Avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker, genre-omnivore.
Bought, Bagged and Wrapping it Up is where I share my new books, as well as what happened here at (un)Conventional Bookviews and elsewhere in the blogoshpere. I'm linking up with the usual suspects, AKA Team Tynga's Reviews, Talk Supe and Caffeinated Reviewer.
Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews is all about the latest additions to your library - virtual or actual, with books that are bought, borrowed, won or ARCs you will be reading soon. Bought Borrowed and Bagged is a homage to to Barron's Books and Baubles from KMM' Fever series, and is hosted by Braine over at Talk Supe. Without further ado, here's what I bought, borrowed or bagged this past week, and once more, there are SO many books :
Thank you, Harlequin HQN, Kensington Books, Season Publishing and NetGalley!
(All of these books were requested before COYER started, so they will even count towards that challenge!!)
Thank you, Helena Newbury!
Thank you, Carina Press!!
The Scent of Winter was a freebie, and I am elated to spend some time with King and Søren ♡
My COYER Secret Santa gave to me :
Thank you so much, Secret Santa! I can't wait to start reading these :) xoxo
My blogger-wife, Brandee is generous, too! Here's what she's sent me:
Kim @ The Caffeinated Reviewer, is our hostess with the mostest for the weekly Sunday Post where I'm wrapping things up. It is the perfect opportunity to share what happened here on my own blog, as well as some of the happenings elsewhere in the Blogosphere.
Still battled my cold. Was very uninspired when it came to writing my thesis... I did send a pretty long e-mail explaining in detail what I want to say, and how to use the articles and other literature I have used for my research in order to do so. And I think that should be enough for now, and maybe the thesis-muse will come to me over the holidays... Hopefully, my prof will agree with me that it's passable. I used to aim for perfect grades, but not anymore *sighs* I just want this to be over with!
It's been a pretty busy week, with some last-minute calls for teaching, some visits with friends - one was even for a long walk with Freddy and my friend's 4-month-old puppy. It was really nice to see the dogs together, so very cute.
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Toady @ BBToady shares When She Will Absolutely Not Leave a Comment
Cait @ Paper Fury discusses Bookworm Logic
Did you get some good books last week? What have you been up to this past week? Thanks for stopping by, I hope you've enjoyed your weekend, and that next week will be filled with awesome!
Sweet Ruin by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #16
Published by Gallery Books on 1 December 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Reading Challenges: 2016 Blogger Shame Challenge
A foundling raised in a world of humans
Growing up, orphaned Josephine didn’t know who or what she was—just that she was “bad,” an outcast with strange powers. Her baby brother Thaddeus was as perfect as she was flawed; protecting him became her entire life. The day he was taken away began Jo’s transition from angry girl... to would-be superhero... to enchanting, ruthless villain.
A lethally sensual enforcer on a mission
A threat to the Møriør has brought archer Rune the Baneblood to the mortal realm to slay the oldest living Valkyrie. Whether by bow or in bed, he never fails to eliminate his target. Yet before he can strike, he encounters a vampiric creature whose beauty conceals a black heart. With one bite, she pierces him with aching pleasure, taking his forbidden blood - and jeopardizing the secrets of his brethren.
A boundless passion that will lead to sweet ruin...
Could this exquisite female be a spy sent by the very Valkyrie he hunts? Rune knows he must not trust Josephine, yet he’s unable to turn her away. Despite his millennia of sexual conquests, he can’t ignore the unfamiliar longing she arouses deep within him. When Jo betrays the identity of the one man she will die to protect, she and Rune become locked in a treacherous battle of wills that pits ultimate loyalty against unbridled lust.
*I received a free copy of Sweet Ruin from Gallery Books via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *
Sweet Ruin continues the saga of the immortals who mostly haunt New Orleans, and I have to say that Rune and Josie’s story was both touching and sweet, with lots of action, and even more nostalgia.
I’m not sure why I have kept Sweet Ruin hidden on my kindle for so long! But I’m very happy to have read it now – so that I’ll be ready to delve into Immortals After Dark #17 in January next year… This is a series with an extremely well done mythology, and I am always in awe when I read a new installment. The stories are also character-driven, with a solid story and an overall plot that spans over several books in the series. What’s not to like, right?
From the very beginning of Sweet Ruin, I had so many feels for Jo! She was a little girl, and she was all alone in the world, responsible for her littler brother who was just a toddler. Still, she was strong, and she was very creative when it came to taking care of him – until the day when she wasn’t able to do that anymore – when she was shot, and left for dead. Only, because Jo wasn’t human, she didn’t exactly die, she just came into her powers instead, but she had to leave her brother somewhere safe so he could grow up off the streets.
As an adult, Jo ran into Rune, a half demon half fae, several thousand years old, one who knew he would never find a mate, never be able to love. And to make things more interesting, Nix was definitely messing with both of them. I have a special place in my heart for Nix – she’s pretty out there in many ways, but she’s also fun, and I think she loves pretending she’s not got all her marbles, as it lets her do exactly what she wants, while others will always underestimate her.
Needless to say, Sweet Ruin was an action packed and very hot story. I loved the characters, and I especially loved that Jo wasn’t willing to let her needs be second. She stated very clearly what she expected from a relationship, and expected nothing less if Rune agreed to be with her. Gotta love a woman who has a backbone and the self respect to keep to her guns!
Whereas Jo would just as soon sneer at someone, he babbled greetings to everyone, inviting them to play with his toy. If she’d ever owned a toy of her own, she never would’ve shared it with people who weren’t Thaddie.
She sounded reasonable, but here was the thing: Jo was feral. There’d be no living under someone else’s roof and following someone else’s rules. Rules didn’t apply to Jo and never had. There’d be no sharing Thaddie with a woman who desperately wanted to be his mother.
Rebellious by Gillian Archer
Series: True Brothers MC #2
Published by Loveswept on 13 September 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Suspense
Reading Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge
Every rebel needs a cause—and a woman to believe in. Discover why Heidi McLaughlin raves that “the sexy, alluring bad boys of the True Brothers MC will make your mouth water” in this smoldering novel from the author of Ruthless.
The black-leather-clad biker who just roared up on his Harley doesn’t resemble any single father Emily Clark has ever known. But as she watches “Reb” bonding with his son, Emily realizes there’s a lot more to this bad boy than his alpha-male attitude or his sinful good looks. And when Reb takes an interest in her, there’s no way she can resist his surprisingly tender touch. The one thing Emily won’t give up is her hard-won independence.
As president of the True Brothers MC, Reb owes a sacred debt of loyalty to the club, but his first priority is making sure that his son grows up right. Pursuing an unexpected affair with Emily is a close second. Then a violent stalker threatens her life, and this unconventional guardian angel really turns up the heat. Nobody messes with Reb, or anyone under his protection. Trouble is, how’s he supposed to defend Emily when she insists on going it alone? He’s willing to put his life on the line for her. Now, maybe, he needs to open his heart.
*I received a free copy of Rebellious from Loveswept via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *
Rebellious is filled with danger, desire, dirty talk and enough sexy times to make anyone dizzy!
Rebellious is the second of the True Brothers MC series, and I actually have an ARC of Ruthless as well, but somehow, I read this first. I enjoyed myself, so I don’t think there will be any trouble for me by not reading these in order. It’s funny to me that in my books, I don’t mind a man who takes charge, and maybe even acts a little bit controlling, because in real life, that just wouldn’t fly. Reb is the president of the MC club, and Emily is the sweet, innocent school librarian who works at B&N during the school holiday. Emily’s next-door-neighbour is Reb’s ex and their 8-year-old son, Tucker. Who is very often left to his own devices, with our without a key.
The story in Rebellious is very fast-paced, and there is more going on than the incredibly steamy scenes between Reb and Emily. Tucker needed saving, and Emily was the one to bring him to his dad’s place, which just so happened to be the Club, where her best friend’s fiancé was a member. Now, I have no idea if real MC clubs treat their ‘old ladies’ or the female groupies the way they are treated in books, but the True Brothers MC guys seemed to be on par if I compare with other MC stories I have read. Quite sexist, and always in control, with a sliver of tenderness to keep the ladies wanting more – it’s simply irresistible in a romantic suspense.
Between someone stalking Emily, and a rival club vandalizing Reb’s house, there is more than enough suspense in Rebellious. And there is also enough substance to the story, with character development that made sense, and some real problems that had to be dealt with for Reb and Emily to truly trust each other and try to make the future a brighter place both for themselves and for Tucker. Written in first person past tense in Emily’s chapters, and third person past tense from Reb’s perspective, I loved both the narration and the spicy dialogues.
Reb’s gorgeous blue eyes were impossible to ignore this close to my face. “We’re gonna have a little talk later tonight about those roving hands.”
I winced and could feel the flush spreading over my face. “Or we could skip it and just say we did.”
Reb slowly shook his head.
“Okay.” I bit my lip and stood despite his hands trying to pin me down.
But still I continued down the hall toward the happy noises coming from the kitchen. Where I found REb leaning against the cabinets on the far side of the room. He straightened up slightly when he saw me, his eyes flaring with something hot.
The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers
Published by Alqonquin Young Readers on 15 March 2016
Genres: Children's Lit, Contemporary
Reading Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge
Longing to be one of the popular girls in her new town, Kammie Summers has fallen into a well during a (fake) initiation into their club. Now Kammie’s trapped in the dark, counting the hours, waiting to be rescued. (The Girls have gone for help, haven’t they?)
As hours pass, Kammie’s real-life predicament mixes with memories of the best and worst moments of her life so far, including the awful reasons her family moved to this new town in the first place. And as she begins to feel hungry and thirsty and light-headed, Kammie starts to imagine she has company, including a French-speaking coyote and goats that just might be zombies.
Karen Rivers has created a unique narrator with an authentic, sympathetic, sharp, funny voice who will have readers laughing and crying and laugh-crying over the course of physically and emotionally suspenseful, utterly believable events.
*I received a free copy of The Girl in the Well is Me from Alqonquin Young Readers via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *
The Girl in the Well is Me is very creepy The Girl in the Well Is Me is one of the strangest little stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Introspective, cut-off, separate, just like Kammie felt when she wasn’t in the well.in an abstract kind of way, and even more so in a completely tangible way!
Why, then, do I only give 2.5 start to The Girl in the Well Is Me, you ask? Well, it was very slow paced, and 85% of the ‘action’ happened while Kammie was stuck down in the well, musing about her life, mean girls, and choices. And while those are important musings, she could have very well thought about these things somewhere else. And I don’t think the mean girls suffered the consequences of their actions. At all! And it seems to me that one of the important themes in this story is exactly that – our actions have consequences, when we do something wrong, there are consequences – sometimes not only for ourselves but for other people as well.
The Girl in the Well Is Me was very well written, which made it so the slow pace didn’t make me want to stop reading. However, I found Kammie to be very, very mature for an 11-year-old girl. Even if she had been through some hard times because of her father’s actions, and that he was now in prison, I found her to be very adult. Both in her musings, and the way she narrated her past, as well as what her father had done that made everything in their family change.
Even if The Girl in the Well Is Me was slow paced, it was a quick read, if that makes any sense at all, and the first person narration worked well, even if I found Kammie’s voice to be ‘older’ than her 11 years.
I used to love to take baths with a million bubbles, so many that they were like a blanket that I could hide under. My favorite bubbles smelled like chewing gum and had a pink girl on the bottle. She had boobs the size of watermelons and her face was permanently frozen in a half-creepy smile, but the bubbles smelled like happiness and birthday parties and dancing and vanilla cake and everything good.
Metaphors and similes make my head hurt, picking apart those sentences in Language Arts, making all those words fall away from their sentences and separating them into gerunds and modifiers and whatever’s. It’s like sentence massacres, those poor words bleeding sadly all over the page. I don’t know why school has to take everything good and turn it boring and painful and bad.
Welcome to my stop on the Only You Release Day Blitz! There is a tour-wide giveaway, and I have excerpts both from the book and from my review of it to share with you as well! Title: Only You Author: Denise Grover Swank On Sale: October 25, 2016 Series: The Bachelor Brotherhood, #1 Publisher: Forever Mass Market: $6.99 USD eBook: $3.99 USD Add to Goodreads Series Page on Goodreads **NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT**
The first book in a spin-off from Denise Grover Swank's New York Times bestselling Wedding Pact series (The Wedding Pact, The Player, The Gambler, The Valentine) “Warm and funny, the first book in the Bachelor Brotherhood series reads like a great Hollywood rom-com.” –iBooks Best Books of June Never say never…Romance isn't an option for Holly Greenwood. With her wedding planner career on the line she needs to stay focused, and that means pleasing her demanding boss, not getting distracted by her mind-alteringly hot neighbor… Ex-Marine Kevin Vandemeer craves normalcy. Instead, he has a broken-down old house in need of a match and some gasoline, a meddling family, and the uncanny ability to attract the world's craziest women. At least that last one he can fix: he and his buddies have made a pact to swear off women, and this includes his sweetly sexy new neighbor. After one hot night that looks a whole lot like a disaster in the light of day, Kevin and Holly are about to learn that true love doesn't play by the rules…
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[scroll-box]Kevin wasn’t sure why he was surprised Holly was here. She was a wedding planner, and from what he’d seen so far, she was a damn good one. He’d been on his way out of the room, needing a breather from the noise and the chaos of the reception when he’d seen her at the table. He hadn’t planned on asking her to dance—hell, he hated to dance—but he’d been desperate for a reason to talk to her. When he sat back down at the table, Tyler wore a smirk. “Crashed and burned, huh? I thought you were going to the bathroom to take a piss.” “I was. I just happened to run into a friend.” “Run into a friend, my ass. I thought we’d sworn off women. I’ve held up my end of the bachelor brotherhood. And let me add that I had no idea my balls could turn this blue.” “She’s a friend,” Kevin said, trying not to sound irritated and feed any more fuel to the fire. “She’s his neighbor,” Matt said, taking a sip of his beer, and giving Kevin a pointed look. “They’re friends.” Tyler burst out laughing. “You got friend-zoned?” “No,” Kevin said slowly, picking up his drink, surprised Matt hadn’t told Tyler about the situation he’d stumbled upon. “I was the one who said I wanted to be friends.” “Why?” Tyler asked, watching Holly with a little more interest than Kevin liked. “She’s hot. Do you know if she’s seeing anyone?” “No.” Kevin’s irritation grew. Tyler stood and adjusted his tie, a smirk lighting up his eyes. “Screw the brotherhood. I think I’ll go over and introduce myself.” Kevin was up in a flash. “I don’t think so.” “Why not?” he looked surprised. “She looks like she’d be worth a short break from my hiatus from women.” Kevin stepped in front of his path, his jaw set. “Because you’re a prick who will use her and toss her aside and she deserves a helluva lot better than that.” Matt was up in an instant, grabbing Kevin’s arm. “Why don’t we get some air?” “You like her,” Tyler said, slack jawed. “Of course he likes her,” Matt said. “For someone so smart, sometimes you’re an idiot.” “In my defense,” Tyler said. “He said they were friends.” “Okay,” Matt said slowly. “When was the last time you convinced a woman to be just a friend?” “Never.” “I rest my case, counselor.” Tyler sat back down, and Matt tugged on Kevin’s sleeve to get him to join them. “I can’t believe you didn’t last even a single week,” Tyler said. “He didn’t last a single day,” Matt told him. “He slept with her the night after our agreement to remain single.” Tyler burst out laughing. “For a tough-ass former Marine, I expected you to be the last holdout, man. At least a week or two.” [/scroll-box] ABOUT THE AUTHOR
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese, which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty (in her own mind) Facebook comments and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn't lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Snapchat
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As you may already know, I really enjoyed Only You when I read it, and so I figured I could share a couple of quotes with you from my 3.5 star review:
Only You has a lot of humor, flirty dialogues and characters who think they should stay far away from anything that resembles love…
Romantic comedy at is finest – Only You fits the bill, for sure. Between the whirlwind romance, the reluctant couple, the dragon-lady mother-in-law from hell and the fact that Holly didn’t really trust anyone, everything seemed to indicate that there were too many obstacles in the way of happiness for Kevin and Holly.
Thanks for stopping by today! Good luck in the Giveaway :)
*I received a free copy of Lessons in Pleasure from Lyrical Press via Netgalley in exchange of an honest and unbiased review*
Lessons in Pleasure by Victoria Dahl
Published by Lyrical Press on 10 May 2016
Genres: Adult, Erotica
Reading Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge,COYER Summer 2016
Newlywed Sarah Rose Hood should be blissfully happy. After all, she is married to her beloved, handsome James, who’s provided her with a lovely home, servants, and all the new dresses and books she could wish for. She cannot help but love him—and fear him, just a bit. For Sarah is unused to the attentions of gentlemen, and suddenly living so intimately with a man fills her with anxiety—and also a puzzling longing. Fortunately, her kind, experienced husband plans to awaken Sarah to the joy of giving—and receiving—pleasure, turning her unease to delicious desire, and forging a true union of body and soul…
Lessons In Pleasure shows just how long we have come, as women, since the time at which this novel is set. Well written, hot and passionate – and even with such a short story, the characters were well fleshed out and relatable.
Lessons in Pleasure is a novella set in the past, when ladies weren’t supposed to have any sexual pleasure, when men had their needs, and their wives were supposed to close their eyes and think of England. Women who were passionate were seen as eccentric at best – insane at worst, and always, always, men held the keys to their future.
James really wanted his wife to like him, but he hadn’t the slightest idea how to make that happen, and Sarah was a bit afraid of him. At the same time, the feelings she had started having made her even more afraid, especially in light of her mother’s insanity and death years before. In order to learn more about those feelings, Sarah procured books, however, only one of those books were any help to her at all. Lessons in Pleasure was what she really needed, but in order to truly get that, she had to trust James, and open up to him.
Written in third person point of view, past tense, and mostly from Sarah’s perspective Lessons in Pleasure is about more than just pleasure and marriage, it is about trust, which was something that could be fatal to women in Sarah’s time. Dahl managed to show that aspect of Sarah and her relationship with James, but also how much better and fulfilling her life could be if she dared take that step.
The new mood in the room reminded her of the countryside in the fall, when buck deer would suddenly transform from gentle, pretty animals to fierce creatures bunched with muscle.
Warning: This book includes mature content such as: sexual content, and/or drug and/or alcohol use, and/or violence.
Mr. Corporate by J. A. Huss
Series: Mister #3
Published by Science Future Press on 17 August 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica,Romance, Suspense
Reading Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge, COYER Summer 2016
Weston Conrad is the best headhunter in the business. That handsome smile goes a long way towards convincing most people to trust him with their future.
I’m not most people. I’m his direct competition. And it doesn’t hurt to be just the kind of woman he’s been looking for.
I’m gonna flash you these legs, Weston Conrad.
I’m gonna wear low-cut shirts and micro-mini skirts.
I’m gonna dazzle you with wit and conversation and kiss those lips like they’re exactly what I’ve been waiting for.
So don’t hate me when you figure out my secret.
You understand, right? You’re Mr. Corporate and this is just business.
Mr. Corporate made me doubt what I thought I knew about the Misters, and I enjoyed that he was keeping his card so close to the chest he wasn’t even thinking about what they were.
I really enjoyed Weston and what he brought to the story in Mr. Corporate, but Tori truly grated on my nerves. For almost the whole story, she went from hot to cold to scalding, and her reactions didn’t really make much sense to me. Even when I got to know her back story, I didn’t fully understand her or think she was justified in the way she treated Weston. The overall story and plot was awesome, though, and I found Weston to be great – especially because even at the end of the story, he was still keeping secrets about his own past. Just because he thought he could.
There is still someone in the background pulling all the Misters’ strings to get them into situations that are really potentially deadly. Mr. Corporate seems to think he knows who that person is, but he isn’t sharing with the group – nor the readers – so the mystery is still intact. The suspense was extremely well done, too, just like I’ve gotten used to with a Huss novel. She manages to keep her readers guessing, while the characters are scrambling to stay alive and try to stay one step ahead of the bad guys (or gals).
Even with the tense storyline, there was a lot of humor. I enjoyed the fact that while Tori and West were the only two characters present for parts of the story, all the Misters and Five make some strong appearances as well. So between the overall plot of the series moving forward, the romance between West and Tori, and the mystery that is still impossible to guess, Mr. Corporate satisfied most of my reading needs. There is a strong story, characters that evolve, a lot of teasing and a solid plot.
Written in dual points of view, with chapters from either Weston’s or Victoria’s perspective, I felt like I was right there with them, and I have to admit my heart rate was racing in places – there was just so many things that could go wrong!
I sigh. Because I don’t really want to do any of that. I want to say I’m sorry. I want to say I’ve missed her. I want to say there has never been another woman in my life like her and there never will be. I want to say… I love her.
West is eerily silent and contemplative as he stares out the window. It’s like he doesn’t even notice me. I dressed in these clothes to taunt him, wore this low-cut shirt to pique his interest. And all I’ve gotten so far is indifference. He’s always been that way, right?
Everything about her is complex and convoluted. She’s a maze of emotions and a labyrinth of feelings that requires careful navigation or the wild comes out and can’t be put back.
*I received a free copy of Made for Sin from Loveswept via Netgalley in exchange of an honest and unbiased review*
A lot of bad hands get dealt in Vegas, but E. L. Speare may be holding one of the worst: He’s cursed with the need to commit sins, and if he misses his daily quota, there’s hell to pay—literally. Fortunately, his hometown affords him plenty of chances to behave badly.
But Speare’s newest case really has him going out on a limb. The right-hand man of a notorious crime boss has been found dead in a Dumpster—minus his right hand, not to mention the rest of his arm. What catches Speare’s attention, however, is that the missing appendage was severed clean by a demon-sword, a frighteningly powerful tool of the underworld.
Speare’s out of his element, so he turns to a specialist: Ardeth Coyle, master thief, dealer in occult artifacts, and bona fide temptress. Ardeth’s hotter than a Las Vegas sidewalk on the Fourth of July, but she’s one sin Speare has to resist.
The dismembered corpses are piling up, unimaginable evil lurks in the shadows, and if this odd couple hopes to beat the odds, Speare needs to keep his hands off Ardeth, and his head in the game.
Made for Sin is set in a dark, gritty universe, where there are demons and magic, and where safety is not a given. Characters that kept me on my toes, a tight plot and a good storyline entertained me and had me hooked from start to finish.
Made for Sin has quite a bit of suspense, as the story starts with the discovery of a corpse without its right arm. Yes, you read that right – the whole arm was taken off, from the shoulder, and the rest was left behind. Speare was the one PI who was set on the case, and he needed help both from the police and from a thief who might know something about a demon sword. Ardeth was an amazing character, too, because she was able to hold her cards oh so close to the chest, so while I enjoyed her and got a good feel for her – neither I nor Speare really got to know her very well.
Kane is quite a master at world building, and in Made for Sin, the story is set in Las Vegas, but not necessarily in the same world as us. Speare truly loves his sinful city, and he wants to do what he can to protect it from the evil that is lurking and might destroy them all. The characters are well done, and I enjoyed both their personalities and their strange humor. The dark magic that was present made things very interesting as well.
If you’re a fan of dark and gritty stories with extremely flawed characters who have to truly fight to be ‘good’, you should definitely pickup Made for Sin and enjoy the slightly scary, quite suspenseful, and sometimes romantic ride it will take you on. Written in third person past tense, with a narrator that shows us what happens mostly from Speare’s perspective. (And really, how can you not wonder about that name??)
Speare figured it was a mixture of both, but either way, the place was full of gold leaf and shiny flocked wallpaper and ruffled pink bordello curtains. Mirrors hung on almost every wall, too, amplifying the neon glare. Speare wasn’t a guy who knew much about decorating, but he knew that place hurt his eyes.
Those adding-machine eyes were back, he could feel them, calculating how much she trusted him. How much to tell him. Hopefully the answer was “all of it,” because fighting her over every piece of information was already getting old and he’d only known her for three hours.
“Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t realize it was a sore spot.”
“Sure it is.” She sucked on the Coke he’d bought her and made a face. Yeah, sitting in the car for forty minutes hadn’t made it taste any better. “You’re kind of a walking sore spot, Speare. I wonder why.”
*I received a free copy of The Offer from via Tantor Media in exchange of an honest and unbiased review*
Nicola Price used to have it all-a great career, the perfect boyfriend, an excessive shoe collection, and an apartment in one of San Francisco's best neighborhoods. But when she gets knocked up and her asshat boyfriend leaves her high and dry, Nicola's perfectly crafted world comes tumbling down. Now, Nicola is the proud single mother of a five-year-old daughter and living a giant lie. She can barely afford their ghetto apartment, and all the men she dates run when they hear that she comes with a child. She's struggling and scared-and nowhere near where she thought she'd be at age thirty-one. Nicola's saving grace comes in the form of tall, handsome, and wealthy Scotsman Bram McGregor, the older brother of her friend Linden. Bram understands a thing or two about pride, so when tragic circumstances place Nicola at rock bottom, he offers them a place to live in the apartment complex he owns. But nothing in life is free, and as Nicola gets her feet back on the ground, she discovers that the enigmatic playboy may end up costing her more than she thought. She might just lose her heart. Contains mature themes.
The Offer is a well-written romance with mature characters, and I loved listening to them! Of course, I especially loved Bram’s Scottish brogue, so hot!
The Offer shows that while on the surface, a single mom and a Scottish rogue – confirmed womanizer to boot – don’t have much in common, once you look a little deeper there is much more than meets the eyes to both of them. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to read (or listen to) a Halle book, and I just haven’t gotten around to it until now. I will definitely keep on picking up her books, though, because she knows how to write! The characters were multi-faceted, and I loved how they shared a their inner thoughts little by little. Nicola really got to me, because so many little things went wrong for her – and then something big happened to make things even more complicated for her and her daughter. Bram wanted to be the knight in shining armour, but nobody would believe he could do something good. They had firmly put him into the little box that said ‘womanizer’ and there was really not much he could do to make them change their minds.
The interactions in The Offer made me want to read the first book in the McGregor series, as well, so while I was listening to this one, I bought The Pact so I knew it was waiting for me. Nicola, Bram and Ava are front and center in the story, but Linden, Stephanie and Kayla are present as well. The strong sense of friendship and loyalty is important in this book, and while most of the characters looked down at Bram a little, they still loved him and had his back when he needed it.
Of course, there is also a lot of hotness… I can’t go to IKEA without peeking into the bathroom expositions, wondering if I’ll catch someone being naughty. And there is also a lot of humor, even if there is heartache and pain as well. The story unfolds seamlessly, and if you enjoy a fast paced romance that has solid characters and a real storyline to surround the sexy times, this is definitely a book you should pick up! The narrators did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life, and Ferguson especially made my toes curl because of how he had Bram share his feelings…
Once you go Bram, you don’t give a damn.
He’s only wearing a t-shirt and boxer shorts. They are grey. They are David Beckham. They are so close I can read the label. And they are at least a size too small, based on all the junk…
Because, when you invite someone in and they leave, they take a part of you with them. It ruins the foundation. Don’t you see? It’s damaging when you pull the bricks out and the whole building collapses.
I know you’ve been burned. But I’ve been burned too. Maybe our ashes can make something beautiful together.
Welcome to Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts, an original weekly meme hosted here at (un)Conventional Bookviews. So many of the books I read have food or drinks in them, some I’d love to try, and others I’d never ever want to taste… and I thought it could be interesting and fun to share some food and / or drink quotes… If you want to participate, you can grab my logo if you’d like, or you can make your own, but please link back to me in your own post.
The idea of Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts is to share a quote with food or drinks that showed up in a recent read, as well as if it’s something you think you’d like or not. Please share the title of the book it happened in, as well as the character who ate or drank the special little something you discovered between the pages of a good read. Please link up beneath, and visit other bloggers who are participating in Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts as well.
Because it had so many delicious quotes that work for Hungry Hearts, I’m sharing another one from Rock Wedding this week. In this part of the story, Abe and Sarah are waiting for some news, and after they cleaned her already clean house, Abe thought he needed to distract her in a different way…
“How about you make those egg-and-spinach things for lunch? I’ve got a craving for them.”
Her eyes lit up. “I think I have everything I need to whip up a batch. Refusing to neurotically check the phone in her pocket for missed calls, Sarah concentrated on cooking the frittatas. They weren’t difficult to make, but she took precise care with every one of the steps, from blanching the spinach, to setting the oven to exactly the right temperature.
When Abe came into the kitchen a half hour later, having stowed the cleaning supplies and washed up, she pointed to the table where she’d just put a jug of fresh lemonade and a glass.
Thanks for stopping by today, I look forward to reading your Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts quote. Have a terrific Thursday and don’t forget to link up.
5 to 1 by Holly Bodger
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on 12 May 2015
Source: Kindle Purchase
Reading Challenges: 2016 Dystopia Reading Challenge, 2016 HW Challenge
In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.
Sudasa doesn’t want to be a wife, and Contestant Five, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Five’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Five thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.
Told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Contestant Five’s in prose—allowing readers to experience both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.
5 to 1 has an amazing premise, however, more than being about women in power, it was about someone abusing power in a society that had opposite values from the patriarchal one.
The prose (and the verse) in 5 to 1 was beautiful, but the story didn’t really carry its own weight in my opinion. It was as if the society and how it works in some countries today – one child policy, a very strong want for sons, women being at the mercy of the men in their family – was just turned upside down. And that made the story less relevant to me – because it didn’t really ask any important questions, it just showed us what is wrong, by doing it completely opposite to how it looks in patriarchal societies.
The world building was flimsy at best, as apart from the fact that women had taken the decision to stop ‘getting rid of’ their daughters, by putting a wall up around their new country, and more or less forcing men – and a lot of women, too – to obey the new laws. 5 to 1 could have been much more, but it read like a cross between The Hunger Games and the Testing and Egalia’s Daughters.
Because of the shortness of the story, which only spanned over three days, and the fact that Sudasa’s chapters were in verse made it a bit difficult to actually connect to her, even if the writing was gorgeous. Normally, dual points of views makes me feel like I really get to know the characters, but here, that didn’t really happen. It just kind of poked at the surface, never going deep enough to get all the dirty details.
These people have been here before.
Those over> thirty as audience.
Those under< as players.
(Women in my place.
Men on the stage.)
The men played a game.
Put on a show. Won
Life sentence, if you ask me.
He speaks using only the best words. He tends only the strongest crops. He has saved everything to give me one shot, and one shot only, at a new life.
The State provides their food, their shelter, their shackles for life. It’s do or die – or, for many, do and die.
Anathema by K. A. Tucker
Series: The Casual Enchantment #1
Published by Papoti Books on 25 May 2011
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal
Source: Kindle Purchase
Reading Challenges: 2016 HW Challenge
Evangeline has spent her teenage years in obscurity. Her foster parents have the emotional aptitude of robots and her classmates barely acknowledge her existence. About to turn eighteen and feeling like a social pariah, she is desperate to connect with someone. Anyone.
When Evangeline meets Sophie after literally stumbling upon her café, she believes she’s found that connection. Willing to do anything to keep it, she accepts a job as Sofie’s assistant and drops everything to fly to Manhattan, where she is thrust into a luxurious world of Prada, diamonds, and limitless cash.
With such generosity and kindness, it’s easy for Evangeline to dismiss certain oddities... like Sofie’s erratic and sometimes violent behavior, and the monstrous guard dogs. She’s even willing to dismiss her vivid dreams of mob-style murders, beautiful homeless people living in caves, and white-eyed demons that haunt her each night as figments of her imagination—especially when one of those figments is the gorgeous Caden. When she wakes up with bite marks on her neck, the fairy tale quickly turns into a nightmare. She slowly unravels the mystery surrounding Sofie and friends, and the reality of the bites and the “dreams.” What she discovers is far more mysterious and terrible than anything she could have imagined.
In a world where everyone has motive to lie for personal gain, Evangeline must decide which deception is least likely to get her killed.
Anathema is very different from the stories I had already read by Tucker, and while her paranormal story is a bit different, I found the main character, Evangeline, to be very naïve and too trusting.
Now, I feel the need to say that Anathema was published five years ago, and I think it’s among Tucker’s first book. And I might have enjoyed her take on vampires and witches more if I had read it when it was first released rather than now. The reason for that is all on me – I have read a lot of inventive and original paranormal series, so I am possible a bit blasé when it comes to stories like this one. That being said, the writing is really good, and the pace is, too. I think it was really Evangeline and her trusting personality that got to me. I found myself shaking my head at her and asking her to please think a bit more for herself more than once. Especially because within 24 hours of meeting Sofie, she went across the country with her, only to have a lot of strange things happen as soon as they left for New York.
You know that saying ‘if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is’? That’s how I felt about what happened to Evangeline. Being offered a job after breaking something, then going on a private plane to New York, and being set up in a luxurious villa on fifth avenue, plus getting a bag full of thousand dollar bills so she could go shopping… definitely too good to be true! And it took a while for Evangeline to question Sofie, Viggo and Mortimer, which made her seem borderline stupid! Why was she in this house? She did’t do any work, and yet, she didn’t act like it was strange that she was set up with beautiful clothes, anything she wanted to eat, and being taken to see Romeo and Juliet in a theater at night.
I did enjoy some aspects of Anathema, though, especially the fact that vampires here couldn’t turn humans anymore after a spell gone wrong. And so, a counterspell had been casted in order to find vampires on another plane – ones who still had their venom intact. Some of the interactions Evangeline had with these other vampires were great, she showed that she had a sense of adventure, even if she didn’t have much of a sense of self-preservation. There is also a big case of insta-love, and while I can get the ‘beautiful, strong, brooding vampire’-thing, I don’t think it furthered the story that Evangeline became so infatuated with Caleb after meeting him only once.
Because how the ending, I’ll definitely continue reading the series, even if I wasn’t completely enchanted, I’m hoping that Evangeline will grow as a character and that she will become a bit more perceptive when it comes to the people she’s with. Written in first person point of view, past tense and with plenty of dialogues, the pace was well done, and the whole story unfolded from Evangeline’s point of view.
The three of them, fawning over me, a socially awkward stranger with no friends, giving me gifts and kindness… I should have known something was not right. I sighed. I wasn’t Nancy Drew – not unless Nancy Drew was blind and deaf.
“As long as there are no more lurking animals, I’m feeling pretty fragile right now.” Fragile, but unbroken, somehow – though by all counts I should have fallen apart. Any normal person would have by now, wouldn’t they?”
She’s spent her whole life acting. But can she make him believe she doesn’t love him? The final book in the Fenbrook Academy trilogy
Three years ago, a terrified girl named Emma fled a world of crime and abuse in Chicago and bought a one-way ticket to New York. She reinvented herself as an actress, enrolled at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy and buried her pain beneath a vivacious new persona. Her new name was Jasmine.
Now she has to pull off the performance of her career. Landing her dream part in a police show, she finds herself falling for her co-star, Ryan, a real-life cop. If she lets him get too close, he’ll awaken memories she doesn’t want to face and uncover secrets that could endanger them both. But how can she keep a guy at arm’s length when she has to kiss him on camera?
The last place Ryan imagined himself was on a TV show. Blaming himself for the death of his partner, he’s on a downward spiral of rage and guilt. The show is his last chance…but how can he keep it professional when his co-star is a woman he’s crazy about?
As their on-screen and off-screen relationships merge, things go from hot to blistering. But when Jasmine’s old life catches up with her, will a cop be the one person she can’t be around...or the only person who can save her?
Jasmine definitely did act brave, even when she thought herself she wasn’t brave at all! Acting Brave is a very strong ending to Newbury’s Fenbrook Academy series, filled with emotions – both good and bad, I both laughed, cried, and swooned! – and amazing characters.
The third instalment in Newbury’s Fenbrook Academy series fulfilled me – I loved Jasmine as a character, even if I found her hard to ‘get’ in the prior novels where she was a side character. When I got to know her better, I understood so well why she often seemed aloof and a bit detached, she really had to be to protect both herself and her friends. She came from a very difficult past, and she had seen firsthand what it meant to stand up for herself – it didn’t only have consequences for her, but for those who wanted to help her as well. Fenbrook was a new start for her, and she wanted to make the most of it, while staying safe at the same time.
Ryan had fallen in love with Jasmine almost at sight, even when he had to break up a fight, and he thought she was a high-end prostitute. The young police officer had things together, though, at least until his partner was shot dead and he had trouble dealing with his temper. When the two of them end up at the same audition for a TV show, sparks fly, and they get leading roles, even if Ryan has never acted before.
The characters moved the story forward flawlessly, and I loved to learn more about them little, by little, Jasmine had a lot of what she saw as bad luggage on her young shoulders, and it was so nice to see how she might be able to let go of the past to fully live her life in the present while also preparing for the future.
Written in first person point of view, from both Ryan’s and Jasmine’s perspectives, I enjoyed myself and was amazed at how quickly I finished the book. Completely engrossed from start to finish, I loved every second.
I hadn’t slept for two nights and I was practically hallucinating. But before I crashed out, there was one last thing I had to do. I pulled the Ploaroid camera from my backpack and took off all my clothes. And then, using the self-timer, I took photos of everything he’d done to me.
My eyes went from gray to green, courtesy of colored contacts. My face, once gaunt from stress and bad food, filled out. My skin went from deathly pale and spotty to something you might romantically call ivory. I grew my hair until it hung in long, shining waves I liked to think qualified as tresses.
“Did I do something wrong?” she asked. And even that throwaway, innocent comment was just laden with teasing, sexy innuendo. My mind filled with all the things she might have done wrong, and all the wrong things I’d like to do to her. Or was it all in my head? Was I just reading that into it because I was completely, hopelessly smitten with this girl?
Morning Star by Pierce Brown
Published by Del Rey on 9 February 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Reading Challenges: 2016 Dystopia Reading Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge
Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society's mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.
Finally, the time has come.
But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied - and too glorious to surrender.
Morning Star. It blew my mind. My brain is scrambled. My heart is broken. My breath is taken.
Morning Star is dark, following several different characters, even if a lot of the narration is from Darrow’s perspective. There is treason, suspected treason, politics, war, torture… and there is still a sense of hope in places, where the characters are ready to continue the war if that means the future will be better for those who come after them. However, there are also characters who are ready to continue the war for their own gain, for greed, to make sure the Golds stay on top of the societal pyramid.
The writing is beautiful, even when the subject matter is ugly. Brown paints his storyline in sweeping colors and large strokes, and it’s impossible not to feel as if we’re in the middle of it all, both the heartache and the triumph, the darkness and the possibility of light. I cried. More than once. And I also laughed. More than once. I held my breath, urging the characters I was cheering for to get it done, and to see the end-game. To counteract their enemies while still staying true to themselves.
And I think Morning Star wins the ‘Most vague review’ competition. There is not really a lot I can say without spoiling anything, but I can say I loved this story, it beautifully finishes a trilogy that has kept me thinking about it over the past two years. With characters who may lose themselves in the battle between good and evil, in all the gray areas of life, love and war. And it’s a series I think I will re-read in full now that all the books have been released. Run! Run! Run! to get your own copy, and let yourself be swept into a dangerous world in which nothing can be won in advance.
I would have thought there to be worse fates than this, but now I know there are none. Man is no island. We need those who love us. We need those who hate us. We need others to tether us to life, to give us a reason to live, to feel.
I don’t remember feeling so frightened before the Iron Rain. Was I braver then? Maybe just more naïve.
And Mustang has. More than that. She’s proven Eo right. And it wasn’t because of me. It wasn’t because of love. It was because it was the right thing to do.
Cain Bonham is as big and bad as they come. After serving in the Marines, he’s returned home to Wyoming and now works as head of security at the exclusive sex club, The Wicked Horse. His job is to protect not only the patrons, but to zealously guard the secret existence of the club itself.
Sloane Preston is all about discovering secrets. As an undercover reporter, she’s determined to reveal the truth behind the facade of The Wicked Horse and expose it for all the world to see. She just didn’t count on her pathway into the club coming at the hands of one gorgeously scarred and bad ass bouncer who manages to easily possess her body and soul.
While Cain’s not looking for anyone to catch his eye, Sloane did it all the same, and he’s not bemoaning the fact that she’s as wickedly kinky as he is. As both get caught up in the sinful fantasies that only The Wicked Horse can create, secrets and loyalties will be tested and hearts will risk being broken.
**Warning: this book has sex in it. Lots of sex. Dirty sex. The Wicked Horse Series is a bit different than what Sawyer Bennett normally writes. While you’ll still enjoy fabulous characters, a suspenseful story, some witty banter and an epic romance, there’s just… a lot of sex. You’ve been warned.
Wicked Lust is so hot my kindle almost melted, and yet, there is also a real story and a plot that is a complete page-turner!
Sawyer Bennett has her hot, erotic scenes down pat, I needed an electric fan to cool down so I could continue reading Wicked Lust! And on top of that her characters are multifaceted and complex, the story and the plot well done, and I just couldn’t get enough! There is plenty of very kinky sex, and my eyes almost popped out a few times – but it didn’t shock me enough to stop me from reading. And as I said, there was a real, solid story around all the sexiness, and that made Wicked Lust an amazing read!
Sawyer really outdid herself both in the down and dirty department, and with the complex story surrounding Sloane and Cain. They both had a checkered past, with a lot of heartache, and neither of them thought they’d trust someone again. Which made it all the sweeter when it became clear they just couldn’t get enough of each other; without that being all about the sex. There is a lot of politics, secrets, blackmail and some stubborn characters who try to do what’s right, especially when the going gets tough.
Well written, mostly from Cain’s perspective, but with several chapters in Sloan’s point of view as well, Wicked Lust shares most of the characters’ secrets with the readers, while keeping them well hidden from the other characters. And I just can’t wait to get my hands on the next Wicked Horse story! The preview at the end of this story made me yearn for it to be released tomorrow.
While I get hit on all the time, women have a hard time holding my gaze the way this one does. They’re content to stare at my feet while they try to flirt because my eyes are sometimes too cold and my scar is too angry looking. But not this woman.
It’s the story of my life. Working to pay off debt I didn’t incur, but that I’m still obligated to settle under the eyes of the law. If Rachel wasn’t already dead, sometimes I swear I could wring her scrawny neck out of frustration.
That’s usually not my thing. I like women who are aggressive and know what they want. With as much dirty fucking as I do on a regular basis vanilla women are just a tad too boring.
*I received a free copy of This Is Where It Ends from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange of an honest and unbiased review*
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
The auditorium doors won't open.
Someone starts shooting.
Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
This Is Where It Ends is an intimate account of what happens in a high school in Opportunity when a former student comes back and locks all his friends and teachers in the auditorium before he opens fire.
In the news, school shootings are far too common, and it becomes like a media circus, both while it is happening, and in the aftermath. This Is Where It Ends manages to tell the story of a school shooting from four different students’ point of view, three of them on the inside of the school, and one just outside, training for track instead of being at the assembly. The fact that the story is told in these different perspectives, each in first person present tense makes everything that unfolds very immediate, and it was easy to be swept into the action, feel the fear, and hope with all my might that things could somehow turn out OK in the end – even when it was very clear that it wouldn’t.
Only two of the four characters sharing the events were inside of the auditorium when they realized they were trapped there. As soon as the shooter arrives, most of the people in the auditorium recognized him straight away, and even those who thought they knew him well were not exactly relieved. And once he started shooting, not completely at random, the terror increased among students and adults both. What really struck me was that in the midst of all the danger, Autumn came to life, she finally dared to tell Sylvie that she loved her, and that no matter what happened, Sylvie had her heart.
This Is Where It Ends only lasts for 54 minutes in story-time, but the action felt so tense I thought the same as Autumn, this had to take much, much longer. Between the bravery of many, the helplessness of others, I was deeply touched by this inside re-counting of a shooting. While I found the story to be very emotional, I thought it ended rather abruptly, even if the main story had a resolution, I couldn’t help but want to know what would happen to the survivors afterwards.
This is Opportunity, Alabama. Sane people don’t leave their homes when it’s white and frosty outside. We stock up on canned food, drink hot chocolate until we succumb to sugar comas, and pray to be saved from the cold.
Nothing can touch us. Not snow. Not even time.
Far and I both hold our breath. After what feels like forever, the footsteps move on. Whoever it was, they’re not out to get us. Not today.