You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison

YouMeHim“Do not ignore a call from me when you know I am feeling neurotic about a boy. That is Best Friend 101.” —Nash
Maggie and Nash are outsiders. She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. The best of friends, they have seen each other through thick and thin, but when Tom moves to town at the start of the school year, they have something unexpected in common: feelings for the same guy. This warm, witty novel—with a clear, true voice and a clever soundtrack of musical references—sings a song of love and forgiveness.

I admit, most of the time I avoid contemporary young adult books. Honestly, it’s not them, it’s me. Cliche, I know, but I raised 3 daughters through their teenage years into adulthood and I’m so over the drama that those years entailed that I can’t even explain it. Every once in a while though, I make an exception. Like when another blogger takes the time to throw a recommendation my way. That’s why I picked up You and Me and Him and I’m not sorry that I did.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1So, if me making that statement makes you think that this book didn’t contain teenage drama, you would be wrong. Wrong on so many levels. Just the drama that’s caused by Nash alone would debunk that theory. You and Me and Him is full of drama, but even so, it’s different. Vague I know, but trust me.

When I first started reading this book I thought I had all the characters figured out. I was wrong on that count too. There were a lot of layers that were begging to be revealed… and not just with the teens in the story. Speaking of which, my favorite character (aside from Maggie) wasn’t a teen at all. I’m not going to tell who, because his wisdom kind of sneaked up on me, but I’d bet I’m not the only one who fell in love with him 😉

Maggie had a lot to come to terms with in You and Me and Him, but she did it with a wisdom and grace that few teens find while they’re still ‘teens.’ Not that she didn’t have a couple of teenage angst moments herself. That would have been totally unrealistic.

I have no regrets with my first dip into the Contemporary YA pool in ages, thanks to this story woven by Kris Dinnison. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to pick up all of this genre that cross my path, but it does mean that I’m willing to give a select few a second glance. 😉


Kneel, Mr. President by Lauren Gallagher

KneelMrPresidentSworn to have their lover’s back, front, or any other side that needs covering. Secret Service agent Kent Sinclair, head of POTUS security, thought himself prepared for every contingency. Until the First Lady—a woman who barely tolerates his presence—approaches him with a request that startles the hell out of him. Carlene Broderick is frightened. With the weight of the country and impending war on his shoulders, her husband, James, is buckling under the strain. The key to helping him cope is the name he calls out in his sleep—and it’s not hers. It belongs to his fellow ex-SEAL team buddy. His ex-lover. Kent. Without hesitation, Kent plunges into treacherous emotional territory, only to realize it’s not really him that James needs. The Commander in Chief needs to give up complete control in the bedroom. To relieve that much pressure, Kent and Carlene must work together and declare a truce that rapidly heats up into something more. Something that leaves James caught deep in forbidden territory—torn between his beloved wife and the man he’s never stopped loving. CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1

I get book recommendations all the time. Some I take and some I ignore, but there are a few reader’s recommendations that I always pay attention to. Author Christi Snow is at the top of that list of people. I follow what she reads most of the time anyway, but when she makes a point of bringing a book to my attention I ask no questions and search out the book. I have to admit though, this is the first time I came close to hesitating. Part of it was the menage and part of it was the title. I mean really, how can a book titled Kneel, Mr. President have a story line that wasn’t totally centered around sex? It didn’t take long for Lauren Gallagher and these 3 characters to win me over.

I’m really not sure which of these characters I loved more. James was a devoted husband, loyal friend, responsible and caring leader and almost literally had the weight of the world on his shoulders with people standing in line waiting for him to fail. Carlene loved her husband enough to put his needs ahead of hers. She would rather lose him to someone else if that meant saving his life. Then there was Kent. I think out of all of them, he tore at my heart the most. He knew that he had the most to lose. Whatever happened between them, regardless of the attraction, there was no way that James would give up his family. He knew it, he accepted it, but he put his feelings aside to help his best friend.

So yes, there was a lot more than I expected to Kneel, Mr. President. Oh, there was plenty of smexiness to go around, but the story was so much more than that. I loved getting to know and respect these characters and watch the relationships shift as the story progressed. Their relationship was definitely not conventional and it put them all in a extremely precarious situation, but their love for each other and their family was what mattered most.

On a side note, I have to admit that it would be a great thing if there really was a James Broderick out there. He would definitely get my vote. 😉 DragonFlyRating4

The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire #1) by Craig Johnson

ColdDishWalt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County, knows he’s got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl. Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces one of the more volatile and challenging cases in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all.

I admit that this series probably never would have made it on my reading radar if I hadn’t first watched the series on TV. I also have to admit that I never would have considered watching the series if a group of people I follow on line hadn’t talked about NF picking up the series after A&E network dropped it. The fact that I immediately searched out the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson after I ran out of episodes to watch should tell you something. 😉 I’m going to mention the similarities and differences between the two later in the review, don’t worry.

Walt Longmire is not your average literary hero… well, actually, he is average. He’s handsome in a rugged way. He’s over 50 and he’s described more than once as being out of shape. He’s been mourning the loss of his wife long enough in his friends’ opinion, which reinforces the fact that he’s surrounded by people who care about him as much as he cares about them. He’s honest, loyal, well educated, has a strong sense of honor… basically he’s one of the most ‘real’ characters I’ve read in a long time. One of my favorite parts of reading this book was his inner dialogue. I loved it. His thoughts are easy and honest and yes, he tends to ramble, but that keeps it entertaining.

The Cold Dish takes Walt back to a case that has haunted him for a couple of years. Sometimes justice isn’t exactly fair and the punishment comes no where near fitting the crime. That was how most people felt about the boys involved in the rape case. That fact made finding a likely suspect in the death of one of the defendants almost impossible to narrow down. There were a lot of people who could have decided to become a vigilante and not blink an eye. That also meant that Walt probably knew the killer, which made his job even harder.

With the help of his best friend Henry and his staff he goes about the task of finding the killer before the next boy is killed. The story has lots of twists and turns and seems to take them a couple of steps back with every new clue they find. I can honestly say that I had no clue who the killer was until it was revealed. It might have been because I was so caught up in the story, but I think it had more to do with the writing being so good.

Beyond the good story there was a lot of witty dialogue. There are a lot of conversations between Henry and Walt. Some serious, some comical. This one was one of my favorites…

I looked past Henry in disbelief as he turned to hand me the rifle. “If you do not shoot him, I will.”
“We don’t have any bullets, or I would seriously consider it.” He laughed and pulled a gleaming .45-70 from his shirt pocket and held it up. “Where did you get that?”
“Off your desk, where do you think?”
I pulled the handle and opened my door. “We’re trying to keep somebody from shooting him.”
He stated out the other side. “I am beginning to question the logic in that.”

Which brings me to my comparison between the books and the TV series. Honestly, I love them both. There are characters that are in both. Some are similar and some have been changed slightly to fit the TV series. The descriptions of the characters aren’t quite the same in some instances, but that didn’t bother me at all. I will admit that even though I liked Craig Johnson’s descriptions, I found myself picturing the TV characters in my head as I read the book. What can I say, I was introduced to them first. 🙂 One thing that bothers me in reading written dialogue on a regular basis is the lack of contractions. It just seems so formal in normal conversation to not use them. In a strange way Henry’s lack of contraction use made me smile. Not only did Walt mention the fact but that’s exactly how the character on the TV series talks as well. There’s also a strong spiritual aspect that I enjoy in both the book and the TV series. Sometimes familiarity is a good thing. As far as the story line goes, at least for the first book, you may think you know how the story’s going to pan out if you’ve watched the series, but the book takes a totally different slant, which I enjoyed. It kept me on my toes and it allows me to watch and read and not have either outcome spoiled. It’s the little things really. 😉

So, my obvious advice to those of you who have either watched or read about Walt Longmire, treat yourself to both. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I find a show I like, I have no problem telling people about it. Reading the book is a no brainer. I can’t wait to pick up the rest of the series.


After the War (Homefront #2) by Jessica Scott – Bout of Books 13 Review

AfterTheWarA terrible loss…
Captain Sarah Anders lost her husband to the Iraq war and has nearly lost the career she loves. Sent to Fort Hood, she only wants to do her job and take care of the daughter she’s raising on her own. She never counted on running straight into a memory she’d tried to forget.
A love he never forgot…
Captain Sean Nichols never got over Sarah. He simply tried to forget her amidst the war and the chaos of combat. But when she’s assigned to investigate his unit, he comes face to face with the woman no war or any amount of time could make him forget.
A dark secret…
As Sarah gets closer to the truth, Sean must accept that actions he took during the war may end the tentative love building between them. And even if Sarah can forgive him, Sean may never be able to forgive himself.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I have a short list of authors who are a must read when it comes to contemporary romance. As far as military romance, Jessica Scott is at the top of that list. I’ve read all but a couple of books in her Coming Home series and I’m looking forward to continuing that along with her new Young Adult Fallen series. Homefront is also turning into one of my favorites.

She pulls no punches when it comes to what affect war has on soldiers and their families. Homefront puts the fear, pain, heartbreak, loss and all the other after affects front and center. The situations are real and the feelings are raw. The author’s first hand knowledge and experience is evident in what her characters feel and go through. Coming home is almost as hard as being deployed. There are feelings that can’t be turned off, nightmares that continue to haunt and memories that can’t be buried.

Sarah and Sean’s story is no different. They both lost people that they cared about. Sarah lost her husband and was still dealing with grief. Sean lost friends and fellow soldiers and was dealing with guilt. In a way, they had also both lost each other years before. After the War was a story of love, loss, tragedy and hope. I think that’s why I love Jessica Scott’s stories so much. Her characters are broken, but they pull themselves together and become even stronger in the process. Along the way they learn to deserve the love and support that they didn’t even realize they were searching for.


The Burnt Toast B&B (Bluewater Bay #5) by Heidi Belleau & Rachel Haimowitz – Bout-of-Books 12.0 Review

BurntToastBBAfter breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.

Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.

Not outright, at least.

The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city-boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busy-body Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than just how to put out kitchen fires.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I honestly don’t know where to start. Just when I think that this series has pushed all my buttons (in a good way) Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz find a way to take it one step further. Burnt Toast B&B was a great addition to the Bluewater Bay series. 😉

First, I loved Ginsberg. He’s the kind of character that once you meet him in the story, you’d love to meet him in person. He’s just that kind of guy. His attitude is infectious and genuine. He refuses to let anyone else’s opinion or moodiness drag him down. He’s been there and done that and he’s finally happy with who he is and where he’s at in life, for the most part. The only thing lacking is a place to call home. Both physically and mentally.

Then there’s Derrick. The polar opposite of Ginsberg. He has zero optimism and pretty low self esteem. He also has a definite black and white opinion of male and female roles. Bringing these two characters together was brilliant… or crazy. Granted, Derrick had every reason to feel the way he did, he just needed to look beyond the past and learn to live outside of the box he had put himself in. To be honest, I spent a fair amount of time wondering if he was worth the effort that Ginsberg thought he was. Actually, there were times that Ginsberg felt the same way…

Bluewater Bay is a series that you can read in pretty much any order that you want, but I’ve had fun reading the books in order. There are cameos from previous books and new characters introduced along the way. Some I hope we meet again and some I really hope earn their own story. The next book scheduled in the series is an anthology, Lights, Camera, Cupid. I honestly can’t wait for this Valentine’s treat. ❤


Naughty Girls Do: A Red, Hot and BOOM! Story by Jodi Redford

LNaughtyGirlsDoexie Winters is on a mission—to lose her good girl image and tempt resident bad boy, Ash Bodry, into her bed. Tired of being treated like his kid sister, it’s past time for her to play dirty. She has her work cut out for her though when it comes to the sinfully sexy yet incredibly frustrating man.
As far as Ash is concerned, Lexie is strictly off limits. Not only are they friends, her dad just happens to be the sheriff, and years ago the man steered Ash away from a life of crime. No way is he repaying that favor by giving into his wicked fantasies of Lexie. But when the little vixen strolls into his tattoo parlor and requests a very naughty piercing, Ash’s honorable intentions are tested to their limits.

Now that Lexie’s hammered the first chink in Ash’s defenses, and he’s sweating bullets, there’s no chance in hell she’s settling for his hands off policy. Even if it means some flirty strip tease action and late night skinny dipping to convince him that this newfound naughty girl will do whatever it takes to get her man.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Only one of Jodi Redford’s characters would use asking her long-time crush for a naughty piercing as an excuse to get the guy’s attention. That’s what I love about this author’s characters. You never know what to expect… except for the unexpected. 😉

Naughty Girls Do was fun. From Lexie’s approach, to Ash’s reluctance, to the inevitable cave in. There was plenty of heat and tension between these two. This one was short and sweet – only 75 pages – but the story wasn’t lacking. Not that I wouldn’t have wanted to spend more time getting to know Lexie and Ash. Sometimes a quick late night read is all you’re looking for. If so, Naughty Girls Do is perfect.

RedHotBoomIt’s also part of the Red, Hot & BOOM! series, which contains 15 stories by 15 authors for 99¢ each. Perfect way to celebrate the summer don’t you think? 🙂


The Professional: Part 3 (The Game Maker #1.3) by Kresley Cole

TheProfessional3Are you ready to play?
Yet all is not as it seems. To remove Natalie from an enemy’s reach, Sevastyan spirits her into hiding. From an opulent palace in Russia to the decadent playgrounds of the mega-wealthy in Paris, the two lovers will discover that even their darkest – and most forbidden – fantasies can come true…

I’m jealous… What of, you may ask? I’m jealous of all the readers that are going to be able to read The Professional as one continuous novel in May. *Glares at all those readers patient enough to wait.*

Okay, so not really. As painful as the stops and starts were in this format, I’m glad that I read it this way. As frustrating as the open ended format was, it honestly added to the suspense and left me wanting more… but gave me a nice break from the intensity.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1The Professional Part 3 made all of that worth it. Totally. Things were brought together and actions and reactions that I didn’t understand were brought to light. I liked the mysterious Sevastyan, but once his secrets were revealed he broke my heart just a little. *sigh*

Like I said, for me it was worth it. For those of you who don’t want to be left hanging between installments, you have a couple of options. You can pick up all three parts of The Professional: The Game Maker right now or you can wait till May 2014 and pick them up in one neat little package. 😉



Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths #1) by K.A. Tucker

TenTinyBreathsFour years after losing her parents, best friend, and boyfriend in a drunk driving accident, twenty-year-old Kacey Cleary runs away to begin a new life in Miami. Hardened by the tragedy, she’s determined to keep everyone at a distance—until she meets an irresistible and mysterious neighbor who is determined to melt the ice over her heart.

I don’t read a lot of Contemporary YA or New Adult fiction. When I do, it’s because I am either familiar with the author or the synopsis grabs me. To be clear, teen angst, high school melodrama and sappy love aren’t what grabs me. To grab me a book in these genres has to promise to make me feel – in a very big way. Among some of my favorites – books that I am so glad that I took a chance on in this genre – are Graffiti Moon by Cathy Crowley, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, In Leah’s Wake by Terri Giuliano Long & Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. There are probably a few more, but for me, these are the stand-outs. I knew halfway through this book that Ten Tiny Breaths would be among them.

“Just breathe,” my mom would say. “Ten tiny breaths…Seize them. Feel them. Love them.”

This is the opening sentence to the Prologue of Ten Tiny Breaths. It’s also the mantra that Kacey lives by, only she has no idea what it means. It’s the most memorable thing that her mother ever told her, and she repeated it to her often. It also sets the tone for an incredible, heartbreakingly beautiful story. I know I can’t come close to making this review worthy of the depth of feeling this book evoked, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Kacey was broken. More broken than any character I’ve read in a long time. She suffered more than anyone her age should but she survived. Kind of. The only thing keeping her semi-together was the fact that she still had her little sister, Livie. She was the reason she even tried… or pretended to.

Trent was the bright spot in Kacey’s ‘new’ life but she kept her distance… or tried. He was kind, patient and full of contradictions and seemed to be just as attracted to Kacey as she was to him. He was the first person that even came close to breaking through the wall she built around herself, but he was also mysterious. I loved Trent from the beginning and I never stopped – regardless.

There’s so much that I loved about this book, but a lot of what I loved I can’t talk about here. You have to read it to understand.

The supporting characters were an important part of Ten Tiny Breaths. Storm and Mia were the family that both Livie and Kacey needed. They not only gave Livie a much needed sense of normalcy, the also helped break through a few more bits of Kacey’s wall. Their love for both girls was easy and genuine. It helped balance out all the bad stuff, even though their lives weren’t exactly perfect. The second ‘family’ that Kacey acquired was the staff of Penny’s. They were full of surprises, trust me. Nothing is exactly as it seems, ever. At least one of the characters that impressed me the most (besides Kacey and Trent) wasn’t introduced until late in the story. You’ll know exactly who I’m talking about as soon as you meet him. *wink* Then there was Livie. She was more than just Kacey’s little sister, she was her rock. I loved Livie. As meek as she seemed, she was stronger than anyone really knew and she proved it more than once.

This book was so full of… everything. The emotions it evoked ran the gamut – joy, pain, heartbreak – you name it. What made it so amazing was the story was told in a way that not just described it, but made you feel it…. almost tangibly. This was a story about Denial, Resistance, Acceptance, Dependence, Withdrawal, Breakdown, Recovery and Forgiveness, which is exactly what K.A. Tucker named each section of this book… beginning with being Comfortably Numb. Kacey was at the center of it all, but she wasn’t the only one experiencing these emotions.

“Just breathe,” my mom would say. “Ten tiny breaths…Seize them. Feel them. Love them.”

Beautiful words. Words that had a whole new meaning by the end of the story. Yes, there were tears. Yes, there was heartbreak and grief. Mostly it was a story about healing and hope. This is a story that I dare you to read and not feel something.


TenTinyBreaths2On a side note… When I first started seeing this book it was shown with a totally different cover. I loved it, it was very artistic and unique and I couldn’t understand why another cover was showing up. That was until I read the book. After that, the cover above now makes perfect sense. That doesn’t mean I still don’t like the other cover. It’s still gorgeous, the other one just fits so much better. Let me know what you think after you read it. 😉

The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Standing on the fringes of life… offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

I have no idea how long this book has been on my TBR list, but let’s just say it’s been there a very long time. My daughter is the first person to suggest it to me. She read it and loved it. I put it on my TBR Pile Challenge list hoping it would push me to pick it up and still it sat untouched. The final push was when Laura Ashlee had A Wallflower Event Read-A-Long. It was the perfect reason to pick it up. Now I could kick myself for taking so long to read it. *sigh*

I’ll admit, it took me a couple of chapters – or letters – to really get into this book. Once I got my mind wrapped around the fact that I was reading letters and not dialogue it got easier. It may sound strange, but once you start reading it, you’ll understand. The book is literally comprised of a teenage boy’s letters to someone he has never met. His thoughts spill out as he basically writes down everything he’s feeling. Reading the compilation was quite an experience. They cover a year of Charlie’s life and through them you get a true sense of his enlightenment and emotions – good and bad. And there was a lot of both.

There were times when I shook my head and wanted to ask him what he was thinking and there were other times that I just wanted to hug him. His friends may not have been the best roll models, but they did care about him and helped him come out of his shell a little. They understood him better than his own family at times. He also had a great teacher who took him under his wing. Every awkward teen should be blessed with someone like that in their lives. A person who is young enough to remember what it feels like to sympathize yet old enough to shed some wisdom.

This was a great read and I’m so glad that I finally caved and read it. I’m even happier that I read it before it hit the big screen. I’m sure that the movie will be great, especially since it’s directed by the author… yet, there’s just something about a book 😉 If you haven’t read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, treat yourself. It’s not always an easy read. Charlie deals with some really emotional issues, yet through it all he survives and learns to live a little in the process.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she’s going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He’s out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy’s stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she’s managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they’re suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Have you ever had a book take you totally by surprise? I don’t mean by just a little bit, I mean a ‘grab you from the beginning and never let you go’ kind of surprise. That is the only way I can describe the effect that this book had on me. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s beautiful!

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I requested the ARC for this book (which isn’t due for release until February 2012) after a couple of other book bloggers recommended it. I read the short synopsis and thought it sounded interesting. I received the ARC and let it sit on my computer for a while almost forgotten. I opened it up last night after remembering it was there, noticed it was a fairly short read for me (272 pages hardcover) and thought I’d start it just to see what it was like. That was all it took. A couple of hours later I was reading the final chapter and wishing there was more.

What made Graffiti Moon so hard to put down? Cath Crowley has an almost poetic style of writing. The whole time I was reading this book I found myself wishing I could come close to expressing myself in prose the way she did. Her characters had depth, fierce emotions and humor. The two main characters, Ed and Lucy, were extremely artistic and creative and Crowley’s descriptions of their art gave you vivid images of their creations. Add that to the passion they had for the art that they created and the imagery was amazing.

Another aspect that pulls the reader in is the way Crowley gives the characters their own voice by sharing points of view. The chapters are titled with the character’s name. Ed, Lucy and Leo are each given a voice and it works beautifully. The story wouldn’t have been the same if you hadn’t been given a glimpse into each of their thoughts. Leo’s chapters are all poetry which gives you a unique way to get inside his head. The breaks could have been awkward but they flowed perfectly between Ed and Lucy’s point of view.

Graffiti Moon is set in Australia, but it could have been in any city. The ‘where’ of the story wasn’t important to the plot.

This was the first time I had heard of Cath Crowley, but I’m sure it won’t be the last of her books that I read. You can check out or pre-order Graffiti Moon at Amazon.