Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Extreme Love by: Abby Niles

Title: Extreme Love
Author: Abby Niles
ISBN: 1620612461
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Theme(s): MMA Fighting, Plus Size, Weight Loss
Binding: Paperback/E-book
Length: 266 (E-book ARC copy)
Published: 30 April 2013
Buy: amazon.com


Synopsis: New body. New clothes. New men.

Used to the average Joe, Caitlyn Moore is overwhelmed when the supremely masculine Dante Jones walks into her life and expresses an interest in her. At first she pushes him away, refusing to encourage the attention of a cage fighter. Then she learns Dante has a love ‘em and leave ‘em reputation. What better way to fine-tune her non-existent flirting skills than with a male who won’t stick around? But Dante has no intention of being a practice dummy; he’s out for all or nothing. Now Caitlyn must accept Dante—violent career and all—or let him go.

Dante “Inferno” Jones has one goal: win the Welterweight Championship. At a time when focus is crucial, the last thing he needs is a distraction. Yet Caitlyn Moore becomes a challenge he can’t resist. When the light-hearted pursuit shifts to a battle to win her heart, his focus is shot. Faced with losing the biggest match of his career, Dante must decide if his extreme life also has room for Extreme Love.


My Rating:

My Review: First I want to thank NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for providing me with an ARC copy of Extreme Love in exchange for an honest review. I've been reading a lot of boxing/MMA fighting romances lately so I promised myself I would take a break and read something else before delving into another one. I'm glad I did because I honestly don't think I would have been able to appreciate Abby Niles labor of love as much as I do now. I had no idea going into this book that our female protagonist, Caitlyn, had been a BBW (big, beautiful woman) and that the heart of the story would be about her struggle with accepting the new body she has worked so hard for. I guess I missed the first line in the synopsis: "New body. New clothes. New men."

There are so many significant themes that the author addresses in regards to Caitlyn's weight loss journey. One example is struggling with body image; although she has lost 80 pounds and is a size 12, when Cait looks at herself in the mirror, she still sees herself as the fat girl with the double chin. There is one topic that Abby Niles focuses on that made me quickly realize the theme of weight loss was something personal and not just a random plot device and here it is: just because a person is overweight does NOT mean they are "unfit". HALLELUJAH! Someone finally hit the nail on the head and truly gets it! We live in a society where people automatically think that if a person is fat, that means they eat nothing but junk food, and never exercise because they are lazy. While that may be true in some cases, there is a huge majority of overweight people that struggle to lose the pounds for a variety of different reasons. Genetics is one thing. My best friend and I are exactly the same height, 5'2. Doctors say that at 5'2, I should weigh around 108-120 pounds. While that may work for my best friend since she has a smaller bone structure than me, I would look like a skeleton due to my larger bone frame. Also, people suffer from hormone conditions, such as myself. I have always had a weight issue. In my early teens I learned that I had a condition called POS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Women with this condition struggle with losing weight. I will never forget my doctor saying, "losing weight for you will be like riding a bike up a hill." Before learning this (and before all of my back issues), I was a very active girl. I rode a bicycle, went out in the woods and built forts, learned to hunt with my dad, etc. But no matter how active I was, I always was a big girl. I felt self conscious at school, especially going to gym class. It wasn't so much my peers that made me feel bad, but the gym teachers. Boy do I have stories, but the point I am trying to make is, Cait is truly a relatable character and I knew before I even read Abby Niles's Acknowledgement page that Extreme Love was written with some sort of personal experience. Even though Cait struggles with body image issues which affects her love life (or lack there of), she doesn't let it deter her from her goal: to create an exercise program for people like her called "Altering Assumptions".  It's a program not just for individuals struggling to lose weight, but also to help "alter" the misconceptions that many people have about those who are overweight.

You can't have a romance without a hero, and Dante is one sexy alpha MMA fighter. While he may not be as extreme as some other possessive, alpha male protagonists I've read in the past (he is not moody or brooding which was a bit refreshing), I loved his story and what motivated him to become the fighter he is. I also liked the fact that while Dante finds Cait and her curves a turn on and sets out to pursue her, he also has misconceptions about overweight people. Yes, our hero is far from perfect!  I've read quite a few romances with BBW as heroines and the males love them for who they are, extra curves and all. But I don't ever recall reading one where the male hero actually thinks the same as most people do, that losing weight isn't hard and all a person has to do is go on a diet and go to the gym. This of course pisses Cait off. But to see Dante's preconceived notions fall away as he gets to know Cait was touching and added a sense of realism to the story.

I also thought Abby Niles did a great job with the secondary characters in Extreme Love, such as her best friend and roommate Amy and her friend Paul. Cait truly had a wonderful support system. But it was Sentori, Dante's nemesis, that stole the spotlight from time to time. He is the type of villain that we've seen before, but still a well written character. Oh the things he does to distract Dante from his training! By the end of the book, I couldn't wait for them to get in the cage so Dante could kick his ass!

So why only a 3 star rating? The characters are good, the story is good, but could have been better. There was just something missing, a few pieces that could have made Extreme Love amazing. I didn't walk away from it yearning for more because I didn't want it to end. I yearned for more because it left me feeling a bit unsatisfied. While I loved Cait and Dante together and they definitely had chemistry, I was disappointed that there were only basically 2 major sex scenes in the book. Now, I've read books like this before, so I don't necessarily need a book saturated in sex. But this all depends on if the author can build the right amount of tension. And I think that is one of the weaknesses of this book. I feel like the tension was just building-- hell, I thought the pool house scene where Dante has Cait pinned up against the wall with her bathing suit top down was HOT, HOT, HOT. But by the time I got down to the last few pages of the book and realized there was not going to be any more Dante and Cait lovin', I felt a bit...bereft.

Another thing that kind of rubbed me the wrong way is Cait's weak stomach concerning Dante's profession. I understand Cait's reservations about getting into a relationship with Dante because of her insecurities. I've often felt I only deserve a certain kind of man because of my weight issues. I even get the author trying to show Cait's misconceptions about the kind of career Dante has as a fighter (especially considering his misconceptions about her weight loss struggle). But I couldn't help but roll my eyes a few times whenever Cait mentioned that she didn't think she could accept Dante's violent lifestyle. I tried to be open minded because I am not the girlfriend/wife of a boxer, or wrestler, or MMA fighter. But I am a fan of all of those things-- I still remember watching boxing fights with my dad when I was little, watching PPV wrestling events as a teenage girl with my best friend (come on, all those half naked male bodies can do crazy things to a girl's teenage hormones!), and will always be a huge 80's-90's martial arts action movie fiend-- I love me some Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, etc. Maybe Cait's reservations about Dante's career was just another excuse to push him away because of her own insecurities. But I couldn't help but be irritated with her at times.

I also was disappointed with the whole Santori vs. Dante show down. Not the cage fight, that was okay. But something else that happened. I don't want to ruin the ending for everyone but come on, I wanted to see Santori and his goons get arrested or something! You will see what I mean when you get there. He does something so shady that he deserves more than Dante just kicking his ass in the cage!

Despite these things, Extreme Love has a lot of heart. It may not be one of the best MMA/fighter romances out there, but it is a good romance with great characterization. Cait is the kind of female protagonist that women will relate to. She is the type of character that will inspire you and maybe in some cases, like Abby Niles has said on her blog, be a hero to those who have struggled with weight loss and the humiliation of those who make assumptions.


Monday, April 22, 2013

My Picks of the Week! (23rd April)


 Howdy, my Muses!

Finally we have some great releases available tomorrow, so take a moment and check them out! Things will be finally picking up on my blog in the next few weeks. I am excited to announce that I will be participating in my first Blog Tour for the amazing novel, REAL by Katy Evans. I reviewed the book last week, so if you haven't had a chance to check it out, go HERE.

Enjoy!






BOOKS (April 23rd)

ADULT

Behind the Lies (Montgomery Justice, #2)
by: Robin Perini

Of the six Montgomery brothers, golden-boy Zach has always walked on the wild side. He rocketed to fame playing a hero in a movie, but offscreen he's living in the shadows. Zach's dark secret: he leads a double life as a CIA operative. When a mission to stalk a terrorist goes horribly wrong, Zach's cover is blown. He's on the run and fighting to stay alive long enough to discover whom he can trust and who betrayed him.

Jenna Walters thought she'd married the 'perfect man' until she unearthed his terrible secret. Now, desperate to escape his crosshairs, she and her son take refuge in Zach's secret hideaway. Sparks fly between Zach and Jenna even as danger explodes around them.

From Afghanistan to Turkey to the mountains of Colorado, assassins track them and are closing in. Not only is Zach's life at stake, but now Jenna and her son are targets in this high stakes game. 


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Claim Me (Stark Trilogy, #2)
by: J. Kenner

For Damien, our obsession is a game. For me, it is fiercely, blindingly, real.

Damien Stark’s need is palpable—his need for pleasure, his need for control, his need for me. Beautiful and brilliant yet tortured at his core, he is in every way my match.

I have agreed to be his alone, and now I want him to be fully mine. I want us to possess each other beyond the sweetest edge of our ecstasy, into the deepest desires of our souls. To let the fire that burns between us consume us both.

But there are dark places within Damien that not even our wildest passion can touch. I yearn to know his secrets, yearn for him to surrender to me as I have surrendered to him. But our troubled pasts will either bind us close . . . or shatter us completely.


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Hot Blooded (Jessica McClain, #2)
by: Amanda Carlson

It hasn't been the best week for Jessica McClain.

Her mate has been kidnapped by a Goddess hell-bent on revenge --- but Jessica is playing for keeps.

Because she's the only female werewolf in town...it comes with its own set of rules...and powers.

Aided by two vamps, two loyal Pack members, and one very reluctant human, Jessica must rescue her man while coming to terms with what being a wolf really means.

All in a day's work for a girl.

The second novel in the Jessica McClain series is a full on action adventure featuring one angry Goddess and plenty of monsters, demons, and a few newly risen beasties...


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Promises Under the Stars
by: C.L. Greenlee

Joe and Betti as children were neighbors and best friends.They attended colleges at opposite coasts he at West Point and she at UCLA but bonded by friendship and the stars. Orders take him to a conflict and the night before he leaves passion brings consequences. Does she tell him about the baby? Does a new love separate that bond that was made under the stars? Or does she lose part of that heart in an accident? Who does she walk down the aisle with?

Release Date: 23rd April 2013




YOUNG ADULT

Crush (Crash, #3)
by: Nicole Williams

Football glory. A giant diamond. A wandering eye.

Jude and Lucy are happily engaged . . . but that doesn't mean life's a bed of roses.

Once again, Jude and Lucy are torn apart by football training and a summer job that creates new tensions. This time Jude's the one with trust issues. Will Lucy's life-changing news bring them back together or end their relationship for good? Can love triumph forever?


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Darius & Twig
by: Walter Dean Myers

Darius is a writer struggling to find his own way, with only his alter ego, Fury, a peregrine falcon, and Twig, his best friend, in his corner. Twig, a middle-distance runner, has the skills to make it but wants to dictate his own terms for success. He may be a winner on the track, but it doesn't stop him from getting picked on. For these friends, money is tight; there are bullies and absent adults and, most disturbing, the notion that their Harlem life doesn't have much to offer. They need to navigate their world: the thugs, the seamy side of sports, the uncertainty of their prospects. And they need to figure out how to grow up together, but apart.

Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Elite, The (Selection, #2)
by: Kiera Cass

The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Selection.

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Exile (Mercy, #2)
by: Rebecca Lim

Mercy is an angel in exile and is doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, taking on a new human form each time she does. Now she "wakes" as unhappy teen Lela, a girl caring for her dying mother but never herself.

As Mercy's shattered memory begins to return, she remembers Ryan, the boy she fell in love with in another life, and Luc, the angel haunting her dreams. Will Mercy risk Lela’s life to be reunited with her heart’s true desire?

An electric combination of angels, mystery and romance, Exile is the second book in the undeniably mesmerizing Mercy series.


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True
by: Sarah Strohmeyer

When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Manicpixiedreamgirl
by: Tom Leveen

Sometimes the most dramatic scenes in a high school theater club are the ones that happen between the actors and crew off stage.

Seventeen-year-old Tyler Darcy's dream of being a writer is starting to feel very real now that he's sold his first short story to a literary journal. He should be celebrating its publication with his two best friends who've always had his back, but on this night, a steady stream of texts from his girlfriend Sidney keep intruding. So do the memories of his dream girl, Becky, who's been on his mind a little too much since the first day of high school. Before the night is over, Ty might just find the nerve to stop all the obsessing and finally take action.


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Natural Born Angel (Immortal City, #2)
by: Scott Speer

Life turned upside down for Maddy Montgomery when she found out she was half-Angel and was catapulted into the scene of flashbulbs, paparazzi, and the fervent adulation that comes with being in the celebrity Angel world. She's trying to juggle her ordinary life—high school, family, friends—with the intense demands of being in the public eye as heartthrob Angel Jackson Godspeed's girlfriend.

And now Maddy must face the most difficult choice of her life. She's been offered the chance to become a Guardian. This means entering into dangerous and high stakes training, with no guarantee that she can succeed. But more than that, it would mean leaving her mortal life behind—forever—and allying with the Angels at a time when their relationship with humans is heading for war. . .


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Obsidian Mirror (Chronoptika, #1)
by: Catherine Fisher

Jake's father disappears while working on mysterious experiments with the obsessive, reclusive Oberon Venn. Jake is convinced Venn has murdered him. But the truth he finds at the snow-bound Wintercombe Abbey is far stranger ... The experiments concerned a black mirror, which is a portal to both the past and the future. Venn is not alone in wanting to use its powers. Strangers begin gathering in and around Venn's estate: Sarah - a runaway, who appears out of nowhere and is clearly not what she says, Maskelyne - who claims the mirror was stolen from him in some past century. There are others, a product of the mirror's power to twist time. And a tribe of elemental beings surround this isolated estate, fey, cold, untrustworthy, and filled with hate for humans. But of them all, Jake is hell-bent on using the mirror to get to the truth. Whatever the cost, he must learn what really happened to his father.

Release Date: 23rd April 2013


The Rules (Project Paper Dolls, #1)
by: Stacey Kade

1. Never trust anyone.

2. Remember they are always searching.

3. Don’t get involved.

4. Keep your head down.

5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


The Silver Dream (Interworld, #2)
by: Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves

Sixteen-year-old Joey Harker has just saved the Altiverse—the dimension that contains all the myriad Earths—from complete destruction. After mastering the ability to walk between dimensions, Joey and his fellow InterWorld Freedom Fighters are on a mission to maintain peace between the rival powers of magic and science who seek to control all worlds.

When a stranger named Acacia somehow follows Joey back to InterWorld’s Base, things get complicated. No one knows who she is or where she’s from—or how she knows so much about InterWorld. Dangerous times lie ahead, and Joey has no one to rely on but himself and his wits—and, just maybe, the mysterious Acacia Jones.

Full of riveting interdimensional battles, epic journeys between worlds, and twists and turns along the way, this sequel to the New York Times bestselling InterWorld is a thrilling, mind-bending adventure through time and space.


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


MOVIES & TV SERIES (April 23rd)

MOVIES

A Haunted House
Directed by: Michael Tiddes

Starring: Marlon Wayans, Cedric the Entertainer

Marlon Wayans and Cedric the Entertainer star in this outrageously funny supernatural scary movie. When young couple Malcolm (Wayans) and Kisha (Essence Atkins) move in to their dream place, they soon discover they're not alone. But it's not the home that's possessed, it's Kisha. Now, Malcolm will go to hilarious extremes - including hiring a priest, a psychic, and a team of modern-day ghostbusters to get his place and his sex life back to normal. Co-starring Nick Swardson and David Koechner, it's the no-holds-barred, raunchy comedy that will have you laughing from start to finish.

Release Date: 23rd April 2013

Any Day Now
Directed by: Travis Fine

Starring: Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt

Any Day Now is a powerful tale of love, acceptance and family. When a teenager with Down Syndrome (Isaac Leyva) is abandoned by his mother, a gay couple (Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt) takes him in and becomes the loving family he's never had. But when their unconventional living arrangement is disconcerted by authorities, the men are forced to fight a biased legal system to save the life of the child they have come to love as their own. Inspired by a true story from the late 1970s, Any Day Now touches on legal and social issues that are as relevant today as they were 35 years ago. 

Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Gangster Squad
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin

Los Angeles 1949. Ruthless Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs the guns the prostitutes and-if he has his way-every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It's enough to intimidate even the bravest street-hardened cop...except perhaps for the small secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) who come together to try to tear Cohen's world apart.

Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Impossible, The
Directed by: n/a

Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor

Based on a true story, THE IMPOSSIBLE is the unforgettable account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time. But the true-life terror is tempered by the unexpected displays of compassion, courage and simple kindness that Maria and her family encounter during the darkest hours of their lives. Both epic and intimate, devastating and uplifting, THE IMPOSSIBLE is a journey to the core of the human heart.


Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Promised Land
Directed by: Gus Van Sant

Starring: Matt Damon

Matt Damon stars in Promised Land, the compelling contemporary drama based on an original screenplay by John Krasinski and Damon and directed by Gus Van Sant (Milk, Good Will Hunting). Corporate salesman Steve Butler (Damon) has been dispatched to the rural town of McKinley with his sales partner (Frances McDormand) to offer much-needed relief to the economically hard-hit residents in exchange for drilling rights to their properties. What seems like an easy job for the duo quickly becomes complicated by a respected schoolteacher (Hal Holbrook), a slick environmental activist (Krasinski), and Steve's interest in a local woman (Rosemarie DeWitt). As they grapple with a surprising array of both open hearts and closed doors, the outsiders soon discover the strength of an American small town at a crossroads.

Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Thale
Directed by: Aleksander Nordaas

Starring: Morten Anressen, Erlend Nervold

Two crime-scene cleaners discover a mythical, tailed female creature in a concealed cellar. She never utters a word, unable to tell her story, but the pieces of the puzzle soon come together: she's been held captive for decades for reasons soon to surface… Fun fact: THALE is based on a mythical character in Nordic folklore called the "huldra". According to the myth, a huldra is a beautiful creature with female attributes living deep in the woods. It is said that it seduces men that works in the woods by humming a beautiful song, and they never return to their village. You can recognize a huldra by its cow tail. 

Release Date: 23rd April 2013



TV SERIES

A Haunting: Season 5

Starring: n/a

Between the world we see, and the things we fear... there are doors. When they are opened... nightmares becomes reality. These are the true stories of the innocent and the unimaginable.
These chilling tales of the supernatural take you inside real-life horror stories, with each one-hour episode featuring eyewitness accounts and cinematic re-enactments of some of the most spine tingling and inexplicable stories ever recorded. You'll meet Chris Gibbons, a Michigan attorney driven to the point of insanity by a ghost that has infiltrated his dreams; a stay-at-home-mom who enjoys taking walks with her children through her historic neighborhood, until something dark and sinister follows them home; and Victoria Dane, whose near death experience opens a door to a paranormal world that can never be shut.
Episode by shocking episode, you will be stunned and astonished by these spellbinding tales of evil lurking in the most everyday places. By the end of each amazing story, you will experience an eerie feeling that life and death are stranger and more terrifying than you had ever imagined.

Release Date: 23rd April 2013


Touched by an Angel: Season 7

Starring: Roma Downey, Della Reese

A trio of angels Monica (Roma Downey), Tess (Della Reese), and Andrew (John Dye) are dispatched from heaven with a special mission: to inspire people facing sometimes unseen crossroads in their lives. Monica, an angel who at times still needs some guidance with her earthly assignments, reports to Tess, her tough, wise and always loving supervisor. Also on hand is Andrew, who, in addition to his duties as the Angel of Death, now helps out as a caseworker on various assignments. Gloria, an angel for the 21st century, continues to seek guidance from Monica performing her angelic duties. While the angels may not bring solutions to every problem, they always deliver a message of hope.

Release Date: 23rd April 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Book Review: REAL (Real, Raw & Ripped, #1) by: Katy Evans

Title: Real (Real, Raw & Ripped, #1)
Author: Katy Evans
ISBN: 9781301347940
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: New Adult/Mature Adult
Theme(s): Boxing, Underground fighting, mental illness
Binding: Paperback/E-book
Length: 266
Published: 9 April 2013
Buy: amazon.com

Synopsis:  A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
A competition…

IS HE FOR REAL?

He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…

Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.

He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents...

But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.

I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.

If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?


My Rating: 


My Review: I stumbled upon REAL by accident and I must say it is the best damn "accident" to fall into my hands in quite some time. The book is so good, that I pushed other reviews to the back burner so that I could purge myself of these overwhelming emotions that bombarded me during my fast and furious reading session (finished REAL in less than 6 hours and that was with me forcing myself to slow down). Let me put it into perspective as to how good this book is if I still haven't convinced you yet. I had just finished reading the highly anticipated Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire which left me feeling a bit unsatisfied and right after that flew through Gina L. Maxwell's Fighting For Love series (Seducing Cinderella and Rules of Entanglement). Can you guess what these books are about? Yup, hot, hunky cage fighters. I was starting to get  burned out with the genre and theme but I figured one more couldn't hurt.  I wasn't prepared to fall in love with REAL. I wasn't prepared to love it more than Beautiful Disaster-- after all, Beautiful Disaster was a first of its kind and that book set the bar for others that came out after it, and trust me, these cage fighter romances are starting to pop up everywhere. So if I now have your attention, you are probably wondering why REAL is so good? How can it be better than Beautiful Disaster?

First, let's talk about characters. The book opens quite similarly to that of Beautiful Disaster. Brooke is dragged reluctantly to an Underground boxing fight by her best friend Melanie. She finds Remington "Riptide" Tate and all of his animal magnetism absolutely irresistible and overwhelming. But it's when their eyes meet that a connection is forged between the two. Thanks to her mischievous bff giving Remington her phone number, she is contacted a few days later by his people and is offered the job of a lifetime-- to travel with him as his personal PT for the next 3 months. So it sounds like your typical, fluffy romance, right? But Katy Evans is a clever author. Why? Because she makes her characters believable, relatable.

Brooke is not just some one dimensional character with no flaws, or a perfect body, or a skinny body, or a body with killer curves. What I am trying to get at is Brooke was an athlete with dreams of achieving gold. But at her first Olympic tryouts she suffers from an earth shattering injury that ruins all of her years of hard work and dedication. But instead of letting it completely destroy her, she reevaluates her life and decides to go to college and study sports rehabilitation, something that she feels may have helped her during such a tragic time of her life.

Turning a negative into a positive is something I myself am quite familiar with. Call it the story of my life. Even though Brooke and I are very different, there are things we have so much in common. Several pages in, Brooke says something that I could completely relate to which is: "When you need to accept the fact that your body sometimes can't do what you want it to, it hurts almost worse than the physical pain of being injured." Can I get an amen? I am only 30 and people automatically assume that 30 year olds are at the prime of their lives. I should be able to go out and run a marathon, go dancing all night long until the sun comes up, you get the point. But it's not until I tell people that the handicap placard outside in my car is not my grandmother's but mine that it sinks in I am not like most 30 year olds. I had major back surgery at the age of14, two leg surgeries by 20, and a few others and some hospitals stays in between then and now. Am I saying this for pity? Hell no. Because despite all of the hardballs that keep coming at me, all it makes me want to do in return is catch them and throw them back that much harder. But as Brooke had to learn, the first step is accepting what happened, knowing your limits-- but these limitations don't have to break or stop you. It's all about being creative and finding the way around them.

I wasn't even 2 chapters into REAL and I was already a fan of Brooke. I also liked how the author describes her physically. Sorry, but I am so tired of reading books where female characters are either bombshells or skinny with no curves at all. It makes sense that Brooke would have an athletic body but now that she is not "training" for competition, she has allowed herself to gain a little weight to fill out her curves. For example, while she was competing, she barely had breasts, but now with muscles going a little softer and not having vigorous training and diet restrictions, she has started to fill out. I love how Katy Evans gives us these details. It doesn't mean that Brooke is plus size or that she doesn't exercise-- on the contrary, she loves to eat healthy and work out. I just think that Evans did an amazing job with making Brooke such a realistic character.

Now to Remington...strong, enigmatic, beautiful, dangerous, yet vulnerable Remy. Again I have to give Katy Evans props for not only keeping the sexual tension going between Brooke and Remington but also the mystery surrounding his character. I went into the story thinking Remy was going to be like so many other dominant, possessive alpha males I've read before, not that that is a bad thing because if you've read any of my other reviews, you already know I love alphas. But Remy was not easy to read. He is a man of few words which I found incredibly sexy because when he does say something it felt all the more important. He doesn't try to get into Brooke's pants as I expected (and to Brooke's disappointment) even though the sexual tension kept stretching like a rubber band ready to snap at any moment. In many romances with alphas, it's usually the male that pursues the woman, chipping away at her defenses until she gives into temptation. But Katy Evans does something different. Somehow she makes Brooke the pursuer while still maintaining Remington's raw, possessive, dominant nature. Now I don't want you to think that Remy doesn't want Brooke because he does. Oh, how he wants her and the things he does to show her that. Like the way he "scents her" and goes about marking her, like the animal instincts in him are brought out because of her. But Brooke thinks the hot make out sessions and his reluctance to take things further in the bedroom is his way of toying with her when really it is his way of...courting her. And of course it's revealed why it is so important to Remy that Brooke gets to know him, to truly know him...which of course is for me to know and you to find out!

I can't talk about Remington without mentioning the true or real reason this book sets itself apart from others. It is revealed pretty early that Remy has a temper. And as I was reading, I kind of shrugged it off, thinking, okay, so he has a short fuse like Travis Maddox from Beautiful Disaster. But as the story progressed and pieces started clicking together, I realized this story has so much more depth than originally believed. Katy Evans is a brave woman to write about a topic that is not only misunderstood but, until recently, hasn't really been talked about. I am being vague on purpose because I don't want to completely give it away since Evans truly does a great job at keeping readers wondering what actually ails Remington. But I will give you a hint-- think Silver Linings Playbook. If you've had the chance to see the movie starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro, then you will know what I am talking about. If you haven't, I highly recommend everyone see it because it truly is an eye opener about a topic that more people need to be made aware of.

Katy Evan's REAL became real for me during--in my opinion-- the most pivotal part of the story which is when Remington goes into an uncontrollable rage during a party after another victorious win. Again, I don't want to get too detailed here to refrain from spoilers but when you see through Brooke's eyes what they have to do to contain him and he whispers, "Don't let her see," it was at that point that I shed a tear. Because I knew what Remington was dealing with was larger than just having a short fuse. I wasn't prepared for the book to become so serious, but I quickly embraced it because with such a topic comes a sense of realism and with realism sparks a honest, emotional reaction.

I am not under any illusions. I know the book isn't perfect and has a few flaws. Could the editing have been a little better? Yup. Was the beginning a little shaky? Yup. Were there parts that seemed repetitious? For sure. But you know what? All of those things I can overlook for a first time author because Katy Evans not only delivered in every other way, but she far exceeded my expectations. I have every confidence that those little kinks will smooth out as Evans hones her skills over time. But there is no doubt in my mind that she has the "it" factor and I can see REAL becoming a bestseller the more word gets out about it. Hell, I can even see movie potential and I am not just putting that out there lightly. But for now, I look forward to sitting back and watching REAL climb to greatness and anxiously await for its sequel, MINE.



Monday, April 15, 2013

My Picks of the Week! (April 16th)

Hello, Muses!

Again, not much, but here are this week's new releases. Hoping to post a new book & movie review by the middle to end of the week. Keep your fingers crossed!

Best Wishes,






BOOKS (April 16th-17th)


ADULT

His to Command
by: Opal Carew

First published as a six-part e serial novel, His to Command is the scorching tale of one woman’s surrender at the hands of a dominant billionaire.  Now available for the first time as a complete book, this edition features sizzling new bonus material.  Meet a man who’s gorgeous, wealthy, powerful, and who demands just one thing—his lover’s complete submission.  Now she’s about to place herself under his command—heart, body and soul. 

Kate is a modern businesswoman who knows exactly how to run her well-organized world. But underneath her professional exterior lurks a secret that she’s been running from for years—a fierce desire to be dominated that both exhilarates and terrifies her.  And there’s only one man who’s ever tempted her to lose control.

Powerful executive Matthew Pearce gave Kate her first taste of what it means to surrender completely at the hands of a dominant man, and she's never been able to forget. Though she’s spent years trying to outrun her feelings for him, a chance encounter changes everything . . . and this time she might not be able to escape. Deciding to give in to her deepest desires, Kate agrees to spend a week at Matt’s mansion exploring her submissive side under his masterful instruction. Just when she starts to fall deeper and harder for him than ever before, a terrible secret from his past threatens to tear them apart, and Kate must decide whether to finally trust Matt with her heart . . . or leave him behind forever.


Release Date: 16th April 2013


Red Sunset (Blue Moon, #2)
by: Rowena Sudbury

Finding love in the wrestling arena is unlikely, and a relationship based on the illusion of control isn't easy. Scott O’Doul and Brad Fraser have managed both: one night under a blue moon's light they found they meant more to each other than either expected. Their comfortable world is shattered when Brad is released, and he must head to Japan if he wants to keep wrestling. The work is exciting but lonely—six weeks seems an eternity. Once Brad and Scott reunite, they vacation at a lakeside cabin and find the miles apart have brought them closer—but they’ll need courage if illusion of control is to become the heart of love.

Release Date: 16th April 2013


The Sky Is Dead
by: Sue Brown

Danny is young, gay, and homeless. He lives in the park, preferring to avoid attention, but when thugs confront a stranger, Danny rushes to his rescue. He and the would-be victim, Harry, form a cautious friendship that deepens months later, when Harry persuades Danny to visit his home. Daring to believe he has found happiness, Danny finds his world turned upside down yet again when tragedy strikes.

Until he runs out of options, Danny won’t trust anyone. Finally he has to accept the offer of a home, and Danny becomes David, but adjusting to a new life isn’t easy. When he meets the mysterious Jack, it stirs up feelings he thought were long gone. Can David dare to allow himself to love? Or will the truth bring his new world tumbling down around him?

Release Date: 17th April 2013


Wicked Cravings (Phoenix Pack, #2)
by: Suzanne Wright

Despite having been besotted with Dante Garcea since she was a child, wolf shifter Jaime Farrow figures that it’s time to move past the crush. If he wanted her, he wouldn’t have ignored her flirtatious behavior, right? Hiding her intense attraction to him isn’t easy – especially now that they're part of the same pack again – but with bigger issues to worry about and with the submissive wolf act to maintain, Jaime is resolute on moving forward. Now if only the workaholic control-freak would let her…

As the pack Beta, Dante doesn't have the space or time in his life for a relationship. As such, he ignores his intense hunger for the willful – and sometimes crazy – Jaime. Yet when her flirtations abruptly end, Dante finds that he doesn’t like losing her attention. He finds something else too – Jaime's hiding something. Determined to uncover her secret, he sets out to break through her defenses, even though being around her intensifies his cravings for her. What he finds is a problem that Jaime is convinced not even a powerful Beta can solve.

 
Release Date: 16th April 2013



YOUNG ADULT

Breath (Riders of the Apocalypse, #4)
by: Jackie Morse Kessler

Contrary to popular belief, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse aren’t just harbingers of doom—they actually keep life in balance. But what happens when their leader and creator, Death, becomes suicidal?

Before the first living thing drew its first gasping breath, he was there. He has watched humanity for millennia. And he has finally decided that humanity is not worth the price he has paid time and again. When Death himself gives up on life, a teenager named Xander Atwood is the world’s only hope. But Xander bears a secret, one that may bring about the end of everything.

This heart-pounding final installment of the Riders of the Apocalypse series looks at the value of life, the strength of love, and how a small voice can change everything . . . forever.

 
Release Date: 16th April 2013


Dead Silence (Body Finder, #4)
by: Kimberly Derting

Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers…that is until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team Violet works for have no intention of letting her go.

When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a madman with an army of devoted followers. Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself


Release Date: 16th April 2013


Furious
by: Jill Wolfson

Three high school girls become the avenging Furies of Greek legend.

We were only three angry girls, to begin with. Alix, the hot-tempered surfer chick; Stephanie, the tree-hugging activist; and me, Meg, the quiet foster kid, the one who never quite fit in. We hardly knew each other, but each of us nurtured a burning anger: at the jerks in our class, at our disappointing parents, at the whole flawed, unjust world.

We were only three angry girls, simmering uselessly in our ocean-side California town, until one day a mysterious, beautiful classmate named Ambrosia taught us what else we could be: Powerful. Deadly. Furious.


Release Date: 16th April 2013


Game (Jasper Dent, #2)
by: Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jasper (Jazz) Dent, the son of the world's most infamous serial killer.

When a desperate New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz's door asking for help with a new case, Jazz can't say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple--and its police force running scared with no leads. So Jazz and his girlfriend Connie hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer's murderous game.

Meanwhile, Jazz's dad Billy is watching...and waiting.



Release Date: 16th April 2013


The Milk of Birds
by: Sylvia Whitman

This timely, heartrending novel tells the moving story of a friendship between two girls: one an American teen, one a victim of the crisis in Darfur.

Know that there are many words behind the few on this paper...

Fifteen-year-old Nawra lives in Darfur, Sudan, in a camp for refugees displaced by the Janjaweed’s trail of murder and destruction. Nawra cannot read or write, but when a nonprofit organization called Save the Girls pairs her with an American donor, Nawra dictates her thank-you letters. Putting her experiences into words begins to free her from her devastating past—and to brighten the path to her future.

K. C. is an American teenager from Richmond, Virginia, who hates reading and writing—or anything that smacks of school. But as Nawra pours grief and joy into her letters, she inspires K. C. to see beyond her own struggles. And as K. C. opens her heart in her responses to Nawra, she becomes both a dedicated friend and a passionate activist for Darfur.

In this poetic tale of unlikely sisterhood, debut author Sylvia Whitman captures the friendship between two girls who teach each other compassion and share a remarkable bond that bridges two continents.


Release Date: 16th April 2013

Taken (Taken, #1)
by: Erin Bowman

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?


Release Date: 16th April 2013


True (Elixir, #3)
by: Hilary Duff

The epic love story of Clea and Sage comes to its thrilling conclusion in the final book in the Elixir series by multitalented star Hilary Duff.Following the harrowing events of Elixir and Devoted—and the ceremony that almost killed Sage—Clea faces a new reality: With Sage’s soul in Nico’s body, the love of her life looks an awful lot like her best friend’s boyfriend. Can Clea and Sage really be happy under these circumstances?

Clea wants to try to enjoy their new life together, but Sage is acting different—angry—and she struggles to keep her friends from finding out what has happened to him. Something is clearly haunting Sage, and Clea is losing control. Can she trust her friends with the dangerous truth, or will she have to risk losing Sage to madness


Release Date: 16th April 2013



MOVIES & TV SERIES (April 16th)

MOVIES

A Monster in Paris
Directed by: Bibo Bergeron

Starring: Vanessa Paradis

An oversized bug is caught up in a most unexpected adventure in this animated comedy. It's 1910, and Raoul is a Parisian delivery man by day and scientist by night who is determined to brainstorm an important new invention. With the help of his friend Emile, a cinema projectionist with women on the brain, Raoul attempts an experiment in a greenhouse that has an unexpected side effect -- a tiny flea has suddenly expanded until it's seven feet tall. The enormous flea gets loose and it's not long before word is out that a monstrous bug is haunting Paris. However, while mean-spirited politician Victor tries to snare some publicity by making people afraid of the bug before he catches it, Lucille, a pretty nightclub performer, makes a surprising discovery -- the big flea is not only gentle and friendly, he's a gifted guitar player, and decked out in a suit and a hat, he's soon impressing patrons as part of her act. Un Monstre a Paris (aka A Monster In Paris) was written and directed by Bibo Bergeron, returning to France after directing several successful features in the United States. The original French voice cast includes Gad Elmaleh, Sebastien Desjours, Ludivine Sagnier and Francois Cluzet, while the English language version features Adam Goldberg, Jay Harrington, Catherine O'Hara and Danny Huston; Vanessa Paradis voices Lucille in both versions.

Release Date: 16th April 2013


A Bottle in the Gaza Sea
Directed by: Thierry Binisti

Starring: Agathe  Bonitzer

17-year-old Tal has emigrated from France to Jerusalem with her family. She writes a letter expressing her refusal to accept that only hatred can reign between Israelis and Palestinians. She slips the letter into a bottle, and her brother throws it into the sea near Gaza, where he is carrying out his military service. A few weeks later, Tal receives an e-mail response from a mysterious "Gazaman," a young Palestinian named Nam. Thus begins a turbulent but tender long-distance friendship between two young people that are separated by a history they are trying both to understand and change. This engrossing and hopeful drama starring Hiam Abbas is based on the award-winning novel by Valrie Zenatti.

Release Date: 16th April 2013


Django Unchained
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz

Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago. Django and Schultz's search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of "Candyland," an infamous plantation. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), Candie's trusted house slave.

Release Date: 16th April 2013


Future Weather
Directed by: Jenny Deller

Starring: Haney-Jardine

Lauduree (Haney-Jardine) is a 13-year-old loner passionate about nature and worried about global warming. Greta (Amy Madigan), her grandmother, is a fiery nurse jaded by alcohol and disappointment. When Lauduree is abruptly abandoned by her dreamer single mom (Marin Ireland), she decides to take survival into her own hands, forcing her and Greta to rethink their futures. Featuring humorous, sharply drawn characters and powerful performances by Amy Madigan (Field of Dreams, Gone Baby Gone), Lili Taylor (Say Anything, Six Feet Under), and rising star Perla Haney-Jardine (Kill Bill Vol. 2, Spider-Man 3), Future Weather is about finding the courage to survive change.

Release Date: 16th April 2013


Not Suitable for Children
Directed by: Peter Templeman

Starring: Ryan Kwanten

Everybody loves Jonah (Ryan Kwanten) - especially the ladies. He's young, hot, sharing a cool house with his best friends Gus (Ryan Corr) and Stevie (Sarah Snook), and throwing parties that rock AND keep the bills paid.

Then: that awkward moment when your random one-night-stand asks, is that a lump?
Boom. Jonah's got testicular cancer. His life isn't at risk, but the impending treatment will leave him completely infertile. Jonah realizes, to everyone's shock: he wants to be a dad. His attempts at the sperm bank are a failure. His only choice is natural conception. Within the next four weeks. He's gotta procreate before it's too late.


What follows is a rousing (get it?) parade of ex-girlfriends, mistaken match-ups, surrogate slip-ups and a whole lot of Baby Daddy Drama. Poor Jonah may be out of options - until he starts listening to his friends AND his heart, and realizes that a perfect candidate might be closer than anyone would think.


Release Date: 16th April 2013


Save the Date
Directed by: Michael Mohan

Starring: Lizzy Caplan

After an ill-timed and very public marriage proposal, fiercely independent Sarah breaks up with her overeager boyfriend Kevin. Sarah turns to her sister Beth for support, but Beth is too busy obsessing over the details of her own wedding to Kevin's band mate, Andrew. When Sarah suddenly finds herself caught up in an intense rebound romance with the adorable Jonathan, she is forced to examine her own fears of commitment and vulnerability. With honesty, heart, and humor, all five struggle with the trials, happiness, and pain of modern love. In the end Sarah must decide - is it better to stay safely single or to risk it all on love?

Release Date: 16th April 2013



TV SERIES


Flash Gordon: Complete Series

Starring: Eric Johnson

A World With No Boundaries!

A Sci-Fi Adventure That Rethinks And Exceeds Everything That Has Come Before, Flash Gordon Beams Into The Future Of Television!

Placing a 21st century spin on a science fiction classic, this contemporized version of Flash Gordon follows the all-new adventures of Flash (Eric Johnson, Smallville) and his companions, Dale Arden (Gina Holden, Fantastic Four) and Dr. Hans Zarkov (Jody Racicot, The Newsroom). When ordinary people from a peaceful Pacific town are thrust into extraordinary circumstances, they find themselves as Earth's last line of defense against the forces of the merciless dictator Ming (John Ralston, Life with Derek). Together this unusual team of heroes sets out on a venture that is literally...Out Of This World!

Includes All 22 Episodes!
Originally aired on the Sci-Fi Channel!

Release Date: 16th April 2013


Spies of Warsaw: Complete Miniseries

Starring: David Tennant

David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Janet Montgomery (Entourage) star in this adaptation of Alan Furst's celebrated spy novel set in Poland, Paris and Berlin in the years leading up to the Second World War. At the french embassy in Warsaw, the new military attach+ยช, Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier (Tennant), is drawn into a world of abduction, betrayal and intrigue in the diplomatic salons and back alleys of the city. At the same time, the handsome aristocrat is involved in a passionate love affair with a Parisian woman of Polish heritage (Montgomery), a lawyer for the League of Nations. Risking his life, Mercier works in the shadows amid a remarkable cast of characters, some known to him as spies, some never to be revealed. It is a city where people drink and fight and spy and love, because no one knows what tomorrow will bring.

Release Date: 16th April 2013