Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Gilded Cuff

I was gifted a copy of The Gilded Cuff by author Lauren Smith in exchange for reading it and doing an honest review of it.  The book took me about a day to read and was fast paced.  I must admit, upon reading the synopsis and examining the cover, I was not necessarily looking forward to reading this book.  Quite honestly, I didn't think I would care for it at all.  I was, however, pleasantly surprised almost from the beginning of reading with how well Smith lured me in with her sweet, semi-naive character of Sophie.

Sophie is an investigative journalist who is doing  a story about a man that kidnapped as a child, along with his twin brother.  In order to get close to this recluse of a man, she must enter the world of BDSM at the hottest club in town, The Gilded Cuff.  

Sophie has no idea that the man she's been wanting to help for so long would have such an effect on her, but Emery Lockwood is powerful...and very dominant.  Though this story could literally make Sophie's journalistic career, she has her own reasons for wanting to help. Can she help solve the mystery and exorcise her own problems of the past?  Then there's Emery who had never let anyone into his life...ever...but he just can't stop thinking about Sophie. She does something to him that makes him feel things he hasn't felt in twenty-five years. The two decide to make a deal:  she submits to him and learns all about being in a dominant/submissive relationship in exchange for an interview.

“Rule number one, relax into my touch. Unless I’m punishing you. Then you may anticipate me all you like. Now…relax.” He curled long, elegant fingers around her throat, not squeezing, merely holding her in place as he flicked his tongue into the shell of her ear. Sophie jolted up, only to be jerked back down by his arm around her stomach, to be held down, pinned helpless for his exploration of her sensitive spots… It was too much. She liked it far more than she should: the helpless feeling, the surrender to even so small a domination.

Although this book has some elements of BDSM, don't let it be a deal breaker in whether you read the book or not.  It's mild and tame and basically just gives some information about the world, rather than long winded descriptions of how things go down.  If you're thinking Fifty Shades, it's far more tame than that, but still highly entertaining.  

I really liked this book despite my initial beliefs.  It had romantic elements, mystery elements, and some excitement and danger mixed in there too.  There was just enough of everything to keep me glued to each page and wanting to read more.  I was quite pleased to see that this is not just a stand alone novel either, as two more will be released including The Gilded Cage,expected out in April of 2015, and The Gilded Chain, due out in June of 2015.  I am so happy to have discovered a new author that I enjoyed reading and would definitely recommend this book.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Love Struck Out

I was gifted this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.  Love Struck, the third in author Patrice Wilton's Serendipity Falls series and was released at the end of December.

Since I had not previously read the first two books in the series, I wasn't really sure what I was getting into upon beginning this story. I also was new to reading Wilton's work. These factors had both pros and cons for me in reading Love Struck.  The pro is that I had no preconceived notions as to the style of the writer or books so I went in completely open minded.  The con is that I had NO idea what I was in for upon opening the book and finding out that I was reading about a "cupid" in a town called Serendipity Falls that is giving everyone the "love bug."  No joke.

The story begins from Cupid's perspective and talks about the how the town has found gold and now people from all over are flocking there to get rich and fall in love.  The towns people begin feeling feverish and ill and before they know it, they're falling in love and getting married.  Women are coming to Serendipity by the droves to find Mr. Right, fall in love, and get married now.

Kyle owns a bar with his brother and in walks sweet Samantha, looking for a place to stay while she figures out where she's going to live and work.  Kyle helps her out but then can't get her out of his mind.  Samantha just wants to start her life over in Serendipity with her son, but can't stop thinking about Kyle.  Guess why?  Yep, it's that love bug!  Duh!

The story line is very predictable and unfortunately the love making scene was less than hot.  In fact, it was one paragraph of very chaste kissing, exploring, and then boom, it was on to the next chapter.  I guess we were supposed to use our imagination.

I didn't hate the story but it definitely was not my cup of tea.  The premise, from the start, threw me off because it was a ridiculous idea and unbelievable to me.  It was cute and sweet but....that's about all.


Lucky me, I was able to obtain an ARC of Life Before Damaged, Vol. 4, by H.M. Ward in exchange for this review of mine.  Unfortunately, it wasn't actually all that "advanced" of a copy, as it was sent sometime in the middle of the night and it was released this morning.  Anyhow...I'll overlook it as I still got to read it for free.  :)

First, before diving too far into this one, I just want to rant a second about the end of this book.  Can you say worst-cliffhanger-ever?  I mean, c'mon Holly!  That was just evil...evil genius but still!  I swiped to the next page -because I read on my iPad- and literally cursed.  I was like, "WTH?!?!" I couldn't believe that she left me hanging like that, left all of us hanging like that.  

This fourth volume of learning more about Pete Ferro and Gina Granz was yet another quick read, but again very good. We find out even more about Gina's perfect, well managed, very controlled life.  Her parents control her, her almost-fiance controls her, but she doesn't feel very in control of her life at all.  She wants to be a little less than perfect.  She wants to be able to make mistakes and not do everything exactly like her mother tells her.  Gina wants desperately to break free and find her inner bad ass.  Cue hot Ferro man, Pete.  Pete has ladies hanging all over him every night of the week and can have any of them, yet he continues to play this mind game with Gina.  His eyes show her lustful thoughts, she feels passion coming from him, and even sees a man who cares...but then in an instant he's back to his selfish, asshat self.  What is a girl to do?

Once again, Ward creates another magnificent dance scene in the club between the two characters and the heat between them is insane.  I'm surprised my iPad didn't go up in flames!  It's so sultry and erotic, without it being blatant sex.  It's hot and I am hoping the next volume has more of these two characters dancing like that.

This series is quickly becoming one of my favorites of Ward's.  As much as I want to dislike Pete for the total mind-fucking he's doing to Gina, I don't.  I keep seeing what's underneath all of that Ferro facade (think Peter Granz in Damaged) and can't help but root for him and Gina. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Where's the Fire?

I'm so excited to review a new release by a spunky, quirky author, Amanda Hocking.  This book is Frostfire, the first in the Kanin Chronicles Trilogy.  This is her first release since wrapping up her Watersong series with Elegy in August of 2013.  That's more than a year and a half that we've been waiting.  That's forever in book-lover land so to say that this has been greatly anticipated by this reader is a serious understatement!

Frostfire is a clever story that has some familiar characters in it, from Hocking's previous Trylle trilogy and takes place in the same far northern/Canadian land of fantasy.  This story has a "tracker" named Bryn whose job it is to find changlings and bring them back to her home in Doldastam.  She is also very determined to avenge the man who stabbed her father years before.  The sub story is basically about the political unrest in each of the four tribes that live in the area. The tribes are all very different and play to their various strengths.  It reminds me a lot of the Divergent trilogy in how they were separated, but whether that was Hocking's inspiration, I'm not sure.  Either way, there is clearly discord among the tribes and alliances are being made "just in case."  I have a feeling a lot of this series deals with political agendas and things hidden among the royalty of the Kanin.  However, I may be wrong.

There is of course a little romance in the story too. Bryn is beginning to feel differently about her friend and boss, Ridley.  He clearly has feelings for her too, even if he pretends otherwise by dating someone else.  I noticed also that even though Bryn initially had a crush on another character Konstantin, but then it went away that there still seems to be a little bit of sexual tension between them.  He is kind to her in a strange way and wants to protect her for some reason, though it's not really revealed why just yet.

Overall, this was an easy, totally fantasy based read.  It was light (well mostly...except for the boiling of babies!) fun read.  I do question the title a bit because I am still unsure what it had to do with the book other than that they live in a very cold desolate area.  I am looking forward to the next one Ice Kissed, due out in May.


I seriously don't know how one author can continue to amaze me but somehow, someway Colleen Hoover continues to do so.  Seriously.  How did this woman go 30 years without publishing anything and then suddenly she's cranking them out left and right and THEY'RE ALL GOOD???  I just don't get it, but maybe I shouldn't question it because, like I said, I like everything and I definitely wouldn't want her to stop now.  So hear that Colleen? Keep writing!  Write a lot, in fact.  If you wanna send me any advanced copies of your literary genius (like say, I don't know, maybe Never Never 2), please feel free to do that as well.  I'd be more than happy to read immediately and write a stellar 5-star review for you. (nudge nudge, wink wink)

So anyhow, this review is for Never Never, the newest release from Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher.  Tarryn is also the author of a few other books, most notably Mud Vein.  This was a collaborative effort where basically each writer took turns writing a chapter from one of the two main characters' perspective.  Tarryn wrote Charlie's chapters and Colleen wrote Silas' chapters.  Together, what they put together is incredible!

Never Never has both Charlie and Silas suddenly in school and completely unaware of what is going on around them.  They don't know where they are, what is going on around them, or even who they are, even though everything else in their world seems to be progressing normally.  Slowly clues start to come about and they're able to piece together that they're high school students and even date each other.  They have no recollection of anything about either of their lives, yet they can remember odd things like what Google is and how to properly operate a camera. Charlie & Silas decide to stick together until they can figure out what happened to them...but then things begin to get even more strange.  Their relationship isn't exactly what they thought it was, their families hate each other, and Charlie begins to realize that she doesn't really like the person that she used to be.

It definitely seems like Silas wants to remember the relationship between him and Charlie and even wants to get it least back to when it was good.  Charlie, on the other hand, seems unsure. She's more timid about Silas and about a relationship that she remembers nothing about.

This story definitely feels like there is a paranormal aspect to it, although nothing in this first book really reveals what that might be.  I'm hoping book 2, due out in May, will really pull that forward and delve into exactly what happened to Charlie and Silas. Was it aliens?  Did they make a wish of some sort and it came true?  Did they die and this is their chance to go back and fix things in the lives they had?  Many questions like these ran through my mind while reading this.  I do feel a certain amount of foreshadowing was taking place throughout too.

Now here's where I gotta be straight up, completely honest with you people.  I liked the book.  I enjoyed reading it.  I did not, however, love it.  It didn't change my life, as some others have claimed.  It didn't help cure cancer.  It didn't even make my headache go away.  Mostly I say this because I've read review after review after review that go on and on about how spectacular this story is, and while I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read, I can say that it was not at all what I expected from Colleen.  That's not a negative thing, or a dig on her or Tarryn.  It just was not what I thought it was going to be going into it.  I am, though, very much looking forward to the second book in this series because I really feel that the way this MASSIVE, GINORMOUS, EPIC cliffhanger dumped me must (dammit it better!) have some payoff coming soon.  I think a lot of questions will be answered and will hopefully bring the whole story into line better for me.  In fact, I'm hoping it brings it in line so much that my next review will be gushing full of the love!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Damaged...for the Third Time

I was recently given an ARC of H.M. Ward's newest release, Life Before Damaged, Vol. 3, in exchange for an honest review.  I can definitely, without a doubt, say that out of the three LBD books that this was absolutely the hottest one! When Peter and Gina are dancing together at the nightclub, the sexual tension is absolutely palpable.  Ward does such a fantastic job of describing each little dance move, each little move of their bodies against each other, that I could see everything in my mind and it was in no way a PG viewing!  Yikes!

I liked how we're starting to see Gina's facade starting to crumble.  She's hesitant about letting loose and just being free but the freedom she feels from it is so gratifying for her that she keeps wanting more.  I think we're finally getting to really see Gina for the first time and really understand why Peter is drawn to her too.  She seems like such a goody-goody but underneath that lies a girl that wants to have a little fun and laugh and dance.

I also feel like we're starting to see the real Peter too.  At first in LBD, he comes across very much like his brothers as this spoiled, entitled, good looking rich boy who has woman falling at his feet just to notice them.  Well, the ladies still fall to his feet but I get the feeling that he's really not all that into everything else, but he just takes it as it comes to him and tolerates it.  In seeing that, I begin to think that maybe he and Gina are really two very similar people, both being from rich families and expected to behave a certain way.  They both simply want to be themselves though.  Maybe upon finding each other, they may actually be able to truly be themselves.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I recently had the chance to read Unraveling You by Jessica Sorensen, which is the first in her Unraveling You series.  I'm not sure how many there are going to be but I do know that the second one is being released later this month (yay!) and is titled Raveling You.  

Sorensen has a long list of short books credited to her name and I can honestly say that I haven't read a single on of them that I was disappointed in.  I love her work and was really excited to see that the two main characters in Unraveling You are actually the products of four characters in previous books she's written.  The fun part is that we get to see those characters again, but in a totally new way, as adults with children.  It's a neat dynamic and a great way to bring readers back to your writing once they've already fallen in love with your characters.

This book is about Lyric, who is the child of rock star Mischa Scott & Ella, the painter and he new neighbor Ayden Gregory, adopted son of Ethan & Lila, whom we read about in previous books as well.  She's full of energy and says exactly what's on her mind.  The girl has no filter.  Ayden is shy.  He's dark and a bit mysterious at first but Lyric is determined to get under that tough guy exterior and find out what this guy is really all about.  Ayden is nothing like the bad boy he initially portrays himself to be but Lyric sees that he still has a lot of secrets he hasn't told her, secrets from his life before moving in with the Gregorys, secrets that even he can't remember.

 It doesn't take long before the two realize what great friends they are and begin spending all of their time together.  For the first time in Ayden's life, he has someone who is there for him, someone who truly cares about him.  This both fascinates him and scares him the same.  Just as he continues to get closer to Lyric, he begins having sporadic flashbacks of what's happened to him in the past, at previous foster homes.  He wants to find his siblings too and that doesn't go well.  Everything was going really well...until he gets some bad news regarding his family.

Sorensen, as always, is a master at story telling and this short beginning to her Unraveling series is absolutely no exception.  She does a stellar job in bringing these two vastly different characters to life and together in such a real and believable way.  She allows their differences to be what draws them to each other instead of being what would normally keep them apart.  She has created such an intriguing storyline with a really interesting back story that leaves me so curious as to Ayden's past.  I want to read the entire series just so I can figure the entire story out.  Again, Sorensen has drawn me into one of her novels and left me wanting more, more more!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My New Frenemie

Remember that book Bright Side that I gushed on and on about for like 2 weeks?  Well, the author is working on a second book about one of the characters, Gus.  I'm so excited about it and am hoping Gus goes on to have this amazing story and life, after Kate.  It's supposed to be out this year at some point but nobody knows when.  We don't even have any clue how far author Kim Holden has even written.  So everything has been a bit of a mystery about it except that it's rumored that "everything will be alright" for Gus.

Well, to what should my sleep deprived eyes should appear this morning on Kim's fan page on Facebook?  A teaser!   YES, you heard me correctly.  A Gus teaser...and not just any Gus teaser but one that got my heart all whacked out again because now I can't even stop thinking about the book!!  Read below for your own little teaser:

As soon as she’s under the covers, she scoots right over to my side and presses up against me. She shivers once, just like she always does because the cool sheets always make her cold initially. She drapes her arm across my chest and lays her head on my shoulder. I wrap my arm that’s under her around her back and rest my hand on her hip. 
Her voice is only a whisper when she speaks. It’s quiet but it tears open the night. “I’m gonna miss you, dude. So much.”
I kiss her forehead and whisper back, “Me too. You have no idea.”
“You’ll have to buy one of those ginormous pillows or an inflatable doll to snuggle when I’m gone.”
I laugh, because of course she would make a joke right now. “Think I can find one that talks and farts in its sleep, just, you know, so it’s a realistic stand-in for you?”
She slaps my belly, but she’s laughing. “Shut. Up. I do not. Gracie would’ve told me.”
I laugh even harder. “You don’t. I was kidding.”

Aaaggghhhh, right?!?!  Oh.  Ehm. Gee!  She is trying to completely ruin me, I swear.  I really should not be getting this emotionally invested in a fictional character but it's too late.  Way, way, waaaay too late.  Thanks for the teaser Kim, and keep 'em coming because I won't make it to the release date without more snippets of your awesomeness.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Be Inspired

Delving into the world of the paranormal is a leap for author Cora Carmack, who usually writes sweet, romance books like her 2012 release, Losing It, and recent release All Broke Down.  Despite the newness of the paranormal world in her writing, she does a superior job combining both the romantic elements we all love with other worldly elements, thus creating another amazing story line that definitely drew this reader to the edge of her seat.

Inspire, is the first in what is going to be the Muse Trilogy.  This story begins with Kallie, who is a muse (and a bit manic) that has lived a thousand life times seducing and inspiring men to create masterpieces.  She knows the only rule is to not get attached to any of them.  What happens though when she is tired of living like this and wants a stable life, a normal life, a mortal life?  What happens when she meets Wilder Bell?  Sometimes you want what you're not supposed to have, and Kallie finds herself very much wanting Wilder. The question is:  is she willing to trade everything to be with him?

Kallie tries throughout the story to stay away from Wilder but the two have definite sparks between them and he's not willing to give up on his pursuit of her.  The story leads us to believe that they have this magical connection that no matter what could've happened, that they would still have met and fallen for each other.  That it is their destiny to be joined.  I'm not sure I'm into believing that part of the story, but I guess when you're dealing with paranormal and fantasy then you just have to go with the flow and believe that anything is possible.

Part of the paranormal and fantasy stuff deals with Greek mythology, muses, and gods.  It's a different element for a story line and interesting.  Carmack weaves bits and pieces of this into the story but we don't see a lot of it really coming to the surface until the end of this book.  I'm assuming this fact and the huge cliffhanger are to lead us right into the second in the series, where we're going to see a whole lot more. Carmack herself has even hinted at possible spin off story lines following other muses (Kallie's sisters) and other characters.

There are still many of the typical romantic aspects in this story that we tend to see in other novels by Carmack, so it's not a huge stretch of her writing to add this unique twist to it.  She does a great job developing these two very complex characters, who each for various reasons have a lot of baggage they're bringing to the table.  I mean, hello?  Kallie is a flippin' mythological muse who's like a billion years old!   Then there's sweet, sensitive Wilder... who has his own issues to deal with.

I really enjoyed this book, although it honestly started a bit slow and took a little longer than usual to get into.  I loved how kind and patient Wilder was with Kallie and how he just wouldn't give up on her.  I really enjoyed the paranormal element of the story because it was something really different and added a very fun spin on what would've been a more typical romance story.  I even liked the HUGE cliffhanger ending...mostly because it ensures that there will definitely be more coming!

Can't Love You More...or Could I?

Recently I was sent a copy of Can't Love You More by it's author, Sabrina Quinn.  Though I had several books lined up to read, I made this one a priority to read, as she was kind enough to gift this copy to me in exchange for an honest book review.  Lucky for me, I had 2 weeks off of work and lots of free time to dive right in and get reading.

This book is Quinn's debut novel, and she's come up with a great story line that's very compelling and she does a nice job guiding the reader into the plot.  The characters feel real and well developed as well.  Unfortunately, upon starting the book, that fact that this is a first novel feels very obvious.  It's not for lack of a good story that makes me say this, as the story is a complex one, and very unique, rather, I say this because there are some obvious editing snafus that caught my eyes immediately.  The story is slow to start and really took me some effort to continue on so that I could finally get to the good stuff.

Now, with that being said, once I got to the good stuff it was hard to put the book down.  I was captivated by the emotions of Braelyn and Aiden, two of the main characters.  I was pulled in by Gabe's kindness and obvious attraction to Braelyn.  I just couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen; I needed to know Braelyn's big secret.  I still saw some editing errors but they were fewer and further in between and the story was so alive that it was much easier to overlook them as well.

This was an easy read, in that once I got to the "meat" of the story I wanted to hurry and finish it just to know everything about it.  I really enjoyed it and by the end I had completely forgotten how hard it was initially to get started with it.  Quinn does a splendid job pulling the entire story together and then wrapping it up at the end with a conclusion that the reader is left happy about.  The book is really a story about heartbreak with your first love, trying to learn to trust and love again, and ultimately learning to love yourself again too.  Overall, I feel that Quinn does a remarkable job in her debut novel.  I'm looking forward to future releases from her and am sincerely hoping that she's working on something new for us readers to get lost in soon!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge

Lots of people out there are looking for different challenges to begin their new year.  That, of course, include us readers too.  I am sure there are a multitude of various challenges out there but here is one that I found at PopSugar and thought I'd share with everyone.  Take it or leave it, but do something new with your reading this year.  It doesn't have to be a big deal.  You don't have to make some grand announcement and join an accountability team.  Pick even just one small goal.  Be accountable to you.

Happy New Year

So here we are now in the new year with lots of dreams and big hopes for great things, right?  For some it's that they're finally going to lose those last 20 lbs they've been holding on to since that last kid.  For others it's that they're going to spend more time with their family and less time at the office.  Still, for others they just want to understand the world around them a little better.  Whatever your goal for 2015 is, make it realistic.  Make it achievable. Make it count!