Posted in Book Reviews

BOOKS, TRAVELING, REVIEWS (SOME RANTS), A GIVEAWAY, AND OTHER FUN SHENANIGANS…

Woah sooooo…..I didn’t plan on not being able to blog or update my Facebook page for the past 3 months (definitely facepalming right now for not thinking ahead). For those that don’t know, I traveled extensively in China this summer, starting from late May all the way up to two days ago when I got back to the US. As a travel lover I can’t begin to express my joy and completely ecstatic feelings about being on the move and all the wonderful places I saw and the exotic-looking food I got to eat but as an avid reader and blogger, I’m truly bummed that I wasn’t there for you to post about book sales, freebies, reviews, etc…NOT the greatest moment there so!!! This blog post will basically give you a recap of what I’ve been doing the past 3 months along with some interesting reviews/rants, and a smashing giveaway (if I do say so myself hehe) to end this all with a bang!

Of course one of the first things I did was hop on a plane (two planes to be exact) – one from Texas to Istanbul and the next from Istanbul to Hong Kong. Prior to this trip I hadn’t been on a plane for a few years so I was pretty giddy to the see the view:

Once I arrived in Hong Kong I didn’t go anywhere in the vicinity just yet! My family and I rushed to get to Shengzhen (1 hour drive from HK) to meet up with friends and then we had to take a train ride to get to JiangXi, a big province down south so my younger siblings could start their summer school studying. It haven’t been on a train for almost 8 years so I went picture crazy once I boarded (though I’m only showing you guys the nicer-looking pic hehe):

We arrived in a smaller city within the Jiangxi province – Wanan – where my aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa on my dad’s side lived. Not many people have cars here; they either walk, take the bus, have a motorcycle or grab one of these electric-powered vehicles that I have here:

My brother stayed with two of our cousins and went to summer school for a month while my sister went to a bigger city an hour away from him – Jian – and lived there with another aunt and uncle. My siblings are both younger than me and aside from visiting all the hotspot areas in these two places, I traveled between the cities to visit my siblings. Oh and I forgot to mention I had a HUGE candy craving so I hit the largest supermarket there was in these two places – check out their candy section:

Not quite what I was looking for (no Skittles, Starbursts, or Sour Belts) but it was interesting and fun to try out new candy. OH fun fact: did you know that most Chinese candy is made from either vegetables or fruit? Hardly any artificial products.And then sometime in mid-June the entire family (I’m talking not just my parents and siblings, but two of my aunts and uncles and my cousins) went down to the countryside and we picked these rare mountain berries only found in China (they are SO GOOD!!!!) Kinda taste like strawberries and blueberries 

 I picked a whole bunch *yay* and got myself some mosquito bites in the process *boo*

Once June flew by and my siblings passed summer school (learned a lot of Chinese) our traveling reallystarted! We said goodbye to our wonderful family in Jiangxi and headed out to my aunts and uncles on my mom’s side to Beijing – TONS of great tourist locations there! First place we visited was the Great Wall. Okay let me be honest with you and say that it was not as great as rumored to be. I mean the wall itself was a beautiful relic to check out but it’s so hot and there are SO.MANY.PEOPLE. it killed most of the fun for me. Though one of the highlights of the Great Wall fiasco were the adorable mountain bears! 

Oh and this one’s my favorite! I got to feed it and the little cutie just sat there with its mouth open waiting for food:

We also hit an amusement part and that was so fun!! I barely took any pics – either I was waiting in line, eating like a glut or going on crazy rides. My dad took a pic of this water ride I went on. It’s the moment where a ton of water cascades on the boat:

There’s this art store I checked out and I lugged this lovely painting all the way from the east back to Texas:

(It’s more exotic-looking in real life hehe)And OMG the food!!! Cannot believe I haven’t touched on that one yet! Here are just a few of their scrumptious dishes:

(This is Koren style noodles. Reminded me a little of Hot Pot where you dump a bunch of veggies and select meat in a pot that’s steamy hot with peppers and eat! It’s delicious.)

(I was salivating when I saw this!!!! It’s steamed shrimp – love seafood!!)

(My sister’s birthday was in early July so we celebrated in Beijing! It’s a three layer marble cake with ice cream as the middle layer. YUM!)Oh and I visited the local bookstore! Not a whole lot to choose from (most are textbooks and Chinese stories) but I did see the entire Hunger Games series translated to Chinese:

In early August, I had time to do a few things I’ve been meaning to get to ever since I got to China. First was go rafting in the rain (very exhilarating) and then go on a zip line:

(It went down at a super fast speed – I was screaming all the way down and taking pics the entire time haha)And then take a gondola ride. Those things look cool on TV but they’re pretty scary to ride. Thank goodness there was no heavy rocking back and forth. I still screamed the whole ride down though 

OH! And this fast-speed train ride in a tunnel I went on was pretty cool. Here’s a pic of my dad and younger brother in front of me:

As late August arrived I went back to Hong Kong to get ready to fly back to Texas *YAY* but before that I went shopping for more souvenirs and visited the night lights show only available to see in Hong Kong:

And after two days, a few hours, and a nasty bed-head I arrived back in Texas. Tired, cranky but also super relieved to get back to American food, world of air conditioning, and BOOKS!

That’s me there! 

Part Two: The ReadingI was pretty busy traveling around but I was even busier with reading!!! I can’t go anywhere without my iPad and I read some pretty amazing books as well as some crummy ones this summer! I was able to post reviews on Goodreads so I’m including those links along with purchase links. I don’t think I have to say this, but all reviews contain my personal opinions and are not meant to attack the author. Some of these books hit a nerve or two so some of these may be a little ranty. Just FYI.

The giveaway will be similar to the Follower Appreciation Giveaways I had where the winner chooses a paperback of their choice from the list provided. Since this is 3 months worth of books, this giveaway will consist of 3 winners each receiving any paperback of their choice from any of the books above in Part Two. It’s a huge list so take your time choosing 

 As usual this giveaway is open internationally as long as Amazon ships to your country!**Note: If there is no paperback option available for the book you choose I will gift you an ebook copy. Some of these books haven’t been released yet so if you choose one of those, you will receive the paperback as soon as it’s released.**

Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW ~ VIRTUE FALLS BY CHRISTINA DODD

Twenty-three years ago, Misty Banner was brutally slashed to death in her home in Virtue Falls, Washington. Her husband was convicted of the murder. Their four year old daughter Elizabeth witnessed the crime, but has no memory of the killing. Now, two decades later, Elizabeth is back in Virtue Falls. She soon discovers her father is innocent. The real killer is still out there. And her investigation has stirred dark and deadly resentments that could provoke in another bloody murder—her own—in this riveting novel from bestselling author Christina Dodd.

4.5 stars!!

I’m a big fan of this author’s historical romances so I thought to try out one of her contemporary works, especially since this one was a romantic suspense/mystery and I’m a huge sucker for those. Aside from her writing style, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this book in particular, but let me just say that you won’t be worrying about your expectations once you start reading – the story will grab your attention from the start and though there may be a few times where there are too many details, the engaging plot quickly grabs your attention again. Overall, I liked the suspenseful storyline, the heartwarming second chance romance, and how fast-paced the book was – it kept things interesting.*********************Twenty three years ago, a 4 year old Elizabeth Banner witnessed her mother’s brutal murder and her father was convicted of the crime. Fast forward two decades and Elizabeth has become one of the most accomplished geologists of her time and an expert in studying rocks and natural disasters. Returning home to Virtue Falls to study earthquakes and tsunamis, Elizabeth encounters a series of events that eventually lead to buried secrets, secrets that expose a hole in her mother’s murder case and leave her in danger. With no one but an ex-husband and mother-in-law who actually cares about her, Elizabeth experiences de-ja-vu all over again as she struggles to reconcile her horrid past with her uncertain future.

Dedicated FBI agent and ex-husband to Elizabeth, Garik Jacobsen finds out that she’s in danger and hurries to Virtue Falls to protect her. Though consenting to their divorce, Garik still harbors strong feelings for Elizabeth and would sacrifice anything just to make sure she’s safe. He’s deeply tortured and troubled by his past and the fact that he doesn’t let Elizabeth in to that part of his life creates a wedge between them, leading to their divorce. All grudges and complaints, however, are pushed aside as this couple work to uncover the mystery and truth behind the murder case and find the real killer.*********************I honestly expected to loathe Elizabeth’s character. She was unfeeling, only passionate about her profession and it was hard in the beginning to see her brush aside Garik so easily and effortlessly. As I read, however, I think I started to understand and connect to her character on a much deeper level. You see, I LOVE smart heroines. Heroines that don’t think with their libido and aren’t simpering ninnies around the hero. I actually think it was the author’s purpose to introduce this aloof, unfeeling woman and through her experiences in the book and her deep love for her husband (though she tries to hide it), show how an emotionally scarred Elizabeth could trust and have a second chance at her marriage. Her family was shattered since her mother’s murder and her father’s conviction and she had no one left. No one except Garik, who knew and loved her for the way she was and accepted her, flaws and all. Speaking of Garik, I adore this man! He scores a 10 out of 10 for my hero rating – sexy, attentive, protective, witty. I could use so many adjectives to describe him. My heart broke when I read about the guilt he harbored because of his past actions. Together, he and Elizabeth make such a great couple. They complement each other perfectly: fire and ice, passionate and logical. They had many issues to work through, but when they tackled their fears and fully opened up to one another, I was mentally cheering them on, ecstatic that they’d be able to work out all their problems and hopeful about a more permanent future for them.

I do have to stress that the romance part is secondary to the mystery and suspense. I would estimate a good 30% of the book is solely dedicated to their relationship development: that’s pretty decent considering this plot was elaborate and detailed. There’s not a whole lot of steam but then again, emotional intensity will always trump steam for me 

 The only thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was Kateri’s character. I simply just didn’t see the point of having her take up a couple of chapters. Elizabeth knew her but other than that she didn’t have a substantial part in the plot so I skimmed the parts with her in it.Aside from that one complaint and a few times where there were too many details that tempted me to skim, this book was pretty perfect for me. I finished it in one sitting (about 4 hours) and closed the book feeling pretty satisfied – definitely a great book to pick up if you love the romantic suspense genre!ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Book Reviews

RELEASE DAY REVIEW & GIVEAWAY ~ VANQUISH BY PAM GODWIN

Her life is like a prison cell.
A self-made, to-hell-with-the-free-world existence that locks from the inside.
Stop judging. Her agoraphobia doesn’t define her. It simply keeps her safe.

He belongs in a prison cell.
The 6×8, make-me-your-bitch variety that locks from the outside.
But he’s free. To hunt. To take. To break.
And he just found a sexy new toy.

Capturing her is the easy part. Her fucked-up mind, however, makes him question everything he does next.
But he’s a determined bastard. If all goes his way, this will hurt like hell.

Pam Godwin has a knack for writing unconventional, unique romance stories and Vanquish is a terrific example. Just FYI, if you plan on reading book 1 Deliver do not read this one yet – it contains plot spoilers. Anyways, I’m a huge fan of the broody, dark, and tortured anti heroes. In book 1, the only character I can say that I fully loved was Van. Liv was pretty kickass but too aloof. Josh was endearing but too sweet. But Van…now that’s a guy who’s right up my alley! I couldn’t wait to get my greedy hands on his book and now that I’ve finished it, I can say that fans of the first book and Van-fans will be pretty pleased with his story.********************This book begins right after the events of Deliver, where Van Quiso is recovering from his wounds and the one thing that dominates his mind is getting Liv and their daughter back. Obsessed and possessed by this fervor, Van constantly stalks Liv in hopes of winning her back from Josh, along with getting visitation rights to their daughter Livana. On one of his secret trips to visit Liv, he unwittingly stumbles upon the heroine Amber and his old, buried sexual tendencies flare. For the first time in a long time, he’s tempted by Amber.

Introverted and secluded, Amber Rosenfeld suffers from extreme agoraphobia (anxiety disorder) and OCD. Her previous marriage has demolished her self-confidence and body image and any kind of intimacy repels her. It is truly a chance encounter that puts her in Van’s path and with just one look, Van is intrigued by her and her oddities.********************My biggest concern with reading this book was whether or not the author would butcher Van’s dark, multifaceted, mysterious character and I’m relieved to say I don’t think she did. When a character as complex as Van gets a romance story, there’s a certain degree of ‘dark’ that has to be given up and in turn is replaced with a much softer, vulnerable side of him. I think the author did an exemplary job of pitting his usual crude high-handedness against the vulnerability most readers didn’t think existed. Van is basically what made this book, despite it also being Amber’s story. Though I liked her character, I never fully warmed up to her. Then again, it’s not often I fall head over heels for the heroines 

 I really loved seeing Van transform from a seemingly heartless machine to a more caring and loving man. His past as a slave driver never will go away but I admire him for not letting it define his life and instead, motivate him to be with Amber and help her conquer her agoraphobia.

As much as I liked Amber and Van as a couple, I had a hard time accepting them together in the beginning. I mentioned before that it was pure luck that they bumped into each other and the fact that Van was completely obsessed with getting Liv and their daughter back didn’t help convince me of the strength of his bond with Amber. I felt like his reasons for being with Amber weren’t compelling enough in the beginning. I should feel like only the heroine is good for the hero, but sadly I didn’t feel that here. Amber could be a Leslie, a Catherine, a Grace and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Once the deep feelings were there, however, I could finally accept them together but that didn’t happen until the 60% mark so I spent most of the book feeling aloof, not loving them, but not hating them.That one main problem aside, I really enjoyed this book – it had hot, steamy scenes along with dry, crude humor and charming wit. The idea that even the most flawed and damaged people can have a happily-ever-after too is a beautiful message and one that this book sends out.ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Pam Godwin, lives in the Midwest with her husband, their two children, and a foulmouthed parrot. When she ran away, she traveled fourteen countries across five continents, attended three universities, and married the vocalist of her favorite rock band. Java, tobacco, and dark romance novels are her favorite indulgences, and might be considered more unhealthy than her aversion to sleeping, eating meat, and dolls with blinking eyes.

Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW ~ BLACK LIES BY ALESSANDRA TORRE

Brant:
Became a tech billionaire by his twentieth birthday. Has been in a relationship with me for 3 years.
Has proposed 4 times. Been rejected 4 times.

Lee: 
Cuts grass when he’s not banging housewives. Good with his hands, his mouth, and his cock. Has been pursued relentlessly by me for almost 2 years, whether he knows it or not.

Go ahead. Judge me. You have no idea what my love entails.

If you think you’ve heard this story before, trust me – you haven’t.

I’ve only read one other Alessandra Torre book but I can already tell she does not deliver stories that follow a straight line. I like this unpredictability factor, and her writing is amazing – once I started the book I didn’t stop until I was finished. I can totally see why this book would be a 5 star/6 star favorite for many; heck, I was pretty sure it’d be a 5 star winner for me as well. The lies, the intricately-woven mystery and the addictive writing all hinted at a flawless read for me. Unfortunately, there were several issues I had with it and as much I liked the concept of the book, the execution of the original premise fell flat. I have to stress here that I did  like it. I just didn’t love it.*************************Multi-millionaire heiress Layana Fairmont was born with everything: she had wealth & connections and was expected to become a trophy wife. Instead, she decides to take fate with her own hands and uses her inheritance to start a new life, one that didn’t constantly revolve around the privileged and wealthy. She also works at the Homeless Youth of America (HYA) and has a deep, abiding love for these children.At one of the charity fundraises for HYA, Lana meets genius inventor Brant Sharp. Cool, calm, and collected, Brant became a tech billionaire at 20 years old and CEO of his own company. Lana and Brant have this immediate and insanely intense connection and though they’ve only spent one night together, both want more.As their relationship blossoms and both secretly aware that their attraction is giving way to love, Lana comes across the ‘secret’ and all hopes for a happy future with Brant are shattered. Instead of breaking it off with him, Lana dives head-first into the mess and holds onto Brant, but still puts up a wall between them. And then she meets Lee.Down-to-earth, flirtatious, and rough around the edges, Lee is a landscaper and the complete opposite of Brant. While Brant’s stoic, Lee is candid. Lee is fire, Brant is ice. And Lana loves both of them. She won’t give up Lee no matter what, setting off a plan of deceit, revenge, and betrayal to show just how far she’s willing to go to keep both men.*************************First I have to say, this is NOT a love triangle!! Very hard to believe based on what I summarized before, but it’s true. Just go in with an open mind because this book is all about appearances. The stark truth lies beneath the façade.Like I mentioned earlier, I thought the book premise was original. I didn’t figure out the big secret until 50 pages before it was revealed (I’m dumb, OK?) and when it was finally all out in the open, I was pretty much stunned speechless. But then, that secret also gave way to a ton of problems I had with the book.1. Timelines. I hate them. I hate them even more in books. I usually struggle with stories that are not set in the present and a good chunk of this book was from the past.2. I had no connection to the characters. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them but I never got used to the inner-monologues and the upper-class lifestyle – these are not very relatable characters. And because I didn’t find out the secret until the story was almost over, I spent most the book hating Lana’s guts and trying very hard not to smash my iPad against the wall.3. The secret itself. Okay, look. I have a terrible track record with books that revolve solely around this huge ass secret and then the secret turns out to be one lame excuse. Thankfully, that didn’t happen here. I actually admire the author for thinking of something so different. However, there is no way this secret would’ve worked in real life. I am a very logical and factual reader. 95% of the time logic wins over passion for me (unless the author is really good and wins over my emotions). And in this case, no emotions were evoked. Without spoiling anything, I thought the secret was too far-fetched and unrealistic. It’s hard for the author to pull off such an elaborate idea without toeing the line between realism and fiction.4. The ending. It was wrapped up too quickly, perfectly and became anti-climatic.Not going to lie, this book gave me a massive headache. A big jumble of psychosis is what it is but I have to admit, it is unputdownable psychosis. Once I started, I didn’t stop reading until I was finished. This is a book that I would recommend solely for the shock factor. That’s it.

Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW ~ THE TOUCH OF FIRE BY LINDA HOWARD

Annie Parker came to Silver Mesa, Arizona, because it was the only place she’d found where folks thought a woman doctor was better than no doctor at all. Her lonely life became harder still on the winter night Rafe McCay broke into her office with a bullet in his side and a bounty hunter at his back. With a gun aimed at her heart, he led her deep into the Arizona mountains, and into a world of danger and passion, for Annie discovered in Rafe not only a wounded man, but a soul betrayed…and Rafe, healed by her skill and the magic in her hands, awakened in Annie a woman’s tender longing and hungry desire. Pursued by dangerous secrets of the past, they are swept into a thrilling odyssey of the heart — a bold, exhilarating journey that rekindles Rafe’s lost hope and transforms Annie’s healing gift into a deep, enduring love.

I think there’s truly something magical about a book if you can re-read it multiple times and still be enamored with the story, characters, and writing. Most, if not all, of Linda Howard’s books are like that for me but the one I’ve re-read the most is this book. Set in the wild & dangerous time period after the Civil War, The Touch of Fire is a captivating western romance about two individuals striving to belong and how they discover a love that is found in the most unexpected of places.**************************Well on her way in becoming a spinster, Annie Parker is a dedicated and meticulous doctor, a profession that most people believe to be unladylike so she is constantly looked down upon. Nevertheless, that doesn’t diminish her passion for her job or her innate love for healing. On a typical work night, she is shocked to see a hooded but wounded man stumbling into her clinic.An outlaw only by name, Rafe McCay has been on the run for 4 years, evading bounty hunters and lawmakers after being at the wrong place at the wrong time. After being shot by one infamous bounty hunter, Rafe stops by Annie’s clinic and seeks medication, only to be told that his wound could fester and without proper care, can contaminate and lead to death. Thus, Rafe kidnaps and takes Annie with him to treat his wounds.Due to extreme weather conditions, Annie and Rafe are temporarily stranded in an abandoned abode for days. Both are naturally wary of each other and don’t expect to develop feelings but it happens. With little outside interference, they both have the time to learn more about each other.

When it’s finally revealed what turned Rafe into a wanted man, both Annie and Rafe set out to try to clear his name, encountering Native Americans, unwanted bounty hunters, and one tough lawmaker along the way.**************************Just to clear out the air, this book is far from perfect and to top that, there is a very slight paranormal aspect (which I’m usually not too fond of). However, this book is perfect for me. I loved the setup of the story: kidnapping mixed with a strong, silent hero and an intelligent heroine. I think what made this really work for me – again and again – is that I knew there was nothing to fear from Rafe. He may be a kidnapper, an alleged murderer, but not purposely so. Life dished out a terrible plate for him and he did what he had to do to survive but he never hurt an innocent. Pairing him with a character that’s his complete opposite was just brilliant. It was very interesting to see this rough and rugged man fall for the sweet-tempered, warmhearted woman.

My favorite part about this book, however, wasn’t the romance (shocking right??). It was the rich & beautifully described historical setting. I’m a huge American history geek, and I thought it was a genius move to incorporate historical icons like Vanderbilt, J.P. Morgan, and Jefferson Davis into the story. There’s a mix of everything in here – romance, history, and political intrigue that made for an entertaining and thrilling read.I would recommend this book to fans of historical romance that aren’t bothered by extra details about the Civil War and enjoy a little dark & suspense in their stories.

Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW ~ THIN LOVE BY EDEN BUTLER

Love isn’t supposed to be an addiction. It isn’t supposed to leave you bleeding. 

Kona pushed, Keira pulled, and in their wake, they left behind destruction. 

She sacrificed everything for him. 

It wasn’t enough. 

But the wounds of the past can never be completely forgotten and still the flame remains, slumbers between the pleasure of yesterday and the thought of what might have been. 

Now, sixteen years later, Keira returns home to bury the mother who betrayed her, just as Kona tries to hold onto what remains of his NFL career with the New Orleans Steamers. Across the crowded bustle of a busy French Market, their paths collide, conjuring forgotten memories of a consuming touch, skin on skin, and the still smoldering fire that begs to be rekindled. 

When Kona realizes the trifecta of betrayal—his, Keira’s and those lies told to keep them apart—his life is irrevocably changed and he once again takes Keira down with him into the fire that threatens to ignite them both.

You know how sometimes you open a book and read just a few lines but you already know that it’ll be good for you? Thin Love was that kind of book for me. As a reader who tries to avoid angst and all kinds of drama, I expected this book to be a complete turnoff but instead, the story & the characters hit me hard. It’s difficult to read this book and not be reminded of myself…and just how impetuous and uninhibited young hearts are. Unflinchingly honest and emotionally raw, Thin Love is a heart-pounding story documenting Kona and Keira’s tumultuous relationship – first in college and then 16 years later when a fated encounter brings them together once more.

The book is split into two parts: one focusing on Kona and Keira’s time together in college and another when they see each other again 16 years later. In part 1, Keira Riley is introduced as a smart, ambitious but antisocial freshman who knows what she wants out of life. Granted a temporary reprieve from her meddlesome and controlling mother, Keira channels all her energy and focus on getting good grades, getting out of college, and getting away from her family. Being constantly surrounded by wealthy, uptight, and superficial people all her life, Keira knows the importance and value of real relationships and love and vows to have nothing less.

Unknown to her, Keira’s world gets shaken up as she’s assigned to work with none other than the campus manwhore Kona Hale. A native Hawaiian whose entire focus is on football, Kona is outwardly charming and relaxed but always aware of the pressure to excel in the field from his abrasive mother, demanding coach, and friends and teammates.It’s hate at first sight for Kona and Keira. She despises his laissez-faire attitude in class and he pities her for being a nerdy and stuck up girl. But at the same time, there’s no denying this powerful and intense connection they have that’s not just physical attraction. There’s a push-and-pull dynamic for a good part of the book which is to be expected for a bad boy falls for good girl storyline. And then comes the part where mistakes are made and lies are told and ultimately, Kona and Keira split apart. It isn’t until 16 years later where their gazes collide in the market that they contemplate the idea of being together again.***********************I have to say, this book was both hard and easy to read. Hard to read because it was devastating to see the extreme lows in their relationship. Easy to read because their chemistry is THE most intense and when they were together, they were together. It’s not every book I read where the couple’s love drowns out all logic and reasoning…a love that’s so desperate and so unhinged it becomes toxic yet you just can’t help but want them to be together. They were drugged on love…heck, I was too and I was swept away in the torrent of emotions this couple evoked. Seriously, they had it all: jealousy, lust, love, regret, and the list just goes on…

I think this book could’ve been a complete 5 star read for me if it hadn’t been the odd Hawaiian lingo occasionally used and the 3rd person narration. The tense was just plain weird sometimes and if I hadn’t been so emotionally invested in these characters, the 3rd person narration would’ve caused a huge problem for me. I also would’ve liked more about Kona’s mother and an explanation to why she always had a stick up her ass.If you’re going to read this book, go in knowing these characters make terrible mistakes. They hurt and blame and take but they also give, accept, and heal. For me, it is the hard-earned happy endings that are usually the most rewarding and satisfying to read, and that was the case with this book. Kona and Keira’s journey is rife with passion, heartache, and all-consuming love, a combination that makes for an unputdownable and unforgettable read.

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BLOG TOUR ~ DELIVER BY PAM GODWIN

His name was Joshua Carter. Now it’s whatever she wants it to be.
She is a Deliverer.
She lures young men and delivers them to be sold. She delivers the strikes that enforce their obedience. 
She delivers the sexual training that determines their purchase price. 
As long as she delivers, the arrangement that protects her family will hold. 
Delivering is all she knows.
The one thing she can’t deliver is a captive from slavery.
Until him.
And her stubborn slave thinks he can deliver her…from herself.
Romantic ThrillerStand Alone (no cliff-hanger). The sequel is coming Summer 2014.Content warning: Graphic sex, violence, and psychological abuse. Age 18+ only.

My first reaction after reading: UM WUT. This book has so much in it! From romance to action then to suspense, my brain and heart never got a chance to relax before something happened. And that’s a good thing! The book grabbed my attention and kept me fully engaged with the story.

Dark scale (1-10): 5Mindfuck scale (1-10): 2No Stockholm syndrome; more like a survivor romance. You do what you need to do to stay alive.
**It wasn’t as dark as I thought it would be because of Josh’s character. He’s a wonderful guy, really sweet, and that kind of evened out the dark field ;)**

The story begins with the Deliverer, Liv, intently watching her target: an innocent, handsome, righteous 21 year old football player Josh. Liv’s job is to “deliver” people who fit her clients’ requirements, and with his fair outer appearance and sexual innocence, Josh is perfect for what she’s looking for. Alongside Van (whose role in the book is still iffy at this point), they successfully maneuver the kind-hearted Josh into their trap and lock him up, preparing his training as a slave.
I have to say here that this first part really tore me up. I’m normally okay, no wait, giddy, to read about captive/captor stories and I thought this would be like any other one. Except for me, there was no thrill anymore. Josh is the sweetest, most innocent and good person, and to read his thoughts were heartbreaking: his first instinct is to worry about his parents, who rely on him with their farm. Even when he’s captured, he still tries to help Liv. However, he quickly learns that when Liv switches into her “Mistress” mode and trains slaves, there are no soft moments.

Then comes the part where the book went a little downhill for me. I get that there has to be a turn or a certain degree of power Liv relinquishes in order for her and Josh’s romance to develop, but the pace at which they fall for each other was disarming. As in it didn’t convince me. Another aspect that made me feel iffy for a good portion of the book was Liv herself. From the blurb and the first few chapters, Liv is expected to be this dominant, badass, hardcore Mistress who has no fears and is confident in all she does, but after finding out how she started into this whole business brought down her character in terms of an anti-heroine who later opens up to Josh, not having a weak spot for him from the beginning.
Anyways, they have this connection that she doesn’t have with anyone, not even Van.

I really loved Van’s character and his role in the story. He was the source of some tension and conflict within the timeframe Liv trains Josh so it kept the book interesting. There’s this one scene with Van near the end that gave me a mini-heart attack and I was absolutely FURIOUS with Liv. At that time I condemned her to the fiery pits of hell and now that I think about it, I don’t regret it one bit. Because of the way events played out with Van, I wished the author revisited his character and not leave me questioning his role in the last quarter of the story. Anyways I think if you’re a romantic at heart you will be really pleased with the last 25% of the book.

Aside from the things I mentioned before that prevented me from giving the book 5 stars, there was one more thing that made me raise an eyebrow and that was in regards to the wrap up of the mysterious “Mr. E,” the guy in charge of the entire operation. Anyways my point is that this, along with some other events, were wrapped up too nicely and took away from the dark and thrilling aspect of the book. 

Overall this was a pretty unique and suspenseful read. The numerous twists and turns in the book kept me on my toes and the erotic nature of the story should be commended.
ARC kindly provided by author in exchange for an honest review.

Pam Godwin lives in the Midwest with her husband, their two children, and a foulmouthed parrot. When she ran away, she traveled fourteen countries across five continents, attended three universities, and married the vocalist of her favorite rock band. Java, tobacco, and dark romance novels are her favorite indulgences, and might be considered more unhealthy than her aversion to sleeping, eating meat, and dolls with blinking eyes.


Posted in Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW ~ SLADE BY ALASKA ANGELINI

MARY is the perfect tool to use against the man who took his sister, Lily. What better way to exact retribution from Governor Hagen and force him to bring Lily back, than to steal his own daughter and threaten to sell her as a sex slave, too? But, even the best laid plans don’t always go 
smoothly. Slade ends up falling for his captive, and is faced with a decision that might just cause him to lose the one thing he doesn’t want to let go.

SLADE is every bit the animal he portrays. Dominant, dark, unbending, and possessive—her own personal predator. Mary can’t help but be drawn to the soul deep darkness in him. It calls to her like nothing she’s ever felt before. 

When her father bends to Slade’s will and releases Lily, will Mary be 
allowed to walk away and follow her father’s plans to marry another, or will Slade make her a captive to the dark…forever?

WARNING: This book contains very graphic violence, disturbing situations, dubious consent, and very strong language.

2 STARS for the dark romance aspect3.5 STARS for the actual story and plot
Before I jump into a little bit about the plot and my thoughts on that I need to clarify something about thegenre classification and why that was 2 stars for me. So the book is categorized as dark romance and that was the mindset I had when I went into the story. While I did see this as a twisted, batshit crazy (in a good way) story, unfortunately, this book failed to live up to dark romance standards for me. For one,Slade was the nicest captor I’ve ever read about. Where’s the physical and emotional breaking of the captive? Let me tell you, there was none. I like strong heroines and Mary was one so she had tons of grit and fierceness but she wasn’t treated like a captive at all, more like Slade’s queen. Another thing was, Slade was so intent on making her his (dangles her virginity in front of her and treats her so delicately) and the two of them fell in love in a snap. Aside from the erotic, BDSM-nature of their relationship, I honestly couldn’t understand how they fell in love. I wouldn’t call it Stockholm Syndrome either; Mary’s way too strong for that term to take effect.
So if you are reading this book with the intent of getting a dark read with a mindfuck, it’s not. I would call this romantic suspense with erotic (bondage, knife/blood play) and some dark elements. If you don’t read much dark romance then maybe this book will hit a 6 or 7 on a 10 point scale. Keep in mind I do read a lot in this genre and the term is so subjective and thrown around a lot the meaning is almost archaic.

Right from the start, the story got my attention with the powerful prologue. It told me a lot about Mary’s character: a fierce, independent woman whose scarred past left a permanent mark on her, and how her dark, sadistic urges were born. I really felt for her and what she went through as a teenager and so could understand her sexual proclivities. All in all, this woman thrived on pain but was also in pain when no one, not even her family, bothered to comfort her in her dark times.
While vacationing with her sister and brother-in-law, she meets Jordan, her father’s business partner’s son and at first glance, Jordan knows Mary is different.

His sexual tastes are somewhat similar to hers and he can identify with that. I know that the male lead isn’t Jordan but I couldn’t help falling for his character. His tastes are dangerous, to the point where it’s life-threatening but he truly cared for Mary and I appreciated that fact. He also stood up for her and protected her in various situations and that just made me fall for him more. So aside from his eccentric sexual tastes, there was really nothing I could pick on him for and that made it hard for me to accept Slade as the male lead and Mary’s potential love interest.
Slade’s on a vengeance spree. His sister Lily was taken and sold into sexual slavery and so he’s retaliating on the man responsible by taking his daughter, which is Mary. At first contact, the two of their personalities clash. They may be kindred souls in the erotica world, but holy hell, they’re like fire and ice in everything else!

I really liked the book in terms of plot, the pace, and writing style (stellar!!), but there were some plot inconsistencies and grammatical errors and typos that bumped my rating down. For example, I wish the author revisited Mary’s sister and her brother-in-law as they were thought to be responsible for what happened to Lily. After a particular camera scene, they never were really mentioned again. There were also some typos that didn’t break my reading flow, but were noticeable enough.
The ending of the book really didn’t work for me. As you can see earlier in my review, I am a fan of Jordan and when things didn’t work out too well (that’s putting it mildly) for him, I was ready to blow a gasket. Plus that final action scene where everyone is in the room and bam everything starts flying was absurd. I can only guess that it panned out that way so things could be wrapped up nicely and Slade and Mary could be together again.
As this is the first book I’ve read by the author and liked, I’m definitely not opposed to reading more from her.
A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


Posted in Book Reviews

WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT MARCH 28?

P.S. I actually make that squeeeeeee-ing noise. Like, out loud not in my head.
P.P.S. Everyone hates it. 
P.P.P.S. I do it anyway!

So anywhoooo, last year on March 28, I stumbled on this site called Goodreads and never really stumbled off of it. It’s weird because I actually had an account since 2009 but never used it until last year when my interest in books started. And so around that time, while everyone was naming Fifty Shades of Grey or some other book as “the book” that got them back into reading again, I name Goodreads, the website. Without this wonderful reader-friendly site I never would have gotten to read the books I’ve read, meet some awesome, amazing friends (some who are my best friends now) and just chat about books in general and give/receive book recommendations!!! It’s no secret that my blog is VERY Goodreads-friendly and I plan to keep it that way ^_^

And so fast forward a year and here I am now!! To me, a Goodreadsiversary is just as important (probably more important) than say, a blogiversary so I’ve been planning something grand for a while now. I have a couple of prizes to give away and the first thing that came to mind were reading devices! I know a couple of Goodreads friends and some blog followers said they either read on their phones or computer and let’s face it…having a huge ass screen or a teeny tiny one where you might need magnifying glasses is just not cool when you’re trying to enjoy a book so I have two grand prizes: one winner will receive a Kindle Fire HD and another winner a Kindle Paperwhite. Both are loaded with 28 of my favorite books!! (I wish I could add more but the graphic ran out of room hehe). The 28 ebooks are mainly 2014 favorites and then I threw in some of my all-time favorites. 

Next there are 4 $25 Amazon gift cards up for grabs for four winners! Aside from signed paperbacks and e-reader devices, gift cards are my next favorite things to give away and I’m sure if you won one, you could put this gift card to good use 

The next few prizes have a special meaning! Like I said, without Goodreads there would be TONS of books and authors I’d never heard of and the following are the first few to come to mind:
Abbi GlinesAleatha RomigCJ RobertsJessica SorensenK.A. LindeJ. Lynn
Seriously I never would’ve heard of them without Goodreads so the next prizes are signed paperbacks from those authors! To commemorate this special day, I am even willing to part with 1 of my 2 signed indie sets of the Too Far series by Abbi Glines and give them to one of the winners.

The last two prizes will be huge, and I say that because my house is overflowing with swag: swag that I picked up from before and from the Austin Book Fest last week and swag that I made myself! Unsigned swag, signed swag, you name it, I pretty much have it in my house and I’d love to give some of those goodies away! 
So there you have it! 14 prizes for 14 winners! Giveaway will run for 2 weeks and is open to everyone! Happy Goodreadsiversary!