Sunday, February 7, 2016

Share the Love Giveaway Hop [Feb 8-15]

Share the Love

Welcome to the Share the Love giveaway hop hosted by Herding Cats and Burning Soup. This hop is to share our love for our blogger and author friends by having ways to follow them be the way to enter to win the giveaway!


What you can win...

I'm offering ONE lucky winner a chance to choose from the following ebooks (to be gifted via Amazon--or B&N if it's available on there).



Rules...


1. Follow one or more of the bloggers/authors on Twitter via the Rafflecopter. ^_^
2. This contest runs from February 8th through 15th.
3. Winners will be selected at 12:01 a.m. on February 16th via Rafflecopter random selection.


The Giveaway...


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Visit the other blogs...







Jessica

Friday, February 5, 2016

Thoughts and Daydreams #2: Blogging and Reading Slumps


Marie and I have been friends for about five years and have collaborated on all sorts of things during that time. After the hiatus from The Authorteers, we toyed around with a few ideas for things we could do together for fun once in awhile. One of the ideas was a Facebook group. We discussed it for awhile and ultimately decided against it since we probably wouldn't be able to post as regularly as we'd like on there, not to mention the fact that there are a large number of those groups out there already. So we adapted our plans into a blog feature called Thoughts and Daydreams (combination of my blog name and hers, Ramblings of a Daydreamer). We'll be discussing reading, writing, and blogging topics on both of our blogs. If anyone else would like to participate in these discussions by posting on their blog, we welcome it! Just snag the header and post. Be sure to link us to it so we can read and comment!


Blogging and Reading Slumps



Slumps. They happen to the best of us. It doesn't matter how long you've been blogging or will blog, you're going to run into the possibility of a slump, whether it's temporary or long-term. Over the almost five years I've been blogging, I've had moments where I've cut back or even taken a temporary hiatus. And, oddly enough, I've been dealing with one recently on both fronts!

Blogging Slumps


When you first start blogging, you're trying to get into the swing of things. Participating in memes and giveaways to draw attention to your blog. Reviewing new books and sharing the links on your Twitter page.

After doing all that and getting myself established, I bounced around with different ways of doing things on my blog. I tested out several kinds of posts. I signed up for blog tours and release blitzes.

Last year I was doing A LOT in those aspects. I think that's what lead me to reaching the point of what's commonly referred to as "blogger burnout" around the blogosphere. I spent December doing a bare minimum, almost not even having enough time to put together my end of year and beginning of year posts. I thought I would bounce back in the new year, but I didn't. I still slacked on getting posts together. I finished a couple review books right before I needed to write reviews. I usually am good about posting on release day or the day after if I have multiple releases in the same week. Not so much this year apparently.

Granted, I've been a little busy in real life with another upcoming move and trying to secure a new apartment before my time runs out. Not to mention rushing around to put stuff up for sale on eBay to reduce the number of boxes I have to move. I do believe that I was still trying to bounce back from the burnout despite these outside things.

As I'm writing this post (which is at the tail end of January in case you were wondering), I'm finally starting to feel like I can get things together more. I wrote a review earlier today to go live tomorrow, and I signed up and scheduled a giveaway that will be happening in a couple days from when this post is up. It's going to be a process to figure everything out and get back on track, but it'll get there eventually.

Reading Slumps


Ahhh, reading slumps. You'd think it wouldn't happen to an avid reader, but it can. I've had moments over the years where I couldn't get into the books I pick up, or I kept getting distracted and didn't set aside time to read like I usually do. I feel like my latest slump was partially getting distracted and partially the pressure of review books.

Don't get me wrong, I love review books. I read some super freaking amazing and awesome ones last year that I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to read. The problem, as I stated, is the pressure. Needing to read within a designated amount of time, posting the review on or not long after release day. And it's not just reading/reviewing--it's also setting up the post itself. So, of course, this ties in with the blogging slump.

I still had a few review books to finish at the beginning of this year and I thought it would be a breeze reading and reviewing them so that I could move on to some "me" books. That didn't go as planned. Every time I wanted to read, something would get in the way or I would read a few pages and be unable to concentrate. I don't know what caused it, but it kept happening.

Like I said regarding the blogging slump, things were a little chaotic for a little bit. Now I'm feeling more focused and able to concentrate on reading and reviewing again. Once I finish these last 2 NetGalley books, I'm going to stay away from review books for a little while. I think my subconscious couldn't stop prodding at me about them and I need to give myself a breather with some books I don't need to rush through. I might be able to savor them more. :)

How about you? Have you been through a blogging or reading slump?Is there anything you've done to deal with it or get through it? Please share!


Jessica

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: One Sizzling Night by Jo Leigh

Title: One Sizzling Night
Author: Jo Leigh
Published: January 19th 2016
Source: Copy given by author for honest review
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Buy: Amazon ~*~ Barnes & Noble
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Caution: May contain spoilers
First come lies 

Then comes temptation… 

Former Black Ops soldier Logan McCabe is in high-tech heaven. The "smart" apartment he's staying at has it all—luxurious amenities, walls that change color, and a seductive and nearly naked woman in the living room. Now, that's everything a man can ask for. Except Kensey Roberts is no pixel pinup…and the sexual tension between them is most assuredly real. 

Kensey is in way over her head. She's undercover to expose a possible art thief and clear her absentee father's name. She doesn't need a distraction—especially the ex-military, crazy-sexy hot kind. "Captain McBabe" is over six feet of pure, delicious temptation. But one sizzling night won't just compromise her reputation…it could blow her cover sky-high.

My Thoughts:

There's a reason the Harlequin Blaze line is my favorite. It's mostly the steam (because whoa nelly, talk about steam!), but it's also the storylines of perfection that accompany it. I read One Breathless Night by Jo Leigh, which was so freaking amazing I had to get my hands on One Sizzling Night no matter what. And this book didn't disappoint.

Kensey is a determined woman who will stop at nothing to prove the innocence of her father, no matter the danger. Then Logan comes into the picture and proves to be quite the distraction in all his sweet and sexiness. When some of her secrets get discovered, Logan gets involved in her covert plan. Will they be able to find out the truth together?

One Sizzling Night had both romance and intrigue, which was a great combination. I loved the side story and how it tied in with the feelings that were developing between Kensey and Logan. I'm super excited to see what else Jo Leigh has in store in the future!

My Rating:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: Now and Then by Mira Lyn Kelly

Title: Now and Then
Author: Mira Lyn Kelly
Published: January 19th 2016
Source: Copy given by author for honest review
Genre: New Adult Romance
Buy: Amazon ~*~ Barnes & Noble
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Caution: May contain spoilers
Brynn Ahearn is gorgeous, fun, and not just a sports nut but an NBA camera woman whose work takes her all over the country. In other words, she’s a walking male fantasy—or at least, she would be if she weren’t so busy keeping the guys at bay. The fact is, with Brynn’s con-man father fresh out of jail and back in her life, dating is just too risky. Haunted by memories of her past, she couldn’t ask any man to gamble with his life for love—even one as addictive as Ford Meyers.

Ford can’t believe his luck when he walks into a bar in Chicago’s Wicker Park and gets an eyeful of Brynn, the one that got away. After the gorgeous redhead blew him off in college, Ford got on with his life and made his fortune as a bestselling game designer, but he’s never found a woman who compared to Brynn. No stranger to success, Ford is used to getting what he wants—and after a scorching stolen kiss, what he wants is a second shot with his first love. To get it, he just has to convince her that he’s man enough to take on the past she can’t leave behind.

My Thoughts:

When you start a new series, you never know what to expect. Will you enjoy it? Will the books following the first be just as good or better? Will you like it so much that you'll reread it? With Mira Lyn Kelly's Dare to Love series, I discovered that it's possible for a trio of books to be absolutely amazing. I made the grabby hands the instant I found out the series was continuing. After I loved Truth or Dare and Touch & Go, I was hoping and crossing my fingers for another book.

We meet Ford in the first two books. I'm going to straight up admit that Ford was kind of "meh" to me as a secondary character, but when he was on his own in this book... Wow. He's pretty amazing. The background story of Ford and Brynn is something you didn't anticipate, even though it's touched on in the synopsis you don't get the full scope until you read the book. Their romance was timeless, and to be back in each other's lives could be the best and the worst thing to happen to them. Will the secrets of their past continue to haunt them or can they find a way to move forward together?

Now and Then is a spectacular romance, definitely adding to the beauty of the stories in this series. Ford and Brynn's relationship was so touching. Their love story made me nearly melt in a puddle at how sweet it was. I'm not sure if this is the last of the Dare to Love series--if it is, that stinks but I'm so glad to have read it; if not, then YAY because I can't wait for the next one. I can't wait to read anything I haven't read by Mira Lyn Kelly no matter what.

My Rating:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hello My Name Is... Giveaway Hop! [Jan 7-14]

my name is

Welcome to the Hello My Name Is... Giveaway Hop, hosted by Anna at The Herd Hops! This hop runs from January 7th through 14th. The point of this hop is to share fun things about ourselves and our blogs. So, here's some "fun facts" about Jessica and Thoughts!

~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~

1. I started this blog a little over five years ago on September 19th, but didn't really buckle down to write posts and reviews until months later. I consider March 21st to be my "official" blogoversary day since that's when I took the blog seriously.

2. I love lemurs. I follow the Duke Lemur Center on Facebook and whenever they post videos of lemurs, I'll watch and squee every single time. I almost cried when I saw the ring-tailed lemurs at the zoo for the first time. I've taken nearly 200 pictures of them on my camera.

3. When the Backstreet Boys and N*Sync were popular, I wasn't into them. I was the odd girl out in the mix when spending time with girl friends. But now? Totally love listening to them.

4. When I started Thoughts, I had no idea where it would lead me to. That I would still be running nearly five years later, that I would actually start writing, that I would make a bunch of amazing friends. It's been a wonderful journey, one I wouldn't trade for anything.

5. I worked 10 years as a pharmacy tech. I quit just a little over a year ago to lower the stress in my life. I'm now working a part-time gig that I really enjoy. I'm not making as much money, but I'm soooo much happier, so it was worth it.

~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~

The Giveaway


I'm offering ONE lucky winner a chance to choose from the following ebooks (to be gifted via Amazon--or B&N if it's available on there). All six of them are on my TBR for 2016 and they are all diverse books! :)


1. Upside Down by Lia Riley
2. Make It Count by Megan Erickson
3. Fragile Line by Brooklyn Skye
4. Unlikely Venture by Kristen Luciani
5. Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
6. One Last Song by S. K. Falls

Giveaway Rules


1. The only real requirement is to follow my blog (via Bloglovin', Feedburner, or another reader of choice).
2. This contest runs from January 7th through 14th.
3. Additional entries can be made by following me on Twitter, visiting my Facebook page (even though it's not a requirement to "like" my page, I would love it if you would like it or even like/comment on some of my posts), and/or commenting on this post.
4. Winners will be selected at 12:01 a.m. on January 15th via Rafflecopter random selection.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check out the rest of the participating blogs!







Jessica

Review: Wicked Lust by Sawyer Bennett

Title: Wicked Lust
Author: Sawyer Bennett
Published:  January 5th 2016
Source: Copy given by author for honest review
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Buy: Amazon ~*~ Barnes & Noble
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Caution: May contain spoilers
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.

My Thoughts:

After reading the glorious hotness of Wicked Fall, I had to get my hands on the beauty that is Wicked Lust. There was a little tease of it after the first book, and it got me intrigued and pining for book number two. We're right back at The Wicked Horse all over again, except this time it's Cain's story. He notices Sloane and they begin a short-term affair. And oh my goodness, get out your fan because you're going to need it for these scenes, let me tell you. Wowsa. Cain and Sloane put together generates a lot of heat.

Both of them are hiding huge secrets, though. Cain participates in fantasies at The Wicked Horse. He promised Sloane that as long as they're together (however long that may be), that he'd never be with anyone else. And Sloane has been lying about why she's even there, and the secrets she's trying to uncover about The Wicked Horse. When the truth comes out, where will they stand?

Wicked Lust is a steamy and wicked hot ride. I thoroughly enjoyed the pairing of Cain and Sloane--it was perfection. Their relationship through the whole story played out better than I could've imagined. And according to the little snippet after, we'll be getting Rand's story in book number three, Wicked Need. Can't wait for more sexy-goodness from the brilliant imagination of Sawyer Bennett!

My Rating:

Monday, January 4, 2016

Thoughts and Daydreams #1: Back to Basics


Marie and I have been friends for about five years and have collaborated on all sorts of things during that time. After the hiatus from The Authorteers, we toyed around with a few ideas for things we could do together for fun once in awhile. One of the ideas was a Facebook group. We discussed it for awhile and ultimately decided against it since we probably wouldn't be able to post as regularly as we'd like on there, not to mention the fact that there are a large number of those groups out there already. So we adapted our plans into a blog feature called Thoughts and Daydreams (combination of my blog name and hers, Ramblings of a Daydreamer). We'll be discussing reading, writing, and blogging topics on both of our blogs. If anyone else would like to participate in these discussions by posting on their blog, we welcome it! Just snag the header and post. Be sure to link us to it so we can read and comment!

Back to Basics


As a book blogger, every new year brings about new plans for the blog. Sometimes it's small ones, and sometimes it's bigger ones. For me, it's a mixture of everything.

Books...


For starters, I want to focus my attention more on backlist books rather than ARCs. I'll still read the occasional ARC or new release, don't get me wrong. Since I've accumulated a number of books over the last few years (on my Nook, Kindle app, *and* my literal shelf), I feel I need to devote some of my time to catching up on those. There are several books I've purchased that I've been itching to read but haven't had the time because of how many review books I had lined up. The nice thing about reading more books for pleasure rather than obligation makes me feel like I can set the book aside instead of forcing it, which will be nice.

There was one week in 2015 where I requested 6 books that all released on the same day... let me tell you, that was an exhausting week. I don't like feeling under that sort of pressure, so I'd rather just stick to a limited number of ARCs so that I'm not overwhelmed.

I'm also aiming to read fewer books than I did last year. I don't know how I managed to read more than 200 books, but I did it. It really did take up a lot of my free time, though. So my goal for the year is going to be 52 books, which is one book a week. I'll more than likely bypass that by the end of the year, but at least I'm being reasonable with all the other stuff I'd like to do in 2016.

Features...


I would love to have more than reviews on this blog again. I've come up with all sorts of ideas and topics, but have slacked off on keeping up with them. When I was sorting through my pages before I had the blog redesigned, I saw all the great memes I've done over the years and thought back on how fun they were. I'd like to add some more of those in here and there. I probably won't do them all weekly, or even monthly, but I want to diversify a little bit. Maybe slip in a Waiting On Wednesday here, Quote-tastic there, and possibly even throw in some random discussions.

I did A LOT of release blitzes, cover reveals, and blog tours over the last couple years. I loved being able to support authors and draw attention to their new books, but it was really bogging me down. Even though several of the tour companies offer HTML ready posts, they don't always work as well as you hope they would. I would spend two to three times as long setting them up so that they looked decent on the blog. I stopped signing up for them because I couldn't handle the last minute pressure of putting the post together. I'll definitely still do what I can for a few people, but I'll be more likely do opt for a special feature rather than part of a tour/blitz so I can put it together faster.

I also have plans to write more personal posts on my author blog. I considered writing and posting them here, but I want to keep the book blog and personal stuff more separate. Maybe down the line I'll incorporate the personal posts over here instead, but for now I'm going to start it out this way.

Pacing Myself...


I've spent most of my time as a book blogger pushing the limits. Review after review, blitz after blitz, etc. I overwhelmed myself more times than I can count. There were times I took brief breaks or spaced posts out more or blogged ahead enough so that I can relax a little bit. But then I'd go right back to doing the same thing all over again.

Why do I keep doing this? Because I love my book blog and don't want to see it fade away like so many other blogs have. I've been at this for nearly 5 years now and I can't tell you how many bloggers have vanished into thin air from that time up until now. I'm sure that maybe someday I'll cut back more or even quit entirely, but that day isn't today.

From now on I'm going to be reasonable. If I'm starting to feel like I have too much on my plate, I'm going to take a step back and possibly change things up. It's when it feels like too much that you feel like you want to quit. Making sure to pace myself will go a long way in keeping this blog alive and active.

How about you? Are you doing anything new on your blog this year?
Or is there something you are thinking about doing differently? Tell me about it!


Jessica