Bout-of-Books 27 Progress

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As usual, I’ll keep this post front and center for the duration of Bout-of-Books 27 so it’ll be easy for everyone to see how I’m doing. I have absolutely no idea what I’ll be reading this week, other than some review books, but that’s nothing new. I’ve recently started pulling physical books off their dusty shelves and giving my Kindle a much needed rest. I haven’t abandoned it entirely however, but it feels good to hold a physical book – I forgot how much I missed that. So, I’m sure that there will be at least one of those on my TBR pile this week. The only other thing that I promise myself every Bout-of-Books is to write reviews as I finish a book. I usually stick to that promise, and since I’m more than a “few” reviews behind, you will hopefully be treated to more than a couple reviews from the eclectic mix of books I’ve finished in the past couple of weeks.

Once again, I’m hoping I get around to at least a couple of the Challenges during this Bout-of-Books because some of them sound really cool and I definitely plan on taking part in the Twitter Chats on Monday and Saturday, because they are a blast!

You have until Tuesday, January 7th at 11:59 pm (CST) to join in on the fun… after all, you were gonna read anyway, right? Why not join in on the epic craziness? You can sign up on the official Bout-of-Books site.

1/6
Number of books & pages I’ve read today: 1/2 Book; Approx. 135 Pages

  • Started I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2) by Josh Lanyon (Approx. 135 pages)
  • Finished Boiling Over (Caro Mysteries #2) by Thea McAlistair (Approx. 80 pages)

Total number of books & pages I’ve read: 1/2 Book; Approx. 135 Pages
Today’s #insixwords Challenge:  Historical Mysteries Followed by Magical Mysteries 😉
Books: 

  • Started I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2)
  • Finished Boiling Over (Caro Mysteries #2)

1/7
Number of books & pages I’ve read today: Approx. 108 Pages

  • Continued I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2) by Josh Lanyon (Approx. 108 pages)

Total number of books & pages I’ve read: 1/2 Book; Approx. 243 Pages
Today’s #insixwords Challenge: Unintentional Re-reads – A Book Nerd’s Life
Books: 

  • Continued I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2)
  • Finished Boiling Over (Caro Mysteries #2)

1/8
Number of books & pages I’ve read today: 1 Book; Approx. 110 Pages

  • Finished I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2) by Josh Lanyon (Approx. 42 pages)
  • Started The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10) by Gena Showalter (60 pages)
  • Started Lord of Thundertown by O.F. Cieri (Approx. 8 pages)

Total number of books & pages I’ve read: 1 1/2 Books; Approx. 353 Pages
Today’s #insixwords Challenge: Spending Overdue Time With The LOTU 😉  
Books: 

  • Finished I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2)
  • Finished Boiling Over (Caro Mysteries #2)
  • Started The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)
  • Started Lord of Thundertown

1/9
Number of books & pages I’ve read today: Approx. 143 Pages

  • Continued The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10) by Gena Showalter (38 pages)
  • Continued Lord of Thundertown by O.F. Cieri (Approx. 105 pages)

Total number of books & pages I’ve read: 1 1/2 Books; Approx. 496 Pages
Today’s #insixwords Challenge:  Dystopian Books Always Slow Me Down. 😦
Books: 

  • Finished I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2)
  • Finished Boiling Over (Caro Mysteries #2)
  • Continued The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)
  • Continued Lord of Thundertown

1/10
Number of books & pages I’ve read today: Approx. 108 Pages

  • Continued The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10) by Gena Showalter (32 pages)
  • Continued Lord of Thundertown by O.F. Cieri (Approx. 76 pages)


Total number of books & pages I’ve read: 1 1/2 Books; Approx. 604 Pages
Today’s #insixwords Challenge:  Work’s Interfering With My Reading Time!
Books: 

  • Finished I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2)
  • Finished Boiling Over (Caro Mysteries #2)
  • Continued The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)
  • Continued Lord of Thundertown

1/11
Number of books & pages I’ve read today: 1 Book; Approx. 180 Pages

  • Continued The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10) by Gena Showalter (46 pages)
  • Finished Lord of Thundertown by O.F. Cieri (Approx. 74 pages)
  • Started Engines of Empire (Empire of Machines #1) by Max Carver (Approx. 60 pages)

Total number of books & pages I’ve read: 2 1/2 Books; Approx. 784 Pages
Today’s #insixwords Challenge:  Can’t Believe I Missed Twitter Chats 😦
Books: 

  • Finished I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2)
  • Finished Boiling Over (Caro Mysteries #2)
  • Continued The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)
  • Finished Lord of Thundertown
  • Started Engines of Empire (Empire of Machines #1)

1/12
Number of books & pages I’ve read today: Approx. 170 Pages

  • Continued The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10) by Gena Showalter (78 pages)
  • Continued Engines of Empire (Empire of Machines #1) by Max Carver (Approx. 92 pages)

Total number of books & pages I’ve read: 2 1/2 Books; Approx. 954 Pages
Today’s #insixwords Challenge:  Another BoB is in the Books!
Books: 

  • Finished I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2)
  • Finished Boiling Over (Caro Mysteries #2)
  • Continued The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)
  • Finished Lord of Thundertown
  • Continued Engines of Empire (Empire of Machines #1)

I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs & Broomsticks #2) by Josh Lanyon

Cosmo Saville adores his new husband, but his little white lies—and some very black magic—are about to bring his fairytale romance to an end. Someone is killing San Francisco’s spellcasters—and the only person Cosmo can turn to—the man who so recently swore to love and cherish him—isn’t taking his phone calls.
The only magic Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith believes in is true love. Discovering he’s married to a witch—a witch with something alarmingly like magical powers—is nearly as bad as discovering the man he loved tricked and deceived him. John shoulders the pain of betrayal and packs his bags. But when he learns Cosmo is in the crosshairs of a mysterious and murderous plot, he knows he must do everything in in his mortal power to protect him.
Till Death do them Part. With their relationship on the rocks, Cosmo and Commissioner Galbraith join forces to uncover the shadowy figure behind the deadly conspiracy…
Can the star-crossed couple bring down a killer before the dark threat extinguishes true love’s flame?

Funny story… this is my second read of I Buried a Witch. I read it at the end of last year, but it showed up on my TBR list on GoodReads. Now, I know that I could have backdated the read, because I definitely did read it, but I thought what the heck? It definitely wasn’t a hardship on my part to read the book again, so here we are. (This time I double checked to make SURE it was marked correctly on GR.)

You probably already guessed that I considered I Buried a Witch a great addition to Josh Lanyon’s Bedknobs & Broomsticks series. I have to admit that I went into this one a little leery after reading Mainly by Moonlight. Not because I didn’t like the book, but because John and Cosmo’s relationship was sorta doomed from the start and this book’s description is kinda ominous. I wasn’t wrong to be hesitant, but I’m glad I decided to dive in (twice). 😉

The mystery from the Mainly by Moonlight continues in I Buried a Witch, in a round about way. Much to John’s dismay, Cosmo finds himself playing amateur detective. John started growing on me by the end of the last book, but he lost some major points in I Buried a Witch. He had some definite old fashioned ways of thinking how marriage worked. Cosmo took it for the most part, mainly because he felt guilty for the secrets he was keeping from John. Eventually enough was enough and the inevitable blow-up happened.

Beyond the break-up, there was a mystery to solve and the danger was coming way too close to home. There were also some revelations about John’s family that threw and extra twist or two in the story. Things were looking a little bit better by the end of I Buried a Witch, so I’m not as worried about starting Bell, Book and Scandal. Even so, I’m also pretty sure that John and Cosmo haven’t gotten past all of their relationship hurdles. *sigh*

Boiling Over (Caro Mysteries #2) by Thea McAlistair

On the run from trumped-up murder charges, Alex Dawson and his boyfriend Sev settle in a small town in Vermont on the recommendation of Sev’s mob-boss cousin Bella. Chickadee is so tiny that it has only one major employer in the depths of the Great Depression: Trask & Co. Maple Sugar Mill. It’s a quiet place. That is, until Walter Trask is found in his own maple grove with his head smashed in.
Alex doesn’t want to have anything to do with the death, but things get much more personal when Bella is falsely arrested. Determined to free her and even the scales, Alex scours the town for clues as to what really happened. He quickly learns that small towns have big secrets that people may be willing to kill for. And if that weren’t bad enough, Alex and Sev’s once-sweet relationship is turning bitter under the combined pressures of isolation, anxiety, and jealousy. Alex needs to find the true murderer quickly before Bella is turned over to the feds, or worse, Sev walks out of his life forever.

Well, dear readers, I’ve done it again. I’ve picked up the second book in a series without reading the first. The thing is, I could have sworn that I double checked before I requested an ARC of Boiling Over. *sigh* Looks like I’ve added another book to my ever growing TBR pile, because now I HAVE to know exactly where Alex and Sev’s story began. Actually, I’ve added a couple of books to that ever growing pile because the ending of Boiling Over is most definitely not the end of Alex and Sev’s story. Not by a long shot…

I like a good mystery and Boiling Over definitely fell into that category. I don’t read a lot of historical books. It’s not because I don’t enjoy them. It’s mainly because it takes me a while to get myself into the time frame. I can’t really pinpoint why, but I didn’t have that issue with this book. I wasn’t even particularly lost having not read the first book, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s obvious that a lot happened in No Good Men. Those events in the first book in the Caro Mysteries sent Alex and Sev on the run with new identities and a lot to hide.

It didn’t take Sev and Alex long to find out that trouble can find you just as easily in a small town as it can in the big city. It seems that everyone has something to hide, which makes it pretty hard to figure out who the good guys are among the not so good guys and the really bad ones. While trying to figure that out by playing amateur sluth, Alex finds himself trying to see exactly where he fit in- if anywhere – including Sev’s world.

A few interesting twists at the end of Boiling Over left readers wondering where Alex and Sev will end up next. Now to figure out if I’m going to back-track or wait patiently for the next book in the Caro Mysteries series.

Hell on Wheels (Kings of Mayhem MC #4) by Penny Dee

I left here a man but came back a beast
CHANCE
A shoulder-fired missile broke my body.
But betrayal obliterated my heart.
For months I lingered in and out of hell until my body healed.
Now I’m back in town with my club brothers. They think I am ok. But I am still fighting a war of darkness in my head and I can’t see a way out.
Then she comes into town like a summer breeze and makes me feel things I didn’t know existed.
She has the voice of an angel and the body of a goddess.
But she is running from her own demons. From the Devil himself.
He’s coming to town and she’s scared. But I’ve walked through hell and survived, and I’ll walk through it again to protect her.

CASSIDY
I’ve spent years running from my past.
Town to town.
State to state.
Never putting down roots.
Because I am running from the Devil himself and if he finds me he will drag me down to hell again.
Then I meet a beautiful, scarred beast of man who makes me feel something for the first time of my life…hope.
He makes me want to stay but thats an impossibility.
Because the Devil is coming for me and when he arrives I won’t stand a chance.

I’ve pretty much liked all the books in this series, even though I put off reading them. Don’t even ask me why, because I have absolutely no idea. Having said that, I think that Hell on Wheels has been my favorite out of all 4 books. All the brothers in Kings of Mayhem were a little bit broken, but Chance was the most broken of them all. Not even those who were closest to him knew exactly how much he had lost in combat. The physical scars were visible, but the emotional ones he kept well hidden. No one could heal those, until Cassidy.

I wanted things to work out for both Cassidy and Chance because they both deserved a break. Even when Cassidy did something stupid that put her in unnecessary danger or when Chance wouldn’t open up. As frustrating as those moments were, they kept the pages turning. The next book in the series is Off Limits and I’m going to try really hard not to put that one off as long as I did the rest of the books in the series.

The Spellslinger (A Fistful of Daggers #4) by S.M. Reine

Lincoln Marshall has failed. The Godslayer is trapped in her worst nightmares. His only chance of repairing the timeline is dead. He’s stuck a decade in the past with Sophie Keyes, and the world is falling apart.
Held captive by the Union, Lincoln and Sophie must fight to repair a timeline rapidly unraveling.
James Faulkner has survived, but he’s not whole. He’s divided into angel and demon–his ambition and obsession severed from his power and passion. His angel side wants to rescue Elise. His demon side wants to rescue the world, at any cost–even if it means letting Elise die. Between their brilliant minds, they’ve conceived a plan that can repair the timeline. The only price is their lives.

My initial reaction when I finished Spellslinger? “OMG or gods? Doesn’t really matter in the long run I suppose. The old adage, “be careful what you ask for” still applies. I need the next book sooner rather than later…” I also promised that I would soon be writing my usual rambling, incoherent review, so here it goes…

That “be careful what you ask for” comment? Yeah, that’s real – fans were given a choice in a poll a while ago. The choices included a list of characters that readers would be interested in reading more about in their own series. Lincoln was one of those characters and he was my choice. To be fair, it wasn’t because he was one of my favorite characters, it’s just that he was featured in at least two other series and his character peaked my curiosity. If you know anything at all about S.M. Reine’s Decentverse, you know that her characters go through a lot AND their development from series to series sometimes takes a strange turn. Lincoln was one of those characters. A major transformation had obviously taken place and I wanted to know what happened to turn him into the character he had become in Dana McIntyre Must Die.

So much happened in Spellslinger… so much! There were a lot of characters pulling strings, a lot to love and just as much to hate. There were also a lot of twists and turns. Fair warning, it’s not an easy book to put down and it’s also one that demands your full attention. Although all of the books in the Fistful of Daggers series have been intense, I’ve got to say that Spellslinger has been the most emotionally intense one so far. I was not expecting tears and they fell more than once. I think who those tears were shed for at times was what shocked me most.

Spellslinger also proved to me that time travel is not for the faint of heart. Things that happened in the past escalated and shifted and the things that happened because of those shifts were devastating. Many things need to be “fixed”, many, many things. Beyond that craziness, Lincoln has a little farther to go before he gets to where he needs to be in the future and I can’t wait to see how he gets there.

If you haven’t started the Descentverse, you really need to. You can start with the Fistful of Daggers series, but since there is so much character and world building that takes place before this series starts, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can find the order of series and books on S.M. Reine’s website. A lot of the early books in the Descentverse are free, so there’s really no excuse to not start from the beginning 😉

His Unexpected Mate (His Unexpected Mate #1) by T.L. West

Living in a small wooden cabin at the edge of a forest and working to solve the mystery of recent murders, young Eli Bright learns the locals believe a man-beast is responsible.
As an outsider, he is watched very closely as he works with the young local sheriff, Stanley Blake. But Eli knows there has to be a proper explanation. Paranormal creatures don’t exist, right?

I’ve read one other book by T.L. West and unfortunately, I came away from His Unexpected Mate feeling much the same way as I did when I finished reading A Fated Bond. *sigh*

I think a lot of my issue with His Unexpected Mate was that it was too short to give readers a chance to wrap their heads around what was happening between Eli and Stanley. Never mind all the supernatural danger, family drama and world building that was just as much a part of the story. If more pages were devoted to all the elements of the story, I might have enjoyed it more, because the premise was great and the writing flowed nicely. As with many, many short stories/novellas, I just needed more.

 

The Wolf and the Sparrow by Isabelle Adler

Derek never wished to inherit his title as a result of a bloody battle. With the old count dead and the truce dependent on his marriage to the rival duke’s son, Derek has no choice but to agree to the victor’s terms in order to bring peace to his homeland. When he learns of the sinister rumors surrounding his intended groom, Derek begins to have doubts—but there can be no turning back from saying I do.
After the death of his wife, Callan of Mulberny never expected to be forced into another political marriage—especially not to someone like the new Count of Camria. Seemingly soft and meek, it’s only fitting that Derek’s family crest is a flighty sparrow, worthy of nothing but contempt.
Another war with the seafaring people of the Outer Isles looms on the horizon, and the reluctant newlyweds must team together to protect those caught in the circle of violence. Derek and Callan slowly learn to let go of their prejudices, but as they find themselves enmeshed in intrigue fueled by dark secrets and revenge, their tentative bond is all that keeps their world—and their lives—from plunging into chaos.

The last book I read by Isabelle Adler was Irises in the Snow. At the end of that book, there was a chapter from The Wolf and the Sparrow and if it was meant to be a tease, it worked because I knew as soon as I read it that it would be next on my request list. Although I have to admit it took a little while to get into, I wasn’t disappointed.

Nothing is ever quite what it seems on the surface and it took a little while, but Derek and Callan eventually realized that – about each other. The both had preconceived opinions about each other. Along the way, they even discovered things about themselves that they never considered either.

There wasn’t a lot of down time in The Wolf and the Sparrow. There seemed to be danger lurking around every corner and the source of the danger was much closer than either one of them realized. At times it was a little much, but it kept the pages turning.

Needless to say, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from this author. There’s at least one series that I hope she continues sooner rather than later 😉

Bout-of-Books 28 (January 6-12, 2020)

It’s a new year and in keeping with all things new, Bout-of-Books 27 has snuck upon me! How is that even possible? It seems like it was just yesterday, or last week that Bout-of-Books 26 was a vivid memory. *sigh*

If you’ve never participated, you really need to consider joining in on all the fun. There’s always crazy shenanigans, fun challenges, some crazy fast twitter chats and loads of ways to meet and interact with some crazy cool bloggers. Did I mention it’s a CRAZY week, but in a good kind of crazy way? Oh, and it’s also a great excuse to read as much as you can for an entire week! No pressure, just plain fun! To find out more, read the official blurb below and follow the link to the Official Bout-of-Books blog.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, Twitter chats, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 27 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

 

All Fired Up (Road to Love #3) by Lori Foster

Charlotte Parrish has always wanted a certain kind of man: someone responsible, settled, boring. Bad boys need not apply. But when her car leaves her stranded and a mysterious stranger with brooding eyes and a protective streak comes to her rescue, she can’t deny how drawn she is to him. In town searching for family he’s never met, Mitch is everything she never thought she wanted—and suddenly everything she craves.
Finding his half brothers after all these years is more than Mitch Crews has allowed himself to wish for. Finding love never even crossed his mind…until he meets Charlotte. She’s sweet, warmhearted, sexier than she knows—and too damn good for an ex-con like him. But when his past comes back to haunt him, putting Charlotte—and the family he’s come to care for—in danger, Mitch isn’t playing by the rules. He’s already surrendered his heart, but now he’ll risk his life.

I’ve loved all the books in the Road to Love series so far, but I’ve gotta admit, I think All Fired Up may have been my favorite. It features Charlotte, who has been around since the series began and Mitch, who readers were hinted about at the end of Slow Ride.

Charlotte is the “little sister” to overprotective brothers, Jack and Brodie. She lost her parents when she was younger and was “adopted” by the Crews family with no hesitation whatsoever. Mitch had a plan. He wanted to establish himself and then at least meet his half brothers. That plan fell apart as soon as he ran into Charlotte. He was attracted to her from the start – even before he knew her connection to the Crews brothers. That should have nipped his attraction in the bud, but it soon became impossible to ignore.

When Mitch found out that he’d brought danger to his new family, he planned on keeping it as far away from them as possible, whatever it took. He didn’t know his family well enough to realize that they took care of their own and were more than capable. He didn’t expect the immediate devotion and trust for someone who should have been considered a total stranger. That’s just not how the Crews family worked.

I think that’s what made me love this series so much. The strong sense of family that came from all the Crews members. I had only one little issue with the family aspect and it centered around forgiveness. I’m not going to give it away. I think most readers will know what I’m talking about when they get to it. It wasn’t enough to tarnish my love for this series or All Fired Up. As usual, I can’t wait to see what Lori Foster has in store for readers next.

Renegade (Knights of Fury #2) by Chantal Fernando

Good girl Isabella wouldn’t miss the birth of her sister’s baby for the world. So when her car breaks down and one of the bikers next door offers her a ride to Vegas, it’s too tempting to pass up. Besides, she can think of worse travel conditions than wrapping her arms around Renny, otherwise known as Renegade.
Tall, dark and handsome, the man is pure sex on a Harley.
Between wild parties and rumbling motorcycles, living next to the Knights of Fury MC has always left Isabella curious, but after a night in Vegas, she gets a firsthand taste. Drinks in the club surrounded by burly bikers soon turns into a series of daring decisions, which don’t seem so bad until she wakes up the next morning. Married. To Renny.
Could she be more of a cliché?
Nothing complicates an annulment like lingering temptation, especially when Isabella and Renny give in to their need, putting their marriage where their mouths are. But as Isabella learns what outlaw life is really like, she’ll have to decide if she’s in love with a biker—or in over her head.

Okay, so my first reaction when I finished Renegade was that these guys are kinda growing on me. I’ve realized that I have a type when it comes to MC romances. Some I’m on the fence with, but there have been others that I’ve flat out refused to finish. Others that I loved from the start. Just like with all groups, there’s good and there’s bad. The ones that I’ve refused to finish? It wasn’t because the writing was bad. Those are with main characters that are so bad, I see no way that they could possibly redeem themselves and find it really hard to stick around to see if they do. So far, Knights of Fury hasn’t come close to crossing that line, at least not with the main characters. There are a few that are questionable though, but I still hold out hope. The thing is, I can’t really tell you what they did that was questionable because it’s kind of a twist in the story line. Let’s just say, you’ll know it when you read it – or maybe it’s just me? Again?

Anyway… on the surface, Renny and Bella were not a match by any stretch of the imagination – until you got to know them. Renny had been admiring Bella from a distance and he already had respect for her because of the help she had given Skylar in Saint, the first book in the Knights of Fury series. Bella didn’t feel the same attraction, even though she was curious. When Renny seemed to come to her rescue, her opinion changed. Their unintended marriage was comical, until their feelings grew.

Things aren’t easy though. Trust if fragile and then danger falls on their doorstep. Renny sets out to prove that he’ll do anything to protect those he considers family, but Bella has to decide if that’s enough to win her heart.

I loved getting to know the Knights of Fury even better and the rest of the supporting characters added just as much to the story. Like I said, they’re growing on me. That sense of family is a strong pull for me in any story and it’s definitely a strong aspect of this series. I’m even looking forward to Temper, the next book in the series.