Saturday, January 11, 2020

Date Night with a Book: Risk It All by Katie Ruggle

Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley/ Audio 

Synopsis: "Five bounty-hunting sisters
Deep in the heart of the Rockies
Fighting to save each other
...and the men who steal their hearts

Cara Pax never wanted to be a bounty hunter. She's happy to leave chasing criminals and tackling skips to her sisters. But if she wants her dreams of escaping the family business to come true, she's got one last job to finish... Only problem is, she doesn't think her bounty is guilty.

Henry Kavenski is a man with innocence to prove. When he realizes that Cara believes him, he'll do anything to keep her out of harm's way. Escaping criminals and dodging cops might not be the best time to fall in love, but Henry and Cara won't give up, not when there's a chance at a new life ahead--if they can survive the fall."

My Review: I have been a big fan of Katie Ruggle's since I discovered her a few years ago, in fact she might be my only auto-buy author. Unfortunately, since starting this new Bounty Hunter series I have struggled to get into the stories, and this one was no different. I find that the female leads do a lot more stupid things than would be expected. Cara was particularly naive and it was rather frustrating. I did like Henry but I could see the twist in his part of the story a long way off which I think took some of that tension and mystery away. I did really enjoy the banter between them, it lightened the mood of the story that had a lot of action. It was a bit unbelievable but it was still a really good story once I was able to settle in.

My Rating: Part of my issue with getting into this story is that I haven't been reading a lot of these thriller/suspense romance stories in a while, so I may have just gotten out of the habit of putting aside the issue of believe-ability.  I still really enjoy Katie Ruggle's books and will continue auto-buying every one.  I give this one a rating of Three Paws.

 I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Katie Ruggle and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Risk It All was just released December 31, 2019 and you can obtain your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or check your favorite bookstore or your local library.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Bedtime Story: My Big Bear, My Little Bear and Me by Margarita Del Mazo & Illustrated by Rocío Bonilla

Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley/ Children's Book

Synopsis: "It's good to have a bear, but this little girl has two: the big one has the strength of a giant, and the small one is as soft as cotton. Join our protagonists on her fun day out hand-in-hand with her two bears."

My Review:  This is such a cute little book and a perfect read on a snowy day. While Munchkin now feels he is too old for picture books, I still really enjoy them, and this is one that I really enjoyed. It is a simple story but is so beautiful. I loved the illustration style, the soft watercolor look really lends itself to the soothing story and wintery feel. The author did a beautiful job of showing the different comfort and love children feel from different people and objects in their lives.

My Rating: I adored this book, it is so sweet and heartwarming.  It is so perfect to read after a winter day, with a hot chocolate and cozied up together.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

 I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and approval.

You can find out more about Margarita Del Mazo and her books you can check out her Goodreads Page.

You can obtain your own copy of this book in hardcover from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or check at your local library or bookstore.

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Review of Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley

Synopsis: "One girl must make a name for herself--or die trying --in this royal fantasy where an unknown peasant becomes the ultimate ruler. But how long can she keep the crown if everyone wants her dead? Perfect for fans of Furyborn, Red Queen, and Everless.

Everyone expected the king's daughter would inherit the throne. No one expected me.

It shouldn't even be possible. I'm Nameless, a class of citizens so disrespected, we don't even get names. Heck, dozens of us have been going missing for months and no one seems to care.

But there's no denying the tattoo emblazoned on my arm. I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don't?"

My Review: I originally was drawn to this book by the cover and the synopsis sounded intriguing but could possibly have ended up like so many other YA fantasies, but I wanted to give it a try. Little did I know that this would end up drawing me in completely. The world building was great, we got a sense of the class system and the setting very quickly and were eased into the magic system and political systems throughout the book, but it was all done very smoothly. I also found an instant love for the characters, flawed and somewhat morally grey but so well rounded. While there wasn't a lot of action in the story, the pages kept turning quickly as Coin fumbled her way through this new role the best way she know how. I love that unlike so many other YA Fantasies, there isn't a love interest, it is all about survival, trust and found families.

My Rating:  While I understand the lack of a romance and the little action in this book might be a disappointment for some readers, I found it to be a really intriguing read.  There are some twists that are a little predictable but I still really enjoyed every minute of it.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley. The above is my honest review and opinion. 

Nameless Queen is Rebecca McLaughlin's debut novel but you can find out more about her and future books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Nameless Queen was just released on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 so you can now pick up your own copy in digital or print format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or check at your favorite local bookstore or library!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Audio Blitz Book Tour: By Design Series by J. Boykin Baker *Giveaway*

The By Design series written by J Boykin Baker and narrated by Hallie Ricardo, offers a sweet, southern romance sharing the ups and downs of Anne and Brad’s relationship that is guaranteed to warm your heart. Check out the audiobooks, listen to a sound bite and check out one of the recipes you'll find in the stories

By Design Audiobook Series

Synopsis: "Anne is a young, Southern professional with just the right connections and a privileged point of view. Confident in her innate value, she has complete faith in her power to control her own future. After all, even with the challenges that come with working at a high-profile interior design firm located in the heart of Atlanta, she knows exactly where she’s headed. What she doesn’t expect is Dr. Brad Young, Jr. Sparks immediately fly between the handsome young doctor and Anne when she’s assigned to troubleshoot for his surgical practice, but chemistry can only get you so far. As their relationship develops, so too does a burgeoning conflict and confusion over the uncommon roles their mothers play in their lives. Over the course of an emotional weekend and the exposure of a secret lurking in his past, Brad is forced to make a life-changing adjustment as Anne discovers the devastating betrayal of a trusted plan. By Design is an emotional romance guaranteed to warm the hearts of anyone who has ever experienced the breathtaking intensity of new love."

I have listened to this one and you can see my full review HERE.  You will need to note that this series is an extremely conservative Christian based series but it has some interesting characters and is a sweet romance if that is you prefer that over the more explicit romances.

Want to test out the audio book, here is a sample excerpt

Synopsis: "Anne and Brad’s love for one another continues to blossom in By Design II. The young Southern designer inspires a depth of new emotions in the handsome doctor as he finds her love for everyone in her path a magnetic force he cannot resist. But . . . can he overcome his frustrations with her independent ways? Anne on the other hand, finds Brad’s loving attentions and boyish Southern charm irresistible as she takes on the challenge of his somewhat spoiled nature. One has to ask . . . will their life together withstand professional demands, daily challenges and the possibility of trust issues as they see their worlds so differently? By Design II: Matters of the Heart will resonate soundly with the majority of readers who find it challenging to balance life in the turmoil of our modern culture. But take heart, it may just be possible!"

Synopsis: "The third and last novel of the By Design trilogy continues the journey of Anne and Brad as they make their way through the many complications, heartaches, and joys of life. Inevitably, they begin to think of their own mortality as the years move forward. Anne thinks of her mother a lot these days. Even though Gretchen’s life had ended way too soon, she had managed to pre­pare her daughter well-she left a legacy to be envied. Now, after so many years, that legacy has the daunting task of seeing Anne through. Will life be gentle with Anne? Or will it present a costly bill? Her mother’s promise from so long may be her only hope."
It will be releasing soon and will be available on Audible and iTunes

About the Author

J Boykin Baker grew up in the small town of Wilson, North Carolina. She knew from the age of seven, after seeing the old movie “Pillow Talk,” that the only career for her was interior design. After college, marriage, and babies, her dream of being an interior designer came true with the start of her own design firm in Atlanta, Georgia. As timing would have it, she just happened to be in the right place - at the right time - with the right look and ended up designing hospitals, corporate offices, and high-end residential projects across the nation. During her years as President of Baker Interiors, Inc. she had the privilege of working with countless women. Due to a caring nature, she was led to mentor young women through familiar struggles of a recurring nature. Eventually, she carried her love for women and children even further when she founded a non-profit, Widow’s Mite Experience, Inc, to provide emergency water relief for families in the United States and around the world. With the help of hundreds of women volunteers, this ministry is now active in 32 countries.
Website | Facebook | Instagram

By Design shares some delicious southern recipes that play a part in this charming southern story. Estelle's Tea Cakes are ones we hope you enjoy.

Estelle's Tea Cakes


Enter to win signed copies of the By Design trilogy by author J. Boykin Baker. (INT winner will receive unsigned copies from Book Depository) 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Releases

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.  It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and you can find the list of topics on her page HERE.

I haven't participated in Top Ten Tuesday in a while but I have really been missing making lists of books now that it appears Top 5 Wednesday is on a semi-permanent hiatus.  While I may not make it a weekly thing, I am excited to participate in Top Ten Tuesday!

This week's prompt is the the books we are most anticipating for the first half of 2020.  This is the perfect prompt for me right now because there are so many releases coming out just between today and the end of February that I am having a hard time narrowing down the list of books I will be picking up! So in order of release here are my most anticipated releases coming up . . .

January 7th
If this isn't on your radar, it should be! I was lucky enough to receive an eARC and it totally sucked me in! I will be picking up a finish copy of Nameless Queen!

"One girl must make a name for herself--or die trying --in this royal fantasy where an unknown peasant becomes the ultimate ruler. But how long can she keep the crown if everyone wants her dead? Perfect for fans of Furyborn, Red Queen, and Everless.

Everyone expected the king's daughter would inherit the throne. No one expected me.

It shouldn't even be possible. I'm Nameless, a class of citizens so disrespected, we don't even get names. Heck, dozens of us have been going missing for months and no one seems to care.

But there's no denying the tattoo emblazoned on my arm. I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don't?"

February 1st
I really enjoyed Linsey Miller's previous duology, she gave us some really unique characters.  Then she started teasing about this book in her newsletters and finally it is almost here!! I do have an ARC of Belle Revolte that I hope to be starting next week!

"Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome wor.

Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies."

February 4th
A Blight of Blackwings has to be #1 on my list of most anticipated books this year, I have been waiting for it since March 2018! It is the sequel to A Plague of Giants which rekindled my love for adult fantasy books and made those giant 600+ page books not so scary.  I do have an eARC of this one that I can't wait to get to but I want to re-read A Plague of Giants first.

Daryck is from a city that was devastated by the war with the Bone Giants, and now he and a band of warriors seek revenge against the giants for the loved ones they lost. But will vengeance be enough to salve their grief?

Hanima is part of a new generation with extraordinary magical talents: She can speak to fantastical animals. But when this gift becomes a threat to the powers-that-be, Hanima becomes the leader of a movement to use this magic to bring power to the people.

Koesha is the captain of an all-female crew on a perilous voyage to explore unknown waters. Though Koesha's crew is seeking a path around the globe, Koesha is also looking for her sister, lost at sea two years ago. But what lies beyond the edges of the map is far more dangerous than storms and sea monsters. . . .

In this sequel to A Plague of Giants, these characters and more will become the voices of a new generation bringing hope and revolution to a war-torn world"

February 11th
It is not often that a debut ends up on my most anticipated lists but the cover and synopsis for The Unspoken Name certainly has my attention! The early reviews seem to be extremely favorable and I can't wait to read it for myself.

"What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard's loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due."

March 3rd
I loved the Winner's Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski and have been eagerly awaiting a new book from her and it is almost here! I don't know about you but I can't wait for The Midnight Lie.

"Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves."

April 30th
While, like many others, I didn't think Holy Sister lived up to the rest of the Book of the Ancestor Trilogy, I am still anxiously awaiting The Girl and the Stars, set in the same world.

"In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.

On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone.

To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same.

Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.

Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars."

May 5th
I am beyond excited for a new Murderbot book, and this time a full length novel! I cannot wait to see where we go and in what trouble Murderbot finds itself in Network Effect.

"Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel.

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you're a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you're Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.
I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

When Murderbot's human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then."

May 5th
YES! We get another Padme book! I am so glad that we are getting more time in her mind and her world, she is such an underappreciated character! I am so ready for Queen's Peril!

"When fourteen-year-old Padmé Naberrie wins the election for Queen of Naboo, she adopts the name Amidala and leaves her family to the rule from the royal palace. To keep her safe and secure, she’ll need a group of skilled handmaidens who can be her assistants, confidantes, defenders, and decoys. Each girl is selected for her particular talents, but it will be up to Padmé to unite them as a group. When Naboo is invaded by forces of the Trade Federation, Queen Amidala and her handmaidens will face the greatest test–of themselves, and of each other."

May 5th
If you didn't already know, I am a big Katherine Applegate fan, so when I saw The One and Only Bob listed with a release date I immediately went out and pre-ordered it!

"Return to the unforgettable world of the Newbery Medal-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling novel The One and Only Ivan (soon to be a major motion picture!) in this incredible sequel, starring Ivan’s friend Bob!

Bob sets out on a dangerous journey in search of his long-lost sister with the help of his two best friends, Ivan and Ruby. As a hurricane approaches and time is running out, Bob finds courage he never knew he had and learns the true meaning of friendship and family.

Bob, Ivan, and Ruby have touched the hearts of millions of readers, and their story isn’t over yet."

June 23rd
I haven't read the Queen's Rising by Ross, but I really am looking forward to Sisters of Sword and Song.  I am a big fan of sibling bonds in books and it sounds like this will have a great one!

"After eight long years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sister, Halcyon, who has been proudly serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon appears earlier than expected, Eva knows something has gone terribly wrong. Halcyon is on the run, hunted by her commander and charged with murder.

Though Halcyon’s life is spared during her trial, the punishment is heavy. And when Eva volunteers to serve part of Halcyon’s sentence, she’s determined to find out exactly what happened. But as Eva begins her sentence, she quickly learns that there are fates much worse than death."


And because I can't seem to leave it at that (or follow the rules) here are a few honorable mentions that I am also anxiously awaiting:




Of course, this could never be a complete list.  I have purposely left off some of the most popular anticipated books because I feel like some of these other books need to be raved about a little bit more!  Clearly my list is also skewed to the fantasy genre, I never realized how much I am pulled to those books.

What are some of your most anticipated books for the first half of the year? Were any of these on your list too? Or have I just added to your list of books to purchase/borrow?

Monday, January 6, 2020

Bout of Books #27: Sign Up & Updates

Time again for my favorite readathon! I love how Bout of Books stretches throughout the whole week and allows for me to work it around my schedule.

Here is the information you need in case you want to sign up too!

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


So this post is going to be my base for the week, I will continue to come back and update it each day with my progress (as I already have a lot of posts planned for this week and don't want things too jumbled up).  I will also be updating on Instagram @EasternSunset9

Time Devoted to Reading
I would like to read between 3-4 hours each day and read about 200 pages each day.


My Goals
Read a total of 1,200 pages
Read at least 3 hours each day
Read a total of 4 books
Read/Finish 1-2 Requested Review Books

Books to Read
The Very, Very Far North - 265 pages
They Called Us Enemy - 208 pages
Risk It All - 352 pages (8:36 audio) *currently reading @ page 47
Nameless Queen - 352 pages *currently reading @ page 153
Come Tumbling Down - 208 pages
The Drum that Beats Within Us - 128 pages

Other Possible Books
Plum Crazy Vol. 2 - 180 Pages
The Bird and the Blade - 446 pages (10:12 audio)
Given - 352 pages
A Plague of Giants - 624 pages
The Little Book of Hygge - 356 pages (3:13 audio)


Number of Pages I've Read Today: 202
Total Number of Pages: 202
Time Spent Reading Today: 3.5 hours
Total Number of Books I've Read: 3 (Nameless Queen, Risk It All & The Very, Very Far North)
Books Completed: None
Thoughts: I got off to a bit of a slow start with my readathon, but I met my goal for the day.  It was extremely busy in the office and allowed for very little time to read.  I did listen to 2 hours of audio book while cleaning the house, then I picked up The Very, Very Far North and read the first chapter (it is super cute and I will probably read it to Munchkin soon) and the rest of the evening I read Nameless Queen.  I hope to finish Nameless Queen today and maybe listen to a couple more hours of Risk It All while Munchkin has basketball practice.

Number of Pages I've Read Today: 238
Total Number of Pages: 440
Time Spent Reading Today: 4 hours
Total Number of Books I've Read: 3 (currently reading Nameless Queen & The Very, Very Far North)
Books Completed: 1 (Risk It All)
Thoughts: It was still a really busy day at the office but I did squeeze in some reading time here and there. Thank goodness for audio books! I listened to Risk It All in the car on away to appointments and then I got another hour of listening in during Munchkin's basketball practice and another hour while doing chores at the end of the night.  I am hoping for a bit more reading time today and hope to get the second and possibly the third requested review read this week (I really need to get cracking on these because I was suddenly approved for nearly every book I requested on Netgalley).

Number of Pages I've Read Today: 168
Total Number of Pages: 608
Time Spent Reading Today: 2.5 hours
Total Number of Books I've Read: 5 (currently reading A Plague of Giants & The Very, Very Far North)
Books Completed: 3 (Risk It All, Nameless Queen & My Big Bear, My Little Bear and Me)
Thoughts: Due to an IT person working on my office computer for half the day and then being taken down by a migraine last night, I didn't get nearly as much reading done as I would have liked. With that said I have now finished 3 requested review books this week! I do want to finish one more but we will see how the day goes as it looks like I will not have a whole lot of access to my computer again today.

Number of Pages I've Read Today: 280
Total Number of Pages: 888
Time Spent Reading Today: 4.5 hours
Total Number of Books I've Read: 7 (currently reading A Plague of Giants & Come Tumbling Down)
Books Completed: 4 (Risk It All, Nameless Queen, My Big Bear My Little Bear and Me & The Snow Bear).
Thoughts: I had a little more reading time in the office and managed to read another requested review and start a 5th one.  I still had a bit of a lingering headache though so opted after dinner to go lay down and listen to the audio book for A Plague of Giants as opposed to straining my eyes to read.  I think it is time to go get my eyes checked again.

Number of Pages I've Read Today: 
Total Number of Pages: 
Time Spent Reading Today:
Total Number of Books I've Read: 
Books Completed:

Saturday & Sunday
Number of Pages I've Read Today: 
Total Number of Pages: 
Time Spent Reading Today:
Total Number of Books I've Read: 
Books Completed:



I don't often participate in the challenges but if I do they will be posted here.

Monday Reading List

It is Monday again, and time to update with what I read last week, what I am currently reading and what to look forward to next week.

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda
The Boring Book by Shinsuke Yoshitake (Bedtime Story)

 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

By Design

Currently Reading:
Risk It All by Katie Ruggle - Ebook/Audio - on page 47 of 352
Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin - Ebook - on page 153 of 352

Pages Read/ Time Listened
10:32 Hours Listened (10:32 listened this week)
0 Pages Read (None this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
The Drum that Beats Within Us


It is always a little weird, after tracking books all year, to see all my numbers back down to nothing at the start of the new year. I usually really like the anticipation of the new year, refreshing my TBR shelf with all fresh titles rotated up from the bottom of my shelves, but this year I find it almost a little overwhelming.  I have so many great books on my TBR shelf that I can't wait to get to that I can't seem to settle into reading time.  Granted we are only 6 days into the new year and I have plenty of time to read all of them but I want to read them NOW!  Is anyone else having this issue? It is a good thing that one of my favorite readathons kicks off today, Bout of Books has begun! It was such a busy weekend that I didn't get a chance to post my sign up yet, but I will have that up later today.

** Also coming soon, end of 2019 stats and favorites; and 2020 anticipated releases and challenges/goals **

Do you like the fresh start of the new year or do you miss the accomplishment of all the reading stats at the end of the year?