About Jolie

I love to read. My favorite genres women's fiction, romance (including erotica), psychological thrillers, fantasy, young adult, steampunk, dystopian, LGBTQIA, and paranormal. I am also a busy mom of 3 kids.

WWW Wednesday: September 22 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:

A glamorous birthday dinner in the Hollywood Hills ends with the famous host dead and every guest under suspicion in this dark, cinematic suspense debut reminiscent of an Agatha Christie page-turner crossed with David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.

When actress Elspeth Bell attends the fiftieth birthday party of her ex-husband Richard Bryant, the Hollywood director who launched her career, all she wants is to pass unnoticed through the glamorous crowd in his sprawling Los Angeles mansion. Instead, there are just seven other guests–and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank as the intimate party grows more surreal (and rowdy) by the hour. Come morning, Richard is dead–and all of the guests are suspects.

In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new partner, the manager, the cinematographer, and even Elspeth herself. What starts out as a locked-room mystery soon reveals itself to be much more complicated, as dark stories from Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage that she vowed never to revisit. Elspeth begins to wonder not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would desire to possess a creature as mysterious and unsettling as Persephone.

The Last Guest is a stylish exploration of power–the power of memory, the power of perception, the power of one person over another.

What I am currently reading:

A paranormal romantic comedy at the (possible) end of the world.

All Callie wanted was a quiet weekend with her best friend. She promised her mom she could handle running her family’s escape room business while her mom is out of town. Instead a Satanic cult shows up, claiming that the prop spell book in one of the rooms is the real deal, and they need it to summon the right hand of the devil. Naturally they take Callie and her friend, Mag, along with them. But when the summoning reveals a handsome demon in a leather jacket named Luke who offers to help Callie stop the cult from destroying the world, her night goes from weird to completely strange.

As the group tries to stay one step ahead of the cult, Callie finds herself drawn to the annoying (and annoyingly handsome) Luke. But what Callie doesn’t know is that Luke is none other than Luke Morningstar, Prince of Hell and son of the Devil himself. Callie never had time for love, and with the apocalypse coming closer, is there room for romance when all hell’s about to break loose?

From New York Times bestselling author Gwenda Bond, Not Your Average Hot Guy is a hilarious romantic comedy about two people falling in love, while the fate of the world rests on their shoulders.

What books I think I’ll read next:

A promise to stay together.
An unbreakable bond.
A fierce will to survive.


From international bestselling author Heather Morris comes the breathtaking conclusion to The Tattooist of Auschwitz trilogy.


When they are girls, Cibi, Magda and Livia make a promise to their father – that they will stay together, no matter what.

Years later, at just 15 years old, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Cibi, only 19 herself, remembers their promise and follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her.

In their hometown in Slovakia, 17-year-old Magda hides, desperate to evade the barbaric Nazi forces. But it is not long before she is captured and condemned to Auschwitz.

In the horror of the death camp, these three beautiful sisters are reunited. Though traumatised by their experiences, they are together.

They make another promise: that they will live. Their fight for survival takes them from the hell of Auschwitz, to a death march across war-torn Europe and eventually home to Slovakia, now under iron Communist rule. Determined to begin again, they embark on a voyage of renewal, to the new Jewish homeland, Israel.

Rich in vivid detail, and beautifully told, Three Sisters will break your heart, but leave you amazed and uplifted by the courage and fierce love of three sisters, whose promise to each other kept them alive. Two of the sisters are in Israel today, surrounded by family and friends. They have chosen Heather Morris to reimagine their story in her astonishing new novel, Three Sisters.
A young woman takes a job as a nanny for an impossibly wealthy family, thinking she’s found her entre into a better life–only to discover instead she’s walked into a world of deception and dark secrets.

Nanny needed. Discretion is of the utmost importance. Special conditions apply.

When Sarah Larsen finds the notice, posted on creamy card stock in her building’s lobby, one glance at the exclusive address tells her she’s found her ticket out of a dead-end job–and life.

At the interview, the job seems like a dream come true: a glamorous penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side of NYC; a salary that adds several zeroes to her current income; the beautiful, worldly mother of her charge, who feels more like a friend than a potential boss. She’s overjoyed when they offer her the position and signs the NDA without a second thought.

In retrospect, the notice in her lobby was less an engraved invitation than a waving red flag. For there is something very strange about the Bird family. Why does the beautiful Mrs. Bird never leave the apartment alone? And what happened to the nanny before her? It soon becomes clear that the Birds’ odd behaviors are more than the eccentricities of the wealthy.

But by then it’s too late for Sarah to seek help. After all, discretion is of the utmost importance.
It’s not every day an obscure orphan girl becomes a fae queen.

Crysta and her companions have found the diadem and stone, but just when it looks like the tide has finally shifted in their favor, Crysta is sucked into Terise’s sleeping curse with no way of escape and nowhere to hide from Titania’s ruthless attacks.

And now she is permanently bonded…to the wrong fated mate.

Jareth is not only heartbroken at the loss of his fated mate bond, his mating frenzy is in overdrive, preventing him from functioning. He and Kheelan must overcome their differences if they hope to free Crysta, but they are faced with more setbacks as Titania takes faerie captives by the hundreds, building her army and growing her powers.

And the diadem, the key to Moridan and Titania’s undoing?

Tainted by Titania’s curse.

But a cursed relic isn’t the only surprise the wicked queen has in store for Crysta. The battle for control over the minds and hearts of the fae is one Titania intends to win by any means necessary.

Can Crysta and Jareth unite the Unseelie and Seelie Courts before Titania and Moridan destroy the Fae Realm?
Lyrical and haunting, Hannah Capin’s I Am Margaret Moore is a paranormal thriller that tests the hold of sisterhood and truth.

I am a girl. I am a monster, too.

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Fall 2021 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.


1 I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

Lyrical and haunting, Hannah Capin’s I Am Margaret Moore is a paranormal thriller that tests the hold of sisterhood and truth.

I am a girl. I am a monster, too.

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

2 The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller

In Diana Biller’s The Brightest Star in Paris, love is waiting; you only have to let it in.

Amelie St. James, prima ballerina of the Paris Opera Ballet and the people’s saint, has spent seven years pretending. In the devastating aftermath of the Siege of Paris, she made a decision to protect her sister: she became the bland, sweet, pious “St. Amie” the ballet needed to restore its scandalous reputation. But when her first love reappears, and the ghosts of her past come back to haunt her, all her hard-fought safety is threatened.

Dr. Benedict Moore has never forgotten the girl who helped him embrace life again after he almost lost his. Now, he’s back in Paris after twelve years for a conference. His goals are to recruit promising new scientists, and, maybe, to see Amelie again. When he discovers she’s in trouble, he’s desperate to help her—after all, he owes her.

When she finally agrees to let him help, they disguise their time together with a fake courtship. But reigniting old feelings is dangerous, especially when their lives are an ocean apart. Will they be able to make it out with their hearts intact?

3 The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter

What’s REALLY hiding in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Could it be The Tyrant King’s army of Darkbrands? Could it be more of Mr. Jones’s liaisons? Or could it be the solution to the problem vexing our favorite heroes? Whatever mystery it is, you can guarantee the boys from Georgia are sure to find themselves deep in the thick of it.

4 Home for a Cowboy Christmas by Donna Grant

The most wonderful time of the year has arrived for this cowboy in New York Times bestseller Donna Grant’s newest novel, Home for a Cowboy Christmas.

Tis the season—for everyone except Emmy Garrett. She’s on the run after witnessing a crime. But when it becomes clear that trouble will continue following her, the US Marshal in charge takes her somewhere no one will think to look–Montana. Not only is Emmy in a new place for her protection, but now, she’s stuck with a handsome cowboy as her bodyguard…and she wants to do more than kiss him under the mistletoe.

Dwight Reynolds left behind his old career, but it’s still in his blood. When an old friend calls in a favor, Dwight opens his home to a woman on the run. He tries to keep his distance, but there’s something about Emmy he can’t resist. She stokes his passion and turns his cold nights into warm ones. When danger shows up looking for Emmy, Dwight risks everything to keep her safe.

5 Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Layla Hilding is thirty-five and recently divorced. Struggling to break free from the past—her glory days as the lead singer in a band and a ten-year marriage to a man who never put her first—Layla’s newly found independence feels a lot like loneliness.

Then there’s Josh, the single dad whose daughter attends the elementary school where Layla teaches music. Recently separated, he’s still processing the end of his twenty-year marriage to his high school sweetheart. He chats with Layla every morning at school and finds himself thinking about her more and more.

Equally cautious and confused about dating in a world that favors apps over meeting organically, Layla and Josh decide to be friends with the potential for something more. Sounds sensible and way too simple—but when two people are on the rebound, is it heartbreak or happiness that’s a love song away?

From the bestselling author of The Girl He Used to Know comes a love song of a story about starting over and second chances.

6 Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

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.

7 The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Dare Me meets Black Swan and Luckiest Girl Alive in a captivating, voice-driven debut novel about a trio of ballerinas who meet as students at the Paris Opera Ballet School.

Fourteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now 36 years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she’s been away…and some secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Moving between the trio’s adolescent years and the present day, The Ballerinas explores the complexities of female friendship, the dark drive towards physical perfection in the name of artistic expression, the double-edged sword of ambition and passion, and the sublimated rage that so many women hold inside––all culminating in a twist you won’t see coming, with magnetic characters you won’t soon forget.

8 The First Christmas by Stephen Mitchell

In The First Christmas, Stephen Mitchell brings the Nativity story to vivid life as never before. A narrative that is only sketched out in two Gospels becomes fully realized here with nuanced characters and a setting that reflects the culture of the time. Mitchell has suffused the birth of Jesus with a sense of beauty that will delight and astonish readers.

In this version, we see the world through the eyes of a Whitmanesque ox and a visionary donkey, starry-eyed shepherds and Zen-like wise men, each of them providing a unique perspective on a scene that is, in Western culture, the central symbol for good tidings of great joy. Rather than superimposing later Christian concepts onto the Annunciation and Nativity scenes, he imagines Mary and Joseph experiencing the angelic message as a young Jewish woman and man living in the year 4 bce might have experienced it, with terror, dismay, and ultimate acceptance. In this context, their yes becomes an act of great moral courage.

Readers of every background will be enchanted by this startlingly beautiful reimagining of the Christmas tale.

9 The Sisters Sweet by Elizabeth Weiss

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.

9 The Maid by Nita Prose

A charmingly eccentric hotel maid discovers a guest murdered in his bed. Solving the mystery will turn her once orderly world upside down…

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misinterprets 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 had to navigate 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 turned on its head 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 very 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?

10 Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

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.

When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

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When I read the blurb for When Sparks Fly, I knew that I needed to read it, one reason is that I love reading contemporary romances, and the other reason is that I have heard nothing but good things about Helena Hunting. I am glad that I read this book. It was what I needed to read.

I like the friends-to-lovers trope but feel that it is overused in romance novels. So I did go into reading the book thinking that When Sparks Fly would be typical in that regard. It isn’t. Declan and Avery’s slide into romance was one of the more natural romances that I have read in a while.

The plotline for When Sparks Fly was medium-paced. There was no lag in the book, and it was very well written.

I liked Avery. She had me laughing with her observations on life and Declan. I liked that she wasn’t portrayed as a shrinking violet. She wasn’t afraid to call Declan out on his stuff (like his extracurriculars). She did have her flaws, and they were on display in the book. But they were nothing compared to Declan’s.

Let’s talk about Declan. He was a freaking mess for 90% of the book. His childhood was less than ideal, and in turn, it turned him into a commitment-phobe adult who ran from his problems. But that didn’t excuse how he treated Avery during the last half of the book, though. He was a real douche canoe. But I did like him. The author didn’t make him perfect and chose to highlight his mental health issues.

The romance angle of When Sparks Fly was sweet. I loved seeing both realize that they were in love with the other person. It was a considerable whammy for Declan since he was using Avery’s relationship with his ex-best friend as a reason why he shouldn’t get with her. I loved seeing him realize that Avery was his person.

The sex scenes were hot in When Sparks Fly. I did giggle when Declan caught Avery masturbating. And I wasn’t surprised with how it ended up. I was a little “eh” when Avery told her sisters about it, though. I wouldn’t say I like kissing and telling (or, in this case: getting help with masturbating and telling).

I did like how mental health was portrayed in When Sparks Fly. Declan had some serious issues from his childhood that needed to be resolved before moving forward with any relationship. While I didn’t see his breakdown coming, I wasn’t surprised by it. But, I liked how his friends (and Avery) supported him. Having him going to therapy was a huge plus. I also like that his issues didn’t magically go away at the end of the book. Getting help was huge but Avery supporting him (and participating in the therapy) was even more significant.

The end of When Sparks Fly was sweet. And at the very end, it was perfect!! I did a lot of “Awww, so sweet” to myself as I was reading.


I would recommend When Sparks Fly to anyone over the age of 21. There is graphic sex, language, and mild violence.

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

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The Family Plot by Megan Collins

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of publication: August 17th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Google Play | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received: From Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse has a lot to learn when it comes to the real world. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she has spent the last several years living on her own, but unable to move beyond her past—especially the disappearance of her twin brother Andy when they were sixteen.

With her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house she has avoided for years. But as the rest of the Lighthouse family arrives for the memorial, a gruesome discovery is made: buried in the reserved plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.

Each member of the family handles the revelation in unusual ways. Her brother Charlie pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister Tate forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic façade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin.


First Line:

My parents named me Dahlia, after the Black Dahlia – that actress whose body was cleaved in half, left in grass as sharp as scalpels, a permanent smiled sliced into her face – and when I first learned her story at for years old, I assumed a knife would one day carve me up.

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

Review:

The Family Plot centers around an eccentric family, the Lighthouses. The parents named the children after famous victims of killings (Charles Lindbergh (Charlie), Sharon Tate (Tate), Andrew Borden (Andy), and The Black Dahlia (Dahlia)). They were kept isolated from the island community and were homeschooled on a….different….curriculum. It all consisted of true crimes, their victims, and their murderers. It was an unconventional upbringing.

The book starts with the death of Dahlia’s father, which brings her, Charlie, and Tate home. Andy has been missing for ten years. Dahlia, Andy’s twin, is hoping that he will show up. But that hope is dashed when the groundskeeper finds a body buried in what will be her father’s grave. That body ends up being Andy, and finding his body opens up Pandora’s box for the entire family.

Dahlia is determined to find out what happened to Andy. But her investigating uncovers a more profound and more disturbing mystery. That mystery is connected to a serial killer operating on the island. The more Dahlia digs, the more evidence she uncovers that Andy’s death is somehow connected to that serial killer. But how and why? What is revealed at the end of the book will shock even the most hardened person.


As I mentioned above, the main characters in The Family Plot are the Lighthouses. Charlie, Tate, Dahlia, and Andy with their mother, father (in spirit), ex-police chief, current police chief, Dahlia’s best friend, Andy’s girlfriend, and the groundskeeper being major secondary characters. Each one of these characters was written beautifully and had their voice that was heard.

Now, saying that I do want to touch on how messed up the Lighthouse family was. Each person had their issues. I will say that I thought Dahlia was the most “normal” person in the family. Tate had social problems. Charlie was an alcoholic (among other things), Andy had anger and cruelty issues (told through mini-flashbacks), and the mother, well, I am not going to say what they were because her problems are critical to the plotline. As the book goes on, the dysfunction in this family doesn’t lessen. Instead, it gets worse. I have never read a book where this happened, and I loved it.

As much as I loved the characters, I didn’t exactly like the lack of depth. The book is told in 1st person, through Dahlia’s eyes, but I felt that I didn’t get to know her. Same with Charlie, Andy, and Tate. This is the one time that I think that multiple POVs would have helped.


The plotline for The Family Plot was fast-moving and well written. But it did lag in the middle. While the lag wasn’t enough to derail the plotline, it was enough to bog it down. Plus, I felt that there was too much extra at that point in the book. Honestly, I didn’t care about the stalkerish ex-police chief or his son, the current police chief. I also didn’t care for Ruby’s smothering grandfather. I get why the author did but still. It was a distraction. I wanted to know more about Dahlia’s upbringing. I would have loved to read a snippet of a murder report.

The mystery angle of the book was on point. The author threw out so many red herrings that I second-guessed myself over who the serial killer was. I also couldn’t figure out who killed Andy and why.

I do want to touch on the true-crime angle. I thought it was well written and inventive for the author to have it used as part of a homeschooling curriculum. I am a true crime fanatic, and I recognized several of the names used in the book (aside from who the kids were named after). But, there were also names that I didn’t recognize, and I had to google.

I was shocked at the events that led to Andy being killed than who killed him. I can safely say that I didn’t see it coming. I had to put my Kindle down to process the revelation and then keep on reading. My only complaint is that the confession and the aftermath seemed a little rushed.

The end of the book didn’t sit right with me. Like I mentioned above, there was a huge reveal, and then it just tapered off. I was expecting another twist or something like that to happen. That drove me nuts!!! I would have loved to see something bigger happen than what did.


I loved reading The Family Plot. It was an engaging mystery/thriller that kept me guessing who did it until the end.

I would recommend The Family Plot to anyone over the age of 21. There are numerous mentions of true crime stories. There are reenactments of how people died, often gruesome. There are descriptions of a serial killer and how the victims were killed. There are scenes of extreme grief.

Windy City Ruins (The Talisman Series: Book 3) by Brett Salter

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First Line:

Rome could feel his stomach jumping around as the plane touched down at La Guardia airport in New York City.

windy city ruins by brett salter

Windy City Ruins is the 3rd book in The Talisman Series. While the author gives a quick rundown of the previous books at the beginning of this one, I would strongly recommend reading the previous books first.

Windy City Ruins takes place immediately after the events of Riders of Fire and Ice. Rome, Julian, and Mr. Jones are in New York City to meet with Mr. Jones’s mysterious friend, Beacon. Beacon has some intel, but they are not easy to find. Beacon tasks the boys (and Mrs. Case and Mr. Jones) with a riddle and a time to meet them. Their journey takes them to the closed-off torch of The Statue of Liberty and a big surprise. But, Beacon’s identity is the least of their problems. Something dangerous is stalking them, and it will take everyone (Beacon, Camela, Krysta, Mr. Jones, Mrs. Case, and the boys) to face the danger. Will they be able to beat that threat, and what will it cost them??

I was very excited to read Windy City Ruins. Why? Well, I have become invested in the series. I need to know what will happen to Rome, Julian, and their allies/friends. Plus, I find the worldbuilding and lore fascinating in this book. The author mixes different mythologies seamlessly.

Rome and Julian are still learning about their bonding. But, since they didn’t perform the Synergy correctly, they can’t use their bond to their advantage. I found that fascinating. Seeing Camela and Krysta’s bond (as well as the mark that it left on Krysta) made me wonder how the boys would be if/when they bond correctly.

As in the other books, dragons and talismans figure hugely in the plot. Wind dragons and earth dragons are discovered. I will admit that I wasn’t sure about the wind dragons. But as the book went on, they proved just how loyal and brave they were. The earth dragon scared me. Nothing could shake that thing. It was a freaking tank!

I liked that the author gave the Darkfiends more exposure in the book. I play ESO, and while I was reading this book, I was in Blackwood. One boss fight was a minotaur with firepower (it was more of a shaman, but still). That is how I imagined the minotaur from the main battle scene. I called my SO over to show/tell him about the minotaur that came out of the portal and how it looked like the one in my game. He could have cared less….lol.

I was a little irritated with Julian’s father. Especially when certain things came out at the end of the book (with the fight between the boys and Jericho/Clay). I was very frustrated with him. He caused too much harm that has reverberated throughout the book, and I feel that it will continue into the next one.

I was shocked at the events at the end of the book. Mainly by what happened with Nocturne and the boys. I was not expecting what happened to happen. But in a way, I was also happy that it did. It meant that the boys could do things right and hopefully take down the Tyrant King.


I would recommend Windy City Ruins to anyone over the age of 13. It is a clean book (no sex, no kissing). There is mild violence and very mild language.

WWW Wednesday: September 15th 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:

Miss B

As I mentioned last week, Miss B is getting her wisdom teeth removed next week. She is a combination of nervous/excited about it. What I didn’t mention in the post from last week is that we have to pay out of pocket for the surgery. Not going to say how much but it is sizable. I was a little pissed about that because hello, insurance. But, since her teeth are not impacted, insurance doesn’t cover the extraction or the anesthetic. BK says I shouldn’t be grumpy about it but why do we have insurance if all its good for is covering cleanings?

Miss B is getting my current laptop next month. Why, you ask? Well, she dumped soda on her laptop and it shorted out (this is on top of her Windexing her keys a couple of months back). So, after talking to BK, I went to Dell, got approved for financing, and ordered myself a new gaming desktop. The tower will not be here until the end of October, so she has to wait until then. She also learned a valuable lesson about drinks and laptops. With this laptop, she’s getting a stand, so at least I don’t have to worry about her spilling her drink on it (knock on wood).

She is doing well in school. She is running a booth at lunch for Beta Club on Friday (talking to freshman and sophmores). She also earned her fatigues in ROTC and should be getting them within the next couple of weeks.

Mr. Z

Mr. Z is having some issues adjusting to being back in school. Not behaviour wise but academically. He decided that his Math 1 teacher’s way of having them turn in homework is stupid and is refusing to do it. I know I mentioned this last week and I thought I had nipped it in the bud. Nope, he is still refusing to do it. I talked to him again last night about it and told him, again, that if he can’t turn his homework in, then he’s grounded. He didn’t like it and pushed back saying “Well Miss Blank’s way of doing it is stupid and takes up too much time.” While I agree, I told him he had to follow her rules.

Other than that, he’s doing pretty well. He is into anime (Seven Deadly Sins is his favorite), Minecraft, and Worldbox.

Miss R

Miss R hurt herself over the weekend. She was attempting to do a headstand on my bed, fell, and pulled a muscle in her neck/upper back. She refuses to take pills (any sort of pills) so managing her pain was interesting. I ended cutting up an Ibuprofen into tiny pieces and had her take them individually.

She is doing very well in school. Her school work (sent home every Tuesday) are all S+’s and 100s. She did get 3 wrong on last week’s spelling test but they were words she had problems with. She got her 3 week progress report home and it was blank. I got a laugh out of that and she told me everyone in her class had blank papers. The teacher had an issue printing them. I figure if anything was wrong, the teacher would let me know.

Skittles, Snickers, Loki, Jesper, and Tincan

The girls are still not liking that the kittens are in the house and they do not hesitate to put the boys in their place. Mainly by smacking them on the head and hissing at them. You would think that the boys would leave them alone but nope, they don’t learn…smh.

Who is Tincan? Well, he is the stray kitten that I feed on my back porch. My girls have named him Tincan because he is the color of one. I am working on getting him close to me. He will now hide behind one of my pots and watch me put out his food and water. I want to get him used to me so I can get him to the vet (for vaccines and hopefully to get neutered). I strongly believe that he is Jesper and Loki’s brother and if that’s the case, then he was handled as a baby and he isn’t 100% feral.

Me

Nothing has really changed from last week. I am almost to the end of season 2 in Cold Case. I watched an episode last night where I bawled. It took place in 1963 and it covered racism. There is a very graphic lynching scene at the end of the episode that shook me. The episode I am watching now is centered around The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It took me a few minutes to realize who the serial killer was and I got a little laugh over that.

I am still playing ESO. I am in Western Skyrim, trying to beat a coven and bad vampires….lol. And yes, it is as fun as it sounds.

Reading

I read 2 books since last week. I have been super busy this week (with BK being gone) and have been exhausted at night. I am hoping to read some of the book I am currently reading tonight.


What I Recently Finished Reading:

In GREAT SCOT by Suzanne Enoch, Jane Bansil knows she will never have a fairy-tale life. But even at three-and-thirty and well past marriageable age, though, she has to admit that the architect the MacTaggerts have hired could turn even a confirmed spinster’s head.

In CHRISTMAS AT DEWBERRY HOLLOW by Amelia Grey, Isabelle Reed has no plans to ever fall in love. Certainly not with Gate, a man who doesn’t live in Dewberry Hollow. She will fulfill her duty and help him keep his promise to have his ill grandfather back in London in time for Christmas dinner. The last thing Isabelle wants is for Gate to take her heart with him when he goes.

In MY MISTLETOE BEAU by Anna Bennett, Miss Eva Tiding is determined to cheer her widowed father with the perfect Christmas gift. Even if it means breaking into the home of the rakish earl who swindled Papa out of his pocket watch and pretending to date the earl for the Christmas season.

What I am currently reading:

A glamorous birthday dinner in the Hollywood Hills ends with the famous host dead and every guest under suspicion in this dark, cinematic suspense debut reminiscent of an Agatha Christie page-turner crossed with David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.

When actress Elspeth Bell attends the fiftieth birthday party of her ex-husband Richard Bryant, the Hollywood director who launched her career, all she wants is to pass unnoticed through the glamorous crowd in his sprawling Los Angeles mansion. Instead, there are just seven other guests–and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank as the intimate party grows more surreal (and rowdy) by the hour. Come morning, Richard is dead–and all of the guests are suspects.

In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new partner, the manager, the cinematographer, and even Elspeth herself. What starts out as a locked-room mystery soon reveals itself to be much more complicated, as dark stories from Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage that she vowed never to revisit. Elspeth begins to wonder not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would desire to possess a creature as mysterious and unsettling as Persephone.

The Last Guest is a stylish exploration of power–the power of memory, the power of perception, the power of one person over another.

What books I think I’ll read next:

A paranormal romantic comedy at the (possible) end of the world.

All Callie wanted was a quiet weekend with her best friend. She promised her mom she could handle running her family’s escape room business while her mom is out of town. Instead a Satanic cult shows up, claiming that the prop spell book in one of the rooms is the real deal, and they need it to summon the right hand of the devil. Naturally they take Callie and her friend, Mag, along with them. But when the summoning reveals a handsome demon in a leather jacket named Luke who offers to help Callie stop the cult from destroying the world, her night goes from weird to completely strange.

As the group tries to stay one step ahead of the cult, Callie finds herself drawn to the annoying (and annoyingly handsome) Luke. But what Callie doesn’t know is that Luke is none other than Luke Morningstar, Prince of Hell and son of the Devil himself. Callie never had time for love, and with the apocalypse coming closer, is there room for romance when all hell’s about to break loose?

From New York Times bestselling author Gwenda Bond, Not Your Average Hot Guy is a hilarious romantic comedy about two people falling in love, while the fate of the world rests on their shoulders.
A promise to stay together.
An unbreakable bond.
A fierce will to survive.


From international bestselling author Heather Morris comes the breathtaking conclusion to The Tattooist of Auschwitz trilogy.


When they are girls, Cibi, Magda and Livia make a promise to their father – that they will stay together, no matter what.

Years later, at just 15 years old, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Cibi, only 19 herself, remembers their promise and follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her.

In their hometown in Slovakia, 17-year-old Magda hides, desperate to evade the barbaric Nazi forces. But it is not long before she is captured and condemned to Auschwitz.

In the horror of the death camp, these three beautiful sisters are reunited. Though traumatised by their experiences, they are together.

They make another promise: that they will live. Their fight for survival takes them from the hell of Auschwitz, to a death march across war-torn Europe and eventually home to Slovakia, now under iron Communist rule. Determined to begin again, they embark on a voyage of renewal, to the new Jewish homeland, Israel.

Rich in vivid detail, and beautifully told, Three Sisters will break your heart, but leave you amazed and uplifted by the courage and fierce love of three sisters, whose promise to each other kept them alive. Two of the sisters are in Israel today, surrounded by family and friends. They have chosen Heather Morris to reimagine their story in her astonishing new novel, Three Sisters.
A young woman takes a job as a nanny for an impossibly wealthy family, thinking she’s found her entre into a better life–only to discover instead she’s walked into a world of deception and dark secrets.

Nanny needed. Discretion is of the utmost importance. Special conditions apply.

When Sarah Larsen finds the notice, posted on creamy card stock in her building’s lobby, one glance at the exclusive address tells her she’s found her ticket out of a dead-end job–and life.

At the interview, the job seems like a dream come true: a glamorous penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side of NYC; a salary that adds several zeroes to her current income; the beautiful, worldly mother of her charge, who feels more like a friend than a potential boss. She’s overjoyed when they offer her the position and signs the NDA without a second thought.

In retrospect, the notice in her lobby was less an engraved invitation than a waving red flag. For there is something very strange about the Bird family. Why does the beautiful Mrs. Bird never leave the apartment alone? And what happened to the nanny before her? It soon becomes clear that the Birds’ odd behaviors are more than the eccentricities of the wealthy.

But by then it’s too late for Sarah to seek help. After all, discretion is of the utmost importance.
It’s not every day an obscure orphan girl becomes a fae queen.

Crysta and her companions have found the diadem and stone, but just when it looks like the tide has finally shifted in their favor, Crysta is sucked into Terise’s sleeping curse with no way of escape and nowhere to hide from Titania’s ruthless attacks.

And now she is permanently bonded…to the wrong fated mate.

Jareth is not only heartbroken at the loss of his fated mate bond, his mating frenzy is in overdrive, preventing him from functioning. He and Kheelan must overcome their differences if they hope to free Crysta, but they are faced with more setbacks as Titania takes faerie captives by the hundreds, building her army and growing her powers.

And the diadem, the key to Moridan and Titania’s undoing?

Tainted by Titania’s curse.

But a cursed relic isn’t the only surprise the wicked queen has in store for Crysta. The battle for control over the minds and hearts of the fae is one Titania intends to win by any means necessary.

Can Crysta and Jareth unite the Unseelie and Seelie Courts before Titania and Moridan destroy the Fae Realm?
Lyrical and haunting, Hannah Capin’s I Am Margaret Moore is a paranormal thriller that tests the hold of sisterhood and truth.

I am a girl. I am a monster, too.

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Numbers in the Titles

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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.


1. Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

The best gift of all is the one you share with someone else. . .

From the moment he strode through the iron gate and into the offices of Two Love Lane on a crisp December day, it was obvious that Deacon Banks was something different. He wasn’t a Charleston native, not with that adorable Yankee accent. And unlike the usual client at the elegant matchmaking agency, he had no interest in finding a woman to marry–just a few no-strings dates while he was in town.

Macy Frost takes her professional services very seriously–how could she not, when she’s rumored to be a direct descendant of Cupid? Tech entrepreneur Deacon says he’s just trying to make his social-climbing aunt happy by being seen out and about with a few prominent beauties, but Macy insists she can make her client fall in love…for real. And Deacon can’t help but think she might be right. As charming as the palmetto trees and magnificent harbor may be, it’s the beautiful, breath-of-fresh-air Macy who’s become Deacon’s favorite part of the scenery. But can the hopelessly romantic Southern belle stop trying to fix him up and just let Cupid do his work on her own heart?

2 How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks

Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father’s life.

Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage…until he discovers she’s vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?

If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?

3 Compound 26 by Krista Street

A deadly virus. A brilliant, young researcher. And an infected survivor who threatens to steal her heart.

In a society ruled by sanctions and curfews, Dr. Meghan Forester emerges as the youngest and most promising scientist to join the fight against Makanza – the deadly virus that’s ravaged the world.

Inside Compound 26, a giant government-controlled research facility, Meghan’s new job involves studying the Kazzies, the rare survivors who carry the virus and now exhibit supernatural powers. But as her work enfolds, Meghan’s horrified at the brutal and unethical practices the Kazzies are subjected to. And most surprisingly, she falls in love with one.

Faced with growing conflict over helping the Kazzies versus following the Compound’s strict policies, Meghan must choose: obey the government’s unethical practices or risk everything to save the only man she’s ever loved.

Compound 26 is the first book in The Makanza Series – a Sci-Fi Dystopian Romance with strong fantasy elements. This series is filled with strife and intrigue, and questions what it truly is to be human. Fans of Stephenie Meyer and Jennifer Armentrout are sure to love these books!

4 The First 30 Days by Alicin Welsh

No electricity. No running water. Modern Conveniences-gone in an instant. How would you survive? Would you want to …..

The life Anna and Bryan have created for their small family represents the epitome of the modern, on the go, do everything family. Living in a small country town with their two teenage sons, they have enjoyed the relative safety and security that the modern world has allowed them to. The luxury of being able to be in constant communication with each other, having basic necessities like food readily available, along with the security blanket that money provides, was something none of them ever fully appreciated.

In one instant that would change. After an EMP attack on US soil wipes out the electrical grid, Anna, Bryan and the boys must find each other and work together to learn to navigate the challenges this new world will present. Anna needs to learn to let go, that some things, even staying alive, will be out of her control. Bryan must escape from a prison, 100 miles from home, where he worked as a corrections officer until the inmates took over. Cole must learn to embrace his adult voice and Elijah will face challenges none of them can imagine. Loved ones will be lost, resources depleted, and the safety of their family unit threatened by delinquents that move into the area.

As society quickly crumbles around them how will they cope? With law enforcement nonexistent those in need will soon use any means necessary to get what they want. Everyone must do what they can to survive, Anna and Bryan know this, but their will to protect their family is resilient. Will it be enough to keep everyone together and safe? Will they succeed in finding each other while still remaining true to who they are? Anna, Bryan, Cole and Elijah tell their story of surviving in a new world for The First 30 Days.

5 Ten Thousand Words by Kelli Jean

There’s danger that neither of them can escape.

Reclusive author, Xanthe Malcolm, likes her private and quiet life. However, when her wildly-popular series Paranormal Hunters gets picked up by a big-time publishing agency, she’s thrust into the limelight alongside sexy, photographer-turned-cover model, Oliver Fairfax. Upon meeting, the chemistry between the quirky writer and arrogant model quickly intensifies, creating a steamy page-turner of events made for romance novels.

Then comes the plot twist.


Xanthe has secrets that have kept her bound to silence.

And the truth has Oliver questioning every unspoken word.

6 The Fifth Floor by Julie Oleszek

One secret. A decade of silence.

Seven-year-old Anna loves the constant commotion of her big family. Most of all, Anna adores her ten-year-old sister Liz. They build forts, climb trees, and stick together, no matter what. One moment the two girls are dangling from their backyard swing set; the next, everything changes…

Anna will never be the same.

After 10 years of heartache and grief, seventeen-year-old Anna’s life is becoming
increasingly difficult. She would like nothing more than to forget her past, but memories of her childhood are burned into her soul. Can she hide the unspeakable truth from years ago? Find out now in Julie Oleszek’s debut novel, The Fifth Floor.

“Julie Oleszek will take you on a compassionate journey that will change you and renew your faith in mankind. This book deserves to be on the Best Seller List.”
Sandra Whiteis

7 The 11th Percent by T.H. Morris

Jonah Rowe, a bored accountant and aspiring novelist, is sick and tired of his job as an accountant. He is burnt out from all the office gossip, politics, and double talk, and he longs for his life to matter. Truth be told, Jonah wants anything besides the lame routine of coasting through his workday….only to psych himself up enough to do it all over again the next day. He only wishes that his life had some meaning.

Amidst the combination of writer’s block and society’s expectations to have a “real” 9-5 job, Jonah gets his wish.

His world is turned completely upside down one evening when his vision inexplicably turns blue for several moments. He then receives a warning from a spectral visitor that not only is he in danger, but everything in his life is about to change.

Overnight, Jonah transforms from an overworked, underpaid accountant to the centerpiece of a spectral battle. Will he rise to the occasion? Can he accept that everything he knows about life and death is completely wrong? And, most importantly, will he be able to comprehend and harness the power of the mysterious 11th Percent?

Follow Jonah’s journey in this new breed of ghost story!

8 13th Avenue by Thomas Shark

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO SAVE YOUR OWN SKIN?  
Detective Nicholas Graves never wanted to be a murderer, but during one long Sunday afternoon on 13th Avenue, he became exactly that. With his secret safe and buried for three whole years, it comes as a shock when he receives an anonymous email, threatening to expose him.

Over the next 12 hours, Detective Graves finds himself in a game with a killer who is smarter, more cunning and deranged than he could ever be. His only hope is his rookie partner, Detective Stasia Rhine, who becomes the final wall between Graves and his demise.

There’s only one problem.

The killer has a game for Stasia too…

9 Twenty-One Trees by Linda Cousine

Sometimes, secrets are the ties that bind two people together for life—especially the painful ones. Savannah May Holladay and her best friend from childhood, James “Birdy” Johnson, harbor many dark secrets.


Birdy also has an undying love for Savannah that spans over two decades. Unfortunately for him, Savannah is a wealthy debutante engaged to the town’s most eligible bachelor—and Birdy is a truck driver.



But after a nasty incident, Savannah wakes up in a hospital bed and can’t remember one thing about the past seven years—not her marriage to Birdy instead of her boyfriend, and especially not the birth of their four children. In what feels like an instant, she’s lost her perfect life and become an impoverished housewife.


Savannah must struggle through her memory loss to recover some kind of love for her husband and children. Will Birdy’s unwavering devotion be enough to carry her through and bring back her lost years? Or could Birdy’s own secrets make matters even worse?



Wealth, poverty, love, loss, and amnesia create a challenging road for Savannah May Holladay. Find out how she traverses these obstacles and unearths the hidden bonds with her childhood friend in Twenty-One Trees.

10 One, Two…He Is Coming For You by Willow Rose

Set in the Danish coastal town of Karrebaeksminde, journalist Rebekka Franck returns to her hometown with her six year old daughter. She is trying to escape her ex-husband and starting a new life for her and her daughter, when the small sleepy town experiences a murder. One of the kingdom’s wealthiest men is brutally murdered in his summer residence in Karrebaeksminde. While Rebekka Franck and her punk photographer Sune try to cover the story for the local newspaper another murder happens on a high society rich man. Now Rebekka Franck realizes that the drowsy little kingdom of Denmark has gotten its first serial killer and soon a series of dark secrets – long buried but not forgotten – will see the day of light.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?—September 13th, 2021

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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.


What I am Reading Now:

A glamorous birthday dinner in the Hollywood Hills ends with the famous host dead and every guest under suspicion in this dark, cinematic suspense debut reminiscent of an Agatha Christie page-turner crossed with David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.

When actress Elspeth Bell attends the fiftieth birthday party of her ex-husband Richard Bryant, the Hollywood director who launched her career, all she wants is to pass unnoticed through the glamorous crowd in his sprawling Los Angeles mansion. Instead, there are just seven other guests–and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank as the intimate party grows more surreal (and rowdy) by the hour. Come morning, Richard is dead–and all of the guests are suspects.

In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new partner, the manager, the cinematographer, and even Elspeth herself. What starts out as a locked-room mystery soon reveals itself to be much more complicated, as dark stories from Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage that she vowed never to revisit. Elspeth begins to wonder not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would desire to possess a creature as mysterious and unsettling as Persephone.

The Last Guest is a stylish exploration of power–the power of memory, the power of perception, the power of one person over another.

What I plan on reading this week:

A paranormal romantic comedy at the (possible) end of the world.

All Callie wanted was a quiet weekend with her best friend. She promised her mom she could handle running her family’s escape room business while her mom is out of town. Instead a Satanic cult shows up, claiming that the prop spell book in one of the rooms is the real deal, and they need it to summon the right hand of the devil. Naturally they take Callie and her friend, Mag, along with them. But when the summoning reveals a handsome demon in a leather jacket named Luke who offers to help Callie stop the cult from destroying the world, her night goes from weird to completely strange.

As the group tries to stay one step ahead of the cult, Callie finds herself drawn to the annoying (and annoyingly handsome) Luke. But what Callie doesn’t know is that Luke is none other than Luke Morningstar, Prince of Hell and son of the Devil himself. Callie never had time for love, and with the apocalypse coming closer, is there room for romance when all hell’s about to break loose?

From New York Times bestselling author Gwenda Bond, Not Your Average Hot Guy is a hilarious romantic comedy about two people falling in love, while the fate of the world rests on their shoulders.
A promise to stay together.
An unbreakable bond.
A fierce will to survive.


From international bestselling author Heather Morris comes the breathtaking conclusion to The Tattooist of Auschwitz trilogy.


When they are girls, Cibi, Magda and Livia make a promise to their father – that they will stay together, no matter what.

Years later, at just 15 years old, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Cibi, only 19 herself, remembers their promise and follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her.

In their hometown in Slovakia, 17-year-old Magda hides, desperate to evade the barbaric Nazi forces. But it is not long before she is captured and condemned to Auschwitz.

In the horror of the death camp, these three beautiful sisters are reunited. Though traumatised by their experiences, they are together.

They make another promise: that they will live. Their fight for survival takes them from the hell of Auschwitz, to a death march across war-torn Europe and eventually home to Slovakia, now under iron Communist rule. Determined to begin again, they embark on a voyage of renewal, to the new Jewish homeland, Israel.

Rich in vivid detail, and beautifully told, Three Sisters will break your heart, but leave you amazed and uplifted by the courage and fierce love of three sisters, whose promise to each other kept them alive. Two of the sisters are in Israel today, surrounded by family and friends. They have chosen Heather Morris to reimagine their story in her astonishing new novel, Three Sisters.
A young woman takes a job as a nanny for an impossibly wealthy family, thinking she’s found her entre into a better life–only to discover instead she’s walked into a world of deception and dark secrets.

Nanny needed. Discretion is of the utmost importance. Special conditions apply.

When Sarah Larsen finds the notice, posted on creamy card stock in her building’s lobby, one glance at the exclusive address tells her she’s found her ticket out of a dead-end job–and life.

At the interview, the job seems like a dream come true: a glamorous penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side of NYC; a salary that adds several zeroes to her current income; the beautiful, worldly mother of her charge, who feels more like a friend than a potential boss. She’s overjoyed when they offer her the position and signs the NDA without a second thought.

In retrospect, the notice in her lobby was less an engraved invitation than a waving red flag. For there is something very strange about the Bird family. Why does the beautiful Mrs. Bird never leave the apartment alone? And what happened to the nanny before her? It soon becomes clear that the Birds’ odd behaviors are more than the eccentricities of the wealthy.

But by then it’s too late for Sarah to seek help. After all, discretion is of the utmost importance.
It’s not every day an obscure orphan girl becomes a fae queen.

Crysta and her companions have found the diadem and stone, but just when it looks like the tide has finally shifted in their favor, Crysta is sucked into Terise’s sleeping curse with no way of escape and nowhere to hide from Titania’s ruthless attacks.

And now she is permanently bonded…to the wrong fated mate.

Jareth is not only heartbroken at the loss of his fated mate bond, his mating frenzy is in overdrive, preventing him from functioning. He and Kheelan must overcome their differences if they hope to free Crysta, but they are faced with more setbacks as Titania takes faerie captives by the hundreds, building her army and growing her powers.

And the diadem, the key to Moridan and Titania’s undoing?

Tainted by Titania’s curse.

But a cursed relic isn’t the only surprise the wicked queen has in store for Crysta. The battle for control over the minds and hearts of the fae is one Titania intends to win by any means necessary.

Can Crysta and Jareth unite the Unseelie and Seelie Courts before Titania and Moridan destroy the Fae Realm?
Lyrical and haunting, Hannah Capin’s I Am Margaret Moore is a paranormal thriller that tests the hold of sisterhood and truth.

I am a girl. I am a monster, too.

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

Sunshine Blogger Award

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I haven’t done one of these awards for a while!! Thank you to Amy @ A Librarian and Her Books for nominating me. Run over and check out her blog!!


WHAT IS THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD?

The Sunshine Blogger award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring while spreading sunshine into the blogging community. Each blogger chosen is given questions by the nominating blogger, and they will then:

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated them in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated them.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Here are Amy’s questions

Do you have a book or author that first got you into reading? If so, what or who is it?

That’s a good but hard question to answer. I have been reading since I was in pre-k. So, honestly, I don’t know what author got me into reading. I will say that the first author I remember reading was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell followed closely by The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

What book do you find yourself recommending the most to other readers?

I find myself recommending The Black Jewel Series by Anne Bishop to other readers all the time. I absolutely love that series.

To which character in a book do you find yourself identifying with the most and why?

Hmmm, this is something that I haven’t thought about before. I think I identify more with the secondary characters (like the BFF or the person who becomes a traveling companion).

Do you have a book in mind in which you actually wound up liking the movie adaptation better than the book? *GASP, I know, but I find that we all usually have at least 1 (Looking at you, Forrest Gump)* lol

Actually, I hate book to movie adaptations. But, if I had to chose, I would say The Lord of The Ring and The Hobbit.

To which Hogwarts house do you belong, or is HP not your thing?

You know, I never got myself sorted into a house….lol.. I love HP but totally missed out on that.

What’s one food that you could eat every day for the rest of your life and not get tired of it?

Rice and Pasta. I love both.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you not be able to live without?

Tent, water purifier, and books

Unpopular opinion time… name a book that you seemed to have the opposite reaction to than the majority of other readers. Either they loved it and you hated it or vice versa…

This is hard but I would have to say Only the Good Indians. I couldn’t get into it.

If you could live anywhere other than where you do right now, where would it be?

Ireland or Scotland

What’s the perfect place for reading? comfy chair at home, coffee shop, outdoors? What do you think?

My couch or my bed. I love being able to curl up and read on them.

What do you find to be the most surprising aspect of having a book blog?

The amount of time I spend just sitting at my laptop and staring at a blank post, trying to figure out how its going to start…lol. Being serious though, I have been super surprised at the time I spend on tweaking my blog and posts.


My questions:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What is your favorite fictional animal?
  3. Do you like playlists with books? Why or why not?
  4. What was your favorite summer read?
  5. What is the worst thing you have ever eaten?
  6. What has been your biggest blogging struggles?
  7. What is your favorite fictional destination in a book?
  8. How long does it take for you to write a blog post? This includes editing.
  9. How many books do you read at one time? How do you manage it?
  10. What is the name of the current book you are reading?
  11. How many books have you DNF’d in this past year? Why?

I nominate everyone for this tag. Just make sure to let me know if you did it in the comments below!!

Spies Never Quit by M. Taylor Christensen

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First Line:

The humid Atlanta air settled around Mari like a sticky sweatshirt as she walked briskly down the sidewalk past the science building heading towards the baseball field.

spies never quit by m. taylor christensen

It has been a long time since I have read a YA cozy mystery. I have gotten caught up in other genres, and these books got pushed to the back burner. That all came to a stop last month when I decided that I would read Spies Never Quit. I am glad that I did because I enjoyed this book a ton!

Spies Never Quit has a face-paced plotline. The book starts with a bang and doesn’t slow down. There was a tiny bit of lag in the plotline in the middle of the book (when Mari was undercover). It didn’t affect the plotline, and the author was able to keep the plotline zipping along.

I thought Mari was a powerful main character. She adapted quickly to everything that the bad guys threw her way. She was also willing to do whatever it took to free her mother from the bad guys. What I liked the most was that the author humanized her. She wasn’t an instant spy, far from it. She was an average college girl who got sucked into that life by her mother’s kidnapping.

What I liked the most about this book was the girl power vibe. I liked that the girls (Mari and the Banana Girls) didn’t need a man to figure out how to rescue her mother. It made the book so much more fun to read.

Spies Never Quit is a clean read. While there is no sex or sexual situations in the book, there are some very mild kissing scenes—nothing graphic and, honestly, sweet.

I wish the author had spent more time on Mari’s mother’s technology (the swarming nanobots). I was very interested in that but could only glean bits and pieces of what she did from conversations between the bad guys and from what Mari/the Banana Girls knew.

I liked that there were strong parallels to Charlies’ Angels, James Bond, and Batman. What I would give to have the cars that those girls did!!!

The end of Spies Never Quit was action-packed. I loved how the storylines were resolved. I am hoping that there will be a book two because I would love to read it!!


I would recommend Spies Never Quit to anyone over the age of 16. There is mild violence, mild language, and some very mild kissing.