Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Carolyn's July Books ... so far

Now is when I need the shit load of books I had ordered in the last few months because yesterday I got the Apple payback from Amazon. Now, I don't particularly like Apple and to my knowledge I haven't bought anything of theirs except my iphone. Which I don't need, I just need a phone to call Lori, could be any plain old phone.

But baybee, I got a VERY large settlement. And I have only three or four books listed for July. Isn't that always the way?? However, I did stock up on the rest of the Rizzoli and Isles mysteries by Tess Gerritsen so, yay me, lol.

Okay, here's my pathetic little list.

1.  Even Odds
     Author: Elia Winters
     Publisher: Simon and Schuster
     Releases: July 4, 2016
     Price: $1.99

Geeky meets kinky in this first deliciously sexy novel in the Slices of Pi series by RITA-nominated author Elia Winters, which follows the romantic rendezvous of the employees at PI Games, a gaming company based out of sultry Florida.

As a design manager at PI Games, Isabel Suarez is no stranger to the struggles of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. But when her team attends a gaming convention on the other side of the country, she figures there’s no harm in putting aside her professional demeanor for one weekend to participate in a risqué scavenger hunt. Why shouldn’t she let loose and have a little fun?

A careless romp soon turns into more, however, when Isabel ends up having a fling with Caleb Portland, an artist and animator, without knowing he has just been hired to partner with her at her company—and Caleb can’t bring himself to tell her. When they end up coworkers a few weeks later, they need to find a way to work together and keep things strictly professional. Caleb doesn’t want to take on a relationship and risk failure. Isabel doesn’t want to risk ruining the professional reputation she’s worked so hard to develop. But when faced with the undeniable sizzling chemistry between them, will either of them be able to resist temptation?

A sexy and witty tale of romance and modern workplace politics, Even Odds is the latest winning entry in Elia Winters’ unique and well-loved erotic novels.

Well, it says it's erotic, so I have been warned. I just liked the premise and the price was definitely right, so I'll give it a try.

2.  Steadfast
     Author: Sarina Bowen  
     Publisher: Rennie Road Books (self published?)
     Releases: July 12, 2016
     Price: $3.99

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there's no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere. 

Sophie Haines is stunned by his reappearance. After a three year absence, the man who killed her brother and broke her heart is suddenly everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never volunteer in the church kitchen. 

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie's police chief father. But it's a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

I love Sarina Bowen and I like her new series (all one book of it, lol). She's an autobuy for me.

3.  Among the Wicked: A Kate Burkholder Novel
     Author: Linda Castillo
     Publisher: Macmillan
     Releases: July 12, 2016
     Price: $12.99

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called upon by the sheriff's department in rural, upstate New York to assist on a developing situation that involves a reclusive Amish settlement and the death of a young girl. Unable to penetrate the wall of silence between the Amish and "English" communities, the sheriff asks Kate to travel to New York, pose as an Amish woman, and infiltrate the community.
Kate's long time love interest, State Agent John Tomasetti, is dead set against her taking on such an unorthodox assignment, knowing she'll have limited communication - and even less in the way of backup. But Kate can't turn her back, especially when the rumor mill boils with disturbing accounts of children in danger. She travels to New York where she's briefed and assumes her new identity as a lone widow seeking a new life.
Kate infiltrates the community and goes deep under cover. In the coming days, she unearths a world built on secrets, a series of shocking crimes, and herself, alone... trapped in a fight for her life.
This is a great series and I'm so glad I discovered it. I like Kate and how she lives her life.

And one more June book, because I've become invested in the series ...

4.  Avenged (The Altered Series)
     Author: Marnee Blake
     Publisher: Macmillan
     Released: June 27, 2016
     Price: $3.99

Three terrifying months.
That’s how long Kitty Laughton has been at the mercy of the scientist who experimented on her town, killing over a dozen people and giving the rest of them unique powers. But Kitty doesn’t feel powerful, especially when she learns the crazy man plans to test his research on more unsuspecting people. She refuses to let anyone else die, but trapped with no one to help her she’s out of options…that is until sexy and exasperating Nick Degrassi arrives.
Special-ops soldier Nick blames himself for Kitty’s capture, and he’ll do whatever he can to free the quiet beauty, but close quarters and a shared secret bring an attraction that neither of them expected. With the organization that started it all making mercenaries for hire, Nick and Kitty must save themselves and stop a madman…before it’s too late.
The Altered series is best enjoyed in order.
Reading Order:
Book #1 Altered
Book #2 Avenged

I'm reading Avenged now. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with it but I'm able to put it down (when I had a sudden urge to reread Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt, for instance ;-) ) and pick it back up. Perhaps it'll grab me later in the book. Anyway, seemed a good idea to have #2 next in line.  

That's it for July. I'll have to find another way to spend my Apple bonanza but I've got a year to decide, so that's good. I wonder if I can buy videos with it ...?                                  

Monday, June 20, 2016

Bullet Journaling

So just between you and me... I love making lists. I'm a total sucker for writing things down in columns and doing it again and again. I just love lists.

And I love calendars. I love trying to find the perfect calendar that can also encompass my lists. Then I saw something about the Bullet Journal (BuJo for short) and I checked it out.

The reason it's called a bullet journal is because
  • it uses bullets
  • like this
  • as organization
But the best thing about it, I soon discovered, is that it's whatever you want it to be. So look up images for Bullet Journal and you see some really creative pages and artwork out there.

Mine is much more a tool for a calendar and various lists I want to keep. It's still a work in progress and I know some changes I'll be making in it as I continue.

 The first thing that the BuJo has is an index. Or a Table of Contents. It's a neat idea that you can easily find something you want to work on. (So organized.)

Then I have the year view calendar which is where I have (and plan to have) highlighted days when Mollie is out of school, holidays, birthdays and special dates.

Then there's month by day and a page of monthly goals, which is my list of bills and plans for the month.

 Then my calendar with space to note budget as well as events, thoughts and comments for the day.

That's my favorite page so far because I'm making notes about how I felt that day and noting the highlights.
 A page of color and a reminder to be kind.

 A budgetary challenge I saw someone else do and I decided to adapt it. My Tin Can Savings Challenge which every pay check I'll take an amount from the page and put the cash in a tin can (I have in my room). The idea is simple and since I'm so bad at savings I thought by turning it into a challenge and a game, it might be more effective.

I also have a few pages for word count on my current WIP and I plan to keep a list of books I've read as well as books I want to read. I thought I might also record book quotes that rock my world.

Anyway, it's fun as well useful and I'm totally into it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

Well, I couldn't really give a fuck about Father's Day since my own father was an utter sociopath and my brother, whom I do adore, is a moderately awful father himself.

But I know there are men out there who are doing it right so a tip of the hat to them.

Big news: my sister got married yesterday. Seriously big news because it only recently became law that she could and she and her partner have been together about 18 years, have weathered a shit ton and stayed strong and true. They're an amazing couple and I sobbed like a baby when I saw the pictures.

Congrats Shari and Cheryl. I love you both so much.

Mollie and I are making Father's Day dinner for my brother tonight (yeah yeah, I know) (but he's a pretty terrific brother and uncle) and both the main dish and dessert are recipes Carolyn gave me so if it sucks, I shall razz her unmercifully here.

I'm trying to do my last rewrite on my book since I figured out what isn't working about it and I've discovered bullet journaling which is my new favorite thing and I'll post about later.

Binge watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix and also binge-ing on House. Although House is starting to get on my nerves because he's so unpleasant and for no good reason. Even he doesn't understand why he's such a bastard and so there's no growth of his character and he becomes tedious.

Mollie is enjoying her summer. Life is good.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lori, darlin'

(And any other curious folk...)

White Hot, next Nevada book

I cannot wait!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

I'm not into NA - really, I'm not. Well, except for Sarina Bowen. And Elle Kennedy. And I guess the characters are pretty young in Kylie Scott's Stage Dive series ...well, it all boils down to the author, doesn't it? It all boils down to the writing. So, have a blurb for a damn good book!

Farmers make the earth move.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago. 

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price. 

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way. 

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some. 

Warning: Contains sexual situations, gourmet yumminess, a steamy outdoor shower and proof that farmers don't mind getting dirty.
There's something about Bowen's writing, her voice, that just clicks with me. I become invested in her characters and I really don't need a detailed or complicated plot, just two people finding their future.  The secondary characters are usually likeable, people you could call friend. Bittersweet ticks all these boxes.

The protagonists in this book, however, are older. Audrey is 25 and Griffin is 27. Audrey considers herself a failure and is determined to prove herself to her cold mother (who reminded me a lot of the mother in Nora Robert's The Witness). Griff lost his father and a possible football career at the same time and is conflicted, but not in great angst about it.

What I particularly liked about this book is that misunderstandings don't happen, because the characters talk to each other. They aren't stubborn (well, not too much) and they listen well. It was so enjoyable not to be saying "Oh, for God's sake!" every other page.  

I wanted the book to continue. I wanted to see how the possible solution worked out (trying to avoid spoilers here). I wanted to follow them into their future.

I'm not heroine-centric but I loved Audrey. She complimented Griff perfectly. They were a pair of bunnies there for awhile, but for some reason Bowen's love scenes are perfectly readable for me, maybe because she's not counting penile veins and lavishing adjectives on body secretions.

This was so different from Seals and Marines and tough alpha males; although Griff is tough and moderately alpha, he is a softy albeit a grumpy one. I also didn't know there were so many types of apples or apple cider. 

I recommend this book, if only for the cosy feel alone. Best of all, the next in the series, Steadfast, is releasing July 12. But the one I really want to read is Zach's story, Keepsake. No date on it yet, but Zach grew up in a cult, is about 23(?) and a virgin. He spent most of Bittersweet blushing, lol.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Duke of Sin (2)

I had to read it. In the middle of my reading/writing/living slump came this book which rocked.

I disagree with Carolyn in comparing him with Mal only because his general personality was so much more evil and Mal (Mal and Val... heh) needed some ADD meds to get him on an even keel... howevs, the sudden declarations and bombastic speeches were very Mal like (Val and Mal... heh) so I won't argue too much.

What I loved: Val was bad. Bad, bad, bad. He had reasons (it's always the father in these books, correct Dr Freud?) but his evil was fun. He was a blackmailer, a kidnapper, a killer. Seriously, not a good guy. Yet his reasoning for why he did things was sensible in his world view and as a reader, I disagreed with him but loved his thought processes.

The heroine was fun. She foiled Val which made him want her more because nobody truly challenged him. That was fun. And she didn't try to change him to make him a better man. He wasn't capable of that. What she did was work against him to keep him safe.

And he never considered what she did betrayal. He understood her better than she knew.

This was a seriously wicked read and I can't recommend it enough. And if it was left to the cheesy cover I would never have read it.

Hated the cover. Loved the book.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

I spent the whole day reading this and do not regret one bit the stuff I left undone. This book was worth it.

Have a blurb:

Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.


Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery's household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.


Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can't resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .

I enjoyed the heck out of this book. 

The previous Maiden Lane books were sort of meh for me; I read most of them but they didn't really grab me and some of the plots were way over the top. Val has been in most if not all of them, to one extent or another. He's always been a dubious character, if not downright evil.

We began to see there might be more to Val in the previous book, Sweetest Scoundrel, his sister Eve's story.

He is a terribly flawed character and yet he is still a Romance hero in many ways, not the least of which is his sense of humor, his fighting ability and his intelligence. He just has a few hangups from his childhood (as most alpha heroes do), but these are integrated into the narrative seamlessly and for the kicker, he is not immediately cured by the magic hooha or wooha or whatever it's called (I forget) but still remains a bona fide eccentric at the end of the book.

His heroine, Bridget, is more than up to his weight. These two were made for each other. Val considers they are playing a chess game of life and she manages to checkmate him several times, which delights him except for the last one.

And if I say that Val reminds me of Mal Erickson from Play by Kylie Scott, does that give you some idea of his character? They both have that manic energy and can be so funny and yet so loving (even though Val doesn't believe he can love).

But if he were to divest himself of his glory for a few short minutes, become a plain, boring man - perhaps with the name Jack - what would she reply to him then?

He gazed at her a little moodily.

Or Val's always interesting thoughts:

She was strangely alluring in her confidence in her own abilities. Women of his rank didn't have jobs, didn't have competence in... well, anything, really, aside from the odd musical talent. Embroidery. Dancing. His sister painted miniatures,but Eve was an eccentric. He did know of several ladies quite skilled at fellatio, but could that be called a job? Well, yes, if one were a whore, but the ladies in question didn't actually sell their skills, not unless one counted obtaining ever more influential men as lovers, but that wasn't exactly a quid pro quo, therefore...

He blinked and realized Mrs. Crumb was watching him quizzically. "Yes?"

"Sometimes," she said, "I wonder what you think about."

And there's the difference between first and third POV. We get to hear Val's thoughts as well as Bridget's and his thoughts are some of the funniest moments in the book. And overall, the book has a lightness to it, despite the seriousness of the source of Val's problems and the climatic scene near the end of the book. I ended up liking both these people and the plot was not too outré. I'm not sure Ms Hoyt redeemed Val, but then I don't think she meant to. He is what he is and he's willing to let Bridget be his moral guide. More or less.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you like Mal in Play. Happy reading!