Monday, August 31, 2015

#ShelfLove Review ~ Selling Scarlett ~ Ella James

Selling Scarlett (Love Inc., #1)Selling Scarlett by Ella James
Love, Inc #1
Release Date: April 13, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms

Elizabeth DeVille doesn't belong at a party like this--one where the gowns cost more than her Camry and cigars run higher than her grad school utility bills. Dragged out of seclusion by her best friend Suri, Elizabeth is merely playing dress-up, rubbing elbows with a crowd that banished her troubled family years ago.

Hunter West is tired. Tired of parties, tired of pretending, and tired of trying to right a wrong that haunts him every day. Bourbon heir and professional poker player by day, by night Hunter is gambling with his life in a high-stakes game of crime and blackmail.

When Elizabeth stumbles into Hunter's den of vices, she's a light in the darkness, a flame in the void. And, just like everything he touches, Hunter mars her in record time. To rectify the damage done, Elizabeth needs money she doesn't have, and she's come up with a foolproof way to get it.

Follow Elizabeth--code-named Scarlett--to the lush Nevada brothel where she'll auction her virginity and risk the only thing that's not for sale: her heart. The highest bidder is a familiar face, with wicked hands and the devil's mouth. And a secret so dark that it could cost her life.

***Recommended for Readers 17+ due to sexuality and mature language.***

I'm a fan of Ella James, having read and enjoyed several of her fairytale retellings and a YA PNR. And all those previous reads always gave me a little something unexpected. Why, then, did I think Selling Scarlett would be any different? Who knows? But Selling Scarlett was much more than what I was expecting.

Elizabeth DeVille is a young woman, who despite being an heiress, has had anything but a pampered life. Thank goodness she has good friends. So good, in fact, that she'd do anything for them. So when one of her very best friends needs help, Elizabeth decides to cash in the one card she's been hanging on to - her V-card.

Hunter West has so many demons, it's amazing the man can function. He does everything with determination though, so when he becomes embroiled in a scandal, he does his damnedest to figure out who's really pulling the strings - not only to protect his neck but to protect Elizabeth's as well.

Hunter and Libby, as he refers to Elizabeth, first met when she was only 16. Libby has had a prolific crush on him since then and Hunter, though he is loathe to admit it, was affected by her as well.

All three of these elements combined with a cast I'm quite eager for more of, created a compelling story of love, lust, greed, and maybe a touch of crazy. The mystery and suspense was the more I hadn't been expecting and it made what could have been a good but ordinary story an extraordinary one. The only thing keeping this from being a 5 bookworm read is the ending. I thought it was a little too neat and quick. But if you're looking for something a little different in an NA read, Selling Scarlett will fit the bill. I'm anxious to start Taming Cross, the second book in this series.

When Life's Kicking Your Butt, How About a Theme Song ~ August

Once again, my pal, Robyn, over @robgirlbooks, has us creating a soundtrack for our lives. This challenge is all about sharing the music you listen to when you need motivation, or to celebrate, or when you're happy or sad, or when you're cleaning, etc. Sounds fun, yeah? Here's how it works... Robyn gives us a theme every month and we post songs that fulfill that theme as it applies to us. Then at the end of the year, we'll have a playlist!

The playlist for 2014 can be found here (youtube link) if you're interested. I enjoyed sharing my family's musical tastes with y'all and I enjoyed being introduced to some new music. I'm looking forward to doing it again for 2015!


I've been a bad girl! I haven't done a theme song all summer long. So it's fitting that, August's theme is "It Takes an Entire Album". I know I'm coming in just under the wire but better late than never, right?!?

Here are our choices:

My Pick
My pick is Ed Sheeran's album entitled X. And my song is One. My reasons...well, I think Ed Sheeran's voice is sexy and I love anything he sings. I've been listening to him while getting in the 'mood' to write. ;)

Sky's Pick
Sky says her pick is Instant Crush from the album Random Access Memories...she really likes this song and she's gotten into Daft Punk recently.

Berk's Pick
Berk's choice is the soundtrack for the musical 13. It isn't one of the musicals when we were in NYC, but it's a favorite this month. The song she picked is Any Minute... 

Jax's Pick
Jax really likes Finding Nirvana, so his album pick is Not Even Once and his song pick is Closer. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

2015 Bookish Resolutions Challenge Update ~ August

Bookish Resolution Challenge

Laura @Trips Down Imagination Lane and Michelle @Because Reading are the lovely hosts of this challenge. You can click the button above for all the details.


My 2015 Bookish Resolutions are:

  • Improve my Netgalley Rating (started at 15.2%)
  • Listen to one audio book per quarter.
  • Write more discussion posts and/or create some fun features for my blog.


Not to toot my own horn but I'm continuing to make progress on all my resolutions for this challenge and I'm feeling good! I finished two audio books last month and have started another. And I've continued with my discussion/feature posts. Also, I read a few books for Netgalley. I haven't posted my reviews yet but once I do, my rating will once again raise a tad. :) 

The audio book portion of my resolutions challenge is FINISHED! But in August, I finished In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks as well as Seven Years by Dannika Dark. I'm currently listening to Exquisite Trouble by Ann Mayburn. I'm not enjoying it all that much (the male narrator's voice is irritating) but I hate to not finish it.  

As for discussion posts/fun features, I continued posting my monthly Travel by the Book post as well as my Beyond the Books posts. And I've also continued my Brandee's Bookish Babble posts.

While I did read a few books in August, which I received from Netgalley, I haven't posted my reviews yet. So I'll share the change in my rating next month. :) 

I'm *still* feeling good about my accomplishments with this challenge. We'll see how I fare in the coming months. How did y'all do in August?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Review ~ Collide ~ Riley Hart

Collide (Blackcreek, #1)Collide by Riley Hart
Blackcreek #1
Release Date: November 17, 2013
Genre: Adult, M/M Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 4 Bookworms

At ten years old, Noah Jameson and Cooper Bradshaw collided mid-air when they dove for the same football. For three years, they were inseparable...until one day when Noah and his parents disappeared in the middle of the night.

Noah and Cooper never knew what happened to each other. Now, seventeen years later, after finding his boyfriend in bed with another man, Noah returns to Blackcreek looking for a fresh start. And damned if he doesn't find his old friend grew up to be sexy as sin. Coop can't believe Noah--the only person he trusted with the guilt over his parents' death--is back. And gay... Or that Cooper himself suddenly wants another man in his bed for the first time.

There's no denying the attraction and emotion between them, but can they overcome the ghosts of their pasts to have a future together?

This title contains two strong, sexy men, and a passionate friendship that transforms into a sizzling hot romance.

Cooper Bradshaw and Noah Jameson met an an pivotal time in their lives. Through shared experiences and traumas, they forged a special friendship that really stood the test of time. After a seventeen year separation, they picked up right where they left off.

Cooper is kind of a horndog. He never does relationships but has had his fair share of women. He's a guy who feels thing on an extra-emotional level and works as a fireman as a way to redeem himself for something that he had no control over. He was raised by his aunt and uncle and they, his uncle especially, raised him with certain expectations about what a strong man is.

Noah wouldn't fit those expectations. After leaving Blackcreek unexpectedly when he was young, he's back in the only place he ever felt at home. He's back to mend his life and hopefully find Cooper.

I think my favorite thing, that Hart did so well, is conveying this tight bond between two men. The friendship and feelings shared between Noah and Cooper was a special thing. Only with one another did they find patience, understanding and acceptance...a feeling of belonging. This was important when they were young and even more so as adults as they find their feelings morphing into something decidedly more.

By the time Noah returns to Blackcreek, he knew he was gay. Cooper, on the other hand, is confused as he's never experienced feelings, attraction, or lust towards another man. Only Noah. And it was fascinating to watch as they each navigated this new territory. On top of that, Coop fears his family's reaction and that of those he works with. Seeing their relationship grow to the point where Cooper decides what they have together is more important than what people think was a powerful thing. A beautiful thing. These two guys are brave and beautiful in their love for one another.

I know the next book in the series deals with a different couple - whom I'm eager to watch - but I hope to see more of Noah and Cooper as they go against small-town ideas in a fight to love who they want to love and be accepted for it.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

That's What HE Said #36 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #15

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:

On My Knees by J Kenner
  Jackson Steele is a man of few words but when he does speak, you'll forgive him his conciseness. 

"If I need you?" he repeats as he strides to me, all force and power and intent. "Christ, Sylvia, don't you know by now that I always need you?"


"You need me. Where else would I be?"


"I love you, Syl. I love you, and I fucked up, and I will do whatever it takes for you to forgive me."


You know it's going to be a serious conversation...

He takes my hand and leads me below deck to the small galley. I sit at the table, and he comes to join me, bringing a bottle of win, two glasses, and a box of Chips Ahoy cookies. He takes one, then holds out the box to me. I don't really need it, but I take it anyway, then take a tiny bite as Jackson leans back in his chair and starts to speak.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#ShelfLove, #COYER Review ~ Stepbrother Dearest ~ Penelope Ward

Stepbrother DearestStepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms

You're not supposed to want the one who torments you.

When my stepbrother, Elec, came to live with us my senior year, I wasn't prepared for how much of a jerk he'd be.

I hated that he took it out on me because he didn't want to be here.
I hated that he brought girls from our high school back to his room.
But what I hated the most was the unwanted way my body reacted to him.

At first, I thought all he had going for him were his rock-hard tattooed abs and chiseled face. Then, things started changing between us, and it all came to a head one night.

Just as quickly as he'd come into my life, he was gone back to California.

It had been years since I'd seen Elec.

When tragedy struck our family, I'd have to face him again.

And holy hell, the teenager who made me crazy was now a man that drove me insane.

I had a feeling my heart was about to get broken again.

Stepbrother Dearest is a standalone novel.

**Contains graphic sexual content and harsh language. It is only appropriate for adult readers age 18+**

I really liked Stepbrother Dearest overall - it ended up being a much meatier story than I was expecting. I did think a little more character development in the beginning would have helped me connect with Greta and Elec more quickly. Here's a quick look at what I thought:
  • I liked the setup - these two had a very short acquaintance and it helped with the taboo factor
  • I like how determined Greta was to make Elec a part of her life, despite his teasing and taunting. Her compassion was exactly what Elec needed
  • I enjoyed the repartee between Greta and Elec when they first met and were getting acquainted. Elec could be a butthead but Greta didn't give up
  • I liked getting the Elec's POV - it was presented in a very unique way. I liked finally getting his story and seeing where Elec's insecurities and vulnerabilities came from
  • I wished I'd had that little more development of Greta and Elec because it would have helped me invest in them earlier on
  • I felt the flow of the story was somewhat choppy in places - probably because of the lack of character development early on. I didn't understand where some things were coming from
In the end, Stepbrother Dearest was pretty impactful. I'll definitely read more from Ms. Ward.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Rock Chick Chat ~ Fire Inside ~ Kristen Ashley

As y'all are probably aware of by now, my friend Robyn (@robgirlbooks) and I made a little bet on a Super Bowl which turned into a BIG love affair with all things Kristen Ashley. It remains the best bet I ever lost because it led us to KA's Rock Chick series and her Colorado Mountain series (which we'll get back to) and now her Chaos MC series. Robyn and I buddy read these and chat about them...and then share our chats. Here's our chat about Fire Inside, #2 in the Chaos series. Enjoy!


Fire Inside (Chaos, #2)Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley
Chaos #2
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased from Amazon for Kindle
Rating: 5 Bookworms

Lanie Heron isn't looking for love-no surprise, considering her last serious relationship nearly got her killed. So when Lanie propositions Hop Kincaid, all she wants is one wild night with the hot-as-hell biker who patrols with the Chaos Motorcycle Club...

For Hop, Lanie has always been untouchable. She's too polished and too classy for his taste. But when she gives Hop the once-over with her bedroom eyes and offers him a night in paradise, he can't say no. And he doesn't regret it when he finds that Lanie is the best thing that's ever happened to him-in or out of bed. Now the trick will be to convince her of that.

I've been waiting for you to start this conversation but I thought I throw a few of my thoughts your way. :)

Can you believe how Lanie just propositioned Hop? This woman...she has cajones. And she definitely bit off more than she thought she could chew. I liked that Hop really had to consider the ramifications of what would happen if they got together. I'm still waiting for the shit to hit the fan.

I don't remember how far I was into or what exactly Hop was saying, but I thought that I love how simplistically he looks at things. Not like everything is simple but that in his world, things are this way or they're not. I like his way of looking at the world and his place in it.

I adore Lanie's inner monologues. Getting to know her history, what went down that was alluded to in Own the Wind, I can see why she was fighting Hop. And I could see why her brain was "fucked up", as Hop said. So getting to hear her thoughts on how she saw herself and why she thought she had nothing to give...yeah, that was some good stuff.

Hop's kids are AWESOME! Sometimes when authors put kids in a story, it feels wrong or like it's a plot device. But seeing Hop with Molly and Cody, seeing how they all interact, seeing Lanie with feels right. And it shows this whole other level to Hop. One that I like A. LOT. And I agreed with Lanie when she told him, "You're a good man, Hopper Kincaid."

I'm really liking that although Hop and Lanie come from different worlds, and kinda live in different ones, they just work. I know it's because they both don't give a shit what people think - and that's an attitude I'd love to adopt - but don't you think it's something that a badass biker, who's obviously all Alpha, can deal with the fact that his woman is a corporate success? That she can provide things for herself? Most men would be intimidated by that. But Hop is all "Anything you need, lady, I'm there for you one way or another." 

Which reminds me about when he first started using "lady". I didn't quite know what to think and was thinking it was kinda derogatory. When he explained, I melted. MELTED.

Lanie has a backbone, which I really like. Her standing up to her Dad? That was excellent!

Oh, and getting Hop's life story was also excellent. I melted some more when he told Lanie he didn't learn from his parents...he'd learned from doing. But he *did* learn and knew what he wanted to keep forever. *swoon*

Okay, I don't want to go on and on...I hope you're enjoying this as much as me. I have a good feeling that you are. You're so right...KA just does *not* disappoint.

Two more things....

The know I'm not a huge fan of facial hair. And I have to say that I didn't imagine Hop looking like he does after meeting him in OtW, but he's sex on a stick, even with the 'tache.

Aaand, he's my new book boyfriend. Because... "Music is poetry, babe. Each note is a word that's uniquely crafted to go with the next note. For me, the only way it gets better is if you put that to lyrics." Yep. Gotta love a man like that. ;)

Oh, KA, I love you so much. Okay, now that the fangirling is out of the way...I could not believe Lanie's boldness when she walked up toHop and propositioned him. And then the no strings attached bit was so convincing I was taking it one day at a time with them. Hop's reaction, his respect for her and ability to see trouble walking won me over immediately. When he walked through her place and told himself he didn't get to have a look around and get to know her that way, the gesture was generous in a way I wasn't expecting. He wasn't going to take what wasn't given to him. Book girl crush time.

It's a strange layout again with this one where we get bits and pieces of this big drama in Lanie's past but it worked even better in book two. The bits we were given we needed to understand the push and pull she was doing with Hop (and herself). Didn't you just love Hop's role as shield? He wasn't down with her losing all that beauty and life to the "monster." He was all about being part of a team in whatever way he could support her. And you are so right that her money didn't seem to play a factor with him just as much as him being a biker and member of an MC didn't bother her. 

What about Hop's honesty? I was so shocked the first time he brought up a previous hookup and than even more shocked at her ultra grown up reaction. Do you think she could be like that because he made it so clear she's a lady to him and nothing less and he's never had anything but less? I'm thinking I'd tell the guy not to tell me about a bathroom stall bang. There is the age factor. He's 40, she's 38. Gotta say, that rocked! Plus he's a dad. You don't get that very often and the kids were awesome. There wasn't a forced parent makeover for a few pages in the book whenever Hop had his kids around. 

Oh, the freaking tache! I'm so annoyed that KA has finally done it. I actually find it hot that Hop has a tache. Ugh! But he is so hot and man. I hated it on Luke and pretended to miss all facial hair references. Man!

Okay, I'm off to read more. Love being back with Chaos!

I finished! It feels like I went on a reading bender and read it in a single day, maybe it's just that the story is right there, taking over my thoughts.

The music is poetry business was huge! Epic! In book one I wasn't impressed with the tidbits we learned about Hop, which was through Shy's and Tabby's eyes. I remember Tabby hoping the best for Lanie and it's so cool at the same time Lanie was thinking the same thing. That's one of the neat things about KA and always has been, girl solidarity. I loved the part early on with Lanie doing that stupid thing going to that rough neck bar and being sold out by a fellow girl. She was mostly pissed about that. And then how Lanie didn't likeHop's early descriptions of Mitzy. What a piece of work that one. Even Lanie's mom who has a long way to go to redeem herself never lost her girls' support when she needed it. KA also gives men credit too, not just with the brotherhood, but she lets them be deep and shallow at the same time and she lets them be so over the top alpha they get what they want, but boy do they work/pay for it.

Did you catch the part about the song doesn't have to be eternal, but if you have a rhyme to share, a story to tell, it's worth it? That had to come out of the heart of an indie writer. Well, and Debbie Macomber because she says the same thing. 

For whatever reason I got a Rock Chick Revolution vibe, Ally and Ren's story, not the action, but the push and pull of the relationship maybe. Not sure, but now I want to re-read that one.

So, I had to wait until you were done because there were things I wanted to say but I couldn't remember where these things were in the timeline and I didn't want to spoil anything. :)

I believed Lanie when she said 'one night' too. But that admission she makes towards the end. Damn! That and all the things Hop had to say had me tied up in knots. Oh, and the "I don't get this" that they both felt - I broke my heart, honestly, because we could see how much they both wanted all those things they didn't feel they 'got' because they didn't have *that* kind of relationship. Even though they totally did.

The layout was similar but I didn't get lost in the timeline this time. I think it was because it was usually 1 week or 2 weeks later. I did like how KA presented the backstory in bits and pieces. I liked that those bits were usually given when Lanie and Hop were sharing honest moments and were laying it all out. It was interesting that they both had monsters that needed slaying - and that they were both able to help one another slay those monsters...they gave each other that.

So I was wrong about Lanie's job not being mentioned because it did end up being mentioned but that they each accepted one another, respected one another, just how they came was something. I think we *all* look for that in our friendships and relationships. Those two could definitely jump into the deep end over words, but I admit to being irritated when Hop told Lanie she should know what kind of man he is. Yes, that's true and she did, in her heart. But her monster would of course raise it's head over the information she'd learned because of her history. And yes, she pulled a drama over it - but Hop knew her and her reactions, so even though her words were awful, it shouldn't have surprised him.

Hop and Lanie were very intense...and although they kept certain things from each other, at least initially, they were nothing if not honest. No, I wouldn't want all his honesty if it were me. But I like that you said Lanie reacted in a grown up way. Because she absolutely did. I'm not sure I could be that mature. *ha* His words about how he'd never do her in a stall because a lady shouldn't be treated that way...crude but sooo swoonworthy! 

And I was absolutely tickled about their ages being so close to ours. It's nice to read hot romances with couples who are 'mature'. *winks* I loved watching both Hop and Lanie with his kids. And you're right - he was always just Hop whether he had his kids or not. I admired that about him. But with Hop, you got what you saw.

So KA won you over to the dark side, huh? I admit I kinda thought Luke rocked the stache but Hop...H.O.T. I have such a vivid image of him in my mind and he rocks a 'tache like no one else. Mm-mmm!! (not that I want my man to grow one!)

I'm still thinking about Lanie and Hop too and I've had to move on! But I gotta say I have a heckavu book hangover. KA always does that to me...

I'm glad you enjoyed the music element as well. I had to youtube You'll Accompany Me because I didn't recognize the title. And it must be said that after listening to the lyrics, it made that scene all the more poignant. I'd have been standing up in my chair yelling to Hopthat he's the shit too! Man!! KA knows how to incorporate good music, doesn't she? It meant to much that Lanie was spending every night drinking wine and listening to Bob Seger when she and Hop were apart. Seger's lyrics really speak volumes about those two.

I have to tell you something...when I finished and I told my kindle to 'go to' the beginning, I realized that my copy of Fire Inside was an ARC from Netgalley. So those extra things you talked about with what Hop said about music? They weren't in my copy. And I'm thinking I'm going to have to buy a copy just so I can read it again - and see what changed. (yeah, that's totally the only reason why *winks*)

KA does have a way of conveying the importance of sisterhood - how did you say it? Oh, girl solidarity. Yeah. I do like how all her heroines have their girls at their backs. It is important. And girls should always back their girls - whether they know each other or not. You're right that she does the same for her Alphas. She stresses the loyalty factor between them and they do all have each others' backs...maybe more so than the girls, at times. I've not experienced a 'family' of friends having my back but I like the idea. And chickie, I've ALWAYS got YOUR back, distance be damned.

I didn't get the Rock Chick Revolution vibe while reading but I can see where it would have come from. There was a lot of push and pull between Lanie and Hop, just like with Ally and Ren, if for different reasons. I liked the push and pull between Lanie and Hop better because it wasn't just a matter of a misunderstanding or just being plain ornery. (sorry, Ally!) Lanie and Hop had been through a lot of shit. They had their monsters to contend with. But they had something special and I was so glad they fought for it. Although, I had my doubts a few times.

So you thought Luke rocked the tache? Luke. Mmm. Okay, back to Hop. When he went up on stage, weren't you right there with Lanie saying What? What? How could you add rock star to the already long list of awesomeness? I had to youtube the song too. You're right about KA knowing her music. She always seems to incorporate music into her books and in different ways. 

One thing I'm still missing is the zaniness. I want some crazy and not just Lanie's brand of crazy that makes her break up with Hop a million times. But I get it, this is a motorcycle club and they can't all have a thing for fancy coffees and old bookstores. We did get a RC world cameo. Teeny cameo and it still made me grin.

Now we have book 3 calling out to us and this massive book hangover that is still hanging. So mid-August and we'll see who these two new characters are since they are both a mystery to us. Lexxie gave it 5 stars though. Oh, last thought, isn't it always a surprise how many pages KA's books are because we read them like they're novellas? 

More KA. More buddy reads. I hope we get more of the Beneto storyline because I'd like to see his ass severely kicked. He is not nice.

I did think Luke rocked his 'stache. Man, he's all kinds of yum. Yet still not my favorite Hot Bunch guy. ;) I'm thinking Hop is my favorite Chaos guy though. But it is a close race because Shy...that is all. But Hop has so much going for him - his age, his kids, his honesty, his former rock star status, his knight in leather armor status...see what I mean? Totally my newest book boyfriend. :)

The zaniness is not there - I don't count Lanie's behavior - and I do miss it. I think KA tried to inject some of it with Elvira but since she's seen so little, it's not much zaniness. But I also like that there's a little more seriousness in this series. The Chaos brothers set a different tone than the Hot Bunch. They don't have a Tex or a Duke. But I'm thinking that's okay. I do really, really like that KA gives us glimpses of those characters though. ;)

Mid-August baby. We'll hit #3. I admit I'm kinda nervous since it's new characters but hey, I was nervous to start this series and it's been an amazing ride so far. I was glad to see Lexxie gave it 5-Stars because that means KA is *still* rocking. I don't know how I'll feel if she ever disappoints me. I don't even want to think about it, honestly. Oh, and yes I am always shocked at how long her books are. Because they absolutely do *not* feel long. I inhale and devour them and I know you do too. She's just that good. And I'm looking forward to a good ass kicking of Benito. He is not a good guy...

My final thoughts...
If KA writes it, I'm gonna love it! This second book in the Chaos series had everything I expect from KA - minus a little zaniness. But what it lacks in zany, it definitely made up for in the feels. My goodness. Hop is my latest book boyfriend. He packs in so much - a hot man on a motorcycle, with a moral compass, a great dad, a former rock star, and with a brutal honesty you can't hate. He's intense and when Lanie steers his intensity towards her, sparks fly. Lanie has survived so much. She's beautiful, successful, but she's not being honest with herself or the monster that lives inside her. This couple is my favorite Chaos couple so far. And bonus points for their age!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Beyond the Books ~ Back-to-School Blues

Welcome to Beyond the Books. This post was inspired by Lexxie @Unconventional BookviewsUp Close and (Un)conventional, who was inspired by Cuddlebuggery. It's meant to be a way for y'all to get to know me better on a personal level ~ Beyond the Books. ;)


School started this week. *sniff* All my kids are in high school. ALL.OF.THEM. And since my oldest drives, AND they're all involved in marching band, my role in their lives is evolving. My oldest drives everyone to school now...and that means I have 2 extra hours in my day. Plus, they have marching band rehearsal after-school 2 days a week, and ALL day on Saturday so they're just not going to be here a lot of the time. And while I'm so excited that they're growing up and they're such amazing individuals with their own special talents, I'm also feeling a little blue. I miss them already and it's only the first week. And this is my oldest daughter's senior year. This time next year, she'll be away at college. Gah! 

Kids grow up waaay too fast. So even though I'm feeling a little blue, and missing my kiddos, I'm trying to cherish every minute I have with them. Because it won't be long before they're all away at college and I'll be wondering why I ever complained about all the time I spent in the car taking them here and there... 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Blogger Chick Chat ~ Knight of Ocean Avenue ~ Tara Lain

Knight of Ocean Avenue (Love in Laguna, #1)Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain
Love in Laguna #1
Release Date: May 1, 2015
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Source: Purchased paperback at RT
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms

How can you be twenty-five and not know you're gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy's life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor's license he so desires, and fear of his mother's judgement blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.

Then, in preparation for is sister's big wedding, Billy meets Shaz - Chase Phillips - a rising star, celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he's ever wanted - stalwart, honest, brave - but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he'd get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?


Lexxie @Unconventional Bookviews and I buddy read Knight of Ocean Avenue. This was my first read from Tara Lain but Lexxie was already *twisting my arm* to read Lain, as she's one of her favorites. :) I'm happy to say I loved my introduction. And I'm looking forward to buddy reading #2 in the series, Knave of Broken Hearts. I hope you enjoy our chat!

Lexxie, there are so many things I loved about Knight of Ocean Avenue. And I'm so happy you found Lain - so we could buddy read her. :)

I felt like both Billy and Shaz were defeating themselves in the love arena by holding on to the "picture" of what they thought their love lives were supposed to look like. Billy, bless his heart, not realizing he was looking for love in all the wrong places broke my heart. I hated that he kept saying he was 'slow' and I had to wonder if, subconsciously, thoughts of what his family, his mother in particular, would say were holding him back from figuring himself out. What do you think? I also wondered if some of the things he'd remember people had said to him were said by his mother. But then, it wouldn't fit with how supportive his family was, so maybe not. Shaz broke my heart for having to have lived a life without his family. I can't imagine anything my kids could do that would make me disown them.

Their family lives were just another way in which Billy and Shaz were opposites. They were opposites in body build, upbringing, career...the juxtaposition of all these things would seem to put too many things in the way for a lasting relationship. So I liked that they found a way to make it work. 

I cheered when Lain threw in the religion card. That Shaz could hold his own in reciting scripture to refute what Billy's mom was saying made me smile. Lain doesn't seem to shy away from showing the bigotry and prejudice gays face. I admire that. 

And I liked that Lain infused so much humor into the story. I think it would have felt much darker and sad without the humor.

Oh, I must mention all the side characters. Lain did such a great job in fleshing out the supporting cast. I adore Billy's sisters, Teresa and Rhonda. Oh, and Billy's crew - especially Jim. And Ru! I was glad he was Shaz's voice of reason when he needed one. :)

What are your favorite parts of the story?

I'm happy I found Tara Lain, too, and even happier you love her books as much as I do! And I so love our book-chats, Brandee! It totally makes reading even better.

Yup, holding on to the 'picture' for Shaz, and for Billy, living up to his own (and his family's) expectations definitely held them back. But once they truly looked at their lives, and how good things could be they were both very courageous in my opinion. Shaz for finally realizing that the picture and real life was not the same, and Billy for really going all out there once he knew he was gay. Of course, Billy's steps were baby-steps at first, but I felt like he really put everything on the line to be honest both with himself and those around me. It sounded like Billy's teachers had told him he was slow - and I'm wondering if maybe he was slightly dyslexic, since he told Shaz that he had taught himself to read later on. I can't imagine not being touch with my kids, either, and I think that even if they had actually done something horrible (and no, being gay does not at all count for that!!) I think it would be impossible not to love them anyway.

I think that in many ways, even if their family life and their childhoods were very different, Shaz and Billy were more alike than they realized. When it came to their values and their loyalty - both of which are very important in a relationship - they really felt the same way.

Cheering on both sides of the pond for the religion card, Brandee! I loved how Shaz knew his bible verses even better than Billy's mom, and it really also showed that if you want to use religion as an 'excuse' for judging other people, you may have misunderstood some very important lessons... Like for example the thing about judging.

Lain's humor is awesome, and the fact that she managed to put a little lightness into the troubled men's lives was indeed well done. I can't wait to read the next Love in Laguna book, actually, because Knight of Ocean Avenue did have it all! Good main and supporting characters, as well as a well done story-line, and a well-crafted plot.

And I have to say I really hope there will be a story involving Rhonda and Mitch... because wow! 

I really admire both Billy and Shaz because letting go of the dreams and expectations they'd both had for what their lives would be like - especially for Billy since he's also breaking those images for his parents - would be so difficult. But they both did it for themselves. And even though they're both such compassionate men, taking care of, looking out for those they care for, it was important they do this for themselves and their happiness. And yes, you're right, they were very similar despite their upbringing, because their values lined up. *sigh* I just adore them both!

I agree with you about Billy possibly being dyslexic. I know you have some experience with it, and I do as well, so it was hitting those buttons for me when Billy talked about and remembered things people had said to him about his ability to learn. And it broke my heart.

I'm really looking forward to the next Love in Laguna book as well, Lexxie. I'm eager to learn more about all the characters Lain introduced us to. She sure knows how to write a solid story, with emotion and humor, and beautiful men! :) And I too hope we get Rhonda and Mitch's story...I think it'll be quite a story!

I know! They both made my heart ache for them - and I really wanted to hug them and tell them to just go after they dreams instead of after their 'picture'. Billy and Shaz had to really put themselves out there, though, and I don't think either of them had truly done that before - just being with someone who was convenient, and whom they felt attracted to in some way, but not giving that other person their all. And because they hadn't given their all, they definitely didn't receive everything they wanted and needed either.

The way Shaz helped Billy study for his test made me laugh out loud! But I think what really helped Billy was that Shaz was sure he'd make it - and if he didn't make it this time, some other time. It was not something that would change the way Shaz felt about Billy, and that confidence boost was probably just as important as knowing all the answers.

I just started Knave of Broken Hearts, and I'm so happy we're doing yet another buddy-read, Brandee! This is so much fun!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

That's What HE Said #35 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #14

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:

Shuttergirl by CD Reiss

*ha* I've been on a CD binge lately, too.   

"Laine, I want you. I care about you. You give me something I've never had before. You're a devil in high heels, but you...God, I want you. You. Your body, yes, but everything else too. I want ot make everything in your world right. I can't help it. Let me in. Just let me in."


This is a scene where Laine is trying to get her brother, Tom, to go talk to a girl. Tom is, um, shall we say socially awkward. ;) So he needs a little liquid courage. I liked the dynamic between Laine and Tom a lot. Reiss conveyed the closeness of the relationship well.

Tom tapped his fingers, looked at Leo, then Sparkly Shoes, then back at Leo. "Three shots of tequila. One, two, three. Line them up right here with a beer at the end."
"There's a man who knows how to party!" Leo shouted.
I sighed into my glass, disappointed. I had the feeling that despite my best intentions for Tom, I'd be driving the Exploder home.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Audio Review ~ Primal Law ~ J.D. Tyler

Primal Law (Alpha Pack #1)Primal Law
Alpha Pack #1
Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
Release Date: February 27, 2012
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Source: Audible
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms

After a massacre decimates half his team and leaves him crippled, Jaxon Law must relearn how to fight--and battle the anger and guilt threatening to overwhelm him. But when he rescues a beautiful woman who awakens his primal instincts, Jax is unprepared for the dangers that lie ahead.

On the run from her employer, brilliant lab assistant Kira Locke has evidence that leads that Alpha Pack on a hunt for someone targeting human civilians with Psy abilities. And as Jax and Kira circle both the killer and each other, Jax will have to decide if the deep connection he feels with Kira is worth breaking the ultimate shifter rule--because bonding with Kira means putting his abilities at risk, and they might be the only tools he has to keep his mate alive.

Primal Law had been on my TBR for quite awhile. When I found that Kirsten Potter narrated the audio version, I decided to see how one of my favorite narrators of HR did with a paranormal. 

As far as the narration goes, Potter was excellent. I enjoyed hearing her say "oh shit!" every bit as much as hearing her say "God's teeth". :) But the story wasn't quite as enjoyable as the HR's she's done.

Primal Law was a great introduction to the Alpha Pack series. We meet a group of guys, once SEALs, who were attached and turned into shifters while serving in Afghanistan. Now they're an elite group, with Psy-abilities, who hunt down rogue paranormals.

While on a weekend of R&R, Jax happens upon Kira, when she's being chased by men with guns. His need to protect her only grows as the pack takes her under their protection. Of course, it's not only protectiveness Jax beings to feel towards her.

Kira has been working for a company that does medical research for several years. But recently, she's become suspicious of what they're really researching. Her inquisitiveness leads to men chasing her with guns and into the arms of a man she's watched shift into a wolf.

The Alpha Pack takes Kira into their compound where she meets the entire team along with several other supernaturals. While there, we see she's nurturing as well as curious, and she's open-minded about what she's seeing and learning. We learn that Jax carries a lot of guilt on his shoulders over the attack on his team. His perceived role in the attack is holding him back in many ways. But he's strong and very loyal to his pack. I enjoyed watching as Jax and Kira got better acquainted and their connection grew. I also liked Tyler's spin on mates and how their bond affects their abilities.

Primal Law is also loaded with a mystery (the overarching plot arc) and lots of suspense. Despite these elements keeping my earbuds in my ears, there wasn't the pull to be listening every chance I had. I can't really explain why that was. I liked all the characters and look forward to knowing them better - and I'm anxious to understand what Kira's former company is up to - but something was missing for me. Maybe I would have liked more character development for Jax and Kira.

However, I will continue this series and it will be in audio. The full line-up of supernaturals, some with extra abilities, on top of the action and suspense created in solving the mystery has me excited even if this first installment didn't blow me away.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#ShelfLove ~ Best Bookish Gifts

This month, we're discussing Best Bookish Gifts! Oh-hohoho...a topic I could wax poetic about. ;) 

Let's see...for baby/children's gifts, I prefer to give a book with a matching stuffed animal. Pat the Bunny is always good. I also really like Skippy Jon Jones and anything from Mo Willems. Also great picture books: Giraffes Can't Dance, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, The Day the Colors Quit, and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, and Stella Luna.

For young readers I like to give classics like Where the Red Fern Grows OR start them on a new series and I always include a book mark.

For teens, I try to pick from books and/or authors I've read. Sarah Dessen, Gayle Forman, and John Green are good for realistic fiction. For Paranormal or Fantasy I'd pick Richelle Mead, Taherah Mafi, Maggie Stiefvater...just to name a few.

There are so, so many bookish types of gifts to give family and friends. Etsy is a great source when you're looking for something unique. I like giving books as gifts, obviously, but when I know a person loves a particular book or author, something like a coffee mug or a piece of jewelry, or even a t-shirt with a quote or something, make a great present.

I was trying to think of the best bookish gift I've ever been given and it's so hard to pick ONE thing. But I've come up with hubs gave me a leather-bound edition of Jane Austen's collected works and it's something I adore. And a friend of mine gave me The Library by Sarah Stewart and it's a gift I treasure. It even has a place of prominence on one of my bookshelves. :)

So what about y'all? Do you give bookish gifts? And what are your favorites?!?

Monday, August 17, 2015

#COYER Review ~ Spin ~ CD Reiss

Spin (Songs of Corruption, #1)Spin by CD Reiss
Songs of Corruption #1
Release Date: March 10, 2014
Genre: Adult, Dark Romance, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 5 Bookworms

***You do NOT need to read Songs of Submission to read Spin***

Mafia capo, Antonio Spinelli blew through my orderly life like a cyclone.

Gorgeous and passionate, with a breathtaking brutality, he put me under his spell the moment he touched me, drawing me into his underworld of risk, violence and betrayal.

And I found, just as this sophisticated savage didn't trust me, I didn't trust myself. Something happened to me. Some alchemy from the heat between us.

I discovered I was a savage, too.

I like a book that grabs me by the throat and throws me into the deep waters to struggle in the waves of the characters' story. Reiss does just that in Spin. In fact, she threw me into the deep, with waves crashing and sharks circling. In other words, the story was a roller coaster of emotions - thrilling and terrifying, where I watched as Theresa and Antonio found out exactly what they were made of.

Theresa, recently publicly humiliated by the betrayal of her now ex-fiance, is coping by continuing her work while trying to figure out how to deal with loving him still. She's very good at compartmentalizing. She's a girl who's always prepared. An evening out with her sister leads to a chance encounter with Antonio Spinelli. With one look, and a few words, she was a goner.
"His words had fingers, and as he spoke, they drifted down my body, fondling me and arousing me."
Antonio makes her feel things she's never felt before. This leads to an affair and Theresa learning far more about the mafia and herself than she'd ever anticipated.

Antonio sees Theresa and knows he wants her. Problem is, she's not a part of the life and therefore not privy to their ways. In many ways, Antonio prefers this. It may even be a part of the attraction. But as he and Theresa get more deeply involved, important choices must be made - life-altering choices.

Spin is dark - darker than Reiss' Songs of Submission, in my opinion. It's violent and yet sexy. Reiss always amazes me with her ability to take a raw, gritty scene and paint it in a way to make it sexy and beautiful. With Theresa and Antonio, this is quite a feat as the subjects dealt with their story are not always pretty.

After ruminating on this for awhile, I've decided that at its heart, this is a journey for both Theresa and Antonio. I think neither really know what's in their hearts. But with each other, they're learning.