It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – July 12th 2021

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 kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.


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

I decided to take a small break from doing my weekly posts last week. I had two reasons. One was that I got busy. The other reason, I needed to catch up on my TBR list and writing reviews.

Miss B had her Drivers Ed class last week. She went Monday-Thursday, 9-5. She passed the class. Now, we are waiting for them to contact me to set up her 6 hours of driving. Then after that, she goes for her level one license (aka learners permit). In order to get her level two (or provisional license), she needs to drive 60 hours and hold the permit for a year. So, she will be 17 by the time she will be able to drive by herself.

What also kept me from posting last week is that we rescued a kitten. My neighbor had called me and said that they had found a young kitten who wasn’t doing well. By the time I got home, he had let it back out. I told BK and the kids that they could look the next day (they looked but he was gone). They found him on Saturday and we took him in. He was in really bad shape. He had zero body fat, you could feel his ribs, spine, hip, and butt bones. He slept the first two days and was super weak. To be honest, I thought we had brought him in to die, that’s how bad he was. But, he improved. He gained weight and is acting like a crazy kitten. His name is Jesper (bonus points if you know what character he is named after). I believe he was an owner dump. He had been handled and knew how to use a litter box. Add on to that, he had zero fleas and look like he had been dewormed (no worms).

I was in a bit of a reading slump (which also factors into me not posting last week). But, I got myself out and finished 5 books between Thursday and Sunday. I started reading at night again and for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

I found out that my all-time favorite TV show is on HBO Maxx, Cold Case. So, guess what I am going to start binging when BK is away on business!!

This week for suppers I am making breaded pork chops, crockpot sweet and sour short ribs, and pork chops/apples/stuffing. I know, a lot of pork chops. But, in my defense, I had taken some out to defrost, then BK went and bought a pork loin and cut that into pork chops.


What I am Reading Now:

Book Cover
The moment Navy SEAL sniper Finn sets foot on the USS Abraham Lincoln to hitch a ride home from the Persian Gulf, it’s clear something is deeply wrong. Leadership is weak. Morale is low. And when crew members start disappearing one by one, what at first seems like a random string of suicides soon reveals something far more sinister: There’s a serial killer on board. Suspicion falls on Finn, the newcomer to the ship. After all, he’s being sent home in disgrace, recalled from the field under the dark cloud of a mission gone horribly wrong. He’s also a lone wolf, haunted by gaps in his memory and the elusive sense that something he missed may have contributed to civilian deaths on his last assignment. Finding the killer offers a chance at redemption . . . if he can stay alive long enough to prove it isn’t him.

What I plan on reading this week:

Book Cover
The King of Thieves is dead. Long live the Queen.

Orphaned at five and widowed at sixteen, Marian is the sole heir of Locksley keep and the Earldom of Huntingdon. Her husband, Robin of Locksley, never returned from the crusades, leaving her at the mercy of the sheriff. He chooses her a new husband among his brutal lackeys and taxes her people to rags and starvation.

Marian is sidelined and powerless, but rumors spread of a charismatic thief who could change everything. Clever, brave, and strong, his followers claim that the hooded rogue is Robin’s spirit back from the grave.

Only Marian knows the truth. Her husband is dead, but under his hood, she could be invincible.

ROBIN’S HOOD is the first novella in the High Tower Robin Hood YA medieval fantasy series. If you like strong female characters, friends-to-lovers romance, and non-stop twists and turns, then you’ll love this gender-bent twist on the Legends of Sherwood.
Book Cover
Lisa Jamison has done well for a single mom who got pregnant at fifteen.
She’s a reporter at a well-respected newspaper and her teenage daughter is both an athlete and honors student. Though their relationship is rocky these days, Lisa has accomplished what she set out to do. She has given her daughter the kind of life she never had.
But all that changes when Lisa sees her daughter in the eyes of a dead man.
The cops call it a drug killing, but Lisa doesn’t believe it. She knows her ex-boyfriend was no drug dealer even though she hadn’t seen him in sixteen years. Lisa ignores warnings from her medical-examiner friend. She fails to heed barely veiled threats from the sheriff of a neighboring county. Instead, she risks her life and the lives of her daughter and their closest friend on a dangerous quest for answers.
The investigation leaves Lisa fighting for her family in a morbid, black market world she never knew existed. She learns that trust is complicated and that she, despite her cynical nature, has been blind. She trusted the wrong people and now she might have to pay with her life.

The Search For Synergy (The Talisman Series: Book 1) by Brett Salter

Book Cover

Publisher:

Date of publication: May 31st, 2017

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Series: The Talisman Series

The Search for Synergy—Book 1

Riders of Ice and Fire—Book 2

Windy City Ruins—Book 3

The Battle For Verdana—Book 4

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Format Read: Published Book

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

“The Search For Synergy” is the story of two young men who are brought together by design to help save the world from the evil that lurks in the void. Rome and Julian will have to join their fledgling powers and become a fighting duo as knight and dragon working to fulfill a primordial destiny. This will be especially hard for Rome, who up until now, thought he was merely human.


First Line:

School…yuck! School was not always yuck.

The Search for Synergy by Brett Salter

The Search For Synergy is the first book in The Talisman series. The book does start a little slow, but that only lasts for the first two chapters. Then it takes off and doesn’t slow down until the end. That made the book more enjoyable to read.

I liked Rome. His reactions to everything going on were realistic. He had every right not to believe Julian and Mr. Jones when they explained what was happening to him. Instead, he gave them a chance, and it ended up changing his life. I also loved the way he talked to Julian’s father. I know it was rude, but I was laughing my butt off during those interactions.

I liked Julian and connected with him. He was passionate about what he was training for, and he was willing to face ridicule from Rome to tell him the truth. Plus, the kid was beyond brave.

The fantasy angle of the book was well written. I loved that the author used the King Arthur myth and built a fantastic storyline around it. Plus, he dabbled a bit of Greek mythology in too. It made the book so much enjoyable to read.

The fights scenes in The Search For Synergy were terrific!! I did think it was funny that the first one took place in the school (as did Rome’s first transformation). I cheered (internally) when Julian and Rome sent the Garns back to where they came from. I also loved seeing Rome turn to his more animalistic side during the second fight. He saved Julian’s life.

The end of The Search For Synergy was interesting. I have a few questions that I hope will be answered in the next book. Plus, I can’t wait to see how Julian’s younger sister is (seeing that she will be going with the boys to England).


The Search For Synergy was a great middle-grade read. The characters were fleshed out, and the plotline was terrific.

I would recommend The Search For Synergy to anyone over the age of 13. Younger readers can read it, but I suggest that a parent read with them, as some of the fight scenes can be a little scary. There is mild violence.

What We Devour by Linsey Miller

Book Cover

Publisher: Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Fire

Date of publication: July 6th, 2021

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBTQIA

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

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Lorena Adler has a secret—she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. She has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. She’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.

But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So she makes a deal—a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.

The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.


First Line:

It was an honor to work with the dead, but Rylan Hunt – four stone, fifty two inches, eviscerated, my notes read – had died two days before his thirteenth birthday, and no funeral rites would fix that.

What We Devour by Linsey Miller

I had to take a couple of days to process What We Devour before I wrote the review for it. Normally, I don’t do that. I can sit down and write my review and be on my way. But with this book, I had to let everything that happened process before I could even entertain writing this review.

What We Devour is a dark fantasy. Before this book, when I thought of dark fantasy, I thought of Anne Bishop’s The Black Jewel series. I went into reading What We Devour, thinking it would be somewhat like those books. I was wrong, very wrong. This book took dark fantasy and ran with it.

There are several trigger warnings that I am going to address upfront. Trigger warnings are taken directly from Goodreads: self-harm (mainly cutting), murder (mass and child), sacrifices, executions, factory-related accidents and death, child neglect and abuse, filicide, references to siblings’ death, multiple scenes with death, mass suicide, violence, and blood.

What We Devour is a fast-paced book. From the beginning scenes, where Lorena is prepping a burial body, this book doesn’t stop at those frantic last scenes. The author doesn’t sugarcoat what Lorena is or what she can do. She also doesn’t sugarcoat The Heir, his mother, or anyone else in the book. I read through the book believing that 90% of the people introduced were psychopaths. I mean, if you could create or destroy, wouldn’t you be? Wouldn’t your abilities drive you mad, even with the bindings? I know it would for me.

The world that What We Devour is set in is a bleak, brutal world. Children, more often than not, outlived parents. If you were a wrought (noble or vile), you were often bound, against your will, to the court. You could also be brought up on false charges and sacrificed to The Door. As I said, it was a brutal, terrible world to live in.

I felt terrible for Lorena. All she wanted was a quiet life in Fellhollow, being the town’s undertaker. Instead, she is forced to reveal that she is a dual wrought and then forced to research for The Heir. She is forced to make terrible decisions and face some very uncomfortable truths about people she loved. By the end of the book, though, she did what she thought was right…what she thought would protect the people of her country. She couldn’t stop the inevitable, but she could save as many lives as she could.

The Heir was 100% a psychopath. But I don’t think he was a natural-born psycho. Instead, he was a made one through the abuse of his father and mother and by the power of his Vile wrought. I did have sympathy for him, though. He wanted, in the worse way, to close The Door so that the sacrifices would stop. He wanted someone to understand him.

What We Devour kept me on my toes reading. There were several twists in turns in the plotline that took me by surprise. Just a warning, don’t get too close to any of the characters (except Lorena). They are all expendable.

I loved the fantasy angle of the book. The author created a world that repulsed me, but at the same time, it intrigued me. Her explanation of Vile and Noble, how the wroughts were made, The Door, and what would happen when The Door was opened had me hooked.

The end of What We Devour left me sitting with my mouth open. Everything that happened took me 100% by surprise. The author didn’t resolve any storylines. Instead, she left me wanting to read book 2.


What We Devour is a dark fantasy that had me hooked from page 1. I enjoyed reading it!!

I would recommend What We Devour for anyone over the age of 21. There are violence, blood, murder, and suicide references. See above for a complete list of triggers.

The Hollywood Spy (Maggie Hope: Book 10) by Susan Elia MacNeal

Book Cover

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: July 6th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Thriller

Series: Maggie Hope

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary—Book 1

Princess Elizabeth’s Spy—Book 2

His Majesty’s Hope—Book 3

The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent—Book 4

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante—Book 5

The Queen’s Accomplice—Book 6

The Paris Spy—Book 7

The Prisoner in the Castle—Book 8

The King’s Justice—Book 9

The Hollywood Spy—Book 10

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

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Los Angeles, 1943. As the Allies beat back the Nazis in the Mediterranean and the United States military slowly closes in on Tokyo, Walt Disney cranks out wartime propaganda and the Cocoanut Grove is alive with jazz and swing each night. But behind this sunny façade lies a darker reality. Somewhere in the lush foothills of Hollywood, a woman floats, lifeless, in the pool of one of California’s trendiest hotels. When American-born secret agent and British spy Maggie Hope learns that this woman was engaged to her old flame, John Sterling, and that he suspects her death was no accident, intuition tells her he’s right. Leaving London under siege—not to mention flying thousands of miles—is a lot to ask. But John was once the love of Maggie’s life . . . and she won’t say no.

Maggie is shocked to find Los Angeles as divided as Europe itself—the Zoot Suit Riots loom large and the Ku Klux Klan casts a long shadow. As she marvels at the hatred in her home country, she can’t help but wonder what it will be like to see her lost love once again. But there is little time to dwell on memories once she starts digging into the case. As she traces a web of deception from the infamous Garden of Allah to the iconic Carthay Theater, she discovers things aren’t always the way things appear in the movies—and the political situation in America is more complicated, and dangerous, than the newsreels would have them all believe.


First Line:

It was 1943 and America was at war.

The Hollywood Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

I have a fascination with World War II. And being fascinated with it, I have read a ton of books that have taken place in various countries during World War II. But, to my knowledge, I never have read a book set entirely in Los Angeles during World War II. When I read the blurb and saw where this book was set, this book caught my interest.

The Hollywood Spy is book 10 in the Maggie Hope series. Readers can read this book as a standalone, but I highly recommend that the other books be read first. There are people and events referenced that I had no clue about, and it drove me nuts.

There were two distinct plotlines in The Hollywood Spy. The first being the plotline where Maggie is investigating the death of John’s fiancee. The second involved the KKK and a plotline to cause as much mayhem as possible. I had zero problems keeping the plotlines separate.

The pacing and flow of The Hollywood Spy were good. It did take forever for the book to get going, but once it did, it kept up a steady pace until the end of the book. The same goes for the flow of the book. It flowed nicely between characters and plotlines, with little to no lag.

I liked Maggie and thought she was a relatable character. She dealt with everything that life threw at her with grace and a bit of humor. I also liked that she was super bright but had to be careful not to tread on people’s toes.

The mystery angle of The Hollywood Spy was interesting. There were so many twists and turns in the plotline that I didn’t know where it would take me. I wasn’t that surprised at who the killer ended up being or why that person did it. Considering the times and how close-minded people were (and still are), it made sense.

There was a massive twist in the plotline with John and Maggie. I did not see it coming, and it took me 100% by surprise when he dropped that bomb on her. It also saddened me because what I was hoping wasn’t going to happen.

I do want to add that racism and homophobia are very much a part of this book. Seeing that it is set in the 1940s, I wasn’t that surprised that it was portrayed. It was still heartbreaking to read (the scene with the nanny in the diner made me cry). It was even more painful because 80+ years later, there is still blatant racism. The author discussed this in her author’s note at the end of the book.

The end of The Hollywood Spy was well written. The author ends the storylines in the book but is left open enough for book 11.


The Hollywood Spy was a well-written mystery. I enjoyed reading it and was kept on edge with the different twists and turns that the plot took.

I would recommend The Hollywood Spy for anyone over the age of 21. There is violence and language. There are implied sexual situations.

Author Interview: Brett Salter (The Search for Synergy)


Book Cover

Today you are in for a treat. I have had the pleasure of interviewing Brett Salter (author of The Search for Synergy). This is my first author interview and he dealt with me (and my questions) with grace. So thank you Brett!!

J: Do you base your characters on people you know in real life and if so, do they know it?

B: Yeah, so in the beginning, I based my characters off me. Just me. I’ve known myself for a long time, and it was a small cast, so it was easy. That was therapeutic, for sure. But as the books continued and my characters grew in number, I found inspiration in outside sources such as close family and friends. I
have told those involved about their “loose” inspirations. I would not say they are spot-on replicas, but I WOULD call it amusing to paint these extremely caricatured heroes with touches of the people I love. Most of my characters are just too dang goofy to be based on real people though.

J: Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

B: Oh, you mean like the MCU or the Monsterverse? Yeah, my books are ALL connected. In fact, they are more like one long story broken up into extended, palatable chapters that I call “books”. Once I’m finished, books 1-6 will be one, long literary feast. How’s that for 6th -grade metaphors???

J: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

B: I would tell my younger self this: “Hey Younger Self, you need to hire an editor!!!! And get a haircut. You look ridiculous!”

J: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

B: (Rubs hands together) Oh goodie! We’ve wandered into Spoiler Territory! I have “finished” 11
of the proposed 12 books in my Talisman Series. That means that I have 7 more books that are skeleton versions of what I will eventually release. I want to release one every year or so (depending on my editing skills and artwork) starting with book 5 coming out this winter. I also have the MOST humble beginnings of a second series written down that will be focused around portal fiction and with
more adult themes in mind. No idea when that will be ready!

J: What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

B: I just kinda wing it, honestly. If I need to know the design intricacies of a setting or the inner workings of something, then I definitely use the internet for research. I find myself mostly using it to verify things like parts of weapons/armor or names of mythical monsters or what year something came out.

J: How do you select the names of your characters?

Naming things is my FAVORITE part about being an author (giggles). So, a common theme in my books is the 6 elements that dominate the world where my characters reside: Fire, Water, Ice, Forest, Earth, and Wind. Character types and character names are ultimately attributed one of the six. For instance, the Darkbrand generals, the Minotaurs, get their names from whichever element they hail from. Not to give too much away, but a water-based Minotaur is called a Hydrotaur, and so on. Almost every character gets their name from either the element they are associated with or a mythological inspiration. For instance, Julian’s little sister’s name is Camela Lynette Rider. She is named after both the utopian citadel of Camelot AND the Arthurian noble lady Linette. SPOILER ALERT: Her last name is pretty important too!

How do you come up with the titles for your books?

B: That’s a great question! I try to look at the whole book and find one encompassing theme that runs
throughout. “What is this book about? What are the main points that move the plot forward? What are the memorable scenes?” Then, I do my best to make some sort of word pun or association that represents the answers to those kinds of questions. For instance, the first book’s title, “The Search For Synergy”, references the three main characters all looking for an answer to the questions in their lives. (Rome’s yearning to break free, Julian’s fulfilling of a destiny, and Mr. Jones’s desire to protect the world). It just so happens that all three characters find themselves united by the very same thing that satisfies all of their searching. And that is The Great Synergy.

J: Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

B: I would love for readers to send me questions or theories regarding the books. One of my favorite things to do is speculate over tv shows or books, so I want the same from my audience. I’d love it for people to start discussions on my Fandom Wiki page about where the series is going or make polls. You know? Like an interactive community. You can also check out my Authorsden page for more on the books and some of my poetry. I’ll include my Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, Authorsden, and the Fandom below for all your readers.

Facebook

Amazon

Instagram – @talismanbrett

Fandom

Authors Den

Goodreads

Pink Salter Peters & The Dad Jokes (Brett’s Dad Band)

J: How long does it take you to write a book?

B: On average, I can write an installment in The Talisman Series in about 4-5 months. I’ve almost written 11 in four years. That’s just because I have a full-time job and my “dad band” project holding me back! I think I could write like 6 books a year if all I did was write. LOL. I am ALWAYS trying to create something EVERY day to scratch that creativity itch.

J: How do you handle writer’s block?

B: I usually focus my attention somewhere else. Music, poetry, promoting the other books. I figure out a way to harness that need to create and aim it at another project. Then, after I’ve cleared my head (or
banged it up against a wall repeatedly), I’ll return to writing with a fresh outlook. Currently, I am in a vicious slugfest of writer’s block with book 11. And I am NOT winning!

J: Anything else you would like to add?

B: I just want to add that I am genuinely appreciative of Jolie at Read With Me for giving me this platform to promote my series. I am also unwaveringly thankful for anyone who reads/has read my books. You guys inspire me to keep at it. You are what makes me feel cool for being kind of a big dork. I hope that if you like my book or ANY book you read, you share it with someone else. Opening doors for others will never get old, and it will ALWAYS be chivalrous. And finally, make sure to support people in your life that love what they do. You will NEVER be disappointed with their results. So, before I go, I will remind you to remember to hold your Talisman tight and keep a wary eye out for portals. Peace out!


Look for my review of The Search for Synergy. It will be coming 7-9-21!!

Love You To Death (Moonlight & Murder: Book 6) by Reily Garrett

Book Cover

Publisher:

Date of publication: June 25th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Romance

Series: Moonlight & Murder Series

Shifting Targets—Book 0.1

A Critical Tangent—Book 1 (Review Here)

Pivotal Decisions—Book 2

Seeds of Murder—Book 3

An Unlikely Grave—Book 4

Deadly Interception—Book 5 (Review Here)

Love You to Death—Book 6

Purchase Links: Amazon

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

Four young women leave their dorm for a night of fun… then vanish. Each holds a unique talent with a promising career post-graduation.

FBI agent Taylor Winston and her K9 partner track the latest victim of a failed kidnapping through the Allegheny Mountains. The case, given lower priority due to lack of evidence linking to prior victims, heats up when the killer sets his sights on acquiring the federal agent.

Veteran Dylan Fitzpatrick relocates to a remote cabin to avoid the good intentions of well-meaning friends. Fresh air, forest, nature. They soothe the soul—until a scream shatters his peaceful solitude.
When a Texan spitfire suspects Dylan is the clever killer behind multiple kidnappings, he delves into a world of lies and deceit, betrayal and unwanted attraction.

Timing is crucial as he protects the strong-willed dynamo with a target on her back.


First Line:

Thick clouds created patchwork shadows on the hills straddling the valley.

Love You to Death by Reily Garrett

I was excited to see that Reily Garrett had released another book in her Moonlight & Murder series. I was even more excited when Reily approached me to review Love You To Death. I immediately said yes. I am glad that I did. Love You To Death is a well-written, fast-moving romantic suspense that I couldn’t put down.

Love You To Death is the 6th book in the Moonlight & Murder series. I recommend reading the previous books in the series but only to get the backstories of the characters mentioned in the book. Other than that, readers can read this book as a standalone.

Love You To Death got off to an explosive start. The book was on fire from the first chapter, where Amelia is drugged and transported somewhere. The author was able to keep that fast pace up for the entire book. There was no lag, and in fact, the plotline ramped up even more towards the end of the book.

I had liked Dylan in Deadly Deceptions, and I loved him in this book. He dealt with everything that came at him with a calm that I know I wouldn’t have. After a rocky start, he was dedicated to keeping Taylor safe. I also loved that he had healed enough from his girlfriend’s death to move on. He had suffered greatly in Deadly Deceptions, and it fitted that he got his happy ending.

I didn’t like Taylor at the beginning of Love You To Death. She came across as very abrasive during that first meeting. I mean, there was a young man with Amelia who was mentally incapacitated (I assumed he had Downs Syndrome, but I could be wrong), and she allowed her K9 to bite him. On top of that, she refused to listen to Dylan and had him tagged as the attacker. Her only reason: He was at the scene when she arrived, and why would he be there (dismissing his claim that he was hiking and heard Amelia scream). She stonewalled anyone who tried to tell her that he couldn’t have done it and dismissed people that told her otherwise. It wasn’t until the middle of the book that I started to have a change of heart. By the end of the book, I liked her and had come to understand her a little better.

Keeping in mind how I felt about Taylor, I did think that she and Dylan had chemistry. The author didn’t spend a lot of time with their sex scenes, but they were hot (just not graphic). I understood why she did it. The plotline with the kidnapping and the investigation was the main focus of the book.

Speaking of the main plotline, I loved it. I couldn’t figure out who it was, and the red herrings that were thrown out, worked. The author kept me guessing at who was kidnapping the co-eds while sneaking in chapters with the kidnapper.

The end of Love You To Death was terrific. I was surprised at who the kidnapper was (the author answered the why of that earlier in the book). The author also left with a mini-cliffhanger. I didn’t mind it because I believe it leads into the next book.


Love You To Death is a well-written romantic suspense novel. I couldn’t put it down.

I would recommend Love You To Death to anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, mild language, and sexual situations.

Wishes by Starlight: A Tale of Cinderella (HighTower Fairytales: Book 15) by Jacque Stevens

Book Cover

Publisher: sjacquebooks

Date of publication: January 1st, 2021

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Series: HighTower Fairytales

Winter Falls—Book 1 (review here)

Cry Wolf—Book 2

Lone Wolf—Book 3

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing—Book 4

Between Dog and Wolf—Book 5

Wolves at Bay—Book 6

Depths—Book 7

Graves—Book 8

Storms—Book 9

Robin’s Hood—Book 10

Marian’s Man—Book 11

Lion’s Heart—Book 12

Letters by Cinderlight—Book 14 (Review Here)

Wishes by Starlight—Book 15

Purchase Links: Amazon

Format Read: Published Book

Received From: Author


Goodreads Synopsis:

I, Elya Pavlovna, went to the prince’s Maslenitsa celebration, and I’m still not sure who I am or what will happen next.

After running from a fairy and a prince, Elya is on her own for the first time. The unknown wilds are dark and dangerous, but she knows that if she is found she could be used to destroy everything she has come to love.

But with her sisters asking for her help and her beloved prince in distress, hiding might no longer be an option.

The slipper fits, now will she wear it?

If you like inspirational heroines, unique love stories, and untrustworthy fae, this romantic fantasy retelling is for you! One-click now to start the magic, romance, and heart-wrenching emotional journey!

Wishes by Starlight is the direct sequel to Letters by Cinderlight, a twist on the Cinderella story based in Slavic mythology and full of magical fairies with stories of their own.


First Line:

Elya,

Valiant says you ran, that no one forced you to go.

Wishes by Starlight by Jacque Stevens

I was very excited to start reading Wishes by Starlight. After the cliffhanger ending of Letters by Cinderlight, I needed to know what would happen to Elya and if she would get her happy ending.

Elya’s character had a lot of growth during the course. I loved watching her realize her worth and overcome the trauma of the abuse she suffered. That first started when she stopped local boys from teasing her stepsisters and continued throughout the book. I had tears in my eyes when she finally faced Charming.

Charming was the real MVP of the book. He did what the people of her village couldn’t or wouldn’t do; he stood up for her. He also gave her time (well, kind of) while writing letters in the magical book to Elya. I believe he would have waited forever for her if Lady Mother hadn’t done what she did.

The author ended the storyline with Elya’s abuse in a very satisfying way. Finally, Lady Mother got what she deserved. I cheered when Elya did what she did. Lady Mother deserved it.

The end of Wishes by Starlight was terrific. Finally, everyone got their happy endings. I loved when Lada showed up and validated everything. What she said as she left made me laugh (and made me wonder if she would be a regular appearance in their lives).


Wishes by Starlight was a great book to read. It kept my attention, and I loved seeing Elya find her happy ending.

I would recommend Wishes by Starlight to anyone over the age of 16. There is mild violence.

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman

Book Cover

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: June 8th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Contemporary

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

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

A British actress discovers the dark side of Hollywood when she is the only witness to the sudden disappearance of a woman she meets at an audition in this psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Something in the Water and Mr. Nobody.

Once a year, actors from across the globe descend on the smog and sunshine of Los Angeles for pilot season. Every cable network and studio looking to fill the rosters of their new shows enticing a fresh batch of young hopefuls, anxious, desperate and willing to do whatever it takes to make it. Careers will be made, dreams will be realized, stars will be born. And some will be snuffed out.

British star Mia Eliot has landed leading roles in costume dramas in her native country, but now it’s time for Hollywood to take her to the next level. Mia flies across the Atlantic to join the hoard of talent scrambling for their big breaks. She’s a fish out of water in the ruthlessly competitive and faceless world of back-to-back auditioning. Then one day she meets Emily, another actress from out of town and a kindred spirit. Emily is friendly and genuine and reassuringly doesn’t seem to be taking any of it too seriously. She stands out in a conveyor-belt world of fellow auditionees. But a simple favor turns dark when Emily disappears and Mia realizes she was the last person to see her, and the woman who knocks on Mia’s door the following day claiming to be her new friend isn’t the woman Mia remembers at all.

All Mia has to go on is the memory of a girl she met only once . . . and the suffocating feeling that something terrible has happened. Worse still, the police don’t believe her when she claims the real Emily has gone missing. So Mia is forced to risk the role of a lifetime to try to uncover the truth about Emily, a gamble that will force her to question her own sanity as the truth goes beyond anything she could ever have imagined.

Actress and author Catherine Steadman has written a gripping thriller set in a world close to home that asks the question: In a city where dreams really do come true, how far would you go to make the unreal real?


First Line:

Have you ever asked yourself what kind of story the story of your life is?

I usually don’t read books that are written by famous actresses/actors. I have read a few books that have soured me on even picking books up by them. The books I have read were awful, and I felt that they were published because of the name associated with them and not because the book was good. So, I was surprised when I saw that Catherine Steadman had starred in two of my favorite British dramas: Downton Abbey and The Tudors. And that made me very apprehensive about reading The Disappearing Act.

I was surprised when I started reading The Disappearing Act, and I was enjoying it. It hit everything I like in a mystery/thriller/suspense novel. I won’t go as far as to say that Ms. Steadman changed my mind about reading books written by famous actresses/actors, but it has made me more open to trying them.

The Disappearing Act occurs mainly in L.A., briefly being set in London at the beginning and end of the book. I felt that the author captured the frantic pace and the darkness under the glittery facade perfectly.

The Disappearing Act is a medium-paced book for the first half of the book. The author spends a lot of time building up Mia’s backstory and her first week or so in L.A. It might get tedious, but it is well worth the wait. The second half of the book zips right along.

I liked Mia but felt she was very naive for someone in her profession. She was almost too nice at various points in the book. I mean, she kept a stranger’s keys and fed a meter for nearly two days. She was also too trusting. There were parts in the book where I just wanted to shake her and tell her to stay away from so and so. But I couldn’t, and I had to watch her get more and more involved in this mystery.

Speaking of mystery, the author did a great job of keeping what was going on under wraps until the end of the book. I was shocked when specific facts came out. And I was even more shocked with how the book ended. It was not what I expected at all.

There is a small romance introduced as the book’s plot started to take off. Again, I wasn’t sure where it was going, and I was surprised when it was mentioned at the end of the book.

The end of The Disappearing Act was interesting. I say interesting because it wasn’t how I expected the book to end. I thought that it was going to end like your typical mystery/thriller. I wasn’t upset by it, but it did confuse me.


I enjoyed reading The Disappearing Act. It took some time to get the plot going, but it was terrific once it did.

I would recommend The Disappearing Act to anyone over the age of 21. There is violence and mild language.

WWW Wednesday: June 30th 2021

IMG_1384-0

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:

Book Cover
I, Elya Pavlovna, went to the prince’s Maslenitsa celebration, and I’m still not sure who I am or what will happen next.

After running from a fairy and a prince, Elya is on her own for the first time. The unknown wilds are dark and dangerous, but she knows that if she is found she could be used to destroy everything she has come to love.

But with her sisters asking for her help and her beloved prince in distress, hiding might no longer be an option.

The slipper fits, now will she wear it?

If you like inspirational heroines, unique love stories, and untrustworthy fae, this romantic fantasy retelling is for you! One-click now to start the magic, romance, and heart-wrenching emotional journey!

Wishes by Starlight is the direct sequel to Letters by Cinderlight, a twist on the Cinderella story based in Slavic mythology and full of magical fairies with stories of their own.

I loved this book!! Elya was a very sympathetic character. She had years of abuse to get over and needed the time to come to terms that Charming loved her. And the ending of the book was perfect!!


What I am currently reading:

Book Cover
Los Angeles, 1943. As the Allies beat back the Nazis in the Mediterranean and the United States military slowly closes in on Tokyo, Walt Disney cranks out wartime propaganda and the Cocoanut Grove is alive with jazz and swing each night. But behind this sunny façade lies a darker reality. Somewhere in the lush foothills of Hollywood, a woman floats, lifeless, in the pool of one of California’s trendiest hotels. When American-born secret agent and British spy Maggie Hope learns that this woman was engaged to her old flame, John Sterling, and that he suspects her death was no accident, intuition tells her he’s right. Leaving London under siege—not to mention flying thousands of miles—is a lot to ask. But John was once the love of Maggie’s life . . . and she won’t say no.

Maggie is shocked to find Los Angeles as divided as Europe itself—the Zoot Suit Riots loom large and the Ku Klux Klan casts a long shadow. As she marvels at the hatred in her home country, she can’t help but wonder what it will be like to see her lost love once again. But there is little time to dwell on memories once she starts digging into the case. As she traces a web of deception from the infamous Garden of Allah to the iconic Carthay Theater, she discovers things aren’t always the way things appear in the movies—and the political situation in America is more complicated, and dangerous, than the newsreels would have them all believe.

So far I like this book. The mystery is good (who killed Maggie’s ex-flame fiancee) and I like that it is set against WW2. But, this is book 10 in a series and I worry that I might get lost (if the books have to be read in order). So, we’ll see.


What books I think I’ll read next:

I am putting the books in the order I am reading them. They are all ARCs and I will reading the indie authors books first, then the books by major publishers. There are a couple that I am looking forward to read. They are What We Devour and The Search for Synergy.

Book Cover
“The Search For Synergy” is the story of two young men who are brought together by design to help save the world from the evil that lurks in the void. Rome and Julian will have to join their fledgling powers and become a fighting duo as knight and dragon working to fulfill a primordial destiny. This will be especially hard for Rome, who up until now, thought he was merely human.
Book Cover
All’s great for sixteen-year-old actor Dalton Black as he portrays a teen killer on a crime reenactment show. That is, until he realizes someone is stalking him. When that someone turns out to be Homer Lee Varney, the man convicted of the murder, things take a dark turn, and Dalton is afraid for his life. What does Varney want? Some sort of twisted revenge? Or something even worse?

Can Dalton and his drama friends discover the truth, before they become the killer’s next victims? Stay tuned to find out!
Book Cover
Lorena Adler has a secret—she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. She has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. She’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.
But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So she makes a deal—a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.
The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.
Book Cover
The moment Navy SEAL sniper Finn sets foot on the USS Abraham Lincoln to hitch a ride home from the Persian Gulf, it’s clear something is deeply wrong. Leadership is weak. Morale is low. And when crew members start disappearing one by one, what at first seems like a random string of suicides soon reveals something far more sinister: There’s a serial killer on board. Suspicion falls on Finn, the newcomer to the ship. After all, he’s being sent home in disgrace, recalled from the field under the dark cloud of a mission gone horribly wrong. He’s also a lone wolf, haunted by gaps in his memory and the elusive sense that something he missed may have contributed to civilian deaths on his last assignment. Finding the killer offers a chance at redemption . . . if he can stay alive long enough to prove it isn’t him.
Book Cover
When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

A Duke in Time (The Widow Rules: Book 1) by Janna MacGregor

Book Cover

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

Date of publication: June 29th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Historical Romance

Series: The Widow Rules

Where There’s a Will—Book 0.5

A Duke in Time—Book 1

Rules of Engagement—Book 2 (publication date TBA)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London in A Duke in Time by Janna MacGregor.

Katherine Vareck is in for the shock of her life when she learns upon her husband Meri’s accidental death that he had married two other women. Her entire business, along with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a royal supplier, is everything she’s been working for and now could be destroyed if word leaks about the three wives.

Meri’s far more upstanding brother, Christian, Duke of Randford has no earthly clue how to be of assistance. He spent the better part of his adult years avoiding Meri and the rest of his good-for-nothing family, so to be dragged back into the fold is…problematic. Even more so is the intrepid and beautiful Katherine, whom he cannot be falling for because she’s Meri’s widow. Or can he?

With a textile business to run and a strong friendship forming with Meri’s two other wives, Katherine doesn’t have time for much else. But there’s something about the warm, but compellingly taciturn Christian that draws her to him. When an opportunity to partner in a business venture brings them even closer, they’ll have to face their pasts if they want to share each other’s hearts and futures.


First Line:

“He was a good man.” Katherine patted the family solicitor’s arm while the poor man hung his head in grief.

A Duke in Time by Janna MacGregor

When I saw that Janna MacGregor had a new series out, I was pretty pumped about it. I had read (and loved) The Cavensham Heiress series. My expectations were set high for this book because of that. I am happy to say that A Duke in Time did not disappoint me at all.

A Duke in Time takes place in 1815 London, England. Katherine’s husband, Meri, has passed away, and she is attending the reading of the will. To her surprise, two other women, both claiming to be Meri’s wife, also show up. Katherine, being a much better person, allows both women to move into their house while deciding who the legal wife is. Aiding her in this is her husband’s half-brother, The Duke of Randford. Unfortunately, Katherine is also hiding secrets. These secrets could destroy everything that she has come to hold dear, including her growing love for Christian.

I liked Katherine. She dealt with everything that life threw at her with grace. I mean, if I found out my husband married two other ladies, I would have flipped my lid. But, instead, she took them (and their companions) into her house and made them family. But she was also tough. She forced Christian to help her with untangled the mess that Meri left. She also dealt with business rivals with that same toughness.

Christian, I was a little more on the fence about. At the beginning of the book, he came across as kind of a jerk. He wanted nothing to do with Katherine (or Meri’s other wives). But, as the book went on, my initial first impression of him changed. He was a war hero and was dedicated to helping the soldiers that served under him. But, he also became dedicated to helping Meri’s wives, seeing who was the legal 1st wife, and keeping the other two from becoming “ruined.”

The main storyline was well written, and it kept my attention. I got involved in the plotline and couldn’t wait to see how everything turned out. There were a few twists and turns in the plotline, but I was delighted with how it turned out.

The romance angle of the book was terrific. Instead of having Katherine and Christian fall immediately in love, the author chose to have their love grow over time. It made me feel that their romance was true.

There is sex in A Duke in Time. For a Regency novel, the sex is explicit. There is a very hot mutual masturbation scene that made me fan myself. The author kept up that sexual tension until Katherine and Christian had sex.

The storyline with the secrets (both Christian and Katherine) was hard to read. Christian was just sad, and I couldn’t wrap my head around what his father asked him to do. Katherine’s was heartbreaking, and I couldn’t believe that it was used against her. But, how her’s was resolved left me shaking my head in disbelief.

The end of the book was terrific. The connection that Christian and Katherine have came across the pages. I had tears in my eyes. But the epilogue made the book!!


A Duke in Time was a great romance to read. I connected with both main characters, as well as the secondary characters.

I would recommend A Duke in Time to anyone over the age of 21. There is explicit sex and mild violence.