Friday, July 22, 2016

Audio Review ~ One Second ~ Dannika Dark

One Second (Seven, #7)One Second by Dannika Dark
Seven #7
Narrated by: Nicole Poole
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Tantor Audio in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease

Goodreads

Synopsis
Lexi has faced personal struggles, but nothing has prepared her for the most perilous battle of her life. Shifters are on the brink of war as Northerners target Colorado in an attempt to infiltrate the borders. Texas winds up on the hit list, and the Weston pack prepares to fight for their land...and for their lives.

Austin's courage is put to the test when rogues want to seize his land and slaughter his pack. But that's not all he's facing as two shocking revelations turn their lives upside down. His love for Lexi is unwavering, but their future is uncertain.

Will the local packs set aside differences to fight together, or will this be the end of peace among Shifters?

Stand witness to the epic conclusion of the Seven series.




One Second was the epic ending I was anticipating. I don't think Dark could have done any better with ending this series. I've loved every installment and to have this final one focus on the couple it all started with was perfect.

Lexi and Austin are once again the focus, and I was thrilled. Their love has only grown stronger as has their pack. Facing normal obstacles - growing their pack businesses and their family - would be enough for any alpha couple. Facing a possible war - what they've been worrying about for years - might push them over the edge.

Besides having a story revolving around Lexi and Austin, Dark delivered on elements I adore in this series:

  • suspense so nerve-wracking I hated not being able to listen constantly
  • pack dynamics via all the Cole brothers, their families, pack members as well as other Shifter packs interacting
  • an exciting story
  • parallels between Shifter society, other Breed, etc., and society around the world today. I believe I've said before that I appreciate Dark drawing comparisons between how Shifters, etc., were treated historically and currently to how prejudice and bigotry affect our society.
Nicole Poole once again delighted me with her narration. Her distinct character voices and ability to keep the pacing perfect as well as convey every emotion has made her one of my favorite narrators.

One Second was everything I was hoping it'd be and more. Dark is absolutely one of my favorite authors and I look forward to more from this world.




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Books & Crafts #5 ~ #BookBlogger #CraftCircle



Welcome to Books & Crafts, a craft circle composed of book bloggers, a sporadic meme where we share our other creative pursuits aside from reading and blogging. Everyone is welcome to join, just add yout tag/label links below and you're good to go!


***

I've been dying to share this craft with you but since it was a gift to someone who reads my blog regularly (my blogger wife), I had to wait until after I'd given it to her. As y'all may or may not know, I got to meet Lexxie @(un)Conventional Bookviews for the first time in real life last year at RT in Dallas. We had lots of pictures and since I scrapbook (along with my bookaholic friend, Denise) she and I decided we'd make Lexxie a scrapbook with the pictures we took there and also add in pages for her to use for our trip to BEA this year. Here are a few pictures at a 2-page spread we worked on, as we were working on it.








Here's a few pictures of the finished product:










Denise and I were really happy with how it turned out. And I *think* Lexxie loved it. :D




Do you craft too? Wanna get in on the fun? Just add your link below. And don't forget to check out the other hosts' crafts! :D
(I had problems with the linky - I've included it below. BUT if it doesn't appear correctly or doesn't work, head over to Talk Supe and link up there. Thanks!)


Monday, July 18, 2016

**Sky Reviews ~ House of Leaves ~ Mark Z. Danielewski**

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Release Date: 2000
Genre: Horror fiction, Romance, Satire, Postmodernism (it defies genre. None of these describe it.)
Source: Bought at B&N
Rating: 5 Bookworms

Synopsis: 
Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth — musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies — the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.
Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.
The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

***Sky's Review***
I had originally intended to write a House of Leaves review only after reading the book a second time, but I decided that my summer reading list is so extensive I may not get another read in soon. Also, my first impression may be valuable. Who knows.

Judging from the back cover, many people have tried (and, in my opinion, failed) to describe House of Leaves. It really defies brief description, since the book is filled with numerous and complex plotlines and riddled with detailed nuances. I am of the opinion that one must read this book multiple times in order to fully understand its many facets. This review is accordingly lengthy (sorry!!)

It begins with an introduction by Johnny Truant. His best friend’s neighbor, a strange old man named Zampanò, has recently died. The police report that he died simply of old age, but Johnny can’t ignore the three marks in the floor near Zampanò’s head. Also in the old man’s house is Zampanò’s life work in the form of thousands of bits of paper filled with writing. Here lies, among other pieces, The Navidson Record -- a critical look at a house owned by the Navidson family. Strangely, despite the remarkable length of Zampanò’s essay, nothing he writes about actually exists in either the fictional or real world. Johnny, without really knowing why, begins to transcribe Zampanò’s hefty tome. This is where things really start to go downhill.

Danielewski brilliantly navigates multiple plotlines. As the story progresses, the narrative alternates between Johnny’s annotations and life and the essay-style Navidson Record. The footnotes are often extensive and at times the text is fragmented between pages, interspaced by other information, and even arranged in a circle.
Along with being quirky and intellectual, this book is very dark. The Navidson family finds itself in a very strange house. The inside their house is ¼” bigger than the outside. But more importantly, within lurks an enormous labyrinth with ever-changing walls and an ominous growl. As he transcribes the work, Johnny’s mental health slowly deteriorates. He put the effects of the book best in his introduction:
Then no matter where you are, in a crowded restaurant or on some desolate street or even in the comforts of your own home, you’ll watch yourself dismantle every assurance you ever lived by. You’ll stand aside as a great complexity intrudes, tearing apart, piece by piece, all of your carefully conceived denials, whether deliberate or unconscious. And then for better or worse you’ll turn, unable to resist, though try to resist you still will, fighting with everything you’ve got not to face the thing you most dread, what is now, what will be, what has always come before, the creature you truly are, the creature we all are, buried in the nameless black of a name. And then the nightmares will begin.
This book was truly amazing, although not a light read. I thoroughly enjoyed it because it made me think, and I definitely plan to read it at least one more time. If you’re in the mood for something creepy, intensely intellectual, emotional, and generally complicated, I would definitely recommend this book. But be warned -- this book is not easily forgotten.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Review ~ The Empty Jar ~ M. Leighton

The Empty JarThe Empty Jar by M. Leighton
Release Date: May 8, 2016
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Gift from Naomi
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease
Goodreads

Synopsis
Three months touring Europe.
Romantic. Dazzling. Unforgettable.
The trip of a lifetime.

But some lifetimes are shorter...

We couldn't have known it would work out this way.
No one could. No one could've guessed that something so beautiful could be so tragic.

But it is tragic.

Yet so, so beautiful.

That's what sacrifice is--beauty and tragedy.
It's pain and suffering for something or someone you love.

And this is the ultimate sacrifice.
One stunning act of true love.

This is our story.
Our true love story.




I knew when I first started The Empty Jar it was going to be a book for which I'd need tissues. As it turned out, I read with a constant lump in my throat, my eyes always brimming with tears. I felt, even before I read Leighton's acknowledgements, that this was a deeply personal story. There was a depth of emotion that could only come from personal experience. It made Lena and Nate's story that much more moving.

The Empty Jar is a story of Lena and Nate - their journey of love and self-discovery. It's a journey of sacrifice and strength, of trust in themselves, each other, and fate and faith. Above all, it's a story of keeping your jar, both literal and metaphorical, filled with memories and love. It's gut-wrenching and heartwarming. It's a lovely story told lovingly.

My only issue with the story is that there are places where the writing could have been tighter. Although this did lend itself to the personal feel, I felt it bogged down the story at times. However, the story overall shone as brilliantly as a jar full of lightning bugs. Thank you so much, Naomi, for sharing this story with me!



Thursday, July 14, 2016

That's What HE Said #66 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #47



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:

The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole

***

"On the surface, and I'm just being honest here, I see a smokin' hot woman with the most passionate eyes, deep pools that reflect her mood."
He nuzzled the sensitive spot under her ear, making her shiver.
"On the inside, I see a woman who is witty and clever, who is using ten percent of her brain to work in a coffee shop when she is clearly capable of so much more."
He moved to kiss just under her jaw as he gently nudged her backward into the sand.
"And I see a woman I really wanna kiss again, and I'm kinda hoping she'll let me."


*~*~*~*~*~*


"Licorice?" He offered her the pack of chewy, red candy.
Harper took a piece. "Discreet way of keeping my blood sugar up?" She took a bite of the sticky rope.
"Nope. Just love red licorice and wanted to share. Not liking it would be a deal breaker on the whole doing-your-tattoo thing."
Harper laughed. It felt good to release some of the tension that had been building inside.
"I happen to love it, though I like black licorice better."
He pointed to the door. "That's it. Get out of my studio. Black licorice is one step from devil worship."
"Kind of extreme view, don't you think?" Holy cow, had she just heard herself giggle?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#ShelfLove Discussion ~ Why Do I Read What I Read?

Bookworm Brandee

As part of the #ShelfLove Challenge, we have monthly discussion topics. July's topic is Why I Read the Books I Read.  


***
So, why do I read the books I read? Why do I gravitate towards a certain genre? How do I pick my next read?

Well, I don't think I gravitate towards any particular genre - although in the past my reading choices have seemed to go through phases where I read a specific genre for an extended period of time. For many years, I read nothing outside of literary fiction. Then Twilight happened and I opened myself to the wonder of other genres - particularly YA and Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance. I also went through an NA phase but as I was becoming ever more disenchanted with that genre, I decided to make a conscious effort to mix up my genres and it's really helped my reading pleasure. :D

As for why I gravitate toward any book - I think that the synopsis is what *must* grab me. I have to feel a draw to either the character or the story as a whole. What's funny about the importance of the synopsis is that it's only important initially. It plays a role in my decision to buy/borrow a book, but that's it. I rarely, if ever, read it again. I rather enjoy going into a book without expectation other than I *know* it initially called to me or I wouldn't own it. ;)

I'm a mood reader, so unless it's something I agreed to review, I pick my next read according to what I *feel* like reading. If I've read several books from a certain genre, I'm probably going to pick up something from another so I don't get burned out.

What about y'all? Why do you read the books you read? Do you gravitate towards a certain genre? Why? And how do you pick your next read??

Monday, July 11, 2016

Audio Review ~ Exquisite Trouble ~ Ann Mayburn

Exquisite Trouble AudiobookExquisite Trouble by Ann Mayburn
Iron Horse MC #1
Narrated by: Andy E. Ross, Stephanie Wyles
Release Date: February 23, 2015 (audio), July 15, 2014 (ebook)
Genre: Adult, Erotic Romance, Contemporary Romance
Source: Audible
Rating: 2 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER Summer 2015, Erotic Romance Reading Challenge 2015
Goodreads ~ Audible

Synopsis
Before I met Smoke I'd never been kissed, really kissed, by a man, let alone a biker sex god bent on taking my virginity and my heart.

I got dragged into the deadly world of the Iron Horse MC by my crazy twin sister who is engaged to the club's President and even crazier mom who only cares about herself. Smoke has been assigned by the club to keep me safe even though he's everything that I should be afraid of. He's the kind of man who lives by his own rules and does whatever he wants whenever he wants, but he treats me like I'm something rare and precious, not a socially dysfunctional basket case who has no idea how to love, but needs him more than her next breath.

Not that my feelings matter, because if we don't find my mother soon, the only thing I'll have to be worried about is who is going to kill me first.




This book is hard for me to rate because I listened to it and although the male narrator did nothing for me, I'm not sure I'd have enjoyed the story any better had I read it. The main tension of the story is that the heroine's mom stole from the MC as well as some other bad people and while the MC is looking for her, the bad peeps are looking for the heroine and her sister. The MC is protecting the heroine because her sister is engaged to the MC President.

Now, while there are some interesting elements to the story - like the heroine, Swan, being raised in a survivalist compound - the story was mostly filled with the Swan and Smoke having sex. There's nothing wrong with that per se. Y'all know I like my steam. But I like a good story to go with my steam. In fact, I prefer it. And this story could have been good but there were many, many inconsistencies in the plot. And - yeah, it focused on the sex.

So if you're a fan of erotic romance and don't mind a flimsy story as long as the smexy is good, then this may be the read for you. I want more substance in my reads and although I enjoyed the female narrator's voice, the male's annoyed me. So this was a no-go for me.




Friday, July 8, 2016

Review ~ Shatter ~ Erin McCarthy

Shatter (True Believers, #4)Shatter by Erin McCarthy
True Believers #4
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received an eARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #BloggerShame, #CleanSweep, #ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
Kylie Warner prides herself on being optimistic, but after finding her best friend in bed with her boyfriend and flunking chemistry, her upbeat attitude has taken a dive. Even an impromptu hook-up with her sexy new chemistry tutor only brightens her mood slightly. After all, it's not like she'll ever see the tattooed scholar again...

While he's a whiz at complex equations, Jonathon Kadisch has trouble when it comes to figuring out women. So when Kylie tells him that she's pregnant after their night of passion, he's at a complete loss. He's prepared to be a good father--unlike his own deadbeat dad--but he's less prepared to fall for the genuine and alluring blonde bearing his child.

With emotions running high, Kylie wonders if Jonathon's devotion is out of growing love or looming obligation. And when heartbreak threatens to tear them apart, Jonathon will have to fight for the only girl who's ever made him feel whole...



Shatter tells Kylie's story and rounds out the series about these four girlfriends. I enjoyed getting to know Kylie on a deeper level than the superficial one I'd seen in the previous installments but more character development would have been nice. I really liked Jonathon as well but again, more character development would have pushed them both far beyond the stereotypes that defined them.

When we last saw Kylie she was struggling to deal with the betrayal Nathan and Robin had perpetrated against her. She's now living on her own and still figuring out how to cope since she misses living with her friends. Kylie has a lot of self doubt - feeling inadequate intellectually and personally after Nathan's betrayal. She's also having a hard time with her classes - particularly chemistry - which is how she meets Jonathon. He's her tutor. One night between them changes both their lives in an unexpected way.

Jonathon is a grad student in chemistry and is what you'd call an academic. His nickname is Darwin. ;) Jonathon is struggling to please/impress his father who's been less than present in his life. His attraction to Kylie is immediate but she's not what he'd have ever thought of as dating material. However, the time he spends with her proves she's so much more than just a hot girl and maybe exactly what he's looking for. 

The premise for Shatter is so good. Two students dealing with the consequences of their actions while also learning about themselves - what they really want in life. It's that I felt like McCarthy could have gone deeper, explored further Kylie's and Jonathon's introspection and revelations as well as expanding on a thread that was introduced but not followed up on very thoroughly.

McCarthy's writing, as usual, was engaging and easy to read. I didn't want to put it down even if I would have liked a deeper story. Shatter was a satisfying conclusion to the series and solidified my appreciation of McCarthy's writing style.