Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #63 ~ Blindfolded Innocence by Alessandra Torre


I recently binged on Alessandra Torre's Innocence trilogy. This particular scene is from Blindfolded Innocence, the first in the trilogy. It made me laugh...because I could so relate! *wink* See, Julia doesn't like seafood...

***

The bottom rung of the silver tower was empty when they had delivered it, but was now being filled with the empty lobster and crab claw shells.
Light bulb.
Fifteen minutes later, Brad sat back with a satisfied groan. "I have been dreaming of those claws for weeks." He met my eyes with a Cheshire grin. "Well? Was I right or what?" I smiled at him over the champagne and empty plate.
"It was very good, Brad. Thank you."
"I don't know how you look so put together. I always feel like I need a bath after eating this stuff." He wiped his face with his napkin and pulled at his bib, breaking the plastic tie. "Should we get another or do you want to go ahead and order dinner?"
"Dinner, please," I said quickly. Brad's eyes looked at me for a moments, then he shrugged. "Sounds good to me."
The waiter appeared and began pulling the silver trays off of the tower, starting with the top tray. Uh-oh. I had anticipated them taking the entire tower at one time, as they had brought it to us. My mind raced with something to distract Brad with.
Shrimp platter gone.
"I was thinking Brad..."
Clams and oysters level gone.
"...maybe tonight, after the show..."
Lobster level taken.
"...we could, ahhh..." Don't look down!!
The large silver platter that had housed the tangled pile of Snow and King Crab legs was lifted, exposing the plate of empty shells. Empty shells and expensive meat of crab and lobster I had carefully hidden under the guise of placing my shells in the plate. The meat, which had been strategically hidden from the side view, was now fully-exposed, crab and lobster stretched out like bathing beauties on South Beach.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The One Where I Profess My Undying Gratitude...


If y'all have followed me for awhile you know this but for those of you who are newer followers here's a little tidbit about me...my summers are crazy.*wink* And my "summer" started early this year. Between my kids' activities and the obligations I had for the music program and trying to finish writing the last little bit on my book, it's been busy here. On top of that, I was gone for a week to RT in Atlanta. Then Sky came home...for 8 days. Today, she and I left on a "road trip" heading back to Portland where I'm dropping her off to begin her summer of drum corps. 

It's also a rough summer for me, as a mom, because two of my kiddos are going to be gone. Of course, Berk, James, and I are taking 3 trips in order to see Sky and Jax at competitions but still...

All this is to say that I've been absent from the blogosphere for the last month and a half. And there will be weeks over the summer when I'll be absent. Because I love you all and appreciate you sticking with me and giving me love more than you know, I'm hosting my first Reader Appreciation Raffle of the summer.

Here's the deal:

  • Those of you who've left comments in April and May are automatically entered.
  • If you're here reading this, let me know your favorite genre in the comments.

That's it. When I get back next week, I'll give those who've commented a number and use random.org to pick the winner. The winner will get a mystery box of books and swag! (if you leave a comment with your favorite genre, I'll do my best to accommodate) I'll announce the winner late next week. And if you don't win, don't worry. You'll have at least 3 more chances over the summer. :D

Thank y'all SO MUCH for continuing to drop by and give me love. I really am so very, very grateful!!  <3

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

#COYER Summer Reading List Challenge Sign Up Post

COYER

Y'all. I'm so excited about the #COYER Summer Reading List ChallengeAs per usual, this challenge is hosted by Michelle @Because Reading, Berls @Fantasy is More Fun, and Stormi @Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! 

This summer, we can read whatever format and price point we want. AND we have options for how we participate. Here are the rules in a nutshell. For detailed information on the challenge, click the graphic above or here

Two Ways to Participate

  1. Just simply COYER. Read all the books. Any price, any format. 
  2. Reading List. Create a reading list of 30 books.
General Rules
  1. Challenge starts at midnight June 17 and runs to midnight September 8.
  2. Read any format - ebook, physical, audio, library book.
  3. Create a sign up post sometime between now and August 1. Make sure to state which way you're participating.
  4. Link up your sign up post!
  5. If you're joining the Summer Reading List, create a list of 30 books on a Goodreads shelf or on your blog. You don't have to read them all but you do have to read from those 30.
  6. You have until June 17th to create your list. Once COYER begins, you can't change your list. You CAN add 5 more books to the list for every 5 books you read - this is for us mood readers. ;)
  7. The last grand prize giveaway will be the number of books you read.
  8. Have fun!
There will be prizes, Twitter parties, Instagram challenges, and Read-a-thons! There's a Facebook group as well! This is such a fun way to clean off your ereader(s) and TBR shelves! I hope you'll join me in the fun.

***

Because my summer schedule is gonna be so hectic with travel, I'm going with simple #COYER this time around. All the books I can read, no matter the format, no matter the cost. :D 

Can You Read a Series in a Month? Challenge Goal Post



Berls @Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @Because Reading hosted this challenge last year and I really wanted to participate but just couldn't do it. THIS YEAR, I'm in! For all the details on the challenge, click the graphic above.

So to get started, I created a list of series I'd like to read - both those I hadn't started and a few I'd read ONE book from but haven't finished. Then I took a look at the number of books in those series. o_O Yeah, that made me stop and think. I went back to my list and picked books with only 4-5 books because, realistically, that's all I'm going to be able to accomplish. Then I took those series, numbered them, and used random.org to pick the series I'll use for this challenge. 

And the winner is...

Helena Hunting's Clipped Wings series

Cupcakes and Ink (Clipped Wings, #0.5)Clipped Wings (Clipped Wings, #1)Between the Cracks (Clipped Wings, #1.5)Inked Armour (Clipped Wings, #2)Cracks in the Armor (Clipped Wings, #2.5)There is No Greater Love Than Creation (Clipped Wings, #2.6)Fractures in Ink (Clipped Wings, #3)Get Inked: A Pucked Series and Clipped Wings Crossover Novella (Pucked #5.5 Clipped Wings #3.5)

Now, there are really only 3 books in this series...Between the Cracks, Inked Armour, and There Was No Greater Love Than Creation are all novellas/short stories. And Get Inked in a crossover with Hunting's Pucked series. But I'm gonna read them all. :)

How about y'all? You in?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Audio Review ~ Undone ~ John Colapinto #AudioChallenge #ShelfLove

Undone: A NovelUndone by John Colapinto
Narrated by: Will Damron
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Satire, Dark Comedy
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Tantor Media. This did not affect my review or my rating. 
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #AudioChallenge, #ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
Already hailed and persecuted for its perverse humor and wildly wicked sensibility, Undone is the tour-de-force black comedy by International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Nominee John Colapinto.

In modern-day America, Dez is a former lawyer and teacher - an ephebophile with a proclivity for teenage girls, hiding out in a trailer park with his latest conquest, Chloe. Having been in and out of courtrooms (and therapists' offices) for a number of years, Dez is adrift, at odds with a society that persecutes him over his desires. From his couch one afternoon, Dez watches an interview with Jasper Ulrickson, a doting father and loving husband whose heartrending memoir, Lessons from My Daughter, has become a national bestseller. The memoir chronicles his journey with his wife, Pauline, who suffered a stroke giving birth to their only child and has been in a locked-in state ever since. Espousing their deep connection and chaste marriage, Jasper's selfless devotion to his wife made him one of the most popular and admired men in America. So Dez sets out to do what any red-blooded American would do: destroy Ulickson by using Chloe to pose as the famous author's long-lost daughter, infiltrate his family, seduce him, and, when he's sent to jail, claim his fortune.



Undone is one of those books that makes you uncomfortable. One where you're not quite sure you can root for any of the characters because their moral compass seems to be a bit off. However, as this is satire, that's precisely the point.

Undone revolves around three main characters. One, Dez, is the very definition of a sociopath. He impacts the lives of the other two main characters - Chloe and Jasper - in profound ways. Ways that will make you cringe in disgust and horror. Ways that will make you question your faith in humanity. Ways that mock certain aspects of our society. And yet, you'll find yourself glued to the story to find out how it all unfolds.

See, Dez has an unhealthy attraction to young girls - 15-18 year olds. A problem that has cost him many things - jobs, friends...and more. Since he doesn't believe there's anything wrong with his predilections, only society's view of them, he feels he's owed something. He therefore concocts an elaborate scheme to get his due. A scheme aimed at Jasper, since he's garnered celebrity with his memoir and Dez watched him on a popular daytime television show, and involving Chloe. 

Chloe's role in the destruction of Jasper, and Jasper's own role in his downfall, was pitiable even as they created disgust. I couldn't help but feel for them both being so manipulated. And the ramifications were so devastating to them both. Jasper's wife, daughter, and housekeeper were also deeply affected. And for what?

Undone inspired a lot of negative emotions in me but also some positives. It also was very thought-provoking and caused quite a few emotional discussions with my family. It is very well-written, inherently readable - even it it was a difficult read. The character development is well-done despite this being a plot-driven story. I became very invested in the futures of them all - wanting vastly different variations. This is a story that almost demands you think - consider your position on many topics - all while poking fun. It is a satire on celebrity and society's fascination with it but I felt it was also a commentary on other elements of society.

Will Damron did an excellent job narrating a story with many different characters. He did well with providing distinct voices and being consistent, as well as evoking the myriad emotions the story required. He was also able to keep the pacing just right.

I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book. However, I'm changing my original 3-Bookworm rating to 4-Bookworms because even though I wanted to cause bodily harm to Dez, this story, for all the discomfort is caused, was worth the listen.



Friday, May 19, 2017

Review ~ Losing Control ~ Jen Frederick #BloggerShame #ShelfLove

Losing Control (Kerr Chronicles, #1)Losing Control by Jen Frederick
Kerr Chronicles #1
Release Date: June 16, 2014
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Netgalley. This did not affect my rating and my review is voluntarily provided.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #BloggerShame, #ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
I'd do anything to keep my mother alive.

Anything, including as Ian Kerr for help. I don't know much about him, except that he has more money than some small countries. And he's willing to spend it on me. Just one catch: there's a string attached, and not just the one I feel pulling me into his arms and his bed. There's also the plan for revenge he wants my help with.

Every time he says my name, it makes my body shiver and my heart stutter. I know he's going to wreck me, know there won't be anything left of me but lust and sensation by the time he's done with me, but even though I can see the heartbreak coming towards me like a train, ready to crash into me, I can't get out of the way. I want what he makes me feel. Want what he's offering.

This may have started out as something to save my mother, but now...now it's about what me makes me feel. I'm in danger of losing everything that's important. Worse? Ian's whispered words and hot caresses are making me believe that's okay.





Oh what I a thrill this was! It's been buried on my kindle and I'm so excited to have unearthed it!

Victoria "Tiny" is a bike courier doing all she can to take care of her cancer-stricken mother. She's dyslexic and therefore feels she doesn't have the skills to aspire to more in a career - besides she prefers the freedom of being outdoors on her bike. But her financial situation is worsening with her mother's health deteriorating and she resorts to couriering packages she'd rather not know the contents of. And that's when she meets Ian.

Ian is all alpha. And his intentions towards Tiny had me raising my eyebrows as much as Tiny's. Sure there's an immediate chemistry between them - the sparks fairly leapt out of my kindle - but the differences between them seemed insurmountable. Leave it to Ian to prove both Tiny and me wrong.

Then there's the little matter of the vengeance Ian's been gunning for for years. And the aim - one Richard Howe - he's a villain to be sure.

Losing Control had me flying through the pages - saying on the treadmill longer - to see what would happen next. Witnessing the passion ignite and the feelings bloom...*sigh* This is not a conventional love story and even if there were some familiar plot devices, I loved every minute of it. I adored finding that despite their differences, Tiny and Ian actually had a lot of things in common. I adored how they were there for one another - Ian in particular when helping Tiny with her mom. It all felt so genuine and I couldn't fault Tiny fighting her feelings for Ian at the same time as wanting to just lose control - or give it up for a little while anyway - and let Ian deal with everything.

JFrederick is a new-to-me author and I started Taking Control immediately upon finishing Losing Control. I'm also eager to see if I have any other reads from her backlist. I'll certainly be reading more.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New Release Review ~ Provocative ~ Lisa Renee Jones #2017NewRelease

Provocative (White Lies Duet Book 1)Provocative by Lisa Renee Jones
White Lies Duet #1
Release Date: April 16, 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Netgalley. This did not affect my rating and my review is voluntarily provided.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017NewRelease
Goodreads

Synopsis
There are those moments in life that are provocative in their very existences, that embed in our minds forever, and sometimes our very souls. They change us, mold us, maybe even save us. But some are darker, dangerous. If we allow them to, they control us. Seduce us. Quite possibly even destroy us.

The moment I walked into Sonoma's Reid Winter Winery and Vineyard and made eye contact with Faith Winter for the first time was one of those moments. Provocative because I know at least one of her secrets, of which, I suspect she has many. Provocative because she believes I was a stranger to her when we met, but I am not. Provocative because I sought her out, with no intention of touching her. But now I have. Now I want her. Now I have to have her. But that changes nothing. It doesn't change why I came for her.




Wow. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy LRJ's writing. Why haven't I read more? Well, that's beside the point. She gives great contemporary romance with a side of mystery and suspense. Oh, and heat. My goodness the HEAT! After finishing Provocative, I immediately pre-ordered Shameless, book #2. Yep.

Nick Rogers and Faith Winter meet under conspicuous circumstances. He's come seeking her out and finds her in a rather embarrassing situation. This situation throws a wrench in Nick's plans - not only because he feels the need to help Faith but also because it makes him question his reasons for seeking her out in the first place. As these two become more and more entangled, more and more questions arise - for Nick, for Faith, and for the reader.

Both Nick and Faith are very compelling characters. Nick with his confidence and control, Faith in her vulnerability and vacillation between her dreams and what she feels is her duty. And the chemistry between them is electric!

The dual POV is the perfect format for this story. One of the things I found most riveting was that although Nick has his secrets - things he's hiding from Faith - we are privy to them. We get a glimpse inside his head and we see some of what's behind his motivations. Faith, on the other hand, has things she's hiding but I have no clue as to what her secrets are. And she's all the more interesting because of that. I'm also fascinated with how LRJ gets into their heads - the psychology behind their personalities. Nick and Faith have definitely been affected by their upbringing - their parents and their parents' relationships. This added so much depth to them both.

What can I say? I'm chomping at the bit for Shameless! I can't wait to have all my questions answered.



Monday, May 15, 2017

Audio Review ~ Your Inescapable Love ~ Layla Hagan #2017NewRelease #AudioChallenge

Your Inescapable Love (The Bennett Family #4)Your Inescapable Love by Layla Hagen
The Bennett Family #4
Narrated by: Sebastian York and Lidia Dornet
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Tantor Media
Rating: 3 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017NewRelease, #AudioChallenge, #TakeControlTBR
Goodreads

Synopsis
Max Bennett was nine years old the first time he met Emilia. The two formed a tight friendship that lasted for years until she moved away. Now, years later, Max enjoys a successful career and loves his life: carefree and fun. He has everything he wants and does not intend to settle down anytime soon (even though his family might have other ideas). But when a chance encounter brings him face-to-face with Emilia, he starts questioning everything. Emilia Campbell has a lot on her plate, taking care of her sick grandmother. After practically being left at the altar, Emilia has sworn off men...until the childhood friend she hero-worshipped and hasn't quite forgotten steps into her clinic. Max is every bit the troublemaker she remembers, only now he has a body to drool over. They are both determined not to cross the boundaries of friendship. But as their chemistry spirals out of control, can Emilia trust her childhood hero with the key to her heart and accept she might have found her one true love? Contains mature themes.




Your Inescapable Love gives us Max Bennett's story. Now I'm a sucker for the friends-to-lovers trope so when I realized Max and Emilia had been friends when they were kids, I was eager to see how this would come together.

Max is a rather determined bachelor, believing he doesn't have time for romance since he's so focused on work. He's an excellent negotiator and makes Bennett Enterprises lots of money. Lest you think he's all work and no play, know that he and his twin, Christopher, are the pranksters of the Bennett clan, doing things like switching places to get out of dinner duty to kissing girls.

Emilia was raised by her Grams after losing her mother and having her father bail. Now she works hard as a physical therapist as well as caring for her Grams, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She is driven in her career and with the demands on her time caring for her Grams, romance isn't on her radar. 

Then Max walks into her clinic. And lucky Emilia is his PT. They immediately begin cathing up, not having seen each other for years. They also have an immediate attraction, something they both try to ignore until they can't.

I liked how their romance blossomed - Emilia having some baggage but Max being baggage-free and more than willing to take on helping Emilia shed hers. Some of Emilia's baggage felt a little contrived though. And I felt like their story could have had more depth in some ways. They had history and more could have been done with it.

The Bennett clan wasn't around as much in this installment and I found I really missed them. he dynamics between all the siblings adds more dimension to the stories and while they were present, they didn't have prominent roles and... well, I just missed that. I'm guessing Christopher will be the next to fall and I'm eager to witness that.

Lidia Dornet and Sebastian York narrated and were fabulous. They brought Max and Emilia to life and kept the story flowing. Dornet even added a bit of action in some scenes which better conveyed the emotions of those scenes. York is simply ear-candy. ;)