Friday, August 26, 2016

Review ~ The Strongest Steel ~ Scarlett Cole

The Strongest Steel (Second Circle Tattoos, #1)The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole
Second Circle Tattoos #1
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Source: Gift (kindle) from Lexxie <3
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #ShelfLove

Harper Connelly never expected to find herself outside of a tattoo parlor at one in the morning, summoning the nerve to take back her past. She's determined to forget her old life and is looking for an artist who can tattoo over the scars on her back.

Trent Andrews, local legend and owner of the Second Circle tattoo studio, has his own reasons for specializing in inking over scars. And in spite of her mysterious past and the difficult road ahead, he quickly realizes that Harper is funny, smart, and--under her ridiculously oversized clothing and SPF 100 sunscreen--totally hot. He's happy to take on the challenge of designing a meaningful and deadly full-back tattoo for her.

But when cryptic messages start appearing on Harper's phone, strange deliveries arrive at her door, and Second Circle is vandalized, Harper is convinced that her ex-boyfriend has tracked her down, and worse, that he knows about Trent. Running was the only thing that saved her last time, but now that she's started to put down roots in Miami, she'll have to decide if she can finally fight back instead.

"I love words. I love the structure of language and I love awe-inspiring writing." -Harper, pg 150
A girl after my own heart, I couldn't help but adore Harper!

Thank you, Lexxie, for the gift of this amazing book!! I didn't re-read the synopsis or Lexxie's review before diving in, so I went in only expecting a great read. It was a great read but it was so much more than I could have hoped. Seriously, if you have read this yet, hop to it! *wink*

Harper, as I stated, was a girl after my own heart. I'm not sure I could be as strong as she's been in the face of all she's endured though. And she'd argue the point of her being strong but she so is. Watching as she emerges from her self-imposed cocoon was beautiful. She didn't - couldn't - trust many. But there was something about Trent that spoke to her soul. And her spirit truly seems to have been forged in steel. Seeing her realize she was worth fighting for and stand on her own - *sigh* - it was something to behold.

Trent is one of the most appealing heroes I've had the pleasure to read. He's muscle-bound, tattooed, and all-man but he's soft-hearted, compassionate, and knows his Dante. *wink* He saw something in Harper, something besides the need to protect her, and he worked at getting what he wanted. He grew emotionally as well and although he'd experienced nothing as harrowing as what Harper had, he learned to let go and move past things that were putting an obstacle between them.

I can't not mention my extreme appreciation for Ms. Cole's nod to great literature. That she uses Dante as such an integral part of the series (Second Circle) and in Harper and Trent's story thrilled much symbolism. And it added that much more depth and pleasure to an already incredible story.

Character development, strong plot, and an element of suspense all melded together for an excellent read. I'm beyond eager to jump into the next installment!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review ~ Werewolves of Chicago: Howard: The Underdog ~ Faleena Hopkins

Werewolves of Chicago: HowardWerewolves of Chicago: Howard by Faleena Hopkins
Werewolves of Chicago #2
Release Date: March 27, 2016
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease, #COYER

Curragh, Xavier and Draik made me prove myself. And I changed into something extraordinary.

The strength and speed.
The night vision.
Hearing through walls and even into heartbeats.

All this is new. Strange. FANTASTIC.

Because I'm about to meet HER. The blue-haired girl. Around her, I act totally out of character. I would never hurt her, but HE might. Not every wolf gets a cool name. Not until they've earned it.

A werewolf who's scrawny? Small in stature and has no supernatural abilities to speak of? A coroner? And named Howard?!? An underdog indeed but I find I tend to root for underdogs. ;)

Howard was exciting, funny, and suspenseful. The premise grabbed me and Howard, his pack mates, and Alisa drew me in. Hopkins' writing is inherently readable and the story was well constructed and nicely paced.

I loved Howard! He's such a gentle and sweet guy. He's recently undergone a dramatic physical change but it didn't change him. Alisa is quirky and fun. You gotta admire a girl with blue hair. She is definitely courageous and although she put up all kinds of emotional barriers, she melted for Howard. Both Howard and Alisa have similar upbringing which left them with emotional scars. I liked that there was something about them both that pulled at the other. They complemented each other well.

The secondary cast is fantastic. I read this out of order, which I hate doing, but although I would have felt I knew them all better, I didn't feel it took away from the story. I will, of course, be reading Curragh ASAP. And then Xavier. And Hopkins' other werewolf series as well. And probably her other works too because I have a feeling she's going on my favorite authors list. I'll keep y'all posted. ;)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Historical Romance Review ~ Wicked Intentions ~ Elizabeth Hoyt

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1)Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
Maiden Lane #1
Release Date: August 1, 2010
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER


A man controlled by his desires...

Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London's most notorious slum. Widowed Temperance Dews knows St. Giles like the back of her hand - she's spent a lifetime caring for its inhabitants at the foundling home her family established. Now that home is at risk.

A woman haunted by her past...

Caire makes a simple offer - in return for Temperance's help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to London's high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home. But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as cold calculation soon falls prey to a passion that neither can control - one that may well destroy them both.

A bargain neither would refuse.

Oh, Wicked do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1) Hoyt delivers such appealing characters despite them being atypical. Lazarus is an anti-hero and Temperance is intelligent, witty, and strong.

2) Lazarus was fascinating to become acquainted with as Temperance peeled back all his layers. In the same way, Temperance was compelling as a heroine as Lazarus aided her in her self-discovery. In many ways, Wicked Intentions is a study in human nature.

3) The mystery kept me glued to my kindle trying to solve it alongside Lazarus and Temperance. I had my suspicions but in the end, I was wrong.

4) The secondary characters were interesting - from Temperance's siblings and Lazarus' mother all the way to Polly the wet nurse. I do hope we see much more from many of them.

5) Temperance's profession - I adored that she helps run a home for abandoned children along with her brother.

6) Hoyt's use of snippets from a fairytale as the start for each chapter. These snippets lead into the chapter and the story overall so well.

Wicked Intentions was a delight! Hoyt always entertains me and I'm eager to get started on the next in the Maiden Lane series.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

That's What HE Said #68 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #49

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:

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt


"Because I am selfish and vain and venal--nothing, in fact, like you or the men in your family. Don't think I'm unaware of that fact. I don't deserve you, Temperance, but it doesn't matter. You have told me you love me, and I'll not let you change your mind, now or ever."


"But then there's quite a lot you don't know about me, Mrs. Dews."
"Is there?" Her gaze skipped over his shoulder, and he knew she looked at his mother in conversation with Lady Beckinhall in the corner. "Such as?"
"I have an unnatural fondness for marzipan sweetmeats."
He felt more than heard her giggle, and the small, innocent sound sent a frisson of warmth through him. She hid her emotions so well usually, even the joyous ones.
"I haven't had marzipan sweetmeats in ages," she murmured.
He had the sudden urge to buy her a boxful just to watch her eat them. Her read lips would become sprinkled with the sugar and she'd have to lick them clean. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Brandee's Bookish Babble #23 ~ Long Books...Or Why I Keep Failing Certain Challenges

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.

I've noticed a trend in my reading habits where challenges are concerned. Well, lately I've not read much at all really BUT I was doing well each month of 2016. Keeping on target and getting those challenge books read. But both last year and this year, I failed and continue to fail at my Reading Assignment Challenge and I think I've figured out why...

Outlander. Game of Thrones. <-- Yep, those two titles. And maybe a few others but those two in particular. They were on my Reading Assignment list last year and I put them on the list again this year because I'm determined to read them. But...they're soooo long! And I keep thinking "But I could read 2 or 3 shorter books in that same time." It's terrible! What I seem to end up doing is the reading shorter books on my list and then when I get to the point where I only have those looong books left, I fail. Why?

Why do I seem afraid to dive into long books? I used to read lengthy books all the time. Have I become a product of the digital age whereby I want instant gratification? Is my attention span that much shorter? Have I become commitment phobic whereby I don't want to invest that much time in one set of characters? Is it because they're in paperback format and I'd prefer to read a book of that length on an ereader?

Obviously, I don't have the answer yet. I wondered if y'all might have some advice. Are y'all averse to longer books? Do you find yourself putting off reading something that's 800+ pages? Why? Or why not? Help me, please. I'd really like to pass my Reading Assignment Challenge next year! :D

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Commenters Raffle #1 Winner

Hi y'all! I'm sorry I didn't get this posted last week. It's still a bit crazy around Casa de Bookworm Brandee. ;) Sky and I leave this Friday heading to Portland and I'll be back late next week. Bear with me as I finish out this month - leaving one at college and having the other two start back to school - I'm rather an emotional wreck. 

Now on to what y'all really want to know! So I (actually Sky did the honors for me) tallied  the commenters I had throughout June and July. There were 47! THANKS SO MUCH! I took those that had commented 4 or more times and entered those 18 into the raffle.

  1. northernplunder
  2. Lorna
  3. Melanie
  4. Braine
  5. Lover of Romance
  6. Tanya Atkinson
  7. Kristen Burns
  8. Lexxie
  9. Leona Woolfolk
  10. Christy LoveofBooks
  11. Lola
  12. TeresaMaryRose
  13. Naomi Hop
  14. Felicia the Geeky Blogger
  15. Fantasy is More Fun
  16. Anna @ Herding Cats and Burning Soup
  17. Trish Hannon
  18. Kimbacaffeinate

And the winner is....
Melanie!!! If you'll email or PM me either on Facebook or Twitter with your mailing address, I'll get your mystery box of books and bookmarks sent out to you!

Thanks so much to you ALL for continuing to support me over this summer. I appreciate it so very much! And keep dropping by as I'm doing another raffle at the end of August!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Review ~ The Things They Carried ~ Tim O'Brien

The Things They CarriedThe Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Release Date: December 29, 1998
Genre: Adult, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: Borrowed from Sky's shelf
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #BookishResolutions, #COYER, #ShelfLove

They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O'Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three.

"I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth." ... "What stories can do, I guess, is make things present." Tim, pg 171-172
The Things They Carried was powerfully told and emotionally engaging. It's a story of war but also of self-discovery. This book is technically a work of fiction, but it's rooted in truth and relevant -- extremely relevant. I was shocked, actually, to think of the similarities and parallels between the social and political climate of the 60's and that of today. But that quote above? That's the importance of this story being told. Also, 
"But this too is true: stories can save us." Tim, pg. 213
That's why this story needed to be told. In The Things They Carried stories were not only a way of keeping things - truths, ideas, each other - alive during the war but afterward they were a way of keeping the soldiers alive in death as well.
"Well, right now," she said, "I'm not dead. But when I am, it's like...I don't know, I guess it's like being inside a book that nobody's reading.""A book?" I said."And old one. It's up on a library shelf, so you're safe and everything, but the book hasn't been checked out for a long, long time. All you can do is wait. Just hope somebody'll pick it up and start reading."
I appreciated this analogy and it reiterated the importance of storytelling to keep the past - people, history, customs, and culture - alive. But I also think storytelling is cathartic for the storyteller. And Tim O'Brien is a master! This book is amazing in that it made me feel, made me think, made me consider... It's an experience I won't soon forget and isn't that the point?


My older daughter requested I read this because it made such an impression on her. Thanks for asking me to read this, Sky, and for listening to me and chatting with me as it left its mark on me as well.

Friday, August 12, 2016

New Release Review ~ The CEO Daddy Next Door ~ Karen Booth

The CEO Daddy Next DoorThe CEO Daddy Next Door by Karen Booth
Release Date: August 9, 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

He wants a mother for his child. She won't settle down. And they're living together...

After one disastrous date, reality TV personality Ashley George and devastatingly handsome British billionaire Marcus Chambers are roommates! When a fire destroys her apartment, Ashley leans on her Manhattan neighbor for help--and soon finds herself falling for the father and his baby. But despite their off-the-charts attraction, Marcus only dates women who would be suitable mothers for his daughter. His free-spirited neighbor is completely unsuitable. So why can't he seem to keep her out of his bed...and out of his heart?

The CEO Daddy Next Door is the perfect summer read - a sort of frenemies-to-lovers romance with playful banter, sparks flying strong enough to make me worry about shorting out my ereader, and genuine characters I couldn't help but love. This story is a delight!

Ashley and Marcus live across the hall from one another. They had one date that ended badly and have been each other's nemesis ever since. If only neither of them felt the strong spark of attraction. Things would be far less complicated. Marcus is living in NYC to launch an American division of his family's gin company. He suffered an excruciating divorce and is determined to choose more wisely the second time around in order to protect his infant daughter. Ashley has been burned badly before as well. A hit that the Matchmaker of Manhattan took hard - she finds true love for others but can't seem to do the same for herself.

When an opportunity arises that is professionally mutually beneficial to both Ashley and Marcus, they take off their gloves and play nice. This leads to more than either bargained for - even their becoming roommates.

Booth did an excellent job in creating real characters. I felt for both Ashley and Marcus, understood the motivations behind their actions, and was cheering for them. Ashley had Southern charm which I enjoyed and Marcus, well, he's British so you know I adored his stodgy yet charming self. Watching their walls crumble as they got closer was a treat.

While this is only a novella in length, the story is well-crafted and felt finished when I reached the end. There was a tiny plot thread left unraveled but that didn't take away from my enjoyment at all. Booth seems to have a knack for delivering a great story with appealing characters no matter the number of pages!