Thursday, 30 June 2016

Review: Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces by Amy Harmon
Publication date: October 12th 2013
My rating: 5 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She'd been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have...until he wasn't beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl's love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior's love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast where we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

My Thoughts:
Making Faces was a compelling, beautiful story of love, loss, and the beauty of a person found underneath the superficial, exterior layers.

Fern Taylor loved Ambrose Young from an early age, idolizing him at the beginning, but falling for his soul in high school. Ambrose is everything a town hero could be: gorgeous, captain of the wrestling team, athletically gifted, and nice underneath it all. Fern, however, is the perfect example of an ugly duckling albeit with a heart of gold, running around with her beloved cousin and best friend, Bailey, a boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.  Instead of being a depressing figure, Bailey is filled with positivity and a humorous outlook on life.

In the aftermath of 9/11 Ambrose chooses to go off to war with his four best friends instead of taking the wresting scholarship offered and going to college. Ambrose comes back broken and battered, but Fern and Bailey won’t let him hide in his shell for long.

I’m not going to elaborate on the plot, I’m just going to say that this is one of the most beautiful NA stories I’ve read.  The writing is gorgeous without being distracting or disrupting plot flow. The story was completely riveting to me! The romance was a slow burn, super sweet, heartfelt, but it wasn’t just about the romance.  Friendship, loyalty, family, mortality, and the beauty that is within were at the heart of the moving tale. 

“I think people are like that. When you really look at them, you stop seeing a perfect nose or straight teeth. You stop seeing the acne scar or the simple in the chin. Those things start to blur, and suddenly you see them, the colors, the life inside the shell, and beauty takes on a whole new meaning.”

This is a self-published gem! I’ll definitely be picking up more Amy Harmon for sure, and soon!  I listened to the story and Rob Shapiro does an excellent job of both male and female voices. Total recommend!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Short & Tweetish Reviews #8 Paradise, Idaho series by Rosalind James

I'm back to doing Short & Tweetish Reviews (There's no way I can keep it to 140 characters!).  This style of reviewing was introduced to me by Mary@The Book Swarm  and Karen's @For What It's Worth

Carry Me Home (Paradise, Idaho #1) by Rosalind James
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication date: June 16th 2015
My rating:  4 stars  
Links: Amazon | B&N | TBD | GRs
My Thoughts:
Zoe is focused on the goals drilled into her by her father, a completely selfish man, IMO, and doesn’t know how love and family can fit in. That’s okay she has Cal to help her with that. He’s funny, confident and successful, even though Zoe misjudges him at first they soon click. Good thing because Cal is exactly who you want in your corner when you have a stalker after you. There was a lot of sexy, fun banter, but this story was a turns scary, and the end had me on the edge of my seat! The mystery of who is behind it all is good and kept me guessing!

Hold Me Close (Paradise, Idaho #2) by Rosalind James
Pubulisher: Montlake Romance
Publication date: December 8th 2015
My rating:  4.5 stars  
Links: Amazon | B&N | TBD | GRs

My Thoughts:
Love the small town and the way they helped each other out; the Jackson family and the unquestioning support they gave to Kayla. Loved that Luke allowed Kayla be her own person with dignity and respect, allowed her to rescue herself and Eli, but also gave help and support. Even though intimacy between Luke and Kayla was taken slow, and with caution, it was very hot! I was thrilled to visit with Cal and Zoe (from the previous installment) again and be in on special events/news.

This was very much romantic suspense and had me on edge over Kayla’s safety! Alan made my skin crawl and frightened the heck out of me, because I know so many Alans are out there in real life! Rosalind James' had me hooked! This was my favorite of the series!

Hold Me Close (Paradise, Idaho #2) by Rosalind James
Pubulisher: Montlake Romance
Publication date: May 17th 2016
My rating:  3.5 stars  
Links: Amazon | B&N | TBD | GRs

My Thoughts:
Rochelle Marks has been a staple in this series, the sexy fun loving friend with curves. She has a big heart and a fierce drive to make the best of herself.  Seeing her friends find happiness has underscored Rochelle’s desire to have her own happy ending. She’s no longer willing to waste time on someone who just wants to have fun.  Rochelle has had her share of letdowns in her love life, but Travis seemed different, someone with possibility, until she didn’t hear from him. Now he’s back in her life, in a temporary position at the University she works at, wanting another chance. 

Travis needed to sort through some things in his life before he could get serious with anyone, so his one night with Rochelle, even as unforgettable as it was, had to be put on the backburner.  Meeting up with her again Travis can’t ignore the powerful pull Rochelle has on him. They have smoking hot chemistry, and Rochelle is amazing. Now Travis just needs to convince her he’s serious.   

This was probably the least suspenseful of the three books. Rochelle’s sister’s problems translate into big trouble, and I kind of wanted to smack her a few times. She’s lucky Rochelle and Travis had her back!

I love Rosalind James’ brand of storytelling, especially with romantic suspense.  One minute it’s all fun, or steamy hot, and the next you’re on the edge of your seat hoping for the best! Thrilling and addictive! A total recommend!

Friday, 17 June 2016

#FitReaders & General Update 6-17-16

Hello everyone. Jasprit and I have been trying to get healthier and more active lately so here is our #FitReaders update as well as what we've been reading and up to this last week.

What I've been reading:
(click on cover for Goodreads link)

Paradise Valley (A Virgin River Novel) Just This Once (Escape to New Zealand, #1) Turn Me Loose (Paradise, Idaho, #3)

As most of you know, I've been addicted to Robyn Carr's Virgin River series and I've just finished #7 and loved it! I listen to the audio version of this and Thérèse Plummer is an amazing narrator! Highly recommended! Eva at All Books Considered turned me onto Rosalind James with this sale and I've been gobbling up her books for the last few weeks. Her writing is HOT and wonderful! She writes both contemporary romance and romantic suspense. I'm currently listening to Just This Once book one in her Escape to New Zealand series. It's super cheap to add the audio narration once you buy the book ($1.99 + $0.99 for the e-book on Amazon) Claire Bocking (the narrator) is making me want my very own hunky New Zealander with that sexy accent!

What I've been reading:
(click on cover for Goodreads link)

Unfortunately there's no links for me this week as I didn't get to read any books, I got straight back into work after my family weddings and it's been two long work weeks! I'm hopefully planning to finally get some sort of reading list planned over the weekend. 

What we've been up to:

Not much, thank goodness! Just working and relaxing by the pool on the weekends. That's what I have planned for this weekend, maybe with some sort of frosty mango drink in hand! It looks to be a very hot weekend here in Southern California.


Rachel's week sounds fantastic! It hasn't been all that hot over here in the U.K, this week has been full of rain and thunderstorms, weirdly I love this sort of weather especially when I'm indoors with a good book! Other than that I've been watching the Euro's and backing my team Germany all the way! 

#FitReaders is hosted by Jen @That's What I'm Talking About and Felicia @TheGeekyBlogger.

Here's our progress for this last week:

My knee pain was still giving me trouble earlier this week, but today and yesterday it finally seems like it's getting better. I think the exercises, joint supplement, and stretching are paying off.  I actually jogged a little today instead of just walking like I've been doing.

Friday:  13,899 steps
Saturday:  11,495 steps
Sunday:  11,045 steps
Monday:  16,412 steps
Tuesday:   16,268 steps 
Wednesday: 13,305 steps 
Thursday: 14,884 steps 
Total steps: 97,308 steps

I hit my step goal every day this week in the workweek hustle, which I'm super proud of. And I'm planning to go back to the gym this week after four weeks off! *fingers crossed*

Friday: 17,105 steps
Saturday: 9,295 steps
Sunday: 4,483 steps 
Monday: 14,378 steps
Tuesday: 12,849 steps
Wednesday: 13,657 steps
Thursday: 12,333 steps
Total steps: 84,100 steps

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Review: Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle

Fan the Flames (Search and Rescue #2) by Katie Ruggle
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication date: June 7th 2016
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...
As a Motorcycle Club member and firefighter, Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the Club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers...and with the girl he's loved since they were kids, Rory Sorenson. Ian would do anything for Rory. He'd die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath-and he may just have to.
Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms, and for the past few years, she's managed to keep the peace between dangerous factions by remaining strictly neutral. But when she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a Motorcycle Club war-with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.

My Thoughts:
Fan the Flames is the second book in the Search and Rescue series.  This installment was full of danger and thrills and a sweet romance with a lot of heat! Katie Ruggle is very good at building tension and steam between a couple, heightening my anticipation for Ian and Rory’s romance!

Rory has been crushing on Ian for some time, but her social ineptness has made her miss clues that Ian’s been lusting after her, as well. Being raised by survival extremist parents (who are now dead) only prepared her for such things as the zombie apocalypse or a nuclear disaster.  End of the world scenarios? Rory is your girl. Romance and relationships? Not so much.  She is very cute, though, with her naiveté, and I really liked that she was kind of a badass.  Owning the local gun shop puts her in the path of some violent and nutty people, one group being the Motorcycle Club that Ian was born into. An altercation with some of the MC members makes Rory a prime target and in serious danger. These men are bad news! Lucky for her, she has Ian at her back.

Ian nicknamed “Beauty” by his fellow firemen crew because he’s so good-looking doesn’t let his looks go to his head. There’s been one girl that he’s had in his sights, Rory Sorensen, and it seems like he’s finally going to get the girl. I wish we would’ve got more of his POV throughout the story instead of just at the very beginning, because I adored Ian! He’s patient and understanding with Rory’s social awkwardness, and would do anything for her. I loved that he was super protective over Rory and still had respect for her own ability to take care of herself.

My only complaint with this story and that was the constant mention of Rory blushing, flushing or turning red at any interaction with Ian. I knew she was inexperienced and I know it was put in to underscore that, but it was a little overboard. Other than that I loved this story! Katie Ruggle does a fabulous job balancing the plot and character development without sacrificing either. I cared for and liked both Rory and Ian. They had just enough quirks and flaws to make them feel real and relatable. As far as the plot, there was plenty of excitement and danger to glue me to the pages to see what would happen next! Can’t wait for the next one: Gone Too Deep!

 Connect with Katie Ruggle:

Monday, 13 June 2016

Review: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible (The Austen Project #4) by Curtis Sittenfeld
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: April 19th 2016
My rating: 1 star/DNF
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving. 

My Thoughts:
Eligible is supposed to be a re-telling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but I found it more of a mocking shell of that beloved classic than any re-telling.  There’s no way I’m going to imagine that the original version would’ve ever devolved into this story. I didn’t care for or respect any of the characters, maybe with the exception of Jane.  Just the fact that Bingley was in a Bachelor type reality dating show gave me pause. Didn’t care for the situation they were in when I stopped reading.

I was utterly frustrated that Liz would waste so many years (twelve? I don’t care enough to check) on a man that was (highlight for spoiler) taken either by a girlfriend or later by his wife! Oh, and they had a toddler when Liz and Jasper finally got together! I’m sorry, Liz, but you brushing your hair away before Jasper could do it all those years ago didn’t foil your meant-to-be relationship! He was/is an ass and you were/are an idiot! ( (end of spoiler) I was very underwhelmed by her relationship with Darcy. Had Liz been a likable character or one that I could relate to in any way I might have enjoyed this story even with the abundance of hateful people. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

When I got to the 52% mark (a little over 250 pages) I just couldn’t read any further.

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