Tag Archives: Limecello

Maybe Every Book Limecello Read in 2022

The subject kinda says it all but … like look – my life is a mess. I know in early January I was still recovering from surgery. (Which … 😐 stay tuned ….) I can’t recall what all I did – I’d thought it was February but also now I think it was January 2022 that I watched Schitt’s Creek in a week, and watched both seasons of Ted Lasso in something like 3 days. (I miss having Netflix access T_T) … and you do what you gotta do when your free trial of Apple TV is ending. 😜

I also don’t know the status of the HarperCollins strike – I think they’re in the process of negotiations? I also know there were a lot of suggestions/tips as to how to support the union. I truly didn’t have the bandwidth to check who published what from what I read – nor did I add “grades” this time for the same reason. Definitely I support the union though and don’t consider this reviewing or promoting – although I think the stikers said they weren’t asking for reviewers to stop? I’m not a good source for all this though – there are various places you can check.

ANYWAY. I truly don’t know how complete this list is … I also re-read a lot last year. And not just that, but I’d read the same book over and over. Especially audiobooks. As usual, the asterisk before the title means it’s a re-read. The “x#” after a book means how many times I read it in a row this time. I don’t think it’s all the books I read but it’s about as comprehensive of a list as I can get now.

January
*Crave by Evelyn Sola x2
*Indigo by Beverly Jenkins x7
*Vivid by Beverly Jenkins x4
*The Satin Sash by Red Garnier

February
Loverboy by Sarina Bowen
*Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins x3
*The Taming of Jessi Rose by Beverly Jenkins x3
*Exorcising Sean’s Ghost by Beth Kery
Studfinder by L.B. Dunbar
*Ante Up by Christina C. Jones x6
Evil Twin by Kati Wilde
*Crave by Evelyn Sola
Black Pearl the Prequel by Tiffany Patterson
At Her Command by Joey W. Hill

March
*Black Pearl by Tiffany Patterson
*Aaron’s Patience by Tiffany Patterson
Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins x3
Takeover by Evelyn Sola Mar 9
The Storm’s Whisper by T. A. White
*Pulling Doubles by Christina C. Jones x2
*Getting Schooled by Christina C. Jones x2
*Mr. Vega by Xyla Turner x3
*Tempest by Beverly Jenkins x2
*Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins x2
The One Who Got Away by Cynthia Eden
Ghost of a Chance by Cynthia Eden
Say I Do by Cynthia Eden

April
Scandal Between the Sheets by Brenda Jackson
Stranded With the Tempting Stranger by Brenda Jackson
Subordinate Position by Delaney Diamond x2
Counting on Cole by Cynthia Eden
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Mama’s Boy by Avery Flynn
What Happens on Vacation by Brenda Jackson x2
Cross My Heart by Cynthia Eden
Chase After Me by Cynthia Eden
Pretend You Want Me by Cynthia Eden
Crossing the Line by Cynthia Eden
What He Wants for Christmas by Brenda Jackson
Impromptu Seduction by Stephanie Nicole Norris
*Let Me Love You by Alexandria House
Roman Will Fall by Cynthia Eden
Intimate Seduction by Brenda Jackson x2
Her Naughty Suitor by Stephanie Nicole Norris
*I Think I Might Love You by Christina C. Jones
The Heart You Break by Cynthia Eden
Secrets of the Tycoon Bride by Emilie Rose
Tempted By You by Stephanie Nicole Norris
No Escape From War by Cynthia Eden
Don’t Play with Odin by Cynthia Eden
One Christmas Wish by Brenda Jackson
A Catalina Cove Christmas by Brenda Jackson
Anonymous Acts by Christina C. Jones
*Equivalent Exchange by Christina C. Jones x2
Perfect Fit by Brenda Jackson
Deadly Sexy by Beverly Jenkins
Sexy/Dangerous by Beverly Jenkins
*The Satin Sash by Red Garnier
*Exorcising Sean’s Ghost by Beth Kery

May
Private Arrangements by Brenda Jackson x2
Possessed by Passion by Brenda Jackson x2
Jinx You’re It by Cynthia Eden
*Deadly Sexy by Beverly Jenkins x3
One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
Love Notes by Christina C. Jones x2
Behind the Scenes by Christina C. Jones
One Night with the Wealthy Rancher by Brenda Jackson
The Edge of Dawn by Beverly Jenkins
Flagrant by Alexandria House
Technical by Alexandria House
The Edge of Midnight by Beverly Jenkins
*Topaz by Beverly Jenkins
*Night Song by Beverly Jenkins

June
Never Gonna Happen by Cynthia Eden
*Scandal Never Sleeps by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake
*Something Like Love by Beverly Jenkins x2
*The Taming of Jessi Rose by Beverly Jenkins
*Smoke and Sin by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake
*Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins
Natural Law by Joey W. Hill
*Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins
Prior Affair by Christina C. Jones x2
*Indigo by Beverly Jenkins
*Always and Forever by Beverly Jenkins
A Duke Worth Falling For by Sarah MacLean
Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean
*Scent of Darkness by Christina Dodd
We Shouldn’t by Vi Keeland

July
*Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke
*His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke
*The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Guhrke
Relationship Goals by Christina C. Jones x2
*Tempest by Beverly Jenkins
*And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke
Back in the Day by Katrina Jackson
*Let Me Love You by Alexandria House
And They Lived Happily Ever After by Therese Beharrie
One Last Chance by Therese Beharrie
Governess Gone Rogue by Laura Lee Guhrke
Bring On the Blessings by Beverly Jenkins
Ballsy by Elise Faber
Caught by Elise Faber
The Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke
*Dirty Player by Stacey Lynn
In Bed With Her Boss by Brenda Jackson
*Equivalent Exchange by Christina C Jones x2
Remember Ramsey by Cynthia Eden

August
The House on Blueberry Lane by Brenda Jackson
*The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
*Equivalent Exchange by Christina C Jones
Keep Me by Stacey Kennedy
Save Me by Stacey Kennedy
Baking Lessons by Katie Allen
*Ante Up by Christina C. Jones x2
*The Wicked Ways of a Duke by Laura Lee Guhrke
*Secret Desires of a Gentleman by Laura Lee Guhrke
*Just Friends by Delaney Diamond x2
*Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas
Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

September
*Tempt Me At Twilight by Lisa Kleypas x2
*Wild Side by Cynthia Ayman
Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
*Aaron’s Patience by Tiffany Patterson
*Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas
What a Westmoreland Wants by Brenda Jackson
*Safe Space by Tiffany Patterson
Unlocked by Courtney Milan
Taking Care of Business by Brenda Jackson x2
*Bad Night Stand by Elise Faber
The Scoundrel Falls Hard by Sophie Jordan
*Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
To Catch a Raven by Beverly Jenkins x2
Something Borrowed by Eve Dangerfield
Something Else by Eve Dangerfield
Locked Box by Eve Dangerfield
Midnight by Beverly Jenkins
Out of Control by Shannon McKenna
Ex Marks the Perfect Spot by Cynthia Eden

October
The Bodyguard Next Door by Cynthia Eden
*The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne
Bittersweet by Christina C. Jones
Billionaire’s Proposition by Leanne Banks
Cause for Scandal by Anna DePalo
Begin Again Again by Eve Dangerfield
*Scandal Never Sleeps by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake
*Winds of the Storm by Beverly Jenkins
*Something Borrowed by Eve Dangerfield
The Kracken’s Sacrifice by Katee Robert
*The Unwanted Wife by Natasha Anders
*Tempest by Beverly Jenkins
The Dragon’s Bride by Katee Robert
Not Your Shoe Size by Eve Dangerfield
*Carter’s Flame by Tiffany Patterson
*Aaron’s Patience by Tiffany Patterson x2
*The Satin Sash by Red Garnier
Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

November
*The Unwanted Wife by Natasha Anders
*Roman Will Fall by Cynthia Eden
Frozen in Ice by Cynthia Eden
*Strictly Confidential Attraction by Brenda Jackson x2
Falling For the Ice Queen by Cynthia Eden
Ice Cold Saint by Cynthia Eden
Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
Plus One by Christina C. Jones x2
Frosted, Whipped, Buttered by Christina C. Jones x2
Press Rewind by Christina C. Jones
Ten Dirty Demands by Laurelin Paige
Single and Ready to Jingle by Piper Rayne
*Spacer’s Cinderella by Adria Rose
Aaron’s Gift by Tiffany Patterson
How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke

December
Bad Kitty by Cari Quinn
Personal Protection by Tiffany Patterson
Captured by Beverly Jenkins
Ship Wrecked by Olivia Date
Takedown by Evelyn Sola
Takeoff by Evelyn Sola
Downfall by Evelyn Sola
Make Me by Evelyn Sola
*Wonder by Christina C. Jones
A Very Krampus Holiday by Katee Robert
*Spacer’s Cinderella by Adria Rose
*Exorcising Sean’s Ghost by Beth Kery
The Rancher’s Return by Brenda Jackson

It’s kinda funny/sad. You can kinda tell when I was depressed and in a slump. (When I’m really depressed there’s no reading at all. But also sometimes when I’m depressed it’s more reading. So … >.> levels?) As always, I apologize if there are any typos and such. And if you want more information/potentially any thoughts I jotted down, you can check my GR.

My apologies also for any DYAC typos.

Aidee’s List of Books Read the First Half of 2021

Aidee’s January to July 2021 Reading List

These are all the books I read from January to July, not counting any ARCs I read for August through December releases. Like I always say here, the list is not in chronological order, and it is late because there has been a lot going on in my little corner of the world, on top of the general stuff going on. I’ve marked any books with an asterisk that I’ve read more than once, and also noted audiobooks. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: The Storm’s Whisper (The Broken Lands Book 5) by T.A. White

The Storm’s Whisper (The Broken Lands Book 5) by T.A. White
Adult high fantasy romance released by T. A. White on January 22, 2022

The Storm's Whisper by T. A. White book coverThe path to peace is never easy.

As the first Caller in living memory, Eva struggles to find her footing as the bridge between her chosen people and the mythological race known as the Kyren.

When unexpected arrivals threaten to test the newly formed alliance, Eva and her protector, Caden, fight to hold together the fast-fraying bonds before peace unravels and war once again returns. Should she fail, bloodshed the likes the Broken Lands haven’t seen since the cataclysm will stain the ground red.

The mysterious abilities that lie at the heart of Eva’s power will be her salvation or lead to her becoming an evil far worse than anything seen before. Will this land fall or be reborn into a new age?

I’ve really enjoyed the Broken Lands books and was very eager to read more about Eva and Caden. The first three books are about Shea and Fallon, books four and five feature Eva and Caden. To be honest, I’d been slightly reluctant to recommend the series because although the books and stories are very enjoyable, the first three have editing issues, and I know there are people who find it quite off putting. I don’t know if the author has found a new editor, or made other changes, but I didn’t notice that while reading The Storm’s Whisper. I also want to re-read all the books now. It’s been a while since I’ve read the whole series, and I think it’d be really enjoyable to read through as book five has a rather final ending, although there are tendrils to follow. (And I REALLY HOPE THEY ARE FOLLOWED! I’d love to see more in this world.) Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Evil Twin by Kati Wilde

Evil Twin by Kati Wilde
Released by Kati Wilde on July 31, 2021

Bane should have been king…

But he was born four minutes too late. Though it was Bane who’d led armies to victory against the scourge of the undying, now he must watch as his undeserving twin claims yet another throne through marriage to a princess of a neighboring kingdom. A kingdom that Bane had saved.

That throne should be his. So he’ll take it.

All Bane must do is deceive his twin’s innocent bride. He’ll trick her into his bed, and once he’s planted his seed, the bride—and her kingdom—will be his. With such a prize in hand, he won’t care if she ever forgives him for his deception. It hardly matters if she does, because his evil plan doesn’t include falling in love.

But his bride has a few plans of her own…

If you know anything about my reading tastes you know I love me some adult high fantasy romances. The February theme for the TBR Challenge was “fairy tale” and … close enough. While this is an entirely (as far as I know) new story not based on anything, it does take a number of fairy tale tropes – the [evil] twin, magicked land, who is deserving etc, etc. And a lot of the usual tropes are turned on their heads, as one might expect from Kati Wilde. If you’re interested in reading a sexy good time romp, you should pick up a copy. Continue reading

~All the Books Limecello Read in 2020

… Yeah that’s not a typo. I’m seriously behind. (I mean … the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 was just … not great. And then things got a little better, but … not that much… and this is just big picture stuff. For myself … my life is one constant migraine and I’ve said this ~summary before – “Why Am I Bleeding and Where Is This Blood Coming From?: The Limecello Story.” So anyway, I had wanted to do all these things in June but part of me also gave myself permission to just … “celebrate by not.” I did want to at least do this though – so … here we go. My list of every(?) book I finished reading in 2020. The symbols are pretty self explanatory I think. As always, the asterisk means I’m certain it was a re-read. the “x#” is how many times I re-read it that time. I am big on comfort re-reading. And the past months have IMO called for a lot of it, so yes in fact there were some book(s) I read or listened to literally five times in a row. Of course the note “♪” means it was an audiobook. Bad devices etc and being held hostage by them really led me to audiobooks since it was the only thing that could run in the background – and also some temporary loss of vision. (Scary!!)

It’s likely not exact exact – near the end of 2020 I got especially bad at logging books or ~reviewing them and rating them, so that’s why a bunch of books aren’t “graded.” As usual if you want to know more of my thoughts on the books I try to put them in GR. (Which is where I get my list from, so it’s tricky. It’s also not great at slotting in re-reads chronologically…) I do also want to say I’m a definite mood reader – so how I’m feeling can to a degree affect what I think of a book. And you can really see when things were getting rough cuz I went back to books I’d just read and listened to them over and over (and over) again.

I pointed out books I noticed are on sale – N.B. this is at the time of my grabbing the link so make sure you double check. Also those are mostly for kindle formats I believe. In case you didn’t know, Amazon changes prices on a whim – or publishers, or authors, so sometimes sales are just for 24 hours. Sometimes they’re there for a few days. YMMV. Usual disclaimers apply – the links are to Amazon because we’re an associate so if you’d be willing to kick us a few pennies, please click and buy! Thanks! Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan

The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan
Historical romance released by Courtney Milan on September 22, 2020

The Duke Who Didn't by Courtney Milan book coverMiss Chloe Fong has plans for her life, lists for her days, and absolutely no time for nonsense. Three years ago, she told her childhood sweetheart that he could talk to her once he planned to be serious. He disappeared that very night.

Except now he’s back. Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing, has returned to the tiny village he once visited with the hope of wooing Chloe. In his defense, it took him years of attempting to be serious to realize that the endeavor was incompatible with his personality.

All he has to do is convince Chloe to make room for a mischievous trickster in her life, then disclose that in all the years they’ve known each other, he’s failed to mention his real name, his title… and the minor fact that he owns her entire village.

Only one thing can go wrong: Everything.

There’s a lot I want to say about this book, and I probably won’t cover it all, but I want to first say I liked it. I think you will too.​ ​So this is how I (it) started with The Duke Who Didn’t: this book is ridiculous in the best possible way. Lighthearted and fun. A delightful confection of a book. (I was about 30% in?​ when I wrote that.​) And then just before 50% there was a literal jaw dropping moment and I had to put the book down. Just to take a few moments. Honestly I should probably sit and think about this story more, but then I’ll get too in my head and afraid I’ll mess up what I ought to or need to say … (which would actually be very fitting with these characters) – so I’ll just go with what’s off the top of my head now and let it go.​ (Although I wrote that bit two days ago.) There were definitely laugh out loud moments, and a lot to enjoy. I don’t want to get it wrong, but it’s my review so there “is no wrong.” Let’s go. ​

Continue reading

Black Lives Matter

I realized a little over a week ago I’d been posting and sharing on various social media platforms – but not here. I then asked the review crew if they had anything to say, and this is what we have.

From Sailorstkwrning, this comic which is a great resource on why saying “All Lives Matter” is just wrong, and illustrates the “house on fire” aspect. I really hope you’ll click over to check it out.

From Aidee: Black lives matter wherever you find yourself reading this. In a genre that is unfriendly to Black authors, I think it is especially important to make an increased sustained effort to read and review Black authors. For me, this has to go beyond this time, or Black History Month, because short-term help doesn’t really help. I particularly want to highlight Black stories of love and joy because, as Tochi Onyebuchi said in a piece earlier this month,” to depict Blackness as existing wholly at the same dolorous register is not only incorrect, it’s boring.” So, highlighting Black voices in romance is one small way I can help. There are many, many other ways to help, now and in the long run, and I strongly encourage you (and myself) to look for those opportunities. Remember, helping is not about you, but about the person(s) you are trying to help.

If more trickle in I’ll add them, but I wanted this posted. So anyway, my thoughts:

Black Lives Matter. Full stop. Nothing else. No ands or buts.  While I was trying to write this post in my drafts google kept giving me the “something’s wrong” message – and obviously it wasn’t related but … it felt too on the nose.

We’ve all seen the protests. Too many times. This time for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and more deaths -mostly at the hands of police – that are emerging. Manuel Ellis. David McAtee. More. The pain, the anger, the work. (I’m not here for detractors.) Everyone knows there’s a deadly pandemic – imagine how much it takes to be out there protesting, in the midst of that, as the most vulnerable population. And don’t come at me or for the protests, haircut Karen. Racism is a public health crisis. In fact various jurisdictions and institutions have come out and declared it as thus. I’ve been vocal on other social media, but then it stuck me – I’d been silent on the blog. The thing that costs me the most, and where things stay. We’re at the point where silence is complicity. In fact, I saw this when posted on NPR: A Decade of Watching Black People Die it doesn’t even list everyone – and it’s so much. I really hope you’ll read it.

I’ve been saying this publicly since at least 2016 (I searched twitter for my handle and “diversify your friend group.”) So. Diversify your friend group. Your actual friends, not just your acquaintances.  Don’t gaslight Black or other people of color about microaggressions or “everyday racism” they experience. A big thing on the internet a while back was sympathy vs empathy. If you’re not Black, you can’t understand how it is. I’m not Black – I’m not a parent. I can never fully understand what it is to live as a Black person in America, and especially not what it’s like to live in constant fear for my child – especially parents of young Black men. 

And understand – that’s a huge issue. Black men are 2.5x more likely to be killed by police than white men. (I believe Black men are incarcerated at 6x the rate white men are.) This happens in jurisdictions where the Black population is much smaller than the white population.

It’s not enough to be “not racist.” We all need to be anti-racist. Voting is the very minimum. Make sure you vote in every election. Not just the big ticket ones. Vote in the primaries. Find out what you can about the candidates – which ones will work to demilitarize police? Which ones will work to actually protect and serve the community when it comes to sheriffs, and anyone else in law enforcement you can elect – prosecutors and such. Is the coroner an elected position where you live? The school board – will they work to end the school to prison pipeline? (The last time I looked at the numbers, a child who is put into juvenile detention has a seventy percent adult recidivism rate.)

Volunteer to be a Guardian Ad Litem. Look into your areas CPS – are mostly white kids being put into foster homes while BlPOC are being sent to institutions or locked facilities? Kids have pretty much been my life work so that’s not just where my focus lies but where my expertise is. Ask the questions. Bring your friends to city council meetings and make them uncomfortable. Hell – run for city council. (Or other office!) Write and/or call your representatives and senators. If they’re shitty – work to get them out of office. 

Confront your racist friends and family when they say “all lives matter” or god forbid “blue lives matter.” (NO LIVES ARE BLUE, OKAY.) You don’t have to be aggressive about it of course, but don’t let it slide. It’s not easy. It’s uncomfortable, awkward, and sometimes awful. Sometimes these are people you dearly love. Sometimes they’re your parents. 

And if you’re not Black, you don’t get to just check out. This systemic racism is on us. Take this heartache, sadness, exhaustion, all that. Imagine living it every day of your life. Through nothing you control. It’s the color of your skin. I’ve been seeing a lot of people sharing clips of Jane Elliott’s interviews and experiments. She’s been doing this since 1968
Also, Consider why you think blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale skin to be the most beautiful. Why you want to color and lighten your hair, or even skin. If you’re not white – especially – why you want to bleach your hair, put in color contacts to look “more white.” Is it sometimes just purely cosmetic? Sure. But it often also is that white supremacy has brainwashed your standard of beauty. (A few years ago – and it’s come back how many items are “default white.” Bandaids. Tights. “Nude” shoes.) 

I know I’m all over the place but it’s because racism has affected all aspects. I’m not an expert. I’m just trying to learn. I’ve been working with underprivileged at risk kids my entire adult life. Honestly more than 90% of the time (probably even higher) they’ve been not-white. And I’ve learned from kids too – changed my assumptions, learned about entirely different life experiences.

Listen, learn, use your privilege when and where you can. Support Black businesses and creators. It’s time to tear down this racist system. Don’t say “oh I don’t want to get political.” How is it POLITICAL to say “police shouldn’t randomly be murdering people – ESPECIALLY NOT BLACK PEOPLE.” HOW?! And this is why silence is not ok. Not just silence though – slacktivism. If you have kids, talk to them. Teach them about racism and privilege. Especially if you’re white. 

For myself … my work involves social justice. All my non-romance reading, other than laws, is about social justice and the disproportionate affects our ~judicial system has on Black and Brown individuals. I’m known to raise holy hell when kids are treated unfairly and especially  when it’s wite/Black kids being treated differently. For myself, I need to step up my leisure reading of Black romances authors too. I have a few go-to’s and a lot in my TBR, but I need to be more deliberate about it.
I’ve also let the Smithsonian Heritage Month posts slide – but I’m really hoping to bring them back next year. And not haphazardly. All authors and individuals are welcome to guest at ALBTALBS at any time – but I can understand why some people wouldn’t want to participate in SHMs and feel it’s lip service when it’s just X times instead of all times. 

It’s a lot. We’re horrified. We’re heartbroken. And we’ve got work to do. I know I’ll mess up. I’m going to keep trying though, and doing the work, and learning.  Join me.

[And some additions… there’s a lot – a lot more – this could go on for 10x the length… so I encourage you to scope out twitter and such for other resources and voices. Experts. Black writers and activists willing to educate.]

And a few things I wanted to add. This is one reason why Drew Brees is being criticized and why he deserves to be criticized. (Since writing my post he’s said a bit more … but …) I really hope you’ll also watch Malcolm Jenkins’ response – he’s one of Drew’s teammates

This is a good resource for your Christian friends.

ETA!: GAH! I KNEW I’D FORGET THINGS! As I said there’s so much. I meant to add this in the original.

And this. (I’m joking but I’m also not when I say … white people like to listen to [only] white people…)

And then I saw this the day after posting. PLEASE if you watch nothing else… watch this one.

And now this from Sadie:

Black lives in this country are treated as though they matter less than white lives. It has been this way ever since white European colonizers invaded Africa and decided the indigenous peoples were, well, less. This shouldn’t be news to any of us who are white. Our ancestors decided Black people were less and therefore could be owned. Our ancestors used eugenics to “scientifically” confirm that white policies and practices built upon racism made white lives superior to Black lives.

When slavery in the United States was abolished, white supremacy wasn’t about to allow Black people to become equal. Every step of the way, policies and practices and beliefs founded within white supremacy were intentionally employed as a means to subjugate Black lives and remind them over and over that this is a white world and they should feel blessed that they even have any place within it.

Any time Black lives build success, wealth and prosperity white lives continue to violently burn it down. Look up the Black Wall Street massacre in Tulsa, OK, and the burning of Rosewood, FL. Look at how we continue to try to abolish Black lives. The lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Manuel Ellis, David McAtee, and far too many Black lives are mercilessly snuffed out because the systemic racism built from white supremacy leaves no room for them.

The country feels like it’s burning. And may be it should. Maybe it needs to burn so we can to dismantle the systemic racism and white supremacy this country was founded upon. Maybe out of the ashes we will be able to work toward restorative justice. Maybe we should defund the police and narrow the scope of their responsibilities while we build community safety nets and infrastructures necessary to ensure everyone has healthcare, mental health care resources, housing, food, and the security of knowing none of these things can be taken away. Maybe we need to take a hard look at our own belief systems and do the hard work of confronting our inner racists so we can heal and listen and cede space for those who have not been given the time or opportunities to heal from centuries of generational trauma.

Maybe we should dismantle white supremacy and systemic racism because it’s wrong. Black lives matter. They always have.

Continue reading

Release Day Review: Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen

Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen
Contemporary romance released by Tuxbury Publishing LLC on May 12, 2020.

Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen book coverOn the eve of her thirtieth birthday, sports agent Bess Beringer is ready to make some changes. Armed with a five-year plan—indexed and color coded—she’ll tackle her personal life with the same zeal that she brings to her successful agency.

A big, tall, ripped hunk of hockey player who’s just been traded to the Brooklyn Bruisers is not a part of that plan. Mark “Tank” Tankiewicz has a lot of baggage. He’s a ride-or-die loner with a bad reputation. He’s on the rebound. He’s also the sexiest thing on two legs, and for some crazy reason it’s Bess that he wants.

She knows better. But then she falls stupid in love with him anyway. And for a while it seems like maybe he’ll do the same.

Until she asks him for the one thing he can never give her…

You guys! This book is darling! I’m so glad I got my hands on an ARC of Sure Shot as it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Times as we all know, are … crazy. Unfortunate. Stressful. It’s a fucking goddamn pandemic. So along those lines it was a bit of a mind trip reading a contemporary romance where life is normal. Obviously I understand this was written well before global lockdown happened. (Before there even was an outbreak anywhere in the world …) But you know. I was pretty engaged with the book – but it took a bit. I think it was mostly me/the everything, and not the book – but up until about chapter 17 I kept putting the book down every chapter or so. Nevertheless once things started rolling I couldn’t put it down, I laughed out loud in places, teared up, and basically wanted to hug the book upon finishing it.

Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Release Day Review: Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas

Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels Book 6) by Lisa Kleypas
Historical romance released by Avon on February 18, 2020

Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas book coverEverything has a price . . .

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her . . .

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants—or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:

Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun. . . .

This book filled my heart. It overflows with joy. I cannot contain the emotions – all positive – exploding inside me. Chasing Cassandra is a wonderful conclusion to this series. I might even like it more than Pandora‘s book, and that’s saying something. So I’ve read Lisa Kleypas since I first started reading romances in the early 00s and she’s one of my favorite authors from historical to contemporary romances. I was a bit apprehensive before reading the book, worried my expectations might be too high, as I knew it’s the last of the series, I’ve loved Tom Severin in his cameos, and I wanted so much for Cassandra to have the best happily ever after. Continue reading

Release Day Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

A Heart of Blood and Ashes (A Gathering of Dragons Book 1) by Milla Vane
Dark adult high fantasy romance released by Berkley on February 4, 2020

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane book coverA generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil—until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones—because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…

I am extremely all over the place about this review. First of all, let me say that I enjoyed reading A Heart of Blood and Ashes very much. I could not put the book down. I read until 5 AM and was like “ok I need to get some sleep…” And anyway I finished reading it in less than a day. Upon finishing it I immediately went to check when the next book was out – and was like “!!!” If you like high fantasy romances, I think you’ll very much enjoy this book. I do want to say though – I think people have labeled it “dark” and … it definitely fits that, for the heroine. It is a cruel harsh world, and the “civilized” societies don’t mean people act better. At all. (Although for this book the setting is mostly traveling across plains – there’s a lot of action.) I’m happy to answer any questions you might have, and I think a good starting place would be the content warnings on Milla Vane’s page.
 
As stated, this is a dark adult high fantasy romance which means there are situations and circumstances that will disturb some readers. The world itself, the mythology contains violence – it isn’t described but it’s matter of fact there. The hero and most of the other main characters are barbarians. Here it just means their social [niceties] differ from ours. The heroine has suffered deeply as well. It’s a very harsh, matter of fact world that is trying to recover being decimated by “the destroyer” – with the threat of his return. I think part of it was separating my social expectations and adjusting to how that world operates. There are still universal things that are not okay, of course – but what Maddek and Yvenne find acceptable and normal differ from what we generally would.

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