Wednesday, May 31

Blodeuedd's Wednesday Review: She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

By: Shelley Parker-Chan

Narrated by: Natalie Naudus

Series: The Radiant Emperor Duology, Book 1

Length: 14 hrs and 36 mins

Release date: 07-20-21 by Macmillian Audio

Historical fiction /loan

I love history, did I google? Yes I did! Was there an Emperor born into poverty, becoming a monk and then emperor? Yes. Was he a girl? NO, he had like a million kids on his million concubines. BUT, what if that boy died and his sister assumed his identity? A good twist (how they will handle the many kids that will come dunno)

So yes a poor girl is born in a village. Everyone dies. There are mongols, raiders, and rebels. The girl becomes a monk. She is steadfast in becoming her brother and taking his destiny. I liked her spirit, she truly believed she could just pretend to become her brother and therefore get that greatness he was promised.

Zhu never gave up. She became Zhu. She became a warrior. She did everything to get to that fate she was promised.

I liked the story. Though I admit, that with listening it was hard and I am unsure how to spell anything at all. When it comes to the names I would rather have read them. I think it would have have been great in print, but it was great listening too. And omg it would have been such a great tv series. I always mean to watch a Chinese, Korean dramas on netflix but never do. They look epic. And this was epic. With a sweep she killed 10 000 men, ok it took a bit more, but you will see.

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother's identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother's abandoned greatness.

Tuesday, May 30

TMST: Summer reading

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.

5/30: Which books are you looking forward to reading this summer? (June-August)

This year I have been trying to focus on my TBR list and not take on as many ARCs. I do have a couple though that I am really looking forward to:


Technically re-reading this, but this is a new version/edited 

Next book for book club

Monday, May 29

Not-so-Saturday Joint Review: XO Kitty (season 1)

This month we decided to review 'XO Kitty' season 1. 

Blodeuedd is in red and Carole is in green.

Title: XO Kitty (season 1)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Released: 2023
Rating: TV-14
Site: Netflix 

A new love story unfolds when teen matchmaker Kitty reunites with her long-distance boyfriend at the same boarding school attended by her late mother.

Click here for the trailer. 

So we both assumed this was a movie, ooops.

I’m kinda glad it was a show instead. We got more time with Kitty and the other characters. 

True, it worked really well as a tv-series, the only bad part was that damn cliffhanger at the end!!!

OMG that ending!!!!!! We need season 2 asap. At least with the original movie you could be good at the end and leave as is. You wanted more of course, but no crazy cliffhanger. 

Yeah, not cool netflix, considering how many shows they axe!

For real. I’m nervous. It is trending so it seems to be popular-ish at the moment. I have my hope that she will get with a certain character (I don’t wanna spoil anything) because honestly…..I think they fit oddly well together. That character never lied to her or anything. 

Yes, especially if you are thinking of the person you said. The end nailed that idea for me. I wanted it before but that end, awwww. Open your eyes Kitty

I think we are thinking of the same person. I’ll black it out as a spoiler……..[SPOILER ALERT] Min Ho! Love him. I love the enemies-to-lovers vibeeee. He was nothing but honest with her. And him being with her on the plane???? [END OF SPOILER] ADORBS!

Yup, that is right. Loved it. I felt that was genuine. Like first we have hopeless first love, then infatuation, then something real

Like don’t get me wrong I liked the “options” but I think the one I mentioned is the better fit. A mix of them all if you will. LOL

And honestly I did not really see or understand that one crush she had. It felt rather sudden and thrown in. Not to mention it gave bully vibes (even if they became friends later). I just, no

It felt like unneeded additional drama. Sort of like a red herring in a way. There was no way that character was going to even look her way. That character found their person already. 

And if there is another season it will be unnecessary drama, I hate cheating. 

Me too. That whole thing with Dae really, really bugged me. I get it was fake but……maybe he should’ve said something. Even if she didn’t come to Korea to be with him she would’ve seen it on the news eventually. And that looks worse. 

Ugh, I hated it! Like hello, tell her the  TRUTH, and then at least I would have been all ok, I will do it for you so that you have the money. But she would have known he likes her, and not that other person.

Agreed. There was a way to tell Kitty without letting all the secrets out of the bag. She would’ve understood. Granted, we wouldn’t have had the show, but I feel like they could’ve focused on other things. 

It just made me really dislike her, and then we are supposed to like her cos it was all fake? No, I do not forgive that easily. I would have hold my damn grudge

Yes, I did struggle feeling bad for her or forgiving her and then suddenly loving her too. Mmmm. I feel like she was just as bad as her parents. 

I for some reason had an easier time forgiving her mum. So weird. Also, her mum should leave the dad, at once. F reputation.

I have a feeling she will. The dad was an asshat and treats poor people like trash!!!! Terrible dude. OH….is it bad that I want Kitty to get with that young professor too? LOLLL He was adorable and needs a HEA

Ok, so we are both bad, but but! Kitty should like wait 3 years at least. Cos else, euwww creepy.

Of course. Date the young character for 3 years. Go to college and then stumble upon the young professor at some cafe or bar and then they have a meet-cute and fall in love. Marry, babies, and HEA. 

Yes! That would be perfect, gods, that guy was so sweet!

He really was. He deserves the best!! I hope he gets to have the relationship he wants with his parents. He is a gem!

By the way, the whole ending felt really unfair. Like hello! She should have sued the damn school for what that roommate did!!! 

OMG yes. I would’ve sued. But there is hope for sure with that phone call Yuri was making to her mom. Sounds like it’ll be resolved. But how unfair. 

Yes I am sure it will be resolved, but I found it disturbing that it was not called upon. ANd that she rather mentions freaking tissues than that breach of trust. Not to mention she is underage. And I mean wtf

For fing real. And the dudes didn’t get in trouble. I feel like they just wanted to get rid of her. Which how shitty. Just tell Margot she would rip that school apart. SPEAKING of which…I hope we get to see the sisters in the next season. 

I did miss the sisters :/ I really want to see them!! I get if they are busy, but a tiny cameo pleeeeease

Maybe they wanted to just focus on Kitty for the first season? Maybe when they land and they are on holiday they will be there? I have to imagine they’ll be there for Xmas. 

Them at xmas, yes! I hope so. And I hope netflix gives us more.

I hope so too. OMG. It would be funny if they call that character “Dae” and then Kitty has to awkwardly explain EVERYTHING that happened. I want that character to see an actual loving family. 

Oh that would be so funny! Like they are meeting her at the airport and is all Dae!!

That would be a hilarious opener. A nice way to recap on the last season. 

That needs to happen!

For real! And I need that character to sit at the Xmas table and see actual love and affection in a family. 

Srsly, all the feels! If netflix does not use that they are missing out!

Again…we need to be writers for Netflix. We have so many ideasssssss! 

We will write a series or a movie, and it will be freaking amazing. Amazing!


The end?

Indeed! So hard to not give away spoilers….this was good. We need season 2 like yesterday. 

Friday, May 26

Book Review: Girl Country by Jacqueline Vogtman

Author: Jacqueline Vogtman
Title: Girl Country
Genre: Anthology, Short stories, Fiction, Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Pages: 200
Published: May 16, 2023
Where I Got It: My shelf (Publisher/author for my unbiased and honest opinion)

A near-future farmer battling environmental crises takes in
a mysterious girl he finds on the roadside. A bus driver navigates through treacherous weather and memories of her tragic past as she races to save children from the end of the world. A woman keeps giving birth to children from different time periods. And a woman struggles with her young daughter mysteriously transforming into something wild and unruly, confronting themes of motherhood and family.

In Girl Country , stories range from medieval Belgium to the near-future of the American Midwest, populated by
mothers and monsters, mermaids and milkmaids, nuns and bus drivers—women in
every walk of life, but particularly working-class women, navigating the
intersection of the mundane and the magical. Perfect for fans of Orange World
and Animal Wife , these are stories about women with teeth—wild and

There is something about that cover that had me wanting to read the summary. Once I read the summary I KNEW I had to check this book out. Plus I can't remember when I last read an has been a hot min....

Girl Country
This was one heck of an opener. It was really good, but also really, really sad. I wish we got more! Oof, that ending and those poor women? Creepppppyyyyyy! 4 stars

Once Bound for Earth
Again...I want more from this one! I feel like this could be a full story. What happens next???????? But yes, very good. Liked it a lot. I especially love that moment at the end between our heroine and another character. It did make me smile. 4 stars

Children and Other Artifacts 
Honestly...I think this is one of my favorites. It is such a wild story. Weird and strange, but it has a strong message at the end. Very different and interesting. 5 stars. 

A Love Letter From Very Far Away
Awwwwwww this made me tear up a tiny bit. The ending was a surprise but not at the same time. Hard to explain. When something was mentioned I guessed what was going to happen, but I didn't expect WHAT happened. gotta read it ;) 5 stars. 

When The Tree Grows This High
This one was really good. It was more simple than the other ones. It was just about a girl navigating life during The Great War. It was sad and bittersweet. 5 stars. 

I started off not really liking this one. I found myself wanting to skim. However, I was shocked by the twist and ended up liking it more than I thought I would. 3 stars. 

The Hall of Human Origins
I honestly had to stop reading for a few after this one. This one truly makes me think and I took some time to mull this one over. Honestly, this one would be a good one to discuss with others. I'll give it 4 stars. 

Wilder Family
This was a super sad one. It was super weird too and oddly bittersweet. I did like it, but when the end happened all I kept thinking was, "HOW ON EARTH DO YOU TELL EVERYONE?" That's a conversation I would like to listen to. 4 stars. 

Jubilee Year
Not sure why I didn't connect more to this. It had everything I would like, but it fell a little flat. 2 stars.

The Mermaid and the Pornographer
I didn't expect to like this one so much. I wasn't sure what I felt at first, but as the story went along it was tragic and then the ending was fitting. But yes, surprisingly good. 4 stars.

The Preservation of Objects Lost at Sea
This was a nice way to end the collection. I liked this one. The ending was good but it did take a moment for me to get sucked into the story. 4 stars.

Overall, I really did like this collection of stories. There was only one that I didn't like or love. But the majority are good! I def recommend this if you like a mix of genres and stories that have some good twists and turns. Doing some complicated math, I will stamp this with 4 stars. 

Wednesday, May 24

Re-listen: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

Author: Anne Bishop
Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Title: Marked in Flesh
(The Others #4)
Genre: Paranormal, UF, Fantasy, & romance
Published: March 8th 2016
Pages: Audiobook

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

Slightly behind in re-reading this series. Got sidetracked with some other stuff. 

There is a radical human group that is seeking to take more and more and more land. They also want to get rid of the Others. What they don't realize there are much older and more dangerous forces out there. Simon, Meg, and their friends will be the only things that will save themselves and the humans that they love. 

Humans........sighs.......why are they so dumb? I'm sure if this world was our world there would be lunatic humans like this that do these dumb things. You can't help but cheer for the Others to eat and kill the bad humans. 

Love Meg and Simon and all their friends. There is a scene that will make you sob like a baby. You see it coming since it was seen (plus I already knew it was happening since it was a re-read) but holy tears. SOBS!!!!!

This was for sure intense and you can feel the build-up from page one. You can feel that something is happening and nothing no one can do to stop it. 

Awww that ending is beautiful. 

The narrator is fantastic and I couldn't imagine anyone else doing this book series. Perfection.

5 stars for sureeee. 

- #24 for Audiobook challenge

Tuesday, May 23

Blodeuedd's Tuesday Review: The Firefighter's Dilemma

By: Mariah Ankenman

Narrated by: Connor Brown

Series: Mile High Firefighters, Book 3

Length: 7 hrs and 40 mins

Release date: 04-25-23

Publisher: Tantor Audio

Contemporary romance / to review

I like it short, I really should listen to more audiobook novellas.

Steph and Eli both want a promotion, they are both firemen at the same station, and now they will compete in a reality show. Together against others.

They compete, they grow closer, and things happen. It is a novella so it happens fast. But they have been coworkers for a long time, and now they are in close proximity to each other. 

But they are still working towards that same promotion and there in lies the drama.

Short, but just the perfect length. Some romance, some drama some happily ever after

Good narration. It was done well and it kept me hooked.

Firefighter Stephanie Díaz won’t let anyone stop her from becoming the youngest female fire chief in Denver. Not the jerks who’d like to see an ambitious Latine woman admit defeat. Not the ultra-bro firefighters she has to work with. And definitely not her ridiculously hot and often infuriating, fellow firefighter Eli Ward. Now Stephanie has the chance to prove to everyone that she’s got what it takes…but there’s one helluva catch.

The Battle of the First Responders is a live, balls-out competition in the secluded Rockies and Stephanie has been selected—along with Ward as her partner. On the line are their reputations, a whole lot of cash…and the promotion they’ve been fighting for. Teaming up is the perfect chance to finally settle their never ending one-upmanship, but it also exposes the smoldering attraction they’ve held at bay.

Now their days are fueled by a high-stakes, adrenaline-fueled competition. Their nights are filled with sizzling deep kisses that steal her breath away. But this sexy little fling is about to set off a five-alarm blaze she can’t control…

Monday, May 22

Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Author: Helen Hoang
Title: The Kiss Quotient
Series: The Kiss Quotient #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit
Format: Paperback
Pages: 323
Published: June 5, 2018
Where I Got It: My shelf (Xmas gift)

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

I was so excited to unwrap this for Xmas! I have been wanting to read this!

Here we follow Stella and Michael. Stella is all business and loves math. However, she wants to get better at having sex and she figures that she should hire a she hires an escort to help her. In comes Michael who has turned to the escort service to get as much money as possible to help his family. He decides to accept Stella's plan and help her learn and check off all the boxes of her lesson plans. Before long the two will fall for each other but things couldn't be more complex. 

I really enjoyed this one. It was different and refreshing. I also loved the fact that Stella, our heroine, has Asperger’s Syndrome. She is so smart and has money, but she has issues with some things. I also loved that when Michael finds out he literally doesn't care. He just loves her and understands her. However, he has a laundry list of issues too.

They fit together perfectly and there was insta-lust, but it takes them some time to realize it was more than lust. 

I do feel like the love a little quick. I would've liked more time for them just talking and learning about each other. Don't get me wrong...there were convos...but I felt like they mainly only talked dirty or banged. More talking one-on-one would've been nice. I also would've liked to see more at the end. Maybe see the proposal. I felt like we spent too much time in the bedroom and that blow-up drama near the end. It seemed to go on too long and I was meh about certain parts of that.

Other than that, this was super sweet. Stella is loveable and Michael is a good egg. 

However, I adored Quan. *swoon* LOVE HIM! He does get to have his own HEA in book 3 so I can't wait!

Overall, I liked this a lot. Cute couple. Fun side characters. I would've liked more talking and seeing more of their HEA at the end. I'll give this 3 stars. 

Wednesday, May 17

Audiobook Review: Resting Scrooge Face by Meghan Quinn

Author: Meghan Quinn
Narrator: Carly Robins, Aaron Shedlock
Title: Resting Scrooge Face
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Short Story, Novella
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 80
Published: November 29, 2022
Where I got It: Audible

After a bad breakup, Nola wants nothing to do with Christmas, especially in her quaint hometown of Bright Harbor, Maine. Infuriatingly charming and cheery, Nola’s surroundings only worsen her sour mood.

To make matters worse, Caleb, the boy who broke her heart years ago, is all grown up and still living in town. While doing her best to avoid him, Nola bumps into the local mailman, who gives her a mysterious letter. And when she finds that the writer is a fellow Scrooge, she can’t help but feel her spirit lifting.

Nola writes back to her new pen pal—who, unbeknownst to Nola, is none other than Caleb. When Caleb gets a response hand delivered by the mailman, he’s intrigued by the mystery sender. A friendly correspondence develops—and quickly turns flirtatious.

Although Nola and Caleb claim they can’t stand each other, they can’t deny the simmering attraction that brought them together in the first place.

Can these nameless pen pals write their own love story—or will they be too caught up with the ghosts of their Christmases past to find a future together?

I know I is May and I should be reading summer-y books. I honestly meant to save this for closer to Xmas time, but it's been a long couple of weeks and I think I needed an Xmas miracle to help liven my spirits. 

Here we have Nola and Caleb who broke up years ago. Caleb broke her heart so she went to New York. She is back in their small town after another heartbreak. Caleb is surrounded by guilt for making the decision to break Nola's heart back then so she could live her dreams and now she is back in town. They try to avoid each other. Little do they know they are pen pals who share a hatred for Xmas.   

This was super cute. I loved that they got to know each other via penpal writing. It was a cute way to reconnect without knowing it was the other person so they didn't have the past hovering over them. 

I'm glad Nola forgave Caleb, because he honestly was just so immature at that time and thought he was doing what was best. He didn't want to go to New York and she did. She had big dreams. If he went with her...he would've been miserable...if she stayed, she would've resented him. It was good they broke up when they did. Sure, it could've been done...nicer, but they were young. 

Now....I wish this had been a few pages longer. I would've liked to have an epilogue or something. I feel like there are some loose ends for their HEA. 

I would love more stories from this town! Esp about two side characters that were enemies but found love got married. I would like that story!

Narration was perfect. I feel like I have heard the male voice before. I could for sure do more by him. His voice is so soothing. I liked hers too. I could see her doing a Molly Harper book. 

In the end, this was short and sweet and a cute second chance story. Perfect for the holidays or if you are like me need a sprinkle of Xmas joy. 4 stars. 

- #23 for Audiobook challenge
- #18 for Romance Reading Challenge - Second Chances

Tuesday, May 16

Blodeuedd's Tuesday Review: Aziel by Eve Langlais


By: Eve Langlais

Narrated by: Veronica Fox

Series: Elyon's Warriors Series, Book 1

Length: 5 hrs and 52 mins

Release date: 05-09-23

Publisher: Tantor Audio

Scifi romance /to review

Another Eve Langlais series and I wanted to try it. 

It was  shorter than some, but it still worked well. And  it was well quite something.

Lillith believes in science, but then this big hunky angel?! shows up. And suddenly there are demons and what on earth is going on?

The angels, oh they are confusing. They come from outer space. Earth has been left to itself. So are they angels, are they aliens? It was intriuing.

But there is romance too, obvi. Some feelings will start, but first they hate each other.

I do wonder about the next book, pretty sure there will be a new angel/human mix. Hell is coming.,

Good fun narration. It was quite something

It took an angel to make me believe in love.

As a woman of science, I am an unabashed, agnostic atheist—until I meet my first angel. Aziel, with big, beautiful wings, claims he's here to stop humanity from being annihilated. Sounds impressive, but I have questions.

Full of arrogance and demands, he wants access to my life's work while blaming me for the coming apocalypse. It seems my innocuous signal seeking life beyond our galaxy succeeded. Someone heard my invitation, and now the world is in grave danger. At least according to Aziel.

As I get to know him, I find myself reevaluating everything I thought I knew. More surprising than my sudden belief in religion, though, is my irrational love for an overbearing angel. But will he defy Heaven's orders to save me?

Monday, May 15

Audiobook Review: Snow Falling by Davidson King

Author: Davidson King
Narrator: Philip Alces, Joel Leslie
Title: Snow Falling
Series: Haven Hart #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 247 
Published:  November 27, 2017
Where I got It: Audible

After running from a past destined to kill him, Snow has been hiding on the streets.

Tell nobody your name.
Tell nobody your secrets.
Trust nobody!
These are the rules of the streets.

His entire life changes when he saves an eight-year-old boy from a violent end. Christopher Manos is one of the most powerful crime bosses in the country.

Don’t ask anyone to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself.
Secrets can get you killed.
Trust nobody!
These are the rules he lives by.

When his eight-year-old nephew disappears, he never expects the boy’s savior to end up being his own. A man with a dangerous past and a man with a dangerous future find love amidst murder and mayhem. But with Snow's life being threatened at every turn, will Christopher's best be enough to prevent Snow Falling?

Randomly stumbled upon this on in Audible while looking something else up. Soooooo why not?

Here we follow Snow and Christopher. Snow has been living on the streets for the last few years. He guards his secrets and his name close to his heart. He doesn't want to be found and he wants to stay away from his past. Things will change when he saves a young boy from a terrible dude...he will find that there is hope and love. and secrets coming up from the ash can be dangerous if not careful. 

Poor Snow. You can't help but adore him and want him to find happiness esp after learning about his past. Gah!

Christopher is a crime boss, but he does have a heart. He donates to a lot of charities and he protects those he loves. He has done some bad stuff to protect the innocents. I liked that he was pretty layered. He is not fully innocent but he is not fully bad.

You can tell there is some lust there between them, but the love and lust doesn't happen for a bit which worked well for them. They do not trust easily and Snow has his secrets from his past life. Christopher is appreciative for Snow saving his nephew and realizes he is super smart and takes him under his wing. 

There is some danger and some drama. It was all very fun and very sad in some parts. Again........poor Snow. 

I totes did not buy how one of the baddies got certain info the way they did. Seemed so unlikely tbh. I guess even some dumb people can surprise you?

The narration was fine. The one doing Snow's POV was great for Snow and some characters, however, the goon voice for some folks had me wanting to laugh. I get used to it after a while, but it was still rough. The other narrator who did Christopher's side was fantastic. Def the best of the two. I would've been fine if just that one did the narration for the whole book. 

All-in-all, I ended up liking this more than I thought I would. The story was nice. Loved watching two characters who truly deserved peace and love find each other. The narration was 50/50 though. I am curious about book 2. Maybe someday! I'll give this 3 stars. 

- #22 for Audiobook challenge
- #17 for Romance Reading Challenge - LGBTQ

Friday, May 12

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Genre: Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Contemporary, Romance
Format: ebook
Pages: 398
Published: June 13, 2017
Where I Got It: My shelf (Amazon)

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Been eyeballing this book for a little bit, but then it was picked for Book Club SO I got the push I needed to read this emerald. 

Here we follow Monique and Evelyn. Evelyn Hugo is and was a Hollywood movie icon. She is aging and wants to tell the truth behind her glamorous and scandalous life. She tracks down Monique who is a nobody writer trying to make her way and now her husband has left her. Monique takes the job to tell Evelyn's story. Write a biography and maybe this will jumpstart her career. By the end of it, Monique will discover and learn so much about Evelyn and herself. She will also learn the tragic way her life intersects with Evelyn's. 

I was literally hooked from page 1. There is something about Monique and Evelyn that is dazzling. I literally stayed up way too long finishing this because I just HAD.TO.KNOW. There is a BIG reveal near the end that just cemented my love for this book. 

What I loved most about this was that Evelyn knew she wasn't a good guy all the time. She knew her flaws and what she was willing to do to get to the top. I love a good complex character like that. She had a heart and she wasn't evil, but she knew what she wanted and she knew how to get it. 

I found the format really interesting. Each section of the book (there are 7) is named after her husband. She had 7 of them and married them all for VASTLY different reasons. I also loved that we learn Evelyn's story as if we were listening to the recording. It is her story in her words. It felt right. 

Now...I shouldn't be surprised she fell in love with a woman. That is part of the whole story and not a spoiler. However, I was surprised by WHO she fell for. That was a bigger shock than the big reveal at the end. And to be frank.................I think she could've done better. That lady was meh and by the end, I did warm up to her a bit, but I didn't like her. I might be in the minority here, but I felt like Evelyn deserved better. But you love who you love I guess. 

I loved Harry. I loved his and Evelyn's friendship. 

The ending....damn. That was good. 

My only "issue" with the book is that I wanted more time with Monique and the aftermath of what she writes. We get to see a clipping of her feature (like an excerpt), but what did she end up doing? I want more. Maybe a sequel. Call it.....'The Seven Books of Monique Grant' and have another person take her story. GAH! That would be fun. 

But yes, I ended up really adoring this book. I feel like this is a good contender for book of the year. It's up against some goodies already, but I really liked this. I wouldn't mind checking out the audio one day. 5 stars from me.

- #16 for Romance Reading Challenge - Green dress

Wednesday, May 10

Audiobook Review: Wild Cowboy Ways by Carolyn Brown

Author: Carolyn Brown
Narrator: Chelsea Hatfield
Title: Wild Cowboy Ways
Series: Lucky Penny Ranch #1
Genre: Western, Contemporary Romance
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 356 
Published:  December 22, 2015
Where I got It: Borrowed library

Allie Logan has her hands full with a bad breakup, a struggling renovation business, a sister who won’t stop flaunting her engagement ring, and a grandmother who keeps wandering off at the most inopportune times. In fact, Granny Irene’s latest habit is sneaking out to the ranch next door, where’s she’s convinced a lost love awaits. But when Allie goes to collect her, she finds instead a new neighbor—six‑foot‑plus of tall, dark, and charming.

Blake Dawson is one more thing Allie can’t deal with right now. But since he’s hired her to help repair his rundown ranch, they’re suddenly spending an awful lot of time together. And as family secrets—past and present—start to come to light, Allie finds that opening her heart might just be the fresh start her life needs.

Picked this up in my Libby app for my library. Been itching to reach a Carolyn Brown western. It's been a hot min. 

Here we follow Allie and Blake. Allie has her hands full with life after a bad marriage, a struggling renovation business, a sister who is engaged to someone who won't make her happy, and a grandma who keeps wandering off. Blake has moved in next door to try and repair a rundown old ranch and give it new life. When an old lady confuses him with an old love, he will meet Allie and who just might steal his wild, Cowboy's heart.

This was a nice one. I liked Allie and Blake. She is a tough cookie and likes working with her hands. She has her own business and can renovate pretty much anything. Blake is a hard worker too and has big dreams. They are the perfect pair. 

Gah, screw her ex. He was a sexist and needed to be kicked. 

Honestly...I wouldn't want to live in this small town as it stands. Lots of sexists (men and women) running around. Lots of bad men. Lots of bored housewives. Things seem to be getting better with women deciding to do what makes them one lady is finally going to open a Cafe! So maybe with book 2 I'll actually like this small town and the people. We'll see. But yes, I felt like this had 1800s morals that are tossed in a modern world. Mmm some parts did seem a hair over the top. 

There wasn't a crazy amount of drama. Mainly Allie battling her own demons from her ex and her bitchy sis and mom being all "HE IS A WOMANIZER AND THAT RANCH HE BOUGHT IS CURSED!". And he is/was a womanizer, but you can see him changing his ways. I'm glad the drama was pretty light. 

WHICH screw that sister of Allie's as well esp near the end when she unloaded on Allie and said some TERRIBLE and MEAN things in the name of "helping" Allie. I just wanted to kick that sister too. Let her be miserable with that preacher. Allie is a sweetie and didn't deserve that! I felt like Allie forgave her too quickly and it was uncalled for. 

The narrator was pretty good. She did well. All the men's voices sounded alike though so I had to really pay attention. 

Now, I will put a Trigger Warning for this book. It does deal with Alzheimer's/Dementia. Some scenes made me cry a bit thinking about my grandpa. 

In the end, this was a nice romance. Some drama, but you can tell it was instant-love before they even knew it. Yes, they spotted the lust but you can just tell they are perfect for each other. Some intense conservative values and some sexist folks. Things ease up, but yeah...and I am not a fan of Allie's sister who is getting a book. Mmm. I'll give this 3 stars. 


- #21 for Audiobook challenge
- #15 for Romance Reading Challenge - Blue pants on cover

Tuesday, May 9

DNF - The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard

Author: Lucius Shepard
Title: The Dragon Griaule
Series: Dragon Griaule
Genre: Fantasy, Anthology, Short Stories, SciFi
Format: ebook
Pages: 432 
Published: May 31, 2012
Where I Got It: My shelf (Amazon)

More than twenty-five years ago, Lucius Shepard introduced us to a remarkable fictional world, a world separated from our own “by the thinnest margin of possibility.” There, in the mythical Carbonales Valley, Shepard found the setting for “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule,” the classic account of an artist—Meric Cattanay—and his decades long effort to paint—and kill—a dormant, not quite dead dragon measuring 6,000 feet from end to end. The story was nominated for multiple awards and is now recognized as one of its author’s signature accomplishments.

Over the years, Shepard has revisited this world in a number of brilliant, independent narratives that have illuminated the Dragon’s story from a variety of perspectives. This loosely connected series reached a dramatic crossroads in the astonishing novella, “The Taborin Scale”. The Dragon Griaule now gathers all of these hard to find stories into a single generous volume. The capstone of the book—and a particular treat for Shepard fans—is “The Skull,” a new 40,000 word novel that advances the story in unexpected ways, connecting the ongoing saga of an ancient and fabulous beast with the political realities of Central America in the 21st century. Augmented by a group of engaging, highly informative story notes, The Dragon Griaule is an indispensable volume, the work of a master stylist with a powerful—and always unpredictable—imagination.

Okay - so this was an Amazon freebie I got a few months ago. Decided to finally give this a read. 

This is a collection of shorts that take place in this fictional world. 

Did I miss something? Are there other books? I'm sure there are, but I had no idea going into this bad boy. Got this for free. I get the shorts tied into one another, but I couldn't help feeling like I was missing something. 

I never got hooked. I kept skimming and skimming and skimming. Nothing got me. I believe I got to about 42% or something like that before I shut the ebook and began downloading my next read. Yes, I think I am done. Maybe it is a me thing? Maybe I am the problem? The writing seemed okay, but I just could not get into this no matter how I tried. At one point when I opened the book, it opened up a couple pages before my bookmark and I didn't even realize so I obviously didn't obtain what I had read. Maybe I'll revisit it one day? Mmm.

So yes, DNF. Onto the next.