BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY: Crave by Jennifer Dawson

Hello internet! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? The past month or so has been rather rough but I’m here now and I can’t wait to share the book I’ve been reading with you!

BLOG TOUR: WHAT DO YOU #CRAVE?

Adult Romance  | 308 Pages | Received an ARC from Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer | Goodreads

Amazon | Kobo | Itunes | Barnes and Noble

Blurb:

I vow. I crave. I give in.

I used to be a nice, normal girl. I had dreams. Good, happy dreams of white picket fences, 2.5 kids, and

a fairytale love that lasts forever. Nobody warned me the prince dies three weeks before the wedding.

Like any addict, I swear this time is the last….

Now, I go through my days, a shadow of my former self. I pretend I’m okay, and the people in my life

pretend to believe me. But, sometimes, when I can no longer stand the craving my dead fiancée left

behind, I roam an underground sex club looking for my next hit. It’s dirty and wrong, but I can’t stop,

and my only line of defense between them and me, is the rules I’ve designed to keep me safe. With free,

no-strings attached sex; men always abide by my rules. Until I meet him.

And, like any addict, I’m wrong.

I don’t question the instincts that tell me to run. One look at him, standing there, power radiating off

him in waves, tells me all I need to know. He will make me forget. And that’s not an option

Review:

When I first heard about this first book in Jennifer Dawson’s Undone series, I had no idea what I was getting into. I passed it over as something I wouldn’t enjoy. I am so glad that I changed my mind and decided to give it a chance after all.

At first I was a little wary because while I don’t mind sex scenes in books, stories like Fifty Shades of Grey have made me rather uncomfortable when it comes to having sex as a main focus or plot device. However, Crave ended up taking that discomfort and changed it into something else. While there is a lot of sex and talking about sex in this book, it’s a story of one woman’s journey to heal and liberate herself from her grief, with a little help of a dominant homicide detective.

Dawson paints a very realistic portrait of grief in her portrayal of Layla Hunter. Which, to me, makes this story very relatable even though I haven’t been through anything close to what this character dealt with. However, the incredible sense of loss and the struggle to reclaim control over your life after having everything ripped from you are things that I can easily understand.

While I found some of Michael’s lines to be a bit repetitive (Seriously, who says “Do you trust me to give you what you need?” over and over again?) I found him rather refreshing. Sure, lots of books can boast about having dominant male leads but the way that Michael is portrayed more as a protector instead of a conqueror. The side characters weren’t the best in my opinion, I feel like they could have been developed a lot more as they came across as rather flat and didn’t hold my interest but since the story is based around Layla and Michael that’s perfectly okay.

One thing that did make me pause is the fact that this book does delve a little bit into the world of dom/sub relationships. However, unlike other books that bring up BDSM, Crave approaches it from the standpoint of someone who knows what they’re getting into and enjoys it immensely. There is also a mutual respect between the two partners and safe words and worrying about each others comfort and safety which is how any relationship should be. If you’re wary of this kind of stuff, I’d suggest giving this book a try anyway. You won’t find whips and chains and floggers here so don’t worry. What you will find is a sensual surrender into someone else’s control which can be both terrifying and exciting at the same time.

Overall this is a solid 3.5 star book. The writing style was a little bland sometimes, being more technical than descriptive but it made up for it with a great story and realistic emotions and reactions from the characters. I really enjoyed it and while I’m not jumping at the chance to read the next book, if I come across it I’d be likely to read it. This book taught me a lot about being in a relationship (not just romantic ones) after going through a trauma and how important it is to learn to let go of negative emotions and give yourself a chance to heal and I am really grateful for that.

About the Author

Jennifer Dawson grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a degree

in psychology. She met her husband at the public library while they were studying. To this day she still

maintains she was NOT checking him out. Now, over twenty years later they’re married living in a

suburb right outside of Chicago with two awesome kids and a crazy dog. Despite going through a light

FM, poem writing phase in high school, Jennifer never grew up wanting to be a writer (she had more

practical aspirations of being an international super spy). Then one day, suffering from boredom and

disgruntled with a book she’d been reading, she decided to put pen to paper. The rest, as they say, is

history. These days Jennifer can be found sitting behind her computer writing her next novel, chasing

after her kids, keeping an ever watchful eye on her ever growing to-do list, and NOT checking out her

Website

GIVEAWAYS

1 US Winner will receive gift basket that contains a signed copy of CRAVE

Prize package contains:

Decorative reusable storage trunk

Signed copy of CRAVE

$25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

4 Premium Chocolate Truffles

Argan Oil Sugar Scrub w/shower scrunchie

Pink & black Pillar Candle

Black & Pink Chalk Board Flower Pot

Hanging chalk board

Candle Holder with pink sparkly battery votive

3 INT/US winners will receive an e-Copy of CRAVE

EntryForm

I received this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the What Do You #Crave Blog Tour. This did not influence my opinions in any way.

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The Sunday Post #1: Clean Sweep, Finals, and Feeling Better

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer and is a way to share news about how life is going both in and outside the blogosphere. Check it out here!

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’ve had a lovely day. Today is May 3rd and April is officially over. It also marks the end of what has quite literally been the worst week in the history of worst weeks for me. I mentioned last week that I was having some issues with stress and personal issues, but I am pleased to report that I am feeling a lot better. I’m not a 100% but I am getting there. I didn’t really read a lot of books in the month of April. I started a few but I never got around to finishing any except for a few for school, but May is a chance to start anew and I plan to read at least 10 books this month. What are your bookish goals for the month? Let me know down in the comments and smile always!

Last Week On the Blog

This Week On The Blog

  • Book Talk: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare
  • Book Talk: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
  • Book Talk: Slammed (Slammed #1) by Colleen Hoover
  • Book Talk: Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
  • Book Talk: Night Road by Kristin Hannah
  • Book Talk: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

New Arrivals (images link to Goodreads)

For Review

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Purchased/Freebies

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Motivational Corner

Happy Sunday!

1QHAdjW


May Event: Clean Sweep ARC Challenge

Hey guys! Today is the first day of May and I wanted to share with you a little event going on that is hosted by Kimba @ Caffinated Book Reviewer!

You know all those ARCs that you have that you really need to get to so you can post reviews and participate in Blog Tours over the summer? Well here’s your chance to pick them all up and start reading them! This challenge also gives you a chance to interact with other bloggers and participate in fun challenges and contests. To check out the official rules and sign up here.

Anna’s List of ARCS

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  1. Crave by Jennifer Dawson
  2. How to Date Dead Guys by Ann M. Noser
  3. Trust by Jodi Baker
  4. What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles

What ARCs are you reading? Or, if you’re not participating, what books are on your TBR list for May?

Happy Reading!

1QHAdjW

Book Talk: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

This review was originally posted here on May 14, 2014 

So I’m going through my old Tumblr and pulling up some old book reviews I’ve done in the past and thought I’d give them a make over and post them here while I work on getting some new ones up. First one on the list is…

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle

 Young Adult Fantasy | 345 Pages | Borrowed | Goodreads

May 13, 2014 – May 14, 2014 | ✦✦✦

Goodreads Synopsis

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

Review

This is my first Rachel Hawkins’ book and I can’t say that I’m disappointed but I’m not exactly blown away either. I really enjoyed Rebel Belle to the point of reading it all in one sitting. This book is fun, engaging, hilarious, and a lighthearted read. However, it also has some major flaws in editing/proofreading, flow, and overall feel that made it a little hard to read. It’s just one of those books where I’m curious as to what happens next in the series but I’m not chomping at the bit for the next book.

The characters in this story are phenomenal. Harper Price is the all American southern belle who can take on the world and not have a hair out of place. It appears she has everything; perfect parents, perfect boyfriend, perfect grades, and the only thing wrong is that she doesn’t have the right shade of lipstick (or was it gloss?) for the school dance. You know, she’s that girl. The one you would normally hate in a novel. However, her snarky attitude and private wounds give her an edge that makes her stand out from the other characters in the book. David Stark is my favorite. He’s mysterious and has this issue with Harper ever since they were little that gives all of their interactions an underlying tension that is absolutely entertaining. He also understands Harper in a way but he is also able to reign her in enough to see the bigger picture.

Best part about this book is that it’s funny. There is so much humor in the dialogue and action scenes that it’s almost impossible not to enjoy it. Also, I grew up in the South so I’m pretty good at doing a Southern drawl when I want to so reading this book aloud makes it 100x funnier. Rebel Belle has a lot of funny little quirks that make it a light and airy read and a great go to book for when you’re getting over a serious book or series.

I have three main issues with this novel. The first is in the editing/proofreading. It’s mainly continuity issues such as at the beginning of the book the teacher starts to say a word but Harper never finds out what it was. However, a sentence later she suddenly knows exactly what he was saying but then forgets the word later. This is an issue again in another early chapter when Harper is returning home and on one page it says she’s late for her midnight curfew but then it’s mentioned on another page that it’s before midnight on the same night.. And a minor one is when the school’s dress code is mentioned as not permitting jeans, but David is mentioned wearing jeans. Though it’s possible that he’s just being rebellious or something.

The second issue is that the story wasn’t believable. I understand that it’s fantasy but I expected to get drawn into this book and it just didn’t happen. It felt like there wasn’t a lot of world building, though this is supposedly taking place in a world somewhat similar to ours with magic thrown in. Reading this book didn’t feel like an immersive experience and I don’t know if it was due to the writing style or if it was because everything is presented very straightforwardly instead of with hints and build up.

My final issue is with the flow of the writing. It felt very choppy and strange to read. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t get into the book but I feel like it could have flowed a lot better with a bit more description, character interactions and world building. I know we’re limited to Harper’s perspective but it felt like there was a lot missing from it so I’m hoping that the next book has a bit more in the way of making us ‘see’ what is going on.

Overall, I thought it was a pretty good read. I really enjoyed it but again I wasn’t blown away by it. I do want to pick up the second book when it comes out and read it eventually but it’s not at the top of my to-read list.

3 out of 5 stars!

Just a reminder that I’m currently taking suggestions for books to review. You can either email them to me or leave them in the comments below! If you’ve read Rebel Belle let me know what you thought!

1QHAdjW

Planner Review: 2015 Mint Green Planner

imageHello my lovelies! I’m a bit of a reviewing mood at the moment so expect to see an influx of review posts popping up in the next few days. First up today is a planner review! As you all know I’m a little bit of a planner addict and I wanted to share a little bit about the system I’m using right now. Since the system I’m currently using isn’t working very well at the moment and I will soon be switching to my summer routines and systems I figured I’d hold off on that post. Instead I decided to do a review of the spiral bound planner that I originally bought for 2015. I also want to apologize for the difference in photo editing between the title photo and the following photos. I was having a little too much fun with my photo editing applications and couldn’t get the lighting just right between shots to show the actual colors of things. So the top photo is as close to the original colors of the cover while the following photos are good representations of the colors of the inside of the planner..

First of all, this planner is from Walmart, I got it for around $7.95 or something like that back in December just after Walmart switched in their new yearly planners for 2015. It is a MintGreen brand planner and is made from 60% recycled material and uses soy based ink. This planner is a traditional yearly planner that starts in January and ends in December, which for me a turn off. I’m not big on yearly planners but I was going completely insane without a planner so I decided to try it out.

The cover of this planner is absolutely beautiful, it has vibrant colored flowers on a frosted cover on top of a off white piece of paper and then it’s colorful all throughout.  Inside the cover are the standard personal information, important information, yearly overview, and important dates pages that you can find in almost any planner. It also includes two pages for your schedule with a lot of room to break things down. I simply wrote my Spring 2015 class schedule on one of the pages. A lot of the pages also have inspirational quotes on them which made it easier for me because then I didn’t have to manually write inspiration in unless I wanted to.

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I absolutely love the fact that this planner’s monthly layout is a month on two pages. It has nice sized boxes to write in without it being cramped and there is even a notes section off to the side. National holidays are also marked at the top of the boxes they belong in. I do wish that the boxes were lined though. I can’t write in a straight line to save my life so things got a little messy at times.

Each month is followed by a piece of grid paper and a piece of lined note paper for monthly notes or doodles. I ended up not really using these pages but I enjoyed having the option of using them. It always seems to me that I run out of room for notes in planners like these, but that wasn’t the case with this one.

imageNext up is the weekly layout. For the time being, I refuse to use anything other than a week on two pages. I just won’t. I end up feeling cramped and and like i have to condense everything which is annoying. So when I picked up the Mint Green 2015 planner I was absolutely thrilled to see how much space there was. On one page there is Monday – Wednesday and on the other is Thursday – Sunday. While the splitting up of one box for Saturday and Sunday kind of annoyed me, it wasn’t impossible to live with as those boxes ended up being where I would write my weekly to do lists anyway. The boxes are absolutely huge and I could split up my day by class and have plenty of room to write out my assignments along with any other events that were happening that day.

In the back of the planner there is page after page after page of notes pages, all of which I filled up just because I could. Then there is a contacts section, a resource section with a page to write down login information,  and then it finishes out with a bunch of maps.which I didn’t really need.

In Review:

Pros

  • Colorful
  • Lots of Note pages
  • Huge two page calendar
  • Portable size
  • Week on 2 pages with lots of room to write
  • Inspirational Quotes
  • Lots of extras

Cons

  • Paper is rather thin – my Papermate Flair pens bled through occasionally and the pages tear very easily
  • Monthly layout isn’t lined
  • Too many extras I didn’t need or use
  • Yearly Layout just doesn’t work for me

Overall, it’s a great planner for around $8 which seems to be the average for medium sized planners at Walmart. There are a few things that I dislike about it that made it really hard for me to use it, like it being a Yearly layout for example. I prefer to have my academic year all in one place instead of switching to a new planner in the middle of the year. But that’s a personal issues. Ink bleeding is minimal but annoying when it did happen. I feel like some of the extras could have been switched out for more notes pages but if you’re a student in middle or high school those extras could be really useful. I also wish that the monthly pages were lined but again that’s a personal preference.

If I gave it a star rating this planner would probably get a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

I was thrilled with it when I first got it but after using it for several months it just didn’t work for me. So I’ve already started revamping my system and bought a new planner that starts in July that I can’t wait to show you!

Have an awesome day and let me know what kind of posts you’d like to see from me in the future!

1QHAdjW

Dealing With An Overwhelming Amount of Stress

Good morning internet, I hope you’re having a productive day and getting everything you want to get done finished.

Today I kind of just want to ramble on about something to you guys if you don’t mind. You can either skip over this post or you can pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee and pull up a chair. If you do stay, I hope some of the tips I include in this post can help you. They’re not necessarily doctor approved but I’ve found solace in them over the years. They may not always work 100% but, for me at least, they do a pretty good job at helping me deal with things.

Story Time….sorta

I should probably start with a little backstory. This may be a little too much information or hard to handle for some of you so you can just skip over this part and head down to the tips for dealing with stress that will immediately follow this.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with resulting severe anxiety and depression when i was eighteen years old. I had just gotten out of a horrible situation a few months prior to that and had spent the entire time up until then unmedicated. I had awful mood swings and panic attacks 90% percent of the time and I was an absolute wreck through all of my teen years. Flash forward to my first semester of college and add in being far away from everyone I knew, new school work, new expectations, and living with not one but two strangers. Things steadily got worse until I went and set up an appointment with one of the psychiatrists on campus.  After a while of being reluctant I started taking medication. We didn’t find the perfect one right off the bat. In fact the first one made things worse instead of better after I hit a certain dosage and I wasn’t on anything for the anxiety separately. The second medication we tried made me really tired and I couldn’t take the recommended dosage because I would be foggy and exhausted in the mornings after taking it.

In September of my sophomore year, I lost control. Everything felt like it was falling apart and I started having really, really dark thoughts. My mood swings and my anxiety were out of control and I ended up in the hospital where they gave me a prescription for anxiety in order to calm me down when I went home until I was able to get my prescription refilled. Those pills helped a great deal and my doctor added them to my regular medication, along with something new. In addition to the two new prescriptions, we agreed that it wasn’t safe for me to be on my own all of the time, but it’s not like I could get a babysitter or constant human companion. So that November, he agreed that I would benefit from a psychiatric service dog and soon after that I got Syl, a rescue who I had been working with since the previous summer who had been showing enormous potential.

Things were pretty great for a while. I mean there were ups and downs of course, but never really anything like that day back in September of 2013. At least. Until the other night. I had run out of my main medication a few days prior and was starting to feel everything that the medicine kept at minimal levels. Combine that with a lot of stress due to finals and anxieties over going home for the summer among other things, it quickly became too much for me to handle. Thankfully I have two amazing people who put up with me no matter what and as of today I am feeling much better. Maybe not 100% but I’m getting there. The important thing is that I am safe, I am not alone, and I am loved even when it doesn’t feel like it.

I know someone out there reading this is probably feeling really alone and unloved right now, and I want you know that I may not know you or your story, but I love you and I will always be by your side. My inbox is always open, just send an email to briannaktodd13@gmail.com

The point of this post

is to talk about stress and how to manage it in safe ways that don’t involve hurting yourself or taking it out on others. Sure there are probably a hundred and one articles on this, but consider these tried methods from someone who deals with panic attacks and anxiety on a regular basis.

Stress can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing. Good stress can give you that needed push to get something done  But bad stress can be overwhelming, drive you crazy, and lead to depression after a prolonged period of time. It can even make you throw up or cry.

Managing stress is hard and I am not good at it. My usual method is to pretend it’s not happening until it just goes away. It’s safe to say that approach DOESN’T work at all and I don’t recommend it.

But here are a few things you can do when you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress

-> Take a break

This may seem like a no brainer. But when you’re getting overwhelmed I need you to take a deep breath and step away from whatever it is that is stressing you out. Go for a walk, do a couple yoga poses, or flop down on your bed and lay there for a few minutes thinking and doing nothing. When you stress out about something it can feel like you’re literally obsessing over it and you need to focus on something else for a few minutes before coming back to it with fresh eyes. You may end up thinking of a solution you haven’t thought of before. I also recommend taking a coloring break while in a blanket fort.

-> Music

I am a strong believer in the idea that music can help with almost anything. Whenever I’m working on a project, doing homework, or cleaning (all things that I can get worked up over) I listen to music. In fact I’m listening to this playlist as I write this post and it’s helping me stay focused but also keeps me from getting too worked up over it. You can also listen to music while you’re taking your break. Either chill with some calm music or have an emergency dance party when things get too serious.

-> Talk it out

While the idea of burdening someone with your problems can stress you out even more, it can also be very therapeutic. .Either grab your most trusted friend and go get coffee or do it over text. The point is, get it off your chest and out in the air. Even if it sounds dumb. If it matters to you, it matters. End of story. Whoever your talking to may not be able to offer you advice or help, but they’re at least willing to listen and be there for you and that’s what matters.

-> Write it down

If you’re really not comfortable talking to someone or you need something to do while you’re waiting for your friend to get back to you, pick up a pen or your computer or phone and just start writing. Sometimes your best ideas can come from moments when you’re stressed out about other things. Again, the point is to get whatever it is off your chest. If you still feel bad after you finish and you’re scared someone will read it you can always burn it.

-> Cry

My final tip is one that I really hate doing. Not because it’s a bad idea, I just try to avoid crying at all costs. However, I can’t deny that it helps once you get past all the snot, smeared mascara, and headaches that result from it. Sometimes, there is literally nothing you can do about it and all you can do is collapse on the floor and cry about it. And that is okay. You’re not weak. You’re not a baby. You’re human. We have tear ducts for reasons other than to keep our eyes clear of dust. So don’t be like me and make this a last resort. If it’s really that stressful, let down your guard and let it all out. All of the pain and misery, just let it go. You can do it by yourself or you can have someone hold you while you cry, it’s up to you. Both have their benefits and downsides and sometimes you may feel like one but another day you’ll feel like the other. Just promise me that once you’re done crying you’ll pick yourself up and start fresh, okay?

I hope these tips helped a little bit. They’re not always 100% effective but they can at least help a little bit. I also hope whatever is stressing out gets resolved quickly so you can enjoy other things.

Have a wonderful day!

1QHAdjW

Waiting on Wednesday #1 – Beautiful Sacrifice by Jamie McGuire

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine and is a great way to showcase any upcoming books that you’re eagerly anticipating.

This weeks up-coming release is…..

Beautiful Sacrifice (The Maddox Brothers #3) by Jamie McGuire

May 31, 2015 | Goodreads | Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis

Falyn Fairchild can walk away from anything. Having already left her car, her education, and even her parents, the daughter of the next governor of Colorado is back in her hometown, broke and waiting tables for the Bucksaw Café. After every shift, Falyn adds to her shoebox of cash, hoping to one day save enough to buy her a plane ticket to the only place she can find forgiveness: Eakins, Illinois.

The moment Taylor Maddox is seated in Falyn’s section at the Bucksaw, she knows he’s trouble. Taylor is charming, breaks promises, and gorgeous even when covered in filth—making him everything Falyn believes a hotshot firefighter to be. Falyn isn’t interested in becoming another statistic, and for a Maddox boy, a disinterested girl is the ultimate challenge.

Once Falyn learns where Taylor calls home, everything changes. In the end, Maddox persistence is met with Falyn’s talent for leaving, and for the first time, Taylor may be the one to get burned.

What books are you waiting on this week?

1QHAdjW