Thursday, September 29

Audiobook Review: No Other Duke Will Do by Grace Burrowes

Author: Grace Burrowes
Narrator: James Langton
Title: No Other Duke Will Do
Series: Windham Brides #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Audiobook
Published: November 7, 2017
Where I got It: Borrowed from library

Julian St. David, Duke of Haverford, is barely keeping his head above water in a sea of inherited debts. Though he has a long-term plan to restore the family finances, his sister has a much faster solution: host a house party for London's single young ladies and find Julian a wealthy bride.

Elizabeth Windham has no interest in marriage, but a recent scandal has forced her hand. As much as she'd rather be reading Shakespeare than husband-hunting, she has to admit she's impressed by Julian's protective instincts, broad shoulders, and, of course, his vast library.

As the two spend more time together, their attraction is overwhelming, unexpected... and absolutely impossible. With meddling siblings, the threat of financial ruin, and gossips lurking behind every potted palm, will they find true love or true disaster?

Been meaning to get started on this one, but I've been busy busy. 

Here we continue with these Windhams. Elizabeth is next. She has no interest in marriage. All she wants to do is read and live her life, but due to a recent scandal, she may have no other choice. Julian St. David, Duke of Haverford, is barely keeping his head above water when he inherits family debits. He has a long-term plan to restore the finances, but his sister has a much faster solution...he should host a party for London's single young ladies and find himself a rich bride. 

There must be something wrong with me????? I like this author a lot. I adore the narrator too. Elizabeth a book nerd and she seems like someone I would like/relate to. Julian is very sweet and a Duke so win-win. They actually talk a lot and get to know each other. There is some drama, but not too much. It all sounds perfect, but....I was bored. Super bored. I found myself just letting this play even if I wasn't in the room. I would go to the kitchen or bathroom and not care to pause or take my phone with me. 

I just wanted this to end. I found myself speeding this up just to finally be done. Sighs. I wanted to DNF, but I couldn't get myself to do that to this author or to the series. I still want to read the next one, so I forced myself forward.

Honestly? I'm not 100% sure why I didn't connect with this Maybe it was too perfect? I have zero answers. 

The ending epilogue was very sweet though. So that made me smile. 

In the end...this wasn't for me. I was just so bored. I still want to read the next one so I forced myself to push through. It did have good characters and a very sweet ending. Plus the narrator is amazing, but not even he could keep my attention. I'll give this 2 stars. 

- #41 for Audiobook challenge

Tuesday, September 27

Book Review: Negative Self-Talk and How to Change It by Shad Helmstetter

Author: Shad Helmstetter
Title: Negative Self-Talk and How to Change It
Genre: Self Help, Nonfiction
Format: paperback
Pages: 105
Published: May 7, 2019
Where I Got It: Borrowed copy

Negative Self-Talk and How to Change It is an immediately helpful, life-changing handbook of how to deal with negative self-talk –– for yourself, or anyone in your life.

Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D., the best-selling author of more than twenty books, is the leading authority in the field of self-talk today.

In this ’60-Minute’ Book™ written for today’s reader, Dr. Helmstetter gives you all of the important information you need to change negative self-talk forever, in a short, easy-to-read, and condensed format.

Also included is a special “Guide to Changing Your Self-Talk” from The Self-Talk Institute.

Once in a while (maybe one or two books) I like to grab a self-help book. Sometimes we have read them for a book club or sometimes I find a random one. This time my therapist actually let me borrow her copy since we are working on my own negative self-talk and self-esteem issues. 

This book goes over the science behind self-talk and how our brain gets programmed that way. It also goes over how you can rewire your brain to cut out negative self-talk and how it will change your life. 

What I found extremely interesting was the part in the Q&A section about affirmations and activities like making notes for yourself (for instance, my therapist suggested I start putting sticky notes on the mirror to force myself to read them). The authors states it is good to do that, but it is a short-term remedy. The author states that in order to change the rewiring you have to listen to self-help audios and tapes. Listening and watching others helps more than reading words you yourself wrote. I found this interesting AND it makes sense. A lot of time the main reason we have these self-esteem and negative self-talk is because of listening to people and society shoving the idea that we are worthless down our throats. 

I also found interesting the first few chapters about the actual science behind why we are negative. Very informative. I won't even go into explanation hahaha. 

This is a condensed version of all his other works to give the reader a quick read and some good tips. It only took me about 30 mins and I was taking notes too. Super quick and an easy read. The author did a good job simplifying the science-y parts.

I do wish there had been more actually tips. The author goes over the 3 steps which were fantastic and easy to understand and follow. But I was hoping for more actual HOWs and tips/tricks. 

In the end, this was a quick read and I learned quite a bit. Very interesting. I do wish there were more tips and tricks to ACTUALLY working on how to change how you think. Luckily I have my therapist who has given me a lot of tips, but if I wasn't in therapy already and reading this I would feel like " I should change how I think but I need more help than that." Maybe his other books have more? The author has a load of other books. 

But yes, not bad overall. Very informative. I'll give this 3 stars. 

Monday, September 26

Blodeuedd's Monday Review: Children of the Catastrophe by Sarah Shoemaker

Narrated by: Olivia Dowd

Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins

Release date: 09-06-22

Publisher: HarperAudio

Historical fiction / to review

I kept thinking when listening, this is gonna get ugly, this will end badly, omg is it happening now?! But Smyrna seemed to weather the storm...for a time.

All is well is Smyrna, well as well it can be as second class citizens in Turkey. Liana is a young woman ready for marriage, and it was quite interesting seeing how the Greeks did it in Smyrna. And she does get chosen, Vassili is a really good man ad they have a happy marriage.

But, world war 1 happens. The Spanish flu happens. The Armenian genocide happens. The genocide of Greeks in Turkey happens. And so far sort of good. Smyrna seemed to be a safe harbour. But I knew, I knew something bad was coming. The Greeco-Turk was happens. And living as a Greek in Turkey wont end happily.

I do warn you, any book with genocide, well you know people will die. Also wtf is wrong with humankind?! And we can't say oh that was a 100 years ago, it is happening right now. Soldiers raping, killing, mutilating. Humankind is evil, and soldiers turn into animals. But it is also a book that needs to be read, for example we all know which country that has not admitted to the genocide of Armenians.

But yes, a book about living in the shadows of bad thing, and continuing to the end.

And then, something bad did happen, and I cried and cried. It broke me.

A good book that should be listened to.

Excellent narration. She had this calm voice and it was like I was there. A haunting story.

It is 1908 and Smyrna is the most cosmopolitan city on the Mediterranean Sea. Though long a part of the Ottoman Empire, Smyrna has always been Greek, and its citizens honor the traditions of previous generations. The Demirigis and Melopoulos families are no different, and now Liana Demirigis will wed the only Melopoulos son, Vassili--a marriage arranged by her parents.

After the wedding, Liana and Vassili build an idyllic life for themselves and their children outside of the city, safe from rising political tensions roiling the region and the world. But less than a decade later, the growing divisions between the Greeks and Turks threaten to boil over. When each country chooses a different side with the outbreak of the Great War, a hunger to reclaim Izmir consumes Greece. Suddenly Liana and her family, like thousands of others like them, are thrust into danger . . . and many will not survive.

Children of the Catastrophe is a beautifully told story that unfolds through the experiences of the Melopoulos family--their loves and quarrels, their hopes and disappointments, played out against a world on fire. Sarah Shoemaker artfully draws us into her characters' rich lives and evocatively captures all that was lost as hostilities mount and innocent men, women, and children find themselves caught up in forces beyond their control.

Thursday, September 22

Book Review: Cream Caramel and Murder by KE O'Connor

Author: K.E. O'Connor
Title: Cream Caramel and Murder
Series: Holly Holmes #1
Genre: Cozy mystery, Fiction
Format: ebook
Pages: 175
Published: July 25, 2019
Where I Got It: My shelf (Amazon)

Holly Holmes loves her new job working in the kitchen at Audley Castle, home to the eccentric and wealthy Audley family.

With her faithful corgi cross, Meatball, by her side, she enjoys a quiet life full of baking, researching old recipes, and trying any fun fitness fad – weighted hula hoop, anyone?

When the bumbling, and cute, Lord Rupert Audley requests some of her scrumptious desserts for his school reunion, she happily gets baking.

Everything is going great until Meatball discovers a hand sticking out of the ground, Princess Alice faints, and Holly gets stuck in the spotlight for murder!

If Holly can’t clear her name, she’ll lose her amazing new life in the beautiful Audley St. Mary, Meatball will go back to the animal shelter, and her freedom will be history.

I grabbed this Amazon freebie a little bit ago because I love cozies, the cover is adorable, and the summary sounds like fun. Plus...PUPPY!

Holly loves her new job working in the kitchen at Audley Castle. Holly also loves her faithful corgi cross named Meatball. She loves to bake and trying new fun fitness fads. Everything seems perfect until Lord Rupert Audley requests her to bake some desserts for his school reunion. Everything seems normal, until the next day when she, Meatball, and Princess Alice find a hand sticking out of the ground. If Holly can't clear her name, she may lose this amazing life. 

I simply adored Holly and her puppers. Epic duo! They are so sweet and kind and just fun. I would love to be their besties. 

Alice and Rupert are fun too. Alice is sweet and Rupert is adorable. I do wonder why he is only a Lord while Alice is a princess, but they are brother and sister? I'm not quite sure. Maybe book 2 explains this more? Like he turned down his right to the throne? IDK. I'm not an expert and maybe I missed something...

The Duke and Duchess (Alice's and Rupert's uncle and aunt) were funny. So was the grandmother. A weird family, but they are endearing. 

Now, I did struggle with how the police let Campbell (the head of security) lead the investigation. Sure, I get these folks are royal, but it seems so unlikely and unrealistic. What if it was Campbell who did it??? He's not unbiased....he's being paid by the family....seems odd to me. 

But yes, this was a very cute and sweet cozy mystery. There are some questions I have and some parts that and far-fetched. Ignoring those things though this is a nice quick read for fall. Some fun characters and a cute puppy! Plus baking? Yum. 3 stars from me. 

Wednesday, September 21

Audiobook Review: As The Stars Fall by Steve N. Lee

Author: Steve N. Lee
Narrator: Karissa Vacker
Title: As The Stars Fall
Series: Books for Dog Lovers
Genre: Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Published: August 25, 2020
Where I got It: My shelf (Given to me by the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion)

A desperate dog. A scarred girl. A bond nothing can break.

An injured, young dog trudges the city streets, trembling from cold, from fear, from lack of food. Battered by the howling wind, he searches desperately for his lost family, yet day after day, week after week, all he ever finds is heartbreaking loneliness. But then, one magical spring morning…

Across town, a little girl sobs into her pillow in the dead of night. Her life devastated by a family tragedy, she can’t understand how the world can just carry on. Her days once overflowed with childhood joys, yet now, despair, darkness, and emptiness smother her like a shroud. But then, one magical spring morning…

… the dog and the girl meet.

In a tale as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking, As The Stars Fall explores how compassion can make us whole again and friendship can heal even the most broken of hearts.

I read the ebook of this 2 years ago, so the author recently asked for me to check out the audio version of this, and of course, I said yes! This book really stayed with me from when I first read it back a couple years ago. Heck, it even won Best Book of the Year for 2020

The story follows a young, desperate dog who has not had a lot of luck. A young girl finds him suffering in a moldy old box and takes him home. Little do they realize that they need each other. They quickly form an unbreakable bond that will last forever. 

Doing the audio of this scared me JUST a tiny bit. I had adored this soooo much when I first read it...I was worried the narration might ruin it or I question why I had liked it so much. However, my fears were for naught. 

This had me scrambling to find my tissue box still. In a way...the narrator brought the story to life even more. She added so much feeling to her words and I must bow down to the narrator. Fantastic job. So much much much joy...all the feels. I feel like I have heard the voice before, but I was skimming through some previous works and I didn't see anything I have listened to but she seems to be popular and there are SOOOO many books she has read for. 

My feelings for this book have not changed in the last two years or with a different format. This is a fantastic read and I highly recommend it. I still want Dad to have his own book someday. I feel like there is more to his story. He deserves to find some peace. 

In the end...I loved this. The narrator was fantastic...the story is wonderful. It has all the feels and then some. 100% recommend. 5 stars yet again from me. 

- #40 for Audiobook challenge

Tuesday, September 20

TMST: Listening to Audios While Doing a Hobby

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post where bloggers discuss a wide range of topics from books and blogging to life in general. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog. Feel free to leave your links in the comments if you are participating.

9/20/2022: For audiobook listeners - what hobby do you enjoy while listening?

Hobbies? So I guess when working, doing chores, or driving don't count ;) I like to listen while I'm working on the garden (kinda chore-ish, but sometimes I like just being out there). I also will listen to my audio when I am playing video games on my switch or cell phone. Some games I don't need to listen to or fully pay attention to. I also love to listen to my audio when I am walking or doing a light workout. 

Monday, September 19

Blodeuedd's Monday Review: The Mistress of Longbourn by Jann Rowland

Narrated by: Mary Sarah

Length: 16 hrs and 5 mins

Release date: 09-13-22

Publisher: Tantor Audio

Pride and prejudice variation /to review

I do love pride and prejudice variations. This one starts out darker than most, sickness ravages the Bennet family and left standing is Lizzy and Kitty. Luckily Longbourn is not longer entailed so she becomes the mistress of Longbourn.

I liked this take on things. Lizzy was different, and when it was just her and Kitty things turned out differently too. For example she met Darcy and they did not clash. Something grew there instead.

The author also perfected the other characters. Yes I could totally see Bingley like that. Could Caroline be more of a bitch?! What, omg Mr Collins, yes yes. Wickham, grrr, he is totally that.

It gets really nailbiting at the end too, something is about to happen, and I was on the edge of my seat.

Fun, different take on Pride and prejudice. I just can't get enough.

Good narrator, I am not sure I have listened to her before, but I liked her style. It felt fitting with this universe

A change in the circumstances of the entail on Longbourn leaves Elizabeth Bennet as the mistress of Longbourn, beholden to no one. Though the tragedy which has left her with only one sister of her immediate family, Elizabeth heals, in time, and she takes up the affairs of the estate with a flair her father never quite possessed. But estate ownership has its own trials, for it makes Elizabeth the target of those who might otherwise have seen her for nothing than a pretty vivacious girl.

When the Netherfield party comes to the area, they find a small family at Longbourn, an Elizabeth who has been changed by the burdens of estate ownership, and with a younger sister who has grown much, but is young enough to be infatuated by a handsome face. To further muddy the waters, George Wickham always looking out for a way to live an easy life, and a country parson, offended that his father was passed up for the estate arrive to make Elizabeth’s life more difficult. It will take all her fortitude to withstand the men vying for her attention, hold to her principles, and marry only for love, now that she has the means.

But Elizabeth, knowing now that she does not have to marry, must also recognize that love when it finds her. For in this world, nothing is perfect, and looking for perfection might see true love pass her by.

Saturday, September 17

Movie Review: Mr. Malcolm's List (2022)

Mr. Malcolm's List
Length:  1h 57m
Released: 2022
Genre:  Comedy, Drama, Historical Romance
Rating: PG
Where I Got It: Delta

A young woman courts a mysterious wealthy suitor who has a list of what he is looking for in a wife.

Click here for the trailer

I haven't read the book, but now I plan to after watching this. I randomly picked a movie on our flight to New Orleans and this was the one. I keep seeing advertisements everywhere, so I finally decided to just jump in. 

After Mr. Malcom embarrasses Julia by ending their courtship because she doesn't fit what he is looking for in a wife, she decides to get a little karma. She brings in her country friend, Selina, to be everything he wants and then break his heart and embarrasses him in front of everyone just like he did to her. Things, of course, don't go according to plan. 

This was a fun watch. All our characters are complex and are not perfect. Which I adore when we have some big flaws, but then some big good things. 

Oh, Julia....I get it. I get how embarrassed she was in front of the ton. They are ruthless especially since she is getting old and still hasn't made a match. BUT I was super mad at her and she had like ZERO consequences on something she did. Tsk. In that one scene, she for sure stepped over a line.

OMG I did want to kick Mr. Malcolm. He enraged me with how stubborn and thick-headed he was being. Gah. 

Loved Selina. She reminded me a lot of Elizabeth from PP, but she was a little softer. Loved her. 

The cast was great. I really do want to read the book and see how well they played the characters. 

In the end, this was a pretty good movie. There was one scene that made me SO mad. Other than that this was a fun watch. If you like Bridgerton or any'll like this. I am now curious about the book. 4 stars from me. 


Friday, September 16

Book Review: Woman On The Wall by Robin Rivers

Author: Robin Rivers
Title: Woman On The Wall
Series: The Sibylline Chronicles #1
Genre: Historical Fiction & Mystery
Format: paperbook
Pages: 392
Published: September 6, 2022
Where I Got It: My shelf (Given to me by the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion)

For 500 years, the once powerful Order of the Sibylline has kept the identity of its future prophetess hidden in the most famous painting in the world. Amid the chaos of post-World War II France, one woman discovers their ancient secret and its ability to transform a fragmented world.

PARIS 1945
After 480 days as a Nazi political prisoner, Dr. Marie Guerrant returns to Paris to repatriate the Mona Lisa and find her daughter. When a British Colonel arrives claiming he needs her French Resistance connections to find the lost painting, which she helped hide seven years earlier, distrust is high. Tipped off about her daughter's involvement and the Colonel's obsessive belief that the Mona Lisa contains the identity of a modern-day Sibyl prophetess, Marie must risk her life to save her daughter and the masterpiece from men consumed by controlling destiny.

On the eve of rising as the Sibyl of Amboise, Aesmeh de la Rose must rely on her visions to find Leonardo da Vinci after he and the Mona Lisa disappear from his workshop at Clos Lucé. The precious painting and its creator cannot be lost or the ancient Sibylline Order faces extermination after more than 1000 years of rebuilding their powerful matriarchy. Torn between duty and love, Aesmeh must tap into an ancient alchemy in a race to keep the Order safe. But, an unspeakable betrayal forces her to make an unfathomable choice to secure the future of the Sibylline.

This rich alternate history binds two women beyond time, each fighting to restore sight to a world blinded by the power and control of men. The fate of the world rests on their courage to reclaim the ancient feminine powers of the Sibylline. Woman on the Wall is a sweeping fantastical tale of intrigue and hope for humanity that fuels imagination and curiosity.

Couldn't resist this one! What a cool concept and I adore the cover. 

For 500 years, the once powerful Order of the Sibylline has kept the identity of its future prophetess hidden in the most famous painting in the world. One woman will discover their ancient secret. This woman is named Marie Guerrant. It is 1945 and she has survived being a prisoner by the Nazis. She returns to Paris and will risk her life to save her daughter and the masterpiece from men consumed by controlling destiny. In 1519, another woman will be putting her life on the line. Aesmeh de la Rose must rely on her visions to find Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa after they disappear from his workshop. The fate of the world rests on them.  

Immediately hooked! I literally didn't want to put this down. Grrrrr dumb work and dumb sleep time. 

We have two timelines being told at the same time. One is Aesmeh in 1519 and the other is Marie in 1945. It was so refreshing! Normally authors go the route of modern (21st century) and some other time in the past. It was interesting seeing two completely different time periods here and how they are tied together. 

I felt so bad for Marie. She gets out of one hell and is tossed into a mystery larger than herself. All she wants to do is have a normal life and find her daughter. Poor thing has gone through so much. And then there is Aesmeh. Felt bad for her too. She is on the eve of rising as the Sibyl of Amboise. She finds herself torn in two. But I applaud them and want to be them when I grow up! So brave and smart. I don't think I would want visions like Aesmeh....that seems like too much.

I honestly had no idea what was going to happen and how everything was going to be resolved. 

The ending was good. There was a tiny bit of a cliffhanger though. You can tell there will be more and I am excited about another one. There is for sure more story to tell. The author has left me wanting more!

In the end, I was hooked from page 1! This was certainly an adventure and I hope there will be a book 2 soon. There is more story to tell! Art, mystery, action, and magic. This was a lot of fun and I can see this being a good book club book. 5 stars from me. 

Thursday, September 15

Audiobook Review: If I Fall by Kate Noble

Author: Kate Noble
Narrator: Alison Larkin
Title: If I Fall
Series: The Blue Raven #4
Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Published: April 1, 2012
Where I got It: My shelf (Audible)

After a duke's betrayal, the resilient Sarah Forrester reinvents herself as the Golden Lady: society's leading light, the beautiful and witty life of the party. It's all a façade of course—one that protects her from another intimate disloyalty. When her old friend, Lieutenant Jackson Fletcher, returns to London, he is determined to rediscover the true and trusting Sarah he once knew. It'll take more than a kiss and a promise. It might even call for an innocent and necessary deception.

Then Jackson is enlisted to help capture the lead suspect in a murder—a man who happens to be Sarah's most ardent suitor. Jack must continue the deception, and weathering this newest and gravest betrayal will be Sarah's ultimate test. But as Jack's passion for her grows, he must also reveal his own secrets. And as the killer turns his attention to his pursuers, more than love and trust is put at risk.

Somehow I skipped this one and read book 5. Whoooops. I did promise to backtrack and read this one since it should be read before you read book 5. 

Here we follow Sarah and Jackson. Sarah reinvents herself after the duke's betrayal. She becomes the Golden Lady. She is society's leading light and the life of the party. It is all fake though. Jackson returns to London and reunites with Sarah and her family. He had pretty much grown up and been raised by them. He is determined the true Sarah and bring her back to the light. It might even call for an innocent and necessary deception. In the meantime, Jackson is enlisted to help capture the lead suspect in a murder...the same man who happens to be an ardent suitor for Sarah's hand. Jack must continue the deception and put Sarah to the test. 

Poor Sarah. The Duke's betrayal really hurt her emotionally and her reputation. She was known as the Girl Who Lost a Duke. I don't blame her AT all for reinventing herself. It was the only way to survive the ton and move on with her life. Maybe find a guy who won't betray her.

In comes Jackson. I simply loved how he could so easily see past her mask. I get WHY he wanted to try and force the real Sarah out, but I don't think he was being fair with what he did. He didn't even try to understand WHY Sarah was faking it until she could make it. He finally does understand (no spoiler...that is just how HR works) and he feels like crude. GOOD. You should. 

Oooo I loved seeing  Marcus and Philippa again! They were from the first book. Philippa is called in to help Sarah get back on her feet and trick society. It was wonderful seeing them again. And then there is Marcus who pulls Sarah and Jackson into the fray to solve the murder and some more dangerous stuff. No spoilers from me ;) 

The mystery was fantastic. The baddie was fantastic. TOTALLY didn't see it coming. Like Sarah I was all "WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA?". Super good. 

Now...I will say I was bored here and there. It seemed to take forever for things to actually happen. Some parts needed to be shortened or more drama added? But yes, I even sped up the audio through those parts to just get through the lulls. 

I did do the audio of this. Which worked well. The narrator is fantastic! I believe she did book 5. 

In the end, there were a few lulls, but I did enjoy this. Loved our new characters and seeing a couple oldies show up. The mystery and the baddie reveal blew me away. I'll stamp this with 3 stars. 

- #39 for Audiobook challenge

Wednesday, September 14

Book Review: Bayou Beauty by Lexi Blake

Author: Lexi Blake
Title: Bayou Beauty
Series: Butterfly Bayou #4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: paperbook
Pages: 336
Published: July 27, 2021
Where I Got It: My shelf (WalMart)

Sylvie Martine was prepared to take Washington D.C. by storm, but she put that dream on hold when her beloved hometown of Papillon, Louisiana, needed her most. Now Sylvie's the mayor of the tiny town on the bayou that holds her heart. But for Sylvie, this can only be a pit stop on the way to bigger and better things. The last thing she needs is an old love to resurface and threaten her goals.

Rene Darois's whole life has been about serving his family--no matter how much it hurts. He's used to sacrificing for his large extended family and the company his grandfather created. But he can't believe the latest demand: he needs to find a wife and quick or he could lose it all. It would be a horrible situation. But he has just the solution: his high school sweetheart. Sylvie is everything he wants in a wife--smart, funny, and caring--and he planned to woo her anyway.

Now he just has to convince Sylvie that their love is worth it all, or he and the bayou will lose her forever.

Been wanting to read this one for a bit but it wasn't at my library. Randomly found it at WalMart a few months ago so I grabbed it. Why not?

Here we follow Sylvie and Rene. Sylvie was ready to take DV by storm, but she put that dream on hold to come back home to Papillon. They needed a mayor and she stepped into the role. This is just a pitstop though and she doesn't plan to stick around long. Rene has spent his whole life serving his family especially after his father passed away. He is used to sacrificing for his family and the company his grandfather created. The last demand, though, may push him over the edge...they want him to marry or he may not get the votes he needs to keep his seat as CEO and head of the family. Lucky for him Sylvie is back. She is everything he wants in a wife, but he'll have to convince her of that. 

I loved Rene and Sylvie from the previous books. But this does well as a standalone. You really don't have to read the others. I encourage you to do though...they are good. 

Sylvie and Rene grew up together. Rene is friends with her brother. Rene and Sylvie did have a mini fling, but Rene let her go so she could finish college and go live her dreams in the big world while he was stuck in Papillon to take over the company. Poor guy always feels like he has to put what he wants to the side for the "greater good". Dang that family of his!!!!

This was a blended trope....second chance-fake relationship hybrid. I am all about it! Made me cheer harder when they decided they loved each other. I awwwed so much during the scene when they realized it is love and didn't care what the world thought. 

I also cheered when two other characters finally could be honest! Yayy!

This was good. Probably the best one of the series. We had a jerk baddie who is trying to take Rene down. We have some drama. A splash of comedy. Love and a happily ever after. Can't ask for more. This series needs to be made into Hallmark movies FOR sure. Love that town. 

In the end, I really enjoyed this one. It is my favorite of the series so far. Love Rene and Sylvie. They deserve all the happiness and love the world can offer. Can't wait to start the next one! 5 stars from me. 

Tuesday, September 13

TMST: Comfort Zones

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post where bloggers discuss a wide range of topics from books and blogging to life in general. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog. Feel free to leave your links in the comments if you are participating.

9/13: do you ever read out of your comfort zone? and if yes, does it work for you?

All the time. I like trying new things. All the different book clubs have been a part of over the years have certainly helped me branch out into different genres and authors.

Sure there are some duds but overall....reading out of my comfort zone really has worked for me. I wouldn't have found books like Historical Romances without branching out. That is one of my biggest loves! 


Monday, September 12

Blodeuedd's Monday Review: River of Shadows

Narrated by: Jo Raylan

Series: Underworld Gods, Book 1

Length: 9 hrs and 14 mins

Release date: 09-13-22

Publisher: Tantor Audio

Paranormal romance/to review

I have become bad at writing reviews at once. I wanted to review this one because it was about Finnish mythology (though I am still confused, is the Finnish underworld the underworld of the world because it was meant out to be that?)

Hanna comes back for her dad's funeral, but something is not wrong and she goes to the underworld to find her dad. She knows nothing. Totally lost. She trusts a shaman, who, yeah I know who he must be...

But the whole thing builds up to her meeting death. Him being an ass, and they then boinking like rabbits. At the end he seems very vulnerable and she, oh girl, yeah not a cool move. Now I do not root for you. But then again a bit Stockholm syndrome over the whole thing too. Also very Psyche and Eros vibe, beauty and the beast and so on.

Danger, smexing and a very dark place. Not somewhere I want to visit.

I listened to the audio and if you are from Finland you know, the intonation is not at the right places. She made Finnish words and names sound softer. But still a good narrator, Finnish is just hard

When 24-year old Hanna Heikkinen's estranged father dies, she reluctantly makes the trip to Northern Finland for his funeral. Being in the enchanting land of ice and snow feels miles away from Hanna's busy life back in Los Angeles, especially under the complicated circumstances.

But when Hanna discovers that her father's body is missing, that's when things really get weird. A mysterious man, Rasmus, tells Hanna the truth: her father was a powerful shaman who went into Tuonela, the Realm of the Dead, in order to barter for more life, and has been held captive by Tuoni, the God of Death. The only way her father can be freed is if she travels with Rasmus into the mythical underworld to rescue him.

Willing to do anything to have a second-chance with her father, Hanna accompanies Rasmus into the dark and bloody realm, traveling via the River of Shadows, stalked by dangerous creatures, monsters, and the living dead, until they finally come into the haunted kingdom ruled by Death and his family. Only for her to be captured and held prisoner by the God of Death himself. Turns out Death is intrigued by Hanna's beauty and fierceness and makes a bargain with her. If she marries him, and spends an eternity in the Realm of the Dead as his wife, he'll set her father free.

But even the most noble sacrifices come with hidden costs, and Hanna's might involve the most unexpected of all things: her heart.

Sunday, September 11

Book Review: Wildfire In His Arms by Johanna Lindsey

Author: Johanna Lindsey
Title: Wildfire In His Arms
Series: (Callahan-Warren #2)
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: ebook
Pages: 400
Published: June 16th 2015
Where I Got It: Borrowed from library

With his work in Montana completed now that the Callahan-Warren feud has ended in marriage rather than bloodshed, Degan Grant sets out for California because it is far away from the home he wants to forget—until the US Marshal who saved his life calls in a favor. All Degan has to do is apprehend three outlaws on the marshal’s list and turn them over to the law. Easy enough, he figures, for a man no one wants to tangle with.

But then a bold young woman crosses his path. Maxine grew up so pretty and attracted so much unwanted attention in her Texas hometown that events spiraled out of control. She will try anything to escape the handsome, enigmatic gunfighter who intends to turn her over to a corrupt sheriff who will hang her instead of putting her on trial.

Saddled with a sassy, spirited young woman who insists she is innocent, Degan must hunt down a vicious killer and keep an old enemy at bay. But forced into intimate proximity with his beguiling prisoner, he finds his desire sparking into a wildfire of passion, and he can no longer deny that it is time for them to risk confronting their pasts so he can have a chance at a future with her in his arms forever.

Been meaning to read book 2 for a minute, but kept forgetting to grab it from the library. 

Here we follow Degan and Maxine. Degan has finished his work when the Callahan-Warren fued ended with a happy marriage. He sets out for California until the US Marshal who saved his life calls in a favor. All Degan has to do is capture three outlaws and turn them in. But then a beautiful woman crosses his path. Maxine grew up pretty and was given unwanted attention in her hometown. An event will spiral things out of her control and she runs. Degan has to take her in and she will try anything to escape him. On top of dealing with her and her insisting she is innocent, he has to deal with a vicious killer and keep an old enemy at bay. 

This would do well as a standalone. There are few references to events from the last book. Degan was a gunslinger for one of the Feud families and once that feud was ended, he was allowed to go. 

I adore Degan. I liked Max too. They were for sure made for each other but they have a lot to weed the main fact that Max is wanted and whatnot. That is a big wedge for love ;) Their dialogue was fun and they made me laugh. Max is a hoot.  

Now...I did enjoy our characters' cat-and-mouse game and them falling in love, but I hated the solution to all their issues and problems. It was...too easy. And it was for sure so unrealistic. 

Besides that, I really enjoyed watching these two muddle through. They really are perfect for each other. 

In the end, this was a fun romance. Yes, some unrealistic solutions, but fun. I'll give this 3 stars. 


- #23 for Romance Reading Challenge - Someone riding a horse on the cover

Tuesday, September 6

Book Review: A Witch by Chance - Written Fireside

Author: Lori Connelly, Aileen Harkwood, Carmel Harrington, Lynn Marie Hulsman, Jane Lark, Sarah Lefebve, Kari Lemor, Teresa F. Morgan, Zara Stoneley 
Title: A Witch by Chance
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Short story
Format: ebook
Pages: 50
Published: October 13th 2014
Where I Got It: Amazon

What do you get when you combine a grimoire, a black cat, and a sexy stranger? Nine romance writers sitting round a virtual campfire have joined together to write a Halloween short story treat.

Ivy Mitchell’s life is changed forever after she follows her cat, Karma, into an old house, where she stumbles upon a strange book that not only unleashes her destiny, but attracts a smoking hot, mysterious stranger named Chance with wicked powers of his own. Ivy was born a witch, but an important decision awaits. Make the wrong choice and more than her powers are at risk.

A story in nine parts, each written by a different writer in her own individual style.

What a fun concept!! It was a freebie on Amazon so of course, I had to download it and check it out! 

This is a story told in 9 parts. Each part was written by a different author in the format of a fireside tale. Here we follow Ivy and her cat Karma. She stumbles upon a strange book that not only unleashes her destiny but a stranger by the name of Chance. Ivy was a born witch, but she has an important decision that could determine the fate of all.  

This was fun. You could tell each part was from a different author but it all flowed together nicely. That was the only thing I was worried about, but it worked well. 

Poor Ivy. LOL. She gets tossed into a crazzzzzzy situation. 

The ending was a surprise! Literally had zero ideas what was going to happen. That one twist? Dang.

My only issue was that a few things needed to be fleshed out. I feel like it needed a few extra pages. 

This was fun. I wish I had read it by a campfire...just to add to the feel of it ;) But yes, fun format, fun set of characters, a crazy situation, a nice twist at the end, and a character you like. For sure recommend this! I'll give it 4 stars. 

Monday, September 5

Blodeuedd's Monday Review: One Sexy Mistake by Sarah Ballance

Narrated by: Maxine Mitchell

Series: Chase Brothers (Ballance), Book 5

Length: 3 hrs and 7 mins

Release date: 09-13-22

Publisher: Tantor Audio

Contemporary romance / to review

Audio novellas are fun! And short! I like short. Dang, short is good. Srsly, I need to listen to more audio novellas.

So yes, short insta obviously cos it mostly takes places during two days. Olivia wants an easy hookup, Grady wants no strings attached. They do it. Boom, epic snowstorm, she is stranded with the guy she meant to do and leave.

Insert creepy looking cat, some drama with her last job, and some hot feelings. It is hard not to connect when you are stuck together inside an apartment.

Short and easy, and it still made me believe these two wanted and got a happily ever after.

Good narration. It is almost all these two characters, but she did well with those. I easily fell into the story

Olivia Patton's life just imploded. One night with sexy hacker Grady Donovan seems like the perfect, ego-soothing plan—until an epic snowstorm shuts down the city and thwarts her morning-after escape. Now the only walk-of-shame she'll be taking is right back to Grady's door.

Forced to actually talk, Grady and Olivia realize they can't stand each other. Forget another round in the bedroom—if it wasn't his apartment, she'd shove Grady outside to freeze. But with all the blistering sexual tension flying around, a second night with the hacker might be exactly what she needs...if they don't kill each other first.