Review: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Screen Shot 2020-01-23 at 6.49.08 PMTitle: Things You Save in a Fire
Author: Katherine Center
Page Count: 320 pages – Hardcover edition, but I listened to the audiobook
Release Date: August 13, 2019

Synopsis:

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Review

This book was nominated for the Romance category for 2019 Goodreads Choice award, which sort of inspired me to pick it up, but it is so much more than just a romance novel! I love TV sitcoms like Grey’s Anatomy, Chicago Fire, etc. and I think its hard to find good books with characters who are doctors, firefighters, or paramedics. Things You Save in a Fire revolves around veteran firefighter Cassandra and rookie firefighter Owen.  The reason Cassie and Owen meet is because Cassie has just moved to Boston from Texas after a very public mauling of a councilman at an awards ceremony. Granted, he groped her–but no one saw that behind the scenes. But Cassie makes the move to save her career and moves in with her mother sort of against her will at her mother’s desperate request. It is this move that will change Cassie’s life and teach her lessons about love, forgiveness, and moving on.

Cassie was a super stubborn character and at times I got sick of how she treated her mom or how she shunned some of the men around her, but I get it. She is a woman in a “man’s profession.” She has to have rules and boundaries, and really, she is a badass. She has earned her way up and she will not let anything take her back down. Owen is probably my new bookish McDreamy. Seriously, this guy is the funniest, sweetest book boyfriend. And he’s a fire fighter so….what’s up! I even loved how he handled the conflict in this book and thought he was an all-around great fit for Cassie. Last but not least, the story overall was just so charming and well-written, I absolutely recommend it. I don’t always read contemporary romances but when I do, this is what I want to read!

Did you read any of the Goodreads Choice 2019 books last year? What were your faves?

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January 8: WWW

Halfway through the week! I love it! Life has been so nice having shortened weeks for almost a month now but here we are, back to the full grind. *sigh* For those of you who don’t know, this meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words, and it involves three simple questions which are as follows:

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

~ The Currents ~

I am so close to finishing 2 books at the moment: the comic vol. 1 of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as well as a really good YA fantasy called Unspoken. On top of those, I am about a third of the way through the audiobook of Ninth House so I have quite the reading load going on here.

~ The Recents ~

Honestly nothing was too terribly recent, I hate to say. I did sneak in one last holiday read just as we were finishing up our Christmas celebrating and that was Christmas Camp. Other than that though, I hope to have much more to report on this question next time around!

~ The Upcoming ~

This is where the fun really is. I have a couple anticipated reads from the library that I am looking forward to getting to plus a couple egalley/ARCs to get to soon. First off I need to read The Night Country by Melissa Albert, which released yesterday. I am really excited for that one. I need to see how the sequel to The Hazel Wood  turns out!

What is one current, recent, or upcoming read that you have on your list?

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The Sunday Review: Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler

39893648Title: Christmas Camp
Author: Karen Schaler
Page Count: 336 pages – ebook edition
Release Date: September 3, 2019

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I thought this looked and sounded (from the synopsis) like a cute holiday book that I would skate through quickly and enjoy immensely. Plus with the word “Camp” in the title, I had to read it! I’m a sucker for camps and retreats! Apparently though, Hallmark/Lifetime/Netflix mushy writers should stick to their screenplays. At least for me. Reading the author’s bio, “Christmas Karen” Schaler has also written screenplays for Netflix’s THE CHRISTMAS PRINCE (which I did enjoy!), Hallmark Channel’s Christmas Camp (I haven’t seen this), and Lifetime’s Every Day is Christmas (also never heart of it). While the idea of this book was classic holiday family and romance cozy, it fell a little short for me. Here is why:

In this book, Haley Hansen’s Christmas is booked–in the Caribbean. And that’s the way she likes it. She prefers to take her laptop, her work and her parents and avoid the holiday hustle and just relax on the warm beach. This year is different because her advertising company is trying to land a deal with a huge toy company. Big problem though. The theme of the ad campaign? Christmas spirit, and Haley has none. What’s more is that landing this campaign could earn her a spot as partner in the company. She would do anything–even head to Christmas Camp–to get this deal.

brooke-cagle-czbB0aPh_V0-unsplashMeanwhile Jeff is the oh-so-handsome, successful architect in Boston and son of the owner of Christmas Camp. He recently lost his mother and his aging father, Ben, is now running Christmas Camp basically on his own. I’ll let the rest of the details here unfold themselves for you all.

Christmas Camp is, I think, just about the first book ever where I didn’t find the male love interest charming or very interesting. He almost seemed sort of villainous for most of the book. I guess that’s what made it even more refreshing for Haley to be a hard-working girl (woman) throughout the book. She really did have some good growth and that really was heart-warming. From the very beginning I didn’t think she was a bad character…so what if she didn’t love Christmas?? I mean, everyone can choose to celebrate, or not, in their own way. Isn’t it kind of bogus (illegal?) for a company to basically require her to have Christmas Spirit?? I guess that’s a whole different debate. But anyway. The book was decent. Obviously several different ways to look at things so if you’re into that, go for it!! One last thing I will add is that there are a couple of good side characters, but the dog is probably the best character in the book.

Book soundtrack: The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

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#BEWinter19 : A Very Potter Christmas

Today’s prompt for Bookending Winter is “A Very Potter Christmas,” hosted by Broken Soul Reviews, and who am I to pass up a Potter prompt?? If you’d like to join in on this amazing quarterly event hosted by Cuppa Clo and Fictionally Sam, you can check out the event main page here. But enough chit-chat. On to the prompt!

Question #1
Which Harry Potter book was your favorite and why?

originalI have always said that Prisoner of Azkaban was my favorite because of the Marauders and the details left out of the movie about their backgrounds and stories. I just love meeting Sirius and all of the intricacies of that book. However, I am re-reading the series as an adult and I just finished book 5 and so far I am surprised to say that Order of the Phoenix is my new favorite. Talk about details and little humors that I have never appreciated before! There are so many characters in this book that really shine–the Weasely twins, Luna, Ron…unfortunately almost everyone but Harry.

Question #2
Which Harry Potter characters are your favorites and why?

Not necessarily in specific order I love Dumbledore and I hate hearing when people give him grief. Since the very beginning (and now, with ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ apparently before the beginning even! what?!) Dumbledore was the man with the plan. He always made sure Harry was taken care of, he was always doing his research, he was always doing his best to stay five steps ahead, and he was incredibly criticized all throughout. Next up is Molly Weasley for being a badass mum to her own children and anyone/everyone her kids brought home. She has the biggest, warmest heart but also is so strong and and kick butt when she needs to be. She is everything I would want to be as a mother. A lot of similarities here with Minerva Mcgonagall. Not only is she a softie for her students at heart, she is incredibly brave, wise, and strong. Honorable mentions for other favorites go to Harry, book Luna, Hagrid, and Lupin.

Question #3
Who are you taking to the Yule Ball?

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Thanks for stopping by today! Feel free to share any of your answers in the comments! I want to know especially who your date to the ball would be–either pre- of post- puberty, lol!!

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October Wrap-Up/November Goals

So this was definitely, definitely not my most successful October ever, unfortunately. I didn’t read and finish as many books as I had planned, I didn’t blog as many posts as I had hoped. I don’t know what happened but I just didn’t finish out the month quite where I wanted to. Let’s see what the results were….

– BOOKS READ –

The Last to Die … 10/3/19 … ★★☆☆☆
The Institute … 10/8/19 … ★★★★★
Pumpkinheads … 10/13/19 … ★★★★★
The Chestnut Man … 10/24/19 … ★★★★☆
Witches of East End … DNF … ☆☆☆☆☆

– BOOKS HAULED –

74348432_707135956451018_7844982637746716672_nSub Boxes
Into the Crooked Place
by Alexandra Christo
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Swaps/Gifts
The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams
BookOutlet Haul
Beware the Night by Jessika Fleck
Consumed by J.R. Ward
George and Lizzie by Nancy Perl
Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Pearl
Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before boxed trilogy
Digital Snags
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
Invictus by Ryan Graudin
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

In my update last month, I mentioned that I was cleaning and rearranging my bookshelves a bit. Well I mostly did that. I haven’t gotten everything quite put back the way I’d like it yet–its still a work in progress but its close. It will happen soon enough. And so that will carry on into November. Also, since I didn’t get all of my posts finished and posted for the BookEnding Autumn event, a couple of those prompts just might carry over into this month as well. The ones that aren’t too spooky, that is. Just fall-ish ones. Plus I’m trying out the #thankfulathon on Instagram for the first time this year so I’m trying to reflect on books and habits and general life topics that I am thankful for.

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Tour + Giveaway: Beyond the Black Door

42642042._sy475_Beyond the Black Door
Author: A.M. Strickland
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: October 29th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT

Synopsis

Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …
Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.
But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.
When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.
A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom…

Review

Hands down, Beyond the Black Door is among the most unique books I have read. Dark fantasy, spooky vibes (so perfect for this month!) and a dark fantasy plot, unique concept called Soulwalking which is rooted more or less in the mythology of the fantasy world, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ace + demi-biromantic MC. WOW.

Main character Kamai is a Soulwalker who can enter people’s souls, or Nehyn. Kamai is taught this skill by her mother, who has always warned her against opening the black door that follows her when she enters souls. Of course, its not just any door but it seems to be a warm, breathing thing and like any good fictional character, the more you tell her not to do something, the more she wants to do it. To be completely honest, I did find the book a little rough-going in the beginning. We are being introduced to Kamai’s fantasy world, plus her routine of soul walking, so there were two huge fantastical concepts battling for my attention at the same time. However, once things got rolling about 25% of the way in, once more characters were introduced, once the plot started to get a little deeper and a little darker I was hooked!

About the Author

authorAdriAnne Strickland was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before she knew what either of those words meant. She shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, her pugs, and her piles and piles of books. She loves traveling, dancing, vests, tattoos, and every shade of teal in existence, but especially the darker ones. She is the coauthor of SHADOW RUN and SHADOW CALL (Delacorte/Penguin Random House) and author of the forthcoming BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR (Imprint/Macmillan).

Giveaway

Prize: Win a finished copy of BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR by A.M. Strickland. US/CAN only.

Starts: 23 October 2019
Ends: 6 November 2019

Click HERE TO ENTER VIA RAFFLECOPTER.

Check out the rest of the rest of the FFBC Tour schedule for more chances to win the giveaway.

Soundtrack

And of course, such is my personal signature, the song I choose to go with this book: Paint it Black by Clara

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Every Witch Needs A Familiar! What Would Yours Be?

Familiar

This post is part of the event BookEnding Autumn, which is facilitated quarterly by Sam & Clo. This prompt in particular was developed and hosted specifically by Jamsu, so if you wish, you can check out the original post here. But the ‘official’ prompt is as follows:

If you were a witch, which magical creatures would you want as your familiar?

Before I answer this, I wanted to do a little digging. Of course I know of  familiars but I really am not familiar with them (yeah, that’s right–witch humor!). So I consulted the oracle (Google) and the simplest answer I found was:

…familiar spirits (sometimes referred to simply as ‘familiars’ or ‘animal guides’) were believed to be supernatural entities that would assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic.

3686Historically, familiars were often small, ordinary-seeming creatures who were given common names. Reading further, I found some familiarity.  In European folk tales, familiars entered the story when the protagonist is in the most need of aid–perhaps a grinning, striped Cat (a la Cheshire) or a cricket named Jiminy. Then I found connections to a couple recent reads. Relative to this is a daemon (Latin for the Ancient Greek daimon) referring to a guiding spirit. This term goes all the way back to Greek religion, mythology, and philosophy which, honestly are not my topics to date although my high school teachers loved  them. What I really am driving at here is the His Dark Materials trilogy. It has been a while since I have visited this world, but I remember the daemons being connected to their humans until being physically killed. I know I have heard of/seen daemons in other books/stories but offhand I can’t remember what. Probably none as well-known as HDM. Plus, HDM has an epic TV series coming out this winter sometime and I am looking forward to it!

The other recent read that came to mind when I was researching this was The Bear and the Nightingale. Just a disclaimer: I have only read book 1 and admittedly, I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I think it was due to it being the audiobook version, I’m open to trying to read on. But anyway, the reason I thought of this book was Vasilisa’s belief and loyalty to a household diety and just basically the “old magic” in the book.

Two quick TV examples that I have watched recently which blatantly mention familiars and are super witchy, which I would recommend on this topic: Salem, which was an awesome show starring Shane West (think back to A Walk to Remember, ladies!) that is based on the Salem Witch trials and life in early Salem, Massachusetts. It is a horror show though and it gets pretty twisted at times, but if you’re looking for something to FontCandy (45)watch this October, jump on this train! The second show is, of course, Sabrina the Teenage Witch–either the New Adventures or the 90’s version. Of course Salem is her familiar. And while we’re at it, why don’t we throw Charmed in there too. I love this show and the Halliwell sisters are gifted a cat as a familiar as well.

On a final note, familiars are also said to reflect the personality. So to sum everything up I think my familiar would be a dog. More specifically, a golden retriever. Blonde, loyal, protective, friendly, curious, family-oriented, playful and fun…yep, I’m going with that.

What would your familiar take the form of? What books or movies come into your head when thinking of familiars? Share in the comments!

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September Wrap-up & October Goals

My favorite month is here! It seems like everyone is so excited and motivated to read all the books this month. Ok, its me–I’m everyone! But seriously, I am seeing epic TBR’s and readathon’s around every corner and it is so fun. Between it being cozy fall time and Halloween coming up AND all of the awesome book drops there is a lot of reading to be done!! So let’s hop to the good part.

– BOOKS READ –

Job Interview: Prepare to Get Hired … 9/11/19 … ★★★★☆
Well Met by Jen DeLuca … 9/14/19 … ★★★★☆
The Backstagers, Vol. I: Rebels Without Applause … 9/21/19 … ★★★★☆
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix … 9/29/19 … ★★★★★
The Whisper Man … 9/30/19 … ★★★★★

71832181_462512031029497_1066610146769108992_n– BOOKS HAULED –

Sub Boxes
Crown of Coral and Pearl
The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Barnes & Noble/Amazon
The Bloody Chamber
A Taste for Monsters
Tunnel of Bones
Community Buys/Trades
The Haunting of Hill House
Gifts
Ignite Me
Sorcery of Thorns (digital)

And that was my month! As for goals I am trying participating in a couple of challenges both reading and blog-related. I started a clean-up of my shelves wherein I moved several of the books I’m not very interested in anymore into another room so that the books I have bought more recently can actually have a spot on a shelf. From here the next move is to re-organize my merch on my shelves so that I am incorporating new and old items and if there are things I don’t like or use, I have rotated them out. So that’s about it! Do you ever do this with your books and/or merch as you get new things? Do you keep books long after you read them, or do you pass them along?

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OH MY GOSH, ITS OCTOBER!!

I can officially fangirl about fall now, right? I’ve been trying to keep it low key for about three months right now! There really is so much going on this month that I have pretty much lost track. The highlights that I know I will be jumping in on are as follows:

bookending2bautumnTo kick off the month, the prompt from Danielle @ PoetryBooksYA is “Sweater Weather.” We’re talking about books that make us feel warm and cozy like a nice, warm sweater.

One book I would choose for that is Little Women. I actually read this for the first time this year (gasp!). I always knew my mom loved this book and I think we read a middle grade edition when I was young. I just think it is such a kind and loving book–almost overly so, but it is certainly worth a read.

Second, The Light We Lost is a book you need to read curled up in a blanket. It is a touching story of deepest love lost and found. Just make sure the blanket is comfy!

Sleepy Hollow is probably one of my favorite autumn reads. This one has to make my list just because its a classic, I grew up watching the animated version, and as I said its just a fave.

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October is coming! Haunted books…Part I

Hello everyone! With October right around the corner, I am positive that I’m not the only one thinking ahead to my Spooktober 2019 TBR! In looking ahead, of course I’m also looking into what I have read in the past to work out what should go on my list for next month. Haunted books Part I will be a post about a handful of books I have read and enjoyed in Octobers past that maybe you either want to pick up or avoid this year. Part II will be my actual TBR/books I’m considering as the mood reader I am.

👍 City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab – This middle grade book comes in at 285 pages and it really flies by. I ended up claiming City of Ghosts as one of my top books of 2018, that’s how much I loved this one. You can check out my review here.

45287291_255832425107068_6695770026378526720_n👎 The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White – I realize that this may be an unpopular opinion, but this book just didn’t live up to the hype for me. Maybe I’ll try reading it again at some point in time but for now, I sit disappointed.

👍 The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw – If the cover alone doesn’t draw you into this book, then Goodreads’ description of Hocus Pocus + Practical Magic will maybe give you a little extra push. This was a great ghost story built on hundreds of years of small town magic and once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down.

👎 The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay – I had high hopes for this one because many people rave about this author around this time of year. This book and A Head Full of Ghosts (which I have also read and did not completely enjoy) just aren’t my style for horror-thrillers. Great concepts but no action past a certain point, in my opinion. So I think I’m done trying PT at this point.