Monday, October 31, 2011

Bout Of Books Wrap-Up & Winners!

This is my Bout-of-Books Wrap-up Post, but first I have to announce a couple of winners from the Bout of Books Babble Challenge!

First, the random winner of the $20 gift certificate is:
Blogger Chi Kittie said...

Mine is from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

Mara Dyer Lived.
Noah loves Mara Dyer.
Mara Can Cause Death.

- Beckie

 The second winner of the $10 gift certificate is:

Christy (Love of Books) said...

Mine is for Dark Inside

The dark consumes you
What a freaking crazy ride
Rather fight zombies

cmdalton [at] sbcglobal [dot] net

Girls, I have sent you emails! Congratulations!!!

And now for my round-up for my BoB goals:
As a reminder, my goals for the week:
Reading- I have 12 books on my TBR list for this week, but several of them (I am pretty sure) are novellas so that isn't quite as ambitious as it sounds. Here is the list, in no particular order:
1. Fitzwilliam Darcy Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud - A- rating

2. Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley - A- rating

3. Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinley - A++ rating

4. Hearts In Darkness by Laura Kaye - A+ rating

5. Caleb by Sarah McCarty - C rating

6. Love and Lattes by Heather Thurmeier - D rating

7. Black Ties and Lullabies by Jane Graves - B+ rating

8. Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves - A rating

9. Lovers Cross by J.M. Snyder- A+ rating

10. Play Fling by Amber Scott

11. As You Wish by Gabi Stevens  B rating

12. Year of Living Shamelessly by Susanna Carr - C+ rating

I finished 11 out of my 12 books. For the 12th book, I made it 39% of the way through and I think that I would have had it done except I got the flu on Saturday and spent a lot of Saturday and Sunday sleeping.

Other Goals:

*write reviews as I read- DONE! I accomplished this and all of them are posted except for Caleb and one other where I really didn't like the book. That review is coming as a joint review between Deanna (Paperback Daydreamer) and me.

*participate in most challenges- bigtime FAIL!

*update daily- FAIL...I only updated once all week.

*haiku about each book read- DONE!

BoB Read #9: A Year of Living Shamelessly by Susanna Carr

Title:  A Year of Living Shamelessly
Author: Susanna Carr
My Rating: C+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: -
Main Characters: Katie & Ryder
Release Date: October 2009
Publisher: Penguin Group
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot 

Story Overview:
A red-hot romance of a good girl gone bad-from a winning voice in wickedly fun erotica.
Every year, Katie makes the same New Year's resolution: have an affair with her brother's kinky and wild best friend, Ryder. Every year, she faces the same disappointment. It doesn't help that her good-girl reputation can't stand up to the hot competition, or that Ryder's always seen Katie as just his friend's innocent little sister.

Until Katie makes the first move-and matches him, kink for kink. Because this year, Katie knows what she wants. And she's going to get it.

My Review:
For the past three years, Katie's New Year's resolution has been to have an affair with the love of her life, Ryder. Ryder is her brother's best friend and she has been in love with him for 11 years, but at this point she would be happy to settle with an affair with the hopes of it becoming something more. This year Katie attacked that resolution with an entire makeover. While that has helped her popularity with other guys, it hasn't really affected Ryder on the surface. Now it is December 24th and Katie has found out that Ryder is moving across the world on the 1st, so she has 8 days to convince him that they are a good combination. What she doesn't realize is that Ryder is moving to escape the temptation of her, because he is just as in love with her as she is with him, but he respects the Kramer family too much to make a move on her.

There were moments that this book was really good and it did always stay highly entertaining throughout the entire book. I read it in a single sitting, but it was also really frustrating to read. While I liked the characters, there was a lot of the time, I simply could not understand why they were acting the way that they were.

I liked the premise of this book...on the surface, but it just didn't seem to play out the way that it should. At moments, the characters seemed bi-polar in their back and forth about their relationship and feelings for each other. They are supposedly friends, but they don't know how to read each other at all and the only way for them to get together seems to be through subterfuge. I just couldn't find myself believing the quality of their relationship or their ability to make it last.

It was an entertaining read, but it had the possibilities of being so much better.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bout of Books Babble Challenge...

Welcome to today's challenge and update post!!

This is the Bout-of-Books Babble Challenge.
This challenge is simple and is supposed to be fun, so don't stress about it. 

Simply put, create a haiku for a book that you are reading now 
or have read during this Bout-of-Books readathon week

*Then write the haiku in the comment area of this post. 
*You have to comment here with your haiku to qualify for the challenge.
*Max of 2 entries per person, but they must be for different books.
*All entries must be made by midnight (CST) to qualify. 
*You must be a registered BoB participant to be eligible to win.

There are 2 prizes today:
1. $10 gift certificate to Book Depository for most creative haiku.
2. $20 gift certificate to Amazon for a random participant.

Don't know how to do a haiku? 
They are very simple...
Haiku rules:
There are no rhyming words in haiku, and each 3-line verse has only 17 syllables or less! The three lines are often arranged so that the first line has five (5) syllables, the second line has seven (7) syllables, and the third line has five (5) syllables. 

(hint: all of my reviews this week for the Bout-of-Books have included a haiku. 
You can check them out for examples.)

Now, if you don't want to play in the challenge, but do want to link up your bout-of-books progress, use the linky chart below to link up your blog to your update post.
The linky below is to link up your blog posts about how you are progressing on your Bout-of-Books goals. 
This list is NOT for entering your haiku in the challenge!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

BoB Read #9: Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinley

Title:  Shades of Gray
Author: Brooke McKinley
My Rating: A++

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: -
Main Characters: Miller & Danny
Release Date: December 2009
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot (m/m)

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Story Overview:
Miller Sutton, a by-the-book FBI agent, is starting to see some troubling shades of gray in his black-and-white world. He comes face-to-face with his doubts in the person of Danny Butler, a mid-level drug runner Miller hopes to use to catch a much larger fish: Roberto Hinestroza, a drug lord Miller has pursued for years. 

Danny has no interest in being a witness against his boss, both out of a sense of twisted loyalty and because he knows double-crossing Hinestroza is a sure death sentence. But he reluctantly agrees to cooperate, and as he suspects, it doesn't take long for Hinestroza to figure out the betrayal. 

Miller is surprised to discover Danny's not the career-criminal lowlife he expected; at the same time, Danny finds himself helplessly attracted to Miller's innate goodness. They barely begin to explore the sparking attraction between them when Hinestroza's hitman tracks them down, and then they're on the run, both for their lives and for any kind of love.

My Review:
This is absolutely one of the best, most emotional, most beautiful stories of ill-fated love that I have ever read. OMG, I cannot even begin to express how good this book was!! This is the love story between two men. If you enjoy M/M romance or have ever been tempted to read a book about two men, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! I have to admit that I haven't been reading m/m romance for long, but there is just something about two men willing to put their love out there that is so gorgeous. This book is even more beautiful than normal though. This is a romance between two people. Two people that can never have a relationship simply by who they are.

Miller is an FBI agent who has spent the last three years going after a drug lord, Hinestroza, but not having much luck. Finally he catches a break when, in a normal traffic stop, a cop found an unregistered gun in Danny's glovebox, one of Hinestroza's right hand men. He has Danny right where he wants him and finally convinces him that it's in his best interest to become a witness against his boss.

Danny worked for Hinestroza from the time he made a bad decision at the age of 18. He has been in prison a couple of short periods of time, but that is nothing compared to the 5 years that he will get for the handgun. He knows that it means signing his death warrant, but he is tired of the life and wants out so he agrees to the deal.

Danny & Miller are together from that point out and will stay that way until Danny testifies at the trial and then he will go into the Witness Protection program where his past will be thrown away and he will become a different person with no ties to his past. Miller is straight (at least that's what he says and believes.) He has been engaged to Rachel for 5 years, but is having a difficult time committing to her. They don't even live together yet. Danny is gay. He tried to lie to himself and others, even had a wife himself for a while, but he finally admitted that men are where his passion lies. These two men are together pretty much 24/7 and they form an easy friendship first. There are glimpses of attraction, but neither one acts upon it, respecting the boundaries that their situation entails. At some point, you know that is going to change.

The slow build-up between Danny & Miller is so gorgeous. Throughout the book, you get flashbacks into both men's lives to see how they got here. These are complicated guys in a really difficult situation. There is no black & white here. No good. No bad. Things happen to everyone that is beyond your control. It is how you react to those events that determine who you are and where you end up in life. No doubt about it, Danny has made some bad decisions, but he is not a bad guy. On the other hand, Miller, in his ardor for doing what's right with the FBI, has also made some bad decisions, but again he's not a bad guy either. One different turn in either of their lives and things could have turned out differently for both of them. But now they are stuck. Miller is an FBI agent. Danny is a criminal. The fact that they are in love doesn't change the fact that this is temporary. They will NEVER be able to have a long-term relationship. The reality of it is heartbreaking.

OMG, this book was SO GOOD!! The story is so beautifully written. The characters are rich and deep and so soulful. Your heart literally breaks for both of them. I received this book in e-format from the publisher and NetGalley to review, but I just got off of Amazon where I spent $18 to get a physical copy of this book because it is so freaking good. Read it! You will NOT regret it! 

BoB Haiku:
Two men, different sides.
Passion that can't be denied.
Two hearts intertwined.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

BoB Read #7: Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley

Title:  Sweet As Sin
Author: Inez Kelley
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: - 
Main Characters: John & Livvy
Release Date: January 2011
ISBN: e-book
Publisher: Carina Press
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
John Murphy is tormented by nightmares. A bestselling young-adult author, he writes the ultimate fantasy: stories where good always triumphs. He knows better. His past has shown him the worst in people—and in himself. When he moves next door to the sexy, vibrant Livvy—a woman completely unlike his usual one-night stands—he's driven to explore every curve of her delicious body.
Pastry chef Livvy knows that giving in to the temptation that is John Murphy won't lead to anything permanent, but she deserves a passionate summer fling. John discovers she's as sweet as the confections she bakes while Livvy slowly unravels his secrets. But what will happen when she uncovers them all?
104,200 words

My Review:
This is a book that has been on my radar (and quite honestly, on my Kindle) ever since it came out because everyone absolutely RAVES about how good it is. Honestly, I am not sure what I expected from this book, but I will readily admit that it surprised me...and I can't even pinpoint how, but this book was not what I expected...and that is not a bad thing.

Everyone talks about how emotional this book is and it most definitely is that because John has a LOT of emotional baggage. But if you have read my reviews much, you will know that I cry in a LOT of books (and usually you get an A+ review from me if you make me cry,) but I really didn't in this one. There was only a single moment where I even came close...the final scene in John's book that he's writing. 

What I did find in this book though was a ton of humor (and I wasn't expecting that.) The dialogue and wittiness between Livvy and John leaps off the page with their chemistry. I loved it when these two would was just pure magic watching the dialogue between them. 

But there is also a TON of sadness to this book. John is scarred...deeply and heavily in his soul by an extremely abusive stepfather until he was 16 yo. Those scars affect how he deals with absolutely every aspect of his life. In fact, it is those scars that he writes about. He's a YA author who write a series about two monsters, Jondi and Thorn. Those monsters have protected him and given him a safe place to escape to his entire life. Now John's life is being turned upside down in so many ways, but mainly through his love for Livvy, that he can't accept, and even his monsters in his stories are turning on him.

It is a good book. I definitely enjoyed every minute of reading it. Livvy is strong and powerful and she believes in her love for John. I liked the fact that no matter how bad things got, neither one of them ever debated their love for the other and Livvy's move at the end, was simply brilliant to get John to see the truth of what she was saying. Everyone who says that you should read this book, is absolutely correct. I am so glad that I finally listened.

BoB Haiku:
Sex for the summer.
It turns into so much more.
Healing love for John.

BoB #6 Read: As You Wish by Gabi Stevens

Title:  As You Wish
Author: Gabi Stevens
My Rating: B

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Time of Transition #2
Main Characters: Reggie & Jonathon
Release Date: October 2011
Publisher: Tor
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Born into a magical family, Reggie Scott is content to live out her life as a normal human until the moment she’s informed that she’s a newly appointed fairy godmother. Left struggling to deal with powers the never thought she’d have, Reggie faces a curse, a plot to overthrow the Arcani, and an entirely too enthusiastic mother—all in a matter of days.
Jonathan Bastion is a man of power and wealth—and a dangerous secret. He desperately hopes that Reggie's new powers will hold the answer to his problem and he isn't above using her to achieve his goals. What he doesn't expect is how much Reggie will affect him. Her honor, her honesty, and her strength quickly make cracks in his ruthless exterior.
As danger from the Arcani swirls around them both, Jonathan realizes that what was once a ploy to get Reggie to assist him has become a battle to keep her safe and protected…in his arms.

My Review:
This is one of those books that you read purely for the fun and entertainment value of it. Filled with magic, godmothers, wishes, curses, and a grumpy gnome, it keeps you laughing and it keeps you guessing as the Arcani world is faced with a threat that no one believes is there, but three magical godmothers and the two (so far) that have been chosen to replace them.

This is book #2 in the Three Godmothers series. This book is about Reggie, the second person chosen to take over a position as a Fairy Godmother. The thing about the Godmother position is that those who are chosen never have access to their magic and know nothing about the position until their 27th birthday. So Reggie has grown up her entire life living in an Arcani household as a failure because she didn't have any magic. She was put in the Special Education classes in school because of it and that is where she met her two bakers, Tommy & Joy (who are developmentally disabled.) The three of them run a very successful bakery together. 

One of her customers at the bakery is Nate. He's a very private person who comes in early to avoid other customers and stays completely covered at all times, but Reggie and him share a friendship of sorts.

She has also just met Jonathon Bastion and is starting a very nice romantic relationship with him (seemingly the perfect guy.)

But there is definitely something brewing that is not right. The three former Godmothers are on the run from the Arcani council. The first newly chosen Godmother, Tess & her fiance (story from book #1), are on the run also because all is not right in the Arcani world. So Reggie is trying to figure out who is lying, who is telling the truth, and what the heck to do with all this new-found magic within her. 

Like I said, this is simply a fun little book. I loved the characters of Jonathon and Nate and Reggie definitely had her moments where she was brilliant. I loved watching her learn how to channel her magic and believe in it. There is a fabulous cast of characters including Alf, Tommy, and Joy, who all run the bakery in Reggie's absence. I saw most of the twists and turns coming, but that didn't make me enjoy them any less.

And to help entice you more, Gabi Stevens has committed 10% of the sales from this book go to Best Buddies, a wonderful organization that helps pair up individuals with IDD to a peer buddy whose job it is simply to be a friend.

BoB Haiku:
Magic and Mayhem.
Reggie, Nate, and Jonathon.
One Team. One Love. Fate.