It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at The Book Date.

Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kid-lit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle-grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in those genres – join them.


Happy Monday (well, as happy as a Monday can be…lol) everyone and I hope you all had a great weekend!!

It was hot out this weekend. Temps were in the mid-90’s with real feel temps of it being in the lower 100’s. And it was (and still is) super humid. So, needless to say, we stayed in for most of the weekend.

The only time we went out was to Miss R’s horseback riding lesson. It was her first lesson in almost a month. The barn had a horse show and then all the trainers (and a couple of the kids) came down with COVID. Everyone came off quarantine the end of the last week. Miss R was thrilled to be riding again and she did very well.

The first week of school was offically great. Any issues we had (which I discussed in my WWW Wednesday post) had been resolved.

I finished 1 1/2 books over the weekend. I am happy with that.

I watched the rest of Season 1 and the first episode of Season 2 of Cold Case. The more I watch it, the more I remember how much I loved this series.


What I am Reading Now:

Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.

I read the first couple of chapters of When Sparks Fly last night. So far, I am loving it!!! The opening sentence had me rolling (grown men participating in hobby horse racing).


What I plan on reading this week:

I knocked two books off this list last week. Big hooray for me!! The order I am reading these books are: Author ARC, Author ARC, NetGalley ARC, NetGalley ARC. I am motivated to read at least the first two books this week but I am hoping to read them all by Sunday.

If the only way to save her mother is to act like a spy, Mari can act like a spy.

Maybe.

After her mother is abducted, Mari Sandoval breaks into her mother’s research lab in an ill-advised attempt to appease the kidnappers. Fortunately she’s thwarted by two spunky sorority girls who offer her a better way to save her mother—become a spy.

In the fast-paced world of undercover agents—where fabulous new clothes, high-tech gadgets, and flirting for secrets are the norm—Mari’s inexperience could ruin everything.

Will she be able to master the art of espionage in time to rescue her mother from the clutches of a maniac? Or will her undercover mission doom them both to imprisonment?


Spies Never Quit is a cute spy-thriller where the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.
It’s just a simple trip to New York. What could possibly happen to our loveable heroes THIS time? Faster-than-sound reptiles? Exploding Minotaurs? Generational secrets coming back to haunt them? Expect the unexpected in this third installment of The Talisman Series, “Windy City Ruins”. The war for Earth is creeping steadily closer, and Rome’s team is in a mad dash to figure out the Talismans before it’s too late. Can they amass enough talent to help them defend the realm? Or will The Tyrant King’s heinous minions sweep them off course and leave Earth ready for the taking? Windy City Ruins is the third installment of the Talisman Series.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh comes Her Renegade Cowboy, the final book in the Moving Violations trilogy…

He will risk his life…

The oh-so-proper school teacher, Lily Donovan has learned, the hard way, that men are not to be trusted. Period. Until Levi Roberts, the new cowboy working at her cousin’s ranch, tempts her carefully-built resolve and awakens an all-consuming passion she thought lay dormant. But when she discovers his deadly secret, and her own secrets come to light, Lily unwittingly joins the lethal cat and mouse race between Levi and the man he’s been hunting for weeks.

To save her heart…

Former Ranger Levi Roberts has seen his fair share of deadly trouble during his years as a tough-as-nails operative. The ultimate expert in undercover investigations, he’s been tasked to find a man with a dangerous agenda in town. Routine work has been boring…until he runs into Lily, the prickly school teacher who tempts him like no other. Getting under her skin has been deliciously satisfying for his red-hot desire, but when Lily lands in the hands of the very man he’s been investigating, Levi will have to fight with every ounce of his heart and soul to save her—and to heal the heart he broke.
The first in a new regency romance series about two feuding families and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.

Maddie Montgomery’s family is in debt, and her hope rests on the rival Davies clan missing their yearly “pledge of goodwill,” ceding the land that separates their estates. With Maddie’s teenage nemesis, Gryffud “Gryff” Davies, Earl of Powys, away, hope is in reach.

But then, Gryff shows up and is stunned that the tomboy he once teased is now a woman. When Gryff and Maddie discover contraband on their land, they realize it can benefit both families. But they’ve also uncovered a dangerous plot, and they need to work together to get out alive. Soon, their hatred for each other starts to feel more like attraction.

Kate Bateman brings crackling banter, steamy romance, and a dash of adventure into the first book in the Ruthless Rivals series.

WWW Wednesday: August 25th 2021

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Personal

I haven’t been very chatty for these last few weeks. I wasn’t in a good place, mentally, and figured it would be better to just post bare bones posts. And be warned, I also haven’t been reading due to that. So everything is a repeat from last week. But, after talking to my therapist and trying CBD gummies for the first time (to help with insomnia), I am feeling a lot better.

The kids headed back to school Monday. We did have a small mix up with Mr. Z and the bus on Monday. The bus never came in the morning and when he went to go home, they wouldn’t let him on the bus (he wasn’t on the list). I called and talked to the secretary and she fixed everything. She was just as surprised as I was about him not being on the list. Everything was fixed and he came home on the bus yesterday.

Blog

I ended up upgrading my blog last week. There was a plugin that I wanted to use and in order to use it, I had to upgrade. So yeah, wasn’t expecting that expense…lol. BK wasn’t too thrilled about it either. Oh well.

Like I mentioned above, I got a plugin to help with my reviews. So far, I am liking it. What am I using? Click here to find out. It has made setting up my reviews easier. It just took me a little bit to figure out how to use it.

Reading

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, my mental health hadn’t been the best. And when that happens, I don’t read. After 2 weeks, I did pick up my Kindle and started reading again. I wouldn’t call it a slump (because it wasn’t). I would call it a small break so I could get my head on straight again.

Watching/Playing

I have been watching Cold Case on HBO Max. I used to watch the reruns on Ion and loved it. So, when BK saw that it was on HBO, he saved it and I have been binge watching. I am still on Season 1 and can’t wait to watch all 7 seasons!!!!

I am still playing ESO. I decided to start over and use a build for my character. It has made a world of difference. I have a Dark Elf dragon knight. A Noxious dragon knight (click here for the builds and stuff) to be precise. That means I have poison attacks with both sets of weapons and super high stamina. This new build has been easier to play and I am flying through delves and beating world bosses with ease!!

Other

Jesper and Loki had their 2nd kitten vet appointment last week. Jesper is already 6lbs (he’s 3 months old). I had to ask the vet tech to reweigh him….lol. Loki was 5lbs and I did ask the tech to recheck their ages (both are 3 months old). I take them back in September for their last set of kitten vaccines. Then I am taking them to the Humane Society to get neutered/microchipped.

Sarah, their mom, is at the rescue in New Jersey. I dropped her off with the transport last Friday and she should have arrived by Monday. I do think that she had an adopter waiting for her (or at least a breed specific rescue). I asked if someone could let me know if she got adopted (because I am curious and because my friend who fostered her wants to know). All I got was a “maybe.”


What I Recently Finished Reading:

If you play with fire…

One of the most notorious cowboys in Cold River, Jensen Kittredge always has willing women with sweet smiles vying for a place in his bed. So when the prissy high school librarian sidles up to him in the most disreputable bar in town with a scowl on her face, he has no idea what to make of it. Much less the attraction he feels toward the bespectacled creature who wants something from him… but not that.
Yet.


Someone gets burned…

Harriett Barnett doesn’t care for dens of iniquity– or the insolent cowboy she certainly shouldn’t find attractive. But one of her students needs her help, and if she needs to corral the infamous Jensen to save him, she will. Trouble is, the town’s favorite Kittredge brother is a lot more than she bargained for. Harriett’s happy little life is orderly and neat, just how she likes it–until Jensen blows it all apart with his particular brand of addictive passion. Can a modern-day schoolmarm really tame the wildest cowboy in town? Or is Harriet headed for a terrible fall?

What I am currently reading:

From the author of Paris Never Leaves You, a gripping story of a young German Jewish woman who returns to Allied Occupied Berlin from America to face the past and unexpected future

Millie Mosbach and her brother David escaped to the United States just before Kristallnacht, leaving their parents and little sister in Berlin. Now they are both back in their former hometown, haunted by ghosts and hoping against hope to find their family. Millie works in the office responsible for rooting out the most dedicated Nazis from publishing. Like most of their German-born American colleagues, the siblings suffer from rage at Germany and guilt at their own good fortune. Only Millie’s boss, Major Harry Sutton, seems strangely eager to be fair to the Germans.

Living and working in bombed-out Berlin, a latter day Wild West where the desperate prey on the unsuspecting; spies ply their trade; black markets thrive, and forbidden fraternization is rampant, Millie must come to terms with a past decision made in a moment of crisis, and with the enigmatic sometimes infuriating Major Sutton who is mysteriously understanding of her demons. Atmospheric and page-turning, The Living and the Lost is a story of survival, love, and forgiveness, of others and of self.

What books I think I’ll read next:

Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.
If the only way to save her mother is to act like a spy, Mari can act like a spy.

Maybe.

After her mother is abducted, Mari Sandoval breaks into her mother’s research lab in an ill-advised attempt to appease the kidnappers. Fortunately she’s thwarted by two spunky sorority girls who offer her a better way to save her mother—become a spy.

In the fast-paced world of undercover agents—where fabulous new clothes, high-tech gadgets, and flirting for secrets are the norm—Mari’s inexperience could ruin everything.

Will she be able to master the art of espionage in time to rescue her mother from the clutches of a maniac? Or will her undercover mission doom them both to imprisonment?

Spies Never Quit is a cute spy-thriller where the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.
It’s just a simple trip to New York. What could possibly happen to our loveable heroes THIS time? Faster-than-sound reptiles? Exploding Minotaurs? Generational secrets coming back to haunt them? Expect the unexpected in this third installment of The Talisman Series, “Windy City Ruins”. The war for Earth is creeping steadily closer, and Rome’s team is in a mad dash to figure out the Talismans before it’s too late. Can they amass enough talent to help them defend the realm? Or will The Tyrant King’s heinous minions sweep them off course and leave Earth ready for the taking? Windy City Ruins is the third installment of the Talisman Series.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh comes Her Renegade Cowboy, the final book in the Moving Violations trilogy…

He will risk his life…

The oh-so-proper school teacher, Lily Donovan has learned, the hard way, that men are not to be trusted. Period. Until Levi Roberts, the new cowboy working at her cousin’s ranch, tempts her carefully-built resolve and awakens an all-consuming passion she thought lay dormant. But when she discovers his deadly secret, and her own secrets come to light, Lily unwittingly joins the lethal cat and mouse race between Levi and the man he’s been hunting for weeks.

To save her heart…

Former Ranger Levi Roberts has seen his fair share of deadly trouble during his years as a tough-as-nails operative. The ultimate expert in undercover investigations, he’s been tasked to find a man with a dangerous agenda in town. Routine work has been boring…until he runs into Lily, the prickly school teacher who tempts him like no other. Getting under her skin has been deliciously satisfying for his red-hot desire, but when Lily lands in the hands of the very man he’s been investigating, Levi will have to fight with every ounce of his heart and soul to save her—and to heal the heart he broke.
The first in a new regency romance series about two feuding families and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.

Maddie Montgomery’s family is in debt, and her hope rests on the rival Davies clan missing their yearly “pledge of goodwill,” ceding the land that separates their estates. With Maddie’s teenage nemesis, Gryffud “Gryff” Davies, Earl of Powys, away, hope is in reach.

But then, Gryff shows up and is stunned that the tomboy he once teased is now a woman. When Gryff and Maddie discover contraband on their land, they realize it can benefit both families. But they’ve also uncovered a dangerous plot, and they need to work together to get out alive. Soon, their hatred for each other starts to feel more like attraction.

Kate Bateman brings crackling banter, steamy romance, and a dash of adventure into the first book in the Ruthless Rivals series.

All Night Long with a Cowboy (Kittredge Ranch: Book 2) by Caitlin Crews

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Jensen Kittredge was kicked back in his favorite booth in the most disreputable bar in town, enjoying the usual spoils of a fine Saturday night.

All Night Long with a Cowboy by Caitlin Crews

All Night Long with a Cowboy is the 2nd book in the Kittredge Ranch series. I am not a big fan of picking up books mid-series, but this series is set in the same world as the Cold River Ranch series. Since I had read that series and was familiar with some of the characters, I had no issues reading this book. But, I suggest that you read book one to get a complete background on the Kittredge family.

The main plotline in All Night Long with a Cowboy is the romance between Harriet and Jensen. It is your typical opposites attract trope. What made this book great to read is that there were layers to both Harriet and Jensen. And those layers were peeled back and explored during the book.

There is a secondary plotline involving Aidan Hall. I was a little put off by two things about that plotline. One being that Aidan was screaming out for help and everyone played ostrich. Everyone except Harriet and she had to bulldoze Jensen into helping him. The other was that there was this expectation that Aidan would end up like his father, uncles, and grandfather. That made me almost blow a gasket when Jensen first told Harriet that. And I got even madder when Jensen said it to Aidan!!! But everything did turn out for the best. Still, that was the maddest I have been for a secondary character in a long time.

I like Harriet. I liked that she marched to the beat of her own drummer. She was a self-proclaimed cat lady (she had five cats). But I felt that she was a little two-dimensional at times. Her character didn’t feel as fleshed out to me as it should have. But then again, The author wrote Jensen to be larger than life, and he did take over scenes with her.

I liked Jensen too. I did feel that his backstory (about what happened when he was a teenager and the damage his childhood did to him) was dragged out. But I did appreciate it when he told Harriet about Daniel. That was his first step towards healing. I also got why he never changed people’s minds about him. All they saw was the fire jumper who was up for a good time, the man whore who never stayed two nights in a row. Instead, who Jensen was deep down was not even close to that image.

The romance angle of the book was well written. Jensen and Harriet had some serious chemistry going on. It was apparent from the beginning that they were going to have fireworks. And oh boy, did they!!

The end of All Night Long with a Cowboy was interesting. I liked the peek into the future that the author gave with Jensen and Harriet. I also couldn’t tell who book three is going to be about.


I would recommend that anyone over the age of 21 read All Night Long with a Cowboy. There is graphic sex, mild language, and some mild violence.

Fairest (A Court of Mirrors: Book 1) by Sophia Zaccaria

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Only queens with hearts can bleed. And those who flirt with evil are the most heartless of them all.

Fairest by Sophia Zaccaria

I have a soft spot for villains’. I always wonder what their backstories are and what caused them to become the bad guy. So, when I read the blurb for Fairest, I knew that I needed to read it. It is not very often where the origins of the Evil Queen from Snow White are explored!! I am glad that I did because this book had me glued to the pages.

Fairest tells the story of Alina (aka Natasha) and her rise/eventual metamorphosis to the Evil Queen. It was a sad but fascinating tale. Starting with the death of her best friend and the discovery of her magic and ending with her mirror, it was a fantastic read.

Fairest is set in Russia and the fictional country of Velaris. It wasn’t stated where in Russia Alina was from, but I figured it was probably closer to St. Petersburg. There is a lot of Russian language in this book. But the author did include a Russian Dictionary at the end of the book, which helped me a ton (I also used my translate button on my Kindle).

Alina was an interesting character to read. Everything she did during the first half of the book was to protect herself and her heart. But once her younger brother died, that is when everything (including herself) changed.

The main storyline, Alina and her powers, was very well written. I hated to see how Alina realized she had powers and what caused them to manifest. I liked seeing her master her powers and by the end of the book, what she did with people who cheesed her off was very interesting.

There was a romance angle to the book. I disagreed with Alina and Cole becoming romantically entangled. They were too dysfunctional together. I wish that the author had stuck with Alina/Mikhail’s romance. They were good together. Mikhail was good for Alina.

There were exciting references to Snow White sprinkled throughout the book. There was a reference regarding Cole and Snow White, which made me go, “Hmmmm.” There was an interesting reference to The Brothers Grimm, which also made me go, “Hmmmm.” I can’t wait to see if the author will bring up either of these references in the second book!!

There were things I didn’t like about Fairest. I wouldn’t say I liked that there were multiple POVs. If the author had stuck to Alina and Cole’s POV, I would have been fine. But there were POVs from characters that disappeared from the book. Also, I wouldn’t say I liked how it switched from 3rd person to 1st person and then back.

I did not expect what happened at the end of the book. There was a huge plot twist that involved Alina and her mother. Talk about shocking. I am hoping that the next book explores what was revealed.

WWW Wednesday: August 18th 2021

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What I Recently Finished Reading:

If you play with fire…

One of the most notorious cowboys in Cold River, Jensen Kittredge always has willing women with sweet smiles vying for a place in his bed. So when the prissy high school librarian sidles up to him in the most disreputable bar in town with a scowl on her face, he has no idea what to make of it. Much less the attraction he feels toward the bespectacled creature who wants something from him… but not that.
Yet.


Someone gets burned…

Harriett Barnett doesn’t care for dens of iniquity– or the insolent cowboy she certainly shouldn’t find attractive. But one of her students needs her help, and if she needs to corral the infamous Jensen to save him, she will. Trouble is, the town’s favorite Kittredge brother is a lot more than she bargained for. Harriett’s happy little life is orderly and neat, just how she likes it–until Jensen blows it all apart with his particular brand of addictive passion. Can a modern-day schoolmarm really tame the wildest cowboy in town? Or is Harriet headed for a terrible fall?

What I am currently reading:

From the author of Paris Never Leaves You, a gripping story of a young German Jewish woman who returns to Allied Occupied Berlin from America to face the past and unexpected future

Millie Mosbach and her brother David escaped to the United States just before Kristallnacht, leaving their parents and little sister in Berlin. Now they are both back in their former hometown, haunted by ghosts and hoping against hope to find their family. Millie works in the office responsible for rooting out the most dedicated Nazis from publishing. Like most of their German-born American colleagues, the siblings suffer from rage at Germany and guilt at their own good fortune. Only Millie’s boss, Major Harry Sutton, seems strangely eager to be fair to the Germans.

Living and working in bombed-out Berlin, a latter day Wild West where the desperate prey on the unsuspecting; spies ply their trade; black markets thrive, and forbidden fraternization is rampant, Millie must come to terms with a past decision made in a moment of crisis, and with the enigmatic sometimes infuriating Major Sutton who is mysteriously understanding of her demons. Atmospheric and page-turning, The Living and the Lost is a story of survival, love, and forgiveness, of others and of self.

What books I think I’ll read next:

Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.
If the only way to save her mother is to act like a spy, Mari can act like a spy.

Maybe.

After her mother is abducted, Mari Sandoval breaks into her mother’s research lab in an ill-advised attempt to appease the kidnappers. Fortunately she’s thwarted by two spunky sorority girls who offer her a better way to save her mother—become a spy.

In the fast-paced world of undercover agents—where fabulous new clothes, high-tech gadgets, and flirting for secrets are the norm—Mari’s inexperience could ruin everything.


Will she be able to master the art of espionage in time to rescue her mother from the clutches of a maniac? Or will her undercover mission doom them both to imprisonment?

Spies Never Quit is a cute spy-thriller where the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.
It’s just a simple trip to New York. What could possibly happen to our loveable heroes THIS time? Faster-than-sound reptiles? Exploding Minotaurs? Generational secrets coming back to haunt them? Expect the unexpected in this third installment of The Talisman Series, “Windy City Ruins”. The war for Earth is creeping steadily closer, and Rome’s team is in a mad dash to figure out the Talismans before it’s too late. Can they amass enough talent to help them defend the realm? Or will The Tyrant King’s heinous minions sweep them off course and leave Earth ready for the taking? Windy City Ruins is the third installment of the Talisman Series.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh comes Her Renegade Cowboy, the final book in the Moving Violations trilogy…

He will risk his life…

The oh-so-proper school teacher, Lily Donovan has learned, the hard way, that men are not to be trusted. Period. Until Levi Roberts, the new cowboy working at her cousin’s ranch, tempts her carefully-built resolve and awakens an all-consuming passion she thought lay dormant. But when she discovers his deadly secret, and her own secrets come to light, Lily unwittingly joins the lethal cat and mouse race between Levi and the man he’s been hunting for weeks.

To save her heart…

Former Ranger Levi Roberts has seen his fair share of deadly trouble during his years as a tough-as-nails operative. The ultimate expert in undercover investigations, he’s been tasked to find a man with a dangerous agenda in town. Routine work has been boring…until he runs into Lily, the prickly school teacher who tempts him like no other. Getting under her skin has been deliciously satisfying for his red-hot desire, but when Lily lands in the hands of the very man he’s been investigating, Levi will have to fight with every ounce of his heart and soul to save her—and to heal the heart he broke.
The first in a new regency romance series about two feuding families and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.

Maddie Montgomery’s family is in debt, and her hope rests on the rival Davies clan missing their yearly “pledge of goodwill,” ceding the land that separates their estates. With Maddie’s teenage nemesis, Gryffud “Gryff” Davies, Earl of Powys, away, hope is in reach.

But then, Gryff shows up and is stunned that the tomboy he once teased is now a woman. When Gryff and Maddie discover contraband on their land, they realize it can benefit both families. But they’ve also uncovered a dangerous plot, and they need to work together to get out alive. Soon, their hatred for each other starts to feel more like attraction.

Kate Bateman brings crackling banter, steamy romance, and a dash of adventure into the first book in the Ruthless Rivals series.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at The Book Date.

Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kid-lit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle-grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in those genres – join them.


Happy Monday (well, as happy as a Monday can be…lol) everyone and I hope you all had a great weekend!!

Our weekend was laidback but not as laidback as it was last weekend. It was still hot and humid. But it also rained off and on all weekend. Actually, the rain is supposed to last all week. I am not complaining. After almost a month and a half with no rain, it is welcome. At least when we mow the grass, it won’t come back up as dust

The kittens’ mom got spayed on Thursday. I felt awful for her because when she was all sort of drugged up when we got her back. She didn’t meow the entire ride home (she cried the entire ride to the vet). I talk to the transport on Wednesday and on Friday, she will be transported to NJ and her new life.

The kittens got for their 3-month appointment tomorrow. They get their shots and I am going to have the vet look at Loki’s tail (I believe it has been broken previous to us taking him in). I am also hoping that I get the go-ahead to get them neutered. Our Humane Society has a program where you can get your kitten spayed/neutered with a microchip for $40.

Miss R got her teacher assignment last week as well as when Open House is going to be. I have never heard of her teacher and am curious to see how Miss R is going to like her.

Mr. Z got his teacher assignments through PowerSchool last week. He is in advanced math (NC Math 1) and advanced ELA. But, he isn’t thrilled that he has PE first period (at 8am). His Open House is being done differently this year. They are doing a drive-through Open House. During that, he will get his Chromebook, schedule, and meet his teachers.

Miss B, on the other hand, has to wait until Wednesday to find out her schedule. She is a little irritated by that. She let the principal know last week when we went to the school to pick up her school certificate (she needs one to get her learner’s permit). He laughed and apologized to her. The great thing about being in a small school, everyone knows the kids. Her Open House is the same day as Miss R and Mr. Z’s, but just a little later in the day.

I haven’t read anything since last Wednesday. I have gotten into playing ESO and building up a dark elf dragon knight (stamina build). But, I did work on the blog. I edited several posts. I fixed images and links. I added in information.

I am behind 1 review, which was supposed to be published last week. I am hoping to finish that book up soon and start on the other 3 books on my Currently Reading list.


What I am Reading Now:

Flirting with evil will be the ruination of her soul.

Goodness is much easier to corrupt than it is to hold on to. And for Natasha, a woman reeling from the pain of losing a loved one, evil is all the more tempting. Luck or misfortune spirits Natasha away to the foreign Court of Velaris in a quest for a suitor but instead secures her a place among Velarian royalty. Craving revenge, Natasha makes use of this opportunity to enact her plans as she navigates the lush court where aristocracy is a double-edged blade. But when she befriends her soon-to-be husband Mikhail, the Beloved Prince, Natasha makes a deadly mistake. She captures the attention of the debonair Darkling Prince; a villainous man meant to ascend the Velarian throne.

Enamored, the Darkling Prince charms Natasha, and soon the two feel a forbidden emotion captivate their stoic, scabrous hearts. But with the existence of a violent rebel group capable of cataclysmic damage, there is little time for love. With war brewing amidst the enigmatic kingdom, the royals must become all the more cunning and devious if they wish to triumph over their adversaries. What draws the insidious line between right and wrong when it comes to a battle of survival? For Natasha, nothing is too far, too light, too bloody, too evil.

Soon, the only reflection Natasha sees in her mirror’s beveled glass is that of an Evil Queen. Often, the cost of survival is more frightening than the beasts of death. But that’s what gives the Queen of Shadow’s beauty an edge: she wears her darkness adorned about her throat like the grandest of all diamonds, ebony, and bloodred in shade.

I was a little off with what I said last week about Fairest. I was under the impression, from what I read, that this was going to be a retelling of Snow White. It isn’t. Instead, which I thought was a neat spin, it is about what happened after Snow White ended. I stopped reading right after Mikhail dropped that bomb and I can’t wait to see where this story is going to go.


What I plan on reading this week:

This is a repeat of last week. I am really hoping to get at least two of these books read this week.

If you play with fire…

One of the most notorious cowboys in Cold River, Jensen Kittredge always has willing women with sweet smiles vying for a place in his bed. So when the prissy high school librarian sidles up to him in the most disreputable bar in town with a scowl on her face, he has no idea what to make of it. Much less the attraction he feels toward the bespectacled creature who wants something from him… but not that.
Yet.


Someone gets burned…

Harriett Barnett doesn’t care for dens of iniquity– or the insolent cowboy she certainly shouldn’t find attractive. But one of her students needs her help, and if she needs to corral the infamous Jensen to save him, she will. Trouble is, the town’s favorite Kittredge brother is a lot more than she bargained for. Harriett’s happy little life is orderly and neat, just how she likes it–until Jensen blows it all apart with his particular brand of addictive passion. Can a modern-day schoolmarm really tame the wildest cowboy in town? Or is Harriet headed for a terrible fall?
Millie Mosbach and her brother David escaped to the United States just before Kristallnacht, leaving their parents and little sister in Berlin. Now they are both back in their former hometown, haunted by ghosts and hoping against hope to find their family. Millie works in the office responsible for rooting out the most dedicated Nazis from publishing. Like most of their German-born American colleagues, the siblings suffer from rage at Germany and guilt at their own good fortune. Only Millie’s boss, Major Harry Sutton, seems strangely eager to be fair to the Germans.

Living and working in bombed-out Berlin, a latter-day
Wild West where the desperate prey on the unsuspecting; spies ply their trade; black markets thrive, and forbidden fraternization is rampant, Millie must come to terms with a past decision made in a moment of crisis, and with the enigmatic sometimes infuriating Major Sutton who is mysteriously understanding of her demons. Atmospheric and page-turning, The Living and the Lost is a story of survival, love, and forgiveness, of others and of self.
Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.

Sip Lake by Joe Basara

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Publisher:

Date of publication: June 22, 2021

Genre: Fiction, Coming of Age

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Format Read: ARC

Received From: Author (Book’s former title was Cypress Lake)


Goodreads Synopsis:

Hospital orderly Owen Cloud falls in love, and to him, it seems someone has turned up the volume on the Buzz of Being. Everything is as it always was, only more. Three women he meets help him advance through three phases of love–passion, friendship, and finally generosity of heart.


“Sip Lake is what the locals call it. It’s great fishing, and I’ve got a boat, so why not move up here?”

Sip Lake by Joe Basara

When I first read the blurb for Sip Lake, I was interested. As you can see (lookup), the blurb is small, but it packs a punch. I was very interested in Owen and seeing how his journey with love was going to pan out. By the time I finished the book, I was “meh” about it.

Before I start the critical part of the review, I want to mention a couple of things. Sip Lake was originally titled Cypress Lake. I couldn’t find any mention of Sip Lake on Goodreads. It wasn’t until I googled the author’s name plus Sip Lake did I find out that there was a title change. While it didn’t affect my review, it was frustrating to find out after the fact. The other thing was the formatting on my Kindle was messed up. Again, no effect on my review, but it caused me to read the book very slowly because it was one continuous paragraph. So, what should have taken me a day or two took me a week to read.

Sip Lake was a medium-paced book with a well-written and interesting plotline. There were no twists in the plotline. It was a straightforward book that made me feel old (I was born in 1977).

Owen was an interesting character who had a rich inner life. But I did have an issue telling when his imagination took over. There were certain sections that I had to reread to figure out if it was imagination or not.

The romance angle of the book was interesting. Owen had an interest in several women and had two actively pursue him. I did think that he gave off stalkerish vibes at one point in the book (when he was trying to ask one of his co-workers on a date and kept calling her house).

The end of Sip Lake was typical. It did seem a bit rushed, and everything that happened did seem to come out of left field. I wondered why Owen decided on that person mainly because he was very adamant about his feelings towards her halfway through the book.


I would recommend Sip Lake to anyone over the age of 16. This was a clean book. There was no sex (some kissing), no violence, and some very mild language.

The Dating Dare (A Sweet Mess: Book 2) by Jayci Lee

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Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: August 3rd, 2021

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Series: A Sweet Mess

A Sweet Mess—Book 1

The Dating Dare—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Jayci Lee, the author of A Sweet Mess, returns with The Dating Dare—her next witty, chemistry-filled romantic comedy.

Tara Park doesn’t do serious relationships. Neither does she hop into bed with virtual strangers. Especially when that particular stranger is her best friend’s new brother-in-law. It isn’t an easy decision, though. Seth Kim is temptation personified. His unreasonably handsome looks and charming personality makes him easy on the eyes and good for her ego.

When a friendly game of Truth or Dare leads to an uncomplicated four-date arrangement with Seth, Tara can’t say she minds. But their dates, while sweet and sexy, have a tendency to hit roadblocks. Thankfully, their non-dates and chance meetings get frequent and heated.

Seth is leaving for a new job in Paris in a month and a no-strings-attached fling seemed like a nice little distraction for both… But soon Seth realizes that Tara Park doesn’t come in a “nice & little” package–she’s funny and bold, sweet and sexy, and everything he ever wanted and never expected to find. Neither of them are ready for something serious and both have past relationship baggage they’ve been ignoring, but with a shot at forever on the line will they follow their hearts and take a chance on happily-ever-after?


First Line:

The wedding was picture-perfect.

The Dating Dare by Jayci Lee

I was initially very excited to read The Dating Dare. I had read nothing but great reviews about it. So, when it came time for me to read it, I dove right in. I finished the book with a strong dislike for Tara, pity for Seth, and an overall sense of “meh

The Dating Dare is the 2nd book in the A Sweet Mess series. I would strongly suggest reading A Sweet Mess (book 1) before you read The Dating Dare. I had a hard time following different relationships (not romantic, friends), and I believe it would have helped if I had read A Sweet Mess first.

The plot for The Dating Dare was exciting and had a solid start. I like romances that have unconventional beginnings, and Tara and Seth’s most certainly did. But, towards the middle of the book, I started to lose interest which is sad because I enjoyed how it started.

As I mentioned above, I was not too fond of Tara. While I felt terrible for her (her backstory is sad), it gave her no excuse to treat Seth the way she did. She manipulated him on so many levels. After a while, just reading her interactions with him gave me a bad taste in my mouth. She did redeem herself a tiny bit by the end of the book (her whole confession was sweet), but I still didn’t like her.

I felt bad for Seth. He had a bad relationship and kept away from women, relationship-wise, for a long time (I am sure he did the nasty with rando people). So, he fell hard for Tara. Everything he did for her was sweet. She didn’t go to her prom; he recreated it. He played dragon with random kids in a park to be near her. I was halfway in love with him myself. So, I was frustrated when he kept accepting her apologies and dismissing her bad behavior. I wanted to shake him and say, “Drop her!!” But, of course, since this is a fictional book, you know how the story ends.

The romance angle of the book was sweet during the first half of the book. I sighed with every romantic thing that Seth did for Tara. But, by the end of the book, the romance had soured on me. Tara’s lousy behavior and Seth’s passiveness just killed that vibe for me.

The sex scenes were OK. Tara and Seth had sizzling chemistry that led to some hot kissing scenes. But once they had sex, the chemistry disappeared. It was mainly due to my dislike of Tara, but I couldn’t get into the sex scenes.

The end of The Dating Dare was predictable. I had guessed what Tara was going to do, and I knew what Seth’s response would be. If I had liked Tara more, I would have found joy at their HEA. But I didn’t. All I could feel was “meh.” I will read more of Jayci Lee’s books, though. I refuse to let one book color my opinion of an author.


I would recommend The Dating Dare for anyone over the age of 21. There are sexual situations (including nongraphic sex) and mild language.

Riders of Fire and Ice (The Talisman Series: Book 2) by Brett Salter

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Publisher:

Date of publication: October 6th, 2017

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Paranormal

Series: The Talisman Series

The Search for Synergy—Book 1 (Review here)

Riders of Fire and Ice—Book 2

Windy City Ruins—Book 3

The Battle for Verdana—Book 4

Purchase Links: Amazon |B&N

Format Read: ARC

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

Their back! Julian and Rome are taking their show on the road. This time it is to lovely old England in search of Camelot. While there the Knight and Dragon will be trying to solve the mystery of the Talismans, the mystery of their shadowy stalker and the mystery of sibling rivalry. Prepare to meet some new faces and, of course, some new Darkbrands as the two further their adventures across the pond.


Rome hadn’t even set foot on the plane and Julian was already making plenty of complaining comments

Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter

I was pretty psyched to read Riders of Fire and Ice. I had enjoyed The Search for Synergy a lot and couldn’t wait to see what would occur with Rome and Julian in this book. Plus, the author introduced Julian’s younger sister, and I couldn’t wait to see how she was. I wasn’t disappointed at all by anything in this book!!

Riders of Fire and Ice is the second book in The Talisman series. Readers cannot read this book as a standalone. You need to read The Search for Synergy to understand everything that is going on. But, if you are a rebel and decide not to do it, the author did include a short recap of book one at the beginning of this book. But still, read book 1. It is worth it!!

Riders of Fire and Ice was a fast-paced book with a well-written storyline. There was zero lag, which I was surprised by and delighted in.

Rome is one of my favorite characters. He delights in hackeysack and is starting to get interested in girls (the whole I love you line to his crush had me in tears laughing). But, he is also brave and was willing to put his life on the line when he and Julian fought the Minotaur. And his view on Julian’s younger sister, Camela, was spot on.

Julian was my other favorite character in this book. He was focused on looking for portals and battling the Darkfiends that came out of them. He was also brave and delighted in each piece of armor that was revealed to him. I loved his relationship with Camela, though. I have two teenagers, close in age, and they fight similarly to how Camela and Julian did. Talk about true to life.

Again, the fight scenes were terrific. That whole battle with the Minotaur was incredible. I loved how allies were revealed, and I loved who they were. I wasn’t surprised at how came to Julian and Rome’s defense. Some hints were leading up to it that I caught onto. There was a lesser battle with Mr. Jones that was also fantastic. Mainly because it wasn’t about brawn. Instead, Mr. Jones got to show off his abilities.

The end of Riders of Fire and Ice was interesting. I am curious how things will be in book 3 with everything the author revealed about the talismans.


I would recommend Riders of Fire and Ice for anyone over the age of 10 (in the Tween range). There is mild violence.

WWW Wednesday: August 11th 2021

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What I Recently Finished Reading:

Hospital orderly Owen Cloud falls in love, and to him it seems someone has turned up the volume on the Buzz of Being. Everything is as is always was, only more. Three women he meets help him advance through three phases of love–passion, friendship, and finally generosity of heart.

I had a hard time finishing this book. My formatting was messed up and the paragraphs all ran together until almost the end, then it morphed into paragraphs. So, that meant that I had to take my time when reading it. I also had a hard time finding the book. The author changed the name from Cypress Lake to Sip Lake. When I couldn’t find it on Goodreads, I googled it and found a forum with the author addressing it.


What I am currently reading:

Flirting with evil will be the ruination of her soul.

Goodness is much easier to corrupt than it is to hold on to. And for Natasha, a woman reeling from the pain of losing a loved one, evil is all the more tempting. Luck or misfortune spirits Natasha away to the foreign Court of Velaris in a quest for a suitor but instead secures her a place among Velarian royalty. Craving revenge, Natasha makes use of this opportunity to enact her plans as she navigates the lush court where aristocracy is a double-edged blade. But when she befriends her soon-to-be husband Mikhail, the Beloved Prince, Natasha makes a deadly mistake. She captures the attention of the debonair Darkling Prince; a villainous man meant to ascend the Velarian throne.

Enamored, the Darkling Prince charms Natasha, and soon the two feel a forbidden emotion captivate their stoic, scabrous hearts. But with the existence of a violent rebel group capable of cataclysmic damage, there is little time for love. With war brewing amidst the enigmatic kingdom, the royals must become all the more cunning and devious if they wish to triumph over their adversaries. What draws the insidious line between right and wrong when it comes to a battle of survival? For Natasha, nothing is too far, too light, too bloody, too evil.

Soon, the only reflection Natasha sees in her mirror’s beveled glass is that of an Evil Queen. Often, the cost of survival is more frightening than the beasts of death. But that’s what gives the Queen of Shadow’s beauty an edge: she wears her darkness adorned about her throat like the grandest of all diamonds, ebony, and bloodred in shade.

I am almost done with Fairest. Actually, Goodreads marked me as finished but I am 75% done. It is an interesting take on the Snow White/Evil Queen fairy tale. I feel awful for Alina (for some reason, she is called Natasha in the blurb) and I can’t wait to see where this story goes. I also loved the Russian angle too!!


What books I think I’ll read next:

There is little change from my IMWAYR post. Still a whole bunch of ARCs. I am hoping to get these read by next Monday. They all look like fast books but I could be wrong.

If you play with fire…

One of the most notorious cowboys in Cold River, Jensen Kittredge always has willing women with sweet smiles vying for a place in his bed. So when the prissy high school librarian sidles up to him in the most disreputable bar in town with a scowl on her face, he has no idea what to make of it. Much less the attraction he feels toward the bespectacled creature who wants something from him… but not that.
Yet.


Someone gets burned…

Harriett Barnett doesn’t care for dens of iniquity– or the insolent cowboy she certainly shouldn’t find attractive. But one of her students needs her help, and if she needs to corral the infamous Jensen to save him, she will. Trouble is, the town’s favorite Kittredge brother is a lot more than she bargained for. Harriett’s happy little life is orderly and neat, just how she likes it–until Jensen blows it all apart with his particular brand of addictive passion. Can a modern-day schoolmarm really tame the wildest cowboy in town? Or is Harriet headed for a terrible fall?
From the author of Paris Never Leaves You, a gripping story of a young German Jewish woman who returns to Allied Occupied Berlin from America to face the past and unexpected future

Millie Mosbach and her brother David escaped to the United States just before Kristallnacht, leaving their parents and little sister in Berlin. Now they are both back in their former hometown, haunted by ghosts and hoping against hope to find their family. Millie works in the office responsible for rooting out the most dedicated Nazis from publishing. Like most of their German-born American colleagues, the siblings suffer from rage at Germany and guilt at their own good fortune. Only Millie’s boss, Major Harry Sutton, seems strangely eager to be fair to the Germans.

Living and working in bombed-out Berlin, a latter day Wild West where the desperate prey on the unsuspecting; spies ply their trade; black markets thrive, and forbidden fraternization is rampant, Millie must come to terms with a past decision made in a moment of crisis, and with the enigmatic sometimes infuriating Major Sutton who is mysteriously understanding of her demons. Atmospheric and page-turning, The Living and the Lost is a story of survival, love, and forgiveness, of others and of self.
Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.

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