Saturday, September 24, 2016

Blog Ahead Challenge 2016 ~ Sign Up Post ~ I'm *SO* In

Blog Ahead 2016-Oct

I jumped on the Blog Ahead bandwagon last year at this time and I can't tell you what a relief it was to get posts created and scheduled before the busy holiday season hit. This year, I did the Mini Blog Ahead Challenge in May and that was also helpful for my busy summer schedule. So it's a no-brainer that I'd participate in the month-long Blog Ahead Challenge hosted by herding cats & burning soupFor complete details, click the graphic above.

The goal of the Blog Ahead Challenge is to prepare and schedule 31 posts...one for every day of October. But these posts are to be scheduled for November 1 and beyond! See what Anna did there? This is your chance to get yourself prepared for the busy holiday months. 


Challenge Dates
October 1-31

Goal
31 Posts
(although you can set your goal to whatever number you want to aim for)

Anyone can join and any post you schedule to publish on November 1 and beyond counts.

So, what do you think? Are you up for the Blog Ahead Challenge?!?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Review ~ Him ~ Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Him (Him #1)Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Him #1
Release Date: July 28, 2015
Genre: Adult, M/M Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #ShelfLove

Goodreads

Synopsis
They don't play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley's biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he'll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions - can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend...and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.



Wowza! Him was a delicious read. The story was well crafted, flowed perfectly, alternated between POVs seamlessly (and I'm assuming authors as well), and gave me all the feels. Fabulous!

Ryan Wesley, "Wes", is finishing his last semester of college with a Frozen Four championship before heading off to the NHL. He's also about to be faced with seeing his best friend, whom he hasn't spoken to in four years. 

Jamie Canning is also finishing his college career with a Frozen Four Championship. He's also headed to the NHL but first will spend the summer coaching kids at Elites - the hockey camp where he and Wes met...where he'd been fired as a best friend four years ago and never found out why.

I loved these two guys! Wes is such a player - he's intense, cocky and seemingly self-assured but also very vulnerable. That makes sense considering his family barely has anything to do with him because of his sexuality. Jamie's so opposite of Wes. He's laid back, carefree, and has a big loving family. They balanced one another well - as friends and eventually more.

I appreciated how Bowen and Kennedy had the story unfold - how the guys put aside the past and began making a future for themselves. I liked how they conveyed the prejudices Wes and Jamie were exposed to as well. These two were heading for professional hockey careers and not everyone is accepting of differences. What I really admired was how Wes and Ryan took the foundation of their friendship, accepted the past and moved on, and built this genuine relationship despite a few hiccups due to insecurities. It was beautiful.

I'd had Him for awhile but moved it up in the queue after reading Grace's review (Rebel Mommy Book Blog). Thanks, Grace, for ensuring I read this amazing book sooner than later. I'll be picking up the sequel, His, soon!



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Beyond the Books ~ My Favorite Things About Fall


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



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Fall is, by far, my most favorite season! I love the cooler, crisp air, the changing colors of the forest, marching band season, and, of course, PUMPKIN everything! Here are some photos of my favorite things...


Our first snow of Fall...



A glimpse of the aspens in the Colorado high country!





My daughters and my son...the one with his head down. :) 
(These pictures are from last year as my older daughter, Sky, is no longer in marching band.)



A fresh batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins! Sooo good with coffee. ;)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Review ~ Four Seconds to Lose ~ K.A. Tucker

Four Seconds to Lose (Ten Tiny Breaths, #3)Four Seconds to Lose by K.A. Tucker
Ten Tiny Breaths #3
Release Date: November 4, 2013
Genre: Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I won a signed copy from the author in a Facebook giveaway
Rating: 5 Beautiful Bookworms!
Challenges: none
Goodreads

Synopsis
When a gorgeous young dancer walks through his door, a strip club owner must decide whether to follow his rules or his heart in the third novel by the author of One Tiny Lie and Ten Tiny Breaths.

Owning a strip club isn't the fantasy most guys expect it to be. With long hours, a staff with enough issues to keep a psych ward in business, and the police regularly on his case, twenty-nine-year-old Cain is starting to second guess his unspoken mission to save the women he employs. And then blond, brown-eyed Charlie Rourke walks through his door, and things get really complicated. Cain abides by a strict "no sleeping with the staff' rule. But being around Charlie challenges Cain's self-control...and it's been a long time since any woman has done that.

Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Rourke needs a lot of money, really fast, in order to vanish before it's too late. Taking her clothes off for men makes her stomach curl but Charlie tells herself that at least she's putting her acting and dancing skills to good use. And though her fellow dancers seem eager to nab their sexy, sophisticated, and genuinely caring boss, she's not interested. After all, Charlie Rourke doesn't really exist--and the girl pretending to be her can't get distracted by romance.

Unfortunately, Charlie soon discovers that developing feelings for Cain is inevitable, and that those feelings may not be unrequited--but losing him when he finds out what she's involved with will be more painful than any other sentence awaiting her.



K.A. Tucker was highly recommended to me by Lexxie and others. I actually won Four Seconds to Lose in a giveaway Tucker was hosting and since I was getting to meet her in Denver (this past weekend), I decided to jump on the bandwagon, as it were. And I can't tell you how impressed I am with her writing! But I'll try. *wink*

Cain is one tortured soul...broody, moody...so naturally I loved him. He has some really dark stuff in his past - things he feels he must do penance for. So he runs a strip club where he does his best to protect his girls and get them out of the life. So many redeemable qualities in this guy. Unfortunately, he doesn't believe in redemption.

Charlie, bless her heart, doesn't really know what it's like to be loved or have real friends. Her mom was self-centered and died young and her step-dad - well, I'm not sure he'd know love it if bit him. Plus, he's into some bad stuff and has put Charlie in a bad spot. She feels unclean and unworthy. She just wants a clean escape but feels fate brought her to Cain's door. Yeah, these two are quite a match. I loved them together - once Cain started speaking to her.

The development of the romance was real and genuine despite all the things hidden between them and all their baggage. The wondering what would become of them if things went bad, if revelations weren't taken well, it all kept me on edge, flipping pages way past my bedtime. And the resolution, though it seemed simple, was something that hadn't crossed my mind.

Since this is actually #3 in the series, there were characters from the previous installments here but I never felt lost and honestly, I can't wait to learn everyone's story now. I regret not having read Tucker sooner but plan to make up for lost time. Tucker gave me a tight story with compelling characters and suspense. I'm excited to see what else she has in store!



Friday, September 16, 2016

Review ~ Before She Wakes: Forbidden Fairy Tales ~ Sharon Lynn Fisher

Before She Wakes: Forbidden Fairy TalesBefore She Wakes: Forbidden Fairy Tales by Sharon Lynn Fisher
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Genre: Adult, Fantasy Romance, Historical Romance, Steampunk
Source: I received a copy from the publisher (Loveswept) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: Overall 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease, #COYER
Goodreads

Synopsis
You've never read bedtime stories like these. RITA Award finalist Sharon Lynn Fisher blends dark erotic romance, fantasty, and science fiction in these bold tales of seduction and sensual awakening...

THE GARDEN RULES
After swallowing an acorn sweetmeat, Sylva is transported to a fantastical forest and begins training as a nymph at the behest of her faun master. But before she earns the right to please him, she must complete three tantalizing trials.

THE DRAGONMAID'S SECRET
On the king's orders, a mercenary has come to ransack the village of Roussillon. But when he confronts the town's defender, the dragonmaid Isabeau, he is overwhelmed by the most fiery passions--for this rogue is, in fact, a dragon-shifter.

RAVEN TAKES A PEARL
Pearl is a captive of Master Raven--part man, part crow, part machine. And as she submits to the curious probing of the dark-winged inventor, Pearl discovers that her body responds with an all-too-human demand: desire.

THE KELPIE'S PRIZE
Dragged beneath a fairy pool by a mechanical horse, Vivi finds herself held prisoner by an alchemist claiming to be Merlin himself. Now, to escape an ancient curse, she must play the wanton seductress--and use her body to secure the release she craves.

WILLA AND THE WISP
In the bayou that covers the long-ago flooded city of New Orleans, Willa uses light to keep her safe from the creepers. She never expected that light to take the form of a brightly glowing man--an enigmatic lover who ignites the flame within.

THE DRAGONFLY PRINCE
In post-apocalyptic Ireland, a virgin gives her hand in marriage to broker peace with a genetically modified race. But when a human rival challenges the dark prince's claim, so begins a duel that will push the fair maiden to the limits of pleasure.



This is a collection of short stories.

The Garden Rules - 3 Bookworms
Quite imaginative once the hallucination (?) sequence begins. But I didn't understand the sweetmeats portion. Drugs? I did like the nod to the historical though.

The Dragonmaid's Secret - 4 Bookworms
One word: dragons. I was sold there but truly enjoyed the premise as well as the storytelling. The historical element was an added bonus.

Raven Takes a Pearl - 4 Bookworms
I liked the premise and the steampunk element. The story drew me in and the characters were engaging.

The Kelpie's Prize - 4 Bookworms
A tie with Raven Takes a Pearl for my favorite so far. I liked the use of Merlin and his mythology to tell the story. The steampunk element was well done. And I liked the fey bent as well. Plus, I really liked the characters.

Willa and the Wisp - 3.5 Bookworms
I really enjoyed the fey element as well as the supernatural. It lent itself well to the NOLA setting. I liked the characters but my connection to Jack wasn't quite as strong as my connection to Willa.

The Dragonfly Prince - 4.5 Bookworms
This ended up being my favorite! I liked the premise of the story - the fey element as well as the scientific. I also really found the characters engaging. I was most captivated by this story.

Overall, I enjoyed this collection of stories. They flowed well together, incorporating similar themes. They were all engaging and they were STEAMY! I'll definitely check out more from Sharon Lynn Fisher.



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Brandee's Bookish Babble #24 ~ Commenting Woes


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.


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Are any of you who use Blogger and a second party commenting app experiencing issues with people being able to comment? I use Disqus and I chose it because:
  1. I was getting so many spam comments and Blogger's solutions only served to cause more problems
  2. I liked Disqus' quick and easy response - I liked using it on others' blogs and it made for easier replying
  3. I had encountered a few problems with Comment Luv on others' blogs so I chose Disqus

BUT... I'm having issues. I've had blogging friends unable to leave comments or even see the comment section. *gasp* What?? Earlier this year, I researched problems with Disqus. I thought maybe it had to do with servers in foreign countries so I made a change to my HTML code and it seemed to help. However, the issue reappeared again, so... That I'm aware of, this issue has only affected international peeps. If you're in the US and have experienced problems commenting on my blog, could you let me know, please? And if you're a Blogger/Disqus user, are you having any issues? Anyone know a solution??

Monday, September 12, 2016

New Release Review ~ Inarticulate ~ Eden Summers (@edensummers1)

InarticulateInarticulate by Eden Summers
Release Date: September 
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2106NewRelease
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

Synopsis
He's silent - but his touch speaks louder than words.

At first sight, Savannah is drawn to the harsh appeal of a man who refuses to talk to her. Keenan's hard start is arrogant and unapologetic. The quirk of his sensuous lips is cocky and in control.

But there's more. There's something deeper he's trying to hide behind those steely grey eyes - a slight hint of vulnerability which captures her intrigue.

She'd been warned, told that his silence hides a myriad of lies capable of affecting her career and relationships with loved ones. Only she can't help herself. Testing Keenan's defenses is an addiction she can't deny.

Falling in lust is easy. Learning his secrets comes with a price. The cost? Her broken heart.



Let's see if I can *ahem* articulate my thoughts on Inarticulate

First off, this is a riveting story. That Summers was able to make a character, who couldn't speak, so compelling was a feat. I was fascinated with Keenan and completely under his spell from the get-go. I could tell there was more than meets the eye with him. He was enigmatic and not only because of his silence. The way he was able to communicate through body language and facial expressions was awe-inspiring. Who needs words? But I could also tell he was keeping secrets and that made me sad.

Savannah, on the other hand, was exactly what you see if what you get. Her forthrightness was admirable, honestly. She knew how to provide people with what they needed - calming or placating, etc. - but always did it honestly. She was able to see beyond Keenan's inability to speak and fell for the man underneath.

The secrets - I admit to being nervous about the reveal. I had figured out one in a general sense but some others were shocking and I appreciated that. The romance as a whole and all the circumstances around it kept me engaged with Savannah and Keenan. It was exciting, a refreshing foundation for a relationship, and it was nerve-racking wondering how things would go.

I do wish some of the romance development had taken place on page rather than off page. I felt it would have made me feel their connection more strongly had I been privy to those happenings. I also wish I'd had more time with Savannah and her cousin, Dominic, because I liked their dynamics and it could have added more to Savannah's character.

Overall though. I thoroughly enjoyed Inarticulate. It was unlike anything I've read before due to Keenan's disability. But I really liked Keenan and Savannah and the minor characters as well, It's been awhile since I read Summers and I think I need to add more of her work to my queue.



Sunday, September 11, 2016

Blog Tour Review ~ Lord of a Thousand Steps ~ Tara Lain (@taralain)



I'm thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Lord of a Thousand Steps by Tara Lain. The Love in Laguna series continues to heat up and get better and better! I have a review and a giveaway for y'all today. 


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Lord of a Thousand Steps (Love in Laguna, #4)Lord of a Thousand Steps by Tara Lain
Love in Laguna #4
Release Date: August 31, 2016
Genre: Adult, M/M Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy, as part of the tour, in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

Synopsis
To architecture student Ian Carney, family means everything. Taken in by his brother, Jim, when his father threw him out at eighteen for being gay, Ian yearns to create his own family with his boyfriend, Rico. But Rico’s in Mexico caring for a sick father, Ian hasn’t had sex in a month and a half, and his gorgeous boss, Braden Lord, CEO of the architectural firm Ian interns for, is looking better and better.

Braden’s life is chaos. Just out of the closet and going through an ugly divorce from his wife of fifteen years who’s trying to take custody of his two children, he desperately resolves not to succumb to a completely inappropriate attraction to Ian—even though his kids adore both the man and his crazy cat.

When Rico proves to be a snake in the grass and Ian exercises his powers of seduction, what starts as a “friends with benefits” fling turns into real life real fast. Can Ian give up his romantic dreams for an “old guy” who didn’t come out until he carried a mountain of baggage? It’ll only take a thousand steps.






I adored Ian Carney when I met him in Knave of Broken Hearts, book #2 in this series. So I was thrilled beyond measure to get his story and for him to get his HEA. Lain didn't disappoint! I couldn't have asked for a better story for Ian.

Ian has been living with his brother, Jim, since he was 18 and their father kicked him out because he came out. Ian is wise beyond his years but he wants a family and the unconditional love he didn't get from his family. The desire for that enabled me to see his vulnerable side. He's smart and a gifted architecture student. And even though he's been in a relationship for 3 years - one he thought was going to last - he finds himself attracted to his boss, Braden Lord.

Braden Lord - my goodness! He came with so much baggage. He's only recently come out and is currently enduring a nasty divorce. Yes, that's right. He's spent the last 15 years trying to convince himself he wasn't really gay. He has little experience, obviously, in gay relationships. And to complicate things even more, he has 2 children. But does that have to mean complications?

I loved Ian and Braden together! They fit perfectly despite the age difference and baggage on both sides. And I adored Braden's kids. Mireille was adorably precocious, so grown-up in her mannerisms and speech. Jo-Jo was mature but also acted like a boy of 14. I appreciate when an author incorporates kids in a story line in a way that adds depth and Lain delivered BIG. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Anderson, Ian's cat. He has few lines in the dialog *wink* but played an integral role in the story.

One thing I admire about this series is Lain's inclusion of people who both accept and judge homosexuality. It's realistic and genuine and adds to the story overall. Seeing characters on both sides of the fence and how the affected Ian and Braden enriched their story. Getting to be present as Ian and Braden figure out how they fit in each other's lives, watching the kids be accepting and seeing them all build a happy life together while weathering some bumps in the road was a heartwarming experience. And like I said, I couldn't have asked for better for Ian. But both he and Braden deserved it!





**Love in Laguna Series**


Knight of Ocean Avenue


Knave of Broken Hearts


Prince of the Playhouse






a Rafflecopter Giveaway




Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”