Friday, February 26, 2021

Review: Bet The Farm

Staci Hart
Published February 23, 2021
Olivia Brent has one summer to save the dairy farm she just inherited.

But there’s one problem, and it’s not her lactose intolerance.

Jake Milovic.

The brooding farmhand has inherited exactly fifty percent of Brent Farm, and he’s so convinced the city girl can’t work the land, he bets she can’t save it in a summer.

Determined to prove him wrong, Olivia accepts what might be the dumbest wager of her life.

His strategy to win seems simple: follow her around, shirtlessly distracting her between bouts of relentless taunting. And it’s effective—if his dark eyes and rare smiles aren’t enough to sidetrack her, the sweaty, rolling topography of the manbeast’s body would do the trick.

What they don’t know: they’ll have to weather more than each other.

Mysterious circumstances throw the farm into disarray, and with the dairy farm in danger, Olivia and Jake have to work together. But when they do, there’s more to fear than either of them imagined.

Because now their hearts are on the line, and the farm won’t be the only casualty if they fail. - from Goodreads
Thank you to the author for providing me with a complimentary ARC of this book.  All thoughts are my own.
After her grandfather Frank's death, Olivia returns to the California dairy farm where he raised her.  She wants to help turn it around, but she'll have to deal with farmhand Jake, who inherited half the farm.  He wants her to leave, but she convinces him to give her one summer to prove herself.  Can they overcome their differences to save the farm (and maybe admit their growing attraction to each other)?

I have to admit, this story was less rom-com than I was expecting - don't get me wrong, there was witty banter and plenty of cute moments, especially involving some adorable animals.  But there was also a depth to the book that I appreciated.  Olivia feels guilty for leaving the farm (and her grandfather) years before to start a career in New York.  Jake owes so much to Frank, who was more than just a boss to him and helped him through some difficult periods in his life.  A desire to make Frank proud motivates both Olivia and Jake, and there were so many emotional moments as they explore their feelings about his death.

I loved both Jake and Olivia.  Olivia is the ideas girl - she has so many thoughts on how to help generate more income for the farm (I wish I could follow her Instagram!).  She can be a bit impulsive, but she's so optimistic and sunny; she wants to see the best in everyone.  Jake is quieter and more contemplative.  He can be rigid, but it comes from a place of trust and loyalty.  They balance each other out, even if they can't see it!  I was rooting for them from the beginning; their romance is a slow-burn one, but so satisfying.

Hart's writing is stellar as always; her descriptions paint such a vivid picture.  I loved the farm and small-town feeling surrounding it.  There are some really great side characters that helped round out the story.  Overall, if you love slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romances, cute farm animals, and small town settings, give Bet The Farm a try!

4 stars

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: People We Meet on Vacation

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Emily Henry
Expected publication date: May 11, 2021
With one week to win back the best friend she might just be in love with, a travel writer plans the trip of a lifetime in this sparkling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She's a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart--she's in New York City, and he's in their small hometown--but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven't spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she's stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together--lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong? - from Goodreads

I have to admit, I haven't read Henry's Beach Read yet, but this sounds like it's going to be amazing!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Blog Tour + Excerpt: Steal My Magnolia by Karla Sorensen

"Steal My Magnolia is more than a love story. It's a beautifully crafted journey of life full of obstacles but a journey worth the travel with the right person.” --Author Andrea Johnston 
Steal My Magnolia, an all-new heartwarming small-town romance from Karla Sorensen, is now available in Kindle Unlimited! 

Life lesson from Grady Buchanan: If you’re going to fall in love with the untouchable girl in town, don’t hire her as your only employee.

Even after he bungled the interview with Magnolia MacIntyre, he knew better than to hire her. The list of why it’s a bad idea is a long one.

Her father could ruin his fledgling business.

She is completely overqualified.

And he’s attracted to her.

What does Grady do? He offers her the job.

Magnolia knew better than to take it. Normally, she’d make the safe choice, and working for Grady is anything but.

He’s new in town–and entirely too charming.

Her dad will be furious.

She hates the outdoors and working for an outdoor adventure company is not exactly the right fit.

What does she do? She says yes on the spot.

Grady and Magnolia will have to prove to everyone in their life that they’re not crazy. And prove to each other that the list of why it’s a bad idea should be tossed out the window.

For these two opposites, sometimes doing the wrong thing is exactly right.

‘Steal My Magnolia’ is a full-length contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Book #3 in the Love At First Sight series, Green Valley Chronicles, Penny Reid Book Universe. 

Download your copy TODAY!

Amazon US:

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Add to Goodreads:

Start the Love at First Sight series of standalones!

Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Baking Me Crazy

Batter of Wits


"This is Grady."

There was silence on the other end. I pulled the phone away from my face to make sure I'd answered.

"Hello?" I said.

I heard a deep breath before she spoke. "Hi, I'm here, sorry."

My head tilted to the side when I heard her voice. It was soft and low with the curling accent that I'd gotten used to in the past month and a half. But it ... I shook my head ... something about it made the hairs lift slightly on my arms.

"Did you mean to call my number?" I asked carefully.

Inexplicably, I found myself holding my breath waiting for her to answer.

"I heard you're looking for help. Administrative help," she clarified.

My head went back. "Did you?"

She was quiet for a second. "Small town," she explained. "People talk."

I laughed under my breath. "So I'm learning."

It made me shake my head. The darknet had nothing on the Green Valley information pipeline. "So," I continued, "tell me a little bit about yourself."

"Of course." For the second time since I picked up, she let out an audible breath. "I have my BS in Business Administration, an MBA from Vanderbilt, and other than college, I've lived in Green Valley my whole life."

Scratching the side of my face, I glanced around at the horrific state of the office and tried to imagine someone with an MBA wanting anything to do with it. My face was bent in a grimace

"I've spent the past five years as an office administrator for my ..." She paused. "For a local business, and I'm looking to change things up. Fresh start."

I sat up slowly. "I can understand wanting a fresh start. That's why I'm here."

"I know. I, umm, I heard that. In town." She stumbled slightly over her words, and I smiled. "I'm not very outdoorsy, and I know that's what you'll be doing, but I'm the most organized person you'll ever meet. My label maker is my favorite accessory, and I have lists for my to-do lists. And I know every single business owner from here to Maryville."

I laughed. "You sound like you're already in your interview."

She laughed too, and I grimaced when my chest tightened. It caused a strong enough physical sensation that I glanced down at my body, like it was separate from me somehow.

"I can come in and fill out an application, if you'd like," she said.

I laughed under my breath. "If I had applications, I'd say yes." I glanced around the mess surrounding me. "But ... I'm not quite that prepared yet."

"That's also why you need someone who knows how to get an office up and running."

"That's true," I agreed. "Can you come in tomorrow so we can talk a little bit more? Since I don't have an application."

"That would be great," she said firmly. The stumbling was gone. I found myself wondering how old she was. What she looked like.

If I had a calendar, I would've glanced at it. But that was also buried in a stack of papers.

"How does nine sound? Do you need the address?"

"Sounds perfect," she answered. "And uh, no, thank you. I know where to find you."

I shook my head.

"Small town," we said in unison. She laughed, and my smile took up my whole damn face.

"Then I'll see you at nine tomorrow ..." My voice trailed off. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name. I'm still working on my Southern manners."

She laughed. My chest did that thing again. It wasn't the heavy press of panic. It was a lightening. A lifting of whatever pressure I'd been feeling before she called.

She spoke slowly, like she was thinking carefully about her answer. "You can call me Lia." 

About Karla Sorensen

Karla Sorensen has been an avid reader her entire life, preferring stories with a happily-ever-after over just about any other kind. And considering she has an entire line item in her budget for books, she realized it might just be cheaper to write her own stories. It doesn’t take much to keep her happy…a book, a really big glass of wine, and at least thirty minutes of complete silence every day. She still keeps her toes in the world of health care marketing, where she made her living pre-babies. Now she stays home, writing and mommy-ing full time (this translates to almost every day being a ‘pajama day’ at the Sorensen household…don’t judge). She lives in West Michigan with her husband, two exceptionally adorable sons and big, shaggy rescue dog.

Find Karla Sorensen online






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Monday, February 22, 2021

Down The TBR Hole #20

Down the TBR Hole is a feature created by Lost in a Story (although the blog seems to be down).  I've seen it on a few other blogs and thought I would try it out myself!  It seems like a really good way to cull your TBR of those books you're no longer interested in.  So, how does it work?

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
Here are the books I'm looking at this time:
The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman
To break a family curse that leaves second-born daughters without lasting love, a trio takes a journey across Italy.  A tour of Italy sounds perfect right now - keep!

In The Cauldron by Lew Paper
WWII nonfiction book that looks at the efforts of Joseph Grew, US ambassador to Japan, to broker peace between the two countries, in the time leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Fascinating and an angle I haven't explored before - keep!

Red Letter Days by Sarah-Jane Stratford
Two American women in London try to overcome the prejudices of the McCarthy-era 1950s. Interesting time period and I have a feeling these two women will be strong forces - keep!

Between Before & After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
A teenager worried about her mother's depression discovers a decades-old family secret.  This one just isn't grabbing me - pass!

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
A woman who longs to fit in finds companionship with two sisters, but she may be in over her head.  I know lots of people have loved this duo's thrillers, but they just don't really appeal to me.  Pass!
When a scientist finds a collection of love letters hidden on a remote island, it sets off a journey of discovery involving a woman committed to an asylum decades earlier.  I want to be interested in this, but for some reason I'm not - pass!

No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez
A good Samaritan tries to stop a fight between a man and a woman; the man tells her he will let her live if she lets the woman die.  Ok, this sounds so batsh*t crazy, I have to know what happens - keep!
Have you read any of these?

Friday, February 19, 2021

Try It, You Might Like It #11: Nordic Noir

"Try it, you might like it" - it's what someone says when they present you with some food you've never had before or your mom wants you to try on some clothes she picked out for you.  I'm using it here on the blog as inspiration to choose books in genres I don't normally read; to branch out from my reading comfort zones; and to maybe find some new favorites!  One of my goals this year is to bring this feature back, so here we go!
For this edition, I'm exploring Nordic Noir, sometimes also referred to as Scandi Noir or Scandinavian Noir.  It's a subgenre of crime fiction that's set in Scandinavian countries.  They are usually from the police's point of view and feature a troubled protagonist; the reader really gets to know the inner workings, memories, and feelings of the protagonist more they would in other mysteries or thrillers.  Nordic Noir books are often very atmospheric - bleak and ominous - and feature disturbing or violent cases.  I was inspired to try this genre when I came across this article on Book Riot - interestingly, I had one of the books on my TBR, so it worked out perfectly!
I read The Tenant by Katrine Engberg, originally published in 2016.  It's the first book in the Korner and Werner series.  Korner and Werner are two Danish police detectives whose most recent case involves a woman found murdered in her apartment, with a distinct pattern carved into her face.  They then discover that the victim's landlady is writing a murder mystery with the same premise and they work to discover what the connection is.  I've read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, but this definitely story definitely falls more into the crime fiction genre.  We follow the case along with the detectives, as the evidence is dissected and witnesses and suspects are interviewed.  Although there are twists and turns, there's not a ton of action or explosive scenes.  Engberg's writing, however, flows nicely and keeps the reader involved in the story.  We mainly follow detective Jeppe Worner; he's recently divorced and just returning to work after an injury.  He seems to have a love/hate relationship with his partner, Werner.

While there were a lot of the elements I was expecting from a Nordic Noir (police POV, troubled protagonist, disturbing case), one thing I was missing was the bleak atmosphere.  The story takes place over a few days in August, so it's bright, hot, and sunny in most scenes (although it does contrast nicely with some of the scenes in police headquarters).  However, I thought there were some great descriptions of Denmark, and Copenhagen in particular, so it was fun to kind of get a little tour of the area.  I think if the story had taken place in winter, it might have helped elevate the dark, creepy factor.  But, I did really enjoy this book - Nordic Noir is definitely a genre I would read again, and I would seek out more books from this series.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: One Last Stop

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Casey McQuiston
Expected publication date: June 1, 2021
For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don't exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can't imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there's certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there's this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August's day when she needed it most. August's subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there's one big problem: Jane doesn't just look like an old school punk rocker. She's literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it's time to start believing in some things, after all.

Casey McQuiston's One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time. - from Goodreads

The "girl lost in time" aspect of this story really appeals to me!  I want to know more about it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Mardi Gras Colors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is purple, yellow, and/or green book covers, in honor of Mardi Gras!  I put together a little collage with all three colors - is it just me, or are these some of the hardest colors to find on covers?

What did you find this week?