Down the TBR Hole ★ 13

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 you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!
It works like this:
• Order on ascending date added.
• Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re 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.
Why didn't anybody tell me that I reposted #12 as #13? I am hurt and betrayed, mostly by myself. Now, here's the remade #13.

Better Than the Best Plan by Lauren Morrill
Plans are made to be broken.
It’s the last day of junior year, and seventeen-year-old Ritzy—short for Maritza—is pretty sure she has a great plan. Summer job—check. Hang with friends at the beach—check. Keep looking after herself as she’s been doing since her mom bailed to follow her bliss—check. Or no check?
After someone reports that Ritzy is living alone, a social worker shows up and puts her into foster care. That’s surprise enough. Even more surprising? Ritzy has been in foster care before, as an infant, and the woman who cared for her then takes her in again. But maybe the greatest surprise of all for Ritzy is that living with her foster mother, Kristin, in Kristin’s gorgeous house, isn’t all that bad. And neither is the cute, friendly boy next door. If Ritzy’s mom hadn’t gotten her back all those years ago, this is the life she could have had. But is it the life she should have had?
When Ritzy’s old life catches up with her new one, she has some decisions to make. Can she plan for the worst, but still hope for the best?
I like the premise of this book, and that cover is so neat. But I'm not sure if it's something I'm going to be happy reading. And we should only read what makes us happy. I think that since I'm sceptical on that front, I'm going to remove it from my list. Maybe I'll run into it again and change my mind, maybe not. Who knows, it's a mystery.

Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein
Eliza Roth and her sister Sophie co-own a jewelry shop in Brooklyn. One night, after learning of an ex’s engagement, Eliza accidentally posts a photo of herself wearing a diamond ring on that finger to her Instagram account beloved by 100,000 followers. Sales skyrocket, press rolls in, and Eliza learns that her personal life is good for business. So she has a choice: continue the ruse or clear up the misunderstanding. With mounting financial pressure, Eliza sets off to find a fake fiancé.
Fellow entrepreneur Blake seems like the perfect match on paper. And in real life he shows promise, too. He would be perfect, if only Eliza didn’t feel also drawn to someone else. But Blake doesn’t know Eliza is “engaged”; Sophie asks Eliza for an impossible sum of money; and Eliza’s lies start to spiral out of control. She can either stay engaged online or fall in love in real life.
I don't know why I put this on my TBR but I did. It's there and I cannot fathom a reason as to why. Okay, maybe the cover. It's cute. I'm going to remove this from my TBR simply because it has a lot of things in the synopsis that don't sound like something I'd enjoy. But I do like the cute cover!

Our Dark Stars by Audre Grey & Krystal Wade
While she sleeps, the whole universe changes.
Princess Talia Starchaser has it all. Wealth. Status. Adoring citizens. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she’s forced to publicly betray her best friend, a companion mock she’s had since birth, setting events into motion that lead to the destruction of the humans, and the princess floating through space, a remnant of a time when humans ruled over droids.
One hundred years later, half-mock captain Will Perrault and his ragtag crew discover a device floating in space. When a very human Talia emerges from its depths, Will suspects she’s the key to buying his way back into the regiment he once commanded against the last remaining rebel humans—and the ruling mock queen’s good graces.
Both Talia and Will would rather get space-tossed than trust one another, but with the queen’s forces chasing them across the galaxy and the fate of both worlds hanging in the balance, they’ll forge the unlikeliest of alliances to survive.
Why haven't I gotten this yet? I need this book! Excuse me a moment, I need to go remedy this. BTW - this is available on Kindle Unlimited at the time of this posting. Have at it, I am.
The Ash Family by Molly Dektar
When a young woman leaves her family—and the civilized world—to join an off-the-grid community headed by an enigmatic leader, she discovers that belonging comes with a deadly cost, in this lush and searing debut novel.
At nineteen, Berie encounters a seductive and mysterious man at a bus station near her home in North Carolina. Shut off from the people around her, she finds herself compelled by his promise of a new life. He ferries her into a place of order and chaos: the Ash Family farm. There, she joins an intentional community living off the fertile land of the mountains, bound together by high ideals and through relationships she can’t untangle. Berie—now renamed Harmony—renounces her old life and settles into her new one on the farm. She begins to make friends. And then they start to disappear.
Thrilling and profound, The Ash Family explores what we will sacrifice in the search for happiness, and the beautiful and grotesque power of the human spirit as it seeks its ultimate place of belonging.
Cult Fiction, not to be confused with pulp fiction (I have done this), is interesting. Who isn't a little smidgen of a bit fascinated with cults? Growing up in Vermont, I had a lot of warnings about cults and overly friendly strangers from an early age because we have not one or two but three communities of a Top Ten cult around the state. I'm keeping The Ash Family on my TBR list because, cult.
The Perfect Child by Lucinda Berry
A page-turning debut of suspense about a young couple desperate to have a child of their own—and the unsettling consequences of getting what they always wanted.
Christopher and Hannah are a happily married surgeon and nurse with picture-perfect lives. All that’s missing is a child. When Janie, an abandoned six-year-old, turns up at their hospital, Christopher forms an instant connection with her, and he convinces Hannah they should take her home as their own.
But Janie is no ordinary child, and her damaged psyche proves to be more than her new parents were expecting. Janie is fiercely devoted to Christopher, but she acts out in increasingly disturbing ways, directing all her rage at Hannah. Unable to bond with Janie, Hannah is drowning under the pressure, and Christopher refuses to see Janie’s true nature.
Hannah knows that Janie is manipulating Christopher and isolating him from her, despite Hannah’s attempts to bring them all together. But as Janie’s behavior threatens to tear Christopher and Hannah apart, the truth behind Janie’s past may be enough to push them all over the edge.
Y'all this has a lot of resemblance to the 2009 movie, Orphan, and that movie was both freaky as all hell and riveting at the same time. I'm keeping this on my list for the time being but I make no promises about reading it!

Total Books Kept 3
Total Books Removed 2

Honestly, I'm finding a lot of not-me books on my TBR lately. Is adding random books to my TBR a side effect of any medications? I'll have to look into that since I'm a walking pharmacy. I'm going to have to start looking for a new laptop soonish. Mine's a few years old and starting to glitch on me. I do hate to shop for laptops. Send help!

Review of Wild on My Mind by Laurel Kerr

Wild On My Mind by Laurel Kerr
Where the Wild Hearts Are #1
Published 25 September 2018 by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Love runs wild at the Sagebrush Flats Zoo, where a motley crew of big-hearted animals helps the most unlikely couples find love.When Katie Underwood discovers a litter of newborn cougar cubs, the last person she expects to come to the rescue is her former crush―and high school nemesis―Bowie Wilson. The worst part? He doesn't seem to remember the trouble he caused her.

As a single father and owner of a cash-strapped zoo, Bowie struggles to balance budgets while raising his pre-teen daughter and a host of rascally animals. He considers himself lucky when Katie agrees to lend her talents to a publicity campaign in support of the zoo's animal rehabilitation programs―until he learns just what she's planning...

This time, Katie is determined to resist Bowie's charm. But a lovelorn camel, a matchmaking honey badger, and a nursemaid capybara have different plans. Can they and the rest of the zoo's menagerie help Bowie break through the barriers surrounding Katie's heart?

I've actually struggled a lot (weeks!) with this review but I want to talk about this book and this series and this author. Because I fell in love with the characters when I read the second book and had to go out and buy the first book.
I read this series out of order and, I'll be honest, if I had encountered Wild on My Mind before the second book (review in the works btw), I would have passed on the whole series. I don't like bullies and I hate redemption arcs. Yes, there may be a backstory for their behaviour, but that doesn't mean that makes it okay for them to terrorise someone else to the point of hating themselves or even killing themselves. So yeah, if I had known before reading this that Bowie had been Katie's bully, this book would not have been bought. Frankly, the "I love my former bully" trope can fall into a deep dark ravine to the very depths of Tartarus for all I care for it, please. It's a 'never shoulda been conjured' trope. And it hearkens to the line of BS we're fed as children that "boys are only mean to you because they like you". That being said, Katie's bullying was enough to give her nightmares years later and it is referenced throughout the story. If you were/are a victim of bullying in school, please take care of yourself if you choose to read this.
As long as we weren't playing up the former bully aspect of the story, I was fine with Wild on My Mind. I liked the quality of writing Ms Kerr presents in Wild on My Mind and the obvious research she put into the residents of Sagebrush Flats Zoo. I learned a lot about some animals that I know of but never really paid much attention to and kept bothering my best friend with random "dude. did you know that...." texts. My friends put up with so much when I'm reading a book.
For me, the real hero of this story is a honey badger named Fluffy. Fluffy is Sagebrush Flat Zoo's resident honey badger and escape artist who only cooperates for Bowie's preteen daughter. Fluffy visits the other residents of the zoo and considers the whole place his domain, especially the food storage. When he decides that "The Black Haired One" (Bowie) needs a mate so that there will be more "wee ones" to sneak him honey-covered larvae, he decides on Katie - yes, you read that right. Fluffy gets his own POV and that is beautiful. He also deals with trespassers in the best ways. That is all I'm saying. I am totally here for the matchmaking territorial honey badger. #TeamHoneyBadger
Sagebrush Flats is also home to a capybara named Sylvia who plays foster mom to all the orphan babies that come to the nursery. And that means Sagebrush Flats Zoo is home to two of my favourite nondomesticated animals. Excuse me, I need tickets!
Now, the ideas Katie comes up with for publicity for Sagebrush Flats Zoo are hilarious and I snorted more than once in the middle of the night whilst reading the book. I'll be honest, I'd go to the zoo regularly to try to get photos of Fluffy sneaking around for the Where's Fluffy segment. Although, I'm hesitant to wonder what Fluffy's reaction would be to a service dog's presence in his domain!
I love the instant connection Katie has with Bowie's daughter, Abby, even before knowing who Abby is. Not only does she connect with this random kid, but she befriends her and tries to help her without being that "cool" adult. Just give me a whole heaping pile of that type of wholesome interaction, y'all.
Katie has two best friends in her life, June and Josh. I adore June but right now, I could toss Josh into a volcano while drinking iced tea and it wouldn't bother me one bit. He's as mean as a snake and I hope a honey badger takes care of him sooner rather than later. When Katie's brothers learn about Bowie and Katie's teen years, you see an abuse of power as a police officer and it makes me mad. Don't do that ish, we're done with cops getting to do ish because "he done did my sister wrong and I has a badge". But Katie's dad straightens that malarkey out, because it is not cute. But still, the nonchalant 'minor' abuse of power shown by Katie's cop brother, especially in this era where we need to hold our law enforcement officers to the highest standard, shouldn't be further romanticised. Abuse of power is still abuse of power.
I love adult Bowie. He's got his shit together (that's going to be edited for certain reviewing platforms, ha!) and he works hard to be a great single dad to his daughter. The sun rises and sets on that girl of his and he puts in so much work for his zoo. But he's also the kid that had the shit life and he's a little bit broken. He's immediately attracted to adult Katie (not knowing she's his former victim) and wants to try to start a relationship with her, his first since Abby's mother. My heart breaks for the guy left, right, and center. And I hate that the bully-turned-lover bit was used in this story or I'd be absolutely in love with the book. You know, just in case that wasn't clear.
Wild on My Mind was my first and probably my only romance novel that involves a bully-turned-lover situation and, while I'm not going to be looking up my former bullies anytime soon (*shudder*), I think I got one of the well-written ones out there. I'm not going to roll out the red carpet for bully romances any time soon, don't worry, but I did like how this one romance that plays on the trope turned out. Overall, I'm going to give Wild On My Mind 3 out of 5 stars. While I enjoyed most of Wild on My Mind, it also brought up a couple tropes that should have gone extinct before they ever existed. The quality of writing and the amount of research put into Wild on My Mind still makes this book shine. I loved this series so much that I bought both books for my grandmother and my sisters and shipped them off to them. They can't put off reading them if they're delivered to their door, right?

Laurel Kerr is a full-time romance writer and mom, who occasionally still dabbles in the practice of law. Her debut novel, Wild on My Mind, reached the Golden Heart® finals under the title of Volunteering Her Heart in 2016. Laurel Kerr was also a 2017 Golden Heart® Finalist for a historical manuscript. She lives in Pennsylvania with her daughter, husband, and loyal Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. 

Her social media links are :: Facebook|Instagram|Twitter 

Manatee's ears are all cleared up but since it's too hot to function here or storming which gives me migraines, so we're mostly just staying home and watching TV or reading. I've binge-watched Love O2O (A Smile is Beautiful - 微微一笑很倾城) repeatedly this summer and I love it! It's more accurately subbed on Viki than on Netflix for those of you who don't know Mandarin. My mum prefers Viki subtitles. I'm also working on my other posts so you'll have more content, so that should be popping up soon-ish?
My charity of choice for this review is Stomp Out Bullying.
As always, please go through a legal manner of acquiring this story. Until next time, have a happily ever after!

Review of Shadow Hunter by BR Kingsolver

Shadow Hunter by BR Kingsolver
Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #1
Published 7 April 2019

When my magic manifested at puberty, my parents sold me to the Illuminati. They trained me as an assassin, spy, and thief. But when they sent me to steal a magical artifact that reveals Truth in all things, I discovered that I was working for the Dark and not the Light. The Illuminati trained me well, and paid the ultimate price for their deception.
Thousands of miles away, I landed a job in a quirky little bar. But the scattered remnants of the Order still strive for world domination, and no one leaves the Illuminati alive.

* At the time of the publishing of this post, this book was available on Kindle Unlimited

Shadow Hunter was a lovely read for me. I downloaded it on a whim when I had to buy a replacement kindle (that's right, I killed my first one after 18 months, bow before me, mortals!) and I received three months of free Kindle Unlimited. Because I really need yet another procrastination facilitator, right? I have no self-control. BR Kingsolver's name caught my eye, how wicked does that name sound?
The presence of the Illuminati in Shadow Hunter was one of the deciding factors that drew me to renting the book through Kindle Unlimited. Seriously, who doesn't love a secret society bent on world domination?
The Illuminati bought Erin from her parents at the start of her puberty when her powers started appearing. They trained her to become an assassin for 'good' when in actuality, they were an evil organisation taking out anybody who got in their way. Erin 'accidentally' destroys the main hub of the Illuminati after an assignment opens her eyes to the truth. Afterwards, she stumbles across their presence in her new city and that's all I'm telling on that front. The Big Bad Evil wasn't as looming as I had hoped for when I started the book, but the manner in which we were given a mystery and an evil brotherhood was entertaining.
Especially when you factor in the way Erin navigates becoming a relatively normal paranormal throughout the story. There is no textbook for creating and maintaining real-life friendships and there are no field guide manuals to relationships, so she's basically flying by the seat of her pants. Her new boss, Sam O'Grady, takes on a fatherly role and watches out for her from the very beginning of their meeting. Erin also gains a best friend and maybe a boyfriend? At least, I know who I'm cheering for in all their awkward glory.
Also, I give bonus points for slipping Liam the autistic bartender into the mix! Liam reminds me of my brother, smart as all get-out but needs step by step instructions half the time for other things. I hope Liam gets developed more along the way, because yay autistic rep that isn't  a carbon copy of freaking Sheldon Cooper.
With Erin's arrival in Westport, a paranormal serial killer is revealed and among the victims is the area's reigning vampire lord which launches the entire city into a widespread power struggle. Vamps against Shifters, Vamp faction against Vamp faction, and Erin's pulled into it by the local constabulary. So much for a normal life, right?
Overall, I'm giving Shadow Hunter 4 out of 5 stars. This was an entertaining read for me, it did a good job of keeping my mind off of everything going on outside of Booklandia. If you like paranormal reads with a smidgen of possible romance and a lot of funny verbal sparring, you should give Shadow Hunter a chance!

BR Kingsolver, author of romance, paranormal thrillers and the Telepathic Clans series, grew up surrounded by writers, artists, myths, and folklore in Santa Fe, The City Different, in the Land of Enchantment.
After living all over the US and exploring the world--from Amsterdam to the Romanian Alps, and Russia to the Rocky Mountains--Kingsolver trades time between Baltimore and Albuquerque. With an education in nursing and biology and a Master's degree in business, Kingsolver has done everything from construction to newspaper editor and jewelry to computers.
Kingsolver, a passionate lifetime skier, currently spends time writing and working with computers while living nine blocks from the harbor in Baltimore as servant in residence to a very demanding cat. 
You can follow BR Kingsolver on social media at
Today's review is posted with the RAICES foundation in mind for a charity to consider donating to if you're of the mind.
Well, you can tell that hurricane season has officially started in Florida, all the temperamental weather has my technology going haywire. My wifi is more off than on right now as all the thunderstorms hit us and the tropical depression offshore isn't helping matters either. Blech to the weather gods and the technology gods. Also, I've learned that neither Alpha Lipoic Acid nor Tryptophan are helpful with the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. If you have migraines, don't take tryptophan supplements. That path only leads to sheer agony and that's with a monthly anti-CGRP subcutaneous injection (aimovig is amazing and I love it) and preventative medications.

That's all for me. Have you read Shadow Hunter or any of Kingsolver's other books? If so, what did you think? Are you planning to check Shadow Hunter out? Do you deal with migraines and/or peripheral neuropathy? Let me know in the DISQUS comment space! Until next time, have a happily ever after! Powered by Blogger.