24 June 2017

Stacking the Shelves #14

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and co-hosted by Reading Reality. It’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves; may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course e-books.

These are the books I added to my shelves this week:

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Black -  This is book #2 in the paranormal young-adult duology, Book #1 is Anna Dressed in Blood.

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

The Flame Never Dies by Rachel Vincent – This is book #2 in The Stars Never Rise Duology. I really enjoyed the first book, The Stars Never Rise, 5 out of 5 stars, you can find my review here.

In these urban fantasies, a 16-year-old girl discovers not only that the Church is run by demons and she is one of the very few who can exorcise them, but also that she must join forces with other rogue exorcists to save her younger sister and ultimately, humanity.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer – This is book #4.5 in The Lunar Chronicles series, the final book I had to order. I recently finished Cress and I am enjoying this series greatly.

A collection of short stories written about The Lunar Chronicles, nine stories—five of which have never before been published.

This is the audiobook I borrowed from the library:

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick - A surprising, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door – which I also enjoyed, 5 out of 5 stars.

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely to find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house.

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely to... well, not date her little brother's baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

These are the Columbine from my backyard, I don’t know how I managed to take the photo without the entire flower in frame…

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone has added to their shelves this week, have a wonderful weekend and thank you for visiting. -J
21 June 2017

Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Hardcover, 371 pages
Published April 6th, 2006 by Viking Books for Young Readers
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends. 

My thoughts…

I have heard so much about Sarah Dessen, I just never had a chance to read any of her books, until recently when I purchased two at the thrift store. Since then I’ve purchased a couple more while browsing the book section at Walmart. Just Listen is the first book by her that I read and I really enjoyed it. I can now appreciate why Sarah Dessen is well known for her Young Adult Contemporary Romance novels, and I’m hopeful that I will enjoy her other books as well.

Just Listen is the story about Annabel, the youngest of three girls, a model with a nice family and the girl who has everything. Under all the perfection is the real Annabel, the one who suffered from something so devastating at the end of the last school year after party. Annabel not only lost her self-respect, but her best friend as well. Annabel does everything to forget about that night, but it’s not so easy when she begins a new school year and her ex-best friend Sophie makes her life miserable at school. Other students are whispering about her and Sophie and her friends are name calling and taunting her.

For the rest of lunch, I just sat there, making a point of not looking at anyone. When I checked my watch and saw I only had five minutes to go, I figured the worst part was over. I was wrong.
Shhh, Annabel. It’s just me.
A million red Jeeps mush have passed before my eyes in the last few months, and despite myself I’d checked each one for his face, this face. But only now, here, was it actually him. And while I told myself that in broad daylight I could be strong and fearless, I felt as helpless as that night, as if even in the wide open, the bright light of day, I still wasn’t safe.

Annabel is not only trying to forget about that horrible night and school problems, her family life isn’t all what it seems to be. Her mother suffers from depression and has become a different person since her grandmother’s death. Her oldest sister Kirsten, has moved away to New York, leaving a gaping hole in the family when she continually misses coming home to visit. Her other sister Whitney, is suffering from an eating disorder that her parents choose to disregard until it’s almost too late when Annabel finds her unconscious on the bathroom floor.

Annabel meets Owen at school, a student that once punch another student, then calmly walked away. Owen keeps to himself and never seems to be without his iPod. After Annabel gets sick outside of school one day, he offers he some tissue from his backpack, from then on, a friendship begins.

Owen taste in music is very diverse, and he tries to enlighten Annabel on what he considers great music.

“So you must really like music,” I said, looking back at all the stacks of CDs.“Don’t you?” he replied, switching lanes. “Sure,” I said. “I mean, everybody does, right?” “No,” he said flatly. “No?’
He shook his head. “Some people think they like music, but they have no idea what it’s really about. They’re kidding themselves. Then there are people who feel strongly about music, but just aren’t listening to the right stuff. They’re misguided. And then there are people like me.”
“People like you,” I said. “What kind of people are those?”
“The kind that live for music and are constantly seeking it out, anywhere they can. Who can’t imagine a life without it. They’re enlightened.”  “Ah,” I said, like this actually made sense to me. “I mean, when you really think about it,” he continued, “music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.”

Owen is the guy who never lies, no matter what, and Annabel is the girl who lies to protect other's feelings. Owen teaches Annabel that she needs to be honest with everyone, including herself. The honesty begins slowly by giving Owen her opinion on the music he plays and most of the time it is not in agreement with Owen's. Owen burned a stack of CDs for Annabel to listen to, when she reaches the one at the very bottom, the cover is black, except for two words “JUST LISTEN.”

As Annabel and Owen grow closer she gains the confidence to be open and honest with her family about her modeling and what happened to her on that devastating night.

Just Listen is so well written and very emotional, it deals with many difficult issues such as rape, eating disorders, depression and anger management. I quickly became invested in not just Annabel and Owen but her whole family as well.

Moving on to the next Sarah Dessen novel, Happy Reading -J
18 June 2017

Review: Wounded by Abby Brooks

Wounded by Abby Brooks
Kindle Edition
Published March 18th, 2017 by Little Bird Publishing, LLC
My rating 5 out of 5 stars

For every wound, there is a scar.

Raised on fame and fortune, Liam McGuire is a spoiled man-child. His handsome face blinds the world, but I see through it to what he is inside.


When his tour bus rolls off the road, Liam’s rushed to the hospital where I work. A jagged scar runs the length of his face, ruining his good looks and jeopardizing his career. As his nurse, I’m around him more than I’d like, but the more I get to know him, the more I realize the world wasn’t blind to him.

I was.

Liam McGuire feels deeply and loves wildly, throwing himself into everything he does with more passion than I ever dreamed possible. With that intensity aimed at me, the scars slashed across my own heart start to heal. He is fire and I’ve been cold my whole life.

Am I ready to thaw? Or is life better—safer—when I’m cold and numb? 

My thoughts…

This is not your typical Popstar/Rockstar romance novel.
I don’t know if it’s because he’s been famous since he was fourteen and all the attention spoiled him, or if he’s just got asshole in his genes, but it only takes a minute or two of being around the guy to get my hackles up. I don’t care how good looking he is or how well he can sing, if you’re ugly on the inside, you’re ugly on the outside.

Liam is the spoiled pop star, tabloid headliner and underwear model who gets injured when his tour bus rolls off the road, Liam is lucky to have survived the horrific accident. Liam is left with a scar runs the length of his face, from hairline to chin. Brent, Liam’s manager, is desperate to get Liam back to LA for an appointment with a plastic surgeon to get the scar less visible before it can jeopardize his career.

Bailey is the nurse who has the misfortune of getting assigned care for Liam and she is not impressed with him whatsoever. Liam is rude, annoying and very disrespectful to Bailey. Bailey tells Liam exactly what she thinks of him…

“What the hell happened to you?” Liam stares me right in the face and laughs. “It looks like you swallowed something nasty. Face all screwed up. Nostrils flaring. Not your prettiest look, sweetheart.” So much for being professional. “First of all,” I say, my words carefully carved from ice and stone. “I didn’t swallow something nasty, thank you very much. I just get a little sick to my stomach being around you. Second of all, I can barely stand to look at you because you’re an asshole. And third of all, I never liked your music. You can rest assured that’s not going to change now.”

Liam is shocked that Bailey feels that way about him, most of the girls and woman he meets swoon instantly and will do anything to be close to him, Liam sees that as a perfect opportunity. Liam is not going back to LA, he hasn’t been happy with his manager, his music or his mother for a while now. Liam tells Brent that he is not returning to LA, that he will be staying with Bailey. Bailey is stunned by this announcement and then plays along with it, she figures he would find somewhere else to stay while in town. Bailey also mentions that Liam will be building her a patio while staying with her. Brent is flabbergasted, along with Liam, because Liam is no handy man.

Liam was thrust into a life style early on and manipulated by his mother, she should have loved and protected him.

I’m pacing while rage wings through my body, tightening muscles and quickening my breath. No one cares about me. They only care about my face. My body. My image. The fans? Those girls who swear they love me? They don’t give two shits about who I really am. How I really feel. And Brent? My mom? My whole team back in LA? They look at me and see dollar signs. They don’t see how empty I am. They don’t see the nights I lay in bed in some hotel and wish for it all to end.

Bailey had to step up early on to take care of her brother after her parents died in a car accident, which she blames herself for. Bailey was also dealing with the death of her boyfriend after he committed suicide. She was determined to do things on her own and not accept help from anyone, not even Liam.

Liam studies me for a long time. “You know what I see? I see a woman who’s so afraid of letting go of her past that she just digs in her heels and refuses to let anything change. A woman who is so afraid of the pain in her heart, she isolates herself and walks away from the people who want to help. You think you’re being strong? Bullshit. You’re broken and hurting and are too stubborn to admit it. You’re stuck in this house, frozen in time, unable to move on because that would mean you’d finally have to man up and face all the shit that happened to you.”

Liam and Bailey were two broken souls who found their way and helped each other heal. Wounded is an emotional read that will make you fall in love, make sure to have your tissues nearby.

It’s now, sitting at a piano, singing and playing and fighting tears, that I realize I’m falling in love with Liam. That I never want him to leave. That I’m better when I’m with him. That after all these years of struggling, I feel whole again.

Happy Reading -J

17 June 2017

Stacking the Shelves #13

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and co-hosted by Reading Reality. It’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves; may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course e-books.

These are the books I added to my shelves this week:

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen -  Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.

Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas – I had purchased books #4 and #5 in this series (Throne of Glass) awhile back from Book Outlet, it was time to complete the series so I order these books from Amazon. While complete is relative, because there will be a book #6 and #7 to eventually add.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Shattered Souls by Mary LindseyLenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

What I added to Kindle this week:

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata - Mariana Zapata is one of my favorite authors her books are always a one-click purchase for me. I enjoy slow burn romances and she always delivers. After reading this book I would have read all seven of her novels.

Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.

What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

This is the audiobook I borrowed from the library:

Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout - Dying sucks, and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things-including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming that Ember's curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. 

There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities weird even her out.

Flower photos: 

Columbine are one of my favorite flowers and I like the variety of colors you can find them in. Plus, the Columbine is the State Flower of Colorado, Colorado Blue Columbine to be exact. I have one growing in my backyard and will share a picture next week.

As I was recently leaving the veterinarian office, these beauties caught my eye and could not pass up taking a photo. I need to visit the nursery to add this color to my yard.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone has added to their shelves this week, have a wonderful weekend and thank you for visiting. -J
16 June 2017

Fur Baby Friday

Beware of Dogs!

Toby and Avery are guarding the house, barking at any leaf that would fall from the tree or the neighborhood children playing in the yard. This was taken when Avery was still a puppy and Toby still had his sight. Avery still enjoys cuddling with his brother Toby.

Happy Friday -J 

14 June 2017

Review: Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published February 28th, 2017 by William Morrow
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s gripping new novel, a young woman comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it. . .

It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.

First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.

But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last. 

My thoughts…

Cole and Sasha met in college and were newly dating, their relationship would have turned into something more if that horrific night never happened. As Sasha was leaving Cole's place she was taken, kept and tortured by the Groom, a sick twisted serial killer.

The Groom. Serial killer and rapist of at least six women. Some people believed there could’ve been more, but it was unlikely that anyone would ever find out. My escape had led to his arrest.

Ten years later and with years spent in intensive therapy Sasha returns to her home town and the loved one’s she left behind. Even though Sasha is still coping with her past, she is ready to help her mother run their family inn. Cole discovers that she is back and rushes over to see her. She hasn’t seen or spoken to Cole since that evening he kissed her goodbye.

As soon as my eyes settled on Cole, I knew what I was feeling was real, and the intensity of that swelling brought tears to the back of my throat. Truthfully, I’d fallen in love with him ten years ago and never fallen out of it.

Once Sasha returns home strange things begin to happen. Young blond women are starting to disappear again, her car windows are broken out but nothing is taken, a dead deer is left in her mother’s truck. The circumstances have Sasha wondering if this is coincidence or something more sinister. Until a box arrives in the mail addressed to Sasha, it contains a finger with pink nail polish.

Turning my head toward Cole, I drew in a deep breath. “If he had killed me, he would’ve cut off my ring finger. He would’ve stripped me out of the gown, put me in a new one, and that gown . . . and my finger would’ve hung in the room with the rest of them.”
Now a nightmare from the past was back, and I had to believe this was happening. Someone was out there and they’d already killed one woman, most likely two, and I knew that if the person was following the behaviors of the Groom, he already had someone else.

This book has the perfect balance of suspense and romance, Cole was so patience and loving with Sasha and he was not letting her go again. Why not five stars… I pretty much knew early on who the killer was and that was a bit disappointing, but overall I enjoyed it.

Happy Reading -J
11 June 2017

Review: Velocity by Dean Koontz

Velocity by Dean Koontz
Michael Hayden (Narrator)
Published May 24th, 2005 by Random House Audio
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Bill Wile is an easygoing, hardworking guy who leads a quiet, ordinary life. But that is about to change. One evening, after his usual eight-hour bartending shift, he finds a typewritten note under the windshield wiper of his car. If you don’t take this note to the police and get them involved, I will kill a lovely blond schoolteacher. If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have four hours to decide. The choice is yours.

It seems like a sick joke, and Bill’s friend on the police force, Lanny Olson, thinks so too. His advice to Bill is to go home and forget about it. Besides, what could they do even if they took the note seriously? No crime has actually been committed. But less than twenty-four hours later, a young blond schoolteacher is found murdered, and it’s Bill’s fault: he didn’t convince the police
to get involved. Now he’s got another note, another deadline, another ultimatum…and two new lives hanging in the balance.

Suddenly Bill’s average, seemingly innocuous life takes on the dimensions and speed of an accelerating nightmare. Because the notes are coming faster, the deadlines growing tighter, and the killer becoming bolder and crueler with every communication—until Bill is isolated with the terrifying knowledge that he alone has the power of life and death over a psychopath’s innocent victims. Until the struggle between good and evil is intensely personal. Until the most chilling words of all are: The choice is yours.

My thoughts…

Velocity starts with death by garden gnome story in a bar while Billy is bartending, which drew my interest right away (because I like garden gnomes) and it only became more interesting as the story progressed.

Billy wants nothing to do with this creep taunting him and trying to frame him for murders. Because of Billy’s own past (murdering his parents) he doesn't feel comfortable going to the police even though he wants to. It was frustrating that Billy was threatened and manipulated by the killer. Each time the creep would murder someone he would plant evidence in Billy’s home or property, and Billy would have to search for it and remove it from his property. I was routing for Billy all along as he came closer to determining the identity of the killer.

The only thing I didn’t care for was the explanation as to why the creep had targeted Billy in the first place.

Overall, I did enjoy it and would recommend it to other Koontz fans.

Happy Reading -J