Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review: His Roommate's Pleasure

Title: His Roommate's Pleasure
Author: Lana McGregor
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: July 1st 2013
Source: Netgalley and Carina Press


Three and a half stars, rounded up.

Adam's computer has seen better days. He's painfully reminded of this as it spazzes right before a paper is due. He's not really friends with his roommate, Josh, but they don't hate each other either... So it makes perfect sense to use his computer, if only for a moment. He accidentally finds some pictures.... Pornographic pictures between men, in BDSM scenes. Josh catches Adam on his computer, and so begins an exploration of kinks, limits, and emotions between two college roomies.


This is a short, easy to follow M/M erotic read that follows two young men on a journey to discover who they are and what they enjoy in the bedroom.

+I really liked the emotions represented in this book. There's obviously lust and attraction, but there's so much more. Each character feels shame, fear, uncertainty, doubt. This is the first erotic story that I've read in which both main characters are relatively unfamiliar with the kinks that they show interest in. It added a level of depth to an otherwise simple read.

+The sex scenes were vulgar but well written, and took up a considerable portion of this book. So, if you're looking for steam and heat, this novella definitely has you covered. Sex also incorporates paddles, collars, leashes, and verbal degradation. Yum.

-The one thing I'm really not too big a fan of is the description of the photos in question. It got a bit boring and redundant. I understand why it was described in such detail, but those scenes ran a bit long and lost a bit of my interest.

Overall, this is a great exploratory book. I recommend it to people who haven't read much about BDSM, since I feel those people will relate the strongest to the characters. This book involves sex, BDSM, and homosexuality, so if any of those themes bother you, this might not be up your alley.

Thank you to Netgalley and Carina Press for my copy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Have You Been Hexed?

Title: Have You Been Hexed?: Recognizing and Breaking Curses
Author: Alexandra Chauran
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: August 8th 2013
Source: Netgalley and Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.


Four stars.

Sometimes, there are streaks of misfortune in our lives. It seems like Murphy's Law comes true- anything that can go wrong, will. Lost jobs, cheating spouses, monetary losses. There comes a point where even the most un-superstitious person begins to think to themselves: "Maybe I'm cursed." Have You Been Hexed? Is a guide written to help the reader sort through their misfortunes, learn about hexes & curses, and what you can do to stop yourself from becoming a victim of intentional ill will.

This book serves its title purpose: recognizing and breaking curses and & hexes. I found that author Alexandra Chauran explains the topic in an easy to understand, non-judgmental tone that makes it easier to fully grasp what she has to say.

The best part of this book, in my opinion, is the perspective. I was honestly expecting a book that says "oh my gosh, you're cursed! Now that you've bought my book, I can help!"

But, that wasn't the tone of this guide at all. In fact, Chauran goes to great lengths to explain how rare curses are, and how many different forms of bias there are when it comes to the self-identification of such spells.

Chauran also offers advice, instructions, and tips for identifying & rectifying these magickal maladies. Whether your poison be tarot cards, aura reading, or even pendulums, Chauran uses great language to explain the tools of the trade so that even the most unseasoned practitioner can understand what is being talked about.

Though this book covers only a very specific niche of magickal woes, it is a highly useful guide into righting wrongs that have been cast. This is a book that every magick practitioner should have on their shelf as a reference when needed. That being said, if you're not a practitioner, don't be afraid of picking this up.

Thank you to Netgalley and Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. for my copy of this book.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday [4]

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is:

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far in 2013

The books below are in no specific order. Not all of these books were published in 2013, but 2013 is when I first read them. I'm counting that!

Though there's good and bad reviews for this, I think it's a pretty powerful book on bullying.

A young adult dystopian novel in a girls-only future? Yes please.

I started the Kingdom Series by Marie Hall in 2013 and I ADORE them.

Tart is a delicious three way romance story that I couldn't put down.

I was afraid to read this, since I'd heard so much hype. But, Jace is swoon worthy.

Travis Maddox. That is all.

A pleasant surprise, this book on the topic of crime accusation kept me guessing until the end.

I initially bought this book for the cover (I know, I know), but I have to say that I love the plot.

This continuation of "Cinder" didn't disappoint, introducing the strong, silent Wolf.

...And, my regular followers know that Forbidden broke my soul and wedged its way into my favorites of all time.

What has been your favorite?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Throw a True Blood Party: An Unofficial Guide to Partying with Your Favorite Vamps

Title: Throw a True Blood Party: An Unofficial Guide to Partying with Your Favorite Vamps
Author: Paula Conway
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: June 13th 2013
Source: Netgalley and Riverdale Avenue Books


Three stars.

First of all, I have to say that this book has a great concept. Featured at the beginning of this guide to planning the perfect True Blood themed party is a selection of special discount codes that are exclusive to only this book. From candy to cosmetics, caramel apples to glasses, there are codes here for stores on Etsy, Manic Panic, and, to name a very few. I think this is super innovative and a great idea. Especially because the author highlights specific products that go with the southern vampire theme.

Unfortunately for me, I was expecting this to be more book and less catalog.

The book starts out with an introduction that briefly sums up the author's history with vampires that is borderline insulting to the show for which this party is themed. It moves on to a "history" of vampires which is an educational, basic list of worldwide vampire myths and vampire-like creatures.

A large portion of this book reads more like a magazine or a blog than a party guide book. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I was expecting either. The craft section is one of these portions. It was more a guide of what to buy from whom than how to make your own party decorations and accents. The stores she features do have beautiful wares, but I was hoping for a bit more hands-on tips or advice. This is also the case for the costuming section.

What makes up for the magazine-esque product features for me is the southern food and cocktail recipes. Paula Conway gives easy to follow instructions that anyone can follow. Having lived in Louisiana for awhile, I appreciated such food recipes as boiled peanuts and beignets. And the alcohol? Oh lordy, don't get me started. There is an extensive list of drinks for both the legal 21+er and for kids and designated drivers alike. An avid fan of vampire lore all year round, I will be keeping this list of drinks handy for whenever I want to try something new. The author also includes some pictures just to make sure that the reader's on point.

There's also a pretty nifty games section. Personally, I don't play party games so I can't say how useful I would find it. However, I can say that they are good ideas that are well explained by the author.

All in all, I think this book is worth the gander. If you are an Etsy or vampire addict, you will definitely want to hurry up and snag these limited discounts (they expire relatively soon!). The recipes and cocktails are sure to please, and though product reviews run rampant in this guide, they serve as good jumping off points to help you plan your own vampire party. However, if you're looking for an in depth, crafty/hands on approach to party planning (or if you're on a budget), this isn't going to foot the bill.

Thank you to Netgalley and Riverdale Avenue Books for my copy. Cover image taken from Netgalley.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mini Review: The Cop & the Girl from the Coffee Shop

Title: The Cop And The Girl From The Coffee Shop (Coffee Shop Girls #1)
Author: Terry Towers
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: January 22nd 2012
Source: Amazon


Three stars.

Jade is the cute barista at a local coffee place with a dark past that she hides from the rest of the world. Officer Alex Kane, or Officer Hottie as Jade knows him, is a regular who comes into the coffee shop everyday. It soon becomes clear that they have mutual lustful feelings for one another, feelings that will only sizzle and intensify once a figure from Jade's past comes into the picture.


Overall, this book was okay. Officer Alex was no doubt sexy, but calling him Officer Hottie? It made the coffee shop girl come off as young, not innocent. The sex scenes were creative and definitely steamy, but sometimes ran a bit long to the point of awkward. I did like that Towers wrote in a plot other than just Alex and Jade, by having this mysterious, unnerving figure from Jade's teenage years come back into the picture.

This novella is a short, erotic read in which the goods and bads even out to make a completely neutral read, in my opinion. If you like police themed erotica or short reads, give this one a try. If sex bothers you, pass on this one. As of right now, this book is free on Amazon.

Review: Beauty and the Wolf

Title: Beauty and the Wolf (The Cursed Princes)
Author: Marina Myles
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: June 6th 2013
Source: Netgalley & Kensington Books


Two stars.

Isabella never wanted to marry Draven. Sure, he is attractive. But he is also rumored to have a temper, and to have spent some time at an asylum. She's no stranger to odd looks and rumors herself. She wears an ancient Egyptian amulet that some whisper carries a curse that will doom her. After a quick escape, Isabella finds herself coming back to Draven's estate, in order to secure life for herself and her family, though Draven has his own intentions....

-There is way, way too much happening in this book. It seems like every possible book genre/topic is squeezed into this one. Fairy tale retelling? Check. Gypsy magic? Check. Asylums? Werewolves? Egyptology? Cursed amulets? Romance? History? Check, check. It seemed way over the top, to the extent that it was hard to read it with a straight face.

-None of the characters are likable. There's Draven, the hot but brooding misunderstood rich boy, who is a complete man whore with a violent temper. His mother is a miserable wretch, and the housekeeper is unpleasant and judgmental. And then there's Isabella. Sigh. She has utterly lost her mind. On one hand, I am pleasantly surprised to find that she's not just another damsel-in-distress. However, she was mouthy, argumentative, and demanding to the point that made it, again, unbelievable (yes, I am saying that in a book about werewolves). Oh, and at the beginning of the book, she spends all her time mentally complaining that Draven doesn't look his best on her wedding, on HER special day..... A few pages later it mentions that she didn't wear make up, why should she? REALLY? Pot, kettle. Kettle, meet pot.

-An overuse of words like "bloody" is also present in this book, which feeds into the unintentional hilarity of the story line and line delivery.

+One thing that I will say that I enjoy about this story is the werewolf-like twist on the classic "beast" character. Even Myles' version of a werewolf is unique in a new, intriguing way. It was a saving grace for this book.

+Another positive that this book has going for it is the cover. Whoever the model is is gorgeous, and it helped me to pick this book out right from the get-go.

Maybe it's because I'm not a huge fan of historic romance, or maybe I just didn't "get" what the author was trying to do, but I didn't enjoy this story and I won't be recommending it to any of my friends.

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for my copy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mini Review: Unhinged- Chapter Sampler

Title: Unhinged - Chapter Sampler
Author: A.G. Howard
Format: egalley edition
Future Pub. Date: January 7th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Amulet Books


Five teasing stars.

This review is going to be short, since this is only a chapter excerpt.

Just one chapter, I thought to myself. You won't be completely enthralled after just one chapter. It cannot possibly be enough time to become smitten with this book. Wrong.

I will not lie to you, the immediate reason this attracted my eye is the cover. It's stunning. I love the color scheme, I love the way that Morpheus is situated. I would hang this up on my wall. And then of course, there's the reason of it being a retelling of one of my favorite fairy tale stories- Alice in Wonderland.

This short, one chapter sampling gives a small insight into the upcoming release of the novel, Unhinged. The language is gorgeous, the descriptions beautiful enough for the reader to completely picture themselves through the looking glass. And then there's Morpheus. I will be dying/eagerly awaiting January 2014 just so I can learn more about this man and read more about his bad-boy sounding self.

This chapter has fueled my desire to read this book and is a perfect tease- just enough to wet your mouth with the continuing story line from Splintered, but not enough to satisfy the longing for the book's release. Unhinged will definitely be a book worth watching out for, I can already tell.

Thanks to Netgalley and Amulet Books for the chance to read this excerpt.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Interview with Nora Olsen + Review!

Happy Monday, fellow readers. I hope the weather is as nice by you as it is here along Lake Michigan. I am really excited today, because I have a special PRIDE month treat for you (and, well, for me if we're being completely honest). Nora Olsen, author of the lesbian YA dystopian novel Swans & Klons stopped by to do an interview. Though I previously reviewed this title, it's included once more after the interview. To say that I loved the story of this book is an understatement, and I am fangirlishly happy to bring you this interview. Be sure to give her some thanks for her time!

What was your inspiration for writing Swans & Klons?

In 2009 I was on the local commuter train with my girlfriend, asking her, “How can I make a YA lesbian storyline most palatable to mainstream agents and editors?” We came up with the idea that the story should be set in an all-female future, which immediately made me think of cloning, which immediately made me think of how unscrupulous leaders would exploit clones. This just shows that even a dumb question can lead you to something fruitful.

I learned that you're currently in a relationship. In S&K, Salmon Jo is more of a logical girl, while Rubric is more of an artist. Do these descriptions work for you and your partner as well?

My girlfriend is the Salmon Jo because she’s more into theorizing and building models. I’m very similar to Rubric. When we go hiking, I’m the one who gets tired like Rubric did.

In your opinion, is it harder to get published when you are the writer of LGBT themed books?

The short answer is no. :)

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but it’s incredibly hard for anyone to get published. I do not think there is much homophobia in publishing, and many agents and editors say they would like to have more LGBTQ-themed manuscripts come their way. But I do think there is a heteronormative bias (which is just a fancy way of saying a mindset in which being straight is the default norm, and anything else is weird or different.) With fiction, being weird or different can work for you or it can work against you. Nowadays an agent or an editor has to feel overwhelming mad passion for a book to want to take it on. If there’s anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or they can’t relate to the story, that is a reason to pass on a book. I think that happens a lot with books with queer content.

The good news is that there are some really amazing presses, like my publisher Bold Strokes Books, that specialize in LGBTQ-themed books. Swans & Klons was published under Bold Strokes Books’ Soliloquy imprint, which exclusively publishes LGBTQ-themed YA novels. Small presses like these now publish the lion’s share (a clear plurality, anyway) of all YA novels with LGBTQ themes. So in a way I think it’s easier to sell an LGBTQ-themed book, as long as you know where to send it.

In S&K, a lot of German slang and phrases are used (which I loved, by the way). Are you German? If not, what made you pick German?

I am not German. But my grandmother came from a part of Moravia where at that time everyone spoke German, including Jews. When she moved to the USA, she learned English and also Yiddish. When I was writing Swans & Klons, I made it take place in a country that closely borders another extremely different country. It made me think of the city my grandmother was from, Mahrisch Ostrau, which she always told me was right across the bridge from Polnisch Ostrau, which was in another country. (Today they are one city in the Czech Republic, called Ostrava.) So I based the setting on that, and that’s where the German came from. There are also some Polish names and words, like Panna.

Some authors need to be in a certain spot or be drinking a certain flavor of coffee when they write. Do you have any quirky things that you do while you write?

I rest my hand on a little jack o’lantern-shaped stress ball.

Choose a side: Is one M&M flavor better than the rest?

All M&Ms are good, EXCEPT for the blue ones! No food should be blue, unless it is natural, like a blueberry. Blue is for drain cleaner and anti-freeze and other stuff you shouldn’t ingest. Sometimes I pick out the blue ones and put them in the compost, but sometimes I just eat them even though they are WRONG. :)

Personally, I like the brown ones the best! Speaking of candy, my girlfriend and I were just recently discussing our coming out stories over some late night chocolates. When did you "know" that you were LGBT? How did you come out?

I was a late bloomer. I was not really interested in females until I was 26, and then I fell for this intelligent, funny, beautiful, kind woman. Who is now my girlfriend. Score! So it’s kind of funny that I write about queer teens, since I actually never was one. There’s a lot of talk about “born this way,” and it’s often true, but sexuality can be very fluid, especially if you fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. What was great is that I was raised with complete respect and acceptance for queer people, so when I realized I was one, I didn’t have a moment’s heartache about it, and I got to come out without too much anxiety. I also attribute my halcyon coming out experience to the influence of all the queer books I read as a teen, so I’m trying to pass the torch.

My girlfriend and I were also very fortunate, in that our families were accepting and kind about the matter. If you could extend a dinner invitation to one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?

That is such a great question! It’s hard to choose just one. Right now, I’d choose Morrissey, just because I adore him so much. I’d probably make him mac and cheese.

Oh, that is definitely a good choice. Now, it's a rainy, stay-in kind of night. What movie are you most likely to pop into the DVD player?

Well, on Monday it was a rainy, stay-in kind of night, and I chose “The Thing,” the 1982 John Carpenter remake. That movie is unbelievably scary, and I love a movie where the stakes are not the characters’ lives, but the survival of the human race.

I'll have to check it out! As much as I hate to admit it, I'm kind of a passive person. Do you think that if you were in the story of S&K that you would be able to act as Rubric and Salmon Jo did? (I wish I could say that I knew I could in that situation!)

I think I’m like Rubric and Salmon Jo in that I would take action even though the injustices don’t affect me personally that much. But I think I would very quickly get discouraged and quit when I didn’t get immediate results. I don’t think I have what it takes. That’s my assessment based on my dwindling involvement with real-life activism. I have read a couple reviews in which the reviewers said they thought Rubric was whiny or lacked conviction. I thought that was spot on and it made me feel like I’d written stark realism. I think that’s exactly how a lot of people, myself included, would be if we had to flee our comfortable lives and fight slavery.

Are there any plans to continue the story of Salmon Jo and Rubric beyond Swans & Klons? Do you have any other writing projects currently in the works?

Yes, I have plans of writing sequels to Swans & Klons and relating Rubric and Salmon Jo’s later adventures. But my next book, coming in 2014 from Bold Strokes Books/Soliloquy and currently titled “Frenemy of the People,” is set in our ordinary world and is about two high school girls who hate each other with the passion of a thouand suns. . . until they fall in love. It will have the same kind of tone but is not science fictional.

If you could offer one piece of advice out there to young members of LGBT community, what would it be?

They’re awesome, so they probably don’t need my advice. Carry on as you are! But to anyone in a crisis or struggling with coming out or having suicidal thoughts, I would recommend calling the Trevor Helpline, where they’re eager to help you out. It’s 866-488-7386.

I have to agree. The Trevor Helpline is an amazing source. I've called it myself. Nora, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today...

...But before you go, just for fun, I have a few word associations. Just say the first thing that comes to mind.

UTOPIA: Fruit.
LOVE: Fear.
FATE: Finger.
STRENGTH: Ignorance.

Now here's my review!

Title: Swans and Klons
Editor: Nora Olsen
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: May 14th 2013
Source: NetGalley & Bold Strokes Books, Inc.


Four stars.

In the future of the planet Earth, there is no longer a need for males. No longer are women subjected to the disgusting man creatures, and they don't have to go through the awful, painful, barbaric ritual of child birth. There are only women, chosen to be descendants of 300 superior females, and only from those 300. And then there are the Klons- the lesser minded, not-quite-humans that serve the Society and do the jobs that no one else wants to, like cleaning and driving. Light on rules and fairly peaceful, Rubric wasn't one to question the ways of Society, until together with her girlfriend, Salmon Jo, they uncover a disturbing truth- Klons may not be different from humans at all. The girls must decide where they stand, what they will risk, and how to unravel the knitted lies that they have been fed all of their lives.


I have to say, I'm quite impressed by this book. It falls in two of my favorite book genres- dystopian and LGBT. Though this book isn't without faults, I would definitely recommend it.

+ I love the combination of blending the two aforementioned themes. I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction, and this is the first book I have ever encountered with such a strong queer theme. It gave the novel a very unique plot line, and will make it stand out in my mind.

+Because of the lesbian motif of Swans and Klons, I found it more relatable than most other books of the same genre. I was able to more vividly experience Rubric's emotions- from love to separation and grief- since they were emotions directed at a female. I often thought of my own girlfriend and myself in their place. Like Salmon Jo and Rubric, one of us is very practical and no nonsense, and the other is artistic and almost too imaginative.... I won't divulge which of us is which!

+As with other dystopian novels, I like this book because it was disturbing. Books with futures that are almost utopias scare me more than horror books ever could, and this one was no exception. The unique twist of genetically identical people being created only to be slaves is creepy, at the very least, though I mean it in the best way possible.

-My faults with the book were few, but still hindered my reading experience. The first was the lack of romance and affection between Salmon Jo and Rubric. Often times they seemed blatantly cold and plastic towards one another. I wish there would have been more sweetness, so that I could dive deeper emotionally into the plot.

-The only other problem that I had with this book was a few word redundancies that got old really quick. The words "thicko" and "veruckt" were used with an alarming abundance. I'd definitely switch up those words now and then.

I sincerely hope that Swans and Klons is the first book in a series, or at least a two-parter. Nora Olsen has made a new fan in me with her new, queer-friendly take on dystopian fiction. Fans of books such as Beta or Uglies should check this book out. If gay themes or relationships offend you, than this is NOT a book for you!

Thank you to NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books, Inc. for my e-copy

About the Author

Nora Olsen's debut novel, The End: Five Queer Kids Save The World, was published by Prizm Books in December 2010. It's the story of five LGBT teens who must travel through time to avert a nuclear war. Her next YA novel, SWANS & KLONS, is forthcoming from Bold Strokes Books' Soliloquy imprint.

Be sure to check out Nora's Goodreads page to stalk her publications including her YA dystopian book, Swans and Klons. Click the picture below for the Goodreads pages. Swans and Klons is available now on Amazon. Buy your copy right here.

Images provided by the author and

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stacking the Shelves [8]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to gab on about the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. For me, this was a week of focusing on eliminating my TBR pile, and less on snagging freebies or requesting on Netgalley. That being said, I of course got some of those too. Tee hee. Emily and I went shopping in Door County, Wisconsin, and I picked up a book and a few other treats. How is your weekend going?

Kindle Freebies:

Almost Perfect by John Childress [No cover]
Song for a Gypsy by Willow Rose [No cover]
The Good Knight by Sarah Woodbury


Once a Brat by Kim Dare
Real Vampires Don't Sparkle by Amy Fecteau
Unhinged - Chapter Sampler by A.G. Howard
The Dominant by Tara Sue Me
If It Fornicates by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov

Door County Adventure:

Illustrated Frankenstein/Dracula

Have a good week lovelies!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter

Title: The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter (Paranormal Investigator #3)
Author: Jillian Stone
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: June 25th 2013
Source: Netgalley & Kensington Books


Three solid stars.

This review is going to be short and to the point, since I don't really have much to say about it either positively or negatively.

First, the positives:

+I really liked the language used within this novel. It was pleasantly descriptive, and did a great job sucking the reader into the world that Jillian Stone re-imagined. It made me want to run alongside the characters and see what they saw.

+The cover is gorgeous. I'm a sucker for most steampunk works, and this cover would definitely catch my attention. From the steamy (ha) looking couple to the striking purple background, I think that this book will get plenty of double glances on bookstore shelves (or ereader sites, if that's what you prefer).

+ There's just enough sizzling romance in this book to keep things interesting. It doesn't force itself into the plot, or take away from the bigger picture of the story. I have read books where both of those are unfortunately the case.

-Unfortunately, I didn't realize that this was the third book in a series. It came off confusing from the start, and throughout the novel I felt as though I was missing a vital part of the story. Perhaps that's why I didn't really connect with any of the characters, maybe we just needed more time and back story to bond over.

-I also feel like this book will get lost in this up and coming steampunk trend. I've been seeing an increase in the genre, and they all sound rather similar after awhile. For me, this read was simply average, and it will probably go unremembered as I read more steampunk tales.

This book wasn't bad, just not my thing. If you like steampunk and paranormal romance, give this book a shot. It might be your new favorite. But, as someone who hasn't read books one or two, I suggest that you do so before reading this one. Maybe it will make your reading experience all the better.

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for my copy.

Review: Once a Brat by Kim Dare

Title: Once a Brat
Author: Kim Dare
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: February 9th 2013
Source: Netgalley & Riptide Publishing


Four stars.

This review will contain crass language. You've been warned.


Marcus has seen Bret hanging around him at the local BDSM clubs. He's stalking Marcus, and not very discreetly. He's a newbie to this kinky world of Doms and subs, with a bratty attitude and a lot to learn. But from the moment that he saw Marcus, he wanted to obey no others' commands. Eventually Marcus gives in and agrees to do a scene with Bret, but finds himself thinking of Bret as more than just a pet, while Bret will do all that he can to prove to Marcus that he is worthy of a collar.


This is my first read by Kim Dare, and I've got to say that overall, I'm a fan. This is a short read but manages to have not only steamy sex but an actual plot between two well-developed characters.

+The author is clearly very experienced when it comes to the BDSM scene, and as a member of "the scene" myself, this makes me exceedingly happy. The emotions that she captures, namely from the submissive Bret, are dead on. I sympathized with him completely, and found myself frustrated when he was, and wincing when he stepped out of line. It was nice to see depth and knowledge brought into this. I've read a lot of stories where this was not the case.

+ The sex scenes themselves were very well written. Hot, teasing, steamy, and delightfully vulgar, this story is sure to scratch any itch that the reader may have. It also gets pretty hardcore into bondage, which made it all the better for me.

My only real complaint, at the end of the day, is the use of language. The word "cock" is pretty much exclusively used to indicate that part of anatomy. It seemed a bit redundant and almost irritating at some points. It wasn't enough to really turn me off of the read, but it was enough that it caught my attention.

I recommend this novella to any fan of bondage, m/m romance, and general kinkiness. If gay relationships or BDSM themes are not your cup of tea, than let me assure you, this book isn't either.

Thank you to Netgalley and Riptide Publishing for my copy.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Follow the White Rabbit by Kellie Sheridan

Title: Follow the White Rabbit (Beautiful Madness #1)
Editor: Kellie Sheridan
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: May 21st 2013
Source: Netgalley & Patchwork Press


Three potential-filled stars.

For decades, Wonderland has cried out, desperate to follow the pattern that it had followed until Alice threw everything for a loop. But change is approaching, according to the constant studies of Gwen. Everything is in position for the pattern to continue once more... And Alice is coming. The people of Wonderland- namely Gwen, Lucky, Rose, and Marc, must play the roles that they were born to, and for the good of Wonderland, Alice must return and be the catalyst that the once beautiful Wonderland needs to return itself to its former glory.


I have a love/hate relationship with novellas. Sometimes, a novella is just enough. A quick read with a short tale. This is not one of those times.

But first, let's point out the good:

+Wonderland is detailed beautifully. Kellie Sheridan does a good job luring the reader into, well, the wonders of the land. Whether she is describing the rural white kingdom and the dangerous forest, or the urbanized, high glam streets of the red's rule, it's very easy to imagine oneself within the story.

+I rather like the characters. Rose is the new white queen, growing into her position despite previous naivety. Lucky is a hunter of sorts, who must retrieve Alice. Gwen is my personal favorite, a quirky girl who gets lost in her studies and dresses all mix matched. All must work together if Wonderland is to change.

+I really like the cover of this work. It's simple, but cute.

But, of course, there were some not so nice bits:

-This is a great start to a series. But I can't help but to feel like I'm a beta reader. I don't feel like this is an already published work, just an idea that's being tested and presented. I'd much rather see this as the first half of a great book instead of an incomplete, mediocre novella, which is how this title comes across. This is a setup for drama-to-come, but unfortunately, that drama doesn't happen at all in this story.

-Though this wasn't enough to hinder my reading, I do feel that it's worth mentioning that this plot is a little environmentally preachy. Cities and expansion are killing Wonderland, depleting the forests, and Wonderland is mourning and crying for the loss. Meh. That is all.

As my regular readers/followers know, I am a huge fan of not only Alice in Wonderland, but fairy tale retellings as a whole. I would love to read the next book of this series. I think it has great potential. But as a stand alone short story, I cannot give it more than a very average three stars. I wouldn't run out to grab it any time soon.

Thanks to Netgalley and Patchwork Press for my copy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Interview with Ava Zavora + Review!

Hello my lovely followers. I hope you're having a fun and groovy Tuesday night. Hopefully wherever you are, it's not as gloomy and humid as it is at the moment here in Wisconsin. Today I have for you not only a review of the novel Rosethorn by Ava Zavora, but an interview that she was kind enough to give to us here at BnP. My review follows the interview. I hope you enjoy it, and a huge thank you to Ava for stopping by!

In Rosethorn, Sera is from the Philippines. Is this a culture that you share with your protagonist?

I was born in the Philippines and grew up in the United States, so it felt quite natural to write about Sera's self-discovery as a half-Filipina. And I also wanted an excuse to incorporate one of my favorite pleasures in life, Filipino food :)

I have to admit, you did make me want to try some! What was your inspiration for writing this novel?

One day, I had this craving to read a novel about first love where the two lovers are driven apart by secrets. I couldn't find the story I wanted to read so I realized I had to write it.

Is Rosethorn your first book?

Rosethorn is my beloved first!

Let's say a movie executive offered you a deal for Rosethorn right now. Who would your dream cast be?

My dream cast:

Andrew: Without a doubt, a younger Paul Bettany comes the closest - tall, lean, lanky, blond and blue-eyed ... sigh.

Sera: Surprisingly, casting a half-Filipina, half-white heroine isn't that difficult. Shay Mitchell (half-Irish), for instance, would make a gorgeous lead. But as soon as I saw Catherine Giudici (half-Italian) from last season's The Bachelor, I immediately thought of Sera.

Stella: Many beautiful Filipina actresses can potentially be cast but Angelica Panganiban perfectly embodies her sexy, dramatic personality.

Image from

Alex - Matt Bomer nails this devilishly handsome, seductive player. He's loaded with charm but oh-so-bad for you.

I've heard of some writers that need to have a favorite pen or to be listening to a certain song while they write to channel creativity. Are there any methods or quirks that you have while you're writing?

Playlists! Before I even start writing, while I'm simply watching the story in my mind like a movie, and while I'm writing, I have to have music to stimulate me.

Where do you feel most inspired?

Unfortunately, I feel most inspired while I'm at work and can't write. At that point, I find it very hard to contain the untold story within me.

Me too, I'm almost most inspired during my classes. Go figure. Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?

I've always had these elaborate fantasies that I would spin out over weeks and months, all in my head. And then I realized these aren't just daydreams; they're actual stories!

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what one book would you want to have with you?

My desert island book changes frequently but today I would love to be stranded with Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. Reading Cassandra's quirky, vivid narrative would be like having a friend to keep me company.

You write about a lot of places, such as Morocco and Paris, with very beautiful, poetic detail. Have you traveled to any of these places? If so, what is your favorite place that you have visited?

I am lucky to have been to Paris and Venice so everything you read is quite authentic. Sera's trip to Morocco - going to Marrakech and then spending the night in the Sahara - is a dream of mine. I've done research on my own and also consulted a friend who had traveled there. The most vibrant and stunning place I've ever visited is Istanbul. It affected me so much that I set one of my current works in progress (a fantasy thriller) there.

Oh, now I'm jealous! I've always wanted to visit the city of love. Speaking of which, love is without a doubt one of the most prevalent themes in Rosethorn- Can you tell us a bit about your first romance/boyfriend?

A fiery, falling star. My first relationship can only be characterized as mad, crazy love, the kind that could only happen because we were both very young and reckless.

Some women hit the gym, some eat ice cream. What's your personal secret to mending a broken heart?

The Taylor Swift method - WRITE about it! Whether you journal or write songs or fictionalize a painful love affair, it's therapy. (Warning to all potential boyfriends: break my heart and you're going to end up meeting an untimely and unpleasant death in my next novel :))

Hahaha. I can't agree more, that's how I cope too. Now, before we start to wrap this up, what piece of advice would you give to all the aspiring writers out there?

Write the story that only YOU can write. Even if you think it's not conventional or commercial. If you love it, then there are others who will love it too.

Thank you so much for talking with us today.

Before you go, just for fun, I have a few word associations. Just say the first thing that comes to mind.

LOVE: Vast.
TRUTH: Light.
HOME: Bed.
HEART: Blood.

Now here's my review!

Title: Rosethorn
Author: Ava Zavora
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: May 1st 2013
Source: Ava Zavora


Four Stars.

Sera may have traveled the world and seen beautiful sights, but the one place that will always stand out among the others: Rosethorn. Though others may see only a mansion, Sera sees the place where she met with her lover. The place holds an heir of magic and of sadness, of heartbreak and of good times long past. When her recent lover, Chase, asks her to move in with him in Paris, she replies that she must return home one last time- home to Rosethorn. When she runs into Andrew, old feelings are reawakened, and the reader won't know what will happen next.


All in all, I found this to be an enjoyable but sometimes slow read. So first, let's talk about the positives.

+I love the details of Sera's heritage that are woven into the novel. I admittedly know next to nothing about Filipino culture, and I think that Ava Zavora does a great job of educating the reader, without making it like a text book or history lesson, and without taking away from the main plots of the story.

+Jumping off of that, I appreciate that when a word wasn't in English, it was in italics. I've had issues with that in the past, and this approach was used well.

+Another thing that worked well in this novel was the use of flashback-like sequences to tell a broader story. In no part was I confused by the timeline or by what was going on.

+The settings and descriptions are both beautiful, making the reader want to travel alongside Sera and see what she wants to see. Even down to the colors of the flower petals, a vivid portrait is painted.

+I really like the concept of this book: secrets and lies run rampant. It makes for a dramatic, intense read that emotionally pulls at the reader. I was left questioning things and pondering characters' choices. I like a novel that isn't predictable.

There were only a few minor things that didn't rest so well with me. At parts, it seemed a little boring, almost as though I'd heard it before. This wasn't often, and not enough to "break" this story for me. Going off of that, this book slightly reminded me of Beautiful Creatures (a book that I couldn't even finish). The mansion, Rosethorn, along with a character named Serafina stirred up this novel, through no fault of the author or her story. This was merely my own skewed thinking.

For all of the above reasons, along with a twisting, romantic, dramatic plot filled with secrets and lies, I give this book four solid stars. Thank you so much to Ava Zavora, for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

In my childhood, I used to ride water buffaloes and wade in swamps. Nowadays, I write dark fairy tales and romantic novels about adventurous women.

Check out Ava's Goodreads page as well as her book, Rosethorn. Click the picture below for the Goodreads page. Rosethorn is available now on Amazon. Snag your copy right here.

Top Ten Tuesday [3]

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is:

Top Ten Best Beach Reads

The books below are in no specific order.

Though not the best circumstances, this book takes place on an island. It's the perfect setting for down on the beach.

Or really, any Sophie Kinsella book. They're funny and easy to follow.

This book is sassy, dramatic, and involves an act of arson on a boat.

Tart is a delicious, steamy read for those who like a bit more heat on their summer nights.

In Beta, they live on a "perfect" utopian island... Before everything goes terribly wrong.

I know it's early to think about Christmas, but maybe reading about all that snow will cool you down!

The Kingdom series is fraught with adventures and not-so-G-Rated romance and is made up of novella-length stories. That way you can take a swim breaks in between tales.

This is a fun chick lit read in which the protagonist accidentally kidnaps the lead singer of her favorite band. It's good for a few laughs.

This is a beautifully written, dramatic book that centers around a theme of water. Fitting for a day at the beach.

In this short story, the plot centers on a mysterious island and the memories of a young girl who swears she has visited it before...

What are you bringing with you to the beach this summer?