Must-Read Monday: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

 

So everyone knows New Adult books (stories with college-aged protagonists) are very hot right now. I love the genre, but I have to say, most of the stories I've read do not resemble what college looked like for me. The characters are often way more mature than I remember being at 18, and the college setting seems like a background brush stroke. But Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was a totally different experience. The way the college setting was described made me think--Yes, this. This is what freshman year looked like--dorms that always smelled like burnt popcorn and laundry detergent. Libraries that were impossible not to get lost in. Being completely clueless as a freshman. Most of us weren't hanging out at cool parties and being all hip our first yer of college (or if you were me--any years of college, lol.)  It felt authentic.

And beyond the setting, the characters are so fresh and funny and likable. The hero was adorable and not angsty or damaged at all. (Don't get me wrong, I love angsty/damaged heroes but this was a nice change up.) The heroine was smary, sarcastic, and funny. I laughed out loud a lot, which is rare for me when reading. And I couldn't put this one down.

After reading Eleanor & Park by this same author earlier this year, I was already a fan. But I liked Fangirl even more than that one. Now this author is an autobuy for me.

So, go read it, you'll thank me later. :)

About the Book:
In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Have you read anything good lately? Feel free to share your must-reads in the comments. : )

Must-Read Monday: Two Forbidden Love Stories

So it's been a while since I've done a Must-Read Monday, but I've been catching up on my reading lately and have a few to share with you. :)

It wasn't the plan, but the last two books I've read had the theme of forbidden love (a favorite dynamic of mine to write and read about.) And both were fantastic reads. So here you go...

On the Island  by Tracey Garvis Graves

Yeah, yeah, I know I'm behind the times on this one. It was a bestseller a while ago. But it's been sitting in my stack since last year and I finally got the chance to pick it up. I really enjoyed this story. It was fast-moving and transported you to the deserted island setting. And both characters were very likeable. My only complaint was that it could've been a bit steamier after all the yummy sexual tension built up in the first half of the book, but that's just a personal preference of mine because I like a very sexy book. :) But I definitely recommend it for an engrossing read. 

Here's the blurb from Amazon:

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man. 

A Little Too Far  by Lisa Desrochers

Next is a read I couldn't put down. The blurb had me from the start. A love triangle with a stepbrother and a soon-to-be priest? My first thought was -- how did me and Tiffany Reisz not write this book? (For those who haven't read us: I have the forbidden foster brother love in MELT INTO YOU and Tiffany's Original Sinners series has a priest as the main hero.)


This is a New Adult book (college-aged protagonists) and transports you Italy for most of the novel. That's one of the things I liked most about it. The setting had real life to it. Also, the story was very sexy and fun. Here's my Goodreads Review:

A Little Too Far (A Little Too Far, #1)A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So I love, love, love forbidden romance stories and this one had double forbidden-ness, so yay for that. I loved the heroine's voice. She was funny and comfortable with herself and outspoken. I like that the fact that she enjoyed sex wasn't a BIG OL' DEAL. I was a little sad when I realized that I was pulling for the wrong guy in the love triangle, but I'm looking forward to his story next. I also really enjoyed the Italian setting. I felt transported there and that's always a nice treat. Very quick and sexy read!

View all my reviews

And here's the blurb:
Have you ever gone just a little too far?

Lexie Banks has.

Yep. She just had mind-blowing sex with her stepbrother. In her defense, she was on the rebound, and it's more of a my-dad-happened-to-marry-a-woman-with-a-super-hot-son situation. But still, he's been her best friend and confidant for the better part of the last few years ... and is so off limits. It's a good thing she's leaving in two days for a year abroad in Rome.

But even thousands of miles away, Lexie can't seem to escape trouble. Raised Catholic, she goes to confession in hopes of alleviating some of her guilt ... and maybe not burning in hell. Instead, she stumbles out of the confessional and right into Alessandro Moretti, a young and very easy-on-the-eyes deacon ... only eight months away from becoming a priest. Lexie and Alessandro grow closer, and when Alessandro's signals start changing despite his vow of celibacy, she doesn't know what to think. She's torn between falling in love with the man she shouldn't want and the man she can't have. And she isn't sure how she can live with herself either way.
 

If that blurb doesn't sell you, I don't know what will. :)  Also, I'm excited that Lisa is one of the authors in the Fifty First Times anthology I'm contributing too. (I actually didn't realize that until after I'd read her book, lol.) Btw, if you missed the announcement about the anthology, you can find out the details here. :)

*Also, if you entered my 50 Book Giveaway, all winners have been chosen and contacted. Thanks to all of you who participated and spread the word! :)

So how do you feel about taboo or forbidden romance stories? Has anyone read either of these.

 

Must-Read Monday: A Sexy Pick from Guest Laurelin Paige

Hi y'all! I know it's been a little while since I popped in. I have a book due on July 1st so I'm in deadlne mode again. But I'll definitely be around in the next few weeks because NOT UNTIL YOU, my e-serial, releases next week! Whee! So more about that later this week.

But right now, I have a special guest taking over Must Read Monday. Laurelin Paige has got a book pick to share with us and a sexy story of her own. So, over to you, Laurelin...
 

Must-Read Monday with Laurelin Paige

First, let me say thank you so much, Roni for letting me be here today! This blog has been a favorite of mine for years and it’s truly an honor.

When I was thinking of what book I’d choose for Must Read Monday, I have to admit that I felt momentarily overwhelmed. Because, SO MANY MUST READ BOOKS! HOW WILL I CHOOSE ONE? But as I flipped through my Kindle, Picture Perfect by Alessandra Thomas jumped out at me.

Here’s the blurb:

 Fashion design major Cat Mitchell has a closet full of gorgeous clothes - and not a single thing fits. After two years of runway modeling for easy cash, an accident shattered her lower leg bone and her self-esteem in just one swift fall. Ten months of no exercise, prescription steroids, comfort eating and yoga pants meant returning to campus as a size twelve instead of her former size two. 

When her gorgeous long-time friend with benefits sees her for the first time after her accident and snubs her in front of all her friends, Cat’s self-image hits rock bottom. Her sorority sisters all insist that she looks gorgeous, but all Cat sees is the roll of her stomach when she sits down, or the dimpling at the back of her thighs that wasn't there last year. Cat’s therapist prescribes something radical to stop the downward spiral - nude modeling for a nearby college's human form drawing classes. 

When Cat faces her fears and bares it all for the class, she realizes that she's posing naked in front the most gorgeous, buffest guy she's ever seen in her life. He asks her out after the class, and after one steamy night and six weeks of perfect dates together, Cat's absolutely smitten.

But when Cat goes home with Nate for Thanksgiving, she discovers something shocking from his recent past that proves that he hasn’t always been so encouraging of women of all shapes and sizes. Cat has no idea what to think, but she does know one thing - this might destroy their relationship before it's even had a chance to get off the ground. 

Before Cat can figure out whether the real Nate is the sensitive, adoring guy she fell in love with, or an undercover asshole, she'll have to finally feel comfortable in her own skin - even if it means leaving him forever.

And my review:

Let me preface by saying I am a sexy times reader and writer. I like my books hot, hot, hot. Hence part of my adoration of Roni who pens some of the hottest books out there. Sweet and meaningful are not usually my first pick.

But Alessandra’s Picture Perfect blew me away. It is so beautifully sweet and has a message to boot. And it’s so relatable. Cat’s struggle with her weight and sexual self-identity is such a universal theme and there just aren’t that many books that address that issue. And tell me the truth – when’s the last time you read a romance book where the hero was a size 12? I read that Alessandra had to search long and hard to find a plus-size model for the cover. Isn’t that just sad? It’s the reason we need more books like this where we are told that a small size does not equal good sex.

Speaking of sex, the author does not skimp on the bedroom scenes. This book is steaming! I absolutely fell in love with Nate and the way he treated Cat. I’m lucky to have found a man like him in my husband, who adores me and my large size. I wish I had been able to overcome my self-consciousness about size in college as Cat does. Her character’s journey and transformation are believable and rewarding. I am delighted to recommend it as a must read.

Thanks again for having me, Roni, and for letting me share a book I was passionate about.

Laurelin Paige is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Mad Men and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Adam Levine. She is represented by Bob Diforio of D4EO Literary Agency. Her debut novel, Fixed on You, is out June 24th

 

Must-Read Monday: A Movie Star, A Kidnapping, & 90s-tastic-ness

Perfect by Judith McNaught

So if you follow my blog, you know that I've been going through a phase where I'm reading old school romance from the 80s and 90s to catch up on some of the classics I missed out on. Well, when I reviewed Judith McNaught's Whitney, My Love, I had a ton of people tell me, "You must read Perfect!" (Paradise also got lots of mentions, but I haven't gotten to that one yet.) So I decided to give Perfect, which is one of her contemporaries, a try. And I'm so glad I did.

Here's the blurb:

A rootless foster child, Julie Mathison had blossomed under the love showered upon her by her adoptive family. Now a lovely and vivacious young woman, she was a respected teacher in her small Texas town, and she passionately lived her ideals. Julie was determined to give back all the kindness she'd received; nothing and no one would ever shatter the perfect life she had fashioned.

Zachary Benedict was an actor/director whose Academy Award-winning career had been shattered when he was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. After the tall, ruggedly handsome Zack escaped from a Texas prison, he abducted Julie and forced her to drive him to his Colorado mountain hideout. She was outraged, cautious, and unable to ignore the instincts that whispered of his innocence. He was cynical, wary, and increasingly attracted to her. Passion was about to capture them both in its fierce embrace...but the journey to trust, true commitment, and proving Zack's innocence was just beginning....

Now, what I'm loving about these older romances is how epic they feel. As writers, we can't get away with loads of backstory anymore. We have to get to the present action immediately and carefully drop in character history here and there. The style has changed. Back in the 90s, it seems that authors often started early in the character timeline. We see them in their childhood or teen years for a chapter or three. Then it jumps ahead to another pivotal moment in their lives, then the present. I think Perfect had about 80 pages of backstory and set up before we got to the present story. But it wasn't boring, "This happened long ago." Instead it's written as the present and filled with action. So it works for me. Plus, this book is long, almost 700 pages, so the author had more room to give us all that information. And the result is that you feel seriously attached to the characters throughout the story because you feel like you've known them since they were kids.

And boy was I attached to these characters and their HEA because when the black moment came, gah, I was torn up. I almost couldn't read because my head was screaming the dramatic, "Noooooo!" and I didn't want to watch it all fall apart. >.<  Any author that can make me feel that involved, like these people are real and this is not just a story, gets a gold star from me. And she does give you like a 100pg HEA so she tries to make up for all that anguish she put you through by laying on the happiness with a heavy hand. :)

Also, as a bonus, this book is from the early 90s and about a movie star, so there are cameo appearances by stars of that day, including Patrick Swayze (my very first celebrity crush.) And I had to chuckle at some of the 90s stuff like the heroine popping up her collar or the house being decorated in mauve, green, and brass. Also, because it's old school romance, there was a bit of a "forced seduction" scene where I wanted to smack the hero for being an asshat. But I realize that was acceptable hero behavior in older romances.

But overall, I really loved this book and felt like I went on a real journey. Here's my review on Goodreads: 

 

Perfect (Second Opportunities #2)Perfect by Judith McNaught
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a Judith McNaught that many people told me was their all-time favorite. I'm glad I listened to them. I love how she writes books that show characters from the pivotal moments in their childhoods and brings you forward in time. It gives the stories an epic feel and you're totally emotionally involved with the characters because you feel like you've known them so long.

And speaking of emotions, I have to say the "black moment" of this book gutted me. I felt like I needed to go cuddle puppies or something to make me feel better. Guh. It's a feat to make me feel that bleak about a couple's outcome when I *know* it's a romance and I *know* there will be an HEA eventually. I wanted to scream, "No!" and look away, hoping it wouldn't really happen. Yes, I know it's fiction. But good fiction makes you forget that it isn't real and this one did that. My only minor quibble is that the heroine seemed a little too perfect and without flaw. I know that's the title of the book, and the heroine had her reasons for being a model citizen/person but everyone has some flaws and no one is always that self-sacrificing.

Definitely one to add to your shelf, especially if you like epic, old school romance.

View all my reviews

 

So what Must-Read have you read lately?

Must-Read Monday: A Time-Travel Romance I Adored

As many of you may know if you read my blog regularly, I recently decided to seek out some classic 80s-90s romances for my TBR pile to educate myself on the earlier days of the modern romance genre. Since I didn't grow up reading romance, I missed out on a lot of the great ones from back then. So I asked y'all to give me some suggestions on a previous post (Must-Read Monday: Give Me Your Old School Romance Picks). And one of the names that kept popping up was Jude Deveraux and in particular, her book A Knight in Shining Armor.

Well, I love a good time-travel romance, so I decided to track down a copy. And I am so glad I did! Thank you to all of you who recommended it. *hugs* I adored this book. I couldn't put it down. Beyond the humor there because--hello, a medieval knight in modern times is going to be a little comical--the love story felt truly epic. I have to say that's one thing I'm noticing about the romances from this era. Like Whitney, My Love, there are so many trials the couple goes through over an extended period of time that you feel fully emotionally invested (and wrung out) by the time you get to the end.

And this story also did that thing that I always admire when a romance author can pull it off--she made me worry that I may not get my Happily Ever After. I read romance, I KNOW the book won't end tragically. But still, she had me wondering how the hell these two people could ever manage to be together. There were so many complications to figure out. I actually was tempted to flip to the end (something I NEVER do, ever.) And though I've seen some people complain about the ending she chose, I think it was perfect and right.

My beat-up copy

This book was so good that I'm considering ordering a new copy of the trade paperback to put on my keeper shelf because the used mass market one I have is a little beat up. Now you know that's when a book is good if I'm considering buying a second copy, lol. So go. Read it. 

A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

Blurb:

Once upon a time...

...as a fair maiden lay weeping upon a cold tombstone, her heartfelt desire was suddenly made real before her: tall, broad of shoulder, attired in gleaming silver and gold, her knight in shining armor had come to rescue his damsel in distress....

 

Jude Deveraux's beloved bestseller has captivated readers the world over; now in a special edition featuring new material, this timeless love story greets a new generation. Abandoned by her lover, thoroughly modern Dougless Montgomery finds herself alone and brokenhearted in an old English church. She never dreamed that a love more powerful than time awaited her there...until Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck, a sixteenth-century knight, appeared. Drawn to him by a bond so sudden and compelling that it defied reason, Dougless knew that Nicholas was nothing less than a miracle: a man who would not seek to change her, who found her perfect just as she was. But she could not know how strong were the chains that tied them to the past -- or the grand adventure that lay before them.

 

Who's read this one? What did you think? What romances have you read that felt epic?

 

Must Read Monday: A YA Romance Set in 1986

Last week I was in NYC for both business and a bit of a vacation. The trip was fantastic, even though a few things went awry--like me getting strep throat and having to find a doctor in an unfamiliar city because I barely could swallow and couldn't stop getting the chills. (Btw, have I ever mentioned how miraculous antibiotics are? Ohmigod. I've never been so happy to see those big, pink pills.) Thankfully, the medicine saved the second half of my trip and I was able to enjoy the vacation.

One of the other things that went awry was the big snowstorm that wreaked havoc on my flight on Friday. We had a cancelled flight, and I ended up spending about 13 hours in airports and planes before getting home around 11pm. However, the long day wasn't as bad as it could've been because for a big part of the day I was completely absorbed in a book. I had brought my Kindle with me, which has probably about 100 unread books on it, and decided to start a new one. How to decide which one? I wanted to make sure I picked a fabulous one because I knew I'd be reading for a while at the airport. Well, I had seen Julie Cross's post about Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell  before I left, and she's my go-to girl for YA and NA recommendations. Our tastes almost always line up, so I figured it was a safe bet to pick that one up first. And boy am I glad I did. I almost forgot I was so tired and stuck in an airport.

Eleanor & Park is set in 1986 and is the story of two quirky teens who connect in the sweetest, most simple (yet poignant) way possible - on the bus. This story has humor but also some heavy family issues, so it's not a "breezy" read. But it channeled a bit of John Hughes for me. I think I saw someone on Goodreads describe it as Pretty in Pink (which came out in 1986, btw) if Andie had gone for Duckie. (And, hello, I ALWAYS wished she'd gone for Duckie instead.) So it was perfect for me. The ending was a bit open-ended, and I understand why it was that way, even though I prefer my HEAs wrapped up with a bow. But don't let that deter you. It was a fantastic book. In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm thinking I may go back and change my 4-star review to a 5-star because I'm still thinking about the book, and I'm starting to better accept the choice of ending, lol.

So anyway, here it is, go read it... :)

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Blurb:

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

Anyone else read this one? Any other Duckie fans out there? And how do you feel about left-to-interpretation endings?

Must-Read Monday: The Happiness Project

 Typically, on Must-Read Monday I feature fiction, but today I thought I'd share a non-fiction book that I recently read and loved. Now, I know I'm probably behind the curve on this one because it came out a few years ago, but hey, better late than never. : ) 

If you stopped by the blog last week, I mentioned this book in my post about Journaling for the Chronic Journal Abandoner, but I didn't really go into details about the book. So here's today's recommendation:

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

Blurb:

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

I picked up this book because I'd seen it mentioned on a few blogs and then found Gretchen's blog. I liked her voice and the concepts she was blogging about, so I was compelled to try it. And I'm so glad I did. I'm a pretty happy person by nature, but I'm always open to ways to make life more purposeful, meaningful, and mindful. Time does pass too quickly, and sometimes we go through our days unconsciously putting one foot in front of the other, unaware of time just falling away. So I really wanted to see what she had to say on finding happiness and meaning in every day life.

I really enjoyed her voice and the way the book was laid out with each chapter being a month of tackling new resolutions specific to on topic such as Vitality, Marriage, Parenthood, Money. And I found myself taking notes and making my own resolutions as I went. It really was a great book for self-reflection. Plus, I love making goals, resolutions, and commandments, and learning new ways to think about things. It's already affected how I've gone about my days since I've read it. And now I have my mom reading it, and she's having a similar reaction.

I really do think there is something in this book for everyone--great nuggets of wisdom and practical advice. And if you're unsure if you'd be into the book, it's worth checking out The Happiness Project blog to get a taste of what the book is like.

So, has anyone else read this? Thoughts? What books have you read that really made you stop and think about the way you were doing things in your life?

Must-Read Monday: A Hero in Drag? Yep, It Totally Worked

First, a few quick announcements of guest posts I've put out there in the world. Would love if you stopped by:

 

 

All right, now on to Must-Read Monday...

You ever read the back cover of a book and think...yeah, I'm not sure how they're going to pull THAT off?

Well, even though I'm about as open-minded in my romance as they come, this was one of those books for me. A few weeks ago, I saw buzz on Twitter from some of the romance reviewers about a book called Painted Faces--a book with a straight, alpha male, drag queen hero. Yep, you're reading that right. Even though my first reaction was what I said above and I was worried because I like my heroes very alpha, my tastes tends to run closely to these particular reviewers (here are their reviews: Smexy Books, Fiction Vixen, and Dear Author) so I figured, what the hell, I'll try it. (Plus, it was on sale and you know how I am about a book sale.) And I'm SO glad I did.

This book was totally unconventional and different but also really sweet, funny, sexy (and dark at times). Nicholas dresses in drag for performances only, so during his every day life, he's in guy mode. But both sides of him are very important (and there is believable backstory attached to this.) And the heroine, Freda, embraces both sides of him, which is the beauty of their relationship. Also, Freda is a fun heroine to go on the journey with. She's quirky, awkward, sarcastic, and self-deprecating. Because this was in first POV, it also had a "new adult" feel to it. 

Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway

 

I can't say I'd ever expected to read a romance where the hero teaches the heroine how to walk in heels, lol, but it totally worked. Don't be afraid of the unconventional hero, and check this one out. It's only 2.99 in ebook.

Has anyone else read this one? What book have you read that you kind of didn't expect to like but it totally surprised you? What's on your must-read list this week?

 

Must-Read Monday: A Book I Think Every Woman Should Read

First, a quick apology that I wasn't around for most of last week. I'm right up against my deadline and was in the inspiration zone. Banner week--21,000 words in 5 days. o.0  That is definitely a record for me. But needless to say, I had no juice left for blogging. I'll probably be like this until Feb. 1 since I'm still finishing the e-serial, but I did want to pop in today.

My pick for today is non-fiction and is a book that's been around for a long time: The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. I first heard about this book years ago when the author was on Oprah. It was one of those times where I watched something and certain things stuck with me long after the show. For instance, if you are attacked, "Never let someone take you to a second location." It was a chilling show and chock full of information, but I never picked up the book until a few months ago. 

I believe it was on sale on Kindle or something and I decided to get it. And man, am I glad I did. The book was compelling and really has information everyone should hear, particularly women since we tend to get victimized more. It's all about learning to trust your instincts and how to spot the signs that may indicate danger. Seriously, do yourself a favor and read it. After finishing it, I wanted to give a copy to every female relative and friend I have.

One of the most dangerous things we do is train ourselves out of trusting our intuition. We want to be "nice" to everyone and not look rude. Well, this books gives you permission to keep yourself safe first even if that means you may come off like a bitch at times. I found the whole thing insightful and empowering. I also found it vindicated me because I can be a bit paranoid about things. For instance, if I'm home alone and someone knocks on my door, I don't answer it. If I'm not expecting someone and I don't recognize the person, it can't be that important. My husband always thought that was a little silly, but why risk it? When I was in graduate school at LSU, there was a serial killer on the loose who got into women's houses by getting them to open the door (they think he posed as a service man or something.) Anyway, that cured me of ever opening the door to strangers. It may be silly or inconvenient or rude, but it's my instinct and I trust it. And this book backs me up on that. : )

About the book (via Amazon):

A stranger in a deserted parking lot offers to help carry a woman's groceries. Is he a good Samaritan or is he after something else? A fired employee says "You'll be sorry." Will he return with a gun? After their first date, a man tells a woman it is their "destiny" to be married. What will he do when she won't see him again? A mother has an uneasy feeling about the nice babysitter she's just hired. Should she not go to work today?

These days, no one in America feels immune to violence. But now, in this extraordinary groundbreaking book, the nation's leading expert on predicting violent behavior unlocks the puzzle of human violence and shows that, like every creature on earth, we have within us the ability to predict the harm others might do us and get out of its way. Contrary to popular myth, human violence almost always has a discernible motive and is preceded by clear warning signs.

Through dozens of compelling examples from his own career, Gavin de Becker teaches us how to read the signs, using our most basic but often most discounted survival skill - our intuition. The Gift of Fear is a remarkable, unique combination of practical guidance on leading a safer life and profound insight into human behavior.

It's an easy read that you'll fly through. And I promise, you won't forget it. 

Now, go and buy it. I heart you all and want you to be safe. : )  Has anyone else read this one?

 

Must-Read Monday: Give Me Your Old School Romance Picks

I have a confession to make. Despite my love for the romance genre now, I didn't grow up reading classic romance. My mom wasn't a romance reader. So for the longest time, I didn't even realize that the genre existed. But anything I read--suspense, YA, horror--it was the relationship parts that always drew me the most. So when I finally discovered romance, I was hooked.

But what this means is that I missed out on a lot of those "classic" romance authors from the 80s and 90s. And I still haven't read a Nora Roberts. So when my romance friends are discussing their all-time favorite old school romances, I have no frame of reference. Therefore, I am fixing this. : )

This past week I read Whitney, My Love  by Judith McNaught (published in 1985). I had originally picked this one up because it is always referred to as one of the notorious "bodice rippers" that let a hero get away with a rape. And yes, that happened. It was not "forced seduction" that is sometimes used in historicals. It was rape. Period. The hero even calls it such. And even when I knew it was going to happen, I still found myself hoping the hero would stop at the last minute. I will note that the author has since released a revised version that changes that scene and a few others (including a riding crop/punishment scene that I actually thought was hot and would be sad to see go--but I write BDSM so take that for what it's worth, lol.)

This is the current/revised version.


This is the original 1985 version I read.

But despite that scene, the story itself had me freaking captivated. I couldn't stop reading. It was intense and spanned so much time that the whole thing felt epic. So I "got" it. I got why this book was so popular. And it made me go buy a few more McNaught's (based on recs from friends on their favorites, which I have been assured are not "rape-y".) So even with the things that wouldn't be kosher in books today (head-hopping, "big misunderstanding" conflicts, and a hero committing an irredeemable act), I still loved the book. 

And it got me in the mood for more old school romances. So I went to the used bookstore this weekend to scan the shelves. I was overwhelmed, though, because I don't know which is good and which isn't, etc. I ended up leaving with nothing. But when I walked out, I saw that outside they were selling romance flats for 15 dollars. (42 romance novels for 15 dollars!!!) Because my TBR pile is out of control, I forced myself not to buy them. It was painful to walk away, but I was trying to be a good girl. : )

Later, I tweeted about the books and how much I really wanted them. My dear hubs (@TheMrLoren) saw my tweet. He was downstairs, and I was upstairs with kidlet at the time. Well, he snuck out of the house, drove back to the bookstore, and bought me both flats to surprise me. When I came back downstairs, he was walking in with two giant boxes of old school (and some new) romances. In my world, this is more romantic than getting a diamond ring or something, lol. Best. Hubs. Ever. 

Aren't they pretty?

(click here if you want to see bigger pic to read titles)

So now I have a treasure or 84 romances by mostly NYT bestsellers and have no idea where to start. Authors included are Nora Roberts, Jude Deveraux, Catherine Coulter, Julia Quinn, Susan Wiggs, Mary Balogh, Fern Michaels, Johanna Lindsey, Amanda Quick...

The mind boggles.

This is where YOU come in. Old school romance readers, I want to know your favorites, not just from this list.

  • What are your favorites of all time, those books you still remember from years or decades ago?
  • What should be on my syllabus for catching up on the great romances of the last few decades?

 

Must Read Monday - A YA Pick and a Giveaway via Julie Cross

So today is the inaugural Must Read Monday post. Yay! And though I'll normally be doing these book recommendations myself, there will be times where I'll be inviting other authors to pick some of their recent favorite reads (not their own book). And today I'm having my friend, YA Author Julie Cross, do the honors. Julie reads a ton of books, and she's my go to girl for YA and New Adult recommendations because she's always a few steps ahead of me on what's hot in those genres and I always trust her taste. She hasn't let me down yet with her recs, so she's the perfect person to have by today.

PLUS, I'm giving away not just one but TWO of Julie's books. Catch up on her whole series by getting a copy of TEMPEST and an ARC of her upcoming release, VORTEX! Details at the bottom on how to enter. But now, over to Julie...

Must Read Monday with Julie Cross

It’s been a while since I’ve done a guest post here and I’m super excited to be a part of Must Read Monday! Especially because Roni and I have taken this publishing journey virtually (actually virtually) along side each other. We debuted in the same month in January 2012 and it’s so nice to have someone who shares my book taste that I can chat and rant with about my latest reads AND about all things publishing related. 

Today, I’m recommending a YA title that released on New Years Day and a book that I had the pleasure of reading early last April. I actually wrote an official blurb for this book and it’s on the back cover, which made me squeal a little when I got it in the mail yesterday upon returning from vacation. Here’s the blurb I wrote:

“Jennifer Rush's ALTERED  is a thrilling, fast paced and romantic story. I read it almost entirely in one sitting. The twists and turns this plot takes will shock even the most proficient readers. Government conspiracies, special abilities, family, friendship, and love all melt together so beautifully to create an amazing debut novel.”

Blurb: 

They were made to forget. But they'll never forgive.

Everything about Anna's life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch, at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There's Nick, solemn and brooding; Cas, light-hearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who's stolen Anna's heart.

When the Branch decides it's time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape. Anna's father pushes her to go with them, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs.

On the run, with her father's warning in her head, Anna begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about herself. She soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they're both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

 

I also wrote a little bit longer review for goodreads that will hopefully help you decide if this is your kind of book because that’s what it’s always about, finding the right read for you. 


“I loved this book from page one--the quirky premise in the opening....four mysterious boys in a basement with no one to talk to but a home-schooled girl, that alone is just freakin' awesome and totally my kinda story. And then four boys on the run with said home-schooled girl who turns out to be less damsel in distress with every page and more mystery and awesome.

The plot twists toward the end are just brilliant and completely unpredictable. I love the underlying debate of science vs human nature. Do the boys really care about Anna or is it just because they're programmed to listen to her. Where do those lines began and end? The whole concept and premise is so original and the book is fantastically written. I especially loved the way Anna doesn't explain much in the beginning. She's just going about her life and it took me a little bit to realize that the boys were behind a glass wall. I felt like Jennifer did such a great job of going so far into the head of the Main Character that she didn't bother with explaining things that are abnormal to the average person. Like having experimental, altered boys locked up in your basement. It's all Anna knows, why would she compare or explain her life? It makes something far-fetched seem almost realistic, like someone we know might have a whole Branch experiment in their basement and we just think they're the normal family down the street that likes to keep to themselves.

Even though this a sci-fi, it really stretches so much farther and could easily please a romance, or contemporary YA fan as well as a younger action loving reader. I also think both girls and boys would enjoy this book.”

I’m happy to answer questions and give more types of YA book suggestions if any of you are looking for more titles just ask away! Of course you can also read this book called Tempest, I heard the sequel comes out on January 15…

Thanks for having me, Roni and good luck to those of you who enter the giveaway!

--Julie Cross

 


 

Thanks, Julie! That sounds like an amazing book. : ) And speaking of amazing books, Julie has one of those coming out on the 15th--VORTEX, the second in her series. If you haven't read TEMPEST yet (YA time travel) you're missing out. Get to it! 

VORTEX Blurb:

Julie Cross's Vortex is the thrilling second installment of the Tempest series, in which the world hangs in the balance as a lovelorn Jackson must choose who to save

Jackson Meyer has thrown himself into his role as an agent for Tempest, the shadowy division of the CIA that handles all time-travel-related threats. Despite his heartbreak at losing the love of his life, Jackson has proved himself to be an excellent agent. However, after an accidental run in with Holly—the girl he altered history to save—Jackson is once again reminded of what he's lost. And when Eyewall, an opposing division of the CIA, emerges, Jackson and his fellow agents not only find themselves under attack, but Jackson begins to discover that the world around him has changed and someone knows about his erased relationship with Holly, putting both their lives at risk all over again.

 

GIVEAWAY: I'm giving away both TEMPEST and VORTEX to one lucky commenter (U.S./Canada only) today. Both are paperback ARCs. To enter the contest, you need to give us your MUST READ of the week in the comments and leave your EMAIL ADDRESS.