Monday, November 30, 2015

NSFW Book Tag

Monday, November 30, 2015 with
Hi everyone,
Book tags are fun so I thought I'd do another tag. I went with the NSFW ("not suitable for work") Tag, which was originally created by ChapterStackss and LukeLaneReads.

1. What is the last book you would want your parents to walk in on you reading?
My mom reads romance novels (she loves historical romances and often raids my romance novels) so I don't really care if she sees books I read with racy covers. But my dad is more conservative, and while he knows I read romances, I try not to shove it to his face. So, any book with sexy torsos or "clinch" covers (a half-naked hero embraces heroine) I'd try to hide from my dad.

2. It’s storming outside, and you’re home alone for the night. What book would only make matters worse?
Thrillers, mysteries, and suspense I'm okay reading but I'm a big scaredy cat when it comes to horror books. I avoid horror. I've never read a Stephen King novel... I had to google "horror writers"... Anne Rice and Edgar Allan Poe came up. I've read a couple of Poe's short stories for class and many, many years ago I read Interview with a Vampire but I didn't find them scary. Um... I guess reading a Stephen King novel would make a night alone worst. I can't really answer this question.

3. Have you ever read a book simply because of the controversy surrounding it?
Like a James Frey/A Million Little Pieces kind of controversy? No. But I did read books because they were banned or censored, especially if it's a children's picture book.

4. What is the most cringe-inducing romance or sex scene you have ever read?
A few months ago I tried reading Crosstown Crush by Cara McKenna and it wasn't for me. Not because it was written badly or anything (Cara McKenna is a fantastic writer and tend to push romance genre boundaries with her books), but because cuckolding fantasy romance (aka the "infidelity" kink) is just not my cup of tea.

5. What book has made you question the author's sanity?
None. But I tend to stay away from horror and super creepy psychological thrillers. I have read books where the author writes from the killer's point of view and if they do a good job and I get the heebie jeebies, I often wonder what mindset they were in when they wrote those scenes.

6. Have you ever put down a book and not finished it because the content was too much for you?
Nope. I know what I like and I more often than not "research" a book before buying it or picking it up. If I know I can't handle the content, I won't pick it up. In the past, if put a book down it's because I'm bored or there's too much exhausting melodrama.

7. What fictional character do you have the most NSFW thoughts about?
Currently Bennett Ryan from Beautiful Bastard, Khalid from The Wrath and the Dawn, Peeta Mellark from the Hunger Games series (because I recently watched Mockingjay Part 2 and I'm reminded again how much I love Peeta), and Drew Baylor from The Hook Up.

8. Show us your most NSFW book cover (or drawing/photo inside a book).
My most NSFW book covers are on my e-books but I'm not counting those because they're e-books. Here's some from my physical books collection:

9. Have you ever read something from the erotica/romance genre, and what did you think?
Yes, all the time. The romance genre is one of my favorites. I can't get enough! I also enjoy reading erotica (which, to me, are more sexier, edgier romances), though I tend to stay away from the more kinkier stuff.

10. You stumble across a portkey. What fictional world would you NOT want to be transported into?
Any dystopian or post-apocalyptic world. Those world tend to require a lot physical activities to survive and I am the least physical person there is. I know I won't survive even a day.

What are your answers to some of these questions?

Happy reading,
Michelle

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hello everyone,
The end of 2015 is almost upon us and I have 5 books I am hoping to read before the year ends. With winter break in about 3 weeks, I know (at least I'm hoping--whenever I make reading plans somehow something always comes up to mess it up) I can knock these books off.

I do have a few review books I have to read for blog tours in December but I'm not counting those on this list. Okay, here are the five books I want to read before the new year begins.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
At the top of my list is Cinder. Everyone and their mother read have read this book and the rest of the Lunar Chronicles books, except for me. Now that all four books (plus Fairest) are out, I have no more excuses. I want to read at least Cinder before the year ends.


Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan 
I hardly pick up graphic novels but I love the Saga series. I want to pick up Volume 5 and find the time to read it in one sitting because that's how I read graphic novels.


Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren
This is the year of Christina Lauren for me. I read all the published books (excluding the novellas) in their Beautiful Bastard series, and just fell in love with the authors' brand of romance and humor. I really want to start the Wild Seasons series, which promises to be just as good as the BB books. Sweet Filthy Boy is the first WS book.


Shadowdance by Kristen Callihan
I started the year off with a bang when I read Soulbound and fell in love with the world and the characters in Callihan's Darkest London world. With Soulbound being the 6th book in the series, I had to go back and read the earlier books in the series. Shadowdance is book 4.


Wallbanger by Alice Clayton
Wallbanger has been on my to-read list since the beginning of this year. I heard such amazing, amazing things about it from both romance and non-romance readers. It's time I pick it up--I have high expectations but I have a feeling I'm going to love it as much as everyone else, if not more.

I really suck at keeping a TBR pile so I'm not going to call these five books my end-of-the-year TBR. Wish me luck! Because I have a bunch of review books I still need to read and I'm a very, very slow reader. But these five are really calling my name. 

What books are you hoping to read before the end of 2015? Have you read any of the books I mentioned above?

Happy reading,
Michelle

Monday, November 23, 2015

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher/gifted
Series: Everything I Left Unsaid #1
Synopsis
I didn’t think answering someone else’s cellphone would change my life. But the stranger with the low, deep voice on the other end of the line tempted me, awakened my body, set me on fire. He was looking for someone else. Instead he found me.

And I found a hot, secret world where I felt alive for the first time.

His name was Dylan, and, strangely, he made me feel safe. Desired. Compelled. Every dark thing he asked me to do, I did. Without question. I longed to meet him, but we were both keeping secrets. And mine were dangerous. If I took the first step, if I got closer to Dylan—emotionally, physically—then I wouldn’t be hiding anymore. I would be exposed, with nothing left to surrender but the truth. And my truth could hurt us both.



Everything I Left Unsaid was an amazing read. Darker than my usual romances, but I was captivated by the story from start to finish--once I started reading, I couldn't stop and it kept me up late in the night.
Annie is 24 years old and, after years of suffering physical and psychological abuse from her husband, finally found the strength to leave. Scared that her husband was coming after her, she traveled all over for a few weeks and finally decided to hide in a trailer park in North Carolina. On her first night in her trailer she found a ringing cell phone and on the other end was Dylan. They began a dangerous relationship because both were telling lies about their identities, but also truths they've never told anyone else. 

I almost didn't give this novel a full five stars because of that very first phone call. Annie was on the run from her abusive and controlling husband. I find it hard to believe that she'd pick up that very first phone call on her first night at her new place. She was scared, nervous and guarding her identity very closely. Then, a strange man was calling and telling her he knows where she is and there's a sexual undertone to the call. Her being a victim of abuse and on the run, I had my doubts. However, t's not big deal in the greater scheme of the story, and later you kinda understand why she would respond this way, but I thought I'd mention it because it did bother me a little bit.

I adored Annie. She was an amazing, complex character. She's a strange mix of innocence and strength, vulnerability and determination. She's old beyond her years after everything she suffered but she also retains this innocence and pureness about her. She had a sheltered upbringing with a difficult mother who conditioned her to believe that the outside world was a dangerous place. After leaving her old life, she was determined to shake off the controlling influence of her husband and to finally live her life. I celebrated her little victories with her, like going to the grocery store and buying things her favorite things. Dylan further challenges her to step out of her comfort zone, daring her to do small little things she never considered to do in her old life, as well as push her sexual boundaries all through phone calls.

Annie and Dylan had this strong sexual tension and things only got hotter from that initial conversation--you guys, there was a lot of phone sex and they were sexy and scorching hot! The author did such a great job building their relationship through the phone. You'd think it wouldn't be quite believable because the two of them have never met physically, but it worked! 

Besides Annie and Dylan, we also have side characters who were interesting on their own, like Annie's neighbor Ben who had a dangerous past and a mysterious connection to Dylan, as well as others who live in the trailer park like Joan the stripper and Tiffany, a woman with children with an abusive husband of her own. Most of the story was in Annie's perspective, and though we learn a little bit of Dylan as sometimes the point of view alternates, we don't learn as much about him as we do Annie. I don't want to reveal too much, but there was a bit of a Beauty and the Beast vibe between Annie and Dylan that I really dug.

 Everything I Left Unsaid was addicting, and like I said, it kept me up reading late in the night. It's well-written, well-paced, with complex characters and the sex was HOT despite the characters not physically together for most of the novel. They do eventually meet physically and DAMN there were some HOT HOT SMEXY TIMES!! It also had a dark, dangerous tone to it that I didn't think I'd like initially, but ended up really appreciating because it added a different flavor unlike my typical reads. I had a feeling Annie's past was going to catch up to her and I was just waiting for that big twist. Yes, it does end with a cliffhanger since Everything I Left Unsaid is part of a duology. But it works out because I want more of Annie and Dylan and The Truth About Him (book 2) is already out. You're going to want to just get both and read them back to back. I highly recommend.



Update: My review of The Truth About Him is posted HERE. But, only read it after you read Everything I Left Unsaid because I totally spoil this book on that review.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hardcover: 334 pages
Publisher: Tundra Books
Release Date: Septeber 8, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Every #2
Synopsis
James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents seven years ago...without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his 'partner in crime'.

Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behaviour - not that Mycroft's ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him...and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.

The theft of a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft's parents...Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events - or will she lose him forever?

Sparks fly when Watts and Mycroft reunite in this second sophisticated thriller about the teen sleuthing duo.



If you guys have been here long enough, you might've caught my very enthusiastic review about Every Breath and know how much I loved it. Of course, I was dying to read its sequel Every Word and tried to find a way to get my hands on an Australian copy because the series is initially published there. I wasn't successful so I had to wait like everybody else outside of Australia.

Well, you guys, the wait was worth it because Every Word is just as amazing as Every Breath. Actually, the Every series is my favorite Sherlock-and-Watson-inspired YA--I don't say this lightly because I've read some amazing Sherlock-inspired YAs this year but the Every series is at the very top.

Every Word picks up eight weeks after the events that happened in Every Breath. Rachel Watts and James Mycroft are officially a couple, but Rachel's parents are keeping a close eye on her and Mycroft. They still find stolen moments from some hot and heavy make-out sessions, though. Then, a new case came up with some similarities to the accident that killed Mycroft's parents years ago. Mycroft jumped on a plane to England without saying goodbye to Rachel. Furious and worried, Rachel follows Mycroft and once again they must work together to piece together three puzzling events that may or may not be related: the missing Shakespeare Folio, the death of a librarian who worked on the folio, and the murder of Mycroft's parents many years ago.

As with the first book in the series, the writing is superb--very readable and engaging. The main characters, Rachel and Mycroft, were fleshed out and imperfectly perfect. Both characters were interesting on their own, but put them together and they're so much more. These two have such fantastic chemistry that leaps off the page.

Rachel is based on Watson but she's no sidekick--she more than holds her own against the enigmatic Mycroft/Sherlock. I love that she calls Mycroft out on his crap. Like she said, she might've followed Mycroft to England but she's there to support him and be the impartial voice, not follow him blindly as he tried to force a connection that might not even be there between the new case and his parents' murder. LOVE her!

As for the mystery aspect, this one had me more twisted than in the previous book. I already passed the halfway point, and I still had no theories or a solid suspect in my head. It took me almost until the very end to piece together the puzzle. This was kind of unusual for me because I can usually figure things out way before the characters do. Kudos to the author for keeping up the mystery and suspense until the very end.

I loved that the story is set in England this time. Like I mentioned in previous posts, I love books that are set in a different country because then I can vicariously travel with the characters. It was really fun traveling with Rachel and seeing London through her eyes. She even visited the Sherlock Holmes Museum. But not everything was crumpets and double-decker buses, because thing turn for the worst and horrible as Rachel and Mycroft got deeper into the investigation.

Every Word was a fantastic follow-up to Every Breath. After reading it, I was in a bit of a book hangover because it's SO GOOD!! I loved reuniting with Rachel and Mycroft and seeing them grow as characters (especially Rachel) in each book after going through so much life and death situations. If you're going to read one Sherlock Holmes-inspired novel or series this year, make it this one. I promise, you won't be disappointed! After reading Every Breath and Every Word, I am so excited to read the last book, Every Move. I'm so eager to see how everything will come together. You guys, I might not survive the year-long wait.

Monday, November 9, 2015



Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Art of Passion #1
Synopsis
By day, he'll show her a side of Paris not found in any guidebook. By night, he'll introduce her to a passion beyond her wildest dreams. In this sensuous story of indulgence and desire, Jeanette Grey delivers one of the most romantic reads of the year and proves why she is fast becoming a must-read star.

SEVEN NIGHTS TO SURRENDER

Kate arrives in Paris hoping to find inspiration. Instead she finds Rylan. In a swirl of stolen kisses and hot, tangled sheets, Kate is quickly swept away by the sexy stranger, longing to surrender to his expert touch. With Rylan, nothing is forbidden-except the truth.

An American ex-pat worth millions, Rylan never flaunts his fortune. Rather, he guards his identity from everyone, especially women. No strings, no commitments, no complications. But the second his lips taste Kate's soft, sweet skin, everything changes. For the first time, Rylan has found someone to share his every want and need. Yet he knows that secrets stand between them. To keep her, he'll need to confess the truth before it's too late . . . even if doing so could mean losing Kate forever.




Seven Nights to Surrender was a lovely, swoon-worthy read that had me wishing for a Parisian adventure of my own with sexy stranger.

After graduating from college, Kate left New York to travel to Paris to find herself, her artistic voice and to make some big decisions about her future. She's been in Paris for a couple of days when she got mugged while buying coffee. A sexy stranger came to her rescue and she found herself reluctantly spending the day with him. Rylan had all the right moves and smooth words when picking up pretty girls. He's been living in Paris for a while to distance himself from his family after his father's scandal and avoiding the responsibilities he must now shoulder. Kate soon found herself spending the rest of her trip with Rylan--he as Kate's tour guide around Paris during the day and at night he seduced her promising passion and satisfaction, which Kate lacked with her previous partners... and, yep, he delivered! But Rylan was keeping a big secret and telling Kate might mean losing her even before she goes back home.

I thoroughly enjoyed Seven Nights to Surrender. First of all, it was set in Paris and I love books set in a different country. The author did a great job with the setting--while reading it I experienced the city with the characters like I would've if I was watching a movie set in Paris. The mention of specific locations and art work spurred me to do a whole bunch of image searching, which is something I love to do when I read a book set in a different country and I can vicariously travel with the characters. I even ended up watching Amelie again (probably the 56576th time--love it!!) because Kate and Rylan visit Montmartre. Anyway, I had a great time with the setting!

The characters were amazing as well. I warmed up to Kate sooner than I did with Rylan. We're reminded over and over again that Rylan was a player. He constantly picked up tourist girls and loves the no string attached sex they provide. When he met Kate he was methodical, giving her a line and deliberate touches to essentially get in her pants. He came off a spoiled, entitled rich boy and I didn't like him a first few chapters. But, then we see him falling for Kate and start caring for her and seeing his vulnerable side and I softened towards him. Then, I just wanted to give him a hug because I felt sorry for him with how he grew up with his awful parents and he's such a lonely guy. Soon, I was rooting for him to win Kate because he needed someone like her in his life. Swoon.

Kate suffered from years of belittlement and abuse from her estranged father, and then from her lying ex-boyfriend. Her self-esteem was very much bruised, especially when it came to her artistic ability, but she's working towards gaining it back. She's also on constant guard when it came to men. I felt for Kate and I dreaded her learning that Rylan was keeping a huge secret and lying to her.

Rylan and Kate were amazing together. Things happened pretty quickly since everything happened in a week's time. But it didn't feel insta-love-y or rushed--the pacing of their relationship felt natural. The chemistry between them was off the charts and the sexytimes were steamy and plentiful. I loved the care Rylan took with Kate and her sexual hang-ups. My favorite scene with them was when Kate drew Rylan in the nude. I was getting Titanic vibes there, but it was wonderful.

Seven Nights to Surrender was a winner--very well-written and very readable. Really, this is what new adult should be. I wouldn't call it a light read, but it's not so dark with all the serious issues up the ying-yang and filled with all the drama that it's exhausting to read. There were some fun and sweet moments to balance the more serious ones. Add to that the Paris setting and, all in all, the author did a great up. I loved Seven Nights to Surrender and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series (which won't come out until April--noooo!!) to see what will become of Kate and Rylan. I'm also going to be looking into Jeanette Grey's backlist books because I really like her style and her voice. I highly recommend Seven Nights to Surrender, especially if you're a fan of romance and new adult.

Kate stayed firmly planted in her seat as he offered to help her up. Trying her best to appear unaffected, she arched one eyebrow. "Does this usually work for you?"

The guy didn't pull his hand back or in any other way appear to alter his strategy, and Kate had to give him points for that. "Yes, actually."

"Interesting."

The sad truth was, his offer was beyond tempting. The attention was nice, especially after her self-esteem had been beaten down the way it had in the past year. Hell, in the past twenty-two. It wouldn't hurt to have someone who spoke fluent French showing her around, either. That he was as attractive as he was just made the deal sweeter.

"Not working so well on you, then?" he asked as she considered him.

"Not so far."

His smile only widened. "Good. I like a girl who's hard to crack." Standing up straighter, he held his palms out at his sides. "Come on, what have you got to lose?"

"I'd say my wallet, but that's already gone."

"See? Low stakes. Listen, you don't trust me." That was an understatement. Was there a man left on Earth that she did? "I don't blame you. Devilishly handsome man wanders into a café and buys you a drink without asking? Offers to show you around town? Very suspicious."

"Very."

"So let's make this safe. You said you wanted to see the Louvre? Let's go to the Louvre. I'll show you all my favorites, and then if I haven't murdered you by supper time, you let me take you someplace special. Someplace no guide book in the world would ever recommend."

She was really running out of reasons to say no. It was a good plan, this one. They'd be in a public place. She'd have time to feel him out a little more. And if he wasn't too much of a psycho, well, everyone had to eat, didn't they?

Still, she kept up her air of skepticism. She rather liked all his efforts to convince her. "I don't even know your name."

The way his dimples shone when he lifted up one corner of his mouth was completely unfair. Extending his hand again, he offered, "Rylan. Pleased to make your acquaintance."

Rylan. That was unusual. She liked it.

"Kate," she volunteered in return, and with no more real excuse not to, she accepted the handshake, slipping her palm into his. Warm fingers curled around hers, his thumb stroking the side of her hand, and oh. The rake. He bent forward as he tugged on her hand, twisting ever so slightly so he could press his lips to the back of her palm.

"Charmed."

"I'll bet you are." But her pulse was racing faster, and the kiss felt like it seared all the way to her spine.

This man was dangerous.

He straightened up but he didn't let go. Sweeping his other arm toward the door, he asked, "So?"

She hummed to herself as she gazed up at him, as if there was any question of what she was going to do. His blue eyes sparkled, like he already knew her answer, too.

"Well." She rose from her seat, feeling taller than usual. More powerful. Maybe it was all the flattery of a guy like this hitting on her. Maybe it was the headiness of making this kind of a decision. Either way, it made her straighten her shoulders and insert a little sway into the movement of her hips.

"Well?"

"Lead on," she said.

He didn't let go of her hand. "That's what I was hoping you'd say." With a squeeze of her fingers, he took a step toward the door. "Let's go look at some art."

External pressures aside, she had come to Paris to be inspired by beauty. She could find it on the walls of a famous museum. And she could find it in the lines of this man's shoulders and throat. The latter might not have been what she'd had in mind when she'd set out, but what was a little bit of a diversion?

You couldn't find yourself without taking a couple of side trips, after all.

About the author:
Jeanette Grey started out with degrees in physics and painting, which she dutifully applied to stunted careers in teaching, technical support, and advertising. When she isn't writing, Jeanette enjoys making pottery, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and her pet frog. She lives, loves, and writes in upstate New York.