Friday, May 22, 2015

Reasons You'll Love Rook & Ronin ~ TGIF! Spotlight & #Giveaway



If y'all have followed me for any length of time, you know I adore JA Huss. And if you haven't followed me for that long, well I'm about to give you some reasons to start reading her! ;) Not the least of which is that I'm giving away a signed copy of Tragic

A little backstory...back in late 2012, I started conversing with JA via her blog, New Adult Addiction. We liked several of the same books and she was fun to talk to. So when she told me she was having a blog tour of her own and asked if I'd participate, I said "Sure!" Now, the books I'd be reading were not what I typically read, so I was a little out of my comfort zone. However, I ended up hosting an entire week of fangirling over JA Huss and Junco! 

Fast forward a few months (in 2013), and she was releasing the first book in her Rook & Ronin series, Tragic. Well, I loved it, too! I thought I would share a few reasons why YOU should read this series, as well. So here goes...


***
  • A Strong Heroine (you'll always get one with JA)
"I was broken, beaten, and scared of pretty much everything. And then it hit me. If I wanted to change my life then I'd have to do it myself. Because no one was coming to protect me, or save me, or heal me. There was just me." -Rook, Tragic 



"...a door, still closed and leading to every opportunity imaginable and requiring a leap of faith that the risk is worth it. You are my doorway to endless possibilities and I'm ready to take that risk." -Rook, Panic

  • A Hot Hero (or Three!)
"Rook, no one gives a shit what I wear. They want me naked and if I'm not naked, then I'm just there to make you look good until we do get naked." -Ronin, Tragic



"Ronin challenges Rook to want a future - one with him. He challenges her to believe in herself, to believe in love and to believe she deserves it. Ford challenges Rook to stretch herself, to push past her boundaries, to reach and fulfill her potential. And Spencer, he provides Rook with the comfort and security of a big brother." -From my review of Panic

  • Lots of Swoon
"I could describe what you look like, but that's not what I see. You are so much more than a body inside a dress Rook. You fit me." -Ronin, Tragic


"Miss Corvus, I am so far beyond in love with you, I can barely function. I want to marry you. Like yesterday. But I know that's not gonna happen just yet, so I just want you to know, I can wait. I will wait." -Ronin, Panic 

"Well it's not really a mystery. It was the day I met you, that's when. You've changed me, Rook. You make me weak, you make me stumble, you make me fall, and even though I know you'll pick me up if I ask you to, it's not enough. I want you to make me stronger, just like I made you. I want it all or I want nothing. And since I can't have it all, I'll take nothing." -Ford, Panic

"But I'm desperate for more from her. I'm desperate for something more permanent. And I do understand that it's totally selfish of me to expect her to give up her dream to make me happy, so that's something I'd never ask her to do. But it eats away at me. Her lack of permanence. It's like she's fleeting, like she's a moment. Something that comes and goes. I want marriage, I want kids, I want everything I never had as a child, and I want it desperately. But I want her more. I will wait, that was not a lie. I'll wait forever if I have to." -Ronin, Panic 

  • A Sprinkle of Humor
"So, tell me, Ford--is that a family name? Or did your parents just like trucks?" -Rook, Manic

"How did I get here? We're Three's Company. Spencer is airhead Chrissy, Ford is intellectual Janet, and I'm pretending to be gay so I don't notice that you two are roommate eye-candy." -Rook, Panic

  • Loads of Steamy
I am desperate to get him inside me, but he's slow now. "I might not be able to make many guarantees in this world, Rook," he says as his hand travels down and traces the crease between my legs. "But I will say with one hundred percent certainty that you will come tonight." Rook & Ronin, Panic


  • A Little Mystery



"And it might be sitting in non-traceable off-shore bank accounts. Because we might've stolen all his money while we were at it. Serves him right since the only reason he got caught is because he tried to steal yours. Paybacks are always a bitch." 

  • Twists & Turns That Screw with Your Mind
"In Manic, Ms. Huss works some magic...keeping her readers even more involved and interested in Rook and Ronin's story through the reveal of some major revelations. We knew Rook's past was not a pretty one, but we learn even more about the extent to which she suffered. And then there's the shock of the sordid (look Ford, I'm smart, too!) past between Ronin, Spencer, and Ford. And then there was the panic attack inducing, pulse pounding bombshell part of the book. Yeah, I can't tell y'all about that. ;)"  - From my review of Manic


  • Writing That Makes You Think
"I like the contradictions of the story - the juxtaposition of the ugliness of Rook's life with the glamour of modeling. The glamour of modeling against the ugliness behind the scenes. That Rook has come to believe that no one will save her but herself yet the kindness shown to her by Ronin and Elise (and Antoine to an extent) essentially do just that. Rook and Ronin and somewhat contradictory as well - she with nothing, he with everything, but both missing something." -From my review of Tragic


"I enjoyed the culmination of Rook's journey towards forgiveness, love, wholeness. Because even though they're an 'us', this story is more Rook's story than Ronin's. Ronin is the catalyst for Rook's growth and therefore an integral part of Rook's story, but it's Rook's. And as the events of Rook's past are revealed, I admired her all the more." -From my review of Panic


So are you convinced yet? I certainly hope you are! And to tempt you even further, you can enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Tragic! Sorry! This giveaway is U.S. only. If you're International, don't despair! Just let me know in the comments and I'll put y'all into a drawing (using random.org) for Tragic in ebook format. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review ~ Taken by a Dragon ~ Felicity Heaton

Taken by a Dragon (Eternal Mates, #7)Taken by a Dragon
Eternal Mates #7
Release Date:
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Goodreads

Synopsis
Possessed by a need to save a beautiful Amazon warrior from the vision he witnessed, Loke snatched her from the midst of the battle between the Third and Fifth realm of the demons, and carried her to his home deep in the black mountains of Hell to protect her. But as the fierce little female awakens, he finds she's anything by grateful, and his dragon instincts roar to life to warn she might be more to him than an enemy--she might be his fated female.

Anais remembers meeting a handsome warrior in the heat of battle, a man who was her enemy but who looked at her with eyes that held dark heat and wicked promises. When she wakes to find that same dragon shifter has taken her captive, desire is the last thing on her mind, but escaping him to return to Archangel, the hunter organisation she works for, sounds less than appealing when he reveals the reason he took her--to stop her from dying.

Can Loke protect Anais from the dangers of his realm and how far will he go to save her from the future he keeps witnessing? Can Anais resist the fierce attraction that burns between them as hot as fire and stay true to Archangel, or will her heart be taken by a dragon?




Taken by a Dragon is another satisfying installment in Heaton's Eternal Mates series. And it was one I was very eager to read because DRAGON! ;) Besides the story of how Loke and Anais come together, we also see a return of some of my other favorite characters and that served to enhance my delight in the story.

Loke and Anais meet on a battlefield during the war between the Third Realm and the Fifth Realm. Loke takes Anais for reasons other than the fact they are fighting on opposite sides. Once Anais understands his reasons, the stage is set for the arguing and the loving to begin. Like is a chivalrous gentleman, in all honesty. Oh, he feels the extreme protectiveness and possessiveness all the males feel towards their mate - and he will fight to defend Anais. But h'es very considerate of her as well. Anais, who Loke refers to as his "Little Amazon", is a warrior. She's confident and strong and I liked that about her. And I really like them together.

I say this in every one of my Heaton reviews, so I'll only briefly mention it here - Heaton's ability to convey the environment of whichever realm serves as the backdrop to the story is excellent. Taken by a Dragon was no different. I could feel the coolness and hardness of the mountain cave Loke called home as well as taste the dust in the arena of his village. I appreciate and admire this ability.

There was a plot thread left hanging and I can only predict that it's a part of the overarching plot and will be resolved in the future. Hopefully with an appearance of Bleu. *hint hint* Taken by a Dragon felt a little short on the action. There was some but it wasn't as exciting as some previous installments. However, I enjoyed the cameos made my other characters, such as Loren and am eager to see how Heaton will connect all these threads in the grand scheme.

If you haven't started the Eternal Mates series, I highly recommend you hop to it!



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Beyond the Books ~ On Lasik


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. ;)



*************

As y'all may or may not know, I recently had Lasik surgery...about 3.5 weeks ago now. And overall, I'm loving it! I thought I'd share a few things about my experience just in case you were curious. ;)


The science...the surgeon uses one laser to create a flap in your cornea and another to remove tissue, which reshapes your eyes - essentially creating your "prescription" on your eye. My prescription in my glasses was close to 20/600 in each eye.

First of all, I had myself really worked up over having Lasik done. I mean, they are my eyes after all. What I found was that I needn't have been so worked up. Yes, it's still a risky venture. But the risks are low. And a good doctor isn't going to perform the procedure on you if you aren't a good candidate. (I have thicker than average corneas and small pupils which, apparently, equaled *perfect* candidate!)

Second of all...y'all it's over in less than 2 minutes! Seriously! Here's the quick and dirty...They cover whichever eye they aren't working on, and the first laser gets to work creating the flap. When this is happening, you experience what it's like to be blind. You lose sight in the eye while the laser is working but it only lasts for 20 seconds. I kept hearing my boot camp instructor telling me I can do anything for 20 seconds. *ha* And then the second laser gets to work removing tissue. For me, this took 14 and 12 seconds per eye. Afterwards, I sat up and walked over to the 'eye machine' (like at the eye doctor) where the surgeon checked my vision. All was good! I could see but it was like looking through my glasses with oil smeared on them.

My husband watched the whole thing and was captivated by the technology (some of which was created by NASA!). 

They gave me a sedative prior to my procedure but not far enough in advance for it to really be working during my procedure - you have to be able to hold your eyes open after all. Anyway, I barely remember the hour drive home. I went straight to bed, with a lovely pair of goggles. I slept the rest of the day, only getting up for dinner. And when I awoke on Saturday morning, I could see. I went to the eye doctor that morning for a post-op check up and my vision was 20/15 in each eye.

I had to put antibiotic drops in my eyes 3 times a day for 4 days and sleep with the goggles on for close to 2 weeks. I also have to put 'tears' in my eyes several times a day, even now. But the need for this is tapering off. My last visit, my vision was still 20/15. 

The only drawback for me is this...I already wore progressives so I *knew* I'd need reading glasses. However, I wasn't expecting the reality that I really couldn't see up close anymore. With my glasses, I could take them off and holding an object, say my phone, really close, I could read it. I can't anymore. And I wasn't fully prepared for that. But the benefits of being free of glasses for anything not up close outweigh my need for reading glasses. (although I do have to laugh that my family teasing me about *still* wearing glasses 90% of the time after Lasik wasn't off the mark! I do read often. ;) 

So, after wearing glasses for 30+ years, I'm relatively free of them, can wear lots of cute, colored reading glasses, and I'm happy with my results! I only wish I'd done it sooner!! ;)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review ~ Mend ~ Autumn Grey

Mend (Havoc, #3)Mend
Havoc #3
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Goodreads

Synopsis
Sometimes you win and sometimes you lost, especially in love. Remington has played that game before and lost. One thing is certain...Losing Selene is not an option. As the threat on their lives looms closer, he knows one wrong move and she might disappear from his life forever. The clock is ticking, and Remington is competing against time to save the woman who is fast becoming a part of his soul.

But what happens after that? Will she stay, or will his past destroy any chance with her?

Love is what remains after our reservations melt away; when we let our demons come out to play.

Selene knows it is just a matter of time before all hell breaks loose. Whoever is after them is after blood. Her blood. She should have cut ties with Remington the second she read that first letter, but that is no longer a choice. She has fallen too far, too heard, and she is in too deep, both emotionally and physically.

At times secrets unite, and sometimes they destroy lives. Will the secret that binds them be enough to break Selene and Remington, or will it mend shattered bonds and make them stronger?




Mend was a satisfying ending to Selene and Remington's story. It kept me guessing about the identity of the source of trouble for this couple and I can certainly say I didn't see that coming. I quite enjoyed seeing Selene and Remington grow closer and work to overcome the struggles they were facing early in the fledgling relationship. The chemistry between them is very strong but it's nice to see them with Adrien and other family members - to get a feeling for how they interact as a couple outside of the bedroom as well. And their bond is a strong one.

The only things keeping this from a higher rating is that I felt a few elements related to the reveal were a little too far-fetched and the resolutions between family members seemed a little too easy.

Despite my issues with these things, Mend left me feeling very happy and satisfied with where Selene and Remington ended up. Fate seemed to have brought these two together and hey were good for one another. They each had had their hearts broken but together, they were able to mend, and come out stronger in the end.



Saturday, May 16, 2015

Children's Early Review ~ Yellow Copter ~ Kersten Hamilton

Yellow CopterYellow Copter
Illustrated by: Valeria Petrone
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Genre: Children's Picture Book ~ Ages 0-3
Publisher: Viking
Source: Publisher provided a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Goodreads

Synopsis
When a teacher gets stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel at the fair, cranes and planes can't reach her. The only one who might have a chance is Yellow Copter!

With a rollicking rhyme and candy-colored illustrations, this is the perfect read-aloud for any fan of machines that are big, make loud noises, or fly--or all three at once.




Yellow Copter is a cute story of a new hero on the block. When teacher needs to be rescued, Yellow Copter is there to help!

I liked that a unique machine was the only one capable of helping out in this situation. I also liked the colored words in the dialog as I think it aids little ones with word recognition. With brilliant illustrations combined with clever rhyme and sound effects, Yellow Copter is sure to be a read-aloud favorite. 




Friday, May 15, 2015

Audio Review ~ Never Seduce a Scot ~ Maya Banks

Never Seduce a Scot (The Montgomerys and Armstrongs, #1)Never Seduce a Scot
The Montgomerys and Armstrongs #1
Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance
Source: Purchased on Audible
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Goodreads

Synopsis
Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but outsiders consider her "touched." Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn't speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Content with her life of seclusion, Eveline has taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft. But when an arranged marriage into a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, Eveline accepts her duty--unprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful that his new bride can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled that he stirs her deepest passions.

Graeme in intrigued by the mysterious Eveline, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation and whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.




The Montgomery and Armstrong clans are sworn enemies because the Armstrongs killed the former laird, and Graeme's father. To implement peace between the two clans, the king of England mandates a marriage between Graeme, the laird of the Montgomerys, and Eveline, the daughter of the Armstrong laird.

Eveline, although seen by her clan and outsiders as daft, is truly a brave, resourceful, and crafty young lass. She's propagated the belief of her "touched-ness" in order to stave off an unwanted marriage. However, when the king mandates a marriage, it's something she can't avoid. And although Graeme is willing to forgive her the sins of her father, finding acceptance among the Montgomerys is something Eveline finds very challenging. But it's a challenge she willingly accepts as she realizes that her husband is an exceptional man.

Graeme is a warrior - rough, strong, but very handsome. He's also a very kind, fair, and just man. While he understands his clan's reluctance to accept his new wife into the clan, he will not allow them to mistreat her. As Graeme gets better acquainted with Eveline, he also finds that he's been given a gift in his wife. 

It was a delight to witness Graeme and Eveline learn about each other. Eveline was happy to see that Graeme was a good leader and brother. And Graeme was thrilled to learn his wife was far from daft. Their affection was genuine and their chemistry a slow burn. The story touches on themes such as prejudice, and even bullying, really. It was exciting to see people learn they shouldn't judge others as new friends were made, new alliances formed. 

Meeting the cast of characters - Graeme's brothers, Bowen and Teague, and sister, Rory, as well as Eveline's family, made the story that much richer. Banks' characters are robust and brought life to the story of feuding clans putting their differences aside for a common goal. I'm eager to get to know them all better. Banks' description of life in the keep was realistic and well-crafted. Even listening as a typical day unfolded drew vivid images in my mind.

With a title like Never Seduce a Scot, I was expecting a light, steamy read. Lesson? Never judge a book by its title. Never Seduce a Scot was a deep, complex read. One that brought tears to my eyes, gasps to my mouth, and smiles to my face. I had no idea Banks wrote historical fiction but I'm hooked and can't wait to listen to more.  

I'm an audio newbie - this is only my third listen. I was beginning to think there was something wrong with me that I couldn't do audio. I don't want to take anything away from either of the other books I've listened to. I liked both stories and both narrators. But this story and this narrator had me anxious to listen and loath to stop. Kirsten Potter ROCKS a Scottish accent and even after moving on, I could still hear her voice in my head. It was incredible and I will definitely listen to her again.




Thursday, May 14, 2015

#2015HW Review ~ Off the Record ~ K.A. Linde

Off the Record (Record, #1)Off the Record
Record #1
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased from Amazon for Kindle
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Goodreads

Synopsis
Liz Dougherty has no idea a single question is about to change her life.

Her first big reporting assignment for her North Caroline college newspaper has her covering a state senator's impromptu press conference. Brady Maxwell may have everything it takes to be a politician - a winning pedigree, devastating good looks, a body made to wear suits - but his politics rub Liz the wrong way. When Liz's hard-hitting question catches the upstart senator off-guard, it impresses Hayden Lane, Liz's editor who feels she's headed for a promising career as a reporter.

But Liz is also headed into a secret romance with Brady that could destroy both their ambitions. Though he's a bachelor, potential voters might frown on Brady cozying up to a reporter. And Liz isn't sure sneaking around is enough for her--especially when things between her and Hayden might be less platonic than she thought.

Sleek, sexy, and smart, Off the Record ventures into a high-stakes campaign and an even higher-stakes affair to answer the question: When politics and love collide, can there ever be a winner?




Wow! This book was rather stunning. I had a feeling it was going to be a worthwhile read but I had no idea how much I'd enjoy it or how much it'd affect me. This book is a romance but it's set around politics. That it takes place as a candidate is campaigning for a primary was fitting as it's relevant to our current political clime. The political environment - what a candidate endures and sacrifices - particularly one that is young and idealistic - made for stimulating reading.

The stage is set for sparks to fly when Liz Dougherty, a UNC journalism student with specific political ideals, covers the press conference where State Senator Brady Maxwell announces his intention to run for the US House of Representatives. See, Liz doesn't agree with Brady's voting record - on education, specifically - and fires a pretty scathing question at the Senator. It sets him off-balance and, of course, that's attractive to him.

What I loved about Liz and Brady:

1) Their chemistry was sizzlingly palpable

2) At the beginning, they were honest with one another - almost brutally so

3) They each gave up something of themselves in order to be with one another - it seemed like Brady didn't give up much but imagine having to hurt the one person you don't want to hurt in order to achieve a dream you aren't willing to give up

What I didn't like so much about Liz and Brady:

1) Brady expected more honesty from Liz than he was willing to give her - because he didn't want to upset her

2) Liz was always so brazen about sharing her political opinions with Brady but as her feelings grew, she became timid about sharing her emotions

3) Brady asked a lot of Liz by keeping their relationship secret - he set all the rules and everything was mostly done on his terms

4) They were each risking their careers to be together and they each believed it was worth keeping their relationship on the down-low

Linde did an excellent job in character development. Even though both Liz and Brady made decisions that had me shaking my head, I was in their corner, rooting for them. I can't imagine living in a world where the person I chose to date, or love, could threaten my career. But I know the ramifications for Brady and Liz - what they're risking. There are side characters who added drama, humor, and tension. I'm anxious to see the roles they play throughout Liz and Brady's story.

I'm thrilled to have read Off the Record! My dilemma now is that I want to finish their story. NOW. Hmm, good thing I have some birthday cash handy. *wink*




That's What HE Said #26 & Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #5



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:

Off the Record by K.A. Linde

This quote makes me sigh. Brady has a way with words and is saying so much without saying those words.


***

"You're the only person I've ever met who so completely disarms me. I feel like sometimes you aren't looking at me; you're looking through me. Like you know every single secret in my existence...like you know exactly what I'm thinking. That was exactly what I meant that very first day we met, when I told you that you were my airplane. You totally fuck me up, Liz."


*~*~*~*~*~*


Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts - (un)Conventional Bookviews


Brady pulled back the covering to show her a cheese and bread plate, a fruit plate loaded down with fresh strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, and melon and another tray with finger food that they picked at as the afternoon sun faded into evening.


The perfect way to while away an afternoon with your man. ;)