Thursday, 31 March 2016

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts #3


Both Jasprit and I are trying to get a little healthier, and more active so we're tracking our progress through #FitReaders down below. It's a check in that helps keep us motivated to keep active. But also we wanted to share what we're reading and a little of what's going on in our lives by participating in Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts hosted by Bookishly Boisterious.  So here we go!

What we've been reading:
(click on title for Goodreads link)

Rachel:
(Click on title for Goodreads link)
 Staked (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #8) Chase Me (Paris Nights #2) Lake of Dreams
Fool Me Twice (Rules for the Reckless, #2)  The Visitor (Graveyard Queen, #4)

Staked and Chase Me were amazing! Both 5
star reads for me.  Luke Daniels, once again makes The Iron Druid Chronicles come alive! There were times I seriously worried for the fate of our characters, and there were moments of sadness, for a lot of the book I laughed my ass off!  Staked ended on a very good note, I can't help but worry.  I was left a little uncertain, like Atticus at the end. Chase Me (my review) was utterly delightful, and pure perfection! Lake of Dreams, a novella, was different from the normal Linda Howard's I've read in that it was a paranormal romance. Short, sensual, and eerie! Loved it. Fool Me Twice has been wonderful! Another book on my radar thanks to Keertana! I'm almost done.  I'm starting The Visitor very soon. Hopefully the romance won't be too frustrating. This is one series where the romance drives me bonkers, but I can't help but keep reading! Go figure.

Jasprit:



My last three reads have been a mixed batch, I was thoroughly excited for my copy of Summer Skin  being a huge fan of Eagar's work, but I just didn't end up clicking with this book. However I may be the black sheep when it comes to this book, as a lot of bloggers and readers I know really enjoyed it. Contreras has been my go to author this month, who would have thought I would be reading back to back NA books? And actually wanting more? Seems like this and fantasy are the only genres working for me right now. Also I found out just the other day that Contreras has new book released in this series from Victor's perspective, its like all my wishes are coming true! And Undecided was another NA book I ended up loving, the characters were such a fun bunch, look out for my review sometime next week. 

What we've been up to:

 Rachel:

I went wine tasting last Friday and then went onto San Francisco the next day, coming home on Sunday. It was a busy weekend, but I had fun. The weather was perfect and sunny, and so many things were in bloom. I forget how gorgeous California can be in the spring! 

One of the wineries I visited


With all that said, I didn't have much time for exercise over the weekend, but I did force myself to do my usual 35 minute neighborhood walk/jog on Sunday when I got back. 

Jasprit:

So the wedding season has finally kicked off in my family, we had one this weekend, but it wasn't that close, I have three close ones coming up over the next few months, which I'm super excited about and I've finally got my shopping for the weddings done! That's only my Indian clothes, I still need to buy all the jewellery and accessories to match. I'll leave you with a video of Kudos the DJ on Sunday night, they did a nice mash up of Happy by Pharell Williams and an Indian beat with dhols! (a double headed drum!)


video





#FitReaders is hosted by Jen @That's What I'm Talking About and Felicia @TheGeekyBlogger.

Here's our progress for the last week:

Rachel:

I spent a lot of hours in the car Saturday and Sunday so I'm amazed I even made my goal! I'm tired this week, but I'm still making time to exercise.  Having a few friends on Fitbit helped motivate me even when I just wanted to sit down and do nothing.

Thursday:  13,585 steps
Friday:  9,371 steps-wine tasting, so it's a wonder I got this many steps!
Saturday: 10,428 steps 
Sunday: 10,091 steps-walk/jog 35 min
Monday: 15,593 steps walk/jog 35 min
Tuesday: 13,643 steps walk/jog 35 min
Wednesday:  13,577 steps-Spin Bike for 60 min
Total steps: 86,288 steps

Jasprit:

I was quite proud of myself this last week, despite being tempted to scoff all the Easter eggs, I ended up going to the gym twice, plus with two classes too! I decided to try a different circuits class this week with a different teacher and about died, this guy so knew how to mix it up well during the session that I was ready for my bed as soon as I got home! But I've also been off from week this week that I counted my steps, so I'm pleased I'm able to fit so many steps in. I got my new Fitbit Surge last week and I'm a little obsessed, it definitely gives me the extra motivation to work that much harder. Also I'm looking forward to starting these challenges on there, so if you have a Fitbit let me know I'd love to add you on there! 

Thursday: 10,960 steps
Friday: 8,414 steps
Saturday: 7,468 steps 
Sunday: 5,317 steps
Monday: 8,347 steps
Tuesday: 18,411 steps (includes my circuit class)
Wednesday: 11,344 steps
Total steps: 70,258 steps



Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Review: Paper Hearts (Hearts #2) by Claire Contreras

Paper Hearts (Hearts #2) by Claire Contreras
Publication Date: September 9th 2015
My rating:  4.5 Stars  


I lost her. No. I threw her away. She was my best friend. I was never supposed to fall in love with her. I was careless. She was heartbroken. I thought I was doing fine. But here she is, years later, forced to work with me, reminding me why I fell in love with her in the first place. And this time I'm going to do everything in my power to never let her go.

If you know me by now you will know how much I adore my second chance romances, I was a little wary when I picked up Paper Hearts as I absolutely  loved Oliver and Estelle’s story in Kaleidoscope Hearts, but I also wanted to know more about Jensen and Mia’s story and how things would end up for them.

To be honest Mia and Jensen’s story broke my heart, I didn’t think that anyone could top Oliver and Estelle’s relationship and especially because all the swoons that Oliver gave. But Jensen was a total sweetheart. You know those guy’s that’s in proper touch with his feelings and isn’t afraid to share them with the whole wide world? Jensen was one of those guys. He knew he had messed up with Mia in the past and it was sweet how he would do anything to get her back. He was willing to give her time and space, but he was always confident that he’d win her back. Mia and Jensen’s love for one another was fierce and strong like no other, I know they faced numerous obstacles along the way, but I knew deep down that they would always find their way back to each other and that they were meant to be. I could understand Mia being scared about losing herself with Jensen once again after being hurt the first time around, but Jensen had changed so much, his loyalty and love for Mia was so apparent and knew no bounds, it was obvious when they spent time together, their connection was so strong, it felt like nobody else was in the room and they only had eyes for one another. Their relationship was also off the charts, the subtle touches, sweet whisperings and Jensen’s jealousy over anyone who spent time with Mia was wonderful to watch play out. I just wish we had more of it, the small break in between also literally broke my heart, but it just made me fall for Jensen that much more, his openness for his love for Mia in his paper just made my heart melt.  Also I have a thing now for guys with beards (short ones) and so add that to all of Jensen’s amazing personality I was a goner!

Mia and Jensen’s relationship was a truly beautiful one, but I was also grateful that Contreras made the characters from Kaleidoscope Hearts an integral part of this story too. It was great being back with Estelle, Oliver and Victor, not only were they great in being there for Mia and keeping her grounded, but were also great at lifting a situation, and bringing fun and laughter when things were getting a bit too tough. These were characters that I became so fond of that I would totally be up for more stories from another character (maybe Victor, Pretty please Ms. Contreras!). Contreras truly did a wonderful job with Paper Hearts, her writing was beautiful and she’d created one of the most beautifully aching relationships I have come across in a long time! Honestly its one that will be thinking about for days to come and will look forward to coming back to reading again and again.



Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Review: Chase Me by Laura Florand

Chase Me ( Paris Nights #2) by Laura Florand
Publication date: April 5th 2016
My rating: 5 stars 
Amazon | Kobo | iBooks


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25644437-find-her

A Michelin two-star chef at twenty-eight, Violette Lenoir could handle anything, including a cocky burglar who broke into her restaurant in the middle of the night.

Or so she thought.

Elite counterterrorist operative Chase “Smith” had been through things that made Hell Week look easy. But nothing had prepared him for a leather-clad blonde who held him at bay at knifepoint and dared him to take her on.

Now if only saving the world didn’t require he ruin her life.

Two people who thought they could handle anything now have to take on each other.

It's a battle neither one expected. But with their futures on the line, they have nothing to lose...but their hearts.

Warning: This book contains one arrogant Navy SEAL, nights of Paris passion, and a woman who wants to have it all.


My Thoughts:
Chase Me was an utterly fun love/hate romance (well, on Violette’s side, anyhow) full of clever banter, and seriously HOT!

Violette Lenior fought her way to the top as a chef with hard work and talent which earned her two Michelin stars, and the command of her own restaurant.  Unfortunately, all this is about to go bottoms up when Chase Smith breaks into her kitchen.  Knives are thrown, heads and hearts are lost, and it is soooo very, very sexy! However, the next day Violette’s world comes crashing down when her kitchen is shut down with a bogus accusation, and she just knows Chase had something to do with it!   Let that man beware, because this knife wielding woman is on the warpath!

When Chase breaks into Violette’s restaurant he doesn’t expect to be completely bewitched by the knife wielding, leather wearing dynamo!  She’s strong, confident, and Chase’s heart is a goner! But he knows things will not be smooth sailing, especially since Chase’s mission to thwart a terrorist attack means shutting down Violette’s restaurant. 

I was totally smitten with Chase!  He was the perfect melding of playful arrogance and a big heart.  He was an unstoppable force, and once Violette became his target she didn’t stand a chance in getting away.  The fact that Violette was strong and confident didn’t threaten Chase in any way, in fact that revved him up even more!  Violette’s mix of strength and vulnerability endeared me to her, and I related to every passionate emotion she had. 

No one writes sexual chemistry and hot, lusty scenes like Laura Florand! Chase and Violette’s romance just sizzled and sparked right off the pages!  Chase is chasing Violette a lot and Violette is beating him off a lot, but without serious conviction for the most part, because Chase is pretty irresistible! There was so much delicious, playful push and pull; I had a huge grin on my face for so much of the story! I’m still smiling just thinking about these two!

I just LOVED Chase Me!  As usual I’m in awe of Ms. Florand’s writing talent.  The plot includes a potential terrorist attack on Paris which is very current, serious, and, I thought, dealt with respectfully. Yet, this romance still managed to be lighthearted, fun, and full of the zest for life.  Nothing could keep Violette or Chase down!  A total recommend!





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Florand burst on the contemporary romance scene in 2012 with her award-winning Amour et Chocolat series. Since then, her books have appeared in ten languages, been named among the Best Books of the Year by Library Journal, RT Book Reviews, and Barnes & Noble, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. In 2015, NPR gave her the enormous honor of naming her Chocolate Kiss to its list of the Top 100 Romances of all time.

For more information, please see her website: www.lauraflorand.com.  

Friday, 25 March 2016

Review: Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras

Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras
Publication Date: 20th January 2015. 
My rating: 4.5 stars


He was my older brother's best friend. He was never supposed to be mine. I thought we would get it out of our system and move on. One of us did. One of us left. Now he's back, looking at me like he wants to devour me. And all those feelings I'd turned into anger are brewing into something else, something that terrifies me. He broke my heart last time. This time he'll obliterate it.

With the reading funk that I had been in I really needed a book which I would fall head over heels for and didn’t want to put down. Unexpectedly Kaleidoscope Hearts was that book. I found myself totally absorbed into Oliver and Estelle’s world not wanting to do anything but find out how things would end up for them.

Oliver and Estelle had a crazy sort of relationship; Estelle was Oliver’s best friend’s younger sister, so totally out off limits as far as Victor was concerned. But Oliver and Estelle just had that connection one night and ever since then no matter how hard they tried, they just couldn’t resist one another. Of course Oliver had the reputation of being a ladies’ man, so of course Victor wouldn’t want his sister messing around with him. But Oliver and his charms were just really hard to resist, honesty I know I would have seriously a hard time too. So the times that their paths collided Oliver and Estelle just have eyes for one another, until one eventful night things completely change. I can honestly accept and understand Estelle’s reaction and the decision she makes, it was a big night for both of them so you wouldn’t expect Oliver to do that if he really cared about her. So what Estelle decided to do is perfectly understandable. But of course fate wouldn’t leave it that way and Oliver and Estelle’s path end up colliding once more.

I was super curious to find out what exactly had gone down with Oliver and Estelle in the past, I wanted both of them to be able to move forward together, but there was still that doubt of trust in Estelle’s mind and with everything that she had been through, was she even ready to move on?. And with Oliver for that matter? I really liked how Contreras gave us Oliver’s and Estelle’s story, the switch between the present and past worked really well, showing us the slow build up of their relationship. The back and forth between them in the present day could be annoying at times, but Contreras gave us the right amount of slow burn, teasing us slowly until I couldn’t really take it anymore. Plus the constant fear of Estelle’s brother finding out the truth, added extra spice to their time together. Let me say Oliver and Estelle’s relationship was hot! Also I may have previously mentioned that certain characters names really work for me (I have a mental list that I always associate with hotness and Oliver is right up there, also a hot Dr. who could ever resist?) Both Oliver and Estelle shared immense growth over the course of the story, they weren’t teenagers anymore and over the years of missed chances, stolen kisses and grief they had to deal with they both grew up. And I’m glad to say they did especially where it concerned Oliver, because Estelle was risking a lot giving him a second chance, but it was clear to me from the very beginning, Oliver’s flirting and banter aside, he was serious about making their relationship work. My only minor irk was how Estelle and characters kept sabotaging Estelle’s ex afterwards, he seemed like a decent guy to me with what we were told of him, but more so I don’t respect making comments after that individual is no longer around to defend themselves. Despite this however Kaleidoscope Hearts was everything I could have hoped for and so much more. It was a story where I fell pretty hard for the characters and couldn’t stop thinking about for days afterwards. So thank you for that Ms. Contreras, I can’t wait to dive into more of your reads.



Thursday, 24 March 2016

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts #2


What I've been reading:
(click on title for Goodreads link)

Shelter Mountain (A Virgin River Novel) Staked (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #8) Chase Me (Paris Nights #2)

I finished Shelter Mountain, the second book in Robyn Carr's Virgin River series and loved it. I got a lot of the previous couples, and hinting at a new romance! I wish I lived in Virgin River! Can't wait to pick up book three.  Staked by Kevin Hearne is so darn funny! I'm laughing myself silly over Owen's chapters! I'm listening to the audio book which I cannot recommend more! Luke Daniels' narration is amazing! The series wouldn't be the same for me without his narration. I've just started Chase Me by Laura Florand.  I'm already cracking up and loving it! She is one of my all-time favorite romance novelists.  Her writing is just beyond beautiful!

I had two days where my diet sort of went out the window, this last weekend, because I had two dinner parties to attend.  I stop logging after lunch on both nights.  There may or may not have been a small slice of red velvet bundt cake with cream cheese frosting, but I didn't go all out so I didn't do too much damage, thankfully. 
I didn't try any new recipes except for Oven Roasted Asparagus I found on Allrecipes.com.  There doesn't seem like many ways to fix asparagus, to me anyhow, but this recipe is really tasty.  



#FitReaders is hosted by Jen @That's What I'm Talking About and Felicia @TheGeekyBlogger.

Here's my progress for the last week:

Thursday: 13,593 steps
Friday: 10,175 steps
Saturday: 7,237 steps 
Sunday: 13,647 steps (did an almost 4mile walk/jog 79 minutes)
Monday:  12,678 steps (walk/jog 55 minutes)
Tuesday:14,519 steps (walk/jog 43 minutes)
Wednesday: 11,598 steps
Total steps: 83,447 steps




Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

When We Collided by Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens  
Publication Date: April 7th 2016
My rating: 3 stars 


Seventeen year old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he's not. Now Jonah must numbly take care of his family as they reel from their tragedy. Cue next change: Vivi Alexander, new girl in town. Vivi is in love with life. A gorgeous and unfiltered hurricane of thoughts and feelings. She seems like she's from another planet as she transforms Jonah's family and changes his life. But there are always consequences when worlds collide …

When we Collided was a beautiful read, I normally don’t gravitate towards books where there are broken characters and by coming together things actually seem to come hopeful. But Lord really reeled my in with When we Collided that the grief and hurt that our characters had to go through really made me want someone or anyone better for them. My heart really went out to Jonah and the situation he found himself in, he was only young and had to shoulder so much of the responsibility for covering up the fact that his mum still wasn’t 100%, and then manage everything else on top of looking after his siblings. No one should ever offer to deal with that and overcome the grief too. So I’m glad that Vivi rolled into his life the whirlwind that she was, her energy was soon picked up by Jonah’s siblings and she made them hopeful and believe that things could be okay. Jonah and his family really deserved every bit of happiness they could get, but I couldn’t get my finger on what was up with Vivi, there were glimpses in her past and hints in the present day story, so by the time things kicked off I’d wished that we’d known sooner, just to prevent a lot of the heartache along the way. But you could say that this was the wakeup call Vivi needed to deal with the problems she had been burying and to get her life back on track. 

I loved the family dynamics that Lord incorporated into this story, Jonah’s family was an absolute delight to be around, they were a crazy bunch, but each bought their quirky personality to the story. I liked how the whole town would get together when support was needed or even to celebrate a birthday of a newcomer. The family and community closeness really worked well in bringing out positive vibes and a goofy smile on my face, when things looked grim.

Like I said before When we Collided was a beautiful story, Lord really weaved a gorgeous story that dealt with so many issues really well. But I think this book just failed to evoke an emotional reaction out of me as I’d anticipated and that’s the only reason I can give for not rating this book any higher. Also the ending in particular was unexpected, I had no idea things would end that way. But these minor grievances’ aside When we Collide is a book I would still highly recommend, just so readers can experience Jonah and Vivi’s beautiful story for themselves.





Monday, 21 March 2016

Cover Reveal: Nate by J.B. Morgan



Nate (A Texas Jacks Novel)



Title: Nate (A Texas Jacks Novel)
Author: J.B. Morgan
Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 31, 2016




 NateWhen Nathan Jackson's world shattered, and fell out from under him, his two best friends were there to help pick up the pieces. There’s nothing that Nate wouldn’t do for them.

It’s been a few years since then, and Nate’s life seems pretty content between his friends, work, and his love of dirt bike racing. When Nate’s out on the track, he can let it all go, be free, and finally feel at peace.

But when it comes to relationships, Nate's not looking for anything long-term. He swears that love isn't worth the risk—until she walks through the doors of Texas Jack's.

Charlie
Charlotte Davenport knows that something has to give, or life will pass her by. It's time to add a little excitement to her routine. Charlie isn't expecting much, but with her friends at her side, she feels ready to break out of her shell. But something’s missing.

When she, and her friends, head out to Texas Jack's for a night of fun, Charlie meets him — Nathan Jackson. He just might be the man to help Charlie overcome her shyness, and shake up her world.

But first, Nate must be willing to let his guard down and take a chance on Charlie. A
nd if that happens, can Charlie open herself up enough to let him in?


 


J.B. Morgan resides in Oregon where she's a wife and a stay-at-home-mother of two. When she's not writing she can be found carting her kids everywhere, busy with volunteer work, or reading. She loves the NY Yankees, traveling, and her family.

When she was younger, she would make up hero-rescuing stories in her head, revolving around boys she had crushes on at school. She's in love with the idea of love. 

About her stories: I love full length stories with a resolution at the end so -no short novellas or serials for me. I love my stories to have: humor, swoony romance, strong and sensible heroines, good-decent guys, realism, and happily ever afters. After all, don't we read to escape reality? So why not read what makes you feel good on the inside and puts a smile on your face? This is what I strive to put in my novels


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts #1


My friend Brandie @Brandie is a Book Junkie participates in this post each week and I always enjoy the post so I thought I'd give it a try. 

What I've been reading:

Act Like It Jane Steele Virgin River (A Virgin River Novel)

 I finished Act Like It after reading Keertana's glowing review I thought I'd pick this up and I loved it! It starts out as a fake romance between British stage actors that (of course) turns into the real thing.  It's super cute, filled with British humor and words (can I just say I love the word stroppy?), and left me with a big smile on my face.  I've listened to Virgin River, a recommend from Brandie and loved it! I'm already onto book two in the series. I've just picked up  Jane Steele.  I have high hopes because Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorite classics.

Since I joined Goodreads and started blogging my activity and diet have sucked. I'm not more than 10 pounds over what I'm used to, but the weight is enough that my clothes were uncomfortably tight.  I'm 5'2" so even 5lbs makes a difference.
The last few months I've been trying to change that, but recently I've become serious. I joined #FitReaders and have started tracking my steps with a goal of 10,000 steps every day. I haven't met it every day, but I'm close, and the tracker helps motivate me to do more when I'd normally come home from work and veg out with a book.  I committed to do something at least 5K in March and I completed that goal this last Saturday with a 6K hike I did with my sister (it really helps to have a buddy!).  It felt really good to be out in the fresh air on such a beautiful day:


I've been trying the low carb route for my diet, but not the super, super low Atkins 20.  Just the 40 carb a day diet, but trust me, that's still been tough, but I'm getting results. I can't tell you how much the phone app MyFitnessPal has helped with tracking! 
I'm constantly looking for tasty recipes that fulfill protein requirements without tipping the carb scales.  Here's what I tried this week: Lombardy Chicken.  I made some modifications on the recipe (you can see my notes on my Pinterest Pin), and I came up with 270 calories, 43.8 grams of protein and 7.4 carbs for one serving, 4oz of chicken (all figured out by MyFitnessPal!). It was pretty darn good!





#FitReaders is hosted by Jen @That's What I'm Talking About and Felicia @TheGeekyBlogger.  Here's my progress for the last week:

Thursday: 11,557 steps
Friday: 10,382 steps
Saturday: 23,167 steps (did my 6K hike)
Sunday: 7,939 steps (my legs needed a rest!)
Monday: 10,147 steps
Tuesday:10,201 steps
Wednesday: 12,645 steps


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