Tuesday, December 21, 2021

#MMBBR #FirstLine #HighStakes by @Iris_Johansen via @GrandCentralPub

High StakesHigh Stakes by Iris Johansen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

#FirstLine - "It's time, Lara," Maria said gently from the doorway behind her.

Another awesome read from Johansen. I can never seem to put her book down. I get pulled into the characters, setting and story. It was one of those reads that I finished in a few sittings because I needed to see what was going happen. A must read and a book I highly recommend!!!

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Friday, December 17, 2021

#MMBBR #Review #FirstLine #EverythingWeDidntSay by @NicoleLynnBaart via @AtriaBooks

Everything We Didn't SayEverything We Didn't Say by Nicole Baart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

#FirstLine ~ The murders took place on a hot summer night, but to Juniper it would always be winter in Jericho.

This book was intense. The alternating timelines add so much depth to the story. I was taken away between past and present navigating secrets, love and small town living in this book that was super hard to put down. A must read for thrill lovers. You will love the pace and setting of the book. You are sure to be enthralled from cover to cover!

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#MMBBR #Review #FirstLine #WhatWeCarry by #KalynFogarty via @penguinrandom

What We CarryWhat We Carry by Kalyn Fogarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

#FirstLine ~ Hope slipped away as my water broke all over the emergency room floor.

This book starts with a bang. Read that first line. It gave me all the fees right off the bat and did not stop. This book is important. It is heartbreaking and hopeful. It is real and honest. It is a must read!!!

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Thursday, December 16, 2021

#MMBBR #Reviews #FirstLine #Win by @HarlanCoben and #AnAmbushOfWidows by @JeffAbbott via @GrandCentralPub #BooksMakeGreatGifts


The new novel from Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author and creator of The Stranger on Netflix.

From a #1 New York Times bestselling author comes this thrilling story that shows what happens when a dead man's secrets fall into the hands of vigilante antihero—drawing him down a dangerous road.

Over twenty years ago, the heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family's estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors — and the items stolen from her family were never recovered.

Until now. On the Upper West Side, a recluse is found murdered in his penthouse apartment, alongside two objects of note: a stolen Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. For the first time in years, the authorities have a lead — not only on Patricia's kidnapping, but also on another FBI cold case — with the suitcase and painting both pointing them toward one man.

Windsor Horne Lockwood III — or Win, as his few friends call him — doesn't know how his suitcase and his family's stolen painting ended up with a dead man. But his interest is piqued, especially when the FBI tells him that the man who kidnapped his cousin was also behind an act of domestic terrorism — and that the conspirators may still be at large. The two cases have baffled the FBI for decades, but Win has three things the FBI doesn't: a personal connection to the case; an ungodly fortune; and his own unique brand of justice.

#FirstLine ~ The shot that will decide the championship is slowly arching its way toward the basket.

Another win by the master storyteller. This book had everything! It was so good, with twists and turns...action galore. It was a roller-coaster and a new series I cannot wait to continue! 

In New York Times bestselling author Jeff Abbott’s latest novel of riveting psychological suspense, an uneasy alliance forms as two widows delve into their husbands’ deadly and dangerous secrets—as they try to protect their own.

Henry North is a down-on-his-luck cybersecurity expert from New Orleans. Adam Zhang is the cofounder of one of Austin’s most successful venture capitalist firms. These two men didn’t know each other. They had never met. Yet they died together, violently, in a place neither had any business being.

When Henry doesn’t return from a business trip, his wife, Kirsten, panics—and then gets an anonymous phone call: “Your husband is dead in Austin.”

Flora Zhang knew her husband was keeping secrets. She suspected an affair, but she had decided she could forgive him for his weakness—until her husband ended up dead. And with no explanation for her husband’s murder, the police begin to suspect her.

Together, these two widows will face a powerful foe determined to write a false narrative about the murders. In doing so, neither Flora nor Kirsten will remain the women the world thought they were.

#FirstLine ~ Kirsten North was doing what she normally did when Henry was gone on a business trip: finishing her own work on her laptop on the couch, ordering in Chinese food from the place Henry didn't much like, and watching a British baking show that was like televised tranquilizer.

What a great story. It kept me engaged from start to finish. It was one of those stories that was paced well with lots of interesting characters and a story that was both interesting and also engaging! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

#MMBBR #Showcase #BooksMakeGreatGifts @Harper360

#TheLuckyEscape #LauraJaneWilliams 
#AriasTravellingBookShop @jaxandwillsmum 
#InheritanceofSecrets #SonyaBates 
#CantSayitWenttoPlan @gabrielletozer 
#WhisperIsland @carissaannlynch

The Lucky Escape – Laura Jane Williams

“What an absolute delight!” Emily Henry
One cancelled wedding
When the day finally comes for Annie to marry Alexander, the last thing she expects is to be left standing at the altar. She was so sure he was Mr Right. Now, she has no idea how she could have got it so wrong.
One unexpected encounter
After a chance meeting with Patrick, an old friend who reminds her of who she used to be, Annie takes a vow of her own: she’ll say yes to every opportunity that comes her way from now on.
One spare ticket for the honeymoon
Could a spontaneous trip with Patrick be the way to mend Annie’s heart? She’s about to find out as she embarks on her honeymoon – with a man who’s not her husband…

Aria’s Travelling Book Shop – Rebecca Raisin

A heartwarming, uplifting, and hilarious novel of friendship, love, and adventure!
A life on the road with best friend Rosie and her beloved camper-van-cum-book-shop, and definitely, definitely, no romance.
But when Aria finds herself falling – after one too many glasses of wine, from a karaoke stage – into the arms of Jonathan, a part of her comes back to life for the first time in years.
Since her beloved husband died Aria has sworn off love, unless it’s the kind you can find in the pages of a book. One love of her life is quite enough.
And so Aria tries to forget Jonathan and sets off for a summer to remember in France. But could this trip change Aria’s life forever…?

Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates – 12/14

A brutal murder. A wartime promise. A quest for the truth… a modern-day thriller interweaved with chapters set in World War II Germany.
When Juliet's elderly grandparents are killed in their home in Australia, she is stunned, wondering who would commit such a heinous crime—and why? The only clue is her grandfather Karl's missing signet ring, and the search will take her all the way back to World War II Germany.
Juliet only knew Karl Weiss as a loving grandfather, a German soldier who emigrated to Australia to build a new life. What was he hiding that could have led to his murder?

Can’t Say it Went to Plan by Gabrielle Tozer (9/14)
From the award-winning author of The Intern, Faking It and Remind Me How This Ends.
School's out. Forget study, exams and mapping out the future.
For the next seven days, the only homework is partying with friends, making new ones, and living in the moment.
There are no parents or curfews, and no rules.
Zoe, Samira and Dahlia are strangers, but they have something in common: their plans for a dream holiday after their final year of school are flipped upside-down before they even arrive at the beach.
From hooking up and heartache, to growing apart, testing friendships and falling in love, anything can go down this week.

Whisper Island – Carissa Ann Lynch – 11/16

It was the perfect escape… Until one by one they vanished…
For friends Riley, Sam, Mia and Scarlett, their trip to Whisper Island, Alaska, was meant to be a once in a lifetime adventure – just four young women, with everything to live for…
But as soon as they arrive things start to go wrong.  First there is the unexpected arrival of Sammy’s drug addict brother and his girlfriend Opal – why are they here?
And then the deaths begin.
As the dream trip quickly turns into a nightmare, suspicion is high.  Are they really alone on the island?  Or is there a killer hiding in the shadows?
And as each of the girls reveals a dark secret of their own, perhaps the truth is the killer is closer than they think…just a whisper away…

#MMBBR #Showcase #Thrillers Books Make Great Gifts @Harper360

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey (9/21/21)
“Extremely tense and very gripping with a killer ‘what if’: your stalker claims to be the only person who can save you – what if this time he’s telling the truth.” –Ruth Ware
After Ingrid defended Webster against a stalking charge, he then turned on her – following her, ruining her relationship, even destroying her home. But now Webster claims Ingrid is in danger – and that only he can protect her. Stalker or savior? Murderer or protector? The clock is ticking for Ingrid to decide. Because the killer is ready to strike again.

The Family Tree by Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry (10/5/21)
The DNA results are back. And there’s a serial killer in her family tree…
Liz Catalano is shocked when an ancestry kit reveals she’s adopted. But she could never have imagined connecting with her unknown family would plunge her into an FBI investigation of a notorious serial killer…
The Tri-State Killer has been abducting pairs of women for forty years, leaving no clues behind – only bodies. Can Liz figure out who the killer in her new family is? And can she save his newest victims before it’s too late?

The Stolen Sisters by Louse Jensen (10/26/21)
Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?
Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?

#MMBBR #AdultColoring #Coloring #MustHaves #ChristmasGifts #Kaleidomorphia #ColoringtheZodiac @penguinrandom

With the holidays just around the corner, I wanted to share about two coloring books coming from Plume this fall: 

KALEIDOMORPHIA by Kerby Rosanes (10/26), a compilation of his most remarkable artwork from his Morphia series, featuring both black-and-white and Kerby’s own colored-in versions.

An astonishing second compilation of the most striking images taken from the Morphia series, with colored-in examples

Kaleidomorphia is a stunning second compilation of Kerby Rosanes's most remarkable artwork from his beloved mega-bestselling Morphia series. This collection, just like the first, Colormorphia, features a full-color sixteen-page section that showcases some of the most accomplished completed artworks produced by Kerby's fans. These pages demonstrate the range of approaches colorists can experiment with when coloring.

The artworks displayed in the color section are included in the black-and-white section of the book, too, giving the reader the opportunity to duplicate the approach should they wish. In addition, there are a variety of images to color featuring the very best from Kerby's Morphia portfolio.

COLORING THE ZODIAC by Christina Haberkern (12/7), following up her popular Totally ‘90s Coloring Book from last year, with gorgeous illustrations that your astrology-loving friends will need to have on their shelves.

Celebrate the heavens, your own personal sign, and the fun of coloring in an intricate, beautiful, and giftable package from the creator of the popular gift-item and stationery brand Hello Harlot.

There are twelve signs in the zodiac and twelve ways to celebrate the radiance of the stars, as well as the incredible history and symbolism behind each sign. Illustrator Christina Haberkern shares beautiful, intricate, fun-to-color pages influenced by the latest trends in fonts, design, and pop culture, with more than forty pages to color. The symbol, character, and constellation of each sign will be featured, along with pages of pure celestial, decorative, and pattern designs.

Loved this coloring book so much! It is so detailed and beautiful. The images are stunning! Everyone who loves to color will be taken on an adventure with the pictures. There is something for everyone! It is so fun to color in this book! The paper in the book is thick and perfect for coloring. A Must have book!

A fun book for those that are into astrology and coloring. There are several pages for each sign. I think there is something for everyone in this book. This would make a great gift!!!

#MMBBR #BooksForNewYearsResolutions #SelfHelp #BecomeBetter #Leadership

If you are anything like me you view January (and maybe February) as a trial period for implementing new things and becoming a better person. We come into the New Year with lots of great ideas. We are pumped for change and ready to do better. Deep down want to change, but we always give ourselves an escape clause.  I think New Year's Resolutions often fail because we try to do too much too quickly or do things without really thinking about why we are REALLY doing them or we do them with the wrong motivations.

I believe it can feel like a really big deal to try new things and to create new habits. It also takes concerted effort, lots of of work and determination. So, we quickly revert back to our old and comfortable habits. I have learned that it is easier when you follow well thought out plans with great insights and research.

The books listed below have something for everyone! These books create an easy outline to do things that make your life more meaningful. They also have ideas to enhance activities, relationships, interactions and so much more. With the enhancements you will learn through these amazing books you can find new ways to add more true depth and more meaning in your life.

Additionally, with COVID-19 out there looming, now is the best time to grab these books and take good care of yourself through this very uncertain and difficult time!!!

I highly recommend all of these titles. The books are more than just life boosters, they are more like life changers!!!!

When Women Rise is a timely, transformative, and inspiring guide for women who want to bring more joy, power, and peace into their lives. It invites every woman to nurture her inner wisdom and strength, transcend the prevailing fears of our time, and rise into her highest wellbeing. Dr. Michele Kambolis integrates the science of mind-body medicine and more than 20 years' experience working with women in clinical therapy to provide daily practices that will help women overcome the barriers that hinder their freedom and compromise their very essence. The result is a fresh and empowering guide for women to discover, together in spirit, a more awakened way of living and being.

The cofounder and CEO of Delivering Happiness updates the Delivering Happiness model for our new abnormal, showing organizations of every kind how to cultivate a culture that can adapt to change, be highly profitable, and support all its people...starting with yourself.

Jenn Lim has dedicated her career to helping organizations from name-brand industry leaders to innovative governments build workplace cultures that benefit both their employees and their bottom line, with less employee turnover, greater engagement, and higher profits. Her culture consultancy, Delivering Happiness, demonstrates the profound impact happiness can have on businesses' ability to thrive in our ever-changing times. In this book, she clearly and concretely shows the way the model works in a hyper-connected fast-paced world, beginning with each individual defining their sense of values and purpose (the ME), and rippling through the organization ecosystem (the WE and the COMMUNITY) in waves of impact.

Drawing on a deep understanding of the science of happiness, Jenn shows how bringing your whole self to work allows you to do your best work every day -- no matter what role you play at your company or what crisis might come at you next. She explains how true happiness comes from living your true purpose, and offers case studies to show how companies can help individuals align their purpose with the company mission. This innovation in organizational design and company culture is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s the future of work, and it’s here now. In this life-changing guide, you'll be empowered to find greater purpose in your own life and career, and to spread that power to others in your business and beyond.

Discover NIFTY(TM) tips and tricks for keeping every inch of your home neat and tidy. These innovative hacks will transform your space--and your life--in no time. Brought to you by BuzzFeed's insanely popular NIFTY(TM).It's time to get organized! From straightening out your kitchen drawers and maximizing closet space to keeping your home clean and tidy, the tips, tricks, and hacks in NIFTY(TM) Clean & Organized will take your space to the next level in no time. From the popular BuzzFeed lifestyle destination NIFTY(TM), this home organization guide is perfect for anyone who wants to bring a little order to whatever space they call home. It includes helpful advice on how to clean and organize every room in the house, making life easier, more organized, and less stressful than ever before. With money-saving tips, fun DIYs, and inventive ideas for maximizing space, this book is the ultimate cleaning resource. Whether it's tackling the chaos of the bedroom closet or making the most out of the limited space in your tiny bathroom, NIFTY(TM) Clean & Organized makes tidying up and staying organized easier than ever.

In Life and Work, You Can’t Fake It to Make It.

The Authenticity Code™ combines the best of a page-turner parable and a practical tool business book to deliver encouragement and proven tools for cracking the code to becoming a more authentic professional or leader. When you become more authentic, you do what you came here to do and be who you came here to be. You communicate more effectively, and the success you desire in your life and career becomes achievable.

Dr. Sharon teaches in a fun, engaging, and honest parable style, and at the end of each chapter, you apply her proven practical tools to your own life and career.

The effectiveness of these tools is proven from the over 20 years that Dr. Sharon’s company, Inside-Out Learning, has been teaching them to their Fortune 500, mid-, and small-size business clients. Results across thousands of clients include getting promoted, landing a dream job, significantly increasing sales and revenue, developing confidence and loyalty, greatly enhancing professional, leadership, and communication skills, and improving your personal life. The promotion rate for individuals is 50-80% within a year of completing one of Inside Out Learning’s 3- to 5-day programs. Now you have the opportunity to achieve these exceptional results in an easy-to-read book format.

The Authenticity Code™ tells the story of a fictional corporate vice president choosing a sales director from two talented protégés. After they present their cases, he realizes that neither of them is impressive enough to qualify. Instead of giving up, the leader sets out to teach his candidates what they need to know via The Authenticity Code™ Program. Like the candidates in the book, you, the reader, will learn to look within yourself and decide who you truly are and what you really want from life and work—and how to go about getting it.

Now Dr. Sharon encourages you to enjoy the parable, apply the tools, develop your own authentic brand statement, and achieve the success you desire.

When Surinder Kumar was growing up in post-partition India, his father, Kanshi Ram Arora, was known as "Master Ji," or "respected teacher." In the years that followed Britain's departure and the challenges that faced a newly reconstructed nation, Kanshi Ram helped his village grow out of poverty and deprivation. He did this by imbuing his family and his community with a set of principles that set many of them on a path to success beyond their wildest dreams. Today, Surinder Kumar is an enormously successful businessperson, having served prominent roles with Wrigley, PepsiCo, and Warner Lambert. He ties his accomplishments directly to the principles he learned from his father as a child – principles he believes apply to everyone.

Now, Surinder brings the lessons of Master Ji to you in this powerful and inspiring book. Through sixteen brief chapters brimming with universal advice, he offers you the teachings that took him from the depths of poverty to a life of great professional and personal accomplishment. Filled with exercises and practical applications, Everything You Need Is Within You is a treasure of a book that will resonate within you and the generations to come.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

#MMBBR #Review #FirstLine #DearSanta by @debbiemacomber #BallantineBooks @penguinrandom #DebbieInsider

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

#FirstLine - Home.

I loved this books so much. Dare I say that Macomber is the queen of Christmas?!?!?! I think she really gets to the heart of the holiday season through her beautiful stories. It does not feel like Christmas until I read one of her amazingly sweet and heartwarming stories of the season. Dear Santa is a book about remembering what it is like to do a wishful child. We can be caught up by the ways that life sometimes chips away at the joyfulness of youth. When Lindy writes a letter to Santa something unexpected happens. This story captures what it means to have faith and to truly believe in something greater than ourselves. A must read holiday story!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

#MMBBR #Review #WishYouWereHere by @jodipicoult via @netgalley and #BallantineBooks

Wish You Were HereWish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you want a book to give you all the feels you need to read WISH YOU WERE HERE. I know for some the COVID-19 pandemic is still very fresh. Picoult does amazing job giving what we have been through a voice through. Picoult's main character Diana O'Toole and her boyfriend Finn are both impacted by the pandemic in different ways. WISH YOU WERE HERE shine a light on how we can get through so much by sheer force of will, some resiliency and a whole lot of human spirit. A must read and an story that will leave a mark on your heart.

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#MMBBR #Review #FirstLine #InAnotherLight by #AJBanner via #LakeUnionPublishing @LUAuthors

In Another LightIn Another Light by A.J. Banner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

#FirstLine - Phoebe steals up the winding, forested driveway, her hoodie drawn tight against the cold.

OMG, this book was SO GOOD. I devoured it! I loved it cover to cover. Every time I think Banner cannot outdo her last book, she goes and does it! This book had everything; mystery, thrills, twist and turns and a very satisfying ending. It is plotted perfectly and kept me buzzing through the pages. This is a MUST read. I will not soon forget this amazing story!!!

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Sunday, December 5, 2021

#MMBBR #Review #BeforeSheDisappeared by @LisaGardnerBks via @Netgalley and @DuttonBooks

Before She Disappeared (Frankie Elkin, #1)Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was so good. I adored it cover to cover. I loved how Gardner really brought the main character to life on the page. She was flawed, damaged, but was tough and had the hugest heart. I loved her quest to find the missing and the way her brain worked while working the case. She was an unapologetic lady boss on a mission. I loved that so much. The story was heartbreaking and hopeful in equal measure. I gobbled it up! I must read more by this very gifted writer. She is beyond gifted and a must read!!!

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#MMBBR #Review #RoundUp #BooksMakeGreatGifts #YoungAdult #Childrens #BuyBooksForChristmas

REVIEW: I love all things Christmas. I trees are up well before Thanksgiving. I loved everything about getting ready for the day and the day itself. The book captures all the of festive ways we prepare and make our way through the holiday season, plus so much more! It is sheer delight and a book that can be read yearly as you get ready for the big mans arrival!!  

#FirstLine - Hey, guys, Cat FX here.

REVIEW: This book was FANTASTIC. It is a hard read, but important themes are discussed. Dee gave voice to this story and it was so beautifully fleshed out. You will be brought into the story and it will invoke some very deep feelings. You will be better for reading this wonderful and heartfelt story! 

#FirstLine - According to Irish folklore, if you crossed the ancient stone bridge to Inish Roga, you'd enter another world.

REVIEW: This book was packed with everything the whole family would love; mystery, fantasy, folklore, adventure and so much more. It was quick paced and well plotted. I really enjoyed and I know your family will too!

#FirstLine - The Bennington Museum of the Unusual and Rare was not an attraction that received many visitors. 

REVIEW: This was a great Halloween story, but one that could be enjoyed year round. I loved the characters and it was such a blast to watch the story unfold. It was really fun and a book the whole family will love! 

#FirstLine - I was born in the mortuary.

REVIEW: I loved this book for so many reasons. It was one of those books that brings history to life and creates an interest in the area for kids. This story is powerful because it focuses on themes that kids may not be aware of. I just loved it and I know young readers will love it too! 

#FirstLine - Carl's parents were fighting again the first night it happened.

REVIEW:I loved this book, cover to cover. It was a delightful read that made me feeling all the feels. I read it so quickly, but did not want it to end! A must read!! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

#MMBBR #BlogTour #Giveaway @Amazon #AmazonOriginalStories #Featuring #RainbowRowell, @SuzanneRedfearn, @jcourtsull & @cbakerbooks #FestiveReads #BestsellingAuthors #ShortStories


Ring in the Holidays with Excerpts from Festive Reads by Bestselling Authors Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker

I was taken on an adventure in each and every one of these amazing stories! They  are MUST reads, so go and grab them now and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post!!!


This winter, rejoice in a festival of entertaining new tales from Amazon Original Stories. Unwrap unique short reads by bestselling authors to keep your holiday season merry and bright. 

Visit www.amazon.com/holidaystories to browse a curated selection of stories—free for Prime Members and Kindle Unlimited Subscribers—and read on for excerpts from the titles by Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker.




After a long, lonely year, two people stumble toward each other in If the Fates Allow a holiday short story by Rainbow Rowell the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl.


Reagan crept to the side to get a closer look. It looked like the deer had managed to snag its foot between two crossbars and a small tree that was growing right next to the fence.


Mason was still inching toward it, with his hands out.


“What are you doing?” Reagan asked again.


“I’m going to help it get free.”


“It’ll get itself free.”


“I don’t think it will. It’s wedged pretty good.”


The deer broke into frantic movement, struggling against the fence. “It’s going to injure itself,” Mason said.


“It’s going to injure you.”


This wasn’t a fawn or a hungry little doe; the deer was as long as Reagan was tall—it must have weighed two hundred pounds.


“Shhhh,” Mason was saying. Maybe to the deer, maybe to Reagan. He was crouching behind it, which seemed like the dumbest decision in the world.


Mason,” Reagan whispered.


“It’s all right,” he said, reaching for the trapped hoof. “Her other legs are on the other side of the fence.”


“I think that’s a buck.”


“She’s not a buck, look at her head.”


The deer struggled again. Mason froze. Reagan took another anxious step toward them.


When the deer stilled, Mason shot forward. He bent the tree back and grabbed the trapped hoof, lifting it free.


The deer pulled the leg forward—and in the same motion, kicked its other hind leg through the fence, catching Mason in the chest.


“Oof,” he said, falling backward.


The deer ran away, and Reagan ran to Mason. “Jesus Christ!” she shouted. “I told you!”


Mason was lying on his back in the snow. Reagan went down on her knees beside him. “Are you okay?” she asked, touching his arm.


His eyes were wide. “I’m fine,” he said. “Just surprised. Is she okay?”


“The deer?”


He nodded.


“She’s fine,” Reagan said. “She’ll live to spread ticks and disease, and destroy crops. Where’d she get you?”


He pointed to his shoulder.


“Can you move it?”


He rotated his shoulder. He was broader than he looked from a distance. Broad even under his coat. His neck was thick, and one of his ears was partly inverted, probably from an old injury. He had snow in his ears and his hair. His hair was much darker than Reagan’s, almost black.


“Did you hit your head?” she asked.      


“No. I think I’m okay.”


“That was so stupid, Mason—that could have been your face.”


“I think I’m okay,” he repeated. He lifted his head up out of the snow and pushed up onto his elbows.


Reagan moved away from him.


He stood up, so she stood up, too.


“That could have been your neck,” she said. “That was so stupid.”


“Okay,” he said, nodding. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”


Reagan’s heart was still pounding. Mason looked worried. There was snow on his glasses, and his mask had fallen below his nose. He was holding her arm. “I’m sorry, okay? Are you hurt?”


“No,” Reagan said. “I’m just . . .”


Mason was holding her arm. He was standing right next to her.


Reagan made a fist in the suede collar of his coat and pulled herself closer to him.                      


His head dipped forward, more fiercely than she was expecting, to kiss her.


Read More About If the Fates Allow Here >>




From Suzanne Redfearn, the bestselling author of In an Instant, comes a heartfelt short story about one couple’s journey to discover if there really is a secret ingredient to happily ever after before their upcoming holiday wedding in The Marriage Test.


The server appears. “Something to drink with dinner?”


“Do you have a white burgundy?” I ask, feeling like something bright to match my mood.


The server points to the French section of the wine list.


“Oh,” I say, as the list is limited and pricey. “I only want a glass. I’ll just take a—”


“A bottle of the finest white burgundy you have,” Justin interrupts.




He waves me off.


The server leaves, and I lean in to kiss him. “I love you.”


“For ordering a bottle of wine?”


“For ordering a bottle of wine to make me happy.”


I sit back again, and he returns his hand to my knee. “Good evening.”


I look up, and my breath catches. Standing a foot from our table is Annabelle Winters, my chef idol since college. She’s five feet tall with narrow shoulders and wide hips. Curls of wild black hair escape her white cap, flour dusts her black chef coat, and in her hands is a cutting board with a round loaf of bread.


“I understand tonight is a special occasion,” she says, a Mediterranean accent rounding the words. I tilt my head as Justin nods. “In my home country, we have a tradition: remarkable moments are celebrated by the breaking of bread. So, I made this loaf specially for you.” She sets the board on the table, wisps of steam spiraling from the golden, flaky crust. “This is pogača, the bread of my childhood and a symbol of love.”


With a small bow, she pivots away.


“That . . .that was . . .I can’t believe it . . .that was Annabelle Winters.”


Justin smiles wide, a proud grin that crinkles his cheeks. “You told her it was a special occasion?”


“It is,” he says. “We are together.”


I look at the loaf. “Wow. Pogača. My grandmother told me about this bread. It doesn’t use eggs or milk, and it’s cooked on a hearth over an open fire.”


“It’s still warm,” he says. “It must have just come out of the oven.”


I lift it to my face and inhale deeply, warm yeast and flour filling my nose. “Mmmm.” I hold it toward him.


He takes a breath, then leans back and nods. “Well, go on . . . break bread.”


Grinning like a kid at Christmas, I grip the edges and start to twist.


“Wait!” Justin yelps, stopping me, the loaf suspended.


He falls from his chair to the deck, my leg flopping from his lap along with his napkin.


I giggle. “What are you doing?”


“Okay,” he says, now kneeling on one knee. “Keep going.”


The people at the table behind us have stopped what they were doing and are now looking at us, and I notice Annabelle Winters beside the entrance watching as well. I look at the bread, then at Justin, then back again, and blood rushes to my face as I realize what is happening.


“Really?” I say.


He nods toward the bread.


Cheeks spread wide, I tear it in two, sending gold crumbs raining onto the tablecloth.

Poking from the steaming center is the corner of a stainless-steel cylinder.


I dig my fingers in to pry it loose and set it on the palm of my hand. An inch and a half tall and two inches in diameter, it’s engraved on top with two doves surrounded by a ring of leaves.


The woman behind us shifts for a better view.


Heart pounding, I prize off the lid. Sitting on a bed of white satin is a stunning sapphire ring, the center stone blue as the deepest ocean, a single diamond baguette on either side.


“Ava Nicole Barnes,” Justin says, his voice elevated for the audience, “keeper of my heart, guardian of my soul, and woman of my dreams, will you make me the happiest man on this earth and do me the great honor of becoming my wife?”


Read More About The Marriage Test Here >>




Not happy? No problem. Fake it. From New York Times bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan comes the sharp witted short story, Model Home, about the reality of reality TV.


On the ninth take, things get heated between the husband, Todd, and his wife, Noreen.                                                   

He complains that this house only has three bedrooms, leaving no possibility for the man cave he was promised he’d get if they gave up their downtown Milwaukee loft for the suburbs. She seems flabbergasted that he can’t see the advantage of sacrificing that space for what is by far the biggest backyard of the three houses they’ve looked at.                                                         

Todd says in a tone that manages to sound both jokey and hostile, “If we buy this house, you can’t complain when I play my electric guitar in the living room. Have you thought of that?”

Noreen replies, “I’m only ever thinking of Colby and Mason.”


If you ask me, they both deserve an Oscar. The tension is palpable, even though everyone present knows they already bought this house seven months ago.


House Number One belongs to Todd’s cousin. It isn’t for sale. House Number Two is soon to be listed. The owner was happy to provide access, since being featured on our show, even as a reject, will sell the place in a minute.


I, the wise referee/realtor/designer, smile and say for what feels like the one trillionth time in my life, “Sounds like you two have a lot to discuss. Babe, let’s leave them to it.”


I wonder briefly if I’ll ever get to say these words again on camera, but I have to put the thought from my head.


I never call Damian babe in real life. Especially not now, but even back when I could stand him.


He doesn’t meet my eye. He’s staring into space, going out of his way to look disinterested. No one notices but me. Lately I think of my husband as a disappointment turducken: a lack of ambition wrapped in a beer gut wrapped in a statement tee designed for a much fitter man.


Read More About Model Home Here >>




Everyone is home for the holidays, clamoring for all the Christmas cheer only their mother can whip up. They can already smell the chestnuts roasting—or is that Mom’s hair on fire? From New York Times bestselling author Chandler Baker comes the laugh-out-loud short story, Oh. What. Fun.


During normal times, Mom loves to spend most of her day on the phone with one of us or the other. As soon as she hangs up with Channing, she’ll call Sammy; as soon as she’s done with Sammy, Tyler will call; and then she starts the whole process again. Not that we’d ever say this out loud, but we’re in the thick of our lives, so we’re busy with dating and kids and friends getting married and pregnant and such, and, well, Mom’s stories are kind of dull. Though obviously, in retrospect, this is an instance when we should have paid better attention.


Unlike Mom, Channing never complains about anything and so she didn’t make a big deal of it when Mom, again, forty-five minutes after the agreed-upon time, took over the kids, leading them on a special explorer hunt to find Canelo the Elf.


Mom is wild about that Elf on the Shelf. Canelo joined us three Christmases ago. The twins are in a Spanish- immersion program, hence the name, and Channing and Doug explained to us that if Canelo started the month of December at their house, he’d need to travel for the time spent at Grandpa and Grandma’s. It only made sense. So the trick is there are actually two Canelos. Mom bought a body double so Channing could leave hers safely at home. Canelo’s antics are one of those things we all tease her about: Somebody has too much time on her hands. But the truth is, we do kind of get a kick out of him.


Mom keeps the Elf ’s next move top secret from everyone, even Dad. Last year, Canelo relaxed in a Crockpot Jacuzzi filled with marshmallows; then he stole all of our toilet paper to build snowmen and rode a zip line down the stairs. This year was off to an impressive start as the twins took binoculars and donned safari hats to track down Canelo, who was wearing camouflage in one of the old oak trees. But we guess we’ll never know what else Canelo had in store, because Canelo hasn’t moved in two days. His painted, unblinking eyes stare at us from his perch, and none of us have been able to work out yet how it is we should explain this to the twins.


We think at some point during the Canelo expedition Sammy pulled up and plopped down on the couch, probably with his shoes still on, and started messing around on his phone. Every group of siblings has a “one,” and Sammy, for us, is the Boring One, mainly because he’s twenty-five and always on his phone. Also he just broke up with his girlfriend (see: always on phone), and yet when we tasked him with one very simple to-do—break into Mom’s phone—well all the sudden he apparently “didn’t know anything about phones.”


Sammy didn’t see anything or hear anything or smell anything unusual, but as we’ve already pointed out, this can’t be taken as gospel since he was preoccupied texting back and forth with his ex.



do you know what kind of laundry detergent you used to use on our clothes? Bc mine smell all weird now.



It’s the fabric softener. Downy infusions. Scent: Romantic.                                                          


Later, we passed around the conversation to weigh in by committee on whether she meant anything by it. We even consulted the Downy website while Mom handed out homemade eggnog because none of us care for the store bought, and there we learned that the Romantic scent carries “sensual aromas of delicate floral, white tea, and peony,” and at least half of us found it difficult to overlook a smoking gun like “sensual” right there as the subtext.


After dinner, Mom asked Channing if she’d mind watching the twins for a few minutes while she cleaned the kitchen, and we all took bets on whether Sammy and Mae-Bell would be back together by spring. The holidays can be hard on people, you know. Everyone except for Mom anyway, who just loves an excuse to corral us all together under one roof. Nothing makes her more upset than a year when she has to share Channing and the twins with Doug’s family. This year, Doug’s family was indisposed because they were up in Vermont visiting Doug’s aunt, but they probably could have been in the ICU and Mom would have been just as happy as long as the result was having Channing and the girls all to herself. Not to be alarmist, but of all the years to up and vanish, you just wouldn’t expect it to be one where Channing was set to be home the whole time.


Read More About Oh. What. Fun. Here >>




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