Saturday, November 30, 2013

Reading Challenge: 100 Books In A Year 2014

Next year, I will be participating in Book Chick City's 100 Books in a Year Challenge 2014! This will be my very first challenge for my blog, so I'm very excited. If you'd like to participate, click here.

Below are the books I'm eagerly awaiting with release dates in 2014. I will hyperlink to my review blog posts as I progress. 


  • Skin Game (The Dresden Files #15) by Jim Butcher
  • Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling #13) by Nalini Singh
  • Hillbilly Rockstar (Blacktop Cowboys #6) by Lorelei James
  • Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi
  • Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
  • Avalon (Avalon #1) by Mindee Arnett
  • Unhinged (Splintered, #2) by A.G. Howard
  • Cemetery Girl: The Pretenders (The Cemetery Girl Trilogy, #1) by Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden
  • The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare (Alex Wayfare #1) by M.G. Buehrlen
  • The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1) by Cassandra Clare

Follow on Bloglovin

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Book Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Book Series: Shatter Me, Book #2
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genres: YA, Dystopian
Format: Audiobook (Audible)
Narrator: Kate Simses
Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins

My Ranking:

it's almost time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.

THANK GOD FOR KENJI. Juliette and Adam would have been maddening without them. I was practically cheering when Kenji finally started to chip through Juliette's "issues." I was especially glad when he told her how he really felt about her feelings, and her not helping, and being selfish, self-centered and mopey to no end. She needed that slap in the face.

Warner is like honey. It tastes so good in your mouth. But if you try to swallow too much it can choke you. Try to wash away the taste and it's still there. Coating your tongue, sticking to the rough of your mouth and slowly, slowly sliding town your throat. That's how Juliette experiencing Warner made me feel. It was like Adam was water. Cool, calm, refreshing, and just what you need on a hot summer day. But use water to wash away the taste of honey and it doesn't work. It slides over the honey... mixes and mingles with it. But the residue of honey is still there long after the water dries (Later on, after I've written this ... in or around the infamous Chapter 62, Mafi too, refer to him as honey ... I'm only glad I understand him this well).

Oh man.... Chapter 62. Wow. I don't think any YA novel has ever done that for me. To take you so close to the edge with the character. To almost feel what they're feeling. The pleasure, the apprehension, the nerves the action. Only this time, there actually wasn't "action". It was the building of the storm and it was exquisite. How can Juliette not feel anything for Warner. But then her stupid, stupid mind floats back to feelings of Adam and it's over before it's truly begun...

I don't think Juliette ever truly loved Adam. Or, I don't think Adam really, truly loved Juliette. There was this mad desperation and this sense of urgency dripping over everything that they were together. They acted as if they just had to be together without any real substance behind it. It felt too rushed; too forced. And Adam is the most transparent one of all. Kenji and Warner are magnificently layered characters. There's so much to both of them. So much. But Warner. He's the best one of all. Oh god, him with the dog... the dog... my heart broke. And his talks with her talks the "cell". He just gets her.I have always wanted him and Juliette together. It's like he sees the world as a ugly, dark, chaotic mess and he sees himself that way. And then there's a ball of light. Slightly dimmed, a little damaged but beautiful. And he's drawn to it. And he studies it, worships it, respects it, and doesn't want to change it. He just wants to help it glow... that I can believe in. Not Kent... not for me. I like how he calls her "love."

His dad is an evil jerk... Mr. Anderson... the tool.

Had I not already bought the next audiobook I doubt I would have continued the book. It's beautifully stylized, but underneath it all, there's not that much there.

I talk less about Juliette, because she kind of bugs me. I don't get her. She's always saying how she's changed, she's changed. I don't completely believe her declaration at the end. But I will be happy to be proved wrong in the next chapter, so to speak. Although that last line "Mass chaos is in my future... and I'm leaving my gloves behind." Damn, I like that!

Okay, this book I loved! I complained a lot about Shatter Me. But this book makes the story more complete. I am glad the "over explanation" balanced out. But most of all, I am glad for Warner.

Warner just might be the character, out of every other evil character, that I truly love to hate. He's brutal and he's blunt, and he can be cruel. But he's scarred and he's real and he deserves Juliette's love in the end. I think she knows that... I hope she knows that. And if she doesn't... I will love him for her.

Kate Simses portrays a brilliant narration of this world, these characters. And her interpretation of Warner continues to fascination me. His words ooze from her lips with this deliberately slow, seductive cadence that has underlining robotic, dissociative quality that's just like ... wow.

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Book Series: Shatter Me, Book #1
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genres: YA, Dystopian
Format: Audiobook (Audible)
Narrator: Kate Simses
Length: 09 hrs and 12 mins

My Ranking:

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

With the first few sentences, your immersed in a world with texture, color, scents and sounds. Every moment is full; every thought, fully realized. I've never read a book like this before. Mafi sets each scene so completely it's almost too much. It's like a sensory overload; I can feel, see, touch and taste everything that's described to such fine detail. The experience is unique and delicious.

However, after getting 75% through the story, the detailed descriptions began to really, really ... really aggravate me. The best part and the worst part about the book is the imagery and the over examination of everything Juliette is feeling. It's beautiful but distracting. Because as rich and detailed as her experience is, there overall story falters. Since Juliette doesn't know what's happening neither do we. And I am almost done and I haven't learned anything. Nothing of true substance when it comes to the plot or the world were in. This is almost like a character story of Juliette and of Warner.

Ah, Warner. I wanted to hate him. But there is something seductively terrifying about his brand of crazy. He's pretty much devoid of all personality except - to the chagrin of our protagonist - for his fascination with Juliette. And he things he does aren't even as scary as what he says. One of my favorite creepy Warner lines is this - "Inflicting pain, you see, is incredibly efficient method of getting information out of anyone and with you...," he glances at my hands, "well, it's cheap, fast, effective." He smiles wider. "And as long as we keep you alive you'll be good for at least a few decades. its very fortunate that you're not battery operated."

If that isn't cold blooded I don't know, what it is. but still I don't hate him... I'm not quite sure that means that mossy is such a good writer she's created a likable evil, creepy antagonist or or me the sad bastard type of girl who likes guy who who might very well kill them in there sleep. But hey, I guess books for the best place do fancy that type of guy, right?

(Addition after getting past 75 percent) It's almost as if Mafi heard my earlier critique and changed the style of the book. After meeting Adam's brother real life gets pumped into the book. You get a sense of who Adam is, meet funny characters and then, Omega. This is what I have been waiting for. Plot, background, and for Juliette's wall decimating ability to not seem so out-of-left-field, bat-shit crazy. It gets interesting in the last few chapters and why did he epilogue feel so content rich. It's supposed to be a tasty morsel, a little bite of extra pleasure. Not Juliette getting the means to actually lead a "normal life" via the sexy vixen, skin-tight purple catsuit.

Had I not already bought the next audiobook I doubt I would have continued the book. It's beautifully stylized, but underneath it all, there's not that much there.

Kate Simses portrays a brilliant narration of this world, these characters. The repetitive "I am not insane" in almost brought me to tears. The desperation, absolution, and fear were so ingrained into the repetition. And her interpretation of Warner is either responsible for my fascination with him, or she feed him in the same crazy but sexy way as me, which makes me not feel so bad. His words ooze from her lips with this deliberately slow, seductive cadence that has underlining robotic, dissociative quality that's just like ... wow.

Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Book Series: Pushing the Limits, Book #1
Author: Katie McGarry
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Format: Audiobook (Audible)
Narrator: McLeod Andrews & Tara Sands
Length: 11 hrs and 03 mins

My Ranking:

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with freaky scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

This book definitely caught me by surprise. I had reservations; I wasn't expecting the plot to be as developed as it was. No disrespect to McGarry. But thankfully I was extremely wrong. This author delves so deep into her characters and puts everything on display. Even her secondary characters. That's what makes the story beautiful. I could explain what exactly I mean but I think it would take away from the experience. Read it for yourself. It's amazing.

Noah was my favorite character in this book. It was easy to see how Echo fell in love with him - or rather why. I loved how he didn't even see her scars. He just saw Echo. His siren.

There love story was so romantic. It was modern but sweet and real. Loved it. I really liked Echo too. It was strange but I liked her more from Noah's perspective than from her own. She felt more sure of herself. Or maybe that's just how he saw her. Probably a testament to McGarry's writing style.

Oh my god... her mother. What a monster. I wasn't expecting her to be an actual monster. But she was still - after all that time - quite frightening. I'm glad that Echo got her closure. I'm also glad that Echo finally understood her father and where he was coming from. She easily could have stayed bitter.

McLeod Andrews is also a brilliant narrator. I felt like he really got into the core of Noah and made me connect with him that much more. Tara Sands also gave a great performance.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Book Series: Night Huntress, Book #1
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Genres: Urban Fantasty, Paranormal
Format: Audiobook (Audible)
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins

My Ranking

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father—the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unlikely partnership.

In exchange for help finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner…are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon, Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side...and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

I must admit this was an interesting one. It was kind of a slow start. Very slow... then it got good. Really good. By the end, I wanted to kick Cat for her stupidity and was laughing along with her snarky humor. Which translates to me liking her - and the story - very much. It took me a long time to get fully engrossed. But I did.

Bones is a great character. I love his personality. He's a vampire bounty hunter who's not afraid to kill things and is not apologetic. In fact, he'd laugh in your face if you asked him too. THATS how i like my vampires. Sexy, dangerous, sarcastic - and unapologetic for who they are. Plus he fully accepts and supports Cat which is awesome.

Her mother is such a 'effing bitch! I really, really, really, hate her. Explaining why would spoil to much. But, ugh! Hate hate hate!

Tavia Gilbert is the perfect narrator for this series because her Cockney accent for Bones is amazing! 'nuff said.

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Book Series: Divergent, Book #1
Author: Veronica Roth
Genres: Dystopian, YA
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Emma Galvin
Length: 11 hrs and 11 mins

My Ranking:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

I loved this book! The world building was pretty mazing. I thought that the faction system was really interesting. How these people had to pick an aspect of themselves and live there lives that according to that one trait. To be always brave, always honest, always peaceful, always selfless or always intelligent; that's asking for so much. And especially the way that the initiation system is run. To choose to stay with the faction/family that you're born into, or to abandon everything you've known to become the person you really are, or at least the person you believe you are inside. And for that choice to be public. To have to stand in front of your entire community and denounce your family, friends and your whole world. The consequences are pretty dire because that choice isn't even the most difficult thing you'll have to do. You then have to prove yourself worthy to your new faction. And if you don't, you become one of the factionless - you become no one, nothing.

I loved Tris so much. It's great that she was such a strong character but was vulnerable, too. There was a realness to her that sometimes is lacking with this type of voice. I think that Tris was a great character because she had the courage to defy expectations and be the person she thought she was. In a society where your life is determined by one guiding principle, you can only imagine how hard her choice was.

The relationship between Tris and Four was pretty amazing. I really enjoyed their chemistry. I believed in the sincerity of their feelings. This was a very volatile world these two characters were thrown into and for them to fall for each other amid the chaos was pretty remarkable. I do believe in the authenticity of their relationship. I don't believe it was a case of circumstance. I believe that if Tris and Four knew found other in Abnegation they still would have had a chance. I hope they last.

An excellent start to the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the development of the story and characters. Tris is someone that I can both admire and root for. I love a strong heroine. Can't wait for the next one!

This audiobook is how I discovered the awesomeness that is Emma Galvin. She brought Tris to life in such an excellent was. There's such conviction in her voice. Her pacing was perfect; she propelled the story forward with the intensity of her tone. I really felt like I was right there, experiencing everything alongside Tris. It was thrilling and I loved every second of it!

Emma is a phenomenal voice actress and my absolute favorite. She's brings her characters to life effortlessly and can capture even the tiniest emotion with her vocal inflection. I have have almost finished every audiobook she's ever read. Yes, she's that good. And if you don't agree, don't even bother saying so. You can't convince me otherwise!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review: Shadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Book Series: Lux, Book #0.5
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genres: YA, Paranormal Romance, Aliens
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Length: 4 hrs and 53 mins

My Ranking:

The last thing Dawson Black expected was Bethany Williams. As a Luxen, an alien life form on Earth, human girls are…well, fun. But since the Luxen have to keep their true identities a secret, falling for one would be insane.

Dangerous. Tempting. Undeniable.

Bethany can’t deny the immediate connection between her and Dawson. And even though boys aren’t a complication she wants, she can’t stay away from him. Still, whenever they lock eyes, she’s drawn in.

Captivated. Lured. Loved.

Dawson is keeping a secret that will change her existence...and put her life in jeopardy. But even he can’t stop risking everything for one human girl. Or from a fate that is as unavoidable as love itself.

(Quick comment - I read this after Obsidian) What a nice surprise. This was a much needed departure from the "all sarcasm, all the time" relationship with Daemon and Katy. And it was also good to see a Lux loving their life, because I felt so bad for Daemon and Dee in the first book. This world sucks for the Lux (unintentional rhyming, I swear).

Moving along, I think that Dawson and Bethany had a great relationship. Their story felt more sweet than intense in comparison to Daemon and Katy. Though, I think that might have more to do with Daemon's personality. Speaking of that, I think that Daemon got handed the shortest stick in the Black family. With Dawson and Dee letting their heart and personal desires drive them, it doesn't leave much room for Daemon to be his own person. He's had to be responsible for everyone and has probably made a lot more sacrifices then either of his siblings. Which brought new treatment of Katy. It doesn't excuse his harsh words and actions, but it does make his instant rejection not feel like less a slap in the face with how intense he is against even knowing Katy.

Daemon is still my favorite Black, although Dawson had some great moments. I loved when he got so excited from Bethany just calling him. Brings back fond memories of youth and loves past.

Also, I appreciated getting to see part of what caused the local Luxen's human aversion. Poor Katy - she didn't have a shot in hell of being accepted by any Lux after Dawson basically gave them the finger and told them to suck it when they disapproved of his relationship with Bethany. It was good to see were the prejudice and distrust came from. While I don't agree, I sympathize.

This book felt a more exciting than the first, which is always a good thing. Jumping into Onyx. This might be new favorite series!

No knew thoughts on Justine Eyre. The tone of her voice didn't bother me as much. Maybe that had more to do Dawson and Bethany's interactions being more mature.

Book Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Genres: Contemporary, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Format: Audiobook (Audible)
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Length: 09 hrs and 46 mins
Book Club Pick: Nerds Read Books (part of The OC Young, Fun and Nerdy Meetup)

My Ranking:

From the acclaimed author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, a moving new novel that subtly reimagines our world and time in a haunting story of friendship and love.

As a child, Kathy – now thirty-one years old – lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed – even comforted – by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.

A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance – and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro’s finest work.

Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this book. Its "deceptive simplicity" did not resonate with me. It had the opposite effect; it completely turned me off. After finishing the story, I felt like this was one of those books that people read because of its reputation. It was a book club choice; definitely not something I would have picked up on my own.

What contributed most to my overall dislike of the story was the choice of narrator, Kathy, and the style of her narration, which was disconnected to the extreme! Kathy was never "in" her story -- her own life story! She spent every minute of her life watching the world and the people around her, but never fully interacted or connecting with anyone. I couldn't believe she was ever really friends with Ruth, and I don't believe she ever had one inkling of a feeling for Tommy as a child, teen or an adult.

Kathy never expressed any true feelings other than being annoyed by Ruth not remembering details of their life at Hailsham, being angered by Ruth's exaggerations and feeling sorry for Tommy having been bullied. Other than that, she doesn't express much of anything. Especially not a true fondness for Tommy or Ruth. I found it quite interesting how often Kathy's narration repeated phrases like "what you really have to understand is ..."; it's almost like she knew that she'd have to emphasize the situation or the purpose of what she sharing otherwise the importance would be lost completely. And to that, I say, why should I care? If you have to tell me why it's important, and not show me, why even bother reading the story? What am I supposed to get out of this narrative if it's being told like a lecture and the lecturer has to say "take note of this important fact" every so often. Shouldn't I be able to experience this through reading the story? That's the way it happens in pretty much all other books.

I could breakdown the story and talk about all the things that bothered me. But I won't do that; I will just focus on the biggest. The most disturbing thing about this book was the sense of defeat in every single clone. No one rebelled. No one had hope. Not even the kids from Hailsham who were "special". They all grew up, contemplated a better life and succumbed to the same fate. One after the other. The only thing that changed from person to person was when they actually began donations.

I suppose this acceptance of their fate was due to the environment they were raised in. They never had a chance. Even the "special" kids from Hailsham. And they were only given  one gift - a childhood - before they too met their early demise. There were never any deferrals, the "Gallery" was a fail, and everyone who fought for their better treatment of clones didn't really believe their humanity was there to begin with. So in the end, both the program and Hailsham end. There's nothing beautiful about this; it's depressing.

After learning this, I was praying a better end for Kathy But, alas, her fate is the same as everyone else. Only, she's was lucky enough to get to watch almost all of the people in her life die, or "complete". And the last revelation we're left with is the happy note that Kathy is to begin donations and she too will eventually "complete". The end?!?!

I enjoyed Rosalyn Landor's narration of this book. I think she did a great job conveying the bleakness and hopelessness of this story.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Book Review: One Night Rodeo by Lorelei James

Book Series: Blacktop Cowboys, Book #4
Author: Lorelei James
Genres:  Western, Erotica, Contemporary Romance
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Scarlet Chase
Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins

My Ranking:

In the rodeo arena, all you have to worry about is surviving. But in the arena of love and ecstasy, things get much more complicated.

Lainie Capshaw has been servicing injured cowboys long enough to know that a charming Western drawl combined with a fine physical form doesn't mean you should fall for a man. As a sports therapist, she travels the rodeo circuits patching up riders - and fending off their sweet-talking, swaggering advances.

So no one is more surprised than Lainie when she finds herself involved with not one, but two different men on different circuits. Hank Lawson, a bullfighter, and Kyle Gilchrist, a bull rider trying to stage a comeback. Lainie feels guilty about her two-timing, but it doesn't keep her from doubling her fun -until Hank catches her with Kyle.

She's shocked that Hank isn't mad. She's more shocked to learn Hank and Kyle are hometown buddies. But when the men offer to share her - she knows that both of them are going to try to win her, body and soul. Now it's up to Lainie to choose the one man who can give her the ride of her life.(less)

Even with your favorite authors, you're never going to love everything. This is the first Blacktop Cowboys story that I found only okay. This book hit upon my dislike of some of James's female lead characters. However, to be honest, I never really liked Celia to begin with. There was just something about her flighty, flirty nature that just turned me off. It didn't get any better when she was the focus.

Usually, my intense like of the male leads can override my dislike of the females and allow me to enjoy the story as a whole. Not this time. What's strange is that I liked Kyle - or, at least,  Kyle in Corralled. He was less ... angsty. He was such a strong character in Corralled and even took his rejection from Laney in an impressive way. But this story - with this mother, father and Celia - I didn't get the same vibe from him.

 A big complaint was that they story was very, very unrealistic. Everything just fell in their laps. Kyle's broke? No problem,  here's an inheritance. Kyle love ranchin' and always wanted one - here's a ranch from the Daddy you never knew you had! Kyle and Celia want a future together, so poof, man/woman of your dreams. Perhaps that last one being too harsh because them ending up together has been hinted a bit. Overall, there was too much of a cause and effect plotline. Yes, yes, I know that's how stories go, but not with James. The other books in the series felt more organic. In fact, I love these stories because of their realism. Nothing ever felt like a soap opera; hell, even the first book's ménage à trois felt more natural.

Meh on this one. Still a Blacktop Cowboy's fan. Even though I thought Kyle could take the top spot in which Blacktop Cowboy I loved the most, it's still Renner Jackson all the way. Then Bran, then Hank... then Kyle. Girls follow same path of "like". Tierney, Harper and so on and so forth (though I'd Jainie is last - didn't like her one bit).

The tiny speck of a town called Muddy Gap, Wyoming, has captured a special place in my heart. But this book was my least favorite.

Scarlet Chase is fantastic. She's got a great drawl but still speaks clear. She also is excellent at capturing the masculinity of these charming cowboys. Her performance enhanced my enjoyment of the story so much that I decided to stay "audiobook-loyal" to this series and will not read the printed version.

Book Review: Wrangled and Tangled by Lorelei James

Book Series: Blacktop Cowboys, Book #2
Author: Lorelei James
Genres:  Western, Erotica, Contemporary Romance
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Scarlet Chase
Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins

My Ranking:

Wrangling a sweet-talkin’ cowboy can be dangerous business...

The West was not so wild for Janie Fitzhugh. Living with her rancher husband, Abe Lawson, in rural Wyoming nearly broke her spirit, so she left. But eight years later, she returns to Muddy Gap to take a job at a new resort. When an unexpected danger arises, Abe seizes the chance to protect Janie and prove he’s a changed man.

Janie’s employer at the Split Rock Ranch and Resort, Renner Jackson, has gotten himself tangled up in a devil’s bargain trying to finish the construction. His new partner’s daughter, Tierney Pratt, is a spoiled daddy’s girl and off-limits–no matter how drop-dead gorgeous she is. But Tierney’s got her own secret reasons for keeping the rough-and-tumble cowboy at a distance.

When things get down and dirty at the resort, Abe and Renner must saddle up and fight to rope in the women they can’t imagine living without...

DING, DING, DING, WE HAVE A WINNER!!!! James hit her stride with this one! Renner Jackson. Wow, just wow. Everything about him oozed charm and sexiness. When he first popped up in the series, I was only marginally intrigued. So you can imagine I was extremely happy to get to know more of his sexy self! I really enjoyed his back story, as well.

And then, there's Tierney. Finally - a woman I connected with. I really understood Tierney. Also, a girl who gave back just as much as these alpha men give ... and then some. Renner and Tierney have the best chemistry out of all of the couples in the series so far - and maybe out of all of James' characters. They do hot and cold so, so well.

Like I mentioned, I connected with Tierney a lot. Especially her late bloomer/virgin storyline. She wasn't all unsure or timid or scared (besides the typical), but someone who just waited until it felt right. Too many people pity - or tease - people who lose their virginity "later" in life. But hey - not everyone just got it over with. James handled Tierney respectfully in this respect and I appreciated it.

As for Janie and Abe... meh. It was a cool story about a former husband and wife getting a second shot. But again, I didn't connect with Janie at all. She made me angry a bit with how she carried herself. I did like Abe, though ... but, that's expected because all of James' cowboys are hot, hot hot! And also his big secret was quite a surprise, but that's all I'll say.

I really liked all of the Split Rock backstory, too. It was interesting to see how the resort came together and how Tierney was brought in as representing the financial end. I hadn't had any exposure to any business dealing like that before. So hey, I learned something - bonus!

This one was funny, heartwarming and was really hot. It was my absolute favorite Blacktop Cowboy's story. I can't wait for Kyle's story. He's one of my favorite guys and deserves a good woman who appreciates him. Hopefully, that's what's in store.

The tiny speck of a town called Muddy Gap, Wyoming holds a special place in my heart. This is one of my favorite series and this book was my absolute favorite. 5 stars, James. It's perfect!

Scarlet Chase is fantastic. She's got a great drawl but still speaks clear. She also is excellent at capturing the masculinity of these charming cowboys. Her performance enhanced my enjoyment of the story so much that I decided to stay "audiobook-loyal" to this series and will not read the printed version.

Book Review: Saddled and Spurred by Lorelei James

Book Series: Blacktop Cowboys, Book #2
Author: Lorelei James
Genres:  Western, Erotica, Contemporary Romance
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Scarlet Chase
Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins

My Ranking:

This beauty is no greenhorn - and she's about to rope the man of her dreams.

Cattleman Bran Turner is left shorthanded during busy calving season when a bull tramples his hired hand. Rural Wyoming isn't exactly a hotbed of qualified candidates, and the only applicant for the position is the pampered town beauty, Harper Masterson. The curvy cowgirl gets under Bran's skin at every turn, but with no other options, he reluctantly hires her.

When sexual sparks ignite, down-on-her-luck Harper enjoys convincing Bran that not only is she capable of pulling calves, feeding livestock, and handling backbreaking ranch chores, but she doesn't mind getting down and dirty, either. Harper also discovers the hot-bodied cowboy isn't all work and no horseplay...and he's got more than a few tricks up his sleeve.

Bran will learn quickly that Harper is no country mouse-and that she might just have what it takes to stick around for the long haul.

As it stated above, the quick gist of this story is that an unlikely pair come together to help each other... in various ways. Former beauty queen Harper Masterson needs a job and cattle rancher Bran Turner is a man down during the ranch's busiest season. Though they're both unsure about the situation, they're equally desperate. So, Harper becomes Bran's new ranch hand... and the mutual attraction begins to smolder shortly after...

I loved Bran Turner. Thus far, he's my favorite cowboy of the series. There was just something about his quiet temperament in his dealings with others and his take-charge bedroom behavior that was so sexy. It's like the masculine version of "...lady on the streets, freak in the sheets". I tend like "the show" more than "the tell"... and boy, did he show!

I liked Harper. This was a first, because truthfully I haven't liked many of the women in James's stories. But I liked who Harper was. She was beautiful girl - a beauty queen, no less - who didn't let that define her. She had to deal with public scrutiny because of the choices her parents made and being a surrogate mother for her sister. And she did it with grace. And when things went from bad to worse, she did what she had to to survive. I found her admirable.

The tiny speck of a town called Muddy Gap, Wyoming holds a special place in my heart. This is one of my favorite series and this book was better than the first. Bravo, James!

Scarlet Chase is fantastic. She's got a great drawl but still speaks clear. She also is excellent at capturing the masculinity of these charming cowboys. Her performance enhanced my enjoyment of the story so much that I decided to stay "audiobook-loyal" to this series and will not read the printed version.