2018 Monthly Status Update: October

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If I thought September was bad for reading, October was even worse! And I was even on vacation the first week of October, but I was busy out in the world having a great time with my family! Plus I ended up having to work a bunch while on said vacation and at every other moment in life, so that left even less time for reading. Hoping things will calm down a little over the next couple months and I can get back into it but we’ll see! So anyways, here are some highlights from October for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 4
# pages read this month: 1,285
# books read year-to-date: 82
# pages read year-to-date: 28,485

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

I liked the books I read this month but I’m not sure that any of them were favorites – I’m going to skip this just for this month.

Other Posts this month:

First Earl I See Tonight BLOG TOUR!!

Next Month TBR List:

Yikes, I still need to catch up from October! I was supposed to read nine books for October, plus I added more to that list during the month, and I only ended up reading two or three off the October list I think. I’m behind! Not surprising though. I’ll try to keep up with my November schedule but I’m just trying to stay sane over here!

-My One and Only Duke by Grace Burrowes
-A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley
-The Good, the Bad and the Duke by Janna MacGregor

Hopefully I can fit these in!

Hope everyone has a Happy Halloween!

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2018 Monthly Status Update: September

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September sucked for reading. I was working or drinking, which didn’t leave much time for reading. That is all. Anyways, here are some highlights from September for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 6
# pages read this month: 2,039
# books read year-to-date: 82
# pages read year-to-date: 27,200

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

 

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren – 4.75 stars
Intercepted by Alexa Martin – 4.5 stars

Other Posts this month:

Nothing else this month! Too busy with work and other festivities!

Next Month TBR List:

Next month is going to be pretty busy for me. This next week I’m on vacation but we have alot of fun activities planned so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done. And then after we’re back I have a TON of work to do so  not sure I’ll get much reading done either. And I’ve been having trouble the last couple weeks – my stifling schedule is rubbing me the wrong way a bit and I’ve been wanting to read whatever I want to read. So who knows what I’ll actually read next month. But here are the books that I should be getting read in October:

-The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
-Under My Skin by Lisa Unger
-The Lies We Told by Camilla Way
-Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
-You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart
-Duchess by Design by Maya Rodale
-First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett
-As Good As the First Time by K.M.Jackson
-The Highlander Who Protected Me by Vanessa Kelly

My mom and I love October and are super excited for Halloween. Happy reading everyone! Hope you enjoy the spookiest month of the year!

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2018 Monthly Status Update: August

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Ahhh August was crazy!! SO much going on, between reading challenges, the Fair, vacations, weddings, work, family and friends – I’m amazed I was able to find so much time for reading! I’m hoping to continue this trend for the rest of the year, though Fall is historically one of my busiest work seasons.. Anyways, here are some highlights from August for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 12
# pages read this month: 4,042
# books read year-to-date: 76
# pages read year-to-date: 25,161

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

 

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins – 5.0 stars
Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone – 5.0 stars

 

Other Posts this month:

ARC August 2018 – participated in this reading challenge, check out all my posts here!
Bout of Books 23 – participated in this one too! Check out all my posts here!
The Duke of Seduction RELEASE BLITZ!!
The Duke of Seduction RELEASE BLITZ!!
The Duke of Seduction BLOG TOUR!!
The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo BLOG TOUR!!

Next Month TBR List:

Next month I’m excited to actually have some time set aside for books I want to read! Around my birthday, I’ll be spending the middle two weeks reading whatever I want to – I’m not setting a schedule for that since that will be a whatever I want at the moment thing but I can Guarantee you it will include the new Sandra Brown book and at least one Kristan Higgins! But for my ARC’s for September, here is the list of September releases I need to read and review:

-Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
-One More Moment by Samantha Chase
-Lies by T.M. Logan
-The Exes Revenge by Jo Jakeman
-Intercepted by Alexa Martin
-A Rose in the Highlands by Heather McCollum

ARC August 2018 – Final Update and Wrap Up!

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This ARC August was super successful! I really pushed myself and tried to read as much as possible. It was hard to balance between this, social stuff, a wedding we traveled for, and the Fair, but I still managed to read a lot of great books. Plus I also participated in the Bout of Books 23 challenge during one of the August weeks, which was another great way for me to incentivize myself to read more, not that I really need an excuse. Anyways so here’s where I ended up on the ARC Reading challenge! I made good use of my time in and really put in some extra hours but didn’t get through as many as I had hoped:

MY PROGRESS

August 2018 ARC’s

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins – Read and reviewed (Week 1)
Our House by Louise Candlish – Read and reviewed (Week 2)
Smothered by Autumn Chiklis – Read and reviewed (Week 1)
The Duke of Seduction by Darcy Burke – Read and reviewed (Week 4)
Maybe For You by Nicole McLaughlin – Read and reviewed (Week 3)
Cowboy, Cross My Heart by Donna Grant – Read and reviewed (Week 3)
The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo – Read and reviewed (Week 5)
Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia – Read and reviewed (Week 5)

Additions

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone – Read and reviewed (Week 3)
BuzzBooks 2018 Romance Sampler – Read and reviewed (Week 2)
-Hot Pursuit by Rebecca Freeborn

Backlog ARC’s

I’m actually using a reading challenge to help me whittle away at the 2016 and 2017 backlog list, so for this challenge I’d like to get to the following:

-A book told through letters
-A book with a five-word title – Read and reviewed At the Heart of It by Tawna Fenske (Week 2)
-A book whose cover features nature
-A book whose title begins with K, Q, J, X, or Z – Read and reviewed The Killing Game by Nancy Bush (Week 4)
-A book you bought (requested) for the cover
-A book written by an author who wrote one of your favorite 2017 books
-A book with a one-word title

Books Read August 27th – 31st

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia – 3.75 stars
The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne – 4.0 stars

ARC August 2018 Reading Bingo!!

I was super excited to have the Bingo be a part of the fun this year, I really enjoy any time that I get to do a reading bingo. Here is my bingo sheet and how I did with this bingo challenge!

ARC Bingo

So that’s a wrap for this year! I had a great time participating in this challenge again and I hope to participate again next year! Happy reading everyone!

The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo BLOG TOUR!!

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The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne was released this past Tuesday, August 28th, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site. See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt! This was a really good read and I would recommend checking it out!

SUMMARY

The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE

Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kerrigan ByrneKerrigan Byrne
Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

BUY IT HERE!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
Powells

EXCERPT

51yWK2P7l7LCHAPTER ONE

If Lorelai Weatherstoke hadn’t been appreciating the storm out the carriage window, she’d have missed the naked corpse beneath the ancient ash tree.

“Father, look!” She seized Lord Southbourne’s thin wrist, but a barrage of visual stimuli overwhelmed her, paralyzing her tongue.

In all her fourteen years, she’d never seen a naked man, let alone a deceased one.

He lay facedown, strong arms reached over his head as though he’d been trying to swim through the shallow grass lining the road. Ghastly dark bruises covered what little flesh was visible beneath the blood. He was all mounds and cords, his long body different from hers in every way a person could be.

Her heart squeezed, and she fought to find her voice as the carriage trundled past. The poor man must be cold, she worried, then castigated herself for such an absurd thought.

The dead became one with the cold. She’d learned that by kissing her mother’s forehead before they closed her casket forever.

“What is it, duck?” Her father may have been an earl, but the Weatherstokes were gentry of reduced circumstances, and didn’t spend enough time in London to escape the Essex accent.

Lorelai had not missed the dialect while at school in Mayfair, and it had been the first thing she’d rid herself of in favor of a more proper London inflection. In this case, however, it was Lord Southbourne’s words, more than his accent, that caused her to flinch.

As cruel as the girls could be at Braithwaite’s Boarding School, none of their taunts had made her feel quite so hollow as the one her own family bestowed upon her.

Duck.

“I-it’s a man,” she stammered. “A corp—” Oh no, had he just moved, or had she imagined it? Squinting through the downpour, she pressed her face to the window in time to see battered knuckles clenching the grass, and straining arms pulling the heavy body forward.

“Stop,” she wheezed, overtaken by tremors. “Stop the carriage!”

“What’s bunched your garters, then?” Sneering across from her, Mortimer, her elder brother, brushed aside the drapes at his window. “Blimey! There’s a bleedin’ corpse by the road.” Three powerful strikes on the roof of the coach prompted the driver to stop.

“He’s alive!” Lorelai exclaimed, pawing at the door handle. “I swear he moved. We have to help him.”

“I thought that fancy, expensive school was supposed to make you less of an idiot, Duck.” Mortimer’s heavy brows barely separated on a good day and met to create one thick line when he adopted the expression of disdainful scorn he reserved solely for her. “What’s a cripple like you going to do in the mud?”

“We should probably drive through to Brentwood,” Lord Southbourne suggested diplomatically. “We can send back an ambulance to fetch him.”

“He’ll need an undertaker by then,” Lorelai pleaded. “We must save him, mustn’t we?”

“I’ve never seen so much blood.” It was morbid fascination rather than pity darkening her brother’s eyes. “I’m going out there.”

“I’m coming with you.”

A cruel hand smacked Lorelai out of the way, and shoved her back against the faded brocade velvet of her seat. “You’ll stay with Father. I’ll take the driver.”

As usual, Lord Robert Weatherstoke said and did nothing to contradict his only son as Mortimer leaped from the coach and slammed the door behind him.

Lorelai barely blamed her passive father anymore. Mortimer was so much larger than him these days, and ever so much crueler.

She had to adjust her throbbing leg to see the men making their way through the gray of the early-evening deluge. Just enough remained of daylight to delineate color variations.

The unfortunate man was a large smudge of gore against the verdant spring ground cover. Upon Mortimer and the driver’s approach, he curled in upon himself not unlike a salted snail. Only he had no shell to protect his beaten body.

Lorelai swallowed profusely in a vain attempt to keep her heart from escaping through her throat as the man was hoisted aloft, each arm yoked like an ox’s burden behind a proffered neck. Even though Mortimer was the tallest man she knew, the stranger’s feet dragged in the mud. His head lolled below his shoulders, so she couldn’t get a good look at his face to ascertain his level of consciousness.

Other parts of him, though, she couldn’t seem to drag her eyes away from.

She did her best not to look between his legs, and mostly succeeded. At a time like this, modesty hardly mattered, but she figured the poor soul deserved whatever dignity she could allow him.

That is to say, she only peeked twice before wrenching her eyes upward.

The muscles winging from his back beneath where his arms spread were ugly shades of darkness painted by trauma. The ripples of his ribs were purple on his left side, and red on the other. Blunt bruises interrupted the symmetrical ridges of his stomach, as though he’d been kicked or struck repeatedly. As they dragged him closer, what she’d feared had been blood became something infinitely worse.

It was as though his flesh had been chewed away, but by something with no teeth. The plentiful meat of his shoulder and chest, his torso, hips, and down his thigh were grotesquely visible.

Burns, maybe?

“Good God, how is he still alive?” The awe in her father’s voice reminded her of his presence as they scurried to open the carriage door and help drag the man inside. It took the four of them to manage it.

“He won’t be unless we hurry.” The driver tucked the man’s long, long legs inside, resting his knees against the seat. “I fear he won’t last the few miles to Brentwood.”

Ripping her cloak off, Lorelai spread it over the shuddering body on the floor. “We must do what we can,” she insisted. “Is there a doctor in Brentwood?”

“Aye, and a good one.”

“Please take us there without delay.”

“O’course, miss.” He secured the door and leaped into his seat, whipping the team of fresh horses into a gallop.

As they lurched forward, the most pitiful sound she’d ever heard burst from the injured man’s lips, which flaked with white. His big arm flailed from beneath the cloak to protect his face, in a gesture that tore Lorelai’s heart out of her chest.

The burn scored the sinew of his neck and up his jaw to his cheekbone.

Pangs of sympathy slashed at her own skin, and drew her muscles taut with strain. Lorelai blinked a sheen of tears away, and cleared emotion out of her tight throat with a husky sound she’d made to soothe many a wounded animal on the Black Water Estuary.

His breaths became shallower, his skin paler beneath the bruises.

He was dying.

Without thinking, she slid a hand out of her glove, and gently pressed her palm to his, allowing her fingers to wrap around his hand one by one.

“Don’t go,” she urged. “Stay here. With me.”

His rough, filthy hand gripped her with such strength, the pain of it stole her breath. His face turned toward her, though his eyes remained closed.

Still, it heartened her, this evidence of awareness. Perhaps, on some level, she could comfort him.

“You’re going to be all right,” she crooned.

“Don’t lie to the poor bastard.” Mortimer’s lip curled in disgust. “He’s no goose with a defective wing, or a three-legged cat, like the strays you’re always harboring. Like as not he’s too broken to be put back together with a bandage, a meal, and one of your warbling songs. He’s going to die, Lorelai.”

“You don’t know that,” she said more sharply than she’d intended, and received a sharp slap for her lapse in wariness.

“And you don’t know what I’ll do to you if you speak to me in that tone again.”

Most girls would look to their fathers for protection, but Lorelai had learned long ago that protection was something upon which she could never rely.

Her cheek stinging, Lorelai lowered her eyes. Mortimer would take it as a sign of submission, but she only did it to hide her anger. She’d learned by now to take care around him in times of high stress, or excitement. It had been her folly to forget … because she knew exactly what he was capable of. The pinch of her patient’s strong grip was nothing next to what she’d experienced at the hands of her brother on any given month.

Ignoring the aching throb in her foot, Lorelai dismissed Mortimer, leaning down instead to stroke a dripping lock of midnight hair away from an eye so swollen, he’d not have been able to open it were he awake.

Across from her, Mortimer leaned in, as well, ostensibly studying the man on the floor with equal parts intrigue and disgust. “Wonder what happened to the sod. I haven’t seen a beating like this in all my years.”

Lorelai schooled a level expression from her face at the reference to his many perceived years. He was all of twenty, and the only violence he witnessed outside of sport, he perpetrated himself.

“Brigands, you suspect?” Sir Robert fretted from beside her, checking the gathering darkness for villains.

“Entirely possible,” Mortimer said flippantly. “Or maybe he is one. We are disturbingly close to Gallows Corner.”

“Mortimer,” their father wheezed. “Tell me you haven’t pulled a criminal into my coach. What would people say?”

The Weatherstoke crest bore the motto Fortunam maris, “fortune from the sea,” but if anyone had asked Lorelai what it was, she’d have replied, Quid dicam homines? “What would people say?”

It had been her father’s favorite invocation—and his greatest fear—for as long as she could remember.

Lorelai opened her mouth to protest, but her brother beat her to it, a speculative glint turning his eyes the color of royal sapphires. “If I’d hazard a guess, it would be that this assault was personal. A fellow doesn’t go to the trouble to inflict this sort of damage lest his aim is retribution or death. Perhaps he’s a gentleman with gambling debts run afoul of a syndicate. Or, maybe a few locals caught him deflowering their sister … though they left those parts intact, didn’t they, Duck?” His sly expression told Lorelai that he’d caught her looking where she ought not to.

Blushing painfully, she could no longer bring herself to meet Mortimer’s cruel eyes. They were the only trait Lorelai shared with her brother. Her father called them the Weatherstoke jewels. She actively hated looking in the mirror and seeing Mortimer’s eyes staring back at her.

Instead, she inspected the filthy nails of the hand engulfing her own. The poor man’s entire palm was one big callus against hers. The skin on his knuckles, tough as an old shoe, had broken open with devastating impact.

Whatever had happened to him, he’d fought back.

“He’s no gentleman,” she observed. “Too many calluses. A local farmhand, perhaps, or a stable master?” It didn’t strain the imagination to envision these hands gripping the rope of an erstwhile stallion. Large, magnificent beasts pitting their strength one against the other.

“More like stable boy,” Mortimer snorted. “I’d wager my inheritance he’s younger than me.”

“How can you tell?” With his features beyond recognition, Lorelai was at a loss as to the man’s age. No gray streaked his midnight hair, nor did lines bracket his swollen lips, so she knew he couldn’t be old, but beyond that …

“He’s not possessed of enough body hair for a man long grown.”

“But he’s so big,” she reasoned. “And his chest appears to have been badly burned, the hair might have singed right off.”

“I’m not referring to his chest, you dull-wit, but to his coc—”

“Mortimer, please.”

Lorelai winced. It was as close to a reprimand as her father ever ventured. Mortimer must have been very wicked, indeed. It was just her luck that he did so on perhaps the first occasion Lorelai had actually wanted her brother to finish a sentence.

A rut in the road jostled them with such force at their frantic pace, Lorelai nearly landed on the injured man. His chest heaved a scream into his throat, but it only escaped as a piteous, gurgling groan.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she whimpered. Dropping to her knees, she hovered above him, the fingers of her free hand fluttering over his quaking form, looking for a place to land that wouldn’t cause him pain.

She could find none. He was one massive wound.

A tear splashed from her eye and disappeared into the crease between his fingers.

“Duck, perhaps it’s best you take your seat.” Her father’s jowly voice reminded her of steam wheezing from a teakettle before it’s gathered enough strength to whistle. “It isn’t seemly for a girl of your standing to be thus prostrated on the floor.”

With a sigh, she did her best to get her good foot beneath her, reaching for the plush golden velvet of the seat to push herself back into it.

An insistent tug on her arm tested the limits of her shoulder socket, forcing her to catch herself once more.

“Lorelai, I said sit,” Lord Southbourne blustered.

“I can’t,” she gasped incredulously. “He won’t let me go.”

“What’s this, then?” Mortimer wiped some of the mud away from the straining cords of the man’s forearm, uncovering an even darker smudge beneath. As he cleared it, a picture began to take shape, the artful angles and curves both intriguing and sinister until mottled, injured skin ruptured the rendering. “Was it a bird of some kind? A serpent?”

“No.” Lorelai shook her head, studying the confusion of shapes intently. “It’s a dragon.”

Copyright © 2018 by Kerrigan Byrne

2018 Book #75 – Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

51E+x1+4uSLTitle: Leave No Trace
Author: Mindy Mejia
Date finished: 8/28/18
Genre: Suspense, thriller
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish a Mystery Novel” box, since its a mystery/suspense novel.

I read another book by this author last year, Everything You Want Me To Be, and Loved it! So I was excited to see her next release up for review. This book was very different from her first novel but was still a good read. Maya as a character was dark and complicated and I liked learning about her character a little more through each piece of the book. Her relationship with Lucas was intense and the emotion of it really captivates the reader. Lucas himself was also an interesting character. The plot itself was ok, the major plot twist towards the end I didn’t see coming but after that the rest of the plot felt a little off to me for some reason. I did still really like the book though, just not s much as I liked her first novel I think. This was a good book and I’d recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Bout of Books 23 Update – Day 6

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Worked at the Fair yesterday 7am to after 11pm. Not a lot of time for reading but it was a great and very productive day for Fair activities! So anyways here’s my Saturday update:

Update

Saturday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 0.5 hour
Number of pages I’ve read today: 27 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read:  724 pages
Books read: Continued reading Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia
Challenges: I did not participate in the challenge for yesterday, just too busy this weekend!

Stay tuned for continued progress made in tomorrow’s post on my Saturday update!!