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sweet filthy boy, by christina lauren

sweet filthy boyMuch like football season this weekend, I’m baaaaaccckkk!!!  And excited as ever. Please keep in mind if you purchase this book, I did not make up the title.

Sweet Filthy Boy, by Christina Lauren is a fun read, primarily because of the sweet filthy boy, Ansel.

my synopsis
Three girls graduate college and head to Vegas for a last hurrah. They meet three boys. They each marry a boy. Two have their marriages annulled, one follows her French husband to France. And thus starts the adventure.

Mia was a dancer bound for stardom until a tragic accident forced her to hang up her ballet slippers. Ansel is an up-and-coming attorney at a firm in France. While Mia is practical and shy, Ansel is…well…not. When he invites her to come to France for the summer before she starts grad school, she impulsively leaves a note for her parents, packs a suitcase, and meets Ansel at the airport.

Marriage to someone they’ve known for less than a week proves to be more challenging than they imagined. Mia is enjoying France, but not Ansel working non-stop. And the easy sexual chemistry they had in Vegas is now somewhat stunted as reality and the demands of every day life have set in. So they are forced to get ‘creative’ to rekindle the fire.

tara’s take
This book is very fun. Ansel is funny, sexy, and adorable all at the same time. When Mia lets go of her shy side and stops over thinking, she’s fun and gives as good as she gets. (A side note–I met Christina and Lauren at the RT Book Convention this year, they’re awesome! I will definitely be reading more of their books. But I digress…)

Seeing France through the touristy eyes of Mia makes me want to hop on a plane. Who wouldn’t want to live in a foreign land for a summer and have the freedom to just explore and soak up the culture.

I have no idea how Christina Lauren pulled off such a seamless co-written book and very steamy to boot. It’s light-hearted with thought-provoking moments and pure fun weaved throughout.  I think of the ‘helpful’ notes with French phrases that Ansel left Mia each day as he was at work and can’t help but smile.

If you’re looking for a fun read and cool author(s), this is the book for you. Enjoy!

rating
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hero, by samantha young

heroI’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about Samantha Young’s, On Dublin Street. So, when I saw Hero on the NY Times Bestseller List, I took the opportunity to give it a try. I was not disappointed. On Dublin Street is now on my TBR (to be read) list. But let’s dive in to the book at hand, shall we?

Hero tells the tale of Caine Carraway, a successful business mogul and Alexa Holland, a photographer’s assistant. At their first meeting, Alexa shares a family secret that bonds them together and Caine becomes so furious, he uses his power to have her fired. Alexa’s persistence in explaining herself finally pays off and she soon finds herself with an unlikely employer.

But there are a lot of secrets in Alexa’s family and one, only Caine knows. After the two become and unlikely couple, he shares a revelation that rocks her already very shaky world. And then, he lets her go.

While Alexa is trying to figure out her next move in her unsteady surroundings, she finds herself in a life-threatening situation. Caine swoops in to save her, but is it too late? Who is behind the tragic turn of events in Alexa’s world? Will Caine and Alex have a HEA (happily ever after)?

tara’s take:

I really enjoyed this book. There were more twists and turns that I expected. Caine, quite often, was an arse. But I loved the fact that he stayed true to his ways. He wasn’t an arse one day and a love-sick puppy the next.

By the same token, Alexa did the things all women have been guilty of at one time or another. She over-analyzed. She was emotional. She cried. But she was also strong in her convictions, held her ground and called Caine out on his asinine ways.

While the ending felt a bit rushed, the heart of the story was quite interesting. Though I have to admit some annoyance at Alexa’s grandfather’s role in the whole plot. And while there were twists I didn’t see coming, Young didn’t have to throw in as many curve-balls as she did, but they work. The book could’ve been a bit longer to give more credence to the monkey wrenches Young was throwing in but overall, it works.

rating:

the edible bookmark ratingthe edible bookmark ratingthe edible bookmark rating

thai coconut mussels

unnamed-2Let’s hear it for Chef Michelle!

I just love Thai food and was excited to try out this new recipe from The Skinny-Taste Cookbook by Gina Homolka. This was easy to make, healthy, and everyone went back for seconds so this is another KEEPER! For those of you looking for a new cookbook that features, as Gina puts it, “Light on calories, big on flavor,” recipes, I highly recommend this one. It has quickly turned into one of my favorite, go-to cookbooks.

Hands-on Time: 30 min.
Total Time: Under 1 hour.
Serves 5 (easily)

Ingredients:unnamed
1 teaspoon coconut oil
½ finely chopped red bell pepper
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger*
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk (I went with Gina’s recommendation of using Thai Kitchen brand)
1 to 2 fresh red chiles, finely chopped or ½ to ¾ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)**
½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 pound mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded (about 60 medium)***
½ lime
Loaf of crusty bread for soaking up the yummy sauceunnamed-1

michelle’s musings
*Since I didn’t have fresh ginger on hand I used 1 packet of sushi ginger. I usually keep a few packets from sushi takeout in my refrigerator just in case.

** I used ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

***I used 1 bag of Wegman’s Organic Mussels and we had plenty for 6 servings.

Directions:
1. In a large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add the bell pepper and scallions and cook, stirring, until soft, 1—2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, chilies or red pepper flakes, ¼ cup of the cilantro and salt. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

2. Add the mussels, cover, and cook until the mussels open, 5—7 minutes. Squeeze the lime over the mussels and top with the remaining ¼ cup cilantro. Divide the mussels and broth equally among bowls and serve with crusty bread.

ENJOY!

unnamed-3

 

Nutrition Information (courtesy of the Skinny-Taste Cookbook):
1 Serving (12 mussels): 302 calories; 12.5 fat (5.5g saturated); 33g protein; 21g carbohydrates; 1.5g fiber; 54mg cholesterol; 5g sugars; 918mg sodium

leave your mark, by aliza licht

leave your markI am a fan of Aliza Licht’s alter ego, DKNY PR Girl or @DKNY on Twitter, as well as a follower of her personal success. Through social media, I have come to be a supporter, so I bought and read her book, Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It In Your Career. Rock Social Media. In the midst of all of this, life happens and Saturday, sadly, Beau Biden passed away. He was only 46 years old. Prayers go out to his family.

Perspective can be a timely thing.

Licht’s book is an easy read, though it did take me a while to finish it. I am not just starting out in my career. And while I found the end of the book with social media tips and the anecdotal stories throughout the most interesting, I do think it’s geared towards those who are early on in their career. Here’s where I make the above connection in reference to Beau Biden… Life is short.

I did not know Beau Biden personally, but his passing at such a young age has truly made me think. I just finished Licht’s book, focused on how to have an amazing career and from what I’ve read, it seems like Licht really does, so she knows what she’s talking about. But the amount of time, effort, and energy she describes you need to invest in order to have an amazing career, is staggering. It leaves no time for anything else.

At one point in the book, she discusses the positive aspects of always checking work email, even while on vacation. It helps you stay connected and on top of your game even while you’re away. But I don’t want to stay connected and on top of my game while I’m on vacation. I want to have nonsensical conversations with my family about nothing. I want to browse in stores I will probably never be able to afford. I want to drink fruity drinks with umbrellas and ask the wait-staff how they managed to wind up in tropical paradise. To imply that you have to always be work ‘on’ is rather depressing to me and I think a bad message to send to those just starting out in their career.

I enjoy my day job. I would even argue that I’m quite successful as far as my career goes. But staying hyper focused on  your career to the neglect of other aspects of your life is not only sad but it’s wrong. I don’t know what the right work/life balance is. And maybe there are some who relish career first and everything else secondary. But while Licht’s book makes light of some of the situations she’s in, I would never want to be in a situation where I’m looking at a camp for my child but all I can focus on is what’s happening with work (actual book example). That’s called not being present.

We all get caught up in a busy work life. At times, we all bring it home and it’s hard to shake off the big project, the phone call, the meeting that happened that day. Speaking of work, the head of my group stated in no uncertain terms during a meeting last week that we all need to take vacation. Relax. Recharge. It makes you a better employee. It makes you more productive. It also makes you more well-rounded.

So much of Licht’s advice was sound and prudent and while she often states the obvious, there truly are some who may not know better–and for that, valuable lessons’ shared. However, I can’t imagine spending every waking moment focused on how my day-to-day routine and enjoyment of life will help get me where I want to be in my career. There has to be time for fun. There has to be time for naps. There has to be time to be present. Because whether you’re 46 like Beau Biden, or 106, life is short and personally, wishing I had spent more time working, even when it’s something I love, is not a regret I foresee having.

rating:

the edible bookmark ratingthe edible bookmark ratingthe edible bookmark rating

say my name, by j. kenner

say my name Say My Name is the first in a trilogy that’s a spin-off of the Stark series by J. Kenner. While Damien and Nikki Stark from the Stark series do appear in this book, its focus is on Jackson Steele and Sylvia Brooks.

Jackson is a world-renowned architect and Sylvia is Damien’s assistant. Sylvia’s star is on the rise with Damien’s real estate subsidiary and she’s doing far less assistant work and managing the build of a resort on a beautiful remote island. The only thing she needs is the most talented architect you can find to make the resort the best in the world.

Jackson and Sylvia have a history, a short but intense history and that’s only the beginning. Jackson harbors a lot of serious resentment towards Damien, so getting him to agree to work on Sylvia’s project is going to be next to impossible, especially since he’s already turned down the offer to Damien himself.

But there are secrets… Secrets that Sylvia withholds from Jackson about her abusive past and the symbolism of the many tattoos covering her body. And a life-altering secret that Jackson is keeping from everyone…

 tara’s take:
It’s taken a me a while to figure out just how I feel about this book. I won’t make you wait, I liked it. I’m definitely anxious to read the next in the series, On My Knees, which will be released on June 23rd.

Jackson is your typical rich, alpha, dominant in bed–we’ve seen that in plenty of books. Sylvia, however, is deeper. Her abusive past and the way she subsequently deals with it is intriguing. And the secret that Jackson is about to reveal to the world is going to impact so many, not the least of whom is Damien. It makes me wonder how long Kenner had this story arc up her sleeve.

The sex scenes, while on the steamy side, are a bit ‘tired.’ They add to the plot and bring the characters together that’s meaningful to the overall story, but Jackson’s dialogue during the scenes is rather dull and unbelievable.

Overall, I think this is the start of an interesting trilogy. The first book in a story that’s going to be extended beyond a stand-alone read needs to do the heavy lifting in laying the foundation and this book does that. This isn’t the most unusual plot and there’s a level of predictability but you still want to know what happens. And of course, we’re all looking for the HEA (happily ever after). I’m in for the ride.

rating:

the edible bookmark ratingthe edible bookmark ratingthe edible bookmark rating