Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle

It is spring 1929, and Prohibition is in full swing. So when Ruben and Jeddy find a dead body washed up on the shore of their small coastal Rhode Island town, they are sure it has something to do with smuggling liquor. 

Soon the boys, along with Jeddy's strong-willed sister, Marina, are drawn in, suspected by rival bootlegging gangs of taking something crucial off the dead man. Then Ruben meets the daring captain of the Black Duck, the most elusive smuggling craft of them all, and it isn't long before he's caught in a war between two of the most dangerous prohibition gangs.


I've always been fascinated by the 1920's. Books and movies have turned it into a golden age, full of light, music, dancing, and danger. I'm sure the reality of it all is quite different from how it's portrayed, but there is something so interesting about this Icarus-like decade. 

The story is based on historical events surrounding the rumrunner craft named the Black Duck, and the booze smuggling rings that developed as a result of the US Government's ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol. It got off to a bit of a slow start, but eventually pick up. It has all the things you would expect from a story about illegal liquor - gangs, guns, shady business deals, even a dead body. We usually see stories like this through the eyes of gangsters, and I liked being able to see it from a kid's perspective and how these big city rings impacted small town America. Overall, I enjoyed the book.    

Asa (Marked Men #6) by Jay Crownover

Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.


This was a very bittersweet read for me. I love the Marked Men series, and I am sad to see it come to an end. It's hard to chose a favorite, but I think Asa is definitely at the top of my list. I love the cover of this book, too (Rome's is still my absolute favorite, though). He is exactly how I pictured our little southern charmer to look like. 

What I love about this series is it's heart. At first glance, these are not the type of characters that you would necessary root for. They're tough and a little rough around the edges. However, if you look beyond the colorful exteriors, they are everything you could want in a friend or lover. They are loyal, caring, self-sacrificing, protective, and sexy as hell. All of the characters in this series are so well developed and complex, that you can't help but fall head over heals for them. 

Asa and Royal's story is no different. Their story is as much about self-love and forgiveness, as it is about two people finding their way to their own happy ending. Watching Asa and Royal learn to forgive and love themselves was so touching, and such an important message. People can change. They can make better choices and learn to do and be better. We don't have to be defined by our appearance or what others perceive us to be. This is what I learned from reading Asa and Royal's story.

Don't worry, there is still plenty of sexy time in the book, but for me, this book was so much more than just another NA novel. It's hard to put it into words, but it just felt like more. Maybe because it was the last, I don't know, but this story felt important to me. It wasn't just a book to be read and enjoyed, it was a book who's story was meant to crawl into your heart and take up residence, and it certainly did for me. I thought it was perfect. Asa and Royal are perfect. How this series ended was perfect. Book hugs all around!

I'm excited to get to know the new characters that Jay introduced that will be apart of the spin-off series, The Saints of Denver. It looks like the first book, Built, featuring Zeb and Sayer, will hit the shelves in January, 2016. I can't wait!

Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White

The wind and snow blow so hard, you can't see your hand in front of your face. Your heating fuel is nearly gone, and so is your food. How do you survive?

Five fourteen–year–olds face this desperate situation on a deadly journey in Antarctica. It is 2083. They are contestants on a reality TV show, Antarctic Survivor, which is set up to re–create Robert F. Scott's 1912 doomed attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole.

But in 2083 reality TV is not just an act. Contestants literally relive – or die during – the simulations of events. Robert Scott and his team were experienced explorers and scientists, but their attempt to reach the Pole proved fatal. What chance does the Antarctic Survivor team have?

This action–packed, riveting adventure – full of fascinating direct quotes from Scott's journals and other accounts of the expedition – is both a heart–wrenching drama from the past and a disquieting glimpse into the future.


This was another Battle of Books read, and overall, I thought it was a good little adventure story. I thought the idea behind the story - five teenagers chosen to try and survive in Antarctica while the nation watches at home - was an interesting idea, almost reminiscent of a Hunger Games. I think the execution of the story fell a little short. The characters, while diverse, were somewhat flat. The plot, while full of potential, was flat and underdeveloped, giving a very shallow feel to the book. The writing was simple and lackluster, almost too elementary, and certainly not what I would expect for a book targeting 12 years and up. This is certainly no Hunger Games, and if you are expecting something along those lines, you will be disappointed. I think the story is missing an element of drama, complexity, and emotional depth. I didn't hate it, but I wasn't impressed by it either.