Friday, February 24, 2017

Audiobook Review: Highland Spy by Madeline Martin

Series:     Mercenary Maidens #1
Pub. Date:Jan. 10, 2017
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrators:David Gillies
Length:11 hrs 11 min
Source:Publisher

I was very intrigued by this series and the thought of Mercenary Maidens... ruined and fallen women forced into the life of a spy for the crown and king. As I listened to the story, the team of spies was definitely the most intriguing aspect. These women were trained in combat, interrogation (sort of), disguise/acting, seduction, and how to get out of sticky situations using their wits and, at times, drugs.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Guest Review by Julie: Quantum by Jess Anastasi

Series:     Atrophy #2
Pub. Date:Aug. 8, 2016
Publisher:Entangled
Length:325 pages

Quantum opened up with a bang and never slowed down! Mae is undercover trying to prove if Zander is human, or if he's been replaced by the Reidar, shape shifting aliens planning to take over the system. What follows is a fast-paced story with enough suspense and adrenaline that kept me glued until the end!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

ARC Review: The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

Series:     Invisible Library #3
Pub. Date:Jan. 10, 2017
Publisher:Roc Books
Length:356 pages
Source:NetGalley

The Invisible Library has been such a unique series involving various sects (humans, fae and dragons) living in realms of differing levels of chaos, and accessible by librarians who seek to preserve the order and existence of each unique realm by collecting its important works of literature.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

ARC Review: Origins by A.D. Starrling

Series:     Seventeen #5
Pub. Date:Feb. 21, 2017
Publisher:Self-Pub
Length:313 pages
Source:Author
The gifts bestowed by One not of this world, to the Man who had lived longer than most. 
The Empire ruled by a King who would swallow the world in his madness.
The Warrior who chose to rise against her own kind in order to defeat him. 
Discover the extraordinary beginnings of the Immortals and the unforgettable story of the Princess who would become a Legend.

I wish I could tell you what first led me to A.D. Starrling, but I honestly don't know. I think it was fate that made me pick up the first book in this series, Hunted (f/k/a Soul Meaning) because the book was totally out of my genre and I had never heard of the author... but whatever it was that made me jump into this world of immortals, I am extremely grateful. I have been hooked on the Seventeen series from that first book... the stories are action-packed, intelligently written and never fail to get my adrenaline going. With each successive installment, Ms. Starrling has amazed me with her writing talent and ability to draw me into the story.

Monday, February 20, 2017

ARC Review: Rough & Tumble by Rhenna Morgan

Series:     Haven Brotherhood #1
Pub. Date:Feb. 20, 2017
Publisher:Carina Press
Length:432 pages
Source:NetGalley

I have been wanting to try this author since I got to hang out with her a little last year at the RT Convention (FYI - she is cool people)... but I just haven't been able to get a lot of personal reading on the calendar in the past year. Being more of a urban fantasy and paranormal fan, I expected to start with the Eden series, I even went on a one-clicking spree buying up the series with grand intentions to start ASAP. As my plans fell through in that regard, I was excited to see this new series, even though I don't read as much contemporary these days. Now I am just kicking myself for not reading her work sooner.

There's the family you''re given by birth, and there's the family you choose for yourself.

So let's start with the Haven Brotherhood. Five brothers (and two mothers) that are family, not by blood but by loyalty and obligation. They are not just rough and tumble bikers, but each brother seems to have hidden depths that the reader will love to discover as they fall in love (and lust) with these swoonworthy men. 
It's not where a man comes from, or what he wears, that matters. It's what he does with his life that counts.
Jace Kennedy is the first brother offered up for our reading pleasure, and he is an alpha male, intelligent businessman and co-founder of the Haven Brotherhood. He is also charitable and active in his community with at-risk youth, his philanthropic side being inspired by his childhood. But for all his alpha maleness, Jace has a vulnerable side that draws the reader in and, for me, created a strong emotional connection to his character. I was drawn to his character from the get-go and felt myself getting offended on his behalf when business deals tanked or were sabotaged by petty and ignorant people more worried about appearances than the good he provided for the community and his business partners.

The sooner you figure out who the hell you are on the inside, the happier you'll be.

Vivienne Moore is outwardly a straight-laced buttoned-up event planner, dressing in prim and proper business suits and living in a sterile environment. Viv didn't have the easiest childhood with an uppity mother, a drunk father, and a sister following in his footsteps. So she thinks that by suppressing her nature (and wild curly hair), she will go through life safe and bored out of her mind. Needless to say, Viv was in dire need of someone to come and mess up her perfectly boring existence. I found her to be a tolerable heroine... I usually have such a hard time with heroines in contemporary romance, they tend to get on my nerves by being overly dramatic or running away from adult situations/responsibilities, etc. However, I commend Viv on her mostly reasonable ability to stick it out with Jace even when she wasn't absolutely sure what she was doing. I think any negative feelings I had toward her were out of jealousy because I would have scooped up that man in a heartbeat so I didn't identify with her hesitance. 

The relationship was definitely the main focus of this story, so it got going pretty fast from the start. Jace is a man that knows what he wants and goes after it... but it was nice to see that he respected Viv and reined in his alpha nature so he wouldn't spook her and send her running the opposite direction. But O-M-G, the sexual tension between these two! It was off the charts. Rhenna did a great job with the build up and wrote some exceedingly steamy sexytime that is sure to satisfy any smut lover. (You know who you are!) These two interacted and communicated like mature adults, which made me happy. I hate seeing unnecessary drama these days - my drama llama tolerance is quite low.

Never underestimate a high-caliber wingman, let alone a trio.

But back to this brotherhood... man these are some yummy dudes. I think Jace may be my favorite, but he is going to have some strong competition with Axel and his playful nature and Scots brogue. Next up is Zeke's story in Wild & Sweet.


Haven Brotherhood

Friday, February 17, 2017

Audiobook Review: Saint by A. Zavarelli

Series:     Boston Underworld #4
Pub. Date:Jan 13, 2017
Publisher:Self-Pub
Narrator:Tracy Marks
Length:8 hours 19 min
Source:Author

I have enjoyed the boys of the Boston Underground series, particularly listening in audio as the narrator, Tracy Marks, does a good job with the Irish and Russian accents. This series is not for the faint of heart... its raw and gritty and sometimes graphic. Proceed at your own risk.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trailer Reveal - The Deep End by Kristen Ashley

THE DEEP END - header banner  

✮✮✮ A delicious world of erotica, BDSM with alpha-subs and their Dommes, and a gripping love story…Welcome to The Bee’s Honey! The first book in New York Times bestselling author Kristen Ashley’s Honey Series, THE DEEP END is a seductive and rich love story releasing March 7, 2017! And check out the amazing trailer created by Book Candy Studios below! ✮✮✮

Guest Review by Julie: Tinderbox by Rachel Grant

Series:     Flashpoint #1
Pub. Date:Feb. 14, 2017
Publisher:Janus Publishing
Length:302 pages
Source:Author

Master Sergeant Pax Blanchard is my new favorite hero! He's a nerd in uniform and respects the female mind-that by itself is a magical concept! I liked his wicked sense of humor and dedication to his job and loved the way he never underestimated Morgan! Their conversations were never dull and the chemistry was positively scorching! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ARC Review: Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr

Series:     Blogger Girl #1
Re-Release Date:Feb. 14, 2017
Publisher:Henery Press
Length:268 pages
Source:NetGalley

I don't read enough chick lit these days - not for lack of enjoyment, but just because I don't see as many ARCs in this genre cross my radar. I will admit that the title of this one piqued my interest first, and then the synopsis pulled me right in. I think all blogger girls will find something to relate to in this story.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

ARC Review: Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders

Series:     Blank Canvas #1
Pub. Date:Feb. 7, 2017
Publisher:Sourcebooks Casa.
Length:352 pages
Source:NetGalley

I am impressed by this first work from debut author, Adriana Anders. I was drawn in by the cover and the synopsis at a time when I was looking for an emotional book, and I think Under Her Skin fit that bill pretty well.

Uma Clark is a tortured heroine on the run from an abusive and somewhat powerful ex. She has suffered mental/emotional and physical abuse that has long-term and possibly lasting effects. She was an utterly sympathetic heroine... after reading what she endured from the legally and politically connected Joseph "Joey" Chisholm, my heart hurt for her. Now Uma has arrived in Blackwood, Virginia for a specific reason (which should be left to the reader to discover)... but the small town is a little too close to her ex for comfort. This means Uma feels she is living on borrowed time and she is terrified. As a result of the terror, Uma is jumping at noises, seeing her ex in every male face, and having panic attacks... so it's no wonder that its obvious to everyone she encounters that she is in hiding and needs help.  Well, its obvious to seemingly everyone except for her new employer, the curmudgeonly Ms. Lloyd - an abusive old coot with eccentricities of her own.

ARC Review: Highland Vixen by Mary Wine

Series:     Highland Weddings #2
Pub. Date:Feb. 7, 2017
Publisher:Sourcebooks Casa.
Length:320 pages
Source:NetGalley

The rich colors in the covers of this series continually draw my eye and make it impossible for me to resist. I read the initial installment of this series, Highland Spitfire, last year and I remembered really liking Helen Grant as a secondary character. Unfortunately as soon as the book started, I found myself wishing for a prologue recapping what happened in that first book (at least with regards to Helen). It felt like the story was starting in the middle and I couldn't remember the back story for the life of me. So here's a little recap of how Helen came to be at the MacPherson keep. She was stolen! In recompense for her brothers thieving cattle from the clan, Helen was taken away and deposited at the keep as a hostage, where she was not made to feel welcome by the suspicious and sometimes haughty clan members.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Audiobook Review: Becoming Dragon by Eve Langlais

Series:     Dragon Point #1
Pub. Date:Jan. 25, 2017
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Length:7 hrs 22 min
Source:Publisher

Dragon Point is a spinoff of Eve Langlais' Bitten Point series, which you may recall featured gator shifters down in the Florida Everglades. I have only read the first book of that series so I had the gist of what was going on and I didn't feel overly lost (absent a few character references)... however I am glad that I had read at least one book so I knew some of the background story. I would recommend at least starting with that series so you know about Bitek and some of the atrocities that occurred. If you aren't able to read any of that series, know that Bitek is a shifter-owned and run genetic testing facility that is experimenting on shifters and humans alike in a bid for world domination. 

Celebrate Valentine's Day Giveaway with Harlequin Books!




Hiya Bambinas! 
Can you believe this amazing giveaway that Harlequin has so graciously allowed us to participate in? One of you lucky readers is going to win this entire prize pack, which will be mailed out by Harlequin after February 15. So scroll on down and enter the Rafflecopter!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Thursday, February 9, 2017

ARC Review: Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh

Series:     Westcott #2
Pub. Date:Feb. 7, 2017
Publisher:Berkley Jove
Length:400 pages
Source:NetGalley

Someone to Hold is the second installment of Mary Balogh's new Westcott series, featuring a family up-heaved by a father's deceit and cowardice. I recommend that this series be read in order as (so far) the books take place consecutively and have a somewhat continuing storyline. This review may contain slight spoilers for the first book in the series, Someone to Love.

Lady Camille Wescott's life was turned upside down in Someone to Love when she learned that her father's marriage to her mother was bigamous, and that she had a previously unknown half-sister whose very life has disinherited Camille and her siblings. Camille was a horrible person in Someone to Love, she treated Anna cruelly, when Anna really only wanted to know her family. So I knew going into this book that it was going to be an uphill battle to redeem Camille... and it wasn't easy. Camille is not the warmest person, I would even go as far to say that she appears stiff and cold. However, I had to admire her for taking control of her life and really doing the soul searching to find out who she was. Her time at the orphanage helped to humanize Camille and made me open up to her character. I loved her interactions with Winifred and Baby Sara, and her unconventional teaching methods.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

ARC Review: The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

Series:     Victorian Rebels #4
Pub. Date:Feb. 7, 2017
Publisher:St. Martin's Press
Length:384 pages
Source:NetGalley

It's no secret that I am huge fan of Kerrigan Byrne's Victorian Rebels series. I just love that this historical romance series has a darker theme, somewhat reminiscent of the days of the bodice ripper when historicals had more drama, action and strife than the modern historicals more common today.

Imogen Pritchard fell on hard times when she was left facing the gambling debts of her recently deceased father. With a younger sister and ailing mother to support, Imogen is burning the candle at both ends, working as a nurse by day and in forced servitude at night in repayment of her father's debt. Her willingness to work in these circumstances without complaining made her a sympathetic heroine... more so when her circumstances improve and she works to help others who are in need. Her dire situation and improved circumstances also came with quite a bit of character growth. Imogen is no longer the meek and shy young lady, but has transformed into a bold and brash woman in bright colors who is determined to have her way no matter what her neighbors think. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dual ARC Review: Holding on Tighter by Shayla Black

Series:     Wicked Lovers #12
Pub. Date:Feb. 7, 2017
Publisher:Berkley
Length:368 pages
Source:NetGalley

Welcome readers! Both Julie and I read this book so this is going to be our first ever dual review... two for one if you will. Interestingly, we both rated the book exactly the same, and we had similar thoughts on the characters and plot. Maybe we can do more of these in the future and we might have some fun with the format - make things a little crazy and fun next time.

Monday, February 6, 2017

ARC Review: The Perils of Paulie by Katie MacAlister

Series:     Matchmakers
in Wonderland #4
Pub. Date:Jan. 3, 2017
Publisher:Berkley Jove
Length:336 pages
Source:NetGalley

I am a total fangirl for Katie MacAlister's dragon series... so I wanted to try out some of her contemporary and romantic comedy work as well. The Perils of Paulie is the fourth book in the Matchmakers in Wonderland series, but its the first book of the series that I am reading. It seemed to work fine as a standalone for those who haven't read the earlier books.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Culinary Cavewoman: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers with Mexican Cauliflower Rice


Welcome back to all my foodie friends!
We are trying out a recipe from Pinterest today... and it was both a win! and a fail! Pinterest is where the majority of my recipes come from, but I am really trying to compile a recipe book of favorite recipes because I tend to get lost in Pinterest and will be scrolling forever without making a decision. 

This first recipe is definitely going in the recipe book, and I have to give all the credit to the Wicked Spatula for providing this yummy twist on stuffed peppers!

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers



So we started out by sauteing some onions, and man did I need some of those silly onion goggles. Onion fumes are the absolute worst for me - I looked like a raccoon after sauteing these up. Mascara all the way down to my chin!  But at least this part was easy, and I am all about the easy recipes.


I'm skipping a few steps here and adding in some cooked and shredded chicken to the pan, along with the ghee and buffalo sauce and ranch dressing (powder). I use Frank's Red Hot Sauce (I put that shit on everything!), and the ghee I use comes from Purity Farm. I buy it on Amazon  as it's hard to find in stores here unless I can make it to Trader Joe's. Everything still going pretty easy peasy with this recipe. I should point out that I cheat and go paleo-ish on the ranch dressing... I'm too lazy (and too messy) to make my own, so I just grabbed one of those Hidden Valley ranch dressing packs.


Now the fun part! Stuff those peppers up and throw on some mozzarella cheese. They were loking so pretty here! I tend to stick with red peppers for almost everything. Green peppers are somewhat bitter to me, so I try to stick with red ones. I also look for female peppers instead of males. Did you know there were male and female peppers?  Female peppers are sweeter and you can tell them apart because they have four bumps on the bottom, and the male peppers only have three. If you were getting the peppers for a salad instead of cooking, you definitely want the female ones.


And TA-DA! I cooked them too dang long! I didn't burn the peppers or anything but I did overbrown the cheese up there. It was all the fault of the next recipe that distracted me, dang it!  But overall these peppers were super yummy. The ranch and buffalo sauce were an awesome combination that set off the pepper nicely. The only negative thing about these is that they are hard to eat and make a pretty big mess, they are also too much food for me by half. Next time I make these, I am going to cut the peppers in half and stuff them that way. It will be a much more manageable amount of food for me.

Mexican Cauliflower Rice


 

Okay y'all. I love Trader Joe's, especially when they sell convenient little things like this - riced cauliflower. It's so much more convenient than making a big mess in my food processor. But there is just one problem - I don't really LIKE cauliflower. I am trying to like it, I really am. I think I have tried at least 5 recipes now and they just never work out for me. I can't manage to kill the cauliflower taste. But I thought if anything would mask the unappealing flavor, it would be MEXICAN cauliflower rice.  This recipe came from Paleo Grubs - a good source for Paleo followers. 


Again, first we had to saute up some onions and other ingredients. My poor eyes were just aching at this point.


Here I had a bit of a problem. The recipe called for 4 cups of cauliflower florets. But it didn't say whether the measurement was before or after the cauliflower had been riced. I had a dilemma and I am admittedly not great at deciphering recipes. In the end I just dumped in the whole 12oz bag of cauliflower. (I think that might have been too much. LOL)


Here we have added in the tomatoes, spices and chicken stock. I am thinking that this looks nothing like Mexican rice, and it is not going to fool me out of thinking that its cauliflower. It looks kinda bland doesn't it? 


So I followed the directions and cooked it all down and it was bland city. I don't know if it was because I had too much cauliflower and not enough spice... or if that's just how the recipe was supposed to be. So I cheated again... and I added in a tablespoon of taco seasoning (or three). Unfortunately it didn't do anything to help the taste - it was still bland and totally unlike Mexican rice.



So this is it all plated up - my paleo Mexi-Meal. I was good and made myself eat the fake rice, even though I didn't like it. (I'm trying to rid myself of the picky eater label). But the stuffed pepper was really good and I will definitely make it again.

I still haven't gotten any better at these pictures - I'm just not very artistic with the camera. I will try to do better for the next feature - which will be one of my go-to paleo breakfasts!

Ciao cavegirls!