Friday, October 15, 2021

Blog Tour + Excerpt: Forrest For The Trees

 

Forrest for the Trees, an all new slow burn small town romance from Kilby Blades, is LIVE in Kindle Unlimited!

Forrest Winters isn’t just a federal fire marshal; he’s a thorn in Ranger Sierra Betts’s side. The way he swings his big axe, fixes her with his chameleon gray eyes, and talks about his jurisdiction has a way of breaking her concentration. He has a way of showing up everywhere he doesn’t belong, including Greenbrier Ranger Station. And he really needs to quit stealing her bacon bites.

When a series of suspicious fires, an underhanded co-worker, and a cagey Parks Police Chief threaten her job and the park itself, Sierra grudgingly agrees to partner with Forrest. Their side investigation may be her best shot at preventing the framing of an innocent man. But can his firefighting expertise and her detective skills lead them to the real arsonist before Forrest breaks her with his charm?

'Forrest for the Trees' is a full-length contemporary romance, can be read as a standalone and is book #1 in the Green Valley Heroes series, Green Valley Chronicles, Penny Reid Book Universe

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Audiobook: https://bit.ly/2YyfPG7

Excerpt

“Do you walk around with bacon in your pocket or something?” Sierra asked.

Forrest gave Everest a final rub and rose to his feet. “I reckon it’s just good, old-fashioned Southern charm.”

Reaching toward his face, he pushed up the temple of his sunglasses until they sat on top of his head. Forrest looked down at her, smirk on his face, as usual, having his fun. Only, for Sierra, there was nothing fun about the heat that rose to her ears every time his gaze set on her, clouding her thinking with his smoky eyes.

Forrest’s eyes weren’t just gray, and they weren’t “just eyes.” His gaze was penetrating and clear, with dark lashes that matched his dark hair. His irises were never the same, though whatever their hue at any given moment, a dark charcoal ring that looked like drawn pencil outlined the lighter color, adding intensity. Today they shone brightly—the color of wet shale—a stark difference from the last time she’d seen him. They’d turned dark, like slate, when he’d talked about the fires. There was something wondrous, and magical, and devastating about watching the way they changed.

“What are you doing in my neck of the woods?”

Forrest chuckled and crossed his arms. “Your woods again, huh?”

Sierra mirrored his posture. “‘Neck of the woods’ is a Southernism. I know how y’all like your sayings.”

He laughed again, his voice rich and deep—another thing about him she had the bad habit of replaying in her mind.

“Better than a pig likes slop.” Forrest’s eyes twinkled.

It made Sierra grateful for her own sunglasses—windows to her soul, and all. She didn’t want to think what Forrest might notice if he really saw her then. He would never stop gloating if he knew of her susceptibility to his allure.

“You never said what you were doing here,” she pointed out.

“Following up on some potential fire hazards. Just being vigilant. You know how it is …”

Sierra nodded. “I do.”

“I was just down at the ranger station …” he began haltingly. “I wanted to thank you for what you left me—you know, my fire marshal snacks.”

Sierra bit her lip against her own smile. “You liked that, huh?”

“Not just me. The guys thought it was pretty funny.”

“You told me you could read, so I figured …” She trailed off innocently, and shrugged.

After their last conversation and his repeated, willful ignorance of her Tupperware marked specifically as being “Ranger Snacks,” she’d brought in a smaller Tupperware labeled “Fire Marshal Snacks.”

“Sad thing is, a different fire marshal must’ve beat me to it,” he continued. “Imagine my disappointment when I opened the container and it was empty.”

“Oh, no!” She feigned shock. “What did you do?”

“Picked up the phone and called Ed Ellis. Asked him to put out an APB to track down whoever had my bites.”

“Then you helped yourself to the ranger bites, I’m guessing.”

He made a production out of looking distraught. “They’re not as good as fire marshal bites, but I had no choice.”

He didn’t take his gaze off of her. When heat rose again in her ears, she knew she had to go. Plus, if she didn’t get moving, she really would be late.

“Nice to see you, Marshal Winters.”

His smirk melted into a half-smile. “Always a pleasure, Ranger Betts.”

About Kilby Blades

Kilby Blades is a USA Today Bestselling author of Romance and Women's Fiction. Her debut novel, Snapdragon, was a HOLT Medallion finalist, a Publisher's Weekly BookLife Prize Semi-Finalist, and an IPPY Award medalist. Kilby was honored with an RSJ Emma Award for Best Debut Author in 2018, and has been lauded by critics for "easing feminism and equality into her novels" (IndieReader) and "writing characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal" (Publisher's Weekly).

During her career as a digital marketing executive, she moonlighted as a journalist, freelanced as a food, wine and travel writer and lived it up as an entertainment columnist. She has lived in five countries, visited more than twenty-five, and spends part of her year in her happy place in the Andes Mountains. Kilby is a feminist, an oenophile, a cinephile, a social-justice fighter, and above all else, a glutton for a good story. Follow her everywhere @kilbyblades.

Find Kilby Blades online

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kilbybladesauthor 

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Blog Tour + Review: A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale

Thank you to Trish Collins at TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale by Karen Schaler!  I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
 
A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale
Karen Schaler
Published October 5, 2021
From "A holiday publishing darling" (Entertainment Weekly) and Emmy Award-winning writer of Netflix's hit rom-com A Christmas Prince comes this heartwarming, feel-good Christmas romance about the power of believing in yourself to find your happily ever after...

A charming Christmas village, a storybook castle, a royal ball, and a gorgeous prince are the last things New York City reporter Kaylie Karlyle expects to find on her holiday freelance assignment to Europe. But when the family she's interviewing turns out to be the royal family of Tolvania, Kaylie has a meltdown when the quirky queen wants her to write a Christmas fairy tale for the spunky, young princess. Kaylie must battle the princess's father, who doesn't trust the media, and her own insecurities about writing anything beyond the news.

To spark inspiration for the fairy tale, the queen recruits the prickly Prince Alexander to show Kaylie the family's most spectacular royal holiday traditions. And sparks definitely fly when the only thing Kaylie and the prince agree on is that they're both more "bah humbug" than "ho, ho, ho."

But somewhere between sleigh rides and snow angels, merrymaking and mistletoe, upside-down Christmas trees, and a legendary Christmas crown, Kaylie and the prince open their hearts to Christmas and start believing in themselves and each other. It's a real-life fairy tale in the making until Kaylie discovers a secret about a royal Christmas heirloom that jeopardizes everyone's happily ever after. Can the magic of the season save this holiday happy ending? - from Goodreads
Just before Christmas, investigative reporter Kaylie is given the opportunity to travel to Europe and write a feature story about one family's Christmas traditions.  When she arrives, she's stunned to find out that the family is actually the royal family of a small country, and the queen also wants her to write a fairy tale for her granddaughter, the princess.  As the prince shows her around, Kaylie begins to realize things about her life, love, and the Christmas season.

I've only started reading holiday-themed books in the last couple years, so coupled with the royalty tie-in (which is something I can never resist!), I was really excited to read this book, and Karen Schaler has delivered a sweet and heartfelt Christmas story.

Kaylie has a picture in her head of how she wants her life to go - concentrate on her career now and the rest will fall into place later.  Her family isn't big on celebrating Christmas, so she always offers to work the holiday, and this year she is off to Tolvania to interview the royal family.  I loved Kaylie's commitment to her career, but it was also nice to see her start to consider other options as she gets to know the royal family and their traditions.  Prince Alex is her guide, and I admired the way he protected his family.  They suffered a tragic loss a few years ago and seem to have lost their Christmas spirit.  He's also, understandably, wary of the press, and sometimes Kaylie's actions made him wonder about her motives.

This book had so much Christmas spirit!  I loved learning about all the traditions of the small country.  Upside down Christmas trees, a Christmas crown, cookies, and singing - there were just so many!  Reading this story would definitely get someone into the spirit of the season.

Although a bit slow-moving and predictable (maybe even a little cheesy) at times, this book really encompasses what I enjoy about holiday-themed books - it's sweet, charming, and uplifting, and the light royal romance is a nice addition!

4 stars
 
Goodreads:



Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Thriftbooks

Author Links: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube
 



Monday, October 11, 2021

Blog Tour + Review: Today's Wonder Women

Thank you to Trish Collins at TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for Today's Wonder Women by Asha Dahya!  I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
 
Asha Dahya
Published March 18, 2020
Meet the women and female-identifying heroes who have defied death, flouted cultural norms, and risen above poverty to become CEOs, entrepreneurs, activists, role models, media moguls, and movement creators. This collection of stories, essays, and interviews celebrates their superpowers: love, determination, vision, and grit. These 50 women share their wisdom and advice in ways that will inspire you to discover your own superpower. 
Each story will transport you into the life and perspective of one who dares to challenge the status quo, dismantle barriers, and empower those around her: Alexa Carlin, a CEO at the age of 17, overcame a 1% chance of surviving sepsis and started the Women Empowerment Expo; Mariah Hanson launched "the Dinah," the world's largest party and music festival for lesbians; activist and gun control advocate Shira Tarantino founded the ENOUGH Campaign; Laverne Delgado is program director of Fashion & Freedom, which rescues victims of sex trafficking and helps them learn skills to enter the fashion industry; plus dozens of other women who refused to accept societal limitations and whose achievements offer inspiring lessons for us all. - from Goodreads
In Today's Wonder Women, Asha Dahya has compiled the stories of 50 ordinary, yet extraordinary women and female-identifying heroes who are working every day to change the world.  This inspiring collection proves that no matter where you come from, you have the capacity to make waves and do good, and that women supporting and empowering women can make a huge difference in our world.

The book is divided into sections - women in leadership, activists, women in the arts, those who defy the odds, entrepreneurs, women fighting the system, women disrupting the status quo, and next generation women.  Many women could easily fit in more than one category, but it was a nice arrangement.  Some of the stories are set up as interviews (I particularly liked when many were asked what makes them a powerful women) and others as short essays.

The diversity in the book is really amazing.  These women are from all walks of life - they come from different backgrounds, countries, races, sexual orientations, and ages.  Some have overcome poverty or other extremely difficult childhoods; others are using their own experiences with disabilities to fight for others.  I especially enjoyed the section on the next-generation women - it really showed that you're never too young to make a difference in your community.

The causes these women champion and support also really run the gamut, so there is sure to be something relatable to all readers.  From women working in STEM; to those fighting against sex trafficking and child marriage; to those working for LQBTQ rights; to those working for climate change; even comic book writers who seek to give a platform to female creators.  

The stories are easy to read yet very thought-provoking, and the book is beautifully put together and well-edited.  I would highly recommend this collection of inspiring stories!

4.5 stars
 
Goodreads:

Purchase Links: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website, Instagram, and Twitter
 



Friday, October 8, 2021

Try It, You Might Like It #12: Dark Romance

"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!
 
Basically since the pandemic began, I've found myself drawn to romances more than normal.  I don't know if it's the happily ever afters or the generally light tone, but I've really been enjoying them.  For this edition, I've decided to branch out beyond the contemporary romances I've been reading and try a new-to-me sub-genre - dark romance.  Dark romance is - no surprise - romances with darker themes, morally grey characters, and/or dangerous situations.  These books often come with content warnings because they can explore triggering topics such as kidnapping, captivity, BDSM, abuse, and dark fantasies.  These are definitely for adults only.  One of my favorite book bloggers, Stephanie at Bookfever, has mentioned Pepper Winters as one of her go-to dark romance writers, so I decided to try out her 2020 novel Once a Myth.
 
Eleanor is backpacking with her new boyfriend when she is kidnapped by sex traffickers.  She is purchased by Sully Sinclair, a man who owns an island that caters to even the most extreme fantasies.  While Sully normally doesn't partake of his own "goddesses," for some reason Eleanor intrigues him and he finds himself jealous that she'll be with the other guests instead of him.  I also found myself intrigued by Eleanor - the way she is able to remain mostly clear-headed about her situation, showing a strength that most people couldn't.  Although she lashes out a few times, it's understandable considering the horrific circumstances she finds herself in. It was Sully I had the most issues with it.  I understand that he's not going to be a perfect character, but I really found him to be pretty despicable.  I feel like Winters tried to add minor elements to humanize him and balance his dark side, but for me they didn't work.  At the end of the day, he still feels justified buying women and forcing them into sex work.  His feelings toward Eleanor included too many descriptions of using her and destroying her.

The pacing of the book didn't work for me.  It's a relatively short book that takes place over only a few days, but it felt like nothing really happened.  Eleanor learns more about her new home, and she and Sully dance around each other, but many scenes felt so dragged out at the expense of moving the plot forward.  This is just the first book in the series, so I'm guessing this was a set-up to establish the characters and world, and the action will ramp up in later books.  There are plenty of steamy scenes, although less actual sex than I was expecting and they were twinged with violence.  I did enjoy the writing, however.  I think Winters did a great job elevating what could easily devolve into something too simplistic and base, and I was really able to get inside Eleanor and Sully's heads.  Although I can see the appeal of this genre, I think the violence and grit was a bit too much for me!

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Never Fall for Your Fiancée

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Virginia Heath
Expected publication date: November 9, 2021 
The first in a new historical rom-com series, a handsome earl hires a fake fiancée to keep his matchmaking mother at bay, but hilarity ensues when love threatens to complicate everything.

The last thing Hugh Standish, Earl of Fareham, ever wants is a wife. Unfortunately for him, his mother is determined to find him one, even from across the other side of the ocean. So, Hugh invents a fake fiancée to keep his mother’s matchmaking ways at bay. But when Hugh learns his interfering mother is on a ship bound for England, he realizes his complicated, convoluted but convenient ruse is about to implode. Until he collides with a beautiful woman, who might just be the miracle he needs.

Minerva Merriwell has had to struggle to support herself and her two younger sisters ever since their feckless father abandoned them. Work as a woodcut engraver is few and far between, and the Merriwell sisters are nearly penniless. So, when Hugh asks Minerva to pose as his fiancée while his mother is visiting, she knows that while the scheme sounds ludicrous, the offer is too good to pass up.

Once Minerva and her sisters arrive at Hugh's estate, of course, nothing goes according to his meticulous plan. As hilarity and miscommunication ensue, while everyone tries to keep their tangled stories straight, Hugh and Minerva’s fake engagement starts to turn into a real romance. But can they trust each other, when their relationship started with a lie? - from Goodreads

This had me at historical rom-com!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Pet Peeves

 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is bookish pet peeves.  I think I've done this topic before, so this will be a mix of old pet peeves with some new ones!
 
  1. Synopses that don't give an accurate description of the book:  I hate when I start reading a book, thinking it's about one thing, and I get something completely different.  This seems to be happening a lot lately with the romances I'm reading - I think it's going to be light/fluffy/funny, and it's anything but!
  2. Long paragraphs/chapters: If a paragraph is too long, I'm likely going to skim it.  I like details, but breaking it up with some dialogue or into smaller paragraphs is just easier to read.  Also, it's a quirk, but I usually look ahead to see how long a chapter is before I start it.  I don't like stopping in the middle, so long chapters are kind of a bummer.
  3. People who are not careful with their books:  I try to keep my books in good condition, so it irks me when I lend a book to someone and I get it back with folded pages, ripped covers, or broken spines, or I don't get it back at all and have to buy a new one!
  4. Quick or convenient endings: Some books have so much going on and then, all of a sudden, they just end.  If I've invested all this time in a book, I want a satisfying ending!  Not one that ties up all the plot lines in a page or two, in ways that make it seem like the author was taking the easy way out, ran out of ideas, or hit their page limit.
  5. Perfect characters: Perfect people don't exist - when a character is beautiful/handsome, and smart, and successful, and kind, etc., it just makes me want to roll my eyes.
  6. Ugly book covers:  I'm gonna be honest, I totally judge books by their covers, so if the cover is too garish, inappropriate, or cheap-looking, I probably won't even take the time to see what the book is about.
  7. Starred reviews on Goodreads before a book is even released: I'm not talking about people who have ARCs and review the book early, but those people who rate a book before they've even read it, or when the cover or blurb comes out.  It's okay to say you're excited, but giving a 5-star review for a book you haven't even seen yet is so misleading!  And don't get me started on people who leave 1-star reviews just because they don't like the blurb or have some issue with the author. 
  8. Unrealistic dialogue: Sometimes characters give long monologues or just way too much detail in their dialogue, and I don't think people talk that way in real life!
  9. Overused phrases: There are just some phrases that so many authors seem to use - "fiercely independent" is one that comes to mind.  Another is "massive curls" to describe someone's hair - I feel like I don't know THAT many people with curly hair, yet they seem to pop up in every book I read, and it's always described the same way.
  10. Poorly edited books: OMG, typos!  I can't stand typos, and if a character's name is spelled two different ways on the same page, that's a big problem.  Let's be real, I make mistakes all the time in my posts, but this is not a published book that someone will spend money on!
Now that I've gotten all my crankiness out, what are some of your pet peeves? 

Friday, October 1, 2021

Month in Review: September 2021

 
So September started with Hurricane Ida coming through our area.  We got a lot of rain and wind, and tornado warnings were going off constantly.  The main road into our development was completely flooded, which was so terrible for the houses and businesses down there.  My mom lives about a mile away from us, and her basement flooded just from the amount of water coming up from the ground.  Thankfully, things are getting cleaned up.

We spent Labor Day at one of my brother's houses.  The kids got to play with a lot of water activities while the adults chatted.  Work has been fairly quiet this month. I'm still working from home.  The partners and management haven't really said anything further about the reopening plan for the office, so I'm not quite sure what's going on there.  Tom is scheduled to go back full time in mid-October, and it'll be weird not having him here all day with me!

My mom and sister threw us the cutest baby shower at the end of the month.  I'm currently 31 weeks (about 7 months) pregnant with our baby boy.  It's crazy to think he will be here before the end of the year - I feel like we still have so much to do!


The Books
 
 
 
 
 
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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Diana Gabaldon
Expected publication date: November 23, 2021
The past may seem the safest place to be . . . but it is the most dangerous time to be alive. . . .

Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall were torn apart by the Jacobite Rising in 1743, and it took them twenty years to find each other again. Now the American Revolution threatens to do the same.

It is 1779 and Claire and Jamie are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children on Fraser’s Ridge. Having the family together is a dream the Frasers had thought impossible.

Yet even in the North Carolina backcountry, the effects of war are being felt. Tensions in the Colonies are great and local feelings run hot enough to boil Hell’s tea-kettle. Jamie knows loyalties among his tenants are split and it won’t be long until the war is on his doorstep.

Brianna and Roger have their own worry: that the dangers that provoked their escape from the twentieth century might catch up to them. Sometimes they question whether risking the perils of the 1700s—among them disease, starvation, and an impending war—was indeed the safer choice for their family.

Not so far away, young William Ransom is still coming to terms with the discovery of his true father’s identity—and thus his own—and Lord John Grey has reconciliations to make, and dangers to meet . . . on his son’s behalf, and his own.

Meanwhile, the Revolutionary War creeps ever closer to Fraser’s Ridge. And with the family finally together, Jamie and Claire have more at stake than ever before. - from Goodreads

Finally, more Jamie and Claire - yes, please!

Friday, September 24, 2021

Quick Reviews

Jane in Love by Rachel Givney (2020)
 
After a visit to a matchmaker/witch, Jane Austen finds herself time traveling to the 21st century, where she meets actress Sofia and her brother Fred.  As feelings bloom between her and Fred and her return to 1803 is put off, she is horrified to find that her books are disappearing from existence.  In the end, she'll have to choose between true love and her literary legacy.  I thought this was a delightful, charming read!  I loved watching Jane's reaction to finding out her books are famous classics and how she navigates living in a new century.  Although I felt that some of Sofia's dialogue was really stilted and awkward, I also enjoyed her secondary storyline of being an aging actress who was recently left by her director husband.  Even though the book is rather long, it never felt that way - the pacing was excellent, and I found myself wanting to read on and find out what fate Jane chose.  I really felt for her - either way she had to give up something precious, the writing she loved so much or the love she never thought she would find. Very entertaining and a great addition to the time travel romance genre!  4 stars

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle (2021)
 
Maybell is surprised to find out that her great-aunt Violet has passed away and left Maybell her grand Tennessee estate.  Then she finds out she has to share her inheritance with Violet's groundskeeper, Wesley, and they have very different visions for the property.  I really loved Hogle's last book, so I was very much looking forward to this one, but I was so disappointed - it felt like another author completely.  Maybell has not had an easy life with her flake of a mother, but the one glorious summer she spent with Violet as a child always remained in her mind.  She's excited for the opportunity to start over.  Wesley didn't pop for me as a character very much.  He's so rude to Maybell at the beginning, but once it's revealed why he behaves the way he does, his personality does a 180 and he becomes this clingy, overly cutesy admirer.  With the way he was constantly reminding Maybell to stay hydrated and tying her shoes for her, he felt more like a mother than a love interest.  I liked watching them restore the manor to its former glory, but that was about it.  Hogle's previous book was fun and relatable, but this book had no depth.  It was just saccharine insta-love.  Even when it tried to be serious about mental health issues, it still failed for me.  Maybell's daydreams felt dangerous, not cute - she could lose hours in them, including one time she literally got lost in the woods in bear country.  2 stars


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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Homecoming King

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Penny Reid
Expected publication date: December 14, 2021
Rex "TW" McMurtry’s perpetual single-hood wouldn't bother him so much if all his ex-girlfriends didn't keep marrying the very next person they dated, especially when so many of those grooms are his closest friends. He may be a pro-football defensive end for the Chicago Squalls, but the press only wants to talk about how he's always a groomsman and never a groom. Rex is sick of being the guy before the husband, and he’s most definitely sick of being the best man at all their weddings.

Bartender Abigail McNerny is the gal-pal, the wing-woman, the she-BFF. She's dated. Once. And once was more than enough. Privy to all the sad stories of her customers, ‘contentment over commitment’ is her motto, and Abby is convinced no one on earth could ever entice her into a romantic relationship . . . except that one guy she’s loved since preschool.

The guy who just walked into her bar.

The guy who doesn’t recognize her.

The guy who is drunk and needs a ride home.

The guy who has a proposition she should definitely refuse. - from Goodreads

I'm always up for a good romance!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our fall TBR!  From my summer TBR, I read 9 books and DNFed just one, so that was pretty good!  I'm going to stick to my strategy of focusing mostly on books I already own.  Here are the books I'm hoping to get to this fall:

Where should I start first?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Blog Tour + Review: Kicking Ass in a Corset

Thank you to Trish Collins at TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for Kicking Ass in a Corset by Andrea Kayne!  I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
 
Andrea Kayne
Published September 15, 2021
What can organizational leaders in business, education, government, and most any enterprise learn from an unemployed, unmarried woman who lived in patriarchal, misogynistic rural England more than 200 years ago? As it turns out, a great deal. In identifying the core virtues of Austen’s heroines—confidence, pragmatism, diligence, integrity, playfulness, and humility—Andrea Kayne uncovers the six principles of internally referenced leadership that, taken together, instruct women how to tap into a deep well-spring of personal agency and an internal locus of control no matter what is going on around them. Utilizing practical exercises, real-life case studies, and literary and leadership scholarship, Kicking Ass in a Corset maps out effective leadership that teaches readers how to tune out the external noise and listen to themselves so that they can truly live and lead from the inside out. - from Goodreads
I'm not generally one for books about leadership, but I was really interested in finding out how author and professor Andrea Kayne could apply the writings of Jane Austen to a modern leadership style.  Using Austen's heroines, Kayne has identified six core personal characteristics that women can use to become better leaders.

It might seem a little unorthodox to look at books written 200 years ago by an unmarried woman and build a leadership style around them, but the values Kayne has pulled from the books are timeless.  Confidence, logic/practicality, diligence, integrity, playfulness, and humility - these are the traits Kayne has identified in Austen's heroines that became the tenets of her internally referenced leadership style, which focuses on using your inner strength and values, instead of outside forces, to inform how you act as a leader. 

Each chapter is devoted to a different character and uses quotes from the texts and various analyses of Austen's writings to describe how the trait exemplified by the character can contribute to being a better leader.  Although sometimes the jargon got a little overwhelming, for the most part the writing is succinct and accessible.  Kayne also incorporates the stories of real women who either embody these traits or were able to learn them, showing the real-world applications of her theories.

Even if you're not necessarily interested in becoming a better leader, I think this book would still be interesting.  For Jane Austen fans, it's intriguing to see how her books are still relevant today and how her characters can inspire women from all walks of life.  The six traits identified by Kayne can also be a starting point for people looking to make personal growth and help them better react to situations in their own lives. 

4 stars

Purchase Links: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website, Instagram, and Twitter




Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Just Haven't Met You Yet

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Sophie Cousens
Expected publication date: November 9, 2021
From the New York Times bestselling author of This Time Next Year comes a heartwarming and hilarious tale that asks: What if you pick up the wrong suitcase in an airport, only to fall head over heels for its unseen owner?

Laura's business trip to the Channel Islands isn't exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she's ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she's grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura's dream man--she's sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him.

The mix-up seems written in the stars. After all, what are the odds that she'd find The One on the same remote island where her mom and dad had first fallen in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their epic romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like her best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents' footsteps. And if beneath Ted's gruffness lies a wit that makes their cab rides strangely entertaining, so much the better. But as Laura's long-lost luggage soulmate proves difficult to find--and as she realizes that the love story she's held on a pedestal all her life might not have been that perfect--she'll have to rethink her whole outlook on love to discover what she really wants. - from Goodreads

This sounds so sweet and charming!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Guest Blogger: Musings on Author Worlds


My sister Michele is back again with another guest post!  This time she's talking about author worlds.  I'll be honest, this is something I didn't even know existed until she introduced me to them!  But, it's such a cool concept and I love the idea of exploring an already-established bookish world in more depth.

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A newer trend in publishing is the concept of author “worlds,” series of books connected to an author’s original work, written by a separate group of authors. Three main worlds that I follow are:

  1. Penny Reid’s Smartypants Romance Universe. These series are based off of a number of Penny Reid’s works, including the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City. Readers can spend time in the Green Valley Library, the Donner Bakery and the Cipher offices, among many others.

  2. Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. These books are offshoots of Sarina Bowen’s True North series and we get to learn more about the characters at the local university, coffee shop, taproom and bookstore/wine bar.

  3. Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s Cocky Hero Club. All of the books in this world are related to the duo’s Cocky Bastard series.

Author worlds are great for a lot of reasons. Have you ever gotten to the end of a series and lamented the fact that you don’t get to hang out with those characters anymore? In these worlds, those original characters often show up – they aren’t main characters but we do often get interaction with them! Because the books in these series are written by different authors, readers are exposed to new writers and can find some amazing new people to follow. I’ve discovered so many new-to-me authors through these worlds and their work can be really great.


What do you think about author worlds? Do you follow any?

Friday, September 10, 2021

Quick Reviews

The Rehearsals by Annette Christie (2021)
 
Tom and Megan have been together for 12 years, but all it takes is one disastrous night at their rehearsal dinner for them to call it all off.  The next morning, they wake up in a time loop and wonder how they'll get out of it, or if they'll be stuck in one of the worst days of their lives forever.  Other reviews and blurbs led me to believe this would be a funny, lighthearted, sweet romance; unfortunately, it was anything but.  The day before their wedding, Tom and Megan each find out a secret that the other has been keeping.  To me, each of these secrets could, and maybe should, have been a major dealbreaker, so I almost felt right from the beginning that I couldn't root for these two to find a way back to each other.  It would just involve way too much compromise or unrealistic forgiveness.  The story felt so heavy, as the characters face major issues about themselves and their relationship.  I didn't mind that there were heavy, relatable issues, but I felt kind of mislead.  The writing was good, and I actually kind of liked the open ending, but I can't get past some of the major plot issues.  3 stars

Get Lucky by Lila Monroe (2016)

Romance author Julia and divorce lawyer Nate wake up naked in bed together in Las Vegas with no memory of how they got there.  What happens next is a hilarious, hijink-filled story of how two people found what they really needed.  I've read a couple of Lila Monroe's books, and I just can't scream about them enough.  The writing is so fun, witty, and quick-moving - the story just grabs you and never lets go.  Even though it's a fairly short novel, Julia and Nate are well-rounded characters - Nate is more stoic and realistic, while Julia has this wonderful positive attitude.  I loved watching them work together (and with their great group of friends) to figure out what they did the night before (The Hangover-style) and realizing that their first impressions of each other might not have been totally accurate.  This book is full of banter, heart, and steam - if you're like me, you'll finish this book wishing it was longer!  4.5 stars

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Heard It In A Love Song

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Tracey Garvis Graves
Expected publication date: November 2, 2021
From the bestselling author of The Girl He Used to Know comes a love song of a story about starting over and second chances.

Love doesn’t always wait until you’re ready.

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 Goodreads

I think this is going to be a really relatable story for a lot of readers!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Romance Quick Reviews: The Men in Suits Edition

The Invitation by Vi Keeland (2021)

Stella meets Hudson when she crashes his sister's wedding - their chemistry is great, until he realizes she's not who she says she is.  Their paths cross again as Stella tries to get her business off the ground - but can they overcome their disastrous first meeting?  I loved the "women in business" aspect of the story.  I really felt Stella's passion for her custom perfume business and the work that goes into starting a business and taking on investors.  Once some difficulties were overcome, I thought the romance was sweet - I've never read this author before, but for some reason I was expecting a bit more heat.  I liked that Hudson had a well-rounded backstory and those family issues added to the story, but there were a few too many coincidences that helped move the story along.  It was a little difficult to believe at times.  4 stars

Hot Asset by Lauren Layne (2018)
 
Ian is a hotshot Wall Street investor, and Lara is the SEC agent assigned to investigate him for insider trading.  He swears he's innocent, but Lara knows cracking this case is her chance to impress her boss and may be her ticket to the FBI, her lifelong dream.  What they don't count on is their feelings for each other.  I thought this was a great read.  I loved Lara's devotion to her job, but also her devotion to the truth when something didn't seem right.  Her desire to take that next step in her career was really refreshing.  Ian had a great backstory: he basically came from nothing and made a huge success of himself.  Even though he's typically not a relationship guy, he really changes once he meets Lara.  Watching them fight their feelings for each other was really fun, as their chemistry was undeniable.  Great romance, some drama with the SEC investigation, and a cast of incredible secondary characters really made this a well-rounded story!  4 stars


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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Month in Review: August 2021

 
August was a busy month! We took a much-anticipated vacation to Wildwood, NJ.  My sister invited us along on her family vacation, which was very generous of her!  We had a great time walking the boardwalk, spending time at Cape May Point State Park, going to the Cape May County Zoo, and going mini-golfing (I finally beat Tom!).  The weather was beautiful - low humidity and not too hot.  Of course I also had to visit two bookstores while we were there!  In our downtime, we watched the Olympics and I spent a lot of time drawing with our niece.

We went to the movies twice, to see The Suicide Squad and Jungle Cruise - the theaters were pretty much empty each time we went, so that was nice.  Tom's birthday was this month, and he chose mini-golf as the activity (probably to get revenge for me beating him earlier in the month).  There's actually a place by us that has two 18-hole courses, so we did one course and will save the other one for another time.  He won this time!

My company is working on a hybrid reopening plan for mid-September, although with the way COVID cases are rising in our state, I'm not sure it will actually happen.  They are looking to have people in the office a little bit more, but still allow working from home.  I went to the office one day this month to conduct some trainings, and it worked out that Tom was working down in the area the same day, so we were able to carpool.  For a few weeks now, Tom has been going into work a couple days a week, although his full reopening has been pushed back to mid-October.


The Books
 
 
 
 
 
The Posts and Reviews
 
 
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