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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What Game Are You Playing? by Robin Moriarty

What Game Are You Playing?: 
A Framework for Redefining Success 
and Achieving What Matters Most

Published September 10th 2019 by Greenleaf Book Group Press

Goodreads synopsis:
It’s All a Game

From the moment we are born, others' expectations shape our behaviors, choices, and definitions of success. We build our personal and professional lives around those expectations and at some point, many of us wonder if we are on the right path. We may want to make changes, but it's difficult and we don't know how to start.

In What Game Are You Playing?, author Robin Moriarty, PhD shares her view on what being “successful” should look like, and those views will be a surprise to many. According to Moriarty, life is a game, and it is up to each individual to determine just what kind of game they want to play. The author guides readers through a process that shows them how to assess their current state and outlines the steps they need to take in order to achieve their new game and own version of success.The book enables readers to—

• Gain awareness of the way they want to live their lives
• Reframe success on their own terms
• Map out what they will need to do to get there

Through a series of examples and exercises designed as a game, Moriarty helps readers recognize—and then step away from—the expectations of others so they can define and pursue their own version of success in work and in life. Through this process of finding and designing their own games,, readers will no longer be a pawn in someone else’s.


5 Stars

What a great concept for a book! I was hooked from the very beginning.

I have followed brain science, neuroplasticity, NLP (neuro linguistic programming) and behavior for years in multiple self help books. I just have a thing for learning brain stuff and how we motivate ourselves for change.

The title of this book really caught my attention. What the author had to say held it in place firm and steady. This gal knows what she is talking about. I felt like I had a mind blown moment during reading this. Why am I playing other people’s games? I don’t want what they want. My game should be different. I loved how she gave her own example as how she marks travel as her measure of success. How many places can she visit in a year. No matter the number, she wins! We need to make winning in our game of life the important thing and not pushing our own wants aside to please others who probably don’t give a crap if we succeed in our goals or not.

If you are looking for a way to change your life, READ THIS! If you are really serious, do the exercises. You might discover a way to win at your own game of life!

Great stuff. Highly recommended.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

All Hats on Deck (Missy DuBois Mystery #5) by Sandra Bretting

All Hats on Deck

Kindle Edition, 214 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Lyrical Press

Goodreads synopsis:
No Southern wedding is complete without a special veil designed by Louisiana hat maker Missy DuBois. But it’s hats off to Missy DuBois when she tries to save her town from a bayou killer . . .

When Ruby Oubre asks Missy to advise her grandson on a business idea, the successful owner of Crowning Glory is happy to oblige. After a quick jaunt down the river, Missy meets with eighteen-year-old Hollis about the viability of opening an alligator farm for tourists. But it isn’t an alligator Missy finds floating at the mossy bottom of the Atchafalaya River. It’s Ruby, and her death wasn’t caused by accidental drowning. It seems everyone from local tour boat operators to the chief of police and the mayor of Bleu Bayou had an eye on snatching up Ruby’s riverbank property. If Missy doesn’t unveil a greedy killer soon, her hat-making career could be bogged down for good . . .


4.5 Stars

This is the fifth book in the Missy Dubois Mystery series by Sandra Bretting.

I read the third book in this series back in June and really loved it. So, I was glad when the fifth book came available to review. What a joy for me to get back into the world of hat maker Missy and her boyfriend, Ambrose.

This story centered around a boy named Hollis and the death of his Grandmother Ruby Oubre. Hollis dreamed of starting an alligator farm but he had some competition in the form of people who wanted his grandmother’s land for their own ends. The boat dock on their property in the swamp region was very important to tour operators since the water levels in the area were ever changing and unpredictable. When Hollis’s grandmother is discovered drowned on the property, the game is on! All sort of riff-raff start rearing their ugly heads.

Missy gets involved in the investigation and for some reason Detective Lance LaPorte encourages her to a point. Then when things get hairy, she is ghosted. In the meantime, she is presented with a unique problem, there is a new hat maker in town and she wants to steal all of Missy’s business. Even the new client who was planning a money is no object wedding is lured away. Missy feels bad since this woman had been a blogger and she had given her an interview a year ago and spilled a lot of her hat making secrets that she should have kept to herself and now the woman was taking advantage and trying to ruin her business at the same time.

This book really keeps you interested and the whole community is so unique that I don’t think you will find anything similar in any other book. The mystery seems almost too simple but then the simplicity blows up in our face when so many suspects seem to just come out of the woodwork… or the swamp, so to speak. 

This is a great cozy mystery series that will immediately hook you.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Double-Crossed (Vegas Nights #1) by Ali Vali


Published September 1st 2019 by Bold Strokes Books

Goodreads synopsis:
Hit woman and thief Reed Gable works for the highest bidder, no matter where the job takes her. An orphan of circumstance, Reed knows the streets of Las Vegas better than anyone. Growing up rough has gotten her to the top of her profession, and she plans to stay there.

Accountant Brinley Myers, a recent hire at the Moroccan Casino, discovers a money laundering operation orchestrated by the New York mob and suddenly her life and the people in it become collateral damage.

Reed has Brinley in her sights and is ready to close the contract when she sees Brinley’s son in the car with her. Even hard-hearted Reed can’t kill a mother in front of her child. Before Reed can come up with a plan to finish the job, she’s double-crossed. It’ll take all her street smarts to keep herself, and her surprisingly beautiful mark, alive.


3 Stars

This is the first book in the Vegas Nights series by Ali Vali.

This book was pretty complex in reality. The whole money laundering storyline was top notch. It was the back and forth between the families as they put out hits on each other in retaliation which made this book sing. You can tell this book is female focuses since a lot of the important positions in it were filled by women instead of men. I could totally buy that scenario but what I found lacking was the whole lesbian romance.

This is marketed as a female-female romance but I didn’t really find that to be the case here. Yes, there was an eventual relationship between the two leads Reed Gable the hit woman and Brinley her mark. But this story was more about the whole Vegas casino life and mob connections than their eventual hookup. The relationship is sprinkled here and there throughout the book but nothing really grabbed me and pushed me through the book to see if they would remain together.

Reed is a thief who occasionally supplements her income by doing hits. She has a screwed up and complicated past. The fact that she doesn’t kill Brinley is fascinating but I never really bought the whole connection between the two. There was a scene of momentary release in the middle section but there wasn’t much build up to it so I felt it fell a bit flat.

I have read a lot of romance lately and wanted this to be just as good but I came away feeling blah. This book did the whole mob/casino/money laundering storyline much better. I feel like you could have left out the entire female-female romance and this book would have been just as good.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Guarding the Single Mother (SEAL Endgame #1) by Leslie North

Guarding the Single Mother

Kindle Edition, 147 pages
Published September 12th 2019 by Relay Publishing (first published September 9th 2019)

Goodreads synopsis:
Retired Navy SEAL, Clint Backwater, enjoys his solitary life as owner of the Ask Questions Later gun range. It’s the kind of place you find because you know a guy. So when Leila Ortiz, a petite woman with a “baby on board” sticker on the back of her car—and an 18-month-old boy in her arms—shows up at the range, panicked and desperate for a gun, he knows something is wrong. Having grown up in the foster system, Clint has seen what happens when you let yourself get too invested—things get messy, people leave. He made himself a promise to never get emotionally involved again, but the former SEAL in him feels the tug to help this woman and her child.

Leila’s ex-husband is being released from prison early on good behavior and she found out too late. He was supposed to serve five years, not two, and Leila is unprepared to protect herself and her son. She promised him they’d never run again—they’ve made a nice life for themselves and the last thing she wants to do is leave it all behind. 

When Clint refuses to give Leila a gun without lessons, she agrees to return to the range to learn. At first, Leila won’t say why she’s so desperate for protection, but when the threats from her ex escalate, it becomes clear what she’s afraid of.  

Clint is a loner. Always has been, always will be. So when Leila and her little son enter his life, it hits him—hard— maybe being alone isn’t what he needs. Still, having his solitary life disrupted when he invites the little family into his home is a bit tougher to take than he thought. With Leila and her son in danger, though, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep them safe—even putting up with stray toys and changing a nappy or two. 

But the biggest danger might be to his heart, when it starts to look like the safest thing for Leila and her baby might be to leave her problems—and her budding relationship with Clint—behind.


4.25 Stars

This is the first book in the SEAL Endgame series by Leslie North.

North has a great way of drawing us in and getting us invested in the characters and the situation. I was immediately drawn into the whole situation almost from the word go. Who doesn’t feel for a mother who is being put on the spot by a nasty ex? Especially a nasty ex who is also an ex-con and just fresh from his jail orange jumpsuit and let out into the world.

I am not sure this entire scenario would have unfolded like this in real life. You just don’t walk into a gun range to buy a gun from a stranger (no matter how nice and polite) and end up staying with the guy at his home. It is not something I would really encourage without a pretty good background check and a vast knowledge of his relationship history. I understand that the whole “she’s desperate” thing kinda throws off the whole dynamic but still… I am not sure I would have acted in the same way myself.

The kid in this book was probably the best behaved baby in all of book-dom. Barely ever misbehaved and seemed to like Clint from the get-go. This was all based on the conclusion that babies have good people radar and will act nice around those who are nice.

Despite my reservations about how they initially meet, this book has a lot of ups and downs that make you wonder if the two will ever get together. Even when he rushes to the airport and stops her from leaving, they don’t have the “I will love you forever” speech and “I will never let you go” was only spoken by Clint and it took longer than I thought necessary for Leila to accept the possibilities between them. I wanted to back hand her and shake her at that point. What in the world was she thinking? The little dim-wit. I doubt you will find a thirty-five-year old male who acts more like a dad than most dad’s I know.

Overall it was a great book. But despite my liking of their match-up, I felt the chemistry a bit lacking based on other North books I have read. I wanted a bit more sizzle and burn. But I guess I can’t always get what I want. But this might just be your speed. Check it out if you love romance.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Sword and Pen (The Great Library #5) by Rachel Caine

Sword and Pen

Paperback, 368 pages
Expected publication: May 12th 2020 by Berkley Books (first published September 3rd 2019)

Goodreads synopsis:
With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it's worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library . . . or see everything it stood for crumble.


4.5 Stars

This is the fifth book in the Great Library series.

This is the first book I have read in this series and based on all that occurs I assume this is the final book in the series. It is a very complex read.  Lots of characters to contend with not to mention awesome and intense. Definitely do not start with this book. I encourage you to begin with book one titled INK AND BONE. You will find this series much more enjoyable. 

I spent a good portion of this book playing catch up and trying to get it all straight in my head. I can’t imagine what a task it must have been to create this world. It had aspects of Steampunk and Egyptian Mythology all surrounding the legendary Library at Alexandra. I have always been fascinated by this library and wondered if the secrets held within it would ever be discovered in a separate hidden location revealing truths that would blow our minds. If you have ever had a similar wish, this series is for you. It was an amazing read that I am prepared to read over once I get books one through four under my belt.

This series is on the level of the Rick Riordan Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series. The world building in these series is amazing and you have a similar level of awe in the Ink and Bone series conclusion. I am not sure if this is labeled middle grade but it seems an advanced read to me. Maybe more high school. I am sure I wouldn’t have understood half of this when I was a kid. But then again I didn’t grow up with the internet at my fingertips 24/7.

I am regretting reading this first. It kind of spoils it all for me know when I go back and start from the beginning. I can totally see this series as the next big movie extravaganza. Harry Potter better watch out.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Cold Storage by David Koepp

Cold Storage

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Ecco

Goodreads synopsis:
For readers of Andy Weir and Noah Hawley comes an astonishing debut by the screenwriter of Jurassic Park: a wild and terrifying adventure about three strangers who must work together to contain a highly contagious, deadly organism

When Pentagon bioterror operative Roberto Diaz was sent to investigate a suspected biochemical attack, he found something far worse: a highly mutative organism capable of extinction-level destruction. He contained it and buried it in cold storage deep beneath a little-used military repository.

Now, after decades of festering in a forgotten sub-basement, the specimen has found its way out and is on a lethal feeding frenzy. Only Diaz knows how to stop it.

He races across the country to help two unwitting security guards—one an ex-con, the other a single mother. Over one harrowing night, the unlikely trio must figure out how to quarantine this horror again. All they have is luck, fearlessness, and a mordant sense of humor. Will that be enough to save all of humanity?


4.5 Stars

Right from the beginning when they walked out of that death scene with the 26 dead workers, you knew what would eventually occur in this book. It was no surprise. These people had all made it to the rooftops in order to grow the virus inside them.

The thing that did surprise me was the killing off of Hero, one of the investigators on the case. She just seemed like the main character lead type. In the end, the lead went to Roberto Diaz. His part in the story really didn’t come up until after he retired from the government and the containment of the dangerous virus had been breached.

This entire scenario made me wonder if things like this hadn’t already happened in the world. I can see people wanting dangerous things like this and then eventually forgetting about said thing when the excitement had worn off and leaving future generations to deal with the fall out.

The additions to the cast of Naomi and Teacake was brilliant. Their exploration of the abandoned government facility turned storage unit really made this interesting for me. It kept me going in the story and made me want to know where their relationship might go if they managed to live through the nightmare.

This was totally like the 2019 version of the Blob and that cheesy movie scared the pants off of me when I was a kid. Great stuff. This could totally be a movie in the making.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

A Curio Killing (Keepsake Cove Mystery #3) by Mary Ellen Hughes

A Curio Killing

Kindle Edition, 264 pages
Published September 8th 2019 by Midnight Ink

Goodreads synopsis:
Callie finds treble in Keepsake Cove when her ex-boyfriend is framed for murder
Callie Reed is looking forward to her first Keepsake Cove spring festival. But her excitement dims considerably when she learns that her ex-boyfriend, Hank, will be performing with one of the hired country-western bands. Callie vows to keep her distance, but that changes when the band's manager, Bobby Linville, is found dead, killed with the music box Hank bought at Callie's shop.
Hank is soon singing a sad tune in a detention center with Callie his only lifeline. Though thoroughly aware of his many faults, she knows violence and murder aren't in his blood. But that means one of her fellow Keepsake Cove residents must be hiding a dark secret—something Callie desperately needs to uncover.


4.5 Stars

This is the third book in the Keepsake Cove Mystery series by Mary Ellen Hughes.

This was my first book in this series and I wasn’t disappointed.

Callie Reed is visiting a local town festival where her ex-boyfriend, Hank is performing on stage. He obviously still had the hots for her due to his new song’s title, Missing You. Then after an argument with his band manager the man winds up dead and Hank is suspect number one. I am not entirely sure why Callie felt the need to search around for his killer. The way the author explained his past behavior made me think that the man could have possibly done it. 

I wouldn’t have touched this crap with a ten foot pole. But some main characters in these things are gluttons for punishment, I think. The entire scenario could have blown up in Callie’s face considering her new relationship with restaurant owner Brian. Even Callie’s mother tried to get her away from the entire situation by moving up her upcoming knee surgery and requesting her assistance during the transition time.

There was a lot of downtime for Callie during this book especially after a fire knocked out power for many of the businesses in town. I wasn’t as familiar with the recurring cast to quickly pick out who I thought might have set Hank up, but I thought the revealing of the bad guy was a particularly nice touch and it really ramped up the tension

Great story with great characters. I will definitely want to visit this berg again.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.