Book #37: The Wedding Hoax by Heather Thurmeier

Meet the bride…
Wedding dress designer Daisy Willows always imagined marrying the man of her dreams. The fantasy did not include a fake engagement or a fake wedding. Or that her ex, Cole Benton, would be the groom. But as her mom’s medical bills pile up, Daisy can’t refuse the help of a well-known bridal show expo owner…or his plan for the fake wedding of the century.

Meet the groom…
Cole Benton’s bridal magazine is on the verge of capsizing, taking Cole’s dream of an outdoor lifestyle magazine with it. So Cole agrees to the publicity stunt and becomes “engaged” to Daisy. But despite their searing-hot chemistry—both in public and in private—not everyone is buying the charade. And now the only way to save their skins and prove that their big white wedding isn’t a big white lie is to say “I do…”

Each book in the Hoax Series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Series Order:
Book #1 The Wedding Hoax
Book #2 The Hookup Hoax
Book #3 The Hometown Hoax

I received this book from the publisher, Entangled Press, via NetGalley for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone.

Contemporary romances and I have a very interesting relationship. I say I don’t like them, but really, I kind of do. They are great one day reads that are fluffy and bring back the good feelings.

The thing that is great about the romance read is that it’s predictable. You know what you’re getting and you know what the ending is going to be. It’s reliable and it is the journey of the characters that matter. It’s this that makes me go back to a romance every so often.

The Wedding Hoax had that predictable format of a romance, but with a twist. I actually didn’t see the book blow up the way it did. Thurmeier was able to send out little hints that threw me off as to what would cause the inevitable conflict. It was well done.

As a whole, the romance was a fun read and I found myself smiling throughout the book. There were snort-worthy moments, but not really any moments that made me want to throttle either Daisy or Cole. It was a fun read.

Final rating: 3/5


Book #36: Sophie’s Light by Matthew S. Cox

Sophie lives in a most peculiar cottage at the center of the Forgotten Forest, its inside much larger than its outside.

You see, the house must be large, for it holds a great troll as well as a little girl. As one might expect, working for such a creature is rather frightening to a seven-year-old, but the endless expanse of black trees outside is even scarier.

She’s afraid to make even the slightest sound, for the troll abhors loud children.

He’s not terribly fond of quiet children either―unless they’re in his stew.

Sophie’s precious light offers comfort in her darkest moments. She can’t remember where it came from, but it’s her only source of hope holding back the gloom that yearns to devour her soul. Trolls are covetous beasts, and when he spots her shiny bauble and steals it, Sophie faces two terrible options:

Stay and suffer the wrath of a furious troll, or take her chances in a forest of her deepest fears.

Sophie’s Light is a novella about a young girl who is stuck in a troll’s house. She is subjected to torture and is basically the troll’s maid. The world she’s stuck in is filled with magic and darkness. The only thing she has on her side is a little stone that lights up and speaks to her.

This light is comforting. It’s her only friend and the thing that keeps her sane in a world of pain and hardship.

What she doesn’t know is that she has to fight to find freedom and the light is her guide.

I know I’ve said this before, but I love Cox’s writing style for young children. His little girl characters have an innocence to them that also makes them strong. Sophie is probably the most innocent of his characters and a little girl who makes my heartache, but she still finds her own strength.

What makes this story even more unique is the symbolism. I love symbolism and symbolism done right really makes you think. Every time you read a book with symbolism, you learn something new and see it in a new light.

This is the case for Sophie’s Light.

I was able to figure out what was going on fairly early in the story, but that didn’t make the story any less enjoyable. It tugged at the heartstrings and I loved every word of it.

Final Rating: 4/5

Book #35: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

Ace of Shades is the first book for my book club this month. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to read this. I didn’t own it and I wasn’t going to buy it. My library was taking a bit of a while getting it and it was on hold from others by the time they did have it out. Luckily, they were able to set up the audiobook too. And so, I listened.

The first thing I should say is that some of the people in the club found the book to be a bit boring in the beginning. I would have to agree, it is slow paced. I probably would have stopped reading the book if I didn’t have the audiobook.

However, the narrator was good and it brought to life the world Foody created. It’s an interesting world; gritty and full of magic. I’ve read some disapproving opinions about the created swears (in this case, “mucking”) and the information about the world right in the beginning. Honestly, neither bothered me.

It was really just the pacing of the book that I found difficult. The book is separated by days with alternating chapters of Levi and Enne’s point of views. So, with that in mind, it isn’t until about Day Four that the book starts picking up speed. Even then, it doesn’t really get moving until Day Seven.

That said, I did enjoy the audiobook. And, so did my brother. In fact, he got upset with me for listening to another audiobook when he thought I was listening to the sequel. I guess I will be buying the audiobook for him.

Final rating: 3/5

Book #34: Animal Farm by George Orwell

As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, we begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors.

This is the newest classic in my buddy reads with Mack. Animal Farm was voted next in our book club and, to be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to this book.

I have only read one other Orwell book and that was his iconic 1984. I personally don’t care for anthropomorphized animals and wasn’t looking at this book as enjoyable. The only plus on this book was that it was a short read.

A seriously short read. A read I could read in one day. Less than a day. I even have time to read another book right now. To give you an idea, it was 3 hours long of audio time.

The shortness of the book doesn’t set aside the impact of the read. I saw clear parallels with the animals of Animal Farm and the political system the book is written about. You can’t tell me it wasn’t about communism. If you look at the history of the Soviet Union and condense it, you will see Animal Farm.

It is almost horrifying to see how it progresses from a utopia to something dark to something very similar to the current government systems. Using animals as the subject matter was a smart move. It set aside the reality of the situation, but still made the story impactful.

Or perhaps, it made it stronger.

I wouldn’t say Animal Farm is an enjoyable read and I wouldn’t say it is a favorite of mine. However, I’m happy that I ended up reading this book. I would probably read it again and I definitely recommend it for people.

Final Rating: 4/5

Book #33: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop… There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth, stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white’

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright’s eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter becomes embroiled in the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his ‘charming’ friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons, and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

Matthew Sweet’s introduction explores the phenomenon of Victorian ‘sensation’ fiction, and discusses Wilkie Collins’s biographical and societal influences. Included in this edition are appendices on theatrical adaptations of the novel and its serialisation history.

This book took me on/off close to a year to read. It isn’t because of the writing. Wilkie Collins writes very well, in my opinion. It has to do with the epistolary multiple points of view. I couldn’t get myself to sit and read the book. However, once I got the audio, I was able to finish the book fairly quickly in comparison.

This is a very Victorian book. The women have their place and the men have the women’s “well-being” in mind. That is until you meet Marion. Marion is Laura Fairlie’s half-sister and probably the most badass literary victorian woman I’ve come across. What I mean by that is that she is intelligent and unafraid to stand her ground. She is a spinster and proud. She is my favorite character by far.

Anyway, this book deals with the legality issues and abuse to women of money and marriage. Women didn’t have many rights in the past, arguably even today. With that and the alpha male mind mentality, you see a disservice put on Laura throughout the book.

There are intrigue and scandal aplenty in this book. Some of which will make you scratch your head and wonder if it really would have gone down the way it did in the book, but it’s there. Personally, I feel an abridged version would have been okay to read, but the book itself isn’t bad.

I’m not turned off to one of the founding fathers of the modern mystery and I do like that this book seems to be a commentary on women’s rights. Not all rights, but the rights of a married woman. It’s an interesting read in that it gives me another viewpoint of the Victorian era through its literature.

Is it my favorite? No. Did I like it? I did. Would I read it again? Maybe. Maybe not. I would see the movie though. I plan on buying it.

Final Rating: 3/5

Writing Wednesday!!


Hey Y’all!

Long time no see, right?

Well, you guys are probably wondering what is going on. Or worse, whether or not I’m still writing.

Well, breathe.

You good? Good.

Yes, I am still writing. I’m going slow at it right now though because some stuff has been going on. For one, I’ve been having quite a few tension headaches. And, I also have been stressing over a surgery that is right now going on as I type.

Not mine, obviously. It’s the husband. Currently, it’s going well and I have no reason to be freaking out right now. At least, not as much as I let myself do previously.

That said, yes, I am writing. It’s slow work, but I’ll be back into the swing of things soon enough. My pen name seems to be doing well with her first publication. I am definitely going to continue with her stuff, but I just need to figure out a way to tackle all of my projects.

Currently, I’m going to devote Mondays (which is the day I’m writing) and Thursdays for blog posts and editing. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday will be my gung-ho writing days. I will be working on my projects and the pen name alternatively.

The weekend will be in the air on that stuff. Only because I do need to pretend I have a life outside of the computer. Pretend.

So far, I can’t say I’m doing well at that.

And so, that’s my update for this week on my writing. Nothing great or amazing. Just is. I hope I’ll have more for you guys next week. Sorry about that!

Book #32: Cakespell by Gaby Triana

15-year-old Rose Zapata is an aspiring professional baker (with a secret crush) who’s only seen love in the movies. But all that changes when she discovers her late grandmother’s vintage baking tools in her grandpa’s closet. Along with a family secret: Rose is a witch–a kitchen witch. And after accidentally releasing her nana’s matchmaking “Cakespell,” Rose is the only one who can wield its power. 

When news spreads about Rose’s love-infused goodies, classmates, teachers, and even her crush, Caleb, flock to her door. As business booms, fame does too. Principal O’Dell enlists her in the school’s Battle of the Bakers, everyone wants a taste of Rose’s cake magic, and even her overprotective mother begins to feel the Cakespell’s sweet effects. 

Can Rose whip up some love for herself before she drowns in orders, or will the Cakespell overtake her life? A story about family and friendships, Cakespell will have you believing in love, magic, and the power inside us all.

Cakespell is like birthday cake. Everyone needs a good birthday cake. It’s a cake that brings on a new year and celebrates life and love. It’s a cake that is needed in everyone’s life. Cakespell is a birthday cake.

Triana’s writing instantly pulled me into the story of Rose Zapata. Rose loves baking. Her dream is to one day own her own shop and spread love to the people who buy her baked goods. As a baker, I love this. I try to have the same happy mindset when I’m baking and it really is important in the food that is made, even if you don’t believe it.

With Rose though, the magic is real.

After a birthday cake sprung a proposal for marriage, Rose goes on a mission. A mission to see if Cakespell is the real deal, a mission to find love for herself, and a mission to bring her bakery dream a reality.

This is a confectionary filled fun book that had me smiling and crying with Rose. I loved the dynamics of the characters and the amount of love put into their relationships with Rose. This is definitely a book I recommend for my contemporary reading friends and the friends who love a bit of magic with their romance.

final rating: 4/5

Book #31: Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae, continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

I didn’t get into this book as quickly as I did with Illuminae. I think it’s because there was no Ezra.

Okay, in all honesty, it was Hanna. I didn’t care for her character in the beginning. She was snobbish and just didn’t have an enjoyable personality. That said, she did grow on me.

The story is also slower to get rolling. Illuminae starts right off the bat with the invasion on Kerenza. In this one, there’s the droning of day to day life for Nik and Hanna in their respective social circles. We get bits and pieces of the world around them and what is being done to hide Hypatia and the remaining survivors, but the real heavy action doesn’t take notice until about 25% or 30% into the book.

The audio, which I opted for like in Illuminae, is just as good as the first book’s. All of the original cast is there with some others for the people of Heimdall. The audio really pulls you into the story and there’s an added bonus. “Lick your Lollipop”, the song that’s shoved into Heimdall’s system due to a virus, is there too! Not the whole song, unfortunately, but I am looking for it.

It makes the fight scenes and moments of anger over the song that much more hilarious. I really loved that detail.

The story has an interesting sci-fi twist that I found enjoyable. It confused me when I read other people’s opinions, so I’ll leave it alone here. Just know that I think Doctor Who would be proud.

All in all, the book was great! I can’t wait to get the third book in audio to listen to. Just have to wait for my library to pick it up. Ugh.



Book #30: Gaslights and Graves: A Collection of Steampunk Paranormal Collections by Various Authors

Steampunk with a twist! 

SIX paranormal steampunk adventures from today’s bestselling and award-winning authors. There’s something for every steampunk lover in the collection of mad science, twisted fairytales, myths, ghosts, vampires, shifters, magic, techno-fantasy with settings such as gothic romance, urban fantasy, Victorian, and so much more. 

I haven’t read the other stories yet, but I have read Lexi Ostrow’s City of Light and Steam. And so, my review is of just that story. I’ll read the others later on and review them as well.

City of Light and Steam is a paranormal dystopian story. It is romantic, filled with inventions, and sets up the reader into a dark world filled with disease and vampires. That’s right, vampires.

Sometime before the events of the book, the world has been plagued with a disease carried by the wind currents. This disease somehow made people who breathed it in into vampires. The vampires are very similar to other vampires in vampire lore. They drink blood, get weakened without it, have some extra strength and speed, and are susceptible to the sunlight. They are also organized.

But, the vampires is only a piece of the narrative. The real story deals with the two leaders of the rivaling guilds: Steam and Electricity. Steam Guild leader, Raven, goes on a dangerous mission to make peace with her rival guild. There, she meets who she believes is Christopher, the Electricity Guild leader. That’s right, she believes him to be Christopher. In actuality, he is Benjamin, Christopher’s cousin and the unwilling next leader of the guild.

You can fairly well imagine what happens in a story that has a dangerous disease, infected monsters, a rivalry, and secret identity. What’s more, this isn’t the only book in the series, just the first.

All in all, I found the story easy to get into and a quick read. I did find myself loving Ben, but not so much Raven. I can see how Raven will start to grow on me, but for now, she’s not up to Ben’s standards.

This is a romance and the attraction between the characters is there.

This is a good beginning to a series and I will be looking forward to reading the sequel when it comes out.

Final rating: 3/5

Book Tour: Genesis by Brendan Reichs


Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive.

The 64 members of Fire Lake’s sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning, and zero rules apply. But Noah’s deaths have trained him–hardened him–to lead the strongest into the future . . . whatever that may be. And at any cost. 

Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn’t enough. 

Trapped in a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it’s tempting to lay back and let everyone else fight it out. But Min’s instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She’s ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.


Praise for GENESIS

★ ”[A] heck of a page-turner . . . Fans of The Hunger Games novels and the CW series The 100 will discover much to enjoy here . . . A cracking good yarn and excellent sequel.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Nemesis was a page-turner, and Genesis has plenty of fevered action and startling surprises, especially as the book nears its conclusion . . . Fans of the first book will certainly want to read this and look forward to the trilogy’s conclusion” —Booklist

“[T]his dark sequel to Nemesis . . . . reads like a technological retelling of Lord of the Flies.” —VOYA

“An exciting sequel that will delight young science fiction readers with its video game–esque story line.” —School Library Journal

“Reichs knows exactly how to mix action, suspense, and characters into a breathless read. This is one thriller that will keep you up into the night.” —Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of Warcross

“Equal parts adventure, mystery, and heart, Genesis is a gripping, mind-blowing story that leaves you begging for more. I loved it!” —Danielle Paige, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die


Genesis begins a few weeks after the events of Nemesis. Nothing much has changed in the world Min and her classmates have found themselves in. Except… well, it’s a spoiler.

Plagued with the question, “why?”, Min and Tack decide to find out more about Project Nemesis. In the meantime, Noah is . . . well, psychotic. I’ll say it, I don’t like Noah. I like Tack. Sure, Noah does change near the end, but Tack all the way!

Anyways, Min makes the decision to make allies and assert some semblance of logic in a group of teens acting like the wild group in Lord of the Flies. Actually, that’s a great comparison. Genesis is the love child of sci-fi and Lord of the Flies. That’s not bad, but it is aggravating that so many teenagers just push aside their logic and run with their fear. Not saying that wouldn’t happen, it would.

With a revelation about Phase Two, Min makes a forced alliance with Noah. As with Nemesis, this book is filled with death, destruction, and a mystery that keeps you wanting more. It’s twisted.

There’s just no way to explain further without giving away details of the book. Let’s just say this: if you liked book one, you’ll like book two. If you thought book one confused you with its possible two book joining, this book is more cohesive. That isn’t to say it won’t mess with your mind. It will. It totally will.

Final rating: 4/5


Brendan Reichs was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 2000 and The George Washington University School of Law in 2006. After three long years working as a litigation attorney, he abandoned the trade to write full time. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, son, daughter, and a herd of animals that tear up everything.

TWITTER:  @BrendanReichs

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12 Winners will receive a Copy of 12 Winners will receive a Copy of GENESIS by Brendan Reichs.



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