WWW Wednesday: January 12th 2022

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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:

I know I haven’t done a personal section for a while but I decided to do one today. I have just been too busy.

So, what has been going on? Well, a whole lot. The kids went back to school on January 5th. I spent that day deep cleaning my house (I have 3 kids and they are messy…need I say any more). January 6th, I get a text from the mother of the girl I keep before/after school and drive to/from school that she was sick. No biggie. 15 minutes later, I get a text saying that she tested positive for Covid. No sooner than I got that text, I got a call from the school, asking if I can pick Miss R up and that they would test her there. So I did. I also called the middle and high schools to let them know. The high school tested Miss B (I didn’t need to sign a consent form because she’s 16) but the middle school didn’t test Mr. Z. Thankfully, Miss R and Miss B tested negative and were able to rejoin her class (Miss B) and go back to school the next day (Miss R). They just had to mask up for 5 days (they are vaccinated. Unvaccinated would have been a 10-day quarantine with testing on the 5th day). But Mr. Z didn’t get tested. The middle school didn’t offer it to him (and BK didn’t ask). Instead, because he wasn’t boosted, he was put on a 5-day quarantine and I had to bring him to the school on Monday to get tested. Thankfully, he tested negative but still. His grades suffered because he wasn’t in person (the were worksheets the teachers passed out that he didn’t get but are making up today). The little girl I watch is feeling better and should be back at school next week (if she tests negative).

Reading:

I have finally read the books I was behind on for November. Now, I am working on December’s backlog. Thankfully, it is only one book and I should finish that one tonight. Then my backlog for January (which is 3 books as of right now) and, if I am lucky, I should be caught up.

I am behind on writing reviews. Right now, I need to write 3 reviews, with a possible 4th. I am not worried about that, though. I should have all 3 reviews written and scheduled by this weekend.

Watching:

BK and I finished watching The Wheel of Time over Christmas break. I highly recommend it. I am trying to watch The Stand on Paramount + but it won’t start (even with troubleshooting). So, I went back to Prime and started watching A Discovery of Witches. So far, I like it but I am not understanding some things portrayed (I need to read the books).

Making:

Last week, I made brown sugar glazed pork chops (served with stuffing and corn). I had gotten the recipe off Yummly, so I don’t have the recipe. But the kids loved it. Miss R and Miss B (my picky eaters) ate seconds, which never happens.

This week I am making Honey Pineapple pork chops. They are marinating in the fridge right now and I am going to cook them up when Miss B gets home from school.


What I Recently Finished Reading:

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.

This book broke my heart and brought back some bad memories from the beginning of the pandemic. But, I was riveted to it and was rooting for Diana.


What I am currently reading:

WHAT A GIRL WANTS

To survive her difficult childhood, Miss Hazel Lively relied on two things:a tough outer shell and a love of books. Now, at the age of twenty-eight, she’s finally realized her life-long dream of opening a school for girls. She’s hoping that the wealthy families who flock to the shore for the summer will entrust their daughters to Bellehaven Academy―and help pay the way for less fortunate students. All Hazel must do is maintain a flawless reputation and raise a good deal of money. It’s a foolproof plan…till a sinfully handsome earl strides into her office.

WHAT AN EARL NEEDS

Gabriel Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had a monstrous headache since the day his teenaged niece became his ward. She’s been expelled from two London boarding schools and is doing her damnedest to scare off his potential fiancée. But Blade has a plan of his own―enroll his niece at Bellehaven Academy, where she’ll be out of town and out of his hair. He just needs to convince the buttoned-up headmistress with the soulful brown eyes to take on his niece.

LEAD TO AN IRRESISTIBLE DEAL

When Blade makes a generous offer to the school, it’s impossible for Hazel to refuse. But she has one non-negotiable condition: the earl must visit his niece every other week. Soon, Blade discovers there’s much more to Hazel than meticulous lesson plans. In moonlit seaside coves and candlelit ballrooms, their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But the passion that flares between them poses a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love? Well, it just might…

I am a sucker for historical romances. I am also a sucker for romance books that are punny. I read the first few pages last night and I am thinking that I am going to really like this book!!


What books I think I’ll read next:

In order, my list of books are ARC, ARC, ARC, indie ARC, ARC, ARC.

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.


But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.
When Kayla Carter’s husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It’s clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area…and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla’s elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it’s clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families.
If you could read someone’s mind, what would you do with the truth?

Hunted by both the military and her own personal stalker, Dani conceals her psychic abilities and hides in plain sight. Within her mind is the ability to change the landscape of nations. For that, a branch of the government would lock her away—to ensure her safety.

Marc Crofton left his black-ops unit to join his brothers’ private investigative after discharge. A chance meeting with the quiet, unassuming spitfire in his veterinarian’s office sends his world in a tail spin involving spies, both domestic and international.

Each must rely on the other to survive a world where betrayal and deception, desire and trust, weave a fabric that transcends time.
Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.
A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them.

There’s something out there that’s killing. Known only as The Cur, he leaves no traces, save for the torn bodies of girls, on the verge of becoming women, who are known as trouble-makers; those who refuse to conform, to know their place. Girls who don’t know when to shut up.

2019: Thirteen-year-old Lila Sawyer has secrets she can’t share with anyone. Not the school psychologist she’s seeing. Not her father, who has a new wife, and a new baby. And not her mother—the infamous Caroline Sawyer, a unique artist whose eerie sculptures, made from bent twigs and crimped leaves, have made her a local celebrity. But soon Lila feels haunted from within, terrorized by a delicious evil that shows her how to find her voice—until she is punished for using it.

2004: Caroline Sawyer hears dogs everywhere. Snarling, barking, teeth snapping that no one else seems to notice. At first, she blames the phantom sounds on her insomnia and her acute stress in caring for her ailing father. But then the delusions begin to take shape—both in her waking hours, and in the violent, visceral sculptures she creates while in a trance-like state. Her fiancé is convinced she needs help. Her new psychiatrist waves her “problem” away with pills. But Caroline’s past is a dark cellar, filled with repressed memories and a lurking horror that the men around her can’t understand.


As past demons become a present threat, both Caroline and Lila must chase the source of this unrelenting, oppressive power to its malignant core. Brilliantly paced, unsettling to the bone, and unapologetically fierce, Such a Pretty Smile is a powerful allegory for what it can mean to be a woman, and an untamed rallying cry for anyone ever told to sit down, shut up, and smile pretty.

WWW Wednesday: January 5th 2022

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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:

Buried among the million inhabitants of a society evolved into disjointedness, Otto struggles. He flounders alone in Brownton, the only home he has ever known. Those struggles, though, become secondary under the angst dispensed by the unforeseen tragedy of an otherwise idle Thursday. A restaurant he designed collapses, leaving hundreds dead. Banished from all that is familiar as penance for this calamity, Otto is thrust on an uncharted journey to the US, accompanied by little more than the burden of his own guilt and doubt.
Through the uncertainty of his voyage, Otto finds support where it is least expected. Samantha Justus and her brothers retrieve him from the clutches of an enemy he does not fully grasp. He finds himself an unknowing target in the midst of a strife much larger than his own tribulation. But buoyed by his newfound community—heretofore a foreign concept—Otto discovers a secret that holds in its fragile hand the survival of his homeland. Though brandished a criminal in two realms, he is left with the challenge of navigating a return to the scene of the crime in the hope of saving those who would convict him. It is not a mission he can accomplish alone. It will require the combined efforts of Sam, E.J., Benny, Marcos, Desmond, Bree, Hardy, and Tika—the tribe that has assembled along the way.

This was an interesting book to read but I wasn’t quite sure what I thought about it. Not saying I didn’t like it (I did) but it was such a different read. It makes you think about everything. I am going to stop here because I should have a review up tomorrow or Friday.


What I am currently reading:

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.

So far, I am liking this book. I don’t know much about vaudeville and I am finding it very interesting. I have a feeling that faking conjoined twins was more common in that era than we probably knew about.


What books I think I’ll read next:

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.
WHAT A GIRL WANTS

To survive her difficult childhood, Miss Hazel Lively relied on two things:a tough outer shell and a love of books. Now, at the age of twenty-eight, she’s finally realized her life-long dream of opening a school for girls. She’s hoping that the wealthy families who flock to the shore for the summer will entrust their daughters to Bellehaven Academy―and help pay the way for less fortunate students. All Hazel must do is maintain a flawless reputation and raise a good deal of money. It’s a foolproof plan…till a sinfully handsome earl strides into her office.

WHAT AN EARL NEEDS

Gabriel Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had a monstrous headache since the day his teenaged niece became his ward. She’s been expelled from two London boarding schools and is doing her damnedest to scare off his potential fiancée. But Blade has a plan of his own―enroll his niece at Bellehaven Academy, where she’ll be out of town and out of his hair. He just needs to convince the buttoned-up headmistress with the soulful brown eyes to take on his niece.

LEAD TO AN IRRESISTIBLE DEAL

When Blade makes a generous offer to the school, it’s impossible for Hazel to refuse. But she has one non-negotiable condition: the earl must visit his niece every other week. Soon, Blade discovers there’s much more to Hazel than meticulous lesson plans. In moonlit seaside coves and candlelit ballrooms, their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But the passion that flares between them poses a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love? Well, it just might…
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection
.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their
reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.
When Kayla Carter’s husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It’s clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area…and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla’s elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it’s clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families.

WWW Wednesday: December 22nd, 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:

What is your freedom worth?

Callie’s mind holds the key to weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and biological. Kidnapped as a child by an obscure branch of the military, she escapes the bowels of a Think Tank and risks everything for freedom.

Nate Crofton left his black-ops unit seeking a quieter existence as a private investigator. When an ex-teammate draws him into a web of tangled lies and betrayal, he can’t resist the young prodigy in need of protection.

Little does he know the blue-eyed enigma holds incredible secrets and can take care of herself, along with the team sworn to protect her.

Together, they must rely on each other’s strengths to stay one step ahead of agents, both foreign and domestic, while navigating their growing attraction.

A must-read for fans of for fans of CM Sutter, Dale Mayer, Dean Koontz, LT Ryan, and Fiona Quinn.

What I am currently reading:

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.

What books I think I’ll read next:

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.
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.
WHAT A GIRL WANTS

To survive her difficult childhood, Miss Hazel Lively relied on two things:a tough outer shell and a love of books. Now, at the age of twenty-eight, she’s finally realized her life-long dream of opening a school for girls. She’s hoping that the wealthy families who flock to the shore for the summer will entrust their daughters to Bellehaven Academy―and help pay the way for less fortunate students. All Hazel must do is maintain a flawless reputation and raise a good deal of money. It’s a foolproof plan…till a sinfully handsome earl strides into her office.

WHAT AN EARL NEEDS

Gabriel Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had a monstrous headache since the day his teenaged niece became his ward. She’s been expelled from two London boarding schools and is doing her damnedest to scare off his potential fiancée. But Blade has a plan of his own―enroll his niece at Bellehaven Academy, where she’ll be out of town and out of his hair. He just needs to convince the buttoned-up headmistress with the soulful brown eyes to take on his niece.

LEAD TO AN IRRESISTIBLE DEAL

When Blade makes a generous offer to the school, it’s impossible for Hazel to refuse. But she has one non-negotiable condition: the earl must visit his niece every other week. Soon, Blade discovers there’s much more to Hazel than meticulous lesson plans. In moonlit seaside coves and candlelit ballrooms, their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But the passion that flares between them poses a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love? Well, it just might…
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.
Buried among the million inhabitants of a society evolved into disjointedness, Otto struggles. He flounders alone in Brownton, the only home he has ever known. Those struggles, though, become secondary under the angst dispensed by the unforeseen tragedy of an otherwise idle Thursday. A restaurant he designed collapses, leaving hundreds dead. Banished from all that is familiar as penance for this calamity, Otto is thrust on an uncharted journey to the US, accompanied by little more than the burden of his own guilt and doubt.
Through the uncertainty of his voyage, Otto finds support where it is least expected. Samantha Justus and her brothers retrieve him from the clutches of an enemy he does not fully grasp. He finds himself an unknowing target in the midst of a strife much larger than his own tribulation. But buoyed by his newfound community—heretofore a foreign concept—Otto discovers a secret that holds in its fragile hand the survival of his homeland. Though brandished a criminal in two realms, he is left with the challenge of navigating a return to the scene of the crime in the hope of saving those who would convict him. It is not a mission he can accomplish alone. It will require the combined efforts of Sam, E.J., Benny, Marcos, Desmond, Bree, Hardy, and Tika—the tribe that has assembled along the way.

WWW Wednesday: December 15th 2021

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What I Recently Finished Reading:

Raghav is an ordinary seven-year-old growing up on the ‘good’ side of Colaba in Bombay. His is a safe, protected world and he is kept well away from the ‘other’, darker side of Colaba, which nevertheless, holds a deep fascination for him with its colorful, busy alleys bustling with activity, people and mystery – the ‘real’ world as far he is concerned.

But life has other plans and Raghav’s entire world comes crashing down one day. In the space of a few crucial hours, his childish innocence is ripped away brutally, and he also loses the one person who may have made his world right again – his mother. That fateful day alters the course of his life and the ‘other’ side is the only place he can escape his now truly miserable home life and his bitter father who he resents more and more each day. He never tells even his closest friends about the horrific abuse he suffered the day his mother died, the day a fierce, burning anger took root in his very soul.

Now, 20 years later, all his peers and friends are settling down into jobs and the business of growing up. But Raghav is still trapped between his now suffocating relationship with his father, his own inability to find a job and make a life for himself and the painful memories of his childhood ordeal that still haunt him. And this is when he meets Rani one day, an orphan beggar girl who knows life on the streets of Mumbai, but not in the way Raghav does. He wants to ‘save’ Rani from the beggar mafia and give her a chance at a better life. His strong need to stand up for something, to truly help someone is fueled by the recent Nirbhaya gangrape case in New Delhi, that evokes painful memories of his own past trauma.

Set in Bombay in 1992 and Mumbai in 2012, and inspired by true events, Diary of an Angry Young Man is a coming-of-age urban drama that explores the complex layers of humanity. And the city that engenders them.

What I am currently reading:

Detective. Angel. Victim. Devil.

A haunting tale of suspense, loss, isolation, contempt, and fear.

On November 1, 1951, war hero John Ashton was promoted to detective. His first assignment: find the district attorney’s missing daughter. But his only lead is Alena Francon, a high society sculptor and socialite committed to Bellevue’s psychiatric facility.

Alena has a story for the new detective. A story so outlandish John Ashton refuses to heed the warning. Alena admits to incarnating Golem, a demonic force, into her statue. A devil so profound he’s infiltrated every part of New York’s infrastructure. Even worse, he uses children to serve as bodily hosts for his demonic army, unleashing a horde of devils into our world.

When Alena’s confidant, Annette Flemming, confirms the existence of Golem, John is sent on a collision course where fate and destiny spiral into peril, and the future of the human race hangs in the balance.

What books I think I’ll read next:

Strange things are happening in the sleepy Bengal village of Dongajora. A thief being chased by the only village policeman vanishes into the thin air, an old woman paralyzed with drugs is found at the site of the theft, and the only object stolen is a bottle of turpentine, instead of the highly coveted statue rumored to be the key to fabulous treasures. Puzzled, the constabulary enlists the help of the village doctor and his two gifted children.
Aalo and Adhir are anxiously awaiting news of their mother, an army major who has been missing in action for three months; and jump at the chance of a distraction. As they delve deeper into the mystery with their mentor Shayeen, all leads start pointing towards the local Zamindars – the Rai family. Hints of foul play in the death of the family head, of his wife being blackmailed, and of dangerous ancestral secrets begin to emerge… and so does the motive for a heinous crime.
A catastrophic storm about to hit the village will provide a perfect cover and wipe away all the evidence… Aalo and Adhir have only a few hours to get to the heart of the mystery and stop a murder…
Who doesn’t crave a little escape? Dreaming of small-town life and rural charm, Alex and Rainey find a deal on an old rustic home they can’t resist. But soon after Rainey moves, her preoccupation with weird local history and the complications of living alone in the woods take a toll. Alex worries that the long nights and growing isolation are driving her stir crazy. When the Sugar House is damaged and Rainey goes missing, Alex doesn’t know where to turn. Was it a storm, vandals, or something worse? What happened at the Sugar House? The only thing worse than wondering is finding out.
What is your freedom worth?

Callie’s mind holds the key to weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and biological. Kidnapped as a child by an obscure branch of the military, she escapes the bowels of a Think Tank and risks everything for freedom.

Nate Crofton left his black-ops unit seeking a quieter existence as a private investigator. When an ex-teammate draws him into a web of tangled lies and betrayal, he can’t resist the young prodigy in need of protection.

Little does he know the blue-eyed enigma holds incredible secrets and can take care of herself, along with the team sworn to protect her.

Together, they must rely on each other’s strengths to stay one step ahead of agents, both foreign and domestic, while navigating their growing attraction.
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.
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.
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.

WWW Wednesday: December 8th, 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

I have finished my Christmas shopping (except stocking stuffers and a couple of smaller gifts for Miss R’s riding instructor, her best friend, and Miss B’s friends) and I have wrapped the gifts. It took me 2 1/2 hours on Monday, but I did it. The look on the kids’ faces when they realized their gifts were wrapped was awesome!!

Miss R isn’t having a good time in school. Academically, she’s doing fine: All S’s with zero behavior issues. But she is being bullied by a girl in her class. This started back in October when I was told that Miss R and this girl were swearing and talking about inappropriate things during recess. Miss R did get in trouble for that and I told her that she needed to tell this girl that I know and Miss R can’t talk like that anymore. It did stop but the girl turned around and started making fun of Miss R. Calling her fat and ugly and getting the other girls in the friend group to do the same thing. She also would openly mock her in class when Miss R would talk about her riding lessons (I heard this from the teacher). She told everyone in the class that they couldn’t be friends with Miss R (no one except for 1 other girl listened) and was making her life miserable. It all came to a head when she told Miss R that she would be her friend but only if she bought her stuff. So, Miss R went and bought her $40 worth of stuff at the bookfair. That is on top of Miss R buying her stuff at lunch and draining her lunch account each week. That is when I said enough is enough and talked to the teacher.

Miss R no longer talks to this girl. But this girl goes out of her way to try and get Miss R in trouble. Yesterday is a good example. They were playing a Christmas version of tag during PE. This girl kept tagging Miss R out and kept saying “I hate you. You’re ugly. No one likes you.” Then she had a friend tell on Miss R when Miss R stuck up for herself. But, the PE teacher and the classroom teacher overheard everything and the girl/her friend got in trouble. But Miss R had to shake hands with them and apologize to them? I don’t get it. And the counselor at school is a joke. It took her 2 weeks to even talk to Miss R and according to what Miss R said, she blew her off. I am a big believer in letting my kids sort things out themselves but Miss R is hating to go to school now. She is also telling me that she is ugly and has no friends. I am starting to get angry and I am thinking of asking to set a meeting up between the parents and myself, with the principal or teacher moderating. But I don’t know how well it will go. I know the mother and she has a reputation at the school of thinking her child can do no wrong and she has got hysterical when something similar happened with her son. So, we’ll see….sigh.

Mr. Z had his winter concert last night. I was so proud of him. They played Dragonhunter by Richard Meyer with the high school orchestra and killed it. It was the first time the kids had played with the high school and they hadn’t rehearsed with them. So, as the orchestra teacher said, it was a Christmas miracle. She was crying at the end of the piece (she’s new and didn’t think they could pull it off).

Miss B is doing very well at school. She has EOC (End of Course) testing next week and she doesn’t have to show up for any of them. She tested out of ROTC and Public Safety. She already took her Civics test (and passed) and she has her Spanish 1 test on Friday. So, her school vacation starts next Monday….lol. She is keeping up with ROTC. She’s doing Colorguard at the basketball games (she has to go tonight) and will be doing the field trips. Since she isn’t taking ROTC next semester, she is going to continue to attend those events and she’ll be able to rank up.

Reading/Blog

I haven’t been reading a ton. If BK is home, then I don’t read or blog. He talks too much….lol. I plan on trying to catch up with my reading (I have two posts due on Monday and one due next Thursday) within the next couple of days.

I noticed that my plan with WordPress offers an email address for an extra $3.50 a month. So, I decided to get it. I will say that it is nice to have all of my blog emails and review requests in one spot.

I have been writing a lot of reviews, so don’t let the lack of posts fool you. I have posts scheduled for January and beyond. I am behind by one review (that was supposed to be written and published 2 weeks ago) and I am planning on writing it as soon as I get this meme up.


What I Recently Finished Reading:

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.

This is the book that I referenced above when I mentioned writing reviews. I am not sure how I felt about this book. The author threw a lot at you during the interludes. But I will say that it was interesting to read the story about Christ’s birth through the eyes of everyone there, including the ox and donkey.


What I am currently reading:

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.

I am enjoying this book!! It is a cute read and can be read separately from the series. I am still trying to figure out who wants to hurt Leo. Not a lot of hints. Also, I love the hint of romance between Leo and Anna. I am about 50% (give or take) and should finish the book tonight.


What books I think I’ll read next:

The order I am going to read these books are indie author, indie author, indie author, NetGalley ARC, NetGalley ARC, NetGalley ARC, and NetGalley ARC. I do need to read the first three books. As I mentioned above, two are needed by Monday and one on Thursday. The NetGalley ARCs’, I am going to try to get read and reviewed but no promises!!

IN THIS SECOND BOOK of the series, Glory Bishop has finally broken free of her mother’s oppressive grasp and is offered a new life by a seemingly altruistic Chicago socialite, but there may be more than good intentions at play. Against the advice of trusted friends and family, Glory chooses the protection of Malcom Porter, her adoring, much older, bad-boy-turned-minister fiancé.

Thrust into a gilded world of wealth, society and privilege, Glory struggles to overcome the guilt of loving her new life. The whirlwind of 1980s designer clothing, penthouse views, and first-class travel is a far cry from her former existence.

With this new reality, comes unexpected complications and temptations. As she struggles to remain true to herself and her fiancé, Glory wonders if she will ever truly feel at home in this new world. Follow Glory Bishop in her continuing search for freedom and independence, as she once again strives to be her own savior.
He swore he’d protect her.
But can they ever trust each other enough to fall in love?

Bret Masters is as good as his word. Following through on his pledge to nurse back to health the woman who owns him, the rugged ranch-hand showers her with care while still guarding his heart. But as he spends hour after hour by her side, the stubborn cowboy feels his resistance crumbling.

Angel Aldridge fears she won’t recover. Seized by the horrors of her past, her handsome foreman is the only comfort she knows. But when a frightening incident results in an intimate confession, the curvy rancher worries she’s pushed him away for good.

Stung by Angel’s words, Bret struggles to believe love could ever be possible in this broken world. And with Angel’s enemy returning to exact revenge, she’s frightened she’ll never again feel her hero’s embrace.

With danger on its inevitable way, is this the end for the star-crossed couple?

Masters’ Promise is the steamy third book in The Angel Eyes futuristic dystopian cowboy romance series. If you like captivating characters, forbidden desire, and dark twists, then you’ll adore Jamie Schulz’s riveting read.

This book has a HFN ending with a slight cliffhanger that leads into Book 4 of the series. The books in this series must be read in order as the story builds with each book.

★Please note: Intended for mature audiences. Trigger warning. Reader discretion is advised.
Raghav is an ordinary seven-year-old growing up on the ‘good’ side of Colaba in Bombay. His is a safe, protected world and he is kept well away from the ‘other’, darker side of Colaba, which nevertheless, holds a deep fascination for him with its colorful, busy alleys bustling with activity, people and mystery – the ‘real’ world as far he is concerned.

But life has other plans and Raghav’s entire world comes crashing down one day. In the space of a few crucial hours, his childish innocence is ripped away brutally, and he also loses the one person who may have made his world right again – his mother. That fateful day alters the course of his life and the ‘other’ side is the only place he can escape his now truly miserable home life and his bitter father who he resents more and more each day. He never tells even his closest friends about the horrific abuse he suffered the day his mother died, the day a fierce, burning anger took root in his very soul.

Now, 20 years later, all his peers and friends are settling down into jobs and the business of growing up. But Raghav is still trapped between his now suffocating relationship with his father, his own inability to find a job and make a life for himself and the painful memories of his childhood ordeal that still haunt him. And this is when he meets Rani one day, an orphan beggar girl who knows life on the streets of Mumbai, but not in the way Raghav does. He wants to ‘save’ Rani from the beggar mafia and give her a chance at a better life. His strong need to stand up for something, to truly help someone is fueled by the recent Nirbhaya gangrape case in New Delhi, that evokes painful memories of his own past trauma.

Set in Bombay in 1992 and Mumbai in 2012, and inspired by true events, Diary of an Angry Young Man is a coming-of-age urban drama that explores the complex layers of humanity. And the city that engenders them.
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.
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: 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.

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.

WWW Wednesday: November 10th 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

I know that I have been persona non grata on the blog since about mid-October and I apologize for my absence. I thought with school being in, that I would have a ton of free time to read and blog. Yeah, that didn’t exactly work in my favor. I have been super busy since the week of October 18th and I finally have been able to sit down.

Most of my time was taken up with appointments. My kids had numerous orthodontist, Dr, and therapy appointments (Miss R had a very hard time adjusting to lockdown and it resulted in behavioral issues). I like to challenge myself and double-booked appointments on certain days…smh. So, by the time afternoon rolled around (after I pick up Miss R and Miss K from school), I wanted nothing to do with this blog or reading. This is the first week that I have finished three books in what seems like forever.

I also ended up buying a new computer. I got an Alienware Aurora R10 gaming computer. I had ordered it on September 11th and got a delivery date of October 31st, which got pushed back to November 4th. Because it is a super expensive tower, I needed to be there when Fed Ex dropped it off. I didn’t want a porch pirate taking off with it.

I went to the eye Dr for the first time in 3 years and he prescribed me bifocals. Yes, at 44 I got bifocals. Again, another learning curve that left me with some pretty bad headaches until I got used to them.

I ended up taking Skittles (my long-haired diluted calico) to the vet 2 weeks ago. Around her eye had turned red and weepy. Turns out that she got scratched on her eyelid and it got infected. Ever try to put eye medication on a cat that already hates to be touched? Yeah, it sucked and I got scratched up pretty bad but her eye is fine now.

We think that Jesper (my tuxedo kitten) is either deaf or extremely hard of hearing. BK noticed that he overstartles if approached from behind, he purrs and meows super loud, and (this is the most important) he has no reaction if you rip paper or jingle keys behind his head. I do plan on bringing it up to our vet but his being hard of hearing/deaf makes no difference on us owning him. We just need to keep an extra eye on him and make sure he doesn’t go outside.

Miss B was on my shit list for the last week or so. See, she wears upper and lower retainers. Well, she should have been. Over the summer, she decided that she didn’t want to wear them anymore and it caused her bottom teeth to shift. So, almost $500 later and me telling the ortho no to lower braces, we have new retainers.

Speaking of braces, Mr. Z will be getting upper braces after the first of the year. He also will be getting lower braces at some point, along with a Herbst device (look it up). His teeth are a mess and he might need surgery to correct everything that is wrong if the braces aren’t working.

Miss R is doing well. She was sent home from school on Monday because of a cold. She did have a Covid test and it was negative but I thought that she should stay home yesterday to get over it. She did go back today. Weird thing, though. The nurse told me that runny nose, congestion, and cough is also a side-effect of the Covid vaccine in kids her age (she got hers on Saturday). So I really don’t know if she had a small cold or a reaction to the shot.

So that’s it. I am hoping to read a couple more books off my TBR this week. I do have 3 reviews to write and will be working on those as soon as I publish this post. Look for them in the upcoming days!!


What I Recently Finished Reading:

Kasyapa is the bastard child of a king and a village girl. On his mother’s untimely death, he is plucked from his tiny village and brought to the royal palace. Shunned by his father, the king, this lonely little boy is raised by royal courtiers. As an adult he is sidelined, but fate intervenes. The villainous Migara, the chief of the army and Kasyapa’s nemesis, murders the king and implicates Kasyapa in this hideous crime. Even though his lowly birth denies him the right to the throne, Kasyapa must act to save the kingdom. What events unfold next that drives him to build Sigiriya and rule as a god-king?

This is also the story of Amira, a beautiful red-haired, blue-eyed girl, who is only twelve years old when her father sells her into slavery. At eighteen, she is traded for a hundred pearls and joins Kasyapa’s harem. Here, she is transformed into an alluring concubine. Amira soon infatuates the king with her stunning beauty, wide-eyed innocence and good heart.

Set fifteen hundred years ago and based on real people and events, Sigiriya is a hauntingly beautiful story of palace intrigue, passion, deceit, betrayal, and tragedy. It reminds us that little has changed over the centuries. Good and evil, love and hate, decency and cruelty are ever-present. But some, by the sheer strength of character and determination, rise above their stations and do great things.

This was a book that was out of my comfort zone for reading. I will say that I absolutely enjoyed reading it and learned so much about Indian culture during that time period. It was also beautifully written. I will be writing my review today and be on the lookout for it in the near future.


What I am currently reading:

Told by a tart-tongued young woman with a love of Bruce Springsteen, Lies in Bone is at once a mystery and coming-of-age tale fueled by dark secrets involving love, murder, and the truths worth lying for.

On Halloween 1963, eleven-year-old Chuck Coolidge and his brother Danny are lost in a toxic smog covering the steel town of Slippery Elm, Pennsylvania. When the smog lifts, half the town is sick and twenty people are dead. And Danny is missing.

Now, over twenty years later, Chuck’s teenage daughter Frank plots escape from this “busted and disgusted” town. When a murdered child is found in the river, investigators link the crime to the disappearance of Danny in ’63, and Frank’s life is turned upside down. In the face of her worst fears, she must uncover her family’s dark past if she wants to keep her sister Boots from the hands of The State. Led to discover the unimaginable truth about Danny’s disappearance, Lies in Bone culminates in a shocking eleventh-hour reveal and an emotionally charged finale.

I started Lies in Bone last night and so far I am liking it. I am hoping that it delivers on the blurb.


What books I think I’ll read next:

I know that I have a ton of books here. I am hoping to read at least 3 before next week’s WWW Wednesday. I am also hoping that some of these books are quick reads (which will make the list go down faster). All of these books are books that indie authors have approached me for reading and I am hoping to have their reviews up and published soon.

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

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

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

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

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?
In Transylvania’s History A to Z, a collection of 100-word stories sprinkled with breathtaking photographs, Patricia Furstenberg uses the confining rules of the 100-word story form to stirringly capture Transylvania, Romania’s historical and geographical region.

Transylvania’s unspoiled natural beauty, its tumultuous history, and the people who touched it are depicted in this book.
Written as snapshots, tall tales, and descriptive narratives, these 100-word stories are the espresso of creative writing.

A – Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1
Each 100 Words Story is followed by a brief historical reference

The unique beauty of a 100-word story is in the way the words are strung together, each one a gem, and in the spaces left between the words, and between the sentences. So much can be told, with little words. It is a challenge for the writer, and a thrill for the reader, as each time the tale is read, a new detail springs to mind.

“As an armchair historian, I love researching lost tales, traveling, exploring hidden corners, and unearthing new facts, forgotten characters, or hidden clues. I love to give them a voice and to bring them into the light in my tales. Be it people, animals, or the land and its architecture, no detail is too small, no voice is too soft. What was once overlooked now brings history alive in my historical or contemporary fiction books and short stories, such as the 100-Word Stories based on the history of Transylvania.” (Patricia Furstenberg)
Watch out, vampires! There’s a new girl in town!

Nicoleta has never taken a life before, but she will have to make her first kill soon. Typical of girls her age, her concerns are boys and college. But when she takes a trip to Romania with several of her classmates to celebrate graduating from high school, Nicoleta is going to discover who she really is. When Nicoleta learns that she is adopted and that her biological parents live in Romania, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Finding out that her birthright is hunting and killing vampires, Nicoleta has to decide if she will remain in Romania and fulfill her destiny or if she will return to America and try to forget about the nightmare of a world that she has been thrown into.


Adding to Nicoleta’s problems, a notorious vampire named Varujan has been waiting for Nicoleta’s arrival. Her parents are called voinicos because they survived being bitten by a vampire. By birth, a voinico’s child becomes a vampire hunter, also known as a vanator. Varujan has known that the voinico’s daughter would eventually return to Romania, and he is looking forward to meeting her and killing her. With his vampire mistress, Antanasia, Varujan seems unstoppable.

Is Nicoleta ready to face Varujan and Antanasia? The other vanators have been training to kill vampires since they were children. Will Nicoleta be able to catch up with her training and be ready for the battle that is inevitably coming? Can she keep herself and her friends safe, or will they become the vampires’ victims before their trip is over? Whatever happens, one thing is for sure. Nicoleta’s life is never going to be the same again!
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 it’s 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 point of views. Warnings include character overdose and mentions of child abuse.
When a young man’s world is turned upside down, some things become clear and others blurred. Jacob Schitz’s plain life in Florida quickly erupts into a series of drastic events as he navigates young adulthood and a bleak future. When the biker gang, The Panteras, enters his life as a third obstacle, he will begin to truly understand himself and the violent world of underground crime as their paths become intertwined.
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?
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.
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?
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
.
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.”

WWW Wednesday: October 27th 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:

Deliver us from evil…




Drowning in a meaningless existence flipping burger, Matthew Davis suddenly collapses from a powerful psychic connection he shares with his twin brother, Jake. The pain is violent and immediate, and Matt knows exactly what it means… hundreds of miles away, Jake has been viciously killed. But instead of severing their connection, the murder intensifies it and Matt begins to suffer the agony of Jake’s afterlife.




Hell-bent on solving Jake’s murder in order to break the connection, Matt travels to his troubled hometown of Hatchett, Nebraska, where an old lover and savage new enemies expose the festering wounds that Jake left behind.




Matt tries atoning for Jake’s sins, but when a demon infests the connection between the two brothers, Matt must find a way to sever their bond before his world, and ours, become engulfed in the flames of hell.

Our Trespasses was a genuinely creepy book which made it a perfect read right before Halloween!! I am slightly late with the review (slightly being an understatement) but I should have it up by tomorrow afternoon.


What I am currently reading:

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

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

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

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

I am liking this book but it took me a little while for the characters to grow on me. There is also a paranormal angle that took me by surprise. I don’t know why but it did.


What books I think I’ll read next:

What’s REALLY hiding in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Could it be The Tyrant King’s army of Darkbrands? Could it be more of Mr. Jones’s liaisons? Or could it be the solution to the problem vexing our favorite heroes? Whatever mystery it is, you can guarantee the boys from Georgia are sure to find themselves deep in the thick of it.
Told by a tart-tongued young woman with a love of Bruce Springsteen, Lies in Bone is at once a mystery and coming-of-age tale fueled by dark secrets involving love, murder, and the truths worth lying for.

On Halloween 1963, eleven-year-old Chuck Coolidge and his brother Danny are lost in a toxic smog covering the steel town of Slippery Elm, Pennsylvania. When the smog lifts, half the town is sick and twenty people are dead. And Danny is missing.

Now, over twenty years later, Chuck’s teenage daughter Frank plots escape from this “busted and disgusted” town. When a murdered child is found in the river, investigators link the crime to the disappearance of Danny in ’63, and Frank’s life is turned upside down. In the face of her worst fears, she must uncover her family’s dark past if she wants to keep her sister Boots from the hands of The State. Led to discover the unimaginable truth about Danny’s disappearance, Lies in Bone culminates in a shocking eleventh-hour reveal and an emotionally charged finale.
Lyrical and haunting, Hannah Capin’s I Am Margaret Moore is a paranormal thriller that tests the hold of sisterhood and truth.

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

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

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

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

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