Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Down the TBR Hole ★ 9

Down the TBR Hole is a bookish meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.
Down the TBR Hole 411
Down The TBR Hole is a meme that revolves around cleansing your TBR of all those books you’re never going to read and sort through it all to know what’s actually on there.Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when youre scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well thats going to change!
It works like this:
• Order on ascending date added.
• Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
• Read the synopses of the books
• Decide: Keep it or should it go?

We're back again with the segment known as Down the TBR Hole! Fasten your seatbelts, keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times, Once Upon a Time, I Read a Book and its owner is not responsible for any additions to your TBR list and is indemnified in any book buying that occurs as a result. 
Oh Danny Boy by Josie Riviera
This pot of gold could hold more than they bargained for…
Grand. Just grand. Clara Donovan’s failure to keep her brother from going off the rails—again—is a public spectacle. Including a handsome stranger who puts down his guitar case to help her talk Seamus down from Farthing’s tallest bridge.
Everything about Danny Brady reminds Clara how many times she swore she’ll never again be that pathetic, weak woman who got taken in by a good-looking man. Especially when, the next day, she walks into a new coffee shop in her little Irish town and discovers Danny’s secret.
Danny didn’t lie—technically—about his coffee shop chain. He’s just tired of women going after him for his wealth. Clara is a graceful, fiercely loyal, non-Irish Irish damsel in distress, a combination that tugs at his heart. A heart that’s spent its share of time in pieces.
Danny has never hesitated to go after what he wants, but melting Clara’s defenses will take more than hot tea and charm. He’ll have to prove he’s made of stronger stuff—even when her past threatens to tear her carefully reconstructed world to shreds.

I'm a total sucker for coffee shop romances, y'all might as well just slap my name on this, okay? Get one of those shmancy iron brands, fire up the forge, and just burn my name on there. I'm reading that baby. And, if I've the spoons for it, I will go across the street to Starbucks and Manatee and I will chill out there and read the entire dang book. Because I'm weird like that.

She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell
From the author of It’s Always the Husband comes a riveting new suspense novel about privilege, power, and what happens when we let ambition take control.
For Rose Enright, enrolling in a prestigious New England boarding school is the opportunity of a lifetime. But for Rose’s vulnerable twin sister Bel, Odell Academy is a place of temptation and danger. When Bel falls in with a crowd of wild rich kids who pressure her into hazing Rose, the sisters’ relationship is shattered. Rose turns to her dorm mother, Sarah Donovan, for advice. But Bel turns to Sarah’s husband Heath, a charismatic and ambitious teacher. Is Heath trying to help Bel or take advantage of her? In a world of privilege, seduction, and manipulation, only one sister will live to tell the truth.
In a novel full of twists, turns, and dark secrets, Michele Campbell once again proves her skill at crafting intricately spun and completely compelling plots.

I'm honestly iffy about this one, I added it to try to expand my reading horizons (does anybody else do that?) but I hate turmoil! I think I'm going to knock this one off of my list. Siblings turning against each other, a possibly predatorial teacher? Oof.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof
A tale of family, brotherhood, and the healing power of love.
After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.
But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.
As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers' longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar place?
A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

I'm not sure how this got on my TBR. Maybe I added it to buy for my Grams? I don't know. I just know that I try to avoid Christian Lit. I'm hella gay, I'm hella feminist, pro-choice, and anti-government. I'm pretty not conforming with Christian mores any longer so I tend to get twitchy reading in that genre. Nothing against it, I just don't read it because I feel smothered from my past experiences with the religion.

Taylor Simmons is screwed.
Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip.
Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they’re in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it’s better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard.

I'm not sure how I feel about this book as the synopsis is referencing a lot of slutshaming, and, well, it's 2019, we're done with that mess. But I'm putting faith in the womankind and believing that there is a real happy ending in this and not just the "I'm not a slut, I tamed the playboy" vibe that I'm getting from the synopsis. I have faith in you, Nguyen! Don't let me down!

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway
Swipe right for love. Swipe left for disaster.
By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers--"Hatchlings"--who can't even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she's matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.
But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It's called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.
Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez--the only non-douchey guy at Hatch--has no idea she's the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

I don't even know where to start with this book, but that title kills me. That cover is so my teenage years. And I need to read this book, like, STAT.

Books I Removed  2
Books I Kept  3

Alright then! That wraps up this visit to the TBR Hole. Tell me, do you think I made any mistakes? Did I add to your TBR? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time, darling readers, have a happily ever after!

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ★ 8

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

Books That I Refuse to Let Anyone Touch

In this Top Ten Tuesday, I'll be sharing the books that I turn into Gollum over. When I told my mum the topic for this week's TTT, she had a good laugh and told me to start the list off with Cat in a Hat and Peter Pan. The story is that I was violently possessive of my books even before I was out of diapers. As soon as I started teaching myself to read, nobody was allowed to touch my books. Since I lost most of my books in the House from Hell, *shudder*, I'm more than a bit Smaug-like concerning all of my books now. But I still have some favourites.

Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
I fell in love with La Divina Commedia, originally titled Commedia when I was a small child. My mum would take me to her college for classes and, if Jess didn't come with us, I either went to class with her or I got to go to the library! The librarian was so nice about it and taught me the Dewey Decimal System and showed me how to reshelf books because I wanted to help. And then I found this book and I still have no idea why it fascinated me so much but it did. It launched a decades-long obsession. Anyways, I had a leatherette edition from Harvard once but it was lost to the House from Hell. But I got this one for a birthday gift when we didn't have any money to speak of and I kept it at my friend's house so it was safe. It's an illustrated copy of one of my lifelong favourites and I adore it ever so much.
Goong by Park So-Hee
궁  작성자 : 박소희
My friend, Tammy, went to Japan on a second honeymoon with her husband and she found a little bookstore and bought this for me because I was learning Japanese at the time. It's been ten years since then and I still haven't had the heart to tell her that it's a Korean manhwa and not a Japanese manga. It's actually one of the deciding factors that prompted me to start learning Korean.

The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber
I love this book. I read it when I first started knitting after Quinton died and I had the brilliant idea to take on the knitting of Alix's Shawl as one of my first projects ever. Y'all. I had no idea what I was doing but I did it and I was dying. But I did it. So this book is precious to me because it gave me a pattern that I wanted to make so badly even though it challenged my humble beginner skills. I had to buy a new copy of the book because of the House from Hell, but it's still precious and nobody is allowed to touch it.

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith
If you follow my Instagram, you know that I received an ARC of Bloodleaf in a giveaway (yes, it's on the schedule) and it is gorgeous! That cover kills me. And I bought the ebook so I can be as notetaking as I please without worrying about keeping the book safe. And this shiny gorgeous book is off-limits to my bibliophile family members. No touchy, tis mine.

Okay, that's all for me, y'all. It's not ten, but whatever. I'm working on some extra posts so who knows what's coming up, not me. I should, but I don't. Until next time, have a happily ever after, readers!

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Stacking the Shelves ★ 8

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!

Wow! This is the eighth STS post! I'm super shocked that it's been this long, I know y'all are. Anyways, I have had the worst case of bookblock for a while now, hello depression, and I'm just starting to get through it. Things are, tentatively, getting better. Now, on to the pretty books in my life.
The Milk Lady of Bangalore by Shoba Narayan
The elevator door opens. A cow stands inside, angled diagonally to fit. It doesn’t look uncomfortable, merely impatient. “It is for the housewarming ceremony on the third floor,” explains the woman who stands behind the cow, holding it loosely with a rope. She has the sheepish look of a person caught in a strange situation who is trying to act as normal as possible. She introduces herself as Sarala and smiles reassuringly. The door closes. I shake my head and suppress a grin. It is good to be back.
When Shoba Narayan—who has just returned to India with her husband and two daughters after years in the United States—asks whether said cow might bless her apartment next, it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between our author and Sarala, who also sells fresh milk right across the street from that thoroughly modern apartment building. The two women connect over not only cows but also family, food, and life. When Shoba agrees to buy Sarala a new cow, they set off looking for just the right heifer, and what was at first a simple economic transaction becomes something much deeper, though never without a hint of slapstick.

The Milk Lady of Bangalore immerses us in the culture, customs, myths, religion, sights, and sounds of a city in which the twenty-first century and the ancient past coexist like nowhere else in the world. It’s a true story of bridging divides, of understanding other ways of looking at the world, and of human connections and animal connections, and it’s an irresistible adventure of two strong women and the animals they love.

I honestly added this to my library because of that gorgeous cover. I don't really like memoirs and biographies anymore. I used to read them all of the time as a kid but I read one when I was twelve that just made me dislike them. But I have a few on my shelves just waiting for the day when I change my mind. Like this one. Look at that cover!

Game Misconduct by Bianca Sommerland
The game has always cast a shadow over Oriana Delgado's life. She should hate the game. But she doesn't. The passion and the energy of the sport is part of her. But so is the urge to drop the role of the Dartmouth Cobra owner's 'good daughter' and find a less...conventional one.
Playmaker, Max Perron, never expected a woman to accept him and his twisted desires. Oriana came close, but he wasn't surprised when she walked away. A girl like her needs normal. Which he can't give her. He's too much of a team player, and not just on the ice.
But then Oriana's father goes too far in trying to control her and she decides to use exposure as blackmail. Just the implication of her spending the night with the Cobra's finest should get her father to back off.
Turns out a team player is exactly what she needs.

This ebook contains material not suitable for readers under 18. In also contains scenes that some may find objectionable, including BDSM, ménage sex, bondage, anal sex, sex toys, double penetration, voyeurism, edge play, and hockey equipment being used inappropriately.

I bought this on kindle centuries ago, just to check out the series since it was a freebie (it's still a freebie FYI) and I love the series.

In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope.

Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Krakow, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.
The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina's courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter--that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.
But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.

Honestly, I had this mixed up with a book that centred around matryoshka dolls which I'm obsessed with and bought it because of cover love. I'm kinda tired of hearing reading about real-life Nazis in today's world, so I haven't read this yet, but it's bought and waiting in my bookcase for one day. 

The Fever King by Victoria Lee
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good. 
I actually won The Fever King in a Goodreads Giveaway that I entered because I heard on Twitter that it was 'just another book pushing the gay agenda'. Needless to say, it had to be read. It's on this year's reading list, but I'm shite with schedules if you haven't noticed.

Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler
Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane True always knew she didn't quite fit in with so-called normal society. During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human.
Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures alternatively terrifying, beautiful, and deadly- all of which perfectly describe her new "friend," Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire.
It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never-ever rub the genie's lamp. 
This was one of the books that I bought in my post-rape mental break. The original physical copy was lost in my house from hell, but hey, that's the beauty of ebooks. They don't get destroyed. I'm currently doing a reread because, procrastinating my actual reading list is a hobby.

Okay! That's it for this episode of Stacking the Shelves and I hope y'all enjoyed the small peek at my reading habits. Has anybody reading this ever read any of these? What did y'all think of them? Did I add any books to your TBRs? (I am so sorry if I did, I know the struggle!) Leave me a comment and let me know!

Friday, 17 May 2019

Review of Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle

Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle
Search and Rescue #2
Published on 7 June 2016 by Sourcebooks Casablanca

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

As a Motorcycle Club member and firefighter, Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the Club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers...and with the girl he's loved since they were kids, Rory Sorenson. Ian would do anything for Rory. He'd die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath-and he may just have to.

Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms, and for the past few years, she's managed to keep the peace between dangerous factions by remaining strictly neutral. But when she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a Motorcycle Club war-with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.

I received a copy of Fan the Flames from the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, in exchange for this review. If you’re just encountering my reviews for the first time, let’s get one thing straight, this doesn’t impact my reviews in the least. I’m way too opinionated for that.
Today’s review is all about Fan the Flames, the second book in Katie Ruggle’s Search and Rescue series, which takes place in the Rocky Mountains and it surrounds the good folks who comprise the search and rescue personnel of the small town of Simpson, Colorado. In this instalment, we’ve got firefighter-biker Ian Walsh and oddball gun shop owner Rory Sorenson and more firebug murder mystery and Rory and Ian’s own personal drama coming to the table.
The murder mystery story arc from Hold Your Breath is continued in Fan the Flames with Ian being framed for the murder of Lou's floater and Rory and Ian spend a lot of their time together trying to prove Ian's innocence. And trying to figure out what is going on with the repeated breaking and entering at her shop.
We know Ian from the series’ previous book, Hold Your Breath, but we’re just meeting Rory for the first time in Fan the Flames. And she is probably my favourite thing about Fan the Flames. She is the weirdest person ever. From her strange upbringing, her parents' mysterious demise, her love of closets, and I could truly wax poetic about this woman. Rory knows how to disassemble and reassemble any firearm on the market blindfolded but she has absolutely no clue what to do with the guy she's been in love with for the past thirteen years. Rory has two friends in the world, her german shepherd mix, Jack, and Ian, so I'm so excited for her when Lou just sort of forces her friendship on her like "we're friends now, you're just going to have to deal with it". We all need a friend like Lou, especially us awkward weirdlings.
Ian is the definite pursuer in this story. He knows he wants Rory, he's always wanted Rory, and now that he's seeing his Search and Rescue friends have a happily ever after, he's wanting his. He's both a member of Simpson's Fire Department and the motorcycle gang he grew up in, which places him in the oddest position, since he works side-by-side with law enforcement at times. Ian is a pretty sweet guy, in my opinion, but unlike Rory, we don't get a lot of his story. We meet his friends and his dad and see those interactions and we get all the emotions he has for Rory. But that's about it. I would have loved to have seen more backstory for him.
While I loved Rory and Ian's story, I felt things were relatively sedate, I think that's the word I'm hunting for. There's this sense of urgency lying underneath the entire story but it never truly comes to fruition. The real 'action' of the story is rushed and easily negated compared to Ms Ruggle's other works I've read. I did enjoy the takedown in this one, (heyyy) but, again, I kept waiting for the perilous theme music to start playing in my head and nothing. Nada. Zip. Unlike my other experiences with her writing, I was not on the edge of my seat during any part of this book.
I did, however, have several laugh out loud moments with the cast. I love that Rory and Lou become fast friends because every weirdling needs a bestie and I will go down with that friendship, y'all. Ian's best friend is 'Soup' (that's his firehouse name, not his actual name, but even I'm going to call him Soup for all eternity) and if Soup doesn't get a story of his own, I will be seriously disappointed.
Overall, I think I'm rating Fan the Flames as 3 stars, simply because of Rory and the sweetness of the romance. Outside of interacting with Rory, Ian's story was pretty bland and I really expected more for him. Also! sexytime flames, I'll award 2 flames. So if you're looking for something with some sex but not something overpowering the rest of the book, here you go! I have the rest of the series to check out so stay tuned for more reviews!
Memorable Quotes

"I remember seeing you for the first time at the grocery store when we were kids."
"In the three years we've been friends, haven't you ever wanted to be more?"
'Ian Walsh had the power to completely dismantle her safe life if she let him.'
"Who'd be afraid of kids and their stickiness and multitude of germs and their Children-of-the-Corn stares? Not me."
"I mean, a fireman and a motorcycle-riding, leather wearing badass? It's a dangerous excess of hotness. Our heads could've imploded from hotness overload."
"Yeah, well, if there are going to be explosions, I want to be there."

A fan of the old adage “write what you know”, Katie Ruggle lived in an off-grid, solar- and wind-powered house in the Rocky Mountains until her family lured her back to Minnesota. When she’s not writing, Katie rides horses, shoots guns (not while riding, although that would be awesome), cross-country skis (badly) and travels to warm places where she can scuba dive. A graduate of the Police Academy, Katie received her ice-rescue certification and can attest that the reservoirs in the Colorado mountains really are that cold. A fan of anything that makes her feel like a bad-ass, she has trained in Krav Maga, boxing and gymnastics.
You can connect with Katie on her website, her Goodreads, her Facebook, or on her Twitter.

Other reviews I have written of Ms Ruggle's books include

As always, get your hands on a copy of Fan the Flames in a legal manner. And, if you're of a mind to and in a position where you're capable of doing so, please consider donating to Planned Parenthood because we need access to all the good Planned Parenthood does for women (and men, because they also see men) and I'm just really tired of how toxic this country has become towards healthcare for women and girls.