Top Ten Tuesday – November 13, 2012

This is a weekly feature hosted by the amazing blog the Broke and the Bookish.  Due to a hugely busy schedule, I haven’t participated in a few weeks, but I thought I would try to get back into it today.  The topic for today is “the top 10 books I would want on a deserted island.  Instead of spending too much time thinking about this one, I’m going to list the top 10 books that first come to mind:

1.  East of Eden by Steinbeck – I have mentioned this book on my blog before, because I just love it.  It’s also a story that I could read over and over again and never tire of it.  There are just so many levels to this book that I get something different out of it each and every time I re-read it.

2. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – Another one of my favourite books.  It’s also over 1000 pages long, so I figure it will help me pass the time if I’m stranded on this island for a while.

3. Winter of the World by Ken Follett – This is the second book in the Century Trilogy (prequels to Pillars).  I haven’t read it yet, although I can’t wait to do so.  I read Fall of Giants right when it came out, but it took me forever to finish it because it was huge!  At over 1000 pages and hardcover  – I couldn’t take it on the subway to work and I couldn’t lug it around with me everywhere.  So, for the second book in the series I have been waiting for the paperback version to come out.  But, I would take the hardcover version on the island.  I can’t wait to read this one!

4. The Jessica Darling Series by Megan McCafferty – Can I choose the whole series as one book? Whatever, I’m doing it.  Love this series and I think I could re-read it a million times and never get bored.  And Marcus Flutie could keep me company.  Win-win.

5. Seduction and Snacks and/or Futures and Frosting by Tara Sivec – If I’m allowed to take both, I will take both! These books are adult fiction (with steam) and they are incredible – I love the characters, the story, just everything.  They are hilarious! Like laugh out loud funny.  And being stranded on a deserted island I might need some humour.

6. Easy by Tammara Webber – I really liked this book, and I figure having a swoon-worthy guy to read about would help pass the time.

7. Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta – This is the final book in the Lumatere Chronicles, and although it won’t be released in the US or Canada until March 2013, it’s out in Australia so I figure it’s fair game.  For those of you who frequent my blog, you know how much I love the other books in the series, and Marchetta in general.  She is freakin awesome!  I cannot wait to get my hands on this one!!

8. Anything from the Wilder Series, Lucky Harbour Series or Berkeley Series by Jill Shalvis – I love all of the books in these series, so I really could be happy reading any of them.  The Wilder Series is more focussed on the outdoors, so maybe with those books I could get some helpul survival hints?  In any event, each of the books have a super hot male lead to lust after and a strong female lead you don’t want to throw the book at to stop her stupidity.

9. Looking for Alaska by John Green – I haven’t been able to finish this book so I figure if I have all the time in the world on my island, I wouldn’t have any more excuses.  I know, I know, everyone else loves this book.  I don’t know whether it’s the subject matter – because as a teenager I lost two friends in two terrible accidents, or what, but I just couldn’t read on.  I would like to finish it because I hate leaving books unfinished, but I just haven’t been ready yet.

10. Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels – Because it’s my favourite book of all time, and I can’t imagine living without it.  Especially if left on a deserted island.  It’s an incredible story of strength, courage, and overcoming the most impossible of evils.  It would inspire the hope I would need to survive.

11.  If I got to bring an extra book, I would bring any Simon and Garfinkle songbooks I could find.  Their music is just amazing, and I guess it would get pretty boring on the island so I could have a sing-a-long.  Especially if nobody else is around because my singing voice is horrible! (I can admit it).  Plus, their songs really are poetry, so it would be like having an extra book with me.

Which books would you bring?

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Review: Double Time by Olivia Cunning (Sinners on Tour #3)

NOTE: This book is listed as the third book in the Sinners Series, but it’s really book 5.  I don’t know why, but the publishers released the books out of order.  Although there were some points when I knew I missed something that was probably explained in either book 3 or 4 (the intended books 3 and 4), I was still able to follow the story well.  I definitely think you can read this book before the other two are released.   I do highly recommend that you read books 1 and 2 in the series (Backstage Pass (#1) and Rock Hard (#2)) before Double Time – they were both great erotic reads and provide much needed back story.

Summary:  This book focusses on Trey, Sinners’  lovable/sexy/bi-sexual guitarist.  If you’ve read the previous book in the series, you will already be well acquainted with Trey’s sexual magnetism, heat and naughty side.  But, underneath all of that, Trey is a total sweetheart. 

In this book, Trey has decided to swear off men, and try to focus on a serious relationship with a woman.  He meets Reagan when she auditions to be a guitarist for Exodus End (Trey’s brother, Dare’s, band).  There is an instant connection between the two, and they begin a relationship.  Enter Reagan’s roommate/best friend/ex-lover Ethan.  Ethan and Reagan’s relationship ended when she caught him in their shower with a man .  Despite her hearbreak, the two remained close friends and Reagan assumed that Ethan was gay.  But, Ethan continued to harbor some intense feelings for (and attraction to) Reagan.  When Trey and Ethan meet, there is a connection there too.  Trey begins to wonder if his feelings for Reagan are enough, and whether he can ignore his attraction to men forever.  When Reagans makes Trey an offer he can’t refuse, the three embark on a new path, full of sexual awakenings and love.

Rating: 4/5

Reasons: This book is extremely steamy.  The scenes between Trey and Reagan were very. very, very hot.  If you want a sexy read, you will NOT be dissapointed.  The threesome scenes were scorching.  The only thing that didn’t do it for me was the m/m stuff.  It’s just not my thing, but if you are into it, omg will you be blown away (pun intended). 

Reagan was a great character – she was tough, but caring and sweet.  Definitely a strong female lead.  I liked that she could hold her own with all the guys.  If you love Trey, you will love him even more after reading this book.  I really enjoyed that this book focussed more on character and relationship building than the first book in the series.  In addition to the incredible steam you can expect from Cunning, we got a glimpse at who Trey is as a person.  And, trust, you will not be dissapointed.

As a side note, I really liked that Trey’s brother Dare was in this book more.  He is such a great character.  I have heard that Cunning will write a series about Exodus End – I’m already crossing my fingers hoping for that!

*This is an erotic/romance book and contains some graphic sexual scenes.  If you like that sort of thing – you will LOVE this book.  If not, then it’s probably not for you.

**This book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Summary: Mary Catherine (but her friends call her Cath), is a reformed bad-girl from Chicago now living in London.  Since she was 14, Cath lived a wild life filled with drinking, drugs, and lots of boys.  She was a wild-child into her twenties, but after her mother’s death two years ago, she decides to change her ways and “New Cath” was born.   New Cath doesn’t drink, doesn’t date (in fact, doesn’t even flirt), certainly doesn’t have sex, and works herself to the bone as an assistant to the curator at a museum.  New Cath is doing just fine until one morning she wakes up, hungover, in a stranger’s bed.  Uh oh.

After finding a very drunk Cath late at night, Nev brings her home to keep her out of trouble.  What he doesn’t expect is to feel an instant connection with her.  He can’t get her out of his head.  The two start a heated romance, but Cath won’t open up to him.  She won’t tell him about herself, her past, nothing.  Nev tries to break through, and just when he begins to get a glimpse past Cath’s tough exterior something happens to tear them apart. 

This is a lovely story about love, loss, finding who you are and acceptance.

Rating: 3.5-4/5 stars

Reasons:  I didn’t expect to like this story as much as I did.  Primarily, I really enjoyed the characters.  I thought Cath was a great character – she was strong, determined, definitely flawed, but also lovable.  But, oh Nev! What a great guy.  Sure he had some family issues, but he was just so honest, and strong, and sweet and totally devoted to Cath from the beginning.  I loved the scenes when he was pursuing her.  And I loved that Cath tried so hard to deny her feelings, but then ended up showing up on his doorstep night after night. 

The passion between the two characters was well described, and I totally fell for it.  Hook.  Line.  Sinker.  The romance aspect didn’t feel contrived to me.  I felt that their relationship developed organically – from their instant attraction, to the gradual development of their relationship. 

My only negative (and which brought by rating down from a solid 4/5) was that the book was a little short – I would have liked to see the ending developed a little bit more.  It seemed a bit trite to me how everything worked out (I won’t say more because I don’t want to give it away). 

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an adult fiction romance.  There is a ton of romance, enough steam, and a male character you will definitely have a crush on by the end of the book!

**A copy of the manuscript was provided to me for free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Enslaved (Eternal Guardians #5) by Elisabeth Naughton

Summary: I first read this book not realizing that it was the fifth book in a series.  There was enough background information that you could read it as a stand alone, but I have to admit that after reading Enslaved, I went back and read the first four books in the series.  I loved them all. 

Enslaved is the story of Gryphon, an Argonaut (warrior/protector/hottie), who is trying to adjust to life on Earth after spending several months locked in Tarturus being tortured by Hades.   In book four, his brother, Orpheus, went into the Underworld to rescue him, and brought him to a half-breed colony in Montana to try to help Gryphon recover from his time in Tartarus.  But, although his body and soul are technically free, Gryphon cannot escape the voice in his head, calling to him.  He knows that the voice is that of Atalanta, the Goddess who has over the years amassed an army of daemons in her quest to take over the Human Realm and destroy the Argonauts.  As he tries to resist the unnatural connection he now has with Atalanta, and ignore her voice in his head, Gryphon has never felt more alone. 

Maelea is also staying at the colony.  She can sense changes in energy, and because of her “gift” was approached by Orpheus to help him get the tools he needed to enter the Underworld to save Gryphon.  But, by involving her, Orpheus unknowingly put Maelea’s lift in danger, so he is forcing her to stay with the colony to try to keep her safe.  But Maelea has been on her own for a very long time, and she has her own secrets, and she does not want to put anyone’s life in jeopardy because of her.  So, she  plots her escape and one night she acts…

Only, Gryphon has also been planning his escape from the colony.  And the two collide in the middle of both trying to get free.  Circumstances and threats keep them together, but Gryphon cannot ignore the fact that the voice in his head dims whenever Maelea is around.  Oh, and there’s this crazy sexual heat between them that neither can ignore, no matter how hard they try. 

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Reasons:  Okay, so you can tell by the summary that this book is not a contemporary romance.  It’s pure fantasy, based on Greek mythology but set in modern times.  It’s the best of both worlds.  The Argonauts are warriors of the highest order, with rock-hard bodies and honor ingrained in them, but they wear faded jeans and talk like any modern bad-boy.  Ummmm, yes please!  There were great steamy scenes, but also tons of romance, angst, love and emotion.

The story is full of action.  Because it’s all based on mythology, the reader gets to just accept what’s happening (as opposed to with a contemporary novel where I tend to judge the characters’ reactions as believable or not).  Because I hadn’t read the earlier novels, I was a little bit lost in the beginning, but after catching up it all comes together.   As I mentioned earlier, you could read this one as a standalone, but it obviously makes more sense to read the earlier books (or at least book 4) to get the full backstory.  And the other books are GOOD!

I loved the world-building in the book.  I could really picture what was happening – the author was descriptive, but didn’t overdo it with descriptions the reader didn’t need.  There were a lot of characters to keep track of, but it wasn’t confusing once you get into the book.  If you have any recollection of greek mythology, that knowledge will help you through the beginning.

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone looking for a great action novel filled with romance, angst and steam!  There were a number of sex scenes and a lot of cursing, so I would only recommend this book for older readers. 

**I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

No Turning Back and Turn to Me (Kathleen Turner Series #1 and #2) by Tiffany A. Snow

I just read the first two books in this series one after another, and the second picks up right after the first book ends, so I thought I would review them together.  This dual review may contain spoilers, although I will try my best to not do so.

Summary:

Book #1

We are introduced to Kathleen Turner (no, not that Kathleen Turner), a 23 year old runner at a law firm/part-time bartender.  She recently moved  to Indianapolis after the death of her mother (her father had passed away several years earlier).  While working at the law firm, she meets partner, Blane Kirk, after she clumsily, and literally, falls face first into his lap in the middle of a meeting.  Blane is incredibly attractive and powerful, so it’s no surprise to Kathleen that she feels attracted to him.  But, his long-list of past, short-term girlfriends have Kathleen doing her best to avoid him in order to protect herself from the inevitable hurt she will face if she opens herself up to him.  What she never expects, is that Blane feels an attraction to her as well, and he begins to aggressively pursue her. 

In the meantime, Kathleen’s friend and neighbour, Sheila, is brutally murdered in her apartment.  After discovering her body, Kathleen calls Blane, asking her to help him.  In the midst of her grief over losing her friend, and all of the unanswered questions surrounding her death, Kathleen and Blane begin a heated affair.  Unable to let it go, Kathleen begins investigating Sheila’s death, and the next thing she knows her own life is being threatened and dead bodies start piling up.  And then there’s that sexy assassin Kade, whom Kathleen can’t seem to figure out (or stop thinking about) – if Kade was sent to kill her why does he keep saving her life? 

Book #2

As soon as the threat in book 1 is resolved, Kathleen finds herself in trouble again.  Blane is involved in a high-profile case defending his friend, Navy Seal Kyle, in a wrongful death suit after an American is killed by him in Afghanistan.  The case attracts a lot of media and political attention, but it becomes clear that someone has a particular interest in seeing Blane lose the case after someone starts shooting at him and Kathleen.  Kathleen’s life is threatened again, but she vows to take care of herself and figure out who is trying to hurt Blane.  Kathleen again becomes embroiled in trying to solve the case, despite that people around her keep getting killed.  When Blane does the unspeakable, and breaks Kathleen’s heart, she becomes torn between him and Kade as she tries to decipher her feelings for these two different men. 

Rating: Both 5/5

Reasons:  I won’t say that these books are perfect, because they are not.  There are a number of issues with sentence structure, grammer, the writing, etc., but I still gave them 5/5 because (a) I found the story gripping and past-pased, (b) there was enough sexual tension and steam to sink the Titanic, and (c) I overall enjoyed reading them.

Let’s first discuss the action in the books.  Wowsers.  Kathleen didn’t have a day without being shot at, punched in the face, mugged, attacked, etc.  At times, it felt a little bit “too much”, but overall the book was fast-paced and moved along quite well.  Certainly never a dull moment.

The characters in the book were well-written.  Kathleen was a bit too naive for my liking (doesn’t she learn not to trust complete strangers?) but I understood her motivations for being overly trusting.  I really liked Blane and Kade.  Blane was a pure alpha male, but with a softer side.  Now, let’s talk about Kade.  Holy hotness batman.  Kade was pretty much the epidome of hot – tall, dark, handsome, sarcastic, though exterior but with a hidden softer side.  I loved him from the beginning.  Without ruining anything, the scene in the first book when they are in the motel room together – I freakin melted during that scene.

The books were rife with sexual tension, but with enough steamy scenes to satisfy the reader.  The sex scenes were HOT!

Overally, I would recommend these books to anyone looking for adult, contemporary, murder mystery with lots of steam.

 

Top 10 Tuesday – October 23, 2012

The topic this week is my Top 10 books to get into the halloween spirit.  Thanks Broke and the Bookish for yet another great topic!

This one is a hard one for me because I generally don’t like scary books (or scary movies, or haunted house, or anything scary for that matter!)  I like a good suspense story, but not “scary”.  So, I will try to think of some books that I would think would get you/me into the halloween spirit, although I must confess that I haven’t read many of the books on this list:

1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – This one I have read.  What can I say, it’s a classic.

2. Watchers by Dean Koontz – Another one that I have actually read.  And had nightmares about for a loooonnnngg time afterwards.  Oh, dad, why would you suggest your 11 year old daughter read this book?  But, I will say that if you like thrillers, this is a great book to check out.

3. anything by Stephen King – Too scary for me…

4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Not traditionally thought of as a “scary” book, but when I read this one I get the heebie-jeebies.  Just something about this book is so erie and frightening.

5. Dracula by Bram Stoker – Although this book is scary, I really liked it.  Another great classic.

6. Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice –  A great book, full of suspense.  I might have slept with my light on for a while after reading it…

7. Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe – So creepy, yet amazing.  Another one I could only read in the light of day.

8. The Witches by Raoul Dahl – I remember reading this book as I was growing up and absolutely loving it!

9.  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – Another great, spooky classic.

10. And Then There were None (Ten Little Indians) by Agatha Christie – Murder, suspense, and a whole host of suspects.  This book is almost like a right of passage.

That’s about all that I could come up with. What are your thoughts? Which books am I missing?

Review: Double Play (Berkley Sensation #1) by Jill Shalvis

Summary: Holly is a reporter who writes on-line series for a popular news blog.  She is paid to uncover her subjects’ dirty little secrets.  Her last assignment ended up sending her (now) ex-boyfriend, NASA engineer, to jail.  Yeah.  That.  As a result of her most recent heartbreak, Holly is swearing off men.  Her next assignment is writing a series about the new Santa Barbara expansion baseball team, the Heat.  She’s just beginning her assignment when she meets hot-shot star pitcher (and total hottie) Pace Martin to interview him.  When the two start spending time together, there’s no denying they both feel an intense chemistry.  But, Holly has sworn off men.  And Pace is only focussed on baseball.  But, still… there’s something undeniable between them.   And for the first time in her life Holly starts to feel that she wants to set down some roots, and make a life for herself. 

As soon as Holly and Pace start to move forward, and figure out what exactly is going on between them, Pace faces allegations that could jeopardize his entire career and Holly uncovers some secrets that could hurt Pace and her new friends on the Heat.  Both characters become torn between their feelings for each other and their commitments to their professions.  Can they move past their differences in order to give love a chance?

Review: 4.5/5

Reasons: I really enjoyed this story.  I loved the characters – Holly and Pace were believable, they each had their own baggage but took a chance to pursue something with each other.  I liked how their relationship evolved and unravelled, how they both slowly started realizing that their feelings for each other went beyond purely the physical.  (Although there were a LOT of very steamy scenes which I loved).  The supporting characters were also a blast – and I’m happy to see there are a few other novels in this series.  I really like how all of the characters make appearances in each other’s books.

I have read a number of books by this author, including the Lucky Harbour Series and the Wilders Series, both of which I enjoyed immensely.  I particularly like Shalvis’ books because of the alpha males, the strong female leads (no wimpering, sniveling virgins in these books), and the touching romance combined with steamy sex scenes.  Although the stories are a bit predictable, I always like a good happy ending, and Shalvis delivers in that respect.

I also enjoy her books because Shalvis is a “smart” writer.  She gives the reader the benefit of the doubt that she has some brains and wants to read an intelligent story.  I find it extremely frustrating when a book is written poorly, and sloppily, with grammatical mistakes (ummm… hello 50 Shades of Grey?).  So, when an author doesn’t treat her readers like idiots, I appreciated that. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  I even just started the second book in the series which is about Wade, the Heat’s sexy catcher (yum).  I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good, steamy contemporary romance.