Bookish Travels—February 2023 Desinations

I saw this meme on It’s All About Books and thought, I like this!! So, I decided to do it once a month also. Many thanks to Yvonne for initially posting this!!

This post is what it says: Places I travel to in books each month. Books are lovely and take you to places you would never get to. That includes places of fantasy too!!

Bon Voyage!!

Please let me know if you have read these books or traveled to these areas.


Tanemba, Millory, Castle

United States

Connecticut (just outside Hartford)
New York (New York City, Long Island)
New York (New York City, Brooklyn), Pennsylvania (the Poconos), Indiana(Terre Haute, Indianapolis), Missouri (St. Louis, Kansas City), Oklahoma (Tulsa, Oklahoma City), Texas (Amarillo), Arizona (Bisbee, Tucson), New Mexico (Socorro, Las Cruces)
New York (New York City)
New York (New York City, Hudson Valley)
Massachusetts (Boston)
Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)
Pennsylvania (Oak Plains, Pittsburgh), Georgia (Mapleville)
California (Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Santa Monica)
Alaska (Juneau), California (Los Angeles), New York (New York City)
Texas (San Antonio, Fort Hope, Fredericksburg, Austin, Stonewall, Johnson City)
Washington (Whidbey)
Illinois (Chicago), Pacific Northwest (Beckett Island)
Massachusetts (Waltham, Watertown, Boston), Montana
Kansas (Bishop)
Illinois (Chicago)
Massachusetts (Pilgrim Cove)
Unknown State (Ashdale)
Maine (Chapel Green)
Texas (Williamson County, Austin), California (Orange County)
Oregon (Lake Howling)
Texas (Houston)
Illinois (Chicago, Joliet), Ohio (Mercy)
Louisiana (Mandeville)
Massachusetts (Boston), New York (New York City)
New York (Crescent Cove)


Friar’s Ridge
Scottish Highlands, Glasgow, Ullapool, Lairg


Bagram Air Force Base



Beijing, Qincheng Prison, Wuhan





Regency London
Unnamed English village
Oxford, London


Pergamon, Aeolia, Malea, Aigiriossa












The Netherlands

Amsterdam, Jordaann





February 2023 Wrap Up

Here is what I read/posted in February.

As always, let me know if you have read any of these books and (if you did) what you thought of them.

Books I Read:

Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
From Author
ARC from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books
ARC from St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
From Author
KU Purchase—No Review
KU Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
From Author
Bought from Amazon Prime Reading
ARC from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books
ARC from St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
From Novel Cause
ARC from Blackstone Publishing
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
ARC from St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
KU Purchase—No Review
ARC from St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin
Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Free Kindle Purchase—No Review
Giveaway winner—No Review
Arc from author

Books I got from NetGalley:

Invite from SMP
Invite from SMP, Wednesday Books
Invite from SMP, Wednesday Books
Invite from SMP, Minotaur Books
Read Now from Crooked Lane Books
Invite from SMP, Wednesday Books
Invite from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam
Invite from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Dell
Read Now from St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin
Read Now from St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin
Invite from St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books
Wish granted from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Dell
Wished granted from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey
Read now from Crooked Lane Books
Limited time Read Now from Sourcebooks Fire
Read now from St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Books I got from Authors/Indie Publishers:

From Novel Cause
From Novel Cause
From BookSirens

Giveaway Winners

Kindle—Won from Tordotcom
Kindle—Won from Goodreads

Books Reviewed:

Murder Up to Bat by Elizabeth McKenna—Review Here

Dead and Gondola by Ann Claire—Review Here

The Second You’re Single by Cara Tanamachi—Review Here

Jackal by Erin E. Adams—Review Here

The Drift by C.J. Tudor—Review Here

Not Your Ex’s Hexes by April Asher—Review Here

After the Music by Elena Goudelias—Review Here

Unnatural History by Jonathan Kellerman—Review Here

Take the Lead by Alexis Daria—Review Here

Once a Killer by Margaret Watson—Review Here

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman—Review Here

The Tracks We Leave by Maggie Maxfield—Review Here

Angeline by Anna Quinn—Review Here

Where Darkness Blooms by Andrea Hannah—Review Here

Reading Challenges

Buzzword Reading Challenge (Life and Death)—Death’s Queen—Finished 2-17-2023

Buzzword Reading Challenge (Verbs)—Deadly Awakening—Finished 2-18-2023

2023 Sami Parker Reads Title Challenge (book with direction in title)— Southern Rocker Boy—Finished 2-20-2023

2023 Sami Parker Reads Title Challenge (book with a season in title)—Summer’s Deadly Kiss—Finished 2-18-2023

Cover Scavenger Hunt (A Door)—Kurtain Motel—Finished 1-31-2023

The StoryGraph’s Onboarding Reading Challenge 2023 (Read a book you discovered via the community page)—Fine or PunishmentFinished 2-14-2023

The StoryGraph Reads the World 2023 (Columbia)—Lightlark—Finished 2-15-2023

The StoryGraph’s Genre Challenge 2023 (a nonfiction book about startups)—Lost and Founder by Rand FishkinFinished 2-2-2023

Beat the Backlist 2023 (cozy read or cover)—Her Long Walk Home—2-16-2023

Scavenger Hunt TBR Book Challenge (What color was on the previous prompt’s book’s cover? Read a book with the complimentary color on the cover)—The Demon Deception—Finished 2-3-2023

Scavenger Hunt (book written by a man using a woman’s perspective)—When They Came—Finished 2-9-2023

Popsugar Reading Challenge 2023 (A book you bought from an independent bookstore)—The Happy ChipFinished 2-3-2023

2023 TBR Toppler (The newest book you own)—A Duke for All Seasons—Finished 2-8-2023

2023 Monthly Themes (Fantastical February)—Nostalgic Rain—Finished 1-30-2023

2023 Reading Challenge (A red book. Can have red on the cover or in the title)—My Sister and IFinished 2-8-2023

2023 ABC Challenge ( B)—The Billionaire Shifter’s Curvy Match–Finished 2-11-2023

Romanceopoly 2023 (Free Choice)—A Guide to Being Just Friends—Finished 1-21-2023

2023 TBR Prompts (A book from an author you love)—Capture Me–Finished 1-14-2023

Take the Lead (Dance Off: Book 1) by Alexis Daria

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

Date of publication: February 14th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Adult, Fiction, Chick Lit, Adult Fiction

Series: Dance Off

Take the Lead—Book 1

Dance with Me—Book 2

Dance All Night—Book 2.5

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

From Alexis Daria, author of the critically acclaimed, international bestseller You Had Me at Hola, comes a fun, sexy romance set against a reality dance show.

Gina Morales wants to make it big. In her four seasons on The Dance Off, she’s never even made it to the finals. But her latest partner, the sexy star of an Alaskan wilderness show, could be her chance. Who knew the strong, silent, survivalist-type had moves like that? She thinks Stone Nielson is her ticket to win it all—until her producer makes it clear they’re being set up for a showmance.

Joining a celebrity dance competition is the last thing Stone wants. However, he’ll endure anything to help his family, even as he fears revealing their secrets. While the fast pace of Los Angeles makes him long for the peace and privacy of home, he can’t hide his growing attraction for his dance partner. Neither wants to fake a romance for the cameras, but the explosive chemistry that flares between them is undeniable.

As Stone and Gina heat up the dance floor, the tabloids catch on to their developing romance. With the spotlight threatening to ruin everything, will they choose fame and fortune, or let love take the lead?

First Line:

Gina Morales clutched the edge of her seat in a white-knuckled grip and gave her field producer a side-eye glare as he and the camera crew sorted through equipment.

Take the Lead by Alexis Daria

I do not watch a ton of reality TV. My one guilty pleasure is to watch OPLive on Reelz on Friday and Saturday nights, and that’s it. I stopped watching after seeing how rude the stars were (Real World Boston’s cast and crew would come into where I worked every week). I also stopped watching because, to be honest, it became mind-numbing. So, I surprised myself when I decided to accept the invite for Take the Lead. I figured reading about a fictional reality TV dance competition would be slightly better than watching it. And I was right.

Take the Lead is the first book in the Dance Off series. Since it is the first book, you don’t have to read previous books to figure out past characters and storylines. You can go in cold and enjoy it.

Take the Lead is a fast-paced book that mostly takes place in New York City. There are brief scenes in Alaska and Los Angeles, but most of the action takes place in NYC.

The plotline for Take the Lead was over the top. Stone, one of the stars of an Alaskan wilderness show, is chosen to dance on the celebrity dance show, The Dance Off. Gina is the dance pro who is paired with Stone for the show. Gina is desperate to win The Dance Off. In the four seasons she has been on, she hasn’t even come close, and the producer is threatening to cut her, even though she is popular. Gina believes that Stone, with his mountain man persona and ripped body, is the key to her winning. Stone also wants to win but for different reasons. From day one, the sparks are immediate between Gina and Stone, but Gina refuses to act on them. As they progress through the show, the pressure and chemistry between Gina and Stone grow. But Stone has a big secret that could ruin everything. What is Stone’s secret? Will Gina and Stone give in to their attraction? Or will everything explode and become reality TV fodder?

When I started reading Take the Lead, I didn’t know what to expect from the characters. I did expect them to be over the top and maybe dramatic. So, it was refreshing when the main characters didn’t act like that. The secondary characters gave the drama (mainly the figure skater and Stone’s family).

  • Gina— I loved her from the first paragraph. She was sassy, and my mental image of her was akin to J-Lo. I loved how professional she was with Stone, and I loved seeing her stand up for herself (and her image) when meeting with her slimy producer. I also loved that she went all in when she decided to throw caution to the wind (her relationship with Stone). I also liked that while she thought she was being sly with seeing him, she wasn’t.
  • Stone—Where do I start with him? I thought he was terrific to go to the lengths he did for his family. But I also felt awful. He was uncomfortable being on The Dance Off and his family’s show. I thought what his family and the producers (for their show) asked him to do was pretty awful. I also didn’t like how scripted his family was. His attraction to Gina was refreshing too. He didn’t care that they were on a reality show or that their romance would feed gossip mills; he wanted to be with her.

Take the Lead fit perfectly into the romance genre. It was a mix of forced proximity and opposites attract tropes, and they worked perfectly. While I didn’t like that the background was a reality TV show and everything was filmed, I thought the author did a great job of allowing the romance to mature. This wasn’t an Instalove situation but more of an Instalust that turned to love.

Gina and Stone had fantastic chemistry from day one. I liked that the author didn’t temper it and allowed it to be expressed differently (mainly through dancing). Plus, Gina and Stone genuinely liked each other, and that helped to make it more realistic. The sex, when they did have it, was hot and steamy. Every sex scene after that was comparable to the first one, which I rarely see in romance novels. Usually, the main characters have sex, it’s wonderful, and then it falls flat every other sex scene after that.

The storyline with Stone, his reasons for being on The Dance Off, his family, and everything else that goes with that had me low-key raging at points in the book. I was so angry on his and his siblings’ behalf. Stone went into each sibling’s different issues, and I wanted to cry. I also wanted to smack his parents for putting the kids through that. I wasn’t surprised (actually expected it) when the nasty figure skater let the secret spill. What I wasn’t expecting was how his family reacted—no wonder he didn’t talk much.

The storyline with Gina, Stone, the show, and their eventual relationship was well written. I loved seeing Gina and Stone progress from two people who wanted each other to being in a secret relationship to being in an actual one (sorry for the spoilers). Their relationship made reading about the show and the different types of dances easier to read. I was expecting more catty competition between the dance pros and was a little surprised (a happy surprise) when they all seemed to get along. Even the contestants were friendly (which we know never happens in real life) except for the blonde figure skater girl. She was nasty.

The end of Take the Lead was your typical HEA. I liked that it was Gina who realized what she was missing and it was Gina who went to Stone. And the epilogue!!! I loved that!!!

I would recommend Take the Lead to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and semi-graphic sexual situations.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Alexis Daria for allowing me to read and review Take the Lead. All opinions stated in the review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Take the Lead, you will enjoy reading these books:

WWW Wednesday: February 8th 2023

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?


I hope you all had a wonderful week last week.

My week was relatively drama-free, well, if you don’t count last Tuesday through Thursday…

Last Monday, I got an automated message from the school district saying that my older kids go to the high school was going remote for Tuesday. Why? Gas leak, and the school had to shut off the heat to repair it. I would have been OK if the call came earlier than 9 pm. When I told the dynamic duo, Mr. Z told me he wasn’t doing any schoolwork. Well, that wasn’t going to fly with me, and I ended up canceling an appointment I had for that day.

Remember the kitten we caught on camera, and I saw through on my back deck? We caught him (and yes, it’s a boy). I took him to the vet the same day (he had visible mouth and ear injuries). All of his injuries (including the eye one that I went back for on Friday) are consistent with him being thrown from a moving car/and being abused. He was very scared, and the vet had a tough time examining him (so the full extent of his injuries isn’t known). She was able to age him (from his teeth) and says he is between 8-10 weeks old. I am so angry that I can’t even talk about it. We also have pinpointed his breed. We believe that he is a purebred Ragdoll. According to the breed standards, males weigh at least 20 lbs, and I can believe it—this kitten has huge paws. He has a good home now and is slowly learning to trust us.

Shows I watched this week: The Last of Us and OnPatrol Live.

What I Cooked/Baked: Nothing. With the cost of food being what it is, I make new recipes every other week.


I have been shaving off books from my TBR. On the weekends, if I have finished the next week’s books, I pick a couple of books from my downloaded to Kindle shelf and read them. Also, like I said last week, being in the car rider line for over an hour is really helping with my reading.

The longest book I read this week: Actually, none. They were all pretty short books this week.

The shortest book I read this week: See above.

Other Interesting Bookish News: I will not do this since it is late here (almost 8 pm eastern time).

How was your week? Read anything good? Did you do anything exciting? Watch anything new? Cook anything good?

As always, let me know if you have read or are planning to read any of these

What I Recently Finished Reading:

What I am currently reading:

What books I think I’ll read next:

September 2022 Wrap Up

It has been a while since I have done a monthly wrap-up. Usually, I am pressed for time (between the kids, their activities, and other life issues), and I choose not to do one. But I am making a change starting with this month. I will do a monthly wrap-up (even if it is only a couple of things).

So, here is what I read/posted in the month of September.

As always, let me know if you have read any of these books and (if you did) what you thought of them.

Books I Read:

Books I got from NetGalley

Books I got from Authors/Indie Publishers

Books Reviewed

The Diseased by S.M. Thomas (review here)

Shadowed Spirits by Reily Garrett (review here)

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts by Linda Budzinski, Melissa Maygrove, Sylvia Nay, Katie Klein, Michael di Gesu, Templeton Moss, S.E. White, Denise Covey, Sammi, Spizziri (review here)

Last Place Seen by Alessandra Harris (review here)

Love Secrets Lies by Teresa Vale (review here)

The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by K.N. Smith (review here)

Owl Manor: The Dawning by Zita Harrison (review here)

Owl Manor: Abigail by Zita Harrison (review here)

Owl Manor: The Final Stroke by Zita Harrison (review here)