Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Review: Alexandra's Legacy by N.J. Walters (Legacy, #1)

Title: Alexandra's Legacy (Legacy, #1)
Author: N.J. Walters
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publication Date: Oct. 13, 2009

4 out of 5 stars

Wowza. This is the first in a shifter series that has a lot of potential. The story was strong and except for a few issues here and there, I really liked the world that the author has introduced.

From Goodreads:

The truth will set her free...or get her killed.

Alexandra Riley's day starts out like any other in her normal, predictable world. Then a tall, dark stranger bursts into her father's garage and shatters the illusion. In one shocking moment, she discovers why she's been feeling hot, restless--she's the half-breed daughter of a legendary werewolf and is a much-sought-after prize.

Joshua Striker, enforcer in charge of protecting the alphas of the Wolf Creek pack, has come to take Alex home. Nothing more, nothing less. From the first moment he sees her, she becomes the one thing he can't afford--a distraction from his duty. A weakness he doesn't want--but can't resist needing.

If only keeping her safe was as simple as fending off males on the hunt for a mate. Through city streets to the mountains of North Carolina, Alex and Joshua have to evade those who don't want their pure bloodlines tainted with human DNA, as well as bounty hunters who think the only good werewolf is a dead one.

What Joshua and Alex can't outrun is the passion that flares between them--or the choice Alex must eventually face. Whether to claim her inner wolf, or forfeit her chance to claim Joshua as her own.

My Thoughts:

Be prepared: this story involves insta-lust between the couple. And in this case I didn't mind it one bit. It fit the story. It made sense, it was written well, and the world the author created supported this. Also, just because they wanted each other almost on sight, that doesn't mean it happened. The author instead provides the reader with a hero who is willing to sacrifice his happiness for his mate, giving her a chance to choose someone other than him. Is there anything more swoonworthy than that? I think not.

Also, in Alexandra's Legacy, the attraction between Alex and Joshua worked. Often in shifter stories the H and h end up finding their mate and want to claim the person quickly. I expected this and therefore was not surprised when the finding each other definitely happens here. What I did appreciate was that, instead of acting on (or at least instead of acting fully on it), Joshua held back claiming Alex so she could make her choice. He didn't want her to choose him because he was the only wolf around. even though he desperately wanted to have her. He did the honorable thing, or tried to, and waited until they got to Wolf Creek so she could, if she wanted, choose someone other than him.

What a nice and honorable werewolf, right?! I really liked Joshua. He was strong, protective, hot, sexy and really cared for Alex. He struggled with the attraction he had for her, the love he felt and the knowledge that she was his, but fought all that in order to give her the choice. This kind of sacrifice isn't seen often seen in PNR heroes and I really liked it.

The author did a great job introducing the 'world' in which the shifters lived, and the background stories of Alex's dad. (I want him to get an HEA! Please, please please!!!!!)  He also made huge sacrifices, endangering himself and in some ways his kind, in order to ensure Alex was safe. And that alone makes him a hero I want to read more about. The next story in the series is Isaiah's though (Joshua's brother) and it is already set up and ready to go on my Nook.  

I didn't run into any glaring editing errors which is not surprising since this is a Samhain title and they are usually pretty good on that front. However, I do have an issue with the formatting. First, the font is really small. I thought I might end up blind as I tried to read. This is not the author's fault and I didn't take this into account while rating it. But it is something that, for the edition I read, I wish I had known about before hand. Also, there was an issue sporadically with page numbers. Pages were out of order or skipped several pages here and there. I had to constantly manually put in the page number.  In my rating I am not counting this as a negative (although in a sense it *is* a negative) but more as a notice to readers to check out the sample pages first. I've had my edition for awhile so it could just be mine. Whatever the case, the eye strain I think might have been worth it anyways. :D

Here are the purchase links for: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Review: Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare

Title: Extreme Exposure (I-Team #1)
Author: Pamela Clare
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 2, 2005

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book had been on my TBR pile for a really long time. I kept putting it off though, grabbing something else to read instead. Well, after hitting a dry spell where every book I read was getting on my nerves (yes, this happens to even a book addict like me), I decided to hit the romantic suspense route.  I snapped up book one for my Nook and dove in.  I was more than pleasantly surprised as I read. Not only is the romance steamy and the main characters fantastic, but also it is clear that the author researched the complex environmental issues that made up the conflict in the book. Ms. Clare also presented that information in a clear and concise way that added to the story and the relationship between Reece and Kara, instead of detracting from it.

From Goodreads:

Novels such as Carnal Gift and Sweet Release made Pamela Clare's rising star shine. Now, she turns her "impressive" talents to a novel of modern romance - and breathless intrigue...

It's been years since her child's father dumped her, and since then Kara McMillan has kept men at bay - although every day she aches more for a lover's touch. But to get that, the hard-boiled journalist must become vulnerable - a feeling she vowed never to have again.

With his dangerous good looks, charm, and power, Senator Reece Sheridan could have just about any woman he sets his piercing eyes on. But he's intrigued by only one. This Kara, this gutsy investigative reporter, has a sensuality that arouses him to no end. If she's a firebrand in print, he guesses, she must be just as fiery in bed...

But this is no fling. A sudden political scandal - and attempts on Kara's life - could very well drive them apart. Or maybe, just maybe, adversity could draw them into a bond even more intense than their steamy sexual embraces.

My Thoughts:

This book is an intelligent, well thought out mystery with loads of suspense. All this accompanies well written characters and a hot romance between a state senate and reporter. What I really loved about this book is that you could tell the author did great research. It wasn't thrown together with vague summaries of the conflict. There were no plot holes or places where I had to guess what was going on. By the end the loose ends were tied up and it was not only satisfying in how the bad guys were dealt with, but also sweet.

Reece was hot, sexy, strong, and a protector. Kara was a strong, independent, and smart. She struggled to balance single motherhood and her career and the romance was written realistically in how Kara had to somehow try to fit in a personal life as well.

She didn't fight Reece when he tried to help her. This I liked. So often the heroines gets pissed off and has TSTL moments because she doesn't want the Heroes help. In this case Kara was able to have her independence but also graciously accept the help offered by Reece at times.

As I mentioned above, there were no unnecessary info-dumps that took me out of the story. The information presented to the reader was placed in scenes that made sense and had a purpose. Not once did I find myself getting frustrated. This is a well-written, tightly plotted, and suspense filled novel that incorporated a whole lot of sexy in Reece and Kara. Oh and there is a epilogue! *Squeeeeeeee!* That made me so happy! I loves me a well thought out epilogue. :D

I really loved this book and have already read the second book in the series. (Review on that to come soon!) I can't wait to keep reading and see what else happens to the I-Team!  Here are the purchase links for Amazon  and Barnes and Noble.

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Review: On The Plus Side by Tabatha Vargo

Title: On The Plus Side (Chubby Girls Chronicles #1)
Author: Tabatha Vargo
Publication Date: January 21, 2013

My rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

This book. I cannot say enough about it. First, this is a book with a REAL girl in it. I am not talking a girl with just some T and A.  No, she was a real girl with a real weight issue. I see a lot of books with heroines who have the former, but you don't get many who are a size 20.  So I say good for the author, for portraying a woman who isn't just plump 'in all the right places.' Lilly struggles with her weight issues and low self-esteem when it comes to men, but her heart is huge. And just like Devin, I fell in love with her.

From Goodreads:

Big girls need love, too, but at what cost?

Lilly is loaded, not only with money, but with weight. Both things she could do without. But even with her undesired millionaire status, she doesn’t hold on to false hopes of finding true love. So when a sexy stranger comes into her life dripping with seduction, she finds it hard to resist. The bigger they are the harder they fall and Lilly falls straight through the floor in love with Mr. Sexy. Too bad he’s there for all the wrong reasons.

The chance of losing it all will make you do some crazy things and Devin’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep his life together. All seems lost when out of nowhere he’s approached by a Millionaire Momma with an offer he can’t refuse. But even a womanizer like Devin has a heart and when the short, chunky girl with the carefree attitude breaks through his icy fa├žade, he finds that losing everything takes on a whole new meaning.

***Warning: this book contains graphic language, sex, and violence. Mature readers only. Not intended for young adult readers.***

My Thoughts:

First, let me start out by saying this, I think, is new adult. The Hero is about 22 and the heroine turns 21 in the book. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong about the new adult thing).  I usually don't read new adult mainly because so many are cliffhangers and I really can't handle cliffhangers. But this one is not. There is no cliffhanger and it's a full novel (Amazon says 345 pages for the Kindle).  And how did I run across this book? I happened to see a Goodreads friend add it to her "to read" shelf. I saw that, read the blurb, and then checked out the price. At $2.99 for a complete novel I snapped it up and fell head over heels.

This was my update status on GR as I read:  "I'm almost done with this book and it's killing me. So freaking funny in parts, but also so heartbreaking in others. I know it has to end eventually but I don't want it too! *Stomps feet*"

I rarely update my status on GR. But I had to in this case. I needed to tell someone just how much I loved the characters in this story. the beginning, loved to hate one of them. Cause I seriously did not like Devin. He was a selfish jerk. And immature. And he didn't think before he spoke! I mean, he messed up so many freaking times and some of the things he said, I don't know if I could have ever forgiven him. Ever. But Lilly. Lilly was so sweet and had such a heart of gold. And she saw how broken Devin was and stuck with him. She didn't leave like his mom had.

I think the best part is that Lilly got under his skin to the point where even when he was being an asshole he knew he couldn't live without her. He knew that she recognized the broken part of him, and instead of bailing on him, she stayed to help him work it out. And in turn, he did the same for her. She was so, so, so broken. Some of the passages in her narrative literally had me choking back tears.  Lilly broke my heart. I saw so much of me at that age in who she was. After years of being bullied and picked on and with little love in her life, she finally took a chance. And that is another important lesson from this book. About bullying. What those kids in school did to Lilly was so wrong. It was criminal. The hell she was put through is unimaginable. And sadly this happens all the time in schools around the country. I was bullied when I in high school so were some of my close friends.  I don't understand why or how kids learn to bully. I don't understand how it happens. Kids aren't born must be learned behavior, right? But how is it stopped? So many kids, like Lilly, like me, are so badly damaged by bullying and the effects, as is shown in this book, last a long time.

I am not going to say too much about a particular incident in the book because I don't want to spoil it for those who have not read it, but the scene with Jenny and Lilly? I was freaking shattered.  There isn't any other way to explain it. My heart stopped and at that point I just cried. I know, I'm a nerd and a baby for crying over a book, but don't hate. I mean, what Lilly did to protect Jenny was seriously brave and showed just how big Lilly's heart really was.

The book wasn't all about the tears though.  I laughed too. Some of the things Lilly thought or said...I was literally laughing out loud. I felt like I was reading a Bridget Jones book at times. The humor was authentic and not forced. Lilly also had a fantastic group of friends around her who I hope to find out more about later. (See below about my thoughts on future books).

Technically speaking the book was well written and I didn't run into any editing errors. This I thought was impressive since I believe this was self-published. Kudos to you Ms. Vargo for taking self-editing seriously. You are an example for writers everywhere, including me, to take the time to edit and polish. The alternating POV of Devin and Lilly was crucial to the story and I thought it was well done. If it hadn't been alternating, if I hadn't been able to "see" inside Devin's head, I likely would have hated him. But I was given that glimpse into a broken young man who just needed someone to stick by him while he got his head together.

The only real issue I had was the ending and with Devin's anger issues.  Regarding the ending, I thought it was a bit rushed and I was surprised how fast Lilly forgave Devin. But then again, maybe I wasn't. I think that, once Lilly thought about what Devin said to her-about how it wasn't for the money and then the necklace, I think that showed her he was telling the truth.  And the alternative to what it was would mean things were drawn out and I cannot stand it when things are over done. See how difficult I am as reader?! But seriously, the ending was good and it fit who the characters were so who am I to quibble, right? Oh and did I mention there is an epilogue?  I loves me an epilogue and this one was fantastic! 

As for Devin's anger issues, his point of view helped me to understand where his anger came from. And he didn't ever get violent with Lilly. But he did smash up his car. And his house. And I understand, the news was upsetting. But then he went after the guy from the party. And earlier in the book he punched Matt. (Yes he deserved it, but still.) At some point, I really wanted Devin to hit up an anger management class. (Heh...hit up...) I attributed his reactions to his unresolved mommy issues which thankfully resolved themselves and his age. So I can only hope that he grew out of this problem. And given the way he sounds in the epilogue, I am pretty confident in imagining he did.

I cannot wait to read more from this author in the future. Goodreads indicates that a second book, focusing on Shannon and Matt will be out in September. Hopefully Lilly's other friends get books too!

Here are the purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Top Of The Mornin' To Ya!!

And Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I love this day for a few reasons, food, beer and my proud Irish heritage being just a few. But another reason that I love this day is that it usually precedes the coming of spring. I mean, it's the 17th of March so the snow has to stop eventually, right?! The good news is that today there is no snow. The bad news is that it's only 20 degrees. I am still going to hope that spring is just around the corner though. *hopes really really hard*

And while I keep on hoping, here's one of the songs of the week I've had replaying over and over. Wait. That's a lie. It's not just a song of the week. For me this is the song of the YEAR. The band is called What Now (you can follow them on twitter at @whatnowband ) and their new album dropped on March 11th. Their song, "Move Like A Sinner", not only rocks in the musical sense, but it is also seriously hot. Here's the video (and as usual, be aware of who is around while watching this. It may not be appropriate for kids and it may also be NSFW depending on who is looking over your shoulder!):

Did I not tell you it was hot?! Now, while that is playing in the background, these are the book reviews that I was able to post this week:

Tempted by Megan Hart: I had a hard time rating this book. It was stuck in my head for weeks. I kept waffling between a 3 and 4 and after awhile, decided on 4 stars because the book just wouldn't let me go. I think that in itself is one of the marks of a good, or at least intriguing, book.

Serendipity by Carly Phillips: this was a 5 out of 5 star read for me. It's a contemporary romance that's sweet yet sexy but not over the top. I can't wait to dive into the rest of this series.

Here are some things to check out from the interwebs that caught my eye this week:

Carina Press Self Editing Chat: Angela James, the executive editor of Carina Press, held a self editing twitter chat with other Carina Press editors on Thursday. There are a ton of great tips and some links to great sources/book that every writer should know/be aware of as they go through and edit their MS for submission or self-publishing.

The #50tips Collection from @smartbitches, all storyfied for everyone's enjoyment! She started the conversation and it morphed into one of the best hashtags I have ever seen. It kept me laughing (actually cackling) for days. Trust me, it is all sorts of awesome!

The Veronica Mars Movie Project: What else is there to say other than I am going on a hunt to redeem all the soda pop and beer cans/bottles I can find so I can pledge, pledge, PLEDGE!  It made 2 million bucks via kickstarter in less than 12 hours on the first day! How cool is that!! I can't wait for more LoVe!!!!

DABWAHA Tournement:  This is from Dear Author's @Jane_l and Smart Bitches Trashy Books @smartbitches and it's modeled after the NCAA tourney. 64 books are nominated and then each person whittles it down until you have one winner chosen. So get over tehre, fill out your brackets and check out the awesome prizes that are up for grabs!

And last, my ROW80 update.  Here's how I did this week:
  • Synopsis: Done. I need to actually send this stuff out now to the places I've selected. I can do this. I can. *runs off and freaks the hell out for real* 
  • Writing: I didn't get too much done here other than reading through some old WiPs and a bit of outlining. I have so many half-finished WiPs and figuring out which one I want to focus on for Camp NaNo is easier said than done. 
  • Minimum of 3 book reviews posted: I only was able to post 2. I had done three, but yesterday I was out of the house all day and didn't get back in time to post it. I will have to put this into next week's rotation! :) As for the 2 reviews I did do, see above for links.
  • Blog comments: I dropped the ball on this and only got a few comments in. I will be going around the ROW today and tomorrow to check on everyone. After all, only 10 days left of the round so we all need to cheer each other on as we get close to the finishing line! WOOT!!
  • Class Prep: I am all caught up on grading except for the midterms that were handed in on Friday. And with next week being spring break I have a whole week to get them done. Yay!
  • Workout three times: I got a few in. Two to be specific. Not perfect, but getting there.
Next week my goals remain the same except for the class prep. That will be modified to be grading and prepping the poetry section of the class so when break is over I am good to go.   I hope everyone has had a great week! We are coming to the end of the Round and soon Camp NaNo will be here (along with the second ROW80 round). Gah! So much is happening all at once! Have a great week! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review: Serendipity by Carly Phillips

Title: Serendipity (Serendipity, #1)
Author: Carly Phillips
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 6, 2011

My Rating: 5 out of 5

Ethan Barron! 'Nuff said.

Okay, not really enough said. But holy heck that man is awesome.

This was a classic story of privileged girl and bad boy but there's a twist. By the time we meet the two their roles have been reversed, sort of. Faith's father has gone to jail for a ponzi scheme of epic proportions and bad boy Ethan Barron has, in the 10 years since he left town, made a name for himself and his business, making a boat load of money along the way. From their first meeting as adults you get a sweet feeling of anticipation that carries through the book and definitely pays off in the end.

From Goodreads:

Faith Harrington is a classic girl of privilege-until her father is convicted for running a Ponzi scheme. Now she's back in her hometown, where she runs into her teenage crush-dark, brooding Ethan Barron, who's no stranger to scandal himself.

My Thoughts:

Faith and Ethan have a history. They went to the same high school and Faith, when she was 16 and Ethan was 18, had an encounter on his bike that made a lasting impression on them both. And yes, we're talking motorcycle  not his Schwinn. Faith was the good girl from the right side of the tracks and Ethan was the bad boy all the girls wanted.  The ride home took a slight tour that included some hot kisses but went no further. This was a disappointment for Ethan and also for Faith, but at the time their disappointment was for different reasons.

As the book begins Ethan is heading to the home he just bought in a town he hasn't been back to in 10 years. And just like all those years ago, he spots a woman and that woman is Faith.  We soon learn that Ethan has bought the home she grew up in. The home that was seized and then sold by the government because of her father's misdeeds. Faith has moved back to town to start her new life, to pick up the pieces and start her own business. Ethan has moved back to do the same but for different reasons. Neither expected to see the other but when they do both their lives begin to take unexpected turns neither ever could have ever imagined.

For me, this is where the book took off. And just fyi, this all happens in the first few pages, where you get the short but concise back story. The romance is sweet, not rushed and incredibly sexy.  But the book goes beyond just the obvious romance elements.  It has conflict other than the usual hero versus heroine and/or big baddie vs. hero/heroine. There is pronounced unhappiness within the heroes family. I often find that  in many books either one of the main characters is non-existent or everyone gets along great.  Or, if there is conflict, it's not really explored much.  Serendipity was different. The issues between Ethan and his brothers is serious.  His brothers had a right to be pissed. And even what eventually begins to bring them together, or I should say, starts to, is not in anyway used as an "insta-fix". In fact, it seems brothers still have a ways to go to be truly past, well, the past and I felt for each one of them.  There are feelings of betrayal and blame that exist between them and like in real life, these feelings don't just go away by some magic.   I get why they were hurt. I also understand why Ethan wanted to make things better between them and was glad to see this plot point was not swept under the rug and/or rushed to a conclusion.

The bottom line is that I loved this book and the way the author has introduced the series is intriguing. I am looking forward to finding out more about the other characters and hopefully they too will get an HEA. Ms. Phillips provides just enough of a glimpse of things to come in future books that I can't not continue with this series. The second book will focus on Nash and he needs some serious lovin it seems. I have faith that Kelly can provide that though. I hope!

Here are the purchase links for: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: Tempted by Megan Hart

Title: Tempted
Author: Megan Hart
Publisher: Spice
Publication Date: December 19, 2007

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Megan Hart can write a freaking book. This book is a love story. But it is a love story involving three people and about different kinds of love. Even now I don't know what to think.  The steam factor is high, and I will definitely be reading on in the series. Though I don't know if I can read book two, which is Alex's point of view for book one. I don't know if I can go through that again.

From Goodreads:

I had everything a woman could want. …My husband, James. The house on the lake.

My life. Our perfect life.

And then Alex came to visit.

The first time I saw my husband's best friend, I didn't like him. Didn't like how James changed when he was around, didn't like how his penetrating eyes followed me everywhere.

But that didn't stop me from wanting him. And, surprisingly, James didn't seem to mind.

It was meant to be fun. Something the three of us shared for those hot summer weeks Alex stayed with us. Nobody was supposed to fall in or out of love. I didn't need another man, not even one who oozed sex like honey and knew all the secrets I didn't know, the secrets my husband hadn't shared. After all, we had a perfect life.

And I loved my husband.

But I wasn't the only one.

My Thoughts:

Anne and James were a seemingly happy couple, or as happy as a couple can be in today's world, and then Alex came for a visit. I knew from the first phone call that James took, the description of his reaction, that things were going to get crazy. And boy did they.

Alex, Alex, Alex. You and I need to sit down and have a serious talk. You reeled me in Alex and then, when things got hot, you bailed. And you bailed with little explanation. This was not cool.

One thing I both loved and loathed about this book was that, even at the end, I didn't know who I liked out of the three main characters. I felt the most for James, I can say that. And my heart broke for Alex. But what he did, and the way the book ended, I just don't get him. I want to like him. I really, really do. But he needs to make up for some shit that I just can't get past. And what about Anne?  Well, surprisingly I did not feel all that much sympathy for her. I felt like she needed to get her crap together for James and it took her way to long to do this. And then, at the end I was all, WTF was that?! Did James know where Anne went? She said James was home, but it wasn't clear if he knew. Was it some sort of closure on her part? I mean, I want James and Anne to be okay and like they were in the beginning. But I don't know if, after the events of this book, they can be that way ever again. Sure they can be happy, I think. Maybe? I hope. But they can't change what happened.

As you can see, I was emotionally rattled by this book but in a weirdly good way. I know. It's confusing, right? But I think that's the mark of a good book. Even weeks after reading it, I keep going over what happened and trying to figure things out and figure out how I feel about it all. And also, is it wrong that a part of me was rooting for Alex and James and the two of them to boot Anne out? Cause in way, I was hoping that happened. And then I hoped it didn't. And then I did. See what I'm saying here?! GAH!  This book, for me, was that much of a mind fuck.

Bottom lime is, that after reading this book I I felt like I was thrown out of a plane and the parachute didn't open until I was way too close to the ground. I was far enough away to not end up splattered on the earth, but I still hit the ground with a jarring thud that shook me to my core. And it was all worth it.

Here are the purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Shampoo, Rinse & Repeat: My Week In Review

This week was such a whirlwind but I somehow made time to read, do some book reviews and make progress on my ROW80 goals while also working, eating and sleeping (or trying to). I have no idea how I accomplished it all. I just kind of...did it. Hopefully this level of productivity carries over into this week cause I could seriously get used to this feeling.

Here's what happened on the blog this week:

Devoured by Emily Snow: This is a new adult book and when I purchases this (awhile ago) I had no idea it was book 1 in a continuing series. 3.75 out of 5 stars

One Night With A Cowboy by Cat Johnson: I freaking loved this book!  I am so happy I found a new author who can write well developed characters and plot lines that are engaging and sexy. Can't wait for the second in this series! 5 out of 5 stars

Raid by Kristen Ashley: It's Kristen Ashley. Is there anything else to really say?! It was cracktastic as usual. 4.25 out of 5 stars

Oh, and any My So Called Life fans out there? This was my favorite show in the 90s. Jordan Catalano was my dream man and in fact, Jared Leto still is. Have you heard his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars?! They freaking ROCK! Anyways, if you were a fan (or still are), check this out: The 24 Most Important Things We All Learned From "My So Called Life".  There are gifs people. GIFs OF JORDAN CATALANO aka JARED LETO! *squeeeeeeeeeeeeee!*

Okay, enough fan-girling over Jordan/Jared. Well, for now. I will be watching some eps of it later to get a fix.  (Yes, I have it on DVD. I think it's also on netflix. Or was.) Anyways, here's my ROW80 update:
  • Synopsis: I am done with it and hope to do a final pass through this week for last minute editing errors. Then it will be ready to fly! *bites nails*
  • Writing: yeah, well...not so much done here. But this week, once I get midterms done and caught up on grading I will be getting back to this. 
  • Blog a min. of 3 book reviews on blog and/or GR: Done! (see above). I also posted a couple shorter reviews on GR.
  • Comment on min. 5 blogs/posts:  I hit 3. I will definitely work on this for next week.
  • Sunday Check in: Done!
  • Workout 3 times: 1.5 out of 3. Something is better than nothing, right?!  
  • Grading and Midterm prep:  I got halfway through the grading and I have a rough outline of the midterm questions for my students. I will be typing those out tonight and posting it to blackboard. I cannot believe it's already midterms, GAH!!!!
My goals for next week remain the same. I cannot believe we are nearing the end of the first round already! I did sign up for Camp Nano in April. My goal is to hit 30K words. I haven't decided which book I will be working on as yet. There is one that I started for NaNoWriMo in 2011 (I didn't hit the 50K mark that year. I only got to about 25K).  I have been itching to get back to this as it's been almost a year since I did any work on it and I miss the world I was building. It's more UF/PNR so this would a nice change of pace, I think.  I guess I have a few more weeks to figure this out for sure! 

Hope you all have had a great week and see you around the ROW! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Devoured by Emily Snow

Title: Devoured (Devoured, #1)
Author: Emily Snow
Publication Date: October 9, 2012

My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

This book was an emotional roller-coaster.  Sienna had a lot going on; a lot of emotional demons to battle. Lucas had secrets of his own. But together these two were combustible.

From Goodreads:

Sienna Jensen had no plans to return home when she graduated college last spring—after all, her dreams lie in California. But when she discovers her grandmother’s Nashville home has been foreclosed, and the new owner has started the eviction process, Sienna has no other choice but go back to Music City. And she comes face to face with the flawed, gorgeous man she never thought she’d see again. The man who now holds the deed to her grandma’s estate.

When millionaire rock star Lucas Wolfe finds the outspoken redhead glaring at him from across a courtroom, he’s both infuriated and intrigued. He still can't get the night Sienna almost spent with him out of his mind, and the chemistry between them is as undeniable as it was two years ago. He craves Sienna more than ever. And just like everything Lucas hungers for, he’s determined to have her.

Now, Lucas will do whatever it takes to lure Sienna into his bed, even if that means making a deal with her: ten days with him, playing by his rules, and he’ll hand over the deed to her grandmother’s home. Though she agrees to the arrangement, Sienna is conflicted. Because of her duty to her family. Because of promises she’s made to herself and a past that still haunts her. And as Lucas’s game of seduction continues, and Sienna is introduced to his dark, erotic world and even darker background, she realizes that at any moment, she could be devoured.

My Thoughts:

As I said, this book had me all over the place. One minute I was loving the story and the characters and the next I kept getting caught up in nit-picky things. Things I usually do not get nit-picky about but for some reason bothered me with this book. I might not be making sense here, so let me explain.

First, Lucas was blazing hot. He was...just awesome. He wanted Sienna and he was going to do what he had to get her. What suprirsed me though was that it had been two years...yes two years...since he had seen Sienna. That's a long freaking time. But whatever. I got over that. But then, the house. I have a question about that. Did he know it was Sienna's grandma's house? Was that in his plan? This either wasn't explained or I totally missed it.  Or, maybe that will be explored in the second book. (Yes, there is a book 2. I will get to that in a minute.) If this is going to be explained, then my concern is not a big deal. I mean, Lucas is a huge rock star so presumably he could pay an investigator to find this out. Right? I mean, creepy, but then it's Lucas so maybe not so creepy. Maybe. And then, I think he must have had someone check into Sienna because he knew about her mom. (Or at least, I got the impression he had an inkling of what had happened before she told him.)  See what I mean about me picking apart things? I need to stop. Because I did like Lucas (scratch that. I loved him...hard) but I just...well there were questions and I wanted answers. But, anyways, moving on.

Let's chat about Sienna, yes?  I liked her. I did. But I did not get why she had freaked out about the handcuffs. Was it because she didn't know him that well? Or that she was just freaked out because she wanted to and didn't think she should be okay with it? I was at a loss as to her explanation (or lack thereof) and again was left with more questions than answers. This might be something explored in the prequel but I didn't read that. I was able to surmise as I read that (reading through the lines a little) Sienna was afraid of giving up control. She thought being submissive was giving herself over to someone entirely and losing who she was. This of course is not what D/s is about and eventually she figures that out and ends up stronger in the end. Not to mention, for a 23 year old just trying to find herself her personality, questions about herself and her family, and who she was/is, was realistic. But again, I had to figure out this out by reading (and re-reading) a lot of internal dialogue that wasn't exactly clear.

The steam factor was high though this was mostly because of the smokin' sexual tension between the two. Although Lucas is a dominant and Sienna is submissive (though it takes time for her to embrace this), this is not a book heavy on Domination/submission at all. If you aren't sure about the subject, this might be the book to usher you in. At one point the hero blindfolds the heroine, but it has nothing to do with sex actually. And then it's used again later on in the sexual sense. There are a few mentions here and there and I think he tied her up hands once, but that's really it.  The dominant and submissive aspect of their relationship was more about the personalities than the sex. And this I thought was a good thing. Don't get me wrong, I can see these two being way more into the sex aspect of it, but in this first book, as they explored their relationship and started understanding each other, I think it worked.

The "end" conflict I felt came out of the blue. There was no mention of Sam until the end and I was like, "wait, what?"  And then the book ended and the epilogue started and just freaked me out. I was like, ohmygod what is happening! I was ready to scream. So thank the freaking book gods that things ended how it did or else I was going to throw a serious temper tantrum.  I would have preferred more, but I had gotten so worked up I found myself, at least, content.  [Note: this was also when I figured out there would be a book 2 and proceeded to get sulky. (I explain this more later).]

What about the writing and the technical aspects of the book?  It was well done. I didn't find many grammer errors, or at least not enough to make the English Lit teacher in my fidget. This is a definite plus.  I did have an issue with the narrative point of view however.  The book is written in present tense. I really cannot get into books that are written like this. I don't know why this is. And trust me I have tried and tried and tried! I want to like these books. I want to LOVE them as so many do. But I just cannot.  I don't feel as connected to the characters when books are written in this tense.

In addition, there are times in the book where the narrative it too much "tell" and not enough show. In a few of the steamy scenes in fact, we had a inner monologue type description of the scene and what happened, instead of dialogue and action between the two.  There was too much "showing" what was happening. This was jarring for me since it took me too much out of the action and into Sienna's head and lessened the effectiveness of the scene.  This is especially true when Sienna pours out everything to Lucas about herself. That scene I thought was (and should be) pivotal to their relationship.  I wanted and needed to see more of that, to hear their conversation, in order to feel invested in Sienna and Lucas. Instead I had to try and surmise what the conversation had been.

Now. Regarding the second book in the series. If I had known there would be a HFN and somewhat cliffhanger-y(ish) ending, I might not have bought this. Granted, at the time I bought it, I was not on my current "I will not buy a cliffhanger book ever again" kick, but still, it annoyed me. Please understand, my annoyance with this literary "device" has nothing to do with this specific author nor should it reflect on the quality of the book. I liked the book. I will read more from this author. But I, myself, just do not like the way cliffhangers are used from a reader standpoint. It makes me feel ripped off in the end. [Note: I was over this with second book in the 50 Shades trilogy so, yeah...enough already!]

The story of Sienna and Lucas continues with Consumed, which I will be getting when it comes out because I really want to see what happens with Sam.  A third book will explore the relationship between Kylie and Wyatt per Goodreads.  (This makes me happy since it likely means Consumed will finish the story of Sienna and Lucas. I hope!)

Here are the purchase links for Amazon and Barnes and Noble. There is a prequel which I have not read and probably won't, but it might have been helpful to have that in order to know the backstory. I figured most of it out, through Sienna's thoughts and conversations with her friend and Lucas, but having it explored more here would have been cool. So, you might want to grab that first and then dive into Devoured.

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review: One Night With A Cowboy by Cat Johnson (Oklahoma Nights, #1)

Title: One Night With A Cowboy (Oklahoma Nights, #1)
Author: Cat Johnson
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: February 26, 2013

My rating:  5 out of 5

Who knew that cowboys could be as heart stopping and sexy as military men and cops?! Why did I not know this sooner?!  I clearly need to rectify this situation now that author Cat Johnson has introduced me to the super sexy bull-riding, army man Tucker Jenkins.

From Goodreads:

One Sweet Ride…

Oh yeah. A single look at the leggy blonde in the stands and Tucker Jenkins is 
ready to buck all night long. It’s time to forget all about his cheating ex and his usual hands off policy.

One Hot Night…

Becca Hart is an East Coast professor. Not a buckle bunny. But no degree can prepare her for the moves of the sexy bull rider she hooks up with at her first rodeo … Or the shock of finding him at her first Oklahoma State University staff meeting.

One Happy Ending…

Tuck knows it’s all about holding on, no matter how wild the ride. Now he just has to convince Becca that a rough start out of the chute doesn’t mean they aren’t a smokin’ combination …

My Thoughts:

First, let's look at the cover again. Isn't that pretty? Well I don't know if pretty is the right word but it's something, yeah? *sighs and gets lost in that belt buckle*

Alright, now wipe the drool from your mouth and let's get on with the review. I won't go over the plot itself other than to say that the blurb is exactly right. Becca takes a new job after her life in New York falls apart but before she does that she visits the place she will eventually take a job. There for her interview she meets a hot cowboy, Tucker Jenkins. At her sister's urging, and needing to put the past behind her, Becca and Tucker spent one hot night together. It was amazing. But the next day, she had her interview and she left.

Of course, this is romanclandia (a place I do not mind visiting, often) so the two eventually run into each other when she takes the job at OSU and finds that he teaches in the ROTC program and coach of the college's rodeo team. Drama and lots of fun between the sheets ensues. But that drama puts a kink in things. And this kink is not the fun kind of kink. It comes in the form of a non-fraternization policy. When Tucker finds out that Becca needs the job because of her debt (from being laid off and having a douche of an ex) he puts distance between them. Except in his case it's literal distance. He goes to Afghanistan to save her job.

I have to say, when he left I was all "Tucker you dumbass!" because I mean hello! Just tell Becca! Don't go to a war zone to save her position! But did he listen? Of course not. He goes anyways. There is fighting and attacks and he and Becca have little communication. And then, and then, the drama ratchets up and gosh darn you Cat Johnson I nearly cried! I mean, the tears were right there. It was stressful and I had to get up and make a frozen pizza and have a glass of wine to drown my considerable sorrows.  But Ms. Johnson came through for me and I thank her for that.

And the end had my toes curling and my breath hitching a little bit because that was one of the sweetest endings I have ever read.

The writing itself was well done and I found no glaring editing errors.  I look forward to reading more books by this author in the future and I really, really, really cannot wait to go back to Oklahoma when the second book in this series comes out! So if you want to read a hot romance with a well thought out plot and lots of sexy times (and creative ones too! I will never ever look at honey the same again), then you might want to check this one out. Now, I'm off to find me a bull-riding cowboy. See y'all in a few days...

Here are the purchase links for the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review: Raid by Kristen Ashley

Title: Raid (Unfinished Hereos, #3)
Author: Kristen Ashley
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: February 26, 2013

My Rating: 4.25 out of 5

From Goodreads:

Hanna Boudreaux has lived in the small town of Willow, Colorado all her life. The great-granddaughter of the town matriarch, she's sweet, cute and quiet.

Too quiet.

Hanna has a moment of epiphany when she realizes her crush for forever, Raiden Ulysses Miller, is not ever going to be hers. She sees her life as narrow and decides to do something about it.

Raiden Miller is the town of Willow's local hero. An ex-marine with the medal to prove his hero status, he comes home, shrouded in mystery. It takes a while but, eventually, Hanna catches his eye.

But after all these years of Raid and Hanna living in the same town, the question is, why? Is Raid interested in Hanna because she's sweet and cute? Or does Raid have something else going on?

This has some BDSM.

My Thoughts:

Okay, a couple things. First, everyone knows I love Kristen Ashley's books. But even though I await each release with breathless anticipation  I try to stay objective when I review books, even hers, cause I know not everyone is a huge fan like me. So, that being said, let's get into the book. (And beware, possible spoilers ahead).

I love Hanna. She is quiet, shy, a book worm, and just the sweetest heroine ever. Some see her as weak, but not me. I think because I am quiet, shy and a bookworm I really related to her. I don't think I'm the sweetest anything though since I have a mouth on me. Anyways, Hanna was strong for the people she needed to be strong for-her friends, her family and of course, Raid. She had an unusual profession but this too I loved. It fit her well. Hanna was not someone who would fit in an office and she certainly wasn't a social butterfly. So her crocheting business was perfect. (Though I would have loved to see KA dive more into this aspect of Hanna's life. And did I mention my heart did a total flip-flop when she gave Raid one and he slept underneath it.)

Raid was amazing. He was hot, alpha, sexy and he liked to play as in play.  And he did this with Hanna. And when things didn't go right (i.e. she did something she didn't really want to do), like a good dom Raid sensed it and stopped it. He then reminded Hanna she had to speak up, that she had the power and he wanted her to have it to say no. This was awesome. KC, Hanna's bff, had a similar conversation, though it was centered around alphas in general and not sex. This was good. Hanna was naive when it came to knowing how to handle a hot alpha. So the talk with Raid and KC made a world of difference.

Some have mentioned the fact that Raid called Hanna a bitch during a fight and did some other things that this behavior was abusive. No. This was not abuse. Did he act like an ass? Sure. But that is not dv. (If it is, then I've abused one of my exes when I called him a name during a fight. It was a stupid thing to do and I regretted it almost immediately. But I never saw it as abuse since we weren't, well abusing each other, emotionally or otherwise. We said what we said in the heat of the moment and then got over it after apologizing, which is what happened in Raid.)  In addition to that, in the case of Raid, the whole fight started when Hanna brought up a topic he did not want to talk about. (His buddies who were killed in the war and his issues with PTSD resulting from that).  Did he handle it well? Nope. Did he deserve her walking out when he acted like a dick? Yup.  Was she weak for forgiving him? Nope. Not in my opinion. She loved him. He loved her. She wasn't going to give up on him because he called her a name. If he hadn't apologized (and if he doesn't eventually deal with his PTSD) my opinion would be otherwise. But he not only said sorry (which I gotta say is a hella lot more than Tate ever did in Sweet Dreams) but he also started dealing with his condition. Was it handled perfect? Did we see him going to counseling and all that? No. We're told he talked to a friend which helped. Would it have been cool to see how all this played you? Sure, but it wouldn't necessarily be practical or what I wanted. I wanted to read about Hanna and Raid, their romance. So yeah, Raid was an unmitigated ass but most of KA's heroes mess up at some point in her books and all work on redemption. Raid for me was redeemed at the end. (And let's not forget the fight between Ty and Lexi in Lady Luck. Or rather Ty's screaming rampage at Lexi, since she didn't get a word in edgewise. And what about what Chase said to Faith in the beginning of Breathe? Another asshole comment. I could go on, but I won't. I think my point has been made! :D )

So why wasn't this a 5 star read? It was shorter than most, but then I knew that going in since the Unfinished Heroes series is always shorter than her other books. So this wasn't so much a factor. I would have liked to see more of Hanna and her friend KC, and more of Hanna and Raid's sister and mom. Also, one of things I love most about Kristen Ashley's book is the descriptive writing (though I know some people don't like this) and I did feel Raid was missing this.  Lastly, I would have liked to see what happened at and after the hospital from Raid's point of view. But, these were in no way deal breakers for me nor anything that would drop this rating below the 4.25 I gave it.

I can't wait to see more of these characters in Deacon's story.  There is some D/s in the book but it is not anywhere near Knight levels. (And for me, Knight wasn't even that kinky.) The steamy scenes are just that and KA once again hits them out of the park. One thing I really appreciated was how the issue between Knight, Nair and Nick has weaved throughout these stories. I love going back and re-reading to see what clues Kristen has left for us and trying to speculate about what might happen.  (I love me a mystery!)

So check out Raid, and if you haven't met Knight and Creed, I suggest reading those first since Raid gives us a glimpse into their lives as well. (Creed! Yay!!!!)

Here are the purchase links:  Amazon / Barnes and Noble

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

Sunday, March 3, 2013

RAID, Reading, RAID, Reading...With Some Writing Thrown In

This was essentially my week.

And did I mention Raid?!  Well let me just mention it again.  Kristen Ashley's third book in her Unfinished Heroes series came out two days earlier than expected. I bought it immediately. And then I devoured it on the 27th. My review will be coming soon enough but just have to say...


Anyone who has read Raid will get that reference! ;D

Anyways, since it's been a been a busy week all around and I have a super busy Sunday ahead of me, I will try to keep this short.

First, this week on the blog:

Falling For The Lawyer by Anna Clifton:  I received an ARC of this book and it's a solid 3.5 stars. It was cute and I look forward to reading books this author writes in the future.

Bella Andre's The Look of Love (Sullivans, #1): 4 out of 5 stars for me and I cannot wait to dive into the rest of these books. I have the next 4 in the series and seriously, the Sullivan brothers? From what I've seen, it's going to be a fun ride!

Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks: This was a solid 5 out of 5 stars and is such a well done highlander romance. To top that, the fiercely strong and amazing heroine is deaf and is such a strong, amazing, incredible heroine. Maya Banks kicks butt with this book.

Love and a Blue-Eyed Cowboy by Sandra Chastain:  This was my first review of an ARC I received via Netgalley. This was published initially in 1992 and though I liked it, I had to work hard not comparing it to today's romance novels and look through the lens of an earlier time while I was reviewing it.

As for music, I am still on my Lana del Ray kick. I tried to find an official youtube video of her song "Radio" because it is so, so good but was not successful. If you get a chance, check it out on itunes, spotify, pandora, or wherever it is you use to listen to your music, especially if you're looking for something different!

And last, my ROW80 update. Here we go:
  • Continue working on synopsis: Still in progress. As I was revising my draft last week I went back through the novel to make sure I've hit all the important parts. I need to add a few more things and re-word a few paragraphs but it's nearing completion. I thought this would be easy. At least easier than the query letter, but yeah, I was so wrong. 
  • Spend 2 hours on collaborative project: Nothing to see here. Literally. Once I get this darn synopsis done I can concentrate on this. One thing (and one day) at a time! 
  • Post at least 3 book reviews here or on GR- Done! See above for links to the ones on the blog or check my GR page.  
  • Read/comment on at least 5 blogs- Done!
  • Check in for ROW80 on Sunday- Done!
  • Workout 3 times- um, well...I've been eating healthier at least  Except for one day when I did take out (and regretted it). But as for working out...*hides under desk* 
Next week the goals will be the same except that I will be adding (1) to catch up on grading and (2) prepare the midterm exam by Friday.  I can't believe it's that time of year already!

Lastly, I have been figuring things out here at my blog, as in how to do things that most people find pretty easy but I do not. I found a contact form I like and added that page and I also figured out how to shorten urls with google's url shortening service. (This was surprisingly easy. I really need to not be scared of this tech stuff sometimes and just do it. LOL) I moved a few widgets around, added my copyright on the bottom (since I'm doing book reviews now, this is especially important as I don't want my reviews showing up elsewhere without permission), and am trying to figure out Google+.  I was also moderately busy on pinterest, which for the record, can be a time suck but it's worth it when I find a pair of shoes or quote or anything else I like!

So busy week, no?  After all that I think today calls for tossing some chicken in the crock-pot for some southwest chicken and rice later and relaxing. :D  I hope everyone has had a fabulous week and for those of you in ROW80, good luck with your goals! 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Book Review: Falling For The Lawyer by Anna Clifton

Title: Falling for the Lawyer
Author: Anna Clifton
Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises Australia 
Publication Date: March 1, 2013

Stars: 3.5 out of 5

First I need to make a disclosure: I like books about lawyers and law related story lines. So when I saw the title of this book I knew I wanted to review it. I know, I'm a total nerd, but what can I say? As for the book itself  I am happy to say that I was really impressed. Not only were the characters engaging, but the book was well written with no noticeable errors that I saw. I really look forward to reading more books from this author.

From Goodreads:

Alex Farrer has just one resolution: don't get sacked by the new boss that day. Enter one knight to rescue her from a run‐in with a pile of mud. But will upending Alex's entire life be the next job on her knight's 'to‐do' list, whether she likes it or not?
Legal eagle JP McKenzie has just one resolution: never get involved with a woman who won't stand up for herself. That is until a muddy Alex Farrer lands in his life with a crushingly big mountain of family expectation in tow. So what else is a modern‐day knight to do?

My Thoughts:

I loved Alex right off the bat. She was stressed and convinced that fate and destiny were laughing at her as she struggled to get through her life. She admits to trying to take the reigns and get her life under control, be the 'captain of her life' as she calls it, but the universe seems to get in her way every time.

Until she gets smacked with a whole lotta mud and things change.

JP. What is there to say about this guy? He was funny, smart, hard working, loyal and oh yeah, he was hot. I loved how he acted with Alex, how he supported her and tried to show her that what she wanted was important.

Bonus: this book is set in Australia  I loved this. And I also loved how the language was a tad different. There were some slang words I had to look up but this was because I was curious, not because it was distracting. (I love learning new words. I know, I'm a nerd!)

Steam wise this book is mild. Other than a few kisses here and there (and most of these were 'almost' kisses  ) there wasn't a lot of heat. It wasn't needed though. Because this wasn't just a story about JP and Alex. It was a story about Alex trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life and going for it. It was about a young woman who wanted a career and a family. She didn't want to give up her job to get married and start having kids. She wanted it all. And meeting JP and working for him let her see that having it all was possible as long as she had the right partner to do it with. (And Simon, ugh..I did not like him at all. Just sayin. I wanted to punch him in the face for not listening to Alex.  Though I do admit, there were times I wanted to slap Alex too. She was wavering, badly. And this is something that annoys me in romance novels, but here I got it mainly because I had to remind myself this wasn't just about Alex and JP finding each other. It was about Alex finding herself.

Oh and the ending? Oh my god the ending...I loved it even though my heart was beating as to what was going to happen. So happy with how it was all resolved!

In terms of writing, the story was well written and the pacing was nice. I wish it was a little longer but it didn't feel rushed.  (And seriously, this is just me. I like long books and am always complaining about this. Not because it has anything to do with the book, but because I don't want them to end!)  Like I mentioned, the setting is Australia and some of the references are to things I had never heard of, but it was nothing that distracted from the book. (I also love all things Australia so I didn't mind one bit!)

Here are the purchase links for the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*