Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: Tough Love by Lori Foster

Title: Tough Love
Author: Lori Foster
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: 8.25.215
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, MMA
Series: Ultimate #3
Source:  ARC from BEA

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
She's playing hard to get… to win the MMA fighter of her ultimate fantasies in a sultry new novel from New York Timesbestselling author Lori Foster…

Vanity Baker loves a good, clean match, but she's not above playing a little dirty. She's wanted Stack "The Wolf" Hannigan from day one. Seems as though the best way to corral the famously commitment-phobic fighter is to insist on keeping it casual. And her plan works—deliciously well—until Stack's past steps out of the shadows. 

Stack learned early to stay free of attachments. But with sexy, forthright Vanity, he's the one always left wanting more. Then his troublemaking family comes back into the picture, threatening everything Stack cares about—Vanity included. Suddenly he realizes they're much more than friends with benefits. He's ready to go to the mat for her…but will it be in time to protect the woman who's tamed him for good?

Review:
I love this series - I do. Hot MMA guys, sweet heroines and a lot of heat. What isn't to love? I will say that I felt like Lori Foster dropped the ball a bit this time and the book felt a little formulaic to me. Still amazingly good, but not quite the top of her game.

Stack and Vanity (seriously - what is up with these names?) have been in the periphery for the last 2 books and now is their time to shine. With blazing hot chemistry, these two are meant to be.

I think.

Here's the problem: Vanity wants Stack. Like wants him forever. OK, cool. I can see that. But she plays these self-proclaimed "games" to get him that smack of high school and are so ridiculous. She tries to be what she thinks he wants and it makes me wonder if I ever knew the real Vanity.

Will the real Vanity please stand up?

Look, I enjoyed this book a lot. I did. But between Vanity's inner crisis of character and the cringe-worthy melodrama at the end, this just wasn't Foster's best work. But even on a bad day, her writing is still top notch.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Baby Banana Books #1


I am so, so excited to start this brand new feature on my blog where I will give you (the parents) quick reviews of children's picture books and board books. I love picture books - from the illustrations to the lessons to the smiles they put on faces. Here's hoping you and the children around you find some new favorites, too.


Sad, the Dog

by 

Duck & Goose Colors 

Publisher: Schwarz & Wade
Format: Finished copy from publisher
DUCK & GOOSE are a dynamic duo of adorable (I mean, come one - a duck and a goose are BFFs?), but I love that whil some of this series are adventures, some have true educational value while being fun. In DUCK & GOOSE COLORS, children are explained a variety of colors that keeps them entertained while learning.

Scrawny Cat

Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Deep by Kylie Scott

Title: Deep
Author: Kylie Scott
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre: New Adult, Musicians, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Stage Dive #4
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Positive. With two little lines on a pregnancy test, everything in Lizzy Rollins' ordinary life is about to change forever. And all because of one big mistake in Vegas with Ben Nicholson, the irresistibly sexy bass player for Stage Dive. So what if Ben's the only man she's ever met who can make her feel completely safe, cherished, and out of control with desire at the same time? Lizzy knows the gorgeous rock star isn't looking for anything more permanent than a good time, no matter how much she wishes differently.

Ben knows Lizzy is off limits. Completely and utterly. She's his best friend's little sister now, and no matter how hot the chemistry is between them, no matter how sweet and sexy she is, he's not going to go there. But when Ben is forced to keep the one girl he's always had a weakness for out of trouble in Sin City, he quickly learns that what happens in Vegas, doesn't always stay there. Now he and Lizzie are connected in the deepest way possible... but will it lead to a connection of the heart?

Review:

All good things must come to an end, including the Stage Dive series. I was so bummed when I started this because I knew there weren't anymore waiting behind it for me to grab. Sigh. Kylie Scott got me good with this series. She got me real good.

DEEP is Ben's turn, and holy crap. It starts off with a bang when Lizzy, Anne's little sister (Anne and Mal are in book 2, PLAY) gets pregnant. The lucky baby daddy to be? You guess it: Ben.

On the periphery of the series, Lizzy and Ben and have dancing around each other and we get more of that back story with old text messages and scenes that happened during books 2 & 3. DEEP ties all those books together and shows that Ben and Lizzy aren't just a random hookup. There's a lot more depth and layers there.

Lizzy has been my favorite since I met her in book 2. I love her spunk and sass and attitude. Ben I never really got a feel for because he was always in the background. He rarely did much besides play bass and crack the occasional one-liner. It was good to see a bit more of him.

I will say this book was the one that lacked the most substance (but it's also the shortest in the series by far). It felt a bit rushed in places, but it's still a great way to end the series (that epilogue.... <3 love="" series="" span="" ter.="" this="">

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Lead by Kylie Scott

Title: Lead
Author: Kylie Scott
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre: New Adult, Musicians, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Stage Dive #3
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it's booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.

Lena's not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.

Review:

JIMMY'S BOOK! was my first thought when I clutched this book to my chest. Jimmy is my favorite Stage Dive member (what can I say? I like 'em tortured and broken.), and I've been waiting eagerly to get into his book.

Jimmy, the recovering bad boy frontman for the band, is the big brother of the group. That got a little derailed when he was using, but now it becomes abundantly clear in LEAD that Jimmy is the leader of the group. 

Jimmy and Lena definitely have an antagonist relationship that slowly (very slowly) morphs into more. But with Lena trying to stay professional and Jimmy's intense need for total control, it takes a little while to get there. The banter between these two is the best foreplay. They had me cracking up regularly. 

What I like it wasn't instantly that they were together - in fact, there's no sexy times for the first ... 60% of the book? This just builds up the tension and makes their connection more real and true. At first I was as frustrated as Lena, but the payoff was worth it.

Kylie Scott did it again with the third installment of the series!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: Play by Kylie Scott

Title: Play
Author: Kylie Scott
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre: New Adult, Musicians, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Stage Dive #2
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast--at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn't plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn't count on finding the one right girl. 
Anne Rollins never thought she'd ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls--especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn't end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?

Review:

"Read Mal's book," the said.

"Mal is mine!" they said.

"PLAY is the best in the series," they said.

OK, OK. I get it. I get why everyone who has read PLAY proclaims Kylie Scott is a genius and their hero and why they stake ownership flags all over Mal's tattooed, muscular body. I GET IT.

But, to be honest, Mal wasn't the highlight for me in PLAY - Anne was. Anne with her unbreakable spirit, easy going nature and kindness was by far my favorite part. She wasn't a doormat, but she also wasn't a hard ass. I loved how protective she was of her sister and Mal and her friends. I loved the way she stood up for herself.

Don't get me wrong, Mal is hysterical. But I was exhausted for Anne by the end of this book. He's like the Energizer Bunny hopped up on ecstasy and crystal meth. And when he bottoms out, he hits the ground hard. His manic swings gave me whiplash; I just held on to Anne and rode the book out.

The balance of Mal and Anne is what makes the romance. She doesn't try to change him and he encourages her to be braver. 

This is a great follow up to LICK (book 1). I am all about the Stage Dive boys and their crazy lives and the women who wade through the mess to find their happily ever after. Love, love this series!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: Lick by Kylie Scott

Title: Lick
Author: Kylie Scott
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre: New Adult, Musicians, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Stage Dive #1
Source: Finished copy from publisher
Buy: Amazon

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Evelyn Thomas's plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man in her room, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

In Kylie Scott's 
Lick, one thing is certain: being married to one of the hottest rock stars on the planet is sure to be a wild ride.

Review:

I discovered this book thanks to our PubbyLove adventures in July. I was told both by the publicist, Michelle, and another blogger, Stephanie, that this series was hot and awesome and fantastic and I walked out with a copy of it and promptly dove it.

You know how there are books you just love for no special reason? It's not ground breaking world building or artfully crafted sentences, but it's just a good, enjoyable book that sucks you into the world and you instantly fall in love with (almost) every character you meet? That was my experience with LICK.

From the first page, I was hooked on this unconventional, whirlwind romance. I was captivated by these two people - Ev and David - who were trying to sort it out. I love them together. I absolutely love them. Having now read the entire series, I can say that they're my favorite couple of the series and it stays that way throughout every book. They're amazing together.

If you want a fun, crazy, and sexy book, I can't recommend LICK enough. Kylie Scott is my new author crush and I love her. These books are perfect for fans of Jay Crownover and Lauren Dane.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

Title: Until Friday Night
Author: Abbi Glines
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Series: The Field Party #1
Source: ARC from BEA
Buy: Amazon

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go… 

Review:
Anytime a book is compared to Friday Night Lights, it's pretty much a guarantee that I'll be checking it out. High school and football just compels me in a way few other books do, but it seems like they always leave me wanting more. At least that's how I felt until I read UNTIL FRIDAY NIGHT.

This books is everything I crave - romance, sports, angst, family, love, and sacrifice. And learning. Maggie and West learn so much about themselves and each other.

Maggie is such a heroine in this book. Not just West's rock, but truly the anchor of the entire story. She's dealt with and is still dealing with a lot, but she's able to see something in West that draws her out of her shell. It's always easier to focus on others' problems than your own, and that's what Maggie does. She gives West what she never had - a friend, a haven in the storm, and a calming presence.

West is a total wildcard and a bit of an asshat, to be honest. But once you break down those layers, this golden boy will own your heart. It's hard not to root for him, but nothing made me happier than Maggie standing up to him.

SPOILER ALERT:

At one point West gets extremely possessive and jealous seeing Maggie with another guy and he runs the other guy off. Maggie flat out tells him that she's done nothing wrong and his behavior and attachment to her is unhealthy. THIS COMPLETELY MADE ME LOVE THIS BOOK. Any lingering doubt was cast aside here where Maggie puts her foot down and says that sh*t isn't gonna fly with her and they need to take a break. I'm all for an alpha male, but an alpha douche is still a douche.

END SPOILERS

I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this book. It is a bit graphic for younger teens. The sexuality isn't gratuitously explicit, but it is there. It's very much an upper-YA books and very much a new favorite of mine.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Scandal Never Sleeps by Lexie Blake & Shayla Black

Title: Scandal Never Sleeps
Author: Lexie Blake & Shayla Black
Publisher:  Berkley Romance
Publication Date: 8.18.2015
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Series: Perfect Gentlemen #1
Source:  ARC from publisher
Buy: Amazon

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
They are the Perfect Gentlemen of Creighton Academy: privileged, wealthy, powerful friends with a wild side. But a deadly scandal is about to tear down their seemingly ideal lives . . .

Maddox Crawford’s sudden death sends Gabriel Bond reeling. Not only is he burying his best friend, he’s cleaning up Mad’s messes, including his troubled company. Grieving and restless, Gabe escapes his worries in the arms of a beautiful stranger. But his mind-blowing one-night stand is about to come back to haunt him . . .

Mad groomed Everly Parker to be a rising star in the executive world. Now that he’s gone, she’s sure her job will be the next thing she mourns, especially after she ends up accidentally sleeping with her new boss. If only their night together hadn’t been so incendiary—or Gabe like a fantasy come true . . .

As Gabe and Everly struggle to control the heated tension between them, they discover evidence that Mad’s death was no accident. Now they must bank their smoldering passions to hunt down a murderer—because Mad had secrets that someone was willing to kill for, and Gabe or Everly could be the next target . . .

Review:
I will never turn down a new Shayla Black or Lexie Blake book, but pairing the two together makes me all the more excited. SCANDAL NEVER SLEEPS is the first installment in what is sure to be an amazing, thrilling, and swoony new series. I devoured this book in less than 24 hours.

Can I first talk about Everly? Because I love her. She made this book amazing for me. I love when Gabe got a little controlling or high handed (because he wanted to protect her), she immediately shut that down and told him they needed to end things now because she would never be the docile little woman who waited for the men to finish saving the day. I feel like I have been waiting years for a heroine to say that. She was smart and sure and confident … The epitome of a heroine.

Gabriel … He was a little harder for me to wrap my head around. By the end I was Team Gabe, but it took some getting there. He is a bit of an ass and very used to getting his way.

This book nicely sets up the series and I can’t wait for the Gentlemen to keep unraveling the mystery. Typically in a contemporary series you have self-contained books where each book can standalone. This series seems to have a central plot that will tie all the books together. I can’t wait to see how this ends.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Irish Banana Book Tours - Blogger Sign Ups

So I've started dabbling into the world of book tours over the last few months and I love organizing them. While this is not me starting an "official company", I am trying to organize all the people who said they wanted to be tour hosts so I'm not pitching erotica to someone who only reads middle grade.

Make sense? Kinda? Sorta? Maybe?

If you want to sign up, fill out the form below. If you don't ... *shrugs* Totally your call. I won't hate you (much) if you don't sign up. ;-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Blog Tour: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys with Danielle Paige

Welcome, welcome Danielle Paige to the blog! I'm so excited for SLASHER GIRLS AND MONSTER BOYS and to chat about writing horror (my current obsession).

Confession. This is the first horror story I have ever written.

Yet as I developed the characters and plot behind Dark and Scary Parts and All, I quickly realized that had more than enough inspiration to draw from…

As a kid, I was never the one spinning tales over roasting s’mores by a campfire -- I was the girl hiding behind her pillow watching Halloween.  But I was still watching. At the same time, I was learning that there were different ways to be scared and that I preferred the more psychological ones to the pure id of a straight up slasher flick. Not that gore didn’t get the job done, just that for me there was something even more chilling and satisfying about the first kind. Hitchcock’s Psycho, Stephen King’s The Shining and Carrie…movies and books where the knife twist began in the audience’s mind long before it made contact with any flesh onscreen.

Which brings me to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, i.e., my gateway drug to all horror.  It was the very first monster tale that I fell in love with, probably because I asked myself the same question that every kid does after the first read: what is a monster?  Is it the creature himself, or the Doctor who created him? 

And then there’s The Omen. Damien was the very first creepy kid I’d ever seen in a movie and I found it fascinating to watch his parents decide what to do when they realize that kid is the heir to all evil. (Now there are tons of these movies -- the long haired ghost girl in The Ring, The Children of the Corn, head spinning Regan in The Exorcist -- but Damien made the mold for innocence lost.)

As I reflect on these wonderfully horrific tales, I’ve come to realize that most of the stories that make my skin crawl – and the ones that I draw inspiration from – are the ones aren’t just horror stories. They’re love stories, too. Dark, twisty ones that don’t necessarily end with happily ever after, but there is love there all the same. For example, Frankenstein’s’ creature doesn’t want to take over the world, he wants to run away with a girl. And The Omen is about familial love. Because while Damien’s parents love him, but they have to save the world from him. Interesting, right?


So when I finally put pen to paper and wrote my own scary tale, I applied all that I had learned. Namely, the horror stories that really make my skin crawl are the ones that make you fall in love just a little…before they make you scream.  

-Danielle Paige
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