With so many fun book challenges to participate in, I could no longer be without a blog. I intend for the blog to help me keep track of my reading for the year as well as my progress on the challenges I choose to join.
Published: January 15, 2016
Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna’s new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can’t know.
Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up.
This was the most depressing book that I think I have ever read or listened to but it is also very haunting.
In the “tell me again times”, Anna’s mom tells her the story of how she was alone and had always wanted a daughter. But Anna slowly learns the truth, having a daughter is not enough to fill the void inside her mother. So she watches as her mother marries, divorces, marries, divorces, and then spends a great deal of time dating man after man and leaving Anna in the house alone.
Anna often spends night after night alone in the lying house. It looks beautiful, but it is empty. She turns on the TV to fill it with noise. She wanders from room to room. And when nothing she can do fills that emptiness, she begins to try to fill it with boys in much the same way she sees her mother trying to fill her own emptiness with men.
Anna’s story is a series of relationships, very few of them real or fulfilling:
Her mother – absent, distant, unaware
The first boy – a boy who assaults her on the school bus, although she doesn’t realize at the time what it is.
Joey – For a while, he fills the void. But then just as her mother told her all men do, he leaves.
The rapist – he haunts her.
Toy – the best friend, lost herself, but Anna doesn’t recognize this until much later.
Josh – For a while, he too fills the void.
And then Sam – here she sees for the first time what a real family must look like, and it creates in her a longing so real, so palpable that the world around her shifts.
By the time Sam comes along Anna has gotten pregnant and had an abortion but he is a virgin and wants to WAIT for their first time together. They do wait-for awhile but the temptation is too great and they have sex, whenever and where ever they can. One afternoon Anna goes over to Sam’s house because he is sick and one thing leads to another and they have sex and his mother walks in on them and tells her to leave.
It’s during this time of depression and loneliness that Anna discovers that Toy is as broken as she is and has been lying about all her romantic boyfriends (none of whom exist). Anna has been trying fill the emptiness inside of her with boy after boy after boy until she sees something else and decides she is going to find a way to make it happen for herself, and it’s important because Anna realizes this for herself and acts upon it for herself.
The book ends with Anna feeling hopeful and that’s something she has never felt before.
Published: November 19, 2007
It started as a game, but they are both playing to win.
Tina meets Shaun at a monthly meeting of eccentric game players in a British manor house. Shaun is a loner, highly competitive, and devastatingly sexy. When he challenges Tina to a sexual relationship, she can’t resist.
In a dangerous game of seduction, sassy Tina might have met her match in Shaun. He is a forthright, dominant lover, and the atmosphere of competition extends to their more intimate moments as they pursue a passionate affair. Each encounter ups the stakes, but what has started as a game rapidly grows more intense. Both players realize they have to play their way carefully, to win the prize. But what is real, and what is gamesmanship? In a relationship brimming with conflict, the ultimate challenge will be getting their opponent to reveal their true hand.
Tina has been invited by her friend, Kate, to a gaming workshop where she meets Shaun. Initially Shaun comes off as arrogant, dominating and egotistical even though Tina really wants to dislike him, she can’t seem to help her sexual attraction to him. The gaming weekends take on new meaning for the two when Shaun challenges Tina to add sex games to their weekends. Before long they’re both more than a little unsure of who really has control of the game, and if it’s even really still a game.
Even though the story was predictable I enjoyed it because of the magnet-like attraction between Tina and Shaun-they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other when they were together. I loved watching each of them trying to take the upper hand and maintain control and the dual points of view also gave more depth to the story. The sex scenes were not over the top but still hot and steamy.
A very good read.
Published: August 11, 2015
This novella is a compilation of reader requested scenes from the series retold through the eyes of Colton Donavan.
Colton Donavan lived life in the fast lane, but it took Rylee Thomas to teach him what racing was all about.
You think you know me?
Raced is not a complete re-write of the Driven series but a companion explores pivotal scenes as well as some new ones written in Colton Donavan’s point of view that were not previously published in Driven, Fueled, and Crashed. You hear his thoughts, experience his inner-turmoil, and laugh with him on his journey as he overcomes his demons and accepts what it means to love.
This novella is for the devoted readers of the Driven series.
It is recommended that this companion be read after Driven, Fueled, and Crashed.
Since Colton is one of my favorite book boyfriends, I loved this re-write from his point of view. Made me love him even more.
Published: January 11, 2016
Rylee and Colton’s ride continues…
One moment. Six years ago.
The night she made the world around me so much more than just a blur. Now it’s the catalyst that threatens to tear us apart.
Our happily was supposed to be ever after. So why do I feel like it’s slipping through my fingers?
How can one moment, when our world seemed so right, resurface and cause our perfect life to spiral out of control?
I can’t lose her.
She’s my checkered flag.
I thought I had posted a review for this book, but I guess it was lost among the many other books in my memory so here it is-
ACED is the fourth installment in K. Bromberg’s contemporary adult DRIVEN erotic romance series focusing on Colton Donavan, and Riley Thomas Donavan. ACED covers several months in the life between the end of CRASHED (Driven #3) and the epilogue that advanced the series approximately ten years. I do not recommend reading ACED as a stand alone-too much history, backstory and personal information is missing.
Told from dual first person points of view (Colton and Rylee) ACED focuses on the relationship between our leading couple as well as their struggle to deal with past transgressions, and future hopes. This ‘imperfectly perfect’ couple must face several demons: past and present; personal and public; old and new; dangerous and dark. We get up close and personal as one family struggles to survive as their world begins to crumble against the battering paparazzi, and those seeking revenge from a time long ago.
Colton, one of my favorite book boyfriends, makes mistakes, he has flaws, he has more skeletons than a grave yard in his closet but nothing will ever stop him from protecting his family and the love of his life. This book will take you on a roller coaster of emotions. You will feel heartbroken, you will feel angry, you will feel happiness, you will feel it all throughout this read. From the moments with Xander, through the awful exposure of privacy that these two feel, Aced will make you fall in love with their love all over again.
This was a wonderful look at marriage and all it takes to keep your happily ever after!
It is a great conclusion to a rocky but beautiful love story. Fantastic series !!!!!
Published: June 14, 2015
Mark’s expert lessons will teach Autumn the pleasure of submission, but at what cost?”
Autumn Smith has always been a confident businesswoman. Her prowess in the boardroom has helped her achieve the rank of CEO at Tech Titans. In spite of all that success, her love life leaves a lot to be desired. But the discovery of a mysterious business card one night leads her to Mark Paris- a seductively enigmatic ‘Intimacy Tutor’ who specializes in helping women realize their wildest sensual fantasies. He’s a tall and handsome gentleman with the power to control her every desire.
Soon Autumn embarks on the ultimate pleasure seeking adventure – discovering the joys of surrendering to power – with the most gorgeous man and in the most salacious scenarios beyond her imagination…
Autumn’s boyfriend, Evan, is seeing other women because he says they will do the kinkier things that she won’t. So, when he drops a business card with the name of a sex tutor Autumn plans to take lessons and finally get him to commit to her only.
But once she meets Mark, the Sex Tutor, and she realizes how he makes her feel (like nothing Evan ever has) she begins to have second thoughts about Evan. She continues to see Mark and realizes that she feels more for him than she should. The sex between them is great and hot but could she have a relationship with him? Out of the blue Evan proposes and she finds out it’s because his parents want him married before they will give him access to his trust fund. First she says YES and then NO. She decides to tell Mark exactly how she feels and he tells her he can not have a relationship with her or any one. Well, this is not what she wanted to hear.
To make a long story short, she gets fired from her job, and decides to start her own company that will empower women and hire Mark as part of her team. Mark agrees and confesses that he does love her and that she will be the only woman for him from now on. HEA!
Loved this short series of four books because there was a plot, humor, and hot sex scenes. Lucia Jordan hit a home run with this one!
Published: November 6, 1939
In his masterpiece of writing , a group of people are lured into coming to an island under different pretexts, e.g., offers of employment, to enjoy a late summer holiday, or to meet old friends. All have been complicit in the deaths of other human beings, but either escaped justice or committed an act that was not subject to legal sanction. The guests and two servants who are present are “charged” with their respective “crimes” by a gramophone recording after dinner the first night, and informed that they have been brought to the island to pay for their actions. They are the only people on the island, and cannot escape due to the distance from the mainland and the inclement weather, and gradually all ten are killed in turn, each in a manner that seems to parallel the deaths in the nursery rhyme. Nobody else seems to be left alive on the island by the time of the apparent last death. A confession, in the form of a postscript to the novel, unveils how the killings took place and who was responsible.
I think we’ve all seen the 1965 movie entitled Ten Little Indians, based on Ms. Christie’s book but how many of us have read it? I hadn’t, so when I found the audio version on my Overdrive account, I snapped it up. The narrator, Dan Stevens, did a great job with all the voices and nuances of the characters and I loved it.
I had forgotten about the confession at the end so the murder’s identity was a mystery to me until the very end. If you haven’t read, listened or watched the movie, I highly recommend it. It’s creepy and very entertaining.
Published: July 19, 2016
In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.
The author, Ruth Ware, whose debut novel, In a Dark Dark Wood, I read in August 2015, is a sophisticated writer who understands how to manipulate truth and timing to provoke the reader’s reactions.
The Woman in Cabin 10 is good: it’s creepy, it’s frustrating, and it’s interesting. It brings elements of our current fixations into the realm of the thriller/mystery in the best possible way.
It is the perfect classic “paranoid woman” story with a modern twist in this tense, claustrophobic mystery.
I had the audio version and the narrator did a great job with the voices and the personalities of the characters and kept me on the edge of my seat. I only rated the book four stars because I found the ending unsatisfying, and to find out what I mean you’ll have to read or listen to it yourself.
I highly recommend it!
Published: May 29, 2012
“Dear Tommie: Have you ever wondered about who you are?”
The letter that turns Tommie McCloud’s world upside down arrives from a stranger only days after her father’s death. The woman who wrote it claims that Tommie is her daughter—and that she was kidnapped as a baby thirty-one years ago.
Tommie wants to believe it’s all a hoax, but suddenly a girl who grew up on a Texas ranch finds herself linked to a horrific past: the slaughter of a family in Chicago, the murder of an Oklahoma beauty queen, and the kidnapping of a little girl named Adriana. Tommie races along a twisting, nightmarish path while an unseen stalker is determined to keep old secrets locked inside the dementia-battered brain of the woman who Tommie always thought was her real mother. With everything she has ever believed in question, and no one she can trust, Tommie must discover the truth about the girl who vanished—and the very real threats that still remain.
“[Julia Heaberlin’s] voice is pitch perfect, and her story of one woman’s fierce struggle to reconcile her past with her present is gripping and powerful. An outstanding debut.”—Carla Buckley, author of Invisible.
This debut novel is set mainly in the wilds of Texas and the narrator is Tommie, in her early 30’s and an equine psychologist by profession – she rehabilitates children whose lives have been shattered in some way by encouraging them to ride and train horses. Tommie was set to be either a great pianist or a rodeo star, but her hopes for both potential professions were dashed in one fell swoop when, as a young girl, someone ensured she rode a “banned” steer, so she fell and broke her hand when it trampled her.
Tommie is one of those well-educated protagonists, who is paranoid about her safety yet is always getting herself into avoidable, dangerous situations. She has a few useful men to protect her – an Afghanistan vet boyfriend, her parents’ ranch hand, an old Southern lawyer, a crack journalist and a taxi driver. Tommie is scared because she has received a shocking letter just after her “Daddy” has died. The letter says that Tommie’s mother is in fact a woman married to an infamous, jailed mobster. The woman who Tommie has always thought of as her mother is in a care-hospital suffering from Alzheimer’s, so cannot communicate with her daughter. Tommie’s sister Sadie and her cute niece Maddie provide useful support and a sounding board for her concerns.
At the bottom of this novel is a good mystery story, actually quite simple but the author complicates things and prolongs the solution of the mystery much longer than need be. A clue is given near the end that could have been given around page ten and could have tied up all the loose ends. Because of this I created the book four and a half stars.
Also, the outcome was predictable, or at least is was to me but I was happy with the ending.
I enjoyed it very much and the narrator, Madeleine Lambert, did a fantastic job on the voices and Texas twangs of all the characters and made it a very pleasant listen.
I highly recommend this book if you like mysteries.
Published: March 29, 2016
Some kisses come at a price.
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
I love how the author, Marie Rutkoski, starts off the final book exactly where the second one ended. No wasted time rehashing the past happenings. It’s like READY, SET GO!
As with the other two books in the trilogy, I had the audio version and the narrator, Justine Eyre, does a magnificent job with the voices of all the characters and makes it a very pleasant listening event.
Besides the descriptions of the battles of war, the author, gave us more in depth development of several secondary characters which made the book richer and gave us a better insight into their actions.
I am fiercely in love with all things Kestrel and Arin. Their relationship struggle in the novel was so real. Finally a YA book where it’s not the fantasy world keeping them apart, but actual real relationship bumps that plagues us all: break down of communication, acknowledgements of individual changes and growth, trust issues, accepting faults along with strengths, understanding personal struggles, guilt of hurting the one you love the most, forgiveness, and above all, mutual respect.
Our protagonists, Kestrel and Arin, experience a lot of growth as previous choices finally reach shocking, climatic consequences, many of which I was unsure how they’d move past. I definitely didn’t expect the changes Kestrel underwent; she is both the same and vastly different, exploring physical and mental strength of female characters.
THE WINNER’S TRILOGY is one of my favorites. I love the way the whole series comes together as a whole and this last installment is fantastic and I’m really satisfied with how everything came about.
I HIGHLY recommend this series.
Five stars *****
Published: April 19, 2015
The Rope Club, dare to become a member…
That’s where Jessica finds herself after her gallery shows are proven fruitless and she’s desperate to pay her rent. All out of options, her friend Susan suggests displaying her work at the exclusive club where there will be hundreds of wealthy patrons who would be willing to pay well for her work. Jessica soon discovers becoming a member is not as easy as she thought and through a chance encounter, Ashton Parker, the elusively infamous billionaire might just be her way in.
The Rope Club has the power to pull you in deep and Jessica finds that things might never be the same for her again…
Another complete set of short books by Lucia Jordan that I had to have after reading the first one.
Good story line, though a bit unbelievable, but after all it’s fiction, great chemistry between male and female main characters and hot and steamy sex scenes. All that makes for a great read.