Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Reading Update: Page 1


for the 
Halloween Bingo square.

Your Halloween themed treats are 

spooky brownies!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Review: Blacklisted

Blacklisted Blacklisted by Jay Crownover
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars 

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

“I'm the one who is going to purposely cross your path. I'm never going to walk the other way when I see you coming. I'm going to head right toward you.” 

The third and final installment in the Loveless, Texas series about the Lawton siblings focuses on Dr. Presley Baskins, the half-sibling new to the family. Blacklisted starts right where the second in the series, Unforgiven left off. Presley's half-sister Kody called her to come help a man who was shot. The man turns out to be Palmer “Shot” Caldwell, the president of the motorcycle club Sons of Sorrow. Presley saves his life and is told the club owes her a favor and she can collect anytime. Shot gets antsy after three months of Presley not calling in the favor and ends up staking out her apartment to try and get a read on who his club owes a favor. When Presley comes out to confront him about stalking her, they have an instant pull between them, they also get shot at and with both thinking they were the target, the story takes off from there. 

 I'd spent so long being calm and serene for the comfort of others, I'd forgotten how cathartic anger could be when it was called for. 

This would be technically possible to start without reading the first two (there's also a novella) but you'd miss out on family dynamics and the latter half of this was a lovely wrap-up and send-off of the series that newbies wouldn't get the full emotional impact as much as readers of the series would. I was kind of surprised at how calm and measured the characters, story, and pace was in this. While Shot is the president of Sons of Sorrow, we get almost zero of any motorcycle club story or atmosphere. There are a couple scenes with his vice president Top and their friendship, a mention of dealings out of the country, some prospects guarding Presley, and Presley dealing with not knowing where Shot is because of club business. Shot talks about how the club is a family for him but without scenes with and about, I got no emotional connection from that aspect. I did like how the story focused on Presley and Shot's emerging relationship. They're both closer to forty and I think that came through with how quiet and thoughtful their relationship was at times. The suspense and action lingered on the edges and came from Presley's issue with a former friend that was introduced in the second in the series. 

 “When I'm with her, things get quiet. I can hear myself think.” 

When Presley was brought into the series, the Lawton siblings had no idea about her and then circumstances lined up to make them think that Presley killed their dad to collect her inheritance. The circumstances turned out to be a friend of Presley's named Ashby who has now gone full single white female. Presley got a promotion that would make her Chief Medical Examiner and while Ashby had been content subtly undercutting Presley through their whole friendship, she freaks out and really starts ramping things up. Presley grew-up with just her mother who suffered from kidney disease and this, coupled with how intelligent she was, isolated her and made her a bit of a workaholic. It's only when she suspects that Ashby might have murdered her mother that Presley lets her anger free and decides to leave protective custody and become proactive in getting Ashby finally caught. There's some help from Shot, acting on a favor Presley asks of him, setting guards on her, and helping her be stronger. Presley's half-brother's, a sheriff and Texas Ranger, come up with an idea to have Shot act all lovey dovey with Presley to make Ashby jealous and try to flush her out that way. They want him to get Ashby alone and try to get her to admit on wire all the things she did but they also don't want him to tell Presley about it. As you can guess, this set-up makes for a sure late act disturbance full of danger, mistrust, and hurt. 

“I see all the things you don't see. I see how strong you are. I see how resilient you are. I see how brave you are. I see how sexy you are. All the things you've always overlooked. I see them clear as day.” 

While I missed more of Shot's background and interaction with his club brothers, I was pleasantly surprised at how sweet he was; he delivers some truly sigh worthy lines to Presley. The suspense lingering on the edges did its job to create some tension and get our leads together but the single white female aspect got a bit wild at times. The ending provided for a pleasantly gratifying close to the Lawton siblings' stories that will leave series readers satisfying and smiling.

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Reading Update: Page 1


I’ve been anticipating Shot’s book ever since he first popped up in the Loveless, Texas series.

                                                Dr. Presley Baskin, get your man!


I have so much fun making themed food and these Halloween brownie cupcakes are beyond delicious πŸ˜‹


Do you theme read or theme bake?

Blacklisted by Jay Crownover preorder (Oct 27) link

Brownie Cupcakes recipe


Friday, October 23, 2020

Halloween Bingo 2020

Bingo squares with books read for them and review links

13 - The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Black Cat - Familiar Showdown by Caroline Burnes

Genre:  Mystery - The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Romantic Suspense - The Broken by Shelley Coriell

International Woman of Mystery - My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Aliens - Parasite by Darcy Coates

In the Dark, Dark Woods - On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt

Shifters - Big Bad Wolf by Suleikha Snyder

Review: Big Bad Wolf

Big Bad Wolf Big Bad Wolf by Suleikha Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars 

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

Joe Peluso was the monster in the closet, the creature you were warned about in fairy tales… and still, somehow, not the scariest white man Neha had encountered while doing her job. 

Big Bad Wolf kicks off the Third Shift series set in an urban fantasy world full of paranormal and supernatural beings while incorporating a sense of current political times. This is much more of an ensemble piece, and I would say read this as a clear first-in-series world set-up, than a straight focus on one couple. The impetus that starts the story rolling is Neha Ahluwalia, a junior associate with a doctorate in behavioral psych, is brought in on a case her firm took involving Joe Peluso. She's there to analyze him and get him to talk, so that they can come up with a defense for why Joe killed six Russian Bratva members. Through Joe, the reader learns about the Apex Initiative, a secret military project where in Phase 3 Joe was brought in and injected with some kind of serum that gave him the ability to be a wolf shifter. Neha and Joe have instant heat between them and when an attempt to kill Joe happens, Neha goes on the run with him. 

They were a ragtag crew who moonlighted fixing other people’s problems. Except the ragtag crew included some werewolves and vampires and sorcerers. 

The first half has the reader mostly in the characters' heads, as through them we get a picture of the world they live in. We're told about The Darkest Day where a NSA internal memo was “accidentally” leaked and U.S. citizens learn about the existence of supernatural and paranormal beings. This leads to an increased military state where the creation of the Supernatural Regulation Bureau, Emergency Service Unit Watch, and use of drones overhead to monitor citizens to help them feel “safe”. This is countered a bit by the Sanctuary Alliance, a group of Sanctuary cities that claim to be safer for supernaturals; New York City is one of them and where this story is set. Third Shift Security is also a counter and a group of supernaturals, paranormals, and humans who go on missions and work to protect their brethren. Neha and Joe end up with them as they try to stay safe from officials trying to get Joe back under custody and what becomes a big part of the second half of the story, the Russian Bratva, who are also a clan of bear shifters, that wants to kill Joe in retaliation for the six he murdered. 

So he had to watch himself. Wanting her was fine. But liking her? Caring about her? Actually being obsessed with her like he’d pretended to be the last time she was here…? Fuck, no. He had to draw a line. There was way too much to lose if he didn’t. 

The second half picks up the pace with less internal monologues and more action. A second romance is highlighted between Danny Yeo, a NYPD detective working for Third Shift and Yulia Vasiliev, sister to the head of the bratva branch hunting Joe. While I thought the romance between Neha and Joe was more erotic in pacing and tone, instant and lusting, Yulia and Danny's relationship definitely captured my interest. We miss their initial meeting and come in months later where Yulia is trying to push Danny away for his own safety but still trying to give information to him about her brother and his activities. I thought these two had more of an emotional connection that I could believe in and therefore, more substance for me to engage with. Due to the worldbuilding taking over, Neha and Joe simply don't get much time together and when they are together, it was mostly about the sex. Neha was the better flushed out character with ties we get to see with her family, friends, and even job, helping to color in her personality. Joe's military career is discussed and how he suffers guilt from it, along with how close he was with a younger neighborhood boy named Kenny, who was murdered by the Russians and why Joe goes after them. Joe just never materialized into a fully solid character for me, I know he's not conventionally attractive and loves to give head (this was brought up over and over), which awesome, but I still needed him to feel fleshed out more. 

This was not Neha’s world. She’d stepped through the Looking Glass when she crossed the threshold of Kamchatka. But she couldn’t go back. She’d signed on for this. She’d demanded participation . She was all in now. Because she’d made that call. Used the number Joe had given her… not to save herself, but to find her way back to him. 

Ultimately, Neha and Joe's relationship failed for me; there wasn't enough emotional substance between them for me to buy Neha risking so much in the short amount of time she knew Joe. On the other hand, you will want to pick this up for the worldbuilding, I saw another reviewer compare this to Suzanne Brockmann, in terms of storylines, amount of characters and povs, I wholly agree. I think a comparison to Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series would also help readers grasp and anticipate the sheer amount of storylines and characters they're about to step into. While Neha and Joe's relationship, and maybe even Yulia and Danny's, looks to be wrapped up, there was a third romance between Neha's friend Nate, and two employees of Third Shift, Grace and Finn, that was left in the air. I would also mention that the author doesn't sprinkle in or is subtle with her views and political thoughts, if you're not ready for that kind of smoke to solidly be in your story, then this probably isn't the book for you. However, if you like some dry wit, a plethora of characters, weaving storylines, and worldbuilding that looks to be able to support a long running series, then you will want to pick up this first installment. 

This was their adventure. Because the Third Shift was a shift that never really ended.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Reading Update: Page 1


Happy Monday! 

Decided to start this week celebrating Halloween vibes πŸ‘»πŸŽƒ 

I’m obsessed with this cover, it gorgeously represents it’s a shifter romance. 

My pumpkins (orange bell peppers) stuffed with chicken & rice) maybe not so gorgeously representing 🀣😭 

How’s everyone else getting into the Halloween spirit?

Review: On the Night of the Seventh Moon

On the Night of the Seventh Moon On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.3 stars 

And I had learned the truth of what happened on the Night of the Seventh Moon; I had taken back those six days of my life; they belonged to me and I had been wantonly deceived. 

This story was full of gaslighting, obliviousness, and trickery. Helena starts off as a young girl going to school in Germany, she gets lost wandering in the woods and gets "rescued" by a man. This begins her journey of never forgetting him, going back home to England, time jumps, going back to Germany, reunions, lies, gaslighting, more time jumps, more back and forth between England and Germany, a wild card old nursemaid, danger, and truths revealed. 

I don't want to ruin the surprises and mystery, so I'm not going to go into detail of the story but there are some spoilers in my previous updates as I tried to figure things out as I read:

This was good but the ending kind of jumbled together in a hurry and, dare I say, had too happy of a one?? Some Gothic vibes at times and people wilding out with their scheming. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020



*Spoilers in updates 

How dare you experiment with me! How dare you give me dreams that are without reality! If I have been abused I want to know it. There is nothing worse than uncertainty. Oh yes, there is. There is this terrible loss. The baby who was to have been my consolation has been taken from me. 

So Helena ended up pregnant and now they are telling her that the baby died during delivery. I Don't believe it! I don't trust these people. Helena's young, I think almost 20yrs old at this point, and I can see how she gets swept along with everyone at times. But I also really wish she'd wake up and get away from these people. 

There's a moment where she's talking to someone and they mention a "wild prince Carl" and the way the story unfolds about him, Helena's count is him, isn't it????? 

She's back in England and then we get some big time jumps and Ilse disappears and stops corresponding with her and the whole time I can't help thinking, YOUR BABY IS ALIVE. 

Oh wow, so the Anthony guy is now a vicar and still interested in Helena and she decides to tell him the whole story, how she was drugged by a doctor who told her she was raped and she imagined her wedding and lost her baby. I was screaming, "NO, girl, do not tell him this" but Anthony took it all like a champ and was like "So?" On one hand, good for nonjudgy Anthony, and the other, how you not seeing this as a red flag, lol. 

It's been nine years now and while Helena is in a bookstore, a German woman named Frau Graben just happens to come in and then offer her a job teaching English to a count's three bastard children. I DO NOT trust this Frau Graben, obviously another set-up. 

Oh my god, Fritz has Got to be her son, right??? 

"It was a mock marriage. It was often done-still is. The girl would not give in to him so the marriage was arranged. The so-called priest who performed the ceremony was no priest at all, but one of the courtiers, so of course the marriage was no true marriage and the girl was tricked. Her scruples were calmed and the honeymoon followed. In these cases when the bridegroom grows tired of the liaison he passes on and the lady realizes the truth. 

She says this right to Helena's face and Helena doesn't even blink!!!! What is happening, wake up, girl!

He seems to have been better since you came. Learning English agrees with him. Or perhaps it's you. He seems to have taken a real fancy to you-and you to him." She gave me that rather sly look of hers. 

I think I was right about Fritz! Frau Graben makes my skin crawl and I can't believe Helena isn't catching on. 

I stared; for there, seated between the Duke and the Princess, was Maximilian. 

It was Prince Carl!!! Ahhhh, I hope this is Helena's wakeup call and she starts taking some action and kicking the gaslighting to the curb and admitting to herself what happened. The whole haunted tower at the castle she is staying at is keeping the Gothic vibe lingering on the edges and hope the ghost doesn't turn out to be her. Eeek.



*Spoilers in updates

Was it really true as they tried to convince me that I, a romantic and rather feckless girl, had been betrayed as many had been before and because I could not face this fact, had fabricated a wild story which none but myself could believe 

Uh oh, is this setting up an unreliable narrator? 

I believe that it was then that I convinced myself that one day there would be someone in my life who would be to me as my father was to her. I thought that this deep, unquestioning, unshakable devotion was for everyone to enjoy. Perhaps that was why I was such an easy victim. 

Her mom was of noble blood and he dad was a university student but they meet in the woods and feel in love, defying both families by marrying. Her mom had weak health though and ended up dying when she was young. Her father's two sisters come to help take care of her but they seem a bit old bitties. Even though her parents had such a loving marriage, it sounds a little lonely for her as they focused more on each other. 

He loomed up out of the mist like a hero of the forest on his big white horse. I went towards him. 

She describes herself as headstrong and a touch of wild, she's sixteen going to a school in Germany (well, this is late 1800's but German area) that her mother did and this meeting is similar to how her parent's meet. You can see why she's drawn to the man and moment. Very ominious and Gothic vibes while she's at the hunting lodge with the "wicked baron" but she ends up going back to the school and England after her father dies no worse for wear. Time moves kind of quick in this and she's now nineteen and her dad has died. She also is growing close to neighbor boy named Anthony. 

when the Gleibergs left England I was with them. 

I'm not sure I trust these Gleibergs, supposedly her mother's cousins. I smell a set-up! 

I was the wife of Maximilian, Count Lokenberg 

Of course, On the ninght of the seventh moon, she serediptiously meets her wicked baron. I'm a little thrown though that they're married, I don't believe it, lol. 

I didn't want to go. I wanted to stand there in that ruin and think of it all. How could I remember a dream so vividly? It wasn't possible. I could not bear my misery, because every minute they were convincing me that what had happened had indeed been unreal 

I knew it! So she thinks she ran off with Maximillian, got married, and spent a couple days loving it up at the the hunting lodge. When Maximillian has to go fix some family problems, she goes to stay with her cousins but when she wakes up, they tell her it was all drug induced dream she came up with because she was raped. I'm believing Helena right now and that events happened the way she remembered. 

I don't know, I'm feel enraged on Helena's behalf, this seems like an epic gaslighting situation and I want to knock some heads in her honor.

Saturday, October 17, 2020



This adorable book releases todayπŸ’•

I wish there had been more connection to the dog breeds paired with the astrology signs but the cute pooch pictures make this a fun coffee table book. 


Start the chasing of winter blues away with puppies!