Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Echoes by Laura Tisdall

by Laura Tisdall

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @http://www.twitter.com/lauratisdall

Just released: September 8, 2015
Publisher: Tizl Press
Genre: Cyber Thriller, YA
Rating: 4.5

First sentence(s):
Mallory Park hunches forward over the desk, icy blue eyes glued to the screen of the laptop, a single glow in the otherwise darkened room.

“There is truth to be shared. Let us begin…”

Volatile mathematical genius Mallory Park is living two lives. In one, she is balancing senior year with looking after her little brother and troubled ex-Marine father; in the other, she spends her nights glued to her laptop, breaking into some of the world’s most secure systems as the hacker Echo Six.

As part of a corruption-exposing cyber network called the Forum, Mallory is far more at ease among the codes and hidden identities of her online world than she has ever been in the real one, but when other hackers start to go missing, she finds herself caught up in a web of secrets that could have repercussions far beyond both.

When anyone can be a name on a screen, how do you know who to trust?

My two-bits:

This story takes you into the world of hackers. A clever girl is the focus in this story. With her mad hacker skills, she is sought out to be more than a recluse in front of her laptop.

Then, an adventure begins that takes her out of her safe zone to solve a mystery which transforms her into a kind of superhero status (to me).

After reading cyber, internet-related subject matter this warning comes to mind...

Beware and be careful when online.

About the author:
Laura grew up in Woking, England, and studied music at the University of Surrey.

She has written two musicals. The most recent is fantasy story The In-Between, the concept album for which featured performances by nine leading West End stars. Since it's release, it has been played on BBC Radio 2, performed at West End Live and received hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube (here) and Facebook (here).


* review copy courtesy of author

Happy release: Until Jax by Aurora Rose Reynolds

Until Jax
by Aurora Rose Reynolds
Amazon | Goodreads | Website

Ellie Anthony isn’t looking for love. She isn’t even looking for a man, but when Jax Mayson insists on keeping her and her daughter safe, she’s left with no choice but to trust him. Now she just hopes she doesn’t get hurt when she falls hard for a guy who’s known for breaking hearts.

Jax Mayson knows that Ellie is his BOOM the moment he sees her. When he finds out she has a daughter, he realizes he wants a family, and he will do whatever is necessary to keep both of his girls safe, even if that means facing the demons from his past.


* planning to read this one soon

* heads-up courtesy of TRSOR

Monday, September 28, 2015

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

If You Only Knew
by Kristan Higgins

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @Kristan_Higgins

Just released: August 25, 2015
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Chick-lit
Hardback: 416 pages
Rating: 3.5

First sentence(s):
Today is one of those days when I realize that staying friends with my ex-husband was a huge mistake.

Zombie sighting:
Five minutes later, I watch as the girls, who could sleep though being eaten by zombies, are packed into the minivan.
-kindle, location 4214, chapter

The drama, hilarity and tears of sisterhood are at the heart of the thoroughly captivating new novel by New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins—a funny, frank and bittersweet look at marriage, forgiveness and moving on.

Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected… especially since his new wife wants to be Jenny's new best friend. Sensing this isn't exactly helping her achieve closure, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she'll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel's picture-perfect family life… and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbor, a guy who's utterly irresistible and annoyingly distant at the same time.

Rachel's idyllic marriage, however, is imploding after she discovers her husband sexting with a colleague. She always thought she'd walk away in this situation, but her triplet daughters have her reconsidering her stance on adultery, much to Jenny's surprise. Rachel points to their parents' perfect marriage as a shining example of patience and forgiveness; but to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a family secret she's been keeping since childhood.

Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present and find a way to get what they want most of all.

My two-bits:

The story flip flops between the love lives of two sisters - one is married and the other divorced/single. However, there is also a third storyline of a secondary character which was entertaining to follow.

Each sister is forced to assess their relationships when it comes to men and love. Weddings, marriage and fidelity are issues brought about in this tale.

The story was a bit slow-going for me, but had a satisfying ending.

About the author:
Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and a two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages and received numerous starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus and Romantic Times. She is a four-time nominee for The Kirkus Prize for best work of fiction.

Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, National Public Radio, Library Journal, iBooks and Amazon have named Kristan's books to their best books of the year numerous times. The author is a popular speaker at schools, writers conferences, bookstores and book festivals.

Before she was a writer, Kristan worked in advertising and public relations. She waited tables and nannied while in high school and college, cleaned houses as a young mother, and is the proud descendant of a laundress and a butcher.

The author loves animals, children (even teenagers), the New York Yankees and dessert.

Along with her heroic and tolerant firefighter husband and two snarky and entertaining children, Kristan lives in her hometown in Connecticut.


* ebook review copy courtesy of publisher

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Books and Fashion Week

Chiara Boni La Petite Robe Spring 2016
& The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (goodreads)
from BuzzFeed Books books and fashion pairings (more here)

In tribute to the Fall season Fashion Weeks...

New York: September 10-17, 2015
London: September 18-22, 2015
Milan: September 23-29, 2015
Paris: September 30-October 7, 2015

I wanted to share books and fashion mashups.

This set of fashion pairings were inspired by New York Fashion Week and created at BuzzFeed Books (complete list here)

Son Jung Wan Spring 2016 & Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (goodreads)
=====> Found this one on the list that is in my tbr pile!

Leanne Marshall Spring 2016 & California by Edan Lepucki (goodreads)
=====> This one is amusing. It is also a book on my backburner tbr list.

The Blonds Spring/Summer 2015 & The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (goodreads)
=====> This is from last year's mashups that wow-ed me (see complete list here). Also, a book in my tbr pile.

Tommy Hilfiger Spring/Summer 2015 & Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (goodreads)
=====> This is another from last year which I thought was a cute number. I read this book last year (review).


Book Riot (here) added book accessories to the 2015 Emmy runway. These are all on my want list.

Dascha Polanco in Leanne Marshall, book accessory A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (goodreads)
=====> This book is currently part of Man Booker Prize 2015 short list (here) and was on The Shortlist for The Morning News 2015 Tournament of Books (here).

David and Jessica Oyelowo, book accessory The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (goodreads)


Fiction to Fashion (here) has assembled not only clothes but accessories to match up with books. Here are a couple that caught my eye.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (goodreads)
=====> I will be reading this one very soon :-)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (goodreads)
=====> Loved this one and can't wait to see the film adaptation.

A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab (goodreads)


* see my previous post of Book Covers and Fashion Week (here)

* found the links to Book Riot and Buzzfeed at Thoughts from an Evil Overlord (here).

* feel free to share any links you know of that has married books and fashion

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Winners for September pt2

Here are the winners for
Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway HOP, Sep 20-25 -signup

Thanks to all contestants!


Mademoiselle Chanel
by C.W. Gortner
-France, Historical
Amazon | Goodreads | my review
Winner: Darcus of Rainy Days and Pajamas

The Beautiful American
by Jeanne Mackin
-France, Historical, WW2
Amazon | Goodreads | my review
Winner: Maranda of A Throne of Books


* to see the original giveaway offer, click on the signup link

* I will email winners for mailing addresses within two weeks.
Winners, feel free to contact me with your info if you don't get my email
or if you are just too darn excited and want to let me know -- like NOW ;-D

* contest policy

* if not this time, maybe next time

--> check out the current giveaways and upcoming events on my sidebar

Stacking the Shelves - 9.26.15

Stacking the Shelves
hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!



1 Page at a Time:
A Daily Creative Companion

by Adam J. Kurtz (some guy)
-Art, Writing, Journal
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> This looks like a fun daily journal with creative prompts. It will be perfect for the new projects mode i have been in.

Mt. Shasta: California's Mystic Mountain
by Emilie A. Frank
-Historical, New Age
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> I am very curious about the mystery and alien folklore related to this place. Browsing in a couple of the new age shops in Mt. Shasta, I picked this up. This was a road trip pit stop while driving up to Oregon to drop my daughter at college. I am going through mixed emotions. It will be the kid's first year away from home --- aaaak!

Freebie: for kindle

Incite: Adam
(Sphere of Irony #1)
by Heather C. Leigh
-Music, New Adult, Romance
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> I haven't looked through the whole catalog of freebies but it looks like that it is mostly romances available to grab. Good way to try out series as usually the first book is offered for free.

OTHER things on my shelf: kinda book-related

Erin Condren Life Planner
(details and order yours here)

=====> I spotted this on Happy.Pretty.Sweet (here) and thought it would be a new and colorful way to start off next year as I have been wanting to change my current organizer system.

I treat my calendar as a kind of scrapbook in that I like to include personal and event pictures (mini-versions). As this planner is customizable, I picked out a different weekly layout (vertical) which I think is more suitable with how I like to calendar things. It should accommodate my bit of scrapbooking perfectly. The package also comes with stickers and notecards!


From Owlcrate package (details & signup):
OwlCrate is a subscription service that sends you magical monthly boxes tailored to a chosen theme. Each OwlCrate will contain one new Young Adult novel, as well as 3-5 other bookish treats to help you get your nerd on.

September Box includes:
- Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (with letter and sticker from author)
- Divergent-inspired tote bag
- Photo prints of Hermione by Megan Lara
- Katniss (of Hunger Games) Arrow Necklace by Crystal Compass
- Daenarys (of Game of Thrones) key chain by Funko

by Julie Murphy
-Humor, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

=====> I was excited to be able to try this subscription box service this month. I signed up back in May for the wait list and finally got through :-) I will be testing it out for 3 months. I am pretty happy with what I found inside. LOVED the blend of book and current bookish swag per theme. Also, could be biased because I love Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Divergent and the Hunger Games.


My Life at Grey Gardens: 13 Months and Beyond
by Lois Wright
Amazon | Goodreads

Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie, known as Big Edie and Little Edie, were the aunt and cousin of former U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. They led an unconventional existence in Grey Gardens, a mansion in East Hampton. Their home was surrounded by overgrown gardens, and filled with fleas, cats, raccoons, and old cans and rubbish. In 1976, the release of a documentary film also called 'Grey Gardens' highlighted their unique lives among the East Hampton elite, and introduced the Beales to their cult fan following. In 1975, Lois Wright, a fellow artist and dear friend of the Beales, was invited to live with them in Grey Gardens. Wright kept a journal of her thirteen months with the Beales, and using those logs, has developed this book. 'My Life at Grey Gardens' offers the reader an intimate look at the daily lives of the Beales, and chronicles the events from Lois's arrival at the house through the passing of Big Edith Bouvier Beale in 1977.

=====> I had to pick this one up out of curiosity influenced by my binge watching (see below).

AND binge watching:

=====> Things related to Grey Gardens (wiki).

Grey Gardens (1975)
-Documentary, Criterion Collection version
Criterion | imdb

Meet Big and Little Edie Beale: mother and daughter, high-society dropouts, and reclusive cousins of Jackie Onassis. The two manage to thrive together amid the decay and disorder of their East Hampton, New York, mansion, making for an eerily ramshackle echo of the American Camelot. An impossibly intimate portrait, this 1976 documentary by Albert and David Maysles, codirected by Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, quickly became a cult classic and established Little Edie as a fashion icon and philosopher queen. The Blu-ray edition features the 2006 follow-up to the film, The Beales of Grey Gardens, constructed from hours of extra footage in the filmmakers’ vaults.

The Beales of Grey Gardens (2006)

Utilizing hours of unseen archival footage, The Beales is a new take on the women of Grey Gardens.

Grey Gardens (2009)
tv movie
-biography, drama
HBO | imdb

Based on the life stories of the eccentric aunt and first cousin of Jackie Onassis (both named Edith Bouvier Beale aka "Big and Little Edie") raised as Park Avenue d├ębutantes but who withdrew from New York society, taking shelter at their Long Island summer home, "Grey Gardens." As their wealth and contact with the outside world dwindled, so did their grasp on reality. They were reintroduced to the world when international tabloids learned of a health department raid on their home, and Jackie swooped in to save her relatives.

Grey Gardens (2015)
the musical - San Francisco (here)

=====> I missed it! Boo hoo. Had I gotten turned on to this sooner, I would have gone.

Documentary Now (2015)
episode one, Sandy Passage
spoof of Grey Gardens

=====> This is what inspired the binge watching. Awesome twist to this story! Fred Armisen and Bill Hader nailed it! And, are a hoot!


* some of these may be offered as giveaways within the next two months

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

* per usual, check out the sidebar for my current giveaways offers

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Title Fonts on Covers

Top 5 Wednesday
hosted by Lainey @ GingerReadsLainey on Youtube
JOIN the Goodreads group (here)

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey. You get a new topic every Wednesday, and you then list your Top 5 books related to the particular topic.

TODAY's topic:
September 23rd - Title Fonts on Covers


The Dark Days Club
(Lady Helen, #1)
by Alison Goodman
-Historical, Steampunk, YA
Release date: January 26, 2016
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> The old-timey whimsical look of this title suggests it could be a fun read.

Fates and Furies
by Lauren Groff
-Literary Fiction
Release date: September 15, 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> This title is huge and is slightly covered by the feathers, waves, swirly stuff which makes me curious.

The Art of Crash Landing
by Melissa DeCarlo
-Women's Fiction
Release date: September 8, 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> The disruption in the otherwise perfectly aligned letters surely makes a statement. The way the eye is drawn downward does not bode well.

Academy Girls
by Nora Carroll
-Mystery, Thriller, YA
Release date: September 15, 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> I am always drawn to a typewriter font.

Come Hell or Highball
(Discreet Retrieval Agency #1)
by Maia Chance
-Cozy Mystery, Historical
Release date: September 15, 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> This title exudes that stylish art deco look that calls to the inner fashion self.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Crudrat by Gail Carriger

by Gail Carriger
Read by J. Daniel Sawyer, Veronica Giguere, and 20 others
Original score by Danny Schade

Find out more about this book and author:
Book Website
Author Website
Twitter @gailcarriger

Audio cd released: August 2015
Publisher: Artistic Whispers Production
Genre: SciFi, Aliens, YA
Rating: 4

Welcome to Wheel: a perfect world without poverty, disease, or want. Tinkered and tuned in every way for maximum order by Rank and Spoke, every child knows her destiny. So long as she can take the neural implant.

The defective, whose bodies reject the implants, do not exist. Ghosts. Cyphers. Haunting the edges of society, living on scraps, killed for sport. A lucky few, the Crudrats, scrape out a perilous living cleaning the toxic wastes from the great machines that power the station.

Meet Maura. Cypher. Crudrat. Grown too tall, alone in a spaceport with no use for her, doomed to starve. With only her crud-eating murmel and an alien monster to help her, she must find a way to survive, or escape, before they catch her and blow what’s left of her life, and her companions, into space.

From the pen of Gail Carriger, Artistic Whispers Productions presents an unabridged full-cast young-adult adventure that brings golden age-style science fiction into the 21st century, stuffs it full of heart, and gives it a finely polished, gleaming edge.

My two-bits:

I found this full of action and aliens in a sci-fi world with snippy and snarky dialogue that made for fun listening.

The language and slang in this world made this story special, light-hearted and entertaining.


* listened to the audio version

fyi: Crudrat was printed as a limited run, numbered, special edition, signed, hard cover book. This was available only to specific Kickstarter backers as a reward. It is not for sale to the general public. Currently, Gail has no plans to produce this book in print for purchase.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Blitz: Bad, Wicked, Twisted: A Briarcrest Academy Box Set by Ilsa Madden-Mills (with giveaway)

FOUR red-hot stories about the bad, wicked and twisted characters of Briarcrest Academy, featuring a dirty-talking gym owner, a football player, a sexy rock star, and a British bad boy.

Bad Wicked Twisted: A Briarcrest Academy Box Set is

Bad, Wicked, Twisted:
A Briarcrest Academy Box Set
by Ilsa Madden-Mills
Release date: September 21, 2015
Amazon | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Excerpt: from Very Bad Things


“I’d like to sleep for a hundred years, wake up and try again.”
– Nora Blakely

“Drop the paint and turn around slowly with your hands in the air.” The loud command was said with a deep voice. “I’ve got a gun, asshole, so move nice and slow.”

I bent over and placed the can on the pavement. I started to turn when— “I said put your hands in the air!” he yelled.

I yanked my hands up and eased around to face the owner of the voice.

He was about ten feet away from me, standing six feet and then some. He was missing a shirt but wearing a pair of black athletic shorts and flip-flops. Judging by his disheveled dirty blond hair and bloodthirsty eyes, I’d have to guess this might be the owner of the Escalade.

And I’d just woken him up.

He came closer to me, and my eyes were immediately drawn to his green-and-blue dragon tattoo. Like a giant snake, the scaled body of the dragon wrapped around his forearm and bicep with the neck coming down from his shoulder and the head resting on his broad chest. Red flames poured from its mouth, between laser sharp teeth.

This guy looked medieval.

I pictured him as a rugged Viking, wearing a horned helmet and gripping a spear instead of a gun. Maybe holding a shield instead of his flashlight and definitely wearing some of those laced-up leather boots. The word berserker (from round two of the famous spelling bee) came to mind, and I rolled the syllables around my tongue . . . ber-serk-er. Yep, that was him alright: one pissed off Norse warrior.

I grinned at my amazing analogy because, well, I was trashed.

“You think this is funny, son?” he snapped.

I shook my head, suddenly aware that this was really happening, that I’d been caught, and an angry car owner was pointing a gun at me. And he thought I was a boy.

“That’s what I thought. Now, what the hell are you doing out here messing with my car?” he said, biting out the words through clenched teeth.

I said nothing.

“You’ve got twenty seconds before I call the cops,” he said, stepping closer.

And then it happened.

Everything clicked in my head, and I knew him. He was the one, the gorgeous guy from the open house whose gaze had been the glue that held me together in the parking lot. I forgot about the gun and got tangled up in my thoughts, remembering the countless times I’d played out the memory of our eyes clinging to each other, how I’d wanted to jump out of my car, get into his and just drive away. I flicked my eyes back at the Escalade, dimly remembering he’d driven a black car. I really hadn’t paid much attention to it that day because all I’d seen had been him.

“Ten seconds,” he yelled, blasting his light full in my face until bright spots were floating in front of my eyes.

“Get that off me,” I snapped, swaying a little.

He lowered the light a miniscule bit. “Drunk and disorderly plus vandalism are two misdemeanors. Looks like you’re going to jail.”

“S’kay with me. Put me in jail,” I said weakly. But even as I said the words, I knew I was lying. I wasn’t a minor anymore, and I could kiss Princeton goodbye if I got arrested.

Nausea reared its ugly head and my stomach began to roll.

“Five seconds,” he retorted.

I bent over and hurled, missing my shirt but not my adored cowboy boots. After that, I dry heaved, and the force made my legs buckle, making me take a header straight on the concrete, the side of my face slamming into the wet pavement. My ball cap fell off in the craziness, my long hair spilling out over the wet ground.

“Holy shit,” he muttered, easing the gun down, “you’re a fucking girl.”

“Last time I looked,” I whispered, running my tongue across my teeth to check for chips. I scooted myself away from the mess I’d made and reached up to touch my face to see if I was bleeding. There wasn’t any blood, but I could feel my temple swelling. I put a hand on the car and pulled myself up. My knees were on fire, and when I looked down, I saw the concrete had ripped through my jeans and blood was dripping down my legs.

He cursed, pulled a phone from his pocket and dialed a number. “Sebastian, it’s all good. No, no cops. Yeah, come on out here. I might need some help.”

A door slammed, and a younger version of the man, probably around my age, came around the corner, his long legs striding briskly. He stopped in front of the graffiti I’d drawn and whistled loudly. “Oh baby, those pretty hearts and flowers are rocking your ride, Leo.” He chuckled and then stopped when his eyes took me in. “Whoa, she’s bleeding. Did you beat her up?”

The guy called Leo rubbed his scruffy jaw. “I don’t hit girls. She fell.”

“She’s hurt,” the young guy stated, frowning. He stared at me with a puzzled expression and then grinned and slapped his leg. “Hot damn. It’s her,” he said in a loud whisper. “You know? Nora? From registration?”

“Yeah. I see that,” Leo said, his eyes searching my face.

“I see no official introductions are necessary. Everyone knows me now as the girl with the potty mouth,” I said, leaning completely against the car, smearing the yellow paint everywhere.

The younger one came to my side. “You okay?”

I focused on him and decided I liked him. He had an open face that made me think he laughed a lot, so when I felt myself swaying again, I reached out to him.

“Watch it,” he said gently and grabbed my shoulders to steady me.

Leo walked over and loomed beside me, a disapproving look on his face as he watched us. I shifted closer to the one he’d called Sebastian, but stumbled and lost my balance, falling down again on my knees. Shit. This night had gone downhill fast.

Sebastian kneeled down next to me and looked over at Leo. “Hey, how ’bout I carry her inside so she can get cleaned up?”

Leo let out an exasperated breath. “Ridiculous,” he muttered. “She ruins my car, and you want to invite her inside? You’d feel different if it had been your Beamer, Sebastian.”

Sebastian gave my shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “She’s my classmate, bro, and I think she’d just drunk.”

Leo let out a grunt. “Whatever. Fine, I’ll get her, and you get the backpack. And don’t forget the spray paint.” He walked over and glared down at me. “If I call the police later, we’ll need the evidence.”
Then, without any effort at all, he swept me up, his hard arms slipping under my knees and around my back as he scooped me off the ground.

And just like that, the night caught up with me, and I nestled into his bare chest, feeling like I had come home. He smelled so good, like—

“Butterscotch,” I mumbled, turning my nose into him.

“What?” he grumbled, carrying me inside the glass doors.

I didn’t answer because I was too busy laying my cheek against his hot skin and staring into the crystalline eyes of his dragon.

He took me down a long hall with several doors on each side and past a large workout room with treadmills, ellipticals, and free weights. “Hold on,” he said and adjusted his grip on my legs and started up a wide staircase that opened to a spacious loft area. He carried me past a den area and a kitchen and into a large white-tiled bathroom. I suppose I was too wet for any other room. And I wasn’t exactly a welcome guest.

He sat me on the toilet seat, made sure I was steady, and eased away from me. Maybe he wanted me to sit, but I didn’t. I jumped up, went over to the sink and turned the water on. He stood there, his broad shoulders tense, watching me as I splashed cool water on my face and rinsed out my mouth. I grabbed a hand towel and dried off, wishing I wasn’t intoxicated.

“Tell me why you vandalized my car,” he stated, crossing his muscled arms and spreading his legs, his stance making it obvious he was pissed. The tension heightened in the small room as we stared at each other, and I tore my eyes from his to sit back down on the toilet seat, not knowing how to answer him. I would only sound crazy.

He tapped his fingers against his legs. “What’s your parent’s phone number? And don’t think of lying because I can always look it up online. I know who you are.”

“There’s no point in calling them. They aren’t home. They never are,” I said, grabbing a wad of toilet paper and cleaning off my boots. My throat tightened painfully at the thought of my parents, and I soothed myself by counting the tiles on the floor.

He didn’t speak and several seconds passed, and I tensed up more, fearing that like Mother, he excelled in using silence. But no one was better than Mother, who’d once refused to speak to me for an entire month when I’d come in second at a debate competition. During the first week of that horribly quiet time, I’d followed her around, begging her to talk to me. She’d ignore me and say to my dad, “Silence is golden.” As the weeks had progressed, I’d learned her silence was her speech, her way of saying I was worthless.

“Please don’t call my parents,” I added, hiding my shaking hands behind my back.

He tightened his mouth. “Fine, who can I call to come get you?”

“Don’t hold it against Portia from the bakery across the street, but she’s my aunt. I’m staying with her.” I dug my phone out of my wet jeans, scrolled down to her number, and handed it to him.

Our fingers brushed when he took my phone, and I jerked, shocked at the unexpected sizzle of heat sweeping over my body. He pocketed my phone and then opened the medicine cabinet, gazing into it for a long time without moving, like he was considering what to do next. I watched him warily, wondering what he had planned for me. Finally, he sighed and pulled out hydrogen peroxide and a handful of gauze.

“Sebastian has a change of clothes you can borrow, and you’ll need an ice pack for your face. It’s going to leave a bruise,” he told me as he bent down to touch my temple with his long fingers. He cleaned my face with cold water and then dabbed it with the hydrogen peroxide, his touch surprisingly gentle even though I could sense his anger just under the surface.

In the bright lights of the bathroom, I let my gaze run over him freely, taking him in, not missing how beautiful he was. He had an unyielding face, with a jaw line that looked like it could chisel granite, matching his well-built, defined body. Yet even with all the hotness in front of me, the one thing that made my heart fly was his icy pale-blue eyes. This close up I could see how the light, almost transparent color contrasted with his tan face, making his eyes glow like the precious opals I’d studied about in science. And right now they were focused entirely on me as he scrutinized my bruise.

“Is this your gym?” I asked, trying not to wince as he patted my temple.

“Yes,” he said, tossing the used gauze into the trash, his arm muscles rippling. He stood up and raked a hand through his wavy blond hair, holding it there as he studied me with those piercing eyes. I returned his look, my breath kicking up a notch at how sexy his naked chest was, how his dragon tattoo seemed to slither and slide over his chest as he moved. My eyes moved down to his taut abs and the way his shorts barely hung to his lean waist, hinting at what was underneath.

Of course, while I’m buzzing, I remembered my bad list and grew curious about having sex with him. Would he be gentle or demanding? Would he like me on top or would he get behind me? Would I enjoy it?

But it didn’t matter if I got off as long as he made me forget.

Forgetting was the important part.

It had been months since I’d had sex with someone. Not since that wild weekend in New York with Drew. Even though our relationship had ended badly, I still remembered the sex and how good it had felt to be held by someone. Like I wasn’t alone, like someone cared about me.

I needed a night like that again, to lose myself in sex. I wanted this Viking.

I gave him a fake smile. “Leo’s a great name. Guess you know it means lion. It also means bold one. Are you bold?” I said in a low tone, reaching out to stroke his arm.

He jerked away from me, like I’d scalded him, but it didn’t deter me. True, I was a little younger than him, but what guy would turn down a no-strings-attached night? Drew hadn’t.

I stood up and toed my boots off. “How old are you?” I asked.

“Too old for you,” he quickly retorted.

“I’m not a virgin, you know. I’ve been with other guys, some good at fucking, some not.” I let my eyes run over him slowly. “You’re older which means more experienced. I bet you’d blow them right out of the water,” I said, putting it all out there and letting bad Nora take over completely.

“I don’t care how many douchebags you’ve fucked,” he said with a hard face, his eyes gleaming with distaste.

I felt some of my false bravado slip away, but not enough to stop. He was what I needed tonight. I began unbuttoning my shirt, and his eyes followed my progress. “You tell me your age and I’ll tell you mine,” I said in the best teasing voice I could muster.

I undid the last button and shrugged out of my shirt, relieved I’d worn the black lace bra. “You like?”
He yanked a towel from the shelf near the door and tossed it in my face. “Cover up, Nora. I don’t do spoiled, rich girls.”

I caught the towel and held it against me, ignoring that remark. Those types of insults never affected me.

Not when you hear them every day.

“If you won’t tell me your age, I’ll just have to figure it out on my own. And I’m guessing you’re at least twenty-five, maybe twenty-six?” I said.

He shook his head and clenched his fists, not answering me.

I took a deep breath, dropped the towel to the floor and unclasped my bra, letting my size C breasts fall out. Even though I’d been a pudgy most of my life, I’d blossomed into a girl with generous curves. He seemed to like what he saw because he didn’t look away. I glanced down at my erect nipples and lightly touched one with my fingertip, surprised by the desire I felt. I brought my eyes back to his face, imagining his tongue on me.

A muscle jerked in his tight jaw.

I dropped my hand and steeled myself to keep on toward the goal. “Of course, it’s getting harder to tell someone’s age now because people take better care of themselves, like you with your tight abs. But, if you study someone long enough, you’ll find out their secrets.”

“I don’t have any,” he ground out, tearing his eyes from my body.

“We all do.”

He rubbed his hand across his mouth as his eyes swept over my breasts again. “You don’t know jack about me.”

I studied him, my brain picking through what I’d observed tonight. “Well, you own your own business, so you’re a responsible person. And, I bet you a new pair of boots you’re the guardian of the young man out there, who has to be your brother because he looks just like you. I think your parents are out of the picture.”

I unsnapped my jeans, shimmied them pass my skinned knees, and tossed them in the trash. “You’ve also shown self-control tonight that’s impressive. Someone less in control might have shot me on sight. In a nutshell,” I said, taking off my black panties, “you’re well-off, take care of a younger brother, and keep your emotions on a tight leash. Am I right?”

He glared at me, his entire body frozen up, like a tiger poised to pounce. Like he was going to jump on me and devour me. I wondered if he’d eat me the way I wanted.

I couldn’t stop talking. “I’m good at observing people: body language, mannerisms, how they talk, style of clothing, everything. It’s a puzzle I like to put together. It’s better than Facebook stalking,” I said with a forced shrug, trying to be casual when inside I was freaking the hell out. What was I doing?

Why was I trying to seduce this guy?

He didn’t want me.

No one did.

His eyes burned like blue flames. “What kind of girl strips for a guy she just met?”

A girl with no self-respect, I thought.

I shrugged. “I need a shower, which involves me taking my clothes off.”

He narrowed his eyes at me. “You could have waited until I left.”

I flicked my eyes at his crotch. “You’re hard for me. You’re bigger than a tree trunk in those shorts,” I said. “And you haven’t walked out of this bathroom. I think you’re a little fascinated with me. I think you like watching me take my—”

“Fuck!” he barked out and spun around to go.

“Wait, wait,” I called out, reaching out to make him stop, needing him. Please stay, I wanted to say.

He turned back with his fists held tight by his side and spat out his words. “You’re a naked girl, and I’m a grown-ass man. I’m walking out of this room while I still can.”

But he made no move to leave, and it gave me a tiny bit of hope.

“I . . . I just wanted to know how old you are.”

“Twenty-five. I’m twenty-five,” he muttered, “and you’re jailbait and not my type.”

“What type is that?” I asked.

“Girls who aren’t in high school. In other words—not you.”

And as we stood there, facing each other, I waited for him to make his move, to snatch me up and take me to his bed like I wanted.

But he didn’t, because I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough or smart enough.

I was never enough.

I cleared my throat and powered on. “Eighteen isn’t jailbait.”

We stared at each other and the longer our eyes held, the more I knew my boundaries were gone. It seemed like there was nothing I wouldn’t say to him. Even though my insides were quaking with nerves, I went over to him until our bare chests were only inches apart. I was five feet ten inches, and he was at least six inches taller, making him the tallest guy I’d ever stood next to. Not only that, but his body was built like an NFL football player, with lethal yet lickable muscles. I liked being near him. I felt safe, like no one would ever hurt me again.

My eyes caressed the dragon on his chest, and I wanted to trace it with my tongue. I thought about how warm his skin would be, how it would feel to have his strong arms wrap around me as I kissed his sensuous lips. When his breathing accelerated along with mine, I knew I wasn’t completely alone in my feelings. I searched his eyes, surprised at the new sensations coursing through me.

I pressed myself against him completely, and he hissed at the contact. “Don’t you want to touch me?” I whispered, rubbing my breasts against his chest to get some friction.

He gripped my arms and shoved me away from him. “You’re playing with fire. You think you want this?” He laughed darkly. “Buttercup, you can’t handle me.”

And with those words, he pivoted around and stomped out of the room, slamming the door hard behind him.


Each book in the Briarcrest Academy series is written as a stand-alone love story following a new couple.

1: VERY BAD THINGS (Nora and Leo)
2: VERY WICKED BEGINNINGS (Dovey and Cuba--prequel novella)
3: VERY WICKED THINGS (Dovey and Cuba)
4. VERY TWISTED THINGS (Violet and Sebastian)

VERY BAD THINGS (Amazon Top 5 Book and #1 in New Adult and College Age Romance)
Leaving behind her mansion and Jimmy Choos, Nora Blakely becomes a girl hell-bent on pushing the limits with alcohol, drugs, and meaningless sex.

Then she meets her soulmate, but he doesn’t want her.

Sexy gym owner Leo Tate has one rule: never fall in love…until Nora shows up with her list of bad things. He resists the pull of their sizzling connection, hung up on their age difference.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy, where the best things in life are VERY BAD THINGS.

VERY WICKED BEGINNINGS (Prequel Novella: Amazon Top 100 Book and #1 in Urban Fiction)
When wicked ballerina Dovey Beckham meets football star Cuba Hudson, she didn’t plan on having her heart shattered into a million pieces. He’s the bad boy with a dark past and when he falls for Dovey, he knows she can’t be part of his future.


VERY WICKED THINGS (Amazon Top 100 Book and #1 in Urban Fiction)
Dovey Beckham is a ballerina from the wrong side of the tracks with a scholarship to prestigious Briarcrest Academy. She gives her body but never her heart. Cuba "Hollywood" Hudson is a wealthy football player with fast cars and even faster girlfriends.

Until the day he meets her, and she offers him something he's never tasted: true love.

Their passion is electric, their connection deep, but once in a lifetime kind of love doesn't come easy, especially when dirty money, past sins, and old flames come calling.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy…where the best things in life are Very Wicked Things.

VERY TWISTED THINGS (Amazon Top 100 and #1 Urban Fiction)
Violet St. Johns is a talented violinist hiding out in a Hollywood mansion, struggling to forget the devastation of her parent’s sudden death.

Vital Rejects front man Sebastian Tate never imagined his music video would go viral, skyrocketing him to instant fame. Okay, maybe he did. He’s a cocky dude, and he knew his name would be in lights someday.

When he sees the elusive girl in the mansion next door playing her violin nude, they begin an erotic game of spying.

When they finally come face-to-face, sparks fly and clothes comes off. But giving his heart to a girl isn’t Sebastian’s plan; falling for a guy who craves attention isn’t Violet’s.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy….Hollywood style….where the best things in life are VERY TWISTED THINGS.

Praise for the Briarcrest Series:

"Cuba is hot, delicious, and intoxicating...the perfect book boyfriend. Be prepared for an addictive read." ~Tijan, NYT Bestselling Author

About the author:
New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She's addicted to all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding heroes in books. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Instagram, Ian Somerhalder (seriously hot), astronomy (she's a Gemini), Sephora make-up, and tattoos.

She has a degree in English and a Master's in Education.

When she's not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets, paints old furniture, and eats her weight in sushi.

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @ilsamaddenmills


$50 Amazon Gift Card

(Open Internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


* courtesy of TRSOR

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Stuck In A Good Book Giveaway Hop

Stuck In A Good Book Giveaway Hop
September 20-25, 2015
hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Stuck in Books
details and complete list (here)


Books that I got stuck in and just couldn't stop reading in the historical genre with France as the backdrop.


Mademoiselle Chanel
by C.W. Gortner
-France, Historical
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

For readers of The Paris Wife and Z comes this vivid novel full of drama, passion, tragedy, and beauty that stunningly imagines the life of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel—the ambitious, gifted laundrywoman’s daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and become one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to orphanage after their mother’s death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek, minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. But her fame and fortune cannot save her from heartbreak as the years pass. And when Paris falls to the Nazis, Coco is forced to make choices that will haunt her.

An enthralling novel of an extraordinary woman who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel explores the inner world of a woman of staggering ambition whose strength, passion and artistic vision would become her trademark.


The Beautiful American
by Jeanne Mackin
-France, Historical, WW2
Amazon | Goodreads my review

From Paris in the 1920s to London after the Blitz, two women find that a secret from their past reverberates through years of joy and sorrow....

As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals…and break years of silence to forge a meaningful connection as women who have shared the best and the worst that life can offer?

A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional women.


WIN one of my review copies above!

Open to US only.

Offer ends: September 25, 2015

TO DO: (3 parts)

1. FOLLOW me on Twitter (here).

2. TELL me your Twitter name.

3. TELL me which book you want.

AND, leave your email.


Contest has ended - winner is here



NOW, hop-along to these other sites for more goodies...

details and complete list (here)

Stacking the Shelves - 9.19.15

Stacking the Shelves
hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!



The Danish Girl
by David Ebershoff
-Historical, GBLT
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> transgender topic, wanted to read this before the movie release, November 27

Freebie: for kindle

Forever Charmed
(The Halloween LaVeau Series Book 1)
by Rose Pressey
courtesy of author -Thanks!

Lasso the Moon
Peacemakers: Old West (Book 1)
(Peacemakers - Old West)
by Beth Ciotta
-Historical, Romance, Western
courtesy of author -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

For Review:

Crooked Little Lies
by Barbara Taylor Sissel
-Mystery, Thriller
courtesy of BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge 2015 -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

Until Jax
by Aurora Rose Reynolds
courtesy of tour by TRSOR -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads


From Uppercase package (details & signup):
A hand-selected young adult book & fun bookish item, delivered monthly #UppercaseBox

September Box includes:
* Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
* Signed bookplate from Erin Bowman
* Vengeance Road bookmark
* Uppercase original TBR list notepad (designed by Risa Rodil)
* Harry Potter Golden Snitch Earrings (wooden) from Juniper & Ivy Designs

Vengeance Road
by Erin Bowman
-Historical, Western, YA
Amazon | Goodreads | my review
=====> Yeeehaww!!! LOVED this book and really excited that I now I have a finished copy!

--~ Book Giveaway ~--
IF you want my ARC copy let me know in comments with your email.
Open to US only.
Offer ends: Sep 30.

OTHER things on my shelf: kinda book-related

Outlander T-shirt
CHECK out Litographs (here)

=====> Being a fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, I could not resist getting the latest Litographs creation.

FYI: Every Litographs t-shirt is created entirely from the text of a classic book, and is hand-pressed to order in Cambridge, MA... The average Litographs t-shirt contains approximately 40,000 words (about the length of a short novel).

Music related:

Duran Duran
tickets for October concert

=====> Being a child of the 80's, looking forward to seeing my favorite band LIVE again.

AND watching:

The Pirates (2014)
"Hae-jeok: Ba-da-ro gan san-jeok" (original title)
Directed by: Seok-hoon Lee
-adventure, pirates, South Korea

A band of pirates and a group of bandits fight to catch a gray whale that has swallowed a royal stamp.

=====> inspired to watch this because today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Pirate WORD of the day:

Avast - Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, "Whoa! Get a load of that!" which today makes it more of a "Check it out" or "No way!" or "Get off!" -TLAP


* image source: Picnik was used for pirate graphic

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

* per usual, check out the sidebar for my current giveaways offers

Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu