Quote of the Day (from The Forgotten Cottage)

A photo of a sparrow on a branch and a quote.
“The world is vast, dear girl. There is always a fresh stone to turn over.” – The Forgotten Cottage by Courtney Ellis

The world is vast, dear girl. There is always a fresh stone to turn over.
The Forgotten Cottage by Courtney Ellis

 

Like this quote? You can find more here!

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Book Review: The Single Mother’s Christmas With A Billionaire by Shay Violet

DAY 7
of 25 Days of Book Reviews

25 Days of Book Reviews

"The Single Mother's Christmas With A Billionaire" by Shay Violet (cover)
The Single Mother’s Christmas With A Billionaire by Shay Violet

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Holiday Romance, Billionaire Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: It was supposed to be a Christmas vacation.
No cell phone. No computer. No work.
No men.
Just time for me to relax with my best friends and my kids.
And then, I threw a snowball and it hit him.

Oh no. This retreat was supposed to be a way to cool my head…but this billionaire is bringing on the heat.
I’m not used to this.
I’ve spent years focusing on my work and raising my kids.
I’ve done everything on my own. And now, the hottest man I’ve ever seen is offering me his hand… and his heart.

He’s crazy about me and he’s ready to be a father.
Despite my misgivings, I’m falling hard and fast.
I thought that I would never find love again.
But this Christmas — maybe, just maybe — I’m going to get a fairy tale ending.

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This story was too cute, lovely, sappy goodness! I really felt the holiday spirit.

Mya and her two kids are spending a week’s vacation at an expensive mountain resort with Mya’s two best friends who she hasn’t seen in a while. It’s a much needed break for all of them after her divorce.

When Mya meets Cameron it’s an instant attraction – love at first snowball to the back of the head. But given the circumstances, they’re proceeding with some caution as they continue to get to know each other and grow closer. Mya is afraid that the growing feelings between them are too good to be true. And Cameron is determined to prove himself worthy to Mya. It’s a sweet, romantic build all things considered.

Besides the romance, I also liked the friendship dynamic between Mya and her “sisters” and even the somewhat tenuous but obviously deep, brotherly relationship between Cameron and his brothers. Cameron is also really great with the kids, so that was more bonus points for him.

This was honestly a pleasant read. It’s under a hundred pages, but never once felt rushed (always a plus). The story unfolded neatly and organically.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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[ #PubDayTuesday ] ARC Review: This Cursed Crown by Alexandra Overy

DAY 6
of 25 Days of Book Reviews

25 Days of Book Reviews

Thanks again Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the eARC to read in exchange for an honest review! This Cursed Crown is OUT NOW!

"This Cursed Crown" by Alexandra Overy (cover)
This Cursed Crown by Alexandra Overy

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Lgbtqiap+, Retelling
Series: These Feathered Flames #2
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: In the explosive sequel to These Feathered Flames, twin sisters Izaveta and Asya find themselves separated once again, but discovering a way back to each other may be their most perilous challenge yet.

Awakening to find herself trapped in a strange tower, Izaveta knows she must find her way back to the Tóurensi palace and claim the throne. But even with an unexpected ally’s help, she worries she might not be able to get news of her survival to her sister and escape this frozen land.

Back at home, Asya enlists Nikov’s help to prove Izaveta is still alive, even as she finds herself forced to navigate the political world she always sought to avoid to save her queendom, her loved ones, and herself.

But as the sisters work independently to reunite, a dangerous force lies in wait, trying to regain power in order to overthrow the monarchy…

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How do you fix something that has been broken for a long time? How do you atone for the sins of the past? What price are you willing to pay to do what’s right? And who will you choose to be at the end of the day in the face of losing everything, even yourself?

These questions I believe sum up the circumstances of this sequel and the crux of the duology as a whole. With so many long-kept secrets being unearthed, devious plots to foil, identities tested, and lies to unravel, there’s hardly any time for Asya and Izaveta to breathe. Let alone save the queendom whilst making sense of their splintered relationship and destined roles. It’s a heart wrenching and difficult journey for the two as individuals and as sisters.

Asya has never fully embraced what it means to be the Firebird despite the fear and hatred towards it. The balance of magic has always been essential above all else. Asya continues to fight to hold on to her humanity and good nature, so court politics and deceptions are a challenge to maneuver through.

Izaveta was trained by her mother (and her mother before her, etc.) in subterfuge in order to maintain control and power. But now, trapped in a tower far from her sister, for the first time ever Izaveta is at a loss, unsure of how to proceed forward after making so many grave mistakes.

This Cursed Crown is a reckoning. The carefully conducted chaos and cruelty is daunting. You and the twins are often left to wonder if good can truly triumph over evil. Because at the end of the day, change is inevitable, actions have consequences, and magic demands sacrifice. But what I like about Izaveta and Asya is that they never stop trying to do the right thing. Thus the story becomes an entrancing, emotional roller coaster.

I think this duology has always gone in the right direction for all of the characters with appropriately made choices indicative to each. This helped spur the story along through ups and downs and extensive character development. It further entangled conflicts as things escalated towards a bit surprising but suitable conclusion for the main characters.

Overall, This Cursed Crown was an exhilarating, high-stakes story.


More by Alexandra Overy

These Feathered Flames (#1)


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Book Review: No Time for Promises by Lindsay Detwiler

DAY 5
of 25 Days of Book Reviews

25 Days of Book Reviews

"No Time for Promises" by Lindsay Detwiler (cover)
No Time for Promises by Lindsay Detwiler

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Novella
Series: No Brides Club #3
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: When six friends make a pact not to let love get in the way of their careers, the No Brides Club is born. But could meeting the right man at the wrong time cause them to break their vows to each other?

Rachel Winters has less than a year until she turns thirty, and she plans to make it big-time on broadway before she hits this particularly stressing rite of passage. So, when the opportunity to teach young, aspiring actors at a weekend workshop presents itself, she eagerly agrees, hoping that this is the first sign her luck’s about to change.

Zander Riley once dreamed of being a star, but a badly broken heart sent his priorities spinning in an entirely different direction. Now a special education teacher, he agrees to chaperone a weekend trip to an acting workshop for the kids’ sake more than his own. If only the gorgeous instructor didn’t reignite a number of passions he’d long since cast aside.

Could it be love at first sight, or is he simply an unneeded obstacle to Rachel’s ambition? Can Zander learn to open his heart once more, even if it means it could break worse than ever before? And will these two theater lovers ultimately set the stage for romance… or tragedy?

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No TIme for Promises was a nice winter getaway read. I pretty much was all in from the start since this story had something to do with Broadway (which I love). But I also love the way the story is framed around promises and that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

Rachel is currently a chorus member hard at work at making her Broadway dreams come true. She’s very passionate about her job and never says no to anything that will help advance her career.

Meanwhile, Zander is a special education teacher. Although he truly loves his current job, he misses all things theater and the Broadway dreams he’d left behind.

Rachel and Zander are more similar than they realize, which makes their instant connection that much sweeter. Once they got their lives somewhat back on track, they were convinced that they didn’t need nor have time for love.

But they had wonderfully indisputable chemistry. The ease of their relationship feels so natural and was pleasant to watch evolve. A lot of emotional growth happening.

This story has an amazing cast of secondary characters who are supportive, friendly, quaint, and humorous. They left a good impression on me that I’m totally on board with reading the other books in this series.

No Time for Promises is one of those short but sweet reads you can enjoy for a few blissful hours but will definitely remember.

 

Favorite Quote:

“I promise to be your cheerleader, your supporter, your partner in everything, and most of all, the protector of your heart. I love you with all that I am. I love you with all I hope to be someday. I just plain love you, and I want that love to be official.”


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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Book Review: Pink Is Not a Color by Lindsay Ward

DAY 4
of 25 Days of Book Reviews

25 Days of Book Reviews

"Pink Is Not a Color" by Lindsay Ward
Pink Is Not a Color by Lindsay Ward

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Pink finds happiness right where she always knew it was in this colorful companion to the popular picture book This Book Is Gray.

Pink loves her rosy world, from her pink toy dinosaur to her pet flamingo, Phil. But when she sees the Primaries and Secondaries getting ready for the Rainbow Extravaganza, she begins to wonder why she isn’t in the rainbow…and if that means she’s not really a color. Then she meets the Tints, and she’s even more confused. Luckily, a friend shows her the many ways she spreads joy—reminding Pink that she is truly one of a kind, rainbow or not.

Featuring the world of colors introduced in This Book Is Gray—and a few new color concepts—this is a tale about appreciating who you are and realizing that only you can decide what makes you happy.

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Pink feels left out of the Rainbow Extravaganza because pink isn’t a color typically included in a rainbow. Soon Pink has a “mid-color” (identity) crisis and wonders if pink is a color at all.

Then along comes Gray (MC from This Book Is Gray) who kindly tries to cheer Pink up by showing Pink all the cool things in the world that are wonderfully pink and make others happy, asserting “You are one of a kind. We all are.”

The question of “Who am I?” is a big, bold, powerful question that can come up multiple times in a lifetime and sometimes take years even to find an answer to. Pink had always considered itself as a color, but now it’s not so sure. Pink goes through a range of emotions and questions but is left feeling sad without any answers.

I found Pink’s journey and resolution to be incredibly realistic in the most simplest and colorful of ways. Many will relate to Pink’s universal struggle to figure out one’s identity and happiness.

In the author’s note, Ward mentions how the idea for this story came from reading an article of scientists debating if pink is a legit color or not. (Side note, in my humble opinion, pink is a color.) Exploring this aspect of color theory and identity was a great idea and was done fantastically. This book also includes in the beginning a glossary of color terms, which is very helpful. It also helps underscore the why of Pink’s feelings and all else that happens, as well as how pink is a happy color.

Pink Is Not a Color was such a fun and visually pleasing read!


More by Lindsay Ward

This Book Is Gray


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Book Review: The Best Gift for Bear by Jennifer A. Bell

DAY 3
of 25 Days of Book Reviews

25 Days of Book Reviews

"The Best Gift for Bear" by Jennifer A. Bell (cover)
The Best Gift for Bear by Jennifer A. Bell

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Just right for the holidays, this charming story about finding a perfect present introduces an endearing hedgehog and bear—and includes a gingerbread-cookie recipe.

Hedgehog has been busy making gifts for all of her friends. But what could possibly be grand enough for her dear friend Bear? Bear had shown Hedgehog the wonders of butterflies and taught her to ice-skate, after all. When Hedgehog finally finds her inspiration and delivers the gift, it doesn’t quite turn out as she expected…

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Hedgehog has been baking cookies for all her friends and neighbors, but is stuck on what cookie to make for her special friend, Bear. This gift has to be just right.

The Best Gift for Bear was too cute for words and such a light-hearted read. I always enjoy picture books with animal characters and that was very much the case for this one. It’s so nice that Hedgehog is tailor-making her cookies to each individual because it shows her thoughtfulness and care. I loved the illustrations and the curling red ribbon incorporated within. I liked that on some pages the author uses the ribbon to guide the reader’s eyes.

This was an adorable holiday read that made my heart so happy. I now want to bake some cookies too!


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[December 2022] Book of the Month: The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan

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For the last month of 2022, I’m spotlighting one of my favorite books from the Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan, which culminates the first arc (books 1-4) of the series.

"The Battle for Skandia" by John Flanagan (cover)
The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan

Title: The Battle for Skandia
Series: Ranger’s Apprentice #4
Author: John Flanagan
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Philomel Books
Pub Date: May 1, 2006

ABOUT THE BOOK: For Will and Evanlyn, freedom has never felt so fleeing.

Still far from their homeland after escaping slavery in the icebound land of Skandia, the Ranger’s apprentice and the princess’s plan to return to Araluen is spoiled when Evanlyn is taken captive by a Temujai warrior. Though still weakened by the warmweed’s toxic effects, Will employs his Ranger training to locate his friend, but an enemy scouting party has him fatally outnumbered. Will is certain death is close at hand, until old friends make a daring, last-minute rescue. The reunion is cut short, however, when they make a horrifying discovery: Skandia’s borders have been breached by the entire Temujai army. And Araluen is next in their sights.

If two kingdoms are to be saved, the unlikeliest of unions must be made. Will it hold long enough to vanquish a ruthless new enemy? Or will past tensions spell doom for all?


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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Book Review: Blue Lock by Muneyuki Kaneshiro, art by Yusuke Nomura (Volume 1)

DAY 2
of 25 Days of Book Reviews

25 Days of Book Reviews

"Blue Lock" (volume 1) by Muneyuki Kaneshiro
Blue Lock by Muneyuki Kaneshiro (volume 1)

Genre: Manga, Sports, Shonen, Graphic Novel
Series: Blue Lock, volume 1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: ARE YOU THE WORLD’S TOP EGOIST?

After a disastrous defeat at the 2018 World Cup, Japan’s team struggles to regroup. But what’s missing? An absolute ace striker. The Football Union is hell-bent on creating a striker who hungers for goals and thirsts for victory, so Blue Lock—a rigorous training ground for 300 of Japan’s best and brightest youth players—is created. To survive this battle royale, the last striker standing will have to out-muscle and out-ego everyone who stands in his way!

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“Within the world of soccer you can train a player to be a first-class goalie, defender, or midfielder. But strikers are entirely different. A first-class striker can’t be taught. They naturally appear wherever the game is the hottest!”

Second-year forward Yoichi Isagi dreams of being a pro soccer (football) player. But just when those dreams seem futile, a mysterious opportunity presents itself in the form of a cutthroat, last man standing training program (Blue Lock) to find a first-class striker who will help Japan to finally achieve a World Cup win.

To me, one of the great things about sports manga has always been the passion and determination its characters exude. You can’t help but share in that feeling. You can’t help but be inspired by it.

I had a good feeling I was going to love Blue Lock and I absolutely did! Already, Blue Lock has no shortage of likable characters who are passionate about soccer and have big dreams. There’s a method to coach Jinpachi’s madness. I liked that Blue Lock challenges the recruits to rethink the game in order to improve. Unorthodox methods, yes, and yet makes total sense. Sometimes you have to think creatively outside the box and learn from the past in order to build something better.

I clearly have been missing out and am so happy to have finally picked up this series. Underdog stories are always engrossing reads. Things can only get better from here on out!


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December 2022 New Book Releases

December 2022 New Book Releases
December 2022 New Book Releases

DECEMBER 5
The Path to You by Carrie Ann Ryan

DECEMBER  6
This Cursed Crown by Alexandra Overy (review coming soon)
Snow White with the Red Hair (Vol. 22)
A Dash of Salt and Pepper by Kosoko Jackson
Twice in a Lifetime by Melissa Baron
Well Traveled by Jen DeLuca
Witcha Gonna Do by Avery Flynn

DECEMBER  27
The Heretic Royal by G.A. Aiken (review coming soon)
Never Cross a Highlander by Lisa Rayne


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