Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tangled Up/Cosmo Red Hot Reads Blog Tour

Today, we're proud to be one of the tour stops on the "Cosmo Red Hot Reads" tour as sponsored by AToMR Tours.  Every month Cosmopolitan Magazine and Harlequin team up to publish two erotic novellas.  This month's selections are "Crossing the Line" by Megan Hart and "Burned" by Sarah Morgan.  They're available separately for your e-reader or bound together in print as "Tangled Up."

I read both of these on my lunch break and they gave new meaning to a "hot lunch."

Burned by Sarah Morgan

Every girl needs some self-defense. But at Fit and Physical, you'll learn martial arts and get fit at the same time. Look great, feel better and kick a little butt! Check out one-on-one personal training with our favourite karate black belt, Rosie Miller. She loves her job, the world of martial arts, and her life is just…well, brilliant.

Trainer and martial artist Rosie Miller's zen is seriously compromised when Hunter Black—her former coach and lover—becomes her new boss. With all the sexual energy still crackling between them, her poor little zen doesn't stand a chance. So this time, Rosie is determined to do more than put up self-defense. She and Hunter are going to play by her rules…. 
(synopsis provided by publisher)

"Burned" was my favorite of the two.  I loved Rosie's fierce personality.  She's smart and confident but not domineering.  I also loved that this book is set in London.  The thought of all those sexy accents really added to the punches both in the martial arts and in the banter between Rosie and Hunter.  This is a quick, frisky, fun read. Definitely check it out.

Crossing the Line by Megan Hart—Caitlyn Fox has one chance to prove to her outrageously hot—and ridiculously controlling—boss that she's got the chops to succeed. But Jamison Wolfe isn't quite what he seems. And once they cross the line between business and pleasure, Caitlyn discovers the one place where she's in control....
(synopsis provided by publisher)

Rosie may not be domineering but Caitlyn is and in all the right ways.  I loved that Caitlyn is literally the dominant one in her relationship.  It was a nice change from the traditional billionaire dominant male stories that seem to be everywhere.  Heat wise, I found this tale to milder than "Burned" but it was still a fun, sexy, and worth reading.

Download "Crossing the Line," by Megan Hart and "Burned," by Sarah Morgan from your favorite e-bookseller or head to your local bookstore for "Tangled Up."  For more information, please visit the rest of the stops on the blog tour.

You can also try your luck at winning a copy of "Tangled Up," by heading down to the Rafflecopter.  Harlequin has 5 copies up for grabs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to AtoMR Tours and Cosmo Red Hot Reads From Harlequin for providing me a review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

The summer seems to be moving too fast, let's all take a moment to relax and enjoy the gorgeous weather.  It's a great time of year to relax on the porch or by the pool with a good book like one of today's new reads.

I was fortunate enough to get an early copy of "The Saint," by Tiffany Reisz and it was incredible. "The Saint" is Part 1 of "The Original Sinners: The White Years." If you've been following this blog for awhile you know she's one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend all erotica fans run out and pick this up today! 

Over in Romance you'll find "When Day Breaks," by Maya Banks, "Vixen in Velvet," by Loretta Chase, "Hope at Dawn," by Stacie Henrie, "Queen of Wands," by Katee Robert, "To Marry a Scottish Laird," by Lynsay Sands and "Sweet Revenge," by Rebecca Zanetti.

Flag down "The Last Taxi Ride," by A.X. Ahmad in Mystery/Thriller today along with "Nine Lives to Pay," Rita Mae Brown, "Hell to Pay," by Garry Disher, "Stay With Me," by Alison Gaylin, and "Cop Town," by Karin Slaughter.

Step over to Science Fiction/Fantasy for "The Shadow Master," by Craig Cormick, "Child of a Hidden Sea," by A.M. Dellamonica, "Thorn Jack," by Katherine Harbour, and "Baptism of Fire," by Andrzej Sadowski.

Find out "What Erika Wants," by Bruce Clements in Young Adult today and check out "License to Spill," by Lisi Harrison, "Complicit," by Stephanie Kuehn, and "In the End," by Demitria Lunetta.

Will any of these books make your "to-read" list? Share with us!  Happy reading and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

10 Things I Loved About The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

I have held off on reading this book ever since it came out because I didn't want the series to be over. But I just had a mini vacation so I thought that it would be a good time to finally read it. Plus, I knew that I would need the time to throw everything else to the wind so I could devour the book without worrying about things like life responsibilities.

If you haven't read them, you should definitely start with The Girl of Fire and Thorns and  Crown of Embers, the first two books in the trilogy. I did a review of the first book HERE if you're curious.

French cover for
Girl of Fire and Thorns
You can follow the author on Twitter or like her author page on Facebook. And you can check out Rae Carson's website to learn a little bit more about the trilogy (and upcoming news) and to see some of the international covers. I want to own the French ones SO MUCH.

If you haven't read the first two books there will be spoilers for them, but I will do my best not to spoil the third book as I give you the 10 things I loved about The Bitter Kingdom:

  1. Elisa: She is a strong, flawed, thoughtful, REAL heroine. In the first book, when we are introduced to her, she has an issue with her weight and is bordering on an eating disorder. Although she grows through the series she doesn't magically become skinny and model-"gorgeous." She is still plump. She is still a little bit obsessed with food. But she is much more comfortable with who she is and how she looks. I really appreciate that this is an aspect of her character without taking over her whole personality. This is only one small facet of her entire personality - there is so much more to her, but it is so rare to find in YA novels that I had to point it out.
  2. Religion: I mentioned this in my review of the first book, but I really appreciate that the world Carson builds includes religion. This is another aspect that is nearly always left out of YA novels. Religion, belief - these things are a big part of most cultures and societies. So when it's left completely out, there is always something vaguely lacking to me. I like the way that Carson integrates it into the culture, but also lets Elisa struggle with her beliefs and work through doubts, questions, and other things that arise in connection to her godstone and the complicated things she comes in contact with.
  3. Hector: This book gave us some chapters from his perspective, but I liked the fact that Carson didn't feel obligated to make the two parts equal. We only see Hector when he isn't with Elisa and it works really well. It could easily have felt fragmented, but it was a good way to show the reader what they needed to know that Elisa didn't see without slipping into 3rd person or some other narrative device. But other than the narration, it was nice to see more of who Hector is and the way he truly respects Elisa's intelligence and abilities.
  4. Mula: Oh. My. Werd. My favorite ever. I loved every scene she was in. I wanted more and more of her. I want a sequel following Mula's adventures. She is adorable and loyal and smart and will steal your heart.
  5. Politics: Just like with the inclusion of religion, I liked the way Carson included the complicated political aspects of Elisa's world. Elisa is a princess who marries a king who then dies, leaving her the ruler of a strange country. She has a sister who is a queen. She has friends who are ambassadors and connected to other kingdoms. This all gets really complicated. It HAS to be complicated because that is the way that inter-country relations are. And Carson doesn't shy away from that. There are no easy answers and people change allegiances, fight back, negotiate, and just generally interact with each other with the confusion that comes out of very different cultures coming into contact with each other.
  6. Worldbuilding: Throughout the trilogy Carson does a wonderful job of grounding us in the world. It has a middle eastern feel to it, something I appreciated as a change from the typical european/angl-saxon fantasy world. You completely believe in the world, understand how it works, and Carson weaves in so many details that make it live without inundating you.
  7. No one is safe: I know this sounds weird, but I liked the fact that Carson was willing to let people die if it was necessary to the story. And while there were a couple of deaths (and near misses) that I was very sad about, there weren't any that felt like they were included just for shock value. Everything seemed completely purposeful and fitting to the story being told.
  8. "I Have an Idea": This becomes Elisa's catch phrase and it started bringing a grin to my face every time she said it. Elisa realizes she has weaknesses and flaws, but the one thing she can do is think and plan. And, especially in the third book, she realizes that this is her strength. Her plotting and scheming is what can and has saved her and the people around her. She embraces her intelligence and uses it wisely. Yeah for library power!
  9. Happy Ending: There is one! Yeah! While the trilogy is certainly not a romance, it does include romance and I was so thrilled to see Elisa get her happily ever after.
  10. But not done: Yet, even though there is a certain amount of ending, there are also quite a few loose ends and challenges that aren't quite finished. I mentioned this in my review of Ignite Me, but I like when an author ties up the story arc, but leaves the characters to continue living, even if it's just in our imaginations.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Here's hoping you get to relax in the summer sun with one of this week's new reads.

After a few years of November releases, "Stephanie Plum" returns to her former Summer release time with "Top Secret Twenty One," by Janet Evanovich.  Other new releases in Mystery/Thriller include "Dead Heading," by Catherine Aird, "Coldsleep Lullaby," by Andrew Brown, "Terminal City," by Linda Fairstein, and "Cradle to Grave," by Eleanor Kuhns.

Rush over to Romance for "Treasured," by Candace Camp, "Better When He's Bad," by Jay Crownover, and "When You Are Mine," by Kennedy Ryan.

Slide over to Science Fiction/Fantasy for "Cibola Burn," by James S.A. Corey, "Shattered," by Kevin Hearne, "Flight of the Golden Harpy," by Susan Klaus, "Chasers of the Wind," by Alexey Pehov, and "The Long Mars," by Terry Pratchett.

Make way for YA with "17 First Kisses," by Rachael Allen, "Ruin & Rising," by Leigh Bardugo, "Graduation Day," the conclusion to "The Testing" trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau, "Otherbound," by Corinne Duyvis, and "Fan Art," by Sarah Tregay.

Will any of these books make your "to-read" list?  Share with us!  Happy Reading and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What About Bach's Music?

I have been away for much too long.   Life changes have distracted me. But this past week I was honored to spend time with a friend who is homeschooling her five children. Together we read a wonderful book about Bach's music history entitled Bach's Goldberg Variations by Anna Harwell Celenza and published by Charlesbridge. It is a delightful story about how this piece of music could have gotten its name. The basic facts are accurate and written in a way to captivate young readers while keeping the attention of older children. I also enjoyed the illustrations by JoAnne E Kitchel.  Celenza has also written several other books on other composers. I must read more of her books. If you are not sure where to start teaching your children about classical music composers, then I suggest you start here. An added bonus is the CD included with the book. I did not have the opportunity to listen to the music, but would have liked to. Hearing an interesting story is a great way to build interest to listening to a composer's music. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more of Celenza's books. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Sorry for the delay but the stormy weather knocked out my internet last night.

Romance fans who feel like they've been waiting an eternity for the latest "Outlander," novel can pick up "Written in My Own Heart's Blood," by Diana Gabaldon today.  "Better When He's Bad," b Jay Crownover and "Beautiful Addictions," by Season Vining are also available.  Plus Robin Jones Gunn moves her Young Adult series forward with "Christy & Todd: The Married Years, Book  1, Forever With You." 

Over in Mystery, you can check out "All Day and A Night," by Alafair Burke, "Never Look Back," by Clare Donoghue, "Blacklist," by Jerry Ludwig, "A Song for the Dying," by Stuart MacBride,"Two Soldiers," by Anders Roslund, and "A Question of Honor," by Charles Todd.

Skip to Mystery/Thriller for "The Girl With All the Gifts," by M.R. Carey, "Allegiance," by Susannah Sandin, and "California Bones," by Greg VanEekhout.

Finally, "Born of Deception," by Teri Brown, :The Murder Complex," by Lindsay Cummings, and "(Don't You) Forget About Me" by Kate Karyos Quinn are available in Young Adult today.

Will any of these books make your "to-read" list? Share with us!  Happy reading and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

April Book Club: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath has spent a good part of her life living in the world of Simon Snow. She and her sister, Wren, are not only fans, but also fanfiction writers. And Cath feels comfortable in the world they've created. But now they're headed to college and Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be her roommate. So Cath is left to fend for herself in the scary and unpredictable world of new roommates, class schedules, and cafeteria food. She can handle writing thousands of words for her Simon Snow fanfiction, but can she handle writing assignments for her fiction writing class? And she might be deft at dealing with the relationship between Simon Snow and Baz, but can she figure out her feelings for Nick and Levi? And when real life drama threatens to derail her life can Cath manage to work out her own happy ending?

Want to own it?
Find an indie bookstore near you!
Barnes & Noble

What we thought:

NaomiRuth: Overall I really enjoyed Fangirl. It was easy to read and written in a very fluid manner. I liked that while some of the story was about Cath's first relationship, it was more than just a love story. It was about family and relationship dynamics and exploring the changes that occur when someone moves from an in-home place to an on-school place. I liked the exploration of fanfic. But that's also where I was a little uncomfortable. I still have a difficult time with fanfic. Sometimes I felt like there was a little too much of Cath's fanfic included. I understand this was a large part of her life, and I doubt many other people (if any) had the same kind of problems I did with the included fanfic. I was just more interested in her life, her real life, and sometimes got annoyed that I had to wade through so much un-real life. But I'm sure that's just because fanfic in general makes me queasy. So I was glad to read this book, because it helped me understand where people who enjoy fanfic are coming from.

Jenn N: Like Naomi, I liked that Fangirl was a new adult novel that didn't revolve solely around a romantic relationship. My favorite parts of the novel were the parts that dealt with Cath's relationship with her father and sister. I didn't find the fanfic sections excessive. I thought they showcased both Cath's passion for Simon Snow and need to escape while also demonstrating her growth and talent as a writer. While I don't write fanfic, I do create elaborate daydreams in my head about my fictional life in Port Charles (the city where General Hospital is set). So I could relate to Cath immersing herself in a fictional world to escape reality. I don't want to spoil anything, but while I appreciated that Wren's drinking issues were addressed, I think they were resolved a little too quickly. Overall though, I think Fangirl was a realistic portrayal of both the exhilarating and overwhelming highs and lows that one experiences when first leaving home for college.

Rebecca T: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I thought it was a great exploration of that move from high school to college, particularly for a main character who is a bit socially awkward. The stress Cath deals with in the changes of this period of her life make this a true New Adult book that grapples with solid New Adult issues. I loved the development of the characters and the overall arc of the story. Like Naomi I felt there was a bit too much Simon Snow stuff. Some of it from the fictional books and some of it from Cath's fanfic, but a lot of times it felt superfluous to the actual plot. I understand trying to establish its presence (since Simon Snow isn't a real series), but I would have liked to see less of that and more of Cath and Wren and Levi and Reagan.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

10 Things I Loved About Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

I saw this book on a "librarian pick" shelf at my local library and I had to pick it up. So glad I did! I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by Shurtliff. You can check out her website or like her author page on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Here's the book trailer, which is hilarious and tells you everything you need to know about the book:

And now here are the 10 things I loved about Rump (without spoilers!):
  1. FAIRY TALES. Because fairy tale retellings are awesomesauce. And telling the story from the "villain's" perspective? Brilliant - especially when we know virtually nothing about said villain.
  2. Rump. I never thought I could completely root for and be absolutely sympathetic with Rumpelstiltskin. Shurtliff crafts such a great story keeping to the elements of the original fairy tale, but filling in all the background details which make Rump the hero rather than the antagonist.
  3. Red. Every hero needs a sassy friend who will smack them upside the head when they're being particularly idiotic and Red is that for Rump. Plus she can create magic paths through the forest - always a useful skill.
  4. The pixies. They are hilarious pests that create a lot of trouble for Rump throughout the book!
  5. The gnomes. I seriously love that the gnomes are basically walking telegrams. Instead of writing letters you just find the nearest gnome, give them the message and they run around until they find the person the message is intended for. I'm fairly certain this occasionally involves some sort of locator magic. They are adorable.
  6. Ida, Hadel, and Balthilda. I won't say too much because I don't want to give any spoilers, but I loved this trio of ladies (especially Ida) and their distinct personalities.
  7. The trolls. Ba Ha Ha!
  8. Names. In this world names are super important, so in Rump's village they don't name the village, their pets or animals, or anything other than themselves. So Rump calls his donkey Nothing and his goat Milk. I love that the donkey's name is Nothing. It is not only humorous, but it also plays into the larger themes of choice vs. destiny and the power of names.
  9. The world building. It's very subtle and woven throughout the story but also very clear. You know where you are, the magic has specific rules that it follows, and the world always makes sense within its own parameters. This kind of consistency is so nice to see.
  10. Happy ending! The ending of the fairy tale is a bit... ambiguous to say the least. But it ends with Rumpelstiltskin poofing or ripping himself in half or stomping into the floor and disappearing. Shurtliff plays with the traditional ending and still manages to give Rump a happy ending. Yeah!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Laydown Lowdown

It's the first Tuesday in June and there are tons of great books to start your summer reading off right.

My Instagram buddy, Lindsay Cummings releases "The Fear Trials," a novella prequel to her debut novel, "The Murder Complex."  Other new releases in YA include "Say What You Will," by Cammie McGovern, "Vivian Divine is Dead," by Lauren Sabel, and "Toxic," the 15th "Pretty Little Liars" installment by Sara Shepard. 

Roam by Romance for "Fire Rising," by Donna Grant, "Saddled & Spurred," by Lorelei James, "Heated," by J. Kenner, "Nauti Enchantress," by Lora Leigh, "The Last Boyfriend," by Nora Roberts, and "Scared Scriptless," by "Days of Our Lives" star Alison Sweeney.

Mosey to Mystery/Thriller for best-selling author Stephen King's latest novel, "Mr. Mercedes."  "Faceoff," a collection of short-stories edited by David Baldacci featuring many best-selling authors of the genre is also available along with "Dead Heat," by Allison Brennan, "Vertigo 42," by Martha Grimes, "Black Current," by Larem Keskinen, and "Shockwave," by Andrew Vachss.

Sashay over to Science Fiction/Fantasy for "A Shiver of Light," the latest "Mary Gentry," story by Laurell K. Hamilton, "The Dark Beneath the Stars," by Kevin J. Anderson, "The Merchant Emperor," by Elizabeth Haydon, and "A Barricade in Hell," by Jaime Lee Moyer.

Will any of these books make your "to-read" list?  Share with us!  Happy reading and remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.