Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review ~ Sweet Dreams ~ Kristen Ashley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

***Sky's Review***

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Early Review ~ Mr. Romantic ~ JA Huss

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

Charm is the key to the world.

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

Nolan Delaney has it in spades.

The infamous Mr. Romantic.

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

Don't  underestimate me, Mr. Delaney.

I'm not really as innocent as I look.

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

Review ~ The Glittering Court ~ Richelle Mead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 17, 2016

Review ~ Young Teacher ~ Bobbi Ruggiero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 16, 2016

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

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

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

Rock Chick Reckoning by Kristen Ashley

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

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



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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Brandee's Bookish Babble #19 ~ Books & Best Friends Part 3

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


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

Yet another one of my best friends I met via blogging and, of course, books. When I first started blogging seriously, I was uncomfortable leaving comments on her blog. I was a newb and kept wondering if she'd even care about my thoughts. But the more I visited her blog, the more I realized we shared similar tastes and opinions on books - so I got brave and started leaving comments. We then began communicating via comments and the more we chatted, the more and more we realized we had in common. I'm talking about Lexxie @(un)Conventional Bookviews, of course. We've now been friends for about 3 years. We chat often - about books and just life in general. AND we got to meet IRL a year ago at RT in Dallas! That was an experience! Getting to meet in person cemented our friendship as we saw that chatting in person was just as much fun as online. It feels as though Lexxie and I have been friends forever. And it was so exciting getting to see her again this year, at BEA. We got to talk books, I took her to her first baseball game (she reads sports romances involving baseball and yet had never seen the game played!), fangirled over some favorite authors, and just generally had a great time! I'm hoping to make it over to her side of the pond in the next year. I can't wait!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Audio Review ~ Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night ~ Kresley Cole

Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals After Dark #4)Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night by Kresley Cole
Immortals After Dark #4
Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
Release Date: June 5, 2012 by Simon and Schuster Audio
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Source: Audible credit
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms

Challenges: #ShelfLove

Her breathless kiss haunts him...
Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed--until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. When sinister forces unite against her, the Highlander finds himself using all his strength and skill to keep her alive.

His slow, hot touch is irresistible...
Temporarily stripped of her powers, Mari is forced to take refuge with her sworn adversary. It's rumored that no one can tempt Bowen's hardened heart, but soon passion burns between them. Though a future together is impossible, she fears he has no intention of letting her go.

No deed is too wicked for her seduction...
If they defeat the evil that surrounds them, can Mari deny Bowen when he demands her body and soul--or will she risk everything for her fierce protector?

This series just keeps getting better and Robert Petkoff's narration plays a huge role in my enjoyment! He's amazing - keeping all the voices separate and distinct as well as keeping the pace perfect - he's at the top of the list of my favorite narrators.

I was thrilled right off the bat when I started Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night not only because it's Bowen's story but also because it went back to The High - the Lore's version of The Amazing Race - which was the setting for the previous book. Here, rather than seeing only the repercussions, we got to see what actually went down between Bowen and Mari during The High and afterwards.

The intensity and suspense Cole created with the race to return Mari as well as solving a few mysteries - like is Mari really Bowen's mate? - was superb. I went right along thinking one thing and was shocked to find out the truth and to see the layers/levels of deceit that had convoluted Bowen's long life as well as Mari's much shorter one. I also appreciated the importance placed on words - you must be paying attention to every word - especially when Nyx is the speaker. ;)

Being witness to Bowen shaking off the rust on his charm and wooing skills was entertaining. Mari was not easily swayed with words along though watching her fight her attraction to Bowen was fun. But hearing the hurt in her voice when he let her down was heartbreaking.

I think this couple fought hardest for one another - in the series so far - and the payoff was worth it. They each battled insecurity, prejudices, and outside elements like magic. They fought hard and bravely though.

Bowen and Mari might be my favorite couple so far. But I've enjoyed them all. And I really like how Cole seems to be delivering an underlying message about prejudice. I'm extremely eager to get to listening to the next in the IAD series. It's Conrad Wroth's story. :D

Friday, June 10, 2016

New Release Review ~ Awakened by the Wolf ~ Kristal Hollis

Awakened by the Wolf (The Wahyas of Walker’s Run #1)Awakened by the Wolf by Kristal Hollis
The Wahyas of Walker's Run #1
Release Date: June 1, 2016
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Source: I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease, #CleanSweep
Goodreads ~ Amazon

Who's been sleeping the the Alpha's bed?

Exiled from his pack by his father, Brice Walker has secretly come home to visit his ailing grandmother only to discover a human and very desirable female sleeping in his bed. Their attraction is instant. But his new bed buddy seems determined to resist his Southern charm and Alpha allure.

For Brice, fiercely independent Cassie not only represents a chance to build a new life in Walker's Run but is also his one true mate. Cassie's reluctance dissolves when a rogue shifter kidnaps her, and now she and Brice must work together to save his pack. But once she witnesses the savagery of wolfan justice, can Cassie accept Brice as man, beast and her true love?

Awakened by the Wolf is a fantastic debut from a promising new voice in paranormal romance. It's also an exciting introduction to a new series featuring some of my favorite supes - Wahyas. Never heard of them? Tsk-tsk. ;) They're wolf shifters - not to be confused with werewolves. And Hollis' Wayha mythos is one I'm anxious to learn more about.

Here are a few of my favorite things about Awakened by the Wolf:

  • Hollis' character development. Both Cassie and Brice have been hurt emotionally (physically as well for Brice) and suffered traumatic losses. Both have their reasons for avoiding commitment. Hollis allowed me inside both their heads so I could feel their turmoil and pain, understand their logic, and sympathize with the emotions they bring out in each other. The supporting cast was also well fleshed out and I look forward to spending more time in Walker's Run.
  • The Wahya mythology. Hollis put her own spin on these shifters and I liked it. There are pack dynamics, politics, etc., but my favorite was that even though a Wahya can find their 'one true mate', it doesn't equal insta-love. Cassie and Brice took the time to get to know one another and fall in love - not just give into the pull of a bond and fall into bed.
  • The intrigue/mystery. Hollis did a nice job of creating tension using pack dynamics and inter-pack politics. There was some subterfuge, some well-intentioned wrongs, and some downright scary bad guys. I was honestly shocked at what all went down and was thrilled Hollis didn't shy away from the darker side of shifters.
All in all, I was delighted with Awakened by the Wolf. I think my only complaint would be the unnecessary angst caused by lack of communication. But then, with Brice's and Cassie's pasts, it was understandable and forgivable. I don't know what's up next for the Wahyas of Walker's Run but I'm more than eager to find out.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

That's What HE Said #64 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #45

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:

Awakened by the Wolf by Kristal Hollis

I like this quote because it showed how considerate Brice was of Cassie. :)

"Today was all about you. If someone had seen me, we wouldn't have had a moment's peace, and the magnitude of your accomplishment would've been lost in the chaos."


Anyone else have a favorite food that grandma makes? 

Silently he snagged a small saucer from the cabinet, a spoon from the drawer, a knife from the wood block. Then he cut a large wedge out of the pie. The first bite of sweet-tart deliciousness slide down his throat, slow and easy.
Mmm, cherry! His entire body sighed.
One piece wasn't enough. He had to have two. A chug of milk washed down the third. Abandoning all etiquette, he scarfed down the rest and licked the pie pan clean. At long last, a warm, cozy satisfaction ebbed from this belly.
God, it's good to be home.

#COYER Summer Vacation Sign-up Post


It's Summer! You know what that means?!? COYER Summer Vacation! Woohoo! The BIG difference between COYER Summer Vacation and COYER at any other time of the year is that during the summer, we're allowed to take a vacation from ALL the rules and restrictions. That's right - no rules or restrictions. Just a challenge to clean off your ereaders, shelves, etc.

For full details, click the COYER button above. The challenge is going to run from June 18th to September 2nd. That's two and a half months to do A LOT of reading. There are giveaways and Twitter parties. There's even a Facebook group where we can cheer each other on - or enable our one-clicking habits by sharing freebies. ;)

The main rules are:

  1. You must create a sign-up post before August 1st. You don't have to be a blogger. You can post on Goodreads, Facebook, etc.
  2. You must link up your sign-up post. You can do that here.
  3. You must review your books somewhere and link up the review - if you want to be eligible for one of the grand prize giveaways anyway. :)
  4. Read! Any book, any format, any price...just read! :D

My goal for COYER Summer Vacation will be 20 books.

So, what do y'all think? Are you in? It'll be a blast I promise! Join me in the fun!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Brandee's Bookish Babble #18 ~ Books & Best Friends Part 2

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


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

I actually met another of my closest friends because of scrapbooking. However, we really bonded over books. Back in 2010, when Richelle Mead was in Boulder promoting Spirit Bound, I talked Denise into attending the reading/signing with me. Denise hadn't read the VA series, yet, so I spent the time waiting in line with her schooling her on the greatness that is Rose and Dimitri. ;) Once we got to Richelle's table, Denise was sold! She promptly purchased all the books in the series up to that point and read them. And an addict was born! ;) From there, I began sharing books with her...yes, I happily admit I became her pusher. I got her hooked on Twilight as well and we've been close friends ever since! 

It is quite common for me to receive a phone call from Denise where one of us starts the conversation with book quotes. We've had text conversations using book quotes. I keep her supplied with a running list of books to read next. And I recently got her hooked on audiobooks, too! You've seen her in photos here from the Rock Chick Rendezvous and other events. She even allows me to drag her around the country to book events/conventions. We recently attended BEA and had a blast! 

Yep, friendship bound by books...who could ask for anything more?!?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Release Day Review ~ Dream Magic ~ Michelle Mankin

Dream Magic (Magic #2)Dream Magic by Michelle Mankin
Magic Series #2
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Source: Purchased on kindle (I also had the pleasure of beta reading this installment)
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

The dreamscape is a place of magic and mystery and meaning. In that nocturnal realm, ideas, images, sensations and emotions drift on the currents of the unconscious mind.
Morpheus the Dream Falcon is most at home in that domain. By night, the one of a kind winged immortal soars on those winds, observing and sometimes even entering the slumbering thoughts of another. By day, he is a highly sought after mercenary feared by his immortal kin for both his unmatched ferocity and his wicked obsidian talons. None of his prey escapes him.
Cecilia Ramirez y Aguilera is the one her truly wants. But the striking oracle of the Court of the Light Immortals is closed to the handsome outlaw, even in her dreams. Broken by unimaginable losses, the seer is but a slave, subject to the whims of a master who is mad and without mercy.
Drawn together by fate, their impossible passion ignites. But will that be enough given the dangerous secrets each keeps from the other? Or will mistrust and the desire for revenge threaten to unravel the powerful magic that binds them?

Dream Magic is the continuing story of the characters from Strange Magic and introduces a new set of characters as well. Like Strange Magic, Dream Magic has it's own plotline but it also ties into an over-arching plotline. Therefore, Strange Magic *must* be read first.

In Dream Magic, we're introduced to Cecilia, "Ceci", and her sister, Millie. They have interesting parentage and are blessed with interesting abilities. Certain events occur whereby the sisters, due to their abilities, are taken prisoner. They are held in the Court of the Light Immortals, and there are witness to parts of their world that their parents tried to shield them from. While at court, the sisters make many new friends and possibly some enemies. And Ceci meets Morpheus, the Dream Falcon. 

Mankin did an excellent job in crafting a fascinating story revolving around mythology: the different gods, both dark and light, evil and good. It was exciting but also relevant in its messages. I very much enjoyed seeing Morpheus, Thyme, Billy, and Bacchus again but I also liked how Mankin meshed the two stories with the introduction of new characters. All of Mankin's characters are well fleshed out, the mythology was used well, and the story was solid. I was pulled into the story in the first few pages and was loathe to put it down. Mankin tossed my emotions in different directions - one minute, I was gasping, the next cheering. I laughed and I cried. I was biting my nails in anticipation of what would happen next. I was enthralled with Ceci and Morpheus' story and enchanted when Billy and Thyme's story intertwined with theirs. 

Obviously, I adored Dream Magic. I may have liked it even more than Strange Magic. The ending was shocking in several ways and I'm more than eager for Twisted Magic, the conclusion to this trilogy. Ms. Mankin, write faster! :D

#ShelfLove Discussion ~ Mid-Year Check-in

Bookworm Brandee

As part of the #ShelfLove Challenge, we have monthly discussion topics. June's topic is a mid-year check-in. Here's how I'm doing. ;)  

It's mid 2016. MID. 2016. Y'ALL! How did that happen?!? Luckily, despite time flying by, I have made quite a bit of progress in my #ShelfLove Challenge. I've read 38 books - that means I've shown my shelves some serious love. My shelves and I are at the Regular Date Night level. Of course, I added ~100 books to my shelves after BEA. So even though I feel proud of what I've accomplished so far this year, I also feel I negated some of my progress. (of course, the books were FREE) But oh do I have some lovely books to read and more love to show my shelves!

How about y'all? How are y'all doing with showing your shelves some love?!?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Review ~ Always ~ Kindle Alexander

AlwaysAlways by Kindle Alexander
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Genre: Adult, M/M Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #ShelfLove

Born to a prestigious political family, Avery Adams plays as hard as he works. The gorgeous, charismatic attorney is used to getting what he wants, even the frequent one-night stands that earn him his well-deserved playboy reputation. When some of the prominent men in politics suggest he run for senate, Avery decides the time has come to follow in his grandfather's footsteps. With a strategy in place and the campaign wheels rolling, Avery is ready to jump on the legislative fast track, full steam ahead. But no amount of planning prepares him for the handsome, uptight restaurateur who might derail his political future.

Easy isn't even in the top thousand words to describe Kane Dalton's life after his father, a devout southern Baptist minister, kicks him out of the family home for questioning his sexual orientation. Despite all the rotten tomatoes life throws his way, Kane makes something of himself. Between owning a thriving upscale Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown Minneapolis and managing his long-term boyfriend, his plate is full. He struggles to get past the teachings of his childhood to fully accept his sexuality and rid himself of the doubts brought on by his religious upbringing. The last thing he needs is the yummy, sophisticated, blond-haired distraction sitting at table thirty-four.

Always is a touching love story and not something you typically see in that it spans some 40 years. Rather than being a story of how a couple met and fell in love, it's that PLUS how they live out the HEA...their always.

Kane was a man struggling to reconcile his religious beliefs with his sexuality. Having been kicked out of his home at 18, because of his sexuality, he luckily found a mentor and now he owns and runs a successful restaurant in Minneapolis.

Avery, a son of a political family, great-grandson to a President, has come home to Minnesota to consider a political run. In his first attempt at being seen by his public, he has dinner in Kane's restaurant. When they meet, the earth moves for them both. And an almost 40 year love affair begins.

I love both Kane and Avery. Being from Texas, I identified with Kane and his Southern Baptist upbringing more than Avery's privileged one. Sometimes Avery annoyed me in that I thought he was selfish when it came to what he wanted for himself and Kane. But one thing that was unquestionable was their love and devotion to one another.

Their love affair began in the late 70's. I liked how KAlexander had their story span decades of my lifetime. It was fascinating to see them live as an openly gay couple and see how different movements, scientific discoveries, etc., affected their lives. And I loved thinking (reading about) an American population accepting enough to elect a gay man to public office. Watching Kane and Avery live out their life together was heartwarming. Seeing the people they had surrounding them, Avery's mom and Kane's mentor, Paulie, who'd served as a mentor and father figure to Kane - seeing their love and support for Kane and Avery was beautiful.

Always was unique and moving. And I'm so happy I finally knocked off the virtual dust bunnies and read it.

Friday, June 3, 2016

New Release Review ~ Discovering You ~ Brenda Novak

Discovering You (Whiskey Creek, #10)Discovering You by Brenda Novak
Whiskey Creek #10
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Source: I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease, #CleanSweep
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

Can she ever trust another "bad boy"?

India Sommers once had the perfect family--until an ex-boyfriend broke in and shot her husband. Not only did that cost her the man she loved, a respected heart surgeon and the father of her child, but she also feels responsible. Charlie died because of the people she hung out with before she had the strength to change her life.

Just after moving to Whiskey Creek with her little girl, Cassia, to start over, she's learned that her ex-boyfriend's trial ended in a hung jury. He's getting out of jail; he could try to find her again. And that's not all that scares her. She's extremely attracted to her next-door neighbor, but Rod Amos is the handsome "bad boy" type that's given her so much trouble in the past. If she got involved with him, her in-laws would sue for custody of Cassia.

India has to keep her distance from Rod--but the more she gets to know him, the more difficult that becomes.

Discovering You was another satisfying installment in the Whiskey Creek series. I quite enjoyed getting Rod Amos' story with a side of Mack Amos' story. (I can't wait for the rest of that one!)

All of the Amos brothers have wild child reputations and Rod earned his early. But you know the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover"? Well, there's certainly more to Rod than his tattoos and troubled youth would have you believe. Underneath all that, and the walls he's built to protect himself from heartbreak, is a kind, loyal, hardworking man. And once he meets his new neighbor, India, the true Rod really begins to shine through.

India's been through so much in the last year. She's working hard at rebuilding a life for her and her daughter and has come to Whiskey Creek for that fresh start. India's resilience is amazing and says a lot about her spirit. She's endured a lot of tragedy and loss and yet she's still such a bright spirit. Her immediate attraction to Rod concerns her because she's had some questionable judgement with men in her past but spending time with him - especially seeing him stand up for her in a difficult situation proves she's outgrown her had choices - Rod fits her perfectly.

The suspense element created around India's husband's killer gave Discovering You an edge. With the exception of a few decisions India and Rod made which I felt were a little too far-fetched, Novak made it all so real. One thing that bothered me though was India's lack of contact with her daughter. I understood everything she was thinking and feeling with regards to her in-laws but I felt I would have fought them harder. The side story between Mack and Natasha also added depth to the story overall. I felt for them both and the position they were in - I'm not sure I agree with Mack's thinking but I admire his commitment to making sure Natasha's future is bright - keeping all her options open.

Overall, Discovering You was a great read. I did miss my friends from Whiskey Creek since this story focused solely on the Amos' but I know I'll catch up with them soon. Getting to see Rod fall hard was wroth not spending time with them. I look forward to visiting Whiskey Creek again soon.