Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Reading Update: Page 1


First, thanks to @blood_rose_books for telling me to read Diamond Fire before jumping in with this one. It was the crash course I needed to introduce me to this world ❤️ 

I swear all I knew about this series was that it was fantasy, so me making Tex Mex is a wild simpatico that came out of nowhere. Guess universe was like, "Yes, you should be finally starting that series" 🤣 (I'll also be in Houston next week!) 

Ready to get more than a glimpse of the dashing Alessandro and see Catalina gain more confidence her with powers! 

Review: Winter Love

Winter Love Winter Love by Norah Hess
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

*This is a TBRChallenge review, there will be spoilers, I don't spoil everything but enough, because I treat these reviews as a bookclub discussion.

A trapper/general store worker is blue collar, right?? No surprise I'm behind in reading and while I had a Nora Roberts picked out for this month's theme, Blue Collar, this Wednesday popped up quicker than I was ready for. So, how about a NoraH Hess instead? 

I was about halfway through this before I decided that I was going to use it for TBRChallenge, so I didn't really take any notes. But don't be too disappointed because this, umm, wasn't great. Not quite have me wildly ranting like the one and only other Hess I have read (Wildfire, mtns in NE?? SERIOUSLY??) but Not Great. 

The story is set in a small trading post town in the Upper Michigan in the late 1880s. As a little girl, Laura loses her parents to death (I warned you all I didn't take notes, lol) and gets adopted by the general store owner family, pa Taylor, ma Maria-ishsomething, and son Fletch the wretch (he's way worse than a wretch but I was feeling rhyme-y). Maria(?) is Taylor's second wife but in a romance book turn, she's great! But poor Maria(?) can't completely escape the time period and genre and dies, too. The little family of pa, wretch, and hey, she's no picnic either Laura grow to all love each other. You hear that dun, dun, DUN, don't you? Yes, Laura grows up beautiful and develops feelings for Fletch. I can't remember Fletch's age but he's older than Laura, mentions of gray started to show in his hair and Laura is 17/18ish at this time. 

The small-town is full of gossipy gossips and of course a lot of the women hate Laura and a lot of the men want her. Laura's womanly vibes become too much for Fletch and he succumbs to her! They have a romantic night in the barn where Laura wakes up dreamily thinking of marriage but soon realizes Fletch has flown the coop. Fletch in all his wisdom decides to go off with some trappers to Canada for a year to give Laura time to decide if her feelings are real. Does Fletch tell or discuss this with Laura, letting her know that he has feelings for her too? No. Such a better idea to bang and bounce making Laura feel used. Guess what happens? Laura winds up preggos.

Pa Taylor is crushed and angry when sweet little Laura tells him she's pregnant and then won't say who the father is. Laura doesn't want Pa to be mad at Fletch. Guess what happens? Pa marries Laura. Now, don't fly off into pervy hell land like I started to, it's as above board as a situation can be when a pa marries his adopted daughter. The marriage is to protect Laura's good name and give legitimacy to, what turns out to be, her baby daughter. 

Guess what happens? Fletch comes back after the year of trapping, all ready to kiss and marry Laura and instead discovers Pa married to Laura. He totally takes it calmly. LOL NO. Fletch flings “whore” and “slut” at Laura whenever he can. When it's obvious that pa and Laura have a marriage in name only, Fletch instead thinks Laura is sleeping around on pa and making him a laughingstock. Fletch is pretty much a dick while still lusting after Laura and then blaming her for his lusting. 

Tied in with Laura and Fletch's drama is pa's relationship with Butterfly, a Native woman with a tribe that is nearby. Pa loves her and does eventually end up marrying her but just be aware that while this didn't have the worse depictions of Native Americans, it wasn't the best with some lazy stereotypes. 

I called Laura no picnic either because she's that quintessential '90s heroine that is supposed to be feisty and strong but is instead don't cut off your nose to spite your face. She's a stubborn one ol' Laura and refuses to just admit that the baby is Fletch's. When Taylor figures it out, Laura decides to run away at around 75%. Guess what happens? Fletch finds her and loves his little daughter now. Fletch drags Laura back and Laura decides to run again but oh he's a wretch but a smart one! Fletch takes the baby with him stopping Laura from being able to run away. Laura is out of ideas so she decides to just stay and deal with the cheating she anticipates Fletch doing because of course he doesn't love her. 

The last ten minutes of the story have Laura giving Fletch a bj and even though I was like “What's happening?” because I guess I'm not a good guesser??, it has been such a dry spell in newer contemporary romance that my pervy side was like, “Don't hate it.” Shrug. The ending was ridiculously abrupt with Fletch asking Laura to marry him and I think he said I love you and Laura doing a 180 deg. and saying Yes! and anticipating their obvious happily ever after. 

If you took a drink, let alone a shot, every time the word “whore” was used in this you'd be dead. Fletch was the worst of the alphahole heroes, Laura was overly stubborn for no reason, the marriage of a pa and his adopted daughter was cringe, lazy Native American stereotypes, the sex scenes were more lascivious than emotional, and the ending with it's quick get them together in no way delivered a satisfactory or believable love story between these two. I'll end on a positive note, though. This line from pa was nice: "Laura," he said gently, "you can feel disappointed in yourself that you loved unwisely, but don't be ashamed that you loved."

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Review: Blood and Moonlight

Blood and Moonlight Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty
My rating: 4 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. 

“Go home, little Cat.”

This YA medieval fantasy thriller is set in the city of Collis where the People of the Sun and the People of the Moon live together and separately. The moon worshipers are feared, as they live more in the night and seem to have magick along with their superior physician skills. The story is told in first person narrative from seventeen year old Catrin, an orphan from the Solis Abbey who since twelve years old has worked for the architect Thomas. We meet Cat as she sort of feels and sort of witnesses a murder. As Cat a witness, the Montcuir family comes into the picture, with siblings Oudin, Lambert, Juliane, and cousin Simon. The provost names nineteen year old Simon the Venatre, lead investigator, to solve the brutal murder because his son Oudin is looking like a suspect. As Cat works to help Simon, she gets pulled into a mystery that only gets bigger and bigger with each murder and may have more to do with her than she could ever imagine. 

It was the moon. The moon had done something to me. 

Blood and Moonlight captured me with it's hint of magic, Cat's struggle to find out who she is, and the hunt to stop and capture the serial killer. The beginning half spent a lot of time with Simon and his crew of cousins and Cat working to profile the killer. This is YA, so even though some of the murders are described in gruesome detail (there is also brief mention of rape and childhood sexual abuse), the story was a little lighter on the procedural aspects. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the pointing out of the puzzle pieces and how they all worked together to fit them into place, but I did pretty much know who the killer was at around 30%. 

“And what if I drag you Beyond the Moon and to the Gates of Hell itself?” 
“Then we'll find our way back.” 

The second half shifts for a bit from the serial killer profiling to Cat. We learn about who her family is and why she was given to the Abbey when she was a baby. It's tied into the magic, fantasy elements and brings in some plot threads that could help support turning this into a series. The fantasy side of the story was compelling and I found myself caught up in it all. I did struggle with the time period setting and not really feeling it as medieval. Some clothing was described, the religious sects, and obviously, technology wise, fit with what I was expecting but their vernacular and lack of flushing out the physical world had me a little disappointed in what felt like it's lack of solid setting. The characters shone much brighter than the setting and added to the story, each in their own way. There's credible red-herrings to keep the reader guessing as to who the murderer is and, while a little rushed, I liked the relationship developing between Cat and Simon. The thriller/mystery and fantasy aspects are the focus but the romance element had a good showing and delivered a happy for now. 

The night welcomes you. 

The beginning half kept me intrigued with mystery and putting the puzzle pieces together profiling of the serial killer, while at around 70% the fantasy plot came more into play with delving into Cat's character capturing my attention. All the guys that wanted Cat was a bit much and the ending leaned a little too chaotic with the quick back and forth of “This is the killer!” “No, THIS is the killer!”. However, the overall story absorbed my attention with it's smooth writing, thriller vibe, and fantasy elements. The ending leaves itself open to continuing the series and I would definitely sign up to follow along with Cat and Simon as Cat explores her magick more and her and Simon hunt and solve murders.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Reading Update: Page 1


August always becomes my "Don't leave me summer!", hence eating tacos every moment I can, and "Bring on the Fall, spooky, scary books!". 
So, I've got tacos and a YA fantasy thriller! Not a bad combo 😍 

A medieval YA fantasy thriller with an orphan girl who has supernatural abilities, sees a murder, possible serial killer?!, and a mysterious, brilliant, enigmatic man assigned to capture the killer. Bring on the spookiness! 

Different flavor combo but I liked the spice and orange juice. If want something different, should definitely try!

Review: The Sweetest Thing

The Sweetest Thing The Sweetest Thing by Sasha Summers
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.3 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 moment Tansy saw him, he was hard-pressed not to grin. The reaction was a long-standing pattern. She'd glare. He'd smile. She'd fume. He'd laugh. It was the way they worked. Oil and water. 

Known as the Bee Girls of Honey Hill Farm, Aunts Mags and Camilla, older sister Tansy, Astrid, and youngest Rosemary are working to keep their family farm going. Weather has ruined a lot of their hives hurting their honey output and the annual Honey Festival with, their cash prize and contract offer with Healthy and Wholesome Markets for best honey, looks to be their only hope to save the farm. Tansy knows they'll be competing with their neighbors Texas Viking Honey, the family farm of her nemesis. Dane and Tansy were childhood rivals who almost had a thing in highschool until a misunderstanding separated them and they now can't stop spitting and clawing at each other. As family issues keep coming up and Tansy and Dane are forced to work together, that misunderstanding might finally be solved. 

“I think it would be in everyone's best interest if we---you and me---call a truce.” 

The Sweetest Thing is the start to the Honey Acres series set in Honey, Texas and focuses on the small town and in particular the families of the two bee farms. This was tagged as romance but the story seemed to want to focus on everything but that, I would call this family fiction or even small town fiction. Tansy is dealing with the financial struggles of the family farm, there's a good amount of backstory given to the Aunts and even a later big surprise character reveal tied into them, and then dancing around the outside of the core family are her feelings of animosity towards Dane. Dane is pretty much dealing with the same issues, family farm in trouble, his dad plays the villain, and his younger brother Leif is struggling and looking for guidance and love. Their beginning interactions are fairly immature with Dane trying to play the cool unaffected guy and riling Tansy up by annoyingly teasing her. Readers aren't immediately let in on what happened between them in highschool but it's obvious both think the other one is at fault. 

“Your eyes. They say what your mouth won't.” 

Around 30% a truce is called between the two because they have to work together to teach and monitor a club called the Junior Beekeepers, this helped immensely with making them more likable to read about. There were still all the other characters and their issues and backstories taking the focus though. Even though there were some high-stakes issues brought up, losing homes and when one of Tansy's aunts discusses the surprise character, they aren't quite emotionally felt and delivering impacts because of all the other characters getting their issues in there; it was a little first in a series with making sure all the characters were fully introduced. At 65% Dane was saying he loved Tansy and I couldn't really see why because all we really got from them was that Dane thought her smile was beautiful. The 70% mark then gave us the finally talking about the misunderstanding and for something that kept these two hating each other for years, it took about a paragraph to bring realizations and because of how Tansy should have figured it out, felt like a complete dud moment. 

It terrified him to admit it, but Tansy's laugh was the sweetest thing...ever. 

The whole story just had a very muted tone for me, there were some high-stakes issues but not really any emotion breathed into them. Dane's younger brother Leif's little secondary romance delivered more tingles than what was supposed to be the main romance. It was brought up over and over how Dane looked like Thor and had great muscles that his tight t-shirts showed off well, Tansy had a beautiful smile and pretty green eyes and that was basically the chunk of why they fell in love with each other (even with a Thor like looking lead, this was a kisses only romance). I wouldn't read this for the romance as it was more of an afterthought but if you're looking for a small-town fiction story, that focuses more on the whole family of the leads, this had a larger amount of characters, a muted tone not diving too deep into these issues and even 180 degree turn around by the “villain”, and the small-town gossip.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Reading Update: 30%


I used honey crisp apples in these fish tacos in a nod to the bees in this 🐝🐝🐝 

Can't think of a better way to spend my Saturday reading about childhood rivals, who maybe had a quick almost thing in high-school, and now are neighbor nemesis. 
Plus bees and honey! 

Have a great weekend! 

Friday, August 12, 2022

Listening to your recs


Ever since I put the call out for fantasy romance, Ilona Andrews has been the author readers have consistently recommended to me. 

So you know what? Time to dive in! 

Next week is going to be my impromptu Andrews week. I'm starting with #4 in the Hidden Legacy series. 
Is this crazy of me, have any information I should know before I start? 

Can't wait to discuss these books with you all!

Review: Thank You for Listening

Thank You for Listening Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.7 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. 

“Just giving you the last word.” 

Sewanee was an aspiring actress who found her way to being an audio book narrator, staring off in the romance genre. Becoming more cynical and losing the ability to believe in happily ever after, Sewanee left romance and started narrating different genres under her real name. When she gets the offer to return to romance and narrator the last story by the romance author who started her career, she finds she can't turn down the money because of how much it would help with taking care of her grandmother. The narrating job also comes with working with Brock McNight, a highly popular and mysterious male romance narrator. As Sewanee gets to know Brock more through their text message conversations, they start to develop a friendship that feels like it could lead to more. This all on the heels of a romance trope-y night in Las Vegas that included an only one hotel room, one night only offer, and mysterious hot stranger named Nick. Is hidden identities and second chance romance next? 

It was novel, having this strong a connection with someone she'd never seen. 

Thank you for Listening is a book that has been getting a lot of buzz and I was excited to dive in. I enjoyed how the longer page count, 400ish, gave the opportunity to the author to lay the ground work for her characters and story. I would say the first 28% was set-up, introducing readers to Sewanee, we meet her bestfriend Adaku who is finally getting her big break in acting, a journey that they started off together but an accident that caused the loss of one of Sewanee's eyes (it's revealed around 50% what happened) derailed her career. We also meet Mark who while also Sewanee's friend they work together in the audio book narrating business and BlahBlah, Sewanee's grandmother. A good chunk of the first half and middle is dedicated to Sewanee emotionally dealing with her grandmother's continuous slide into dementia. It brings up the fractured relationship she currently has with her father and how she feels he's putting the responsibility of BlahBlah's care on her and how her grandmother needs to move into a better care unit in her nursing home, hence Sewanee needing more money and deciding to return to romance book narrating. 

“Well, hello.” His voice came through her phone. 
And, also, simultaneously, across the night air. 

In the beginning, along with Sewanee's character set-up, we get her one night in Vegas with a mysterious Nick. The initial attraction, sexual tension, and by-play between the two delivered all the tingles but after Nick disappears the story leaned a lot into Sewanee's life issues and I started to feel like I was bait and switched into a women's fiction story. However, I kept thinking of the reviews I had read about the story and the tags of romance genre, just as I was about to adjust my thinking of what kind of story this was, the second half came in with the romance. We get a first surprise reveal of Nick being the nephew of the romance author, who passed away and the author who's book Sewanee is voice narrating and then at around 70%, if you're a frequent romance reader the obviously reveal of how Brock and Nick are connected. This reveal brings in more of Nick's character and we get his backstory to help flush him out. This is told in first person pov from Sewanee but it works and I thought the author pulled off having the reader feel like they knew and could “see” and “feel” Nick's character emotions and thinking, not something that is always apparent in first person pov romance. 

If everything was real, then why did she feel duped? 

With the identity reveals, Sewanee of course feels confused, has the emotional issues of dealing with her grandmother's continued deterioration, and the question of what she wants to pursue career wise in her life, so we get her running off to Italy to spend time with her mother. With so much focus on Sewanee and the issues she's dealing with, you can see where there's a strong women's fiction vibe and I would probably weigh the scales in that genre's favor but the romance does deliver, mostly because we do later get more on Nick, the number of romance check-list hits (rolled up sleeve forearm!), and the pretty fantastic chemistry between Sewanee and Nick. These two were definitely sweet and sexy. 

Some of the pacing and tone didn't always work for me, mostly because of how I didn't think it was a completely smooth transition between that first half/middle women's fiction and second half romance mish mash. This did have a full experience feel to it, in regards to journeying with Sewanee; if you like Kate Clayborn's stories you should definitely pick this up.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Reading Update: Page 1


My sloppy Sunday tacos 🤣 Excited to spend my Sunday with this book that I've seen getting a lot of buzz! 

This has a night in Vegas, two audio book narrators falling in love, and trust building back up. 
I'm expecting some hot tension word play 🔥 

Happy Sunday, all! 

These were really good, loved the flavoring. I did add the hot sauce because the marinade was little sweet.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

July Reading Round-up

I was up early this morning, so I thought, why not do a quick little round-up of what I read last month. I haven't done one in a while so I went to my tags and clicked on Monthly Roundup to refresh the ol' memory on how I formatted them. Y'all. My lying blog is telling me I haven't done a post like this since 2017???? I know that can't be right! One-hundred percent I just forgot to tag when I did this last. What year is it??? Lol. I forgot to tag is my new excuse. Oh you thought I forgot to do what you asked me to do? WRONG. I just forgot to tag it! Search into the ether.

July is my Recommendations month and Holidays in July, which rudely butted out my TBRChallenge pick. I'm taking my baseball trip at the end of this month, so I'm locking myself in my house until then and going to try and get read everything I have scheduled (this is more than likely a lie and I will never get everything read I scheduled for this month). ARCS, TBRChallenge, and my personal monthly theme of Single titles is on tap for August! 

I'm also starting to build up my tbr list for September and October, because we all know what comes next.....HALLOWEEN BINGO! Break out those pumpkins 🎃

As always, a huge thank-you to friends and fellow readers for all the recommendations throughout the years. It may take me years to get to the recs, but they're always on the tbr. Also, even if I didn't rate them high, I appreciate each and every rec! I love expanding my reading horizons and keeping my reading fresh with books I might not otherwise have picked up.

*Click on book cover to read my review

If I didn't write a review, link will take you to GoodReads page


3.5 stars

3 stars

                                                                  2.5 stars

2 stars

1.5 stars


3.3 stars

2 stars


3.7 stars

                                                                 3.5 stars


                                                              3.3 stars

2 stars

How did everyone's reading month go?