Friday, 27 September 2019

First Lines Friday ★ 3

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! 



The desert sings of loss, always loss, and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, it will grieve you too.
Perhaps it is the comfort that the shared sense of sorrow brings that draws her to the desert. Perhaps it is the silence unbroken but for the wind sifting through the grains of sand on the dunes. Or maybe it is the wide desert sky, the blue of which peers into her soul and finds things there better left to the darkness.
Ghazala doesn't know which of these things attracts her the most, but since the day she lost everything, the desert has been a balm to all her hurts. This place with its emptiness and the promise of heat glimmering underneath the sand lies in Qurat, a country divided almost perfectly between the desert and the forest. Every chance she gets, Ghazala slips away from the fiery landscape of her home, from Al-Naar, to soothe herself with the unchanging panorama of the desert. The humans call this place the Desert of Sadness; they believe that the land grieves for the forests that once stood on it.


How does it sound? Are you intrigued?








This is The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad. I'm a fan of Nafiza Azad and I'm pretty much in love with this cover, y'all.


About the Book
Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population -- except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.



My anxiety and depression combined forces and grabbed hold of me this week, so I took the whole week off. I just turned everything off and I've been powering through as best as I could. So, yeah, that's why this week has been postless.
That's it for this post. As always, have a happily ever after! 

Friday, 20 September 2019

First Lines Friday ★ 2

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! 



Never trust anything you read on the internet.
It's sound advice. I'd read it somewhere, possibly on the internet, but I'd never really taken it seriously until the night Brandon, 26, from Brooklyn stood me up.
According to his bio, Brandon was a "thrill seeker who lived for the oment and loved with abandon," which should've been my first clue that he was full of shit.


How does it sound? Are you intrigued?


I know I am! I bought this book back in July and I've been waiting for my reading schedule to settle down so I can dive into it - and now that I've read the first page, I can't wait. This is How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway. Because I really have time to read this one too, right?


About the Book
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.




That's it for today. I hope y'all check this book out and give it a go. And, as always, have a happily ever after! 

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Down the TBR Hole ★ 16

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.






One of Ray Bradbury’s best-known and most popular novels, Something Wicked This Way Comes, now featuring a new introduction and material about its longstanding influence on culture and genre.
For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin. Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. Two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes…and the stuff of nightmares.
Few novels have endured in the heart and memory as has Ray Bradbury’s unparalleled literary masterpiece Something Wicked This Way Comes. Scary and suspenseful, it is a timeless classic in the American canon.
Tidbit
I actually read this when I was 12 I think. I went through my Bradbury phase a while ago. Including this one, I'm not sure why it's on my list, but it's not anymore...


The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold
Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.
Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.
First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.
As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war each with their own unique share of challenges.
Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah's Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck's evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship."
Tidbit
I'm just taking this one off.


The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes a riveting novel of the everyday women who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II.
“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”
In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.
The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.
When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.
Tidbit
I like historicals but I rarely read them because it's hard to find books that stick to the actual timeline. If I happen to pick one up that I like, I won the lottery, but ehh I'm just taking this one off because I can.

Total Books Kept 0
Total Books Removed 3



I'm off my game this week with this post, I know, but I'm exhausted. Just really exhausted.
Anyways. Have I added to your TBR list? Have I made any mistakes in removing books? Let me know in the comments! Until next time, readers, have a happily ever after!

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ★ 11

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


Seven Reading Noms

I try to keep relatively healthy snacks on hand for reading. I only drink water, tea, coffee, yakult, and milk (yes, ever), so this is only a food list even though the topic is for food and drinks. I am a rebel, y'all. Total rebel. Anyways, I prefer baking things for nibbles but here are some of my non-work-intensive noms.



zicai (紫菜)

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy the accessibility of living in a culture hub like Orlando? I can find roasted seaweed in all the flavours at most grocery stores and don't even get me started on how many Asian grocery markets I've wandered into and accidentally walked out with several bags filled with nommage. That is so a word.Zicai is roasted seaweed, you may know it as nori, gim-gui (김구이), or laver. I buy it by the basketload and I always have a package with me. The packages are cute, the snack is healthy, and both myself and the dogs love it. Pro tip : if you enjoy ramen, you can add the sesame flavoured ones to the soup as it sets and hey, look, healthy.


Applesauce Squeeze Pouches

These are great for my scary sugar-migraine-dizzy-fainting attacks and they're easy for me to eat even if my fine motor skills are subpar that day. Just pop it in your mouth and go! So, of course I've got these lying around for when I'm reading! Bonus, Manatee loves them too so he entertains me with eating from the pouches.


red seedless grapes
These are my lifelong obsession! Y'all, roll them in some sugar for a little sweetness. I now live in a climate where I can grow these myself, but, as I've learned time and again, I do not have a green thumb. I'm stuck with buying them.

hard-boiled eggs
just, eggs.

freeze-dried pineapple
this is a definite "dogs & me" treat. They're healthy and delicious!


cheese curd
You may be reading this and thinking, "wait, isn't Maggie lactose-intolerant?", well, yes, so I am. And so is my mother and a good portion of my extended family. And yet, here I am, typing this post and nibbling on some cheese curd. Dairy farmer stock. We're regular patrons of Colosse Cheese in Pulaski, NY since the very beginning.


freeze-dried strawberries
These are our favourite freeze-dried treat! Strawberries! Little secret? You can use these in baking to make strawberry daiquiri cookies. Maybe I'll share my recipe sometime.


I know it's not ten, but I don't really nibble when I eat. I knit. That's it for today and I'm barely squeaking in before midnight. My neighbours wrecked my sleep schedule again so I'm back on a nocturnal schedule until I can 36hrs it again. Blech! Do good, y'all! Until next time, have a happily ever after!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Review of Tethered to the World by Stacey Brutger


Tethered to the World by Stacey Brutger
A Phantom Touched #1
Published 19 June 2019

ONE TOUCH CAN SAVE YOU FROM CERTAIN DEATH...OR SENTENCE YOU TO AN ETERNITY IN HELL.
Born with the ability to defy death, Annora has been warned to keep her gift secret, but her greedy uncle can't resist exploiting her by any means necessary. Starvation, beatings, broken bones--she's survived them all and emerged stronger. But it's not enough for him. It will never be enough. When she discovers her uncle plans to sell her to the highest bidder, she risks everything to escape the prison that has become her life.
The last thing she expected was to land at a university for supernaturals...or be paired with a pack of men as broken as her. As students go missing, Annora can't get over the suspicion that she's being hunted. To protect her, the guys must set aside their personal troubles and begin working as a team. But as her past collides with her present, she must make the ultimate sacrifice and expose her secrets to save the guys who've become more than family to her...and hope she's strong enough to live with the consequences.

Tethered to the World is a reverse harem novel. That means this book centers around a relationship with more than two people. If that is not something you're comfortable reading, that's okay, but I enjoy them and, well, it's my blog. Thanks!



BookBubGoodreadsLibraryThing

AmazonKindle
At the time of this posting, this book is available on Kindle Unlimited




Tethered to the World was a one-night wonder from Stacey Brutger and I fell in love with yet another one of her books. Tethered to the World is much darker than her other books so I'm providing a warnings list at the end of the review for those of you who would prefer to be forewarned. I'm still working on this aspect, so bear with me as I keep bumbling my way through sampling codes, please.
Annora winds up at a paranormal university rooming with her new male teammates after she saves her boss' life one night, she makes her very first friend, gives a troll a hornjob (you read that right), and hits a mythical beastie in the Forbidden Zone all on her first day. Talk about eventful! As Annora and her new teammates learn to work together and trust one another, they work on solving the mystery of the disappearing college supernatural co-eds. And, oof! is that one a doozy.
I enjoy Ms Brutger's writing style, Tethered is fast-paced yet the story easily shifts from one scene to the next without leaving me behind wondering "wait, what about....?" I'm always left wanting just a little bit more of her characters every time. I love you, Xander! But I was dismayed that we had the 'infinite money' trope rear its well-disguised yet still ugly head, credit cards from the school or mega-rich packs and then we'd switch to Annora who's over there counting her pocket change and rationing food. There's a major difference in the power scale there and it makes me nauseous just thinking about it.
This may a relatively slow-burn romance series, but y'all. Reading this felt like that one time I was pulling my cast-iron skillet out of the oven and I forgot to grab a towel and grabbed it barehanded, then whacked my arm on the inside of the oven when I jerked back. Much with the burn. So, don't read this around folks if you blush easily. Those boys will destroy you and you'll love every second of it.
Overall, I give Tethered to the World 4 out of 5 stars and 4 flames of spiciness. If you're an openminded individual who likes some grit and bite to their colourful reads, I recommend Tethered to the World. I can't wait to read what happens next. No, really. This book ends on a cliffhanger. I need to know what happened!

Content and Trigger Warnings!
To avoid possible spoilers, I've placed the warnings within button code. Just click the button and all the warnings will be revealed! (This should work, I've tested it on a off-directory page on my site but this is the first live post I'm trying with it!)
If you don't want any possible spoilers, I'll just say that this is a dark reverse-harem story, please be careful whilst reading this if you have any triggers.


Stacey Brutger lives in a small town in Minnesota with her husband and an assortment of animals.
When she's not reading (from the towering stack of books she can't resist buying), she enjoys creating stories about exotic worlds and grand adventures...then shoving in her characters to see how they'd survive. She enjoys writing anything paranormal from contemporary to historical.

You can follow Ms Brutger at



Other books I've reviewed of Stacey Brutger's include


I have a planner problem, it's only September and I'm already heading over to Michael's to pick out a new planner for next year. There are 108 days left in the year and I'm already planning things for next year. Y'all, so many of my former teachers would die of shock if they knew that.
... ... ... Excuse me, I have a phone call to make. I'm kidding!
Until next time, readers, have a happily ever after!

Friday, 13 September 2019

First Lines Friday ★ 1

I told you'd I'd bring more content and I'm delivering! Today I'm joining the First Line Friday book tag. In this bookish feature, I'll be opening up one of the books I'm working my way through this week and sharing with you the first line(s) of the book. Kind of similar to those famous one-liners my school friend used to use when we went to VICA conferences, except these one-liners will have a much higher success rate than his.

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! 



The great king had barely taken his last breath before one brother took the head of another.
It happened so fast that I, the Follower of His Word, had no chance to escape. I attempted to run, but the castle halls were quickly filled with battling men and dying women and children. I ended up hiding where I could, but I had to keep moving in order to stay alive.



How does it sound? Are you intrigued?


I guess I'll tell you now that today's first lines are from The Blacksmith Queen written by G.A. Aiken.
For those who don't know, my queen, Shelly Laurenston, also writes as G.A. Aiken. Needless to say, when she started a new series, I was squealing in excitement. And Kensington Publishing was kind enough to send me a finished copy! You'll definitely be seeing this book later on in my reviews!


BookbubGoodreadsLibraryThing

Available at::
Amazon|Apple|Barnes & Noble|The Book Depository|Google|Kobo


About the Book
When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken.

The Old King Is Dead

With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.

Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned …




That's it for my very first First Lines Friday! Let me know what you think in the comments! And, as always, have a happily ever after! 

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ★ 10


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

>br />


Ten Books on My TBR That I'm Avoiding && Why

I cannot believe that I am being judged by a book tag, y'all. But here it is, in black and white (or whatever your default font/background colours are.) *sigh* I have over 2000 books on my Goodreads TBR, not mentioning my Amazon "ooh, that sounds nice, but I'm broke, future buys" list. Onwards and upwards!


Hunted by Meagan Spooner


I like the premise of Hunted but I'm so worried that it will fall short of my love of Beauty and the Beast and I'll not want to read Sherwood. I'm horrible with the fear of being let down. Just looking at the book, I get anxious and the panic starts to set in.

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne


Rosemarked sounds interesting and I was (and am) in love with the story Blackburne presents but I'm always afraid of books that I fall in love with. What if the book doesn't live up to all of the excitement I've built up? How much disappoint can I take?


The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I've been hemming and hawing over this book since I was 16, that's half of my life. I want to read it but my librarian at the time said it was pretty bad. Now I own it but I'm still "Ms Ingram said that it wasn't very good, and we trust librarians!".

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
That's right, I still haven't read this. I caught a bit of the movie and I'm interested in the story but the C word is verboten in my household because it really likes my family. I actually have guilt just because my astrological sign is cancer, okay. We take the C word that seriously. It might sit on my shelf forever unread.

Reaver by Larissa Ione
I adore Larissa - to the point that I'm on first name basis with her. Back when Twitter was just a hatchling, I asked her so many questions about Demonica, y'all. And then all hell broke loose in my offline life and I had to stop buying books and I lost track of the series and I'm afraid that the series won't be as amazing to me as it was back then. 

People Like Us by Dana Mele
I keep hearing good and bad opinions on this one. It's like, can I already have read it so I can stop with the weebles on this one?

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
I honestly lost track of One of Us is Lying when I first started my blog and it was one of the books I was most looking forward to reading and reviewing. And now there's a sequel! I'm going to have to fix this issue.

A New Leash on Love by Debbie Burns
Shelter surrender stories, yeah. Auto tears. Lots of ugly crying. But I want to read this!

A Date with Darcy by Tiffany Schmidt
I'm afraid of being judged by this book, honestly.

Brighter than the Sun by Maya Banks
Like the Demonica series by Larissa Ione, I've been with the KGI series since the very beginning but when life got bad, I lost track of the series. I have caught up with my purchases of the books, I just haven't read them yet. I have to fix that. I need to fix that. I have to see if Rusty gets who I think she gets.


Okay, y'all. That's it for this Top Ten Tuesday and I hope to hear what some of y'all are avoiding in my comments!
I'm still working on putting together the funds for Manatee's tests and surgery because $1500 is yikes territory. And I'm just feeling really down about the whole situation.
That's it for today, readers. Until next time, have a happily ever after!