Books 'n Bloggers: Swap Show-Off

Books 'n Bloggers Swap is hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps.

Let me start by saying that I am *so happy* I signed up for this swap! I've wanted to take part in one for quite a while and I'm thrilled that my first experience was such a positive one. So major props to Beth and Angie for hosting (these ladies are real pros!) and to Penni for being such a great swap partner.

This was a one-time swap where you sent the following to your partner:

1 book from their wish list
1 book you love and recommend they read
1 other book of your choice that you think they'll enjoy

And just look at all this loot!

The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery - This is a book that Penni loved. She's a big fan of Susan Mallery so now I'll be reading my first from her favorite author. :)

Cuff Me by Lauren Lane - A book that looked interesting that Penni thought I would enjoy. Now what Penni didn't know was that I've already read one book by LL (Crushed) and really enjoyed it and have been meaning to read more by her ever since. So she really could not have chosen better!

Did I Mention I Love You by Estelle Maskame - I've been hearing so much buzz about the DIMILY series and I'm excited to experience it for myself.

Also included: a fun coloring book, colored pencils, a gorgeous key chain with my initial, a super cute bag filled with nail polishes and manicure tools, and a wonderful handwritten card. 

This was such a great experience - and not just the swap, but also getting to know Penni. I wouldn't hesitate to take part in this one again. 

Have you participated in any swaps lately? Or just received some fun bookish mail?

April #ShelfLove Challenge: Library Love

April topic: The second week of April was Library Week. Tell us about your local library and what makes it special to you. 

I am so thankful to live in a city with a stellar library system. There are 20 branches throughout the city so I'm never far away from free books. :) The main library downtown is simply beautiful and it's always a treat to go there. Check out these stats: 300,000 sq. ft., 4 floors, 250 public computers and a parking garage. Just talking about it makes me want to go!
As gorgeous as the main branch is, my visits tend to be at my local branch which, conveniently, is right in between home and the office. So easy to stop by after work and pick up a book I reserved.
One of my favorite things about the library is the ability to request any book from any branch in the city and have it sent to my local branch. I go online, request my book, and get an email when it's at the branch I choose. Love it.

My other favorite aspect of the library is Overdrive. If your local library uses Overdrive and you're not taking advantage of it... you're missing out! It's a fantastic way to borrow digital materials in a snap. I can download books (Kindle version or pdf), audio books, music, video... it's all available with just a click.

I admit, most often I want to own the books I read, either physical copies or on my Kindle, but there are times when I'm mildly interested in something but don't necessarily want to buy it. Those are the times when the library really comes in handy.

#ShelfLove Progress:
The goal I set back in January was to read (at least) 31-40 books from my personal library this year (library books do not count). I've read 12 books so far that qualify so I'm right on track for the year.

 Do you use your local library?

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Fictional Moms

Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at GingerReadsLainey.
Click HERE for a complete list of participants and future topics.
With Mother's Day just around the corner (here in the U.S., anyway) this week's topic is pretty timely. It's all about our favorite fictional mothers/mother figures.

As I was going through my books here's what I kept thinking over and over: OMG, not her, she was horrible... nope, not that one... ugh, she was the worst. So is it just me or is fiction filled with really lousy moms? LOL But there are still some shining stars out there so let's talk about those.

Maggie Larken
For the Love of Ash - Taylor Lavati
Maggie was thrust into the position of being both big sister and mother to her much younger brother when their parents were killed in an accident. Her love for Ash was incredible and I loved how, even though she often struggled under the burden and the pressures of those roles, Ash was always her priority. 

Julia Cohen
Slammed - Colleen Hoover
If you've read Slammed then you just know. What Julia did for Lake and Kel and even Will was simply amazing. She was a completely selfless mom who loved her children so much and went above and beyond to be there for them and guide them, often in touching and unique ways.

Kat Hall
If I Stay - Gayle Forman
I adored Mia's parents in If I Stay. How could you not? Kat was an awesome mom of the laid-back variety. She was there for Mia but wasn't clingy. She was Mia's friend but still a great parent. She was the cool mom without even trying. I loved their easy relationship and the movie portrayal showcased it so well.

Molly Weasley
Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling
I imagine Mrs. Weasley is appearing on a lot of lists today, and for good reason. Is there anyone more maternal than Molly Weasley? She welcomed Harry into her fold with open arms and made sure he always had a home at The Burrow. She was also brave and fiercely protective.

Anna Madrigal
Tales of the City series - Armistead Maupin
I hardly ever talk about the Tales of the City series but it's one that is near and dear to my heart. Mrs. Madrigal was always a fascinating, colorful character. As the landlady at 28 Barbary Lane, she was certainly a mother figure to her residents, even if she was somewhat unconventional. The relationships she forged with her residents created a family and she was definitely the matriarch that presided over them all with humor and wisdom, but never judgment.

Who are your favorite fictional mothers?

Blog Tour: Welcome Home, Cowboy by Annie Rains

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Welcome Home, Cowboy by Annie Rains! I read the first book in this companion series, Welcome to Forever, last fall and fell in love with Kat and Micah. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review this second title. 

A Hero's Welcome Book Two
Annie Rains
Releasing April 26th, 2016

With its thriving military base, Seaside, North Carolina, is teeming with heroes of all stripes. But, as the Hero’s Welcome series from Annie Rains continues, it takes a cowboy to rescue the town’s newest resident from heartache.

After a bad breakup leaves Julie Chandler completely devastated, she comes to Seaside seeking a fresh start. A talented, compassionate yoga teacher, she has developed a program to help alleviate the effects of PTSD, but getting a bunch of bullheaded Marines into downward facing dog might be impossible. So Julie’s shocked when one of her first students dives in headfirst—and almost tempts her to take down her walls with his easy smile and electrifying touch.

Ever since Texas cowboy turned Marine pilot Lawson Phillips lost a crew member in a helicopter accident, he hasn’t been able to fly. When a psychologist orders him to attend, of all things, a yoga class, Lawson’s outraged—until he finds out Julie is the instructor. She’s beautiful, graceful, and completely guarded when it comes to his advances, but he’s determined to find out what makes her tick. Because underneath Julie’s hard shell is a woman Lawson knows he could fall for—and he’s not ready for the ride to end.

Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo

Julie has returned to Seaside, North Carolina after walking away from a destructive relationship with the hope of starting a yoga class at the local veteran's center. Growing up in a town with a military base has given Julie a healthy respect for the men and women who serve and she yearns to give back in the best way she knows how - by offering her yoga expertise as a way to help these heroes manage stress and PTSD. She knows she'll likely meet some resistance but she's determined to make it happen.

Lawson is struggling with the after-effects of losing a crew member when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. He's less than thrilled when he is ordered to attend a weekly yoga class to help alleviate his stress but he'll do what it takes do get back in the air and off desk duty. 

Julie and Lawson are not strangers and I liked that they already knew each other when the novel started. Lawson's best friend is married to Julie's sister (Micah and Kat from the first book in the series). They were more acquaintances than friends but their paths continued to cross and the chemistry continued to grow. Julie was gun-shy from her last relationship and this often led to her acting defensive and abrupt with Lawson. Sure, sometimes he was cocky but he was genuinely a good guy and his actions proved that again and again. 

I loved the evolution of Lawson and Julie's relationship. From friendship, to friends with benefits, to the real thing - watching them navigate their feelings for each other was equal parts swoon worthy and frustrating. I was anxious for Julie to share her feelings with Lawson, and for Lawson to open up to Julie about his struggles with PTSD. But their hesitancy and reluctance felt completely realistic and made for a richer story.

Being married to a veteran who served for 20 years, I found that it was Lawson's story that really touched my heart. I hurt for his loss and the guilt he struggled with. He was such a good man and felt such a sense of responsibility to those he loved. It was easy to want a happy ending for him.

Welcome Home, Cowboy is on the sweeter side of romance but does have a few nice and steamy scenes. It is the second in the Hero's Welcome series but can easily be read as a stand-alone. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am already looking forward to the next book in the series.

Note: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

“Come ride with me anytime,” he said, helping her dismount from the horse when they were back at the barn. He didn’t place his hands on her ass this time, which was both regrettable and a relief. Instead, he steadied her waist with his hands. She turned to face him after he helped her to the ground, and was surprised to find how close they were standing. Close enough that the brim of his hat on her head nearly touched his chin.

“This belongs to you.” She took off the hat and went up on her tiptoes to put it back where it belonged. Their eyes locked as the movement brought them even closer together. Her heart bucked again, like a wild horse ready to bolt.

Returning to flat feet, she started to step away. Needed to step away. Too bad Bon-Bon was still behind her, blocking her escape.

“Julie?” he said, making her feet pause and her heart stutter. She liked the sound of her name on his lips. Low, deep.

“Yes?” she asked breathlessly.

He reached out his hand to tame a strand of her hair brushing against her cheek. “You have what I call hat-hair.” He took his time smoothing the hair around her ear, awakening every nerve in her body. Then he slowly dipped, keeping his blue-as-the-ocean eyes on hers, and kissed her.

She melted into him instead of stepping away. The side of his cheek on hers was warm and inviting, intoxicating. His tongue tapped softly against hers, just once, as he swept his hand behind her neck, pulling her gently toward him.

A soft moan escaped her throat, betraying her. She parted her lips for him, inviting him in, begging him to stay, which he did for just a moment longer. Then he broke it off, keeping it sweet. The kiss had threatened to be more, though. It had threatened to take her inside that barn, lay her down on a blanket of hay, and be a whole hell of a lot more.

“See you later, Lawson,” she said, forcing herself to step away from him, away from the horse and the barn. She turned toward her car and didn’t look back. Otherwise, her hormones were going to win and drag this cowboy into the barn and slam the stall doors behind them.

“See you later, Julie,” he called after her.

Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America's largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn't writing, she's spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors. Represented by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency (NYLA).

Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

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The Sunday Post #13

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news - a post to recap the past week on your blog, 
showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is
coming up on your blog in the week ahead. You can find the info here:

It's been a good week and yet things were pretty silent at Girl Plus Books. I spent a lot of time getting caught up with everyone else's blogs - which resulted in ignoring my own. Yeah, one of these days I will find a balance but it sure hasn't happened yet. Does anyone else struggle with this? If I focus on consistent posts here I don't have the time to keep up with all the wonderful blogs I enjoy. But if I spend time reading and commenting everywhere else... well you see the dilemma. How do you strike a balance between the two? I'd love to hear any tips or some magical system you have in place that allows you to do it all. That exists, right?

Yesterday I met up with my younger sister to celebrate her birthday. I had purchased one of her gifts over a month ago which was, coincidentally, a Prince 
t-shirt. Terri has been a huge fan of Prince since the 80's. His music provided the soundtrack to our teen years. 



FinishedHothouse Flower (Addicted #2.2, Calloway Sisters #2) by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Current: Him (Him #1) by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy


Unpopular opinion time: I wasn't blown away by Throne of Glass and never continued with the series. When I was last chatting with my friend Hope and saying that maybe I should just realize that fantasy is not my genre, she swore that the Falling Kingdoms series would be different. I'm still unconvinced but the cover is quite pretty and sometimes that's a perfect reason to buy a new book. Amiright?



Blurred Lines - Lauren Layne: Like I was supposed to resist this one for 99 cents on Amazon?

Dearest Clementine boxed set - Lex Martin: The entire trilogy was on sale for $4.99 and I'd just seen a blogger friend rave about it so I made it mine.

The Debt - Tyler King: This was offered to me for review by the publisher and it sounds right up my alley. 

How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share? 
Fill me in... I'd love to hear!