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. ;)




Saturday, May 13, 2017

My TBR List ~ May ~ And the Winner is...

MyTBRList

My To-Be Read List is a meme hosted by Michelle @Because Reading. I think it's a fabulous idea because it gets y'all in the game and it helps me knock off some of the many, many books on my TBR list. You're more than welcome to join in the fun! I've included the basic rules below but you can click on the graphic above to hop over to Michelle's site where you can find all the details. 

Here's how it works:
On the first Saturday of each month, I will make a post with three books from my TBR List (these books can be already on your ereader or bookshelf OR books you might want to purchase) and add your link on the linky that will be provided on Michelle's post. Y'ALL will help me choose which book I will read next. The following Saturday, I will announce which book won. Then the last Saturday of the month, I'll post my review.

Fun, right?!?


***

Thanks to everyone who voted! I prepared and scheduled these posts during March's Blog Ahead so I've completely forgotten the choices for every month. When I started seeing the votes for this month, I got really excited.... ;)  I'm not gonna lie, I had a favorite going into this vote.



And the Winner Is:

Us (Him #2)
Us
Him #2

Synopsis
Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He's living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves--Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There's just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It's not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn't help that his new job isn't going as smoothly as he'd hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they?

When Wes's nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.



Check back on May 27th for my review! (and by the way, this was the one I was pulling for)


Friday, May 12, 2017

My TBR List Review ~ April #2 ~ Changing Tides ~ Sarah Darlington

MyTBRList

My To-Be Read List is a meme hosted by Michelle @Because Reading

As y'all know, I had a tie in the vote for My TBR in April so I read them both. Here's my second review...sorry it's late! ;)


***

Changing Tides (Kill Devil Hills, #2)
Changing Tides by Sarah Darlington
Kill Devil Hills #2
Release Date: March 16, 2015
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #ShelfLove, #TravelingtotheTerminus
Goodreads

Synopsis
ELLIE
For years Ellie Turner's had a crush on the ruggedly handsome, beast of a man, television actor, Nate West. This isn't your average 'fan-girl crush' either, it's borderline obsessive, and totally inconvenient since, other that this one exception, Ellie's always been strictly into girls. But it doesn't matter...because Nate doesn't exist in real life. In real life Ellie has her own issues to worry about, including the death of her brother, the recent suicide attempt of her sister, and then there's always her annoying roommate Rhett to contend with.

NATE
Nate West isn't looking to start a new relationship. He's still heartbroken over the last girl who ripped out his insides, still learning how to manage his new-found fame, and, frankly, not even sure what time-zone he's in. His life is so full of stress, the last thing he wants is more of it.

So when Nate and Ellie meet on an airplane, nothing life changing should have come from it. But "sometimes in life--very rarely, I might add--you meet someone and you know instantly they're going to mean something special to you."





I really liked Kill Devil Hills so I'm not sure why I waited so long to jump back into this series. While Changing Tides didn't pack the emotional punch of Kill Devil Hills nor did I find it quite as compelling, I did enjoy Ellie and Nate's story as well as the continuing story of the Turner family.

Ellie Turner was a character I immediately liked when I met her in Kill Devil Hills. She's kind, loyal, brash, and funny...and very sure of her sexuality. In fact, she seemed rather certain of a lot about her life, which I admired, and it's also why she was completely thrown for a loop when she found herself attracted to a man. Not just any man, mind you. It just so happened that one Nate West was on her flight from North Carolina to California. The Nate West who happens to star in one of Ellie's favorite t.v. programs. 

Nate is immediately drawn to Ellie and he's shocked because that's a rarity for him. He's coming off a bad breakup though so he questions whether Ellie is just a challenge or more?

The way the relationship between Ellie and Nate was allowed to grow seemed very genuine. I liked Ellie's quote:
"sometimes in life--very rarely, I might add--you meet someone and you know instantly they're going to mean something special to you."
and it was very applicable to her situation with Nate. I don't know though. There was just something that kept this story from being quite as complex. Maybe it's because the focus wasn't entirely on Ellie and Nate? There was another focus in this story and I have to admit to being very intrigued and very eager to have all my questions answered where this other plot line is concerned. I *do* know it had nothing to do with Ellie falling for a guy. I mean, we can't help who we fall in love with. The heart wants what it wants...and all those other cliches. I liked how Darlington dealt with Ellie processing the fact that although she was attracted to women, she also had some serious chemistry and a connection to Nate. I also enjoyed watching Nate realize what he'd had in his previous relationship wasn't at all what he'd thought it was. And witnessing him woo Ellie was fun too! On top of that, it was a pleasure spending time with Georgie and Noah, Rhett, and other characters I met in the first installment.

So while I can't put my finger on precisely what caused my connection with Ellie and Nate to be somewhat weak, their story was a good one. And I'm anxious to continue this series.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #62 ~ Remember When #2 ~ T. Torrest (@TTorrest)


I'm currently binging on T. Torrest's Remember When trilogy. It's so much fun! So I thought I'd share...

***

But for the time being at least, we were able to sit in relative obscurity in a booth at some no-name eatery on 45th, polishing off the rest of our late-night snack Seemed like old times, just sitting in a diner with Trip, as we licked the last remnants of whipped cream off our lips.
Off our own lips. Just wanted to be clear on that.
I'd had the Snickers pie, and Trip had opted for the apple. With vanilla ice cream. And a side order of cheese fries with gravy. And an egg cream, the last of which he slurped out of the bottom of his glass.
We'd stopped off at a liquor store on the way to the diner, and I saw the fifth of Jack Daniels make another appearance from under his jacket as he spiked his gazillionth Coke.
I watched him in amazement, wondering where he put it all. He'd commandeered the majority of our vat of popcorn during the movie, then proceeded to down a junk-food feast of epic proportions at the diner. "You better watch it, Chester. You're gonna get fat and then no one'll ever hire you again."
He leaned back in his seat, patting his hands across his taut belly. "Impossible. I am a study in superior genetics."
Yep. That he was. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review ~ Outlander ~ Diana Gabaldon #2017HW #ShelfLove

Outlander (Outlander #1)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Release Date: July 26, 2005
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance, Time Travel
Source: Purchased paperback
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017HW, #ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenack --an "outlander"-- in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire - and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.




So, Outlander has been on my TBR - at my friend Diana's request - for something like 12 years. I think I put it off mostly because...it's a big book. :) And it intimidated me somehow. Now that I've finished it I'm kicking myself for having waited and bowing to Diana's prowess with book recommendations. Diana, I should have known. :)

Since you'd have to live under a rock not to have heard of, read, or watched Outlander, I'm not going to cover what happens in the book so much as how it affected me. And it affected me greatly. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Claire - I love her. Her spirit, humor, strength...it all combines to make her this feisty, spit-fire of a woman who speaks her mind and acts according to her conscience no matter that it's 1743. As someone who has, on occasion, daydreamed of living in 1700 Scotland, Claire handles everything with grace (Claire grace, anyway) and aplomb.
  • And then there's Jamie. I'm not sure I've "met" a Highlander her - or any her - as brave and compassionate as he. On top of that he's intelligent and open-minded, both valuable assets considering he ends up attached to Claire.
  • The romance between Claire and Jamie is... I can't come up with the proper word. Their love is real, true and will stand the test of time. They quarrel but never stop fighting for each other. It's heartening to have been a part of them falling in love.
  • The history and detail made for an even more affecting story. The brutality of life during this time period, the clan dynamics and politics, the intrigue and suspense created between the Scots and the English, the imagery of the heather-lined hills and even the thief hole - it was all incredible. Gabaldon wove all these details - even antiquated language - into and around this amazing story.
  • Humor. I was grateful for the humor injected throughout the story as it was sorely needed at times. It was typically issued via Claire - speaking her mind - and Jamie more often than not.
I was seriously blown away by Outlander. I'm sorry not to have read it sooner and eager to continue the series. Oh and Dragonfly in Amber, the next in the series, became the first physical book I purchased in 2017!


This is now my favorite #2017HW read so far!