Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A note about passion.

I hope that you all had a wonderful day yesterday, whether it was celebrating with family or simply spending a quiet day in contemplation. It's time to start winding the year down and, per usual, I'm sitting here right at the brink of finishing my reading challenge and feeling so introspective that I really haven't read.

This year has been a year of learning for me. I've learned a lot about who I am, how to love myself for all of that, and that the quote above sums up who I'm becoming.

I used to be the person who researched things to death, but never actually followed through. I'd worry about making mistakes, or failing, and be afraid to actually start at all.

Now, I find myself rushing at things headlong, before I have time to overthink them. It's been an asset to me, as I learn to navigate my anxiety. It's opened up the opportunity to try things that I would have previously shied away from. It's made me a happier person!

So 2019 is all about enthusiasm. Pure, unadulterated, passion.

Let's see how it translates to this blog :).

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Holiday Hugs!

In case I don't post anything again until after Christmas, I wanted to send a big old holiday hug to all of you out there!

It's been a year filled with a lot of things, some good and some bad, but I'm actually pretty proud of how much we did on this little blog. Running a book blog is a labor of love. It's sometimes draining, sometimes fabulous, but always something that I want to do. So I thank you for sticking with us. Through the lulls, through the peaks, you were here. Thank you for that!

I don't usually set any resolutions, because they're frustrating to track most times. What I can promise though is that we'll be back with more reviews, more pictures, and more random posts just like this for you next year.

Happiest of holidays!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Book Review: The Disasters by M.K. England

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Disasters
Author: M.K. England
Publisher: HaperCollins
Pages: Hardcover; 368
Release Date: December 18, 2018
Source: Publisher / FFBC Tours
Content Screening: Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy fast paced stories set on worlds other than our own!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices.

So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

Well now, this was a surprisingly fun ride! It shouldn't surprise me that a book with teenage flight school rejects, put into an impossible situation, was a breezy read. It's pretty hard not to get caught up in their emotional roller coaster as the world that they thought they really knew falls out from under them, and it's straight to flight or fight mode. Or, in this case, I guess it would be fight and flight mode? No spoilers, but yeah. That's pretty accurate.

Kudos where kudos are due, M.K. England did a stellar job of getting these characters to go from complete strangers to a ragtag little band of heroes, in no time flat. Nax and his motley crew probably wouldn't have been all that chummy in other circumstances but, as catastrophic events tend to do, the sheer amount of craziness they go through quickly and believably pushes them into a mini family. I loved watching as they learned to navigate the quirks of one another. I can't count the number of times that I smiled as England gave a nod to anxiety, or a hug to a transgender character, and then carried on as normal because the whole point was that this was a part of them, but not who they were. These character worm their way into your heart really quickly, I'll tell you that. You've been warned.

Plot wise, I thought the book started out fantastically. Although the action definitely gets started early on, and doesn't let up for a minute, there was plenty of time in the first few chapters to really get to settled in to the colonies, and up to speed on the way that life in Nax's time worked. I loved the diversity in the cities, and I can't deny that the attention to detail whenever explanations of new planets were being given made my heart happy. I felt like I was there right along with them. My only complaint in this department was that at about the halfway mark the book takes off at breakneck speed. It felt like the latter half of this book was so quick moving, and so rushed, that it almost completely changed the way that it was written. I'm all for space battles, and watching people work together, but I think some of the interactions that I had loved during the first part really suffered.

What settled this book down to three stars was really that last fact. By the time I reached the last few chapters of the book, the amount of battles and skirmishes had reached a point where there wasn't much else happening. I can't explain too fully without spoiling anything, but suffice it to say that there were some relationships that I so wanted to see more deeply explored that were left to the wayside while bullets were flying and ships were banking. Now, to be fair, this whole plot does center on a particular deadline. So I did understand that things needed to pick up speed. It's my own personal, character driven brain at work here. I can absolutely see how people will be in awe at the sheer amount of madness that poor Nax and his group have to go through before this book ends.

All this rambling is basically to say that I really enjoyed this book. Despite any qualms that I may have had, I think M.K. England did a great job of bringing diversity, humor, friendship, and space battles together into a book that is a lot of fun to read. If you're looking for a lightning fast read that is filled to the brim with characters who will make you smile, that's The Disasters.

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Library of Absolution by Jennifer Derrick

Library of Absolution
Jennifer Derrick
(Legacy of the Book Mesmer, #1)
Published by: Crimson Tree Publishing
Publication date: December 17th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Alarick Brandon is the powerful wizard who operates The Keep, a refuge for magical people fleeing the persecution of the Ministry. A bitter realist, Alarick knows it’s only a matter of time until the Ministry succeeds in eradicating magic from the world—and exterminating all magical beings—so he has been careful to avoid any personal involvement with the people who pass through his sanctuary.
But when Elissa Stone arrives at The Keep, her village a smoldering ruin, and only her magical talent and a forbidden library left to her name, Alarick’s ordered world descends into chaos. Elissa is a Book Mesmer, a magical talent long believed extinct. She can enchant books, making them indestructible, unreadable…even deadly to unauthorized readers. But while her magic can secure a legacy for future magical generations, it’s not a skill that’s good in a fight, and certainly not one that Alarick sees any real use for. But there’s something compelling about a woman who defies the Ministry’s edicts against female literacy, and she seems determined to prove that knowledge is a weapon in its own right…
The first installment in an enticing new fantasy series by author Jennifer Derrick, The Library of Absolution is a compelling story of perseverance and determination in the face of persecution, in a Dark Age where hope is lost—and knowledge is the only thing left to fight for.

He dressed for bed and settled down to sleep, but sleep didn't come. After tossing and turning for an hour or so, he got out of bed, slipped back into his clothes, and crept out of the suite.

The library was his first stop. A few of the scholars were still at work. The library had become a twenty-four hour operation since their arrival.

"Excuse me," he said, interrupting the work of one man who, Alarick knew, was copying a book of potion recipes for him.

"Yes, sir?" the man asked. "Is everything all right?"

"Fine. Can you tell me where Adil sleeps?" Alarick asked the man.

"He rarely sleeps," the scholar said. "But at this time of night you are most likely to find him outside the gate, on the dune to the northwest of our village. It's not far. It's a clear night. You should have no trouble spotting him up there."

"Why does he go up there?"

The scholar shrugged. "It is not my place to ask, sir."

"Thank you," Alarick said and headed out into the night. Once outside the village walls, he pulled his cloak tighter around himself. The cold night wind, kept at bay by the walls of the village, blew freely out here, kicking sand into Alarick's face. What in the world could Adil find interesting about sitting out here in the middle of the damn night?

The scholar had been correct. Alarick had no trouble spotting the lone figure sitting atop the dune. He did have trouble climbing to the top. Sand was a foreign substance to him and staying upright as it ebbed and flowed beneath him was a challenge. He soon figured out how to work with it, however, and summited the dune.

Without a word, he sat down next to Adil who turned to him, only the faintest surprise on his face, as though he was expecting company.

"Why?" Alarick asked, indicating the sand on which they sat.

Adil shrugged. "I stopped sleeping through the night years ago. It made more sense to come out here than to fester in my room. Been doing it ever since. Look up," he said.

Alarick did and gaped at the number of stars and planets above him. Plenty were visible in England, but trees always blocked at least some of the view. Out here, the stars draped all the way to the horizon.

"Incredible," he said. "And humbling."

"Exactly. I'd rather come out here and watch this than stay inside and brood. Sometimes I can see a nomad camp or two," he pointed to a tiny flicker of light on distant sand. "And ever so often I think about running away to joining them. What brings you out here?"

"Looking for you," Alarick said.

"I figured you might come. You don't seem like you sleep much either, friend."

"Not for years. Between the Ministry, the Keep, and now—" he trailed off, uncertain how to continue.

"Ah. The relationship between yourself and Miss Stone of which, as she said, the exact nature eludes you both. But I think it no longer eludes you?" he asked, turning to face Alarick.

"I know what I want," Alarick began. "But I do not know what she wants. Or if what I want is the right thing, the best thing for her. I'm a selfish man, but I hesitate to impose my selfishness upon her."

Adil shrugged. "I was married once, but so long ago that I may not be the best person to give advice on such a situation."

"What happened?" Alarick asked.

"What happens to all of us. It was before we established this refuge. I was part of a small group of magicals living in an apartment inside Marrakesh. We were young and careless, heedless of the threat the Ministry presented. We all believed their reign wasn't so terrible or, at least, we were beneath their notice. What fools we were," he muttered.

"Sarah, my wife, was caught in the market one afternoon and executed because she was reading a merchant's menu to another woman who could not read. I'm not certain they even knew she was a witch. Just the fact that she could read was enough to get her killed."

"I'm sorry," Alarick said. "That is essentially why Elissa is now blind. Her literacy."

Adil shrugged. "It is what it is. If you're seeking my advice, it would be to find out what your lady wants. But you'd best find out before it's too late. Happiness is a rare thing for our kind in this world, and you might find it snatched from you on a sunny summer afternoon. Best grab it while you can. Your Book Mesmer seems to be a woman who knows her own mind. If she wants you, then it's the right, best thing. If she doesn't, well, there's plenty of room on this dune each night, friend."

Jennifer is a freelance writer and novelist. As a freelancer, she writes everything from technical manuals to articles on personal finance and European-style board games. Her interest in storytelling began when she was six and her parents gave her a typewriter for Christmas and agreed to pay her $.01 per page for any stories she churned out. Such a loose payment system naturally led to a lot of story padding. Broken Fate, her first novel, earned her $2.80 from her parents.
Jennifer lives in North Carolina and, when not writing, can often be found reading, trawling the shelves at the library, playing board games, watching sports, camping, running marathons, and playing with her dog. You can visit her at her official website:

Monday, December 17, 2018

Book Review: Stuck (Stitch Trilogy #3) by Samantha Durante

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Stuck
* Series: Stitch Trilogy #3
Author: Samantha Durante
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Kindle; 306
Release Date: December 15, 2018
Source: Author / Prism Book Tours
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who have kept up with this series and are eager for more!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
3, 2, 1... BOOM.

Things are finally looking up for the Resistance. Sure, Alessa is still processing the revelation that the best friend she'd presumed dead is miraculously alive, though far from well... And her boyfriend is being manipulated under threat of blackmail. But her quest for justice against those behind the systematic extermination of the world population is so close to victory she can taste it.

And then in a matter of seconds, everything Alessa believes in is shaken to the core. Months of preparation are obliterated. The people she cares for most are lost.

But Alessa is still standing. And Paragon must pay.

The odds are grim, but unexpected allies surface in the most unlikely of places: A new pair of citizens still under the colony's rule who notice something amiss in the latest drama. An old adversary who realizes the error of her ways. And a veritable army of inhuman power and terrible strength, with an insatiable thirst for vengeance. The trustworthiness of each of these factions is yet to be proven, but without many other options, Alessa may have to take what she can get. Especially since the Engineers, never to be outdone, also have a few more tricks up their sleeves...

The long-awaited final installment in the riveting Stitch Trilogy, Stuck will have readers gripping their seats as Alessa and a handful of intrepid survivors usher their harrowing journey to a close, risking everything as they endeavor - once and for all - to set things right.

It's been a privilege to follow along with Samantha Durante since this trilogy first started! I felt a little woeful as I started to read Stuck, only because I knew that this was the end of my time with these characters. After completely falling in love with the last book, I knew that this finale was going to be a rough read for me either way. It's the end of an era, really. It's been fun!

First off, I have to say that I love how far each one of these characters has grown since the book first started. Alessa and Issac specifically, remain one of my favorite little romances of all time. The first few chapters in this story made me heart swell, but that's all you'll get from me because I don't believe in spoilers. That being said, I was still just as frustrated with Lizzie and Regina as I remember being before. The arguments that they had against one another felt circular, because it's like they both want the same thing but don't realize it. Still, I suppose that's realistic to life. So I shrugged, and moved on.

What struck me most about this particular book was getting to see the world through the eyes of the developers and the architects. Before this, they were still kind of behind the scenes. The puppeters that we knew existed but never actually saw. In this book, I was in awe of how brutal and exacting they were. Interestingly enough, it also gave the reader the ability to see how right they really believed they were. Nothing is more terrifying than a villain who thinks that what they're doing is honorable.

In fact, this book is filled with so many twists and turns that, admittedly, it's a little rough to keep up with. I felt like Durante tried so valiantly to fit all of the things that were left undone into this book and, alas, it caused it to be a bit overwhelming. I wanted more time with my characters. I wanted more time to settle back in to the story that I've been away from for a while, and really get my footing before things took off. Although there's no lack of excitement and tension in this installment, it's missing the character development that I loved so much in the second book.

I'll be sad to say to this world, and these people. The ending wasn't quite what I wanted it to be, but honestly I'm not sure I was ready to let go anyway. For a solid read, I rate Stuck at full three stars! If you haven't started this trilogy yet, you're in for such a treat. I envy you. I really do.

Tour Giveaway

- 1 First Place Winner will receive: Signed Print Copies of All 3 Books in the Trilogy, a Limited-Edition Stitch Scarf, Bookmarks, and a $15 Amazon Gift Card
- 3 Second Place Winners will receive: eBook Copies of All 3 Books in the Trilogy for You *and* a Friend, plus a $5 Amazon Gift Card
- Open internationally
- Ends December 27th

Grab Our Button!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Journaling Bug

I've been MIA a bit because I managed to suddenly get a cold on Saturday night. I swear, every time that I get a real, full blown cold, it comes out of nowhere. *sigh* I miss summer already.

Anyway, I've gotten the journaling bug again! I used to journal every single day, all the way up through high school, and then it slowly trickled off as I got into college and then into the work force. Still, I've kept slowly writing ever since then and now I've discovered the concept of bullet journaling and I'm HOOKED. 2019 shall be the year of the bullet journal.

That being said, I'm looking for help from all of you lovely people! Have any tips, tricks, or websites I can visit to get some ideas? Have any favorite markers or pens? Let me know!

Now I'm taking my sick self off to finish a book before bed.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Book Review: Little White Lies (Debutantes #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Little White Lies
* Series: Debutantes #1
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Freeform
Pages: Hardcover; 400
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who mysteries that involve sassy debutantes and tons of scandal.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother's "society" might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father's identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn't expect to find is friendship, but as she's drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn't the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother's glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer's search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off.

YA and I are in a weird relationship lately, and it's definitely making it harder for me to review books like Little White Lies. This is a book that made me giggle, endeared me to its characters, but then ran way longer than it probably should have. It's rough to sit in that middle ground where you genuinely loved the majority of a story, but there are just small things that make it rougher to finish than you expected. That's this book in a nutshell.

I mean, this book could have probably done with a bit of culling in the plot department. The mystery built around Sawyer and her newly acquired family members started out with a bang. However, as the story progressed, it felt more and more stagnant. The tension that Barnes built up so well at the beginning, that sense of growth that was tied to Sawyer, just slowly simmered off. I was frustrated towards the middle of this story, and really ready to skim. I kept on though and, I can say, the end of this book rewarded me. So, if you feel the same, just keep going. It's worth it.

Also I should note that I appreciated how well Barnes rounds out these characters. Debutantes of any sort have the ability to be vapid girls who have no personality to speak of. In this case, the girls have a wonderful amount of depth. Especially since Sawyer, an outsider to this whole world of pearls and balls, comes into the picture early on. I loved the friendship and the family relationships that came to life on the page. Each girl had their own little quirk that spoke to what we'd expect from the debutante scene: the mean girl, the pretty but spacey one, and the prim one. However as time went on, each one of them broke out of the mold slowly but surely. It was so refreshing.

The actual ending of the book did cause a bit of huffing and puffing from me. I knew that this was an ongoing series, and so I was thoroughly prepared for a cliffhanger ending. What happened instead was the exact opposite. Everything wraps up with a neat bow, and this book just ends. No fanfare, no excitement, but then isn't that just like real life? I suppose I've been groomed to expect book ending frustration. I'm not sure if that's funny or sad.

Anyway, this is well worth a read. It's a charming book and, while it has its flaws, it pushes the envelope on what has been done with characters of this type before. I honestly can't wait for the next book.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bookishly Delighted is back!

My defunct book club that I stopped working on over a year ago, has been resurrected! I missed all the things that go along with book club. I missed the conversation, and the interaction. Truth be told, I missed my reader friends.

Since I'm in a great place at this end of year, and I've already successfully revamped my bookstagram and started it up again (you can find that here), I'm ready for my book club.

Our first read of the year will be Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett!
In preparation for the new show, of course.

Want to join?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Book Review: Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Start Without Me
Author: Joshua Max Feldman
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: Paperback; 304
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Source: TLC Book Tours / Publisher
Genre: Contemporary

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are prepared for an emotional journey that is gorgeously written.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
The author of the critically acclaimed The Book of Jonah explores questions of love and choice, disappointment and hope in the lives of two strangers who meet by chance in this mesmerizing tale that unfolds over one Thanksgiving Day.

Adam is a former musician and recovering alcoholic who is home for Thanksgiving for the first time in many years. Surrounded by his parents and siblings, nieces and nephews—all who have seen him at his worst—he can’t shake the feeling that no matter how hard he tries, he’ll always be the one who can’t get it right.

Marissa is a flight attendant whose marriage is strained by simmering tensions over race, class, and ambition. Heading to her in-laws for their picture-perfect holiday family dinner, her anxiety is intensified by the knowledge she is pregnant from an impulsive one-night-stand.

In an airport restaurant on Thanksgiving morning, Adam and Marissa meet. Over the course of this day fraught with emotion and expectation, these two strangers will form an unlikely bond as they reckon with their family ties, their pasts, and the choices that will determine their way forward.

Joshua Max Feldman focuses his knowing eye on one of the last bastions of classical American idealism, the Thanksgiving family gathering, as he explores our struggles to know—and to be—our best selves. Hilarious and heartrending, Start Without Me is a thoughtful and entertaining page-turner that will leave its indelible mark on your heart.
Pardon me while I compose myself, because this was a really emotional book to read. In fact, because of recent life events, I had to set this aside for a while because it was a little bit too much. Trust me when I say, that's a compliment of the highest order to Joshua Max Feldman. Start Without Me is breathtakingly beautiful. It's a love letter to all the people out there who are holding it together the best they can, while struggling to find their happiness in a world that seems to overlook them. It's all about finding another person, even fleetingly who accepts you and pushes you in equal measures. In other words, Feldman's book is about life. Both the good and the bad.

What first struck me about this story was honestly how upset I kept getting at Adam. It's funny how when a character is flawed, perhaps in a way that hits home, you want to scream at them to be more perfect. We expect our characters to make all the right decisions when, in fact, they should be just as human as we are. Adam was definitely rough around the edges. I loved that you could see the earnest, desperate person underneath all of that rough facade though and, eventually, it endeared me to him. When he met Marissa, and I found myself loving her as well, the story really took off for me. These two had such different lives, such different problems, and yet they managed to band together long enough to prop each other up during a difficult time.

The dialog in this book was spot on. The snippets of life lessons, spouted again and again because they are what you're supposed to say to people who are struggling struck me hard. However it was the deep conversations that were had in this book, the ones that were messy and emotional, that really did me in. I've always been one of those people who feels the need to fix problems for other people, even while I'm piling up my own problems behind a closed door. Watching Marissa and Adam, two lost people who found one another, continuously do this same thing just pummled me. How do you hide from what you're storing behind that door, when the person you're trying to help keeps opening it up? Argh. I'm still thinking about some of the scenes in this book.

Long story short, if you want to read something that is perfect and happy this isn't the book for you. However if you want to read something beautiful, gritty, and full of hope, then Start Without Me should absolutely be on your reading list. It's the kind of read I think a lot of people need around the holidays, and I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to read it. It wasn't an easy read, but it was a necessary one.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Rain, Rain, PLEASE STAY!

People love to joke about how Southern California loses their mind when it rains.

Well... I'm here to tell you, that's definitely more accurate than I care to admit.

We are on day two of rain over here in Los Angeles, and it's been raining fairly heavily for the last 28 hours straight. I remember when I first moved here permanently, probably about 9 or 10 years ago now, it used to rain all the time during the winter. But, climate change and all that, the weather kept changing and it rained less and less often during our "winter". Now? It's back! I'm so happy! I honestly wouldn't be upset if it rains for the next two weeks straight. Providing of course, everyone stops freaking out and remembers how to drive correctly in the rain. Hahaha.

Seriously though, I love this kind of weather. I could sit around in it all day. It's the perfect book reading weather. It's the perfect excuse to have 3 cups of tea in a row. It's basically an excuse to have a slower pace of life for a little while, rather than the crazy running around that we're all used to.

Stay, rain! I'd love to see more of you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Book Review: The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Little Shop of Found Things
Author: Paula Brackston
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: Hardcover; 307
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy more of a cozy historical fiction feeling.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
A new series about a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical adventure, reminiscent of Outlander

New York Times bestselling author of The Witch's Daughter Paula Brackston returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to launch a new series guaranteed to enchant her audience even more.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.

It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she's confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.

While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.

With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, The Little Shop of Found Things is poised to be a strong start to this new series.

I'm still dabbling in Historical Fiction because, I'll freely admit, it's a genre that intimidates me. It might be irrational, but when I don't know much about the time period the book is set in I get anxious. I'm worried that I'll be lost. So when I started The Little Shop of Found Things, and found myself in the tiny town of Marlborough, I was utterly enchanted. Xanthe and her mother immediately felt like home. The people she met in town felt like family. Brackston made me feel like this was a story I belonged in, and it was wonderful.

Granted, this was all before Xanthe actually sent off on her historical adventure.  However, even when she did find the chatelaine and discover she could travel back in time, I never had a moment where I felt out of place. This story makes it easy to follow along, no matter how much you know about the 1600's. Xanthe's character is sweet, but determined. She's someone who you would follow forever. It helped that Brackston puts all manner of intriguing people in Xanthe's path as she navigates the 1605 version of her new home. The fact that there was also no heavy romance present, but simply the sweet outline of one, made me smile. I won't spoil, but Samuel Appleby is definitely one of my favorite people in this book.

In terms of pacing, this story does an excellent job of gently leading the reader by the hand. There's no hurry, but neither did I ever feel like things were dragging. Xanthe spends just enough time in each location to make it feel realistic. I loved how she consistently had to remind herself of what a person of her standing would say, and do, in that time period. It felt like Brackston had a lot of fun fitting Xanthe's fiery personality into an older world where women were better seen and not heard. It made this a lot of fun to read.

Rambling aside, I'll simply say that this book was a treat. I wasn't expecting to love it, and yet the story was so easy to get lost in that I soon found I couldn't stop reading. Accessible historical fiction like this, stories that reach out and pull you in, is exactly what I've been looking for. I'm so pleased that I discovered The Little Shop of Found Things.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, December 3, 2018

December 2018 Reading List

The last month of the year is upon us! How crazy is that? It feels like only yesterday that I was making resolutions for this blog in the spirit of 2018 headed our way, and valiantly planning a new reading list. I have to say, although 2018 didn't turn out quite the way I planned it to for this blog, this year was much better than the last. So, baby steps and all that. Sometimes life doesn't let us do what we'd planned.

That being said, I'm 11 books away from my yearly goal of 120, and not 100% sure if I'm going to hit it this year. Part of me, the part that has massive anxiety over that kind of stuff, is freaking out. The other part, the part that has learned how to be kind to herself, is reminding me that it's fine if I don't hit my goal. I've read some amazing books this year, and had a lot more fun with it too. So, we'll see what happens. Here's what I'm at least planning on tackling for December.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

I picked this as one of my Book of the Month reads a few months ago, but I was in horror mode and set it aside. Since then, I've heard rave reviews for it from a ton of friends. Which, of course, means my interest is piqued! It's hard not to fall in love with the premise of this book anyway. Who doesn't want to read a story about giant samurai robots? Exactly.

Horns by Joe Hill

I confess, I've never read this book. I did see the movie adaptation, and I've been meaning to tackle the book for a while, but it just never happened. When my reader friend sent me a signed copy of this book, I knew it was time to put it firmly on the TBR. In fact, as soon as I finish the MG book I'm listening to right now, this will be my next read. I'm pretty excited, if I'm being honest. I love Joe Hill, and this book is calling my name.

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Another gifted book, and another book that I had to set aside when I was going through my horror phase. I'm eager for a SciFi novel though, and this one not only comes with fantastic Goodreads reviews, but the love of one of my favorite reader friends. So it's a must on this year's reading list, so that we can gush over it. The fact that I now own it in a hardcopy actually makes things easier, because I can go find a quiet place and just get lost in the story.

That's it for me this month! I'm going to valiantly try for the 11 books, but I'm not setting anything in stone. I'd rather put these three on my radar, and then just read whatever strikes my fancy in between.

Are you nearing your Goodreads goal? Did you find any new favorite books this year?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Book Blitz + Giveaway: The Vikings Captive by Quinn Loftis

Title: The Viking’s Captive
Author: Quinn Loftis
Series: (Clan Hakon #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: November 27th 2018
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
Prophecy spoken.
Alliances broken.
Will duty come before love?
The Viking’s Captive is the exciting sequel toThe Viking’s Chosen by USA Today Bestseller Quinn Loftis.
Two worlds collide in this epic historical fiction centered on an undeniable chemistry that smolders against the odds. Richly written and injected with moments of humor, this action-packed romantic tale will leave you breathless.
Novels in The Clan Hakon Series Include:
The Viking’s Chosen (February 12, 2018)
The Viking’s Captive (November 27, 2018)
The Viking’s Consort (Fall 2019)

“I’m going to cut off his fingers one at a time, and then I’ll cut off his hands, and—”

“You’ve had lots of practice at cutting off appendages. Perhaps while you’re cutting on the jarl, you could thank him for giving you the experience,” Brant said, interrupting my tirade.

“He won’t be able to respond because I’m going to cut out his tongue, so I don’t have to listen to his lunacy,” I snarled. Leaning down, I cupped some water from a small stream into my hand and slurped it into my mouth. We’d pushed the horses hard all night and late into the day. Both the animals and my men needed a break, no matter how badly I wanted to keep riding.

“So, what I hear you saying is there will be a lot of cutting,” Brant chuckled. “Is this before or after you torture him and make him wish he’d never been jarl of Clan Hakon?”

I narrowed my eyes on him. “He has your woman, too, ya know?” I saw the way Brant’s jaw tightened even though he tried to appear nonchalant.

“Yes, I know,” he responded. “But she can probably kick his arse. I should be more worried about the poor, unsuspecting men who are going to be dealing with her. The lass has quite a temper.”

I snorted. “Wicked temper,” I muttered under my breath, though I wasn’t talking about Dayna. My thoughts were on another princess whose temper could be quite as volatile as her sister’s, though Allete would be more likely to set traps for her enemies and watch silently as they fell. Dayna would simply run them through with a sword, laughing all the while.

Quinn is an award winning author who lives in beautiful Western Arkansas with her husband, two sons, Nora the Doberman, and Chewy the Cat who thinks he's a dog. She is the author of 17 novels, and 2 novellas, including the USA Today bestseller, Fate and Fury. Quinn is beyond thankful that she has been blessed to be able to write full time and hopes the readers know how much all of their support means to her. Some of her hobbies include reading, exercising, crochet, and spending time with family and friends. She gives all credit of her success to God because he gave her the creative spirit and vivid imagination it takes to write.



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