Sugar Daddy (Sugar Bowl, #1)

Sugar Daddy
Author: Sawyer Bennett
Published: May 24, 2016
Pages: 220

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

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Synopsis:
Sela Halstead lost her innocence in a way that no sixteen-year-old should ever have to endure. She’s spent years trying to forget that night even while wondering about the identities of the monsters who brutalized her—until a telltale tattoo flashes across Sela’s TV screen. The incriminating ink belongs to Jonathon Townsend, the millionaire founder of The Sugar Bowl, a website that matches rich older men with impressionable young women. Obsessed with revenge, Sela infiltrates Townsend’s world, only to come face-to-face with a tantalizing complication: Beckett North, his charismatic business partner.

The tech mastermind behind The Sugar Bowl, Beck always gets what he wants, in business and in bed. And yet, for a man who’s done every dirty thing imaginable, there’s something about the naïve, fresh-faced Sela that sparks his hottest fantasies. Because with her, it’s not just about sex. Beck opens up to her in ways he never has with other girls. So why does he get the feeling that she’s hiding something? In a world of pleasure and power, the shocking truth could turn them against each other—or bind them forever.

Review:
I think this book might be a trigger for some people. More so the prologue than the rest of the book. Just something to keep in mind before you begin reading this book.

But Wow, the prologue in this book is not what I expected. It isn’t gritty or over the top. But nonetheless it makes my stomach turn. Although the author doesn’t give extensive details of Sela’s rape, the details that are given is enough to make me sick, angry, and disgusted. I was surprised by the amount and strength of emotion you get from this one section. It screams of self-shaming, desperation, loathing, and so much pain.

Fast forward ten years and Sela remembers one of her rapists- Jonathan Townsend (JT). Which brings us to the introduction of the sugar bowl and Beck. Beck is part owner and programmer behind the sugar bowl. He is also a man who is more interested in having a one night stand than developing any kind of relationship. That is until he meets Sela. Beck is smart, confident, kind, and strong. There is something sweet yet sexy about the way he is both dominating and caring.

Sela is full of pain and only has one thing on her mind- revenge. And she is willing to do anything to achieve this. Even if that means getting close to JT’s partner Beck. But Beck isn’t what she was expecting and slowly he begins to penetrate Sela’s cold heart. Will Sela continue on her path of revenge, risking Becks love and affections? Or is Beck enough to satisfy the revenge Sela desperately wants?

I will admit, it didn’t take me long before I became enthralled with this book. The main theme behind this book is revenge through murder. Yet sex is also an important undertone. In this book, sex is used both for power, pleasure, and pain. The complexity is not what I expected.

As Beck and Sela’s relationship develops further, I’m torn with how I feel. Part of me wishes Sela would give up her need for revenge and just let Beck lover her. The other part considers her a lose canine and wonders when she will plunge into a depression. I actually considered putting the book down half way in because I knew the plot was ready to turn and I wasn’t sure if I would like the way things changed. But of course I couldn’t put the book down. And the ending, wow, talk about intense. The build up was almost stressful to read. I won’t give anything away but the ending was not how I thought it would end. I cannot wait for the second book.

The only thing I wish this book had was the backstory of Sela’s rape. She writes in her journal that she deserved this and I know this is a common feeling for rape victims. But the author doesn’t really go into much detail about what lead up to the rape.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I would say it is worth your time to pick up and read.

 

Hooked on Trouble (Over the Top, #3)

hooked-on-trouble

Author: Kelly Siskind
Published: January 10, 2017
Pages: 340

Stars: 4 out of 5

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Synopsis:
The last time Raven did “real” was sixteen months ago, when she spent one unforgettable night with the tattooed, impossibly sexy Nico, and then he disappeared the next day. Since then, she’s kept her guard up and her feelings to herself. She doesn’t have time for relationship drama when she’s busy searching for her long lost sister.

Nico hasn’t stopped thinking about Raven—her sultry curves, inked skin, and the fact that he ditched her after their night together. Now that they’re living in the same city, he knows this is his chance to make things right. What better way to prove to Raven he’s for real than helping her find her sister? But when the lines between right and wrong start to blur, putting his job on the line, Nico has to decide if the risk is worth the ultimate reward.

Review:
I will be honest, I have been waiting for Raven and Nico’s story ever since I finished the first book. I absolutely love this author and have really enjoyed this series. The author does a fantastic job creating a unique story plot and characters with each book in this series. Although all three characters – Shay, Lilly, Raven – are best friends, they follow their own journey.

As we know from the previous first two books, Nico is a force. Not only is he strong, but he is a hidden softy. His loyalty and kindness are at odds with his looks and tough demeanor. His tattoos and gruff personally only adds to his cop persona. Nico’s past and family are full of heartache, disappointment, and shame. But if Nico is anything, it’s a hero with high expectations. He gives everything to his family in hopes of a better life. But always playing the hero comes at a cost. And no matter how much he gives, he never thinks it’s enough.

Raven is on the hunt for a new life and a sister she hasn’t seen in many years. Formerly a teacher, she now lives in Vancouver with her two best friends. Interested in starting an event business with her friends, she finds a job where she can use her photography skills. Raven is not a perfect character. Along the way, she makes many mistakes. But her heart is in the right place. The more time Raven spends with Nico, the harder he is to resist. But Raven’s past is colored in darkness and her sister is stirring up trouble.

This series is such a fun read, as was this book. Unfortunately Nico didn’t really do it for me. I was hoping for a little more sassiness or banter between the characters. The plot had some nice twists and I really like how the entire series comes full circle with ending the book with a trip to Aspen.

Overall, great story. I think the first book in this series is my favorite. If you haven’t read it yet, you must give it a try. This series is perfect for someone who is looking for a light and fun read with romance sprinkled throughout.

 

Outtakes From The Grave (Night Huntress, 7.5)

outtakes-from-the-graveAuthor: Jeaniene Frost
Published: December 22, 2015
Pages: 427

Stars: 4

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Synopsis:
Indulge your love of paranormal super couple Cat and Bones with this ultimate “director’s cut” collection of deleted scenes and alternate versions from the first four novels in the Night Huntress series, complete with author commentary on each selection. Includes: the original beginnings of Halfway to the GraveOne Foot in the GraveAt Grave’s End, and Destined for an Early Grave: a chapter written in Bones’s point of view; alternate versions of sections of Halfway to the GraveOne Foot in the Grave, and Destined for an Early Grave; the “white wedding” scene between Cat and Bones that never made it into the final books…and much more!

Review:
Like all of Jeaniene Frost’s books, the writing is spectacular. And of course, who hasn’t fallen in love with Bones and Cat. Reading part of their story  in this book made me want to re-read the Night Huntress Series. By the end of this book, the temptation to re-read the series was almost too much.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I found rating/reviewing this book to be terribly difficult.  This book has been on my to-read list for a while and when I finally had the opportunity to read it, I was excited. Yet sometimes I found myself in disagreement with what was written. With some of the chapters, I couldn’t just enjoy them. I kept thinking, “No, this isn’t how it’s supposed to go.” At times I was even thankful what Frost wrote was cut from the books. Especially the first chapter, I didn’t like who Cat was intended to originally be.

In many ways, it was kind of weird reading the chapters that were cut. On one hand, it was really fascinating to see where Frost was originally headed. And some of the chapters were amazing. Oh gosh, they were sensual, juicy, and some of them I just LOVED! I really miss the flirtatious banter in this series. But on the other hand, it was just odd because what was written didn’t always match who Bones and Cat became. Don’t get me wrong, again there were some really good scenes that were fun to read. I guess the easiest way to say it, each chapter was either hit or miss with me. I loved it or I didn’t.

For the most part, I enjoyed the chapters. I am glad Jeaniene never didn’t write a book from Bones perspective. One of the reasons I love this book is the mystery behind Bone’s character. Some of the chapters I would have loved to have incorporated back into the series, but I also understand why they were cut. Before each chapter is started, the author writes a note the reader providing context and the reasoning behind the scene getting cut. Without this, I would have been completely lost. This really was an enjoyable, sometime giddy worthy, book.

Overall, I am glad I read the book. And I will have to make time to re-read the series because I now I am reminded how much I love and miss it. I think if you enjoyed the series, this book would be a fun, light, and fast read. I don’t think it is a necessary read and I would read the original books before reading this one. I’m doubtful I would buy this book because it’s not something I would want read again. But it was entertaining and a fun read.

Once Burned (Night Prince, #1)

Once BurnedAuthor: Jeaniene Frost
Published: June 26, 2012
Pages: 346
Listening Length: 8 hours and 30 minutes

Stars: 4 out of 5

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Synopsis:
She’s a mortal with dark powers…

After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire…

He’s the Prince of Night…

Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad’s ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

Review:
As much running as I’m doing, I thought I might try to listen to something besides music. I’ve only tried books on tape once and hated it. The voice annoyed me more than anything else and I struggled to get into the book. But let me reassure you, that is not the case with this book!! I will admit by the end of the book I was a little annoyed with the voice that was given for Vlad, but overall I thought the person reading the story did a really nice job. In fact, more often than not I didn’t want to stop listening.

Something else to note is that I wasn’t able to take notes while listening to the book. Which in case you are wondering, that is not the norm for me. So bare with me because this review might be different from my others.

Leila is a strong character who is more comfortable blending in than getting attention. She has a unique ability, or maybe curse, that whenever she touches someone she can not only see their past and future but she also gives off an electric charge. As you can imagine, this makes having a love life impossible.

There were two things I didn’t really care for with Lelia’s character. The first was how fast she fell in love with Vlad. For me it was far too close to the love at first sight thing. If it wasn’t for the taunting banter her and Vlad had in the beginning, Lelia’s feelings for Vlad would have been far too much for me to handle. The other thing that somewhat irritated me had more to do with the person reading the book. I really didn’t care for how the reader pitched her voice in a way that made Leila often sound weak, timid, and scared. Because the impression I got from the story was Leila’s character is anything but. Yes, there are times in the book she is scared but those aren’t the strong emotions that leave a lasting impression on me. Like I said above, she is strong, but also determined, brave, and stands up for those weaker.

Vlad’s is arrogant, caring, and everything an alpha male should be. His confidence and strength is everything I remember from the Night Huntress Series but also so much more. I will admit there were times I had to stifle a laugh while out running with how over the top he was. Vlad was so sure he and Leila were a done deal that he not only set Lelia up with another guy but he practically dared her to sleep with someone else. And he did all of this just because she tried denying her feelings/attraction towards him. But then there are times in the book that made me kind of stop and remember exactly who Vlad is. He isn’t always charm and oozing sex appeal. In fact, Vlad almost seems at odds with himself in this book because one minute he is a perfect gentleman and the next he is a ruthless torturing killer.

 

My favorite thing in this book (oh how I wish it lasted longer) was the mental and verbal battles between Vlad and Lela. The sexual tension and banter between the two had me smiling to the point that I probably looked like an idiot. And the sex scenes were detailed but not overly graphic where you might feel embarrassed reading them. Jeanine Frost is amazing at creating a world that is both realistic and easily visualized. I love how she describes just enough for you to understand but not enough that you drown in the details. The way she writes makes everything flow effortlessly. If you haven’t picked up a book from her, you should because she is one gifted author.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Ultimately, I still prefer to read a book as apposed to listen because I felt like I could read this book faster. Also, listening to an audio book isn’t always the most convenient thing. But I am surprised with how much I enjoyed listening to this book and would be open to more books on tapes.

I’m not sure how I feel about the ending of this book but there is no question about reading the second book in this series. I am glad I didn’t jump right into this series after finishing the Night Huntress Series. I think if I had, I would have been terribly disappointed. Because even though Leila is a strong character and her and Vlad have some amazing sexual tension, it doesn’t compare to Cat and Bones. My recommendation is if you just finished with Cat and Bones, wait a while before jumping into this series. If you haven’t, then by all means pick this book up because I am sure you will enjoy it!

Red Queen (Red Queen, 1)

Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard
Published: February 10, 2015
Pages: 383

Stars: 4 out of 5

Where to buy:

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Synopsis:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

Review:

Mare is really hard on herself. In a world full of injustice and cruelty, Mare does the best she can. Trying to survive, she steals from her fellow community-from her red bloods. Even though this helps her family, instead of them thanking her she is created with disappointment and left with guilt. Mare is so full of love for her friends/family, sometimes it binds her decisions.

Cal is a mystery, as he is supposed to be. You want to believe in him and think the best, but the author does a fantastic job of blurring his character based off the decisions he makes. The same goes for his brother Maven. The author did an amazing job developing the characters and leading the reader along a path full of heartache, love, trust, and pain.

This book had me so torn! I kept going back and forth- one minute feeling sorry for Cal, the next questioning his actions. One minute feeling sorry for Mare, the next almost disgusted with the games she plays, with how she plays Cal.

This book ended like I thought it would but the path the author took was unexpected. Although it took me a while to fall in love with the book and get attached to the characters/plot, by the end of the book I am left wanting more. I can’t help but wonder what will happen next.

The Billionaire Bachelor

The BB

Author: Jessica Lemmon
Published: June 28, 2016
Pages: 384

Stars: 4 out of 5

Where to Buy:
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Synopsis:
Manwhore. That’s what the board of directors-and the tabloids-thinks of billionaire bachelor Reese Crane. Ordinarily he couldn’t care less, but his playboy past is preventing the board from naming him CEO of Crane Hotels. Nothing-and no one-will keep him from his life’s legacy. They want a settled man to lead the company? Then that’s exactly what he’ll give them.

Merina Van Heusen will do anything to get her parents’ funky boutique hotel back-even marry cold-as-ice-but-sexy-as-hell Reese Crane. It’s a simple business contract-six months of marriage, absolute secrecy, and the Van Heusen is all hers again. But when sparks fly between them, their passion quickly moves from the boardroom to the bedroom. And soon Merina is living her worst nightmare: falling in love with her husband

Review:

You are probably thinking the plot- an attractive alpha billionaire needing a fake marriage to get what he wants- has been done already. And you are right, this kind of plot has been done many times before. But it takes a gifted author to be able to tell the story again without it becoming boring. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t want to put the book down. This book was exciting, fun, flirtatious, full of sexual tension, and the banter between the characters was fantastic! I don’t think you will be disappointed in this book.

Merina is feisty and sometimes a bit careless. But she means well and is a fun character to read about. She is strong but also vulnerable.

I feel so bad for her in the beginning. Because of the secrets her parents kept from her about their financial difficulties, everything changes for her and she loses everything she has come to love. But Merina doesn’t take the news of new ownership of her beloved hotel lightly. No, she is a firecracker when it comes to confrontation and fighting for what she believes in. I couldn’t stop smiling as I read the scene where she confronts Reese for the first time. The author did a perfect job of describing the attraction she has for him but not letting it derail her opinions or dreams.

Reese is the strong, confident, and very sexual kind of man. His flaws are in abundance yet he is extremely charming and you just want to love him or maybe hug him. To put things simply, Reese has been hurt and refuses to put himself in a situation where that could happen again. Although he sleeps around.. A lot… He knows close to nothing about romance, women (beyond sexually), and relationships. It was fun watching Reese flounder trying to figure Merina out and their ‘relationship’.

The fake marriage is a whirlwind of emotions and absolutely fantastic! In many ways I felt almost giddy over Reese’s flirtatious behavior. I found myself laughing and smiling often. But I also found myself really feeling for Merina and Reese. The struggles they faced were heartbreaking. This is one of those books you fall for the characters, for their love story, and when they shatter into tiny broken pieces, you do too.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The characters are well developed and Merina and Reese fit well together. This isn’t the type of book full of twists and the unexpected. In the general sense, you probably already know how things will end. But the avenue the author took and the characteristics of Merina and Reese, makes this story worth reading. Besides, sometimes it is nice to read a book that easy, light, and doesn’t make you go crazy with everything that is happening. I recommend this book for anyone looking to read about a sexy billionaire, lots of chemistry, and a fun love story!

The Way of the Runner: A Journey into the Fabled World of Japanese Running

The way of the runner

Author: Adharanand Finn
Published: June 7, 2016
Pages: 326

Stars: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

It may come as a surprise to many people, but Japan is the most running-obsessed country on earth. A 135-mile relay race, or “ekiden” is the country’s biggest annual sporting event. Thousands of professional runners compete for corporate teams in some of the most competitive races in the world. The legendary “marathon monks” run a thousand marathons in a thousand days to reach spiritual enlightenment.

Yet so much of Japan’s running culture remains a mystery to the outside world, on par with many of the unique aspects of contemporary Japan. Adharanand Finn, the award-winning author of Running with the Kenyans, spent six months immersed in this one of a kind running culture to discover what it might teach us about the sport and about Japan.

As an amateur runner about to turn 40, he also hoped to find out whether a Japanese approach to training might help him run faster. What he learns—about competition, team work, form, chasing personal bests, and about himself—will fascinate and surprise anyone keen to explore why we run and how we might do it better.

Review:

I began reading this book because I have recently rediscovered my love for running. But as I read the words and really thought about what the author was saying, goosebumps spread across my arms. Just thinking about the dedication, love, and commitment to running.. It amazes me. But instead of the author keeping with the excitement, the book (at times) kind of drags out. Although I enjoyed what I read, I found myself putting the book down a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it was an enjoyable read. It just wasn’t the type of book you read in one sitting.
This book takes an in depth look at Japan’s running methods and beliefs. The author plans to travel to Japan and take a critical look at the Ekiden season. I really enjoyed reading about the Japan culture and how runners are somewhat idealized. For example: Japan is unique in that it offers long distance runners a salary to join a team. In Japan, road runners are a big deal. Not only are they faster than my mind can even comprehend, they are an idealistic symbol to the community and certain races bring in comparable rating to the Super Bowl.
As the story continues, my once amazed outlook on these runners turns to pity and sadness. The conditions Japan runners face isn’t ideal and the expectation is unrealistic, often leading to the racers burning out. At every point in a Japan runners development/career, they are expected to give maximum effort… All the time, every time. Their coaches expect the highest performance and often their motivation is all the runners have because along the way they have lost their own motivation/enjoyment for running.
This really broke my heart because running is amazing and supposed to be fun. I understand the competitiveness and the aspect that training isn’t always fun. But I have a hard time seeing what the point is. The author often asks- ‘why do me run?’ The author suggests the answer is understanding yourself. And I think I agree with him. Yes, I run for stress relief, escape, enjoyment.. But I run for me and I have learned so much more about who I am since I started.
This book has a bunch of history and fun statistics. The book is well written but longer than I think it needed to be. I am interested in picking up his other book- Running with the Kenyan’s and probably will be a book I would prefer via hard copy instead of electronic.  If you are a runner, I think you would enjoy this book.