Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What's Been Going On: It's Kind of a Long Story

Hi everyone! It's Tuesday! The last day of February. Where has the time gone? Today I'm sharing my exciting news that I've been holding onto for several weeks. You might make it to the end of this post and be like, no big deal, Alyssa? But so much has happened in the last two weeks, and in the last two months (really in the last four years in general), and everything I'm about to talk about was/is a huge deal to me. 

First I'll provide a little bit of context...

Most of you know that I'm currently a senior undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins University. Senior year in college is especially tough, because midway through the year, applications for grad school, med school, law school, teaching/mentoring positions, internships, or jobs are due. It's one of the most pivotal points of a person's life (for those choosing to pursue higher education).

I personally knew I wouldn't be applying to grad school, either at Johns Hopkins (the 5th-year Master's program), or elsewhere. I'll be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering, Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, and a minor in Earth & Planetary Science. These last 3.5 years (4 years, in May) have been such a trial, and I'm burned out. I love learning, and I'm going to miss the classroom type of learning. But I knew I didn't want to pursue a Master's degree immediately after my undergraduate studies concluded. There is a good chance I'll do a part-time graduate program starting in Fall 2018, but nothing for now.

My plan was to apply for jobs in the fall/winter of senior year. I also planned to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, to become an Engineer-In-Training (EIT). Side-note: if there are any engineering students reading this post who want to know more about this licensing/certification exam, you can email me or check out NCEES's website. Email me about anything engineering-related, really. Anyway, becoming an EIT would be the next step in becoming a Professional Engineer (PE), which is where I'm heading. 

Fall semester ended in December, and I spent the holidays with my family. Just after New Year's Day, I came back to the university and immediately began studying for the FE exam. I scheduled the exam for Feb. 8th, which only gave me about five weeks to study. Logically, five weeks isn't a ton of time. The FE exam is extremely difficult, especially the environmental discipline. But I really didn't want to take it in May, because I wanted to apply for jobs and have that EIT certification on my resume. I'd be a more marketable candidate, you know?

Meanwhile, I'd been applying for full-time entry-level engineer positions since November. I applied to so many firms and agencies, public and private. I knew the job application process would be difficult, but it was honestly so discouraging to be completing so many applications and not hearing back from any of the companies. Especially with so much backing me - the university name (JHU), my degree, my GPA, my coursework, my activities, my internship experience, my research, my work experience. People say that you need connections to get a job, and it's mostly true, in the engineering world. Simply applying for a position most likely won't get you a call, let alone an interview. 

So, I applied to companies, and in January, started studying for the FE exam. I applied for more jobs in January, moped, kept studying, kept applying, kept working (I work part-time in a department at the university). 

Turning point - towards the middle of January, I heard back from a few firms and agencies. I scheduled and went on interviews, sent emails, kept up correspondence... received offers. I almost cried in January, when I received my first offer. The firms are so competitive with their salaries and benefits, and that was awesome (and intimidating) to experience. The interviews weren't as grueling as I expected. Luckily, I was granted some time to contemplate, and go on more interviews.

Then Spring classes started on January 30th, and I was still studying for the FE exam. Can you imagine - juggling interviews, studying for a $225 exam, working, and then attending classes? I lost my mind a little, in the first two weeks of the semester. Taking the FE exam on Feb. 8th was a huge relief... even if it was so difficult I wanted to cry as I left the testing center.

I'd like to think I'm a fairly smart student, and I studied well for the FE exam, but finishing the exam made me feel like a failure, because it was such a difficult exam. It's pass/fail (no score given unless you fail), but I legitimately worried that I failed. I had to guess for the last 15 questions or so, which made me feel awful. I didn't even have time to solve them! Waiting for my result was torture. Did I mention that the exam costs $225 (not paid by the university)? It's like the MCAT, but for engineers (kind of). Did I mention that John Hopkins has a 100% pass rate, for environmental engineering students? Talk about pressure... I didn't want to be the first to fail.

To make this long story slightly shorter, my good news:

I passed the FE exam! I'm officially an EIT!


I have a job after graduation! I accepted an offer that was pretty perfect and entirely amazing, and I'm excited. 

Why I waited so long to share this - I found out my result from the FE exam on Feb. 15th. And then the job hunt - I accepted this offer on Friday (Feb. 24th). I was still deciding certain things up until Friday. Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself by sharing this so soon (in terms of accepting that job offer). January and February were such stressful and wonderful months, filled with both extremes of the spectrum.

I'm truly grateful for having offers and accepting the one that I did - many fellow seniors and even 5th-year Master's students are still looking for jobs (the ones that aren't doing grad school). You might think, it's so early to have things finalized! But the hiring process is cyclical. Companies might stop hiring in March, or April, and then you're too late and might have to wait months for positions to open up again. I did my best with the hiring process, and I'm so happy where I landed.

I'm also over the moon with joy, about passing the FE exam. It was so hard! I don't even think studying more would have helped! I churned out hundreds (possibly thousands?) of practice problems to study for the exam (because it's 110 computational engineering problems), so I honestly didn't expect to feel so clueless. After taking the exam, I figured I knew at least 50% of the questions - but the cutoff to pass is around 65%, for the environmental discipline of the FE exam. But clearly I knew more than I thought, because I passed! YAY!

So, now you know! I'm so excited to share this news. I've blogged since midway through my senior year of high school, and here I am, four years later, blogging midway through my senior year of university. Some of you have been here since I started my journey at Hopkins. I know things are going to change around here in June, when I start working. 

On another note - I am ashamed to say that I am well over a month behind on replying to comments on my blog. I've done a good job of commenting on other blogs, but leaving comment replies on my blog has really suffered since the beginning of January. Now you know why. February 2017 has been my "worst" month in posts - only 31 posts for the month, which is an all-time low, in my 4+ years of blogging. You can kind of tell how the job hunt, interviews, the FE exam, and the start of the semester on top of all of that has affected my blog. So please forgive me as I work through so many comments! I am so grateful to all of you who stuck with me over the last two months, without even knowing why I wasn't as active on my blog and around other blogs. There are so many of you and I appreciate every single one of you! 

I didn't want to get too emotional or deep, but this is a deeply personal post for me. I don't share a lot about my personal life, but with everything that I've gone through, and everything that has happened in the last two months, I feel comfortable sharing this. And if you've made it to the end of the post, I salute you and thank you. Thank you for letting me share this with you.

And finally - thank you to everyone who helped in bringing The Eater of Books! to ONE MILLION unique pageviews! I don't want to detract from this post but I will definitely be writing a separate post about that milestone. I am honored! Be on the lookout for that post. 

Until then - have a lovely day, friends!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

Jennifer L. Armentrout has proven that can write just about any genre and totally rock it. She has written countless Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult novels across many genres - contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, romance, and a combination of all of those. Add romantic suspense to that list! Till Death is very different compared to her other books, but it's easily one of her best books. 

Sasha Keaton is coming back to her hometown after ten years, to help her mother with her struggling inn. Ten years ago, Sasha was kidnapped by the Groom, but she escaped, becoming the first and only victim to do so. Ten years later, right around the time of her coming back to West Virginia, the kidnappings and murders begin again, and with so many details being exactly like how the Groom used to do things, it can't be a coincidence. Sasha isn't safe, and neither are countless innocent women. Sasha, her mother, her friends, and Cole Landis might not have enough time before this serial killer comes after Sasha for good.

This book really delivered on the "suspense" aspect. At first I thought I was going to be reading a carbon copy of Katee Robert's The Devil's Daughter, which just published a month ago. That book was awesome, by the way. There were definitely similarities, but the two books are so different. Both authors really nail the suspense, and the romance too, though I will say that Armentrout slays when it comes to romance, and this book was no exception.

From the start, you can tell how much Sasha's traumatic past is still affecting her. She has nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks, and just being back make sure shake. But she is not a coward and in many ways, she isn't afraid. I love how strong Sasha is and how much stronger she becomes. As the story unfolds, the case gets weirder and creepier and more connected to Sasha, but she handles everything well. Realistically, and also, well.

Suffice it to say, I liked Sasha. I liked her vulnerabilities and her walls. She had every right to be afraid and closed off. But it was nice to see her open up and really live...

... Which a big part of that is because of Cole Landis. Ten years ago, Cole and Sasha were in the beginning of what would have been an adorable and swoony relationship, as two college students. He is three years older than her, and now he is an FBI agent. Ten years didn't diminish her feelings for him - and it turns out, the same is true for him. Cole is a huge part of Sasha's emotional journey of this book. He is with her through everything that happens in this book, and cares for her and protects her like a man that will never give up and won't let go. Cole is such a sweetheart and a fiercely protective man, and he's exactly what Sasha needed - and wanted. I swooned over the man at least a dozen times because dang, he is definitely too good to be true. 

The romance is and isn't a big part of the book. It certainly isn't the most important aspect, but it is very, very there. Cole and Sasha reconnect and fall for each other (again) pretty quickly, but not in an insta-love type of way. This romance is technically a second-chance romance, but without all the angst of one person hurting the other and breaking up. So it was a second-chance romance, but really, it was a first-love romance too. I adored the romance.

A note - this is 100% an adult romantic suspense novel. There are some very steamy scenes involving Cole and Sasha. I definitely approve and loved their significance, but just keep that in mind if you're a younger reader or looking to recommend this book to a younger reader. 

I also loved some of the other relationships of this story. Sasha's relationship with her mom and her relationship with her best friend Miranda are both very positive and strong relationships, which was nice to see.

One thing I want to mention is how Sasha's kidnapping/experience (for lack of a better word) is so heartbreaking and cruel, but it isn't a major plot point. Like, the awful, sick things that the Groom did to her aren't totally and fully stated - and it isn't necessary, because (1) we can read between the lines for what isn't stated directly and (2) this book isn't entirely about her moving through that trauma. She spent six years doing intense therapy to work through that trauma. I like that this book didn't focus on her emotional pain from what the Groom did - though what he did was extremely important (and terrible and twisted and sick) to the story.

The author twisted the story so that you're not quite sure who the Groom was and who the new killer is. BUT, I will say that upon meeting a certain character, I knew that would be the killer. I just knew. One critical detail about that character, mentioned in passing when the character is first introduced (somewhat early on in the book) tipped me off. I was confident that that was the killer, and I looked for shady behavior and "Easter eggs" as I read. It sucks that I knew early on, but I'm pretty sure that was just me and most people won't guess so early. So, be prepared to be swung all over the place, because even though I got the killer correct, there were other aspects that were extremely surprising.

Overall, this book really delivered, in terms of the suspense, and the romance. I loved how important both of those aspects were to the story. I love Cole and Sasha's relationship and how strong it was, completely unshakable and no drama. I loved seeing Sasha get stronger and move forward - but Cole too (because what happened to Sasha really affected him too). I really enjoyed this book!

What I Did Not Like:

I already talked about this above, but I'm kind of sad that I guessed the killer so early on. Again, it's likely just me being too clever and/or suspicious of everyone, and I think most readers so far were fairly surprised. And there are other aspects of the climax and ending that will surprise you. Anyway this is a "dislike" that isn't really a dislike because it's entirely my problem/fault!

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book if you like suspense! Or if you like romance, because this book keeps pretty steamy (like, adult romance steamy), and the romance is so sweet. I'm not totally into suspense (I'm a scaredy cat) and this book was kind of scary/creepy but not so much so that I was freaked out (and again, I'm the scaredest of scaredy cats). I highly recommend this book, but also The Devil's Daughter by Katee Robert (though that book's romance it a little less X-rated). 


4 stars. Maybe don't do what I did and read this one at night! Read it in broad daylight but also in an enclosed area where you know all of the exits and entrances... this book has me feeling so paranoid right now. This is the sixteenth book of Armentrout's that I've read, and I think it's her best yet. Not necessarily my favorite (though it's up there), but in my opinion, her most well-written book yet.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: Undeclared by Julianna Keyes

Undeclared by Julianna Keyes
Book Two of the Burnham College series
Publication Date: February 27, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is a New Adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Kellan McVey is Burnham College’s most prolific athlete, partier, and ladies’ man—and that’s just how he likes it. Returning to reign for his third year, he wants nothing to change. Then Andrea Walsh shows up. 

It wasn’t too long ago that Andi and Kellan were lifelong friends, mortal enemies, and, for one hot summer, more. Then Kellan left and Andi stayed behind. 

Kellan thought he’d moved past that last summer’s heartbreak, but with Andi sitting next to him in class, befriending his friends, and battling for the same once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity, he’s starting to remember why he hated her…and why he loved her. 

Kellan has a long list of reasons that falling for Andi again is a terrible idea, though every new moment together challenges that theory. But Andi’s all too familiar with Kellan’s love ’em and leave ’em approach—and she’s found someone else to get serious about. 

Burnham’s campus king has never had to fight for a girl, but if he wants Andi to give him another chance, he’ll have to do the one thing he’s never had the nerve to do: admit it.

What I Liked:

Undeclared was without doubt my most anticipated New Adult publication of 2017. I loved Undecided - so much it became my new favorite NA book - and I couldn't wait to read the follow-up. While I didn't love this book like I loved Undecided (would that even be possible?), I enjoyed it and definitely recommend it.

Undeclared is Kellan's story, and it starts at the end of summer, leading into the beginning of hir junior year. Before heading back to Burnham for the new academic year, Kellan seeks out his childhood and former hook-up, Andi. He and Andi did not part on good terms two summer ago, before Kellan left for Burnham and Andi stayed in Avilla. Years later, she is still angry with him. And as it would turn out, she is starting her first year at Burnham, with a volleyball scholarship. Kellan is notorious for his promiscuous behavior, but what everyone doesn't know is that he left Avilla two years ago with a broken heart, and wanted a fresh start from Andi. But now that they're back to being in the same space - and having the same friends too - Kellan and Andi can't ignore their brokenhearted past, or their unknown future.

Clearly this is a second-chance romance story, and I will be very upfront by saying that I do not usually like second-chance romances. It's because someone got burned a long time ago, and now here is the story of two hurt people (at least one, anyway) falling in love again... it's not always pretty, it's never fun, and I'm not here for that kind of story. However, I've read several of Keyes' adult novels, and one was a second-chance romance. I loved that book (Time Served). And I loved Undecided (which was not a second-chance romance, by the way), so there was no way I wasn't going to give this book a chance. 

Both Kellan and Andi are hurt about what happened two summers ago (when the "broke up", Kellan went to Burnham, Andi stayed in Avilla). Andi has always openly loved Kellan, but Kellan could never force the words into his brain, let alone out of his mouth. Fast-forward to now - there is even more angst and heartbreak between the two of them. With Kellan's literal list of women he's hooked up with between him and Andi, and Andi being tired of waiting for Kellan, you know this story isn't going to be easy. And it wasn't. But... that's one of the things I liked about it.

This book is written in Kellan's point-of-view, which was awesome! Exclusively his first-person POV. I loved getting in his head, when it came to track, Andi, his promiscuous past, his friends. It broke my heart, experiencing his feelings whenever his sexcapades were brought into conversation by one idiot or anything, because you can tell how Kellan isn't proud of himself anymore. Kellan has matured so much, between Undecided and Undeclared, but also in Undeclared. He has so much more depth than what everyone expects (the jock playboy who will sleep with anyone). This book is about Kellan, and not just his romance with Andi. He matures and becomes a better guy, a better student, a better athlete, and a better person in general. I like Kellan 2.0.

I was surprised when I actually liked Andi, from the start. I thought I'd dislike her initially because she was the one that put the brakes on their "relationship" those summers ago, and honestly she was a little mean to him, when they first start interacting at Burnham. But then I put myself in her shoes... honestly, she was much nicer than I would have been. My petty butt would have been vicious. 

Anyway, Andi was fine in the beginning and she grew on me even more. I didn't really like that she was interested in another guy at first (I like the romance linear), but I didn't mind because that ended up trickling out less than halfway, and she wasn't interested in him like she was in Kellan. Even though Andi wasn't one to play games, she was quite good at getting Kellan to notice her and want to seek her out. Andi is smart and also protective of her heart - and with good reason.

Watching the pair stumble along and find their way was hard, heartbreaking, but also sweet and sometimes steamy. They fight constantly in the beginning, and that leads to some other passionate encounters... they are great together. The romance is different because they both already loved each other - but they grew into those feelings, and that was fun and swoony to watch. They have to hash out and work through a lot of stuff, but it was worth the angst and occasional (small) drama.

No love triangle, no cheating, no surprise babies - it's all Kellan and Andi (though at first, like I said, it seems like Andi might be into someone else). I don't really like the diversion bit (Andi being interested in someone else) but it served a purpose. The romance is both bittersweet and swoony, steamy and passionate. 

I loved how the male relationships are so important in this book. Crosbie, Dane, Choo, and several other male characters make a lot of appearances in this book, and they are so crucial to Kellan's story. They're a hilarious and solid support system for Kellan, whether he knows it or not. She's not a dude but Nora (Crosbie's girlfriend) is also frequently in this book, and I loved all of her and Crosbie's snippets. They are the cutest!

I've probably said enough! This book was great overall. I'm not a big fan of second-chance romance novels, but this one was good. I think Keyes did Kellan's story justice.

What I Did Not Like:

The diversion aspect of the romance could have just not existed (Andi being interested in the basketball player - they didn't "do" anything, for anyone wondering). Sure, there was nothing sexual about Andi and the basketball player BUT that whole plot point was unnecessary.

I've mentioned how I struggle with second-chance romances so if you're like me, know that this book has those aspects of second-chance romances that you struggle with (the angst, the heartbreak, the anger, the hurt, and a wee bit of drama). It's not terrible, like some books?

Would I Recommend It:

I didn't love this book like I loved Undecided (again, probably because of the second-chance romance aspect), but I liked it a lot and I don't think it disappointed at all. I definitely missed the funny back-and-forth banter of Crosbie and Nora's relationship, but Kellan and Andi's relationship had its own tone and quality to it, and for that, I can't fault the book. I do recommend this book if you've read Undecided. If you haven't read Undecided and are thinking about starting with this book (Undeclared)... don't - read Undecided (first). You won't regret it!


4 stars. A solid companion sequel and addition to the series. I liked this book and I adored Kellan even more than I already did. I think he really redeemed himself in this book, with Andi and in general. Take whatever you thought about him in Undecided and be prepared to take a closer look at this guy!

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#218)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, February 19th to Saturday, February 25th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK (Feb. 12th - Feb. 18th)

Thank you, BHM! Look for a giveaway of this book in a few weeks. :D

My latest BookOutlet order! I am so excited because I've been looking for this particular paperback edition of Wrath (which I loved, by the way, and its sequel) - and there were two copies available on BookOutlet! Shout-out to Mithila for pointing out the book on BookOutlet to me! Saved me from attempting to find it on #booksfortrade. ;)

Two completely separate mailings from one awesome publisher! Thank you, Sourcebooks Casablanca! I won My Highland Rebel, which was exciting. And then the publicist of the Highland Weddings series surprised me with an ARC of Highland Hellion - squeee! So nice of her.

Thank you, Susan! Windwitch was great, y'all. Check out the series if you get the chance!

HUGE thanks to Gail for sending this to me - she is so nice! She saw that I was looking for one and offered to send hers, which was so sweet. <3

A whole bunch of buttons

BUTTONS! I love buttons. This was from a trade with Jenefer (who is awesome), via #booksfortrade. She was looking for an ARC that I had. This trade worked out nicely because she got her ARC and I got more BUTTONS!

FROM THIS WEEK (Feb. 19th - Feb. 25th)

I'll update this section when I go home, Saturday evening!


Ahhh! I won these from Brooke's Valentine's Day giveaway - I am so excited! So many great books to read. Best giveaway ever! Thank you, Brooke!

Thank you, Abrams!

Thank you, Disney! What an interesting title, right?

From NetGalley:


Thank you, Entangled Brazen, Forever, and Tor Teen! So many great sequels to read (and the start of a new series, with Roar)!

PEOPLE! I did A Thing this week and I finally get to talk about it! I'll do a post on Tuesday. In other news, I might be going to one of the Penguin Teen on Tour stops in March - or maybe two! The Nova Teen Festival one, and the Fairfax one. How cool is that? Most events are too far away from me, but I might be able to make it to these two events. Cross your fingers for me!

In other OTHER news... THANK YOU!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Reviews: Brazen Edition! (#3)

Sweet Victory by Gina L. Maxwell
Book Four of the Fighting For Love series
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: February 27, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Confident but distrustful Sophie Caldwell needs help if she's going to save her family business. Her grandma left one rule for Sophie to maintain ownership from her uncle before she's thirty: get married. But how does she get her uncle off her ass when she's only twenty-seven and hasn't had a boyfriend in years?

Lean, cut, British-born MMA fighter Xander James has never lost a fight, and he's not about to start now. On the brink of a comeback to be a UFC champion, his landlord wants to take away his last chance by shutting down his gym. No. Hell no. Fortunately, his landlord's niece has a problem of her own. Time for a proposal she can't refuse.

What I Liked:

Years ago, I read Seducing Cinderella and absolutely LOVED the book. To this date, that book is one of my favorite Brazen novels. I must say, Brazen doesn't make 'em like they used to. Seducing Cinderella and a slew of other "older" publications were among their very best. Sweet Victory is the fourth book in the Fighting for Love series (Seducing Cinderella was book one). The series closes with Sophie and Xander, a feisty baker and a sexy British MMA fighter.

Sophie's bakery and Xander's gym are across the street from each other, and under the same property ownership. The property owner, who happens to be Sophie's uncle, decides to sell the property. But Sophie is set to inherit the bakery from her grandmother, either when she turns thirty, or when she gets married. So what does she do when Xander suggests they get married? She accepts, to save the bakery, and his gym. So they get married. But what happens when both of them don't want the marriage to have an expiration date?

I liked this book, which is great because I read the synopsis and immediately thought that I would enjoy. I mean, which woman wouldn't like a romance novel with a British male protagonist? And an MMA fighter, no less. This is only the second book I've read by Maxwell, but she has not disappointed me yet.

Xander is every bit as sexy and swoony as the synopsis - and cover - make him out to be. He's a flirt when it comes to Sophie, but he's also a good man and a dedicated fighter. He trains incredibly hard and is so driven. But he also has a hero complex and a heart of gold. When he hears Sophie's uncle belittling her, he swoops in and defends her. Not in a I-am-man-let-me-fix-everything-for-you type of way, but in a selfless, incredible way. Xander had me hooked from the start. He seems like a ladies' man and an incorrigible flirt, but he's so sweet and so good. 

Sophie loves her bakery, and she is determined to protect it. Marrying Xander seemed absurd but she doesn't realize just how much she likes him, before they get married. Sophie is a feisty, tough lady. She likes things her way but she also balances her way and Xander's way - I like how she compromised to him too (it wasn't all Xander and his selflessness). 

The two of them together are dynamite and firecrackers! They have serious chemistry from the start, and it practically boils and sizzles between them. I do like how they knew each other from before the start of the story - with their respective places of work being across the street from each other, they see a lot of each other. Xander comes by the bakery to flirt with her before his run. I like how they had chemistry before the story started, and it got more intense after they got married. Because holy guacamole, did they have some intense chemistry. The two of them in close quarters was hot! 

The whole rushed marriage thing was handled well, and not totally cheesy and inauthentic. They had six months to play married and then they could file for divorce and go about their merry ways. But of course both of them fall for each other during that time... I like how it wasn't an insta-love type of romance. Lust, yes, but the progression of feelings was well-written. 

You know in the climax of romance novels (especially Brazen romance novels) when the hero breaks up with the heroine or the heroine breaks up with the hero? And then one of them (usually the man) has to grovel, whether it's his fault or not? I LOVE how that whole thing is handled, in this book. Sophie is the one who jumps to some dumb conclusions and leaves him, BUT she is also the one who owns up and chases him back. I was really really pleased to see that Sophie went after her man (and not the other way around), especially since she hurt him by leaving him. 

I enjoyed this story and the characters, the fun banter and the sexy romance. The swoony, hot British guy really made the story, but I also loved the feisty by vulnerable heroine, and beautiful love story presented. This was definitely a great end to the series!

What I Did Not Like:

The drama towards the end of the book was fairly minimal, but it was there. Don't we all hate watching a woman jump 45435345 miles to some dumb conclusion? At least Sophie woman-ed up and ran after him.

Would I Recommend It:

If you're looking for a quite, steamy, swoony read, then give this one a shot. It's only the second Maxwell book I've read but I liked it a lot. I highly recommend the first book, Seducing Cinderella - Reid and Lucie are fiery together. This book is great too! I'm sure the series in general is amazing.


4 stars. Perhaps I'll read the second and third book in the future, but for now I'm content with having read books one and four. They were excellent! I'll definitely be looking for more Brazen novels by Maxwell in the future.

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Delicious Satisfaction by Sabrina Sol
Book Three of the Delicious Desires series
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: February 27, 2017
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

As LA’s hottest up-and-coming chef, Alexa Montoya is known for her ruby red lipstick, award-winning arroz con pollo and a penchant for falling for the wrong kind of men. And when a confrontation with a loser ex-boyfriend lands her in some legal trouble, she’s forced to call her long-time friend, Dante Perez, to bail her out. Only this time, Dante seems different, somehow. More gorgeous, more sexy, more…mouthwateringly irresistible. Suddenly she’s tempted to give the lawyer much more than a simple thank you…

Dante is tired of seeing Alexa with guys who only know how to steal her money and break her heart. He’s watched--and waited for--her long enough. Helping with her legal situation will finally give him a chance to win her over for good. His plan? He’ll seduce her into finally believing that there’s something deliciously right between them…

Despite their chemistry, Alexa can’t trust that Dante won’t leave. But Dante knows how to win a case. And he’ll do whatever it takes to convince Alexa that she’ll always leave him hungry for more…

What I Liked:

Uuuugggghhhhhh, the melodrama (and straight-up drama) hurt this book. I was partly enjoying the story, partly raising a skeptical eyebrow, and partly rolling my eyes. Alexa got on my nerves, and that was that.

Restaurant owner and chef Alexa and her friends decide to go to her ex's new restaurant... and when they get there, Alexa realizes that Nick (the ex) has copied all of her ideas for her dream restaurant. Confronting him in the back, she loses her temper and dumps oil all over him, and when she's leaving, she accidentally breaks a ton of hanging wine bottles. Oops? Good thing Dante Perez, her and her brother's long-time friend and lawyer, is around to clean up her messes. Dante is tired of seeing Alexa date idiot after idiot. How can he prove to her that he's the one for her, and he has been in love with her for years? Alexa has dated a lot of terrible idiots in the past, and Dante is a sweet guy, but how does she know he won't leave her?

The good things about this book: it was short, it was steamy, it was diverse, there was a HEA. I'll start with the length. Usually you want romance novels to be longer, with more steamy scenes and tension and chemistry and tender moments. But the length of this book, as abbreviated as it was, was good. It was a quick read, and it didn't feel rushed.

It was steamy. The author definitely wrote some hot scenes in the book. There could have been more, but I think she got the proportion of steamy scenes just right, for such a short book. Alexa and Dante have known each other for a long time, and both have cared about the other for a long time. They also have a lot of chemistry between them, which led to some pretty steamy encounters.

It was diverse. Both characters have Hispanic background. If I remember correctly, Dante's background is Mexican and Alexa's is Puerto Rican. Alexa and her brother's restaurant serves a variety of Hispanic foods. You could clearly see some touches of Puerto Rican culture, and Hispanic culture in general. Props to the author for that!

A happily-ever-after ending is a given, in romance novels. But I'll state it as a "like" because I don't have a ton of things I liked about the book. The ending was a HEA, which was good and not disappointing.

What I Did Not Like:

Drama drama drama. I honestly cannot stand drama in romance novels (or any novels?). There is enough of it in real life! Don't riddle a romance novel with so much drama. A little drama won't set me off in a rage but when the entire book is full of drama? No thank you.

To begin with, the whole premise of this book is how Alexa lost her temper at her ex-boyfriend's restaurant, and he is suing her and her restaurant for damages and such. NO, Alexa does not have feelings for Nick (the ex) - they broke up a long time ago. But it really bothers me how quickly Alexa lost her temper - and proceeded to dump a bottle of cooking oil on his head? Like a 5-year old? Are we in elementary school? Alexa is so temperamental and impulsive but that... you don't DO that. 

Did I mention that Alexa is temperamental and impulsive? Honestly this girl has to be one of the stupidest heroines I've encountered in romance novels, in a long time. I couldn't stand her. Sure, she had her moments here and there (in which I didn't mind her), but for the most part, I really didn't like her. Let's see... she falls for the most idiotic of men - and then cries a river when they cheat on her or dump her or whatever. She has ridiculous trust issues BECAUSE of the dumba**es she dated, which makes her relationship with Dante difficult. 

I could not stand how Alexa treated Dante. So hot and cold, push and pull. She kept expecting him to leave her or break her heart or start picking up with every girl on the block. Girl, like you're any better? His past bothers you - what about YOURS? Alexa has dated sooooo many losers, and yet she gets to judge Dante about his (NOT-drama-filled) past relationships? HER relationships cost money and drama (believe me, it's insane, the type of guy she picks over and over). And yet here is Dante, a sweet, selfless, sexy guy who loves her, and she decides to be a little wuss when it comes him? Do you detect my disdain? I couldn't stand Alexa.

The icing on the cake was the end of the book. You know in the climax of romance novels (especially Brazen romance novels) when the hero breaks up with the heroine or the heroine breaks up with the hero? And then one of them (usually the man) has to grovel, whether it's his fault or not? Yeah, that's a thing in this book. ALEXA dumps Dante, but it's Dante that has to make the effort to patch things up with her. Alexa isn't the first to break, isn't the one to fight for her man. But she's the one that broke up with him, hurt him, and ruined the relationship. Um, do we not see the problem her?

That was the last straw and pretty much ensured that this book wouldn't get a positive rating. If that part of the ending had been different, I would have given this book three stars.

Would I Recommend It:

I do not recommend this book to anyone. Trust me when I saw that there are better romance novels, even with Entangled Brazen, that are steamy, sweet, quick, and well-written, that won't piss you off or make you want to strangle the heroine. 


1.5 stars -> rounded up to 2 stars. And thus ends my foray into Sabrina Sol's romance novels. 

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#213): Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton!

So I didn't say anything else as I closed the last of the distance between us.

He said he would have torn the desert apart looking for me. And I felt in that kiss his desperation as his mouth found mine.

It wasn't enough with Jin; it was never enough. His hands were in the mess of my torn palace clothes, trying to find me under the too-heavy stitching and the weight of the gaudy khalat. One hand tangled into my hair, pulling away the delicate gold circlet that still clung there. He freed it from my hair, casting it aside, pulling pieces of the palace away from me, trying to return me to him.

It was like being caught in a wildfire, desperate for breath, like if we stopped we would extinguish. Without thinking, I pulled my hands away from his chest. It took one quick movement for my torn khalat to join his shirt in the heap on the groun, until I was waring nothing but the thin linen chemise underneath.

- eARC, 84%

I loved this book! You can enter to win a paperback copy of Rebel of the Sands HERE, if you're interested. Get ready for the amazing sequel!

Promo and Giveaway: Stealing Mr. Right by Tamara Morgan

Hey hey, bibliovores! Today, I'm sharing information about an upcoming Sourcebooks Casablanca publication, and a giveaway! I've not read this book but if you're a fan of jewel heists and sexy federal agents, check this one out!

About the Book:

Stealing Mr. Right by Tamara Morgan
Book One of the Penelope Blue series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Official Summary:

I'm a wanted jewel thief. 
He's FBI.
What's that saying? Keep your friends close...and your husband closer. 

Being married to a federal agent certainly has its perks.

1. I just love the way that man looks in a suit.
2. This way I always know what the enemy is up to.

Spending my days lifting jewels and my nights tracking the Bureau should have been a genius plan. But the closer I get to Grant Emerson, the more dangerous this feels. With two million dollars' worth of diamonds on the line, I can't afford to fall for my own husband.

It turns out that the only thing worse than having a mortal enemy is being married to one. Because in our game of theft and seduction, only one of us will come out on top.

Good thing a cat burglar always lands on her feet.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository

Follow the Author:

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

The Excerpt:

His voice was softer than I expected: low but controlled, the sound of an authority figure who knows he doesn’t have to shout to be heard. I’ve since realized that’s the most dangerous kind of man to go up against in a fight. He didn’t bluster and yell the way Riker did, and he didn’t speak in terse rebukes, the way I remember my dad doing when I made an error in the middle of a job. Grant was all control and manners.

I hadn’t expected manners.

“I’ve never seen a man so intrigued by concrete before,” I said, less polite but still within the bounds of friendliness. “I’ve run past you a total of four times now, and you never once glanced up to check me out.”

The surprise faded to amusement. “Is that a fact?”

“Yes. And I thought for sure three times would do it.”

Since it appeared he wasn’t about to book me for fifty counts of conspiracy, I took a moment to appreciate him up close. From a distance, packed into a dark suit, always on the scent of something we didn’t want him to be, he really was more like a ferocious guard dog than anything else. But up close? Unf. There was nothing canine about him, and fear wasn’t my primary reaction. He was a behemoth, taller than me by at least a foot, his build not powerful so much as overpowering. He wasn’t handsome—at least, not in a clean-cut, underwear ad sort of way—but he was incredibly attractive. It’s possible for a man to be a perfectly assembled collection of model parts and invoke nothing more than a mild appreciation, like looking at a sculpture or a really nice diamond tiara. It’s equally possible for a man to boast coarse features, oversized limbs, and a rugged smile—and make a girl want to take off her clothes on the spot.

Happily, I refrained.

“How do you know I didn’t watch your ass as you ran past?” he asked, picking up my flirtation with ease. I should have been disappointed that he was sharp enough to follow along—a  slow, stupid nemesis is always preferable to a fast-witted one—but all I felt was a warm feeling of pleasure. “Maybe I was being discreet.”

“You didn’t,” I said smugly and switched to stretching the other leg. “If you had, you would’ve stopped me ten minutes ago and asked for my number.”

“Maybe I’m in a relationship.”

“You’re not. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be watching my ass now.”

He laughed but didn’t relax. I only noted this because men have a universal way of dropping their shoulders and opening their stance once they realize they’re being hit on. Women probably do it, too—you can almost see the walls coming down around their hearts—but Grant’s wide shoulders remained firmly in place.

I stuck out my hand, hoping physical contact would do the trick.

“I’m Penelope,” I said, not bothering with an alias. That was one lie I’d never had any use for. I was born a thief, raised a thief, and would probably die one. A fake name wouldn’t benefit me any more than changing spots would a leopard. “Penelope Blue.”

That look of surprise moved across Grant’s face again, but he managed to quell it long enough to take my hand and shake.

It would have been pushing things to say there was a tingle of electricity, or that my life flashed before my eyes as the rough texture of his palm grazed mine, but there was no mistaking how strong his grip was. With just the flick of his wrist, he could have broken the bones in my hand, conquered me right then and there. Instead of being alarmed by his physical mastery, I felt no sense of danger. Only wonder.

This man could crush me, I thought. But he won’t. 

The Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway