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Review – Fire Me Up – Kimberly Kincaid

fire me upFire Me Up
Author: Kimberly Kincaid
Series: #4 in the Pine Mountain Series

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Teagan O’Malley can handle a crisis. She’s a paramedic, it’s her job. But she never expected to land in the kitchen of her father’s pub, with no notice, no cash, and no room for error. The kitchen is not her favorite place. Lucky for her, she just scraped a bad-boy chef off the pavement after a motorcycle accident—and something about him says he can turn up the heat in more ways than one.

Adrian Holt has had a rough few years, and he’s not eager to get tangled up in anything more complicated than a good risotto. But with a broken arm and a head full of bad memories, he needs a challenge to keep him sane. Teagan’s dare-me attitude and smoldering mess of a bar are just what the doctor ordered. And the two of them together might cook up some even better medicine…

Review:
I love finding authors who have a good backlist so that I can glom on their books (and yes, glom is a legit word, at least in my world). Prior to reading the Pine Mountain series (where I read all 4 books in the space of about 2 weeks), my only other experience with Ms Kincaid’s writing was in an anthology with a prequel story to pine mountain – and while I remember enjoying it – I remember one of the other stories more vividly (I mean, who can forgot anatomically correct cookies…). But that being said, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Kincaid at an author/reader luncheon that was held in DC a few months ago and after that I experience, I knew I was going to be in for a ride with her books. But i’m not going to rave about the previous books in the series (all of which were solid 3.5 to 4 star reads for me), but about the most recent one that is officially due out in the next week or so (and I tell you, having read it a month ago, I’ve been on pins and needles waiting until I could recommend it to people).

But back to Fire Me Up – if you have read the previous 3 books in the series, you will be familiar with Adrian – he has made an appearance in all of the books so far – from the Turn Up The Heat (book 1), where he mentored/coached Bellamy into a career that she loved cooking; and the 2nd book (Gimme Some Sugar) where he is the stoic Sous Chef for the former Celebrity Chef, Carly. But in Fire Me Up, he finally gets his turn and it didn’t disappoint. I love it when an author takes a character out of their element (in Adrian’s case, the kitchen) and tries to make them cope and how sometimes that works, but for the most part it doesn’t. I kind of had an idea about what Adrian’s rought few years entailed, but seeing how it all played out, it felt believable and not to manufactured (as sometimes dark pasts can be).

I’ll admit that I was a bit conflicted about Teagan at first – mostly because I didn’t quite buy the, oh my family is having issues, I need a leave of absence from work part of the story (or that is roughly how it played out). Maybe it can be done, but I don’t know – it just kind of hit me wrong. But as a character, I liked her, she did have a few dumb moments where I wanted to slap her – but not to the extent that I have wanted to do to other characters in different books. I really liked how she was able to calm/deal with Adrian without infantalizing him, which seems to be a common issue in romance novels when the hero has an issue.

I was glad to revisit Pine Mountain, but i’m going to be sad to see the series end in the next year (because I think there is only like 1 full-length novel and maybe a novella remaining). I would recommend Fire Me Up for people who like sweet/sassy contemporary romance with mostly normal people; and those who like romance novels with a small-town feel (although, personally, I’m coining the Pine Mountain series, Resort Romance). I gave Fire Me Up 4 stars and look forward to reading even more by Ms. Kincaid in the future.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Seducation and Snacks – Tara Sivec

seduction snacksSeducation and Snacks
Author: Tara Sivec
Series: #1 in the Chocolate Lovers series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Claire is a twenty-something, single mom that grudgingly helps her best friend sell sex toys while she attempts to make enough money to start her own business to give her foul-mouthed, but extremely loveable (when he’s asleep) toddler a better life.

When Carter, the one-night-stand from her past that changed her life forever, shows up in her hometown bar without any recollection of her besides her unique chocolate scent, Claire will make it a point that he remembers her this time.

With Carter’s undisguised shock at suddenly finding out he has a four-year-old son and Claire’s panic that her stretch marks and slim to none bedroom experience will send the man of her dreams heading for the hills, the pair will do whatever they can to get their happily ever after.

Review:
What can I say about this book that I didn’t like, little to nothing. This book has it all a great mix of vulgar language, one night stands, sex toys and of course chocolate. This book is so well written I can say that you laugh so much you may end up with a twat tap if you laugh to hard in public.

Claire is by far one of the women you find yourself instantly connected to. Claire takes everything in stride. She does have a few moments of break down. No one is perfect. Finding out that you may be pregnant after a one night stand with a guy you don’t know and have no clue if he remembers you. She ends up back home and putting her life on hold her dreams of opening up a business with her long time friend Liz. That was a no go.

Carter is searching for the girl he slept with 5 years ago at a frat party the girl that haunts his dreams. Every time he smells chocolate he thinks of her. He cant seem to get her out of his head. The question is, is she just a dream? He spends the first part of his 5 year with his crazy ex who ends up cheating on him with his neighbor while watching well that I will leave for a surprise because I laughed so hard I about peed.

This book is full of surprises but it’s also very straight forward so you can see it coming. The characters are easy to connect with and they leave you with a happy ending. I know there are more books to this series, however, I was very happy with the way this book ended and have not found that I needed to read the others.

If you are looking for a funny, quirky romance with a touch of awe moments in it then this is the book for you.

I found these quotes to be the ones I love the most. Just a sneak peek into the craziness that is this book

Quotes
“Its a pain you forget all about once you have that sweet little baby in your arms.” Bull Shit. I CALL BULLSHIT.

“You know, I think its time i turn my vagina into an Arby’s Beef and Cheddar (minus the cheddar) and saddle myself down for a minimum of eighteen years to someone who will suck the soul and will to live right out of my body.”

“Give me a cat over a kid any day. You can open up a bag of Meow Mix, Plop it down on the floor next to a bucket of water, gone on vacation for a week and come home to an animal that is so busy licking its own ass that it has no idea you were even gone.”

Seriously you couldn’t go wrong with this book for me it gets a 4 out of 5!

I hope you pick this one up it’s a seriously great read.

~Kristin

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Designed for Love – Kelsey Browning

designed for loveDesigned for Love
Author: Kelsey Browning
Series: #4 in the Texas Nights series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Ashton Davenport: Hot blonde. Old Money. Off-limits.

That’s how Mac McLaughlin sees her, anyway. And now that he’s enduring a temporary self-imposed exile in tiny Shelbyville, Texas, he’s seeing her way too often. Mac only wants to succeed as the contractor for the Lily Lake development in order to rebuild his reputation and return to Dallas, pronto. A sexy distraction like Ashton was not in the plans.

Mac McLaughlin: Hot builder. Cash poor. Hands-on.

Ashton kissed her trust fund goodbye and left her life as a society princess to prove she could make it on her own. Developing Lily Lake is her big chance, but it’s hard to stay focused working side-by-side with bossy, rough-around-the-edges Mac. Especially when he pulls off his shirt.

When the discovery of an endangered species derails the project, Mac can’t afford to stick around for a stalled job. His and Ashton’s explosive chemistry aside, he’s outta there…unless she can convince him that they just might be able to build something together.

Review:
There are times when I can’t wait for a series of books to end, and others where I get upset knowing that the stories have all been told and it is time for it to end. For me, Texas Nights by Kelsey Browning is one of the latter. For four books now, we have experienced the adventures of members from Shelbyville, TX as they find friendship, love and lust in their respective stories, and Designed for Love was no different.

In DfL, we meet up with Ashton Davenport, who was first introduced in Running the Red Light, the second book in the series, where she was the less than nice – ok, make that bitchy manager who Roxanne had previously worked for – and a spoiled brat to boot. I remember disliking her then and was really unsure whether the author would be able to redeem her for me. But, she managed to do so. I don’t know if it was the antics of her dog, Napoleon, who made me laugh so hard that I worried about pee’ing my pants; or how she was willing to try new things, even if she might get burnt – but over time, I found myself liking her and glad that the Ms Browning decided to give her, her story.

Then, there was Mac…oh Mac, Mac, Mac…its funny – three of the last five books I’ve finished (including this one) somehow feature a main character involved in construction – either as a general contractor, re-furbishing a house, or as an electrician – I must be on a construction romance theme kick ;) – but then of course, hot, sweaty, smexy men…I mean… However, as with most books, I still want something more – I think my biggest issue with DfL was that I wanted to know more about Mac – unlike the heroes in the previous books (Jamie/Cam/Beck), who had been featured in other books, this was (as far as I can recall) my first introduction to Mac (meaning, if he did appear in a previous book, I totally don’t remember). There was so much mystery surrounding him, that I was kind of disappointed and wanted a bit more when it came to the reveal about his history. Not a major gripe, just something I would have liked more of.

By far my favorite character, as alluded above, was Napoleon, the dog. I love it when an author creates an animal that is essential to the storyline (and not just put in to have a dog in the story). Of course, having following the authors blog and seen her passion for animals, that doesn’t surprise me. I have to wonder if any of Napoleon’s antics were events that have occurred in real life…especially the jock strap incident…

Overall, I gave Designed for Love a solid 4 stars, and am sad to see the series end :(

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Martian – Andy Weir

the martianThe Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Narrator: R.C. Bray
Audiobook Length: 10h4s 53 min
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Review:
Every so often (although more frequently), there are books that people rave about, and rave about and sometimes I avoid the temptation to jump in and read and other times I take the plunge. I’d been hearing about The Martian on and off for probably a good year nearly from various online reading groups, so when it was selected as a group read in one of my Goodreads groups, I toddled off to Audible and grabbed the audiobook. Of course, as usual, I had several other books to finish up first before I could start it, but when I did, holy roller coaster of a ride. As I started listening, the whole storyline reminded me of that 1980’s TV show MacGyver (with the fantabulous Richard Dean Anderson). You know, where you give RDA a carrot, a battery and a spoon and he constructs a working bomb – that is who Mark Watney reminded me of. Of course, he wasn’t hunting (or being hunted by bad guys), or blowing things up (well…not on purpose at least) – but the problem solving mentally was perfect.

I’ll admit that I am not a science geek by any stretch of a means, so a lot of that kind of stuff went right over my head – especially when they had the guy talking about orbital physics (I can barely spell it – I just had to resort to using spell check to spell physics…). But even with all that, the technically stuff was for the most part, addressed in a way that even a lay person could attempt to understand – which the author used technie words/theories, he also tried to dumb them down for normal people. I think if the story had just been limited to Mark’s POV, it would have been a lot weaker overall – however, the integration of the NASA scientists who are trying to rescue him and his former crew-members who left him for dead, made the storyline much more intriguing.

The narrator, R.C. Bray, is brand-new to me but I can tell you that it won’t be the last time I listen to him. He managed to toe the line between comedic inference and serious moments perfectly. There were times when I was laughing so hard at his narration that I was crying. I found that his voice distinctions between Mark and the assortment of other characters was well-defined, even down to his narration of the Chinese astronaut and the Indian astrophysicist. I highly recommend him as a narrator to try.

Overall, I gave both the book and narration 4 stars, and glad that I took the opportunity to listen to it. Personally, for me, I think it worked better in audio, than reading, but that might just be me.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Keeping Corner – Kashmira Sheth

keeping cornerKeeping Corner
Author: Kashmira Sheth
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
“Pretty as a peacock, twelve-year-old Leela had been spoiled all her life. She doesn’t care for school and barely marks the growing unrest between the British colonists and her own countrymen. Why should she? Her future has been planned since her engagement at two and marriage at nine.
Leela’s whole life changes, though, when her husband dies. She’s now expected to behave like a proper widow: shaving her head and trading her jewel-toned saris for rough, earth-colored ones. Leela is considered unlucky now, and will have to stay confined to her house for a year—keep corner—in preparation for a life of mourning for a boy she barely knew.

When her schoolteacher hears of her fate, she offers Leela lessons at home. For the first time, despite her confinement, Leela opens her eyes to the changing world around her. India is suffering from a severe drought, and farmers are unable to pay taxes to the British. She learns about a new leader of the people, a man named Gandhi, who starts a political movement and practices satyagraha—non-violent protest against the colonists as well as the caste system. The quiet strength ofsatyagraha may liberate her country. Could she use the same path to liberate herself?

Review:
One of my favorite things to do at the library, if I have a bit of time, is to randomly pick a shelf and then browse the books on it for something that looks interesting. In this case, I was wandering through the YA section and looked at the Fiction, R-T authors (my library has YA divided up into general fiction, genre fiction and then series). Something about Keeping Corner caught my eye and I am so glad that I picked it up to read. It is probably one of the more intriguing books that I have read in the last year.

I’ll admit that my knowledge of India’s history is rather lacking – I know very little about it, because it never really intrigued me to study it. Of course, everyone knows who Ghandi was (or at least the vast majority of us do). Keeping Corner takes place as he was starting his long-journey of activism – he wasn’t too widely known in the more rural areas of India (where Leela and her family lived), but was in the cities (where Leela’s brother lived). But while Ghandi is mentioned frequently through-out, Keeping Corner is more the story of Leela.

A young girl and soon to be child-bride, Leela is living her life as expected – waiting for her marriage to occur, so she can move in with her new husband’s family. But that all changes drastically when her soon to be husband is bitten by a snake and dies. Now she is expected to mourn for a year, in a tradition known as “keeping corner” – isolated from the world she has grown up in, not allowed to express joy, limited in interactions. I don’t know if I would have had the strength to survive what Leela did for a year – it took mental acuity that I don’t know that I possess (or many people today may possess). She faced the loss with bravery, and while at times she acted like the young girl she was (only 12) – she also displayed at times, the maturity of someone far older.

The author wrote Leela’s story in a way that would be engaging to both Young-Adults and adults who were reading the book. It has made me want to explore and read more about India’s customs, when it comes to death, weddings, births etc. although I haven’t found any books yet that I can recommend. Overall, I gave Keeping Corner 4 stars and I can’t wait to find more books by the author.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – A Forbidden Rumspringa – Keira Andrews

forbidden rumspringaA Forbidden Rumspringa
Author: Keira Andrews
Series: #1 in Gay Amish Romance series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.

Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.

Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?

Review:

POSSIBLE SPOILERS

I’ll be the first to admit that ever seen I saw The Witness with Harrison Ford as a kid the Amish culture has intrigued me. Reading Amish inspirational romances as a teen was a standard and even now they still catch my eye (plus I get really interesting Amazon recommendations when you mix Anish romance and GLBT searches together). So when I saw Keira Andrews was writing an Amish M/M romance I was like – got to read!

This was my first time reading Ms Andrews (although I think I have at least one other book by her on Mt TBR). And I will admit that at first I was worried that she wouldn’t be able to get the depth of the culture in a story that was ultimately a romance but as soon as I started reading the book I was sucked in. I was sneaking reading chapters of this whenever I had a few moments to read – just a little bit more seemed to be my mantra while reading.

I had heard the term Rumspringa before- I mean, there is that horrible show on MTV (I think) about the Amish teens in New York while on Rumspringa (don’t hate me – I had a chunk of down time because of surgery earlier this year and maxed out on my normal shows). what I didn’t realized was that communities can control how/when and if even if their young people can have that experience prior to taking their vows. In this instance, I could see the logic behind why the community didn’t (very Footloose-ish) but ultimately, I didn’t feel that was a good enough reason/logic – there is only so much you can protect children, but where do you draw the line.

I felt connected to David and Issac – their story was just written in a way that you can’t help but feel for them. You could feel how they tried to battle their feelings for each other, because they believed it was wrong because of their religious teachings, but that ultimately, it came down to how they felt for each other. There was a lot of conflict between different characters – not totally over the top, but enough that I found it to be believable – between siblings, between friends, between the religious leaders and their followers. I didn’t realize that different sects (for lack of a better word) in the Amish community existed (stricter, more lenient etc – this was really highlighted in one scene with something simple like a buddy with a reflective sign on it so people in cars can see them on the road).

I will admit that I kept waiting for David and Issac to be betrayed by someone – I know that is probably very skeptical of me – but I just had this feeling – thankfully it didn’t in this book…but who knows in the later ones…I knew going in, based on the limited reviews/discussion that I had seen, that there was going to be a bit of a cliff-hanger, and normally I’m ok with that – but ugh – I can’t believe that I have to wait until JANUARY to find out what happens! (I’m doing the stamp my foot that isn’t fair action right now).

I will say wow – the level of research that went into this book was beyond what I expected – you could see how much time the author put into developing the story and community. i Overall, I gave A Forbidden Rumspringa 4 stars and recommend if you like stories where conflict between religious beliefs and love are key to the story.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Husband Games – Jamie Farrell

the husband gamesThe Husband Games
Author: Jamie Farrell
Series: #1 of the Misfit Brides of Bliss series
Rating: ✩ ✩ ✩ ✩

Review Copy Provided By Author

Description:
After Natalie Castellano’s marriage imploded on the field of the Husband Games in Bliss, Illinois, the Most Married-est Town on Earth, the last job she expected to inherit was planning the fiftieth anniversary of her hometown’s unique Games. But with her mother’s unexpected passing, that’s exactly what Natalie’s doing. And the position demands that she play nice with CJ Blue, the man who ultimately caused Natalie’s marital demise.

Winning Bliss’s Husband Games and being crowned Husband of the Year was the brightest spot in CJ’s short marriage. Since his wife’s untimely death, he’s taken himself around the world, hiding from his grief. But now, family obligations have him trapped in Bliss, where he’s been invited to participate in the Games and humiliate himself in the name of closure. The whole town wants him to play. The whole town, except one. And he can’t decide what bothers him more—that Natalie doesn’t think he belongs in the Games, or that she’s right.

These two would make great enemies. But all games aside, the more they find themselves in close quarters, the harder it is to deny their mutual attraction. She’s battled Bliss’s bridal brigade, and he’s jumped out of airplanes and soared over waterfalls, but now they’re both facing the biggest risk of all: taking another chance on love.

Review
So as a reader I love finding new authors to read and I thank my friend Jen every day for introducing me to Jamie Farrell. From reading her first book just over a year ago, I’ve been an avid fan (probably almost bordering on fan girl) – so when I got a special delivery in my email of my ARC of Husband Games, yeah, there was definately some happy dancing going on (figuratively, if not literally). I’d been lucky enough to see the cover long before it was released and I fell in love with it (I mean, look at it, who wouldn’t) – so I knew the book was going to be awesome. And thank god, Jamie delivered.

I will admit, I wasn’t sure about the whole weddings being a predominant role of the story – I mean, a town described as the most wedding-est town in the US, but juxtapose that with a main character who is divorced and well, there may be something there. I loved Natalie – from the first introduction of her until the end, she is probably one of my favorite female characters recently – although I will admit that she did have a few dumb moments where I wanted to shake her. But at the same time, I could see how much that was self-protection from the shenanigans from town-persons.

And then there is CJ – oh CJ, CJ, CJ – former winner of the Husband Games, now a widower and newly returned to town. Words can’t describe my thoughts on CJ – he is the perfect guy – I mean, down to his ability to distinguish his SO by the perfume she wears (or can he?). But Natalie and CJ have a history, one that she vividly remembers, but he has no idea about.

But even though the story was a romance, my favorite (and at the same time) most hated character was the Queen General – the woman who basically controlled Bliss – I know I was supposed to hate her, and I did truely – but oh my god, how she was developed as a character, I couldn’t help but also like her as well (yeah, I’m weird I know). Especially how it all came together in the end.

I loved the idea of the husband games – I mean, a competition based solely around the idea of which husband is the best at various tasks – doing laundry (ha); cooking a romantic dinner (anyone have the fire dept on auto-dial), or just all around-awesomeness. The secondary cast of characters (including CJ’s family – which consists of too many siblings for me to recount); Natalie’s sister who is going to get her own book in the future (if my RUMINT is to be believed), made the story all the more enjoyable.

I will admit that I was surprised by how hard this review was for me to write, considering how much I enjoyed the book. I don’t know what it was, maybe, that there is so much I wanted to say, but I couldn’t without going too far into spoiler territory. Either way, I loved Husband Games, a solid 4 stars and can’t wait to see what Jamie comes up with in the future.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Book Review

 

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