WWW Wednesday: January 19th 2022

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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:

We had a snowstorm roll through our area of Western NC and dump between 4-7 inches (depends on what TV station you believe) on Saturday. When we get that much snow (around here, that is a lot), the city shuts down. Which it did. But there is an upside. Miss R is loving the snow, She has been outside for hours each day, playing in it.

Reading:

I didn’t read as much as I did last week but I still read a fair amount. I finished two of my must-reads (The Maid and Reckless Girls) this week. But, my backlog is still growing….sigh. For every book that I read, it seems like two more are added. I am hoping that since I don’t have any SMP or Random House books due soon and I can catch up.

I am behind on writing reviews too but I am not worried about that. I am behind 3 reviews but that won’t be anything to catch up on. I just need the kids to go back to school….lol.

Watching:

My troubles with Paramount + are still ongoing. The weird thing, though, is that BK can watch it on his profile. But when I switch to mine, nothing works.

We did watch a few movies this week/weekend. We watched The Eternals (I liked it and I don’t see why people were giving it the flak that they were), Encanto (I enjoyed that a lot!!), and Matrix: Revolutions (I didn’t like it). I also discovered that ER is on HBO Max and watched the first couple of episodes. I plan on watching more once the kids (ie Miss R) are back in school.

Making:

Last week I made Honey Pineapple Pork Chops. It went over well. All of my kids (including my extra) cleaned their plates and asked for more. I was very surprised (and happy). This week, I am making a take on unstuffed shells.


What I Recently Finished Reading:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

What I am currently reading:

When Kayla Carter’s husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It’s clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area…and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla’s elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it’s clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families.

What books I think I’ll read next:

If you could read someone’s mind, what would you do with the truth?

Hunted by both the military and her own personal stalker, Dani conceals her psychic abilities and hides in plain sight. Within her mind is the ability to change the landscape of nations. For that, a branch of the government would lock her away—to ensure her safety.

Marc Crofton left his black-ops unit to join his brothers’ private investigative after discharge. A chance meeting with the quiet, unassuming spitfire in his veterinarian’s office sends his world in a tail spin involving spies, both domestic and international.

Each must rely on the other to survive a world where betrayal and deception, desire and trust, weave a fabric that transcends time.
Pall Warren lives in a world filled with unrivaled natural beauty, constant struggle and shifting perceptions of reality. The time frame of his story is set in a medieval context. Peace over the land he lives in is an illusion only. Pall discovers that war not only must be waged against competing interests within his own land, but also against unnerving entities filled with extreme malice toward the human race. As the journey to discover who he really is unfolds, he learns that appearances are not at all what they seem to be on their surfaces.

This story is ultimately about the battle between faith and disbelief, as well as how hope and cynicism clash against one another in the human spirit.

Can the ultimate basis of truth be found? In Pall’s quest for meaning, can virtue be used to combat and overcome evil?
Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.
There’s something out there that’s killing. Known only as The Cur, he leaves no traces, save for the torn bodies of girls, on the verge of becoming women, who are known as trouble-makers; those who refuse to conform, to know their place. Girls who don’t know when to shut up.

2019: Thirteen-year-old Lila Sawyer has secrets she can’t share with anyone. Not the school psychologist she’s seeing. Not her father, who has a new wife, and a new baby. And not her mother—the infamous Caroline Sawyer, a unique artist whose eerie sculptures, made from bent twigs and crimped leaves, have made her a local celebrity. But soon Lila feels haunted from within, terrorized by a delicious evil that shows her how to find her voice—until she is punished for using it.

2004: Caroline Sawyer hears dogs everywhere. Snarling, barking, teeth snapping that no one else seems to notice. At first, she blames the phantom sounds on her insomnia and her acute stress in caring for her ailing father. But then the delusions begin to take shape—both in her waking hours, and in the violent, visceral sculptures she creates while in a trance-like state. Her fiancé is convinced she needs help. Her new psychiatrist waves her “problem” away with pills. But Caroline’s past is a dark cellar, filled with repressed memories and a lurking horror that the men around her can’t understand.

Kri

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was Excited to Read In 2021 But Didn’t Get To

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:

She assigns each Tuesday a topic and then posts her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


I saw this prompt and had to laugh a little bit. Why? Because 90% of the books that are on my TBR are books that I was excited to read and never got to….lol. There are a lot of books on that list and I am going to take the first 10 that I see. So, in no particular order, here are my books.

Also, please let me know if you have read any of these books and if you have, what you thought about them!!! Inquiring minds want to know!!


1. Rebel by Beverly Jenkins

Valinda Lacey’s mission in the steamy heart of New Orleans is to help the newly emancipated community survive and flourish. But soon she discovers that here, freedom can also mean danger. When thugs destroy the school she has set up and then target her, Valinda runs for her life—and straight into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq.

As an architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake has a deeply personal interest in rebuilding the city. Raised by strong women, he recognizes Valinda’s determination. And he can’t stop admiring—or wanting—her. But when Valinda’s father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn’t love, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.

2. The Things We Leave Unfinished by Rebecca Yarros

Twenty-eight-year-old Georgia Stanton has to start over after she gave up almost everything in a brutal divorce—the New York house, the friends, and her pride. Now back home at her late great-grandmother’s estate in Colorado, she finds herself face-to-face with Noah Harrison, the bestselling author of a million books where the cover is always people nearly kissing. He’s just as arrogant in person as in interviews, and she’ll be damned if the good-looking writer of love stories thinks he’s the one to finish her grandmother’s final novel…even if the publisher swears he’s the perfect fit.

Noah is at the pinnacle of his career. With book and movie deals galore, there isn’t much the “golden boy” of modern fiction hasn’t accomplished. But he can’t walk away from what might be the best book of the century—the one his idol, Scarlett Stanton, left unfinished. Coming up with a fitting ending for the legendary author is one thing, but dealing with her beautiful, stubborn, cynical great-granddaughter, Georgia, is quite another.

But as they read Scarlett’s words in both the manuscript and her box of letters, they start to realize why Scarlett never finished the book—it’s based on her real-life romance with a World War II pilot, and the ending isn’t a happy one. Georgia knows all too well that love never works out, and while the chemistry and connection between her and Noah is undeniable, she’s as determined as ever to learn from her great-grandmother’s mistakes—even if it means destroying Noah’s career.

3. The Poet by Lisa Renee Jones

Some call him friend or boss.
Some call him husband or dad.
Some call him son, even a favorite son.

But the only title that matters to him is the one the media has given him: The Poet.

A name he earned from the written words he leaves behind after he kills that are as dark and mysterious as the reason he chooses his victims.

One word, two, three, a story in a poem, a secret that only Detective Samantha Jazz can solve. Because he’s writing this story for her.

She just doesn’t know it yet.

4. The One-Night Stand by Elizabeth Hayley

Gabriel Torres thought his life after major league baseball would be simple and quiet—or at least quieter. However, as he takes over running the exclusive Players Club, he finds himself constantly embroiled in scandal and drama. Surely nothing or no one could make his life any crazier…right?

Rachel Adler is a blast from Gabe’s past who crashed back into his life with the finesse of a freight train. But she’s a welcome distraction. At least for a night.

Rachel’s been working hard to become one of the top sports journalists in the country, and she doesn’t have time for an irresistibly charming baseball player. A one-night stand with a man who she knew would hit it out of the park was all she wanted.

But when Rachel gets a tip that Gabe could have ties to one of the biggest sports stories in history—a story that could make her career—she decides she has time for the sexy baseball player after all. As Rachel gets in deeper with both her story and Gabe, she begins to question who she is, what she wants, and what exactly she’s willing to sacrifice for her career.

Will this potential grand-slam romance be stopped short? Or will Rachel and Gabe go the distance?

5. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth—musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies—the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story—of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

6. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests


Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.


Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

7. Bully by Penelope Douglas

My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.


I’m not going to let him bully me anymore.

8. The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith

The last place Ryan Walsh should be this afternoon is on a train heading to Wrigley Field. She should be in class, enduring yet another miserable day of her first year of high school. But for once, Ryan isn’t thinking about what she should be doing. She’s not worried about her lack of friends, or her suffering math grade, or how it’s been five whole years since the last time she was really and truly happy. Because she’s finally returning to the place that her father loved, where the two of them spent so many afternoons cheering on their team. And on this — the fifth anniversary of his death — it feels like there’s nowhere else in the world she should be.

Ryan is once again filled with hope as she makes her way to the game. Good luck is often hard to come by at a place like Wrigley Field, but it’s on this day that she meets Nick, the new kid from her school, who seems to love the Cubs nearly as much as she does. But Nick carries with him a secret that makes Ryan wonder if anyone can ever really escape their past, or believe in the promise of those reassuring words: “Wait till next year.” Is it too much for Ryan to hope that this year, this season, might be her comeback season?

9. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future. 

Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

10. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Goodreads Monday: The Island Legacy by Ruth Saberton

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This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it This meme was formerly featured on LaurensPageTurners and was taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog.


This Week’s Selection

Synopsis:

The Island Legacy – perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, Rosamunde Pilcher, and Poldark.

The only daughter of a troubled artist father, Ness Penwellyn always struggled to feel settled and now her life has taken an unexpected turn; she is the heir to the ancestral family home in England. With excitement Ness exchanges her American life for her inheritance, a mysterious castle set on a Cornish island, and swaps solitude for newly discovered relatives – some more pleased to learn of her existence than others.

Inheriting vast debts alongside the castle, it isn’t long before Ness encounters property developer, Max Reynard. Wealthy and wickedly handsome, Max is accustomed to getting his own way and Ness is unimpressed. His assumption she’ll sell to him only makes her more determined to find the strength to go it alone – even as bitter cousins plot and circumstances start to spiral out of control.

Before long Ness and Max are locked in a battle of wills as the castle’s past and present collide in the fight to preserve its future. Independent and determined, Ness must decide who she can trust with both the island legacy and her heart…

The Island Legacy is a captivating blend of romance, mystery, and courage played out against the breathtaking beauty of Cornwall’s dramatic coastline.

Stocking the Shelves—January 15th 2022

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Welcome to Stocking the Shelves. Every Saturday, I will be posting what books I got this week. Stocking the Shelves is hosted by Reading Reality. So, here is my list. Let me know if you have read any of these and what you thought!!


From the Author/Indie Publisher:

Pall Warren lives in a world filled with unrivaled natural beauty, constant struggle and shifting perceptions of reality. The time frame of his story is set in a medieval context. Peace over the land he lives in is an illusion only. Pall discovers that war not only must be waged against competing interests within his own land, but also against unnerving entities filled with extreme malice toward the human race. As the journey to discover who he really is unfolds, he learns that appearances are not at all what they seem to be on their surfaces.

This story is ultimately about the battle between faith and disbelief, as well as how hope and cynicism clash against one another in the human spirit.

Can the ultimate basis of truth be found? In Pall’s quest for meaning, can virtue be used to combat and overcome evil?
Hidden in the bottom of a roadside ditch as a baby, Evangel is only steps away from her viciously murdered parents. An old hermit finds her there a day later and takes her to his home in the heart of a sylvan wilderness. She is raised in a hermitage built by Matthew where he learns she is touched by a rare spiritual power.

17 years later a series of miracles occur that rock the very nature of her reality. Befriended by outlaws and a king’s champion, she is also betrayed by a woman of the cloth during a bard of the realm’s performance. That night, in a dream, Evangel envisions her future soul mate, Pall Warren, on a battlefield of death, and casts a prayer of protection around him. Thus begins a remarkable journey to save herself and those who believe in her.

A hauntingly beautiful and startling tale of wonder.
What would you do if the gates of hell literally opened before you? In search of John Savage, Pall Warren encounters the destructive power of evil arrayed against him.Even though loss ekes a toll upon his life, he summons the strength and courage to continue his quest for meaning. He learns that the role he must play by determining who he is forms an integral part in the destiny of everyone around him. His journey inevitably takes him to the port city of Seascale where he soon discovers that the realm of West Fundlund is also imperiled and under attack by the renegade priest Kosem Mungadai, a thaumaturge of the 13th level in the occult arts.Evil unleashed. Goodness embattled. A spellbinding story erupts onto the pages of the concluding novel of the Penitent trilogy.Will Evangel’s prayer of protection still surround and preserve Pall from wickedness? Are courage, strength of arms and the blessings of love capable of enduring and overcoming the corrupting power of malign forces seeking the utter ruin of his world?Set in the past, cast in the future, comes a cautionary tale of humanity’s presence in the universe.

I got the first three books in The Immortality Wars on Saturday. I had forgotten that I had agreed to review the first 3 books. So, I was very surprised when I got the mail and saw that I had been sent 3 books!! I am halfway through book 1 right now and it is very good.


From NetGalley:

Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London.

Constance Lysander needs a husband. Or, so society says. She’s about to give birth to her late husband’s child―a man who left her with zero money, and two other wives she didn’t know about. Thankfully, she has her Aunt by her side, and the two other wives have become close friends. But still―with a baby on the way, her shipping business to run, and an enemy skulking about, she has no time to find the perfect match.

Enter Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston. Returned war hero and Constance’s childhood best friend, his reentry into society has been harsh. Maligned for an injury he received in the line of duty, Jonathan prefers to stay out of sight. It’s the only way to keep his heart from completely crumbling. But when a missive from Constance requests his presence―to their marriage ceremony―Jonathan is on board. His feelings for Constance run deep, and he’ll do anything to make her happy, though it means risking his already bruised heart.

With Constance, Jonathan, and the new baby all together, it’s clear the wounds―both on the surface and in their relationship―run deep. But when the nights come, their wounds begin to heal, and both come to realize that their marriage of convenience is so much more than just a bargain.

I was so excited when I opened my email on Thursday morning and saw Rules for Engaging the Earl sitting there. I had been waiting (and hoping) that I would get a request for this book!! I jumped up and down in my chair when I saw it (I was that excited)

Is he an enemy?

Dillon Young is proud that she inherited her aunt’s ranch. The problem: someone is trying to run her off and is willing to do whatever it takes. Strange, dangerous things keep happening. Dillion suspects her no-good neighbor and fellow wealthy rancher Hank Stephens. Never a man to get his hands dirty, he sends others to get the job done. So, when the irresistible Cal Bennett is found passed out drunk on her property, Dillion is on high alert. Until someone takes a shot at her and Cal springs to her rescue. When the hard-bodied, no-nonsense-talking cowboy points out that she may need some help, Dillion is inclined to reluctantly agree.

Or a lover?

Waking up on a stranger’s property with a shotgun in his face is not Cal Bennett’s idea of a good time. Never mind that the woman on the other end of the barrel is one of the most fiercely beautiful women he has ever seen. Things get more interesting when he finds himself shielding her from flying bullets. It’s clear that this smart, savvy woman could use a hand and he is all too happy to lend any part of his body she requires. His proposal: pose as lovers until they find out who is after her ranch. As the danger rises and secrets are revealed, the passion explodes between them. There is no turning back.

My email was full of surprises on Thursday. I got a request for That Cowboy of Mine. Since Donna Grant is one of my favorite authors to read, I couldn’t say no (not that I would have said no anyway…lol)

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.

I had read When Sparks Fly and enjoyed it. But, I wasn’t expecting to be chosen to review the second book (through the SMP Influencer Program). So, yes, I was very surprised when SMP contacted me with an invite to review on Thursday. I can’t wait to read London and Jackson’s romance!!

Olivia Reed needs a break. She doesn’t want to think about her name plastered on tabloids or be reminded of her recent meltdown on a Manhattan street. Her micromanaging publicist has just the thing in mind: a remote retreat in Upstate New York–the House of Light. It’s not rehab; it’s a spiritual center, a site for seeking realignment and personal growth. There will be yoga and morning meditation, soft bamboo-blend fabrics and crystals to snuggle.

But Liv will soon find that the House of Light is filled with darkness. A prickly local, Ava, informs her that something twisted is lurking behind the Light’s veneer. There have been a series of mysterious suicides committed by women caught in the Light’s web, and no matter who Ava talks to, no one believes her. To get the truth out and put her celebrity to good use, Liv starts a podcast, seeking to connect the dots and expose the Light’s true intentions. Because beneath the glowing skin of the Light’s inhabitants lie rotten souls, and Liv starts to wonder if anything–even her own life–is how it appears.

The Sisters Sweet by Elizabeth Weiss

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Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Random House, The Dial Press

Date of publication: November 30th, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

A young woman in a vaudeville sister act must learn to forge her own path after her twin runs away to Hollywood in this richly immersive debut about love, family, and friendship.

Leaving was my sister’s choice. I would have to make my own.

All Harriet Szász has ever known is life onstage with her sister, Josie. As “The Sisters Sweet,” they pose as conjoined twins in a vaudeville act conceived of by their ambitious parents, who were once themselves theatrical stars. But after Josie exposes the family’s fraud and runs away to Hollywood, Harriet must learn to live out of the spotlight—and her sister’s shadow. Striving to keep her struggling family afloat, she molds herself into the perfect daughter. As Josie’s star rises in California, the Szászes fall on hard times and Harriet begins to form her first relationships outside her family. She must decide whether to honor her mother, her father, or the self she’s only beginning to get to know.

Full of long-simmering tensions, buried secrets, questionable saviors, and broken promises, this is a story about how much we are beholden to others and what we owe ourselves. Layered and intimate, The Sisters Sweet heralds the arrival of an accomplished new voice in fiction.


First Line:

A young woman is pacing up and down the front steps of my house, her briefcase bouncing against her knees

the sisters sweet by elizabeth weiss

When I first got the invite to review The Sisters Sweet, I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to read it, let alone review it. But, I read the blurb, and one word jumped out at me “Vaudville.” It was that word that convinced me to read this book. Now that I’ve read it and have had some time to sit on what I have read, I am kind of “meh” about The Sisters Sweet. I have neither good nor bad feelings towards it. Just “meh” feelings, if that makes sense.

The Sisters Sweet is two stories, well three if you count Harriet talking to the Vanity Fair reporter after Josie died. The first story is about Harriet, her relationships with her parents, uncle, cousin, and various men that come and go in her life. The second story is about Josie and Harriet’s parents and their choices in their lives. I didn’t exactly like that there were two separate plotlines. I could have done without knowing about Maude and Lenny’s backgrounds. But it was there, and it did add depth to the story.

The first plotline in The Sisters Sweet follows Josie and Harriet’s rise to vaudeville fame and their ultimate crash when Josie takes off in the middle of an act. After that, the book focuses on Harriet and what her life was like after Josie left. Harriet was left to clean up the mess Josie made and become a daughter who would never disappoint her parents or overbearing uncle. Harriet is living a double life, though. She was partying with her cousin, sleeping around, and drinking way too much. It was a matter of time before everything came crashing down. But at what cost?

The second plotline centers around Maude, Lenny, and their years before the girls. As I stated above, I didn’t think that exploring the traumas, highs, and lows they had before the twins would help. And it didn’t. I could have cared less about Maude, her accident, and her uneasy relationship with her sister’s husband. I also didn’t care about Lenny, his early years, or that he was a lush. It did nothing to change my mind about how horrible they were (and yes, they were awful parents).

The Sisters Sweet was a medium-paced read. That complimented the flow very well. There was some lag in the middle of the book, but it didn’t take away from reading.

I wish there had been more scenes with Josie in them. While she wasn’t likable, I would have liked to see what was going on in her mind. After escaping from her parents, she became almost a footnote in the book. The author detailed her life through the press and movies. I feel that she could have become more personable if she had more of a presence in the book, and it would have made some of the ending scenes a bit more believable.

I did feel bad for Harry. She was the overlooked child because everything centered around Josie. She was the one who was hurt the most when Josie took off. She also had to be strong and had to be an adult at such a young age. I did think that she would go down the same road as her mother (unwed mother), but I was glad when the author decided not to do that. Instead, Harry became a dutiful daughter during the day and a party animal at night.

I was not too fond of Maude and Lenny. They were selfish people and awful parents. Maude was a selfish woman who couldn’t show affection to her children. Later in the book, Lenny is a drunk who puts Harry in situations that no teenager should have been in.

I was very interested in the historical fiction angle of The Sisters Sweet. But, I felt that the book swept over some of the more important historical events. Those events would have added an extra depth needed to the book.

The end of The Sisters Sweet confused me a little. I understood that the entire book was Harry telling the reporter “her” story. But it wasn’t clear about exactly what happened when the reporter left. I have a hunch that it was what I thought it was.

I would recommend The Sisters Sweet to anyone over the age of 16. There are sexual situations, violence, and mild language.

Rupture State by M.B. Bartkowski

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Publisher: BookBaby

Date of Publication: August 25th, 2021

Genre: Dystopia, Action, Adventure

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Buried among the million inhabitants of a society evolved into disjointedness, Otto struggles. He flounders alone in Brownton, the only home he has ever known. Those struggles, though, become secondary under the angst dispensed by the unforeseen tragedy of an otherwise idle Thursday. A restaurant he designed collapses, leaving hundreds dead. Banished from all that is familiar as penance for this calamity, Otto is thrust on an uncharted journey to the US, accompanied by little more than the burden of his own guilt and doubt.
Through the uncertainty of his voyage, Otto finds support where it is least expected. Samantha Justus and her brothers retrieve him from the clutches of an enemy he does not fully grasp. He finds himself an unknowing target in the midst of a strife much larger than his own tribulation. But buoyed by his newfound community—heretofore a foreign concept—Otto discovers a secret that holds in its fragile hand the survival of his homeland. Though brandished a criminal in two realms, he is left with the challenge of navigating a return to the scene of the crime in the hope of saving those who would convict him. It is not a mission he can accomplish alone. It will require the combined efforts of Sam, E.J., Benny, Marcos, Desmond, Bree, Hardy, and Tika—the tribe that has assembled along the way.


First Line:

“What?” His jaw pounded excitedly, but none of the supposed sound leaving his face reached me across the table.

rupture state by m.b. bartkowski

I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to read Rupture State when I read the blurb. But, after some consideration, I made the decision to read it. I ended up enjoying this book more than I thought!!

Rupture State is the story about Otto. Otto is a resident of a floating city, Brownton. Brownton was built when global warming caused the sea to rise and flood the coastal areas. Initially, it was supposed to be a temporary situation, but that turned permanent. There are several floating cities, and they all are considered separate countries. They have their currency and laws; the latter comes into play later in the book. Otto works as an engineer at a firm responsible for fabricating the grids that the city floats on. Everything is going great in his life until a hanging restaurant that he built comes crashing to the ground. Sent to the mainland until the scandal blows over, Otto discovers a more sinister plot. With the help of a mysterious young woman, her brothers, and their friends, Otto is determined to let the citizens of Brownton know what is going on before another tragedy happens.

Rupture State is a fast-moving book. The book’s flow did compliment the fast pace, but some parts seemed to falter a little. I noticed that it mainly seemed to be when Otto was on the run with Sam and her brothers. It didn’t disturb my enjoyment of the book, but it did throw me off a little bit.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Otto. I did like him initially, and I felt awful for him when the restaurant collapsed. But after that, I started to think less of him. Now, I don’t know how I would have acted if something ever happened to me, but I do know that I wouldn’t have let a coworker or boss not allow me to be part of the investigation. I also would have lawyered up and demanded an investigation. But it didn’t happen (it couldn’t because the plotline wouldn’t have gone further than that tragedy). I started to like him again once he was on the mainland and started investigating himself. What he found out made sense and honestly scared me.

The dystopia angle of the book was wonderfully written. Not much was written about the mainland (aka the USA), but Brownton had an exciting and vibrant society. I loved that the author chose to make self-driving cars a thing. Oh, and let’s not forget that he built on handheld devices (all residents, USA and Brownton, had devices on their wrists connected to the internet) and movies (there was a pick your plotline for the film at the beginning of the book).

I also liked that the author incorporated climate change and global warming into the plotline. I could see cities like Brownton popping up if the sea rises. So, it wasn’t a stretch for me to believe that Brownton could exist. It will exist if we don’t do something about it.

The action-angle of the book was written very well also. Of course, there were action sequences (like on the factory’s roof or the boat back to Brownton). I loved seeing Otto becoming some anti-hero during the latter half of the book. He didn’t use violence but his brain to outsmart the bad guys.

There was a romance angle in Rupture State, but it wasn’t played upon, which was a relief. The author did give Otto and Sam romantic scenes, but the focus was on getting Otto and the evidence to Brownton, not on his romance with Sam. I loved it!!!

The end of Rupture State was a little predictable, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I will not get into it (hello, spoilers!!), but I will say that everyone deserved what happened. Otto did try to warn them, and they didn’t listen to him. The ones who did were already off Brownton when things went down.

I would recommend Rupture State to anyone over the age of 21. There is nongraphic sex, language, and mild violence.

WWW Wednesday: January 12th 2022

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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 know I haven’t done a personal section for a while but I decided to do one today. I have just been too busy.

So, what has been going on? Well, a whole lot. The kids went back to school on January 5th. I spent that day deep cleaning my house (I have 3 kids and they are messy…need I say any more). January 6th, I get a text from the mother of the girl I keep before/after school and drive to/from school that she was sick. No biggie. 15 minutes later, I get a text saying that she tested positive for Covid. No sooner than I got that text, I got a call from the school, asking if I can pick Miss R up and that they would test her there. So I did. I also called the middle and high schools to let them know. The high school tested Miss B (I didn’t need to sign a consent form because she’s 16) but the middle school didn’t test Mr. Z. Thankfully, Miss R and Miss B tested negative and were able to rejoin her class (Miss B) and go back to school the next day (Miss R). They just had to mask up for 5 days (they are vaccinated. Unvaccinated would have been a 10-day quarantine with testing on the 5th day). But Mr. Z didn’t get tested. The middle school didn’t offer it to him (and BK didn’t ask). Instead, because he wasn’t boosted, he was put on a 5-day quarantine and I had to bring him to the school on Monday to get tested. Thankfully, he tested negative but still. His grades suffered because he wasn’t in person (the were worksheets the teachers passed out that he didn’t get but are making up today). The little girl I watch is feeling better and should be back at school next week (if she tests negative).

Reading:

I have finally read the books I was behind on for November. Now, I am working on December’s backlog. Thankfully, it is only one book and I should finish that one tonight. Then my backlog for January (which is 3 books as of right now) and, if I am lucky, I should be caught up.

I am behind on writing reviews. Right now, I need to write 3 reviews, with a possible 4th. I am not worried about that, though. I should have all 3 reviews written and scheduled by this weekend.

Watching:

BK and I finished watching The Wheel of Time over Christmas break. I highly recommend it. I am trying to watch The Stand on Paramount + but it won’t start (even with troubleshooting). So, I went back to Prime and started watching A Discovery of Witches. So far, I like it but I am not understanding some things portrayed (I need to read the books).

Making:

Last week, I made brown sugar glazed pork chops (served with stuffing and corn). I had gotten the recipe off Yummly, so I don’t have the recipe. But the kids loved it. Miss R and Miss B (my picky eaters) ate seconds, which never happens.

This week I am making Honey Pineapple pork chops. They are marinating in the fridge right now and I am going to cook them up when Miss B gets home from school.


What I Recently Finished Reading:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a deeply moving novel about the resilience of the human spirit in a moment of crisis.

Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.


But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. The whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.

Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.

This book broke my heart and brought back some bad memories from the beginning of the pandemic. But, I was riveted to it and was rooting for Diana.


What I am currently reading:

WHAT A GIRL WANTS

To survive her difficult childhood, Miss Hazel Lively relied on two things:a tough outer shell and a love of books. Now, at the age of twenty-eight, she’s finally realized her life-long dream of opening a school for girls. She’s hoping that the wealthy families who flock to the shore for the summer will entrust their daughters to Bellehaven Academy―and help pay the way for less fortunate students. All Hazel must do is maintain a flawless reputation and raise a good deal of money. It’s a foolproof plan…till a sinfully handsome earl strides into her office.

WHAT AN EARL NEEDS

Gabriel Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had a monstrous headache since the day his teenaged niece became his ward. She’s been expelled from two London boarding schools and is doing her damnedest to scare off his potential fiancée. But Blade has a plan of his own―enroll his niece at Bellehaven Academy, where she’ll be out of town and out of his hair. He just needs to convince the buttoned-up headmistress with the soulful brown eyes to take on his niece.

LEAD TO AN IRRESISTIBLE DEAL

When Blade makes a generous offer to the school, it’s impossible for Hazel to refuse. But she has one non-negotiable condition: the earl must visit his niece every other week. Soon, Blade discovers there’s much more to Hazel than meticulous lesson plans. In moonlit seaside coves and candlelit ballrooms, their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But the passion that flares between them poses a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love? Well, it just might…

I am a sucker for historical romances. I am also a sucker for romance books that are punny. I read the first few pages last night and I am thinking that I am going to really like this book!!


What books I think I’ll read next:

In order, my list of books are ARC, ARC, ARC, indie ARC, ARC, ARC.

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.


But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.
When Kayla Carter’s husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It’s clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area…and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla’s elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it’s clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families.
If you could read someone’s mind, what would you do with the truth?

Hunted by both the military and her own personal stalker, Dani conceals her psychic abilities and hides in plain sight. Within her mind is the ability to change the landscape of nations. For that, a branch of the government would lock her away—to ensure her safety.

Marc Crofton left his black-ops unit to join his brothers’ private investigative after discharge. A chance meeting with the quiet, unassuming spitfire in his veterinarian’s office sends his world in a tail spin involving spies, both domestic and international.

Each must rely on the other to survive a world where betrayal and deception, desire and trust, weave a fabric that transcends time.
Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.
A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them.

There’s something out there that’s killing. Known only as The Cur, he leaves no traces, save for the torn bodies of girls, on the verge of becoming women, who are known as trouble-makers; those who refuse to conform, to know their place. Girls who don’t know when to shut up.

2019: Thirteen-year-old Lila Sawyer has secrets she can’t share with anyone. Not the school psychologist she’s seeing. Not her father, who has a new wife, and a new baby. And not her mother—the infamous Caroline Sawyer, a unique artist whose eerie sculptures, made from bent twigs and crimped leaves, have made her a local celebrity. But soon Lila feels haunted from within, terrorized by a delicious evil that shows her how to find her voice—until she is punished for using it.

2004: Caroline Sawyer hears dogs everywhere. Snarling, barking, teeth snapping that no one else seems to notice. At first, she blames the phantom sounds on her insomnia and her acute stress in caring for her ailing father. But then the delusions begin to take shape—both in her waking hours, and in the violent, visceral sculptures she creates while in a trance-like state. Her fiancé is convinced she needs help. Her new psychiatrist waves her “problem” away with pills. But Caroline’s past is a dark cellar, filled with repressed memories and a lurking horror that the men around her can’t understand.


As past demons become a present threat, both Caroline and Lila must chase the source of this unrelenting, oppressive power to its malignant core. Brilliantly paced, unsettling to the bone, and unapologetically fierce, Such a Pretty Smile is a powerful allegory for what it can mean to be a woman, and an untamed rallying cry for anyone ever told to sit down, shut up, and smile pretty.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to my TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:

She assigns each Tuesday a topic and then posts her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


Happy New Year!!

This is my first Top Ten Tuesday of the year and I am excited to do it. I have added a bunch of books since the beginning of the year (and it is a lot). The first two books are recent NetGalley additions. The other 8 are books that I either entered contests for or saw on a blog and liked.

Here are my books and as always, let me know if you have read the book and what you thought of it!!


1. The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner

When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.

2. My Wife is Missing by D.J. Palmer

When a woman disappears with her two children, one husband will do anything to find them–even confront the secrets of his own past–in D. J. Palmer’s My Wife Is Missing, a twisty thriller from the author of The New Husband…

3. Daniel’s Final Week by Donna VanLiere

A mysterious leader returned from the dead.
A planet filled with fallen angels.
An execution order against millions.
Yet amidst these evils, God’s hope prevails.

After his apparent resurrection, beloved leader Victor Quade is hailed internationally as God. Yet when Victor mandates that everything from purchasing groceries to seeing a doctor will require a mark of allegiance to him, Emma Grady and her friends in New York know they must flee.

Meanwhile, in Israel, the Jewish people worship Victor as a messiah, not realizing he intends to seal their doom. As Jews and Jesus-followers around the globe lose their lives, Zerah Adler strives to protect as many as possible in this violent, volatile time.

In this spellbinding conclusion to the end-times trilogy that began with The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, bestselling author Donna VanLiere brings the stories of Emma and Zerah to a riveting close. In the final chapters, you’ll discover what God’s Word reveals about the glorious future that awaits you and see that things aren’t spiraling downward but are actually looking up!

4. Goodbye Again by Mariah Stewart

A woman strives to move beyond her devastating past in an uplifting novel filled with hope and second chances by New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart.

In the wake of her daughter’s unexplained suicide and her husband Jim’s sudden abandonment, Liddy Bryant is determined to move on and make some positive changes in her life. In her hometown of Wyndham Beach, the neglected and shuttered bookstore is also in need of renewal, and Liddy recognizes an opportunity to get herself and the bookshop back on track. With a little help from her friends, she’s well on her way.

Local contractor Tuck Shelby has been a friend of Liddy’s forever. He’s made himself indispensable in the rehab of her shop—and in her life—but now he wants out of the friend zone. Then Jim returns with a long-overdue apology, hoping for forgiveness and a chance to start over, and Liddy has a life-changing choice to make.

Into a year when Liddy’s faced changes and the shocking truth of a well-kept secret comes not only a second chance at love, but a second chance at life.

5. Listening Well: Bringing Stories of Hope to Life by Heather Morris

In Listening Well, Heather will explore her extraordinary talents as a listener—a skill she employed when she first met Lale Sokolov, the tattooist at Auschwitz-Birkenau and the inspiration for her bestselling novel. It was this ability that led Lale to entrust Heather with his story, which she told in her novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz and the bestselling follow up, Cilka’s Journey.

Now Heather shares the story behind her inspirational writing journey and the defining experiences of her life, including her profound friendship with Lale, and explores how she learned to really listen to the stories people told her—skills she believes we can all learn.

“Stories are what connect us and remind us that hope is always possible.”—Heather Morris

6. Misadventures with a Duke by Angel Payne

Could his past be the key to her future?

Even optimists have bad days, but Raegan Tavish’s streak has lasted for weeks. The rising star of fashion stylists is dealing with both a bad break-up and a creative slump, so apartment sitting for her lovebird friends feels like a way to realign karma—until fate has its say.

As soon as Bastien De Leon steps out of the giant wardrobe in his brother’s master bedroom, Raegan knows what kind of complication has just struck her life. The cabinet is no normal piece of imposing furniture. It’s a time travel device, and it’s just brought this stunning warrior forward by over two hundred years. But why?

On a quest to return Bastien back to the time in which he belongs, Raegan already knows she will be forever changed by this arrogant duke and his irresistible passions. But what if Bastien’s intrusion isn’t just a visit? What if this man is here to awaken something new inside her…and change the course of her existence forever?

7. A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong

May 20, 2019: Homicide detective Mallory is in Edinburgh to be with her dying grandmother. While out on a jog one evening, Mallory hears a woman in distress. She’s drawn to an alley, where she is attacked and loses consciousness.

May 20, 1869: Housemaid Catriona Thomson had been enjoying a half-day off, only to be discovered that night in a lane, where she’d been strangled and left for dead . . . exactly one-hundred-and-fifty years before Mallory was strangled in the same spot.

When Mallory wakes up in Catriona’s body in 1869, she must put aside her shock and adjust quickly to the reality: life as a housemaid to an undertaker in Victorian Scotland. She soon discovers that her boss, Dr. Gray, also moonlights as a medical examiner and has just taken on an intriguing case, the strangulation of a young man, similar to the attack on herself. Her only hope is that catching the murderer can lead her back to her modern life . . . before it’s too late.

8. Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see . . .

Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .

9. Aurora by David Koepp

In Aurora, Illinois, Aubrey Wheeler is just trying to get by after her semi-criminal ex-husband split, leaving behind his unruly teenage son.

Then the lights go out–not just in Aurora but across the globe. A solar storm has knocked out power almost everywhere. Suddenly, all problems are local, very local, and Aubrey must assume the mantle of fierce protector of her suburban neighborhood.

Across the country lives Aubrey’s estranged brother, Thom. A fantastically wealthy, neurotically over-prepared Silicon Valley CEO, he plans to ride out the crisis in a gilded desert bunker he built for maximum comfort and security.

But the complicated history between the siblings is far from over, and what feels like the end of the world is just the beginning of several long-overdue reckonings–which not everyone will survive . . .

Aurora is suspenseful storytelling–both large scale and small–at its finest.

10. Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

Miri thinks she has got her wife back, when Leah finally returns after a deep-sea mission that ended in catastrophe. It soon becomes clear, though, that Leah is not the same. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying before they were stranded on the ocean floor, Leah has brought part of it back with her, onto dry land and into their home.

Moving through something that only resembles normal life, Miri comes to realize that the life that they had before might be gone. Though Leah is still there, Miri can feel the woman she loves slipping from her grasp.

Our Wives Under The Sea is the debut novel from Julia Armfield, the critically acclaimed author of salt slow. It’s a story of falling in love, loss, grief, and what life there is in the deep deep sea.

Goodreads Monday: The Sweet Taste of Sin (The Fontaines: Book 1) by Ember Casey

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This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it This meme was formerly featured on LaurensPageTurners and was taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog.


This Week’s Selection

Synopsis:

Ashlyn just wants to move on with her life. Run her bakery. Heal her broken heart. She’s had three years to try and forget Dante Fontaine.

To the rest of the world, Dante is Hollywood royalty, the ridiculously attractive oldest son of the notorious Fontaine family.

To Ashlyn? He’s the guy who took her virginity and made her swear off men forever.

But when an accidental–and humiliating–encounter brings him back into her life, Ashlyn realizes that no matter how hard she’s tried to forget about him, Dante definitely hasn’t forgotten about her.

…and this time, he’s not going to let her go.

Reading Challenges for 2022

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I failed at all of my challenges last year. With the kids being home for most of the year (Miss R was home until April, Mr. Z was home all year, and Miss B was on and off), I couldn’t give attention to the challenges that they needed.

But, it is 2022 and, if the kids stay in school (grrrr….COVID), I plan on completing all of my challenges.

The challenges I decided to do this year are:

Goodreads 2022 Reading Challenge. I set a goal of 200 books. I am already behind two books but I am hoping to make that up soon.

The StoryGraph Reading Challenge: Same as Goodreads except this one says I am behind 3 books. I am trying to figure that out since I started the challenge the same day.

The StoryGraph 2022 Pages Goal: I have never done one of these before and figured, why not. I picked 1950 pages (I asked Miss R and she gave me that number….lol). I am currently 27 pages behind but I haven’t logged the book I finished last night.

The StoryGraph January Pages Challenge: This is a monthly challenge that I signed up for. Right now I am at 25% (but I am 27 pages and 3 books behind according to them…lol).

PopSugar 2022 (through The StoryGraph): I have done this since I joined The StoryGraph in 2019. Right now, I am 0 out of 40 prompts.

Beat the Backlist (through The StoryGraph): Another one I have done since 2019. I came close to finishing it in 2019 and I am hoping to beat that this year. Right now, I am 0 out of 49 prompts.

The StoryGraph Genre Challenge 2022: So, this and the next two challenges came up when I went into the reading challenges section of The StoryGraph. I am always up for a challenge, so I decided to do it. I am at 0 out of 10 prompts.

The StoryGraph Reads the World 2022: See above. Plus, I like to challenge myself and figured this would do that. I am at 0 out of 10 prompts.

The StoryGraph’s Onboarding Reading Challenge 2022: See Genre Challenge and Read the World. I am at 0 out of 6 prompts.

So, these are the challenges I decided to do. Keeping my fingers crossed that I finish at least one of them. Let me know what reading challenges you are doing!!