Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read On Vacation

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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 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 welcome to join her and create your list of top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.)Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


While prepping for this prompt, I had to go back to the end of May/beginning of June. That is when I took my last vacation. We went to Florida and stayed in a resort for 4 days and another hotel for 3 (we hit up Animal Kingdom, my MIL, and Legoland). I was in heaven, reading-wise. I read all day and caught up with my TBR.

Please let me know if you have read any of these books and what you thought of them if you did.

Enjoy!!


1. The Wizard’s Ward by Jules McAleese

2. Shadowed Horizons by Reily Garrett

3. In the Midst of Magic by Christian Cura

4. Shadowed Origins by Reily Garrett

5. A Daring Pursuit by Kate Bateman

6. The Favor by Nora Murphy

7. Rosie Shadow by Louise Worthington

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

9. Dark Circles by Caite Dolan-Leach

10. Starry-Eyed Love by Helena Hunting

In the Midst of Magic by Christian Cura

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Publisher:

Date of publication: May 25th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Meet Kara Hartman, a photojournalist who is hiding her magic from the world. Traumatized by her brother’s death, she wants nothing more to do with magic. But just when she thought she could neglect her gift, it becomes apparent that the universe has other plans for Kara. When she discovers that an old foe has broken out of prison, hellbent on destroying her new life, Kara has no choice but to embrace the only power that can stop her.


First Line:

“You look worried about something,” Anthony said strumming his guitar.

In the Midst of Magic by Christian Cura

When the author emailed me back in February and asked if I could read/review his book, I almost turned it down. I was still finalizing my vacation plans and wasn’t sure if I would even be able to read the book. But, once I read the blurb and some reviews, I felt I had to read it. I am glad that I did because this book was pretty darn good!!

In the Midst of Magic had an interesting (and magical) plotline. For years, Kara has been hiding her magical ability. She was traumatized by the fact that she couldn’t stop her best friend from using forbidden magic which also led to her brother’s death. She throws herself into her photojournalist job. But that all ends when she and her friend are attacked by demons while on assignment for the local paper. Her editor has decided she will document the exploits of the newest demon hunter: a woman named Selene. As Kara and Selene grow closer, an old enemy from Kara’s past has escaped from jail and has her sight set on killing Kara and sending the magical world into chaos. Can Kara and Selene stop her in time? And will they allow the feelings that they have for each other to grow into something more?

I had conflicting feelings for Kara. On the one hand, I liked her. I thought she had remarkable strength to overcome what happened to her in the past. But on the other hand, she rubbed me the wrong way. There is nothing specific that I can point out, but there were certain scenes where I just wanted to shake some sense into her. Thankfully my wanting to shake her didn’t come around very often, and I was able to admire the way she handled things in the book.

I loved Selene. She was very sure of herself and didn’t want a photojournalist tagging along while battling demons. I loved seeing her come around to Kara and eventually start to train and care about her. Now, Selene wasn’t perfect, and I loved that the author chose to allow that part of Kara and Selene’s storyline to go through. I also loved her origin story. She got started in the very thing that Kara and her friend were doing a story on. So, that rounded the story out.

While Thalia and Charlotte were the bad guys in the book, I couldn’t help but feel pity for them. In Thalia’s case, she was studying necromancy when the Council decided to outlaw it and then killed the head of the school. That turned her down the path she chose to take. In Charlotte’s case, a combination of things turned her bad. But the main thing was her mother’s death and the pull of forbidden knowledge. I believe that she didn’t mean to kill Anthony or her other friend, but it changed her once she did. I also understand why she was so focused on Kara. In Charlotte’s mind, Kara was the reason she was in jail, and it just festered until she was driven mad by it.

The storyline with Selene, Kara, and fighting the demons was terrific. The author detailed the fights and the different types of demons that Selene (and eventually Kara) were fighting. The author explained why the demons were being called forth and who was doing it. It did tie into Thalia’s and Charlotte’s storyline at the end.

Thalia and Charlotte’s storyline was the one I liked the most. I loved learning about the magical prison and the enforcers that ran it. I liked seeing how Thalia (in her memories and written in the present day) had risen through the ranks. I was fascinated by how the enforcers kept the prisoners from using their magic. When Thalia started the riot and released Charlotte and the other two prisoners, the storyline turned sinister. I will not go into much more, but it kept me on edge. I was a little sad about Charlotte’s part of the storyline. She was eaten up with hatred for Kara and her family, which erased everything else. I wish there could have been a different outcome for her, but it made sense to end the way it did.

I loved Selene and Kara’s romance. It was a slow burn, and they didn’t get together until halfway through the book. I could understand Selene and Kara’s unwillingness to commit to each other. Each had been burned, rather severely, by previous girlfriends. But once they committed, I loved how close they were. Of course, true love does not run smoothly, and the author introduced an ex of Selene’s to shake up the relationship. I wasn’t happy because Selene and Kara were a power couple. But the author took care of that pretty fast, and they were back on again!!

The sex scenes were scorching and graphic. There were points when I had to put down my Kindle to fan myself.

The end of In the Midst of Magic was good. The author wrapped up the storylines in ways that I liked. I wonder if the author will make a series out of this book. I would love to read more stories written in this universe.

I would recommend In the Midst of Magic to anyone over 21. There is graphic language, graphic sex, and graphic violence.

February 2022 Wrap Up

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And another month has ended. As with the previous months, February seemed to fly by. It was like I blinked and it was over. Of course, not helping, is that February is a short month.

I have made strides with my reading but I am still behind. I finished all of my indie authors read and have started on my impossibly large NetGalley TBR. Wish me luck with that…lol.

I am doing alright with reviews, only about 2 books behind, considering that I hurt my arm in mid-February.

As always, please let me know if you have read any of these books!!


Books I got from NetGalley

In the first book of a visionary African and Arabian-inspired fantasy trilogy, three women band together against a cruel Empire that divides people by blood.

Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.

Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.

Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.

Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the Empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the Empire. But dust always rises in a storm.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution.

As the Empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.
Logan Ramsay is about to get the brain he always dreamed of. But will he be transformed into something more than human…or something less? The mind-blowing new thriller from the ‘New York Times’ best-selling author of ‘Dark Matter’ and ‘Recursion’.

When the SWAT team gives the all-clear and Logan Ramsay steps into the basement, he has no idea that everything’s about to change.

Then there’s the hiss of aerosol. The explosion. The shrapnel that punctures his hazmat gear. Logan wakes up to find himself in a hospital bed, attended by doctors in their own hazmat suits, his wife and daughter looking on from behind the glass.

The doctors say he’s been infected by a virus–one designed not to make him sick, but to modify his very genetic structure. In a world where the next-generation gene-editing tool known as Scythe is widely available–and has already reaped disastrous consequences–the possibilities are too many and terrifying to count.


Except that after the fever, the pain, the fear…the virus is gone. And according to his government bosses, Logan’s got a clean bill of health.

But the truth is that with each day that passes, Logan’s getting smarter. Seeing things more clearly. He’s realizing that he’s been upgraded in ways that go beyond even Scythe’s capabilities–and that he’s been given these abilities for a reason.

Because a holy grail of genetic engineering–one that could change our very definitions of humanity–has just been unearthed. And now it’s up to him to stop it from falling into the wrong hands.

Logan’s becoming something more. Something better. Even with the whole world hunting for him, he might be able to outthink his opponents and win the war that’s coming.

But what if it’s at the cost of being himself?
Ohioana Book Award finalist Ruth Emmie Lang returns with a new cast of ordinary characters with extraordinary abilities.

Five years ago, Nora Wilder disappeared. The older of her two daughters, Zadie, should have seen it coming, because she can literally see things coming. But not even her psychic abilities were able to prevent their mother from vanishing one morning.

Zadie’s estranged younger sister, Finn, can’t see into the future, but she has an uncannily good memory, so good that she remembers not only her own memories, but the echoes of memories other people have left behind. On the afternoon of her graduation party, Finn is seized by an “echo” more powerful than anything she’s experienced before: a woman singing a song she recognizes, a song about a bird…


When Finn wakes up alone in an aviary with no idea of how she got there, she realizes who the memory belongs to: Nora.

Now, it’s up to Finn to convince her sister that not only is their mom still out there, but that she wants to be found. Against Zadie’s better judgement, she and Finn hit the highway, using Finn’s echoes to retrace Nora’s footsteps and uncover the answer to the question that has been haunting them for years: Why did she leave?

But the more time Finn spends in their mother’s past, the harder it is for her to return to the present, to return to herself. As Zadie feels her sister start to slip away, she will have to decide what lengths she is willing to go to to find their mother, knowing that if she chooses wrong, she could lose them both for good.
The Seven―the Divine beings meant to protect the world―just declared war. On me. They took Ray, my baby sister, and now they’re using my boyfriend to do their dirty work.

Well, screw that.

I may not be able to wipe them off the face of the earth now, but I know what can.

Thanks to an Ather connection, I know about the Seven Scrolls. An ancient incantation made by the Creator to counteract the Seven’s great power, scattered into pieces across the world.

With the help of my new crew, we’re on the hunt. And with each located scroll, I face new battles, bloodier and harder than I’ve ever known before. But now the stakes are even higher, because Ray has always been my bright light in the darkness, and Draven is my hope when all seems lost, and if I don’t get them back?

Well, then I might just become the scariest legend the world has ever known.
A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It.

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side.
A god wages war—using all of humanity as its pawns—in the unforgettable conclusion to the Founders trilogy.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.


To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.
he Davies and Montgomery families have been locked in an ancient feud. But it’s a thin line between love and hate in Kate Bateman’s A Daring Pursuit.

TWO ENEMIES
Carys Davies is doing everything in her power to avoid marriage. Staying single is the only way to hide the secret that could ruin her—and her family—if it was revealed. For the past two seasons she’s scandalized the ton with her outrageous outfits and brazen ways in a futile bid to deter potential suitors. Outwardly confident and carefree, inside she’s disillusioned with both men and love. There’s only one person who’s never bought her act—the only man who makes her heart race: Tristan Montgomery, one of her family’s greatest rivals.

ONE SCANDALOUS BARGAIN
Wickedly proper architect Tristan needs a respectable woman to wed, but he’s never stopped wanting bold, red-headed Carys. When she mockingly challenges him to show her what she’s missing by not getting married, Tristan shocks them both by accepting her indecent proposal: one week of clandestine meetings, after which they’ll go their separate ways. But kissing each other is almost as much fun as arguing, and their affair burns hotter than either of them expects. When they find themselves embroiled in a treasonous plot, can they trust each other with their hearts, their secrets…and their lives?
Extraordinarily tense and deliciously mysterious, Anna Downes’s The Shadow House follows one woman’s desperate journey to protect her children at any cost, in a remote place where not everything is as it seems.

A HOUSE WITH DEADLY SECRETS.

A MOTHER WHO’LL RISK EVERYTHING TO BRING THEM TO LIGHT.


Alex, a single mother-of-two, is determined to make a fresh start for her and her children. In an effort to escape her troubled past, she seeks refuge in a rural community. Pine Ridge is idyllic; the surrounding forests are beautiful and the locals welcoming. Mostly.

But Alex finds that she may have disturbed barely hidden secrets in her new home. As a chain of bizarre events is set off, events eerily familiar to those who have lived there for years, Alex realizes that she and her family might be in greater danger than ever before. And that the only way to protect them all is to confront the shadows lurking in Pine Ridge.
From Lynda Cohen Loigman, the bestselling author of The Two-Family House and The Wartime Sisters, comes a heartwarming story of two extraordinary women from two different eras who defy expectations to utilize their unique gift of seeing soulmates in the most unexpected places in The Matchmaker’s Gift.

Is finding true love a calling or a curse?


Even as a child in 1910, Sara Glikman knows her gift: she is a maker of matches and a seeker of soulmates. But among the pushcart-crowded streets of New York’s Lower East Side, Sara’s vocation is dominated by devout older men—men who see a talented female matchmaker as a dangerous threat to their traditions and livelihood. After making matches in secret for more than a decade, Sara must fight to take her rightful place among her peers, and to demand the recognition she deserves.

Two generations later, Sara’s granddaughter, Abby, is a successful Manhattan divorce attorney, representing the city’s wealthiest clients. When her beloved Grandma Sara dies, Abby inherits her collection of handwritten journals recording the details of Sara’s matches. But among the faded volumes, Abby finds more questions than answers. Why did Abby’s grandmother leave this library to her and what did she hope Abby would discover within its pages? Why does the work Abby once found so compelling suddenly feel inconsequential and flawed? Is Abby willing to sacrifice the career she’s worked so hard for in order to keep her grandmother’s mysterious promise to a stranger? And is there really such a thing as love at first sight?

Books I got from Authors/Indie Publishers

Meet Kara Hartman, a photojournalist who is hiding her magic from the world. Traumatized by her brother’s death, she wants nothing more to do with magic. But just when she thought she could neglect her gift, it becomes apparent that the universe has other plans for Kara. When she discovers that an old foe has broken out of prison, hellbent on destroying her new life, Kara has no choice but to embrace the only power that can stop her.
A psychopath with size 16 shoes, nursing home hookers and an irreverent Las Vegas homicide detective with a gambling habit set the tone for this off-beat tale of revenge and retribution.

Blackjack addict Frank Savic is deeply in debt and facing family problems when he’s asked to delay his retirement to catch a vigilante killer who murders other murderers in a manner the veteran cop has never seen.

While dead bodies stack up in quick succession, the motorcycle-riding policeman gets reluctantly involved with a desperate mother who will do anything to get justice for her dead son.


Savic, his investigation complicated by a suspected FBI coverup and a prison bribery scandal, is also unaware that the quirky murderer might also be the solution to his own financial and domestic dilemma.

Add the brooding backdrop of Venice, Italy…and a vengeful killer who reads Shakespeare, and you have a teasing psychological thriller where surgical bone saws and spiders are just tools of the trade.
The sweetness of first love…

Could a fiercely independent cop’s heart be stolen by the guy who makes her favorite doughnuts? Will a maid who used deceit to snare a mail-order husband get a dose of her own medicine? Can her handsome neighbor rescue a modern-day “princess” from a tenacious ex-boyfriend? Can two strangers in a rideshare be honest enough to fall in love for real? Can you remember your first love? How about your second? Third? Fourth?

Featuring the talents of Linda Budzinski, Melissa Maygrove, Michael Di Gesu, Sylvia Ney, Katie Klein, Kim Elliott, Templeton Moss, S.E. White, Denise Covey, and Sammi Spizziri. Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will touch your heart and rekindle lost feelings. Prepare to return to that first love…

Books Read and Reviewed

Lion’s Heart: A Tale of Sherwood Forest by Jacque Stevens (read but need to write review)

Druid’s Moon by Deniz Bevan (read and review will be published in September)

The Insect Room by Felicity Hughes (review here)

Rose: Future Heart by Jazalyn (review here)

Shadow Guard by Reily Garrett (review here)

Crystal Vision by Larry Rodness (review here)

The Devil’s Whispers by Lucas Hault (review here)

Heir of Blood and Secrets by Linda Xia (review here)

The Counterclockwise Heart by Brian Farrey (review here)

vViIrRuUsS: I Never Forget by Jazalyn (review here)

Stocking the Shelves: February 6th through February 12th 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:

A beautiful and charismatic but blowsy and lonely rose faces external turbulences and internal battles of life and love, but She overcomes them filtering the positiveness and the negativeness, and She becomes the future heart deep down inside She always was.
Meet Kara Hartman, a photojournalist who is hiding her magic from the world. Traumatized by her brother’s death, she wants nothing more to do with magic. But just when she thought she could neglect her gift, it becomes apparent that the universe has other plans for Kara. When she discovers that an old foe has broken out of prison, hellbent on destroying her new life, Kara has no choice but to embrace the only power that can stop her.

From NetGalley:

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side.
A god wages war—using all of humanity as its pawns—in the unforgettable conclusion to the Founders trilogy.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.
The Davies and Montgomery families have been locked in an ancient feud. But it’s a thin line between love and hate in Kate Bateman’s A Daring Pursuit.

TWO ENEMIES
Carys Davies is doing everything in her power to avoid marriage. Staying single is the only way to hide the secret that could ruin her—and her family—if it was revealed. For the past two seasons she’s scandalized the ton with her outrageous outfits and brazen ways in a futile bid to deter potential suitors. Outwardly confident and carefree, inside she’s disillusioned with both men and love. There’s only one person who’s never bought her act—the only man who makes her heart race: Tristan Montgomery, one of her family’s greatest rivals.

ONE SCANDALOUS BARGAIN
Wickedly proper architect Tristan needs a respectable woman to wed, but he’s never stopped wanting bold, red-headed Carys. When she mockingly challenges him to show her what she’s missing by not getting married, Tristan shocks them both by accepting her indecent proposal: one week of clandestine meetings, after which they’ll go their separate ways. But kissing each other is almost as much fun as arguing, and their affair burns hotter than either of them expects. When they find themselves embroiled in a treasonous plot, can they trust each other with their hearts, their secrets…and their lives?
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