All posts by skyebjenner

A Beardy Bonus by Penny Reid

Overview
A Beardy Bonus, Bonus & deleted scenes from the Winston Brothers series by  Penny Reid | 9781942874652 | Booktopia

Title: A Beardy Bonus
Author: Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers Companion
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romanceShort story collections
Dates read: 22nd October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Collection
Publisher: SmartyPants Romance
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: Time.

Synopsis

Beards and bonus scenes, oh my!

All the Winston Brothers bonus scenes and deleted excerpts all in one place!

Thoughts

After the emotional intensity of Beard Necessities, this was a great way to come down and just flow out of the Winston Brothers series. It’s not intense, but it is enjoyable and easy.

The short stories in this collection are just fun. There’s not anything huge or life shattering in it. And you’d be more than filled in on the Winston Brothers if you didn’t read this. But, as I mentioned, it is a bit more of a mellow finish than Beard Necessities provides. But you kind of expect that with Billy and Scarlet as leads in that.

Like the Knitting in the City collection, I didn’t love Beardy Bonus like like did the rest of the series. That’s not to say anything bad about it… I just didn’t quite NEED this in my life as much.

Overall this is a fun, easy and engaging story that had me smiling and giggling as I got to revisit some favourites.

<- Beard NecessitiesMore Penny Reid ->

Image source: Booktopia

Beard Necessities by Penny Reid

Overview
Beard Necessities (Winston Brothers, #7) by Penny Reid

Title: Beard Necessities
Author: Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers #7
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 22nd October 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: SmartyPants Romance
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: “Then why are you drunk?”

Synopsis

Beards, brothers, and bears! Oh my!

Billy Winston’s family is going to see him happy and in love if it’s the last thing they do.

No one deserves happily-ever-after quite as much as the second oldest Winston brother and his lady love, Claire McClure (aka Scarlet St. Claire). Cruelty and circumstance tore them apart almost twenty years ago. Secrecy and bitterness kept them separated.

But you know who’s tired of their separation and stubbornness? Everyone. Especially billy Winston’s family. And now they’re going to do something about it.

Well-meaning interference means the star-crossed lovers can’t stop tripping over each other in the hills of Tuscany, the catacombs of Rome, and the waterways of Venice. Billy and Claire find themselves thrown together and at the mercy of the Winston siblings’ shenanigans.

But will their forced proximity bring them together? Or push them even further apart?

Thoughts

It’s taken me a while to get to this story. I’ve been attached to the idea of Scarlet and Billy from fairly early on in my reading of this series. But, it’s taken this long to actually get to this book. Partly because I obviously read all of the other books in this series first. But, mostly because I knew that they had the most tragic of backstories. And sometimes I really struggle with the sad backstories. They’re just so… sad.

Having said that, I did get the worst of the “sadness” over during my reading through of Beard in Mind. But I was worried about how long Reid was going to prolong the pain. I mean we’re talking a love story that is decades in the making and filled with lots of tragedy. I was still feeling tentative reading this. Luckily, it was NO where near as painful as I was expecting.

In fact, Scarlet seems to jump on board with the whole plan fairly quickly. And she’s able to stick with Billy as all of the secrets of the oast unravel. Don’t get me wrong, she’s no dishrag – she most definitely gives him what for when she finds out what he’s been keeping secret. But, her willingness to finally get over her crap and finally try made the hard parts so much more pleasant.

I loved the plotting and scheming of the Winston family throughout this. Surprisingly, nothing hugely backfired on them. And it filled this story with many, many beautiful, lighthearted moments. Finally, the epilogue helped to tie in all of the Winston family’s happily ever afters. Leaving me feeling grateful and at peace. Now onto the next series in my Penny Reid pile…

<- Beard with MeA Beardy Bonus ->

Image source: Goodreads

Beard with Me by Penny Reid

Overview
Beard with Me (Winston Brothers, #6) by Penny Reid

Title: Beard with Me
Author: Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers #6
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 19th – 21st October 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: SmartyPants Romance
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: How’re we going to pay for all this stuff?

Synopsis

Beards, brothers, and bears! Oh my!

‘Beard With Me’ is the origin story of Billy Winston and Scarlet St. Claire (aka Claire McClure) and is just the beginning of their epic love story.

No one is better at surviving than Scarlet St. Claire and making the best out of circumstances beyond her control is Scarlet’s speciality. In an apocalyptic situation, she’d be the last person on earth, hermitting like a pro, singing along to her CD Walkman, and dancing like no one is watching.

Scarlet is clever, Scarlet is careful, and Scarlet is smart… except when it comes to Billy Winston.

No one is better at fighting than Billy Winston and raging against his circumstances – because nothing is beyond his control – is Billy’s speciality. In an apocalyptic situation, he’d be the first person on earth to lead others to safety, overcome catastrophe, or die trying.

Billy is fearless, Billy is disciplined, and Billy is honorable… except when it comes to Scarlet St. Claire

Thoughts

I have been putting off reading this book for ages. I knew that it was going to be sad and heartwrenching. And that it was probably going to make me cry. Turns out, it wasn’t ANYWHERE near as bad as I expected. It wasn’t happy, and I still cries. But less tears than expected.

One of the reasons I think this destroyed my heart a little less than expected was probably the fact that I had Beard Necessities ready to go. Knowing that regardless of how sad I found this, the part ending was RIGHT THERE most definitely helped. But, more than that it was Scarlet. She was able to take hold of all this horribleness and be filled with joy. And humour. I seriously loved all of her jokes.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t tragedy and Scarlet was always happy in this. She had so many battles to face. And at fourteen. Then, considering what else she faces after the conclusion of this story. Seriously tragic. Not to mention Billy. I think it was Billy’s ending that completely destroyed my self control. To love someone that truly and deeply… I’m not sure I can even fathom it.

Yes, this story was less soul destroying than I had expected. But it was still completely heart wrenching. It was the kind of story that helped me to completely invest in the couple (even though I WAS already invested). And it is obvious that it was very much needed. But wow. Make sure you have tissues handy.

<- Dr. Strange BeardBeard Necessities ->

Image source: Goodreads

How to Grow a Baby by Clemmie Hooper

Overview
How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out: A guide to pregnancy and birth straight  from the midwife's mouth: Hooper, Clemmie: 9781785040382: Amazon.com: Books

Title: How to Grow a Baby
Author: Clemmie Hooper
Rating Out of 5: 2.5 (Readable, but not worth reading again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 17th August – 21st October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Vermilion
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: It is around 37.5cm long (from head to toe, but it is curled up inside you).

Synopsis

Everything you wanted to know but were too embarrassed to ask – a guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife’s mouth.

Mum to four and midwife to many, Clemmie Hooper wants to share her knowledge, wisdom and stories about pregnancy and birth. Based around the time of your antenatal appointments, she’ll guide you through each crucial stage of pregnancy as well as fully preparing you for labour, birth and beyond. From how to prevent tearing to what you really need in your hospital bag, Clemmie reveals everything pregnant women need to know with a good dose of humour and wit.

Thoughts

Probably not one of my favourite pregnancy books of late. I think partly that was because this was very UK based, and it was a little more decisive in advice than others. Plus, Up the Duff was amazing, and I don’t think much actually compares to it.

Having said that, I didn’t mind this book. It was interesting and did have some good information. Just not much that is pertinent to me. I mean, I’m Australian, it makes somethings hard to relate to in a UK based book.

Regardless of the fact that I didn’t necessarily love this, it was still worth the read. Still a book that I enjoyed and found some useful information in.

I’ll probably flick through this book another few times our if interests sake. But, not one I feel the need to ever read cover to cover again.

<- More pregnancyMore medical ->

Image source: Amazon

Queene of Light by Jennifer Armintrout

Overview
Queene of Light (Lightworld/Darkworld, #1) by Jennifer Armintrout

Title: Queene of Light
Author: Jennifer Armintrout
Series: Lightworld / Darkworld #1
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Magic, Paranormal romance
Dates read: 14th – 21st October 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Mira
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: When someone wished to speak with the Queene, they would wait forever.

Synopsis

In a time not long from now, the veil between fantasy and reality is ripped asunder – creatures of myth and fairy tale spill into the mortal world. Enchanted yet horrified, humans force the magical beings Underground, to colonize the sewers and abandoned subway tunnels beneath their glittering cities.

But even magic folk cannot dwell in harmony, and soon two Worlds emerge: the Lightworld, home to faeries, dragons and dwarves; and the Darkworld, where vampries, werewolves, angels and demons lurk.

Now, in the dank and shadowy place between Lightworld and Darkworld, a transformation is about to begin…

Ayla, a half faery, half human assassin, is stalked by Malachi, a Death Angel tasked with harvesting mortal souls. They clash. Immortality evaporates, forging a bond neither may survive. And in the face of unbridled ambitions and untested loyalties, an ominous prophecy is revealed that will shake the Worlds.

Thoughts

I really, really wanted to like this novel. I mean, the premise is great and the writing is good too. But I just… couldn’t get into it. I’m not sure if that was just the mood I was in (so this is definitely in the reread pile) or just generally not my speed.

One of the things I found most difficult about this novel I think was the characters. I found it hard to connect to both the leads and honestly could not have cared less what happened to them. Not exactly something that inspires me to keep reading.

Again, I really loved the premise of this story. And the world building certainly intrigued me. I will most definitely give this another try since I did love the world that this was built in. And I’m intrigued as to how the female lead is going to get out of her weird marriage.

All in all, whilst I got halfway through this and gave it a DNF, I didn’t hate it. Enough that it’s staying on my shelves ready for another attempt in years to come.

<- More Jennifer ArmintroutChild of Darkness ->

Image source: Goodreads

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Overview
Tower of Dawn : Sarah J. Maas : 9781408887974

Title: Tower of Dawn
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #6
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Romance, Strong women
Dates read: 2nd – 17th October 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: She straightened.

Synopsis

A GLORIOUS EMPIRE
A DESPERATE QUEST
AN ANCIENT SECRET

Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they ahve also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the legendary Torre Cesme for the wounds that Chaol received in Rifthold.

After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help a young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need – and will honour it. But Lord Westfall carries darkness from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realise it could engulf them both.

And deep in the shadows of distant mountains, where warriors soar on might ruks, long-awaited answers slumber. Answers that might offer their world a chance at survival – or doom them all.

Thoughts

I did struggle with this book more than I had expected to. I’ve been putting off the last 2 books of the series. Partly because I know that it will destroy my heart (seems to be a talent of Maas). But, more so, because I just don’t want this series to be over! Sure, I can reread it… but it just won’t be the same. Having said that, I didn’t fall head first into this book like I have the others.

I think that the thing that takes me a while with this story is that Chaol spends the first part just being incredibly whiney. I get that he’s been dealt a hard hand, but my lordy, he’s just a bit too bitter and painful. For those who feel the same… Read on! Once I got to the second part, I started to fall head first into the storyline as expected.

Of all the characters in this, it was Yrene that I loved the most. The fact that she has an intertwined past (like many of the other characters) just makes her all that much better. I love how much of this story involves her fight to get over her horrible past and move forwards with her life. Her story, when Chaol’s was a bit painful made this book still a 5 star I my view.

Whilst I had a few moments of discomfort and “huh” throughout this, ultimately I loved this book. After the first 200 pages, the character development is so wonderful and intense that I couldn’t put it down. And, much of the whiney that was irritating made so much more sense.

<- Empire of StormsKingdom of Ash ->

Image source: Book Depository

Up the Duff by Kaz Cooke

Overview
Up the Duff by Kaz Cooke - Penguin Books Australia

Title: Up the Duff
Author: Kaz Cooke
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Humour, Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 5th June – 17th October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Viking
Year: 1999
5th sentence, 74th page: According to one American pregnancy book cover, this is when you will wear an Alice band and a hideous lemon doona cover with a Peter Pan collar, and stare out the window holding a cup and saucer like a demented fool.

Synopsis

Kaz Cooke tells you everything you need to know about your pregnancy and birth. No bossy-boots rules, just the best, funniest and most reassuring practical advice, plus lots of cartoons. Up the Duff is backed by heaps of medical and other experts.

Thoughts

The moment I found out I was pregnant I told one of my close girlfriends. She immediately recommended this book. And wow. Am I glad that she did.

This book is realistic and fun. It gives you a whole heap of information without sounding preachy. And it just makes you feel less overwhelmed about the whole first time mother thing. Or at least, that’s what it did for me.

The sass and humour with which this book gives you important information makes some pretty scary topics feel much… less scary. I mean, whole chapters on labour that didn’t make me want to run to the bathroom and throw up. I can’t begin to explain how much better that made me feel.

Any expectant (or wanting to be expectant) mothers really need to invest in this book. Its amazing. It’s informative. And it most definitely made me feel less stressed and scared.

<- More humour booksMore pregnancy books ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Overview
When Breath Becomes Air: Kalanithi, Paul: 9781784701994: Books - Amazon.ca

Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Death, Medical, Memoirs
Dates read: 2nd – 13th October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: The surgeon got to work, passed a small endoscope through Matthew’s nose, and drilled off the floor of his skull.

Synopsis

What do you do when life is catastrophically interrupted?
What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away? 8 What makes life worth living in the face of death

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student in search of what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and new father.

Thoughts

I knew that I was probably going to shed at least a few tears at the end of this book. I mean, it’s a book written by a man who is terminally ill. It’s going to make you cry. I didn’t quite expect how much I cried though. Partly because I didn’t think that it would be the epilogue written by Kalanithi’s wife that would really set me off… maybe not the best book to read when you’re pregnant and hormonal.

When Breath Becomes Air is incredibly humbling. It is filled with reminders that your world can change in a moment and everything you worked towards can just be ripped away. Yet, even though Paul was writing this in his final months and knew what was coming for him, he writes in such a way that you feel… at peace with his fate. Having been around numerous people with a terminal illness, reading about someone who faced their diagnosis head on like this… as I said, humbling.

The first part of this memoir focuses on Kalanithi’s decision to become a neuroscientist. About his constant battle to find a meaning in life where he isn’t entirely sure there is one. I love that he talks about his love for both literature and science. And how instead of being independent of each other (an assumption I’ve often come up against), they build upon one another. You can feel the passion for both fields streaming off the page as you read about Kalanithi’s numerous experiences and a life well lived.

This is one of those amazing memoirs that makes you feel… well, everything. It definitely left me feeling a little bit raw. But, mostly it just made me feel humble and aware of all of my own faults. But not in a bad way. I know that I couldn’t go through a terminal diagnosis like Kalanithi with the kind of calm and grace that he shows. And it’s kind of nice to read the words of someone who actually was capable of doing so.

<- Lab GirlIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) ->

Image source: Amazon

The Summer Garden by Sherryl Woods

Overview
The Summer Garden (Chesapeake Shores, #9) by Sherryl Woods

Title: The Summer Garden
Author: Sherryl Woods
Series: Chesapeake Shores #9
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 1st – 6th October 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Mira
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: He suspected that Mick himself would have said far worse.

Synopsis

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sherryl Woods proves once more that home is always where the heart is.

Falling for “Maddening Moira” O’Malley was the unexpected highlight of Luke O’Brien’s Dublin holiday. So when she pays a surprise visit to Chesapeake Shores, Luke is thrilled… at first. A fling with this wild Irish rose is one thing, but forever? Maybe someday, but not when he’s totally focused on establishing a business that will prove his mettle to his overachieving family.

Given Luke’s reaction, Moira has some soul-searching of her own to do. Scarred by her father’s abandonment, she wonders if Luke, with his playboy past, is truly the family man she longs for. Adding to her dilemma, she’s offered an amazing chance at a dream career of her own.

Deep down, though, Moira knows home is the real prize, and that love can be every bit as enchanted as a summer garden.

Thoughts

This kind of feels like the end of the first part of this series. I mean, each of the first nine books feel like they sit within their own trilogy anyway. And then this story just felt like it rounded out the three trilogies. I know that there are more Chesapeake Shores books to go, but Luke’s story finishes out the romances of the first and second generation of O’Briens. And highlights the appearance of a next generation soon to come up the ranks.

As someone who has always been told that she’s incredibly difficult, I kind of loved Moira from her very first appearance in An O’Brien Family Christmas. I mean, I can be rude and surly (especially when I was younger) and often got painted into a specific box. Just like Moira. Of all the women that I have loved thus far in this series (and I’ve loved them all), I think it’s Moira that I most strongly identified with. She’s unsure, confused and there are so many different possibilities laid out before her. However, unlike me, she actually manages to figure out what she wants at a fairly young age. And is able to find ways to fight for it.

One of the things that always confuses me about people and romance is that they have an image of their “ideal” person. Or the “ideal” timeline to fall in love and get married and have kids. In my experience, this is absolute stupidity. There is no ideal time to do any of these things. Rather, life happens and you may as well enjoy it and move forwards with it. Luke most definitely falls into this category of stupid. He just… keeps thinking that if he ticks off his list, he’ll get his happily ever after. To me, happily ever after is the everyday moments and points in life that happen on a daily basis. Luckily, Luke does manage to realise that before its too late.

All in all, this was a good and sweet book. I do enjoy the fact that Kirsten (of fame in Beach Lane) kind of gets a bit of a kick in the butt in this story. I would have liked a little more comeuppance. But, she does get a swift kick in the butt. It just gave an extra sense of joy throughout this story that left me smiling. Nothing better than an entitled brat getting their butt kicked in the name of true love…

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the mad O’Briens at Chesapeake Shores. They’re quite a clan, and honestly, what I’ve always wished family meant / represented.

<- An O’Brien Family ChristmasA Seaside Christmas ->

Image source: Goodreads

A Puzzlement Spell Challenge

Duration: 1st November – 30th November 2021
Number of books: 12
Hosted by: Crazy Challenge Connection

M – The Answer to the Riddle is Me by David Stuart MacLean
A Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh
N

I

P

U

L
– Cowboy and the Captive by Lora Leigh
A

T

I

O
– The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Kay O‘Neill
N

DURATION: NOVEMBER 1 – NOVEMBER 30, 2021

To go along with Barb’s scavenger challenge this month, choose one or more of these words to spell out in November. You may use the first letter of the first word in the book’s title (excluding A, An and The) OR the author’s first or last initial (middle names or initials can NOT be used).

puzzles
crossword
squares
blanks
vertical
horizontal
symmetry
(Arthur) Wynne
escape (room)
Japan
prison
zombies
guards
jigsaw
(John) Spilsbury
dissected map
logic
deduction
elimination grid
matrix
mechanical
manipulation
dexterity
tangrams
interlocking
Rubik’s Cube
multicolored
Lucas Etter
sudoku
row, column
numbers

CHALLENGE RULES:
See this thread for more detailed rules for all CCC challenges.

♦ If you want to participate in this challenge, please sign up by posting a challenge template. This gives us a post to link you to, which you can use to update your books as the challenge progresses.

♦ Unless otherwise noted, books must be at least 150 pages long. (See the link above for rules regarding graphic novels.) Books may only be used for one task in this challenge, but cross-challenge posting is encouraged 🙂 Re-reads are allowed, as long as you read the entire book. You must read at least half of the book AFTER the challenge begins in order to count it for this challenge.

♦ If you choose any of the spelling options, you may use the first letter of the first word in the book’s title (excluding A, An and The) or the author’s first or last initial (middle names or initials can NOT be used).
-In the case of a hyphenated first or last name (i.e. Sarah-Kate LynchKate E. Dyer-Seeley), the first letter of the hyphenated name may be used (not the second initial directly following the hyphen).
-If an author uses what appears to be “two last names” (usually a female author using her maiden name and then her married last name; i.e. Kathy Hogan Trocheck), the last initial of the two names counts since the maiden name is now serving in the place of a “middle” name.

♦ For each book you read, please post a link to the title, and indicate the author and the date you finished reading it. If you don’t, you won’t get credit for completing that task.
* If you don’t know how to post a link to the book title or author, see the instructions here: Add a link to book title or author

♦ If you want the challenge moderator to verify your books as you post updates, please copy/paste your update into a new message . If you do this while you still have the Edit window open, it will copy all of your formatting, etc. too. We don’t have time to scroll back through the entire thread looking for “message #15,” or to follow links back to an original post.

♦ For those who read books whose title is in a language other than English: For spelling challenges and tasks asking for a title beginning with a specific letter, please remember that words representing articles cannot be used in challenges where you’re asked to disregard A, An and The. If you’re unsure about your book title, post in the challenge thread and the mod will get back to you about it ASAP.

♦ When you complete the challenge, please post your entire list as a new message. If you do this while you still have the Edit window open, it will copy all of your links and formatting. If you don’t repost your list, your name will not be added to the list of those who have completed the challenge.