Saturday, December 28, 2019

2020 Literary Pickers Scavenger Hunt Goal Post

This is such a fun challenge and I can’t wait to search out the items!
Host: Delighted Reader Blog Sign up HERE
Levels:
Level One – Treasure Hunter in Training- 10 items/10 places
Level Two – Garage Sale Guru- 25 items/ 25 places
Level Three -Professional Picker- 50 items/50 places
My Goal: Level Three -Professional Picker- 50 items/50 places
 
Literary Pickers Scavenger Hunt List 2020
 
Around the House
Game console
Bed sheets
Pet
Cord or cordless phone
Musical instrument
Portrait/picture on wall
Fireplace
Kitchen chair
Pantry
Vegetable garden
House key
Microwave
Bookshelf
Security lighting
Yard ornament
Laundry basket
Candles/Lantern
Porch swing/rocking chair on porch
Cooking pot
Recycle bin/recycler on spaceship
 
Around the World
Mexico
Australia
Japan
Egypt
France
Caribbean Island
Ireland
Middle Eastern Country
Southeast Asia
A location (not listed above) on your travel bucket list- can be a region, territory or state
 
It Goes Zoom Zoom
Sailboat
Space cargo or transport ship
Public Transportation
Elevator/lift
Truck
Steam Train
Horse Drawn Carriage
Parachute/Personal flight equipment
Electric car/monorail
Elements to Factor
 
Enemies to Lovers
Threesome or Love Triangle
Sweet Romance (no more than kisses)
Dual or Multiple Narrators
First Person Point of View
Murder
End of the world/Disaster
Road Trip/ Personal Journey
Same Sex
A hated trope (DNF’d book ok)
Favorite trope
Over a Year on Your TBR
Borrowed/Loaned to you
Audio
Graphics or Illustrations
First time Author/Narrator
BDSM/Kink
Reunion/Second Chances
Arranged or Forced Marriage
Fake Mates
Fated Mates/Instalove
Known each other for years
Couple 40 years old or older
Alternate or fantasy world
Brother/Sister’s Bestfriend
 
All Terrain
On another planet
Island
Big City
Small Town
Ice/Tundra
 
Bon Appetite
Dessert
Cooked/baked/prepped right in the scene
Tea
Wine
Rice
Tropical Fruit
Salad
Picnic food
Frozen Dinner/MREs/Food from a space ship galley
Burnt Food/Kitchen Disaster
 
Tools of the Trade
Garden tool
Lap top/tablet
Monitor/Screen
Tool box/kit/chest
Sex Toy
Saddle
Firefighter gear
Knife
Body Armor
 
Wear It
Poncho/Wrap
Tattoo (not on arm)
Helmet
Tux/frock coat
Slippers/fuzzy socks
Engagement Ring
 
Cover Clues
 Primarily purple
Five Words or More in Title
People/person in shadow
A couple with one of them looking away
A proper name in the title
Animal on cover
 
Items Found
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Friday, December 27, 2019

2020 THE BAD BOYS OF ROMANCE READING CHALLENGE Goal Post


I’ve floundered in this challenge in the past but I’m determined to complete Level Two—Engaged to the Bad Boy—in 2020.
Those pesky rules….
* The minimum goal is 5 books.
* The books have to feature a bad boy hero:
Rock stars, MC members, streetfighters, assassins, mafia, loners, geeks, etc.
* Only romance series are accepted. Any sub-genre of romance accepted.
* Sign up HERE between Now – November 30, 2020.
Levels:
Level One – 5-9 books – Capturing the Bad Boy
Level Two – 10-15 books – Engaged to the Bad Boy
Level Three – 15 books or more – Taking the Bad Boy to the Alter
My Goal: Level Two – 10-15 books – Engaged to the Bad Boy
 
Books Read
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Thursday, December 26, 2019

2020 Audiobook Challenge Goal Post

Hosts: Hot Listens and Caffeinated Reviewer
Timeframe: Runs January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020. You can join at any time.
What Counts: Books must be in audio format. Any Genre Counts Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
More Info: Updates plus a giveaway will be posted twice during the year. The first update will be June 30, 2020, and the last update will take place on December 15, 2020.
Learn more or sign up HERE
Levels:
Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
Stenographer (can listen while multitasking) 10-15
Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+
The 100 Club (Audiobook Elite) 100+
My Goal: My Precious 30+


Audiobooks

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Monday, December 16, 2019

The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward

Riley Kennedy’s emails keep getting crossed with her male colleague, Kennedy Riley. The infuriating man forwards them along with his annoying commentary and unsolicited advice. At least she never has to see him in person, since they work in different locations…until they come face to face at the office holiday party.


As luck would have it, Kennedy turns out to be outrageously handsome…though still a jerk. Yet somehow he’s able to charm her out on the dance floor—and convince her to participate in his crazy scheme: he’ll go home with Riley for a Christmas party and pretend to be her boyfriend, if Riley agrees to be his date to a wedding. It sounds easy enough. Little by little, however, the act they’re putting on starts to feel like so much more than a Christmas pact—and Riley’s about to learn there’s more to Kennedy than she ever imagined.
Narrators: Andi Arndt, Sebastian York | Length:2 hrs and 54 mins | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Publisher: Audible | Source: Audible’s December  Member Freebie | Rating: 4 Cups

Challenges Read For:  -   2019 Try Something New
 
I was looking for something light and Christmassy to listen to when I was wrapping presents and remembered I selected this as one of my Audible freebies this month. Both were new-to-me authors and I’m glad I took chance and actually ended up grabbing another book (Hate Notes) by the same writing duo.
 
Here’s what’s going on. Due to their names being reversed, Riley Kennedy’s emails often gets sent to her colleague Kennedy Riley, who never fails to reply with his own advice. After his last bit of advice irks and intrigues her, she finds herself wondering about Kennedy. When the two finally meet at a combined office party, she’s surprised when he makes her an offer: he’ll pretend to be her boyfriend when she goes home for her family’s Christmas party if she’ll be his date to his brother’s wedding. As the two spend time together, they find themselves falling for each other although a hurt of Kennedy’s past could prevent them from being together.
 
This is one of my favorites that I’ve read so far this year. It was cute and funny but there was a bit of weight to it and I liked that.
 
Kennedy and Riley were such a fun pair to watch. They both have some hurts to work through and they both need to figure out how to open themselves up to new relationships. The romance had a nice feel to it and it was such a treat to find that this one had a nice adult feel. The characters were mature, relatable, and dealing with adult problems.
 
I was really surprised at how well-rounded this one was. Given it was a little under three hours, I was expecting it to be lacking in something but I was so pleased that it was fully developed and the pacing was perfect.
 
Andi Arndt and Sebastian York worked brilliantly for this one. Occasionally, I struggle with both narrators but they were perfect for this one and truly brought the characters to life.
 
Overall, this was a nice little fake mates Christmas romance that should be on everyone’s to read list.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Guilty Ones by Joy Ellis




Jackman’s sister-in-law Sarah disappears to London and throws herself into the river. What drove her to this? She was a woman with a seemingly happy home life and two beloved sons.

 

DI Jackman and DI Evans dig into Sarah’s life. And Jackman realises he knew almost nothing about his sister-in-law’s past.

 

Then, they discover a woman in a neighbouring village died in similar circumstances.

 

What is the connection to a convicted murderer whose family are convinced he is innocent? Who is really pulling the strings?

 


DI Jackman and DS Evans of the Fenland police face a battle against their most dangerous and deadly adversary. And in a case so close to home can Jackman keep his feelings under control?

 
Series: Jackman and Evans Mystery #4 | Publisher: Audible  | Narrator: Richard Armitage | Length: 9 hrs and 35 mins  | Genre: Contemporary Thriller/Mystery | Source: Publisher  | Rating: 3.5 Cups

 
I’ve been enjoying this series but, sadly, the last couple have been a bit hit or miss with me. Although I have to say, I enjoyed this one more than the last.
 
Here’s what’s going on. When Jackman’s sister-in-law commits suicide, Jackman and his partner DS Evans start to wonder if there’s more to the story. When a woman in a neighboring town dies the same way, Jackman and Evans are now convinced something else is at play. Now they’re searching for their most calculating murderer yet. With Jackman so close to the case, will he be able to conduct an accurate investigation.
 
While this one was leaps and bounds better than the last, it still wasn’t up to the level that the previous books in the series were at.
 
There was a lot going on in this one, especially with Jackman. He’s dealing with his sister-in-law’s death, figuring out how to help his parents handle the kids she left behind, helping his brother deal, and overseeing this investigation. He’s also recovering emotionally from the previous case. While he was able to manage, I don’t think he was able to handle everything properly.
 
I really enjoyed the mystery in this one. It was solid, heavy, and had several layers hidden inside. Once I thought I had it figured out, something else popped up and changed my thoughts. Another thing I liked about the mystery in this one was that it had tones of Agatha Christie’s Then There Were None.
 
I’m not going to give any spoilers…but I will say that I wasn’t too satisfied with the way this was handled at the end. I’m hoping the next book will rectify that.
 
As always, Richard Armitage gave a stellar narration.
 
Overall, this one wasn’t as good as it could have been but I do feel like it’s getting back on track of how the first few books were. Still a worthy read with some flaws.




Jackman & Evans Series (recommended listening order)

The Guilty Ones
The Stolen Boys

Monday, December 2, 2019

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)


Or does she?


Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.
Series:  Lady Janies #2 | Publisher: HarperAudio| Narrator: Fiona Hardingham  | Length: 10 hrs and 7 mins | Genre: Historical Paranormal  | Source: Purchased | Rating: 1

Challenges Read For:  -  2019 Try Something New new-to-me series | FraterFest
 
I was searching Audible for something to use my monthly credit on and this popped up. I’m such a Jane Eyre fan—and I’m always looking for a new adaptation—that I knew I needed this book in my life. Turns out, I really didn’t.
 
Okay, before I get ranty, let me tell you, dear readers, about this book. Jane Eyre and Charlotte Brontë are at Lowood Institution when a supernatural investigator seeks out Jane (who just so happens to see ghosts). While Jane has the ability, she’s not interested in helping Alexander with his ghost hunt, all she wants to do is become a governess and she just so happens to have a job at Thornfield Hall tending to the young ward of Mr. Rochester. Yet things aren’t what they seem. As Jane attempts to figure out what’s going on things start to get interesting with Charlotte and Alexander.
 
Had this book not been a Jane Eyre retelling it would have been a decent read. Although it is a Jane Eyre retelling where Charlotte Brontë (the author of Jane Eyre) and her brother, Branwell are also characters so it was all a bit preposterous
 
There’s so much rambling, especially from Charlotte, about Jane Austen and how she wants to find her own Mr. Darcy that it was laughable. Had the authors actually conducted a bit of research (as was mentioned numerous times throughout the novel) then they would have found out that Charlotte couldn’t stand Jane Austen or her work.
 
If you’re familiar with the original version of Jane Eyre, then you’ll know that the narrator often breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the reader. My Plain Jane uses that device as well although unlike Jane Eyre the asides in this one are rather juvenile and add nothing to the story, which became a bit annoying.
 
The way they handled Rochester and Bertha had me rolling my eyes. Given that most readers want to see the relationship develop between Jane and Rochester, this adaption was just insane.
 
Overall, the premise of this one was interesting but the authors ruined it when they decided to thrown in Jane Eyre and the Brontës. Had they made this an original story, it could have made for a decent YA read. Although the way this one came out, I really can’t find one thing to recommend about it.



Lady Janies Series
#1 My Lady Jane
#2 My Plain Jane

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Destination Christmas…Christmas, Colorado Series Spotlight

If there was one fictional town I’d like to visit during Christmas it would have to be Christmas, Colorado. The residents are fun, if a little quirky, and there’s always a little mystery going on. And we can’t forget Nell, the resident matchmaker and busybody.


 


Just a heads up, when you’re out and about doing your shopping, make sure to check out the book rack/aisle as Snowbound at Christmas has been re-issued and is currently on the shelf! Not only is it the perfect book to gift, it’s the prefect book to gift to yourself. 


 


Here’s a quick review of the three Christmas-themed full-length books in the series. There’s also a novella, Miracle at Christmas (Christmas, Colorado #7.5), which I will be reviewing at a later date.

 
The Trouble with Christmas by Debbie Mason
Series: Christmas, Colorado #1
 
It will take a Christmas miracle to melt her heart.
 
Resort developer Madison Lane is about to lose the one thing she loves most in the world—her job. Dubbed "The Grinch Who Killed Christmas," Madison spoiled a deal that would turn quaint Christmas, Colorado, into a tourist's winter wonderland. Now the citizens want her fired but the company gives her one last chance, sending Madison to the small town to restore the holiday cheer.
 
For Sheriff Gage McBride, no hotshot executive from New York City is going to destroy the dreams of the people he loves. But one look at this beautiful woman and it's his heart that may be broken. In just a few days, Madison causes more trouble than he's had to deal with all year. He can't decide if she's naughty or nice, but one thing is for certain—Christmas will never be the same again...
 
Review: This was an amazing start to the series—although each book can be read as a standalone—not only does it give a nice introduction to this charming town, it introduces the fun and crazy residents of Christmas all while delivering a delightful romance between Madison and Gage.
 
Gage and Madison were great together and often found themselves in interesting situations seeing as Madison causes trouble wherever she goes and Gage is the sheriff. While there was an attraction between Gage and Madison, they took things slow and I enjoyed that. They’ve both been hurt before so they’re both a bit cautious figuring out where they stood and how to proceed.
 
Although there were a few kinks, this was a great Christmas romance that’sbeen turned into an adorable Hallmark movie.
 
 
It Happened at Christmas by Debbie Mason
Series: Christmas, Colorado #3
 
Love is the best Christmas gift of all.
 
Free-spirited activist Skylar Davis is out of money and out of options. After using up her trust fund trying to save the world, she hides out in Christmas, hoping the kindness of friends will help her forget the reckless actions of her past. All goes well . . . until she comes face-to-face with one of her mistakes: the town's gorgeous young mayor.
 
Ethan O'Connor likes his life drama-free and predictable now that he's about to make the move from small-town politics to the Colorado State Senate. Then Skye blows back into town, as impulsive and passionate as he remembers. If word ever got out about their night together-the night he's never been able to forget-the scandal could cripple his career. Yet as he starts his campaign, Ethan finds that, like the town of Christmas itself, he can't get Skye out of his head . . . or his heart.
 
Normally, I’m not a fan of character’s who are political or activists—and why they both were trying due to their personalities—I found that I enjoyed this book.
 
If there were ever two people to be described as chalk and cheese, it’s Ethan and Skye. Ethan’s a straight-laced guy quickly rising in the world of politics while Skye’s a free-spirited activist that’s determined to save the world. After spending a secret night together, the consequences could destroy Ethan’s career.
 
While I liked Ethan and Skye together, Skye wasn’t one of my favorite characters but I did enjoy the book.    
 
 
Snowbound at Christmas by Debbie Mason
Series: Christmas, Colorado #5
Surviving the holidays will take a Christmas miracle...
 
Ex-cop Cat O'Connor is bored working for her sister, Chloe, as a personal assistant on the set of her soap opera. Until Chloe gets an opportunity to audition for the role of a lifetime and asks her identical twin to substitute for her on the soap with no one the wiser. It's a perfect switch—until Cat attracts the attention of the mysterious Mr. Tall, Dark, and Way-too-handsome leading man.
 
Grayson Alexander never thought being snowbound in the charming town of Christmas, Colorado, for the holiday would get so hot. But between working with sexy, tough Cat on set and keeping his real reason for being there under wraps, he's definitely feeling the heat. And if there's one thing they'll learn as they bring out the mistletoe, it's that in this town, true love is always in season...
 
Review: I had fun with this one. When someone is out to kill Chloe, her twin sister Cat—who happens to be a former detective—is determined to get to the bottom of things. Swapping roles, Cat now finds herself getting up close and personal with the leading man. Although there’s more to Grayson, the hot British actor than meets the eye.
 
This is one of my favorites in the series. A hot Brit with a secret? Yes, please! The romance between Cat and Grayson was a little slow to start but I liked that as two didn’t really trust each other. It was nice watching them figure out who the other was and if they could be trusted.
 
You’ll definitely want to pick this up for a fun and charming read.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Peace, Blood, and Understanding by Molly Harper by Molly Harper

Ever since Jane Jameson took over running the Vampire Council for Half-Moon Hollow, things have been a little unorthodox, and that doesn’t sit well with the head office. Who would have thought vampires were so into bureaucracy and tradition?



Enter a vamp from corporate who’s determined to unseat Jane and get the council back on track - which means no more of this Kentucky neighborliness and mixing with humans, werewolves, witches, or anything else.



But Jane’s not interested in going back to the bad old days when the council was mired in corruption and tended to "accidentally" eat people now and again, but she might be in over her head this time. Good thing there’s a pretty new face in town who just might be the perfect distraction and help save Jane’s career.
Series: Half-Moon Hollow #15 | Publisher: Audible Studios | Narrator: Amanda Ronconi | Length: 6 hrs, 50 mins. | Genre: Paranormal Romance | Source: Purchased | Rating: 4.5 Cups



Challenges Read For:  - Literary Pickers  - Tea Tray/Cart
 
Cue happy little Snoopy dance! It’s been a minute since there’s been a new Half-Moon Hollow book, so when I found out Peace, Blood, and Understanding was coming out, I couldn’t contain my excitement.
 
While I like all of Molly Harper’s work, there’s just something about her Jane Jameson/Half-Moon Hollow series that will always be my favorite. When I pick up a new book from this series, it’s just like meeting up with old friends.
 
Here’s what’s going on: Meadow, a vampire on probation, has been doing everything in her power to live a tranquil life. Running her a tea store and working for the Council in their archive department has kept her focused and busy but when a run in with jackass threatens her calm, she’s determined to keep herself far from the attractive, yet arrogant vampire. When Erik Weston, auditor for the Council, shows up in Meadow’s teashop, he doesn’t want to be attracted to the annoying but attractive vampire he ran into when he first came to town. The only thing he has time for is facts and figures—not falling for Meadow.
 
While Meadow seems to reciprocate the feelings, she’s hesitant to start something when Erik is investigating Jane’s leadership and determined to bring Dick down.
 
Did I mention I love this series? This was a bit different from the previous books. While it focused on the romance between two new characters, it also focused heavily on Dick and Jane and the problems they were facing with the council business. I did like that this one had extra layers to it.
 
Erik and Meadow were definitely a chalk and cheese pair; he’s straight laced and facts/figures oriented and she’s what Dick lovingly refers to as ‘Hippy-Dippy’. They’re not the type of couple that works on paper—they’re not even in the same filing cabinet—but that’s what made them such a fun and interesting couple to watch.
 
Jane and Dick had their hands full with the audit and with someone trying to sabotage the council. I had a feeling who was behind it but I second guessed myself a time or two.
 
Like the other books in the series, we get to see what’s going on with the other residents of Half-Moon Hollow and I enjoyed that.
 
As always, Amanda Ronconi nailed this narration.
 
While this is an already established series, this one does read as a standalone.
 
Overall, another great addition to the series. Even though there were a few different threads going on, each were fleshed out and fully developed.






I know some of you have been wondering about the reading order of the Jane Jameson and Half-Moon Hollow books so I thought I would help you out with this reading guide.

 

The Jane Jameson Series (also referred to as the ‘Nice Girls’ series) started it all. It contains four books and this is a complete series. These books work best if you read them in order.

 

1-Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs

2-Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men

3-Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever

4-Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors

 

Then we have the spinoff series, Half-Moon Hollow. These can be read without reading the Jane Jameson/Nice Girls series—although characters from the Jane Jameson series and Jane herself often pop up. Most of these can be read out of order.

 

0.5 Fangs for the Memories (novella) This one actually happens in the middle of Nice Girls Don’t Dead Men—Jane Jameson #2.

1- The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires

1.5-Driving Mr. Dead (novella)

2-A Witches Handbook of Kisses and Curses

2.5-Undead Sublet (short story found in the Undead In My Bed anthology)

2.6-I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas (novella) This needs to be read before  The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire

3-The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire

4-The Single Undead Moms Club

5-Where the Wild Things Bite

5.5-Big Vamp of Campus (novella) This needs to be read before The Accidental Sire

6-The Accidental Sire

7-Peace, Blood, and Understanding

Monday, November 11, 2019

Flirting with the Frenemy by Pippa Grant

He's a hot single dad. A military man with abs of steel. My brother's best friend. My biggest enemy. And now my fake date to my best friend's wedding. Disasterville, here we come....


Mission: Survive my best friend's wedding, where I must play nice with my ex and his perfect new girlfriend.

Strategy: Bring the hottest fake boyfriend on the planet.

Target: Grady Rock. Master baker. Dimples. Muscles. The unicorn of fake boyfriends.

Complication: Wyatt Morgan. My brother's best friend. My sworn enemy. Military man. Sexy as hell single dad. The man I let into my panties for one night of hot hate sex after my ex dumped me.

And the man who just scared off that perfect fake boyfriend.

By pretending to be my real boyfriend.

I can roll with this though. What’s the harm in Flirting with the Frenemy if it helps me get the job done?

Complete my mission and move on.

Or so I thought.

Until Wyatt kisses me again and I start feeling things I shouldn't.


The thing about weddings...nothing ever goes as planned.
Series: Bro Code #1 | Publisher: Pippa Grant | Narrators: Erin Mallon, Joe Arden  | Length: 6 hrs, 22 minutes | Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy  | Source: Gifted | Rating: 3.5 Cups
Challenges Read For:  - Literary Pickers:  Socks-  2019 Try Something New : New-to-me Author


I went on a thriller/mystery/horror binge, as one does in October, but I needed something fun and light to clear my mind and that’s just what this one was.

Here’s what’s going on: When Ellie and Wyatt decide to put their feuding on hold to ease each other’s woes it doesn’t go as expected. Now six-months later, they’re accidentally back in each other’s lives and somehow Wyatt’s been mistaken for her boyfriend. As Ellie spends more time with Wyatt and his adorable son, she feels the wall she put up to guard against Wyatt starting to crack. Although when they’re together, Ellie knows the universe is trying to keep them apart.

 

Okay, so I’m not going to lie, it was the Pirate Festival that made me pick up this one. I’m such a sucker for anything pirate related and it added such a fun element to this book.

 
Ellie and Wyatt have a history that goes beyond their feuding. Because of certain events, Ellie believes that they’ll bring doom down upon them if they actually give a relationship a chance. That got a little old and annoying. While I liked Wyatt and the way he cares for his son, it drove me a bit mad the way he constantly tried to pacify Ellie.
 

I enjoyed that this was dual narration. While I enjoyed Joe Arden from the start, Erin Mallon took a minute or two to get used to as she seemed a bit whiney at times.



Overall, This book was a little out there in everything that happened but it worked. It wasn’t one of the best that I’ve read but it was a fun listen. While this was the book I needed at the time,  I’m not sure if I’ll be picking up the other books in the series.