Monday, January 25, 2021

What I Read This Week



Happy Monday! Hope that you had a wonderful weekend. Here in Minnesota it was cold, and we had some snow. My family and I just laid low, and had a quiet (well as quiet can be with 4 kids) weekend at home. A low key weekend gave me plenty of opportunity to rest my ankle after spraining it on Tuesday during school pickup. Thankfully the swelling has decreased greatly, and the bruising isn't looking as horrible as it had been. I still cannot believe that happened.  

Reading wise, last week I managed to read 5 books!  I read some books that I absolutely cannot get out of my mind, and others that we just middle of the road. All the books read were e-books (naturally), 2 were advanced reader copies (ARC), and the other 3 were backlist titles. It should be of no surprise that they all fall into the romance genre. Hey, I like what I like. 

Last week I also had the honor of working with a few authors on promotions for their books. I love getting to do things like that. There is just something about promoting a book and/or author that others might not be familiar with. I know I've definitely learned about a lot of authors from others! (I'm looking at you Bookstagram!)

Let's talk about what I read last week.

First up was an advanced reader copy of Hopeless Romantic by Marina Adair. When I ran across this book on NetGalley, I was drawn in by the autism storyline. I was curious as to how autism (and caregivers) would be portrayed. Would it be realistic? I can honestly say that I was good with how everything was portrayed. It felt familiar in a way. Add in the way that Beckett felt like she had little to no help, and it was relatable. I can only hope that after the book ended, the characters were able to establish new routines and boundaries, so that Beckett could have a little respite from her Dad and brother. (as well as helping them with the social and relational skills they both needed.)

I should say that Hopeless Romantic is a small town romance between two people who constantly give. They give their time, their energy, their resources, but they never ask for anything in return. Also, Gregory Pecker had me laughing. Everything that happened with that chicken had me chuckling. 

If you're interested, here is the description for the book:
Set against the breezy backdrop of coastal Rhode Island, the latest novel from bestselling author Marina Adair asks whether two of a small town's biggest hearts can learn to put themselves first--in the name of love...

As caregiver for her autistic brother, Beckett Hayes knows how meaningful a little extra help can be when life happens. Which is why she runs Consider It Done, a personal concierge service in her small town. Her job also gives her the flexibility to follow her passion, being Rome, Rhode Island's unofficial special needs advocate, training emotional support companions in her spare time. There's not much of that, though, and certainly not enough for serious dating. It's always been family first for Beck. But one unquestionably gorgeous, good-natured man is suddenly a temptation that's getting tougher to resist...

Sixteen years ago, Levi Rhodes was ready to sail off into the sunset--literally. But then his father's death and his sister's unexpected pregnancy postponed his sailing scholarship and the adventures he had planned. Running the family marina and bar was the least he could do for his grieving mother. Plus, his niece needed a father-figure. But now that she's in high school and has her bio-dad in her life, Levi's wondering if it's time to get his sea legs under him again...until curvy, caring Beck showed up in his bar, and then in his dreams...
Over all, this story gave me what I wanted. The representation of a neurodiverse family, and how a caretaker can often get little respite is relatable to many people. Yes, the relationship between Beckett and Levi was nice, but for me it wasn't what stood out. Instead it was the relationship between Beckett's family and how they worked (or rather didn't fully work) as a unit, as well as the relationship that Levi had with his. Hopeless Romantic also spoke to me about accepting assistance from those who offer, and also about asking for assistance. It's about not doing it all on your own. Consider reading this book. Hopeless Romantic releases on January 26, 2021.

After reading Hopeless Romantic, it was time to switch things up, so I read some new adult romance. I don't often read new adult (I consider new adult as characters who are college aged), but every so often it calls my name. I had recently purchased the Over the Fence series by Carrie Aaron after seeing some of her TikTok videos. The way she described her books had me intrigued. Plus this series is sports romance, so obviously I'm going to be drawn in.

Pitching to Win is the first book in the Over the Fence series. It follows the relationship between Minka (the introvert) and Owen (the golden boy). This summer romance starts at a party, where Minka doesn't want to give Owen the time of day. Yes, he's attractive, but she's not going there. Minka is perfectly content living the single life, especially after what happened last time she was in a relationship. Meanwhile Owen is drawn towards Minka. He feels the need to get to know her. There is something about her that he just can't let go of. Both have parental issues that they need to work on, and Minka is still reeling from what happened a couple of years ago with a bad relationship.

I'd tell you more about this story, but honestly it doesn't really matter. For me this story was just meh. It didn't really keep my attention all that well, and it was a bit forgettable. (ugh, I don't like saying that, but it's true.) Yes, there were moments I enjoyed, but ultimately it just wasn't for me. That being said, I did opt to continue with the trilogy. After all I bought the books, so I might as well read them.

The second book in the series is Hitting to Win. Now we are at college, and it is time for Chloe and Miles to have their moment. Chloe has been crushing on Miles since they were children. There has always been something about him that she's been drawn to. Miles is dealing with a broken heart, as well as issues with his Dad, and is being an ass to everyone. Chloe tries to be nice to him, and he says horrible things to her. One day they are forced to work together for a dance competition. They both try to find an out, but ultimately cannot. So they team up, and make it work. Of course along the way a relationship develops. Now I honestly liked Hitting to Win a lot more. Maybe it was the dancing competition aspect. Maybe it was the way Miles works through his past. I'm not entirely certain. What I do know, is that this book made me thankful I stuck with the trilogy.

The last book is Catching to Win. If you've read the previous two books, then you already know Kelsey and Clint. Let me just start by saying, this was my favorite of the series. Absolute favorite. Kelsey had absolutely no interest in having a relationship with Clint. Heck, she didn't even really want him as her friend. Yet here they are talking almost daily while she's overseas. Clint has become someone she can turn to, and talk about anything with. It's weird, but Kelsey likes it. What Kelsey doesn't know is that Clint has been working on changing his body. Before he was a larger man, and women would pay no attention to him. Since he's been making changes, they look, but Clint isn't interested. There is one woman he wants, and she is not in the country. Until suddenly she is. Kelsey looks at Clint, but doesn't realize it's him because his appearance has drastically changed. Once she does, well then she finds herself attracted to him. (No that irritated me, but at the same time I can relate to Clint) Things happen, attraction blossoms, issues arise, and then we get to witness how this all plays out. I will say, one of the things I really liked about this book is how Clint fought for Kelsey. He did everything he possibly could.

For my last book of the week, I dove back into the dark mafia romance world that is the Bennett Duet. Yes that same duet by Xavier Neal that I mentioned last week. Yours truly was given an ARC of Dark Reign, and oh how thankful I am. I am getting my questions answered. 

I just finished reading, and cannot get over everything that happened! I will say, it wasn't who I expected to be behind everything that happened in Dark Ruler. Still though, I was surprised when it was revealed.

I could feel the anger and the pain when Benicio said "I will not stop hunting for her until she has been found and returned home. I will turn over every boulder, every stone, every pebble until the woman that is mine is back where she belongs."

There were a few times where my jaw dropped, whether due to the information revealed or due to the graphic nature of the repercussions. (if you know, you know) Of course me being me, I also shed a few tears. What can I say, I'm a crier. I found myself laughing periodically as well. There were just those scenes that required a good chuckle. One last thing, Gia (Benicio's mama) is amazing, and is definitely someone you want in your corner!

The ending to the book was just what I needed. Almost all the loose ends have been wrapped up. That being said, I do need Xavier Neal to write a novella about Miko, and everything that happened with him in the duet. Especially from the wedding scene onward. ahem.

That wraps up my week in reading! Overall I'm pleased with how it went, and while one of the books was just "meh", the rest were good.

So tell me, what have you been reading? Anything you'd recommend?

Happy Reading,

Friday, January 22, 2021

Hockey Romance Series I've Read {part two}


Happy Friday everyone! The weekend is upon us, and we have nothing planned. Like normal. 🤷🏼‍♀️

So on Wednesday, I talked about three authors who wrote hockey romance series that I've loved. Well today, I am back to talk about another three. There are so many fantastic authors out there, and I know I am just at the tip of the iceberg.

First up we have Natasha Madison. She currently has THREE hockey romance series, and I have loved each and every one. Her Something So series was my introduction to her writing, and she has become an auto-buy author. If you enjoy steamy romances, alpha males, and happily ever afters, then check them out. 

In my opinion, you'll want to start with the Something So series, then move on to This Is, and then conclude with Only One. That is because the characters we meet in Something So will appear in the other two series. So if you know their backstory, then it just helps. Should you choose to just jump in where ever, know that that is okay too.

The first series was Something So. It is four books long, and each book follows a different set of characters. My absolute favorite from this quartet was Something So Irresistible. It follows Max and Allison's relationship, and the hoops they jump through to be together.

From Amazon:

Max Horton 
They call me an outcast like it's a bad thing.
An asshole byproduct of a shitty upbringing. I don't care about anything except myself and my little sister. 
I will always protect what’s mine.
With one year left on my hockey contract I'm keeping my head down and my eyes on the goal.
A collision, with her, changes my entire existence.
Allison Grant 
Never fall in love with a sports star. That's what my stepfather always said. He told me athletes are complicated and moody—that the higher their paycheck, the lower their morals.
As public relations for the New York Stingers I know exactly what he means, but I can’t seem to say no to a friendship with one beautiful, damaged man.
What started out as hate turned into something else. 
We tried to stay away, to keep our distance, but the pull was too strong.
Something forbidden turned into something so irresistible.

Oh if only I could go back and reread this series for the first time. Sigh.

Next up is the This Is series. It also spans four books, and it really is just building off of the Something So series. If I could tell you my favorite book from the quartet, I would, but it's hard to select my favorite. What I can tell you is that it is a toss up between This is Crazy and This is Forever. This is Crazy follows Zara and Evan, and their story starts with a simple tweet. Whereas This is Forever follows Justin and Caroline and their story starts at a hockey rink. They are both so good, but I think This is Crazy might just win out, especially since it allowed for the spin off of Only One. 

From Amazon:

Zara Stone 

All my life, I’ve said I will never date a hockey player. I know better because I’ve seen and lived it all. My father is a hockey god, my brother is the captain of the most successful NHL team in the world, and my brother-in-law also plays in the league. Their lives are complicated, so I went in the opposite direction. 
I fell in love with a scholar. But instead of proposing marriage, he broke up with me. 
Three months later, I saw his engagement picture on Instagram. I couldn’t let him get away with that. No, it didn’t matter what, I was going to make that man see that I did not need him. 

Evan Richards
I was in the running to pass my point record from last year, ready to claim the number one spot in the league. On top of my game, I was riding my career high wave. 
Then, Hockey’s Princess, Zara Stone tweeted me. She wanted me to crash her ex’s wedding. 
The worst that could happen? A PR nightmare. The best? A fun night with a beautiful woman. 
It started out as a game—something I’m good at. Her crazy idea twisted into something I wasn’t looking for, something neither of us wanted. 

When push comes to shove, one thing runs through my mind: 
This is Crazy. Also, this is crazy right.

The last series Natasha Madison currently has available is Only One. We are moving away from the New York Stingers, and are now getting to know the guys from the Dallas Oilers hockey club. There are currently three books that have been released, and book four is set to release on February 9, 2021. I think it's safe to say that you might already know my favorite of the series. I've talked about it a few times on my blog, and I was lucky enough to win an ARC of it back at the end of December. That is Only One Night. It is the third book in the series, and it is all about Manning.

If you're unfamiliar with the book, here is the description:

As captain of the Dallas Oilers, I was their leader on and off the ice. From the outside, it looked like I had the perfect life.
I didn’t.
I was married to a woman who refused to give me a divorce. All she wanted was the status title, and all I wanted was to be set free.
It was supposed to be just another event, except it took a turn I didn’t see coming.
Attending my best friend’s bachelorette party isn’t something I was looking forward to.
But it’s strange what a couple of glasses of wine will do.
It was one night, and I thought I would never see him again.
Especially not coming face-to-face with him and his wife while picking up my nephew from hockey practice.
All it takes is one kiss, one touch, one chance, and only one night.

The next author, who has written two fabulous hockey series, is Samantha Whiskey. Her books are simply amazing. Alpha males, steamy scenes, HEAs, and a great group of characters who truly seem like family. 

The first series is Seattle Sharks, and it consists of 9, yes I said nine, books. There are so many different tropes to be had in this series. From single dad, to accidental pregnancy, to work place, to best friends sister, and so forth. There is a little something for almost everyone.

My favorite from the series is Wheeler. Wheeler follows the love story of Lukas and Faith.  If you like the best friend's sister trope, then this one is for you. 

Description via Amazon:
I’m the Seattle Sharks’ power player.
Some call me the Wheeler.
That’s because I score on and off the ice more than any other Shark.
Well, until her. The one girl I’ve wanted for years.
And her brother just convinced me to hire her as my personal assistant.

Faith Gentry.
Sharp. Sexy. Funny as hell.
My best friend’s little sister.
Now that I’m her boss, she’s twice as off-limits.
And I’m twice as screwed.

Having Faith near me 24/7?
It’s a torture I never knew existed.
She sees me like no one else, and that mouth of hers? More than kissable.
Our banter is quick, our chemistry hotter than hell, but if we cross that line—

Her brother will kill me.
I’ll lose my best friend, rip our hockey team apart,
And I could lose my stay-in-the-states insurance.

My wheeler past could to turn everything I’ve worked for to ash.
But the more time I spend with Faith, the harder I fall.
And this might be worth taking everything I have coming to me
Samantha Whiskey's next series is the Carolina Reapers. Similarly to Natasha Madison's series, the Reapers is really a continuation of the Sharks. Only we've moved across the country. As of right now, the Carolina Reapers series consists of 6 books. The sixth, Sterling, was just released in December, so I don't think we'll see another book until maybe March. That is if there is another book in the series. That being said, my gut tells me there are a couple more books coming, but until Samantha Whiskey sends a text out (it's like a newsletter that you sign up for), I really have no clue. 

If I'm being honest, I actually am preferring the Reapers to the Sharks. I don't know what it is about the characters in these stories, but I am loving them. Now if I have to choose a favorite, well it's a toss up between Logan and Sterling. I think Logan wins though, after all he falls for a librarian. So I mean, how could I not favorite this one. 

Curious what it's about? Here's the blurb:
As the best offensive defenseman in the NHL, 
you’d think my skills would get more notice than my face.
Ridiculous, but I’ve been dubbed the “pretty boy” since rookie year.
Pair the looks with my multi-million-dollar career, and it’s a recipe to get used.
I’ve been burned before, and it’s never happening again.

Then I meet Delaney Collins—Charleston’s impossibly sexy librarian.
She’s brilliant, funny, and the chemistry between us crackles every time we touch.
But she doesn’t have a clue who I am.

Delaney treats me like a normal person, seeing straight to the heart of me.
And all it wants is her.

Only problem?
She hates celebrity athletes.
Her own dark past has ensured she’ll never take a chance on one again.
But the deeper we get, the harder it is for me to admit what I do on the ice.

All I’ve ever wanted is for someone to love me for me—not the paycheck, the fame, or the face.
But I’m not sure love will be enough to save us when the truth comes out.

Oh how I adore these fictional hockey players and their partners.

One more author to discuss for this go around! Odette Stone kept us waiting for her latest book, High Risk Rookie. On January 2nd, the wait was finally over though, and I'm convinced the fandom ran to Amazon to immediately purchase and download. Or maybe that was just me. 

So what series am I talking about? It is the Vancouver Wolves. As of today the series consists of 4 books. Are there more coming? I have no clue, but I am hopeful. Guess we'll just have to wait for Odette to make an announcement. I will say that after reading High Risk Rookie, I am wondering if we aren't headed to Brookyln for a spin off. 

If you're wondering which is my favorite, well I'm torn. I know, how many times can I say that about a series, but it's true. You see I loved High Risk Rookie, as the story between Krista and Levi had me hooked from the beginning. Then there's The Penalty Box. It's Mica, how can I not choose his love story with Charlie? So I'm going with The Penalty Box.

What has made Mica and Charlie my favorite? Here'e the teaser for their story:
He's a professional hockey player that lives on the edge.  I prefer to play life by the rules.  

I’m the personal assistant at a sports agency that no one notices.  
Unless they need coffee.
I don’t like sports and I like professional athletes even less.  
I’m indifferent to the mostly male clientele, except for one.
Mica “the savage” Petrov.  

When it comes to wild antics, Mica is the biggest offender of them all.  
He’s reckless, wild and carelessly charming. 
I’m mortified that I find him attractive. 
But it doesn’t matter because the guy hasn’t taken a second look at me.
Not once. In two years.  

Mica's career jeopardizing situation requires drastic measures to be taken to keep him in the game.    
He’s got money, I’ve got debt and my boss has a crazy idea.
Which is how I found myself stepping up to save him from himself.
But at what cost?  

How long can I keep fighting my attraction?
What ghosts from his past is he brawling with?
All I know is that I need to defend my heart before this big defenseman steals it away.  
Can we win this game? Or is it too late for either of us?

Does that help explain my love for these two? Probably not, but I can't say much about the book without spitting out some spoilers. So trust me, The Penalty Box is worth the read.

Okay fellow book lovers, I have two more authors that I want to share, but that will wait for another day as this is already a bit too long.  Tell me your favorite authors who write sports romance (more specifically hockey)! Any specific book that I should read? Is it new adult or adult? Also, have you read any of the books by these three authors? If so, what was your favorite?

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Hockey Romance Series I've Read {part one}


Now that the NHL has started their new season, I figured it would be the perfect time to talk about hockey romance series that I've enjoyed. 

If you know me at all, you know that hockey romance is a major weakness of mine. I've been just a little bit obsessed since I read my first book back in October 2019. It also should not be of any surprise that I love a good series. Combine hockey romance and a book series, and I'm all in. ALL IN! 

Discovering hockey romance, also lead me to discovering the authors who are now auto-buy authors. Yep, you read that correctly. Because of these books, I want to read all their backlist, plus any and all new releases.

These books are all technically standalones, so there is no need to start with book 1. Personally I prefer to start with book one and work my way to the conclusion of the series. But that's just me. You do you.

Let's start with where my love affair began, shall we?

Pucked by Helena Hunting is a hockey series that has 7 books available. Okay fine, 8 if you count the deleted scenes/outtakes book.  If you like steamy romantic comedies, alpha males, and hockey, then check it out! 

I have read Pucked (1), Pucked Up (2), and Forever Pucked (4). It is my mission to go back and read the other books that I have missed. It will happen, and hopefully it will happen in 2021.

Here's the blurb for Pucked via Amazon:
With a famous NHL player for a stepbrother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation of many a hockey star. So of course she isn’t interested in legendary team captain Alex Waters or his pretty, beat-up face and rock-hard six-pack abs. When Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes much more than just a hot body with the face to match. 

Suffering from a complete lapse in judgment, Violet discovers just how good Alex is with the hockey stick in his pants. Violet believes her night of orgasmic magic with Alex is just that: one night. But Alex starts to call. And text. And email and send extravagant—and quirky—gifts. Suddenly, he's too difficult to ignore, and nearly impossible not to like. 

The problem is, the media portrays Alex as a total player, and Violet doesn’t want to be part of the game. 
Helena Hunting has another hockey series called All In. This trilogy is a spin off of Pucked, and previous characters appear which I love. Especially since I wasn't ready to give up the original crew.

A Lie for A Lie is the first book, and  follows the love story between Rook and Lainey. To be honest, this was my least favorite of the trilogy, but it set us up for the book Little Lies, so that makes me appreciate it all the more. My favorite was A Favor for A Favor, which follows Bishop and Stevie. I freaking loved it. I cannot think of hawaiian pizza or comical boxers without thinking of this book! The third book is called A Secret for A Secret, and we get the story of Kingston and Queenie. I adored Queenie, especially her connection with Violet Waters.

Here is the description of my favorite, A Favor for A Favor:
When I joined Seattle’s NHL expansion team, I thought it was the start of something great. But nothing ever goes the way you expect. Take my introduction to my new neighbor. She came rolling in on the hot mess express at midnight, making a racket while she tried to get into my team captain’s apartment. Did I mention that he’s married to a woman who definitely was not her?
Imagine my surprise when I end up with an injury that has me out of the game for weeks, and she’s the one to offer to help me. I should probably add that she’s not the captain’s mistress. She’s his sexy, pastel-haired younger sister.
So we come up with an arrangement: she rehabs me so that I can get back on the ice sooner, and she can add a professional athlete that isn’t her brother to her client list. Seems simple enough. As long as I can keep my hands to myself and my hormones in check.

Another author who writes hockey romance is Aven Ellis. Aven's books are all rom-coms, and I have loved them all. I discovered her Rinkside in the Rockies series through an email from BookBub. After devouring that series, I moved onto Chicago on Ice, and then the Dallas Demons. On Thin Ice (Dallas Demons #4) was my absolute favorite. Matt and Holly are my couple, and so far no other Aven couple has topped them. 

Here is the copy for On Thin Ice:
Holly Johansson knows some things in her life are certain after college graduation: 1.) It’s a long road to becoming a full-time author. 2.) She’ll need to work to pay her bills. 3.) And Dallas Demons superstar Matt Rhinelander will never return her feelings.

Holly knows her unrequited crush on the partying hockey player is ridiculous. There’s no way Matt would be attracted to a woman who prefers watching TV or reading books when he’s known for his frequent bar hops and fast lifestyle. Obviously he would never see her as anything other than his teammate’s little sister.

Yet Holly is drawn to the other side of Matt—the man she knows has always been thoughtful and easy to talk to whenever she’s been alone with him. It is this Matt that fueled the crush Holly has on him. And she knows it will always be just that—a secret crush.

Or will it?

Because when Matt helps Holly through a crisis, her heart begins to believe that there might be feelings on his part, too. After a night of hard partying puts Matt in jeopardy with the Dallas Demons, can Holly be the one to save him? And when Matt admits he sees her as more than Nate Johansson’s sister, will it put them both on thin ice?

Let's step away from the world of professional hockey, and head back to college for the Hockey Gods series. Xavier Neal recently released her fourth book in the series, and I am hoping it wasn't the last! Peck has been mentioned in all the books, and I feel he needs a story of his own, so fingers crossed that happens. The guys are awesome on the ice, but the partners they have chosen? Well they are my kind of people. These hockey gods are not falling for the typical puck bunny, oh no, they're falling for the intelligent ones who challenge them, and I'm here for it. Of course in Defenseman No. 9 it's a bit different as Hugo falls for his best friend. So that story might just be my favorite. I love a good friends to lovers story.

Here is the premise for Can't Block My Love, which is the first book in the series:
Once upon a time, the Vlasta Vipers hockey team was so incredible — on and off the ice — they were almost mythical. 

Every other university wanted their team to be them. 

Every chick who crossed their paths wanted to bang them. 


Their clout on the ice is questionable. 

Their competition cutthroat. 

Their beds... 

Well, there will always be puck bunnies ready to keep them warm. After all, no matter how well they do or don't do, they are the university's most important athletes. 

However, when Remington Ronald Rutledge the 3rd, lands himself on the new head coach's bad side, which threatens his chances of playing for the season, he finds himself striking an unusual deal with a blast from his past he can barely remember. 

Did she always wear these glasses? 

Was her hair always this curly? 

Has she always had a smile that makes him wanna smile? 

What happens when the bad boy who makes all the rules is forced to play by someone else's? 

Can this good-looking goalie let love score, or will blocking it be the biggest mistake of his life?

Okay I want to keep talking hockey romance series, but this post is getting a bit long. So I'm going to break this up into a 3 part series. Curious which other hockey series are on my list? Be sure to come back and find out. 

Do you read sports romance? If so, give me some recommendations! Hockey is my preferred, but I'm open to others. 

Happy Reading,

Monday, January 18, 2021

What I Read This Week



Oh what a week it's been! My kids and I survived their last week of distance learning, and now they are headed back to their school. My mental health will definitely improve, and I know my children's will as well. Am I nervous about them returning to the classroom? Absolutely, because this virus is no joke. Yet I also know that for two of my kids, distance learning wasn't working. Learning disabilities + distance learning = difficulties.

Reading wise my week was respectable. I read a bit slower than usual, but that's perfectly okay. I managed to read 4 books this week, and the books I chose were fantastic. One was even a five star!

The first book I read was Always Only You by Chloe Liese. Full disclosure, I went with this book because there was a hockey player on the cover. 🤣 🤷🏼‍♀️  I also thought this was a library book. It wasn't, I purchased the e-book after seeing Always Only You recommended on Booktube. 

While I chose the book for the cover, the story hooked me. As I was reading, my gut told me that there was a good chance that Frankie was someone on the autism spectrum. A few pages later, she revealed that fact herself.  I was so proud of Frankie for how successful she is, and how she advocates for herself. Then there's Ren. He is just a sweetheart who loves with all he is.

From Goodreads:

Always Only You is an opposites-attract, forbidden love sports romance about a nerdy, late-blooming hockey star, and his tough cookie coworker who keeps both her soft side and her autism diagnosis* to herself. Complete with a meddling secretary, tantric yoga torture, and a scorching slow burn, this standalone is the second in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after. 
*This is an #OwnVoices story for its portrayal of autism by an autistic author.

Always Only You is technically book two in the Bergman Brothers series. So I goofed and read that first. Yes I know these are technically standalone books, so I don't need to read them in order, but it's what I do! I was in disbelief when I realized what I had done. Rather than moving forward to Ever After Always, I went back to read Only When It's Us.

Only When It's Us introduces us to Willa and Ryder. Ryder is the middle child in the Bergman family, and he was a promising soccer player until an illness took away his hearing. Not only did Ryder lose his hearing (and place on the soccer team), but he also refused to speak any longer. Willa has a soccer scholarship and is dealing with sports, college, and her mom's health issues. 

I absolutely LOVED this book. It earned the 5 stars I gave it. I laughed. I cried. I wanted to join the Bergman family.
From Goodreads:
Only When It’s Us is a frenemies-to-lovers, college sports romance about a women’s soccer star and her surly lumberjack lookalike classmate, complete with a matchmaking professor, juvenile pranks, and a smoking slow burn. This standalone is the first in a series of new novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.

Ever After Always is the third book in the series, and it just released on January 12th. As we learned at the end of Always Only You, Freya and Aiden are having marital problems. Ever After Always goes on to tell us everything that happened, and how hard these two work to save their relationship. The Hawaii trip was spectacular, and it solidified how much I adore this family!

I highlighted many lines from the book. One of my favorite quotes was:
"It’s a choice, a belief. I choose you, my ever after, believing our love will sustain us, always. Ever after always."

From Goodreads:
Ever After Always is a marriage-in-crisis, opposites-attract romance about a sensitive, fierce-loving woman and her resilient husband who has anxiety disorder. Complete with island vacation antics, a sibling prank gone wrong, and a steamy slow burn, this standalone is the third in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.
My last book for the week was Dark Ruler by Xavier Neal. This is a steamy dark mafia romance, and it isn't my typical read, but I'm so glad I picked it up. Chantal is a strong woman, who has no problems speaking her mind. Benicio is the boss of his companies, and is used to people doing what he says when he says it. What he says goes. It's why he's in charge! 

This quote stuck out to me:
“I understand the reason you hold the fear you hold, Beni. I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry when you walked out the door, the same way I used to worry when Uncle Lucius and Dad did, but he taught me that the more you feed fear, the more powerful it becomes. To weaken it, you must embrace the time you have and the time you’re given because fear will always find something to latch onto, a way to live again, but the time you lost can never be regained.”

Here is a little teaser for Dark Ruler:
I was raised to be a ruler of two worlds.
One with a pen.
One with a knife.
Be the king of the concrete jungle at all costs.
I should've simply taken a queen, not courted one.
I should've forced her submission, not earned it.
I should've let respect be enough, not fall in love.
Someone has made a grave mistake in coming for my company.
For my throne.
For my Mia Bella.
And for that, they will not only meet the man I was raised to become but the one I am now, for the only woman I will ever bow to.

Be prepared, this book ends in a cliffhanger! The good news is that Dark Reign is coming out yet this month. So if you start the duet in January, you won't have to wait long for the second half of the story. Also, as Benicio and Miko are Italian, the use of the language is often incorporated into the story. So you will see Beni and/or Miko translate their own lines so that Chantal understands what is being spoken. I did find myself using the translate feature on my Kindle from time to time, so it was helpful to have.

So there you have it. Those are the four books I read this week. I had 3 four stars, and 1 five star. All in all it was a great week. Now to see what next week brings.

What did you read last week? Anything you'd recommend? What's on your plan for next week?

Happy Reading,

Friday, January 15, 2021

TBR Games


If you are like me, and watch videos on bookish videos on youtube (booktube), then chances are you've watched a video or two about TBR games. 

The first "game" I had watched was Codie's Wheel of TBR. I thought it was so unique, and such a fun way to select what you might read that month. Put some prompts on the wheel, give it a spin, and see where you land. Of course it also gave me major Wheel of Fortune vibes, but that's just me.

Shortly there after, I found the Irish Reader's TBR game. He was using a claw machine to select his prompts! So creative. Fill the containers with your prompts, use the claw to grab one, and then select the book. 

Next came Book-opoly on Becca's channel. I had heard about this, but hadn't watched until yesterday. I was immediately intrigued. This is a spin on the classic board game that many of us grew up playing. Obviously instead of purchasing property, you're reading books that relate to the what you've filled your board with.

After watching Becca's Book-opoly game, Youtube was obviously recommending others for me. Fellow readers, there are some really creative people out there, and I'm loving it. Here are a few other TBR games that I stumbled upon

After watching those videos, I wondered if anyone had made a game for those who predominantly read romance. That is when I found Romance-opoly! This is a bit similar to Book-opoly, but obviously created for romance readers. It looks as though it's been offered for two years (2019, 2020), but the creators were not able to build a board for this year. I like what they had created, but it wasn't specifically what I was looking for.

So I decided to just build my own utilizing Canva. I decided that the majority of the board would be common tropes, with a few sub-genres added in. 

My plan is to start the game in February. Since I am typically a mood reader, my plan is to roll 4 times. If I roll doubles, then I will add a roll which then adds a book to my pile. So my book-opoly game will provide me with a minimum of 4 reads each month. 

Oh, and for that pesky go to jail portion of the board, in order for me to be released I have to listen to an audio book. Those who know me, know I am not a fan. At all. But I also know that one of the reading challenge prompts from Creating & Co is to read in a different format. So it's a way to fulfill that prompt should I happen to land on that space.

Here is what my board looks like:

After I printed it, I realized that I should have spread out my sports romances. 🤣 Oh well, such is life, I can always adjust and print a new version in 2022. My printout is already glued into my reading journal, so I'm not going to reprint, and waste the ink.

The spaces I figure most people might have questions about are what would typically be the "railroad" spaces. Here are my thoughts:

Train: My original thought was that the characters might meet on one of these modes of transportation. If I can't find that, then perhaps there will be a train or subway on the cover. (see the new Casey McQuiston book releasing later this year)

Plane: The couple either go on vacation, meet on an airplane, or meet while they are on separate vacations. (or again, a plane on the cover)

Ship: This is for fanfic. Yep, I'm going there. I'm going to select a few of my favorite fandom ships, and headover to AO3 to read a story.

Bus: Read a book set in (or around) London.

I cannot wait to start playing, and see what books come my way for February. I'll be sure to update what my picks are!

And I noticed I didn't put anything on the "go" spot. So IF I land there, it will be to read one of my Amazon First Reads selections that I've yet to read.

Tell me what you think! Also, if you choose a TBR each month, how do you select your books? Have you tried a TBR game like the youtubers I mentioned? I wonder if anyone has made a Plinko version?

Happy Reading,