Saturday, 2 November 2019

★Blog Tour★ Review & Excerpt of This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman

This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman
Bow Street Bachelors #1
Published 29 October 2019 by St Martin’s Paperbacks

Introducing the Bow Street Bachelors—men who work undercover for London’s first official police force—and the women they serve to protect. . .and wed?
Shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed is done with men who covet her purse more than her person. Even worse than the ton’s lecherous fortune hunters, however, is the cruel cousin determined to force Georgie into marriage. If only she could find a way to be . . . widowed? Georgie hatches a madcap scheme to wed a condemned criminal before he’s set to be executed. All she has to do is find an eligible bachelor in prison to marry her, and she’ll be free. What could possibly go wrong?
Benedict William Henry Wylde, scapegrace second son of the late Earl of Morcott and well-known rake, is in Newgate prison undercover, working for Bow Street. Georgie doesn’t realize who he is when she marries him—and she most certainly never expects to bump into her very-much-alive, and very handsome, husband of convenience at a society gathering weeks later. Soon Wylde finds himself courting his own wife, hoping to win her heart since he already has her hand. But how can this seductive rogue convince brazen, beautiful Georgie that he wants to be together…until actual death do they part?

Where to start...Oh, right. I'm reviewing This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman as a part of a blog tour put together by the amazing folks at St. Martin's Press and SMP Romance. The FTC requires this disclaimer even though every person who has ever met me knows that I am way too opinionated for a free book to sway my opinion. Let's get to this before the coffee runs out!
I was hooked into this book right from the start. The opening scene was all the sketchy a girl could ask for, a cloaked figure, nocturnal sneaking, mystery and intrigue (those are different!), and, marriage for reasons that don't involve love. Georgiana "Georgie" Caversteed is being 'hunted' by her creep-o cousin who wants to marry her for her money and he's not being subtle about it. Her plan is to marry a man sentenced to be hanged and live her life as the woefully ignored wife of an always travelling husband. Girl, yes! Georgie is kind of next-level if you ask me, in a time where 'proper' women basically had to be married, she had her plan all figured out on how to be her own woman. Marry a man sentenced to death, boom! instant secret widow and freedom to do as she pleases! And her husband of (in)convenience? Not actually a ne'er-do-well convict bound for Tasmania in the morning. He's a war hero, a member of the ton, -coowner of a gambling hell, and an undercover Bow Street Runner. Benedict "Ben" Hyde is given two options from the prison warden, marry mystery lady or die right there. Ben's Not Happy about this situation and completely dumbstruck when he finds out the identity of his new bride, the wealthiest woman in London. And I am telling you the book, huh? Just slap my name on this book, I love it!
The dynamics between Ben and Georgie are stellar. Ben gives Georgie the ability to be herself, enjoy herself, and have adventures (because adventures should be shared). And, Georgie gives Ben a better sense of self-worth little by little, she shows him how to feel, and she helps him out with his case! Reading this, you can feel the sparks between Ben and Georgie from the start, not the instantaneous 'love them, gotta have them, be with them forever' deal, but that warm butterfly feeling that kind of makes you want to vomit but also makes you want to skip everywhere and it quickly gets out of control and OHMIGOSH I LURV THEM! These two understand each other wonderfully and, even when they have a misunderstanding, they don't flounce off for an eternity and a half or break things off, they talk. They're magical unicorns.
Character Time! My favourite character aside from our leads has to be either Georgiana's younger sister, Juliet, or Benedict's little street urchin friend, Jem. Juliet acts like an airhead, but she's pretty on the ball. She's not as fierce as Georgie, but she has no use for the puff-shirts and one of my favourite conversations in this story is between Georgie and Juliet where they ridicule a man, who's after the Caversteed fortune of course, who has sworn to slay dragons for Juliet. And she's head-over-heels for a preacher's kid from their hometown and subtly sticks it to her matchmaking, title-hunting mother every chance she gets it seems. And Jem is just, well, you have to meet Jem to understand. I love that kid. I like Pieter, the right-hand man Georgie inherited from her father, he's overprotective but also knows Georgie can take care of herself. We love a man who gets that zen balance. I like the teasing camaraderie between Ben and his co-owner friends (and fellow runners), Alex and Seb. My dork babies. My least favourite characters? Georgiana and Juliet's mother and their cousin, Josiah. Josiah is a drunk, a gambling addict, and so many other creeper things that involve me digging out my taser.
I flat-out snorted at Starbucks while reading one passage. The only thing I'll say is, Georgie and Ben actually have the same sense of humour. Poor Mother Caversteed, she never stood a chance. There are some things I didn't see coming in This Earl of Mine and I do love a book that keeps me on my toes. I liked that we had consistent historical accuracy in our content, I'm a trifling little chit about this, I will full-stop on a hist-rom that doesn't give me accuracy for days. I'm at peace with this aspect of my personality, don't judge me.
I just really hated Josiah. His entire whole character was human trash. I also learned that reading the word "coitus" just ruins a love scene for me. It's right up there with "moist", y'all. I also wish there had been some friendship out there for Georgie. That girl needs a friend. I'm giving This Earl of Mine four stars and three flames. I enjoyed this book and it was a great series opener and I cannot wait to read the next book! I think I've covered everything in my notes, it sure seems like it, so this is the end of my review! But, keep reading for an excerpt!

Chapter 1.

London, March 1816.
There were worse places to find a husband than Newgate Prison.
Of course there were.
It was just that, at present, Georgie couldn’t think of any.
“Georgiana Caversteed, this is a terrible idea.” Georgie frowned at her burly companion, Pieter Smit, as the nondescript carriage he’d summoned to convey them to London’s most notorious jail rocked to a halt on the cobbled street. The salt-weathered Dutchman always used her full name whenever he disapproved of some- thing she was doing. Which was often.
“Your father would turn in his watery grave if he knew what you were about.”
That was undoubtedly true. Until three days ago, en- listing a husband from amongst the ranks of London’s most dangerous criminals had not featured prominently on her list of life goals. But desperate times called for desperate measures. Or, in this case, for a desperate felon about to be hanged. A felon she would marry before the night was through.
Georgie peered out into the rain-drizzled street, then up, up the near-windowless walls. They rose into the mist, five stories high, a vast expanse of brickwork, bleak and unpromising. A church bell tolled somewhere in the darkness, a forlorn clang like a death knell. Her stomach knotted with a grim sense of foreboding.
Was she really going to go through with this? It had seemed a good plan, in the safety of Grosvenor Square. The perfect way to thwart Cousin Josiah once and for all. She stepped from the carriage, ducked her head against the rain, and followed Pieter under a vast arched gate. Her heart hammered at the audacity of what she planned. They’d taken the same route as condemned prisoners on the way to Tyburn tree, only in reverse. West to east, from the rarefied social strata of Mayfair through gradually rougher and bleaker neighborhoods, Holborn and St. Giles, to this miserable place where the dregs of humanity had been incarcerated. Georgie felt as if she were nearing her own execution.
She shook off the pervasive aura of doom and straightened her spine. This was her choice. However unpalat- able the next few minutes might be, the alternative was far worse. Better a temporary marriage to a murderous, unwashed criminal than a lifetime of misery with Josiah. They crossed the deserted outer courtyard, and Georgie cleared her throat, trying not to inhale the foul-smelling air that seeped from the very pores of the building. “You have it all arranged? They are expecting us?”
Pieter nodded. “Aye. I’ve greased the wheels with yer blunt, my girl. The proctor and the ordinary are both bent as copper shillings. Used to having their palms greased, those two, the greedy bastards.”
Her father’s right-hand man had never minced words in front of her, and Georgie appreciated his bluntness. So few people in the ton ever said what they really meant. Pieter’s honesty was refreshing. He’d been her father’s man for twenty years before she’d even been born. A case of mumps had prevented him from accompanying William Caversteed on his last, fateful voyage, and Georgie had often thought that if Pieter had been with her father, maybe he’d still be alive. Little things like squalls, ship- wrecks, and attacks from Barbary pirates would be mere inconveniences to a man like Pieter Smit.
In the five years since Papa’s death, Pieter’s steadfast loyalty had been dedicated to William’s daughters, and Georgie loved the gruff, hulking manservant like a second father. He would see her through this madcap scheme— even if he disapproved.
She tugged the hood of her cloak down to stave off the drizzle. This place was filled with murderers, highway- men, forgers, and thieves. Poor wretches slated to die, or those “lucky” few whose sentences had been commuted to transportation. Yet in her own way, she was equally desperate.
“You are sure that this man is to be hanged tomorrow?” Pieter nodded grimly as he rapped on a wooden door.
“I am. A low sort he is, by all accounts.”
She shouldn’t ask, didn’t want to know too much about the man whose name she was purchasing. A man whose death would spell her own freedom. She would be wed and widowed within twenty-four hours.

From This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

Kate Bateman, (also writing as K. C. Bateman), is the #1 bestselling author of historical romances, including her RITA® nominated Renaissance romp, The Devil To Pay, and the novels in the Secrets & Spies series To Steal a Heart, A Raven’s Heart, and A Counterfeit Heart. When not writing novels that feature feisty, intelligent heroines and sexy, snarky heroes you want to both strangle and kiss, Kate works as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several popular TV shows in the UK. She splits her time between Illinois and her native England. Follow her on Twitter to learn more.

You can interact with her online here::

This week has been fun. The bar next to my complex's dog park got a new sign with rapidly flashing blue, green, and white lights. I saw them then I hit the ground, the doctor at the Emergency Care annex to my Medial Centre thinks I had some type of seizure. I got scheduled with my neuro (she's going to love this so much) and I can't wait for whatever new tests I'm going to be put through. I also upped my Aimovig to double the dosage and, while I love the Aimovig for taking away the constant migraine hellscape, the side effects are also doubled, so I keep randomly falling asleep. Oh, and my air conditioner caught fire. Everybody's okay, nobody's hurt, just not something I needed at 3AM, y'know? FUN WEEKEND ALL AROUND.
Anyways, my brain is fried. I'm back-dating this (at least I'm honest) for Saturday like it was supposed to be posted but guess who forgot to do the scheduling and went to the Emergency Care? Yep. And then I pretty much slept until MONDAY thinking it was already published. I'm hoping that was a final October kick and not November hating on me. I hope y'all have a less-cursed life and, until next time, have a happily ever after!

Friday, 1 November 2019

First Lines Friday ★ 5

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page. Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first.
Finally… reveal the book! 

Some parents tell their kids they can be anything. Mine did not.
I was not told that if I worked hard, my dreams would come true. Or that life was fair. Or that wishes were made of stardust, or candy canes, or were delivered by unicorns.
I was told the truth: that some people get lucky, and some people don't, which is why I'm skipping fifth period to ride an elevator in one of swanky Uptown's old arts buildings.
"What do you mean it's this weekend?"
Holding my cell tightly against my ear, I drill my opposite thumb into my temple, careful not to let the four girls entering the elevator on the fifth floor see the phone's blank screen.
They're late. According to the Copeland Ballet Academy's online schedule, Dance II–a requirement for all third-year students–gets out at ten to four on Mondays. Now I've only got twenty minutes to book it down Lake Street and catch the red line to Devon Park. If I miss it, I'm late for work at Pete's, and that's the last thing I need.
I've got five minutes to work some magic.

How does it sound? Are you intrigued?

This is The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons. I did a whole review of it earlier this year and I can't wait for Scammed to come out.

About the Book
Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean's 11 in this intrigue-filled contemporary drama from acclaimed author Kristen Simmons.

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.
When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom's loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.
At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials--because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that's before she meets her mark--a senator's son--and before she discovers the school's headmaster has secrets he'll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she's in way over her head.

Look at me, working on content, on a schedule, regular-like. I deserve a cookie, oh, look, I have a one sitting here next to me. Don't mind if I do. I finally got around to downloading Tik Tok this week and, y'all, I have a bad addiction to it. Also, my sister's kinda big on the site? And that heifer didn't tell me? If you're reading this, sis, I know and I am hurt. ha! I have no idea what I'm going to do with the account, but it's there. Probably make weird dog videos. Because I'm that person, to be honest.
Anyways, Tune in tomorrow for another review! I am on such a roll!

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Review of Driven to Distraction by Lori Foster

Driven to Distraction by Lori Foster
Road to Love #1
Published 20th November 2018 by HQN Books

When desire gets this hot, you’d better buckle up…
Mary Daniels doesn’t let anything get in the way of her job acquiring rare artifacts for her wealthy boss. But this particular obstacle—huge, hard-muscled, unashamedly masculine—is impossible to ignore. Stuck in a cramped car with Brodie Crews for hours en route to their new assignment, Mary feels her carefully crafted persona—and her trademark self-control—is slipping, and she won’t allow it.
Brodie can’t imagine what secret in Mary’s past has left her so buttoned-up, though he’d dearly love to find out. Maybe then she’d trust him enough to explore their explosive chemistry. But he needs this job, so he’ll play by her rules and bide his time…until an enemy determined to outwit them strikes and he needs to get close—in every way—to protect her. Otherwise they could lose much more than a precious collectible. They could lose it all.

I think I’ve been reading Lori Foster since I was very young, but I truly discovered her to actually focus on her books when I was, mmm, 15 or 16 years old. So, I’ve been reading her for a while. I actually started this blog with the intention of gushing over books belonging to her, Christine Feehan, Lynsay Sands, Kerrilyn Sparks, and, of course, Shelly Laurenston. Then, I got distracted by books (what else). But, hey, look! Lori Foster book, right here.
Without further ado, my review of Driven to Distraction.
Driven to Distraction draws heavily on the ‘opposites attract’ trope. Mary Daniels is a no-nonsense professional sent by her billionaire employer, Therman Ritter, to hire the courier services of Brodie Crews, whose middle name is ‘Casual’ and their first meeting is less-than-professional. Little hint, Brodie’s half-naked and hungover and some woman is groping him outside of his shop. So much yikes, so little time, right?
The story shifts POVs between hero and heroine with the occasional villain POV dropped in to mix things up. The timeline is a couple months if my counting is right (I wouldn’t put money on it) and mainly consists of Mary and Brodie going on courier jobs together, Mary as the ‘bagman’ and Brodie as the wheels.
Character dish time! Obviously, Howler is my favourite from Driven to Distraction’s cast of characters. He reminds me of my dearly departed Zeus Amadeus. A goofy omnivore giant with clingy overprotective instincts but lazy dudebro tendencies. And playing opposite as my least favourite character is Therman Ritter. He cares more for his precious objects than he does his employees’ safety. He spends, I don’t even want to guess how much money, on stupid things just to say he owns them. And, he’s of the belief that he can do whatever he wants and get away with it because he’s rich. He admits in a conversation with Brodie that he not only didn’t bother with training his small breed dog, but that he took delight in letting it bite people when he was bored. That is not okay, folks.
Mary vacillates between masquerading as this character she’s created to protect herself from the world and who she really is and, honestly, a lot of us do it, it’s a great defensive measure. But she does it so much throughout the book, even in her POV, that I was a bit lost in figuring her out. There's a lot of alluding to a painful past and then we talk about it a smidgen and it's over and done with, complete with pretty bow tying up the problems. Then, towards the end, she's talking with Brodie's friend/co-worker who basically says "dude looks like he's serious about you, maybe you're not friends with benefits" and suddenly, bam!, she comes back over as a completely different person. And then there's a lot of coverage in there making sure we all understand that Mary didn't change for a boy. But she did?
Brodie is a pretty good hero character, Ms Foster knows how to write a male lead and leave us wanting more of him. Brodie is just enough of an alpha male to rev the engine but not enough to make me want to dig out my taser (I have my things and you have yours, we don't judge on my page, y'all). He supports Mary, left, right, and center, unless it endangers her, and then he's supporting her but also backing her up so when the bad guy rears his head, she's not alone. And he saves dogs. All the yes there.
The ending and the bad guy were both let-downs for me in a lot of ways. I won't say much on these subjects because this is a no-spoiler site, but normally Lori's villains can make me nervous for our hero and heroine set but this one fell flat on their face. Maybe my three-year-old niece might have cried over this baddie, but that's about it. The big ending where the bad guy gets what's coming to them and the hero and the heroine have their HEA moment is usually an OMG but this a "wait, that's it?"
I liked the made family of Therman Ritter's employees that adopted Mary. I would have loved to have more involvement from them in the book because that's some wholesomeness Mary needed. Charlotte does befriend Mary and she's adopted by Brodie's mom (who is next-level amazing, btw), but Mary needed some wrap-up, either dealing with her past or settling into her made family comfortably. Yes, this is going to be a thing for me.
Overall, I'm giving Driven to Distraction three stars and matching flames. For a variety of reasons, this book fell flat and it hurt me when I finished it to know that. Now. I do want to say things here. Lori Foster's writing is comfortable. It makes me feel warm and comfortable. Her books are books you take out on the porch with your handknit blanket and cup of hot tea and watch the sun come up after you've spent all night talking with your soulmate. Awww. I'm a huge fan of Lori's and I'm going to read Road to Love #2 shortly, asking whatever literary deity is listening to make sure it more than makes up for its predecessor. And I hope y'all give her books a chance if you haven't already.

Lori Foster first published with Harlequin in January 1996. Her second book launched Temptation Blaze and her 25th book launched Temptation Heat. Since those early days, Lori has routinely had 6 to 10 releases a year. She’s a Waldenbooks, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author with over 100 titles published through a variety of houses, including Berkley/Jove, Kensington, St. Martins, Harlequin and Silhouette.
Lori also writes as L.L. Foster.

You can connect with Lori on social media here::

This weekend is our household's autumnal cleaning frenzy. While we're all OCD (no, really), we're all OCD in different ways. But twice a year, we deep clean everything to sort of hit 'restart' and and it also helps make sure the packrat tendency is curbed. So while you're reading this, I'm going to scrubbing the grout of the tile floors. Fun. Until next time, have a happily ever after!

Friday, 25 October 2019

First Lines Friday ★ 4

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page. Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first.
Finally… reveal the book! 

Now that was a dog.
Harrison Parks stood in front of the Great Dane puppy, watching as he stumbled over his feet and struggled with the weight of his oversize head. Already, the animal's sleek gray fur was something to behold, those beautiful eyes like the sky after a rainstorm. It was easy to see what he would become—majestic and muscled and massive, more like a trusty steed than a canine.
"He's perfect. Where do I sign?"

How does it sound? Are you intrigued?

This is Puppy Love by Lucy Gilmore. I won this in that Sourcebooks Casablanca giveaway a while back and I keep promising myself I'm going to read it and whoops, it slips to the back of the calendar. But I'm in love with this book because it has service dog handler visibility and please, don't let me down, Gilmore! Ha, I'm totally pulling a Gilmore Girls on this.

About the Book

A brand new series from debut author Lucy Gilmore, featuring service puppies who might just be matchmakers in the making...
Sophie Vasquez runs Puppy Promise, a service puppy training organization. Sophie's always been treated as the frail baby of the family—a thing she hates but doesn't know how to change. Until, that is, she meets her newest client.
Harrison Parks is a wildfire firefighter who isn't allowed back in the field unless he finds a service dog. Reluctantly, he agrees, never expecting to be assigned a skittish Pomeranian and the equally skittish woman who's supposed to wrangle them both into order. As it turns out, they all have something to prove…and more than enough room in their hearts for a little puppy love.

Hey-ho, readers! I'm nearly finished my annual Gilmore Girls marathon and thought it would be à propos to have Lucy Gilmore's book be today's featured book! Did you know that Gilmore Girls first aired 19 years ago at the beginning of this month? It's true! It first aired 5 October 2000. Next year, it'll be 20. And then, in 2021, Gilmore Girls will be 21 and we all know how we're supposed to celebrate that, right?
Anyways, I have insomnia and Manny's been working overtime this month because it's October and I don't do October very well, and I have freshly made cookies. Go check out Puppy Love and respect service dogs! Have a happily ever after!

Monday, 21 October 2019

Review of Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Consortium Rebellion #1
Published 5 February 2019 by Harper Voyager

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.
In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.
Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.
When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.
But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .
This review has taken a bit longer than usual for so many reasons, but the book was worth it. And, I, Maggie Lowe of Once Upon a Time, I Read a Book, listened to an entire audiobook. It took me a bit longer than the actual recording time because of stop-and-go, but I listened to the audiobook of Polaris Rising in addition to reading the book itself. So y'all get a special review here in recompense for the lapsed content.
Polaris Rising has been on my TBR for a bit and I finally bit the bullet of trepidation, oh, so much trepidation, and read it this summer. And, I'm glad I did because now I'm actually a little bit obsessed with Polaris Rising. I own ebook copies on each platform, the audiobook on Google Play, and the physical book (I could just plotz over it). I have come across a couple special books that ping my weird autistic hyperfocus-book obsession and I have to collect it. Polaris Rising is one of those of books. Be prepared to see that collection grow, y'all.
In Polaris Rising, a runaway space corporate princess, Ada von Hasenberg, teams up with space outlaw, the Devil of Fornax Zero, Marcus Loch, to try to prevent interstellar war from breaking out. Together, they cross the universe, have run-ins with enemy forces and mercenaries, make lasting friendships and steal an enemy spaceship, and play socialite games. And somewhere along the way, they fall in love? Excuse me while I make myself some popcorn because, apparently, “space opera” is my genre and I didn’t know it until now. I feel deprived.
From the tech dreamt up in the story to the Code Queen style Ada von Hasenberg possesses, you can tell that Polaris Rising is written by a fellow geek and I love it! I love all the different ways the geekery is displayed, from the com tablets to the ships AI to Ada’s shields and so much more - my favourite though was the nanobots. I have so many questions. Do they take care of migraines? Seizures? Cancer? Is there a limit to what they can do? I need answers.
World-building. I was in awe of Ms Mihalik’s writing all-around, but especially how she managed to create an entire universe and take her characters to different planets in said universe and the planets weren’t just mirror images or carbon copies, they were different, as planets are. It reminded me of why I love my Gene Roddenberry shows and I’m glued to my seat for that.
The romance appeal. The connection between Loch and Ada was tenuous but immediate from the get. I like the banter they share, the zingers were most excellent. And the steam was evident despite not having actual in-depth sex scenes. This was still one of my more entertaining romances despite none of the romping most of my romances have. Now, the audiobook! Polaris Rising is read by Emily Woo Zeller, a VO actress that I'm actually a fan of in the anime world. Zeller's voice doesn't hit my sensory levels in the way most voices do so to discover quite by accident that she recorded for books as well was delightful! Normally, I can’t listen to audiobooks because voices make me want to take a knife to my ears (yeah) but I got to listen to Polaris Rising in its entirety and I celebrate that. She wasn’t going out of her way to create a million sound effects that I’d hate and she had clear enunciation and concise pronunciations. I wholeheartedly recommend Ms Zeller’s audiobook recordings to everyone for that!
Overall, I’m giving Polaris Rising all five of my shiny gold stars and a three flames for spiciness. If you’re looking for a romance with a little bit of zing but a lot of space opera vibes, check out Polaris Rising. If you’re looking for a space opera without boatloads of sex, well, hey lookie here!

Jessie Mihalik has a degree in Computer Science and a love of all things geeky. A software engineer by trade, Jessie now writes full time from her home in Texas. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing co-op video games with her husband, trying out new board games, or reading books pulled from her overflowing bookshelves.

Okay, folks! That's it for this entry. My brain's kind of fried. I got upped to the higher dose of Aimovig and got my flu vaccine this weekend, and I forgot I'm supposed to be careful mixing those two shots so I've been whooooo for a bit. I have since put it on a sticky note for my wall so I'll remember next year.
My charity for this post is National Girls Collaborative Project which helps to encourage and foster girls interest in STEM. Although, I'm a total advocate for STEAM because the world will always need art. But girls need to be reassured that they have a place in male-dominated spaces like STEM fields, so if you're in a position and mood to give, NGCP is a good charity to think of!

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Product Review ★ Miss Spa Cactus Flower Hydrating Mask

Cactus Flower Hydrating Mask
by Miss Spa

Get your glow on with Miss Spa Cactus Flower Hydrating Sheet Mask! Formulated with ultra-hydrating botanicals like cactus flower and aloe leaf, this mask infuses moisture deep into skin cells. Cactus flower helps replenish skin’s barrier for an instantly soft, dewy complexion.
Convenient sheet mask format takes the mess out of masking. Simply apply to clean skin for 20 minutes, remove, and pat excess serum into skin. No need to rinse!

(package design may vary)

Available at::
Miss Spa|Target|Ulta 

I've just recently recovered from a nasty little virus my mum brought home from her school. I was a hot mess - as I always am when I'm sick. Everything was running and my nose and lips were chapping from the excessive kleenex usage. I stopped by my Target and grabbed a couple masks to try out for the site. Spoiler I'm going to be doing product reviews more for y'all. Moving on, among those masks was a Miss Spa Cactus Flower Hydrating Mask.
Let's start with the package, love it. Nice clean and simple look to it. It isn't so busy that I get distracted from what the product is and what it actually does. Because I collect the pretty things. The cute little cactus got my attention, I like the drawings. Put cute sketches on things, you'll take my money. I don't make the rules.
The directions are easy enough to follow, even I can follow them. And they're cute and complimentary. I mean, do all masks tell you that you're pretty and call you a queen? Because the one I've been using previously, nope. Give me all the compliments, Miss Spa. I need them.
On to more of the review. I have (yes, present-tense) some difficulty unfolding the mask because of the cumbersome plastic film Miss Spa uses. I think it's the perforations in it that get stuck together causing the problem. I'm awkward and cumbersome, so excuse my unwieldy hands (they're not but they've seen a lot of damage, okay). The mask gets stuck unfolding at the middle of the mask in the space that would be covering the philtrum. Thus begins the careful separation of the mask from the film because tearing the mask is bad. Y'all, I'm not too careful. I tore my first Miss Spa mask. Oops! This mask, like the other two sheet masks I've tried, doesn't cover my entire face. As if I needed more of a complex about my "chipmunk cheeks", thanks, y'all. But I like the Miss Spa brand most so far. This brand has small slits pre-cut on the eyeholes so you can widen the eyes and not have the mask gunk soaking into your eyes. Um, thank you very much!
Upon application to my facial space (ha, dork), it doesn't take very long to situate properly. I don't even need to use a mirror with the Miss Spa brand, though I think that's more familiarity than anything else. The Cactus Flower Hydrating Mask has a cool and cleansing feel to it, I actually forget that it's on my face and tend to ignore my timer for a few minutes. But whenever you do finally get around to taking the mask off, you get to spend a few minutes rubbing the serum into your face. Special tip: hum while you do it, it's funny. It takes about 10 minutes (about 15 for me because of the temperature difference) for the serum to stop being tacky to the touch.
In my opinion, I like the Cactus Flower Hydrating Mask from Miss Spa a lot. It leaves my skin feeling soft and fluffy (judge my chubby cheeks!). I am keeping a supply of them on hand for regular use, especially after clay mask time because those always leave me a little dried out. But I'm also buying them for when I'm sick because they saved my face from having to recover from Sick Face (red chapped peeling nose and mouth). I disliked the film a lot and I have size complex issues with the mask (I'd rather have too much mask than too little, right?). I'm giving this a solid 4 stars but completely reserve the right to revisit this in the future if these issues are addressed.

Hey everybody, I'm alive, I'm on the last steps of recovering from the aforementioned virus and battling the messy depression and I am having a mad bout of reverse seasonal affective disorder, I want the leaves to change colour and the frost to cover the windows in the morning, but I'm in Florida. But hey, I'm working hard on and offline. And I have some awesome news! I'm now blogging with Harlequin! I get to have access to Netgalley ARCs for touring purposes and I'm super excited because I grew up sneaking my grandmother's Harlequins and now I get to send her books I preorder with notes that will read "Grams, you've got to read this one, it's amazing!". I'm easy to excite. But I hope to do justice to the Harlequin brand because OH MY DEITIES I LOVE MY HARLEQUINS!
That's it for today and I hope you're still a fan of my blog! Leave some comments, follow, share, I'm not even being subtle today. Sometimes, bloggers need encouragement. Until next time, have a happily ever after!

Saturday, 12 October 2019

★ Blog Tour & Giveaway ★ Review of Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

Welcome to my stop on the Fireborne Tour hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club. Be sure to head over to their site to check out the rest of the tour stops, because it's always great to acknowledge the hard work put into these. Not so subtle hint, show them some love, y'all!
Fireborne by Rosaria Munda
The Aurelian Cycle #1
Published on 15 October 2019
by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Seraphina meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that's full of rivalry, romance... and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.

I’m going to start out this post by letting it be known by all and sundry that I was provided with a physical finished copy of Fireborne from the publisher for publicity posting and a digital review copy from the publisher via Netgalley and FFBC in exchange for an open and honest review. I’m way too opinionated for this to sway me but the FTC requires me to make this sort of thing known. Now, on to the good stuff!
I enjoyed reading Fireborne for the most part, I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of riding dragons? But y’all, I have hated Plato for nearly a quarter of a century now and Fireborne screamed its ties to Plato so loudly the entire time I was reading the book. I spent half the time reading the book muttering ”I freaking hate Plato”. I thoroughly applaud Ms Munda though, if Fireborne wasn’t so well-written, I wouldn’t have made it through the book and I would have taken a while to make the connection to Plato. The world-building in Fireborne is hardcore and so in-depth that you can practically see the story taking place around you. There are so many characters that climb out of the book and act out the story for you.
That being said, there’s more to Fireborne than my distaste of Plato. There is romance and subterfuge, betrayal and heartache, competition and political turmoil. Fireborne centres around Lee sur Pallor and Antigone sur Aela, two orphans brought together as small children in an orphanage who grow up together, closer and closer, knowing that their pasts are twisted round each other in a choking knot. They’re now teens and facing each other in a contest for position as First Rider in the new regime’s dragonrider corps. As with all teens, there are hormones running amok and tempers getting out of hand left and right, and oh yeah, family acting out in the wings killing people and loyalties being called into question. For the most part, I’m a fan, but the love polyhedron thing? Not really. I want to throw Crissa off a dragon mid-flight because chicks before…. you know where I’m going with that. And I still haven’t figured out Power. Duck annoys me, he’s like an untrained dog you’re worried is going to lift his leg and pee on Annie to mark his territory half the time. Get the girl a clicker. But these are kids being trained for battle and serving their people, what else do you expect but messed up kids?
I’m still not sure about where I stand on continuing this series, but I do know that this was a 4-star read. Weird, right? But I can’t discount the storyline or the writing, I may be angsty over whether or not I personally like the story, but I do know when an author’s done an amazing job. Despite the Plato.
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Rosaria grew up in rural North Carolina, where she climbed trees, read Harry Potter fanfiction, and taught herself Latin. She studied political theory at Princeton and lives in Chicago with her husband and cat.
You can follow her social media here::

I know, I'm as surprised as you are that I'm here, but I've been sick and depressed and blech. But gotta keep moving. Today's post's charity is for One Tree Planted, a charity dear to my heart since it's based out of my home state of Vermont. One dollar donated plants a tree in areas that need reforestation. The really cool thing is, you can select which area you want your tree(s) planted in. And you can see where "someone from (place) planted a tree in (place)" as you're browsing the site. Love it!
As always, rent it, buy it, borrow it from a friend, but check out Fireborne and show the other folks on the tour some love. Until next time, have a happily ever after!