You are a BADASS

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The #1 New York Times Bestseller YOU ARE A BADASS IS THE SELF-HELP BOOK FOR PEOPLE WHO DESPERATELY WANT TO IMPROVE THEIR LIVES BUT DON’T WANT TO GET BUSTED DOING IT. 

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you’re ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them – it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it NOW.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

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I picked up this audiobook from my local library because it has an attractive cover and a person had recommended it to me a couple of years ago, but I didn’t get around to reading it at the time.

The audiobook was read by the author herself, and her voice is … pleasant? She doesn’t grate on my nerves, the way some narrators do, but I also found that I tended to drift off a lot. I’m not sure how much of that is due to her narration skills or her writing skills, but I had a very difficult time connecting to her and paying attention.

I found that Sincero had some interesting and inspirational ideas throughout the book, and I liked that her book was full of “real talk”. She seems to be trying to reach out to the self-doubters, my term for people who scoff at the “self-help” genre, and the author fully admits that she used to be one of those people.

However, Sincero mostly came across a someone who “drank the Kool-Aid”, IMHO. In Part II, she talks about certain profound meditation experiences where she has ‘seen the walls melt’ and ‘people levitating’. Uh-huh. Backing away slowly now.

It may be “boring”, but I am trying to put Christ and financial security at the forefront of my life, and when I have a family of my own, I know that they will jump into first place. I’m definitely not talking about earning millions of dollars, but I am working really hard and making sacrifices to be debt free and then eventually buy a house of my own one day (renting sucks. Am I right or am I right?!).

The author of You are a badass talks a lot about trips, expensive things, and taking tons of chances to make yourself happy even, if the consequences could be dire. She is all about finding the thing that makes you happy.

That is one way to look at life I guess, but personally, I think happiness starts from within. We all need certain things to be happy and what I need is different from what you need. My happiness stems largely from a strong sense of security and self-sufficiency, as well as a close romantic relationship and one of the things I desire most in the future is to have a large family, and a family-oriented existence.

So financial security, owning a home, these things that might seem arbitrary are actually feeding into what I need to be happy, those senses of belonging and of safety, of home. But if I can’t find some degree of happiness in my life now, as I am pursing my dream, that is a problem. To borrow an oft-repeated phrase, life isn’t about the destination, its the journey along the way.

Sincero doesn’t take into account that not everyone is operating on an equal playing field, and appears to scoff at others, creating the idea that she is judging others, and by extension, the reader. I particularly detest that she is of the opinion that depression and anxiety are reflective of an undisciplined mind rather than (in many) actual illnesses.

Her official blurb describes the book as 27 hilarious and inspiring stories, but I didn’t find them to be either. I also had difficulties with following the book. Perhaps this was because the book didn’t hold my attention and I drifted off, but I didn’t find that each chapter was building to a conclusion, that “aha” moment that pulled everything together. Instead, it felt more like a random series of self-congratulating moments and “you had to be there” stories.

You are a badass is a polarizing book. A quick glance at Goodreads user reviews showed that reviewers tended to love or hate this book. Many found her to be incredibly inspiration and there is no denying that Sincero has created “buzz”, but too many others had similar opinions to mine.

If you give this book a chance, I recommend you pick it up from the library until you know whether it is for you or not.

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Beyond the Horizon – a Sons of Templar novel

beyond-the-horizon

From Goodreads: 

Life is counted in tiny breaths, ones that measure the length of your existence. Life stole the ability to make those breaths easy when Lily was nine years old. Turned her quiet. Made her curl into herself, and shut out a world that threatened to bury her under its weight.

The end of her world is what brings him back—her biker. His chocolate eyes pierce her soul while his club tempts her with a life that she didn’t know she could ever have. Especially not when she was clutching the tattered remains of her existence, and with a weight bearing down on her which makes her unfit for the role of Old Lady. Asher changes that. He wants to set about repairing it, repairing her and her broken world. The problem is, even his strong shoulders can’t carry the burden of her sorrow.

Asher doesn’t take no for an answer. She may have given him her heart three years ago, but never in her wildest dreams would she imagine she had possessed his for the same amount of time.

Just when it seems like she may be able to ride off into the horizon, the world isn’t quite finished trying to rob her of breath. Of life.

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This review was really hard to write. I’ve been sitting on it for months and months. Because Beyond the Horizon was really hard for me to read. Straight up trigger warning here.

The book opens with the heroine on the day of her mother’s funeral. She died from cancer. I don’t think there are many people out there who haven’t had cancer touch their lives in some way. I have lost several family members to cancer and didn’t last five pages before I was bawling my eyes out.

The book in large part comprises Lily’s grief and attempts to get on with life. There are also numerous flashbacks to the years where she is her mother’s primary caregiver. Beyond the Horizon has more heart and is much more of a tear-jerker than any other Sons of Templar MC novel. The story is great but it was so difficult to read that it will probably only ever be a book I can skim in future, rather than properly re-reading.

So if you don’t want to read about cancer or a daughter overcoming her mother’s death, skip ahead to Dauntless. If it is a topic you can handle, read on because you are in for a great story.

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Evocation by William Vitelli

evocation

Eileen falls further down the rabbit hole, as her husband continues her training. A deep passion is ignited within her, and Eileen finds herself adapting to her new role more fully than she would have dreamed possible.

As her training continues, she is awakened to a world of new possibilities, more daring and exciting than she would have dreamed of.

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Evocation is the follow-up book to Elicitation. It includes all the sexual practices exhibited in the previous book and also focuses heavily on enforced availability and orgasm denial. Anthony’s goal is to train Eileen’s body and mind to constantly crave sex, especially his type of rough sex.

This book follows the same pattern as the first, in that it is focused on sexual content rather than plot or character development. It is purely erotica with little romance included, but it is so well written that I still enjoyed the story.

If you had to ask me to name the dirtiest book I’d ever read, these two would be vying for top spot!

Not for the faint of heart! If you have concerns about a certain practice triggering a negative memory, please read the story tags for this post before reading the books.

I hope that one day the author will write book three in the Training of Eileen.

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The Dom’s Dungeon

cherise sinclair

Foster child. Teenage whore. Now a veterinarian, MacKensie’s turned her life around, but the scars remain. She saves her affection for the animals who never judge or scorn her, but it’s time to get out, move on from her past in Iowa. So, she arranges a vacation exchange to job hunt in Seattle.

Although the house is lovely, one room is locked. Her years in foster care have given her two ‘gifts’: a neurosis about locked doors and the ability to open them. After she gets into the room, she’s appalled…and intrigued. Chains and manacles, whips and paddles, odd benches with straps…

When Alex returns home days early and finds MacKensie draped over the spanking bench in his locked dungeon, he’s furious. But her wariness arouses his protective nature and curiosity, so he strikes a deal to keep her close—she’ll act as his submissive in exchange for a place to stay and help finding a job.

He’d planned to use the veterinarian to deter an ex-girlfriend, not replace her, but with MacKensie’s compelling mixture of strength and vulnerability, the little sub slides right into his well-defended heart.

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Cherise Sinclair is one of favourite authors (possibly my ACTUAL favourite) and I have been reading her for years now. I started in early when she had only published five books or so and never got off the crazy train to sexy-ville.

One of those stories that has always stuck with me was a standalone, set in the Seattle bdsm club “Chains”. The Dom’s Dungeon tells the story of Mackensie, a young veterinarian with serious trust issues who house swaps for two weeks with a wealthy, sexym dominant beast who is travelling to her hometown for a conference. Alas, he misses his flight and walks back into his house to find Mac in an *ahem* compromising position.

This is a shorter story than I usually prefer, coming in around 250 pages, which is characteristic of this author’s earlier writing. However the steamy sex (spanking anyone?!), and strong character development make up for the shorter length. One of the things that I really liked about the Dom’s Dungeon is that the story focuses on the heroine, Mackensie, and her story. Normally I like balance between the couple, but it works in this case and the author doesn’t resort to “hero does something goofy and learns from his mistake” trope to add to his arc just because.

The Dom’s Dungeon is an excellent book to read if you are looking for steamy scenes in a well thought-out plot that actually makes sense and doesn’t have any flowery prose such as “thrusting members” and “womanly petals”.

I have long hoped that Ms. Sinclair would turn The Dom’s Dungeon into a series like she has with the Shadowlands. Steel and Drake have stories that need to be told!!! And although everything is SSC, the vibe I got from Chains is that its a little scarier than the Shadowlands. Maybe because of the extremely negative experience that Mac runs into in the story, or because her nemesis Cynthia got a much more extreme (though just) punishment than I think she would have gotten in the other series. I have commented on the author’s social media a couple of times this year, hoping for a book for Drake or Steel, so who knows, maybe I have put the bug in her ear and she is as ready for a change of pace as I am!

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A Life in Parts – Bryan Cranston

This summer seems to have been the era of Hollywood biographies! I have gone through quite a few of these audiobooks this summer. Not my usual fare but it has been fun to break out a little, especially since I have been in a long romance rut in 2017.

The most recent memoir I listened to was Bryan Cranston’s A Life in Parts. It is funny, poignant, and well-paced. Per my usual fare, I picked a memoir that was read by the author himself. I have written many blog posts on the benefits of this and I loved Bryan’s voice performance so my preference is definitely still holding true.

a life in parts

A poignant, intimate, funny, inspiring memoir—both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft—from Bryan Cranston, beloved and acclaimed star of one of history’s most successful TV shows, Breaking Bad.

Bryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father cast him in a United Way commercial. Acting was clearly the boy’s destiny, until one day his father disappeared. Destiny suddenly took a backseat to survival.

Now, in his riveting memoir, Cranston maps his zigzag journey from abandoned son to beloved star by recalling the many odd parts he’s played in real life—paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, lover, husband, father. Cranston also chronicles his evolution on camera, from soap opera player trying to master the rules of show business to legendary character actor turning in classic performances as Seinfeld dentist Tim Whatley, “a sadist with newer magazines,” and Malcolm in the Middle dad Hal Wilkerson, a lovable bumbler in tighty-whities. He also gives an inspiring account of how he prepared, physically and mentally, for the challenging role of President Lyndon Johnson, a tour de force that won him a Tony to go along with his four Emmys.

Of course, Cranston dives deep into the grittiest details of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create one of the most memorable performances ever captured on screen: Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin.

Discussing his life as few men do, describing his art as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about creativity, devotion, and craft, as well as innate talent and its challenges and benefits and proper maintenance. But ultimately A Life in Parts is a story about the joy, the necessity, and the transformative power of simple hard work.

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Bryan is a few decades older than I am but I think one of the remarkable things about A Life in Parts is that I didn’t feel as though his stories of yesteryear were old-fashioned, or as belonging to a different generation. He talks about making movies at home with this father and brother as a young child, of his parents divorce and going to live with his grandparents on a farm for a while, of belonging to a police foundations organization for youth as a teen and then going on an extended motorcycle trip on the open road as a young man, crisscrossing America with his brother.

But at no point did I stop and think “that is something that only would have happened in my parents’ generation – or my grandparents'”. He could have been someone my own age talking about his upbringing.

I knew of Bryan as that goofy Dad on Malcom in the Middle growing up, and as the infamous Walter White of Breaking Bad more recently, but I was never a “fan” of his as an actor or a person. I didn’t follow his career, go see something just because he was in it, and quite frankly knew next to nothing about him. I doubt I could have named any other show that he had been in, but I had heard good things about A Life in Parts and I am glad I picked it up.

Bryan doesn’t sound like a celebrity. He’s just a normal guy, albeit one who has had some pretty memorable roles. Of course, he has been happily married to the same woman forever, doesn’t appear to live a flashy life, and is super close to his siblings who no doubt take great joy in keeping their brother down-to-earth.

I really enjoyed this audiobook and would definitely recommend it to my fellow readers, even (especially) ones who don’t normally read about celebrity lives.

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Dark Legacy by Christine Feehan

dark legacy

In a thrilling Carpathian novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan, a woman fights to free herself from the grip of the vampire trying to possess her…
In a beautiful compound hidden away from the world, Emeline Sanchez tries to blunt the pain that has wracked her body ever since her terrifying ordeal in the labyrinth beneath the city—when she was forced to exchange blood with an evil master vampire.

Now, it’s his voice that haunts her…that calls to her in the dark…that never lets her rest. And while the children that she helped to free from his clutches struggle to heal, watched over by their Carpathian protectors, Emeline knows one thing: She must sacrifice herself to keep them all from harm…

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Dark Legacy is the 27th book in the Dark series by New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan. This series has been hit and miss for me for the last few years – to the point that I no longer buy them but wait until I can borrow the newest from the library – however this book is definitely my favourite from the “modern era” of Carpathian romance.

In many ways, Dark Legacy felt like a fresh breath of air and turned some of the more repetitive plot points around. The author has always blended fantasy and science fiction with romance, but romance was the key driving factor of every story and the genre in which books were categorize. I feel like this story almost turned the corner to have fantasy driving the story rather than the romance. I don’t mean this to be a slight against the author, because there was tons of heat between Dragomir and Emeline, but their relationship was not the driving factor in DL in my opinion.

Some criticism that I have read in the recent past of Feehan is that her books have too much sex in them and not enough plot. This book is certainly more plot heavy than previous works and the couple doesn’t jump into bed until the eleventh chapter. I like how they grew into a couple from first meeting and how the author developed their relationship amid a host of secondary characters. This book didn’t contain the usual isolate couple for half the book format that too many previous books employed and I actually wish that certain secondary characters had a little more interaction with the couple rather than only serving their purpose during battle scenes.

I loved that Dark Legacy gave us regular readers new insight into the Carpathian community as a whole, including differences between how they raise children and how humans raise children. Some readers might take issue with some of these finer points or accuse the author of heavy-handed heroes, but the reality is that they are a different species, and for long-time readers, the idea of these ancients blending into a modern world they have little experience with is ludicrous. It is much easier for the woman to adapt to a new lifestyle when she has only lived twenty or thirty years than a male who has lived 2000. The interaction between the community is important when they are spread out across the world and every Dark book is filled with so many battle scenes.

Another change that I loved is the author spent noticeably less time reminding the reader of previous plot points, characters and rules in this fantasy universe. Feehan usually writes her series so that a reader can pick up any book without necessarily starting with the first in the series. While I can understand the business acumen behind that decision, it is so repetitive for fans to have to recap in every book, especially at this point when most of her series have been on-going for so long. There was very little regurgitation of Carpathian/Vampire rules in Legacy and I hope that this continues.

I fervently hope that they next character to receive a book is Elisabeta, who was introduced in Legacy, I think she offers the best opportunity to read an old-school Carpathian romance with the D/s undertones I usually crave in my romance.

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Exquisite Innocence (Iron Horse MC #5)

Lyric

I’ve spent my entire life on my parent’s isolated religious compound, sheltered and cut off from the rest of the world. It left me ill prepared to face the evil that invaded my home, and after a horrific encounter with demons masquerading as men, I fled. Some might say that my refuge is even worse than the prison I grew up in, but the men and women of the Iron Horse MC have been better to me than my own family. Unfortunately, the trouble I thought I left behind is still hunting me for reasons I don’t understand. Hustler has been assigned to be my guardian, but to my foolish heart he may be the biggest threat of all. Everything inside of me tells me we belong together, that I’ve been put on this earth to be his, but he insists we’ll never be anything more than friends.

Hustler

For as long as I can remember the Iron Horse MC has been my family. I’ve fought, bled, and sacrificed a piece of my soul for my brothers, but I’ve been set up, labeled a traitor by those I trusted most. My only hope comes in the form of a naive young girl I’ve been tasked with protecting, a woman who’s haunted both my heart and dreams. She’s everything good and beautiful in this world, and while I’ll never allow her to tarnish herself by loving me, I’ll do everything I can to make sure she survives.

(This unconventional MC series is one that SHOULD be read in order, starting with Exquisite Trouble).

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Exquisite Innocence is the fifth book in the Iron Horse MC series by Ann Mayburn. Iron Horse is my second favourite MC series and each of the couples in it has a two book arc. Which means that this book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger and the conclusion to Lyric and Hustler’s story will be released at the end of 2017, according to the author’s social media accounts.

This series is multi-faceted. It covers the outlaw MC world, the mafia world, and brings in the world of religious cults in this novel as well. It occurs in the same universe as the Submissive’s Wish series by Mayburn and there is cross-over between the two, something I happen to love.

Lyric and Hustler are super easy to fall in love with, both as individuals and as a couple. They fit well together and come alive on the page. There was a preview to this in the final scenes of the previous books so the character pairing isn’t a surprise, but I like how to the author expanded upon Lyric’s backstory, and showed Hustler’s more serious and dangerous side, which was previously hidden.

You knew it had to exist because he was an Enforcer for an outlaw motorcycle club, but he seems so goofy, chatty and sex-oriented that you forgot to be afraid, or at least that little bit on guard.

There are two main complaints that I had about Exquisite Innocence: that it wasn’t long enough (this is a short novel at about 55,000 words) which is significantly shorter than the other books in this series. And, it has been painfully obvious to me since book one who the “baddie” is, undermining and betraying his club brothers and trying to kidnap the heroines left right and centre. The author confirms in this book but I was greatly hoping that this “suspense” arc would have resolved by now!

Mayburn’s other main series (that I read at least) is the Submissive’s Wish series about Russian Bratva Doms and their beloved subs, and I feel like that series is much more complicated, well-thought out and fulfilling as a reader. I feel like not as much time went into establishing the series arcing plot points in Iron Horse, because let’s be honest. I’m not THAT perceptive and the majority of readers shouldn’t have been able to figure it out so easily.

EI would have been much more enjoyable if I didn’t feel that the author was stringing the reader along, trying to perpetuate the “Chief betrayal storyline” for several books longer than enjoyable. It also annoyed me when I downloaded my pre-order to find that the book was so short. As I mentioned above, it is significantly shorter than previous books in the same series and publication was delayed by a month. It makes me suspicious that the author had to split the book into two last minute (posting the update this summer on her social media accounts) rather than publishing one complete story. Most romance novels I read are more than 100 000 words, most actually push 130 000, so the length of the first half definitely does not necessitate splitting this book into two for me.

Unfortunately these issues took an otherwise great story and dropped it down to three stars, IMHO. Hopefully the next book makes up for it because Lyric and Hustler are a great couple and I want to see them have their time in the sun. I am also intrigued by several other characters and hope to read romance stories for Hulk, Sledge/Marley, and Tom Sokolov before the series concludes!

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