Stocking the Shelves—January 15th 2022

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


From the Author/Indie Publisher:

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

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

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

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

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

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


From NetGalley:

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

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

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

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

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

Is he an enemy?

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

Or a lover?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Christmas Books

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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.


This week’s TTT is a freebie. So, I decided that I wanted to do Christmas books that are on my TBR. So, here they are. Please let me know if you have read them and what you thought.


1. Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

2. The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant

3. Jingle Spells by Heather Marie Adkins

4. A Christmas Affair by Cora Davies

5. The Sheriff’s Christmas Angels by Debra Holt

6. Season of Joy by Annie Rains

7. A Highlander is Coming to Town by Laura Trentham

8. Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera

9. Christmas in the Scot’s Arms by Julie Johnstone

10 Incubus Yule by A.H. Lee

Home for a Cowboy Christmas by Donna Grant

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

Date of publication: October 26th, 2021

Genre: Romance

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


First Line:

Light flashed behind Emmy’s eyelids, the rocking of the SUV lulling her.

Home for a cowboy christmas by donna grant

I have mentioned this in other posts, but Donna Grant is one of my absolute favorite authors to read. I have read nearly all of her Dark Kings, Reapers, and Heart of Texas series. I say that because there are a few books that I haven’t read in each series. I also want to read all of her other series (there are so many: click here to take a look). So when I saw that she had another series starting, I knew that I needed to read it.

Home For a Cowboy Christmas had a pretty straightforward plotline. Emmy is on the run. She is the star witness in a murder trial that will unmask a local businessman as a Mafioso. Being in witness protection hasn’t helped her because of a leak within the Denver marshalls. That leak caused her almost to be killed, but she was saved just in time by another marshall, Dalton Silva. He takes her to his friend in Montana. Dwight is an ex-military/FBI/Homeland Security who is now a rancher, and he agrees to keep Emmy safe as a favor. But, he wasn’t prepared for the feelings that Emmy stirred up in him. But danger has made its way to Montana, and it is a matter of time before Emmy’s past catches up with her. Will Dwight be able to keep Emmy safe until the trial? And will they act on the sparks between them?

Home For a Cowboy Christmas was a fast-paced book. This book started fast and kept the pace up for the entire book. I had a small amount of anxiety reading it because I didn’t know when or where Orso would show up. I loved it!!!

I liked Emmy and thought that her reactions to everything that she went through were perfect. When the entire backstory (how she witnessed the murder) was revealed, I felt awful for her. She was lonely, and when Joe (the mob boss) extended an invitation to one of his intimate dinners, she jumped at it. The horror of witnessing the execution and her bravery in going to the DA gripped me. I connected with her on so many levels.

I loved Dwight. He was the real deal. He also understood what Emmy was going through and offered her his support. His backstory was very similar to Emmy’s, except his trauma came from missions in the FBI/Homeland Security/the military. I loved his outlook on life and how he dealt with his trauma. He was the right person to protect Emmy.

Let’s talk about Dwight and Emmy’s romance. I am not going to sugarcoat it, but there was Instalove. Dwight was head over heels for Emmy the minute they met. But Emmy, well, she was attracted to Dwight, but she was also dealing with PTSD and a hitman, so telling Dwight that she loved him wasn’t a priority. She had to get through all that stuff first, and I loved that the author wrote it that way. Dwight respected that and gave her space, which made me internally cheer. He wasn’t pushy or demanding a return “I love you.” It was one of the best romances that I have read to date.

The bad guys (Tony, Joe, and Orso plus the dirty marshalls) were genuinely evil incarnate. I did like that the author showed Joe as a human being, though. He had marriage problems (wife was in and out of rehab, infertility issues) and was trying to build his Mafia presence back up in Denver. But don’t let my liking that he was shown as human fool you. He was evil, as were the other three. While their plotline was resolved, I am curious about what happened to the dirty marshalls and who the leak was. Nothing was mentioned about it, except there was an investigation.

The end of Home For a Cowboy Christmas was action-packed and full of surprises. I was a little mad at how Orso found Emmy. I wanted to reach through, shake the chatty woman, and tell her to shut up. But, in the end, everyone got what they deserved.

There is a short story in the same universe/area that Home For a Cowboy Christmas. It is Cady and Zane’s love story. Not going to get into it, but it was a cute story. Cady was a firecracker, and Zane, well, he needed to get that chip off his shoulder. But everything ended well.

I would recommend Home For a Cowboy Christmas to anyone over the age of 21. There is sex, violence, and language.

WWW Wednesday: December 1st 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 and Mr. Z had their birthdays last week. They turned 16 and 14. Mr. Z wanted to keep his birthday low-key, so it was just us. Miss B, on the other hand, decided to have 6 friends over. She had a blast!!! They played Cards Against Humanity, ate a ton of pizza and acted like normal teenagers. She said, after everyone had left, that it was her best birthday in a while.

Thanksgiving was good. I ended up getting sick and didn’t eat much of anything (stomach bug). But I did enjoy the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade and the dog show afterward. Still, it sucked being sick.

I didn’t do Black Friday, either. I have gotten 90% of my shopping done (all I have left to do is 2 nieces and 1 nephew and stocking stuffers). This is the 2nd year that I decided not to do Black Friday. I might keep that tradition up.

We decorated for Christmas over the weekend. Miss R was so excited. She, Miss R, and Mr. Z decorated the tree while BK and I ran errands. Then we decorated the outside of the house. Of course, the Christmas tree was a huge attraction for the kittens. They knocked it over (undecorated) 4 times. But, now that it is decorated, they stay away. Go figure??

Reading/Blog

I am on fire with my reading!! And with writing reviews. I hope that I can keep it up with Christmas coming.


What I Recently Finished Reading:

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.

What I am currently reading:

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.

What books I think I’ll read next:

“I love The First Christmas. What a charming way Stephen Mitchell has found to tell my favorite story of all, the Nativity, character by character (I love the donkey and the ox), with wise and thrilling interludes about God, reality, truth.” -Anne Lamott

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.
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
.
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.
Anna doesn’t care if the prince is charming. She only has to keep him alive.

Agent Anna Rivers is no stranger to sabotage, mysterious attacks, or high-speed car chases, so the assignment to protect Prince Leopold from an unknown foe should be no problem. But his constant flirting will definitely test her resolve to not get romantically involved on a mission. Can she save the prince and guard her heart at the same time?

If you enjoy kick-butt spy-girls and charming princes, you’ll love SPIES NEVER SWOON, the second book in the Banana Girls series where the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.
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.

WWW Wednesday: November 24th 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 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.

What I am currently reading:

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.

What books I think I’ll read next:

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?
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.
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.
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.
Anna doesn’t care if the prince is charming. She only has to keep him alive.

Agent Anna Rivers is no stranger to sabotage, mysterious attacks, or high-speed car chases, so the assignment to protect Prince Leopold from an unknown foe should be no problem. But his constant flirting will definitely test her resolve to not get romantically involved on a mission. Can she save the prince and guard her heart at the same time?

If you enjoy kick-butt spy-girls and charming princes, you’ll love SPIES NEVER SWOON, the second book in the Banana Girls series where the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.

Goodreads Monday: Darkest Flame (Dark Kings: Book 1) by Donna Grant

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This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it. Once you choose a book, make sure you link and reference @LaurensPageTurners.


This Week’s Selection

Click on picture to go to Goodreads

Synopsis:

In Darkest Flame by Donna Grant, the Dark Kings have fought for centuries to preserve their dragon magic. But one of the most powerful warriors of his kind will be put to the ultimate test. Is he strong enough to resist his greatest temptations? Or will he be forced to surrender—body and soul?

HER BEAUTY IS A WEAPON.
Denae Lacroix is a beautiful MI5 agent on a deadly mission. Sent to the Scottish Highlands to spy on the mysterious Dreagan Industries, she discovers too late that she’s been set up—as human bait. She is an irresistible lure for a man who has not seen or touched a woman for centuries. He is a man with a destiny—and a desire—that could destroy them both…

HIS PASSION IS A CURSE…
It’s been twelve hundred years since Kellan has walked among humans—and there’s no denying the erotically charged attraction he feels for Denae. But as a Dragon King, he is sworn to protect his secrets. Yet the closer he gets to this smart, ravishing woman, the more her life is in danger. All it takes is one reckless kiss to unleash a flood of desire, the fury of dragons…and the fiercest enemy of all.


I am a huge fan of Donna Grant’s Dark Kings series (as well as her other series set in the same world). But, I started the series in book 12 and I wanted to catch up with everything that was going on. So, I added the previous 11 books to my TBR.

Have you read this book? How did you like it? Let me know!!

WWW Wednesday: November 17th 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

After a hectic past two weeks, I am enjoying a quiet week. Only one appointment and plenty of time to sit on the couch and relax while the kids are at school – well minus the housework and laundry.

Miss B has learned her lesson with her retainers and is wearing them every night. What might help is that I watch her put them in and take them out in the morning…lol. She had her pre-ACT’s (like SAT’s) yesterday and thinks that she did well in everything except math.

Mr. Z had an accident that broke the charger for his Chromebook (he needs it for school and homework). He dropped the Chromebook while it was charging and it snapped the charger off (thankfully, it didn’t harm the Chromebook). He got a new one from school and we are out $37…pfft.

Miss R has been having some issues with a girl in her class. It is borderline bullying and I am keeping an eye on it. The girl told a couple of other girls not to talk to Miss R and to mock her if she came near them. I told Miss R that she needs to leave them alone but she wants to be friends with them. If it escalates, then I will talk to her teacher. Thankfully, Miss R is very open about what happens at school and tells me everything.

I have finished my Thanksgiving shopping (yay)!!! All I need to get are apples, potatoes, and asparagus. We are having ham and turkey breast, potatoes, asparagus, stuffing, and for dessert: apple pie, pumpkin pie, and a couple of store-bought pies.

I have also finished my Christmas shopping. All I need to get is stocking stuffers and I am done. Of course, if I see any last-minute gifts, I am picking them up.

Reading/Blog

I have really amped up my reading over the past week. I have finished maybe 3 books since Friday and I have written the reviews for them.

Nothing new with the blog. I still need to update posts. I plan on doing that soon.


What I Recently Finished Reading:

What if surviving a murder attempt, a heartbreak, and the loss of the family business wasn’t the hardest thing you ever faced?

Carol is the sole heir to a broken empire, Ricardo the newest celebrity in the rock world.
When they came together, their fire blazed. When their past caught up, they were left burned, scorched to the ground.


When a psychopath decides its payback time, Carol is faced with an impossible choice – save her son or sell her life.

Ricardo wants nothing to do with the woman who played him for a fool but finds himself moored by circumstances, half-truths, and memories of the past.
They say time can heal anything. So far, time’s brought nothing but complications.

This is a standalone romantic thriller told in alternating timelines and points of view. Warnings include character overdose and mentions of child abuse.

I just finished this book last night and oh my goodness, was it good!! I couldn’t put it down and stayed up past my bedtime to finish it. My review won’t be live until December 21st, so look for it then


What I am currently reading:

Polly Carmichael has a secret, one shared by her two aunts and all the women of her line, and it means that marriage is not an option for her. Adam Finlay left the vet practice he was working for when cost cutting led to animals suffering. He would love to open a one-man practice of his own, but all his savings went to his ex wife in her battle against cancer. He’s still getting over the divorce, and he doesn’t have anything to offer a woman at the moment anyway.
Adam’s sister has set him up in a rental house in the small seaside town of Kauri Bay, not far from the family farm, and he soon notices Polly, the manager of the Beach Front Cafe. Polly knows she can’t get interested in the handsome young vet, she really mustn’t, but her heart flutters every time he’s near her. The two young people find themselves in an impossible situation – or is it? Not when help comes from a completely unexpected source. A clean and wholesome romance, set in an inspirational community.

I haven’t technically started this book yet but I plan on starting it today. I am looking forward to it. I haven’t read too many romances based in New Zealand. Plus, from the blurb, it seems like it is going to be a nice, easy read.


What books I think I’ll read next:

I still have a ton of books on this list. I added all of the NetGalley books that are past their publication date and it expanded the list. Like last week, I am hoping to read at least 3 of them before next week’s WWW Wednesday. The 3 books after Storms have been on my TBR for months and they are my top priority.

I once thought I might kill a prince. In another glance, I thought I would marry him. But then came a day I never expected.

The day I would kill a god.

When Arianna freed the soul of the prince from a dark god and shattered the underworld, she assumed she could bring peace to the world above. But there are consequences to the powers she gained and a war brewing between the provinces that will require all her magic and heart.

To master her gifts and save her home, Ari climbs to the top of Olympus and fights a war with gods on either side.
Who is the man who holds her heart?

After playing Robin Hood for months, Marian is starting to wonder how well she knows Robin of Locksley. Her husband could just be depressed, returning from a war that should have claimed his life. He could just be adjusting to their new life in the forest. Marian wants to be patient, but after surrendering Locksley to the sheriff and his men, the villages need Robin Hood more than ever.

When a fight for a king’s ransom costs much more than gold, everything boils to the surface. How can Marian continue to take the name or even stay married to a man she now despises?

And who will wear the hood in the end?

If you like inspirational heroines, unique love stories, and non-stop twists and turns, this action-packed fantasy retelling is for you.

MARIAN’S MAN is the direct sequel to Robin’s Hood, a gender-bent twist on the legends of Sherwood.
Get ready for the final installment of the Faerie Files Trilogy!

I can’t believe Logan’s been my partner for over a year. Actually, he’s been more than that for half as long.
I know he’ll always have my back.


But when a routine monster eviction goes horribly wrong, he’s furious that I didn’t run when I had the chance.
What’s his deal? The way I see it, the FBI didn’t hire me to run away.


They hired me to get the job done.

Plus, I’m not the type to run from anything. I did it once when I was a kid and I’ve regretted it to this very day.
I suppose that explains why I’m taking this latest case so personally.

Funny how some things come around full circle…especially when you least expect it.

*´¨)
¸.*´ ¸.**´¨)¸.**¨
(¸.*´ (¸.*` The Faerie Files is purrr-fect for readers who enjoy enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, or forbidden romance. And cats. If you’re not a cat person, you WILL be after reading this series! Ideal for fans of Annette Marie, McKenzie Hunter, Deborah Wilde, Helen Harper, and Shannon Mayer
.
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?
A college student reluctantly attends a family chili cookout that turns into a never-ending nightmare. A man desperate for job skills uses a brain implant to help him learn, but it malfunctions and leaves him sexually attracted to shadows. A private investigator is hired to discover who keeps befouling the walls of convenience store bathrooms. Two deer engaged in combat find that they are unable to unlock from one another’s antlers after the fight is over. A single mother spends 2020 battling an evil landlord, a fascist neighbor, national political chaos, and a global pandemic. These are the strange stories told by regulars at the local bar on Christmas Eve, stories which each began with a phone call from someone who announced “you don’t know me, but we’re cousins.”
A small Wisconsin town is shaken to its core when four high school boys stumble upon an unexpected discovery. As past and present secrets are exposed, more unsolved mysteries are revealed, leading to more danger than anyone could have ever imagined.
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.
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.
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.
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.

November 2021 TBR

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Just like October 2021 TBR, I have a ton of books to read before the end of the month. But, unlike October, I am not overbooked with appointments. So, I will have plenty of time to catch up with what I am behind on and read the TBR’s for this month.

So, here’s my list. Let me know if you are reading or have read these books. I will put next to them if they are part of the backlog from last month.


Nanny Needed by Georgina Cross (part of the backlog from October)

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin (part of the backlog from October)

Home for a Cowboy Christmas by Donna Grant (part of the backlog from October)

Lies in Bone by Natalie Symons (part of the backlog from October)

The Judas Robe by Larry Rodness (part of the backlog from October)

Hexes & Hairballs by Emigh Cannady (part of the backlog from October)

Heard it in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves

The First Christmas: A Story of New Beginnings by Stephen Mitchell

Transylvania’s World History A to Z: 100 Word Stories by Patricia Furstenberg

Marian’s Man: A Tale of Sherwood Forest by Jacque Stevens

Sigiriya: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, Betrayal, and Tragedy in the Royal Family by Senani Ponnamperuma

Intertwined: A Biker’s Tale by Andrew Hartman

The Sisters Sweet by Elizabeth Weiss

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Goodreads Monday: The Christmas Cowboy Hero (Heart of Texas: Book 1) by Donna Grant

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This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it. Once you choose a book, make sure you link and reference @LaurensPageTurners.


This week’s selection:

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant returns to Texas, where a small-town legend just might find the greatest gift of all in The Christmas Cowboy Hero…

’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays―even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything.

Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped raise since she was a teenager. Keeping them in line is no small task while she’s also working toward her college degree. And now that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle at the East Ranch, Abby is at her wits’ end. But there is a silver lining: Clayton East. He believes in second chances and is willing to give one to her brother this Christmas. Letting beautiful Abby―and the inescapable longing in his heart―off the hook, however, is a whole ’nother story. Could it be that the woman of this local hero’s dreams has been back at home all along?


I have read almost the entire Heart of Texas series. I say almost because I didn’t read book 1 and book 5. I didn’t read book 1 because I wasn’t reviewing for St. Martin’s Press when it was published and I didn’t read book 5 because I took a hiatus in 2020 (due to the pandemic).

I really want to read The Christmas Cowboy before Christmas this year. But, with the way my reading is going (very slowly), I don’t expect to read it until some point next year.

October 2021 TBR

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I have a ton of books to read and review this month. Like appointments, I tend to overbook myself and then go “How am I going to do this?” In this particular case, I asked myself “How am I going to read all of these books?

Easy, I am going to stop playing on my phone before bed and I am going to read while watching my shows.

Wish me luck and let me know if you have read any of these books!!


Three Sisters by Heather Morris

Nanny Needed by Georgina Cross

My Fair Queen by C.J. Anaya

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller

The Sultan’s Court by R.A. Denny

Our Trespasses by Michael Cordell

The Battle for Verdana by Brett Salter

Lies in Bones by Natalie Symons

Home for a Cowboy Christmas by Donna Grant

The Judas Robe by Larry Rhodness

Hexes & Hairballs by Emigh Cannaday