Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Brandee's Bookish Babble #21 ~ So You Have Swag, Now What?

Welcome to Brandee's Bookish Babble. There are many, many similar posts to this one - but basically I wanted a place to discuss bookish and/or blogging stuff and I needed a title. :) So this is my new discussion feature.


As y'all know, I've been to a few book conventions and author signings over the past several years. I have *tons* of swag. And I was trying to figure out what to do with this ton of swag, other than giving it away. ;) Here are a few ways I created to showcase and/or use my swag...

I've collected many pins at the various book events I've attended. I love them! They make me smile or laugh out loud and I wanted a way to show them off while also seeing them daily so I could smile and or laugh. Pinning them to ribbon and then hanging them on my bookshelves worked great for me.

I have some extra space on my shelves (right now anyway) which I decided to use for miscellaneous swag like bracelets, water bottles, and my signed ereader covers.

I believe I've said that I collect bookmarks. I not only collect them on my travels, I also collect them at book conventions/author events. I used to know someone who hand-made baskets, so that's where the basket came from. I use it to contain some of my many, many bookmarks. It's sitting in the window sill in front of my desk in my library.

For events where I got to meet some of my favorite authors, and collect their swag, I decided to create a Book Convention/Author Event scrapbook. This was I could showcase the swag along with photos of me with those authors. Here's an example page from my trip to Queen City Indie Con, where I dragged Denise and we both got to meet Robin Peterman, Wendy Owens, and Aleatha Romig! :D


I hope these ideas will be inspirational or even spark more ideas for creative uses for the swag y'all might be collecting. If y'all have unique ways of showcasing your swag, let me know! I'm always looking for a new way to use my swag. ;)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review ~ Sweet Dreams ~ Kristen Ashley

Sweet Dreams (Colorado Mountain, #2)Sweet Dreams by Kristen Ashley
Colorado Mountain #2
Release Date: April 23, 2011
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Suspense
Source: Purchased on kindle
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #ShelfLove

She's ready for the ride of her life...

Lauren Grahame is looking to reinvent herself. After leaving her cheating husband, Lauren moves to Carnal, Colorado, and gets a job as a waitress in a biker bar called Bubba's. It's a nothing job in a nowhere joint...until Tatum Jackson walks in. Lauren has never seen a man with such good looks, muscles, and attitude. But when he insults her, Lauren doesn't want anything to do with him. Too bad for Lauren he's also the bar's part owner and bartender.

When the rough-around-the-edges Tate meets the high-class Lauren, he thinks she won't fit in at Bubba's. Yet there's more to Lauren than meets the eye, and Tate soon sets his mind on claiming her as his own. Before long, the desire burning between them is heating up the cold mountain air. But when violence strikes the town, Tate must reveal a dark secret to Lauren-one that may put an end to their sweet dreams.

I have to confess that I didn't instantly fall for ate. *gasp* I know! While I adore KA's particular brand of alpha, Tate rubbed me the wrong way to begin with. He did, of course, eventually win me over. Which was good because Lauren - I loved Lauren and I would have hated for her to end up with another jerk! LOL

Lauren is a divorcee - her husband cheated on her - for FIVE years!! - with her best friend. She's since been wandering the country in her car - searching for 'home'. She finds it in Carnal, Colorado. In Carnal, she finds *real* friends, a fulfilling job, and Tate - all reasons to show her particular brand of special. Because Lauren - everyone needs a friend like her and should aspire to be a friend like her. She's one of those people who just glows. You know what I'm talking about? Everyone loves her and she loves everyone.

Tate - well, I first thought he was a grade-A jerk. But KA slowly revealed more and more about him and I realized he was a good guy. He cared about people - showed it in unconventional ways. I liked seeing that even at 44 (YES! a seasoned hero), Tate, could grow and I enjoyed what Lauren brought out in him.

The suspense factor in Sweet Dreams was upped quite a bit when violence strikes this small town. Tate, being a bounty hunter and former cop, played a role in the investigation. The crimes were gruesome and the reveal shocking. But the thriller element added to the complexity of the story and I appreciated that.

As with any KA story, a robust secondary cast was present. From hippies to grumpy bartenders to a sweet, older couple of motel owners, I felt close to them all by the end. The Colorado Mountain series is a tad different than KA's Rock Chick or Chaos series in that we don't see the same group of chracters in each installment. There was mention of Nina, from The Gamble, but no sightings. It didn't take away from the story though.

This was my first KA read of 2016 that wasn't a re-read. And while I've been greatly enjoying revisiting everyone, getting to meet a new cast of characters was an incredible experience. I'm anxious to meet the next group and fall in love with a new set of characters. As soon as I'm over my book hangover. ;)

Friday, June 24, 2016

**Sky Reviews ~ Soul Walker ~ Robyn Jones**

Soul Walker by Robyn Jones
Soul Walker (A Touched Girl Series, #1)Release date: 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy
Source: Bought off Amazon
Rating: 5 Bookworms

"I need to get you to the hospital." He was taking responsibility for me. Only my parents had that job. I stretched my hand out in protest, but the lack of depth perception had my trembling fingers grazing his overheated neck. I swore his whole body shook.

When five-year-old Anna Pierce is offered a chance to have nightmare-free nights for the small price of her voice, she jumps at it. Silence has to be better than all-consuming dreams about blood and death and fangy monsters. The bargain she strikes comes with a secondary benefit, visions of a person's future potential. The combination of visions and silence changes her very nature and soon she's diagnosed with autism. Twelve years of living in her head comes to a screeching halt the moment Peter Davis pulls her out of an icy river. 

Her new life has her twirling, tiptoeing, and crashing through unfamiliar territory, one filled with a cranky grandma, a knocked up cousin, an unpleasant cousin, a bunch of mostly good vampires, and the boy who rescued her. 

To top it all off, the deal she made at five is no more. Anna is expected to talk, to figure out her resurfacing nightmares, and to control her ever-growing powers. And she'd better get it done soon because if the good vamps want a piece of a living, breathing Touched girl, the evil ones simply want. They'll take Anna for their very own.

***Sky's Review***

My mom has been raving about Robyn’s books since the first time she read them, which was before she and Robyn became best friends. I’ve been looking forward to reading her books for a long time because I know how great a storyteller Robyn is!

Soul Walker did not disappoint me. In particular, I loved the beautiful development of characters, and I especially loved Anna. I can relate a lot to the way Robyn described her thoughts and emotions as a kaleidoscope; I thought that the vivid visualization of these intangible elements was gorgeous. I can also relate to Anna’s overly trusting nature -- this was a flaw of hers but I kept forgetting that it was one. Generally, Anna is a wonderful character. I love her quirks and her bubbly personality.

It was a lot of fun to watch Anna enter the world and discover her place in it. That spoke to me, since this is the journey that I will undertake very soon. And although the vampire fad is long gone, I liked the very different approach to it that this book takes. I thought that it was very creative and it’s refreshing to read something so different.

Robyn does an amazing job of painting the world through Anna’s eyes. We don’t just see the maple tree -- we see that big, beautiful maple tree with the purple leaves and all of the connotations it has for Anna. I love it when a book takes me not only to a different place, but also turns me into a different person. Robyn does this from page one; when I was in the early stages of the book, I kept forgetting that I could speak, and as I kept reading, my thoughts started running in the voice of Anna (Robyn?) Her style of speaking is incredibly distinctive and infectious.

Really, the only critique I have is the relative abundance of comma splices. I know that they indicate a more informal style of writing, but four years of editing high schoolers’ work is hard for me to shake (high schoolers are notorious for having a horrible problem with comma splices, according to my teachers.) It bothers me mostly because each type of punctuation takes a separate amount of pause in my head, like musical rests, so comma splices just don’t sound right. Most people probably aren’t quite as neurotic as me, so it’s not really an issue.

Robyn’s writing is truly something magical. Her characters are colorful and full of life and her story is creative and comfortable. I look forward to reading more!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Brandee's Bookish Babble #20 ~ Books & Best Friends Part 4

Welcome to Brandee's Bookish Babble. There are many, many similar posts to this one - but basically I wanted a place to discuss bookish and/or blogging stuff and I needed a title. :) I hope you enjoy!


I know as readers and book bloggers we love sharing our passion about books. And I'm sure we all enjoy making new friends through that shared love of books and reading. Some of my closest friends were made via that shared love. And I thought it'd be fun to share the story of how these friendships came about. This will be a 4-part series, if you will, as I talk about these 4 friends.

I met another of my besties via a blog tour - her's. I participated in a blog tour for Robyn Jones' A Touched Girl series back in 2013. (Robyn's books are brilliant - you can find my reviews here, here, here, and here.) After I'd read and reviewed her books, we struck up conversations about this, that, and the other thing. She'd mentioned on her blog that she was visiting family in Colorado during her Spring Break and we realized her family lives very close to me! Later that year, my family was going to be visiting her neck of the woods and she invited us to stop and have lunch. That day, sitting down to a lunch of Mexican food and good company, it was like we'd known each other all our lives. And we haven't stopped talking since!

After that visit, the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks ended up playing one another in the Super Bowl. Since our hometowns were competing, we decided to make a little wager on the winner. If Seattle lost, she'd have to gift me a book set in Seattle. If Denver lost, I'd gift her a book set in Denver. Well, Denver lost that year an I gifted her Rock Chick. Our love of all things KA and our transformation into Rock Chicks began! ;) 

We visit each other twice a year now, once when she's in town and I usually try to make it up to her home state as well. We email and chat on the phone, and we buddy read all the time. Our families are now friends as well and I can't imagine what my life would be like without her...and it all started with a book!


There are many more of you I've met through blogging and consider y'all friends. :D It's so wonderful to be a part of a community and world where I can make such amazing friends through a shared love of books! I'm forever grateful for all of y'all!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Early Review ~ Mr. Romantic ~ JA Huss

Mr. Romantic (Mister, #2)Mr. Romantic by J.A. Huss
Mister #2
Release Date: June 22, 2016
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. I also pre-ordered my own copy from Amazon.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

Charm is the key to the world.

Charisma, magnetism, sex appeal--that 'it' factor that can't be described.

Nolan Delaney has it in spades.

The infamous Mr. Romantic.

And maybe he is out of my league... But I'm going to give it the old college try anyway. Because I didn't travel two thousand miles for a job interview at his request just to be put out like trash.

Don't  underestimate me, Mr. Delaney.

I'm not really as innocent as I look.

First things first - I'm giving y'all a trigger warning. There is a taboo topic discussed in this book. There is plenty of warning and everything that happens is consensual. But if you have triggers, you have been warned.

I thought Mr. Perfect, as y'all might recall, was "straight-up sexy." With Mr. Romantic, Huss returns in true Huss-style. And by that, I mean with a riveting story with suspense, a twisty, mind-bending plot, and conspiracies abounding. Mr. Romantic had:
  • an anti-hero in Nolan. I admit to not knowing whether to believe him. He's suave, arrogant, completely charming...until he isn't. But he's also vulnerable. He kinda scared me at times. He kinda creeped me out. He definitely made me swoon at times. And he won me over in the end.
  • a likable, if naive, heroine in Ivy. I say naive because she was way more trusting than I'd have been. But she's a recent college graduate and has very little experience, both professionally and emotionally. So she didn't always listen to that inner voice although if she had, it might have led her in the wrong direction. And even though she was trusting, she had pluck. She didn't bend to anyone's will...she was thoughtful and stood up for herself when warranted.
  • a plot, that despite an element that may give some readers pause, was at times mind-boggling, at times fascinating, at times cringe-inducing but kept me turning the pages while gripping my kindle (white-knuckling on occasion).
  • some familiar faces *wink*
Although, Mr. Romantic is a standalone, I think you get a better connection to everyone and everything if you read in order. But that's just my opinion. As always, Huss' writing is incredible. There was an issue I had with Ivy - something very minor that she did that I didn't think matched who she was. But overall, Mr. Romantic was excellent. I'm still thinking about it 2 days later, throwing out conspiracy theories, thinking "Hmm...", and "Oh!" and "Um..." There were even connections drawn between Mr. Romantic and Mr. Perfect that didn't occur to me then but now have me scratching my head. And I honestly stayed as confused as Ivy over Nolan,  although in the end she and I both just *knew*.

One final thought...Huss really impressed me by touching upon not only that taboo subject, which she did with aplomb, but also upon the repercussions of having your life changed by a negative event. I'm obviously being purposely vague - but I think we, as a society, don't often consider the ramifications of wrongly judging people. 

Kudos, Ms. Huss, for writing a thought-provoking and gripping story that has my brain working overtime and the next in the series on pre-order. ;)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Review ~ The Glittering Court ~ Richelle Mead

The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court, #1)The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
The Glittering Court #1
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Source: Purchased Hardcover
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mire. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide's deception. Complications soon arise--first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complications will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands...

I've not read anything from Mead that I didn't love. I may not have been completely won over with Bloodlines but I ended up adoring that series. *sigh*Adrian*sigh* The Glittering Court won me over in the same way Vampire Academy did. I was immediately immersed in this new world - both historical and fantastical in origin. And Mead also had me entirely invested in Adelaide's life, as well as the other characters. desperate to know what was going to happen and whether everything would work out. 

A few other things that made The Glittering Court a pleasure to read:

  • The parallels between Mead's fictional world of Osfrid and historical England as well as current geographical climes.
  • The parallels between the class divisions in Osfird and those of today.
  • The parallels between the religious persecution being suffered in Osfrid and the persecution suffered by many today, whether religious or otherwise.
The world building was glorious. From the regency-era feel of Osfrid to the frontier feel of Adoria to the gritty, desolate feel of a mining camp, I was able to see it all, feel it all in my mind. Mead took on quite the endeavor when creating this fantasy world set in the past, and she managed with aplomb. Even the idea of training lower class girls to step into marriage in the world of the nouveau riche was clever.

At about 2/3 through, I realized there was a familiar feel where the religion was concerned but that didn't affect my enjoyment. There were also a few things that were predictable but they didn't detract from the story either.

In the end, I was simply impressed with the story and Mead's ability to weave together all these threads and elements to convey a brilliant story. I'm eager for more!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Review ~ Young Teacher ~ Bobbi Ruggiero

Young TeacherYoung Teacher by Bobbi Ruggiero
Release Date: March 24, 2016
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease, #CleanSweep

Control freak Julia Powers hates surprises. With the skills of a ninja, she keeps her ad business and personal life in perfect order. Matthew Gordon wants nothing more than for his band Joyride to go national. While he waits for his big break, he spends his days working in a sandwich ship--a job he loathes--and teaching guitar on the side--a job he loves. His days get a bit more interesting when a mysterious woman comes in for lunch. Imagine his surprise when she shows up at his door for guitar lessons. Unfortunately, Julia can't play guitar to save her life, and her frustration threatens to ruin any chance of her finding happiness. Will he ever be able to tech her that she's perfect just as she is? 

Young Teacher first appeared in the 80s Mix Tape anthology published by Pink Kayak Press.

Young Teacher was a quick, sweet read. It's Ruggiero's debut and shows the promise of good things to come!

Julia is a 35 year old woman who's driven, smart, and talented. She's spent may years making a name for herself in the advertising world but seems to have forgotten that a little fun every now and then makes life worth living. Enter her best friend and assistant, Katie, who finally gets Julia to agree to a concert night out. Imagine Julia's surprise at seeing the guy from the sandwich shop - the one she's been flirting with - on stage. Imagine her further surprise, when, weeks later she accepts the gift of guitar lessons from Katie, and sandwich guy is her teacher!

What follows is a delightful story about self-discovery, learning to let go, and maybe allowing fate to take the wheel. And music! The way Julia and Matthew spoke to each other through music was clever. The integral role Ruggiero had music play in the story was also a pleasure. I felt the pacing was good and the story flowed well. I think my main issue was that, since this is a novella, I was left wanting more. If the story had been longer, the character development would have been more in-depth, and my connection with Julia and Matthew would have been stronger.

As for how the title relates, well you'll have to read to get the answer to that. I will say it's an answer worth getting as you'll enjoy spending time with Julia and Matthew. In fact, my main regret is not getting to spend more time with them.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

That's What HE Said #65 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #46

That's What He Said is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies @Chapter Break. Here's the deal: every Thursday, post a line from your book boyfriend to his heroine. Keep in mind, these are direct quotes from dialog in the books. The quote doesn't have to be romantic - just something our hunky hero said to his lucky lady. Be sure to link up over at Chapter Break as well.

My pick this week for That's What He Said is from:

Rock Chick Reckoning by Kristen Ashley

I finished up my re-read of this one while I was in Dallas. AND KA's in town this weekend for Rock Chick Rendezvous so I had to celebrate a little. And Mace...he's something to celebrate. ;)

"Babe, I hope you get that I'm prepared to fight for you, but I gotta know you'll fight for me, too. This shit goes both ways. This doesn't end until I know you won't walk away, but also you won't let me walk away. Never again."



"Stella makes fancy-ass salmon and potatoes and everyone's in tears of delight. What? I can't even make pancakes in my own damn house?" Daisy burst out.
"What kind of salmon did she make?" Vance asked the wrong question, grabbing a Bavarian cream and sitting on the arm of Jules's chair.
"It was buttered and herbed and in this light as air pastry," Ava rhapsodized, even though Jules was now frantically shaking her head at Ava (who also didn't notice) and Daisy's face was getting pink. Ava went on, "And the potatoes were creamy and cheesy. Sliced so think, it was amazing."
Daisy glared at Ava, plonked down the coffee and stormed out.
"What'd I say?" Ava asked, glancing around in confusion, and Jules smiled at her and mouthed, "Later."
"Let me get this straight. Mace gets the girl who can cook?" Vance put in.