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Review:

Rock Chick (Rock Chick, #1) by Kristen Ashley

Sunday, July 31
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Indy Savage, cop's daughter, rock chick and used bookstore owner, has been in love with Lee Nightingale, once bad boy, now the man behind Nightingale Investigations, since she was five years old. No matter what ingenious schemes Indy used to capture his attention, Lee never showed an interest and Indy finally gave up. Now Indy's employee, Rosie, has lost a bag of diamonds and bad guys are shooting at him. When Indy gets involved, Lee is forced to help. Complicating matters, Lee has decided he's interested, Indy's decided she's not. But she can't seem to keep Lee out of her life when she's repeatedly stun gunned, kidnapped and there are car bombs exploding (not to mention she's finding dead bodies).

Indy's best bet is to solve the mystery of the diamonds before Lee. Lee's challenge is to keep Indy alive and, at the same time, win back her heart.

----- 

I would actually subtract stars from 0 for each of the MCs in this book.


Never have I been so thrilled that a book heroine got tasered.
 

Where to start?
Being trapped in Indy's head for 70% of the book was painful. I actually felt myself getting dumber while reading her POV. This heroine (and I use that term so, so loosely) deserved every kidnapping and bullet that came her way. I suspect that the major plot device KA forgot to leave out was that Indy suffered some type of defect. Totally unrelateable - I have never met a woman this dumb in my life.

Not only was Lee a badass, he was also a dumbass. So were the 2 other men chasing Indy's tail. And as the reader, I'm expected to buy that idea why?? She had no personality. This was like the Gwen (from Mystery Man) story on crack.

Resorted to skimming until I got to here and DNF:

They shot at us.
Shot.
At.
Us.
With guns.
Guns filled with bullets.
Now I’m staring at my cell phone, wondering what in the fucking hell to do.

How does Indy live through this whole series?




Review:

Animal Magnetism (Animal Magnetism #1) by Jill Shalvis

Saturday, July 30

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Co-owner of the town's only kennel, Lilah Young has lived in Sunshine, Idaho, all her life. Pilot-for-hire Brady Miller is just passing through. But he soon has Lilah abandoning her instincts and giving in to a primal desire.

It's Brady's nature to resist being tied down, but there's something about Lilah and her menagerie that keeps him coming back for more.

What I loved:
- It has animals! Seriously, I would have read it just for that. The romance itself was secondary for me.
- Also, the cover has a puppy and a hot guy. Either of those things on it's own, and I'm buying the book. Both? Together? I would hunt this book to the ends of the earth just to see all the cuteness and the hotness in one place on my bedside table.
- I haven't read a book in any fiction genre about animal rescue, so it was really enjoyable. Quite a light, fun read and there was enough going on that I didn't even need to have the MCs in one place to enjoy the story.
- Brady is ex-military, and I love me some military man... so, yep.
- The peripheral characters were really enjoyable, and the MCs were developed enough that I really enjoyed them. I loved that about Jill Shalvis' writing in the Lucky Harbour books, too, so clearly she is just that good with her characters.

What I didn’t love:
- Lilah gives me a complex. I know it should make her relateable but the way JS keeps making references to what Lilah eats, and how she is going to make better brocolli food choices, just made me side eye the jar of peanut butter propped in my lap.
- I wish Lilah's backstory hadn't been so built up, because in the end when it came out I was just - meh. Is that all?

Overall…
A beautiful, laugh out loud, fun read - I'm definitely going to hunt the rest of this series down. Incidentally, though, this book was so damned hard to find in NZ. If you're a fellow kiwi - where are you finding these?

Week 4: Tell your visitors who you are.

Friday, July 29

I have a confession.

I don't read the About Me portion of any blog I go to. I check the little blurb on the sidebar, or at the bottom of a post, and if they seem like a friendly person then I'll probably read more from them.

So imagine my surprise when I googled best tips for improving blog and the same tip kept coming up all over the interwebs. This one:

Add an 'About' page to your blog.

Well. Guess I am as weird as I thought. I must be the only person that doesn't read the 'About' page.

It makes perfect sense to me now that I've read the reasoning behind this tip. Readers are more likely to come back if they feel a bond with you - if they like you. If you seem like a real human with a face and a heart, they are more likely to trust you. And, an About page gives you a way to establish authority... and apparently authority is a wonderful thing to have when you are blogging.

So... I'm not an asshole. I'm kind. I love kids and animals. I don't like hurting peoples' feelings. I love books at the same level or even higher than my loyalty to chocolate. Chocolate, peanut butter and books and you have a deal. So it stands to reason, then, that I'd like for people to like me. I'd like for people to enjoy reading my book reviews, sharing their recommendations, learning something helpful. 

And thusly, it makes sense that I should have an About page. Want to see it? You can visit my brand new About page here. Does it make you want to be my friend? Does it make you want to come back and read more?

Let me know, I am genuinely curious! And in the meantime, I'm off to not read any About pages. I will, however, stalk the shit out of all my GR friends profiles to see what my next book adventure will be.

Talk soon xox

Review:

Riding the Night (Wild Riders #5) by Jaci Burton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

AJ and Pax are undercover operatives for a government agency of bad-boy bikers known as the Wild Riders. While AJ is visiting Teresa, a high school sweetheart, a fight erupts in her bar between two biker gangs. One man is left dead and Teresa's brother is wrongly accused of murder. With no proof and Teresa as the only eyewitness, AJ, Pax, and Teresa point their Harleys toward the annual bike rally in South Dakota in hot pursuit of the real killer, and Teresa discovers a passion that brings both men to their knees.

*****

Oooh, this was a goody!

What I loved:
- Jaci Burton made the M/M/F threesome smoking hot. Like, I don't get into that ordinarily, but I loved how JB made this a thing for her fourth book. It was fantastic.
- The character dynamics in this one were so deeply developed - I was all in for everything that unfolded in this story.
- This story is a beautiful balance of action, suspense, and romance, and (I'm going to sound like a broken record) the sizzle game is strong.
- I really enjoyed how JB built the relationship between AJ and Pax. Their bond was so strong, and I loved their loyalty to each other. I remember reading with trepidation the first time around, waiting for the moment when one of them betrayed the other, and I cannot even express how much I love Jaci Burton for not doing that to me.

What I didn’t love:
- After learning more about her character, I have a super hard time believing Theresa would behave the way she does in her bar in the beginning. But it's a minor thing.

Overall…
This totally ends Wild Riders on a high note. Loved it!

UPDATE: When I read this, it was book #4 and the end of the series. There are several new additions since then - novellas and updates to make up book #4 and #4.5. I didn't read either of them, but I've got them on my To Read list for when I have nothing better going on. Do I sound bored? Honestly - I don't like Novellas so the chances are high I'll always find something better to read.


Review:

Riding on Instinct (Wild Riders #3) by Jaci Burton

Thursday, July 28

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Department of Justice agent Shadoe Grayson is out to prove she's no rookie, and eagerly accepts her first undercover assignment at a strip club in New Orleans. Working with the Wild Riders, a government agency of bad boy bikers, her goal is to expose a corrupt DEA agent. All she has to do is learn to strip like a pro.

Standing in Shadoe's way is arrogant and smokin' hot Spencer King, her new partner and one of the Wild Riders. Spence thinks she looks more like a schoolteacher than a stripper, and doubts her ability to do the job. But when he mockingly challenges Shadoe to strip just for him, he finds out there's more to the surprisingly sexy agent than by-the book rules and Government Issue pantsuits...
  

*****

My favourite in the Wild Riders series, by far

What I loved:
- JB seemed to grow throughout this series - by this book (#3) I think she's well and truly found her feet. Jessie & Diaz's story was good, but this one is strong in ways I haven't seen in the earlier books.
- Shadoe is a strong, confident, feisty woman with a squishy heart and a solid backbone. I was so excited to see these two get their HEA, and JB did not disappoint.
- The plot was exciting - even if I hadn't been reading this for the romance sex, I would have enjoyed it. I was invested in what happened with the storyline.
- I'm excited to see the last guys in the series get their stories... I suck in that I try to guess the premise and the type of heroine before I read the synopsis, but JB's Wild Riders series has me intrigued and I can't wait to read the rest of it. It's not often that I last through a whole series, but this one is so doing it for me.

What I didn’t love:
- Some of the x-rated phrases are starting to get a little repetitive. I'm hoping that since the author looks to be going from strength to strength, the next books will shake something up in the sex department.

Overall…
A sizzling, easy read - not overly dark, not overly complicated - just a really good time.

Review:

Riding Temptation (Wild Riders #2) by Jaci Burton

Wednesday, July 27
My rating: 4 of 5 stars




He’s a biker working undercover for the Feds. She joined the Wild Riders for reasons of her own. Together, they’re burning up the asphalt and tearing headlong into danger and passion…

Ever since runaway Jessie Matthews teamed up with the gang of special ops bikers, the guys of the Wild Riders have thought of her as their kid sister. Except for Diaz Delgado. Over the past few years he’s been watching the budding of a ripe young woman. Jessie’s glad somebody finally sees her for who she is—and she’s thrilled it’s Diaz. His dark good looks and killer body have tempted her since day one.

Diaz’s unbrotherly urges have been hard to fight but the last thing he’d want to do is hurt Jessie and break up the gang. But when they both go undercover to infiltrate a group of killer survivalists, he knows it’ll be hard to keep his distance—especially when the mission takes a risky turn. Now Diaz has no choice but to open himself up to the one woman who may be strong enough to take him on.


What I loved:
- I really liked the undercover agents premise, and I'm always a sucker for a hero and heroine who get forced together.
- JB writes awesome sex scenes. If you're reading this as erotica, go hard - it's an excellent story.
- This book made me want to be on a bike. The descriptions of the landscape, the road, it all made me hate my car.
- The way the couple infiltrate the MC and the experiences they (and especially Jessie) have whilst ensconced in the club. Some of the situations they ended up in had my heart going!
- Diaz was hot.

What I didn’t love:
- Real life Jessie wouldn't have made it as a parking warden, let alone an undercover agent. She is fixated on Diaz the whole time.
- I'm not a fan of virgin heroines. 99% of the time, I feel creepy reading about virgins. I felt the creepiness here.

Overall…
A fun, fast paced read, with a lot of good stuff going on.

Review:

Riding Wild (Wild Riders, #1) by Jaci Burton

Tuesday, July 26
My rating:

He's a Harley-riding ex-thief...she's a gun-toting ex-socialite. Together they'll take the ride of a lifetime in this erotic romance from "an undoubted master."*

Mac Canfield was the last man Lily West expected to see again, never mind aim her gun at. But there he was, the bad boy who'd broken her heart years ago - still a thief, hijacking a priceless artifact - and it was all she could do to push aside the memories of how it felt to have his perfectly chiseled body next to hers.

Mac was no less shocked to see the beautiful girl next-door again, threatening to shoot him. Little did she know she was blowing his cover. He had to get her out of harm's way without succumbing to his desire to take her on a hot trip down memory lane.

But Lily has no intention of going anywhere with Mac, which means he'll have to resort to kidnapping. Unless she agrees to let him take her for the kind of ride destined to drive them both unbelievably wild.

********

A good platform to launch the Wild Riders series.

What I loved:
- This one had a lot of heat - creative heat. Sometimes I feel like I'm reading the same phrases on loop when it comes to the sexy times, but I didn't get that with this book. (Incidentally, I've read the whole Wild Riders series, and JB maintains the creativity the whole way through. Yay!)
- I liked how JB tore down and rebuilt the couple's relationship. From what they had back in the day, to what they try to have now, it didn't seem rushed.
- The bad-boy but not really premise. Don't get me wrong, I love mean mofo heroes, but this was a welcome change. JB writes good alpha males, also - I like the way they speak, the way they react, the way they carry themselves. Wunnerful.

What I didn’t love:
- Lily was not a trustworthy heroine, and such a hypocrite. She spent the majority of the story banging Mac and plotting to steal from him and escape, all whilst wringing her hands about whether she can trust her heart to him again. And she was a bit whiny.
- I wasn't a fan of the dialogue to explain the 'big finish.' The takedown, I guess. It felt like an afterthought, or - dare I say it - laziness. To me, it reeked of 'I guess I better explain the gaps in the actual plot now.'
- There were several parts of the story where characters had conversations that no real person would have. It was pretty obvious the whole conversation was to explain to me what was missing from the actual storyline. I don't like being told what's happening - I like to be shown. I love when I organically come to learn what is unfolding, and this book was missing that.

Overall…
I didn't read romance for a long time while I was devouring non-fiction. This series was like a romance renaissance for me, and I really enjoyed it. My tastes have grown since the first time I read this, so I started skimming it last night to jog my memory. I ended up reading it for 3 hours, which I think is a good sign.

Review: Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2) by J.R. Ward


My rating:
4 Stars…

What I loved:

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He's the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover-for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by this dark side, Rhage fears the time when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.

Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage's protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage's intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves...

 
What I loved:

- Mary was possibly my favourite heroine of all time. She was compassionate, kind, loving, thoughtful, and brave - she risked everything for people she cared about, gave everybody a chance, and all this on top of the mega shit she had to deal with on her own.
- J.R Ward's ability to crush my heart and rebuild it in a matter of chapters. That is some clever writing! There comes a point in the story where I thought 'huh. They are not going to end up together.' Cue heartbroken babbling on my end. Followed by reading the synopsis for the next book to see if they'll get their HEA there. But no. Ward was just playing with my emotions.
- I think it's really clever how the author works so many characters into the story whilst maintaining a sort of smoothness to the plot. I didn't feel lost, or like I was getting whiplash from the differing POVs. And I think it makes the whole series addictive - even though Rhage & Mary's story is done, I want to know about the rest of the brothers, and Bella, John, Marissa... I can't not keep going with the series.
- Rhage. Sweet, glorious Rhage. I cannot express how much I want one of those for my very own.
- All the beautiful words.

What I didn’t love:

Poor Bella. (On the plus side, at least the next story is about her, so I can take comfort knowing she doesn't die. And she also gets Zsadist... god damn it.)

Overall…

I already know that Zsadist's story is next, and I love Zsadist hard so I feel I tried to rush through Rhage's story for the last 100 pages or so. I loved it, don't get me wrong, but I knew who was coming and wild animals couldn't tear me away from Lover Awakened.

But Lover Eternal was a beautiful story, and the characters are all painted incredibly well.

Review: Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1) by J.R. Ward

Monday, July 25
My rating:
5 Stars… 


What I loved:

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.

****

I am so warm and fuzzy over this book right now!

This was my attempt at tentatively dipping my toes in the PNR pool, after having said toes rotted off by Twilight. How I despised those books, and - by association - how I despised vampires, werewolves and anything paranormal. 10 years on, I was ready to try again.

What I loved:

- Ward takes the time to build Beth & Wrath's relationship, through their inner dialogue, their conversations, and the time they spend together. I love that I didn't have a WTF moment, wondering why they were suddenly in love.
- I liked the insecurity and vulnerability in Wrath's inner dialogue. I loved how he doubted himself, how he felt unworthy, and how Beth bolstered his confidence. I don't think you could create two better suited people.
- No misunderstandings or teenaged trust issues - YAY! Happy dancing all over that one.
- Do you know, honestly... I would have read this without the romance and still been thrilled with the book. My absolute favourite part of the story was the bond & loyalty within the brotherhood, followed closely by the way they rage out. The way Rhage beasts out - I cannot even. Apparently I was babbling at my kindle when he howled so loud the trees bowed. And then, the way Wrath takes care of him. Sigh.
- Even the peripheral characters had my heart. I cheered when Marissa and Butch met, and I was almost screaming at my kindle when I felt Zsadist was mistreated.
- The way the brothers communicated with Boo. Because, cat lady.

What I didn’t love:

- Mr X was such a wanker. But he was supposed to be, so I guess it's not a bad thing. I couldn't wait for him to get his beans.
- I wish Mr X didn't have pitbulls. I have a pitbull marshmallow, and so it makes me sad when bad things happen to them in books.

Overall…

Massive thank you hugs to everyone who rec'd this - you were not wrong.

Review:

Kulti by Mariana Zapata

Saturday, July 23
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”

When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to.

It didn’t take a week for twenty-seven-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she’d seen in the international soccer icon—why she’d ever had his posters on her wall, or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.

Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man that hadn’t known she’d existed. So she isn’t prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team’s season: a quiet, reclusive, shadow of the explosive, passionate man he’d once been.

Nothing could have prepared her for the man she got to know.

Or the murderous urges he brought out in her.

“Sal, please don’t make me visit you in jail. Orange isn’t your color.”

This was going to be the longest season of her life.

description

Didn't hate it, didn't like it, didn't get into it, didn't finish it. I just couldn't do anything with this book...
 
Maybe it's because I don't follow soccer. Maybe it's because the only male soccer player I've heard of is David Beckham, so him and his girly voice are the only things I can picture when I read this. Maybe it's because I watched Bend It Like Beckham so all the female soccer players I can imagine look like a pre-teen Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra. I wasn't a fan of Beckham, Knightley or Nagra, and especially not in this genre, so this probably wasn't going to work out for me.

Overall…
Doomed before it began - I'm shelving it for now and will try again one day. For now though, I found it slow, long-winded, and more about soccer than romance. Which would be totally cool if I was reading the soccer genre.

Week 3: Become SEO friendly

Friday, July 22

Ok kids - this week I dived into SEO.

And by dived I mean dipped my toes tentatively.

And by into I mean skirted the periphery.

And by SEO I mean Search Engine Optimization. The boring but accurate definition being: getting traffic to your website by being seen on Google & friends using free, organic, natural search results. Since I've committed myself to growing my blog for free, I figured this is right up my alley.

Pity I know nothing about how to SEO. Is it a noun or a verb?  Like, literally - I googled the definition of SEO when I chose this tip.

This week, my brain sponge has been slurping up a tip I found on The SITS Girls. By the by, there is a whole lot of info about growing your blog, so if you're in the Blogging for not-actual-dummies boat as me (and Welcome to you!) I think we're going to find some brain growing goodness over there.

The tip is:

How to Create SEO Friendly Blog Post Titles

 Like last week, I'll fluff around here while you go and have a look...

Basically, there's a whole lot of advice on what to put in your post titles so you get noticed by search engines. One thing that stuck out for me is that your post title should actually be relevant.

 You know what's weird? I love the titles that are obscure and funny, the titles I read that make me chuckle to myself like a lunatic. One that sticks in my head is 'Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?' I read it years ago (it was a travel blog and super entertaining) and I remember it so vividly, I don't know how it could be a bad thing.

Apparently it's a bad thing if you want to be seen by the search engine robot gods.

The gist of it all?

 


I want to learn more about SEO because, seriously, half of what I've learned this week makes no sense to me. But while I do that, I've also changed some of my titles. I mean, my titles weren't funny like the hell in a handbasket one, to begin with, but now they are downright informative and relevant.

So, hopefully some of these tips helped you, fellow blogging friend!

Talk soon :)

Review:

Heaven's Sinners (The MC Sinners, #2) by Bella Jewel

Thursday, July 21
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A modern day biker romance.

Spike knows tragedy, he knows that feelings are better left hidden. He refuses to put his heart out there again, it's a pain he's not willing to feel a second time around. He's accepted he's going to spend forever alone. That's all he deserves.

But then there's Ciara, the sister of his deceased wife. She's beautiful and damned determined to throw herself into his life in hopes they can reform an old friendship, but Spike won't hear of it, and Ciara refuses to give up.

Who will win the battle of wills?

description

What I loved:
- This is my first romance novel by an Australian author, and I bloody loved it. Love the phrases the characters use, the way they talk, the things they do, their behaviour...
- Ciara. What a handful! I loved that she has the tenacity of a pitbull... she just goes for what she wants and doesn't stop. She held on and tried to make things right through all the shit Spike threw at her.
- Spike. Just... yum. Loved everything about him. Even when he was being a c-word, I still loved him. And his piercings.
- I really enjoyed how the peripheral characters were not all one big happy family. There was conflict. Just because Spike was the man, it didn't mean anyone backed down to him. Likewise, even though Ciara was wonderful, she was no golden vagina.
- Great storyline, great plot.

What I didn’t love:
- I felt like Ciara used her sister's death a bit too liberally when she argued with Spike. One minute she hates her sister, the next minute she blames Spike for her sister's death, the next minute she loves her sister and cries for her. I'm not buying it, CiCi. Not for a minute.
description

Overall…
Bella Jewel can write the shit out of a MC romance! I am so totally in on the rest of this series now.

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