away from the story. Though we may come from very different backgrounds, we all have issues we are going through and you should never judge a person without knowing them.

Book Review: Nurse Blood by Rebecca Besser

Nurse Blood - Rebecca Besser

I had the pleasure of reading the first edition of this book back in 2013. I’ve thought about the story ever since because it just grabbed onto my soul and refused to let go. So imagine my surprise when I found out that a new edition of the book was being released by Limitless Publishing. I was so excited to read the new version, see what was different (if anything), and get to connect with the characters again.


I must admit, I did have to go back and read parts of the original story because I couldn’t quite remember every little detail from the first time I read it. I did notice that the new edition flowed much better! I fell right back into the story and clung to every word as I experienced the emotional journey of each character involved.


Ms. Besser isn’t afraid to tackle some subjects that other authors shy away from. The brutal truth is that things like organ harvesting does happen on a regular basis even if we’d like to pretend that it doesn’t. But what drives the people behind the act to take part in it? Is it for a worthy cause or to satisfy a sadistic pleasure? Ms. Besser has developed her characters in such a way that the reader may actually feel for them and their reasons for being okay with taking organs from another human. I don’t think it's possible for anyone to read to  Nurse Blood and not experience a variety of emotions that makes them question what they would do if they were in Sonya’s shoes.


I said it in my last review and I’ll say it again: In Nurse Blood, morals will be questioned, relationships will be broken, and sanity will be tested. It was a 5 star read in 2013 and it is absolutely a 5 star read now. I can’t wait for book two to come out because I really need to know what happens next or this book will haunt me forever.

Book Review: Winner Takes All by Erin Kern

Winner Takes All (Champion Valley) - Erin Kern

Blake Carpenter has fallen from grace. Previously at the top of his game, a drug scandal and busted knee quickly ended his professional football career and sent him packing to a Colorado town. There he must try to build back up the public image he lost and coach a losing high school football team to the play offs. With everything riding on whether he can lead his new team to victory, Blake doesn’t have time for distractions. In particular, a distraction named Annabelle Turner.


Annabelle is a physical therapist and must have everything her way. She’s headstrong and passionate, especially about the team that she works with. When the new coach arrives and is pushing the boys to new levels, her concern for the team is heightened, along with the feelings she’d swore she’d never feel for anyone again. Though she is attracted to Blake, she knows that nothing will come from the heat that she feels when she is near him. He doesn’t do serious relationships, and she doesn’t do casual flings.


What I absolutely loved about this book was that instead of rushing into a relationship, the characters waited. The author enhances the characters with each passing chapter, chipping away at the superficial elements and adding to their true selves rather than shoving them into bed. It allowed me to get to know the characters and I was invested in them and eager to see where they would go, whether that was down the same path or on individual journeys.


Winner Takes All is a true must read romance novel with heart.

Book Review: Curse of the Sphinx by Raye Wagner

Curse of the Sphinx  - Raye Wagner

Hope has spent her entire life running, frequently moving to stay alive. Hope and her mother are being hunted by Skia (shadow monsters), various demigods, and even Apollo himself. When her mother is murdered, Hope is left to fend for herself, and she hides away in a small town while her aunt tries to find out who is responsible.


Athan is tall, handsome, and has his eyes on Hope. She is mysterious and refuses to let anyone get close, especially him. As Athan falls for Hope, he realizes that there is something special about her, and he will do whatever it takes to protect her.


I enjoyed this story, especially later on, but there were a few parts that disconnected me from the story. In those parts, I felt like there were inconsistencies in the story. In the prologue, it is clearly stated that Athan knew about Hope's situation as he was there when her mother was killed. He knows who is responsible and is given the task of finding Hope and even waits around for her to show up. Here's a quote from the book:

A dark-haired woman flung open the door and ran toward the building, nearly colliding with him.

"Best be careful," he warned, and pulled her to a stop.

Giving Athan the benefit of doubt, even if he didn't realize that the woman was Hope, she is clearly close to the woman who was just killed. He even saw what she looked like, yet later in the story when he meets Hope he has no idea who she is. It was just a little hard to believe that he was given the important task of finding the Sphinx's daughter and when he sees a woman who was there that day, he doesn't make the connection.


Also, as I began reading, I got the impression that even though people learn about mythology in school that demigods and other creatures did their best to remain hidden. It's just a feeling that the beginning of the book has, but halfway through the story it shifted. Everyone knows about demigods, characters comment about having friends that were demigods, students are even being killed by Skia at school in front of crowds. The feeling now is that it is widely accepted to be a mythological creature, but yet everyone has a fear of being killed. If the fear was that great, wouldn't more demigods go to the temples for safety rather than live normal lives in the public eye? It just confused me and kept me from totally investing myself in the story.


I did enjoy seeing how the relationship between Hope and Athan developed. It will be interesting to see where their relationship goes, provided that they are given the chance to find out themselves, and to see what the future holds for Hope. If you like mythology, check out Curse of the Sphinx.

Book Review: Burn by L.L. Hunter

Burn (Hidden Magic Book 1) - L.L. Hunter, Desiree DeOrto, Rogena Mitchell- Jones

Emmaline was born into a long line of Dragon Shifters and has powerful magic within her. Yet, as a teenager, Emmaline doesn't want to become queen. She wants to experience life, experience love. When she meets the enticing Darcy, her life changes forever.


Burn is the prequel to the Hidden Magic series. We meet young Emmaline and learn what her feelings are about her future. One night changes her life and she returns to the life she was destined for; to become queen and rule over the supernatural community. The prequel ends with Emmaline in modern day and running into a person from her past. While this is a very short read, maybe five to ten minutes, it does a good job introducing you to Emmaline and leaves you wanting to know more about her. I'm excited to see what happens next.

Book Review: The Chosen Knights by Mary Ting

The Chosen Knights (The Angel Knights Series) (Volume 2) - Regina Wamba, Mary Ting

Lucia and her brother Zach are part human and part angel. This alone makes them unique but they have also been trained to hunt demons. So when teens in Hawaii go missing, they are tasked with trying to find out what is going on and who is responsible. In order to achieve this, they must learn all they can about being human so that they can try to blend in. This proves difficult, especially when Lucia starts to have feelings for the enticing Eli.


The Chosen Knights by Mary Ting is an exciting read that had plenty of action, intrigue, and romance. There were a few places where I got lost, mainly toward the beginning, where the story would jump around to quickly. It was a little distracting and I had no problem sitting the book aside. But once I got deeper into the story, I was unable to stop reading and stayed up late finishing it. The chemistry between Lucia and Eli is remarkable! Eli is mysterious and totally swoon-worthy! The other characters were well-developed and have traits that can be related to, even though most of them are supernatural beings. This was the first book that I have read from Mary Ting. Even though it is suggested to read the prequel first I didn't feel as though I was missing anything important to the story line. I do look forward to reading more, even though this one ended in a cliffhanger.

Book Review: Rival Seduction by Alexandrea Weis

Rival Seduction - Alexandrea Weis

Heather is a strong ER nurse who is constantly running from her past. Building walls around her heart, she has shut herself off from men and romance in general. It's just easier that way. Instead, she puts her focus into her horses and jumping them in competitions. Nothing can take away the thrill of winning.


Enter Grant Crowley...


Grant is a sexy cattleman who has a habit of getting under Heather's skin. His confidence is appealing to her, but his rumored way with the ladies he dates keeps her from viewing him as anything but a rival. Not to mention he is always beating her in the horse competitions they enter. Before either Grant or Heather know it, their lives are thrust together and they are forced to confront their rivalry and the chemistry that is building between them.


I really enjoyed Rival Seduction! The last several books I've read have had paranormal elements so it was great to come back to reality, so to speak, and read a book between normal people and the raw emotions that they are going through. The author portrays the emotion and tension in a way that easily grabbed my attention and kept me reading. I felt for both Heather and Grant and the issues they were going through in their separate lives, in addition to the issues they faced when confronted with each other. The sexual scenes sometimes bordered on too rough, but that's just a personal opinion. Sometimes horses aren't the only things that need to be broken before they can reach their true potential. Definitely a HOT read!


For mature 18+ readers only due to sexual content.

Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

Spider's Bite - Jennifer Estep

Gin has been on her own since her family was tortured and burned in a fire. She is eventually taken in by a BBQ restaurant owner and he teaches her the skills to be an assassin. She easily masters her craft and becomes known as The Spider. Soon she finds herself in trouble after a routine job doesn't go as planned, and she must fight, once again, to survive. She'll do whatever it takes to find the person responsible for turning her life upside-down.

This one was a little tough for me to rate. I really enjoyed the main plot. I felt for Gin and her struggles growing up alone, being taken in and taught to survive. She's made a life for herself and has a new "family" that cares for her. However, there were a few things that prevented me from connecting to the story. There were a couple of scenes that contained some steamy tension between Gin and a police detective. While it was good in theory, the scenes were so scarce and felt forced. I just couldn't believe what the author was trying to portray. The other main issue that got to me was that there were several phrases repeated. In almost every fight scene, or scenes where she was preparing for a fight, I was reminded everywhere she places her knives. Same places, every time. I found myself skimming those places because I knew what they were going to say. My initial thought was to rate Spider's Bite a 3, but ultimately I went with 4 because I did like how independent and confident Gin was. She made a great protagonist and I can see her skills as an assassin only getting better throughout the series.

Fooling Around With Cinderella (Storybook Valley 1) - Stacy Juba

Jaine Andersen needs a job and she is hoping that Storybook Valley is the place to find it. With a background in marketing, she is certain that she has what it takes to thrust the amusement park back into the spotlight. But things start heading in a different direction when the general manager, Dylan, hires Jaine only on the condition that she fill the role of Cinderella while they try adjusting their budget to accommodate her marketing plans. With princess school underway, Jaine reluctantly steps out of her comfort zone and into Cinderella's Castle.

However, the magic starts to fade as it becomes clear that something wicked is set on destroying her career. Jaine will have stand up for herself and what she wants, even if that means losing those that mean the most.

Fooling Around with Cinderella was a fun read! The relationships that Jaine has are realistic. With Dylan, it's difficult as they try to find a balance between working together and resisting their attraction to each other. With her sisters, Jaine is constantly struggling to help them while not being taken advantage of. Not to mention the pressure of being a perfect Cinderella for the children. It was exciting to watch as Jaine's character grew and the sweet romance factor made it hard to put the book down. Fooling Around with Cinderella was certainly a guilty pleasure read for me and I highly recommend it.

I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Red Girl, Blue Boy - Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Katie has dedicated her entire life to helping her father on the campaign trail. Nothing exists in her world other than keeping her eye on the prize and helping her father work his way up the political ladder. Her dedication pays off when her father is the lead Republican nominee in the race to the White House. Nothing should be able to distract her from the campaign but Drew does just that.


Drew has never wanted to be in the political spotlight. But after his father comes into some money, thus changing their lives forever, his mother sets off to achieve her dream of becoming president. When she becomes the lead Democratic nominee, Drew starts to realize that he won’t be able to stay out of politics, especially when his mother’s opponent’s daughter calls him a whip on national television.


I was intrigued to read Red Girl, Blue Boy from the synopsis. I’ve been reading some heavier material lately and thought that this would lighten the mood up and provide a quick and fluffy read and it did just that. The characters are lightly written, revealing just enough detail to get the job done. I liked the chemistry between Katie and Drew, during both the good and bad times, but wish I would have seen a little more development. They are both quick to judge and believe rumors which I found to be a little disappointing since the political world revolves around rumors and hearsay.


I do, however, feel that this book will be good for younger readers who are curious about politics. If it gets them involved, hopefully they will take that into adulthood and it will help encourage them to stay involved and vote.


If you are looking for a slightly cheesy romance that is a quick read, look no further. It was great to pass the time and I would consider reading another from this standalone series.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion.

Goddess - Julie Anne Lindsey

Callie Ingram is a high school senior with a lot of choices before her. After recently dying and coming back as the rightful leader of the Vikings, she begins to question what her future holds. Just when things appear to be going smoothly, Zeus shows up to claim his favor and Callie is tasked with trying to stop an angry mob of frost giants. Will Callie be successful in her new role as leader or will the giants be too large to handle?

I was unaware when requesting this book from NetGalley that this was book two in a series. Thankfully it is written in a way where I didn't feel lost, though I am curious about a few minor details that I'm sure were introduced in book one. My main issue with this book is that while reading it I kept getting the feeling like I'd read it before, though this is the first time I've read a book by this author. I looked up book one and haven't read it either so I'm not sure why it is familiar. Perhaps I've read another book with a similar story line.

Though nothing in particular stood out to wow me, it was a pleasant read. I enjoyed the chemistry between Callie and Liam, though they both could be stubborn at times. The writing flowed nicely and the story set a great pace. I wish there had been a little more development in some areas, more details on secondary characters that would allow me to connect with them more, but all in all it was a nice read.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows - Liza Gardner Walsh, Hazel Mitchell

Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows is a whimsical tale that questions what fairies do during the winter months. Do they hibernate? Do they bundle up? What do you believe?


The book is stated as being for grades Preschool – Second Grade (2 – 7 years) but I think that is stretching it a bit. My daughter is seven and just entering second grade and it took her maybe two minutes to read it. It’s definitely more appropriate for younger readers. That said, my daughter did enjoy it as she loves fairies and has asked before what fairies do when it’s cold outside. The text is accompanied with cute drawings while will help appeal to younger readers as well.


Overall, a cute read.


I was given a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summit of the Wolf (Silver Wolf Clan Book 4) - Tera Shanley

Silver wolves have gone extinct, or at least that is what everyone thought until Morgan became one. Being the only one of her kind, and the only bloodline that is able to have werewolf offspring, Morgan is now in high demand. The rival packs will do anything to claim her, even though she has already been claimed by alpha wolf, Greyson. Will being claimed stop the bloodshed caused while trying to take her or will the ones in power have other ways to put her breeding ability to good use?

Morgan is a strong woman and wolf. Due to events that have taken place in her past, she has some trust issues that she is trying to work through. It seems that when she finally makes progress, something else occurs that will set her back. People she has grown to care for are dying while trying to protect her. Morgan and her mate travel to the annual summit so that they can stop rumors and address the other packs directly. The tension was there and it kept me reading but I would have liked some of the loose ends wrapped up. We meet a character in the beginning, who appears to have some importance, but he never shows back up or is explained. It was as if he was just written in to take up space. If there are more novellas in this series, hopefully he will be explained in greater detail.

Summit of the Wolf is the fourth novella in the Silver Wolf Clan series. I was unaware of this when I requested the book from NetGalley because neither the description nor the cover indicated that it was book four. I only realized that it was part of a series when I opened the book on my Kindle. Though I was able to read the story fine without having read the previous three installments, I was left trying to fill in the missing pieces. Enough was mentioned in this story that I can guess what happened but I really wish I knew exact details. In my opinion, this isn't able to stand on it's own so be sure to read the others before this one. It was an enjoyable read but having read this one first, I'm not likely to go back and read the others since I know how it all plays out.

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

Wrong Number, Right Guy (The Bourbon Street Boys Book 1) - Elle Casey

May Wexler has found herself in a tricky predicament. After she receives a text from her sister in need, she rushes off to a biker bar that is most certainly not her usual hangout. Instead of her sister, she finds herself scrambling to safety after bullets start flying. When mysterious Ozzie comes to the rescue, May doesn't know whether to trust him or run for the hills. If she decides to trust the man with the beard, will her life change for the better or will she be left with a bullet in the heart?

This book is a hard one for me to review. On the one hand I found the humor refreshing. There were several moments where the dialogue or situations were funny. There was a chemistry between the characters that provided the familial joking and teasing. But on the other hand I was slightly disappointed with some of the characters. May, for example, would be a stubborn, high maintenance sarcastic woman one minute and then be cowering in the corner the next. Her character really jumped all over the place and so it was hard to connect with her. Ozzie was the same. He was written to be this chiseled hunk of a man who is tough on everyone and expects nothing but the best from people, but then whenever May is around he did a complete turn around. While some change of heart is expected, it is a romance novel after all, it just wasn't believable for me. I had a lot of trouble investing myself into the world the author created but stuck around hoping for something more. The ending was really rushed. The whole book is leading up to this big moment, trying to show the just how bad the antagonist is, but when everything plays out it takes only a moment and then it's over. It was a tad disappointing to be honest.

All in all, this was a light read that was enjoyable just for the comedic relief. It's nice to have some laughs while reading since so many books are heavy with drama these days. This is the first book that I've read by this author and since I'm so on the fence about this one, I would be willing to read another from this author.

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

The Ghost of Popcorn Hill - Betty Ren Wright, Karen Ritz

Brothers Peter and Martin love living at Popcorn Hill. It's an exciting place for young boys to have adventures. What else could they want? A dog of course. Not only can the dog accompany them on adventures but it can protect them from the eerie laughter they hear of a night in their room. When their parents finally consent, they head to the local humane society in hopes of adopting the biggest dog ever. Their plans quickly screech to a halt when their father won't allow them to get the big dog they want and so they relent and get a smaller variety. While the boys are happy to have a dog, they still wish they could have gotten a different dog. Their frowns quickly turn upside down when a stray sheepdog, a much bigger dog, shows up.

The Ghost of Popcorn Hill was a quick and pleasant read. My seven-year-old daughter read it first. She expressed her joy about the dogs. She questioned why the boys weren't happy with the dog they adopted so the moral of this book is easy for younger minds to grasp.

I was happy with how the book ended. I won't give spoilers but it was nice to see the lesson the boys learned and how they faced their fears in order to help someone in need. I'd happily get the other books by this author for my daughter to read.

Slammer - Tabatha Vargo

Christopher, otherwise known as X, has been sentenced to prison for two murders. Prison quickly changed him and he has lost the boy he was and is now a force nobody wants to mess with. He exists from day to day but doesn't have a purpose. Then Lyla walks into his life.

Lyla is having some financial troubles due to student loans and is forced to take a job at a prison to make ends meet. She knows the job won't be easy but she keeps her head up and does her best to block out the barrage of comments thrown at her by inmates. Little did she know that her life would be changed forever when she is introduced to a notorious inmate named X.

Slammer was a quick read for me because once I began reading, I didn't want to stop. I read it in just a few hours but it has taken me several days to write this review because I'm still trying to gather my thoughts and figure out what I want to say. Not a day goes by that I don't think about this book. It's gotten under my skin and I just can't shake it, and I'm not sure I want to.

Lyla is a strong and independent woman who will do whatever it takes to survive or to help those that she loves. X is a complex character who appears to be tough and ruthless, but still has a spark of life that prison hasn't taken from him. When their hearts connect, Lyla looks into X's case and sees that some of the pieces aren't fitting together so she puts her own life on the line to find out. Does X deserve to be in prison for murder? Was it all a set-up? With each page it had me questioning how it would end.

This is absolutely an 18+ read only due to graphic violence, explicit sexual content, and abuse. Not for the faint of heart but Slammer will leave you speechless.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.