Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Comfort Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is comfort reads.  For this one, I perused my shelves for those books I keep going back to, time and time again.  I love these stories and I'll never get tired of them.

What are your comfort reads?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Upgrade

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Blake Crouch
Expected publication date: July 12, 2022
Logan Ramsay is about to get the brain he always dreamed of. But will he be transformed into something more than human…or something less? The mind-blowing new thriller from the 'New York Times' best-selling author of 'Dark Matter' and 'Recursion'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what if it’s at the cost of being himself?
  - from Goodreads

Monday, May 23, 2022

Romance Quick Reviews

Book Smart (Work For It #3) by Amanda Pennington (2022)

Melanie is stuck in a college tutoring job, but she has dreams of writing a book someday... and hopefully finding true love.  What she doesn't know is that her best friend Cameron has been in love with her for years.  Melanie's inspiration for her book is a list of dating advice from the 1950s, and with Cameron as her wingman, she tries out the old advice in a modern setting.  Will the list help Melanie find love, and will Cameron find the courage to finally tell her how he feels?  Guys, this book was just delightful!  This is a clean, sweet, friends-to-more romance, so I want to be upfront that there are no spicy scenes, but I didn't miss them!  I was laughing at the text chains between Mel, Cameron, and their friend Ivy from the first page, and I loved getting to know Mel and Cameron, with chapters from both their points of view.  Pennington does such a great job at creating this friendship between Mel and Cameron and explaining why they've never gone beyond it (even though they've both wanted to!).  Richly drawn characters, a fun college workplace setting, and writing that reads effortlessly across the page - so much to love here!  4.5 stars

Smart Mouth (Work For It #4) by Emma Lee Jayne (2022)
Gwen is a scientist about to get her Ph.D.  Tom is the twin brother of her best friend and a famous pop star.  They have a bit of a complicated history, but Tom is not about to let her get away again.  I thought this was a good read, although not my favorite of the series.  I wasn't crazy about Tom at the beginning; he seemed a little too gruff for me, but as the story went on and he was around Gwen more often, he really softened up.  I liked the unexpected take on the boy band/pop star background.  Gwen was sweet, although a little too stereotypical "I'm smart therefore I'm socially awkward."  I have to admit, I'm having a hard time nailing down what the plot of this book was - Tom has loved Gwen for years, but she doesn't know; he's going to teach her how to date; she might want to be with him, but she's not convinced it could work?  I think this is more a "me" problem and the state of mind I was in while reading this.  I did enjoy the other threads of the story and thought they could have been expanded upon (Tom's bandmates, his issues with his twin brother).  3.5 stars

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Expected publication date: July 19, 2022
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night comes a dreamy reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico.

Carlota Moreau: a young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of either a genius, or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: a melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: the fruits of the Doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them living in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite. - from Goodreads


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was Excited To Get But Haven't Read Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is books we were so excited to get but still haven't read.  I have quite a few books on my Kindle that I was (and still am) excited to read, but just haven't gotten to yet:
Beauty and the Mustache - acquired March 20, 2021
Hard to Handle - acquired March 4, 2021
Before the Crown - acquired February 26, 2021

Of Ink and Sea - acquired January 22, 2021
Tempt Me - acquired November 11, 2020
The Emerald Affair - acquired August 24, 2020

The Chase - acquired May 26, 2020
Southern Rain - acquired December 26, 2019
 What books have been sitting on your Kindle the longest?

Monday, May 16, 2022

Blog Tour + Excerpt: Neanderthal Seeks Duchess

“Full of all the swoons, a dash of mystery, and punches of humor, you are going to fall head over heels with Neanderthal Seeks Duchess." - Catherine Cowles, author of Tattered Stars

Neanderthal Seeks Duchess, an all-new charming historical romance from debut author Laney Hatcher, is available now in Kindle Unlimited! Laney introduces readers to Smartypants Romance’s new and exciting Out of This World imprint with her Penny Reid universe re-imagining.

There are three things you need to know about Lady Jane Morrison:

1. She frequently finds herself the talk of the ton and for all the wrong reasons.

2. A dashingly mysterious gentleman has caught her attention and even more dangerous...she has caught his. 

3. She’s rubbish at embroidery. 

After scandalous events during the London season, Lady Jane is attracting the wrong kind of attention. Her reputation is at risk as well as all her carefully laid plans for the future. And for better or worse, a chance encounter with a mysterious lord sets forth a series of events that will change their lives forever.  

‘Neanderthal Seeks Duchess’, a Penny Reid Universe Reimagining, is a full-length historical romance, can be read as a standalone, and is book #1 in the London Ladies Embroidery series, Smartypants Romance Out of this World, Penny Reid Book Universe. 

Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3h0HoOb

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3ByTl7t

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3I0hWo6

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/3H4csre

Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/3FhHTi9

Audiobook: Coming this summer! 

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/33Yj8cQ


“You desire the life of a spy then?” I could tell he was teasing, but it didn’t seem the mean sort of mocking I was so often accustomed to.

“Oh, of course. I am definitely spy material. I’m sure the War Office will come calling any day now,” I managed to tease back, indulging in a mirthful laugh. Were we having a flirtation? I wondered if I was doing it right.

I was suddenly struck with a bout of nerves. I didn’t know how to carry on a flirtation with a man. Being with John didn’t require flirting on my part. We simply conversed. I never made a concentrated effort to amuse John and be amused in return. Coy and coquettish were more in line with Cassandra and her interactions in a ballroom. She laughed loudly and often, usually flapping her eyelashes in a pleasing manner. Lords were simply drawn to her. Now that I considered it, it was likely just her outgoing personality. I was… not like that.

This bantering, the back-and-forth with Q in the garden, was multifaceted. I warred between self-consciousness and butterflies erupting behind my sternum.

His eyebrows remained amused and my pulse leaped once more. “Well, I hope the crown doesn’t steal you away just yet.” Warmth pooled low in my belly at Q’s admiring look. Those butterflies were approaching maximum velocity.

In a show of sheer survival instinct, I straightened on the bench. “I should probably get back to work.”

Q’s gaze was questioning. Perhaps signs of self-preservation weren’t evident in my expression, but I felt certain he could read some inner turmoil there. Q stood slowly and held out an arm. “I’ll escort you back to the library, if that’s all right?”

I nodded and felt grateful I hadn’t ruined our time together with my abrupt decision to depart. These feelings were so new and utterly overwhelming.

We made our way along the gravel path, through the kitchens, and up the service staircase in quiet contemplation before emerging in the long hallway of the third floor. His heat and nearness were addicting. The simple act of walking by his side was fraught with tension—the good kind. The best kind.

“Perhaps you could enjoy a picnic in the gardens another day. I could let Betty know in advance and she could pack a few items for you. So you wouldn’t feel like an imposition,” Q said as he slowed our progress outside the library doorway.

I appreciated his consideration for my concerns and for Mrs. Hooper’s time and energy. “If it’s not too much trouble, that sounds lovely. Thank you.” Genuine pleasure sufficed my demeanor, chasing away my previous doubts.

“And perhaps I could join you.” At these quietly uttered words, my head snapped up abruptly to meet Lord Dashing’s patented intense stare. “If that’s agreeable, that is,” he murmured, seemingly unsure of his welcome.

I smiled then. Full and wide. I often had difficulty interpreting the reactions of others, their hidden smiles and secretive expressions. Conversing with nobility was often an exercise in subterfuge and subtlety. Both elements I struggled with and didn’t see the need for. I preferred honesty and directness. Therefore, I wanted Q to read the authenticity in my smile when I replied, “I’d like that very much.”

Lord Dashing escorted me the remaining distance to the library before lifting my hand from his arm. I assumed he’d simply deposit me at my desk and be on his way, but he lingered. Twining our fingers together, Q raised my hand to his lips. Slowly and quite deliberately, he rotated my hand and placed a kiss on the inside of my wrist just beyond the fabric of my kid gloves. The heat from his mouth was deliciously obscene and I felt my breath stutter on an inhale. I should have been shocked by his behavior and scandalized by his forwardness. And yet… All I could muster was a sense of regret that I’d cut our afternoon short in a moment of weakness.

Eyes locked, Q pulled away from my skin. Lowering my hand to my side, he retreated a pace before turning slowly and exiting the room. I stood frozen in place, staring after his departed form. With my opposite hand covering my inner wrist, I could feel the heat from his scandalous touch and sought to trap it within.

What was happening?

I spent the afternoon mostly absorbed by the ledgers lining my desk, but couldn’t help but allow my attention to stray to the gardens a time or two, remembering the sun on my face, the man at my side, and the butterflies wreaking havoc on my carefully laid plans.

About Laney Hatcher

Laney Hatcher is a firm believer that there is a spreadsheet for every occasion and pie is always the answer. She is an author of stories that have a past, in a language of love that’s universal. Often too practical for her own good, Laney enjoys her life in the southern United States with her husband, children, and incredibly entitled cat.

Find Laney online

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3HkhbFE

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Website: https://laneyhatcher.com/

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Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/laneyhatcher

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Friday, May 13, 2022

Quick Reviews

The Lost Summers of Newport by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White (2022)

Team W has done it again!  When I first heard they were writing a story set among the famous and fabulous Newport mansions, I was so excited because I've loved visiting there, and this story did not disappoint.  The story is told in three timelines - in 2019, a historic preservationist leads a reality tv home makeover show in Sprague Hall; in 1958, Lucky Sprague's difficult marriage comes to a head; and in 1899, Ellen is hired to be the music teacher for the mistress of Sprague Hall, Maybelle.  I always love reading a story from these three authors; their writing flows together so seamlessly.  Although the present day storyline was perhaps a little weak, the 1958 and 1899 storylines were so atmospheric.  I loved getting to know Lucky, Ellen, and Maybelle, and the glamour and richness of the times really came through.  Sprague Hall was just as much a character as the women, too - a fictitious mansion set in a very real place, it has seen its share of secrets.  There is a bit of mystery in the story that I was able to figure out about halfway through the novel, but that didn't hamper my enjoyment; I was interested to see how the authors would tie everything up.  Overall, a gorgeous historical fiction novel that will transport you to Newport!  4.5 stars (I received a free copy from the publisher; all thoughts are my own)

Running Wild (Wild #3) by K.A. Tucker (2022)

Marie has been in love with her best friend for years, but now that he's married, she knows she must move on.  When she meets Tyler, she feels the spark between them, but his past may keep them from becoming something more.  After loving Calla and Jonah's story, I was eager to stay in Alaska and explore more of the characters there.  While I enjoyed Marie's story, it didn't quite live up to my expectations.  I liked the parts of this story that didn't have to do with Marie's love life - learning more about the Iditarod, the issues with her sister, how her vet practice and her family life collide.  Marie is a complicated woman who is juggling a lot, and so I wanted more for her from a love interest.  I wanted her to realize that Jonah wasn't the only man out there and stop wasting time on this unrequited love.  Even after she met Tyler, she still seemed hung up on Jonah, constantly comparing the two.  Did she love Tyler only because he reminded her of Jonah?  I appreciated Tyler's backstory and how it made him reluctant to start something new, but I didn't like the back and forth he put Marie through.  And the ending just felt so abrupt!  3.5 stars

* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: How To Fake It In Hollywood

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Ava Wilder
Expected publication date: June 14, 2022
A talented Hollywood starlet and a reclusive A-lister enter into a fake relationship . . . and discover that their feelings might be more than a PR stunt in this sexy debut for fans of Beach Read and The Unhoneymooners.

Grey Brooks is on a mission to keep her career afloat now that the end of her long-running teen soap has her (unsuccessfully) pounding the pavement again. With a life-changing role on the line, she's finally desperate enough to agree to her publicist's scheme... faking a love affair with a disgraced Hollywood heartthrob who needs the publicity, but for very different reasons.

Ethan Atkins just wants to be left alone. Between his high-profile divorce, his struggles with drinking, and his grief over the death of his longtime creative partner and best friend, he's slowly let himself fade into the background. But if he ever wants to produce the last movie he and his partner wrote together, Ethan needs to clean up his reputation and step back into the spotlight. A gossip-inducing affair with a gorgeous actress might be just the ticket, even if it's the last thing he wants to do.

Though their juicy public relationship is less than perfect behind the scenes, it doesn't take long before Grey and Ethan's sizzling chemistry starts to feel like more than just an act. But after decades in a ruthless industry that requires bulletproof emotional armor to survive, are they too used to faking it to open themselves up to the real thing? - from Goodreads


Monday, May 9, 2022

Blog Tour + Excerpt: Smart Mouth


Smart Mouth, an all-new opposites attract romantic comedy from Emma Lee Jayne, is now available in Kindle Unlimited! 

The rockstar

There are lots of assumptions people make about rockstars. Shallow. Player. Addict. The truth? I’m none of those. 

The even bigger truth…the only opinion I care about is her’s and she hates me. Her as in Gwen Matthews, my twin brother’s best friend, the unrequited love of my life. She thinks I’m a liar and a jerk which is why I pretend to be my brother when she needs help one night. 

Except Gwen is a genius. Literally. So it doesn’t take her long to figure out it’s me and not my brother, but maybe, just maybe, she’s willing to give me a second chance. Because maybe when she looks at me, she only sees a rockstar with her best friend’s face, but when I look at her, I see my other half. She centers me in a way that no rhythm or line of lyric ever could. 

The scientist

I have three priorities in life at the moment: finish my research, defend my dissertation, and get my Ph.D., so that I can actually figure out what I’m supposed to do with my life. Tom Mendoza won’t help me achieve any of those things. Yet I can’t help the sudden feeling that I’ve been completely wrong about him all this time. 

The day we first met when we were both teenagers, I saw a glimpse of a sweet, funny boy that felt very much like a kindred spirit; awkward and full of energy and dreams. But that guy seemed to disappear and in his place was this stereotypical stupidly hot rock star that did not make sense in my world. 

Being a scientist means being willing to admit when you’re wrong and reevaluating everything. I might not understand much about human behavior, but I can clearly see the tender underbelly that Tom protects. The subtle rituals he uses to stave off his anxiety. Yes, he’s ridiculously hot, but his soul just might be more beautiful than his face and I’m not sure what to do with that. 

Especially when I find out that he’s in love with me. 

'Smart Mouth' is a full-length contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Book #4 in the Work For It series, Educated Romance World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Grab your copy today!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3IcScov

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3H7VLLg

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3uRJOHg

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/3JxRYIS

Audible: https://adbl.co/3rPAWiO

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3M4dSWk


I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, but kissing Gwen is the best stupid thing I’ve ever done.

I know it’s a mistake. I know James will probably kill me if he ever finds out—and he will find out.

Hell, Gwen will kill me herself, if she ever finds out. Plus, she’s smart enough to get away with it—and to make it painful.

Despite all of that, I can’t sit here and let her think that I don’t want her. I can’t let her believe she’s repulsive or any other ridiculous idea. I can’t fucking watch her cry over it.

I’ve never really understood James and Gwen’s relationship. I’ve never understood how he’s been friends with this gorgeous, smart, awkward, frustrating woman without hitting on her. I don’t know how he made it through high school and college without kissing her, because, fuck it, I couldn’t make it through a thirty-minute car ride without wanting to kiss her.

I sure as fuck am not going to let her climb out of this car thinking she repulses men.

I don’t have a plan when I lean across the console and pull her to me. At least not beyond ridding her of this notion that I don’t want her.

But the second my mouth touches hers, I’m a goner.

About Emma Lee Jayne

I write the kinds of books I want to read. Fast-paced books with lots of world-building, snarky heroines, and swoony heroes. I love story, pop culture, gossip, and baked goods. I’m a modern-day hippy and certified LEGO nerd.

I live in the Austin, Texas hill country, with my geeky husband and two extremely geeky kids. We have dogs, chickens, cats, and more LEGOs than should be allowed by law. Oh, and I stress bake. So if my characters talk about food a lot, that’s why.

Emma also writes as Rita award winning author Emily McKay.

Find Emma Lee Jayne online

Website: http://emmaleejayne.com/

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Friday, May 6, 2022

2022 Rereading Project: Update #2

It's time for another update on my 2022 rereading project!
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2016)

I first read this book back in 2017 when I discovered Taylor Jenkins Reid and was making my way through her backlist.  One True Loves tells the story of Emma, who loses her husband on their first anniversary, only to find out a couple years later that he survived the helicopter crash and has made his way home.  The problem is, she's engaged to another man, and now she has to choose between them.  I didn't give this book a rating when I first read it, but I remember not quite enjoying it as much as her other books.  Upon reread, I really enjoyed this book, even if it did get a bit schmaltzy at times, and I thought it had some good notions about how we change and grow as we get older.

Verdict: It's TJR, she can do no wrong, and I could never give away one of her books - keep!
The Girl Who Reads on the Metro by Christine Feret-Fleury (2017)
This book was an impulse buy during an anniversary trip to Connecticut, when we stopped at House of Books in Kent.  I couldn't resist the cute cover!  This short story follows Juliette, an ordinary woman living an ordinary life, who meets Soliman, a bookseller.  He convinces her to become one of his passeurs, people who take books out into the world and match them with their perfect reader.  When I first read this back in 2020, I gave it three stars, and I pretty much agree with that rating today.  The premise of the book is so charming and I love the message about how books can change our lives, but the writing and tone were hurdles for me.  It feels a bit overwritten, even for such a short book (maybe that has something to do with it being a translation) and the tone is sadder and darker than I was expecting.  

Verdict: I'm hoping another reader will be able to connect more with this story - donate!

* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: A Caribbean Heiress in Paris

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Adriana Herrera
Expected publication date: May 31, 2022
Paris, 1889

The Exposition Universelle is underway, drawing merchants from every corner of the globe. Luz Alana Heith-Benzan set sail from Santo Domingo armed with three hundred casks of rum, her two best friends and one simple rule: under no circumstances is she to fall in love.

The City of Light is where Luz Alana will expand Caña Brava, the rum business her family built over three generations. It’s a mission that’s taken on new urgency after her father’s untimely death and the news that her trust fund won’t be released until she marries. But buyers and shippers alike are rude and dismissive; they can’t imagine doing business with a woman…never mind a woman of color.

From her first tempestuous meeting with James Evanston Sinclair, Earl of Darnick, Luz Alana is conflicted. Why is this man—this titled Scottish man—so determined to help her? And why, honestly, is he so infuriatingly charming?

All Evan Sinclair ever wanted was to find a purpose away from his father’s dirty money and dirtier politics. Ignoring his title, he’s built a whiskey brand that’s his biggest—and only—passion. That is, until he’s confronted with a Spanish-speaking force of nature who turns his life upside down.

Evan quickly suspects he’ll want Luz Alana with him forever. Every day with her makes the earl wish for more than her magnificent kisses or the marriage of convenience that might save them both. But Luz Alana sailed for Paris with her eyes on liquor, money and new beginnings. She wasn't prepared for love to find her. - from Goodreads


Monday, May 2, 2022

Month in Review: April 2022

April was a busy month with lots of visitors!  We celebrated my sister's and my birthday, along with an early Easter, at my mom's house at the beginning of the month.  The weather wasn't too great, so my mom had an indoor egg hunt for Luna and Henry (well, mostly Luna!).  My in-laws were over a couple times, and Tom's sister from Illinois drove in for the holiday weekend and to meet Henry for the first time.  She stayed with us, which was really nice. She got to spend a ton of time snuggling with Henry and we got to catch up a lot.  Henry enjoyed his first Easter with lots of new books and stuffed animals.  I went to a birthday party for one set of nieces and nephews and got to meet our newest nephew (the one born right before Henry) for the first time (between COVID, other sicknesses, and everyone going back to work, it was hard to meet up!).  Henry is now five months old and getting so big and strong!  He loves to kick and is *thisclose* to rolling over on his own.  He also had his first solid food this month!  The first time we gave him sweet potato puree was... not good.  He was not having it and had a look on his face that said, "Why are you doing this to me?"  But it got better as the week went on and he's starting to figure it out and even enjoy it a little. 

The Books

The Posts and Reviews
 How are you doing?
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