Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler

When KJ Carson is assigned to write a column for her school newspaper about the wolves in nearby Yellowstone National Park, she’s more interested in impressing Virgil Whitman, the new kid in school and the photographer assigned as her partner, than in investigative journalism. But before long, KJ has a face-to-face encounter with a wolf that changes her and the way she thinks about wolves. With her new found passion for protecting these controversial animals, KJ inadvertently ignites the fuse of the anti-wolf sentiment in the community.

First Virgil is injured during a town parade, and then her father’s store is set on fire in retribution. To stop the escalating violence, KJ follows Virgil to the cattle ranch of the most outspoken anti-wolf activists in town, against her father’s will. What she discovers there threatens everything and everyone she cares about.

In KJ’s fierce and funny attempt to make peace between the wolves and the people that despise them, she must first face her own long-held fears. It’s terrifying, but then, finding yourself always is.
The first thing that should be mentioned about this book is that it is NOT a paranormal teen book. We're not talking were-wolves here. I think with the cover (which I love!) and the flood of paranormal teen books out that that should be made clear!

KJ who has, in her father's words, "blossomed" over the summer but, unlike many other teen novels where the ugly duckling turns into a beauty, she doesn't miraculously become popular. Love it. I think it's a good lesson for teens (and the rest of us) that being skinnier, taller, shorter, prettier, etc., etc., is NOT going to solve all of our problems. KJ, as it turns out, is still as much of an outsider as she ever was.

I loved the whole pro-wolf/anit-wolf sentiments in the book. At first KJ sees the issue in black and white but when she learns more about the issues on both sides I think she comes to see that, in the end, not everything is black and white, there are a lot of shades of gray. That doesn't just apply to the wolves but to the people in her life as well. I think it's interseting to note that this issue isn't fabricated, it's based on real issues facing wolves, environmentalists, naturalists, ranchers, etc. You can read about "the story behind the story" on the author's website.

This book is ultimately about KJ's relationship with people: her father, Virgil, and the town as a whole. I also loved how there's no tidy HEA for KJ and Virgil like I've seen in many of the other teen books I've read lately (ie. Perfect Chemistry & Rules of Attraction). I think it was Nath who's mentioned several times that she doesn't buy the HEA type ending in YA books. I tend to agree but this one has a very realistic ending for KJ and Virgil. Although I expect some people will have wanted. . . more. But I think it was perfect for this book!

In a nutshell, I LOVED this book. I thought it was smart, extremely well written, and completely refreshing. This is Kristen Chandler's debut title and I will be looking forward to more from this author.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward

As Primale of the Chosen, the fiercely loyal Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of his race. But his first mate, the Chosen Cormia, wants not only his body but his heart for herself. As tragedy looms over the Brotherhood’s mansion, Phury must decide between duty and love…

One of the things I love about The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is that there are several plot lines going on at once. This way, if I don't care for the
main h/h plot line, I can still enjoy the book overall. I know for some people these multiple story lines don't work, but it's something I love in a series. This was the case with Lover Enshrined. I think this is my least favorite book in the series thus far, mostly because I wasn't really all that invested in Phury and Cormira's story. However, there were so many other great story-lines that, overall, I enjoyed the book.

Lash is going to make an excellent villain.
He's so tormented and evil!

We really start getting the Qhay storyline going here. I'm so rooting f
or these two to get it on. Sigh.

As always I love John Matthew. I've been scanning some of the reviews of Lover Mine and there seem to be two camps: those that love John Matthew and those who are less than impressed with his beta status. I'm totally in the fangirl camp in regards to JM. I'm so pumped to read Lover Avenged and FINALLY, Lover Mine. However, I intersperse my reading with other titles. I can't just read Lover Enshrined, followed immediately by the other two. I get burnt out reading that much of one world. I have to mix it up. So I figure I've got about 5 or 6 books to read yet before I get both of these finished. God I love this series. Even my least favorite in the series doesn't dishearten me. I know Ward has some great things in store in the next two books. I can hardly wait. . . :D Sorry this wasn't much of a review. . . but it's all I had in me today!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

New YA Blogger & Contest

Rowena of Book Binge and The Boob Tube has been bitten by the YA bug and is now reviewing YA books at The Book Scoop! Her super cute layout had me green with envy and prompted my own blog beautification overhaul!

So be sure to stop by because she's hosting a contest to get the word out about her new blog and what is she giving away....BOOKS of course! What are you waiting for? Stop by and say "hi" to Miss Wena!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Carlos Fuentes doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colorado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path—just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren't easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord.

When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He's even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor's daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he's usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.

As the danger grows for Carlos, he's shocked to discover that it's this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he's never even dreamed possible?

Rules of Attraction is the second book in Simone Elkeles' trilogy about the Fuentes brothers. I read the first book, Perfect Chemistry, in February and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I'd seen a lot of great reviews about it but for some reason I didn't think I'd like it. I was so wrong! So, I had high hopes for Rules of Attraction, but alas, I was disappointed in Carlos' story. I finished this a few days ago and have been trying to pin-point just what exactly I found wrong with the book; it boils down to the fact that I didn't connect with Carlos. There was something about his voice/point of view that lacked the spark I felt when reading Alex's book.

I like the alternating chapters with Carlos and Kiara's points of view. I really liked Kiara, she's a little out there, not your typical teenager always concerned about what others think of her, despite her stuttering problem. She really seemed to know who she was and wasn't looking to Carlos to "complete" her, even though in the end he did. She seems pretty secure in who she is, and I found that refreshing. I also enjoyed her family especially her father and little brother.

Carlos, oh Carlos. Why didn't you do it for me? Your brother Alex was AMAZING. You, on the other hand, were kinda "meh". I'm not sure how to explain what I thought was lacking. However, when I was reading there were several passages where I literally rolled my yes. What Carlos was expressing was, I assume, supposed to come off as profound and insightful but, to me, it came off as forced and insincere. For example the following excerpt, just doesn't ring true; to me, it felt inauthentic :

I expect everyone in my life to leave me at some point. Since Destiny, I haven't allowed myself to get emotionally involved with anyone. If I let myself care about someone, they'll leave me, push me away, or die. That's the way it's been, and will always be.

I guess with Alex's book I really felt for him: he had the burden of being "the man of the house", he was trying to protect his brothers from falling prey to gangs, his struggles, both internal and external, felt flushed out and fully realized. I really felt Carlos's story lacked this intensity and development of character. It's not that I disliked the book overall, I was left slightly unsatisfied and felt that the spark from Perfect Chemistry was missing. Looking through the reviews/ratings on Goodreads, I seem to be in the minority. I wanted to like this one as much as Perfect Chemistry but Carlos just didn't do it for me.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Yep, that's right. I'm already giving the blog a makeover. The theme I had before was never intended to be permanent. There's a reason I've never had, nor will ever get, a tattoo. I'm too indecisive and like to change things up pretty regularly. However, I really like this theme and hope to stick with it for awhile!

It's a lot of pink, I know. But....I like it.

What do you think? Are the slide shows of the book covers too much? What other widgets would you recommend?

I'll probably be playing around with it for awhile yet before I'm completely satisfied.

Feel free to leave some feedback.

If you're a lazy beeatch reading this in your rss reader, please, take a minute to stop by and give me some feed back!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Naked by Megan Hart

I almost always use a blurb from Goodreads or Amazon to summarize the story then just jump into my thoughts. But check out these two different blurbs for the book. The first is from the summary on NetGalley:

No strings. No regrets. And no going back.

I didn't think he wanted me. And I wasn't about
to get involved with him, not after what I'd heard.
Sure, Alex Kennedy was tall, dark and unbearably
hot, but I've been burned before. When I solicited
him to model for my erotic photography book,
I didn't expect such a heated, passionate photo
session. And now that we've crossed that line,
our bodies aren't the only things
that have been exposed.

But I can't give my heart to a man who's so...

His last sexual relationship was with a married couple.
It's enough that my ex-fiancé preferred men, I can't
take that chance again no matter how much my body
thrives on Alex's touch. I can't risk it, but I can't resist
it, either.

Alex can be very convincing when he wants something.

And he wants me.

This second one comes from Megan Hart's website:

No strings. No regrets. And no going back.

I didn’t think he wanted me. And I wasn’t about to get involved with him, not after what I’d heard. Alex Kennedy was tall, dark and unbearably hot, but I’ve been burned before. Maybe it was stupid of me to offer but he needed a place to crash and I needed to pay the rent, but now he’s my tenant…with benefits. And now that we’ve crossed that line, I can’t seem to find my way back.

But I can’t give my heart to a man who’s so…unconventional. His last sexual relationship was with a married couple. It’s enough that my ex-fiancĂ© preferred men, I won’t take that chance again no matter how much my body thrives on Alex’s touch. I can’t risk it, but I can’t resist it, either.

Alex can be very convincing when he wants something.

And he wants me.

The first blurb really misses the mark especially this bit:

When I solicited him to model for my erotic photography book,
I didn't expect such a heated, passionate photo
session. And now that we've crossed that line,
our bodies aren't the only things
that have been exposed.

First off, she doesn't solicit him for an erotic photography book, in fact she mentions that is not the kind of photography she normally does. There was one really hot scene in which Olivia does photograph Alex but this blurb got it totally wrong. Anyway, I found that quite interesting that the one sentence in the NetGalley summary could be so off the mark. The blurb from Megan Hart's website is definitely a better representation of the book.

I read Tempted, where Alex is one of the three main characters, before reading Naked. While Megan Hart's website says all the books can be read stand alone, I would highly recommend reading Tempted before reading Naked. Because Naked is written from Olivia's perspective and she has no knowledge, until the end of the book, of Alex's involvement with a married couple, it helps to have his background story. You have a little more insight to his character.

I thought this was a pretty sweet book for being erotica. I haven't read much erotic though so I don't really have anything to compare it to. I guess after reading Tempted which was a little more emotionally draining this one seemed downright romantic. I know that many of Hart's other heroines aren't always lovable, or even likable for that matter, but I really liked Olivia. Alex has been through so much that you really just want him to get his happily ever after.

I found it interesting that Olivia seemed fairly accepting of Alex's bi-sexuality in light of her past relationship where her fiance lied to hear about his sexuality and, ultimately cheated on her with another man.

Overall, I really enjoyed Naked. Olivia and Alex's relationship felt believable and felt like it progressed naturally. Megan Hart definitely has a talent for writing true to life characters intermingled with tantalizing love scenes. I'm looking forward to reading more of Hart's back-list!


Naked will be available August 1, 2010 from Harlequin Spice.

Disclosure: I received this as a digital ARC through NetGalley. I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Slavery is not Sexy

In my review of Tempted by Megan Hart I mentioned briefly a conversation in the book that disturbed me because of it's implications regarding child sex slavery. In the novel, Alex has just returned from Asia to visit his long lost best friend, James, and his wife, Anne. The novel details the love affair between these three over the course of the summer. The following excerpt is the discussion that bothered me. To set the scene up: James, Anne, and Alex have just had dinner. They're sitting around talking. Anne is sitting on her husband, James's lap covered by a blanket. James is slowly teasing Anne under the blanket. It's a pretty hot scene until this portion of the conversation:

James's hands, Alex's voice as he told us stories about living in Asia. About the sex shops there, where you could buy anything you wanted.

"I thought Singapore didn't have sex shops. I thought they were illegal." How did my husband know about Singaporean sex laws?

"In Singapore, yeah. . . but not in other places. There are always places to find it, if you want it."

"And you wanted." James's voice had grown hoarse.

The night had grown downright cold, though beneath our blanket James I were hot enough to start a fire. Alex didn't seem to mind the chill. He'd buttoned his shirt up to the throat but seemed otherwis
e unaffected.

"Who wouldn't, man?" came Alex's shadow-voiced answer. "Find a girl, find a boy. One of each. . ."

I had to stop reading at this point.
I'm not sure what about this is supposed to be sexy. Especially in light of the fact that most of the girls, boys, and women available in said sex shops (in Singapore or elsewhere in the world) are not there by choice. In many cases families have sold their own daughters into the sex industry. When I read this portion of the novel the only thing I could think about was the story I'd heard about a girl known only as #146. The following is the story of how the non-profit organization Love146 ,dedicated to ending child sex slavery and exploitation, got their name. (Emphasis is mine.)

In 2002, the co-founders of Love 146 traveled to South East Asia on an exploratory trip to determine how they could serve in the fight against child sex trafficking. In one experience, a couple of our co-founders were taken undercover with investigators to a brothel, where they witnessed children being sold for sex. This was their experience. This is the story that changed our lives.

"We found ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with predators in a small room, looking at little girls through a pane of glass. All of the girls wore red dresses with a number pinned to their dress for identification. They sat, blankly watching cartoons on TV. They were vacant, shells of what a child should be. There was no light in their eyes, no life left. Their light had been taken from them. These children...raped each night... seven, ten, fifteen times every night. They were so young. Thirteen, eleven… it was hard to tell. Sorrow covered their faces with nothingness. Except one girl. One girl who wouldn’t watch the cartoons. Her number was 146. She was looking beyond the glass. She was staring out at us, with a piercing gaze. There was still fight left in her eyes. There was still life left in this girl...

"...All of these emotions begin to wreck you. Break you. It is agony. It is aching. It is grief. It is sorrow. The reaction is intuitive, instinctive. It is visceral. It releases a wailing cry inside of you. It elicits gut-level indignation. It is unbearable. I remember wanting to break through the glass. To take her away from that place. To scoop up as many of them as I could into my arms. To take all of them away. I wanted to break through the glass to tell her to keep fighting. To not give up. To tell her that we were coming for her…"

“Because we went in as part of an ongoing, undercover investigation on this particular brothel, we were unable to immediately respond. Evidence had to be collected in order to bring about a raid, and eventually justice on those running the brothel. It is an immensely difficult problem when an immediate response cannot address an emergency. Some time later, there was a raid on this brothel and children were rescued. But the girl who wore #146 was no longer there. We do not know what happened to her, but we will never forget her. She changed the course of all of our lives." -Rob Morris, President and Co-founder

We have taken her number so that we remember why this all started. So that we must tell her story. It is a number that was pinned to one girl, but that represents the millions enslaved. We wear her number with honor, with sorrow, and with a growing hope. Her story can be a different one for so many more.

Child sex slavery falls under the larger crime of human trafficking which, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime "is the fastest growing means by which people are enslaved, the fastest growing international crime, and one of the largest sources of income for organised crime" and is the 3rd largest organized crime following drug and arms trafficking (UNODC). Human trafficking is defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as:

(a) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or (b) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. - US Department of State

Human trafficking is in no uncertain terms, modern day slavery. It's estimated that 27 million people worldwide are currently enslaved due to human trafficking. This is more than any point during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. It's horrifying to know this is million's of people's reality.

This little public service announcement was definitely prompted by the above scene in
Tempted. However, this issue has been continually brought to my attention over the last year or so and I feel this is not a coincidence. First, I heard about it through the church I was attending. They actually had an entire weekend workshop dedicated to the issue, which I was unable to attend. Then one of the musicians from this same church became a vocal activist and as her fan on Facebook I would occasionally see her updates on the issue. She has a moving video to her song Priceless written for the victims of human trafficking (check out the video below). Then one rainy Saturday, I was flipping through the channels and stopped on our local Columbus channel highlighting Human Trafficking in the state of Ohio. Then, I heard about the Price of Life even at Ohio State which, again, I was unable to attend.

All of this leads me to believe this is a fight I can and should be involved with. I don't know how to make a difference but I figure a post on my blog, in response to section of a book that, in my opinion glamorizes the issue, to raise awareness is a start.

You might notice I gave
Tempted a rating of 4 chocolate covered strawberries. I really enjoyed the book, I did. However, this conversation between characters really bothered me long after finishing the book. While I thought the novel, overall, was excellent, sexy, and emotionally engaging. This disturbing discussion really took me out of the book. The scene was really hot. If I were a dude, I'd have had major woody but this conversation? A complete turn-off. I know there are many books within the romance genre that deal with the issue of human trafficking. However, most of those books are not condoning the practice. That is what set this conversation apart for me. This conversation was attempt to make this type of behavior sexy. It failed. Slavery is not sexy folks.

Priceless music video by Heather Evans:

For more information about the issue of human trafficking please check out these resources.

Tempted by Megan Hart

I had everything a woman could want.
My husband James. The house on the lake. My life. Our perfect life. And then Alex came to visit.

The first time I saw my husband's best friend, I didn't like him. Didn't like how James changed when he was around, didn't like how his penetrating eyes followed me everywhere. But that didn't stop me from wanting him. And surprisingly, James didn't seem to mind.

It was meant to be fun. Something the three of us shared for those hot summer weeks Alex stayed with us. Nobody was supposed to fall in or out of love. I didn't need another man, not even one who oozed sex like honey and knew all the secrets I didn't know, the secrets my husband hadn't shared. After all, we had a perfect life. I loved my husband.

But I wasn't the only one.

So I have to say the blurb for this book and it's sequel, Naked, which I read via Netgalley and will be reviewing soon, are both kinda off the mark. When I read this novel I didn't get the feeling that Anne didn't like Alex the first time she saw him, yes she appeared uncomfortable about this long lost friend of her husband's that she knew so little about and with the way James changed around him. But I NEVER got the impression she didn't like Alex, in fact I thought she was pretty much immediately attracted to him. Anyway, that's my little quibble with the blurb.

Tempted is my first foray into erotica. I was a little apprehensive, I wasn't sure what to expect or how I would like it. It was afraid it would be a literary version of porn: all sex, no plot. I've read some reviews of Hart's other books and was intrigued. They sounded like really gripping, intense reads. When I saw Naked available on NetGalley I wanted to read it but knew this book came first and had Alex in it. It's not necessary to read Tempted first to enjoy Naked but Tempted really gives you a background on what happened between Alex, James and Anne and helps the reader understand Alex better in Naked. So I would highly recommend picking this up before reading Naked.

I'm really glad I gave Tempted a chance. It's hot, it's sexually and emotionally intense. It's sweet and sad all at the same time. It's not a light read, which, I gather, not many of Hart's books are. However, I'm now a bona fide Hart fangirl and have also picked up Deeper and Stranger and intend to get her entire backlist! Yay for trying something out of my comfort zone and finding an amazing new-to-me author!


One side note: there was a short conversation between Alex, James, and Anne that really disturbed me because of it's perceived (at least by me) glamorization, or at the very least acceptance of, child sex slavery. However, I intend to discuss/analyze this very brief conversation in the novel in a separate post. (Read it here.)

Disclosure: I purchased this book. I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Reading Recap: April 2010

Alright, I read more than one book in April! That makes it 100x better than last month! So here's a summary. I want to get some reviews written of Megan Hart's books since they were my first experience with erotica. Hopefully I'll find some time soon to get them written! Here's a breakdown by rating:

Five chocolate covered strawberries:

Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Four chocolate covered strawberries:

Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin
Naked by Megan Hart
Tempted by Megan Hart

Three chocolate covered strawberries:

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

Only one book in March, seven in April; a vast improvement I'd say! How was your April?!
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