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30 August 2022

The Boy With The Bookstore by Sarah Echavarre Smith (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)


Title: The Boy With The Bookstore
Author: Sarah Echavarre Smith
Publication: 6 September 2022
FormatKindle eArc via NetGalley & Berkley

Amazon Description

When a baker meets the bookshop owner of her dreams, and he turns into her nemesis, they’ll both have to read between the lines to avoid a career-ending recipe for disaster.

Max Boyson looks good...from a distance. But up close and personal, the tattooed hottie Joelle Prima has been crushing on for the past year and half has turned into the prime example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by his delectable cover.
When she first learned about the massive renovation to the building they share, Joelle imagined that temporarily combining her Filipino bakery with Max’s neighboring bookstore would be the perfect opening chapter to their happily ever after. In her fantasies they fed each other bibingka and pandesal while discussing Jane Austen and cooing over her pet hamster, Pumpkin. Reality, however...is quite different. Her gallant prince turned out to be a stubborn toad who snaps at her in front of customers, dries his wet clothes in her oven, and helps himself to the yummy pastries in her display case without asking.
But beneath Max’s grumpy glares, Joelle senses a rising heat—and a softening heart. And when they discover the real reason for the renovation, they’ll have to put both their business senses and their feelings for each other to the test.

Ramble-y Teaserish Stuff

"It’s raw. It’s real. And it’s gut-wrenching."

This pretty much sums up what I thought was going to be a light and fluffy rom-com.

It's not.

I really didn't much care for the main characters and their "romance" was horribly dysfunctional throughout the vast majority of the book. There was a bit too much anvil carrying and not enough swoon.

I get it, though.

Dysfunctional is real. 

It's also not at all what I was hoping for when I got the book from Berkley on NetGalley.  I liked her friends and family, though, and kept hoping ... but as it turned out, the best part of the book was probably that it didn't even take me a full day or keep me up too late to fly through it.


"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by Socrates' Book Reviews. 

"Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

28 August 2022

I'll Sleep When I've Read... This Book Is Full Of Spiders by Jason Pargin


Title: This Book Is Full Of Spiders
Author: Jason Pargin (originally as David Wong)
Publication: 5 October 2021 (originally 12 October 2012)

Amazon Description

Warning: You may have a huge, invisible spider living in your skull. THIS IS NOT A METAPHOR.

You will dismiss this as ridiculous fear-mongering. Dismissing things as ridiculous fear-mongering is, in fact, the first symptom of parasitic spider infection--the creature stimulates skepticism, in order to prevent you from seeking a cure. That's just as well, since the "cure" involves learning what a chainsaw tastes like. You can't feel the spider, because it controls your nerve endings. You won't even feel it when it breeds. And it will breed.

Just stay calm, and remember that telling you about the spider situation is 
not the same as having caused it. I'm just the messenger. Even if I did sort of cause it. Either way, I won't hold it against you if you're upset. I know that's just the spider talking.

Ramble-y Teaserish Stuff

I love it when someone asks me what I'm reading and all I can do it stare at them and turn the book so they can more clearly see the cover. I had several very confused people (and one who totally understood) Thursday morning before I left work.

"I honestly have no idea... 

...but I love it."

I actually had to leave the book at work that morning because I knew that if I took it home I wouldn't sleep and sleep is a much needed thing. Sometimes. Instead I brought it home with me Friday morning and then didn't sleep much Friday night. Or Saturday. 

It's a big book.

A lot happens.

And then a lot doesn't.

Or does it?

And then more almost does. 

And ....

Don't ever ask me to explain it to you.

If you want to share whatever has kept you up past your bedtime because you just needed one more chapter ... or the entire book ... please comment! My TBR pile is already toppling, but I can always add more.

26 August 2022

The Irish Boarding House by Sandy Taylor (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)


Title: The Irish Boarding House
Author: Sandy Taylor
Publication: 1 September 2022
Format: Kindle eArc via Bookouture & NetGalley

Amazon Description

24 Merrion Square. The house stands empty, the old stone steps overgrown with thorny rose bushes. But Mary Kate feels a deep connection to the neglected, silent rooms. Could this be the place to help her heal?

Dublin 1952. When Mary Kate Ryan receives a surprise inheritance from the woman who abandoned her as a tiny baby, she’s stunned. All her life, she has longed to know why her mother disappeared, and now she’s devastated to realise that every lonely night she spent without a home or family of her own, her mother knew exactly where she was.

Mary Kate is about to refuse the money when she sees a beautiful, deserted house for sale and something sparks in her heart. She will reawaken it, as the Dublin Boarding House for Single Ladies, and provide a shelter for others as lost and alone as her. Can she help the two young girls left at the local orphanage, desperate for a home of their own? Or the pregnant teenager on the run, who only wants to keep her baby safe?

The boarding house brings Mary Kate love and friendships she never dreamed of, but just as her heart is about to burst with joy, a new guest arrives. The stern older woman won’t speak about her past, but when Mary Kate uncovers her story, it reveals a devastating secret about her mother. With her life in turmoil once more, can Mary Kate draw on the strength of the women in the house to help her face her past, or will the tragedy she uncovers spell disaster for them all…?

Ramble-y Teaserish Stuff

4.5 stars rounded up to 5. Half a star was lost probably because it didn't hit me nearly as hard as Taylor's When We Danced at the End of the Pier ... but, then again, very few books have. That one still makes my heart flip and I get "warm-fuzzies" even when I just read my own review of it over five years later. The Irish Boarding House is lovely in its own right and I enjoyed watching Mary Kate and her new family, but I think I was just expecting that little bit of extra ... Pierness? Still, reading this was a most excellent way to spend an afternoon.

Friday 56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice 
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

23 August 2022

A Scandalous Deception by Lynn Messina (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)


 TitleA Scandalous Deception
Author: Lynn Messina
Publication: 9 August 2018
FormatKindle ebook

Amazon Description

As much as Beatrice Hyde-Clare relished the challenge of figuring out who murdered a fellow guest during a house party in the Lake District, she certainly does not consider herself an amateur investigator.

So when a London dandy falls dead at her feet in the entryway of a London Daily Gazette, she feels no compulsion to investigate. It was a newspaper office, after all, and reporters are already on the case as are the authorities. She has her own problems to deal with anyway—such as extricating herself from a seemingly harmless little fib that has somehow grown in into a ridiculously large fiction.

Truly, she has no interest at all.

Except the dagger that killed the poor earl seemed disconcertingly familiar… And so Bea is off to the British Museum because she cannot rest until she confirms her suspicion, while trying to allay her family’s concerns and comprehend the Duke of Kesgrave’s compulsion.

For the handsome lord has no reason to waste his time solving a mystery alongside a shy spinster. And yet he turns up everywhere she goes.

 Ramble-y Teaserish Stuff

I am horribly ashamed of myself sometimes.

I find a series; I read the first book (or the first few); I fall in love with the story and the characters; I get all excited about seeing what's next ... and then before I know it, it's a few years later and I'm many many books behind because ... well, I mostly blame NetGalley. And Amazon. And ThriftBooks. And my already overflowing bookshelves. And squirrels.

I rambled and teased the first Beatrice Hyde-Clare Mystery, A Brazen Curiosity, on January 28th ... of 2020. I started to read the second one on August 18th ... of 2022. I kept meaning to continue before now. Really. There are ten books in the series now and a new series is having its first book released September 2nd and that's currently glaring at me from my NetGalley shelf along with so many others. I had actually started to read that one and then my bookmark made skidmarks when I realized that it's pretty much a spin-off to this series.

So now I'm back to Bea ... and the Duke ... and I'm so very glad. I'm not sure if I will be able to catch up by the 2nd and, even if I do, I'm not sure each book will get its own post. I have three posts already set to autopublish between now and then so I could just read them back-to-back-to-back-to ..... you get the idea. They're short enough and enjoyable enough that it probably wouldn't even be a hardship. 

I adore Bea (and the Duke). It's rom-com, it's regency, it's mystery. What is there not to adore?

Perhaps one giant teaser post with a few favorite lines from each title .... 

Book # 3 -- An Infamous Betrayal -- finished 22 August 2022

Book #4 -- A Nefarious Engagement -- probably finished 23 August 2022 -- currently at 47%

Hmmmmmmm ...


"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by Socrates' Book Reviews. 

"Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

21 August 2022

I'll Sleep When I've Read... Down a Dark River by Karen Odden


Title: Down a Dark River
Author: Karen Odden
Publication: 9 November 2021
FormatKindle ebook

Amazon Description

London, 1878. One April morning, a small boat bearing a young woman’s corpse floats down the murky waters of the Thames. When the victim is identified as Rose Albert, daughter of a prominent judge, the Scotland Yard director gives the case to Michael Corravan, one of the only Senior Inspectors remaining after a corruption scandal the previous autumn left the division in ruins. Reluctantly, Corravan abandons his ongoing case, a search for the missing wife of a shipping magnate, handing it over to his young colleague, Mr. Stiles.
An Irish former bare-knuckles boxer and dockworker from London’s seedy East End, Corravan has good street sense and an inspector’s knack for digging up clues. But he’s confounded when, a week later, a second woman is found dead in a rowboat, and then a third. The dead women seem to have no connection whatsoever. Meanwhile, Mr. Stiles makes an alarming discovery: the shipping magnate’s missing wife, Mrs. Beckford, may not have fled her house because she was insane, as her husband claims, and Mr. Beckford may not be the successful man of business that he appears to be.
Slowly, it becomes clear that the river murders and the case of Mrs. Beckford may be linked through some terrible act of injustice in the past — for which someone has vowed a brutal vengeance. Now, with the newspapers once again trumpeting the Yard’s failures, Corravan must dredge up the truth — before London devolves into a state of panic and before the killer claims another innocent victim.

Ramble-y Teaserish Stuff

Normally I save I'll Sleep When I've Read... posts for those I fly through in a weekend sitting or two (including the hours of missed sleep). I started Karen Odden's Down a Dark River on Wednesday morning thinking that it would be my Book Beginnings & Friday 56 post for the week. Luckily I had another book that I could throw something together for because this just needed more than usual two blips. Even the handful that I usually cram into an ISWIR graphic really doesn't feel like it's going to give the book the justice it deserves. Several pages of my notebook can attest to that ... and 336 pages according to Amazon for the hardcover ... and the fact that I had to stop pulling quotes for the graphic because at 42% it was full. It's just a teaser post anyway so 42% is a good place to stop pulling, right? Still, even if I went all the way to the end for it, one square full of random blips wouldn't give it justice

Justice. It's a big deal in the book -- a Victorian mystery featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Michael Corravan. He's seeking justice for the victims of the present, trying to prevent victims needing justice in the future, and trying to correct injustices done in the past. It's a big undertaking, especially when the Yard itself is trying to recover from a bribery scandal. Few seem to trust them as a whole in spite of the fact that only three were found guilty. 

I'm not going to bother going in to great detail about the plot since you can get the general description from, well, the description. I will tell you, though, that if you have any interest at all in historical mysteries you need to read this book. Corravan may easily become one of my favorite characters, and Odden one of my favorite historical authors, if the second book in the series (which is currently sitting on my NetGalley shelf calling to me like a Siren) is even half as excellent as this one. 

I knew from reading the Acknowledgements at the very beginning that Odden had put a great deal of time and research into the writing and it certainly shows. The descriptions and the language really pulled one out of the present and dropped them right into 1878 London. The sights and the smells and even the thickness of the air before a pending storm -- she nails it all ... or so I would assume, you know, never having the actual opportunity to travel back in time to cross the pond.

Long story short, read this book ... and expect to not be able to sleep until you've made it through at least one more chapter once you've picked it up. I lucked out with a couple of quietish nights at work that allowed me to read more than usual. Even then, though, I could not bring myself to stop reading once I got home in the morning until my eyes literally gave up. And then came the task narrowing down what to use for the ISWIR graphic. Even with only using the first 42%, that was a task even the Yard wouldn't want to be faced with. 

If you want to share whatever has kept you up past your bedtime because you just needed one more chapter ... or the entire book ... please comment! My TBR pile is already toppling, but I can always add more.

19 August 2022

A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Myers (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)


Title: A Dreadful Splendor
Author: B.R. Myers
Publication: 23 August 2022
FormatKindle eArc via William Morrow & NetGalley

Amazon Description

Be careful what you conjure...

In Victorian London, Genevieve Timmons poses as a spiritualist to swindle wealthy mourners—until one misstep lands her in a jail cell awaiting the noose. Then a stranger arrives to make her a peculiar offer. The lord he serves, Mr. Pemberton, has been inconsolable since the tragic death of his beautiful bride-to-be. If Genevieve can perform a séance persuasive enough to bring the young lord peace, she will win her freedom.

Soothing a grieving nobleman should be easy for someone of Genevieve’s skill, but when she arrives at the grand Somerset Park estate, Mr. Pemberton is not the heartbroken lover she expected. The surly — yet exceedingly handsome — gentleman is certain that his fiancée was murdered, even though there is no evidence. Only a confession can bring justice now, and Mr. Pemberton decides Genevieve will help him get it. With his knowledge of the household and her talent for illusion, they can stage a haunting so convincing it will coax the killer into the light. However, when frightful incidents befall the manor, Genevieve realizes her tricks aren’t required after all. She may be a fake, but Somerset’s ghost could be all too real…


Ramble-y Teaserish Stuff

This wasn't listed as a YA and I had never heard of B.R. Myers before to know that she writes YA. Had I known I may still have requested it, but my expectations would have been quite a bit lower.

It's not a bad book, but it's pretty much what I would expect if I found out that the people behind The CW shows like Riverdale suddenly decided to try their hands at PBS Masterpiece.

I love PBS Masterpiece....
I do not love The CW fluff.

That last line, though ...

Friday 56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice 
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

16 August 2022

Coconuts and Wonderbras by Lynda Renham (Tuesday Intro & Teaser Tuesday)


 TitleCoconuts and Wonderbras
Author: Lynda Renham
Publication: 20 December 2013
FormatKindle ebook

Amazon Description

Literary agent Libby Holmes is desperate for her boyfriend, Toby, to propose to her and will do anything for him and if that means dieting for England over Christmas then she'll have a go. However, when Libby's boss introduces her to her new client, Alex Bryant, her life is turned upside down. Alex Bryant, ex-SAS officer and British hero, insists Libby accompany him abroad for a book fair. Libby finds herself in the middle of an uprising with only Alex Bryant to protect her, that is, until Toby flies out to win back her affections. Come with Libby on her romantic comedy adventure to see if love blossoms in the warm Cambodian sunshine or if, in the heat of the day, emotions get just too hot to handle.

 Ramble-y Teaserish Stuff

I have had Lynda Renham on my TBR since December 2015 when I first discovered UK Chick Lit. Thanks to Amazon bribing me to rejoin Kindle Unlimited, I'm finally getting to cross at least one of her titles off the list. I was most decidedly not in the mood for any sort of rom-com. Well, maybe the "com" but definitely not the "rom" ... until I started to read the free sample thingie. Before I was done with the first paragraph I thought that maybe I was in the mood after all. 

I loved getting to know Libby and Alex, Libby's best friend Issy, her flamboyant boss Jamie, and her far-too-hilarious and unpredictable parents. I did not love Toby or Penelope ... but I'm pretty sure that I wasn't supposed to so another point in favor of Renham. So Renham got all the points, I got the much-needed "com," a "rom" that I adored in spite of not wanting to, a great deal of adventure and intrigue ... and the rest of Renham's books added to my ever-toppling TBR.


"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by Socrates' Book Reviews. 

"Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

14 August 2022

I'll Sleep When I've Read ... Debbie Young's Sophie Sayers Villiage Mysteries (1 & 2)

It was a good weekend for some light-hearted mystery and I figured that Debbie Young's Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series would certainly fit what I was looking for. I started reading them since I've got her Dastardly Deeds at St Bride's waiting for me on NetGalley and I had read that there's at least a minor overlap between the two series. There are seven Sophie books so I might not get them all read before Dastardly Deeds, but I'll at least be able to recognize people even if I only go in having read the first two (though I'm almost positive they will all be read at some point).

Sophie Sayers is twenty-five and has been bouncing around Europe teaching English as a Second Language while her boyfriend, Damian, trots around with his traveling theater company. She leaves him to go move into the cottage she inherited from her great-aunt in the cozy little village of Wendlebury Barrow. He tries to convince her not to go by telling her that in a place like that she could easily get killed in her sleep, but she goes anyway. Maybe he should have just boughten her a copy of Maureen Johnson's Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village.

Everyone in the village knew and adored Auntie May and Sophie tries to fit in by getting a job at the village bookshop and getting involved with various groups in preparation for the Village Show. She is suspicious of just about everybody and everything, though, with Damian's words in the back of her head.

I have mixed feelings. Sophie is a bit of a flake with her constant suspicions and inability to place well-known literary references and her insistence that she's going to be a successful writer because her great aunt was -- as though it's genetic or would seep into her from the cottage like osmosis. 

I do love a quaint English village, though. Especially one where murder occurs. 

The murder here takes place in the prologue and then we have to wait until 65% for it to happen in the story and it's all wrapped up way too quickly with a neat little ribbon and some whiplash.

Still, there were enough enjoyable bits that I read right through and then immediately downloaded the next one.

The second book, Trick or Murder?, begins shortly after the first book ends. A new vicar has arrived in town and quickly rubs everyone the wrong way by banning Halloween and insisting that they all participate in Guy Fawkes Night instead -- something that hasn't been done in town in generations. 

I kept waiting for a murder.

And waiting.

And ...

Soon the book was done and I was able to go to bed.

I did still enjoy the village and its inhabitants -- the ones who have been there for a while moreso than newcomer Sophie, but she may still grow on me in books 3-7.

If you want to share whatever has kept you up past your bedtime because you just needed one more chapter ... or the entire book ... please comment! My TBR pile is already toppling, but I can always add more.

12 August 2022

John Dies at the End by Jason Pargin (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)


Title: John Dies at the End
Author: Jason Pargin ... formerly known as David Wong
Publication: 2007 as Wong, 2021 as Pargin
Format: paperback & Kindle ebook

Amazon Description

STOP. You should not have touched this book with your bare hands. NO, don't put it down. It's too late. They're watching you. My name is David. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things you'll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it's too late. You touched the book. You're in the game. You're under the eye. The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why? You just have to trust me.

The important thing is this: The sauce is a drug, and it gives users a window into another dimension. John and I never had the chance to say no. You still do.

Unfortunately for us, if you make the right choice, we'll have a much harder time explaining how to fight off the otherworldly invasion currently threatening to enslave humanity.

I'm sorry to have involved you in this, I really am. But as you read about these terrible events and the very 
dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind: None of this was my fault.

Ramble-y Teaserish Stuff

This is not my first time reading John Dies at the End -- just my first time blogging about it. The first time, I believe, was probably 2009 with the first re-issue ... and five years before the blogging began. The fourth book in the series is currently sitting on my NetGalley shelf and due for an October release so that's plenty of time to read/re-read/ramble/whatever the first three with all of their shiny re-newness of having Jason Pargin on the cover instead of David Wong. 

Might as well start at the beginning, then, right? I was tempted to do the beginning of each "book" plus the prologue, but settled for just the prologue and chapter one. And then said to hell with it and redid it because temptation can be fun.  [I could have also done the Forward and the Epilogue so ... you know ... shut up.]

There's really no good way to describe John Dies at the End

It's 400+ pages of "hot mess brilliance."

I guess that's as good of a way as any to describe it.

The 56 isn't going to help any. Or the 156. And probably not the 256. I could have done the 356 because, you know, 400+ pages ... but that page really didn't have much I wanted to cram into a box.

However, I do have the Kindle version as well as the shiny paperback thanks to Kindle Unlimited, so you get the bonus of the 56% ... which is also the entire eleventh chapter.

I have four pages of my notebook full of other quotes and snippets and ramblings and whatnot about whatever the hell this book is about. 

I even have a blip from fairly early on (page 61) as my  personal Facebook cover.

I'm still going with "hot mess brilliance" as my description.


Friday 56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice 
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

09 August 2022

You Only Live Once by Haris Orkin (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)


 Title: You Only Live Once
Author: Haris Orkin 
Publication: 15 February 2022
FormatKindle ebook

Amazon Description

James Flynn is an expert shot, a black belt in karate, fluent in four languages and irresistible to women. He's also a heavily medicated patient in a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital. Flynn believes his locked ward is the headquarters of Her Majesty's Secret Service and that he is a secret agent with a license to kill.

When the hospital is acquired by a new HMO, Flynn is a convinced that the Secret Service has been infiltrated by the enemy. He escapes to save the day and carjacks a young orderly named Sancho.

This crazy day trip turns into a very real adventure when Flynn is mistaken for an actual secret agent. Paranoid delusions have suddenly become reality, and now it's up to a mental patient and a terrified orderly to bring down an insecure, evil genius bent on world domination.


Ramble-y Teaserish Stuff

I completely stumbled on this book because I was trying to find a new "Y" title for that alphabet challenge. I typed "You" into the search box for Kindle Unlimited and I scrolled.

And I scrolled. 

And I scrolled a bit more.

Eventually the cover caught my eye and then the description didn't sound awful so I figured all I had to lose was some time and patience and I would go in search of another "Y" on another day.

I ended up not losing anything at all except for some calories since, after all, laughing burns calories and I cannot remember the last time I laughed at a book this hard. It was probably a Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman or Jason Pargin book ... which puts Haris Orkin in the most excellent company.

James Flynn -- hero-extraordinaire of Haris Orkin's You Only Live Once -- is like the lovechild of James Bond and Don Quixote... if they used Catherine Tate's Nan as a surrogate. 

I know. 

It's still a little hard to wrap my brain around and I just read it.

It is oddly wonderful and it works so well that I'm already adding the next two books in the series to my TBR and hoping for more. I could definitely see this turning into a screenplay -- which is something that Orkin already has experience in doing. In my head I've already got Daniel Craig as Flynn (since he's not Bond anymore) and Tony Revolori as Sancho. Dulcie? I'm totally stumped so I think you need to go read it yourself and then fill in the missing name for me ...


"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by Socrates' Book Reviews. 

"Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.