Monday, August 31, 2015

Monthly Recap #7 August 2015

August 2015

I don't think I've read this much in a month in a long time. Granted quite a few of these were only, like, 150-200 pages. But I also spent a lot of my "reading time" doing anything but. I gave in to my curiosity and ended up binge watching the entire first season of Daredevil. If you haven't discovered it's awesomeness yet go to Netflix now and do so! So watching that got me to thinking how, since I'm a total DC girl, I've never really given much Marvel stuff a chance. I mean besides:

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Because how can you resist Thor when he's played by Chris freaking Hemsworth? Exactly! Well I also decided I'd finally give in to even more temptation and see what Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D was all about. And along strolls this:

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So after wiping the drool from my chin I proceeded to also binge watch most of the first two seasons of that as well. And then you add in the fact that, much to my son's dismay, I also did a marathon of all the Twilight movies (don't judge), and all the board game nights I had with him...I mean, I seriously wonder how in the hell, even as short as a lot of those books where, I was able to read every single one of them in such a short time. 

Why do I always end up babbling? Sigh. My apologies. I'll just get into things shall I?

What I read in August:

What I reviewed:

Blackmail Boyfriend by Chris Cannon
Playing for Her Heart (Gamers #2) by Megan Erickson
Recipe for Temptation (Madewood Brothers #4) by Gina Gordon
Undercover with the Earl by Robyn DeHart
Falling for the P.I. (Still Harbor #1) by Victoria James
The Colonel's Daughter (Men of the Zodiac #8) by Amy Andrews
Unexpectedly His (Smart Cupid #2) by Maggie Kelley
Fearless (Pretty Smart Girls #2) by Shae Ross
Five Things I Love About You (Chase Brothers #1) by Sarah Ballance
Beauty and the Werewolf (San Francisco Wolf Pack #2) by Kristin Miller
The Reaper's Kiss (Deathmark #1) by Abigail Baker
Just Say Yes by Alyssa Goodnight
Make it Count (Bowler University #1) by Megan Erickson
Melting Point (Hot in Chicago #1.5) by Kate Meader

Favorite read of August:

Him-M photo HimM_zpsebaj7xl7.pngMeltingPoint-M photo MeltingPointM_zpsn1goujqe.png

I couldn't decide between these two. Oh my heart...they were perfection. And both M/M romances. Hmm.

Least favorite read of August:

Fearless-M photo FearlessM_zps6ipne2fl.png

I was expecting a fighter romance and this was anything but. Felt very decieved and couldn't shake the disappointment.

Weekly Memes:

Weekly Haul:
#63 | #64 | #65 | #66 | #67

Top Ten Tuesday:
#61: Fairytale Retellings I've Read/Want To Read/Want To Be Retold
#62: Authors I've Read The Most Books From
#63: Authors On My Auto-Buy List (Part Two)

Waiting on Wednesday #37


I've skipped this quite a few months in a row since I allowed myself to get bogged down with ARCs, but, I finally squeezed some time in this month and binged on a series I fell hard for:

The Bowler University series by Megan Erickson
(I highly recommend, it's such a great NA series!!!)

I completed 2 more of these for a total of 19/50 done. I think if I make it to 25 by the end of the year I'll be satisfied with my progress. Because a lot of the rest of them are going to be kind of hard...and I'm just plain procrastinating haha.

So that's it for August. It's been a long and crazy month and I can't believe we're creeping up on the end of 2015! I hope everyone's September is spectacular! For those back in school/getting ready for back to school I wish you luck!

ARC REVIEW: Melting Point (Hot in Chicago #1.5) by Kate Meader

Title: Melting Point
Series: Hot in Chicago #1.5
Author: Kate Meader
Publisher: Pocket Star
Published: August 31st 2015
Format: ARC | Pages: 131
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, M/M
Source: Publisher
★★★★★ (5/5) Stars!!!!

Kate Meader | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Things are heating up at Engine Co. 6 in this original e-novella from Kate Meader’s sizzling Hot in Chicago series! Super hot playboy firefighter Gage Simpson has one particular man on his mind: Brady Smith, a recalcitrant, moody chef who makes Gage melt from the inside out. Features a sexy sneak preview of Playing with Fire!

Firefighter Gage Simpson has it all: the job of his dreams, the family of his heart, and no shortage of hot guys lining up to share his bed. “Fun and easy” is his motto—and it’s kept him sunny through a painful upbringing and steered him away from trouble. But when trouble comes knocking in the form of a sexy, scarred, tattooed chef with a harrowing past and zero communication skills, Gage can’t help but be drawn to the flame.

Brady Smith isn’t fun. And easy isn’t in his vocabulary. When cocky Gage swaggers into his restaurant kitchen, the former Marine-turned-five-star-chef is blindsided by the firefighter’s beauty. Then confused that this golden guy with the sparkling blue eyes and the body of a god might be interested in him. As desire flares and temperatures rise, Gage and Brady will have to figure out if the heat between them is just a temporary flash—or the beginning of something real.

I received a copy of this book, from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. In no way did this sway either my review or my rating!

All I can think of right now is thank goodness for all the people, like myself, who saw enough in Gage and Brady for there to be a demand of them having their own novella. Not to take anything away from Kinsey and Luke, who were pretty freaking hot and wonderful themselves, but the bits and pieces on the side throughout book one, Flirting with Fire, that were happening between Gage and Brady really stole the spotlight for me. I was turning the pages faster to get to more of their story at times more so than the couple the book was about. Needless to say my copy of Melting Point has been sitting on my desk quite literally taunting me for weeks now until I was finally able to read it and there are no words for how worth the wait this book was.

Like everyone else who meets him, I was fascinated and enamored of Gage Simpson since his first appearance in Rekindle the Flame, a prequel type of novella. You can't help but love this guy. He's cocky in the most adorable way, perpetual grin and one of the most playful and flirtatious guys you'll ever meet. And he's an equal opportunity flirt at that. Male or female he'll turn on the charm and have you melting at his feet. I desperately needed him to have his own book! It was nice, if not bittersweet to see this other side of Gage. The one that's not always happy-go-lucky. The one who lets a bit of the pain from his past break past his otherwise unflappable exterior. As if it were possible to love this guy even more.

Brady was a mystery I was desperate to crack. Delicious muscles and tattoos with zero communication skills, scars inside and out and an aversion to human contact. This quiet and broody chef had me completely fascinated with the need to know his story. I loved watching Gage slowly, and I do mean slowly, break down his defenses and seeing the Brady that he probably was before he joined the marines. One who wasn't afraid to smile or laugh or let someone touch them. I loved everything about his character.

It's funny, when I mentioned to Kate Meader that I was going to be starting Melting Point in a few days the last thing she said to me about it was "Also hottest sex scenes I've ever written. Just sayin'"  Now that I've finished the book, I'm going to have to heartily agree! Hot. Scorching. Cold shower inducing scenes. The chemistry that Gage and Brady have is mind blowing. I mean it was evident in the teasers of will they/won't they that were in book one but holy hotness Batman! These two guys finally coming together, no pun intended...kinda, was worth every bit of dancing around their feelings, well more so Brady around his, that lead up to this point.

I could probably sit here for hours and gush about this book and these two characters that I'm deeply in love with but I'll stop here. I'm such a big fan of Kate Meader's writing and the characters she creates. If you've never read anything by her before all I can say is what are you waiting for? I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out next month, Playing with Fire. I love this wonderful dynamic between this group of firefighting foster siblings and I need more! The end of September can't get here soon enough!

Huge, huge thanks goes to Pocket Star (Simon & Schuster) for the opportunity to read and review this book!!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Weekly Haul #67

Stacking the shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's basically a way in which we get to show off the lovely new goodies we got over the past week/month however you decide to do it.

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Falling for the Wrong Guy by Sara Hantz

This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

Thanks to Entangled Publishing for both of these :)

So I've never read a book by Tessa Dare before but I'm trying to break out of my Historical Romance author comfort zone and find some new ones. I saw something being tweeted about this book a few weeks back and so when it released I couldn't resist buying it. It looks SO good!!!

Yay for tiny book hauls!

So what have you added to your shelves this week?

Friday, August 28, 2015

REVIEW: Make it Count (Bowler University #1) by Megan Erickson

Title: Make it Count
Series: Bowler University #1
Author: Megan Erickson
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse
Published: June 3rd 2014
Format: eBook | Pages: 336
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Purchased
★★★★★ (5/5) Stars!!!

Megan Erickson | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

Now that was New Adult done right! I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to pick up a New Adult novel and read an engaging story with captivating characters that were full of depth. I devoured this book. I couldn't have put it down even if I wanted to!

It's hard for me to sit here and try to decide which I liked more. The characters or the storyline? But, since characters are always the huge draw for me, I guess I'll start my gushing there. Megan Erickson can write the most amazing characters, especially the nerdy ones. And nerdy is the new sexy you know. This series is cram packed full of intriguing characters. I love it when even the side characters have you sucked in and wanting to know all about them.

Kat, well that girl completely stole my heart. I felt so connected to both her and Alec, almost as if I could feel everything they were going through. Both the ups and the downs. I loved the complexity of Kat's character. How she could seem so confident and almost cocky in her teasing sort of way. Yet once you peel back the layers you find all the deep, almost heartbreaking, insecurities that she tries to cover up with the pretty exterior and practiced smile. I think what I truly loved about her though was her humor. Kat is so freaking funny. She has her moments where she's easily distracted and during those times, as her mind wanders all over the place, I always ended up with a huge grin because she was so endearing and had me constantly wanting to just chuckle and say "Oh Kat..."

I totally and completely adored Alec. He's the type of character that makes you forget about all your other book boyfriends. He's just a great big wall of delicious. Alec has that intellectual, logical thing going on, which worked against him a couple of times in this book, but was oh so sexy. But what I really love about him is his compassion, his heart and how protective he was over Kat. How hard he tried to build her up and get her to see in herself what everyone but her saw. Plus my heart melted over the bond he had with his mom. Alec is just so open and easy to understand.

I loved the nice and slow build up toward Alec and Kat's relationship forming. Initially I was nervous starting this one. It clearly states in the blurb that Alec is her boyfriend's best friend. I wasn't looking forward to super messy. However not long after getting into Make it Count, you really get the sense that Max and Kat's relationship is very superficial. There's no substance or feelings. Kat likes guys who don't dig too deep past her beautiful exterior and look at the real her and Max, well, I wasn't exactly his biggest fan. In the beginning...

Among this handful of really amazing characters there are a lot of issues that are either dealt with or glimpsed at. I like the way each one of their storylines has been handled so far. It felt very real. Especially the look into Kat's mind.

I am completely head over heels for this series. This was such a great starting off point and thankfully I have the other two books sitting in my Kindle because I can't wait to get to the other stories. Even Max's whom I thought I wasn't going to like very much. I'm so excited to see what happens with him and Lea!! I may not agree with the degree to which he became such a bad friend for a while to Alec but I understood what was going on in his mind when he acted the way he did. I'm down to give him a second chance to completely win me over. He's already part of the way there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ARC REVIEW: Just Say Yes by Alyssa Goodnight

Title: Just Say Yes
Author: Alyssa Goodnight
Publisher: Entangled Select Contemporary
Published: August 25th 2015
Format: eARC | Pages: 264
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Publisher
★★★ (3/5) Stars!

Alyssa Goodnight | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Single mom Jade Moran isn't ready for any big changes in either her horrible '70s kitchen or her romantic life. Her ex did a number on her, and she isn't interested in getting hurt again. But when she meets a super-hot contractor, she wonders if avocado appliances are on the way out and romance is on the way in.

Max Gianopoulis doesn't have a clue why he's so enchanted by Jade. She's almost as big a mess as her kitchen, and he's a guy who likes to keep things simple. But Jade has turned up the flirty heat - and he can't keep his hands off her.

With everything moving too fast and coming too easy, Jade's insecurities kick into high gear. She's not sure she can trust another man again - and she definitely doesn't believe in happily ever afters.

I received a copy of this book, from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. In no way did this sway either my review or my rating!

I'm not exactly sure how this review is going to go. Usually I have basic ideas in my head and just flesh them out as I go along, but I'm still on the fence with this one. To be honest, and I don't mean this in a bad way or a good way for that matter, it just is what it is, but, this book was just...strange. There was quite a bit that I really liked about it, but then there were the other parts that had me scratch my head and wonder what on earth I'd picked up.

What truly had me baffled and second guessing my feelings towards this book was the big focus on magic in food. You meet a secondary character at the very start of the book, Opal, who is known as "The Witch in the Kitchen". It's kinda her brand and she has lines of food with all these descriptions of what they promote and inspire. Love, openness, etc. It's not something I was expecting when picking up a contemporary novel and while it was interesting it threw me off quite a bit.

Witchy and magical aspects aside, the storyline was a fun and interesting one. One filled with an equally interesting and odd assortment of secondary characters and I do mean odd in an endearing kind of way. Even though I was thrown off a bit by the magic I did have lots of fun reading Just Say Yes. I mean how could I not with all of the comic book hero, Firefly and Doctor Who type of references. My inner nerd greatly appreciated and geeked out pretty hard over those.

Jade, when not in a relationship, was a really fun character. I loved the relationship between Jade and her daughter, Evie. They were sweet and funny and had a bond that put a huge smile on my face when I'd read their interactions. However, once Max was thrown into the mix and he showed romantic interest in her, my feelings for Jade wavered. A lot. There's insecurity and untrusting and then there's Jade. Jade is on a level all of her own. I think my issue was the fact that her ex had been her ex for thirteen years and yet still she was letting that affect her budding relationship with Max. It got tiring all the questions that would tumble around in her head about him and about taking risks. Questions that never seemed to let up for very long.

Then there was Max who was sweet, such a great guy. I mean, how many guys, after only knowing you for a few weeks and only a couple of those days where you're actually "seeing each other" would not only be the one pushing you to tell your child that you were dating (that's not as bad as it sounds Evie and Max had a really sweet and fun bond going themselves) but stay and take care of you while you were sick. Even when you tried to make him go away so he didn't see you looking like death! I didn't think they actually existed. I mean there was no commitment, no talk of the future, he just genuinely fell into place in their life during the kitchen remodel and didn't want his time with them to end. And still she did not trust him. "He's just a player and their time was going to end soon." I just felt so bad for him and there were times when I just wanted to say run far and run fast!

Whenever her mind was quiet from doubts though, I couldn't deny that Jade and Max were completely adorable and perfect for one another. Their chemistry heated up the pages. I just wish she would have had a little less neurotic tendencies.

Overall I had fun reading it and was happy with how this book ended. There were hints towards two other pairings in the eclectic group of characters that have me very curious and I'm hoping that means this is going to end up being a series and I won't be left hanging! I really want to learn more about all four of them. Even strange, witchy Opal!

Thanks to Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book!

ARC REVIEW: The Reaper's Kiss (Deathmark #1) by Abigail Baker

Title: The Reaper's Kiss
Series: Deathmark #1
Author: Abigail Baker
Publisher: Entangled Select Otherworld
Published: August 25th 2015
Format: eARC | Pages: 341
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Source: Publisher
★★★✩ (3.5/5) Stars!

Abigail Baker | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Drop-dead gorgeous…and fatal.

Ollie Dormier's tattoos are deadly. She is a Scrivener—an employee for Death—and her skull tattoos mark her clients for their demise. She does her job, and she stays out of trouble. But when her hands start to burn hot and fierce, and her control goes leaping out the window, all hell breaks loose. Ollie is showing the early signs of being a Master...demonstrating power that is forbidden.

That power is exactly what Reaper Brent Hume is counting on. A hot, scruffy rebel, who does marvelous and terrifying things to Ollie's insides. Now he needs Ollie's help—and her skills—to overthrow the evil and corrupt Head Reaper. That is, if he can figure out a way to keep this hot-handed girl cool...and keep his hands off.

I received a copy of this book, from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. In no way did this sway either my review or my rating!

I'm having very mixed feelings about The Reaper's Kiss upon finishing it. On the one hand it was a brilliant and unique storyline and so many things within that blurb had me highly intrigued and desperately wanting to get my hands on it and see what it was all about. On the other hand while I still feel like it was all of those things,  but some of the execution of the story fell flat for me.

One of the most interesting draws to this book were the Scriveners. The idea that these supernatural types tattoo their mark on you and you can kiss your soul goodbye. It was fascinating how these people would unknowingly feel the pull to wander into their shop and get marked. I wondered how difficult it would be tattooing someone knowing that it meant their death. Could I handle doing something like that? It was crazy to think of. Though the gist I got from Ollie was that the majority of the people that sat in her chair were lowlife's who didn't deserve a second thought. But still...

I absolutely love a good story where there's a fascist government and a rebellion stirring in the otherwise seemingly devoted people of said government. Plotting and planning and desiring to take down the dictator like leader and bring a more peaceful and harmonious life to their people. This book had all of those things, but that's where the execution wavered for me. Part of the time I was saying yes, yes, yes! And the rest I was running my hand over my face with a heavy sigh.

Sometimes it was hard to look past some if it's more lackluster moments. Ollie, every so often, came off very much like a petulant child. Everything had to be done her way. Upon meeting a new group of rebels for the very first time, after being told she was needed and being asked if she would help them, her response was basically my way or the highway. Especially when her question back was "Will you do everything I say?" I mean, that's it? These people didn't know her or what she was truly capable of the rumor of her has basically just been passed around and instantly they're just suppose to follow her orders without even a "here's my plan" or "here are some ideas I have". Nope it's just do as I say or I don't need you I'll go do it alone. 

The other big thing that had me questioning my feelings towards this book was the romance. Now I am all for romance. You dangle a ship in my face and I am all over that. And I do ship Ollie and Brent. I ship them hard. But I felt like this amazing story kept getting taken over by Brent, Ollie and their uncontrollable hormones. Things went up in flames way, way too fast in my opinion when they knew basically nothing about one another. This is a series. So it seems as if there's going to be plenty of time to develop a romance between them am I right? A nice and amazing slow burn that by the time it finally ignites, a couple books in at least, you feel that "finally!" feeling because the rest of the story was the bigger pull. Is that what we get? No...Hello insta-love. Sigh.

I think that's what makes this whole thing so difficult for me. Because I am completely hooked already. Like I desperately want the next book to be in my hands so I can see what happens next, because that ending...It's going to be maddening having to wait! So I'm trying hard to look past the whole insta-love thing because there's no question that I will be continuing with this series. 

My final verdict? Pretty good, but it could have been freaking amazing with just a couple tweaks. And how long until book two? *Bites nails in anticipation*

Thanks to Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book!

Monday, August 24, 2015

ARC REVIEW: Beauty and the Werewolf (San Francisco Wolf Pack #2) by Kristin Miller

Title: Beauty and the Werewolf
Series: San Francisco Wolf Pack #2
Author: Kristin Miller
Publisher: Entangled Covet
Published: August 25th 2015
Format: eARC | Pages: 176
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Source: Publisher
★★★ (3/5) Stars!

Kristin Miller | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

A paranormal category romance from Entangled's Covet imprint...

This lone wolf falls hard...for his enemy.

Unmated werewolves don't normally live past three hundred years old...and billionaire Jack MacGrath is cutting it close. Sure, he has almost everything-the respect of his peers, a mansion in San Francisco, a private jet, and fast cars. But without a mate, Jack's in trouble. Then he sees her. Gorgeous, proud...and his enemy.

Isabelle Connelly is good at hiding things from her father. Like her success as a painter, or the incredibly intense attraction she has to Jack MacGrath. After all, she's royalty and falling for anyone lesser-to say nothing of a rival pack-would be, er, unseemly. Now she must choose between her duty to her family and her pack...or her perfect fated mate.

I received a copy of this book, from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. In no way did this sway either my review or my rating!

I felt the need to throw a little paranormal romance into my life to break up the huge amounts of contemporaries I've been stuck on lately. After reading the blurb for Beauty and the Wolf, it seemed like the perfect book for the job. Now, I wasn't exactly blown away, but as I whipped my way through this story I found myself drawn in deeply and filled with a need to know how Jack and Isabelle's story would end.

I became very fascinated with the lore of this world. The fact that werewolves don't normally live past 300 unless they find the one. The mate they're fated to be with. I was intrigued by all the possible "what ifs" that presented.

Jack's character was like a breath of fresh air when it comes to the normal werewolf male characters. I mean, sure he had a very powerful alpha like air about him but that side of him was minuscule compared to how sweet and kind hearted he was.

I'm always immediately drawn in to a good forbidden type of a romance. It was the huge draw that this book in particular had on me. It wasn't quite everything I had hoped it would be in that area, but it was fun all the same. I guess I had hoped there would be more of a backstory where the two families were concerned that would cause lots of back and forth. Some big, dark family secret that would be nearly impossible for either side to get past and make Jack and Isabelle's feelings seem more taboo. Even though that's not how it played out, I was still pulled in and didn't want to put the book down.

There was a lot of chemistry and sizzle between Jack and Isabelle. The only problem, which is pretty much what I expected to happen, was the whole insta-love thing. It's generally what makes me unsure about picking up a shifter/werewolf book. Romances always seem to be filled with "the one", "the fated mate" type of a situation and with that comes that instant connection and instant feelings. It's a bit frustrating, well maybe a lot frustrating, when you have a really good and pretty solid story...only to have the premature I love yous put a smudge on what is an otherwise pretty fantastic story.

Regardless of the insta-love and my desire for Jack and Isabelle's story to be filled with more roadblocks, it was a very sweet and heartwarming read. It was quick and steamy and lots of fun. Exactly the type of book I needed to mix up my reading schedule!

Thanks to Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book!