Stolen (Alpha’s Control #1)

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He stole her off the streets in broad daylight—the first Omega discovered in Bernard Dome in generations. He took her with violence while none intervened. He broke her, swearing he’d put her back together.

Brenya Perin was ordered to submit.

Bernard Dome is the jewel of Europe, a bastion of art and culture, pleasure and decadence. But life in the city depends on the occupation chosen for you at birth. There is no subversion, no question of who rules. There is no freedom.

Peace has a price, a price the Commodore of Bernard Dome is willing to pay… so long as the Omega remains his.

—                         —                         —

This has proven to be a difficult book to review. There are some aspects that I loved but others that I hated. I had no idea at first how many stars to give!

Let’s start off with what I liked.

Stolen is a dark romance, which is definitely what I was looking for when I read it. It contains scenes of dubious consent, and is set in a firmly hierarchical society. It may not be something that I would want to live IRL, but I love dipping my toes in through books.

I didn’t like that there were certain scenes from POV of characters from the (previous) sister-series, Alpha’s Claim. I wouldn’t have minded if they just popped up as secondary characters, but it was super weird to me that their story was incomplete, and did not like having so many POV characters in this book.

Secondly, Stolen ends on quite the cliff-hanger, and unfortunately, it has been a looong wait for the sequel. Book 2 in this series is tentatively titled Corrupted and is slated to be released sometime in 2019, but I haven’t seen any further updates.

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xx

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Alpha’s Claim series – Addison Cain

Alpha’s Claim is a three book series set in a futuristic dystopia. These books are dark, and contain dubious consent, and power exchanges.

I initially thought that the characters were werewolves, because the author uses terminology such as Alpha, Beta and Omega to describe different classes of people, who have different physiology, personalities, and political and socio-economic statuses. However I was wrong. Whatever events led to Earth becoming a series of isolated domes, the human species evolved between now and then.

I thoroughly enjoyed the start and middle of this series. There were twists and turns and all sorts of dark romance that I was thoroughly in the mood for at the time.

Unfortunately, I was not a fan of book 3 at all. It is a cliffhanger ending to the series, and you have to read the sister series Alpha’s Control, in order to catch glimpses of Claire and Shepherd, and thus finish their story. Book 3 absolutely convinced me that Shepherd is a mad-man. I don’t think that he is worthy of Claire, and is an irredeemable anti-hero in my eyes. Ms. Cain will have a difficult time convincing me to love him again in Alpha’s Control.

I have posted the blurbs and my ratings for the individual books below:

1Claire is desperate. Her once thriving city lies in ruins. The strongest of the three human dynamics, Alphas, have grown feral. Common Betas circle like vultures. The lowest in the hierarchy, Omegas like Claire, are being destroyed. They are starving.

All due to one escaped convict’s violent rise to power.

Shepherd is every bit as ruthless as his reputation suggests. Despite taking every possible precaution, Claire is captured and her worst nightmare realized. Shepherd, discovering a rare Omega in his midst, claims her like a prize, forcing a pair-bond that ties her to him. Forever.

* * * *

2Claire has a score to settle.

Unwilling mate to the brute who viciously conquered her city, she has once again escaped from her Alpha. Hardened by betrayal, cold as the ice outside the Dome, Claire becomes the mission. The Omegas must be freed, no matter the cost.

The price on her head will not deter her; after all, mated and subjugated her life no longer retains value. She can’t eat, she can’t sleep, and she’s running out of time before the inevitable end.

For once, Shepherd finds himself facing an adversary he cannot simply crush, the situation far out of his depth. Desperate to draw his mate back, racked and restless, he is forced to acknowledge that his pregnant Omega is willing to sacrifice her life for her false notion of a greater good. * * * *
2There is a greater threat than the virus.

Locked safely away in Shepherd’s nest, Claire is unaware of what stirs above ground. Her time is occupied fighting a war of another kind. Due to her mate’s relentless exploitation of their pair-bond, the nature of their link has grown all-consuming.

Thólos is coming apart at the seams, and Shepherd’s men can do nothing to stop it. Real war is coming, and unless the Alpha tyrant is willing to pay the ultimate price, everything he has sacrificed will have been for nothing.

* *

Overall series rating: * * *

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Eli’s Triumph (Reapers MC #6.7)

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Peaches Taylor spent the last seven years slinging drinks and dodging drunks at the Starkwood Saloon. Some might call it a dead end job, but to her it was an investment—another six months, and she’d have enough money to buy the place.

Life would’ve been perfect if Eli hadn’t come home.

Eli King is ready to settle down. He stood by his brothers when they needed him, paying the price for their freedom with his own. Now it’s time to claim his reward—the Starkwood Saloon. He’s got the cash to buy the bar, the skills to run it, and just one person standing between him and his dream: Peaches Taylor.

She’s been driving him crazy since they were kids, and not in the good way. When she was six, she shoved a spider down his pants. When he was ten, he locked her in a closet overnight. Then she hot-wired his car at seventeen, and things got ugly…

They’re adults now, and the Starkwood isn’t a toy to fight over—it’s the hill they’ll die on. No prisoners. No compromises. No mercy.

Peaches Taylor and Eli King are going to war.

—                         —                         —

I read this book in a day. And that was a 14 hour workday for me.

It is amazing!

Unfortunately, it is also short seeing as it is a novella, but the romance feels natural and fulfilled. Peaches and Eli have known each other since childhood and sparks have always flown, their personalities just sort of got in the way.

Eli’s Triumph is a quick and romantic read, and I was surprised by several funny scenes in it. Reading a novella by Joanna Wylde always reminds me how good a writer she really is, since I normally do no like this style.

You do not have to have read the other books in the Reapers MC series to enjoy this story.

I only wish that the author would release a full length novel – it has been years – and get back to the Silver Bastards and Devil’s Jacks MC series as well.

* * * * *

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Forever Mine (Tormentor Mine #4)

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I fought against fate, and I won. I made a deal with the devil to keep her.

It was supposed to be over. We were meant to be happy.

Too bad my enemies had other plans.

Note: This is the conclusion of Peter & Sara’s story. It is strongly recommended that you read Twist Me and Capture Me trilogies before embarking on this book, as there will be major spoilers for those series.

—                         —                         —

Forever Mine is the fourth book from Peter and Sara’s points of view, and it concludes their story. It begins immediately following the end of book three and it is necessary for you to read those books before this one. It definitely isn’t a series you could pick up and read out of order.

This book picks up the day after Sarah and Peter’s wedding, and sees them settling into married life. It is interesting to see Peter attempting to live a normal civilian life, something he has really never tried before, even as a child.

Of course, nothing can ever be that simple so you know something is going to go wrong.

It does in spectacular fashion.

I was supposed to review this book a couple of weeks ago. I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. But as I mentioned previously, I’ve been in a bit of a stress-induced slump lately, and I felt like the beginning of this book was really slow, so it took me a little while to get through it.

Once things go wrong for Sarah and Peter though, there is sex and explosions and gunshots galore to keep you at the edge of your seat.

Overall, I enjoyed this book but the series lost its momentum as it progressed. IMHO, the first book was amazing, the second great, and the third and fourth pretty good, but they paled in comparison to number one. I think three and four could have easily been combined to make one amazing action-packed story, with some of the slower bits cut out. As it was, I felt that the conclusion to this series was slightly anti-climatic.

It did however tease a tantalizing glimpse of a future character pairing who will be set in this universe. Lord knows I am going to read those books too!

My favourite aspect of Forever Mine is that many fan favourite characters reappeared from previous series. It was a bit of a reunion story. I loved catching up with old friends and boyfriends …. uh… I mean, characters.

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xx

I’m in a slump …

I’m not reading much these days. Maybe its the unseasonably cold and wet weather. Maybe just stress.

For anyone wondering, I do not recommend buying a new car and a new home at the same time 😦 Unfortunately, the timing on both of these things is not my choice.

How do you get out of a book slump? So far, nothing is really working. Usually, I try to change subject matter but romance/thriller/mystery/nonfic… it is not working!

Please send the book fairy my way.

xx

book fairy

On The Come Up (Angie Thomas)

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Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

—                         —                         —

On The Come Up is not technically a sequel to The Hate U Give, but it does take place in the same neighbourhood, one year later.

I highly recommend you listen to this book. Not only is the narration excellent, but it allows you to actually hear Bri’s rap as it was intended to be delivered, rather than trying to figure it out as you read.

Personally, I think that (Mom) Jay gives some excellent advice to Bri, that I intend to take to heart:

There will always be people with something to say but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to it.

At times, I was really frustrated with Bri for being so easy to manipulate and continually reacting, rather than acting with intention. This made it a little more difficult to read than The Hate U Give but it was no less enjoyable. I just found that instead of periods of intense sobbing, I experienced mild frustration.

Angie Thomas has become a one-click author for me. I think she would interest teens and adults and wish that more high schools would incorporate these books into their curriculum.

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Oil and Honey (Bill McKibben)

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Bestselling author and environmental activist Bill McKibben recounts the personal and global story of the fight to build and preserve a sustainable planet

Bill McKibben is not a person you’d expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that’s where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience in thirty years, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House.

With the Arctic melting, the Midwest in drought, and Irene scouring the Atlantic, McKibben recognized that action was needed if solutions were to be found. Some of those would come at the local level, where McKibben joins forces with a Vermont beekeeper raising his hives as part of the growing trend toward local food. Other solutions would come from a much larger fight against the fossil-fuel industry as a whole.

Oil and Honey is McKibben’s account of these two necessary and mutually reinforcing sides of the global climate fight—from the center of the maelstrom and from the growing hive of small-scale local answers. With empathy and passion he makes the case for a renewed commitment on both levels, telling the story of raising one year’s honey crop and building a social movement that’s still cresting.

—                     —                     —

America has half as many farmers as prisoners. Half.

This is one of the startling facts I learned while listening to Bill McKibben’s Oil and Honey.

I didn’t know too much about this book before I picked it out. I knew it was about the environment and that I had been meaning to read it for a few years. It takes place over several years, but begins just about the time that I was starting university. I majored in environmental studies/science, so it was particularly interesting to me to review major environmental movements that were taking place as I was learning the foundations at school.

A sad fact that McKibben repeats often is that environmental victories are always temporary. Nothing is ever defeated permanently, just put off for awhile. The fight never ends. And environmentalists seem to be on the losing side more often than not. This is why it is so exhausting to be an environmental rights activist, or even just someone who cares. The fight goes on and on, and unfortunately, big money is not on “our” side.

For example, in 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline was on the main stage in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election. Considerable pressure was on Obama to approve it and McKibben was one of the key activists trying to activate a grassroots response that would threaten Obama’s re-election if he did approve the pipeline.

Today, in 2019, this pipeline is still an ongoing battle in Canada.

The fights goes on.

Listening to this book took longer than I expected. It has been a while since I listened to something environmentally focused, and I forgot how angry these issues make me. How exhausting the failures can be when they add up. And the victories feel few and far between. I couldn’t listen before bed – it made me too frustrated to sleep – so I had to pick and choose the moments that I would listen.

I will say, something helpful I learned is the process of arrest at a political demonstration. That was reassuring in case I am ever in a similar situation. And humorous in a dark sort of way.

Climate change is global. Environmental disaster has zero respect for political borders. These issues are universal. However, most of the direct issues that are taken up in this book are based in America or Canada, so I believe that residents of these two countries will get the most out of it. Alberta’s tar sands are one of the biggest environmental disasters in the world. They are barely tapped, and already more earth has been moved than was moved in the construction of all the mega-dams in the world.

That is insane.

One of my favourite quotes from Oil and Honey, comes from McKibben’s account of the Keystone protests outside the White House. While in jail, he reported

“we don’t need sympathy, we need company”.

Narrator Kevin Collins has a smooth, relaxing voice that made the book pleasant to listen to, even if the topics were difficult to get through at times.

I am planning on watching McKibben’s interviews on The Colbert Report and his Ted Talk now. You can learn more on the website, 350.org.

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xx

 

 

Girl, Stop Apologizing (Rachel Hollis)

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“I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are.”

Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviours to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.

—                         —                         —

Having loved Hollis’ previous nonfiction title, I was leery of this book, concerned it would be a rewrite of Hollis’ bestseller Girl, Wash Your Face. That is so far from the truth!!

Girl, Stop Apologizing stands on its own. I didn’t think it was possible, but I actually like this book even more than her last one. I highly recommend it and keep pestering my friends and family members to read it.

I listened to this audiobook, which is read by Rachel. I love that she changed the wording where necessary, so instead of saying “reading this book”, she says “listening to this book”. I know it is small, but that is a huge pet peeve of mine in audiobooks.

Talents and skills are like any other living thing. They can’t grow in the dark.

This book is extremely motivational. I like listening to it and know that I will again and again, but I already purchased the physical book so that I can more easily refer to individual sections at a glance. I want to study this book because her stories and advice are relevant and easy to relate to. My pen and highlighter will definitely be in play.

Be the kind of woman both your nine year old self and your ninety year old self would be proud of.

This is going to get personal, but I always feel like I am an inconvenience to my friends and family. I feel guilty asking for help, like my very existence is a bother sometimes. I don’t want anyone else to be inconvenienced by what I love to do, which is how I feel in everything, from asking loved ones to purchase a ticket to my local concert band’s annual show to my taking a job in the social services sector where I am stuck living paycheque to paycheque. Rachel has a whole chapter on this subject in her book, one I think I need to read every single month for at least a year, before it will sink in.

If you find yourself going through life without anything to work towards or aim for, it’s no wonder that you feel like your life is living you instead of the other way around.

This quote is LIFE right now. It perfectly address the way I – and several of my coworkers – feel in our current employment. We have no ownership of our goals and projects. We are told to make goals but not given time to fulfill them. Training requests are rejected. Our workplace does everything possible to put us down “in our place” and keep us there. It is a managerial style straight out of the 50s and I think to grow and thrive, I need to transition somewhere else.

I am definitely implementing Rachel’s 10:10:1 and Five-To-Thrive plans!

Rachel does touch upon relationships in this book as well as in Girl, Wash Your Face but I am hoping that she will release one dedicated to that subject in the future.

* * * * *

xx

Twisted Pride (The Camorra Chronicles #3)

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Remo Falcone is beyond redemption. As Capo of the Camorra he rules with a brutal hand over his territory – a territory the Chicago Outfit breached. 

Now Remo is out for retribution.

A wedding is sacred, stealing a bride sacrilegious.

Serafina is the niece of the Boss of the Outfit, and her hand has been promised in marriage for years, but kidnapped in her wedding dress on her way to church by Remo, Serafina quickly realizes that she can’t hope for saving. Yet, even in the hands of the cruelest man she knows, she is determined to cling to her pride, and Remo soon understands that the woman at his mercy might not be as easy to break as he thought.

A ruthless man on a quest to destroy the Outfit by breaking someone they are supposed to protect. A woman intent on bringing a monster to his knees. Two families that will never be the same.

—                         —                         —

This. Book.

I had such a difficult time waiting for it to be released. I ended up reading nonfiction for awhile because every romance left me unsatisfied, and I realized it was because I only wanted to read Twisted Pride.

Thankfully, the book mostly lived up to my expectations : )

It certainly wasn’t how I played out Remo and Fina’s relationship in my head. Fina is dang feisty and I liked how important her relationships were to her. She is brave and proud and extremely loyal.

It was lovely to more intimately know Remo. He has been a secondary character in several books, but he is a difficult character to get a read on. Learning more about him made me admire him more. He may be crazy and capable of great evil, but he is also a family man and amazing with babies. He is an incredibly loyal fucker so long as you never cross him.

Even though I fell in love with both of these characters, I had a difficult time relating to them. Maybe I will feel differently on my second read – this has been known to happen with highly anticipated books – but I felt like some of the heart was missing from Twisted Pride.

It is possible the timeline is why I had trouble relating. The tale takes place over 18 months and nearly all of that time the couple are confrontational, even while falling in love.

The previous book, Twisted Emotions, is going to remain my favourite for a long time I think, but I would still recommend Twisted Pride. It will make far more sense when the series is read in order.

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Freedom Writers (2007)

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Freedom Writers was released in 2007, starring Hilary Swank. It is a drama based on the nonfiction book, The Freedom Writers Diary, and is based upon a true story.

The book and the movie tell the story of a remarkable teacher and group of kids from Woodrow Wilson Classical High School, in California. At the time of the book’s writing, this was one of the roughest schools in the country, filled with gangs, violence and a failing academic record.

Hilary Swank portrays teacher Erin Gruwell, a novice teacher who reshaped the kids in her classroom, helping them catch up academically and exposing them to the wider world. She worked two part time jobs to pay for opportunities and teaching resources – including English books – that were not funded by the school.

Here is the trailer.

I have seen this movie several times, but was inspired to re-watch it after listening to the book The Hate U Give.

The themes of racial tension, gang violence, education and growing up in rough neighbourhoods are similar.

The movie is entertaining and inspiring. There is violence, which flows well with the storyline and themes without becoming graphic. Although the subject matter isn’t happy, it also brought back a slight sense of nostalgia for the 90s.

I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching this film, and now I am am more interested in the Freedom Writers today. I want to google and see if any of them became activists or educators. I am also going to try to find a copy of their book to read.

Edit: Here is a link to 2017 news article, “where are they now”.

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