Friday, 31 July 2015

Bookish Resolutions Monthly Update (July)


Blimey its the end of April...when did that happen! Anyway it is time to check that progress on the Bookish Resolutions Challenge! 

My Challenge: 
  1. Listen to 4 audiobooks this year
    January: 0 Audiobooks
    February: 0 Audiobooks
    March: 1 Audiobook
    April: 1 Audiobook
    May: 3 Audiobooks
    June: 1 Audiobook
    July: 0 Audiobooks (Though I do have one on the go!) 
  2. Read 1 'classic' book a month
  3. Read at least 6 Netgalley books a month
    January: 14 Netgalley Books
    February: 7 Netgalley Books
    March: 6 Netgalley Books
    April: 10 Netgalley Books
    May: 10 Netgalley Books
    June: 8 Netgalley Books
    July: 9 Netgalley Books
  4. Read 2 books a month that have been bought (which does include free amazon books) rather than given for a review
    January: 5 Bought Books
    February: 6 Bought Books
    March: 6 Bought Books
    April: 9 Bought Books
    May: 12 Bought Books
    June: 3 Bought Books
    July: 7 Bought Books
  5. To finish at least 1 of my writing projects
    In Progress...a little more progress than last month honest!
How are your resolutions going? Add your post to the Linky and share it! 



Eat Play Lust by Tawna Fenske

Title: Eat Play Lust
Author: Tawna Fenske
From: COYER Prize!
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 26th August 2013
Challenges: 2015 COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Yoga instructor Cami has had a bad life with food. At first it was her mother's obsession with health food, then her own discovery of junk food. Now she exercises religiously and eats healthily. When gourmet chef, Paul, signs up for her yoga paddle boarding, he tries to impress her while nervous and ends up saying just about anything that comes into his head...lucky for Cami her crush on him seems to be reciprocated...

When looking through the list to pick from, Tawna Fenske jumped out at me because I've read and enjoyed her books before. Eat Play Lust didn't disappoint, even though it was only a short read. It was perfect for those moments where you need something light and short to fill the gap.

I loved the humour in Eat Play Lust and it came from both of the main characters! Part of it was illustrating that the two of them were kind of nervous about each other and were saying what they thought. I thought that it was both cute and made them seem more real as people. It was refreshing seeing people act like real people.

Similarly, the way that the two of them discussed food, interacted with food personally and looked at each other. I know it sounds strange but they both just seemed to have 'real' attitudes towards food. It isn't something I normally notice mentioned in books but it wasn't an unhealthy obsession that either of them had, rather it was realistic. Similarly. Physically it was the same, the two of them weren't perfect but they actually liked that about each other.

I really liked Eat Play Lust, it was an easy, quick read, fun and quirky, definitely worth it!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Simma by H S St Ours

Title: Simma
Series: Water Worlds (#3)
Author: H S St Ours
From: Review Copy
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
Release Date: 29th November 2013
Challenges: 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Simma has lived in the Tunnels her entire life, but now that her friend Sami has gone she isn't quite as satisfied as she was with the life. When the Judge makes moves to destroy Tee Two she ends up part of the rebellion against him; searching for the freedom for the towns of Reconstruction and the Five Tunnels. Supported by her old friends and by new friends too.

I don't know what went on while I was reading Simma but it just seemed to take me forever. It wasn't that it was a bad book, it was more that I just didn't get engrossed in it like I do other books. I think some of it could have been that it is so long since I read books 1 & 2 (Young Moon and Sami respectively).

The dystopian world is a rich one in the Water Worlds series, with several different levels of society. It was well constructed and complex, though I do think that to some extent that personally a fair few more choices than normal were available to some of the characters but in the context it worked.

Reading over my review of Sami I noticed that I commented on the language that was used in some places. St Ours uses slang quite a bit, but not always slang that is overly obvious. It was things like numbers and abbreviations of words. I didn't find it quite as frustrating as in the previous book but it still was quite present.

Simma wasn't a bad book, there was just something that didn't connect for me in it.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

Title: Confessions of Marie Antoinette
Series: Marie Antoinette (#3)
Author: Juliet Grey
From: Netgalley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 24th September 2011
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

As one of the most hated Queens that France ever had, Marie Antoinette tries to keep her family together and her husband's throne intact against the back drop and events of the French Revolution. Now matured and aware of her mistakes, she wants what is best for her people, her husband and her children.

It took me ages to read Confessions of Marie Antoinette, which I do feel the need to explain. It was nothing to do with how much I enjoyed the book, but rather the depth of the book. It is definitely what I would call a heavy going book, not one that could be read in small parts but rather needed to be concentrated on (this is an important thing to note!)

Interestingly I didn't actually like Grey's portrayal of Marie Antoinette as a person most of the time (though the way she portrayed her was fantastic, I really liked the not all bad and not all good version of Marie Antoinette she painted a picture of). Though I didn't necessarily like her at times, I still felt sympathy for her and the injustice of the ending (which was for obvious reasons never in question).

I also found it interesting that the only character that I felt really got any focus was Marie Antoinette. There were a lot of other characters in Confessions of Marie Antoinette but I didn't feel that many of them even approached secondary character status, even Louis and Axel (husband and lover respectively) didn't play such a large role. Unless you count the people of France as a character in general (well of Paris) then I would stand by that. Strangely I thought that this actually worked well.

Something I thought that Grey did brilliantly was depicting the French Revolution. I went into this book already having a pretty good knowledge of the events (and complexities!) surrounding the first French Revolution (we did some modules on it at University) and most books gloss over some parts or romantisise it. Honestly when I lived in Paris I sometimes got the impression that even the French romantisise the Revolution(s). Grey didn't; her Revolution was like the real one. Violent, confusing, a real struggle for power and position. There were ups and downs for all the people involved and she even included Revolutionaries turning on themselves. For me, as someone that understood the basics anyway, it worked, though I suppose it could get confusing for people that aren't as aware of events.

There was a fair bit of French in the book as well, most of it was explained but some of it wasn't. I'm pretty sure it would be workout-able by context but being able to speak French to a high level, I'm not the best judge of that!

I enjoyed Confessions of Marie Antoinette, I liked the gritty realistic feel and the complex character of Marie Antoinette, even if it did take me ages to read!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Discovering Delilah by Melissa Foster

Title: Discovering Delilah
Series: Harborside Nights (#2)
Author: Melissa Foster
From: Review Copy (Blog Tour)
Genre: LGBT, Romance
Release Date: 9th July 2015
Challenges: COYER Scavenger Hunt, 2015 New Release Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Since the death of her parents, Delilah has been struggling to come to terms with life without them. More than that she's been struggling to overcome the look of disappointment she saw on their faces when she told them that she was a lesbian. But she quickly finds herself falling for her best friend Ashley, and even if she doesn't know if Ash is interested in girls, sometimes you just have to take a chance...

This book had me in tears. It was so heartbreaking in some ways that I just couldn't help myself. Some of them were happy tears (like when Delilah read her Mom's last email) but some of them were 'oh God poor Delilah' tears. Ashley had her own share of past issues but they didn't quite seem as moving as Delilah's.

LGBT romances aren't a genre I've really read in the past, but I chose to read this for two reasons. The first is that I've loved everything I've read of Melissa Foster's. The second is that I had a friend come out while we were at uni together, and though I always held the opinion that love is love it doesn't really matter who its between (there are some lines; like relations!) I don't feel I truely understood the struggles that people have with their sexuality until reading Discovering Delilah.

While reading I found myself reading differently than I do with straight romances, mainly because I don't have the same common connection with the characters. But the emotions and the difficulties that Ash and Delilah had between them were all so real, so believable and also normal. Other than Delilah being in the closet, they didn't actually deal with anything that a straight couple wouldn't, and I think that that is a fantastic thing to see in books and should be shown more.

Delilah's struggle to come out really struck a nerve. I already had a great respect for people who have been through that, and realised that it took immense courage, but now I have so much more. It was well done by the author and really powerful reading.

I really enjoyed Discovering Delilah, and it was an interesting read!


Discovering Delilah
by Melissa Foster
DISCOVERING DELILAH
HARBORSIDE NIGHTS, Book Two



HARBORSIDE NIGHTS is a sexy, hot, and evocatively real New Adult Romance series that follows a group of friends who have known one another for years as “summer” friends, and now come together after college to build their lives. They’re tough, edgy, and accepting—most of the time. This series is written in the same loving, raw, and emotional voice readers have come to love by New York Times & USA Today bestselling, award-winning author Melissa Foster.
In DISCOVERING DELILAH…
After the death of her parents on the day of her college graduation, Delilah Armstrong thought she could finally follow her heart and come out to her closest friends, but the guilt of going against her parents’ beliefs haunts her. The feelings she has for her best friend, Ashley, are stronger than anything she’s felt before, but Delilah has never even kissed a girl, and fear stops her at every turn.
Ashley Carver promised herself that she would never again date another girl who wasn’t out, but that was before she met intoxicatingly sweet and sexy Delilah.
When another girl offers to teach Delilah the ropes, it changes Delilah’s whole world and gives her the courage to go after the only girl she really wants. But coming out isn’t as easy as Delilah imagined, and moving past her parents’ death and the feelings of guilt she is left with is even harder. The intense passion between Ashley and Delilah is too strong to deny, but coming together means risking everything.
Discovering Delilah is an edgy, evocative, romantic story of friendship, family, and the courage to love.
Buy links


ABOUT MELISSA FOSTER

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women's fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. When she's not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on The Women's NestFostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Authors Links:

GIVEAWAY
The prize is the previous book in the series Catching Cassidy

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Monday, 27 July 2015

Pisces Phenomenon by Mandy M Roth

Title: Pisces Phenomenon
Series: The Zodiac Gatekeepers (#1)
Author: Mandy M Roth
From: Review Copy
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Release Date: 1st March 2006
Challenges: COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Since she was a little girl, Phoebe has heard a voice in her head, her friend and then later her imaginary lover. Sirius has always known that his mate was out there, and that he mentally connected with her even if he has no idea who she is or where she is. But when disappearances in the Zodiac Zone almost cause Phoebe to be taken, she discovers that Sirius is the man for her, even if he's only been in her head before, in person he is even better!

Pisces Phenomenon is one of Mandy M Roth's shorter novellas, which I actually really like. I find them really easy to read books and perfect for that in between stage (or in this case for the train journey that was just long enough to read this one!)

The chemistry between Phoebe and Sirius was there even before they'd met in person. Both of them clearly liked each other and it was a smooth ride for the pair of them compared to some other characters! I thought that they were the right combination of sweet and sexy, it worked well, particularly in a short read.

There was a lot going on action wise in Pisces Phenomenon as well, and I felt like I was really involved in the world that Roth created (as with her other worlds as well) and there was a lot of information crammed into the pages without it feeling like it was being crammed!

I really enjoyed this one, I'm looking forward to more in the series!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Follow by JA Huss

Title: Follow
Series: Social Media (#1)
Author: JA Huss
From: Social Box Set
Genre: Erotica, Romance
Release Date: 27th August 2014
Challenges: COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Grace is a filthy tweeter, and her muse is none other than sexy movie star, Vaughn Asher. When she goes on a honeymoon won by her best friend, the last person that Grace expects to meet is the star of her fantasies, but when she does her life takes an unexpected turn. Vaughn feels a pull towards Grace, she's just his type and yet there's something more about her. He will make her submit to him, and she will enjoy it, it's all a matter of time!

Wow. I've enjoyed JA Huss' books before (Come and 321 are the two I've already read) but I think Follow was my favourite of the three of them! In some ways it reminded me a little of Fifty Shades of Grey but it felt much more real and it was much more enjoyable (I'm not a fan of Fifty Shades if I'm honest). For me Grace and Vaughn's story worked though, and it was hot!

There were definitely some very steamy sex scenes in Follow, though I didn't expect any less from Huss. There were times when the levels rocketed and I liked it. Though it isn't for everyone. The sex between them wasn't vanilla and I realise that some people aren't fans of that. There was one thing that kind of annoyed me about the scenes though; neither of them ever thought to use condoms. But that is something I can move past!

I liked that the characters were far from perfect. Vaughn was not a nice guy in some respects, but was in others, whereas Grace could be secretive and rebellious at times. Because the characters weren't black and white they did come across as more real and enjoyable to read.

I really enjoyed Follow and I'm looking forward to reading more in the series!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling

Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Series: Harry Potter (#1)
Author: JK Rowling
From: Our Family Book Shelves!
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Release Date: 30th June 1997
Challenges: My TBR List (July), COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Harry Potter has been brought up by his Aunt and Uncle for the past 10 years; a life made of basic dinners, hand me downs and his cousin Dudley's bullying. But on his 11th birthday everything changes and he discovers that he is a Wizard. Now enrolled in Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he becomes friends with Ron and Hermione and embarks on a new adventure!

I think that's one of the hardest summaries I've ever had to write, there's just something really tricky about writing it on a book that everyone knows the story to! Anyway, the update! Because of my internet failures I never posted my TBR info on the blog earlier this month, but Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was the winner! I wanted to re-read something this month from when I was younger, and the other two choices were The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot and Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan.

I don't think I've actually read any of the Harry Potter books in years and I was actually really excited to re-read this, and it didn't disappoint. I was just as sucked into Harry's world as I was the other times I read it, and I was amazed at just how much there was that I'd forgotten about or not noticed. Interestingly I did think of some questions that I didn't when I was younger...for example, do students pay to attend Hogwarts?!?!?

I found it really interesting reading now that the film is out, there were some lines and some moments where I could hear the actors voices instead of the ones in my head, and similarly in some scenes I felt like I could hear the music playing. I think that does say something both for the power of the book and the film.

There is definitely some comfort in knowing the way in which a book will end, but I loved discovering the little details I'd forgotten. I have a feeling I'll be revisiting the other books at some point soon too!

MyTBRList

Friday, 24 July 2015

Captive of the Deep by Michelle M Pillow

Title: Captive of the Deep
Series: Lords of the Abyss (#3)
Author: Michelle M Pillow
From: Review Copy
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Fantasy
Release Date: 4th December 2010
Challenges: COYER Scavenger Hunt, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Lyra comes from a family of sea farers, and they had been commissioned to recreate the Spanish Armada when they are attacked by a Scylla. Saved by the Merr, Rigel, Lyra finds herself in a strange world and completely numb to everything around her. Eventually things start to break through her grief and she starts to see Rigel in a completely different light...

So many questions were answered! I will admit that I had no idea as to the true nature of Scylla, though I had wondered. The answer as to what they were and how they worked surprised me! I don't know what I was expecting exactly but it wasn't that! (But it does make a lot of sense).

Though it was obviously not good for her, I did like the way that Lyra responded to the ship wreck and the loss of her family. The grief that she went through seemed reasonable and the shock was definitely an expected reaction.

The romance between Rigel and Lyra was sweet, there was chemistry there but there was more to it as well. Also this sounds like a really silly think, but when it came to sex, Lyra was experienced whereas Rigel was a virgin. It was so refreshing for it to be that way around, and that it wasn't made a massive deal of!

I'm really enjoying this series, and I'm excited for more!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Ours to Embrace by Denise Rossetti

Title:Ours to Embrace
Series: ES Siren (#7)
Author: Denise Rossetti
From: Netgalley
Genre: Sci fi, Romance
Release Date: 23rd July 2015
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt, 2015 New Release Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Shuttle Pilot Cory wants one thing; to make yellow prisoner, Bella, his own. When Bella becomes a witness in the murder of one of the guards her life is put in danger; and much to her concern so is Cory's. But their relationship, whether real or fake, could make the difference between life and death.

I like the way that the ES Siren books work! Each set of three is set at a different time in the journey, and focuses on a different issue facing the ships. In this set the focus seems to be on a potential criminal uprising. Though there was a higher story arc that hasn't been resolved yet (and an even bigger one over the whole series) there are smaller plotlines within the book that got resolved leaving reader satisfaction.

The chemistry between Cory and Bella was there, though there was far more to their relationship than that, including some points when I just wanted to yell at the two of them for playing games with each other, even if most of the time that was for good reasons. Though they were also super sweet to another!

Interestingly a theme that came up in Ours to Embrace that hasn't been that common in the other books is that of family. In general the people on board the Siren have known that there was no going back or they already had no family. But in this case, Bella's mother Mona was on board with her. It gave another dimension to Bella's character and motivation.

There was also more information given about the dystopian like aspects of life on earth in this book. Everytime something else is revealed I feel partly horrified and worried that that is where the world could be heading.


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Rise of the King by Mandy M Roth

Title: Rise of the King
Series: King of Prey (#4)
Author: Mandy M Roth
From: Review Copy
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Release Date: 30th November 2012
Challenges: COYER Scavenger Hunt, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Having  been branded a traitor by his people, Lazar has yet to gain acceptance from his new people. Saddened by the idea that his mate is dead, something he has believed for the past 20 years, he is surprised when he follows his friend Gardelle and finds his niece Sabrina is the very mate he believed was dead. But his brother, and the rival King, has been around her, causing Lazar to become protective of his mate...

Rise of the King really added more to the King of Prey series. The story has been gradually revving up throughout the past three books and then in this one there were several reveals that had a big impact on the story. I was somewhat surprised at some of them but I liked the direction that those reveals took the story.

I really liked the fact that Rise of the King didn't just tell Lazar and Sabrina's story but actually went as far as to touch on a potential romance for a future book (or at least I hope so because I loved the banter between Gardelle and Lisa! They were definitely funny).

Sabrina and Lazar had good chemistry, but their romance also added more to the lore that was introduced in the previous books about mates, particularly surrounding their dreams. I like it when books that could be read as stand alones add more to the world and the background.

The only thing that disappointed me slightly is that I really wanted a female shifter! But really that is very minor and I just like having strong female characters so often!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Sia by Josh Grayson

Title: Sia
Author: Josh Grayson
From: Netgalley
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 20th November 2013
Challenges: 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge, 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Sia wakes up on a park bench with no recollection of her former life, only a name which is on her ipod. For over a week she lives on the streets, learning from a homeless woman called Carol. When she is found she returns to her old life, only to realise that she doesn't like the person that she was before. Determined to prove to everyone that she has changed she teams up with one of the 'loser' kids, Kyle, to fundraise, all while fixing the problems she has at home.

Sia was a strange one, I'm not totally sure where to start with my review. I loved this book while reading, it had me engrossed and didn't want to put it down. But then the ending kind of let me down. I didn't feel that it lived up to the rest of the book which just made me feel disappointed.

As a character I liked Sia. Though she couldn't remember who she was she was determined not to let that get her down. She had a strength that was admirable as well as good for the story. I also really felt like Sia went on a journey. Whereas often this kind of YA book is more subtle, because of Sia's memory loss the journey was far more prominent.

The other characters were definitely what could be termed as stereotypes, but I think that it worked, particularly when Sia started looking at things objectively and how she had been treating the others around her. I thought it was a highly accurate look at schools and hierarchies.

I also liked the realistic relationship that Sia seemed to have with her parents. And that when it came to their problems at home there was an actual solution and the family unit worked through it. Often home problems are glossed over but not in this book!

For the most part I really enjoyed Sia, it was just the ending that let it down for me.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Her One Wish by Marie Hall

Title: Her One Wish
Series: Kingdom (#10)
Author: Marie Hall
From: Amazon
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
Release Date: 26th October 2014
Challenges: 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points), COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

The child of Paz and Jinni, the last thing that Nixie expected she would have to be was a genie. Sentenced to 50 years servitude with only one day of freedom a year she resigns herself to her fate. Until her anger gets the best of her and she is cursed to 100 years confinement unless she is found. Robin Hood has heard rumours of a dark genie and plans to use her to fulfill his plans for vengeance.

It's been a while since I last read a Marie Hall book, and I had forgotten how easily I find myself sucked into her world and into Kingdom. The books can be read as standalone books, but they are better read in order (especially as Nixie's parents story was one of the previous books in the story).

I loved the way that Her One Wish very much focused the romance on the aspects that weren't sex (because of the nature of genies). There was chemistry between Nixie and Robin, but because they couldn't act on it there was more of a focus on the emotions involved. I also liked the way that the rest of Nixie's term as a genie played out. It could have easily been glanced over but Hall did a fantastic job of working it out without taking the easy route.

I also loved the melding of fairy tales (and legends in this case). Even with characters such as Robin Hood, Hall manages to make them have their own personalities and traits making them her own. Each character is a shade of grey as well, none of them are overly good or overly bad and it works well in terms of the story.

Once again Kingdom has delivered a great read!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Virgin's Daughter by Laura Andersen

Title: The Virgin's Daughter
Series: The Tudor Legacy (#1)
Author: Laura Andersen
From: Netgalley
Genre: Alternative History
Release Date: 19th May 2015
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 New Release Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Since Lucette Courtney was told about her questionable parentage she has been at odds with her father, Dominic. Queen Elizabeth I will use everyone she can to her advantage, and that includes her potential niece. With the Nightingale plot in full force, Lucette finds herself sent to France, where Nicolas and Julien LeClerc, the sons of her parents' French friend. Trying to uncover the plot leads to complications of the heart that even Lucette hadn't forseen...

It took me a couple of chapters to really get into The Virgin's Daughter, and I'm not sure why, potentially because of how much I loved The Boleyn Trilogy, and I was a little bit worried about if I would enjoy it as much. As soon as I got into it though I loved The Virgin's Daughter and reading about the next generation.

Though there were moments where the story was focused on the previous characters, Elizabeth, Minuette and Dominic, most of the book focused on their children's stories; Anne (Elizabeth's daughter with Philip of Spain), Lucette, Stephen, Kit and Pippa (Minuette and Dominic's children). I liked the way that the children interacted with each other, and that their parents' past friendships had influenced them.

As the book progressed it became clear of the romantic connections for several of the children; Anne, Kit and Lucette being the clearest, though I am wondering about what could happen for Pippa and Stephen. The romance was only a small part of the book though, there was so much more going on than just that.

Even though Andersen's Tudors are an alternative version than the ones that really existed, I think she once again did a fantastic job of creating the politics and drama of the court on all levels. Similarly the interactions between the characters worked well and in line with the times even if some of the characters themselves shouldn't have existed.

I love the way that Andersen uses events from the past and spins them in a different way in order to fit with her Alternative world without deviating too much. In this book it was mostly the alternative marriage between Philip of Spain and Elizabeth (as opposed to her sister Mary, who in Andersen's world never reigned) and the antagonistic role that Mary Queen of Scots played.

Reading order wise, The Virgin's Queen could be read alone. It is the start of a new series, but the events do follow on from the events in The Boleyn Trilogy, so it would make more sense if those books were read first (i.e. it would be easier to understand the events leading to Lucette's birth, why Mary I never reigned and the relationships between the older characters).

The main romance revolved around Lucette and the LeClerc brothers, who were the centre of the Nightingale investigation, it worked well though it was difficult to determine who it was that was really guilty. It dragged me in and I couldn't help but hope for who was the guilty one.

I loved this book, just like I loved Andersen's previous series!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Bruja by Aileen Erin

Title: Bruja
Series: Alpha Girl (#4)
Author: Aileen Erin
From: Amazon
Genre: Paranormal, YA
Release Date: 12th May 2015
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Having left her Coven and the oppressive dark rule of Luciana, Claudia's problems are far from over. Still bonded to Luciana, her power is being drained and her future in jeopardy. Travelling to Peru she meets Lucas. The last thing that Claudia expected was to meet her soul mate while looking for the White Mages who could save her Coven and the Pack.

I love this series! Once again the latest installment had me completely enthralled in the lives of Tess and her Pack and her family. Unlike the other books, Bruja was narrated by Claudia rather than by Tess and I was a little worried that I wouldn't enjoy it as much, but I was wrong. I liked Claudia's perspective.

I half expected the story to jump right into Claudia's journey to Peru, even though she didn't seem too keen on the idea to begin with. Instead the book took time to explain more about magic (which Tessa has been slowly learning about) and how Bruja Covens work. It was interesting and added more depth to the story, as well as justifying Claudia's trip.

I liked that Lucas was patient with Claudia, and that something grew between them slowly. Claudia wasn't really denying that there was anything between them, but she doesn't jump into anything, it worked really well, particularly because the past books had already explained the mate bond it added something else.

I liked learning more about Claudia as well, she has been a fairly minor character in the previous books as Tess' cousin, so in this one when she took more of a centre stage it was like she was being properly introduced. Despite their differences she clearly cared deeply about Tess, and about her brother and her coven.

I love this series, I can't wait for more from Alpha Girl, this has been a great series!

Friday, 17 July 2015

The Cannibals by Cynthia D Grant

Title: The Cannibals
Author: Cynthia D Grant
From: Netgalley
Genre: YA
Release Date: 4th August 2015 (Re-Release)
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt 
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 

Tiffany Spratt is head Yell Leader and Senior at her school, and even if her boyfriend has been sent off to a camp for criminal minded teens, her senior year is looking up; not only has the most handsome guy she's ever seen just started school, but there is going to be movie filmed at her school! Tiffany focuses her life on becoming famous, if she isn't then she doesn't think she'll make a difference in the world, and the rest of her life slips away...

The Cannibals is one of those books that I read the description and saw the cover and thought it was a book I read while in school still. It was one I remembered enjoying so figured I'd re-read now that my reading is more 'serious'. I must say I still enjoyed The Cannibals but it didn't blow me away. It was a quick read though, and as far as YA goes I do think that it had the right message.

Rather than going for the 'true love' angle at the end of the book, there is more of a focus on Tiffany's growth. Though I would say that the ending is a happy one, I wouldn't say that it fits the traditional view of happily ever after, and I liked that as a part of the book.

The relationship between Campbell (the new guy) and Tiffany took on a new meaning when you know the twist, but I really enjoyed the way that it progressed between the two of them. And knowing how that would end made Tiffany's revelation to herself even more poignant.

I also liked the fact that Tiffany was a combination of smart and an idiot, she made some bad choices and focused on completely the wrong thing but she made the most of what she landed with. It was her growth through those choices that made her likeable as a character even if she was annoyingly shallow at times.

This was a quick read, and it was fun the second time around as well as the first, but don't expect too much depth!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Commanding the Tides by Michelle M Pillow

Title: Commanding the Tides
Series: Lords of the Abyss (#2)
Author: Michelle M Pillow
From: Review Copy
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: 18th December 2013
Challenges: COYER Scavenger Hunt, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

The one thing that Cassandra wasn't expecting when she found out she was dying was that it would be by drowning. As soon as Iason sees Cassandra he feels an attraction, following his people's rules he saves her, taking her to his home. Once there he discovers her illness and sets about healing her, knowing full well what the consequences could be...

Commanding the Tides happened concurrently to the previous book in the series, The Mighty Hunter, which means that they could be read as stand alones. However I do think that the full effect of the story is better seen when the books are read in order. Especially slightly later on in the book where the events do over take those slightly (though not so much so that it means anything is majorly spoilt).

I liked having a character that didn't freak out much about the supernatural but that itself actually felt natural. I know that sounds strange, but sometimes I can't help but think that characters' reactions are unrealistic, but with Cassandra her not being so freaked out (and her explanation) seemed to work for me.

I also hadn't quite realised how manly it was possible to make mermen (Merr), but somehow Pillow manages to make her characters alpha and powerful while retaining the grace and beauty of the Merr race. The descriptions of the deep sea to go along with this makes for captivating and detailed reading.

I'm looking forward to reading more in the series and finding out some answers to some of the minor questions currently unanswered!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Princess by Jean Sasson

Title: Princess
Series: Princess (#1)
Author: Jean Sasson
From: Amazon
Genre: Non-fiction, Biography
Release Date: 1st September 1992
Challenges: COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Sultana is a member of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family, a group of people thought of as privileged and pampered. Yet there is a darker side to Sultana's life, and the lives of many women in Saudi Arabia. Sultana reveals her life as told to her friend Jean Sasson.

I don't normally read non-fiction, it doesn't tend to hold my attention quite so much as fiction does. But I have to say Princess gained and kept my attention. I was partly fascinated and partly horrified by the things that women in this world have gone through as close to my birth. It is scary.

The tone at times made me forget that what I was reading was none-fiction, but then something would enter into the narrative that would remind me of that fact. It worked well and didn't lose any of the impact that the book had.

The appendices were interesting and relevant which helped with understanding the book, though I found that explanations were almost always given while actually reading so there was very little confusion about words or customs.

Not only did Princess reveal the issues facing women in Saudi Arabia but it also described the small ways in which women fight back.

This was a fascinating read, if slightly scary in nature!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Espionage Effect by Kat Bastion & Stone Bastion

Title: The Espionage Effect
Authors: Kat Bastion & Stone Bastion
From: Review Copy
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: 14th July 2015
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge, 2015 Summer COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Since her sister's abduction when they were small, Devin has felt that her parents retracted the love and she was forced to compartmentalize her life. Convinced to go on holiday with her best friend Anna, one too many coincidences lead her to Alec, a spy looking into the plots of a local mastermind. Devin is determined to prove her worth, to herself and to Alec. Putting her analytical mind to work, Devin helps Alec to investigate...

I was really excited about another Kat & Stone Bastion book, even if it was one from a genre that I barely ever read. I do think that not being a massive reader of genre impacted my enjoyment of the book a little bit, because though I did enjoy reading I didn't feel that I connected as much with Devin and Alec as I did with Cade and Hannah from No Weddings.

The chemistry sizzled between Devin and Alec, the Bastions certainly know how to write great chemistry, but what I really liked was the fact that the characters were able to focus on other things. It moved the story along faster than if they'd just concentrated on the sex.

The mystery unraveled slowly, with it never being truly clear who was behind what, or who was guilty, until it was actually revealed. Even when the main mystery was revealed, there was another one that I hadn't even realised was about.

The cast of the book was small, which allowed the focus to rest on Alec and Devin's relationship and their investigation. I liked that the book wasn't overwhelmed with characters, it kept the focus and the suspense going. This was also helped by the first person POV, which kept the reader in the dark about some things!

I enjoyed The Espionage Effect, even if I didn't enjoy it quite so much as I enjoyed No Weddings! But it is a completely different genre (thought there were several humerus moments still!)

Monday, 13 July 2015

Act of Submission by Mandy M Roth

Title: Act of Submission
Series: PSI Ops (#3)
Author: Mandy M Roth
From: Review Copy
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: 7th July 2015
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 

Haven is determined to avenge her brother, Harper, who was brutely murdered by a man called Boomer...or at least that's what she's been told. Miles, otherwise known as Boomer, never thought that love and a mate could come his way particularly after his upbringing. But when Haven steps through his door with every intention to kill him, something changes in them both.

I love this series! The male shifter characters (and in this book the introduced members of the Fang Gang) have a good amount of banter and camaraderie between them and it makes returning to one of their stories like returning to old friends.

Haven was a good female lead. She was inexperienced but she wasn't completely naive nor did she make a big deal out of it. Rather she was determined and confident in what she could achieve. She was also a moral person. Even though she set out to get revenge, when it came to it it was much less black and white than she expected and she acted accordingly.

There had previously been a fair bit of mystery surrounding Boomer's past. And actually the true reveal of what happened actually had me welling up a bit. Even for it to happen to a fictional character had me at the point of horror. Unfortunately I can see how that could be how human kind could react to shifters.

The chemistry between Miles and Haven was there, but there was also a softer side of their relationship, particularly when it came to things like talking Miles out of a major shift changes and other such situations. It worked well for them and made their relationship feel more real.

Act of Submission added more to the PSI Ops series as well as providing a great stand alone story!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Dancer of the Nile by Veronica Scott

Title: Dancer of the Nile
Series: The Gods of Egypt (#3)
Author: Veronica Scott
From: Netgalley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Release Date: 5th October 2013
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

When dancer, Nima, is captured by Egypt's enemies she puts all the skills she's ever amassed to use to save herself and her fellow prisoner Kamin from their captors. Trekking across the dessert, obstacles are continually thrown in the pairs path, but perseverance and purpose can be strong motivators. As can the love and admiration quickly brewing between the two of them...

I've always had a fascination with Ancient Egypt, which does sometimes make me wonder why I haven't read more books set there. But reading Dancer of the Nile just brought that all back to me. With the culture and the actually quite advanced society, it amazes me, and I think that Scott managed to capture that.

Dancer of the Nile not only involved mortal characters, but also included the Gods. Though I didn't actually feel that that necessarily made the book more about magic than about the characters. I thought it was very well done, and was also impressed with how simply the author managed to convey a complex religious system without losing any of the wonder.

The relationship between Nima and Kamin was believable and enjoyable. There was give and take, and the two of them worked well together to escape the dangerous situations that they ended up in at times. This also meant that there was building chemistry between them.

I really enjoyed Dancer of the Nile, I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for more!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Spellbound by Michelle M Pillow

Title: Spellbound
Series: Warlocks MacGregor (#2)
Author: Michelle M Pillow
From: Review Copy
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: 7th July 2015
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Jane knows that her days are numbered, though no one can tell her why she's dying. Moving away from her old life, she focuses on her one goal; paying off her medical bills and living out the rest of her life in peace. But there's bagpipes playing in the back of her mind drawing her towards something new. And when that something new turns out to be Iain MacGregor, she is thrown into a world that she didn't fully believe existed...

Michelle M Pillow does it again! I'm never disappointed when I read one of her books, and Spellbound was no exception. Even though this is book 2, it is the first one I've read in this series, and that is something that I love about it. You can pick up any book from any of her series and be transported to another world easily, and without feeling like you're missing out. But at the same time each book in a series adds something to the whole.

I liked Jane a lot. She was a character who seemed strong and knew that she was dying, but didn't let that stop her from doing things too much. She couldn't be guilted into things and knew her own mind. Even when it came to Iain she was able to hold her own, even if she was majorly attracted to him!

Iain and the other MacGregor's were highly amusing to read! They had brilliant banter between them and you could really feel the family ties between them. At the same time there was a great sense of protectiveness there. I thought it really added to the characters.

The plot twist in the book worked really well, I liked the fact that the 'enemy' and conflict in the book weren't quite what would be normal or traditional way. It made the book refreshing and enjoyable!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Bitter Fruits by Sarah Daltry

Title: Bitter Fruits
Series: Eden's Fall (#1)
Author: Sarah Daltry
From: Netgalley
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Erotica
Release Date: 1st December 2013
Challenges: 2015 Reading Assignment, COYER Summer Scavenger Hunt, 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge 
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

When Nora goes to a Vampire Masquerade as something different to do, the last thing that she expects is to meet the mysterious Alec, or his brother, Caleb. Soon embroiled in their cursed cycle, she has to help them find a way to free them of the roles they've had since the very start of time...

I really struggled with what to say in this review. If there's one thing I hate it's writing reviews that could be seen as negative. But then I considered, Sarah Daltry is an author I've read several books from and loved the vast majority, but Bitter Fruits wasn't one of them. Maybe it is because I've read such fantastic books from Daltry that this one didn't quite measure up.

*spoiler in the next paragraph - minor one*

The concept actually had potential, the whole cursed brothers *spoiler* who are basically Cain and Abel from the Bible, it's obvious from the beginning *end spoiler* and Lilith. I thought it could work well except that it was kind of turned into a love triangle. One where the central female seemed to have absolutely no morals about sleeping with both of them.

Nora also seemed to have a really easy time accepting that Caleb and Alec weren't normal. They were kind of like vampires but not and they just accepted that. I wasn't a big fan, I would have thought that she'd have at least freaked out a little bit.

I felt that Bitter Fruits had real potential, but then found myself struggling through it because it was for a challenge. Not that it's put me off the author, I've had far more good experiences than bad with Sarah Daltry books!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Heart of Vengeance by Tracy Cooper-Posey

Title: Heart of Vengeance
Series: Jewels of Tomorrow (#2)
Author: Tracy Cooper-Posey
From: Netgalley
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: 15th July 2010
Challenges: 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge, 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Helena of York has one goal in mind; to find her father's murderer and clear the family name. When Stephen, Count of Dinan, is introduced to Isobel of Britany (Helena in disguise), he knows that isn't truely who she is but there is something about her that makes him trust her. Thrown together over the course of events, the feelings between them continue to grow, until they take them places where Stephen had never imagined.

Heart of Vengeance was a strange read for me. It took me a while to get into it (as in 40% or so) but I mostly put that down to my mood because after that I just didn't want to stop reading. I would prefer it like that than the other way though!

I really liked the way that Prince John, King Richard and Robin Hood/Robert of Loxely were brought into the story, I do feel that Robin Hood is one of the legends that isn't given enough cover. But at the same time those characters were very much a back plot, and the plight of Helena and Stephen was definitely the main plot.

I liked the romance between the two characters. They admitted their attraction to each other but at the same time they didn't just jump on each other. More there was a slow assessment of whether or not it was a good idea, and whether or not society would permit it. I liked that they were progressive but still managed to stick with the times.

Helena was a ridicolously strong female character. She had her moments when her emotions got the better of her, but for the most part she knew what she wanted and did what she had to to get it. I truely felt that she was a well rounded and believable character.

I really enjoyed Heart of Vengeance!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Master of the Hunt by Mandy M Roth

Title: Master of the Hunt
Series: King of Prey (#3)
Author: Mandy M Roth
From: Review Copy
Genre: Romance, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 16th October 2011
Challenges: 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point), Summer COYER Scavenger Hunt 
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Aeson has often found himself drawn to the human world, and even to the BDSM clubs that are there. The oracles predict that Aeson's mate will be a human, and that she will be in danger if he doesn't get to her soon then she would die, the only clue he is given is the word 'Sparrow'. For her whole life Shelby has been a little bit different, seeing visions of things to come. Now, with a bird shifter around, things are about to step up a notch...

The world of the bird shifters deepens! I feel like each installment in King of Prey adds more to that universe and more to the culture that is created. I liked the way that Master of the Hunt brought the future of the 'half breed' shifters into clearer focus through Shelby and her brother. It also illustrated how the prejudices of  the times have changed.

The chemistry between Shelby and Aeson was definitely there, and despite the fact that Shelby was actually a virgin I didn't actually find it annoying in the slightest. I'm not really sure why, probably because she wasn't the kind of woman to make a massive deal about it. The first time also seemed more real than other books make it.

I also loved the fact that there was a catch up on some of the other characters, including three very adorable four year old triplets. They made me go 'awww' just reading about them! The stories in this series are clearly tied together but each have their own story.

I enjoyed the romance, and the suspense elements in Master of the Hunt, I look forward to more in the series.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Cherry Stem by Sotia Lazu

Title: Cherry Stem
Series: Vampire Cherry (#1)
Author: Sotia Lazu
Narrator: Wendy Tremont King
From: Audible Review Copy
Genre: Paranormal, Crime/Mystery, Romance
Release Date: 13th January 2011
Challenges: COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon - Audible

Cherry was at the beginning of a promising career in the adult video industry when she was turned into a vampire. Having learnt to cope on her own, she meets Alex, a police officer in charge of finding missing girls in her city. Instantly drawn to him, the more she talks to him the more she likes him, but when the mystery involves him she steps it up.

Cherry Stem was one of those books that I really wanted to read, then started to read, wasn't too sure about, then ended up really enjoying. It was a complex relationship, and I'm not all that too sure how much of that was to do with the fact that it was an audiobook or not.

Wendy Tremont King was brilliant as a narrator. Not only did she have a wide variety of voices that suited each individual character and helped to round them out both personality and physically, but she also added emotion behind Cherry's thoughts that not all narrators would have done. Saying that this is the first person narrative book that I've listened to as opposed to read, so it could be that.

There were some particularly hot scenes between Alex and Cherry, and the chemistry between them was well played out by both the author and the narrator. It was easy to see that they worked well together both intellectually and physically.

Vampires were approaching the traditional in Cherry Stem, they couldn't go out in the sunlight and were quite difficult (but not impossible to kill). I did like the way that vampire politics came into it, and the way that the author introduced the idea of having a 'well known' or recognisable person turned.

The mystery became clearer and clearer as the book went on , and I liked how it unravelled in front of me (or into my ears). Because Alex was a detective it worked well as he was able to put pieces together, even more so when Cherry added vampire knowledge!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

End of the Month Round Up (June)

I'm so sorry, I've been completely out of it this month with keeping up to date with pretty much everything. It's been a hectic month, with things kicking off left right and centre! Though some of my Uni  friends visited for my Birthday and I went to see my best friend in Hull, so there was defintiely some fun times!

Costs of the Month

This year I've been keeping a bigger track of what I am spending, and what I should have been spending, on books. It's mostly for curiosity but I have been quite shocked so far by what I've actually managed to save!

The Total Cost of Books I've Read in June: £62.11
The Total Spent on Books I've Read in June: £3.59

The Total Cost of Books I've Read This Year: £504.16
The Total Spent on Books I've Read This Year: £65.52

Challenge Updates: 
Because reading is better than real life

Resolution #1 Listen to 4 Audiobooks This Year
January: 0
February: 0
March: 1
April: 1
May: 3
June: 1
Resolution #2 Read 1 'Classic' This Month
Resolution Failed
Resolution #3 Read 6 Netgalley Books This Month
January: 14
February: 7
March: 6
April: 10
May: 10
June: 8
Resolution #4 Read 2 Bought Books This Month
January: 5
February: 6
March: 6
April: 9
May: 11
June: 3
Resolution #5 Finish One of My Writing Projects
In progress...

Add your own progress!



2015HWLogo

I actually managed to finish my four reads before the last day of the month...definitely feeling proud of myself for that one!
Alpha Divided by Aileen Erin
Her Winning Formula by Shannyn Schroeder
Heart of Vengeance by Tracy Cooper-Posey
Bitter Fruits by Sarah Daltry
Goal: 48 Books (4 Books a Month) 
Read: 24 Books

Falling For YA

Added this month: 
Avoiding Alpha by Aileen Erin 
The Winner's Curse by Maria Rutkoski
Dangerous Reflections by Shay West
Twisted Reflections by Shay West
Alpha Divided by Aileen Erin
Confessions of a Virgin Sex Columnist by Kay Marie
Her Winning Formula by Shannyn Schroeder
Protector for Hire by Tawna Fenske
Heart of Vengence by Tracy Cooper-Posey
Bitter Fruits by Sarah Daltry
Goal: 75 Books
Read: 56 Books



I have completed this challenge, but will be carrying on!
The Billionaire's Forgotten Fiancée by Nadia Lee (#4 The Pryce Family) = 2 points
Healed by Love by Melissa Foster (#13 Love in Bloom; The Bradens) = 2 points
Princesses Don't Fight in Skirts by Aya Ling (#2 The Princess Series) = 2 points
Twisted Reflections by Shay West (#2 The Adventures of Alexis Davenport) = 2 points
Alpha Divided by Aileen Erin (#3 Alpha Girls) = 2 points 
Point of No Return by Mandy M Roth (#3 Project Exorcism) = 1 point
Her Winning Formula by Shannyn Schroeder (#3 Hot & Nerdy) = 2 points
Protector for Hire by Tawna Fenske (#4 Front and Center) = 2 points
Heart of Vengence by Tracy Cooper-Posey (#2 Jewels of Tomorrow) = 2 points
Goal: 101+ Points
Read: 161 Points


Added this month: 
The Billionaire's Forgotten Fiancée by Nadia Lee (16/05/2015)
Remember Me by Nina Croft (08/06/2015) 
Healed by Love by Melissa Foster (11/06/2015)
Confessions of a Virgin Sex Columnist by Kay Marie (18/05/2015)
Protector for Hire by Tawna Fenske (30/06/2015)
Goal: 31-45 Books 
Read: 36 Books




    Her Winning Formula by Shannyn Schroeder


    A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter


    Cherry Stem by Sotia Lazu 


    Protector for Hire by Tawna Fenske


    Bitter Fruits by Sarah Daltry 


    Heart of Vengence by Tracy Cooper-Posey
    Goal: 90 Books
    Read: 7 Books

    This Month's Reads (by Author) 

    Cooper-Posey, Tracy 

    • Heart of Vengeance (Jewels of Tomorrow #2)

    Croft, Nina
    Daltry, Sarah 
    • Bitter Fruits (Eden's Fall #1)
    Erin, Aileen
    Fenske, Tawna
    Foster, Melissa
    Hawk, Reagan 
    Hunter, Elizabeth
    Lazu, Sotia 
    • Cherry Stem (Vampire Cherry #1)
    Lee, Nadia
    Ling, Aya 
    Marie, Kay 
    Pillow, Michelle M 
    Roth, Mandy M 
    Schroeder, Shannyn
    West, Shay