Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Favorite Books of 2015

Life According to Steph


If you haven't logged into your Goodreads recently, they have a really cool thing that shows you your Year in Books. I learned a lot about my reading this year, including that I don't do good with reading challenges, lol.

I read A LOT and with an average rating of 4.4, most of them were really good but only a few made my Favorite Books of 2015!!

Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley is by far my favorite out of the MC books I read this year. Seriously, check out this biker book that touches the heart strings and check out my full review for MORE! *****

Synopsis: The ride of her life . . .
Once upon a time, Carissa Teodoro believed in happy endings. Money, marriage, motherhood: everything came easy---until she woke up to the ugly truth about her Prince Charming. Now a struggling, single mom and stranded by a flat tire, Carissa's pondering her mistakes when a vaguely familiar knight rides to her rescue on a ton of horsepower.

Climb on and hold tight . . .
In high school, Carson Steele was a bad boy loner who put Carissa on a pedestal where she stayed far beyond his reach. Today, he's the hard-bodied biker known only as Joker, and from the way Carissa's acting, it's clear she's falling fast. While catching her is irresistible, knowing what to do with her is a different story. A good girl like Carissa is the least likely fit with the Chaos Motorcycle Club. Too bad holding back is so damned hard. Now, as Joker's secrets are revealed and an outside threat endangers the club, Joker must decide whether to ride steady with Carissa---or ride away forever . . .


Beautiful Secret by Christina Lauren was highly anticipated for fans of the Beautiful Bastard series. I really didn't think Finn from Dirty Rowdy Thing could be topped but I absolutely could not stop thinking about him after I read that book through a couple times. Niall, this shy, one woman guy really Jekyll and Hyde kind of thing. He would be so subdued and then say the dirtiest thing and I loved it. Way more than FIVE stars for this one.

Synopsis: AN UPTIGHT BRITISH EXECUTIVE. AN ADVENTUROUS AMERICAN NEWBIE. A SEXY INTERNATIONAL SCANDAL IN THE MAKING.

New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Christina Lauren’s Beautiful and Wild Seasons series hook up in Beautiful Secret for an erotic intercontinental romp that celebrates the best of both worlds!

When Ruby Miller’s boss announces he’s sending her on an extended business trip to New York City, she’s shocked. As one of the best and brightest young engineers in London, she knows she’s professionally up to the task. The part that’s throwing her is where she’ll be spending a month up close and personal working alongside—and staying in a hotel with—Niall Stella, her firm’s top urban planning executive and The Hottest Man Alive. Despite her ongoing crush, Ruby is certain Niall barely knows she’s alive…until their flirty overnight flight makes him sit up and take notice.

Not one for letting loose and breaking rules, recently divorced Niall would describe himself as hopeless when it comes to women. But even he knows outgoing California-girl Ruby is a breath of fresh air. Once she makes it her mission to help the sexy Brit loosen his tie, there’s no turning back. Thousands of miles from London, it’s easy for the lovers to play pretend. But when the trip is over, will the relationship they’ve built up fall down?


The Royal We by Heather Cocks ***** This was soooo good and I'm so glad Kristen raved about it so I could add it to my TBR list. If you loved anything to do with the Royal shenanigans and love story of William and Kate, even just a little bit; especially the Lifetime movie this book is totally for you. I laughed, I cried, HUGE tears at several parts and I loved almost every second of it. It was a little long winded for me with LOTS of detail so I ended up skipping a lot toward the end but I wish I could experience it again for the first time and that is a good sign for a book!

Synopsis: American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.


I read a lot of series books this year, but one of them stands out in my mind and it's thanks to browsing at Target, of course!! All You Need is Love by Marie Force is a book I picked up on a whim at Target one day because it looked Wintery with the snow covered mountain. I had no idea I would absolutely fall in love with the series and want to visit Vermont because of it or find a new author I absolutely love and introduce me to a different series!

Maid for Love by Marie Force starts off another long series, this one based on an island off the city where people must take a ferry back and forth. I loved this first one because it had a guy stepping in to become a daddy and those are just my favorite kinds of reads! This might still be available as a free download on Amazon!

Synopsis: Maddie Chester is determined to leave her hometown of Gansett Island, a place that has brought her only bad memories and ugly rumors. Then she’s knocked off her bike on the way to her housekeeping job at McCarthy’s Resort Hotel by Gansett’s “favorite son,” Mac McCarthy. He’s back in town to help his father with preparations to sell the family resort and has no intention of staying long. When Mac accidentally sends Maddie flying over the handlebars, badly injuring her, he moves in to nurse her back to health and help care for her young son. He soon realizes his plans for a hit-and-run visit to the island are in serious jeopardy, and he just may be “maid” for love.


Those are my top FOUR books of 2015. The ones I think everybody should read at some point if they're looking for a good romance story!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Long Christmas Weekend

I am really enjoying the time I've spent with my family, and with only working one day in the office this week I've been soaking up the ME time. It also didn't help that I ended up with a cold and missed Christmas Eve service for the first time in forever.

Thursday I took a vaca day and scheduled a car tune up, yay. Then I packed up and headed to my parents. Even though my sister had to work, my brother still came over and hung out with the family. He also delivered his presents for under the tree.

When I woke up Christmas morning, my sister had gotten home late but still managed to get her presents "wrapped" in bags and under the tree. Plus Santa had visited.


The animals were in full swing right in the middle of the action and oh so cute.


We ended up behind "schedule" but since it was just the five of us we just figured out how to roll with the punches and ended up having a great day. I got so many things on my list and things I didn't ask for that were perfect for me! The animals were pretty happy with their gifts, too and Boomer got a little crazy unwrapping his treats!


We watched some cheesy Hallmark movies Christmas Land and Family for Christmas and we also finally watched Gravity.

I really hope you had a great Christmas and tell me what you're doing for NYE?! I still don't have my plans in concrete as like the last couple years.

Today we're heading to pick strawberries and tomatoes. I can't wait to make salsa and strawberry shortcake!

Currently -

Watching: NCIS
Reading: Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey
Listening: Fight Song...it's on all the commercials now.

How was your weekend?!



Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review: Wicked Lust by Sawyer Bennett

Cain Bonham is as big and bad as they come. After serving in the Marines, he’s returned home to Wyoming and now works as head of security at the exclusive sex club, The Wicked Horse. His job is to protect not only the patrons, but to zealously guard the secret existence of the club itself.

Sloane Preston is all about discovering secrets. As an undercover reporter, she’s determined to reveal the truth behind the facade of The Wicked Horse and expose it for all the world to see. She just didn’t count on her pathway into the club coming at the hands of one gorgeously scarred and bad ass bouncer who manages to easily possess her body and soul.

While Cain’s not looking for anyone to catch his eye, Sloane did it all the same, and he’s not bemoaning the fact that she’s as wickedly kinky as he is. As both get caught up in the sinful fantasies that only The Wicked Horse can create, secrets and loyalties will be tested and hearts will risk being broken.

**Warning: this book has sex in it. Lots of sex. Dirty sex. The Wicked Horse Series is a bit different than what Sawyer Bennett normally writes. While you’ll still enjoy fabulous characters, a suspenseful story, some witty banter and an epic romance, there’s just… a lot of sex. You’ve been warned.


Review

The **Warning does not lie. This is nothing like the contemporary romances I typically read and while it had a great story and I want to continue the series and have already gone back to read book one, it's definitely not for everybody so don't even bother with the review if you're not interested in a sex club or seeing someone's secret fantasy come to life.

I love Bennett's writing. I think her stories are full of everything I look for in a romance and this one definitely didn't disappoint in the romance area. It also gave me an insight into a world I would have never immersed myself in and still have no desire to go further than reading a kinky novel.

I loved Cain and Sloane's initial connection. It wasn't love at first sight, but it was pretty close. Once they had that initial chemistry and budding relationship one of them had to be completely honest before it could become real.

When you're dealing with fantasy, sometimes it's hard to tell where fantasy ends and reality begins.

I can't say much else without giving spoilers, but if you're interested in walking on the wildly erotic side this would be a good book to pick up.

Are you a reader? Check out my other book reviews here. Also make sure we're friends on Goodreads!!


I was provided with a copy of Wicked Lust in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Book Review: The Field Guide to Peppers by Dave DeWitt, Janie Lamson

In this fiery guide, Dave DeWitt and Janie Lamson help you identify hundreds of the most popular chile pepper varieties. The 400 profiles include all the major types of peppers and are packed with information on culinary use, interesting facts, and chile nomenclature.
Photos of each variety make for easy identification.Includes popular varieties such as ancho, bell, jalapeƱo, and New Mexican.Each entry gives the cultivar name, origin, pod size and color, plant height, days to harvest, and heat level.



Review

If you're looking to grow peppers in any kind of environment, this book would be perfect. I requested it in the hopes that I would find the best peppers for making certain foods because you should know I take my chips and salsa very seriously.

While they did mention which peppers would be good for specific foods i.e. Curry, Excellent in salads, moles, etc. it wasn't exactly what I was looking for and yet it also gave me a lot more than I was looking for! The authors both have a vast history dealing with peppers, but I learned the most from Janie Lamson who has been growing peppers since the 90's.

The number of peppers readily available is so numerous, at times I was overwhelmed with the options, but with those options come so many different outcomes.

Here's a sample of what each of the 400 pepper explanations look like. You also find out that Lamson has a website that you can order all of these plants from so you can grow your own and know you'll be getting a very good product.


When I asked my dad, the hot food connoisseur, which pepper he would like to know more about he said the Guajillo so I thought I'd share that card. As you can see they give you the heat level, the origin and a bunch of other stuff that you might need to know for growing.

I loved having this digitally because you can type in the pepper you're looking for and it finds the pages it's on. I do think I'll still get my dad a physical copy once it comes out because he'll get more use out of it than I will.

Are you a reader? Check out my other book reviews here. Also make sure we're friends on Goodreads!!


I was provided with a copy of The Field Guide to Peppers in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Favorites Before Christmas


That's right, only one week and it's Friday! I only have to work three days next week so I'm trying to get all of my stuff done early so I can join the festivities next week!!!

Apparently it's Free Shipping Friday?!

I don't know about that...we ordered something that was supposed ot arrive by 12/24 and the shipping notification we received yesterday said 12/26. LIES!!


I'm debating about doing December favorites next week...but maybe I'll just throw some monthly favorites in this post.

Favorite Gum at Christmas time

This is a limited edition gum, so I stock up a little when it goes on sale!

Favorite book

Hard Beat by K. Bromberg - this one took me a little time to get into, but once I did it was sooo good! I also wanted to mention that one of the series I'm continuously talking about is Marie Force Gansett Island series and books 1-3 are FREE on Amazon right now, so don't miss picking those up. They're like romance novel soap operas all about one big family!

Favorite show(s)

If you've been following along on the blog you may have noticed my love for the Chicago shows on NBC, well with the addition of Chicago Med it just continues to feed my addiction. It was so good last week but I've been so busy I didn't even check out this weeks episode yet.

Favorite Fuller House

I shared on Facebook yesterday the Fuller House teaser from Netflix and I cannot WAIT until February 26th!!

Favorite funnies



Want more cat funnies, I know some of you do!


I'm doing LOTS of Christmas baking and goodie making this weekend. Let's see, reading is also on the agenda as is Christmas movie watching!

What's on your agenda for the weekend?!

Linking up for Friday Favs with Amanda and High Five for Friday with Bright on a Budget, Coffee with Caitlin, Cup of Tea, and Della Devoted!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Book Review: Persuasion by Violetta Rand

Lang Anderson may be the new leader of the Sons of Odin motorcycle club, but his personal life is in shreds. He’s struggling to take care of his three young sisters in the wake of tragedy, while rumors of drug dealing within his ranks jeopardize everything he’s built. The last thing he needs is another distraction—like a bar brawl over a woman—but Lang is a sucker for a damsel in distress. And this one gets him roaring like a finely tuned engine.

High school guidance counselor Lily Gallo is no fender bunny. So why can’t she get Lang off her mind? Lily’s head says the rugged, rough-and-tumble biker who came to her aid is bad news. Her body begs to differ. But when Lang’s troubled kid sister walks into her office, Lily’s determined to help, even if it puts her in the crossfire of a gang war. On a crash course with danger and desire, Lily partners up with Lang to fight for his family—and for love.

Review

It really is all about circumstances and a background. This author previously wrote a book that was just all kinds of wrong and I wasn't the only one that thought so. Then this book comes out and all the things wrong with the last one are present, but it's a biker book so sex without even knowing a first name is expected even if the female lead is in a bad situation.

I loved the background set up here with Lang's family. It set him up as this good guy, tough biker contradiction and those are some of my favorite characters! Lily happens to be in the perfect place to help him out with family problems and that's not the only thing they get tangled up in. This was a quick read for me and I didn't want to put it down.

I'm excited to see Rand continue this series and the next one comes out in April.

Are you a reader? Check out my other book reviews here. Also make sure we're friends on Goodreads!!


I was provided with a copy of Persuasion in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Florida Weekending Before the Holidays

Happy Tuesday!! It's basically my back-to-work Monday and what a fabulous Monday I actually had.

On Saturday I headed up to Jax to see S and spend some quality time with her before the busy Sunday and Monday we had planned. She took me to a local taco place, TacoLu Baja Mexicana and on top of delicious chips and salsa, they had a tarty margarita that portions of the proceeds go to help a little girl that is on her second fight with cancer and they had very interesting tacos.


I tried a bang bang shrimp taco, pretty typical, a chicken taco, also normal and a little bland to me. Then there was the adventurous one; steak with brie and grapes on a taco and it was delicious!

We headed to a Holiday in the park kind of thing that is very popular in the little towns around me, but the one near Jax this weekend was a bust. We did however discover a Minions lawn ornament display that was fabulous!


Sunday I got to try out the church S has been going to and really getting involved in. I could definitely see why she liked it and would want to go back next time I'm in Jax.

Then we headed over to eat lunch before the Jags game. She told me about a new'ish chain restaurant similar to Panera called Newks. I had a lobster bisque soup and a pesto chicken sandwich. The sandwich was a little dry, but full of flavor so not really a complaint just an observation. Apparently they're opening one up in Clearwater, cool!


S thought she bought tickets in our tried and true section, but alas she got end zone tickets and they were great seats except it was 75+ in Jax with the sun shining right at us. We left just before half time and then they won, go figure. Even if we knew they were going to kick butt we weren't going to sit miserable for two more hours and get more sweaty. #truth.


There was this cute bus we saw on our walk back to the car.


After the game we stopped at her apartment to pick up our luggage and then it was off to Lazy Moon because it's only in Orlando and they have our favorite pizza.


At Universal, we stayed on site for a very reasonable hotel rate and saw that they had a lazy river!!!!! I do not get in public pools as a general rule, but this I was up for. Only, we didn't bring our suits and I should know better because S always wants to do hot tub'ish things.


We looked around the hotel gift shop and after deciding I wasn't spending over $100 on a bathing suit I convinced her Target was a better option and she thanked me multiple times, lol. I ended up with a super cute tankini for a fraction of the cost!!

Monday morning we had early park admission BUT we didn't want to go to Islands of Adventure first, so I said we should head and get in line for Universal because we wanted to ride the minions ride without an hour wait. Well, we did still wait for about an hour, but that was waiting for the park to open in general. It was cute, and then we headed over to the Shrek ride, again without a wait and both of these were new for me. I also finally rode the HP dragons ride. S said I scream bloody murder on rides...they're scary and it makes it more fun.

Fun Fact: The Hulk ride was one of the original rides at Islands of Adventure and is all sorts of torn down right now. It's due to reopen BIGGER and BETTER sometime in Summer 2016.

We also had more time to take pics of each of us disappearing into the wall at the train station like HP, but my pics didn't turn out so stellar. I did get some great pics of Grinchmas, which was fabulous. Another time we stood in line for about 30 minutes, but the good seats were totally worth it. All in all, getting up early made for a very successful day.


At Grinchmas they had a dog that looked just like Max from The Grinch with Jim Carey! I was in awe and the dog was sooo cute!

Oh! We also waited around, sitting on a bench this time...for the super heroes to come out on their motorcycles and each of us got a pic with a Marvel character.


I'm going to try and participate in #12DaysofOrnaments with S, so make sure you're following me on Instagram for that and join along if you want!!


Currently -

Watching: Christmas Movies (The Grinch and Christmas Vacation)
Reading: Hard Beat by K. Bromberg
Listening: Gamble by Kristen Ashley

How was your weekend?!