Before He Vanished by Debra Webb

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I’m here today to share my thoughts on Before He Vanished (Winchester Tennessee #6) for the HQN Spring blog tour. If you remember, I recently read Witness Protection Widow which is book 5 in the same series.

cover image_Before He Vanished by Debra Webb (Intrigue)

About BEFORE HE VANISHED: Twenty-five years ago, Halle Lane’s best friend vanished from their Tennessee town. When a childhood photo brings Liam Hart to Winchester, Halle is certain the man is the same child who vanished. Now Liam seeks out Halle to help him investigate the circumstances of his mysterious past. Can Liam and Halle uncover the truth before a killer buries all traces of the boy Halle loved—and the man he may have become—forever?

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Review

This had such an awesome plot that had me hooked from the beginning all the way through. Even when I thought the story was going to go one way, Webb threw a curveball in that I wasn’t expecting. Liam and Halle really shine when they are running around trying to solve the mystery together. I loved all the various layers of this book: solving the disappearance, the murder mystery aspect, Liam trying to come to terms with his past, and the bond that Halle and Liam have.

I really liked Liam and Halle’s friendship and growing feelings so I was disappointed when the author turned it suddenly into more. Obviously, this is a romance so I knew how it was going to end but I didn’t like how intense it got. However, it was a minor detail and it didn’t hamper my overall enjoyment of the story.

The feel of this story is very much mystery/thriller and I quickly devoured this book. I think this is book is a great option for someone who wants a suspenseful read with light romance. I know I keep mentioning how quick of a read this book was but seriously these HQN category romances are so great for a relaxing couple of hours. They are specifically made to be about 200 pages (or 55,000 words) so you can easily consume them in a few hours. Obviously some books do better at telling a story within those parameters but I really think this book accomplished it. If you want to try some of the story for yourself then keep scrolling for an excerpt. Just so you know the excerpt provided is the most overt part of Halle and Liam’s romance.

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About DEBRA WEBB: DEBRA WEBB is the award winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 150 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama. Visit Debra at http://www.DebraWebb.com or write to her at PO Box 176, Madison, AL 35758.

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Excerpt – BEFORE HE VANISHED by Debra Webb (Harlequin Intrigue)

The shower was like heaven on earth. Her body had needed the hot water so badly. Her muscles relaxed and she took her time, smoothing the soap over her skin and then shampooing her hair. She was grateful for the toiletry pack that included not only soap, shampoo and the usual, but disposable razors, as well.

By the time she was finished, her bones felt like rubber. She dried herself, slipped on underwear and the nightshirt and then used the hotel dryer to dry her hair. That part took the longest of all. When she exited the steamy bathroom the delicious aromas of room service had her stomach rumbling.

“Oh my God, that smells good.” She rushed to the table where the silver service sat. “Why aren’t you eating?”

“I was waiting for you.” He joined her at the table.

Ever the gentleman.

Halle curled her feet under her in her chair while Liam removed the covers from the dishes. Fish, chicken, vegetables. He had ordered all sorts of dishes and they all looked amazing.

“I thought we’d try a little of everything.”

A bottle of white wine as well as a bottle of rosé had her licking her lips.

“I wasn’t sure which one you preferred.” He gestured to the iced-down bottles. “And I didn’t forget dessert.” The final lid revealed a heavenly-looking chocolate cake with fudge icing.

“I may die right now.” She wanted to taste it all.

“Eat first.” He placed a linen napkin over his lap and stuck his fork into a tiny, perfectly roasted potato. She watched him eat and it was the sexiest thing she had ever seen. She didn’t fight it. Surrendered to instinct and that was how they ate. No plates, just taking whatever they wanted with a fork or fingers and devouring. They drank the wine and laughed at stories from their respective childhoods. From all the stories he’d told her, she could not wait to meet his sister, Claire.

By the time they were finished, she was feeling a little tipsy. The food was mostly gone and both bottles were drained. She felt more relaxed than she had in decades. They had discussed the day’s events and Burke and Austen—and Derrick. The man was still convinced she had a thing for Derrick. No way. She’d also told him what her mom had to say about any friends from Nashville the Clarks might have had, which was none who ever appeared at their door. She and Liam agreed that was somewhat unusual considering how social the Clarks had been in Winchester.

“You know,” she said, after polishing off the last of the wine in her glass, “I wrote you dozens of letters.”

“Me?”

She frowned and shook her head. “Andy.” Then she stared at him. “No. You. I mean you. Whatever you believe, I know you’re him.”

“Okay.” He laughed, his eyes glittering with the soft sound.

God, his mouth was sexy when he was relaxed. She put her hand to her mouth just to make sure she hadn’t said the words out loud.

“Tell me about the letters,” he prompted.

“I told you what was going on in Winchester. Who was doing what at school. I even put pictures with the letters.” She laughed. Placed her glass on the table. “It was silly, I know. But I wanted to still feel you and that was the only way I could.”

She blinked. He had moved. He was suddenly next to her, on his knees, staring into her eyes, and her breath caught.

“I don’t know if I’m this Andy you loved so much when you were a kid,” he said softly, so softly she shivered, “but I would really like to be the guy you care about now.”

Her heart swelled into her throat. She started to suggest that it was the wine talking, but it wasn’t. The truth was in his eyes. Those blue eyes she knew as well as her own. And despite her wine consumption, she was stone-cold sober as she considered what could happen between them tonight.

“I’m really glad, because I would hate to think I’m in this alone,” she confessed.

He kissed her so sweetly that tears stung her eyes. Then he stood and pulled her into his arms. He carried her to the nearest bed.

No matter what happened tomorrow, she would always cherish this night.

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~Cassie

 

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

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Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 513

Genre: New Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

All I knew about this book going into it is that it was a Fantasy. I was even confused before starting if it was a Young Adult or New Adult book. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading and realized that this was a book about witches and witch hunters set in a fantastical version of 1600’s France. This book follows Lou, who is a witch in hiding from her coven, and Reid, who grew up and was trained by the Church to be a Chasseur (witch hunter). Due to various circumstances Reid and Lou are forced into marriage by the Archbishop and of course we see them start to fall in love with each other. In the peripheral of the romance are the increasing activity of the witches and the policies and politics of the Church.

The romance in this book was really well done and as authentic as a fantasy book can be. Reid sees Lou as uncivilized and untrustworthy and Lou really plays to that to get what she wants. The banter between the two and the slow burn of their romance make this 500 page book feel so much shorter. Also really well done is the internal conflict Lou has within herself about keeping her magic a secret. Clearly she is keeping the secret from Reid but since she is in hiding from her coven only a couple of people are aware who she is. This leads her to having to make some tough decisions to keep herself safe and she really struggles with the consequences of those decisions.

Another facet of the book that I found so fascinating was the Church and it’s narrow-minded perspective of the world. Especially when we get to know the world more and start to realize exactly how hypocritical and damaging the Church is. There are obvious parallels between the Church in the book and our modern version of Catholicism. I am not Catholic so I can’t speak to how accurate the book portrays certain themes and ideas presented in the book but it definitely highlights the negative side of the religion (or any religion really).

Coco, Lou’s best friend, is a blood witch and I found the different types of witches to be fascinating and I hope we learn more about the witch world in the next book. I think because so much time was spent on the romance that the book is missing some world building that would have made the story more enriching. Another negative to the book was how a relatively minor character suddenly had such a massive part of the ending. We seriously only briefly saw this character twice before and then he was just there and the reason was merely to serve as a plot device to a reveal that was made. It came across to me as lazy storytelling and really left a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall, I thought this was a captivating and enthralling read that I think so many people will enjoy. Serpent & Dove is also Mahurin’s debut novel so I’m really looking forward to what she is able to do with Blood & Honey, the second book in this series (duology?). Both of these books also have the most gorgeous covers that deserve to be displayed on any bookshelf.

~Cassie

January Book Haul

I’m not going to lie, last month I went a little crazy with the book buying. In my defense it was a pretty crappy month and buying books always makes me feel better. I was pleasantly surprised, though, when I was putting this together that I have already read a few of these. So even though this is a huge amount of books for one month I am slowly working my way through them. Although, that logic only works if I’m not going to be buying books for awhile… which is not true. However, it has been at a much slower pace so I do have that going for me.

 

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WINNER OF THE 2009 MAN BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR FICTION
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

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More than fifty years on, Iris Chase is remembering Laura’s mysterious death. And so begins an extraordinary and compelling story of two sisters and their secrets. Set against a panoramic backdrop of twentieth-century history, The Blind Assassin is an epic tale of memory, intrigue and betrayal.

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Since their mother’s death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving, possessive, and ambitious father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see his sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard cares about is his ability to keep his children—all his children—safe.

“I’m not sure what you have been told about me, but I’m not nearly as bad as they make me out to be.” His deliciously deep voice carried a little bit of ego.

I’m sure you are exactly as bad as they make you out to be….

Brad De Luca is used to getting whatever and whomever he wants. The premier divorce attorney in town, he’s a playboy who’s bedded half the city—including his own clients. And when the newest intern at his firm poses a challenge, his seductive prowess goes into overdrive.

Pre-law student Julia Campbell is fresh off a failed engagement and happy with her new independence. Even if she weren’t warned away from Brad at every turn, she’d know he was bad news. The last thing she needs is a man who could destroy her job prospects, not to mention her innocence. But before she knows it, the incorrigible charmer has her under his spell. His deviant tastes plunge her deep into a forbidden world of sexual exploration…but her heart may not survive the fall.

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Forget everything you think you know about the most infamous family of the Italian Renaissance-here in every colorful detail is the real story of the Borgias and their indelible, tumultuous world, written by the gifted author of the acclaimed A World Undone and The Tudors and timed to coincide with the upcoming new season of the celebrated Showtime series, The Borgias.

Meet Rodrigo Borgia-Pope Alexander VI; Cesare Borgia-the reputed model for Machiavelli’s The Prince; Lucrezia; and Juan-the members of one of the most notorious families in European history. Epic in scope and set against the beautifully rendered backdrop of Renaissance Italy, The Borgias is a thrilling new depiction of these celebrated personalities and an era unsurpassed in beauty, terror, and intrigue.

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A vibrant new translation of the first installment in the #1 internationally bestselling Joona Linna series, The Hypnotistshows the lengths one determined detective is willing to go to solve a horrific crime.

A gruesome triple homicide attracts the interest of Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the murders. There’s only one surviving witness–the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. The boy was supposed to to be the fourth victim, but somehow he survived. He’s suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a catatonic state. Desperate for information, Linna enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to hypnotize the boy, hoping to uncover the killer through his memories.

Bark has sworn he would never do this kind of work again because of the long-term effects it can have on a patient’s psyche. But Linna won’t relent, and the doctor breaks his promise. When he hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events comes to light. This sensational thriller will have you mesmerized from its very first page.

Book of the Month

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The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

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For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, a magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the New York Timesbestselling author of Ordinary Grace.

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

Kindle

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Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?

Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.

And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.

Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So… what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?

Likely, the last thing you expect.

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The only purebred vampire left on the planet and the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who killed his parents centuries ago. But when his most trusted fighter is killed—orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate—Wrath must put down his dagger and usher the beautiful female into another world.

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger—one that threatens to consume them both…

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From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

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Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

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NETFLIX NEWS! The 44 CHAPTERS ABOUT 4 MEN series is being adapted into a steamy Netflix dramedy series called SEX/LIFE, coming soon!

“SKIN is a sophisticated, edgy, authentic, five-star read, and I HIGHLY recommend it.” – L.J. Shen, USA Today Bestselling Author

Because BB Easton had so much fun writing her best-selling, award-winning memoir, 44 CHAPTERS ABOUT 4 MEN, she decided to give each of her four men his own steamy stand-alone. SKIN is Knight’s book–a gritty, taboo,forbidden love story overflowing with ’90s nostalgia, dark humor, and heart-wrenching teenage angst. It is based on a true story.

In 1997, Ronald “Knight” McKnight was the meanest, most misunderstood boy at Peach State High School … perhaps on the entire planet. Knight hated everyone, except for me, BB—the perky, quirky punk chick with the locker next to his.

I, on the other hand, liked everybody … except for Knight. I was scared sh*tless of him, actually. All I wanted was to marry Prince Eric-lookalike and king of the Peach State High punk scene, Lance Hightower, and have a million of his babies.

Unfortunately for me, Knight was even better at getting his way than I was, and once he got under my skin, my life would never be the same.

*SKIN is Book 1 in the 44 CHAPTERS ABOUT 4 MEN spin-off series but can be read as a complete standalone. Go in with an open mind, and prepare to have it blown.

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The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

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The New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series delivers a romance about a rugged Texas sheriff who must protect the woman who was once his sworn enemy…

Case Lawton comes from a family of criminals. So as the sheriff of Loveless, Texas, he’s determined to do everything by the book–until he’s called to Aspen Barlow’s office after a so-called break-in. The last thing he wants to do is help the woman who cost him custody of his son. But Aspen isn’t the heartless lawyer Case remembers, and he starts to question his long-held grudge…

Aspen is scared for her life, and Case is her last hope for protection. But to get him on her side, she’ll have to reveal the painful truth from all those years ago. Now, as they work together to track down a dangerous criminal, Case and Aspen learn to trust each other. And as the threats escalate, it becomes clear there’s a thin line between love and hate… because there’s nothing Case wouldn’t do to keep her safe.

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Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

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Meg Sanders has spent her life playing by the rules—until tonight. It’s her birthday and she’s determined to be a little wild and a whole lot carefree, at least until she has to get back to reality tomorrow. But the last thing she expects is to be seduced on the dance floor by two gorgeous men.

Theo and Galen are each incredibly sexy on their own, and potentially devastating as a pair—and they want her. Meg isn’t down for anything resembling complicated when her life is such a mess, but the two of them win her over with the promise of a night out of her deepest, darkest fantasy—and that they walk the next morning with no strings attached.

After all, anything goes when it’s only for one night…

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From New York Times Bestselling author K. Bromberg comes the first book in an unforgettable series about lust, love, redemption, and healing . . .

Colton Donavan lives on that razor thin edge toward out of control. Whether it’s on the track or off of it, everything he wants is at his fingertips: success, willing women, media attention.

Everything that is, but me. I’m the exception this reckless bad boy can’t seem to win over.

My heart is healing. His soul is damaged. We both know the two of us could never work. But he crashes into my life without apology—disrupting my world, testing my boundaries, and uncovering the darkness of my past.

Our chemistry is undeniable. Our attraction is magnetic. Our ability to help each other heal obvious. And even though he won’t let me in, there’s something about Colton I can’t walk away from.

This is the beginning of our story.
Our fight.
Our perfectly imperfect love.

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My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.

I’m not going to let him bully me anymore.

***This novel contains adult/mature young adult situations. It is only suitable for ages 18+ due to language, violence, and sexual situations.

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In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

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I never thought my first kiss would be on my wedding day.

But here I stand, clutching a bouquet of pale pink roses behind the doors of a Las Vegas chapel, and at the end of the aisle is the absolute last man I imagined would be waiting for me.

Thomas Bane.

Bestselling author. Notorious bad boy. Savagely handsome, dark as sin, chiseled as stone. And somehow, my soon-to-be husband.

Marry him, and I’ll land my dream job. Save him, and I’ll walk away with everything I’ve ever wanted. All I have to do is remember it’s all for show. None of it is real, no matter how real it feels.

But first, I have to survive the kiss.

And with lips like his, I don’t stand a chance.

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A creepy haunted mansion that has been abandoned for decades, a cat that appears out of nowhere and a murder in a locked room are just par for the course for bakery owner Lexy Baker and her posse of amateur sleuth grandmas. Lexy takes a working vacation to help her grandmother’s friend launch her new bed and breakfast and she ends up in the middle of a mysterious murder investigation. Her homicide detective husband, Jack, finds himself playing amateur sleuth beside Lexy and the iPad toting grandmas while they sift through a cast of secretive suspects to prove the killer was no ghost. In the tradition of the old-fashioned mysteries, this Lexy Baker novella is a real puzzler that will keep you guessing until the end. Recipes Included!

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These men are dark, bold, and brave. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees…

Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for to herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past—one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms.

~Cassie

Revenge Plan by Linda Kage

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Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: April 29, 2019

Pages: 539

Genre: New Adult Romance

Rating: 4/5

Haven just found out that her boyfriend is cheating on her and in her desperation to get away from him she runs right into his enemy, Wick. Wick ends up being Haven’s savior as they try to navigate the circumstances they find themselves in as well as their feelings for each other.

Wick is the ultimate cinnamon roll of a hero and my favorite book boyfriend. The way he takes care of Haven is the hottest thing about this book. Haven is a character who is obviously going through a lot of turmoil and I enjoyed watching her grow over the course of the book. Her ex, Topher, is one of the most toxic male characters that I have ever read and I couldn’t’ stand when he was on the page. Kage does an amazing job of bringing all these characters to life.

There was also an additional story that was being told in the campus digital newspaper and I love how much that added to the overall story. It was an incredibly creative way to tell the story and I am always in awe when an author is able to successfully “think” outside the box.

This was a really well done New Adult Romance with a fun supporting cast and a swoon worthy romance. Linda Kage also has a forbidden men series (that I can’t wait to read) and this book contains some characters from that series. If you like fun contemporary romances then I think you might also really enjoy this book.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Her Homecoming Wish by Jo McNally

Harlequin Series Spine Showcase

I’m back again with another post in the Harlequin Carina Press February 2020 blog tour to promote some of their upcoming titles. You can check out the full list of upcoming titles in the graphic above. I’m here today with Her Homecoming Wish which is a part of the Harlequin Special Edition books.

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cover_Her Homecoming Wish_Jo McNally

 

Book description HER HOMECOMING WISH:

She’s ready to shed her good-girl ways…
“You’re all about following the rules now?
“Pity.”
Mackenzie Wallace hopes there’s still some bad boy lurking beneath single father Danny Adams’s upright exterior. Being the proverbial good girl left her brokenhearted and alone in the past. Now she’s back in town and wants excitement with her high school crush—not love. Dan knows their connection runs deep, despite Mackenzie’s protests. But will their new personas work together—especially when Dan’s secret is exposed?

REVIEW

This book had many elements that I enjoyed. It is no secret that I love small town romances and this one has a very fleshed out town with a huge array of characters. Since this was my first time reading a book of McNally’s I didn’t appreciate all the time spent on the side characters that I’m sure someone who loves this series would. I did love the connection Mack and Dan had and their chemistry was very evident.

I also enjoyed the conflict of Dan not knowing how to balance his need to protect the people of his city as a police officer and his need to just be able to be himself. Dan and Mack also have the element of knowing each other from when they were growing up and that plays into how they interact as adults. I will say that I am confused by the synopsis because I don’t know what secret Dan had that threatened their relationship. In fact the whole synopsis should be reworked because I don’t think it really reflects what this book is about. This book is ultimately about two people who used to know each other as kids coming back together 20 years later and having to relearn who they are.

I do want to mention that this book does get repetitive which was frustrating for me and at times it came off as judgmental. I don’t appreciate when labels are put on people because no one is that singular. Also liking beer and showing off your body are not the qualities I would give a bad girl. If you don’t mind those qualities in your books then I do think you would enjoy this book more than I did. If you want to try a sample of this book and see if it is something you would want to read then keep scrolling for an excerpt.

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About the author Jo McNally:

Jo McNally lives in upstate New York with 100 pounds of dog and 200 pounds of husband – her slice of the bed is very small. When she’s not writing or reading romance novels (or clinging to the edge of the bed…), she can often be found on the back porch sipping wine with friends, listening to an eclectic playlist. If the weather is perfect, she might join her husband on the golf course, where she always feels far more competitive than her actual skill-level would suggest.

EXCERPT:

Dan returned, thankfully ending the conversation. He handed her a glass, but it wasn’t beer.

“I thought you might want some water to hydrate yourself from all your…uh…activity.”

“In other words, you agree I’ve had enough beer tonight? You’re right—this is not a typical Friday night for me.” Remembering she was here to start a more fun-loving life, she lifted her chin. “At least it wasn’t before tonight.”

Owen leaned forward to make himself heard over the music. “Hey, Dan, you bike, right? A bunch of us are going to do the loop around the lake Sunday. Wanna join us?”

Mack’s eyes went wide. “Dan, you still have your motorcycle? I used to love the way that thing rumbled…”

Kiara’s eyebrows rose, and Mack realized she sounded gushy. But she hadn’t thought of Dan pulling up behind the liquor store on that dark red Harley of his in a long time. He’d been every teenage girl’s bad-boy dream—handsome, reckless and restless. She used to run to the back window when she heard him coming, just to watch him pull that helmet off and run his fingers through his hair, wearing those tight jeans.

Was it hot in here, or was it her memories that were heating her up right now? She gulped down the cold water, nearly emptying the glass in one pull. Dan was saying something. Oh, damn. Dan was talking and she wasn’t even listening…

“…think Owen’s referring to bicycles, not motorcycles.” He nodded toward Owen. “I’ve got Chloe this weekend, so I’ll have to pass.” His mouth slanted into a half grin as he turned back to Mack. “But yes, I still have the old Harley. It’s been in mothballs for a few years, but I can’t seem to part with that last vestige of my misspent youth.”

That bad boy might still be in there…

“You know, I’ve never been on a motorcycle. You should give me a ride sometime…”

Dan coughed and the others laughed. That wasn’t the kind of ride she’d meant, of course. Or was it? Rather than apologize, she just met his gaze and shrugged.

There was a spark of something in his eyes. Interest? He closed them and shook his head, as if chasing away whatever thoughts she’d put there.

~Cassie

 

WWW Wednesday 2/12/20

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It’s Wednesday which means it’s time for my favorite weekly meme! We are also in the middle of round 6 of Contemporary-a-thon  so that’s what all my books this week will be centered around. This meme is hosted by Sam at Taking of a World of Words and all you need to do to participate is answer 3 questions:

What are you currently reading

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I am so close to finishing this! So far I am absolutely captivated by the story and how talented Elizabeth Acevedo is. I am reading this for the Contemporary-a-thon challenge to read a book with an illustrated cover. I, embarrassingly, had picked an historical fiction novel to read for this prompt *facepalm* I don’t know what I was thinking but I went to pick that book up (Bringing Down the Duke) and was confused at the choice I made. So, I looked to my shelf and picked this book up. Which has an absolutely stunning cover and an equally beautiful story.

What did you recently finish reading?

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I thought this was a decent YA Contemporary with a sci-fi twist. However, I am someone who cries at everything and this book gave me no feels. I really struggle connecting with teenage boy protagonists, which is interesting since I am a boy mom, but I think the problem here was more with the writing. Obviously I am not the target audience for the book so take my words with a grain of salt. Oh, I read this book for the challenge of reading a new to me author.

What do you think you will read next?

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This is my pick for a book with green on the cover. I am so excited to read this because people rave about it so much. I’m also ready to read some adult contemporary because I’m don’t read too much YA anymore and my last two reads have been YA.

~Cassie

January Wrap Up + Stats

Last month I read a crazy amount of books… 22! I don’t think I have ever read that much in one month before but I credit a lot of that to not being able to do much else at the beginning of the year plus I discovered Tillie Cole’s Hades Hangmen series. I can tell you that while I’m still reading a lot it has definitely slowed down. We are almost half way through February and I’ve read 6 books, which is still a lot but I’m for sure not going to reach January’s number. I am happy that I am reading less because it means that I am able to be doing more of my day to day life.

I am happy to report that I read all but one of the books (technically I’m reading one right now) on my January TBR and a couple of books from my Magical Readathon tbr. Those books also worked for two of my January Romanceopoly  books.

I will link to any reviews that I did for the books mentioned below. Also be sure to check out all my stats for the month at the end of this post.

Wrap Up

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Netgalley Review: The Reputation by Sara Shepard

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Hades Hangmen by Tillie Cole

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The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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The Perfect Alibi by Philip Margolin

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Blog Tour: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

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Corrupt (Devil’s Night #1) by Penelope Douglas

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Blog Tour: Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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Rating: 3/5

I was really excited to read this because it is so highly talked about but I thought the first half of this book was so boring. I did like the second half so I plan on continuing on (slowly) with the series.

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Rating: 5/5

Anna Kendrick is one of my favorite actresses so it was no surprise that I loved this book. I also listened to it as an audiobook which I highly recommend because it added so much to the experience. And we all know that I am not an audiobook person so that is saying something coming from me.  I started this in December and towards the end of the book she talks about how her Grandma’s death effected her which was hard for me so I put it down for about a month. I ended up loving the end of this book the most and I am convinced that Anna and I would be best friends if given the chance.

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Rating: 4/5

I did really enjoy this book but for me it was more a well done survival story than a thriller. I was disappointed while reading it because this book has been so hyped up and I feel like every reveal was obvious. I do highly recommend this book though because it is very much a locked room “mystery” which is my favorite thing to read. Combine that with an intense survival story and you have an exciting read.

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Blog Tour: Third To Die by Allison Brennan

Stats

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~Cassie

Great on Kindle Haul

Yesterday I fell into the black hole that is Great on Kindle. I had never heard of this program before but I was watching SunBeamJess  latest video and she was reviewing In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. This book has been on my radar so while I was watching I looked it up on Amazon. It was like $13 or $14 for the Kindle book which I would never normally pay but it came with a $10.49 credit. I decided that it was worth it since I really wanted to read the book. I then got an email linking me to the Great on Kindle page where I could spend my credits. But you guys every single book that you buy on there gives you more credits for other books! Oh my gosh it sent me into an hour long spiral where I was buying books that I have been wanting to read. All the books vary in price and so the credits you get back for the purchase would vary as well. I still have $3.74 in credits but I just couldn’t keep searching anymore. Especially since the last book that I “bought” (it was actually free) was a Kindle Unlimited book so it was a total waste of my credits.

The Great on Kindle program is only for select non fiction books and they are supposed to be more user friendly. To be honest I don’t know what the difference is between these books and regular kindle books other than the discount you get for buying them. But I was excited about these books and I wanted to share with you if you also enjoy nonfiction books.

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For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.

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“The impressive collection of writers here have contributed essays that celebrate knitting and knitters. They share their knitting triumphs and disasters as well as their life triumphs and disasters…These essays will break your heart. They will have you laughing out loud.” —Ann Hood, from the introduction

Why does knitting occupy a place in the hearts of so many writers? What’s so magical and transformative about yarn and needles? How does knitting help us get through life-changing events and inspire joy? In Knitting Yarns, twenty-seven writers tell stories about how knitting healed, challenged, or helped them to grow. Barbara Kingsolver describes sheering a sheep for yarn. Elizabeth Berg writes about her frustration at failing to knit. Ann Patchett traces her life through her knitting, writing about the scarf that knits together the women she’s loved and lost. Knitting a Christmas gift for his blind aunt helped Andre Dubus III knit an understanding with his girlfriend. Kaylie Jones finds the woman who used knitting to help raise her in France and heals old wounds. Sue Grafton writes about her passion for knitting. Also included are five original knitting patterns created by Helen Bingham.

Poignant, funny, and moving, Knitting Yarns is sure to delight knitting enthusiasts and lovers of literature alike.

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The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age

In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial–left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress.

Anna arrived amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building.

Part coming-age-story, part portrait of an already-bygone era, Anna Wiener’s memoir is a rare first-person glimpse into high-flying, reckless startup culture at a time of unchecked ambition, unregulated surveillance, wild fortune, and accelerating political power. With wit, candor, and heart, Anna deftly charts the tech industry’s shift from self-appointed world savior to democracy-endangering liability, alongside a personal narrative of aspiration, ambivalence, and disillusionment.

Unsparing and incisive, Uncanny Valley is a cautionary tale, and a revelatory interrogation of a world reckoning with consequences its unwitting designers are only beginning to understand.

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Ali Wong’s heartfelt and hilarious letters to her daughters (the two she put to work while they were still in utero), covering everything they need to know in life, like the unpleasant details of dating, how to be a working mom in a male-dominated profession, and how she trapped their dad.

In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonated so heavily that she became a popular Halloween costume. Wong told the world her remarkably unfiltered thoughts on marriage, sex, Asian culture, working women, and why you never see new mom comics on stage but you sure see plenty of new dads.

The sharp insights and humor are even more personal in this completely original collection. She shares the wisdom she’s learned from a life in comedy and reveals stories from her life off stage, including the brutal singles life in New York (i.e. the inevitable confrontation with erectile dysfunction), reconnecting with her roots (and drinking snake blood) in Vietnam, tales of being a wild child growing up in San Francisco, and parenting war stories. Though addressed to her daughters, Ali Wong’s letters are absurdly funny, surprisingly moving, and enlightening (and disgusting) for all.

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The stunning story of an Alabama serial killer and the true-crime book that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird.

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted–thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.

Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who had traveled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research seventeen years earlier. Lee spent a year in town reporting, and many more working on her own version of the case.

Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South.

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Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book’s categorization to be sure that ‘The Devil in the White City’ is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.

Burnham’s challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous “White City” around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair’s incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison.

The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World’s Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.

Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson’s skillful writing. – John Moe

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What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

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Sex and the City meets Catch Me if You Can in the astonishing true story of Anna Delvey, a young con artist posing as a German heiress in New York City—as told by the former Vanity Fair photo editor who got seduced by her friendship and then scammed out of more than $62,000.

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A sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.

Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt’s sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.

It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman’s Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the “soul of pampered self-absorption”; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.

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‘…And then we heard the rain falling, and that was the drops of blood falling; and when we came to get the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.’ Harriet Tubman

In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five men in her life, to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth–and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue high education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity.

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Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky’s crime.

But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.

An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, The Fact Of a Body is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed―but about how we grapple with our own personal histories. Along the way it tackles questions about the nature of forgiveness, and if a single narrative can ever really contain something as definitive as the truth. This groundbreaking, heart-stopping work, ten years in the making, shows how the law is more personal than we would like to believe―and the truth more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

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In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.

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The author of the Millennium novels laid out the clues. Now a journalist is following them.

When Stieg Larsson died, the author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had been working on a true mystery that out-twisted his Millennium novels: the assassination on February 28, 1986, of Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister. It was the first time in history that a head of state had been murdered without a clue who’d done it—and on a Stockholm street at point-blank range.

Internationally known for his fictional far-right villains, Larsson was well acquainted with their real-life counterparts and documented extremist activities throughout the world. For years he’d been amassing evidence that linked their terrorist acts to what he called “one of the most astounding murder cases” he’d ever covered. Larsson’s archive was forgotten until journalist Jan Stocklassa was given exclusive access to the author’s secret project.

In The Man Who Played with Fire, Stocklassa collects the pieces of Larsson’s true-crime puzzle to follow the trail of intrigue, espionage, and conspiracy begun by one of the world’s most famous thriller writers. Together they set out to solve a mystery that no one else could.

~Cassie

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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Publisher: Penguin Classics

Publication Date: August 2018

Pages: 528

Genre: Classic

Rating: 5/5

This was my first time reading this book as an adult and while I do have some newfound critiques, I also, at different parts, connected to this book on a deeper level than before. As a teenager I read Little Women a lot and so I am intimately familiar with the story and the characters. Of course, all the things that make this book iconic are things that I still loved and cried over. But I did find that reading this now was a more enriching experience for me.

Little Women is broken into two books and I have no complaints about the first book. It is a moving story about a family who used to have money and now have none. They also are without their father who is fighting in the war and they are trying to do their best to keep their spirits up. The four sisters are all amazing characters in their own right and I love how they all perceive and interact with the world. I also feel that their story, relationships, troubles and triumphs are realistic. Alcott does an amazing job of bringing to life the time the March sisters were alive. I also think that Alcott is a master storyteller because all of her side characters bring so much to the story. Mr. Laurence, Hannah, Laurie, Fritz, etc. all add different elements to the story that couldn’t exist without them.

I was disappointed (which is hard for me to admit!) when I started the second book of the novel because it definitely reads a lot like mini morality stories. For a lot of the second half each chapter was its own self contained story that served as a lecture for how we should behave and/or think. They still continued to push the narrative forward but at a much slower pace. And this is where the conundrum lies for me because as much as I hate preachy books I also found some value in what Alcott was saying. Also, it is important to note that Little Women is broken up into two books because that’s how it was originally published. The second half of this book was given it’s own title, Good Wives, so it makes sense that the two books are so disjointed.

I think that everyone who reads this will get different things out of it but for me I was particularly touched by the stories that offered advice on marriage and motherhood. Obviously as a teenager reading this book both those things were not anything that I had experience with. And while the advice given could be outdated depending on your beliefs I felt that there was some good ideas to be taken. For example, one that I have learned the hard way, is to not let pride come between you and your husband (or wife, girlfriend, boyfriend etc). Another one that I really liked was about how we can warn our kids that something is not a good idea but if they choose not to listen than it is better to let them learn it through experience. As my kids are getting older I can definitely see this being advice that I use.

I also feel like I should mention that I am a Christian and Little Women is heavily formed on Alcott’s own religious beliefs. I don’t think that she had any religion in specific that she followed, rather she was just a believer in God. I think that for someone who doesn’t believe in religion or God might find this book heavy handed in that regard and would probably not enjoy this book as much as I did.

This is the first book I read for the #ClassicsCommunity 2020 year long readathon that is going on. I’m so happy that I participated and also picked this book first because this book was heartwarming, funny, sad and uplifting which is exactly what I needed at the time I was reading it. I will for sure be rereading this book in the future. I also never realized that this book is the first in a trilogy and I am reading the second book, Little Men sometime this month. I am excited to dive into that book and see how well Alcott carries on the story of this amazing family.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee

Harlequin Series Spine ShowcaseI’m here today with another Harlequin Carina Press February 2020 blog tour to share their new releases coming out this month. The book I’m reviewing in this post is Temporary Wife Temptation which is a Harlequin Desire book.

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Book description TEMPORARY WIFE TEMPTATION:

Much more than he bargained for…
“You want me to find you a wife?”
“No. I want you to be my wife.”
Garrett Song is this close to taking the reins of his family’s LA fashion empire…until the Song matriarch insists he marry her handpicked bride first. To block her matchmaking, he recruits Natalie Sobol to pose as his wife. She needs a fake spouse as badly as he does. But when passion burns down their chaste agreement, the flames could destroy them all…

REVIEW

This was hot, sexy and yet heartwarming marriage of convenience story. I absolutely loved Garrett and Natalie separately and when they were together they were fire. This book is not lying when it says this is a Harlequin Desire book because they way they wanted each other was so intense it was jumping off the page.

Both Garrett and Natalie have strong family bonds that leads them to taking part in this marriage of convenience. Another reason I loved this book so much was the importance that family has in this book. Even though both of them have complicated family relationships they also recognize how important it is for each other to have these relationships.

In addition to the family ties this book also taught me about parts of Korean culture and words. I love when books are able to teach me something (without preaching!) and this book did it seamlessly. I am so impressed that this is the author’s first published work and I am excited to read more from her in the future. Particularly the second book in this series that comes out in September. If you want a glimpse into Natalie and Garret’s sexy and sweet romance then check out the excerpt down below.

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About the author JAYCI LEE: Jayci Lee writes poignant, funny, and sexy romance. She lives in sunny California with her tall-dark-and-handsome husband, two amazing boys with boundless energy, and a fluffy rescue whose cuteness is a major distraction. She is semi-retired from her 15-year career as a defense litigator, and writes full-time now. She loves food, wine, and travelling, just like her characters. Books have always helped her grow, dream, and heal. She hopes her books will do the same for you.

EXCERPT:

Garrett resisted the urge to glance over his shoulder to check on her. Natalie was a grown woman and he didn’t need to protect her from being swarmed by admirers. Besides, she was the one who had proposed they refrain from other relationships, so she wouldn’t do anything to hurt his reputation or hers.

Earlier, at her apartment, he’d caught fire at the sight of her in her little black dress. It was demure compared to the one she’d worn at Le Rêve, but it hugged her hourglass figure and highlighted the curves underneath just enough to tease his imagination.

He walked to the bar for his Scotch and grabbed a flute of champagne from a server on his way back. As he’d anticipated, Natalie was now surrounded by a group of men and he lengthened his strides to reach her.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, sweetheart.” He pressed a light kiss on her lips and handed her the champagne.

“Thank you.” She leaned her head against his shoulder when he pulled her to his side, playing her part like a pro.

“Natalie was just taking us to task about USC’s new head coach. It seems neither he nor I truly understand college football,” said one of Mike’s college friends.

“Is that so?” Garrett raised an eyebrow at her and she shrugged.

“Taking you to task is a bit harsh.” She hid her grin against the rim of her champagne flute as she took a long sip. “It’s just that I have a better understanding than you guys.”

The audience winced and guffawed at her cheekiness. As Natalie continued with her lecture, all the men listened intently, as did Garrett. She was funny and down-to-earth, and her mind was quicker than lightning. Lost in her words, Garrett belatedly noticed the crowd had grown. Her champagne glass was depleted and her smile was becoming strained.

He leaned down close to her ear. “Tired?”

“And hungry.”

“All right, gentlemen. I’m whisking away my date now. I’m tired of sharing her.”

When the crowd finally dispersed, Natalie slumped against him with a groan. “I need food, champagne and somewhere to sit.”

A server walked over with a tray of bacon-wrapped shrimp and Natalie snatched a couple of them. She popped one in her mouth and mumbled around her food, “Not necessarily in that order.”

Garrett laughed and guided her toward the French doors leading out to the garden. Natalie ate every single hors d’oeuvre she met along the way and finished another glass of champagne.

“Holy cow. Is everything really, really delicious, or am I just famished? I would totally go back for that crab cake if my feet weren’t screaming at me to get my butt on a chair.”

He glanced down at her zebra-print high heels. They did amazing things for her legs but didn’t look remotely comfortable. “There’s a bench around the corner.” 

“Oh, thank God.” She kicked off her shoes as soon as she plopped onto the seat.

Garrett shrugged out of his jacket and draped it around her shoulders before sitting next to her.

“Thank you,” she murmured, gazing at the garden. “It’s so beautiful out here.”

“Is it?” He and Mike had grown up tearing apart that very garden, but Garrett had never sat still and taken it all in, like they were doing now. “I guess you’re right.”

“Mmm-hmm.”

He studied her profile, her high, regal cheekbone and the graceful curve of her neck. Half of her hair had escaped the loose knot behind her head and fell down her back and shoulders. He wanted to sweep aside her hair and feel the softness of her skin, which he absolutely should not do.

“So how do you know so much about college football?” He tore his gaze away from her and stared at an old maple tree ahead of him, hard enough to make his eyes water.

“Long story.”

“We’ve got time.” He made a show of checking his watch. “I’ll give you ten minutes.”

Her laughter filled the garden, then ended on a wistful sigh. “My dad and I, we weren’t very close. The only time he didn’t mind my company was when we watched college football together. He was a huge fan. I don’t think he even noticed I was sitting there half the time.”

Garrett understood what that felt like. As soon as he finished graduate school, he’d thrown himself into his work. It was satisfying in its predictability and it created a common ground for him and his father. His dad had stepped down from the CEO position when his mom died, but returned to Hansol a few years later as an executive VP.

“I thought if I learned enough about the sport, he’d like me a little better.” Her shrug told him it hadn’t worked, but Natalie told her story without an ounce of self-pity—like she owned her past, hurt and all. His respect for her deepened. “But soon I noticed I wasn’t faking my enthusiasm anymore. I’d grown to love the sport. Who knew it’d come in handy at an intimate birthday party for a hundred people?”

“You certainly won over quite a few of them.”

“I did?” Her eyebrows shot up in genuine surprise.

He huffed out a laugh. “Why did you think that crowd was hanging on to your every word?”

“Watch yourself, Garrett Song.” Natalie narrowed her eyes and pointed a finger at him. “I know where you live.”

He snatched her hand and tugged her to her feet. “Yes, and you’ll be living there with me starting Sunday.”

“Ugh.” She hooked an index finger in each of her shoes, not bothering to put them back on. “Do you ever stop thinking about work?”

“Yes.” He cocked his head and pretended to consider her question. “But only when I’m thoroughly distracted.”

Her lashes fluttered and color saturated her cheeks, and his gut clenched with heat. She could definitely become his most dangerous distraction.

~Cassie