WWW Wednesday #129 | August 30, 2023

 

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.
Just share your answers to three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you'll read next?

Today is not a usual Wednesday since I am at home instead of the office. My company is closed (as are most businesses in the city) and we are all hunkered down for Hurricane Idalia. It made landfall on the west coast of Florida this morning. I am on the east coast of Florida so, while we will not get the worst of it, there will still be heavy rain, tropical storm-force winds, and the possibility of tornadoes. So far I have been able to work from home on my laptop with no issues, but we'll see how the day goes (fingers crossed we do not lose power!). If you are in Idalia's path, please stay safe!



What are you currently reading?

      

Trade Paperback/Audio: Forbidden Hearts by Corinne Michaels
Kindle eARC: Here With Me by Brooke Montgomery

Currently listening/reading: Corinne Michaels is a perennial favorite and I am loving this first
book in her latest series.  
Current progress: 50%

Currently reading: I loved the prequel novella (well, at 212 pages it was practically 
a novel) to this new series from Brooke Montgomery. This first full-length book in the 
series grabbed me from the start and I'm loving this age gap romance.
Current progress: 25%


What did you recently finish reading?

      

Catherine Cowles and Devney Perry... apparently I'm all in my small town 
romance phase. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kindle: Glimmers of You by Catherine Cowles - ★★★★.25
Audio: Tragic by Devney Perry - ★★★.5 (first half) ★★★★.25 (second half)


What do you think you'll read next?

     

I never know what I'll pick up next, but both Crux Untamed and
Tinsel are possibilities.


What are you reading today? 

The Sunday Post #347 | August 27, 2023

 

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news: a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books, 
and share what's coming up on your blog in the week ahead.

THE WEEK IN REVIEW

My city is in the national news for a terrible reason. There was a racially motivated shooting here yesterday that left three people dead (four including the shooter who took his own life). It's a horrible thing. I don't even know what to say.

In better news, I had my first pumpkin drink of the season this week. Starbucks has an iced pumpkin cream chai tea latte this year. I do not drink coffee (ever) but chai tea lattes are my go-to, so this was right up my alley. Did it matter that it was 95 degrees as I sipped the pumpkin goodness? No, no it did not. 

I also nabbed some of the frozen cotton candy grapes from Aldi and they are so delish. Perfect summertime snack. If you have an Aldi near you, run don't walk to get those frozen grapes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This week's throwback song is Lean On Me (1980) by Club Nouveau. Enjoy!


ON THE BLOG


Tuesday, August 22

Thursday, August 24


WHAT I READ

      

Kindle: Glimmers of You by Catherine Cowles - 4.25★
Audio/Kindle: Tragic by Devney Perry - 4★


CURRENTLY READING


Trade Paperback: Forbidden Hearts by Corinne Michaels


NEW ADDITIONS


Not a thing.       

TOTALLY RANDOM



HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?

Review: Grace Note by J. Bengtsson

Grace Note

by J. Bengtsson
Series: Cake #7
Publication date: 6/28/2023
Format: Trade Paperback/Kindle
Source: Purchased
5 Stars

I’m the privileged youngest child of the famous McKallister family. He’s a runaway foster kid living rough. We were never meant to meet. This is where our story begins. It’s nowhere near how it ends.

Grace
The beat. The cheers. The thrill of the unknown. I shouldn’t leave the safety of the music arena—my last name is McKallister, after all, and I’m intimately familiar with worst-case scenarios. But I’m drawn by the talent and the turmoil behind the weary eyes of the drummer on the streets. I’ve never seen anyone my age as wild and unrestrained, a lightning bolt of electricity that never hits the same spot on his bucket drums twice. He plays with such confidence, such rage. I have to know who he is and where he learned to bang out drum solos like he owns the night.

I want to help him. No, to save him. If only Rory will let me.

Rory
When I play, I’m in my element. I know how to draw a crowd and how to keep them riveted. For a small period of time every day, I’m special. Talented. Going somewhere. Little do they know I’m going back to nothing: no family, no friends, no roof over my head. When the music ends, I fade into the background like the undesirable I am. And then she shows up, so pretty and polished and pure. I don’t expect her to stay and talk. I definitely don’t expect her to sit down on the sidewalk and drum a song onto my thigh. Yet here she is—anyone’s ultimate dream girl—promising to save me.

Too bad Grace stumbled upon me a decade too late.

Content warning (highlight to view): mention of kidnapping, child sexual/emotional abuse (not on page), homelessness


Wrecked. That is how I feel after finishing Grace Note, the seventh (and final?) book in Bengtsson’s family saga/romance dramedy series. Following the large, close-knit McKallister family, the books have chronicled the high and lows of each sibling, including how each has navigated the aftermath of a traumatic incident. Grace Note finally delivers the story of Grace, the youngest of the seven siblings, along with Rory, the homeless boy who captured her heart when she was just sixteen.

 

Grace note

   (grฤs nลt)

    noun

        1. An extra note added as an embellishment or decorative flourish;

            not essential to the main melody

 

As the youngest in her family, Grace was largely shielded from the horrors of her eldest brother’s kidnapping and the media circus that followed. But she wasn’t untouched by the tragedy. More than a decade later, her brother now a world-famous rock star, and she an aspiring songwriter, Grace has an encounter with a street musician – one that changes the trajectory of both their lives.

 

“You know what I think?” he said, smiling shyly?

“No.”

“I think you’ve been sent here to destroy me.”

“Or…” I offered up a more complimentary scenario for myself. “Maybe I’ve been sent here to save you.”

A muscle in his cheek twitched, and I caught the faintest dash of despair in his eyes. “I wish. You’re about a decade too late.”

 

Rory has lived his life being bounced from one foster home to the next - until life on the streets becomes preferable to the dangers behind the closed doors of his foster homes. Rory is still dodging the predators as he survives by playing drums on an assortment of overturned paint buckets, earning enough money to keep himself fed. It’s while playing his drums outside the arena during a Jake McKallister concert one night that he meets Grace. And while their time together may be short, their connection is cemented and can’t be broken – even if it should be.

 

“Everyone leaves me, Grace. Everyone. That’s why I’m here in this place now. No one ever wanted me, and now I’m eighteen. I have no family. Until you surprised the shit out of me on the path outside, I was all alone. So trust me when I say, I’m not the wild card here. I’ll just keep holding on and holding on” – his voice cracked – “until you leave me.”

 

I loved watching Grace as she took steps to establish her own identity outside of her family. She was compassionate, a bit of a daredevil, and had a mile-wide stubborn streak. And Rory… it was Rory’s story that wrecked me. He’d spent so many years just surviving; there was no room for the luxury of dreams. Until Grace. Until another member of the McKallister clan also reached out a hand, and he dared to hope for more. But even as Rory reveled in the possibility of more, his past was closing in, ready to snatch it all away and strip away everything and everyone he’d allowed himself to care about.

 

I’d gone into this relationship with Grace with the mindset to hold on for as long as she’d allow me to, but after sampling her family, I didn’t want to just get by, like I’d been doing my whole life. I had to fight if I wanted to secure the girl, the future, and the family I’d always wanted.

 

Bengtsson crafts a story that feels so rooted in reality and emotion that it’s impossible not to be gutted by each new revelation, and each heartbreak. She has a way with dialogue that burrows into me and makes itself at home. The serious conversations, the laugh out loud banter – every word feels meaningful and perfect. Told in past and present chapters, in dual POV, Grace Note showed the entirety of Grace and Rory’s relationship – from its promising (but ultimately doomed) beginning, to its tragic end, to a reunion and the revelation of secrets long held.

 

This series has been a favorite for several years and I have gone through tragedy and triumphs with these characters. Each story has stayed with me long after I turned the final page, and Grace Note will be no different.



THE CAKE SERIES 

Titles are linked to my reviews

Book 1: Cake

Book 2: The Theory of Second Best

Book 3: Fiercely Emma

Book 4: The Newlyweds

Book 5: Rogue Wave

Book 5.5: Hunker Down with the McKallisters

Book 6: Next in Line



Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Forced Proximity Romances

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.


This Week's Top Ten Tuesday Topic:
Forced Proximity Romances
 
This week's prompt is actually a genre freebie, but I decided to go with a specific trope instead. For those who don't read romance, Forced Proximity is when the main characters are forced to spend time together - usually not of their choosing - which gives then the time and space to develop a relationship and fall in love. Forced proximity can actually overlap with several other tropes, like: office romance, marriage of convenience, nanny romance, only one bed, etc. 

Here are some of my forced proximity favorites...



Have you read any of these books?

The Firsts of 2023 Book Tag

 I saw Dini do this tag a few days ago and it looked like fun. 
And it's been ages since I've done a tag.
This book tag was originally created by Tanya @girlxoxo.

Let's get started... ๐Ÿ˜Ž


FIRST BOOK READ THIS YEAR

The first book I completed this year was Dark Room Etiquette (although, technically, I started it the last day or two of December). Having read Roe's A List of Cages, I knew it would be emotional, but it delivered even more of a gut punch than I expected.





FIRST BOOK REVIEWED

I believe the first review I wrote this year was for Drake, the fifth entry in the Pittsburgh Titans series. And coincidentally, I'm about to dive into book number eight.





FIRST BOOK BY A DEBUT AUTHOR

No reads by a debut author so far this year.


FIRST BOOK BY A NEW-TO-ME AUTHOR

The first new-to-me author I read this year was Abby Jimenez. I read Part of Your World in January.






FIRST BOOK THAT SLAYED ME

That honor goes to Heart Recaptured. It delivered all the feels and then some.






FIRST BOOK THAT I WISH I COULD GET THE TIME BACK THAT I SPENT READING IT 

It pains me to say it, but this one goes to Right Man, Right Time. It took me over two weeks to get through it and my dislike for the heroine grew as I read. After 2+ weeks, I was so ready to be done with her.





Have you read any of these books?
What was one of your firsts this year?

The Sunday Post #346 | August 13, 2023

 

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news: a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books, 
and share what's coming up on your blog in the week ahead.

THE WEEK IN REVIEW

My last Sunday Post was July 30th which feels weird, but last week I just wasn't up to it. As I mentioned in my WWW Wednesday post, I am sick again. It's taken two doctor visits within six days, and three different prescriptions (a Z-pack that didn't work, a stronger antibiotic, and a steroid), but I am hopeful this respiratory infection is finally starting to clear up. Now if I just had any strength or stamina... that would be great, thanks. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It's been hovering between 95-99 degrees every day for a week now. It's Florida and it's summer, so obviously it's hot. But this kind of sustained heat isn't really the norm. I guess we're getting a break later this week when it will drop to a balmy 90 degrees. What's it like where you live?


I came across this America's Got Talent audition and was floored by the story these women shared. Have your Kleenex ready.


This week's throwback song is If You Could Read My Mind (1980) by Viola Willis. Gordon Lightfoot did it first back in the 70's, but this is my favorite version. Enjoy!


ON THE BLOG


Wednesday, August 9



WHAT I READ

   

This covers the last two weeks.

Kindle: The Clash of Yesterday by Sawyer Bennett - 4★
Audio: The Issue with Bad Boy Roommates by Piper Rayne - 4.25★
Kindle: Over My Brother's Dead Body, Chase Andrews by Piper Rayne - 4
Kindle: Tattered by Devney Perry - 4.25★


CURRENTLY READING

      

Trade Paperback: Grace Note by J. Bengtsson
Audio: Timid by Devney Perry 


NEW ADDITIONS

      

NetGalley: The Lily of Ludgate Hill by Mimi Matthews
St Marten's Press: The Trail of Lost Hearts by Tracey Garvis Graves


TOTALLY RANDOM



HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?

Short Take Reviews: Three Piper Rayne Titles

 

by Piper Rayne
Series: Lake Starlight #1
Pub: 5/16/2023
Format: Audio
4 stars

Rylan and Calista had been in each other's lives since they were six years old: as rivals, teammates, friends, and lovers. Everyone knew they belonged together. Both professional soccer players, things changed dramatically when Calista's career ended due to an injury. She returned to her small hometown of Lake Starlight, Alaska to lick her wounds and start over. Three years later, Rylan is back in Lake Starlight for their friend's wedding and he makes it known that Calista is still his one and only. He has just three weeks to get Calista to open up, to give them a second chance, and make her believe they belong together forever. Having read Piper Rayne's Greene Family series, I already knew and loved Rylan and Calista. I was happy to return to Lake Starlight (and nearby Sunrise Bay) and so many characters who were familiar to me. While I love a second chance romance, I did find myself frustrated with Calista at times because there was truly nothing keeping she and Rylan apart - other than her own issues and insecurities. Love was not the problem, but it was a case of sometimes love not being enough. Despite wishing that Calista would have been more forthcoming with Rylan from the start, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them find their way back to one another.

by Piper Rayne
Series: Lake Starlight #2
Pub: 6/27/2023
Format: Audio
4.25 stars

Widowed at 21, after just one year of marriage, Brinley knows that it's time to move on. It's been four years, but family and friends still treat her with kid gloves. Enter Van Adler, who answers her ad for a roommate. Forced by his Coast Guard Commanding Officer to take eight weeks of leave, Van arrives in Lake Starlight, secures a bartending job, and a place to stay. Van's background was heartbreaking and while his appearance (tattooed and muscled) might have screamed bad boy, he was anything but. Kind, compassionate, and patient, Van was the stuff of book boyfriend dreams. While they initially both withheld information - Brinley let Van assume she was divorced; Van did not share that he was there temporarily - I loved how over time they did share the truth, without there being third act bombshells. I enjoyed seeing Van encourage Brinley to follow her passion without guilt over family expectations, and Brinley slowly moving past her grief and embracing life again made me want to cheer for her. Van's background had him feeling so unworthy, as if he had no value and nothing to offer, so I appreciated that Brinley took steps to fight for him and their HEA. This felt like a stronger and emotional story than the first book in the series and I thoroughly enjoyed it.



Over My Brother's Dead Body, Chase Andrews
by Piper Rayne
Series: Kingsmen Football Stars #3
Pub: 3/24/2023
Format: Kindle
4 stars

Twyla has been dumped by her cheating fiancรฉ and relocates from Connecticut to California for a break from all the pitying stares. Taking a job to house/pet-sit, she finds herself living across the hall from none other than Chase Andrews, her professional football player brother's teammate. Reticent and anti-social, Chase was the grumpiest of grumps. When Twyla convinced him to take in a stray kitten, it kicked off a friendship of sorts and the two began spending time together. Their mutual attraction led to a friends with benefits arrangement which (obviously) led to some very real feelings - although neither was brave enough to admit their hearts were now involved. What I loved about Chase was that, despite that grumpy exterior, he had the softest of hearts. His actions always belied his words and while he would grumble and complain, the big bear of a man would do absolutely anything for Twyla. He loved her sunny disposition and these two opposites definitely attracted. If you enjoy a grumpy-sunshine romance on the lighter side, You'll love Twyla and Chase.



Have you read any of these books?