Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: Losing It: How We Popped Our Cherry Over the Last 80 Years

Title: Losing It: How We Popped Our Cherry Over the Last 80 Years
Author: Kate Monro
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 15th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Icon Books


Three stars and a half stars, rounded up.


Losing It: How We Popped Our Cherry Over the Last 80 Years is a nonfiction collection of stories of how people over the last eight decades have lost their virginities. Old and young, gay and straight, disabled and able alike, there is a vast array of stories that share the one moment of life that we all can refer to simply as "it."

This book is a very interesting look into the lives of other people. There's that moment when you lose your virginity that you wonder if your experience was how it is supposed to be. Questions run through your head: Was it supposed to hurt? If I didn't bleed, is it really "popping"? Does oral count? What if I didn't orgasm? Kate Munro's collection of firsthand accounts makes for a great comparison both between stories as well as to your personal "it" story. In short, you're not alone!

I found it fascinating just how similar and different, simultaneously, that these stories are. Some people lose it in the spur of romance, others are more planned. But so many of them share my own personal memories of awkwardness and emotional turmoil over what had just happened. Munro sprinkles in a fair amount of history and research, making the whole book come across as well put together and well thought out.

In fact, I was surprised how this book reads. To be honest, it was a little boring at times. I expected it to be more of an entertaining genre of read, but it ended up being more like a book you'd get assigned to read in a gender/sexuality studies course. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, I just wasn't expecting it to be written in such a way.

All in all, this book is a pretty interesting look into the moment we (almost) all go through but scarcely talk about aloud to more than a best friend or two. Losing It is a great reference for anyone who is interested in sexuality studies or in looking at how their experiences compare to others'.

Thanks to Netgalley and Icon Books for my copy.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stacking the Shelves [45]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week.

This week was a pretty calm one. I didn't get much reading done, because this weekend I have exactly four papers due. I have one down and out of the way... That's progress right? I even resisted getting more Netgalley titles for once!

In the Mail:
Frenemy of the People by Nora Olsen Thanks Nora!
Never Say Never: Tips, Tricks, and Erotic Inspiration for Lovers by Alison Tyler Thanks Cleis Press!

I did get an Easter care package from my dad this week too.

Week at a Glance:

Mini Review: Designated Mourner
Review: My Paris Kitchen
Mini Review: Circus Escape

What'd you get?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mini Review: Designated Mourner

Title: Designated Mourner
Author: Catherine Owen
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 15th 2014
Source: Netgalley & ECW Press


Four stars.


This is going to be an incredibly hard book for me to try to review. Typically, I don't read poetry. Well, that's not entirely true. I don't read contemporary, new poetry. However, I was drawn into this collection first by the macabre cover, and then by the dark themes that it holds within it. It is definitely an emotionally charged book of poetry that will linger even when you are done reading it.

Designated Mourner is a collection of poems written to a spouse who was killed far too early by an addiction to drugs. The poems are dark and contemplative, reflective and sometimes even celebratory of their life. I don't want to say that I enjoyed reading them, because I feel that in a book of mourning, that is a bit too light of a word choice. I will say that I connected to them, having lost friends to addiction myself. My poetry of grief was never as powerful or gripping as these ones are.

If you are one who enjoys poetry or one who has recently lost a loved one, I think that Designated Mourner is a collection of poems that you should take your time mentally ingesting the words that Catherine Owen has so carefully penned. Allow yourself to take breaks when you need them and prepare to be stirred by them. Thank you to ECW Press and Netgalley for the chance to read this poetry collection.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: My Paris Kitchen

Title: My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories
Author: David Lebovitz
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 8th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Ten Speed Press


Four stars.


My Paris Kitchen is equal parts cookbook and personal experience about living and cooking in France. Admittedly, I was more interested in the recipes than the stories at first, but that quickly changed. The way that David Lebovitz writes both about French life and food makes his passion clear, and it made me want to get on a plane immediately to go visit some of these places for myself and to eat some of these tasty treats.

Thankfully, the recipes in this book make the last desire a reality. This book includes a ton of delicious sounding recipes, most of which I'm eager to try. Each recipe comes with a story and tips on how to create it to perfection. There are also a decent amount of pictures to entice you into giving these dishes a whirl. The collection of recipes is divided by course, so it's easy to find what recipe you're in need of most.

Some of the ingredients in these recipes can be kind of hard to find in a standard American store, but Lebovitz has already thought of that. He offers variations, or ingredients you can swap for others, to make a different but just as delicious meal from My Paris Kitchen. A few of the recipes that I'm most eager to try are the Cheese, Bacon, and Arugula Souffle, Parisian Gnocchi, and Steak with Mustard Butter and French Fries.

This book is a great guide to French cuisine, and is one that I'd cook from often, having a love of all things French myself. Be advised though, that some of the techniques and recipes here are a bit complex, so if you're a total kitchen newbie, this might not be the best first step. But if you're no stranger to the kitchen, this is a book I'd definitely recommend both for the story weaving, and the recipes.

Thank you to Netgalley and Ten Speed Press for my chance to read this.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mini Review: Circus Escape

Title: Circus Escape
Author: Lilliana Rose
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 2nd 2014
Source: Netgalley & Less Than Three Press

One Star.


This will be a short review, since Circus Escape is a novella. I was drawn in by the cover, and some of the key words in the description that I love. Steampunk, circus, lesbian themes? Sign me up. Unfortunately, this is a novella that leaves a lot to be desired, and I was left disappointed.

I never got a sense of... Anything, really. I didn't grow to know much about either of the main characters, let alone get a sense of the chemistry that is supposed to be between them. I didn't learn much about the setting or the era. I know that this is a short novella, so there's only so much space to describe such things, but I've seen others handled much better. I also didn't care much for the writing itself, it seemed overly simple and a bit choppy.

It's my understanding that this novella is the first in a series, but Circus Escape didn't satisfy me enough to be interested in continuing onward with the series. This might be one of the examples where it would have been better in a one piece book as opposed to a series. All in all, this one just wasn't for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and Less Than Three Press for the chance to read this. I wanted to like it, I really did.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Stacking the Shelves [44]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week.

So this week is insane. Legitimately insane. Awhile back, I won a mystery box from Never Ending Stories Book Blog for their blogoversary. Ta'Necia jam packed a MASSIVE box full of books & swag for me, and I am speechless. Thank you so much, Tt. It's an amazing hoard! But first....

The Angel and the Warrior by Karen Kay
Losing It by Kate Monro
Tell Me Why by Sydney Snow

Freak of Nature by Julia Crane
Red at Night by Katie McGarry

In the Mail:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Thanks Danielle

And now, for the massive box I got from Tt. Thanks so much!

I also got a care package from my dad this week, that I'll include just because.

What about you? What did you add this week?

Week at a Glance:

GIVEAWAY, review, & excerpt of Best Erotic Romance 2014
GIVEAWAY & Blog Tour of Road to Somewhere
Review of Frenchie: New Bistro Cooking
Review of Pawn

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Excerpt, Review, & Giveaway: Best Erotic Romance 2014 edited by Kristina Wright

Hello, faithful readers. I hope your week is going well, and remember the weekend's here! Now, I don't know about you, but weather around here is finally showing that spring is in the air. Flowers, sunshine, and chocolate bunnies aside, my favorite thing about spring is that romance is in full bloom! Cleis Press is helping me show my appreciation for love and romance by hosting a giveaway with me for the new sexy romance anthology Best Erotic Romance 2014 edited by Kristen Wright. Every short story within this anthology expresses a scene of passion, desire, and love in a different way. From first crushes to experienced married couples, Best Erotic Romance 2014 demonstrates that love and lust never get old. In addition to a giveaway, I also have sneak peek at the book for you to enjoy!

This excerpt is from a story called "Stay With Me" by Crystal Jordan.

Sneak Peek:

Damn, it was hot. The roasting heat of the Texas day had spilled over into a sweltering night. A languid breeze barely made the curtains ruffle, and a sheen of sweat coated Jamie’s body. She stared at the ceiling, too hot and restless to sleep. Annoyed, she kicked the twisted sheet away and heaved herself out of bed. Shoving open the French doors, she stepped out onto the porch that wrapped around the house.
A few lights shone from the barns and she heard the occasional neigh of a horse, but the rest of the ranch seemed to have managed the slumber that eluded her. Twelve years of living in the middle of nowhere and, though she cherished the quiet, she’d never quite adjusted to the summer humidity. Sighing, she leaned against the railing.
“Can’t sleep?”
The low voice brought her upright. “Cord.”
His boots crunched in the gravel before he climbed the three steps onto the porch. Her heart fluttered the way it always did when he was around, and it was all she could do not to fall back a step as he came near. She tried for a light tone. “The heat’s keeping you up too, huh?”
“No.” He moved a little closer, into her personal space, and her pulse sped. She was suddenly very aware of the fact that she wore nothing underneath her cotton nightgown.
Her nipples tightened, pushing against the thin material, and she had to resist the urge to cross her arms. “No? Then what’s got you up at two in the morning?”
His dark gaze zeroed in on her chest, and she saw a flicker of pure lust in his expression. An answering throb of desire settled low in her belly. The night closed in around them, making it feel like they were the only two people in the world. Being alone with this man was dangerous temptation. He took another step toward her and she skittered back until the doorjamb pressed between her shoulder blades. He loomed over her, huge and masculine and far too sexy. “Invite me in, Jamie.”
Her hormones clamored an emphatic agreement at that suggestion, but she shook her head. “I’m your boss. That would be a bad idea.”
Nothing could keep the quaver of longing out of her voice, though. Liquid flames licked at her core at the very thought of inviting Cord Preston into her bedroom. She tried to squelch the need and failed. As usual. She’d been unable to control the way her body responded to him since she’d hired him as a horse trainer three months before. She’d been worse than a lovesick teenager, hanging out in the barns to talk to him for hours—about anything and everything. Even then, she’d resisted acting on this insane attraction. He’d hired on for the season, and then he’d be gone. Temporary sexual arrangements weren’t her style.
He leaned forward until his lips were no more than a hairsbreadth from hers. “It’s too late for either of us to stop this thing, sweetheart, and I’m tired of pretending we don’t want each other. Invite me in.” It was more demand than request, and his hot breath rushed over her skin as he spoke. “I’m dying to be inside you, Jamie.”
Cord. Inside her. Her sex clenched, and it took every ounce of her willpower not to arch into his body and finally, finally know what it was like to have his hands on her flesh.
His voice dropped to a coaxing rumble. “I need to touch you. Let me.”
“Yes,” she whispered, the word spilling out before she could stop it.

My Review

Title: Best Erotic Romance 2014
Editor: Kristina Wright
Format: Paperback, 242 pages
Pub. Date: February 18th 2014
Source: Cleis Press
Purchase: Amazon


3.5 stars, rounded up.

First, I would like to talk about the cover art for this particular anthology. I love it, and I feel that it perfectly demonstrates what the book has in store. There's a theme of sex but a tender intimacy that shows how magical it can be when two people get together. You shouldn't judge a book by its cover of course, but it's hard not to with this one.

This collection features stories from all different stages of relationships old and new, and people who are young and old. All have an emotional feel to them, and all of course have their share of steamy, passionate lust. As always with anthologies like this one, I'd like to highlight the three I liked the best, in no order in particular.

The first is the story that you got a sneak peek of earlier in my post, entitled "Stay with Me" by Crystal Jordan. Jamie has tried her hardest not to get attached to her seasonal hire on the ranch, knowing that he'll be gone in no time. But when he asks to be invited in earlier one morning, it's hard for her to resist him for much longer. The sex in this story is intimate and passionate, with characters that honestly I'd like to read more about. That's a rare trait in a short story, and it was well done in this one.

The next on my top picks list is called "A Perfect Place" written by Catherine Paulssen. It's Julie's job to zip around the world, scouting potential filming sites for movies. Her newest voyage to Hungary leads her to a beautiful castle, and a tall, handsome man that comes along with it. I'm a sucker for castles and stories set in regions such as Hungary, so the beautiful setting was enough to draw me in, and the love scenes held me there.

And my last pick is titled "Rules" by Emerald. Joyce's husband Pete comes across an old photograph of her Goth-y, rebellious self back in her youth and loves it. She decides to dip into her old wardrobe with the plans to surprise him with a very special, dark treat. Not going to lie, I identify as one who dresses "goth" so this one was extra sexy to me. Dyed hair, fishnets, and vinyl? Yes please. Sign me up for a double helping of that.

This anthology is a great mix of stories that are good for anyone who likes their erotica to be more emotional and more romantic than most. If you like steamy sex scenes and believe in love, than give this book a read. Thank you to both Cleis Press and editor/author Kristina Wright for my copy of this book.


Now, here's your chance to win a copy of Best Erotic Romance 2014!
The Rules:
-This giveaway will run from April 3rd to April 10th, 2014.
-This giveaway is open to those 18+ and is USA ONLY.
-It is open to anyone over that age who can legally enter, receive, and use their prize.
-One (1) winner will win a copy.
-This giveaway is sponsored wholly by the publisher.
-This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity.
-Winner will have 48 hours to reply, or a new winner will be chosen. Winner will be chosen using Rafflecopter.
-Invalid entries will be removed, so please don't cheat.
-Void where prohibited. Odds will vary. No purchase necessary.

a Rafflecopter giveaway