Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Reading Update: 15%


A Cinderella tale gone wrong, a mysterious group of former military men, and a vegan sandwich 👄

Sniper's Pride by Megan Crane purchase link

Ultimate Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwich recipe

Review: The Scent of Murder

The Scent of Murder The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan
My rating: 2 of 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.

People stumbled over their words. They blundered when it came to their feelings. Dogs always knew what to do. She could always count on a dog.

Jazz is an administrative assistant at an all girl's Catholic High School and trains cadaver dogs on the side. When helping to train a friend's dog, they actually end up finding a real human body. When Jazz realizes that she knew the girl murdered, she sets out to find who could have possibly done this.

This is first in a series that doesn't have a cliffhanger ending but will obviously continue following our central character Jazz. The story is told from her point of view and we are introduced to her detective ex-boyfriend Nick, along with her colleague best-friend, brothers, fellow cadaver dog handlers, and mother. Jazz's father died in a fire a year ago, she's dealing with the grief, along with the loss of her dog Manny, and lingering attraction to Nick.

Even with Jazz vaguely remembering Flori (the murder victim) from her going to the school Jazz works at, it seemed a bit of a stretch as to why she was going around trying to conduct her own investigation. There were even a couple of times that she tampered or withheld evidence that could have ruined Nick's investigation. The murder mystery itself threw out enough red-herrings to be interesting but some misleads ended up feeling very contrived.

“Damn.” One corner of his mouth thinned and he shook his head and followed her up the stairs. “Come on, Jazz. What we had, was it that bad?”
When she turned the key and shoved the door open, her smile was hard-edged. “ Even after all this time, you haven’t figured it out yet, have you? And I thought you were a smart guy. Don’t you get it, Nick? It wasn’t that bad. It was that good.”


The romance takes a big backseat to Jazz trying to figure out who killed Flori, Nick only appears a handful of times. We don't get any flashbacks to when they were in a relationship, it's discussed how it ended because of how their schedules never worked out. The author leaves some hope for them to get together again and the relationship will obviously be progressed further in the next book. There is some background given on Nick but his character isn't really felt, I never felt like I knew him. With this being all from Jazz's point of view, she obviously dominates and for the most part was a strong enough character to control the story, her motivations were sometimes a bit weak.

Jazz's involvement in trying to catch Flori's murderer was somewhat shaky but the mystery was stirring enough to keep me reading. The romance between her and Nick was extremely anemic and more of a tease to lead you to read the next to see if they can make time for each other. Jazz's world was sketched out enough to set a solid foundation for the series, I would have liked even more of her side job with working with cadaver dogs. This was a fair starter book to a series, hoping the next in the series colors in the sketching.

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Review: The Truth About Lord Stoneville

The Truth About Lord Stoneville The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“You forgot something when you left Halstead Hall,” he said hoarsely.
“What?” Her heart leapt into her throat as he strode purposefully toward her.
“Me.”


I buddy read this, to read all my thoughts, comments, and quotes - Truth About Lord Stoneville buddy read

This was definitely trope-y but the author infused enough charm and enticement between Oliver and Maria to have me liking this. The grandmother Hetty was a joy and the siblings also were fun to read about interacting and I'm going to want to continue on reading in the series. There isn't really anything new here and some depth is missing but there can be comfort and satisfaction in trope reading and this provided that.

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Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.3 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.

The truth was, he was right about many things—things she could change, like how she treated people. He was also wrong about a few—things she could not change, like who she was.

In this start to the Rajes series, Sonali Dev gives us an emotional look into a royal Indian family that migrated to America. The title gives a clue that Ms. Dev took inspiration from Jane Austen, Trisha is our arrogant still waters run deep Mr. Darcy while DJ is our making some snap judgments Elizabeth. There is also a villainous Wickham character, older sister (already married) worried about her beau wanting someone else, sick younger sister, mother pressuring children to get married, and other little takings that Pride and Prejudice readers will recognize. It's all inspired by and not based on and I loved how Dev put her spin on the tale.

It had been fifteen years. Fifteen years since Trisha had been shut out of her brother’s political career, the family’s most precious dream.

The beginning focuses on Trisha, a young brilliant brain surgeon, and the dynamics she has with her family. Her family is rather large but I never felt overwhelmed with characters, Dev is amazing at weaving sibling, parent, cousin, and grandparent relationships into the fabric of the story. We learn how Trisha feels like an outcast in her family because of how a friendship (Julia Wickham) ended up hurting her brother Yash, a US District Attorney gearing up to make a run at California Governor. I can't even put into words how Dev expertly touches on and relays all those complicated family feelings; you'll get sucked in believing the Rajes are a real family and probably personally connect with some of their issues.

“Looks like we’re stuck together for the sake of our sisters.” He pulled the door shut, put the car in gear, and shot off around the looping driveway, watching her disappear in his rearview mirror. She didn’t look any happier at the prospect than he was.

DJ comes into the story with the opposite of a meet-cute with Trisha, leaving him to believe she's an arrogant snob. He also turns out to be the older brother of Emma, a patient of Trisha's. Emma has a brain tumor that other doctors have said is inoperable, but Trisha has developed a way to remove it, however, it would leave Emma, an artist, blind. Emma wants to refuse the surgery and DJ is mad that Trisha won't heavily push her. They are forced to spend more time together when, because of his friendship with one of Trisha's cousins, leads to him catering for her brother Yash's campaign fundraiser. Further complicating matters is Trisha's past enemy, Julia, snaking around DJ and Emma.

My sister is not live tissue. But DJ Caine was wrong. That’s precisely what Emma had to be to her, because Trisha knew exactly what to do with misbehaving live tissue.

Trisha is harder to warm up to right away, she is a bit arrogant but Dev deftly draws out her character through showing how she grew up, the dynamics, her guilt, her love for her family, and the very essence of what makes Trisha such a brilliant surgeon. Her character is a master class in giving what people need from you while still staying true to your core and finding someone who understands and loves you because and despite it all. It takes a little longer to get to DJ but Dev gives him as much depth and breadth to his character as Trisha. His background, parent's situation, racial and class divisions, relationship with surrogate mother, and being responsible for Emma at a young age, breath life into his thoughts, feelings, actions, and motivations.

The romance is all at once the background and motivation for the story, family dynamics steal the show often enough but without those dynamics driving the story, the romance would not flourish and feel as complete the way it does. Their relationship is very biting at first but as Dev peels back the layers on Trisha and Dev, it becomes clear how they are talking at cross purposes to each other and you begin to root for these two to clear up misunderstandings and give into what their hearts are trying to tell them.

As I said earlier, there is no way to touch on all the characters and threads that make this such an enriching full story. I don't know if it is a term but this read like literary romance, Dev beautifully began a woven tapestry of the Raje family. I've called Dev a “lip quivering” author and while the emotions can be quite raw at times, there is always an underlining hopefulness to her writing that makes me believe that love will win in the end. I'm utterly invested in the Raje family and can't wait for the next in the series.

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70%


The Truth About Lord Stoneville - Sabrina Jeffries
“Stop pretending that you don’t care,” he said hoarsely. “We both care, and you know it. I care more than you can possibly imagine.”

More comments & quotes - Buddy Read Truth About Lord Stoneville

Thursday, May 9, 2019

50%

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors - Sonali Dev
Why were men such complicated beasts anyway? Relationships felt like full-time babysitting jobs crossed with high-level code cracking.

Dev is a "lip quivering" author, can't read her books in public because of the striking emotion.

50%


The Truth About Lord Stoneville - Sabrina Jeffries
“Angel . . .” His eyes were heavy-lidded as he stared down at her. “You’re . . . amazing.” 
I’m fallen, she thought.


More comments & quotes - Buddy Read Truth About Lord Stoneville

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

30%

The Truth About Lord Stoneville - Sabrina Jeffries
One thing was certain—there was more to the Marquess of Stoneville than met the eye. And more to this battle with his grandmother than she’d expected.

Wanting to add a "Team Grandma Hetty" t-shirt to my wardrobe :)

More comments/quotes - Buddy Read Truth About Lord Stoneville

Monday, May 6, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1


Late night reading and food dessert :)



Reading Update: 10%

The Truth About Lord Stoneville - Sabrina Jeffries
She had the sort of upbringing that Americans seemed to prize and Englishmen to despise. A mother who’d been a shop-keeper’s daughter, and a father who’d been an illegitimate American of no consequence? Who’d fought in the very revolution that had cost Gran her only son? He couldn’t ask for better.

More comments and quotes - Buddy Read Truth About Lord Stoneville

Review: Every Last Breath

Every Last Breath Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan
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.

Maddox is an officer for the Gray Box, an organization so deep undercover that most people in the know, don't know about it. Nine years ago Maddox told her father, who she didn't know worked for the CIA, about a gathering of Russian mobsters that resulted in her almost fiance's, Nikolai, father's death and eventually Nikolai's. Maddox sees the work she does for Gray Box, neutralizing threats against the U.S. and taking out terrorists, as repentance.
Cole Matthews is what was emerged from the ashes of his former life but when some Russian mobsters attack him, he knows his cover is blown. When he is recused by Maddox and swept into a fight to stop a bio terror attack, he realizes that the past is never really the past.

They’d been as close as two people ever could be. He’d lived for her, killed for her, and, in a million ways, died for her.

Every Last Breath, is the start to the new series Final Hour and was a high energy, quick moving, and loaded story. There are numerous characters and story threads thrown at the reader right from the beginning, Maddox's co-workers at the Grey Box, the father and son villains, the threat of the enhanced small pox strain releasing, and Cole and Maddox's history. I had some problems keeping all the Grey Box characters and their relationships clear in my mind. Castle works with Maddox and is actually her brother but even though it seems they aren't that close (there was mention of how much Castle took care of her in the past) I still felt like their familial bond wasn't felt, her brother could have been any of the characters.

There is a lot happening in this story, Maddox trying to get Cole, who turns out to be the fiance she thought was dead, to help get her into an underground auction to buy an enhanced small pox strain, Aleksander and Val (the two villains) maneuvering to buy that same small pox strain and then trying to orchestrate releasing it on American soil, and the story thread of a mole in the Grey Box. These action threads pretty much dominate the story. The romance thread of Maddox and Cole having a past and then reconnecting didn't have enough time or breathing room to have me emotionally connecting to them. Their past has them already having feelings of love, we don't really get to see them develop them. They spend a good amount of time together but the hunt for the villains takes up most of the time and emotional energy, what we get is Maddox shying away from trusting Cole after he lied to her about his death and Cole still smarting over what he feels was a betrayal by Maddox and being super protective of her, even though she has the skills and knowledge to take care of herself in this world.

As a romance story, this fell short because Maddox and Cole didn't have the depth and time to emotionally grip me but as a suspense, this definitely had the energy and danger to capture my attention. The beginning is very busy with a lot of characters thrust at you and as the story progresses, plots and threads add up but my attention was still captured. Now that the introductions have been made and characters, along with some relationships, and threads have been laid out, I'll look forward to more of a focus and development of more emotional aspects in the next. This series looks to have the potential to have a lot of thrills.

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Sunday, May 5, 2019

50%


Every Last Breath - Juno Rushdan

Things between them were complicated. Tainted. Broken. And it wasn’t all her fault. Any path forward was murky as smog and littered with land mines. He still harbored deep -seated resentment for her betrayal. She was pissed at how he’d handled the fallout and left her behind. And there was her chosen profession to consider. A real shit sundae with a spy cherry on top.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1


I can't wait to dive into both of these!

On Sale Now


Review: The Hellion

The Hellion The Hellion by Christi Caldwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

He glanced up from his task, and that slight movement sent a dark lock tumbling over his brow, lending him a boyish look. “Cleopatra Killoran, I’d wager there isn’t a thing you don’t know how to do.”
And just like that, Cleopatra fell in love. Hopelessly, helplessly, she lost her heart to Adair.


I know this is listed as #1 in the Wicked Wallflowers series, but it did not read that way for me. Adair's brothers are married, there is a lot of talk about the villain that they finally vanquished, and the deal Adair's family made with Cleopatra's brother happened in a previous book. I was kind of lost as to who was who and what had happened, I also was missing caring about a lot of people.

The second half was better than the first for me, everyone gets kind of cleared out so the focus can be on Adair and Cleo. Cleo annoyed the heck out of me with all her running, her go to move when she gets overwhelmed is just to take off and she definitely does it. Adair was a little blah, I've read his character many many many many times. They seemed nice together but didn't trip any triggers for me.

I did like the author's writing and flow, I think not having read the previous series really hurt me here; I'll probably put them on the tbr.

Adair dropped his brow to hers. “Marry me."

We did get this moment, I always enjoy a lovely brow to brow moment :)

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Review: Indigo

Indigo Indigo by Beverly Jenkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I did a buddy read for this over on BookLikes, for all my discussions, comments, and quotes:
Prologue - Ch 4
Chs 5-10
Chs 11-16Chs 17-end

I've read a couple other Jenkins' books, this was my favorite. I loved all the historical references, tidbits, and weaving in that she did; I can't even tell how many hours I spent learning about people, places, and events she included. Galen was a roguish character that I probably let his charm get him off the hook, he was pushy and I wasn't a fan of how he forced Hester into finally agreeing to marry him. Hester was an amazing heroine, strong, soft, smart, and willing to give as good as she got. I enjoyed their banter in the beginning and could see how they fit together in the end.
I would say the only way this shows its age is in the sex scenes. While I liked how penetrative sex wasn't their immediately go to, the wording in sex scenes was a bit flowery for me.
The world building and secondary characters were amazing and I can't even tell you all the side characters I wish had their own stories or novellas.
This is a must read for historical romance readers, the history woven in is what we all come for and Hester and Galen were strong, sweet, and loving.

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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Chs 11-16


Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

I've been so incredibly busy, about 70% in now and hoping to finish this up before GOT on Sunday :)

Chs 11-16 talk............................................................................













I thought this section had a lot of sexual scenes, they were good and I liked how it didn't immediately go to penetrative sex but my eyes wanted to glaze over a couple times. This is probably where I thought the story showed its age the most, the purple prose sexual scenes really stood out. 

He was dressed in a coat of indigo velvet.

Oh man, I live for lines like this! It ties in the title which I always nerd-ly like and is a seemingly innocuous heart growing moment. Definitely a showing moment instead of telling of how important Hester is to Galen. Loved it. 

"Traitors can be anyone: mothers, fathers, individuals you may know and love. I went to prison because I was betrayed by the husband of a woman I tried to help escape."
"He didn't want to join her?"
"No. He thought his first loyalty was to his master and it outweighed all else. He found his wife's desire for freedom dishonorable."
"'Tis slavery that's dishonorable."
"Well, he didn't view it that way."

Another telling moment from Jenkins. I feel like this was a foreshadowing moment and a clue that the traitor could be someone close to Hester. 

During the War of 1812, Free Black brigades played a pivotal role in Andrew Jackson's victory at Chalmette. In December of 1814, Jackson issued a proclamation thanking them for their service to the nation during its time of need. His words on that day were now a treasured part of the race's history. During Hester's school years Jackson's proclamation had been routinely assigned as a memorization piece.

Even though I am busy, looking up and reading about all the historical moments is making this go pretty slow. This is Jackson we're talking about, so obviously there's no gushing going to happen but reading the proclamation, which if I have before, I didn't remember was interesting. 

"But we're not in the South," Hester interrupted coldly. "You're in the North where cold weather makes free Blacks insane. Isn't that what you were taught? Shall I demonstrate just how crazy I am?" she tossed out bitterly.

Again, Hester giving as good as she gets, love it. 

They were the men who believed the awful myths about the women of the race, myths that left women like herself vulnerable to attack anytime and anywhere, myths that slanderously labeled Black women as voracious in pursuit of the vices of the flesh and willing to accommodate anyone to satisfy their carnal cravings.

Another line still resonating very strongly today and proving that for as long as people want to try and make enslavement a thing of the past, the issues radiating from it still impact and linger today. 

Foster seemed to be transfixed by the sight of the bag in the sheriff’s hand.

Is this a clue??? Is Foster the traitor????

"Then turnabout is only fair play. All the brokenhearted women you've left in your wake are probably elated knowing you are being put through your paces."
"You're undoubtedly correct, but my day is coming, petite, very soon."
"Is that a threat I hear?" she asked saucily.
"No, baby girl, a promise."

Another rogue alert! Lol. 

"I want you like no other woman before, Miss Hester Wyatt, but I'll not force you, nor will I press. You are to let me know if and when you are ready."

Whoo-hoo, look at that a rogue who understands consent issues. I do side-eye Galen at times for how he pushes Hester to me with him and this is another example of I can struggle with some things in romance novels. If a guy acted like this in the real world, I'd be like "Dude, take a hint and leave her alone." but in a romance novel I know they are going to end up in love together and Hester does like him but is scared. I have such problems trying to articulate why I think Galen in a romance novel is acceptable but in real life wouldn't be.

Had Mary really loved her master? He seemed to harbor very strong feelings for her, yet he evidently lacked the ability to see the world through her eyes. Her sons had been her children, but to him they'd been chattel.

Red hot book club meeting topic to discuss. A moment that, I feel, the author is trying to put across about consent issues and how Mary isn't free and therefore can never be choosing her master to love. Just because her master seems to care for her doesn't mean she cares for him. Power dynamics and such, a lot to unpack in this brief moment in the book and there is a little part of me shocked and a whole big part of me ecstatic that Jenkins editors kept that in there because Jenkins is saying a whole heck of a lot with this moment. 



This section started to really give me Courtney Milan vibes and I would say I think her work is influenced by Jenkins, the feel and themes. I felt a bit off with how Galen seemed to force Hester's hand with his wedding proposal, maybe less sexual scenes and more introspective moments from Hester about her softening or wanting to marry Galen, I'm not sure I saw enough progress from her to be ok with how Galen strong armed her here; didn't; completely feel this was something she wanted to do quite yet. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Review: Deadly Obsession

Deadly Obsession Deadly Obsession by April Hunt
My rating: 3 of 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.

Starting off a new series, Deadly Obsession, introduces us to the Steele family. A group of four brothers, their cousin Grace, and their lifelong friends, siblings Cade and Zoey. After her fifth heart surgery, Zoey decides that she is going to take life by storm. This includes getting out of the Dungeon and taking her crime scene investigating skills top level, investigating crime scenes as soon as they are found. It also includes going for it with the eldest Steele brother, Knox.
Knox has stayed away from D.C. for two years, but his brothers are starting to pressure him to make a decision on joining their new security start up Steele Ops and his best friend's little sister had a set back with her heart, the little sister he has found himself caring more for than big brother Cade would like.
When the Beltway Cupid Killer brings everyone together to work on catching them, Knox finds himself unable to keep resisting Zoey and thinking maybe home really is where the heart is.


If you're fan of romantic suspense, you're going to like this. Deadly Obsession is trope heavy, group of former military men, best friend's little sister, no-strings sex agreement that goes sideways, a teased second chance romance, and a serial killer haunting the edges. Hunt's themes and characters are well traveled but her ease of writing and dash of charm will still have people well read in the sub-genre enjoying the ride and newbies captured.

This was clearly a start to a series book, the focus was heavier on showing and developing relationships around characters rather than more on the outside story. The serial killer gets povs that I thought created a great creepy factor and helped add to the story but in the second half they kind of disappear and we lose this story thread for awhile. I thought the author did a great job with giving clues to who the killer was, it becomes kind of clear about halfway through, then the reader gets to enjoy being in the know and feeling anxiety whenever they appear on the page.

The storyline of Knox staying away for two years was probably the weakest, I'm not sure I fully understood the reasoning. His mess up that endangered other Rangers and then abandoning his brother Roman when he was in a hospital in Germany, was mish mashed together and we never got a clear concise story of how Knox messed up. The tension between the brothers and Knox as they work to set-up their Steele Ops security firm, under the cover of a brewery named Iron Bars, was a little mish mashy too, it is just something you have to go with as the security firm is obviously what will be the hub for the series.

This could never get old. That heat. That excitement every time he touched her. Instead of claiming a new piece of her every time they were together, Zoey Wright, without a doubt, claimed a small piece of him.

I really enjoyed Zoey's character, she has unrequited childhood love for Knox and lusts after him but she never lets him get away with anything, she calls him on his b.s.. It was a sweet additive to have Knox making a secret hospital visit to Zoey too, helps add foundation to him liking her as there is a lot happening in this book and Knox and Zoey's relationship doesn't always get the spotlight it deserves. Their no-strings sex pact felt thrown in, because it doesn't seem to completely fit in with Zoey's feelings, yes she is taking more chances but she seems to completely forget about all those deep feelings for Knox that were fed to the reader earlier. They have some cute back and forth and I believed in their connectivity as a couple. I do wish we could have gotten a bit more of a focus on their developing relationship, they go from pseudo lying to themselves about having sex to just sliding into being together; not a lot of struggle or heartfelt moments.

There were some missing pieces and some underdeveloped characters, Knox's reason for staying away for two years, Zoey's boss Mason seems to disappear, and a character connected to Zoey and Cade kind of just gets thrown in, but overall, romantic suspense readers will feel welcomed and comfortable in this series Hunt is setting up. Zoey lusts after Knox but she doesn't let him get away with anything and Knox is the protective trying not to fall for the best friend's little sister, all surrounded with a hint of danger. Zoey's brother Cade and Knox's cousin Grace look to be the next couple and the tension felt between them here, has me excited to dive into their story.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

60%


Deadly Obsession (Steele Ops Book 1) - April Hunt

"Have mercy." Zoey's eyes drifted closed. 
"Eyes on me every step of the way, angel," Knox demanded her attention with little more than a growling whisper.

40%


Indigo - Beverly Jenkins 

Still really enjoying this one and nervous about how much trouble the traitor is going to cause. 
I got zero reading done over Easter weekend but I'm still enjoying this one, just way behind everyone. It looks like most have already finished. 

Ch5-10 talk...........................................









Because she and the women of her circle practiced Free Produce, Hester didn't keep sugar in the house. Free Produce supporters hoped to strike at slavery by affecting the slave owner's profits. Supporters did not use or consume any products made by slave labor, and so did without items such as sugar, rice, and American-raised cotton. The women who could afford them purchased the higher-priced English or Egyptian cotton fabrics, even though they were in some instances coarser and not as finely woven as their American counterparts. Those women unable to afford the imported fabrics made do with their old gowns, choosing principle over fashion.

Boycotting can work! We see a little bit of this today.

She could even read, a skill Hester found absolutely amazing since she didn't know anyone else who could. Ella had confided this surprising information to Hester one night the summer before while they lay side by side on their pallets in the small cabin Dot's family called home. Ella made Hester swear not to tell another soul because if the owner Master Dill ever found out he'd sell Dot deep south for sure.

Education, we all know why some people try to ban it or put major roadblocks up to keep others out. 

"We were children and until that moment Ella and I had never been ashamed of our life, because it was the only life we'd known. That night, Dot sat us both down and told us the truth about our lives and how the world viewed us. I never forgot it."

Oof, this was the heavy hitting moment of these chapters for me. Thinking of Ella and Hester being carefree in their innocence and naivety only to have a veil lifted and shown a truth was heartbreaking to read. In all the Jenkins' books I've read, she always does this, weave hard emotions and truths into big and little moments that put a hitch in your heart. 

That night as Galen finally gained sleep, his last thoughts were of a purple-handed little slave girl. Down the hall, in her own bed, Hester dreamt of the man who whispered, "Indigo . . ."

Eeeeyowza! I love this yearning.

I'm not sure how I felt about Hester having a fiance. He was pretty ignored and I could almost forget about him and Jenkins helped with not having Hester have a strong emotional attachment to him. Then we get him kind of erased away pretty easily, so I'm left thinking "what was the point?". I get to have a reason to keep Hester away from Galen but I think her feelings on love and how it is dangerous would have worked well enough. 

A southern newspaper asked, "What is the difference between a Yankee violating the fugitive slave law in the North and a southern man . . . violating the law against the African slave trade in the South?" The North knew the difference, which is why the renewed call to end the ban had northern abolitionists so worried.

"The North knew the difference". Yeah, the difference is known, not about people who feign ignorance on these issues. 

In years past, slave holders challenging the ban had done so under the banner of economics, but now, the South viewed the ban as not only a threat to their economic survival, but to their honor and way of life as well.

Economic anxiety rears its ugly head again.

Foster's voice brought her back to the matter at hand. "I want very much for you and Jenine to be friends, Hester. She can be very shy."

Foster needs to go kick rocks, what a doofus.

"Louisiana."
"Ah," she said. "I knew a man from Louisiana. Creole, just like you. He used to get in fights all the time."
Hester asked, "Why?"
"Folks kept telling him he wasn't Black. You ever have that problem, Mr. Vachon?"
"Occasionally, and I find it is always a pleasure to meet someone from the Race Inclusion Board. After all, where would the race be without them telling us who may be in the race and who may not?" Everyone chuckled.

Why own voices stories need to be published, you get moments that resonate with the culture spoken to and that is such a great feeling to be included in inside jokes, connectivity and being seen. 

"He wants to attack a government arsenal in Virginia and arm the slaves in hopes of plunging the nation into war."

I love history woven in like this! Many famous people making their way into the story in these chapters, John Brown, David Ruggles, and a few others I've already mentioned. 

"You don't need the gloves when we're alone."

Galen is such a smooth rogue. Lol. I like how Hester is keeping her head and still wary of him as he tries to wine and dine her and his wanting to make sure she has enough food is sweet af. 

Still really enjoying this one and nervous about how much trouble the traitor is going to cause. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1


Easter leftovers served with a side of romantic suspense!



Review: Life Is a Party: Deliciously Doable Recipes to Make Every Day a Celebration

Life Is a Party: Deliciously Doable Recipes to Make Every Day a Celebration Life Is a Party: Deliciously Doable Recipes to Make Every Day a Celebration by David Burtka
My rating: 5 of 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 loved this cookbook, one of the best at combining interesting dishes and suggestion/advice on throwing get togethers. If you're fan of David Burtka, you'll greatly enjoy the intimate feel, the big glossy pictures of family and friends as he invites you into his world for a while. If you like being the go-to house for gatherings, you'll love the ideas you'll get from this book.

Burtka organizes the book into seasonal categories and provides different levels, a basic, upgraded, or over-the-top party and dishes, easy, moderate, or involved, to help you create your ideal party. The menu provides for meat eaters and vegetarians and has clear pictures of finished products to help you design the best final product presentation.

The dishes I tried out:
Spring – Dig-in Brunch - Rhubarb-Ginger Crumb Muffins
These were “Easy” and even though they are from scratch, I agree. Even more importantly, they tasted fresh, light, and delicious.

Summer – Summer SOULsticeMint Pesto Pasta
This was also labeled as “Easy” and again, I feel newish cooks wouldn't have a problem creating this dish. The taste wowed me and the friends I made this for. It is a seemingly innocuous dish that packs a punch.

Fall – Fright NightRoasted Squash Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette and Spicy Pepitas
This fell under the “Moderate” label, it was time consuming, 2hrs, and some of the process I could see new to cooking people struggle with. I loved how all the ingredients were truly seasonal but making it for a Halloween Party might be a struggle, I think a simple family night would be a great time to try this. All the flavors combined together beautifully.

Winter – Game NightChicken Tot Pie
This was also “Moderate”. What I loved about this one was the warm, textured taste. I also liked how different variation ideas were listed so that you could create a family favorite.

All the recipes were inventive but also not too intimidating to take on. This probably veers more towards moderate to experienced cooks because of the effort you might have to make to find the ingredients and some preparation and actually cooking. The instructions were clear, concise, and easy to follow, so adventurous newbies could try.

The party ideas were brilliant and fun. Along with the menu ideas, Burtka gives ideas to what guests can bring, how to get them involved, and parting gifts. For a party newbie, like me, I loved how he worked to take the anxiety out of planning togethers, he breaks advice for planners down to what to wear, activities, and how to plan ahead. Each party or themed night is also provided with a playlist from Spotify (the songs are listed) to help you set the right vibe.

This is a must have for party planners from basic to over-the-top and cooks who want to make inventive and flavorful dishes. The suggestions, advice, and different variations to try will have your friends and family singing your praises, so much fun to be had from this book.

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Review: The Austen Playbook

The Austen Playbook The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker
My rating: 4 of 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.

Coming from a legacy of actors, Freddy is only twenty-three and has been acting for thirteen years. After her father's career ended in a way that makes her feel somewhat responsible, she has tried to mold her career to what he has wanted. When a chance between taking a role he wants for her and one she wants for herself, with some added family legacy drama, things come to ahead.
(Jamie) Ford-Griffin has been trying to keep his family and their ancestral home afloat. When his brother comes to him with another seemingly harebrained idea, he despairs even more. His family and Freddy's have some history and her father is currently blocking a project he needs to go ahead for income but there is something about Freddy's warm exuberant personality that calls to his normally grumpy taciturn self.
It's an Austen house party full of drama, intrigue, villains, and falling in love.

It was a truth universally acknowledged that an actor in a rut must be in want of a spot of murder, mayhem, and true love.

If you've read the other three books in the London Celebrities series, you'll remember glimpses of Freddy and Jamie. This works as a standalone but one of the author's strong points is how well she writes an interconnected world. She immerses you in these character's lives and surrounds them with believable friends, family, and outer issues. I did feel at times like Freddy and Jamie's romance got pushed to the side in favor of the overall picture but I still felt their romance and believed in it. The story can be said to be a two villain piece, a co-actor of Freddy's and her father, I think the co-actor could have been cut (she does play a part in pushing the family legacy drama) in favor of declogging or making more breathing room for Jamie and Freddy. Every other secondary character I thought was perfection in enhancing the story and our main characters.

There were few people he would ever really know, see as they were and not through a hundred different filters of perception. When he touched Freddy, when he looked into her eyes, he felt as if he was starting to see her. It was sexual, it was physical, but it was also the tentative stirring of a connection that he couldn’t explain, couldn’t put into words even in his own mind.

As I mentioned, the outside events of Jamie having some family and financial struggles, Freddy straining against her dad's wants for her in favor of her own, the live play production, co-actor villain, and the family legacy drama, sometimes took time away from Freddy and Jamie. However, these two bonded together beautifully and Jamie gives one of the best declaration/love speech I have read; the truth in it outshone any sexy, sappy, or overly sweet speech we otherwise may have gotten. These two got each other and I reveled in how they spoke to each other and bonded.

I also loved how Jamie's relationship with his brother Charlie played out on page and how Freddy and her sister went through their ups and downs together. I thought Freddy's relationship arc with her dad was given a bit of an easy ending, there was a lot to wrap-up at the ending and I think this got shortchanged a bit. The author seemed to be teasing future books with Freddy's sister and a professional rival (the rival's ticking jaw during their live broadcast, y'all) that I will be showing up with bells on for.

She pressed her palm to his cheek. “You make me feel equal,” she murmured slowly, and he rested his forehead on hers.

This author has a writing style and tone that sucks me into her worlds and makes me believe in and feel her characters, I highly recommend her and this series. I did think at times the romance between the leads was overshadowed a bit at times but I enjoyed what was doing the overshadowing, part of the family legacy drama involved a secret forgotten romance (Violet and William) that had my eyes watering. If looking for a contemporary romance to sink into, this book and series will have you lost in the characters and world.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

50%


The Austen Playbook (London Celebrities 4) - Lucy V. Parker

Freddy smiled at him, suddenly feeling a little bubble of happiness well up out of nowhere. It was a beautiful day, birds were cheeping, and a man with a majestic nose and the sensitivity of a sledgehammer was frowning at her. For this one moment in time, she had a curious, rare sense of being exactly where she was meant to be.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Buddy Read: Prologue - Ch 4


Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

Ummk, this book is going to take me forever to get through because of the interesting true historical people and events Ms. Jenkins ties in. 

One of the most celebrated escapes of the era had been undertaken in 1846 by the very fair skinned Ellen Craft and her husband, William, both slaves from Georgia. Ellen, after transforming herself into a young male planter, had, with her darker-skinned husband posing as her manservant, ridden trains and steamers on the journey from Georgia to the free soil of Philadelphia.

I did not know about Ellen Craft and her husband William. Is there a movie or documentary anyone can recommend about them? This is fascinating as hell. She posed as young male planter and her husband as her manservant! Brilliant in your face escape. 

The Order originated with the Black conductors in Detroit. The men of the Order were known by various names, one being the African-American Mysteries: Order of the Men of Oppression.

*****

Among the founders of the Order were two of the most successful conductors in Detroit—William Lambert, the leader of Michigan's Black Road network, and George De Baptiste, a Detroit tailor.

I do remember touching on the Men of Oppression and William Lambert is a name that rings a bell. I'm late putting up this update because I had to go and read all about this again and the people. If you follow my reviews at all, you know I've been complaining about lack of historical feel or details in historicals, to say the least, I'm eating this up. 

Ok, to the story,

So I chose love over freedom—possibly the last free choice I will ever make in this life.

Immediately, Jenkins hits you with the emotion and live wires you into the story about the heroine's father and how he sold himself into enslavement to be with her mother. I can't even imagine having to think about making that decision.

To help you in identifying Hester, Frances severed the tip of the little finger of her left hand the day she was born in anticipation of this tragedy.

I've read a couple other Jenkins' books, newer ones, and those had seemingly innocuous bomb drops in them too. Knowing, knowing, there was a good chance your child could be ripped away from you and coming up with a plan for it, kills in the feelings. 

"Do you think you can eat something?" she asked frostily.
"Long as I don't have to pray to get it."
Hester left without a word.

Hester reached down and picked up the cup. In a calm voice she said, "Fine. Don't drink it. I shall simply put it in your food like one would for a stubborn child."
As she headed to the concealed door he growled, "You wouldn't dare."
She turned back. "If only that were true."


Galen and Hester's circling each other banter is what I live for. I'm loving their verbal spars, it is never mean or cruel back and forth but sassy jabbing with some funny wit. LIVE FOR IT. No insta love/lust either, yay!

He'd been lying back with his eyes closed. In response to her words, the one good eye opened and held her. Her heart began to beat so fast, she felt compelled to say something, anything. "Bea says the ointment should be put on three times a day."

"Good, because I was wondering how I might bribe you into agreeing to do it again...later..." His voice was thick; the air filled with tension.
Hester could feel herself becoming warm also. "I have apples to pick in the yard—"

That sassy banter had to go somewhere and I am thrilled it has started to morph into sexual tension/heat. 

He had noticed her hands, however. Indigo. He'd only seen hands stained like hers a few times. He'd be willing to bet she'd been a slave in the Sea Islands of South Carolina where he knew the few existing indigo plantations operated. Working the plants to extract the dye turned the palms and backs of the hands of the slaves permanently indigo.

When Galen called her Indigo and then realized that might hurt or offend her and gave a little apology, I thought it was so brilliant of Ms. Jenkins to write that in for her hero, recognizing it.  



I like how the author has set this in Michigan, it's easy sometimes to set slavery mainly in the south and not acknowledge how the north played a part. Loving the historical details, banter melting into sexual tension, and the mystery, danger feeling of who the traitor could be. 

Hope everyone else in the buddy read is enjoying this as much as I am :)

Reading Update: Page 1


Pretty Face was my favorite contemporary I read last year. Can’t wait to dive into Freddy’s story with some pretty Easter treats! 


(I suggest making your own icing/filling, store bought always taste too rich for me)

Review: Anything But a Duke

Anything But a Duke Anything But a Duke by Christy Carlyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 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.

Second in the Duke's Den series that follows three friends who invest together, Anything But a Duke follows the one without a title, Aidan Iverson. He's been able to rise from a childhood where the mother he can't remember left him and his sister and amassed great wealth. What he can't seem to overcome is the snobbery of the ton and certain doors remain closed to him. He decides that marrying an aristocrats daughter is his gateway to all these doors.

Diana doesn't want to get married and is trying to keep her family afloat by creating an invention that members of the Duke's Den will want to invest in. Her and her mother come to an agreement that if by the end of the month, if her invention doesn't become profitable, she will have to marry. When a chance encounter has her rescuing and kissing a mystery man, who turns out to be one of the investors she's supposed to impress, her world gets shaken.

Diana Ashby drew him. She always had. Her confidence. Her fearlessness. From the moment they’d met.

Aidan's plan to marry an aristocratic, while mercenary, did work as a ploy to achieve what he wanted. For having two friends of that world, a duke and and a marquess, I thought the story thread oddly underutilized them. It is set-up so that Diana, who is not nobility but has friends of that world, gets into a deal with him to try and set him up, while his side of the bargain is to get more investors for her. It worked but was also all a little coerced. There's a second thread underlying the romance one with Aidan searching for information about his birth mother and the sister he hopes escaped an orphanage fire. I thought this was rife for some great emotion but it was pushed to the side too much for me. Even when Aidan gets the answers he was searching for, the reveal fell a bit flat as character relationships in this thread weren't explored and Diana wasn't a huge part of this thread for Aidan to share with her. I did believe in why he fell in love with Diana but again, the emotional moments where he is choosing her over his ambition, fell a bit flat.

Every moment that they shared, every detail they revealed, made her want more.

I also would have liked a bit more of Diana's family relationships explored, especially with her mother or maybe a flashback or two with her father. Her father seemed to be like an absent minded professor, except with inventing. Part of her wanting to succeed was to show her father's pursuits weren't all a waste of time. We get a pretty good feel for her relationship with her twin brother, a seemingly wastrel but sticks up for Diana but her relationship with her mother was fairly blank. We know, because of their money issues, her mother is pressuring her to get married but the mother doesn't really appear on the pages and I missed feeling that aspect of Diana's life. While I believed in why Aidan feel in love with Diana, I didn't believe in it as strongly from Diana's side. He treats her well, the biggest being he embraces her inventor side, and she finds him attractive but I just didn't get see or get a handle on Diana developing feelings for him.

“I remember our deal, Diana.” He slid his hand from hers slowly and there was such disappointment in his gaze that her breath tangled in her throat. Moving past her, he strode toward the room across the hall, but midway he stopped and glanced at her over his shoulder. “Perhaps I’m just not content with the terms anymore.”

As I mentioned, Diana and Aidan's deal, he introduces her to investors to push her vacuum prototype and she introduces him to ladies of the nobility to find a wife and if she doesn't succeed in finding him a wife she must marry him at the end of the month, was a pretty coerced story plot. At the end, there is some angst where I didn't understand at all Diana's reluctance or refusals, that made it feel even more forced. Everyone is likeable and the story is nice but not a lot new here and all pretty sedate. If looking for a quieter, tried and true formula romance, this would be a nice pick. I'll be looking forward to the third in the series coming up where Aidan's roguish marquess friend will be finding love.

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