Tory’s Friday Ramblings (5/30/14)

Been a lousy week so head’s up…there shall be grumbling aplenty. 🙂 I lost my phone on Monday (I was sick, distracted, and left it on top of the SUV before driving off…sigh). Got a replacement and feel much better about having it. Yeah, I’m addicted to my phone. I acknowledge that. I read a lot. Perhaps too much.

On Writing

Hubby and I had an interesting conversation and (unfortunately) I think he had a point. We’ve discussed from time to time the possibility of, once the girls are in school, my becoming a stay-at-home so I can write, but of course the requirement there is I have a stream of income of SOME sort from my writing. He said that he doesn’t see the passion in me that I had for a long time (while working on my vampire series). My automatic response was “of course I’m still passionate about it; it’s what I want to do.” And yet, he’s right. I don’t have the same huge focus on it that I did a couple of years ago.

The only difference between then and now that I can think of is…okay, there are two differences. One, the girls are a lot more draining than they used to be. Second, and probably more problematic, is I got so horribly discouraged by the disastrous response to my Dream-Walker War that it killed my passion, or at least put it in a deep coma.

Is it an excuse for my non-writing? Probably. And since I recognize it’s an excuse, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to press forward. I do want to write. It’s the only constant I’ve had for as long as I can remember – wanting to write and be published.

I’ve got a new start with Entangled and I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And possibly try very hard to read less. I bury myself in other peoples’ books so I don’t think about my own.

I’ve set aside the gargoyle books for a month or so to try to focus on my fantasy series for a little. I got nothing going on with the gargoyles anyway.

On Family

Oh lord this was a horrid week when it came to being sick. I was vaguely ill all weekend. Shrimp and Blondie both came down with nasty fevers. That didn’t stop Shrimp from going to the baseball game on Sunday with Daddy. They enjoyed it, which was good.

The fever kept Blondie down until Wednesday and I ended up staying home on Tuesday because of it.

Pixie doesn’t appear to have gotten hit by it at all (thank goodness). Hubby, on the other hand, turned up with a nasty fever yesterday. Yuck. He apparently is on the mend though.

Speaking of Pixie – her hair keeps growing, but it still looks uber-short. The reason? Her hair’s turning into a mass of spiral curls. No one in the family has hair like Pixie. It’s gonna be gorgeous.

Couch girls

Movies

Frozen. Frozen Frozen Frozen! I actually bought the soundtrack this morning. It had to be done. Let It Go, Elsa’s song, just won’t let me go…it’s gorgeous.

Elsa Transform

Maleficent comes out this weekend. I wanna see it. The review on MSN actually wasn’t half bad and I loved some of the angles they apparently ended up taking, explaining why Maleficent had an itch to do very bad things to King Stefan’s child. Anyone planning on seeing it? Or, alternatively, if you’ve already seen it, what did you think? (and yes, I know the pic below is Sleeping Beauty, but…sigh…Mal is why/how I fell in love with dragons)

Maleficent

In Conclusion

Yeah, that pretty much wraps me up for the week.

Hope you guys have a great weekend!

 

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Book Tour – The Queen’s Wings by Jamie Schmidt

There was supposed to be an interview but something went vercocky. So, instead, we shall just feature Ms. Schmidt’s lovely book and my review of it (well worth the read, peeps!).

jamie_photo01

Author Info

Jamie Kleinkauf-Schmidt has over thirty short stories published in small press and ezines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz in Secondary Education English, which is a fancy way of saying she went to college to teach high school English. When that didn’t pan out, she worked as a call center manager, a Tupperware consultant, a paralegal, and finally a technical writer for a major conglomerate company. She is an active member in the Romance Writers of America (RWA), serving as the PRO liaison for her local chapter Connecticut Romance Writers of America (CTRWA).

When not writing, Jamie relaxes with a mug of hot tea and knits or makes beaded jewelry. She sells her handcrafted items at The Dudley Farm during the summer. A voracious reader, Jamie has a Kindle and is not afraid to use it.

Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads

Book Info

QueensWing500

Long ago, the Cult of Humanity sacrificed the Dragon Queen, crippling the breeding process.  But now Carolyn hears the voice of that long dead queen telling her that she holds the key to breaking the spell that will free all the female dragons.

 FBI dragon Reed’s disdain for humans can’t mask the magnetic attraction he has for Carolyn, but when she tells him she’s going to shift into a dragon he thinks she’s crazy. A female hasn’t been hatched, or shape shifted, in over a thousand years.

 He’s proven wrong after Carolyn shifts and is named the new Queen on the block. A never-ending line of suitors forms, but she only wants Reed. Too bad he doesn’t want in on the competition. But when the Cult kidnaps Carolyn to sacrifice her in an effort to make the curse against the female dragons permanent, Reed must face his fears—and feelings, racing to save the woman he realizes he can’t live without.

Amazon * B&N

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Review

Wooooow. I absolutely LOVED this book. It was a little disorienting right at the beginning, but after I relaxed (nerves reading a new author and all that), I was absolutely enchanted by the world as presented by Ms. Schmidt. I loved the whole dragons-are-real thing and particularly that Carolyn was convinced (despite all signs to the contrary) that she was actually a dragon (and, to boot, in the end her dragon-type was HILARIOUS!).

I liked the relationship as it developed between dragon Reed and Carolyn. He really REALLY didn’t care for her in the beginning. I also liked that there was a bit of a love square developing (like a love triangle, but there were four parties involved…trust me, it makes sense when you read it).

So much went on in this book it’s hard to describe it all. All I know is it all worked together for me so well that I’m absolutely in love with this book and I may have to go read it again just to revel in its awesomeness.

I absolutely can’t WAIT for the next Emerging Queens series. 5 gargoyles for The Queen’s Wings!

Book provided by author in exchange for an honest review.

Angela  Angela  Angela  Angela  Angela

Author #Interview – Alexandra Sellers (and #review)

Today, I’m happy to welcome Alexandra Sellers to the blog. She nicely agreed to do my interview. Let’s get to it!

Sellers

1)      How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first short story at the age of ten. My first published short story at age 26. My first published novel at 33. That was 40 books ago. (TM – holy cow, I didn’t realize you had that many books out!, much less from Silhouette etc.)

2)     How many balls do you juggle on a daily basis, and how do you manage to keep them all in the air (usually), (ball = work, writing, family, etc.

 I’ve been a full-time writer since my second book was commissioned. Right now my biggest other ‘ball’ (some would say temptation, but I consider swimming an alternate career) is the Cretan beach where I spend a part of every day all summer long (and summer IS long here)!  If I’m not swimming, I’m eating at the beach taverna or playing backgammon over a cup of Greek coffee. I cook some, clean some, visit some, party some. We feed 8 village cats on our terrace, and several more are waiting in the wings. I read.

It was a very very different story when I was an actor, so  yes, I do know how lucky I am!

3)     What can you tell us about your current release Her Royal Protector? What I’m looking for is the story about how the story came to be, not just the blurb and what not. J

The story grew out of my fascination with sea turtles. A few years ago my husband and I volunteered on a sea turtle conservation project that meant we had to walk the beach at dawn one morning every week for several months, tracking turtle nests. I met some of the scientists who were managing the project, and one of them just had ‘heroine’ written all over her. And a scene formed itself in my head, as scenes do, and I decided to put her in a book and give her a handsome sheikh to love. Which sheikh? Well, in another corner of my mind I’d been playing with the idea of a blue-eyed sheikh for awhile. I decided to put them together and see what happened. I hope readers will enjoy the result.

4)     You write contemporary romance. Can you tell us why that sub-category of romance?

I suppose because that was what I was reading most at the time I started writing, although I certainly read lots of period and historicals, too—I love Jane Austen, and Georgette Heyer has always been a great favourite. I’ve had plot ideas for Regency romance, but so far have never carried through. (Although I did once create the ‘bible’ for a 16-book Regency series called The Steepwood Scandal that was written by other writers.) Of course I have a period non-romance that’s been biting me for some time, and other books that are not contemporary or category.  I hope to get to them one day.

5)     Will you share your experience with getting published with Entangled?

Well, it was a troubled courtship, in the best tradition. I was finding my current publisher’s guidelines very restrictive and bolted into the arms of Entangled. And then it turned out Entangled also had restrictive guidelines, just nobody’d told me. So we parted company right at the altar. Later we tried again, and this time, after some struggles, we made it. I’m hoping the marriage will prove, in the end, to be made in heaven. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

6)     Got any more books planned? What’s in your future?

HER ROYAL PROTECTOR is the first book in a series called The Johari Crown. The second is scheduled for November, the third for early next year. I have a feeling there may be more than three books in it, but time will tell.

7)     Got any advice for those still struggling through the trenches?

Write what you love and write it to the best of your ability.

Write what you would like to read, but no one is writing for you.

Write from the heart uncensored; polish from the head later.

Although experienced writers can often force their characters to do things they don’t want to do, and survive, a new writer will be better off listening to her characters. If they wake you up in the middle of the night to announce that they don’t want to do what you’ve planned or written for them, listen!

If you treat your characters with full respect and attention, they will write the book for you.

8) Sweet or sour?

I tend to saltier snacks, but it is true to say that the person who can resist Greek pastries is superhuman. (TM – that’s cheating, but…I’m gonna have to add that as an option now – I’d forgotten salty)

9) Chocolate or vanilla?

I really don’t know how you could leave out Butterscotch. (TM – because butterscotch isn’t a flavor 😛 J/k! )

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Author Information

A writer and editor for the past 30 years, Alexandra Sellers has written over two million words for print, both fiction and non-fiction, including articles, reviews, training material, brochures, websites, mini-series ‘bibles’, blurbs, obituaries, short stories, and over 35 books. Her novels have been translated into more than 15 languages. She has also written and produced murder mystery experiences, and for several years taught her own course in How to Write Romance.

Alexandra Sellers has been a full-time writer since the publication of her first novel in 1980, writing novels that are both spiritually and emotionally intense. In 1997, her novel A Nice Girl Like You was nominated by Romantic Times for a Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Silhouette Yours Truly. Three years later she received the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Fantasy.

The common theme that runs through her novels is the cosmic union of male and female: the reuniting, through deep romantic love manifested in the sex act, of that universal soul which was divided into male and female at the moment of physical creation, and which has been searching for its other half ever since. Her novels also express a fundamental belief that love conquers all.  Sellers is a writer who uses the canvas of romantic novels to present her ideas not only about love, but also about the world.

She was born and raised in Canada and educated there and in Britain. After training in London at RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she spent seven years as an actor on stage, radio, and television. She later attended the School of Oriental and African Studies, or SOAS, a faculty of the University of London that specializes in the cultures of the Middle East and Asia. Sellers was the first student to study for a double degree in Persian and Religious Studies; she was awarded First Class Honours.

Alexandra first started dreaming about exotic locales at the age of 10, when she first cracked the cover of a small collection of tales and pictures called The Arabian Nights. The stories were taken from The Thousand and One Nights, and names like Samarkand, Shiraz, and Baghdad still carry a magic for her which no amount of current history can overshadow. Her favourite hobby is foreign languages, of which she has studied eight: French, Farsi, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Italian, and Latin. Her talent for languages (along with her sense of humour) was also expressed in her book Spoken Cat and Relevant Factors in Worldview, a self-teaching language primer of the Cat language.

Other areas of interest for Sellers include: health and alternative medicine; English grammar; linguistics; theatre/arts; Middle Eastern languages, religions, and history; Regency England; Jane Austen; psychology; dreams; storytelling; academic writing. – See more at: http://alexandrasellers.com/about/#sthash.CyajvR84.dpuf

Do you have a website, twitter, or blog? If yes, I’ll be happy to post any/all with the interview.

Website  *  Facebook  *  Twitter

Ms. Sellers loves to hear from fans and can be contacted via the contact spot on her website or on Facebook.

Book Info

Royal

Aly Percy is her family’s ugly duckling, and she’s never been allowed to forget it. So she knows better than to imagine that Cup Companion Arif al Najimi’s blue gaze holds anything but contempt for her as a woman, or ever will. So why is he pretending to think her desirable? What does he gain if she lets her guard down?

Arif al Najimi isn’t sure why he’s dreaming about the little scientist who’s so determined to take crazy risks for the sake of her research into the endangered turtles of his country. But as luck would have it, he’s going to get the chance to do a little research of his own…into the question of why Aly believes her own negative publicity about how desirable she is—and how hard it will be to convince her of the truth.

Review

At first blush this was a typical category romance, heroine who thinks she’s ugly (but of course actually isn’t), arrogant CEO-type (prince in this case), etc. But once you get into the story, it isn’t that at all. There was a lot more to the story, an understanding of why Aly thinks she’s the way she is. I liked the imagined history of the Johari people. And of course, having such a wonderful cause that Aly’s a scientist for (the Johari sea turtle) touched a tender chord with me.

I enjoyed watching Arif go from his somewhat cold “prince” persona and grow into the man who’s willing to fall in love with the little scientist. I also like how the leaders of Johari insist their cabinet members (the Cupholders) shed their prince personas for a month a year and mix with the common for as common folk (be nice of politicians had to do that, yeah?).

Nothing in this book actually didn’t work for me. It was a seamlessly delightful way to spend a couple of hours.

Thank you to the publisher and Ms. Sellers for letting me read it! Four gargoyles!

Book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Angela  Angela  Angela  Angela

#Review – Avenge Me by Maisey Yates (#bookreview)

Avenge Me (5th Avenue)

Author: Maisey Yates
Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Date of Publication: May 27, 2014
Description:

AvengeTEN YEARS AGO ONE DEVASTATING NIGHT CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR AUSTIN, HUNTER AND ALEX. NOW THEY MUST EACH PLAY THEIR PART IN THE REVENGE AGAINST THE ONE MAN WHO RUINED IT ALL.

Austin Treffen was born into a world of privilege, but behind its gilded doors lies a corruption so sordid New York’s elite would never believe it—especially as his infamous philanthropic father is at its core! With everything he believed in shattered, how can Austin take down his father—risking his family name and those he loves—without any proof?

Until one earth-shattering night with Katy Michaels unlocks not only their deepest, most passionate desires but also the key to bringing Jason Treffen’s reign to an end. But with an intense sexual attraction that combines a heady mix of exquisite pleasure and sublime pain, will they satiate their thirst for revenge and each other…or lose themselves forever in the darkness?

The Fifth Avenue Trilogy
Book #1: Avenge Me by Maisey Yates (June 2014)
Book #2: Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews (July 2014)
Book #3: Expose Me by Kate Hewitt (August 2014)

My Thoughts:

As you may have guessed if you’ve read my interview with Ms. Yates, I love her books. I stumbled across one of her HP books earlier this year (maybe late last) and fell in love. She wrings emotion out of you like no HP author I’ve run into before.  Avenge Me was no exception to that trend.

I didn’t know what I was going to get when I went into this book, but it was bound to be good, given Ms. Yates’s talent. There was the old scandal which involved a friend of Austin’s killing herself 10 years ago which caused a rift and unyielding hatred between Austin and his father, Jason – publicly Jason is a noted philanthropist and women’s rights advocates, privately he is anything but (details of which come out more and more through the other books in this series). Austin wants nothing more than to see his father brought down.

He’s at a party (the annual party at which his acquaintance killed herself ten years earlier) when he spies Katy (the caterer). Sparks fly and he’s distracted, ending up in bed with her in a very, VERY hot, and surprisingly dom/sub capacity. What interested me most about the relationship between Katy and Austin was Austin’s absolute hatred of the “dark” dominant side of himself. I found it interesting that he fought so hard against it, seeing only that it was reminiscent of his father. Katy helps him heal.

Speaking of Katy, Katy has her own axe to grind against Jason Treffen because it was her sister that killed herself all those years ago. She wants to find proof in Jason’s own records to convict him of driving her sister to suicide.

Revenge brings these two together and as the first entry in this trilogy, it was a phenomenal thing to watch as they ground the knife into Jason. Oh, it was just the beginning (the culmination of the take-down doesn’t happen in this book), but what a freaking beginning.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It was delicious. It was satisfying. And man, oh man, I couldn’t WAIT to read the rest of the series after reading this first book!

Check it out! Five whole-heartedly dark gargoyles for Ms. Yates and Avenge Me.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Angela  Angela  Angela  Angela  Angela

Review can also be found at The Royal Reviews Blog.

Author #Interview – Maisey Yates, Harlequin Presents (#writing)

Happy Tuesday everyone. It’s my great pleasure and honor to have author Maisey Yates, one of Harlequin Presents’ prolific authors, here to talk to today. (She may comment in comments if someone leaves a comment for her – no promises, but ya never know!)

IMG_7155

1) How long have you been writing?

I’ve always liked playing around with writing. But I started writing seriously, with publication in mind, about six years ago.

2) How many balls do you juggle on a daily basis, and how do you manage to keep them all in the air (usually), (ball = work, writing, family, etc.)

well, I write full time, and I do have a family. Three small children and a husband who likes to see me sometimes. I’m fortunate because my husband is able to be a stay-at-home dad, which is something that really works for us. Otherwise, I think I balance work and career the same way any other parent with the job does.

3) What can you tell us about your current release Avenge Me? What I’m looking for is the story about how the story came to be, not just the blurb and what not.

About a year ago my editor approached me about the idea of doing a slightly longer Presents. It was structured much like the eight book series you see within the line, except with three books that were a bit more tightly connected. Kate Hewitt, Caitlin Crews and I were given outlines, and from there we spent some time brainstorming over email and Skype, filling in character things and getting plot details straight.

Ultimately, a lot of what ended up in the book was driven by character. The Bible gave the basic idea for what was supposed to happen in terms of action, but Austin and Katy directed the rest…

4) You write contemporary romance for Harlequin Presents. What brought you to that particular line?

Harlequin Presents was one of my first experiences reading romance. I fell in love with the books as a reader, and they inspired me to write.

5) Have you enjoyed the experience of being an HP author? What was it like getting “the call” when you got that first call for your first HP book?

I love writing HP. There’s so much freedom to explore interesting and dark themes, combined with the high fantasy element. There’s nothing else like it.

Getting the call was amazing. I was nine months pregnant at the time and both myself, and my editor, are just glad that her phone call didn’t send me into labor.

6) Avenge Me has a very different tone than your prior series. What prompted the change? Can we anticipate more books with that particular undertheme (the domination aspect)?

As I mentioned above a lot of what happened in the book was directed by character. Including the love scenes. That wasn’t something Harlequin asked for, but I was thankful that they went with it. I think even within category, because my heroes are so dominant, the love scenes I write veer that direction anyway. But certainly Austin and Katy have the most of that element present in any of my couples.

That was a very long way of saying I didn’t necessarily set out to write them that way, and that means almost certainly I will end up writing another book like it. I just have to wait for the right characters to show up.

7) Got any more books planned? What’s in your future?

In addition to continuing to write for Harlequin Presents, I’ve also branched out into longer small-town contemporary romances. The third book in my Silver Creek series is out on August 5, and the next year I will be starting a new series called Copper Ridge.

8) Got any advice for those still struggling through the trenches?

Write. And keep writing, and improve your writing. There’s so much in this business we can’t control whether we’re prepublication or post-publication. The only thing we really have control over is the quality of our work. Even now that’s my strategy for dealing with bumps in the road. Turn my focus to my current book and focus on making it the best that I can.

9) Sweet or sour?

Sweet!

10) Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate

Author Information

USA Today Bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit.

In 2009, at the age of twenty-three Maisey sold her first book. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of sexy alpha males and happily ever afters, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Maisey divides her writing time between dark, passionate category romances  set just about everywhere on earth and light sexy contemporary romances set practically in her back yard. She believes that she clearly has the best job in the world.

Email  *  FacebookTwitter  *  Blog

Book Information

AvengeTEN YEARS AGO ONE DEVASTATING NIGHT CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR AUSTIN, HUNTER AND ALEX. NOW THEY MUST EACH PLAY THEIR PART IN THE REVENGE AGAINST THE ONE MAN WHO RUINED IT ALL.

Austin Treffen was born into a world of privilege, but behind its gilded doors lies a corruption so sordid New York’s elite would never believe it—especially as his infamous philanthropic father is at its core! With everything he believed in shattered, how can Austin take down his father—risking his family name and those he loves—without any proof?

Until one earth-shattering night with Katy Michaels unlocks not only their deepest, most passionate desires but also the key to bringing Jason Treffen’s reign to an end. But with an intense sexual attraction that combines a heady mix of exquisite pleasure and sublime pain, will they satiate their thirst for revenge and each other…or lose themselves forever in the darkness?

Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble

Let’s all say a big “Thank You” to Ms. Yates for being awesome enough to be here. If you scroll down to the next post, it will include my review of “Avenge Me”. And lemme say, it was PHENOMENAL!

#Review – Shattered by Alice Sharpe (#bookreview)

Shattered (Rescuers #1)

Shattered

Author: Alice Sharpe
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Date of Publication: May 20, 2014
Description:

 ALL HE’D WANTED WAS A REUNION WITH A FRIEND. WHAT HE GOT WAS A NATIONWIDE CONSPIRACY AND A JOB PROTECTING ONE GORGEOUS STRANGER.

Deputy sheriff Nate Matthews doesn’t know what to think when he arrives in Nevada and discovers his friend murdered. He is sure about the beautiful woman pointing a rifle at him. Sarah Donovan is a liar, she may have murdered her father…and she stirs something inside him he can’t possibly explain.

But before they can solve one murder, Nate and Sarah find themselves dodging bullets. Being on the run brings new emotions into focus. After a night of passion in a snowbound cabin, they start closing in on the truth—someone means to strike terror in America’s heart….

My Thoughts:

I really liked this book. I wasn’t entirely sure who to trust and who was behind what, but Ms. Sharpe made the ride entirely worth it. I had suspected one of the villains, but because I didn’t initially realize this was a mini-series of books (the Rescuers series), I didn’t realize one of the main plots would be carried over. It was and wow. I CAN’T WAIT!

Sarah – she’s got some rough stuff in her past, and has to make some hard decisions when it comes to her mother (as we learn through the course). I like how when Nate tries to push her back for her own protection, she doesn’t just meekly go. She might be struggling with her personal feelings about her mother and her mother’s manipulations, but she’s still strong and tough when push comes to shove.

Nate – I can’t imagine going through a mall shooting, much less being the one to stop the leader of the shooting. YEt Nate survived that, even if it did forever change him. I liked the road he traveled in this book, wanting to figure out what he wanted to do in life (law enforcement wasn’t really a good fit he believed any more), yet when he comes into town and finds his friend dead and Sarah cowering in a closet, he puts those skills to work.

These two played well off each other. They didn’t play stupid games or lie to one another (well, they didn’t lie to the point of stupidity – Sarah had no reason to just trust Nate in the very beginning, and the same went true for him). They acknowledged there was definitely some heat there and when push came to shove, they gave in.

There were a lot of little threads woven in. The mall shooting dealt with several months before the start of this book turns out to be much more than anyone realized at the time. The discoveries Sarah and Nate make as Sarah tries to avoid the men after her (she’s trying to rescue her mother from a stupid decision) left me awestruck and hungry for more.

Definitely check out this book. Four and a half gargoyles (no pictures today because I’m on a weird computer). Gimme more Alice Sharpe and Rescuers!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tory’s Friday Ramblings (5/23/14)

Hi everyone!

Not much going on this week. I’m trying to get a new WIP started – I’ve got a fantasy world that I’m considering launching, plus of course the two gargoyle books I should write. But..ugh. Same ol’, same ol’. Gotta get more productive.

I watched a couple of good movies, plus of course there were show finales this week (Survivor – sigh, stupid stupid moves, but much as I disliked the winner, he did deserve it). Frozen – I now totally get the fuss over that movie. I wanna buy the movie, the soundtrack, the posters…yeah. I’m sucked into it. Hubby says it sounds terrible, too chick-flicky for him. But Sam actually watched a portion of it, so I was impressed.

Speaking of Sam…she’s part monkey, I swear. You remember how the baby gate merely slows her down, rather than stops her from escaping her bedroom? Yeah, well, apparently baby gates are just the beginning. Sigh. We had a fence put in this week so we could let the kids and dog run around outside. Six feet+ high. Shadowbox fence. Like this (this is not my fence):

Fence

High enough to keep toddlers inside, right? NOT! It took Sam less than 30 minutes to figure out how to climb to the top and get one leg over. I don’t have a picture of that because Josh didn’t want to wait long enough to call me to get the camera before pulling her down. I get his point, but dang it, that must have been something (I was inside so missed it) to see. Sammie is utterly fearless when it comes to heights and jumping.

We’re looking into gymnastics now for somewhere to channel that energy/climbing.

The Shrimp’s got major attitude lately and it’s bugging the heck out of us. Dunno how to fix it or how to get through to him and find out what’s driving it. He’s going to a baseball game with daddy this weekend (yes, hubby and Shrimp are driving from Jax to Tampa for a Rays game and coming home all in one day…yeesh). Rays are playing the Red Sux this weekend. Hopefully the Rays can actually figure out how to win a game or two.

Well, like I said, don’t have much this week, so I’m done.

What plans do you have for this Memorial Day weekend?

#Review – Played by the Billionaire by Alexia Adams (#bookreview)

Played by the Billionaire

Author: Alexia Adams
Publisher: Entangled Indulgence
Date of Publication: May 19, 2014
Description:

playedInternet security guru, Liam Manning, made a death-bed promise to complete his brother’s romance novel. But Liam doesn’t know much about romance past the first few months of a hot fling. He needs to learn about romance, regular-guy style, ASAP. Falling back on his hacking skills, he infiltrates an online dating site to find the perfect love tutor. Only catch is she knows nothing about his plan …

Lorelei Torres wants an honest man to love, but that goal is proving increasingly more difficult in her home state so she packs up her bags and moves to San Francisco in search of her happily ever after. Within days of landing on new soil, her mother signs her up with an online dating agency. Is it time an impartial computer chose a man for her?

Liam needs to finish the novel before Lorelei discovers his deceptions … and before she breaches the firewall around his heart.

My Thoughts:

Well-done interfering family members are the greatest, even if they don’t get much (or any) actual screen time. That was certainly the case in Played, and what makes it even better is that there was interference from both families, not just the hero or the heroine’s.

Liam – hehehe. He knows nothing about romance/love and knows he knows nothing. Determined to finish his now-dead brother’s unfinished romance novel (a death-bed promise), he falls back on the skills he does have. I found it amusing the lengths he went to (derailing an intended date, hacking multiple websites, etc.). It’s adorable, and strangely enough, I actually didn’t find anything he did to be weirdly creepy or anything like that.

Lorelei. Oh, man, did she get dealt a heavy load. Her mother. OMG, her mother was hilarious. Not just signing Lorelei up for a dating service online, but the threats to come out and help Lorelei get a man?! I adored Mama.

This was a great book from start to finish. I didn’t have any problem with Liam’s lie to Lorelei, nor his problem actually ‘fessing up to the truth. Normally I do, but Ms. Adams played the story out so well, I never disliked the set-up at all. And when Liam has to grovel (let’s face it, I love seeing men grovel) to make up for his lies…I totally fell in love with him (assuming I hadn’t already). He really goes above and beyond, and I’d absolutely forgive him if he did something like that.

That’s not to say Liam didn’t deserve to be tossed on his butt for lying the way he did – he definitely did deserve to suffer. But I also admired him for finding a way to make it up to her.

Five gargoyles and I look forward to reading more in this series.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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#Review – His Billion Dollar Baby by Lea Nolan (#bookreview)

His Billion Dollar Baby

Author: Lea Nolan
Publisher: Entangled/Indulgence
Date of Publication: May 19, 2014
Description:

babyBurned by love and grieving over his brother’s death, sexy billionaire CEO Carter Anderson wants nothing more than to protect his family. So when beautiful and unassuming physical therapist Gwen Radley shows up at the funeral, pregnant with his brother’s baby, Carter’s certain she wants an interest in the Anderson empire—and both his suspicion and attraction grow when circumstances force Gwen to move into his family’s mansion.

An orphan, Gwen’s never wanted anything more than a family, and she finds in the Andersons a place she and her baby might belong. When Gwen’s therapy expertise leads to long hours of intense, late-night collaboration on a lucrative project, the attraction between her and Carter leads to a night of white-hot passion. But Carter’s distrust remains, leading them both to wonder if he will ever embrace his brother’s baby—or the love that’s blooming between them.

My Thoughts:

Carter – you are a jerk. You remain a jerk for a very, VERY long time. But the grovel almost makes up for it. Almost.

Gwen – you deserve better than a judgmental jerk like Carter.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can move on to the review. I enjoyed this book for the most part, but I swear, Carter moodswung/condemned Gwen the way a woman pregnant with twins moodswings. And I know how bad that is, having done it. But it was Gwen who really made me fall in love with this book. Her physical therapy work was incredible, between helping design a phenomenal shoe to help recovering military amputees walk better to getting Mr. Anderson Senior to open back up to the world.

Some of the romance was lovely in this book, as Carter began to open up a bit to Gwen. Gwen really wants the family that the baby she’s carrying will give her. She doesn’t want any money, just wanted the child to know its father’s family. She’s a genuinely good woman who deserved a genuinely good man.

I enjoyed watching Mr. Anderson’s slow progression from being entirely bound by his stroke to much more mobility and freedom, all because Gwen can’t not help someone when she’s so close to them. I felt Ms. Nolan did a remarkable job giving life to the Anderson family altogether.

On a side note – I’d love to see the corporate attorney get his own story. He’s awesome and while Carter’s jerkiness tinges on almost unforgiveable, the lawyer’s reaction to Gwen made sense. I’d be suspicious of her too if I weren’t living with her, seeing every single thing she does to improve life around her.

So – this had the potential for five gargoyles, but because of my reaction to the hero, I can’t justify giving it more than 4. Sadly. I can’t wait to read more by Ms. Nolan though!

Book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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#Review – Blackmailed by the Billionaire Brewer by Rachel Lyndhurst (#bookreview)

Blackmailed by the Billionaire Brewer

Author: Rachel Lyndhurst
Publisher: Entangled/Indulgence
Date of Publication: May 19, 2014
Description:

BrewerPiper Reilly is in trouble. She needs a cash infusion, and she’s just left a scorching hot man in Florida to get her life in Colorado back on track. Then her surfside one-night-stand turns out to be her new boss, billionaire Matt DeLeo, with an offer she can’t refuse – agree to be the face of his brewery’s newest concoction or lose her job. A few weeks modeling for the billionaire playboy and her money worries are over, and she can definitely resist Matt’s gorgeous smile and muscular, tattooed arms. It’s strictly business. Right?

Matt DeLeo is in trouble. He’s found the perfect woman to sell Passion Creek Brewery’s newest brew, but if he wants her on his posters, he’ll have to keep his hands to himself. His problem? All he wants to do is drink in Piper. It will take more than blackmail for Matt to get his way.

My Thoughts:

I found this book a bit refreshing. Guy actually wants more from the woman who hooked up with him; woman deliberately goes out for a one-night stand? I was amused by Matt’s blackmail of Piper. And c’mon, let’s face it…pink beer?! Pink. Beer. Beer that apparently tastes good (can’t personally imagine it, buuuuut…)

I enjoyed watching Piper as she got caught up in Matt’s world, and as she tried to figure out what life she actually wanted (along with dealing with her sister’s issues). She has a great business, but with Matt’s help, it could become extraordinarily successful. I admire her for wanting to go along with it.

Matt. Ahhh, Matt. Pink beer. Who’d have thunk it? Anyway, enough with my pink-beer fascination. Matt really matured. He wasn’t a child, or even immature, but he really grew over the course of the book, finally figuring out his place in the world, accepting who and what he was (it’s complicated, but led to a great grovel/reunion scene). I loved watching Matt go from the man who chased Piper…but didn’t want commitment or to remain tied to any one location…to the man who actually deserved a sweetheart like Piper. And, along the way, he helped her to see the flaws in her own life.

I enjoyed these two and hope to see more featuring this little town in Colorado (and props for the Sanibel Island reference – Sanibel’s gorgeous!).

Four gargoyles without reserve.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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