Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 #BookishResolutions Update ~ April


I'm once again participating in the Bookish Resolutions Challenge. This challenge is hosted by Michelle @Because Reading and Laura @ Trips Down Imagination RoadFor complete details and to sign up, click the graphic above or here


**MY GOALS FOR 2017**

I've been moderately successful with the challenge the past 2 years but I think I've come up with some tweaks so that I'll be even more so in 2017. Mostly I'm making my goals more specific and therefore more quantifiable. :)
  • Blogging Goals
    • Comment back THREE times a week
    • Visit TEN blogs a day
    • Interact with 3 blog Facebook pages a day
    • Link up my challenge posts on the last day of each month (or last day of month quarterly for those updating quarterly)
    • Keep track of my progress on my calendar
  • Reading Goals
    • NO BOOK BUYING without a gift card (that was gifted!)
    • Read TWO Netgalley reads per month
    • Read (at least) TWO books I already own per month
    • Read ONE book from a series I'm behind in per month
    • Listen to TWO review books per month
    • Read books my kids *need* me to read
      • Born to Run (Jax)
      • Death with Interruptions (Jax)
      • Everything is Illuminated (Sky)
      • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Jax)
      • School of Good and Evil (Berk)
      • The Book Thief (Sky)
      • The Lightning Thief (Berk)
    • Keep track of my progress on my calendar and in my book journal
  • Personal Goals
    • Exercise FIVE days a week
    • Keep a food/exercise journal
    • Spend an hour daily writing/editing
    • Clean up my Goodreads Shelves!
    • Spend ONE day a month on a different hobby - paper crafting or knitting
    • Keep track of my progress with writing/editing and crafting on my calendar

***Update***
  • Blogging Goals
    Where have I been?? I'm sure you've noticed my absence from the blogosphere lately and I apologize. I've had A LOT going on in my personal life with kids and their decisions, activities, and travel, writing, and I spent 5 days in Texas helping out with my grandma who fell and had to have 6 staples in her head. (that trip had already been planned but fell at a fortuitous time) Needless to say, I've been terrible at visiting y'all as well as commenting back. BUT I DO APPRECIATE ALL THE COMMENTS!! I will get back to all of you, I promise! But I'm in Atlanta this upcoming week for the RT Convention so I'll be absent again for the most part. Follow me on Instagram (@bookworm_brandee), Facebook or Twitter if you're interested in my goings-on...I'll be posting pictures there. :D
    I'm planning on a raffle for mystery boxes of books to show my appreciation for you sticking with me so stay tuned for that. And I *will* be getting back to a somewhat normal schedule when I return...at least for a few weeks. 
  • Reading Goals
    I have officially made it FOUR months without having one-clicked a book! (of course I add a few *freebies* to my library) I did purchase my first physical book (using a gift card *wink* but I couldn't help it, y'all. I had to get Dragonfly in Amber after finishing Outlander!) I also read a few more Netgalley reads in April, Losing Control and Taking Control by Jen Frederick. I read (or am reading) two books from series I am behind in - My TBR reads for April, Paradise Road by C.J. Duggan and Changing Tides by Sarah Darlington. I managed to complete two audio review books and am working on a third. (traveling slowed my listening pleasure ;) I finished Your Inescapable Love by Layla Hagen, as well as Undone by John Colapinto. I'm currently listening to What You Need by Lorelei James. I still reading Born to Run from Jax's request list. Yay me! And I'm continuing to use my planner to keep track of these goals and it makes it easier to see what I have on tap. Reading-wise, it was a much slower month due to all my personal obligations, etc.
  • Personal Goals
    This is one area I managed to keep on track with in April...at least partially. I've managed to exercise at least 5 days a week (except for while I was in Texas) and I'm continuing to use my fitbit to keep track of food and exercise. It's been enormously helpful since it's essentially done for me. I love that I can add in my food during the day to keep track of calories. And...I don't want to sound like I'm bragging but...I've lost 18 pounds! :D This means I've pretty much hit my goal weight-wise. I just need to keep on track to maintain. :)
    I spent ZERO time working at cleaning up my Goodreads shelves but I have spent time writing/editing. I didn't get to *THE END* but I'm close, y'all. So close! Writing, of course, has taken even more time away from blogging but I SERIOUSLY want to finish my book... So #sorrynotsorry.
    I DIDN'T manage any time for other hobbies in April...grrr! It's just been a rough month! Hopefully May will be marginally better but with two of my kids leaving for the summer, I'm not holding my breath.  

So that's my update. How are y'all doing with your challenges?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

My TBR List Review ~ April #1 ~ Paradise Road ~ C.J. Duggan

MyTBRList

My To-Be Read List is a meme hosted by Michelle @Because Reading. I think it's a fabulous idea because it gets y'all in the game and it helps me knock off some of the many, many books on my TBR list. You're more than welcome to join in the fun! I've included the basic rules below but you can click on the graphic above to hop over to Michelle's site where you can find all the details. 

My review of Paradise Road is below but my review of Changing Tides is going to be late. Sorry y'all!! I've had a lot going on and haven't quite finished it. But the review's coming, I promise!


***

Paradise Road (Paradise #2)Paradise Road by C.J. Duggan
Paradise #2
Release Date: November 22, 2015
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Nook
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #ShelfLove, #TravelingtotheTerminus
Goodreads

Synopsis
The Road to Paradise is never easy

After a year on the coast, Lexie Atkinson can't settle back into country life. She's missing the glitzy, gritty nightlife of the big city and the group of misfit friends she'd loved to hate. She knows to move forward she has to go back - back to face the guy who stole her heart.

But when Lexie arrives in Paradise City to work out if her future includes bad-boy surfer, Luke Ballantine, he is nowhere to be found.

With no home, no money and no Luke, Lexie gets a job slinging drinks at the wild Wipe Out Bar. Soon her heartache is eased when broody bar owner, Dean Saville, starts taking an interest and stirs more than just her drinks. But nothing is ever as it seems in Paradise City and when Luke barrels back into town, Lexie has a choice to make. But who will end up with the broken heart: Luke, Dean... or Lexie?




It's been almost two years exactly since I first visited Paradise City and I was as eager to return to Paradise as Lexie. And like Lexie, my return had its ups-and-downs, but in the end I wanted to stay.

What Worked:

  • Lexie's determination and tenacity to earn her way, to be responsible for achieving her goals and dreams.
  • Dean *sigh* I'm not gonna lie. I was a Dean fangirl from the get-go. His mysterious air, his maturity...oh, and his dark looks and tattoos...it all appealed to me much more than Ballantine's (Luke) surfer-boy charm.
  • Wipe Out Bar - I enjoyed spending my time here with Lexie and friends rather than at school. It helped give this a more mature "new adult" feel.

What Could Have Worked Better:

  • For all Lexie's maturity, she had her moments of immature behavior and decisions. Of course, she's only just 18 so I give her some leniency here but while this was realistic, I would have liked a little more consistency. However, this was consistent with Lexie's character and luckily for her, a certain someone found it endearing even if it made steam come out of his ears at times. *wink*

I really like Duggan's writing style. She creates entertaining stories with engaging characters and I'm excited to start a new series from her.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Review ~ Cupcakes and Ink ~ Helena Hunting #BloggerShame #ShelfLove

Cupcakes and Ink (Clipped Wings, #0.5)Cupcakes and Ink by Helena Hunting
Clipped Wings #0.5
Release Date: February 3, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received an eARC from the publisher via Netgalley. This did not affect my rating and my review is voluntarily provided.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #BloggerShame, #ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
Tenley Page is looking for a new start: a new city, a new apartment, a new life. Her plan is to keep to herself and stay focused. But leaving her past behind and starting over isn't as easy as she thought. And neither is maintaining her solitude. As Tenley settles into her new surroundings, she finds herself drawn to Inked Armor, the tattoo studio across the street. But it's the gorgeous, dark-haird tattoo artist who captures her interest. There's something about his severe beauty that captivates her - and not just in her waking hours.

Covered in the ink he inscribes on other people's skin, Hayden Stryker has made a career out of being a tattooist. He's got his own business and a tight circle of friends. As far as he's concerned, that's all he needs. At least until his aunt, who owns the antiques and used book store across from his tattoo studio, hires a new employee. At first his intrigue is based on physical appeal; hot chick equals something nice to look at. But as he begins to catch glimpses of the fiery personality under the fragile, feminine exterior, his fascination with Tenley grows. Annoyed by his inability to control his fixation, Hayden decides the best way to cure him of the new obsession is to get to now the girl under her skittish facade.

But like the ink he wears as armor, Tenley has the ability to get under his skin and stay there.



Novellas are always hit or miss but I'm happy to report Cupcakes and Ink was a hit. It's partly because it's well written and partly because this is a prelude of sorts - a little glimpse into the lives of the characters of this series. And I'm intrigued, y'all. Intrigued.

Hayden is this big guy - tall, wide, and built - who has a thing for tattoos - as in he's got quite a few - and metal. I mean piercings and he has quite a few of those as well. He's the owner of a tattoo shop as well as a tattoo artist and he gives a certain vibe. But he's also this kind and caring guy.

Tenley is on the run, from what we don't yet know. She's beginning work on her Masters and it seems tattoos might figure into her thesis. She's smart, attractive, and lonely. Oh, and she can't speak coherently to save her life when she's around Hayden.

These two have chemistry galore but they're both dealing with some apparently heavy things. Things we're left to speculate on for now.

As for the writing, Hunting provided just enough detail in this novella to hook me, make me anxious in my need to know more. She's obviously created characters that are complex and compelling and the story was dual POV - which I love.

Cupcakes and Ink hit the mark for me despite being a mere 60 pages. Lucky for me, I have Clipped Wings in my possession already. :)




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rock F*ck Club ~ My Interview with Author Michelle Mankin (@MichelleMankin)

Hey Michelle, I appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions I had immediately upon finishing Rock F*ck Club

BB: This is quite a premise. Did anything in particular inspire it?

MM: A number of events inspired it. The sexual empowerment for a woman theme in Rock F*ck Club came after I read a very thought provoking article by Lexxie Lin from Unconventional Book Views about romance being more than just Mommy Porn. (An aside: that term sets me off.) The Navajo details were inspired after a trip to Phoenix in November. The two best friends road trip aspect came after talking to two girls outside a club in Dallas. They were there early like me in order to be closest to the stage to see their favorite band.

BB: Was the mention of past drug use on Raven't part to establish something about her character? 

MM: She is flawed by strong and resilient? Yes, for sure. She acted out in order to get attention from her dad. As the story unfolds she learns with a certain someone's help to handle that particular issue more maturely.

BB: Raven's close friendship with Marsha and Lucky's closeness with Sky and his bandmates added depth to the characters and story. Do you feel as they do in that family and friends are integral to a happy life? 

MM: Friendships enrich life. There might be a quote about that in the story. It's something I truly believe. 

BB: There was a certain irony to the circumstances Raven found herself in once RFC took off. Are you making a statement there? Or do you feel Raven proved/made her point even if she didn't have all the control? 

MM: 0-0  Yes about our perspective being colored by the filter we view the world through. It's too spoilery to give the quote I want to, but if you do a word search for perception you'll find it.

BB: I was delighted with the inclusion of all the bands I've previously met in your books. Did you have fun with that element?

MM: Yes. I. Did. Once I owned up to the story I wanted to tell. At one time I considered a pseudonym for this story. But in the end I decided I had to be bold and brave like my heroine in the story.

BB: I enjoyed the Navajo/Native American element you wove into the story. Was it a starting point or did it come about while you were writing? 

MM: It was a starting point. After talking to Aunt Eve who lives in Phoenix I knew I had to have a spiritual symbolic place in that region.

BB: The travel aspect - visiting all the locales with Raven and Marsha was fun. Have you been to all the stops along Raven's RFC tour? 

MM: Hmm. Great question. Dallas check. NYC  check. Boston check. Chicago check. Detroit(No) Nola check. Atlanta check. Phoenix check. Kansas City check. LA check

BB: Will we see more from this set of characters? Please????

MM: Definitely. RFC will continue. More seasons. More power for women. More rock stars. I have ideas for novellas with some of Raven's ten guys and I even left myself some wiggle room to tell more with her and a certain someone.


Thanks so much for allowing me to interview you, Michelle!

If y'all haven't snagged Rock F*ck Club yet, you can read my review here and then go one-click it here! :D

Monday, April 24, 2017

Release Day Review ~ Rock F*ck Club ~ Michelle Mankin (@MichelleMankin) #2017NewRelease

Rock F*ck ClubRock F*ck Club by Michelle Mankin
Release Date: April 24, 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or rating. I voluntarily provided a review. I also purchased my own copy.
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017NewRelease
Goodreads

Synopsis
10 cities in two weeks 10 famous rockstars.
On my knees. Against the wall. On my tits I don't care. As long as I get the evidence to prove it. Why? Because I caught my former prick of a boyfriend from Heavy Metal Enthusiasts doing a groupie doggie style backstage on the night we were supposed to be celebrating our 1 year anniversary.

He told me I was too uptight. Too vanilla. Too boring. So I got drunk with my bestie, Marsha West, the aspring videographer. I ranted. I raved. I came up with a crazy idea. What I didn't know was that my best friend recorded me. Marsha put the video up on YouTube. It went viral with 10 million hits. Now I've got fans and sponsors offering me big bucks.

Rockstars are volunteering to be my f*ck buddy.
Hollywood is calling.
I get to choose which rockstars I want.
The stakes are hight.
This sh*t just got real.
What could go wrong?




Rock F*ck Club. Wow! What a novel premise! It's...it's refreshing! I love it! Women should be able to be comfortable and confident in their sexuality without fear of judgement. I liked Raven's taking a stand against the injustice of society's double-standards when it comes to sex. I felt the irony that in wanting control over her sexuality she was put on a path where she had none - but a path that allowed her the ability to find herself as well as love. Because while on the surface Rock F*ck Club might look like a simple story of a girl getting her jollies and lifting a finger to her ex as well as society, it's so much more. It's a journey whereby Raven finds herself.

A drunken rant is the set up for RFC - after Raven finds her rockstar boyfriend in a compromising position with a groupie. She feels heartbroken and upset by men's ability to screw any time, any place. The Rock F*ck Club was born.

I adored Raven even if her decisions at times made me scratch my head. She's flawed but also loyal and loving - determined to right all the wrongs of her past. She thinks she knows who she is - marked by the tragedy of losing people close to her - but barely into her journey of self-empowerment, she finds herself on a journey of self-discovery when she meets Lucky Spencer.

Lucky seems the typical front man for an up-and-coming band. Talented, sexy, cocky. But he's more than he appears - just as he believes Raven is. He's compassionate, protective, and loyal to her family and friends. And he sees - nay he feels something when he first sets eyes on Raven.

I think this was a journey of self-discovery for both Raven and Lucky - but mostly Raven. The events, as they unfolded, were riveting - sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes heartwarming. I relished getting mentions of and cameos from all the bans I've bet in Mankin's books - specifically King, Ash, and Ryland. It added a nice touch for long-time fans but new readers won't be lost at all. Getting to know a whole new cast of characters who are just as compelling as ones I already know has me eager for more. I'm hoping for quite a few more books starring several of my favorites from RFC.

I'm so excited about this new side of Mankin. She's really stretching her creative muscles and the results are incredible! Not only did she create a story around characters I was immediately invested in, but she also brought to life the positives and negatives of life as a rockstar, and incorporated some Native American lore, as Raven is of Native American descent. All in all, RFC was gripping - a story I didn't want to put down. And one where, in the end, I was proud of Raven. She set out to empower herself - and she did accomplish that. But she accomplished so much more!



Friday, April 21, 2017

Review ~ Shame on You ~ Tara Sivec #BloggerShame #ShelfLove #TakeControlTBR

Shame on You (Fool Me Once, #1)Shame on You by Tara Sivec
Fool Me Once #1
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received an eARC from the publisher via Netgalley. This did not affect my rating and my review is voluntarily provided.
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #BloggerShame, #ShelfLove, #TakeControlTBR
Goodreads

Synopsis
War veteran Kennedy O'Brien is in the business of sticking it to the man - or at least any man who tries to cross a woman. After she returned home from Afghanistan and caught her husband in bed with the nanny, Kennedy lost her faith in men and started Fool Me Once Investigations with her two best friends. After all, there's no better bounty hunter than a woman scorned.

When Kennedy takes a case to slap cuffs on a bail jumper turned dog-napper, she figures it'll be an easy paycheck. But trouble has a way of finding Kennedy. Enter the last man on the planet she'd willingly choose as a partner: her cheating ex-husband's best friend, Griffin Crawford.

As gorgeous as he is unwelcome, Griffin has always had a thing for Kennedy, and after keeping quiet about her ex's cheating, he'll do anything to earn back her trust. Whether or not she wants to admit it, Kennedy will need help as the case of the Chihuahua thief sprials out of control. Griffin may be just her man - in more ways than one.




Shame on You was a quick, fun read! It provided a nice introduction to the three heroines of this little series, there was action, some steam, and a lot of Sivec's trademark humor! The perfect way to entertain myself while logging my time on the elliptical.

While the series centers around three women who started a PI business after being burned by men, this installment focuses on Kennedy. She's funny, tough - as far from girly-girl as you can get - and unapologetic about it. She's just taken on a case for her dad - who's a bail bondsman - and discovers he set her up with a new partner. One she would never have asked for.

Griffin has his reasons for keeping that secret from Kennedy as well as for going to work for her dad. He just needs Kennedy to listen to him. That's easier said than done. He has to advantage of having known her for a long while, so he knows hot to push her buttons. He'll get through - he's nothing if not determined.

There's not a ton of character development and the plot is a bunch of silliness but it's all completely entertaining. I'm hooked and looking forward to watching as Paige and Lorelei discover not all men are jerks. :)



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Brandee's Bookish Babble #34 ~ Are We More Forgiving with Favorite Authors?


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. :) 


***
Before I start, I just want to preface this with the qualification that with this post, I'm referring to indie authors. 

I recently read a book by an author that was recommended by a friend. In fact, it's a favorite author of this friend. While I was reading, I kept finding editing errors. This is just something that I'm particularly sensitive to - I don't even read the newspaper anymore because I can't handle the editing mistakes. Now I know none of us are perfect - I find editing issues in my own writing as well - but finding these mistakes got me to wondering. Are we more forgiving of such things with our favorite authors?

I'm leaning towards YES in my case. Several of my favorite authors are indie and while I know they use an editor - I've even met one's editor - I still find editing errors. But I don't mind too much even if I'm temporarily removed from the flow of the story - because the story is so good! It's compelling and emotional so I'm easily pulled right back in. The book that started my pondering...it was a good story as well but I think that since it was an author I was unfamiliar with I was a little less forgiving. It took me a little longer to re-engage because I don't yet have that trust built with the author. But I could see myself getting there with this one. ;)

Anyway, what about y'all? Are you more forgiving of editing issues when it's a favorite author?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Audio Review ~ Your Captivating Love ~ Layla Hagan #AudioChallenge #ShelfLove #TakeControlTBR

Your Captivating Love (The Bennett Family, #2)Your Captivating Love by Layla Hagen
The Bennett Family #2
Narrated byCarly Robins and Nelson Hobbs
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Tantor Media
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #AudioChallenge, #ShelfLove, #TakeControlTBR
Goodreads

Synopsis
Logan Bennett knows his priorities. He's loyal to his family and his company. He has no time for love, and no desire for it - not after a disastrous engagement left him brokenhearted. But when Nadine enters his life, she turns everything upside down. She's sexy, funny, and utterly captivating. She's also more stubborn than anyone he's met...including himself. Nadine Hawthorne is finally pursuing her dream: opening her own clothing shop. After working so hard to get here, she needs to concentrate on her new business, and can't afford distractions - not even if they come in the form of Logan Bennett. He's handsome, charming, and doesn't take no for an answer. Their attraction is sizzling, their connection undeniable. Slowly, Logan wins her over. What starts out as a fling soon spirals into much more than they are prepared for. When a mistake threatens to tear them apart, will they have the strength to hold on to each other?




Your Captivating Love was, well, captivating. Already being familiar with the characters and their world enabled me to fall right into Logan and Nadine's story. Witnessing their fall was delightful.

Logan's an intelligent man - he's CFO of Bennett Enterprises after all. He's also determined, loyal, and a bit of a workaholic. He's been unlucky in love - his fiance breaking things off because he focused more on business than her. So he steers clear of romantic entanglements, not wanting to be hurt again.

Nadine, Ava's best friend, has recently relocated to San Francisco hoping to make her dream of owning a high-end dress shop - featuring original designs by her - a reality. She's creative, smart, and tenacious. She's also vivacious. But she's been hurt as well - and her confidence was shattered causing her to put her dreams on hold...until now. She also had a difficult childhood which left its mark. But when Logan and Nadine meet, their chemistry immediately sparked and all their determination to not get involved kinda went out the window.

I so much enjoyed watching as Logan and Nadine built a strong foundation for their relationship - seeing Logan support Nadine in achieving her dream and seeing Nadine learn to trust that Logan wasn't going to run. It was sweet how they each got under the other's skin, chipping away at those walls they'd built - and even sweeter when they fell.

Spending time with the Bennett clan was also fun. Getting to know them even better - how their dynamics work...well, it's easy to see why they're all so close and I'm eager to spend even more time with them.

I do want to say that the narration made my pleasure at listening more intense. Robins and Hobbs more deftly conveyed the emotions wrought in this story as well as kept the pacing smooth. They easily managed voicing the large cast, too. Even though I didn't dislike the narration in book 1, I was amazed at the difference in the level of my enjoyment with the narration here.




Friday, April 14, 2017

Review ~ Mystery Man ~ Kristen Ashley #BloggerShame, #ShelfLove

Mystery Man (Dream Man, #1)Mystery Man by Kristen Ashley
Dream Man #1
Release Date: July 11, 2011
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. This did not affect my rating and my review is voluntarily provided.
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #BloggerShame, #ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
Night time is the right time...

Gwendolyn Kidd has met the man of her dreams. He's hot, he's sexy, and what started as a no-names-exchanged night of passion has blossomed into a year and a half-long pleasure fest. Sure, it's a little strange that he only appears in her bed at night, but Gwen is so sure he's the one, she just can't turn him away...

Hawk Delgado knows more about Gwen than she could ever imagine. She's gorgeous, headstrong, and skittish about relationships. But Hawk is facing his own demons, demons that keep him from connecting with anyone. Yet when Gwen is drawn into Denver's lethal underground scene, Hawk's protective nature comes out full force. The problem is, when Gwen gets a dose of Hawk's Alpha attitude in the daylight, she's not so sure he's the one anymore...


After a foray into something a little new from KA (review posting soon) it was nice to return to comfort food KA-style. Mystery Man is the first in the Dream Man series but it's set in the Rock Chick world (meaning Denver) and since I previously read a few of the Chaos books (out of order) I'd met a few of these characters. Getting to know their world though and more about them was a treat! Kinda like coffee (or wine) and chocolate...or chocolate chip cookie dough since that's more Gwen's style. ;) Here are a few of the reasons I enjoyed the indulgence:

  • Gwen. She's a great gal! She's sassy, feisty, fun. She's loyal to her friends and family - still claiming her sister despite her sister being hell on wheels. She's smart and she's tough. But having been hurt in the past she - rightfully so - has some issues with commitment. Gwen's also funny and she lives in her head a lot which I could identify with.
  • Hawk. Have I mentioned KA gives good Alpha? ;) Yeah. Hawk is mysterious, enigmatic, and too dang hot for his own good. He keeps women at arm's length - for good reason - but when Gwen gives him lip for the first time, it's all over for him. Yes, he's a bit domineering but he's... well, he's Hawk.
  • A brilliant secondary cast. From Gwen's family and besties to Hawk's team of commandos and everyone in between, I delighted in meeting more people who I'll enjoy spending my time with. A few I'd met previously because of the reading out of order thing and getting to see Tack pre-Chaos series was awesome! I'm eager to spend more time in this world.
  • A mysterious baddie and lots of suspense. KA typically weaves in a fair amount of suspense in her stories and Gwen and Hawk's story was all the more exciting because of it. It didn't hurt that a few of the Hot Bunch boys (Rock Chick) were needed and therefore made cameos. ;)
  • Female solidarity. This is almost always a main theme in KA stories and it's one I relate to and one I appreciate.
  • An HEA.
KA rocked it with Mystery Man and Wild Man (#2) is already in my queue.




Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #61 ~ Mystery Man ~ Kristen Ashley

This scene is kinda long but it's just too dang funny not to share!

***

Elvira was in the kitchen creating what she declared were "boards" except she was creating them on Hawk's big, square, midnight blue plates. She was doing this because she came into the warehouse laden with bags from Crate and Barrel and Fresh and Wild, places, she informed me, she took off work early so she could pay a visit. These bags contained brand-new martini glasses (a set of four, long stemmed, ultra sleek), a martini shaker, a mammoth wedge of brie, a French baton, grapes, applies, assorted olives, gherkins, red onion marmalade, assorted crackers, assorted chocolates and an enormous chunk of pate.
Oh, and she brought the ingredients for cosmopolitans.
She had me at the martini glasses. The rest of it made me declare my undying love for her and I told her she'd officially been accepted into my girl posse.

...

"Well, I see good things but I always saw good things," Tracy declared, hitching her ass up on a stool and learning forward to grab an olive off Elvira's board.
The bread knife Elvira was using clattered to the counter and Tracy bought her hand a quick, sharp slap.
"I'm not done," Elvira declared when Tracy snatched her hand back and held it with her other one, staring at Elvira in shock. "It's about presentation. Don't mess with my presentation."

...

"Hurry, Elvira, if you don't, I'm breaking out the cookie dough," I told her.
"Cookie dough is for heartbreak and sister trouble, why would you break out the cookie dough?" Tracy asked.
"Cookie dough has many functions. It isn't just for heartbreak and sister trouble. It's also for when you're freaking out about your love life," I replied.
"I'll tell you this," Elvira announced, fanning out little slices of French baton on the plate next to fanned-out little slices of apple all surrounding a gleaming, clean bunch of succulent grapes in the middle, "Hawk put me on radar, watched my every move for a year and a half and activated the troops when I caught trouble, there'd be no cookie dough in sight. I'd be on my knees next to the bed prayin' to the good Lord, thankin' him 'cause he heard my words. Then I'd put on my little teddy, the purple one, looks good against my skin, and I'd get in bed and count down the minutes until he got home."

Monday, April 10, 2017

Audio Review ~ Your Irresistible Love ~ Layla Hagen #AudioChallenge #ShelfLove #TakeControlTBR

Your Irresistible LoveYour Irresistible Love by Layla Hagen
The Bennett Family #1
Narrated byAiden Snow and Kasha Kensington
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Tantor Media
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #AudioChallenge, #ShelfLove, #TakeControlTBR
Goodreads

Synopsis
Sebastian Bennett is a determined man. It's the secret behind the business empire he built from scratch. Under his rule, Bennett Enterprises dominates the jewelry industry. Despite being ruthless in his work, family comes first for Sebastian, and he'd do anything for his parents and eight siblings-even if they drive him crazy sometimes...like when they keep nagging him to get married already. Sebastian doesn't believe in love, until he brings in external marketing consultant Ava to oversee the next collection launch. She's beautiful, funny, and just as stubborn as he is. Not only is he obsessed with her delicious curves, but he also finds himself willing to do anything to make her smile. Ava Lindt has one job to do at Bennett Enterprises: make the next collection launch unforgettable. Daydreaming about the hot CEO is definitely not on her to-do list. Besides, the consultancy she works for has a strict policy-no fraternizing with clients. She won't risk her job. But soon their sizzling chemistry spirals into a deep connection that takes both of them by surprise...



I'm a sucker for a story or series revolving around family so the nine Bennett siblings and their parents had a leg up from the get-go. Getting to meet Sebastian, the oldest Bennett and caretaker/protector of all, and seeing him fall for Ava, the smart, sexy woman who arrives to help with his business marketing was a pleasure.

Both Ava and Sebastian have reasons for not wanting to get involved besides the clause in Ava's consultancy contract forbidding fraternization. Ah, you know what they say about forbidden fruit... The two eventually give in and agree to spend time together while Ava is in town - four months. Being along for the ride as they get to know one another and get closer was nice. Ava is independent and used to taking care of things on her own, never having relied on a man...so Sebastian works his magic trying to convince her she doesn't have to do everything alone. Sebastian is used to women wanting the tangible things his wealth can offer them rather than wanting simply him. Ava sets about proving not all women are like that. With a little meddling and help from the Bennett family, the blossoming romance was fun.

Kasha Kensington and Andrew T. Chandler narrated and while I liked them both just fine, I did think that they weren't always able to convey all the emotion certain scenes required. Kensington's delivery at times made the pacing a bit choppy as well.

Besides the narration, my only complaint is that I would have liked more character growth over the course of the story. But overall, I enjoyed my introduction to the Bennett family and I'm already listening to book 2, Your Captivating Love.



Saturday, April 8, 2017

My TBR List ~ April ~ And the Winner Is...

MyTBRList

My To-Be Read List is a meme hosted by Michelle @Because Reading. I think it's a fabulous idea because it gets y'all in the game and it helps me knock off some of the many, many books on my TBR list. You're more than welcome to join in the fun! I've included the basic rules below but you can click on the graphic above to hop over to Michelle's site where you can find all the details. 

Here's how it works:
On the first Saturday of each month, I will make a post with three books from my TBR List (these books can be already on your ereader or bookshelf OR books you might want to purchase) and add your link on the linky that will be provided on Michelle's post. Y'ALL will help me choose which book I will read next. The following Saturday, I will announce which book won. Then the last Saturday of the month, I'll post my review.

Fun, right?!?


***

Thanks to everyone for voting! I ended up having a tie. *gasp* And it was kinda late to send out a plea for a tie-breaker. So, since I REALLY want to read both the books in the tie vote, I'm gonna read them both. :D


The WINNERS Are:

Changing Tides (Kill Devil Hills, #2)
Changing Tides
Kill Devil Hills #2

Synopsis
ELLIE
For years Ellie Turner's had a crush on the ruggedly handsome, beast of a man, television actor, Nate West. This isn't your average 'fan-girl crush' either, it's borderline obsessive, and totally inconvenient since, other that this one exception, Ellie's always been strictly into girls. But it doesn't matter...because Nate doesn't exist in real life. In real life Ellie has her own issues to worry about, including the death of her brother, the recent suicide attempt of her sister, and then there's always her annoying roommate Rhett to contend with.

NATE
Nate West isn't looking to start a new relationship. He's still heartbroken over the last girl who ripped out his insides, still learning how to manage his new-found fame, and, frankly, not even sure what time-zone he's in. His life is so full of stress, the last thing he wants is more of it.

So when Nate and Ellie meet on an airplane, nothing life changing should have come from it. But "sometimes in life--very rarely, I might add--you meet someone and you know instantly they're going to mean something special to you."




Paradise Road (Paradise #2)Paradise Road
Paradise #2

Synopsis
The Road to Paradise is never easy

After a year on the coast, Lexie Atkinson can't settle back into country life. She's missing the glitzy, gritty nightlife of the big city and the group of misfit friends she'd loved to hate. She knows to move forward she has to go back - back to face the guy who stole her heart.

But when Lexie arrives in Paradise City to work out if her future includes bad-boy surfer, Luke Ballantine, he is nowhere to be found.

With no home, no money and no Luke, Lexie gets a job slinging drinks at the wild Wipe Out Bar. Soon her heartache is eased when broody bar owner, Dean Saville, starts taking an interest and stirs more than just her drinks. But nothing is ever as it seems in Paradise City and when Luke barrels back into town, Lexie has a choice to make. But who will end up with the broken heart: Luke, Dean... or Lexie?


Friday, April 7, 2017

Review ~ The Female of the Species ~ Mindy McGinnis #2017HW #ShelfLove

The Female of the SpeciesThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: Purchased hardcover
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017HW, #ShelfLove, #TakeControlTBR
Goodreads

Synopsis
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn't feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can't be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He's the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna's body was discovered hasn't let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn't want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher's kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad's job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex's protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex's darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.




According to the Kipling Society, The Female of the Species describes the "moral strength and single-mindedness of women throughout history, in familial and political contexts, in contrast to the weakness and vacillation of men."
"I am a wolf that my sister kept in a cage, until her hand was removed. I have been out, curious as I wake up from a lethargic solitude, self-enforced because I know I don't belong here. It's not safe for me to be out but they rattled my cage. First Claire, and then Jack. And now I'm awake, deviating from the paths I created in order to remain stable. I'm out, and awake, and afraid I won't be easily put back in."
This book has quite a lot to say. And it did so very well. The parallels between that first quote and the three MC's...Alex, Peekay, and Jack embody those words.

We have Alex, who has defined herself as "vengeance" and despite believing she feels no guilt, has a very strong moral compass. She sees herself as defending the weak - those who can't protect themselves - whether they be human or cats and dogs. This side of her, while scary, was absolutely fascinating. And although she feels she doesn't belong, a part of her longs for that feeling - something I think she had when her sister was alive. She also got people to look at themselves differently...

Peekay, for example. She's always been called Peekay - preacher's kid - and didn't think anything of it. But Alex asks for and calls her by her given name, Claire. It never occurred to Peekay the statements she made without words by accepting that nickname, much less the reasons behind doing so. She allowed it to influence her identity. She's strong though and finds the depth of her inner strength after befriending Alex. I found it of particular interest that she had thoughts similar to those of Alex, the difference being that Peekay would never act on them.

Then there's Jack - who was inspired to be a better person because of Alex. He'd been curious about her and her thoughts about his character since the night her sister's body was found. And Jack, he's a good guy even if he is a cad. But he waffled in his loyalties and decisions - found it apparently difficult to stay on the right path.

And through all this, the interactions between Alex, Peekay, and Jack - the bonds of friendship forming and love blossoming -McGinnis incorporated social commentary on teen culture: rape culture, sexual objectification, the double standards regarding boy vs girl behavior. And it was brilliant! There were some difficult moments to read - this story is raw and gritty - but I also felt things were realistically portrayed. The Female of the Species is certainly thought-provoking. 

This is my favorite #2017HW read so far!



Thursday, April 6, 2017

New Release Review ~ The Ten-Day Baby Takeover ~ Karen Booth (@karenbbooth) #2017NewRelease

The Ten-Day Baby Takeover (Billionaires and Babies)The Ten-Day Baby Takeover by Karen Booth
Release Date: April 1, 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or rating. I voluntarily provided a review. 
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017NewRelease
Goodreads

Synopsis
A billionaire's baby deal!

One look into his infant son's trusting blue gaze and Aiden Langford knows his wild, carefree days are over. If only he can get Sarah Daltrey, his son's temporary guardian, to give him daddy lessons... Certainly the soft-hearted entrepreneur will agree to his ten-day proposal to stay as the nanny. Aiden just needs to keep his mind on parenting and off Sarah's seductive curves...

Being in the handsome tycoon's arms puts up Sarah's emotional defenses even as her body begs her to let go. But being a babysitter with benefits isn't on her agenda - especially for a father and son who might steal her heart...




There is nothing sexier than a man with a baby!

Sarah became Oliver's guardian when her best friend died She has been trying to contact Aiden about his having a son but he's been elusive. And honestly, she doesn't mind having Oliver. She adores him. She just needs to take care of her best friend's final requests where Oliver is concerned. So she camps out in LangTel's lobby determined not to leave until she sees Aiden. 

Sarah is a sweetheart. She's smart, caring, and she's determined to make her business a success. A former nanny, Sarah is now launching a successful lingerie business. She has no time or desire for romance not trusting her instincts when it comes to men.

Aiden is busy making LangTel even more successful. He's savvy, handsome, but doesn't date. And he certainly gave no thought to becoming a dad. But when he sees Oliver, he can't deny he's a daddy. But he doesn't know the first thing about babies. So he does what he does best - makes a deal with Sarah. Ten days of baby training in exchange for help with her business. What's the worst that could happen?

This story was heartwarming and fun! I immensely enjoyed watching Aiden and Oliver bond and watching as Aiden opened up to Sarah - something he's never done with anyone. It was also interesting to see Sarah, who was deadset on ever offering her heart to anyone again, slowly put it on offer to Aiden. Oliver though, he'd had her heart from day one.

Oliver was adorable! I could perfectly envision his chubby little legs holding him up while he drooled. I liked Anna's and Jacob's presence in the story as well as seeing Adam and Melanie, and Mother Langford, too. I felt like Aiden's issues with this past were dealt with well and i helped me get a better understanding of him.

Of course, this all takes place over the course of ten days and while it's fast, it felt genuine. The banter between Aiden and Sarah was fun. And I could see the connection between them - a solid friendship foundation - for the romance to build on.

I hope for more from this series as I'd like to see more of the Langford siblings and their spouses in the future.




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Brandee's Bookish Babble #32 ~ Goodreads & Friends


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 have a question for y'all. How do y'all decide whose friendship to accept on Goodreads? Do you accept everyone who sends a friend request? Do you compare books before deciding? I know some of you use the "ask a question" function - do you always accept if the person answers? 

I'm asking because I used to accept anyone who asked. But in the last year or so, I've gotten friend requests from people with weird pseudonyms, people with 5000 friends and 3 books on their shelves, people with whom I only have 2 books in common... essentially a lot of people that I'm not understanding their motivation behind requesting my friendship. So I got to wondering how y'all handle it. I have accepted requests from folks who are authors if they write in a genre I'm interested in. I've accepted if we have books in common on our shelves. It's just that I feel the need to be pickier at this point - I want to understand why the request was sent because if we don't read the same things, are we really going to connect? If not, it's just adding clutter to my feed.

How do y'all feel? Am I being ridiculous? Am I even making sense?!?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Audio Review ~ Shifting Gears ~ Riley Hart #AudioChallenge #ShelfLove

Shifting Gears (Crossroads, #2)Shifting Gears by Riley Hart
Crossroads #2
Narrated by: Sean Crisden
Release Date: May 23, 2016
Genre: Adult, M/M Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Tantor Media
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #AudioChallenge, #ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
Rod Nelson is used to being someone's good time, and that's fine with him. Spending his days at his adult toy store, Rods-N-Ends, he never knows who he'll meet. The second Landon Harrison walks in, he has Rod's full attention. It seems as if Landon wants him too, so why won't the man jump in the sack with him already?

Landon never thought he'd return home to the town where memories lurk around every corner. He has to admit, Rod makes the adjustment a lot easier. He keeps Landon laughing. Despite the fierce attraction between them, he's not willing to risk his newfound friendship to get laid.

Neither man wants something serious, but the more they're together, the harder it is to keep their hands to themselves, until eventually they stop trying.

But flings between friends are never simple, and as they attempt to shift gears, diving into their first relationship, they're slammed with setbacks. If they want to truly move forward, before they hit the open road together, they're going to have to let go of a past that could make them crash and burn.




Shifting Gears features Rod, whom I met in Crossroads. He's this kinda quirky guy who works in a sex toy shop when Brice and Nick meet him. Rod now owns his own ship and he's proud of what he does and his ability to put people at ease as well as offer them help with something they might feel uncomfortable with asking for.

Landon meets Rod when he comes into the shop for some product. They have an easy rapport and quickly become friends. They're both attracted to one another but Landon doesn't want to pursue anything and risk messing up their friendship - something he's never had.

These two guys have a lot of baggage. Their childhoods were far from perfect. Neither had an example of a healthy relationship to follow and both feared entering into a relationship, not wanting to hurt or be hurt. Watching as they both learn that they're worthy of love - giving it and receiving it - was a beautiful thing. They had a lot of walls to knock down on their way into each others' hearts but realized it was worth the work.

Brice and Nick were supporting cast members and I enjoyed spending time with them as well as seeing them have Rod and Landon's backs - offering advice and just being good friends. The introduction of a few new characters was well done and I figure one will be featured in a future installment of the series.

Sean Crisden did a fine job narrating, even keeping Brice's and Nick's voices consistent from the first book. I'll definitely continue this series in audio.