complicated, by kristen ashley

If I can offer one piece of advice with audiobooks: Don’t listen to one where you have preconceived notions of what the characters sound like, you’re apt to be disappointed. Not the case with Complicated. This stand alone novel has been released as an audiobook only until November 2017, when it will be available in print. Since it’s not part of a series, there was little to no room for disappointment and it’s by one of my most beloved authors, Kristen Ashley.

The story begins in the midst of a 1-night stand. Or rather, at the end. Hickson (Hicks) is fleeing the home of Greta after they met at the club where she sings part-time. He’s the local sheriff, 3-months divorced, begrudgingly, and Greta is a full-time hair dresser during the day.

With the ink barely dry on the papers dissolving his long-time union to Hope, which produced 3 children, the last thing Hicks is looking for is a relationship. Greta, on the other hand, is ever hopeful in spite of her wrong-side-of-the-tracks upbringing and streak of general bad luck. She too was married but her divorce was long ago and left a shadow of ‘it just won’t happen for me’ over her expectations for love. So when Hicks is hastily fleeing her bedroom, Greta, while hurt, is not all that surprised.

With a special needs brother who lives in a facility that offers the best possible care and a mother with no qualms about blackmailing her daughter for money—Greta has her hands full. But she also has a support system composed of the owner of the salon she works in and the proprietor of the club she sings at. Not to mention a local community who comes to her aid in spite of the prom king and queen status Hicks and his ex-wife essentially hold in the town.

The title of the book describes the relationship between Hicks and Greta. For those who are in a marriage or have had the unfortunate experience of divorce, you know that relationships in and of themselves are complicated. With elements such as local gossip, young children, and a murder thrown in—it only serves to make things more convoluted.

Kristen Ashley, true to form,  managed to make us care deeply about the characters she has brought to life through the power of the pen—or in this case, the spoken word. The pain and anguish that Hicks feels for a divorce that was forced upon him leaves us bereft and sympathetic. He’s trying to do the right thing for his family and ultimately himself by learning to live again.

With interwoven intrigue and sex scenes that will leave you blushing, Complicated is a story rife with emotion about people you could easily know and love. The sexual tension, underlying suspense, and deep emotional connection to the characters once again, has us praising Ashley for her storytelling.

If you can wait until the print version of Complicated hits the market in November, you are stronger than I am. At just over 15 hours on audiobook, I managed to finish in about 2 days—listening at every opportunity I could find. And if you’re new to audiobooks, like I was, this is one that won’t disappoint.

 

spring 2017 bloggiesta

While this post is primarily intended for all you bloggers out there, book focused and otherwise–I encourage non-bloggers to check out Bloggiesta to discover other blogs. Sunday, I participated in the first of 3 Bloggiesta Twitter chats and discovered great new blogs, talented bloggers, a graphic designer, and a coder. Who knew! So, what exactly is this magnificent thing called Bloggiesta? Good question! Per their website:

Bloggiesta is a blogging marathon revolving around ticking off those items on your to-do list and improving your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing.

The official marathon dates are March 20-26, though the first Twitter Chat was on the 19th and was fantabulous. It’s where I ‘met’ and discovered the aforementioned resources. Plus, Bloggiesta’s awesome mascot, Pedro (Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize) makes for a super fun graphic, don’t you think?

True to form for me, I have an aggressive and jam-packed to-do list for Bloggiesta.

spring 2017 bloggiesta to do list

  • Participate in at least 2 Twitter Chats.  COMPLETE
  • Visit and comment on other blogs  COMPLETE
  • Do at least 1 mini-challenge
  • Write 4 posts
  • Post to Facebook  COMPLETE
  • Plan March (remainder) editorial calendar COMPLETE
  • Start planning “Bookworms Gone Wild” book club reunion. COMPLETE

Wish me luck!!!

hollywood dirt, by alessandra torre

This was a fun and relatively fast read. There was a lot of humor infused with real emotion and just the right amount of sexual tension. Alessandra Torre is quickly becoming one of my most adored authors and I could easily go on a binge devouring one book after another from her. In this case, Hollywood Dirt is being made into a movie. And while not a big budget summer release, casting has begun and you’re sure to recognize a face or two on the big screen when it’s brought to life.

Cole Masten, the hero (a term used loosely) is the epitome of an egotistical a*s. He’s Hollywood elite, with over-the-top good looks and talent for days, all slathered in charm. He’s also the male half of ‘Codia,’ being married to Nadia Smith, a Hollywood starlet in her own right. But the demise of the Cole/Nadia acronym is upon them.

After returning home one day, Cole discovers Nadia engaged in extra curricular activities with another man in their bathroom. Needless to say, Cole doesn’t take it well. After arranging a meeting between the other man’s head and shoulder with a ceramic elephant, the divorce of “Codia” ensues; along with a lot of bad behavior on Cole’s part.

Enter Summer. A down home, tell it like it is, care free southern girl. She manages to wrangle a job on Cole’s next movie as an assistant to the location scout. But what starts out as a short-term assistant gig, turns into the part of a lifetime for Summer and as it were, Cole.

The interactions between Cole and Summer are rife with will they/won’t they as well as insults and pranks galore. It makes for a well-written enjoyable story that takes a light-hearted approach to dealing with serious matters of the heart. The reader has the dual benefit of knowing what’s going on inside both Cole and Summer’s head to get a clear view of where they stand, even though they aren’t expressing it to one another. Peppered with one liners and secondary characters almost as entertaining as the primary, this is one book I hope the movie-makers do right by.

fifty shades darker, the movie

Looking for a last-minute way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Look no further—let this review guide you to your evening’s entertainment. And if you need some inspiration on what to wear for your night out, let the fashion blogger du jour, TokesTakeOnStyle, steer you to looking your best on the national day for lovers.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Fifty Shades series—me and millions of others. So of course, I feel compelled to see the movies. The first in the series, was not my favorite. My review summed up the lackluster performance and general disappointment I felt. Not so with Fifty Shades Darker.

This 2nd installment of three was better acted with more chemistry between Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. Dornan was less stiff and brooding for his efforts, while Johnson’s dialogue flowed more naturally. Their increased comfort level with one another and the characters they were portraying helped to make them more relatable and showed far more personality than their debut in Fifty Shades of Grey.

There was also a new addition to the cast, Kim Bassinger. She has the makings of a really good “Mrs. Robinson,” though like all of the secondary characters, she isn’t given much screen time. This is one of the short comings of the movies. The supporting characters in the books bring a lot to the plot but on the big screen they’re underutilized. I think this is a missed opportunity for the franchise as a whole.

“I don’t expect you to fetch me coffee unless you’re getting some for yourself.”—Anastasia Steele, Fifty Shades Darker and Tess McGill, Working Girl

And then there was the sex…And there was quite a bit, but no, not nearly as much as in the book. But it was well directed, definitely steamy, and had me blushing. I didn’t expect an R movie to handle something classified as ‘mommy porn’ so well on the big screen. (And for the record, there were some very mature women in the theater with me. Hope I’m as cool as them when I’m their age!)

For a movie that was 2 hours long it sometimes felt rushed. The interactions with Jack Hyde didn’t have a chance to play out as they did in the book leaving his character seeming to be an instantaneous jerk, instead of one who slowly comes to the forefront. Similarly, the storyline with Leila was so fast-paced, the movie missed the chance to show the compassion and deep feelings that Christian had for her. (Also, the actress who played her looked like she was about 14.)

Overall, any fan of the books will enjoy this sophomore installation more than the freshman try. I’m sure the film will be a box office success but it will hardly win any Oscars. Then again, if you’re entertained for 2 hours and you come out with a smile, isn’t that all that matters?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

the red collar, by colette makray

I read the wrong book; seriously, who does that??? The Red Collar was recommended to me by a friend who’s book club had read it. She said it was short and a really good read. So upon searching Google, Goodreads, and Amazon, I found several books with the same title. But one in particular stuck out and seemed like it was ‘the one,’ so I read it.

Soon, I realized it was the wrong book. But I didn’t care. At 50% through, it dawned on me that I was supposed to be reading about a man and dog associated with the military, set in the early 1900’s. Not a single mother struggling with loss and an elderly man doing the same.

They meet periodically at the cemetery. Both grieving. Both trying to move past the hurt that death and loss often bring. At the center of this poignant short story is a dog. 2 dogs really. And the love between man and man’s best friend. Loyalty. And the enduring, often magical, thing we call life.

Since I bought this as an e-book, I’m not entirely sure how many pages it is, but I think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 16. A very fast read but one that will stay with you. I think it’s somehow fitting that my first read of 2017 is one that ends with the realization that, life goes on.