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Vacation Flirtation…or More? (Winter Getaway Romance Series) by Stacey Komosinski – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Vacation Flirtation...or More? (Winter Getaway Romance Book 1)Vacation Flirtation…or More? by Stacey Komosinski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a romance book about a girl named Giuliana. Her and her best friend take a girl’s trip every year for their birthdays. Unfortunately, this year her friend’s flight is delayed a couple of days and now she needs to figure out how to spend her time on the island. Lucky for her, she meets a guy on the plane who ends up at the same hotel. They quickly have chemistry, but it’s more than that. Landon is a lawyer in New York, but his rich uncle just left him all of his assets on the tropical island that he now needs to decide what he will do with them. He needs to spend at least 3 months there before deciding. He never thought one of these decisions would revolve around a woman. The couple spends many magical days getting to know each other, slowly falling in love. They want more than just a fling and he pursues her for the long-term. She has had relationship problems in the past and is not sure if this is a good idea, but her heart is saying something different.
I loved this book. It was a sweet romance with no bs. The book is a quick read with little drama, great plot, and great banter/romance. Landon is just a gentleman and whatever girl fantasizes about having as a partner. Guiliana was also a great character. She is independent, strong, sassy, but also willing to let go. It was nice to read a romance book without the miscommunication issues, the constant “we can’t” issues, etc. I would read another book from this author.

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Elusive Surrender (Sinful Duets Book 3) by Via Mari – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Elusive Surrender (Sinful Duets #3)Elusive Surrender by Via Mari
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elusive Surrender is broken up into 2 books: Elusive & Tenacious. In Elusive, it is the story of Sheldon and Alexis. Sheldon is part of a security team (as in the first sets of duets) who accidentally runs into Alexis at a coffee shop and has to save her from an overbearing man. Sheldon has an instant attraction to her and luckily for him, circumstances lead him back to seeing her again. Alexis is a hairdresser who has an abusive past, but also struggling to seek the courage to have the relationship she wants. Alexis too is instantly attracted to Sheldon, but their relationship has to start off business because that “overbearing man” is trying to hurt and kidnap Alexis after she dismissed him. Luckily, Sheldon is in the position to safeguard her while they try to figure out who this guy is and what he wants with his future with her. This is a fast-paced story of a dominant (Sheldon) and a submissive (Alexis) trying to find their way in this entanglement. I enjoyed the story and both of these characters. She was feisty, brave, smart, and driven. He was also amazing in his protective, sweet, gentle, but dominant ways with her.
In the second book, Tenacious, this is the story of Alexis’ best friend, Allie and another member of the security team, Nick. Allie is a nurse at a local hospital who is entangled in this mess too since her and Alexis live together. However, what she didn’t realize is that Nick has been keeping tabs on her safety even when he was away. He has shown interest in her since the first time they met, but she does not want a relationship due to her past. However, when Nick takes over her detail, she starts to feel a connection to him. One night she spills a lot of info after drinking to Nick, and he sees this as his chance for an in. He comes to find out she is into the same type of “playing” as he is and they come to an agreement. They will forgo a relationship and only have a physical one at the club. However, because this “overbearing man” has so many friends they still are dealing with her and Alexis’ safety. When Allie’s life is in jeopardy, along with her friends, and many other women, she starts to have a change of heart. She starts to see Nick for the amazing man he is and things start to change. Again, this was a pretty good book, fast-paced and to the point. Allie can be a little annoying at times with her determination but ends up seeing her ways in the end. Nick, on the other hand, is a great character. He is determined, protective, patient, and good-hearted character.

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Savage Truth (Hidden Valley Elite Book 2) by Isla Vaughn – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Savage Truth (Hidden Valley Elite #2)Savage Truth by Isla Vaughn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Savage Truth is book 2 of this bully romance. The first book ends with Cole and Riley finding out that their parents are in love and getting married. Both were not happy about this due to the hate/love relationship they were harboring. Throughout a lot of the book, it is this back-and-forth of them wanting each other but hating each other. Cole tries making Riley’s life a living hell, so Riley decides to play him in his own game. However, this back and forth, ends with Cole being obsessed and possessive of Riley. As the story continues, the secrets of both families start to come to the surface, with each other finding solace in the other’s pain. Things become extremely apparent when Riley is faced with her past, her father. A father that wants her and her mother dead. Cole is now on the end of making sure nothing ever happens to her.
The first book in the series was so enjoyable I quickly read this one. I am a sucker for a bully romance and this was a good one. Both characters had great banter, chemistry, and character traits. Cole, while a bully, was also quite smitten with her and you could see him in the way he approached much of the situation. Riley, is a strong character with determination, but also a little bit naive. I also like the way the book ended. I feel when you are dealing with a “step-sibling” romance there is a lot of negativity from the family, etc, but things seemed pretty smooth and positive in how things transpired. I liked this book and the author’s writing enough to want to read the next set of duets.

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Cray Saves the Day (The Adventures of Cray Series) by G Pa Rhymes – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Cray Saves the Day (The Adventures of Cray on the Bay)Cray Saves the Day by G. Pa Rhymes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a cute children’s book that teaches them about beach clean-up. Many families were visiting the beach one day and after lunch, the trash had piled very high until a wind gust swirls the trash all over the beach. Cray the crab tried to tell the humans, but no one could hear him. As he walked along the beach, he met some other animal friends who came up with a plan the clean the beach. The human family started to help too and a truck came to pick up the big pile of trash they collected. The book will show children how important beach clean-up is to all the animals living near the ocean.

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Savage Lies (Hidden Valley Elite Book 1) by Isla Vaughn – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Savage Lies (Hidden Valley Elite #1)Savage Lies by Isla Vaughn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the prequel we met Cole and Riley. Both coming from different backgrounds, Cole was privileged and Riley was a thief who was always on the run from her psycho father. In book 1, Riley finds herself back in Cole’s town not understanding why because her mother and her never pulled a con twice in the same place. Riley finds out that her mom has a new boyfriend and wants to place down roots for real. The problem with this is Riley can’t believe her mother would want to do this because she has never acted like this before and Riley’s father was still looking for them. However, because she loves her mom she decided she will go along with whatever this is for now, especially since her mom was making promises she only dreamt of. What she doesn’t know is that she is about to get thrown right into the path of a cute guy she had a moment with a year ago. Throughout the book, her and Cole become enemies due to past circumstances, lies, and miscommunications. Cole has a lot of pull in school and the area and produces many enemies for Riley. They find themselves playing each other to make each one of them miserable, while actually having a lot of sexual tension. Once truths start to come out, so do feelings. But will the truths come out in time to save both of them?
If you love a bully and stepsibling romance this is a good one. These books are short, sweet, and full of entertainment. I enjoyed the story as much as the romance. Each of the characters was great as well. Because we have the prequel, it made loving Cole, even though the bullying, easy. You knew where a lot of the heartache was coming from and could also see how much he loved her at the same time. And Riley, well she was just badass. She had a soft side that was easy to love but also didn’t let people just take what they wanted. She stood up for herself, was cunning, and also sympathetic. This book does end on a cliffhanger and I enjoyed it so much that I immediately read book 2.

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Savage Start: A High School Bully Romance Prequel (Hidden Valley Elite Series) by Isla Vaughn – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Savage Start (Hidden Valley Elite #0.5)Savage Start by Isla Vaughn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This prequel gives you an insight into who the players are and why they are the way they are for future reads. In this edition, you will meet Cole and Riley. Riley is a girl who is always on the run with her mother. They have created a life of conning people and moving to the next town apparently to escape her father finding them. They end up in Santa Monica with a new aspect of going straight and staying, but Riley will believe it when she sees it. While walking, she stumbles upon a house party where she sneaks into and tries to steal something. She gets caught by Cole and ends up running out of the house after he kisses her. Cole is an elite teenager who plans on football giving him his future. He and his brother, while privileged, are dealing with their parents who have a loveless marriage. As the story goes on, Cole, who is a momma’s boy, is always consoling his distraught mother. In the book, the two main characters never run back into each other, but the circumstances of each of their stories seem to be foreshadowing how their relationship will go once they do.

I am a fan of a bully romance. You are not going to get the bully aspect in this short story, but it sets the scene for why (I believe it will be Cole) becomes a bully. I enjoy both characters with the little we learned about them. I also feel sympathy for Cole and the situation at home. I am excited to see what aspires between the two and how the series will progress.

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Auctioned Surrender (Sinful Duets Book 2) by Via Mari – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Auctioned Surrender (Sinful Duets #2)Auctioned Surrender by Via Mari
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Auctioned Surrender is a duet that follows the similar story of her previous Sinful Duets. In the first book, Auctioned, it is the story of Damian and Bryanna. Damian is private security for very wealthy people looking for these individual’s niece. She was thought to be picked up for trafficking. Damian does end up finding her at a bar where Bryanna has become a stripper, but we quickly learn she is to be auctioned off due to her virginity. Throughout the story, Damian is attracted to her and that just grows when he end up capturing her himself to save her. She keeps trying to run away to save her family not realizing Damian can help. Will he be able to get her to understand in time that she doesn’t need to do this alone? Will the security company finally figure out who is behind all the trafficking?
In the second book, Relentless, it is more of the same. Only this time, Dereck, who also works for the security company, is trying to get information from Layla, Bryanna’s friend. Layla also strips for the bar and Dereck believes she is the way to understanding the trafficking ring. The story starts with info already known from the last book, but now we get the details of the behind-the-scenes. In addition, Layla is on her own mission to find out who killed her cousin and took her sister. She believes it could be the trafficking ring. Dereck vows to protect her because he is very attracted to her, but he doesn’t realize that this sassy lady has a lot of secrets that can’t be disclosed. However, they start to work together and have a relationship to get her sister back. Will she become the submissive he is looking for or will her sass get her hurt?
I always love a great mafia romance, but this is the second of the duets I have read and I am starting to feel it is more of the same. It is a continuous addition to the original story but with different leading men from the security team. I have no issue with these men or women characters, I always love a strong, protective, but gentle type, however, I just feel it is more of the same. All the men that work here apparently love the dominant/submissive BDSM lifestyle and all the girls are pretty much craving the submissive aspect too. Overall, the story and characters themselves were fine and a quick read (well each book is a quick read, but long as a duet). However, I am just a little tired of the same storyline and dynamic.

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Whispered Surrender (Sinful Duets Book 1) by Via Mari – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Whispered Surrender (Sinful Duets #1)Whispered Surrender by Via Mari
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whispered Surrender is a spicy dark romance about a bodyguard and an illegitimate Russian mafia princess. Jay is a bodyguard for some very powerful people. As he is watching one of his clients, he falls in love with the woman who the client was sleeping with, Sasha. Sasha is a broken ballerina after any attention she can get due to being discarded by so many men and even her father. What she doesn’t know is that Jay has been watching her and believes there is chemistry there. He becomes “obsessed” with making sure his “angel” is safe. For much of the book, Sasha struggles with the fact that someone could actually want her to want her, so you find her pushing Jay away but still falling for him at the same time. In all of this love struggle, Jay is also trying to keep her safe because there is someone out to get them but they can’t quite figure out who, due to so many enemies. Will he be able to keep her safe? Will she be able to allow him to love her? Will the two be able to find a balance between chaos, hurt, and romance?
There were many things I liked about this story and a couple of things I didn’t. This author is a favorite mafia storyteller of mine so I will always read one of her books. One good thing, about the book, was the spice. Ohhh there were so many good spice scenes. I liked the power/submissive roles played by the characters, as well. If you don’t like that type of trope this is not the read for you because there is a clear power/submissive dynamic. The main aspect that bothered me was the whole misunderstanding of the feelings scenario. Now, I know it was probably necessary for the plot but I hate when the characters are saying something but everyone is misreading because they are not expressed straight forward. Also, Sasha was highly insecure (again necessary for the plot), but sometimes I just wanted to tell her to open up her ears and eyes. Jay, on the other hand, I enjoyed his character. He was strong, powerful, controlling but not overly so, and got things done.
The second half is about Matt and Marenah. Matt goes undercover to gather intel, but ends up captured by the Russian mafia. Jay helps get him back, but there is much they have to be careful about (this happens in Jay’s story). During the undercover ops, Jay falls in love with Sasha’s sister, Marenah. This is not a great idea for Matt, being in love with a mafia princess. This couple has many secrets that are unpacked throughout their romance. These secrets have proven deadly for many, but Matt will do anything for this new love, no matter what that means. Again these were great characters. Both are strong in their own right, as well as protective of others. I enjoyed their story a little more than Jay and Sasha’s. Overall, good read!!

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Dangerous Rhythm (The Echo Series Book 4) by C.R. Alam – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Dangerous Rhythm (The Echo Series, #4)Dangerous Rhythm by C.R. Alam
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dangerous Rhythm was another great edition of The Echo Series. In this romance, Curtis, the guitarist of Canis Major, runs into a little bit of trouble with a mob family and needs protection. Lina, is a retired military, who now does private security and has worked with Canis Major in the past. She immediately becomes concerned for Curtis and does to talk about security options. The two have not seen each other for a little while, but always had crushes on each other. The threat on Curtis becomes more than just a little security and Lina and him have to go on the run. As they are trying to figure out how to handle the situation, a romance builds between the two. The tough thing is he is seen as a player, and she is too professional to let this get in the way – or are they? Will the feelings they have for each other get in the way of each other’s safety? Can they find a way to get past this to finally enjoy each other in life?
Just as all the other books in the series, the plot and character were well done. The book kept moving and was always entertaining. The characters were so easy to love. Curtis isn’t all he seems to be, he becomes a sweet, loving character. Lina is a badass with a hard shell that starts to soften to allow more for herself. The dynamics were just great with how the two characters complimented each other. I recommend the book to anyone looking for a romance that flows, easily wants to connect to characters, and loves a little danger and spice.

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Raining Fish and Frogs by Lois Wickstrom – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Raining Fish and FrogsRaining Fish and Frogs by Lois Wickstrom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Raining Fish and Frogs is a story that introduces some aspects of science in a silly way. It starts with a person wanting fried trout for breakfast, and to get this he has to fish for his breakfast. Nothing was biting, but a freakish wind came along and sucked up all the water from the lake. The wind and “tornado” like thing got stronger and headed for the town. When the funnel couldn’t hold another thing, it started to rain, but it started to rain all the things is sucked up. Fish and frogs started falling from the sky, water even filled the lake once again. However, what would you know, a fish landed right in front of the person’s home and fried fish for breakfast was now possible. The science portion, at the end of the book, talks about how tornados work. This was a cute book that kids would find silly, and funny, but also informative. The illustrations were also really cute.

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I Am A Bold Asian Boy (Asian Family Series) by Yobe Qiu – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

I Am a Bold Asian Boy: A Positive Affirmation Book for Asian Boys (Asian Family Series)I Am a Bold Asian Boy: A Positive Affirmation Book for Asian Boys by Yobe Qiu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an uplifting book that promoted positive affirmation in Asian boys (although the affirmation can be used for any culture). Throughout the book, an Asian boy talks about all the great things he is and can do. He talks about being bold, brave, big-hearted, etc. that would help any child bring joy and words of kindness to themselves. I loved how the book didn’t provide this boy with a problem at the beginning to overcome, the book goes straight into a self-love mentality which I am here for. If you have a son or boy who is feeling down on themselves, this could be a great read for encouragement, especially for Asian boys. The illustrations are cute too.

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The Man in Black by L.R. Liverpool – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

The Man In BlackThe Man In Black by L.R. Liverpool
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Man in Black is a historical, LGBT romance. Fenimore James is a young man who is bored in his life. He is a dreamer and believes he should be more, however, that more is running away from home to become an outlaw named Simon Shaw. Simon believed he was going to be able to rob his way through life living his best life. He joins a gang, but he comes to find out that joining this gang is no joke. This is a life that is a bloody one and there is a mystery person out there after the gang’s blood. Many of its members are being murdered. Simon has dreams at night where a “man in black” visits him. He doesn’t understand why this man is in his dreams but he thinks it is important. However, he is dealing with other “issues” as he starts to question his sexuality – at the beginning, he has always questioned this but was engaged to a woman. However, his feelings for men are too strong and he ends up trying on this experience with another gang member. He and his new “friend” start to try to help the gang figure out who could be hurting them, and the leader gets scared and starts to think it could be someone they are all close to. This is a thriller and has a good plot, but will Simon find the life he has always dreamed for himself, is the killer someone close to them, and will he figure out where he belongs amongst all of this?
This was an interesting story. It has been a while since I read a historical setting piece, but the fact that it was a thriller made is worth the read. It was a little slow to start, but if you can get through the beginning it will be a good read. There are many exciting parts, the aspect of taking on a puzzle, outlaws, and it was nice seeing a man trying to figure out who he was. If you are looking for a different take on an LGBT story and love thrillers, this is the story for you.

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Baking a Bicycle (Invisible Magic Wand Book 7) by Lois Wickstrom – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Baking a Bicycle: Invisible Magic Wand Book SevenBaking a Bicycle: Invisible Magic Wand Book Seven by Lois Wickstrom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Baking a Bicycle is another edition of the Invisible Magic Wand Books. In this edition, Caspian, this year for his Unbirthday wants a bike. However, his Grandfather asks what is so unusual about a bike, it doesn’t fit the unbirthday theme. The next day Caspian’s gift is “Baking up Dust”. He starts baking with Grandpa and sees that the baking is creating bike shapes, but how to turn that into something he can ride? What magic with this unbirthday bring? I do like this Invisible Magic Wand series because it provides a great way for kids to use their imaginations. The fact that they are also always family-oriented makes it feel warm, fun, and full of imagination. I would recommend this series to anyone who knows younger kids who love to play with their imagination.

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Beyond Friendship (The Irresistible Series Book 3) by Marlyn Love – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Beyond Friendship (The Irresistible Series #3)Beyond Friendship by Marlyn Love
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beyond Friendship is a friends-to-lovers story about Brian and Amanda. Amanda is a clothing store owner who just moved back to her hometown. Her brother is best friends with Brian who ends up being a club owner. Brian is a ladies’ man and refuses to settle down due to a secret he holds. Brian sees Amanda at a bar one night and decides she is his next conquest, but upon approaching her, his best friend Nick comes to see his sister and the thought of her taking her home dies. However, both felt this amazing connection in just those short moments. Because he doesn’t “date” they remain friends. Over a handful of years, they remain friends and sexually keep their distance although Amanda doesn’t want that and tells him so. Brian eventually gives in and realizes he just can’t live without her. Both have never felt this way about someone else before. However, while both are extremely happy, the secret that he has becomes evident and he starts to let his insecurities take over his relationship and decisions for his future. Will Brian be able to get over himself long enough to see what is standing right in front of him?
I enjoyed this love story. There were ups and downs and moments where I hated Brian, but completely understood him. Brian turns into a loving, doting partner who can’t get out of his own way until things can’t get any worse. On the other hand, Amanda was an amazing character. She was portrayed as a lovely woman, ambitious, loving, honest, comforting, and understanding. As a woman, she handled herself very well through this story. Emotionally, there were also a lot of ups and downs so kept you on your toes and interested in the story.

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Almost and Forever by Angela K. Parker – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Almost and ForeverAlmost and Forever by Angela K. Parker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Almost and Forever is a sad, beautiful, and hopeful love story. “Hope” is a therapist who is looking for love but isn’t having any luck. It was New Year’s Eve when she realized her boyfriend was not her lifelong love. Her boyfriend was working that night and she was making a wish at her favorite fountain when “Hope” started up a conversation with a man and had a weird draw to him. While they did not say much verbally, the chemistry between the two was electric. However, Adam is thinking about proposing to his girlfriend. We come to find out that both of them found a connection, but it provided a different perspective for both of them. Adam is a successful man who ends up lost until a certain woman comes into his life. There are a lot of ups and downs, secrets, sadness, hope, and so much love in this book. I enjoyed everything about it. The characters were amazing. They each were patient, loving, brave, etc. The book moved quickly and was never boring. Things progressed beautifully and I was excited to see where their journey would end.

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Daring Ceri (True Platinum Rock Star Romance Series Book 6) by Morgana Bevan – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Daring Ceri (True Platinum #6)Daring Ceri by Morgana Bevan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Daring Ceri is an enemies to lovers book. Ceri and Alex have been loving and hating each other for over a decade. At the beginning, Ceri is engaged to be married to a man named Richard. However, while trying to get her marriage license, she finds out she is already married to her ex- Alex (a famous rock star). She didn’t realize they really got married one drunk night in Fiji. Now, she has to figure out how to get divorced, but that would involve seeing Alex. Alex happens to be in her town on tour, but she is nervous because he always sucks her into him and then breaks her heart. After finally getting to Alex, he refuses to sign the divorce papers. He makes her a deal – on the road working with him, as a dancer, for three months and if she still feels the same about not wanting him, he will sign. Will she be able to resist him this time? Will he understand why she keeps rejecting his “love”? Or can the two of them find a way to make it work since the chemistry seems to be too much?
I thought the book was good. It took a while for me to like the characters. Ceri is determined not to be hurt again and so her character, at the beginning, is basic. Settling for all things that she never planned for herself. It took her a little time and honesty to really tell Alex exactly the problem she is having with him. Alex, he is just clueless to what Ceri really wants from him. He is arrogant, self-centered, and a man that is not appealing for many women on a long-term basis. However, as the book progresses, you do see the progress in both characters. Overall, I enjoyed their turbulent story.

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Oscar and Emmy Lose a Friend (Oscarand Emmy Series) by Terri Sabol – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Oscar and Emmy Lose a Friend: A story about pet loss and saying goodbye to a furry friend. Ages 5-11 and kindergarten through grade 5.Oscar and Emmy Lose a Friend: A story about pet loss and saying goodbye to a furry friend. Ages 5-11 and kindergarten through grade 5. by Terri Sabol
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great book for children to learn about the unfortunate parts of life. Oscar and Emmy are cats living with a sister and brother. They have another cat, Shadow, who comes and visits them. Because she visits so often, the family starts to feed her. One day, they noticed she wasn’t feeling well. They decide to take her to the vet and find out she has cancer. In the end, the family has to put the cat down. They each say their goodbyes and bring Shadow home to always have her near. At the end of the book, they talk about losing a pet and the rainbow bridge. I thought this was a great way to talk to children about the loss of a pet. It took a gentle, but honest approach to such a process.

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A Forever Kind of Thing by Carrie Thomas and Melinda Harris – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

A Forever Kind of ThingA Forever Kind of Thing by Carrie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Forever Kind of Thing was a great teen love story. Mina is a 5th grader who is not liked by most in her school. One day, a new kid, Wes decides to sit next to her. She warns this cute new boy he probably doesn’t want to associate with her, but he takes his chances. This is the start of their love story. They quickly became best friends, but Wes had a crush on Mina and they were inseparable. Unfortunately, Wes is a foster child, his father is a drug addict, and he moves around a lot. A few years of being friends, Wes has to leave, but does so without saying goodbye to Mina. Both are living apart and heartbroken. Mina’s senior year, we come to find out she is living a very different life. She has jumped the tracks to the rich kids and goes to a private school. She has transformed herself to survive in this new school, and everyone loves her. However, guess who moves back to the area and is awarded a scholarship to the same school Mina goes to? Yes, Wes. This takes both of them for a loop, but the feelings of wanting each other have never left. Can they get back to what they once had? Will he run when he is in his feelings?
I enjoyed this story. It was sweet and emotional, but it was also hopeful. Wes was an amazing character. He was smart, determined, honest, and caring, but also beautifully broken. Mina was a great character too. Once you realize why she was behaving in her senior year the way she was, you can relate more to her. In the beginning, you wanted to shake her into reality. I loved seeing her progress back to the person she was with Wes’ help and being able to be the rock he needed. I am a sucker for teen romance and really enjoyed this one.

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Master Campania (Masters of the Consulate Book 7) by Sylvia Black – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Master Campania: Dark Vampire Romance (Masters of the Consulate Book 7)Master Campania: Dark Vampire Romance by Sylvia Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again, I loved another addition of the Master’s of the Consulate series. Master Campania and the other purebloods are still on the hunt for rogue witches and shifters. Campania seeks information from local witches who have left their coven. What he doesn’t realize is that the witch he finds will have a connection to him. Willow is a powerful witch who has left her coven due to not agreeing with the leader. She is hoping to just live her life peacefully but knows exactly who Campania is when he walks into the bar. Very quickly they move from enemies to lovers. However, Campania always doubted the witches because of the history the vampires have with them. Even though both feel the psychic connection, he speaks of the lack of trust which breaks Willow’s heart. In the end, both realize what needs to be done and how they need each other to survive this life. This isn’t the last installment of this series so does end with their story finished, but another will take place. As usual, I loved their story. These books are short, sweet, entertaining, to the point, with a little romance involved. Both characters were loveable. The couple had great banter and chemistry. I can’t wait for the next one.

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Conversations with the Tarot by Maria DeBlassie – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Conversations with the Tarot: Bewitching Meditations on Reading the CardsConversations with the Tarot: Bewitching Meditations on Reading the Cards by Maria DeBlassie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Conversations with the Tarot was a great descriptive book for someone trying to get into tarot or for someone who has been dabbling for some time. The author nicely breaks down the meaning of each card. After she tells you about the card, she provides a chapter on insight into that card. What I like is that she, at times, used personal stories to explain the insight. She also gives multiple possible meanings depending on what is happening in that person’s life. As a person who has dabbled in tarot for many years, I find it hard to remember each card or I have a hard time really grasping the meaning with the mundane description that sometimes comes with the cards. This book gave me a better understanding to those cards, plus her personal touch on the meaning of the cards helped me put a personal touch to the reading. When I can combine the two ideas together I tend to get more out of the reading, itself. I will definitely revert back to this book when doing tarot in the future.

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Xenia Navarro and the Magic Ants by Lois Wickstrom and Milagros Darling – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Xenia Navarro and the Magic AntsXenia Navarro and the Magic Ants by Lois Wickstrom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Xenia Navarro and the Magic Ants is a story about a young girl named Xenia and her brother Lucas who live with their undocumented mother. Their father was a soldier in the Army and had died overseas prior to being able to marry their mother. Xenia and her mother love to garden and have this special rock in their yard. This rock has special ants that help the sunflowers grow tall. Xenia loves science and decides to do a project on the ants and sunflowers. She learns from a Deetkatoo (Native American Little People) that the rock is a meteorite that helps him and the ants survive. However, one day Xenia’s mother is arrested by ICE and the children try to figure out a way to get her back. The troublesome man who is always spying on them, who lives next door is always trying to get their rock. In order to get the rock, he called the government on Xenia’s mom just to be able to “protect” the meteorite. The children try many different things to help protect the Deetkatoo, keep the rock, do well in school, and try to get their mother out of being deported. In the end, the mother is deported, living separately from her children, but it turns out for the best. Xenia’s mother succeeds in Mexico, finds love, and has a plan to come back to the US for her children.
For me, this was a strange story. I don’t know enough about the legends of the Deetkatoo or the magic that they possibly possess, so the story didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I also thought it was a little sad and heavy for a youth book, but at the same time informative about a problem that the US has. While each little story within the entire story was okay, I didn’t feel like they all went together. Also, the ending with the Deetkatoo and the mother is just weird. I thought the characters that were the children were the most decent part of the story. They were smart, interesting, and determined to solve problems. Also, the fact that the daughter was into science may encourage other girls to enter into STEM areas.

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Liz’s Road Trip by Bernadette Marie – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Liz's Road TripLiz’s Road Trip by Bernadette Marie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. Liz is a young woman who is a writer for a magazine. At the story’s beginning, we find out that her grandmother is about to pass. She is the only person Liz has in her life, minus her best friend. After her grandmother’s passing, she is trying to figure out what to do next, she feels she doesn’t have anybody. Well, she starts to handle her grandmother’s affairs and starts to find out that Gran has many secrets. These secrets lead her on a journey of her own. Liz is a girl who doesn’t go anywhere, try new things, and definitely does not fly. However, because her grandmother has certain wishes for her, she goes on this journey to find out who this woman really was, and in the process finds herself. This is also a love story of many. She isn’t sure if the journey will be worth it, but she loves her grandmother so much that she is willing to try.
Sooo much happens in this story and I didn’t want to give too much away. What I will say is that Liz is the character that you watch grow over her experience. I think she is very relatable to many people with her intimidations in life, dealing with death, and then trying to find a new life beyond those people. There were times when I found her a little annoying, but it was more personal than anything about the book itself. I found this book to be quite healing in a way; it gives perspective on life and death. I also enjoyed many of the other characters that you come to learn about, especially Mark. He is so special in this book and the character is smart, lovable, patient, and kind. It was also quick-paced so I will be interested in reading other books by this author.

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I Am An Outer Space Alien (I am an Alien) by Lois Wickstrom – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

I Am An Outer Space Alien (I am an Alien)I Am An Outer Space Alien by Lois Wickstrom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This children’s book is about an “earth girl” named Shirley. However, Shirley hates the letter “y” and believes she is an alien so she goes by Shirl. She tries to prove that she is not an Earthling by not agreeing with aspects of Earth such as liking spinach and playing basketball. She enjoys building radios so she can talk to the aliens. She is wishing to meet an alien from her home planet. And what do you know, an alien shows up trying to find her home planet. The two play and the alien discovers that she does nothing the same as on Earth so she states she is going to keep looking for her planet. Shirl is upset because she also doesn’t think she belongs to this planet, but convinces the alien to stay and that they would have so much fun making earth their planet if they can play together every day. This book is a short, weird story for children. The illustrations are cute but the story for me is a little out there. But, I guess if you are older, it could be said that even when you feel out of place, having a friend always helps – which is a great lesson for kids.

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Cruel King by K.M. Scott – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Cruel KingCruel King by K.M. Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cruel King was such an amazing story. Ava lives on an estate with her dad and brother due to her father being the estate’s manager. Due to growing up on this estate, she became close with the King family who owned the property. Mr. and Mrs. King had 5 sons. Theo King is Ava’s best friend. They had a special bond for basically her whole life. She got along with all the boys but one, Matthias King. Matthias is the oldest of the boys and always was mean to Ava. When she is 19, he still treats her the same way and she never understood why. One winter, there was a really bad storm and she gets stuck staying up at the main house, but the only King home is Matthias. He is very cruel to her and confronts him about it. However, after an incident, he is all of a sudden changing his tone. Let me just say they spend 2 days in absolute bliss, but when everyone returns, things change. Matthias and Ava have always been told to stay away from each other but they never knew why. Well, there is a lot of is a lot of miscommunication throughout the entire story which leads to most of the angst that we see occur. This story occurs over at least a 5 year period so many ups and downs. Will the two of them ever be able to be together with no one else or either of them get in the way of happiness?
I really don’t know what to say about this story, without giving spoilers. I really enjoyed the entire book. While I am not big on miscommunication love stories, something felt different in this one. I loved all the characters, even Matthias who seems to be cruel and heartless. The development of his character is a beautiful one. The only thing that I would have liked better written were some of the intimacy scenes, but that is probably just a personal preference. I had many feelings as I read this book – the last handful of chapters I was crying. The plot definitely surprised me at times and that was refreshing.

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Guarding the Crease (The Playmakers Series Hockey Romances Book 9) by G.K. Brady – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Guarding the Crease (The Playmakers #9)Guarding the Crease by G.K. Brady
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an enemies-to-lovers hockey romance. Wyatt Tompkins use to be a star goalie in the NHL. However, his bad-boy reputation has gotten him into more trouble than he can count. He is trying to make his way back onto the team, but in the process is keeping up his old ways. That is until he comes to a rescue of a woman being attacked. While he saves her, he realizes he knows her. Serena Lambert is the woman he comes to save, but he is also her worst nightmare because she is the head of his former hockey team’s PR. She was the one in charge of covering up all his indiscretions, so she is not fond of him. However, they start to help each other out – her teaching him better PR so he can get back on the team, and also through a “fake dating” experience, they actually start to get to know each other. She is surprised by the person he is and vice versa. Is there more there? Can she get over his Playboy background no matter what her feelings are?
I enjoyed this story. There was great banter, movement of the plot, character development, and the ability to fall in love with the characters. I didn’t want to really give anything away, but I will say there is a lot of plot and character development. This is a quick-moving romance which I love. Serena is a great character, strong, intelligent, and open minded. Wyatt, while at the start you will think he is pig-headed, he actually becomes a really great character. His progress throughout the book was great. In the end, you can just feel the change and how much Serena means to him. There was even some spice, but nothing over the top.

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Lilly Tames Her Worries by Carole Heaney – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Lilly Tames Her WorriesLilly Tames Her Worries by Carole Heaney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a really cute book! Lilly is a little girl who sometimes worries, but her stuffed bunny tends to help her deal with them. Well, what happens when you forget that buffer? Lilly forgets her bunny when she goes to school and starts to worry. Throughout the book a handful of people help her in different ways to handle her worries with breathing, naming her worries, etc. By the end, she feels good about having many ways to get rid of and handle her worries. I thought this was a great lesson for young individuals. I work in the psychology field and the number one problem I see today is that people were never taught coping mechanisms. A lack of coping mechanisms leads to this uptrend in anxiety. Learning them from a young age really helps the development process of people.

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How to Catch Little Boys and Eat Them by Lois Wickstrom – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

How to Catch Little Boys and Eat ThemHow to Catch Little Boys and Eat Them by Lois Wickstrom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, this was a weird retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, with really not that much from the original story. This blue genie lives in the clouds via the stalk and likes to eat little boys. He tricks them because he says earth boys are lazy. Well, Jack climbs the stalk but our wits the genie thing, while stealing his stuff. Once he “got caught” they make a deal to help each other out. However, once again Jack outsmarts him to destroy the stalk but get rich at the same time. Did that sound like a weird summarization, well that is how I felt when I read it. This story to me made no sense, especially toward the end. The title and concept were just creepy, in this form. The illustrations were fine but no real message or point for a kid’s story.

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Goldilocks and the Six Simple Machines (Science Folktales) by Lois Wickstrom – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Goldilocks and the Six Simple Machines (Science Folktales #3)Goldilocks and the Six Simple Machines by Lois Wickstrom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a rendition of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. It goes through all the other aspects that the original book had with the sequence of events, but with a little bit of a twist. When Goldilocks enters the house she starts to use science to help with cooling porridge, fixing a table, and putting a chair together that she broke. When the bears come home they are not angry at all, they are impressed that she fixed so many things. The last thing she does is help put a flag up the pole. Children will learn about pulley systems, wedges, levers, etc. This was a cute rendition and children will learn something in the process. The only thing I would change is the illustrations, I thought they were a little too simple.

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A Toast for Laurent (Vine Valley Book 1) by Theresa Paolo – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

A Toast for Laurent (Vine Valley, #1)A Toast for Laurent by Theresa Paolo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Toast for Laurent is about 2 long-lost lovers finding each other after 20 years. Laurent is a wealthy vineyard owner who was very much in love with Phoebe, however, she is a “runner”. Phoebe having mommy, daddy, and their marriage issues is a runner – she runs from life, love, and anything uncomfortable. Well, 20 years ago she ran from Laurent and left him heartbroken. However, they made a pact that if by the time they were 40 and not married they would get married. Phoebe’s younger sister is getting married and is always criticized by her family so she wants to make good on their pact. She happens to be a successful businesswoman for the local hotel in the city Laurent lives in. At the story’s beginning, she is walking into his vineyard/bar and demanding he marries her. This begins the second phase love story. Love was never the problem so can they each learn from the past and begin a future of happiness?

I enjoyed this romance story. I think it isn’t often they have a male leader that isn’t really the problem in the story, and I quite enjoyed that perspective. Laurent is a likable, caring, loving, handsome, level-minded, and successful individual. You can tell he loves with his whole heart and will fight for what he wants. He is quite patient with Phoebe who is really the problem of the love always falling short. Phoebe was an okay character. She is someone who is scared and afraid to love, afraid to be happy. I appreciate her growth in the story but there were many times I really wanted to slap her. I hate that she thought when things were convenient for her they should be for him. I really just wanted her to get over herself a lot of the time and woman up. Also, one thing I would have liked a little more is their after story, would have felt better about where they were going, but overall enjoyable read.

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Twisted Oath (Bound By Blood Book 1) by A. S. Roberts – Review by Dr. Anya Schultz

Twisted Oath (Bound By Blood #1)Twisted Oath by A.S. Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twisted Oath is a mafia romance, enemies-to-lovers story. The story is about Salvatore – a bastard child to a Don that has been tossed aside in the family, and Serafina a mafia princess. When the story begins, it is written about how they both met in the past and Salvatore was biding his time to be with Serafina. They had secret meetings but never spoke. Salvatore, for one, is a little older than Serafina, the enemy of her family, and planning his revenge on the situation he was put in. As a bastard child, his mother was the mistress of the Don’s son and was eventually kidnapped and killed. Salvatore planned to get into his rightful family and plan revenge on the person who took his mother. In the process, while Serafina was part of the plan, he never planned to fall for her (especially since he is evil, dark-hearted, and incapable of love). Serafina was always intrigued by the boy/man who met her on the rocks and fell in love without understanding. As the story goes on, their love story takes a turn and they are arranged to be married. Serafina has always loved him, but also never really wanted the mafia life, she wanted to save lives rather than take them. However, being the mafia princess she is – she does her duty. There are many twists, turns, and stories throughout the book – will they be able to truly love each other? Will they each be able to get to their final goals? Can they make a life with so much difficulty going on around them?
Mafia romances are one of my favorite genres and this one was a little different than the ones I have read in the past. Make sure you read your trigger warnings. In the beginning, I had a hard time keeping up with where in their story they were – each chapter is from a certain character’s point of view at a certain age, but it does pretty much go in sequential order. I enjoyed the characters. Salvatore was your typical brawny, over-protective, mafia psycho, but the changes throughout the story were great to see. Serafina I thought was a good character. She was brave, smart, kind, and loving, but also not willing to completely be run over by these mafia men. Overall, I did enjoy the progression of the story.

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