May 24, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

I'm back again to do a Top Ten Tuesday, and today I'm listing...

The Top Ten Seven Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

1. Insurgent (Divergent #2), by Veronica Roth - When I first read Insurgent, I gave it a solid 4 stars. It was complex and emotional and scary at times. After thinking about it more, It became a 3 star book. After a bit more time, I found it slipping toward 2 stars. Tris just became more whiney than emotional, the plot was overly complicated instead of complex and I had no desire to see how her story finished.

2. Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1), by JR Ward - When I first read Dark Lover, I just thought it was the best thing I had ever read. So, of course I had to keep reading through the series. By the time I reached the third book, I realized That Dark Lover really wasn't the best book in the series. And I had an inkling that the books were just going to get better and better.

3. Wings (Wings #1), by Aprilynne Pike - When I first read Wings by Aprilynne Pike, I have to admit - I wasn't a huge fan. But, I must've seen something in it that intrigued me, because I kept reading. And, by the time I reached the final book in the series, I was able to look back at the first book and appreciate the groundwork that was being laid for the fantastic end to this series.

4. Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1), by Richelle Mead - I wasn't excited to read Bloodlines. I wasn't a big Sydney fan. And I was sad that the Vampire Academy series was over. I think I went into Bloodlines with a bad attitude, which soured the experience for me. Later on, with a few more books in the series under my belt, I realized that they all were pretty awesome. Perspective is a wonderful thing.

5. Half-Blood (Covenant #1), by Jennifer L. Armentrout - I've read Half-Blood... maybe, 6 times now? And I remember after the very first time, I rated it 4 stars because I thought Alex was a little too headstrong for my liking and that Aiden could do better. Once I re-read it a few times, and also read the next few books in the series (especially Deity), I felt different about Half-Blood though, and recognized it for what it was. INCREDIBLE.

6. Beautiful Bastard (Beautiful Bastard #1), by Christina Lauren - The first time I read Beautiful Bastard, I only gave it three stars. I didn't like the way Bennett treated Chloe - like some sexual object that he didn't really cared about. I thought it was a little unbelievable how quickly she let him into her pants, and then was annoyed with her when she got annoyed about that. After reading the next few books in the series and loving them, though, I went back and re-read Beautiful Bastard, and for some reason, the second time around, I enjoyed it so much more.

7. Reached (Matched #3), by Ally Condie - I wasn't thrilled by the finale of the Matched series. I felt horribly unfulfilled. I didn't realize exactly how unfulfilled I was, though, until I read a few more series enders that were incredibly fulfilling.

May 20, 2016

BLOG TOUR REVIEW & EXCERPT: Too Hot to Handle (Romancing the Clarksons #1)

I love all things Tessa Bailey, and TOO HOT TO HANDLE kicks off a brand new series for us to love! Check out my review and an excerpt from her first Romancing the Clarksons novel!

Too Hot to Handle (Romancing the Clarksons #1), by Tessa Bailey
Publish Date:
May 17, 2016
Publisher: Forever Romance
Format: e-ARC, provided by Inkslinger PR
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(Synopsis) The road trip was definitely a bad idea. Having already flambéed her culinary career beyond recognition, Rita Clarkson is now stranded in God-Knows-Where, New Mexico, with a busted-ass car and her three temperamental siblings, who she hasn't seen in years. When rescue shows up---six-feet-plus of hot, charming sex on a motorcycle---Rita's pretty certain she's gone from the frying pan right into the fire...

Jasper Ellis has a bad boy reputation in this town, and he loathes it. The moment he sees Rita, though, Jasper knows he's about to be sorely tempted. There's something real between them. Something raw. And Jasper has only a few days to show Rita that he isn't just for tonight---he's forever.

After Rita Clarkson's life goes up in flames in California, she decides to fulfill what she thinks is her mom's dying wish in New York. Her three siblings and she climb into a beat-up Subaru and start the trek across country, only to get to New Mexico before they break down. Help shows up in the form of Jasper Ellis. And Rita gets more help from him than what she bargained for.

Jasper was a fantastic character. He's the town's reformed manwhore, but he can't seem to shake the moniker. And that bugs him, because he is ready for people to take him seriously. I love that about him. He's really trying to move forward in his life and grow up, but the people in his small town are having a hard time allowing him to do that. It sucks, and Jasper seems about ready to throw up his hands and slide back into the image they've all formed for him.

Rita, on the other hand, seems to be running away from who she is. She has incredible talent in the kitchen, but doesn't believe in it after growing up in her professional chef of a mother's very large shadow. So, she's giving up on that path and plans to do something completely different after reaching New York.

To be honest with you, Rita wasn't my most favorite character ever. I didn't like her attitude about her life, her siblings or Jasper most of the time. She's very cynical and just generally angry and unhappy in her life, and that seemed to shine through in how she talked to people and in her actions. She and Jasper seemed like complete opposites, and I didn't really feel their connection at times. There's no doubt that Jasper and Rita were good for each other, though, and I did love watching them try to bring the other out of the shadows in which they lived.

This sibling relationship book isn't typical in that Rita and her three siblings don't seem to really like one another very much. They're not close, and they're all very different. When Rita's restaurant burns down, they're not terribly concerned or comforting. They were sort of jerks to each other, so while I get that they might want to go on this road trip together to try and get closer together, I also found myself annoyed at them often, because it seemed like Rita was the only one trying most of the time.

In typical Tessa Bailey fashion, the best part about Too Hot to Handle is the romance between Jasper and Rita. I might not have always got it, but that didn't make the sexual tension and the sweetness between them any less awesome.

It's clear that the rest of the Romancing the Clarksons books will be about each sibling in this somewhat broken family. There are indications about what each sibling's book might be about, and I'm intrigued to read their stories. And, I'm really hoping that when we get to the last book that the siblings will all come back together and be stronger because of this road trip experience.

He dipped down until they were nose to nose, saw the rush of thought going on behind her eyes. It was pretty damn breathtaking up close. “Mind cluing me in as to what’s going on in there?”

“If—if—we need to stay overnight—”

“You will.”

“—then I might see you at the bar.” She wedged a hand between them and separated their bodies. “I’d rather see someone’s worst than their best. Saves time.”
Jasper heard the tow truck pulling into the garage parking lot and cursed. Not even remotely confident that his first attempt at polite conversation with an available woman had been successful, Jasper walked her backward until they were hidden behind a rusted pay phone. She’d broken away from his touch, so he was careful to respect that. He dropped his mouth to an inch above hers and said, low, “I didn’t get near enough time with you, Rita. If you don’t show up tonight, don’t be surprised if I come looking.” He laid his palms against the warm building, above her head, watched her gaze dip to his stomach. His lap. “And if I have to come looking, I’ll be twice as determined to get that kiss.”

Her head came up. “W-what kiss?”

Jasper lowered his mouth until their lips brushed. He listened to her breath accelerate, watched her wet her lips. “The one I want to give you right now.” He allowed himself to linger another few seconds, then, with the effort of ten oxen, Jasper stepped back. “Tonight, beautiful.”

On his way to his bike, Jasper tipped his hat at Rita’s gaping siblings.

Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

May 19, 2016

BLOG TOUR REVIEW, EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Charged (Saints of Denver #2)

Jay Crownover can keep writing sexy books with uniquely named characters who find themselves in sticky situations, and I swear, I will read every single one of them. CHARGED is the latest one in her Saints of Denver series, and it was so awesome. Check out my review and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Charged (Saints of Denver #2), by Jay Crownover
Publish Date:
May 24, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: e-ARC, provided by Inkslinger PR
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(Synopsis) Avett Walker and Quaid Jackson’s worlds have no reason to collide. Ever. Quaid is a high powered criminal attorney as slick as he is handsome. Avett is a pink-haired troublemaker with a bad attitude and a history of picking the wrong men.

When Avett lands in a sea of hot water because of one terrible mistake, the only person who can get her out of it is the insanely sexy lawyer. The last thing on earth she wants to do is rely on the no-nonsense attorney who thinks of her as nothing more than a nuisance. He literally has her fate in his hands. Yet there is something about him that makes her want to convince him to loosen his tie and have a little fun…with her.

Quaid never takes on clients like the impulsive young woman with a Technicolor dye job. She could stand to learn a hard lesson or two, but something about her guileless hazel eyes intrigues him. Still, he’s determined to keep their relationship strictly business. But doing so is becoming more impossible with each day he spends with her.

As they work side-by-side, they’ll have to figure out a way to get along and keep their hands off each other—because the chemistry between them is beyond charged.

Honestly, this may be my new favorite book by Jay Crownover. Which is kind of shocking to me, since in previous books when we saw Avett, I sort of hated her. I didn't know how well I would like Charged, given my feelings about one of the two main characters. No one was more surprised than me when, after I closed the book, I wanted to open it back up and read it all over again.

We've met Avett a few times before, but it was her actions in Asa (Marked Men #6) that set the stage for what happened in Charged. After hooking her wagon to a drug-dealing and drug-using loser, Avett got caught up in one bad situation after another. The worst of these situations - an attempted robbery at Avett's father's former bar and the injury of a police officer - have landed Avett in jail with the potential for real time. This is Avett's rock bottom. Or, so she thinks.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get myself turned around, and the longer I was circling this dead end, the darker and more wicked it became.

Quaid is the attorney hired to represent Avett, and his initial impression of her matched my own. He didn't like her, and he especially didn't like her choices. But, he wants to make parter at his firm, and subsequently prove to himself that he's come so far from his poor childhood, so he will take whatever cases are sent his way. But, Avett's stark honesty and bold attitude impress and inspire him, and soon Quaid is questioning everything he thought he had figured out about his adult self.

She was a tiny whirlwind of destruction and I couldn't seem to keep up with the different directions she was blowing my emotions in. I'd never encountered anyone like her. I couldn't remember ever dealing with someone as real, as open with their faults and failures, as Avett seemed to be. I'd never met anyone as reckless with their own fate as she was. Something about that was really intriguing.

Unlike many tortured new adult characters, Avett grew up being loved by both her parents. It was this that made me so angry with her. She had parents who loved her and others in her life like Rome and Asa who were kind to her and wanted to help her, and yet she crapped all over them and did things to deliberately hurt them. Having the chance to be inside Avett's head was awesome. It gave me much-needed perspective on her as a character and it completely changed everything for me.

The depth of Avett's self-loathing was a palpable thing. She hated herself so much more than anyone else hated her, and that absolutely broke my heart. She wanted so badly to make amends with her father, mother, Asa, and others in her life that she wronged, but she didn't think she was even worthy of their forgiveness.

Quaid became the person that started to turn things around for her. Their relationship was volatile at first, given the attorney/client nature of it. But, later on, Quaid became her eye in the storm. And the most awesome thing about this book is, Avett became that for Quaid as well. Because, even though Quaid's problems and issues might not be the same as Avett's, he had them all the same.

She made me forget who I was supposed to be now, and she made me forget the man I had spent a lifetime trying to bury. With her, I was someone new, someone that didn't feel fake or forgotten.

I love the glimpses we see from the Marked Men in this new spin-off series. In Charged, we got to catch up with Asa and Rome, which was so much fun. I loved how they each played their own role in helping Avett crawl out of the hole in which she had fallen.

In the end, this was a book about two people who needed each other in different ways - one was desperately broken and needed the love of another to help her start to put herself back together again. The other didn't even know he was broken until he met the person who fit in all his missing pieces.

"I guess at the end of the day, it's better to have nothing with the right person than to have everything with the wrong person, isn't it?"


“This is a bad idea.” I knew it. I could feel it deep in my bones and the allure of letting go, of doing what I always did, and falling headfirst into disaster, was pulling at me hard. But I was supposed to be changing. I was supposed to actually be sorry, not just saying it and turning around into the next catastrophe. I knew kissing Quaid Jackson was going to lead to all kinds of sorry and sorrow. I knew it as much as I knew I didn’t care and that I was going to kiss him and chase this bad idea until it crashed and burned, like they always did.

“You made a lot of them lately. What’s one more?”

He was right. What was one more? Especially when it looked like him, when it smelled sleepy and expensive like he did, when it felt hot and hard pressed up against me. What was one more awful choice when it came with lips that were firm and demanding as they landed against mine? What was one more when it was attached to rough hands that brushed along my exposed rib cage and paused under the achy swell of my breast? What was one more bad decision on top of all the other ones that had led this particular mammoth-sized bad decision to my door?

I had plenty of time, tomorrow, to do the right thing, but now I was going to enjoy the hell out of the wrong thing as he pressed his mouth more insistently into mine, taking the choice of which came first—the kiss or the story—out of my hands. Maybe that was why I was so drawn to him, so attracted to everything there was about him. He didn’t give me the room or the chance to make any kind of choice, good or bad. He decided and I followed his lead towards victory or towards ruin…and this kiss felt like it had everything in it to ruin both of us.

It was the first time in my life that a bad idea felt like the best idea I had ever had. 

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

Links:  Website ** Blog ** Facebook ** Twitter

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