Monday, 15 June 2020

A Break From Our Regular Content

I know that every day has been a rollercoaster ride this year and things just keep getting wilder. I made the decision to drop out of one of my tours with Harlequin because with current events, it didn't set right with me to be promoting stories where law enforcement are good and right and get HEAs. I didn't like how I have been feeling trying to read these books and still fear for my friends and family members' safety in the presence of police. I'm breaking social media influencer rules left and right by making this post and I don't care.
I have been an activist since before I even knew the word, a feminist as soon as I could form a sentence, a protector from the time I could crawl, and punk before I even knew there was music outside of Gospel hymns and Wee Sings cassettes. I spent the first half of my life trying so hard to conform to the straight conservative Christian Republican mold my family had for me before I accepted that that wasn't me. And when I began officially working with my publishing partners as a 'social media influencer' (still so weird to call myself that, I don't see myself as that), I read their guidelines and thought, "well, this probably isn't going to last very long". Because we're supposed to abide by these guidelines or else rue the day, y'know? Y'all. I'm supposed to avoid personal or political agendas and avoid any content that may be politcally charged or motivated. I'm also supposed to avoid any content that might have a message opposite to the positive and good messages that their brand is associated with. My dudes. Before I had even finished their list, I knew that I would, most likely, not last a year. Because I'm an opinionated bitch.
To get right to the point of things, Once Upon a Time, I Read a Book (dot-com) and all its associated accounts and my personal accounts will not be promoting books that are thinly veiled police propaganda and I will not be promoting authors who spout All Lives Matter or Not all cops... or Blue Lives Matter. Further, because of my health issues limiting my participation in protests, I'm spending a lot of time doing the work I can online and donating what I can to worthy causes such as Black Lives Matter, Campaign Zero, Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative & Know Your Rights Camp COVID19 response, Antiracism Research & Policy Center, The Bail Project, The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, The ACLU, and gofundmes for specific projects around me. I'm also making use of my wifi and repeatedly 'watching' monetised YouTube videos that donate to BLM and other nonprofits. If you didn't already know about that, you can join me in that by checking out this article.
I do have planned posts for the next few weeks but then I'm winging it. And it's going to be interesting...
Until next time, please stay safe, support the revolution, and wear your masks. I stop breathing and pass out in hot humid situations and I'm wearing a mask, just help stop the spread, folks.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Blog Tour ★ Tactical Crime Division Miniseries ★ Review of Secret Investigation by Elizabeth Heiter

Secret Investigation by Elizabeth Heiter
Tactical Crime Division #2
Published 21 April 2020 by Harlequin Intrigue

In the wake of a tragedy, the Tactical Crime Division is the first call. When ironclad body armor inexplicably fails and soldiers perish, the Tactical Crime Division jumps into action. Agent and former ranger Davis Rogers asks to go undercover to find the traitor responsible for the death of one of his friends, and Petrov Armor CEO Leila Petrov is happy to provide access to her company…especially once she discovers she’s being framed. But will their joint efforts be enough to uncover the truth?



I'm gonna start this off by saying that I have whiplash from this book, y'all! I just finished Secret Investigation and I'm chowing down on some chocolate because ya girl needs some sugar to get over that mindscrew. I thought I had everything figured out right off the bat. Then, I didn't. Then. Then, I did. Then I didn't? And I was ready to throw the book away. But then, I totally had it all figured out and I was ready to do the "I solved it first" dance. But y'all. I don't know what I know about anything anymore. I have spent the past 24ish hours cussing about this book and the ride it's taken me on.
I spent the first half of this book wanting to just delete it from my kindle. Honest. I hate (yes, present-tense) Davis. SO much. I was all set for some enemies-to-lovers angst-ridden romance, I was prepared to scream at my kindle for the next however many hours it took to get through to the good stuff. Because I love the spice, hate the drama, and thrive on the petty. But did I get ETL? Nooo. I got an ex-ranger with a proclivity for vacillation. "I'm attracted to her, but I can never forgive her for something she had no actual part in that resulted in the death of my friend, so I'm going to use our mutual attraction to further my investigation and bring her world crashing down and abandon her when she'll need me but I totally care about her and I'm doing it for her and the Greater Good". The whole story is Davis repeating this thought process over and over again. The whole book, I'm thinking to myself, "Davis is a grade A dick" and I'm sorry, but that's my truth of the day. Then there's Leila Petrov. Leila is a loyal friend, daughter, ex, niece, yada yada. I like her. Right off the bat, she's holding her own but also owning her company's screw-up, wanting to get to the bottom of things, even if it destroys the entire company and her name is ruined. But other than this, y'all. The woman is a bit of a hot mess with past suicidal tendencies who starts off the story "still half in love" with her high school ex who works with her and she's still in mourning over the death of her father three weeks ago but yeah, pursuing the instant attraction to a federal agent who's investigating you and your company for faulty armour is definitely not a reaction to the death thing...
Okay, suffice it to say that I am not exactly a fan of the protagonists. But I do like Kane and Melinda. Who are Kane and Melinda? A side romance that isn't even mentioned in the synopsis. Kane and Melinda are both TCD agents assigned to Davis' investigative team for the Petrov Armor case and they both have some major issues. But I have to say that Kane and Melinda did not deserve that disrespect. I did not deserve that disrespect.
Content warnings! Because why button for this. Leila had some suicidal issues from bouts of depression from loss of parents, there's child neglect and abuse ((abuse is not on page, only mentioned in brief passing in each instance)), there's gun violence and combat situation, a white nationalist group and the racist rhetoric mess that goes with that (brief content), and attempted murder!
Overall, I'm giving Secret Investigation 3 stars and 1 flame for heat - half a flame? There was barely any heat to this, a nun could read this. And here's some more honesty, none of those stars are protagonist-sourced. Mystery, Melinda, and Kane. Mostly the mystery because of the whiplash! This book made me cranky. In case you missed the excerpt part of the tour, here's my post on that. I was given a review copy of Secret Investigation by the publisher and this is my undiluted review, the FTC seems to think a free book makes me a mindless sheep. As much as I love sheep, I baah for no one. All opinions are my own and I make no apologies for them.





Publishers Weekly bestselling and award-winning author ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists and a little romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages. Visit her at her website.
Social media include:: Instagram|Facebook|Twitter



I need someone to remind me down the road that I need to take a long break from ARCs. The more responsibility I take on, the less I want to do. Procrastination Professional right here. Why do I do this to myself? Tune in on Wednesday to see if I'm covering book 3 or if I say 'screw it'... Y'all. I don't even know right now. I'm functioning on 2 king-sized chocolate bars, a Little Debbie honey bun, and 4 cups of coffee...
Be good, do good, wear your masks, wash your hands, and read a book. Until next time, have a happily ever after!

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Blog Tour ★ Tactical Crime Division Miniseries ★ Review of 48 Hour Lockdown by Carla Cassidy

48 Hour Lockdown by Carla Cassidy
Tactical Crime Division #1
Published 17 March 2020 by Harlequin Intrigue

The Tactical Crime Division—TCD—is a specialized unit of the FBI.They handle the toughest cases in the most remote locations. When TCD learns of a school invasion turned lockdown, every agent is ready to engage. With children in jeopardy, the stakes couldn’t be higher. But it becomes personal for hostage negotiator agent Evan Duran when he learns Annalise Taylor is one of the captives holed up with the students in a school for the gifted. He’ll need every resource available at TCD and every ounce of his expertise to turn this disastrous situation into a rescue mission—and if he succeeds, maybe reunite with the woman he never stopped loving.



I'm getting the FTC disclaimer out of the way right now. Because ADHD reigns supreme. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. A free book does not sway me in my judgment and I hope my readers know that about me by now.
I read 48 Hour Lockdown in less than a day, even though my mind wandered everywhere while I was reading it. I was pleased to find out that romance took a backseat the suspense in this story. Raise your hand if you've screamed at a romance where the couple is being hunted down by evil-doers in a jungle or they're, like, five minutes from certain death at the bad guy's hands, and they decide that that is the best time to have sexy times. Honestly, how do y'all straight people survive anything? Annalise and Evan table addressing their attraction and all that that entails for when everything is said and done. Yes, there are some moments but nothing major or excessive that detracts from the case at hand. Very task-oriented of them.
I liked the inclusion of a cult in the storyline. I have a thing for cults, they're very entertaining to me. So getting to giggle at the craziness that always ensues when there's a cult involved was a plus for me. I'm not saying that cults are good or funny, I just know that if I weren't so jaded about the world because of childhood trauma, I'd have wound up in a cult myself because oof, was I a naive sheep. But y'all. There are some warped cult members and the prerequisite shifty cult leaders in this story. Cults and hostage situations with cops are just nerve-wracking. I was on the edge of my seat with the story, wondering exactly how much of a disaster would it turn into for Annalise and Evan having to deal with cult crazies.
Another thing I liked about 48 Hour Lockdown was the coverage of the possible aftereffects of hostage situations and kidnappings and shootings that Annalise and her students were exposed to in the story. Annalise worries for her students mental health as well as their physical health. She specifically mentions the possibility of developing PTSD from the events in the book. As someone with non-combat Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, seeing an author shedding light on mental health and working to destigmatise non-combat PTSD, I cried a little. There's a lot of work to be done of making people realise that PTSD can come from all sorts of situations in life's journey and I appreciate the author's contribution.
Part of the fun of reading intrigues, mysteries, and thrillers is seeing if you can solve the crime(s) before the protagonist(s). I'm happy to say that I was reasonably stumped by the twists thrown at us by Ms Cassidy in 48 Hour Lockdown. Some instances were obvious to me (I won't name any but you'll know them when you see them) but then I got whacked upside the head with a few. Hooray for surprising me! But I was a bit perturbed that the story didn't end with the miraculous recovery of Evan's long-lost sister returning to his life for a true happily ever after ending. I'm hoping it's addressed in a later story because I need a happy ending on that! I was also dismayed about the level of suspense in the story, after the hostage situation, events were kind of anticlimactic in comparison.
Since there aren't really any spoilers in the content warnings, I'm not doing the code for it. Mostly because I'm lazy and typing it is a PAIN. As usual, please practise care in your reading. If any of these issues are problematic for you, please don't hesitate to message me for any clarification of degree of severity or whatever. Because mental health is just as important as physical health. • This story contains scenes of gun violence on page, hostage situations, assault, child abuse, child abduction, and cults and the extremist followers that go with that.
Overall, I'm going to give 48 Hour Lockdown by Carla Cassidy a solid 3 stars and 1 little flame for heat. I loved the mental health awareness the author presented I have no choice but to give accolades for it and the level of suspense was pretty good, but I was left wanting more substance to the story. In case you missed the excerpt part of the tour, here's my post on that.








Carla Cassidy is a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than 125 novels for Harlequin Books. She is listed on the Romance Writer's of America Honor Roll and has won numerous awards. Carla believes the only thing better than curling up with a good book to read is sitting down at the computer with a good story to write. Facebook



That's it for today's review, y'all. I honestly can't believe I got it all finished, I've been sleeping most of this week. I just love playing sleep catch-up on insomnia. I'm actually going to be doing reviews for all four books in the Tactical Crime Division miniseries in the next week or so. Because I'm a literary masochist. I've turned my garage into my crafting workroom, finally. It only took a global pandemic to do it. But now I have somewhere to store all my crafting stuff (there's so much) and to work without constant interruptions. And I'm making masks in all the sizes. When this is over, I never want to see another sewing pattern. Y'all. I hate sewing.
I'm not including any specific charities right now because there are just way too many to wade through. Instead, I ask that if you're needing to purchase masks, support a small business on Etsy or Instagram or a friend selling them on Facebook, that might be their only income at the moment. If you're taking advantage of the loosening of lockdowns and going out to eat, try to eat at a non-chain restaurant. Tip your deliverypeople.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Ten Things to Do in Quarantine

Are you bored in the house and in the house bored whilst avoiding COVID-19? Same. So, I have a new list for you!
Ten Things to Do in Quarantine
Make use of our postal system and send #smilemail around the globe to let others know that they're not alone during quarantine! Am I doing that? Yes, yes, I am! (message me your address on Twitter, Instagram, or my personal facebook- because my blog's facebook and I have a healthy dislike of each other.)
send a card to your local grocery store, hospital, post office, etc. let them know that their work is appreciated. *shrug* My momma always taught me to appreciate people. And I don't people well.
chalk up the neighbourhood! I've seen a lot of sidewalks on social media being decorated with games for people to play as they take their daily constitutional about their neighbourhoods and I have an entire basket of chalk. I'm just really self-conscious and worry about people thinking I'm weird and I might do this one night when I'm bored.

Take your pet for an adventure! I've seen a lot of different pets being taken for walks this year. Ferrets, pigs, a capuchin monkey (they're a thing in Florida), lizards, dogs, cats. Even if it's just a 15-minute walk to start with, it's still an adventure.
Learn a new craft. I've finally gotten around to unpacking my various crafting boxes. I'm tatting earrings to go with my freshly re-pierced ears and I've ordered some thread for a new doily! Just think of the bookstagram photos... I'm knitting new mitred squares for my blanket that I found while moving in. And I've decided to try my hand at sewing some book sleeves in addition to masks for the family (because deities know, I have the material).
buy some DIY birdfeeders you can decorate and put them up on your patio or in your yard!
download TikTok if you haven't already and just start making weird videos. It doesn't matter if they go viral, have fun making them. Dance, joke, tell stories (in 60 seconds or less) of weird or funny or stupid things that have happened to you, cosplay, sing, do skits, whatever. Just have fun with it. Also, tag me (@SkittlesWarlord) in a comment of one of your videos so I can hype you up. Because I have insomnia and loads of free time.
read a book or two, maybe even three! (This is still a book blog...)
Have a Disney marathon. I've been binging my childhood favourites all through quarantine. What's playing now? 10 Things I Hate About You. Kat was an icon for me as a kid, y'all.

Bake. I love baking and now my neighbours know it too. And, I finally, for the first time in my entire life, managed to bake chocolate chip cookies without them turning into goop. (It was a thing that haunted me, moving on) I'm currently trying to create a new cookie recipe. Much to my family's mixed dismay-delight. It's a toss-up. One of my favourite baker bloggers to follow is Michelle, the Brown-Eyed Baker. I've been a follower of Michelle for well over a decade (let's not age me) and her recipes always make me want to run to my kitchen. Considering the scarcity of bread items at the moment, here's Michelle's recipe for bread.
That's Ten Things to Do During Quarantine, folks! I have an amazing birthday surprise happening next month so I'm going to be putting together all of my June posts and scheduling them while I'm also posting my May posts so that I can have my birthday week completely clear. Are you confused? So am I. My poor planner is having apoplexy over the amount of work I'm putting into it. I just have no idea what this birthday extravaganza week is going to consist of with the whole plague thing. Until next time, stay safe and have a happily ever after, duckies!

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ★ 14

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to The Artsy Reader Girl
 in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:
I assign each Tuesday a topic and then post my top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join me and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information. You’ll find the schedule of upcoming TTT topics below so you can plan ahead. I’ll post a Linky here on the blog each week so you can link up your post (if you want). If you don’t have a blog, post your picks in the comment section below! Have tons of fun talking books and getting to know your fellow bloggers!
NOTE: If a weekly topic is listed as a “freebie”, you are invited to come up with your own topic. Sometimes I will give your topic a theme, such as “love”, a season, or an upcoming holiday. That just means that you can come up with any topic you want that fits under that umbrella.

 - Jana of The Artsy Reader Girl




Ten Books I Bid Adieu in Quarantine


Today, our Top Ten Tuesday theme, 'The Last Ten Books I Abandoned' and since I'm a mood reader, I abandon books like Elle Woods changes outfits. Especially during quarantine where my ADHD has absolute free reign, your girl is not reading much of anything right now. I need medication, y'all. That being said, it's nothing against the books, I've just serious ADHD and I've been unmedicated for about 8 years or so and my ADHD goes bananas in chaotic environments.



Mischief Managed by Lacey Dailey

Blue Persuasion by Brea Viragh

Called by the Bear by V Vaughn

Bearly in Control by Milly Taiden

The Girl Beneath the Sea by Andrew Mayne

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Lim

Moonshine & Murder by Kathleen Brooks

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy



I've been buying a lot of plants during quarantine and my room is starting to look very earthy. I love it. Every time I get stressed out to the point of relapse, I go onto Etsy and buy a plant from one of the shops or pierce something. I have healthy-ish coping mechanisms. How are y'all doing? Anybody else climbing the walls? I know the stores are starting to open back up here in the US, but I'm not a fan of the whole ignoring health officials who say that's a bad idea and I'm going to be remaining as socially distant as I can.. I hope y'all are staying safe!

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

★ Tempted by Fae Book Promo ★

Hey, readers! I'm here to talk about a new paranormal romance anthology coming out that was put together to benefit one of my favourite charities, World Literacy Foundation. If you're a reader of my blog, you're probably a fan of paranormal romance, so why don't you keep reading?


Tempted by Fae: A Midnight Coven Anthology
Contributing Authors
May Sage & Alexi Blake • Amelia Hutchins
K. Loraine • Patricia D. Eddy • Lisa Manifold
Alice K. Wayne • Corinne O’Flynn
Marina Simcoe • S. Young • Ariel Marie
Dyan Chick • Andie M. Long
Twelve worlds. Twelve women. One fate they can't escape.
From bestselling authors of fantasy and paranormal romance comes a breathtaking set of all-new stories, available for a limited time only.
Whether kick-ass, shy, or vulnerable, the women in Tempted by Fae get more than they bargain for when mysterious and sexy immortals cross their paths.
Give in.
It's only forever.
Buy Links here:: Books2Read



About the World Literacy Foundation
The World Literacy Foundation is an independent not-for-profit charitable body committed to providing projects and programs to break the cycle of low levels of literacy in the developing world.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ★ 13

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to The Artsy Reader Girl
 in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:
I assign each Tuesday a topic and then post my top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join me and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information. You’ll find the schedule of upcoming TTT topics below so you can plan ahead. I’ll post a Linky here on the blog each week so you can link up your post (if you want). If you don’t have a blog, post your picks in the comment section below! Have tons of fun talking books and getting to know your fellow bloggers!
NOTE: If a weekly topic is listed as a “freebie”, you are invited to come up with your own topic. Sometimes I will give your topic a theme, such as “love”, a season, or an upcoming holiday. That just means that you can come up with any topic you want that fits under that umbrella.

 - Jana of The Artsy Reader Girl



Titles That Would Make Good Band Names


Today, our Top Ten Tuesday theme, 'Titles That Would Make Good Band Names', is a theme to soothe my emo-scene soul. I mean lemme just crank up Spotify while I get typing.

Heart of Malice by Lisa Edmonds.

An Heir in Shadow by Sophia Drake.

Hell or High Water by Jerrie Alexander.

Going Down in Flames by Chris Cannon.

Wicked as You Wish by Rin Chupero.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst.

The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan.


I swear this isn't a cry for help, I just have some heavy music tastes? Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my quick TTT, I had a really bad VVS (vasovagal syncope) day and still had to go out for groceries today. It was not fun. And then, halfway through Sam's, I remembered "I've been so busy making cards for Smile Mail, I forgot to do TTT". Crashed when I got home, came back to life at freaking 9PM and started typing this up. This blog is spoonie-powered. Anyways, I just knocked this out in about 90 minutes and I'm off to make cards!