Last Kiss of Summer by Marina Adair Review + Excerpt + Top 5

Title: Last Kiss of Summer
Author: Marina Adair
Series: Destiny Bay #1
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Forever

He's one bad apple she just can't resist…

Kennedy Sinclair never dreamed she'd own a pie shop and an orchard in a small town like Destiny Bay. But nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, it's the perfect place to cross something off her "Life's short so eat the icing first" list and start her life over from scratch. Her shop, Sweetie Pies, is famous for its hot, flaky apple turnovers and sinfully delicious deep dish pie. For Kennedy though, nothing is more enticing than the tall, strapping slice of temptation who keeps coming back for more.

Luke Callahan is determined to make his hard cider business a success. With his beloved father's cider recipe and the opportunity of a lifetime in his grasp, he'll stop at nothing to get this deal done. There's just one catch: he needs Kennedy's apples. At first, he thinks it'll be as easy as pie to charm those apples right off her trees. But Kennedy isn't falling for his tender charms or his wicked ways. When the negotiations start heating up, so do the feelings they have for each other. And it takes just one kiss to seal the deal…

Kennedy rested her elbows on the counter and leaned forward. “You cook, clean, and make house calls? Be still, my heart.”
“I aim to please.” He dried off his hands and brought two steaming mugs of coffee to the counter. “Which is why I was trying to be quiet, so you could get another few minutes of sleep, before I surprised you in bed.” He grinned. It was a wicked grin. “Again.”
Luke had done more than surprise her last night; he’d spoiled her for other men. Sure, he was an incredible lover, but it was the tender moments in between that made her nervous.
This thing between them couldn’t last. She knew that. She also understood that if he was looking for something more permanent, she wouldn’t be the kind of woman to inspire that kind of commitment. She was unable to do it with her perfect match, or even her own mother. The one person who was supposed to love her unconditionally. Which left Kennedy painfully afraid that she was missing that elusive quality that led to forever.
Finding out that she was right, that she was unlovable, from a man who obviously had an incredible capacity to love, as she’d seen with his friends and family, would be too painful to survive. So she took the moment for what it was, committing to memory the warm aroma of the coffee, the way the sun cast a glassy haze over the kitchen, and the sleepy expression on his face that made him look softer. More relaxed. Like this was where he was supposed to be.
In this kitchen—with her.
Kennedy was becoming more attached—she could feel it. The way he treated her, the way he made her feel, even the way he looked at her, like right now, as if she were special. Which made her feel special.
Marina Adair's Top 5 All Time Favorite Desserts
1.     Blackberry cobbler from my Grandma Ruth’s kitchen
2.     Coconut Ice cream Crepe from Fanny Ice Cream in Hanio, Vietnam
3.     Strawberry Short Cake from Ojai Pizza Co in Ojai, CA
4.     Crème brulee with Crazy Berries from La Traviene in St Helena, CA
5.     Mud Pie from the Chart House

Source: Publisher
This is my honest review.
Rating: 4 Stars ~ Loved

Honeycrisp-sweet and delightful, it's like comfort food!

Marina Adair begins a brand new contemporary romance series with Last Kiss of Summer. I’m going to warn you right now that this book will make you crave all things apples! The small town of Destiny Bay, Washington is remarkably charming. It’s the place where Kennedy Sinclair is headed to fulfill her hopes and dreams and begin a fresh start after life throws her a bad apple. Kennedy is the new owner of the beloved Sweetie Pie’s pie shop, and she’s ready to create some yummy goodness!

What a delightful time I had in getting to know Kennedy and the townsfolk of Destiny Bay. Kennedy is sweet and determined. After all that she’s been through in her life, she really does deserve something good to happen, especially in the love department. Being new in town, she’s got to work hard to win hearts, which she does with her pies and friendliness. Luke Callahan needs to get his cider business up and going, so he has other intentions when he pulls on all the charm upon meeting the new girl in town.

With all the mention of baked goods in this book, I couldn’t stop thinking about freshly baked apple pies. Last Kiss of Summer is a tantalizing and irresistible small-town romance. There’s humor, friendly shenanigans, likable characters, and romance that warms your heart. This read is like comfort food!

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Marina Adair is a #1 National bestselling author of romance novels and holds a Master of Fine arts in creative writing. Along with the Sugar, Georgia series, she is also the author the St. Helena Vineyard series, and her new Heroes of St Helena series. She currently lives with her husband, daughter, and two neurotic cats in Northern California.
As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive.

~*~ Release Blitz-wide GIVEAWAY~*~


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson ~ Audiobook Review

Steve Jobs
Walter Isaacson
Release Date: October 24, 2011
Narrator: Dylan Baker
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years - as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues - Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the 21st century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple's hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.

Source: purchased
This is my honest review.
Rating: 5 Stars ~ Excellent

Two words to describe how I felt while listening to this audiobook…absolutely fascinating!

So why would I be so intrigued by an undoubtedly, first-rate ruthless man? I’m pretty sure it’s how Walter Isaacson tells Steve Jobs’ story. The introduction pulled me in right away with how the author was approached by Jobs to write his biography. When he finally agreed, Jobs encouraged him to write the harsh, honest truth…both the good and the bad parts of his life. Jobs also agreed that he wouldn’t control what was written about him.

Going into this book, I really didn’t know that many things about Steve Jobs other than the headlines I’d hear about him in the news. I did watch the made-for-TV movie Pirates of Silicon Valley years ago, which first brought to my attention the rivalry between Jobs and Bill Gates. I also heard he was a difficult man to work with, but I didn’t know just how much.

Simply put, Steve Jobs had a passion for perfection. I found his early life quite interesting. I hadn’t known how he met Steve Wozniak before and was engrossed with reading about their symbiotic relationship and how Apple Inc. came to be. I actually wanted to read more about the Homebrew Computer Club after reading those chapters. There’s no doubt Jobs could market a product well, although I shake my head at how he went about making certain ideas into reality, especially with how he treated people. In his eyes, if you were in his way or weren’t of any use to him, you were basically extinguishable. I liked the term Reality Distortion Field used to describe Jobs’ charisma, and how he could sound so convincing.

Other things I found fascinating were his Pixar days, his family life, and the creation of iTunes and the App Store. Really, I had no idea of his level of involvement with Pixar and the Toy Story movies. I loved the little glimpses into Jobs' life as a husband and father. Was he father-of-the-year material? Certainly not, but I think he tried his best as the years went by, especially after he fell ill and accepted his fate.

While Jobs did many downright unfavorable and unforgiving things, some of which he later regretted, he had remarkable vision for whatever projects he wanted to make reality. He made his mark in this world that is recognized widely.

One doesn’t have to be a techie to understand this book. If you enjoy compelling biographies, Steve Jobs has an interesting one. I gave this book a high rating due to the combination of riveting subject matter, audio narration, and storytelling. It was my first time listening to Dylan Baker, and his narration is pleasing and exceptional. I’m glad I decided to get the audiobook. There’s a reason why Jobs pursued this particular author. I think that after hearing all the rough-edged details of his life, Jobs knew Isaacson would handle his story with great care. He brilliantly does so by presenting the many sides to this complicated man concluding with an intensely poignant and emotional epilogue. Back in 2011, I was encouraged by someone close to me to read this book. I had put it on the back of my mind to get to it someday. Five years later, I found myself entirely captivated from beginning to end, so much so, that I started to listen to it again.

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Toru: Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie Sorensen ~ Review

Toru: Wayfarer Returns
Stephanie Sorensen

Series: Sakura Steam #1
Genre: Steampunk, Historical
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Palantir Press

Revolutionary young samurai with dirigibles take on Commodore Perry and his Black Ships in this alternate history steampunk technofantasy set in 1850s samurai-era Japan.

In Japan of 1852, the peace imposed by the Tokugawa Shoguns has lasted 250 years. Peace has turned to stagnation, however, as the commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial values decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures, growing ever more demanding.

Tōru, a shipwrecked young fisherman rescued by American traders and taken to America, defies the Shogun’s ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland from foreign invasion. Can he rouse his countrymen in time? Or will the cruel Shogun carry out his vow to execute all who set foot in Japan after traveling abroad? Armed only with his will, a few books, dirigible plans and dangerous ideas, Tōru must transform the Emperor’s realm before the Black Ships come.

Source: Publisher via Net Galley
Rating: 4 Stars ~ LOVED

What a splendid experience I got reading this blend of Japanese historical and steampunk set in the latter years of the Shogun era.  This slow developing story added the surprise of a mysterious hero who is much more than he seems and a sweet and lightly hinted at romance.  I enjoyed delving into the history and culture of historical Japan even as the clock is ticking on this medieval land working through a fast industrial revolution all to keep the foreigners from invading their peaceful shores with their forceful desires to dominate trade in the orient.

The story opens with lone Toru returning to his homeland after spending two eventful and educational years in America.  Toru knows he is risking his very life to return because under Shogun law, no one who has left Japan's shores may ever return.  The Shogun is the military leader under Japan's emperor and he fears that anyone who leaves and returns will bring in dangerous new ideas and change.

Toru does indeed return with dangerous new ideas- the Americans and British are circling and growing impatient with Japan's severe isolationism when trade and wealth is to be had.  He loves his homeland and doesn't want to see it fall.  Toru risks all to bring back plans and ideas to bring Japan forward into the modern age of steam trains, telegraphs, submersibles, air ships, guns, and more.

Toru is taken into custody by a minor nobleman who has the intention of following the law and taking Toru's head, but his hand is stayed by his curious daughter and his own secret desire to see the young fisherman live.  Lady Masuyo finds the fisherman, his journal, and his secrets fascinating because simple, poor fisherman Toru is not.

Toru's quest becomes the quest of others and even he is amazed as his dream takes flight.  Masuyo shows herself a master inventor and innovator, his childhood friend goes from blacksmith to builder to leader as great steam locomotives, dirigibles, and war machines are produced, and the lords supporting Toru do the work of engaging more to the cause.

Meanwhile, the mighty lord of the south showers approval and support on Toru causing the others to look at him askance with wonder and suspicion even as the ominous silence from the east where the Shogun watches does not reassure him in the least.  For Japan to survive the threat of invasion, he must find a way to unite the rebel lords and the Shogun even if it means his very life.

This book gets off to a slow start and delves deep rather than skimming along at a rapid pace.  Tradition, culture, characters, setting, and plot are richly developed.  Relationships are made and deepened though the focus is always the survival of their country.  I enjoyed the authors varied and colorful cast of characters from the fiery, fierce lady who will not be shunted to the side when she has the skills needed and the drive to fight alongside the men, to the humble blacksmith who proclaims himself the captain of the fleet, to the traditional, but open-minded lords who place their trusts, their wealth, and their own lives in Toru.  Toru, himself, is an engaging character and it was neat to see him go from enigma to something much more as his secrets are revealed.

I was not familiar with the Shogun era, but I do love what I know of the Japanese culture so it was a pleasure to read a story that felt authentic even with the deviation from regular history.  The inclusion of the steampunk aspect fit very well with this historical time period.  There wasn't much in the form of small gadgetry so much as the large tools, transportation, and weapons.  I look forward to more from this series both the history, culture, and steampunk inventions.

There is a light romance playing out in the background between Lady Masuyo and Toru.  It's rather understated because of the furious need to prepare for invasion and because of the class differences of that culture.  Toru has no hope of a lady of her noble lines and she doesn't think it is possible for her to be with a commoner no matter how uncommon he is.  They also bump heads over her need to be in on the action and his desire to keep her safe.  I thought they were a great pair.

All in all, this was a nice start to a new series by a new to me author.  I would recommend it for those who love to immerse themselves in Asian history, but like an engaging adventure to go with it.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Sophia Rose regularly blogs and reviews at Delighted Reader.

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