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November 22, 2014

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged #127 + Cinderella

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron's Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning's smash hit series, Fever. 

from publishers

Big & Small

So what do you all think of this upcoming CINDERELLA adaptation? I was hoping it'll be darker much like the original tale. From the looks of it it's a live action movie of the Disney version. CINDERELLA hits theaters 3.13.15

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November 21, 2014

Disliked It: Illusion by J.S. Cooper

Series: Swept Away 1
Format: Paperback
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher 
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Indie sensation and New York Times bestselling author of the Ex Games series and the Private Club series, J.S. Cooper introduces the Swept Away series—three new, dark and sexy romances about a woman marooned on a desert island with a mysterious stranger—but is he friend or foe?

The day started like every other day...

Bianca London finds herself kidnapped and locked up in a van with a strange man. Ten hours later, they’re dumped on a deserted island. Bianca has no idea what’s going on and her attraction to this stranger is the only thing keeping her fear at bay.

Jakob Bradley wants only to figure out why they’ve been left on the island and how they can get off. But as the days go by, he can’t ignore his growing fascination with Bianca.

In order to survive, Bianca and Jakob must figure out how they’re connected, but as they grow closer, secrets are revealed that may destroy everything they thought they knew about each other. (less)

And my story time adventure continues, today J.S. Cooper's ILLUSION is next on the chopping block. It promises a tension filled romantic suspense that involves conspiracy theories, abductions, and getting trapped in a deserted island. At first glance ILLUSION is the kind of mayhem I crave for unfortunately it seems my reading streak is semi jinxed because I did not like this at all. But let's start with the positives.

What I liked about ILLUSION is the mystery regarding Bianca London and her parents. Her mother died in a car crash which according to her father was no accident but an assassination. Bianca's father was an inventor of a few hit devices unfortunately his former business partners, now called Bradley Inc., cheated him out of his patents and financial compensation. These things had Bianca investigating the situation with the hopes of getting to the bottom of the shadiness and hopefully claim what's rightfully hers and her father's.

This premise made ILLUSION such a fast read for me, in the first 60 pages the stage has been set, Bianca has been abducted, and found herself with a couple of strangers in a deserted island. Once in the island the taunting continued, notes and riddled clues were left every so often and that constant nefarious presence lurking in the shadows had me bracing for the next strike.

That said my dislikes outweighed my likes. Like what I said on Goodreads, ILLUSION has a severe case of TSTL (thanks Sophia of Delighted Reader for educating me on the politically correct term to use for situations like this) and readers should proceed with caution. *rolls up sleeves*

  1. The blurb contains spoilers.

  2. It was easy to figure out who the bad guy is because the prologue was spoilery too. Why bother with the mystery in the first place? Smh!

  3. There were a few redundancies especially in the beginning. Too much use of the same word in a single paragraph it was maddening!

  4. You get abducted and find yourself in a deserted island and only God knows where you are. Instead of trying to figure things out, Bianca was preoccupied flirting and getting it on with the handsome stranger, Jakob Bradley, whom she previously sort of met in a cafe early on in the story. I get the purpose distracting oneself in the middle of a stressful situation but it's obvious that Bianca's priority is somewhat skewed.

  5. Let's walk around the island in our underwear because it should be sexy. Meanwhile our clothes are okay and can be worn intermittently throughout the day. I liked in a tropical island and I'm VERY surprised that Bianca and Jakob didn't get malaria or dengue fever or any other disease induced by insect bites. I guess their hot bodies worked like Off lotion, we need to bottle that shit out then and send it to Africa, Haiti, etc.

  6. There was a shack somewhere in the island and maybe for the purpose of bringing the sexy factor in, Bianca and Jakob preferred to sleep on the beach regardless of the weather conditions. If you found some sort of a shelter wouldn't you grab the opportunity and camp there instead? Protect you from the elements?

  7. Lastly, and I just griped about this a while ago, let's skip the condom because I'm clean. Yup, you take the word of a virtual stranger who admitted that he's been around the block a few times, after all venereal diseases are easy to cure much like the common cold right? In connection to this, Bianca supposedly has intimacy issues but Jakob's magic tongue and penis cured her of whatever issues she had concerning sex.

  8. And the cherry on top, Bianca proves she has a bad case of TSTL so when her house of cards finally fell she has nobody to blame but herself and her stupid vagina.

ILLUSION ended in a cliffhanger althoug it's a cliffie only when it matters right? Yeah I don't care to know what the motive is behind this experiment. I'm sure Jakob will manage to sweet talk Bianca and because she can't live without his sexual prowess, she'll convince herself that this psycho is a good catch.

November 20, 2014

Disliked It: Veil of Time by Claire R. McDougall

Series: Stand-alone
Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Literary Fiction | Time Travel
A compelling tale of two Scotlands-one modern, one ancient-and the woman who parts the veil between them.

The medication that treats Maggie’s seizures leaves her in a haze, but it can’t dull her grief at losing her daughter to the same condition. With her marriage dissolved and her son away at school, Maggie retreats to a cottage below the ruins of Dunadd, once the royal seat of Scotland. But is it fantasy or reality when she awakens in a bustling village within the massive walls of eighth-century Dunadd? In a time and place so strange yet somehow familiar, Maggie is drawn to the striking, somber Fergus, brother of the king and father of Illa, who bears a keen resemblance to Maggie’s late daughter. With each dreamlike journey to the past, Maggie grows closer to Fergus and embraces the possibility of staying in this Dunadd. But with present-day demands calling her back, can Maggie leave behind the Scottish prince who dubs her mo chridhe, my heart?

I've been in the mood for something different lately and VEIL OF TIME by Claire R. McDougall was screaming at me to finally give it a shot especially as it's been sitting on my shelf for the longest time. I'll be honest, my sole motivation for reading this is it's shameless comparison to Diana Gabaldon's hit series, Outlander, following its formula of time travel, Scotland, men in kilts, a conflicted woman. Unfortunately it did not live up to its promise IMO, though the premise is promising the actual plot was droll and at times even outrageous I had a hard time suspending disbelief.

I'll start with the time travel explanation which I could accept because VEIL OF TIME after all is a fantasy so anything goes in that regard. The short of it is Maggie was able to transport herself back to 8th century Dunadd because it's Samhain and her epileptic episodes was her mode of travel. However Maggie is slated for an operation soon which will cure her of the disease but in exchange for a clean bill of health, she won't be able to take casual trips back in 8th century. This conundrum was made even more difficult after Maggie fell in love with Fergus, the King of Dunadd's brother. Again I can deal with this, it can be a legit myth and conflict, I mean I've read and engaged in various impossible and sometimes ridiculous plots involving several otherworldly creatures and IMO this is no different.

In present day Maggie found a confidante in her neighbor, Jim, a geezer and local historian. First she started asking dear old Jim random but specific questions about Dunadd which Jim entertained. Eventually she confessed that she was able to travel back and forth in time during her epileptic episodes and here is where part of my problem lies. Jim just took it in stride and didn't really question this anomaly. No skepticism, no proof of validation, nothing of the sort, he just took it as fact and became Maggie's pseudo babysitter when she has her attacks. Ha! A very illogical response from an intellection don't you think?

VEIL OF TIME didn't work for me for a few reasons. First is it's lack of tension and ebbs and tides that could've made this one great adventure. There was no palpable romantic tension between Maggie and Fergus, they meet, got curious, felt attraction, hopped in a cot, screwed, fell in love, and never want to part. It was one straight line which is a shame because their impossible love story is the core of the novel.

Also Dunadd is in the cusp of a catastrophe the likes of their existence will be wiped out from history. The constant alternation between past and present prevented this part of the story to be developed. The height of this arc is Maggie warning Fergus and his tribe of the oncoming assault, basically trying to change the past in order to save them. Yeah that didn't work well either. On a side note, I don't know why Maggie would want to stay in Dunadd, I understand that McDougall is trying to give an authentic air to this time but it was so authentic that it became unappealing. Yucky stew with mystery meat, unwashed bodies, people speaking Gaelic, and so on and so forth. There's nothing remotely romantic about this era and it would be a no brainer for me choosing between my health and Fergus.

So yes, this little reading experiment was a bust and believe me I tried to at least like VEIL OF TIME which was why I finished it instead of calling DNF. Obviously I'm not the right reader for this literary fantasy, I guess I've been pre-conditioned by countless PNR/UF novels that stories like this should come with different highs, it was too tame for my crazy palate.

November 19, 2014

Suped Up: I Belong To You by Lisa Renee Jones

Series: Inside Out 5
Format: Paperback
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Erotic Suspense

Being that person, that man is how I define myself, how I allow the rest of the world to define me as well. And now, with a terrible loss shredding me inside out and someone trying to destroy my family to punish me, control is more important than ever. It is everything. It is what I need. It is all I need. Or maybe I just need…her.

Have you ever found yourself loving someone you were so bent on hating? Sucks musky hairy balls right? Like you want to gag but it's so good you don't want to let it go. Yup, that disgusting metaphor is what I BELONG TO YOU by Lisa Renee Jones did to me courtesy of the enigmatic, Mark Compton.

I'll cut to the chase, when I started this series I have no love for Mark, I've made up my mind about the man early on and decided he's a creep. However LRJones with her unending plot twists and turns decided to make Mr. Compton likable, heck lovable even! So much so that I want a solid spanking from the indomitable Mark Compton and it will be my pleasure to do so.

What can I tell you? I BELONG TO YOU can be read as stand-alone but if you're following the series and have read Mark's novellas, this is the culmination of his courtship with Crystal, the only woman he can't make submit the way he wanted her to. Or can't he? I love the tug of war between these two, Mark and his kink, Crystal and her vanilla ways. I found myself empathizing with Crystal from a romantic standpoint. I'm boringly vanilla but all I-Am-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar and I think I' too would have a problem signing that infamous contract relinquishing control to someone when I'm most vulnerable. At the same time I sort of get where Mark is coming from, BDSM for him isn't a frivolity, it's a necessity, it's his way of processing emotions, intimacy, etc. so it was a conundrum.

Of course they managed to figure it out, it was painstaking and it turned out to be such an emotional and affecting love story. There was some tension-filled back and forth between the two, the catharsis was difficult but necessary for them to meet in the middle. All I can say is Mark's at the right place at the right time, he's vulnerable in a lot of ways from Rebecca's death and his mother's battle with cancer and these things made him realize a lot of things. One can say that it opened the cold chambers of his heart and Crystal was available to help him warm it up. I so love the conclusion of this arc, it made me aww and squee!

As for the Rebecca's murder, the investigation is still ongoing and Mark is still a point of interest. The press is hitting him left and right not to mention many attempts to his reputation and life including Crystal's. LRJones has a knack for inserting thrilling situations like harassment, assault, bomb threats, perfectly timed devices to give us a well rounded suspenseful erotica. So you get a lot of BANG for your buck... Bang! Get it?

Anyway, I BELONG TO YOU is a masterful, heart pounding, sexy installment. I'm imagining this particular novel being played out on TV as the series is being developed by Starz, and if they do it right, it'll be one heck of a show that I'm sure a lot of people will get addicted to. I'm so happy that the books didn't stop after the third one as originally planned, I love the series so much and the story just keeps on expanding as more secrets are revealed and more players are roped in to this romantic but at times, sordid tale. Can't wait!

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