Tag: Rowena’s Books

Summer Reading Challenge: Five Books We Want the Team (and you) to Read

Posted June 29, 2018 by Rowena in Discussions | 21 Comments

Holly: Recently, Rowena, Casee and I were talking about our Five Books Everyone Should Read feature and books we’ve been meaning to read came up. All of us added a lot of books to our TBR piles during that feature, but we haven’t gotten to many of them. The question was posed, if we could choose five books for the others to read, which would we choose? It seems easy enough. Pick five of your favorite books, right? But it isn’t that simple. Because I’d want to pick books I know Rowena and Casee will love, not just books I myself loved. While we all enjoy some of the same things, we all have different reading tastes.

We agreed for our Summer Reading Challenge, we will each read 5 books chosen by the other two. Each of us will choose 2 books for the others to read, along with a joint pick. We’d like to invite all of you to read with us. Pick a book (or 5) from our list and read along in July and August. Or, if you’ve read all of these, check out the Master List of recommendations from your favorite authors, readers and industry professionals and choose five books from there.

For Casee

Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs
Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs (Currently $2.99 for Kindle!)
Sustained by Emma Chase
Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews
The Deal by Elle Kennedy
The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years #2) by Sarina Bowen

Holly: Casee is hard to pick for. She reads mostly dark paranormals and romantic suspense. While I enjoy a good PNR, I’m allergic to RS. I’m choosing Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs, the prequel to the Alpha and Omega series and Cry Wolf (book 1). I know this is technically 2 books, but Alpha and Omega is short and it’s a companion novella. You really can’t read one without the other. I’ve been telling her for years she’ll love the series, and bonus! it’s third person. (Hint Hint: It’s a dark paranormal with suspense!). For my second choice I’m going to choose Sustained by Emma Chase. I really loved it and I know she will, too.

Rowena: Trying to figure out what books I wanted Casee to read was a lot harder for me than Holly’s list was and that’s because Casee isn’t a fan of a lot of my favorite kinds of books. She hates reading in first person and a huge chunk of the books I want her to read are in first person. I’m choosing Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews and The Deal by Elle Kennedy. Burn for Me is a given because there’s absolutely no reason that you shouldn’t have read this book already, Casee. Same with The Deal, that series is too good for you to not try.

Holly & Rowena: We chose The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen for our joint recommendation for Casee because it’s really sad that she doesn’t know and love Bridger. Be a part of our club, Casee…you know you want to. 🙂

For Holly

Raphael by D.B. Reynolds
The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Trouble with Love by Lauren Layne
Satisfaction by Lexi Blake

Casee: Holly is a hard one. She has always been the most difficult of the three of us. Maybe that’s why I’m having such a mother-loving hard time figuring out what to pick for her. I decided to steer completely clear of RS because she’s so finicky about it. It took me two days to think of a paranormal that she might not find fault with. I chose Raphael by D.B. Reynolds. I absolutely adore this couple and this series. I was thrilled when I discovered D.B. The next book, well, lets just say I’m glad we don’t live in the same state. I chose The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward. Not because I’m a JRW fan, but because I really liked the Bourbon Kings series. It’s super soap opera-y (except the third book). I was so pleasantly surprised and I want to see what she finds wrong with it if she might possibly like it. Yeah, probably not. Who am I kidding? She’s going to kill me. What can I say? Suck it up, Princess.

Rowena: The two books that I chose for Holly to read are The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and The Trouble with Love by Lauren Layne. I adored both books and I really want to introduce these two authors to Holly. I think she’ll like them both if she gave them a chance.

Casee & Rowena: Rowena and I have literally five authors we mutually read, so it wasn’t easy to pick a book for Holly. We originally chose Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon because we want her to kill us in our sleep love Acheron as much as we did. Then we remembered that she actually DNFed it. DNFed Acheron. Honestly, Holly. You poor, poor soul. Rowena and I regrouped and decided to go back to basics. Lexi Blake. A while ago we tried to get her to read Ruthless, which probably wasn’t the best way to go because it’s our least favorite in the Lawless series. Rowena and I agree that the best book is Satisfaction, so Satisfaction it is. No DNFing. You’re in it to the bitter, bitter end.

For Rowena

Untamed by Pamela Clare
Beyond the Night by Colleen Gleason
Coming Undone by Lauren Dane
In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks
Midnight Rainbow by Linda Howard

Casee: Rowena is so hard to pick for because our reading tastes are so opposite. I want to pick books that I know she will like, but I want to take her out of her comfort zone as well. I’m being a total bitch because one of the books that I’m picking is smack in the middle of a trilogy. Untamed by Pamela Clare was on my Best of 2009: The Books. I still remember how much I loved that series and that book in particular. The second book I am choosing for her is Beyond the Night by Joss Ware/Colleen Gleason which is the first in a Dystopian/Post-Apocalypse series. I think you all know how much I love my Dystopians.

Holly: The problem with choosing books for Rowena is there are so many I want her to read. So many I know she’ll love if she just tries them. How am I supposed to narrow it down to 2? My life would be a lot easier if these girls just read the books I told them to, when I told them to read them. In the end, I’m choosing Coming Undone by Lauren Dane and In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks. I originally chose England’s Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch for her, but it’s the third book in a series and I can’t remember if you need to read the first two for it to make sense. She’s lucky I love her.

Coming Undone is the second book in the Brown Family series, but i don’t believe the first book needs to be read for this one to make sense. Brody took on the task of raising his brother and sister when his parents died, and I know Rowena is going to love him – and the rest of the family – as much as I do. I just recently re-read In Bed with a Highlander and it held up so well I knew I had to pick it for Rowena. As much as we both love old-school Garwood historicals, I know she’s going to dig this one. (I personally think Casee should have to read it as well, but I’m not going to push it. Right now.)

Casee & Holly: Casee and I went back and forth about what to pick for Rowena, but in the end we settled on an old-school Linda Howard book. This crazy girl hasn’t read many of LH’s older books, despite both Casee and I urging her to try them for years. We went with Midnight Rainbow, because it’s an excellent book and the start of the Kell Sabin series. If I remember correctly, Rowena read White Lies, the 4th book in that series. She’ll love Grant.

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with any of the books on our lists? Are you willing to read along with us this summer? What books would you choose for us to read? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Sunday Spotlight: All Played Out by Cora Carmack

Posted April 30, 2017 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 7 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we started in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a book that we loved or are excited about. We’ll be sharing why we love each book so much. Being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

All Played Out is the third book in Cora Carmack’s Rusk University series. It’s a contemporary NA that follows a couple of college kids getting their love on. It’s an opposites attract love story that hit me in my feels from the time I started the book, up until I finished it.

Mateo Torres is an unapologetic party animal who is enjoying the college scene with his football teammates. He’s loud and he’s proud and I absolutely adored him from the moment I met him in All Lined Up. He’s got an in your face personality that charmed the socks right off of me and I couldn’t wait to dig into his story and find out who his heroine was.

Nell is the opposite of Torres. She’s not a party animal. She’s spent the last four years, studying hard and getting high grades in all of her classes. She’s spent so much of her college years with her nose in a book, trying to stay on top of everything that she wants to have a little fun. Who but Torres to help her let loose? Right?

The shenanigans that these two get into in this book had me laughing, sighing and just enjoying the heck out of their blossoming romance. This is such a fun book!

All Played Out by Cora Carmack
Series: Rusk University #3
Also in this Series: All Lined Up, All Broke Down
Released on May 12, 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay… Scratch that. She knows she hasn’t had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a “to do” list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it’s impossible to get hurt… again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she’s never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he’s willing to take the chance when it’s more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.

Pre-Order the Book:


Why You Should Read It

I could probably go on and on about why you need to read this book. Is it good? Damn straight it is. Are you going to love it? I’m damned confident that you are. But, really…the one thing you need to read that should pique your interest is the following list that our brash and crude hero wrote for his girl. Check it out:

Ways to Prove that you love Nell De Luca

1. Tell her. Every day. Three times a day. As many times as it takes.

2. Never choose anything else over her. Not football. Not your own stubbornness. Nothing.

3. Be there whether she wants to go skinny-dipping or wants to study. Make sure she knows that she’s the adventure, not anything else.

4. Always tell her how amazing her food is (okay . . . that one is partly for you, too, because it means you get to keep eating her food).

5. Give her the best sex of her life (also works out pretty well for you).

6. Teach her whatever she wants to know, and learn from her, too. She’s a fucking genius.

7. Tell her she’s a fucking genius. All the time. When she doubts it and when she doesn’t. Just tell her.

8. Never walk away after a fight. Don’t. Fucking. Do it.

9. Prove you love her (preferably in bed, but that’s optional) once a day. Three times a day. As many times as it takes.

10. Be worthy of her. Not by playing football or pretending to be something you’re not. By being the man she makes you feel like you are. Strong and smart and kind and so damn lucky to have her.

Are you curious about why he felt the need to write out a list to try to prove his love? There are lots of things that go down to bring about this list. Don’t you want to find out why? You should pick this book up because it’s funny, it’s crazy passionate and you’ll fall in love with the main couple just like I did.

You won’t be able to help yourself. You’ll be just like Nell when she thought the following:

“Because Mateo Torres is loud, and I’m quiet. Because he’s reckless, and I’m cautious. Because he belongs everywhere, and I don’t.

Because I think I’m in danger of falling in love with him.”

Yep, it’s a good story with fabulous characters and a steamy romance. Don’t miss out!

Rusk University

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

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Do you love this book as much as we do? Let us know what your favorite parts of this book are!

About the Author

Cora Carmack


Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). Raised in a small Texas town, she now splits her time between New York City and Austin and spends her time writing, traveling, and marathoning various television shows on Netflix. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

Represented by the fabulous Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary.

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Worst of 2015: The Books

Posted January 8, 2016 by Holly in Features | 2 Comments

Worst Books


I didn’t read a lot of new-to-me authors this year, and I did a lot of re-reading besides, so my average reading experience was, on the whole, pretty good. I did read a few duds this year, though. Here they are.

  1. Six Months by Dannika Dark: I enjoyed most of the books in this series, but Six Months failed on many levels. Mainly it was the heroine who killed it for me.
  2. Wild and Free by Kristen Ashley: I generally love Ashley’s books, but this one didn’t work for me. To be honest it was mostly boring, though it was also confusing in parts and I didn’t connect with the characters.
  3. Heart Legacy by Robin D. Owens: I didn’t actually dislike this book. On the contrary, Celta is one of my favorite fictional places and I love visiting it. But the ending really hurt the story. When I look back at it, it’s mostly with frustration over the way it ended.
  4. Cat’s Lair by Christine Feehan: In this case, I really loved the heroine but the hero was such an ass I couldn’t get past his actions. I generally love Feehan’s heroes, but this one just didn’t work for me. At all.
  5. Beastly by Alex Flinn: It was the sheer implausibility that killed this book for me. I can generally set aside any disbelief when I’m reading paranormal/fantasy novels, but the problem is this is written as a contemporary novel with the witch’s curse as the only fantastical element. That really hurt the story for me. Plus, the typos killed me.

Dishonorable Mentions: Waking the Beast by Lacey Thorn, Black Wolf’s Revenge by Tera Shanley, and Hero by Samantha Young.


I read quite a few middle of the road books this year but there were a few that really stood out as BAD to me.

  1. Mad for You by Anna Antonia: Creepy stalker hero who lies about everything and the heroine still wants him. Just…no. Not my idea of a romance AT ALL. Serious editing issues as well.
  2. Sweet as Sin by JT Geissinger: This book was filled with angst and drama and when I thought it would finally die down I got more angst and drama. My God it was nonstop and a bit frustrating.
  3. Last Light by M. Pierce: The love story – if I can even call it that – was so incredibly dysfunctional I couldn’t handle it half the time. Matt is a neurotic nutbag and Hannah ends up being his enabler. She tries to make a stand at one point in the book (as she did in book 1) and of course that doesn’t work because she LUUUUVS him. Puuuhlease. Spare me. They’re both whacked in the head if they think that they can keep doing the same things time and again and expecting a different outcome.”
  4. 99 days by Katie Cotugno: Girl supposedly loves her boyfriend but then sleeps with his brother.  Just no. I couldn’t get over that.
  5. Given to the Pack by Abby Weeks: This was the absolute worst read of the year.  I couldn’t even give it one full star.  This woman (I can’t even call her a heroine of the book) was TSTL and should never be able to leave home. She’s degraded, raped, slapped, – you name it and just keeps going along with it. She does say no to the rapes but not vehemently and she doesn’t actually try to fight the men off or run away (which she had chances to do over and over). The story of a rugged town in Alaska where the men protect the women but only if the women sleep with them ALL is so ridiculous. I think it was supposed to be considered taboo or titillating but it was too convoluted to be either. Just a ploy by the author to throw horrifying sex into the book.


It’s been quite a while since I’ve read some really bad books but last year, I read a few. That surprises me cause I’m normally easy to please…but apparently, not last year.

  1. Overruled by Emma Chase: This book drove me right up the wall. Between the hero and his dumbass shenanigans to the heroine letting the hero getting away with said dumbass shenanigans, I just couldn’t get over it and I ended up hating this one. Just thinking about this book again is making my eye twitch. Ugh.
  2. Making Up Your Mind by Jill Mansell: OMG, this book drove me bat shit crazy. Too many of the characters drove me bonkers and the crap that Lottie’s kids got away with made me want to make them pick a switch for an ass beating the likes of which they’ve never seen before and then the adults weren’t any better. Lottie putting her nose in her ex-husband’s business, just ugh. All of it got on my nerves.
  3. After Hours by Claire Kennedy: I like food and books set around diners, restaurants, bakeries, whatever. I’m all about those books but the shenanigans that went on behind the scenes in this book made me realize how old I am. Reading this book reminded me of when I watched that one movie Project X. Everything that was supposed to be funny or “good” made me mad. Like, ragey mad. I felt the same way about this book.
  4. A Million Times Goodnight by Kristina McBride: This was another YA book that just did not work for me. The decisions these teens make, the dumb shit that they got themselves into – none of it worked for me. All it did was piss me off and make me want to kick them all in the nuts…even the kids without nuts.
  5. Vicious Cycle by Katie Ashley: Deacon (the hero) was a dick and Alex just kept right on pissing me off throughout the entire time I was reading this book. You know I didn’t like them when they show up in the second book and I hate them still in that book. Stupid decisions, dumb ass shenanigans equals I did not like this book one bit.

Dishonorable Mentions: The Night We Said Yes by Lauran Gibaldi, Redemption Road by Katie Ashley and Game On by Katie McCoy.

What were the worst books you read last year?

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Best of 2015: The Heroes

Posted January 7, 2016 by Rowena in Features | 5 Comments


2015 was the year of the New Adult novel for me. I read and loved so many NA books and it definitely shows in my heroes list. 🙂

1) Jake Becker from Sustained by Emma Chase: Oh, Jake. Freaking Jake. I loved the hell out of this guy. I liked him so much better than his friend Stanton. I loved his reserved personality, the way that he thought about things and I absolutely loved the relationships he developed with those kids. He opened up more and more and the meeting he had with the kids at the end? Asbolutely LOVED it and LOVED HIM!
2) Judd Lauren from Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh: I’ve been curious about this guy for years, ever since Julie James was walking around RWA with a “Judd is my Boyfriend” button on her shirt. She wore that button loud and proud so I knew that I was going to read this book, I just didn’t know that it would take me so long to get around to it. But Judd lived up to every impossible expectation I had and now I know why he’s such a popular Nalini Singh. He is just flat out the bomb.
3) Mateo Torres from All Played Out by Cora Carmack: I’ve been reading about Mateo Torres for two books and I’ve been wondering how Carmack was going to have him settle down and not be such a party boy and she really knocked it out of the park with this one. I absolutely adored Torres. I loved his personality, his tenacity where Nell was concerned and I completely loved the list he made of ways he loves Nell. He did a lot of growing up in his book and I just loved the hell out of him.
4) Garrett Graham from The Deal by Elle Kennedy: Garrett Graham is that hero that knows he’s hot and is really arrogant about it but you still fall head over heels for him anyway. I loved how confident he was but I also loved the way that he loved Hannah. The way that he helped her overcome her hangups, how good a friend he was to her when she needed one, I loved it. I adored everything about Graham. His desire to do well in school, the loyalty he showed to his friends, everything about G was great. I loved the hell out of him.
5) Carter from Sincerely, Carter by Whitney Gracia Williams: Carter, Carter, Carter. He was another hero that surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to love him quite as much as I did but I’m oh so glad that I did. His love for Arizona, the way that he didn’t shy away from the feelings that crept up on him. The way that he knew Arizona better than she knew herself and did whatever it took to let her have the experiences she needed to have. I loved every minute of getting to know Carter and he was just one of those good guys that made my heart all fluttery and mushy. Love him!

Honorable Mentions: Trevor Callaghan from Midnight Games by Elle Kennedy, Knox Maddox from Sacked by Jen Frederick and Gray Grayson from The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan.


Generally this is one of the hardest categories for me to narrow down, but I did so much re-reading this year I didn’t have a lot of new books to choose from.

1) Kaleb Krycheck from Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh: Kaleb was everything I expected him to be..and so much more. I adored him.
2) Carson “Joker” Steele from Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley: I was surprised at how much I loved Joker since we knew so little about him going into this book. He was such a strong, stand up kind of guy. I loved watching him overcome his past and fall in love.
3) Lyon Redmond from The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long: The long awaited story of Lyon. I loved how much he loved Olivia, and all he devious and dastardly plans to force her to realize how much she loved him in return.
4) Gray Grayson from The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan: Oh Gray. How did I love thee… I loved how he loved Mac. I loved how loyal a friend he was. I loved how funny and adorable he was.
5) Ethan Dexter from The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan: Ethan embodied everything that was the strong, silent type. Talk about a deep well. He loved babies, stayed true to his friends and loved his girl like no other. I adored him.

Honorable Mention: Noah St. John from Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh.

What heroes made your best of 2015 list?

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Best of 2015: The Heroines

Posted January 7, 2016 by Rowena in Features | 13 Comments


  1. Bella from The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen: Bella. Holy cow, Bella’s book hit me in the feels and I don’t know if I could have survived the stuff Bella survived. She was probably one of the strongest heroines that I’ve read in 2015 and even when she was being a bonehead, I admired the hell out of her. Of course she was making this list.
  2. Pia from Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison: Another strong heroine that I liked getting to know. Pia and Dragos romance was pretty steamy but I liked how headstrong Pia was and how she gave as good as she got where Dragos was concerned. Dragos wasn’t used to someone speaking up and calling him out on his shit and considering how scary and mean Dragos was, I really enjoyed Pia’s character.
  3. Hannah from The Deal by Elle Kennedy: Hanah’s book was my most re-read book of 2015. I couldn’t get enough of her hero, Garrett at first but with each re-read, it was Hannah that I liked more and more. Her situation, her outlook on life and just her personality was one that I really liked. Garrett and Logan weren’t the only one with crushes on Hannah. She was just great.
  4. Leanne from The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen: I really liked Leanne. Like, really liked her. I thought she was the adorable little dork from Bella and Rafael’s book but she really comes into her own in her own book. I liked seeing her come out of her shell (and her room) and you could see the growth in her character over the course of the book. She was just great.
  5. Chelsea from Sustained by Emma Chase: The premise of this book immediately sparked my interest. Chelsea’s brother and his wife died in a car accident, leaving Chelsea the sole guardian of six children. Chelsea was in her early twenties and she stepped up without pause to take care of her nieces and nephews. She was completely over her head in worries, grief and responsibility but no matter how big the load on her shoulders got, she steadfastly continued on. She moved her life to be with those kids and pushed her own welfare and worries to the side to make sure those kids knew she was there for them. Jake (her hero) never stood a chance. She freaking rocked.

Honorable Mentions: Ellie from Sacked by Jen Frederick, Nell from All Played Out by Cora Carmack and Ivy from The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan.


This is the hardest category for me each year. I just don’t connect with a lot of the women in novels. These are all pretty great, though.

  1. Ivy Mackenzie from The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan: She was funny and caring. I adored her.
  2. Sahara from Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh: Talk about strong. Sahara survived things other never could and still came out fierce and loving.
  3. Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews: Kate is pretty kickass. There were things about her that bothered me, but I can’t deny I kind of want to be her when I grow up.
  4. Lady Mary Lennox from The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley: Mary was awesome. She was strong and independent, stood by her man and was willing to do whatever she needed to do.
  5. Carissa Teodora from Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley: Carissa was really awesome. She put her kid first, picked herself up when life knocked her down and kept a great attitude through it all. I really loved her.

Who were your favorite heroines of 2015?

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